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TODAY'S NEWS
Top Stories
Lammy still not convinced by need for 95 year term
Pirate Bay four go to court in Sweden
Brown issues statement over Rihanna fracas
Chuck Mangione loses bandmates in Buffalo air crash
In The Pop Courts
Rapper arrested over trainers
In The Pop Hospital
Jackson could lose nose to MRSA, says Sun
Awards & Contests
Peter Gabriel pulls out of Oscar performance
GaGa to perform with Pet Shop Boys at BRITs
Herb Alpert and Lani Hall get Ella Award
Artist Deals
Girls Aloud re-sign to Polydor
Burke signed to £2.4 million US deal
Release News
Free Doherty download
U2 plug new album with Live Lounge spot
New Simple Minds album out in May
Gigs N Tours News
A1 reunite for GAY
Festival News
Sound City acts announced
Festival Republic launch mega youth survey
Reviews
Single review: Brakes - Hey Hey (FatCat)
The Music Business
Shareholders and European officials take interest in Live Nation/Ticketmaster deal
Refurbed Manchester venue confirms new staff
German indie Gun closes
The Digital Business
Omnifone expand mobile service to the net, aim for ISP partnerships
Guns N Roses Rock Band game upcoming
The Media Business
ITV might sell Friends Reunited
Chart Of The Day
Chart update
And finally...
MIA gives birth
Leona Lewis to miss BRITs
Hawkins on Grohl
Lily Allen on how parents should handle drugs

Flowers quits drink

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CMU Directory
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MONDAY 16TH FEBRUARY

THE TOY BAND
Cardiff four-piece The Toy Band release their second single, 'All You Have To Do Is Cry', on 23 Feb via Boy Scout Recordings. Currently working with production team Bacon & Quarmby, who have previously worked their magic on Primal Scream, Ian Brown and Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly, the band are crafting their 60s-inspired sound into an album shape. With support from the likes of Huw Stephens, they're beginning to pick up attention on a wide scale. You can catch them live at the Dublin Castle in Camden on 28 Feb. We caught up with bassist Jim to ask those Same Six Questions.

 

Q1 How did you start out making music?
We all met at the Royal Welsh College Of Music And Drama. Me and Jamie started writing songs together and then asked Joe and Pete to join. To start with we would hang out at my house all the time writing songs and trying to put a set together.

Q2 What inspired your latest single?
Being trapped in an unfulfilling relationship inspired the last single. I'm not telling you which one of us was trapped!

Q3 What process do you go through in creating a track?
A very hard question as it changes every time. Sometimes Jamie will come with a melody and chords but is stuck with the words, I might have a lyric idea that fits the mood so we work it out together. Or maybe Joe will have cool music for a verse and Jamie will help out with the other sections and then we all sit down together to do the words. These are only a few examples, it's usually a complex process but luckily we all agree on the best idea!

Q4 Which artists influence your work?
Many - Bob Dylan, Love, The Beatles, Rolling Stones (okay, big acts from the 60s). More modern stuff includes The Smiths (modern!), Blur, The Coral, Arctic Monkeys, Turner Cody and The Libertines.

Q5 What would you say to someone listening to your music for the first time?
It depends... On some songs I would say "listen closely to the lyrics", on others "just enjoy the big riff!"

Q6 What are your ambitions for your latest single, and for the future?
I hope the single brings us more attention leading to more people listening to the group. My ambition for The Toy Band is to record a really good, progressive and respected album that people like listening to.

MORE>> www.myspace.com/thetoyband

 

NAME THE PET
Recently signed up to EMI's Swedish division, Name The Pet is Stockholm's answer to Roisin Murphy, or even Kylie when she goes leftfield. Two tracks on her MySpace are ready packaged gold, with 'Get On The Bus' a techno sampling pop number - incredibly simple but brilliant - and 'Falling' a St Etienne style club track. Disparate styles then, but I can't stop listening to either, and that's surely the key factor.

www.myspace.com/namethepet

   

FREELANCE MUSIC PR
Small, friendly indie pop label seeks amiable, charming PR to close campaigns. Passion for our music presides over experience. 8/15 hr P/W flexible home or office. Pay dependent on experience.

INTERN FOR 360° MUSIC CO
Label, publisher and management company with international success and rapidly expanding roster in indie pop / alt-country genres seeks bright spark with a thirst for knowledge. Hours to suit min’ 16 p/w.

Contact nathaniel1975@hotmail.co.uk for both roles

 

DESK SPACE
Leyline Promotions has two desk suites available in a well-appointed courtyard studio in Westbourne Studios, W10. Ideal for a small creative agency in a very friendly and professional environment. Rent includes: storage, broadband connections, business rates, insurance, 24 hr access, restaurant and bar, conference facilities, natural sunlight. 4 mins walk from Westbourne Park tube station. Call Adrian for more info on 07971 555 020 / adrian@leylinepromotions.com

 

 

LAMMY STILL NOT CONVINCED BY NEED FOR 95 YEAR TERM
Well, IP Minister David Lammy told us that much debate and compromise would be needed before the EU's Council Of Ministers could pass the much previously reported recording copyright extension proposals, and he should know, because it seems that it will be him that those who support the proposals will have to debate and compromise with.

As much previously reported, European political types are currently debating proposals put forward by EU Internal Market Commissioner Charlie McCreevy to extend the recording copyright term across Europe from the current 50 years to 95 years, to bring it in line with the recording copyright term in the US. The proposals would also ensure recording artists, and especially session musicians, would receive higher royalties during the extra years of an extended term than they automatically do during the first fifty years.

While the UK government had previously rejected the need for a longer term, late last year Culture Secretary Andy Burnham said Britain would now support an extension, though to 70 rather than 95 years. IP minister Lammy, who seems less worried about his relationship with the music business at large than Burnham, has also confirmed his support for an extension, though stresses very strongly that his interest in a longer term is based on the need to support aging musicians and not record companies, though they would obviously also benefit from a longer term.

At a recent meeting of the Houses Of Parliament Jazz Appreciation Society called to discuss the then pending European debate on this topic, the industry were pretty clear to Lammy that they wanted the full 95 year term McCreevy was proposing. The minister evaded that issue at the time, and given his comments on Friday, that was presumably because he didn't want a bust up at the otherwise amicable meeting.

Responding to the news that the EU's influential Legal Affairs Committee had approved McCreevy's proposals, albeit after adding some extra provisos to protect the interests of performers, Lammy stressed again that the UK would only support an extension to 70 years. His argument is that if the extension is to benefit musicians rather than record companies, then a 70 year term is adequate - assuming that any musician who made their seminal recordings in their mid-20s is dead by their mid-90s, then the only people to benefit from the extra 25 years of copyright would be the record companies who released the work.

Lammy told reporters on Friday: "While the UK believes that performers should be protected throughout their lifetime, a period of 95 years goes beyond what is needed to achieve this aim".

Although welcoming the new provisos added by the Legal Affairs Committee, Lammy added that he didn't feel the proposals went far enough to protect performers' interests, implying he and his team will be looking to add more provisos as well as reduce the proposed new term length once McCreevy's proposals reach the third and final stage - the aforementioned Council Of Ministers, at which Lammy will represent the UK. As previously reported, while some sort of extension does now seem likely, some reckon the proposals could get delayed by the debate at the Council stage. Lammy's comments seem to back that viewpoint.

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PIRATE BAY FOUR GO TO COURT IN SWEDEN
The four men behind infamous BitTorrent tracker The Pirate Bay - Fredrik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, Peter Sunde Kolmisoppi and Carl Lundström - are due in court in Sweden later today to face various copyright infringement charges.

The Pirate Bay, of course, provides access to thousands of unlicensed albums and movies, and has become somewhat notorious in the music industry for its blatant violation of copyright laws and its ability to stay online despite past litigation and even the confiscation of their servers. Despite all that, the Pirate Bay four will plead not-guilty at the trial, presumably using the old defence that providing links to pirated content - rather than actually hosting it - does not amount to infringement in itself. It should be an interesting case - and will test the power of so called authorising infringement laws in a European jurisdiction.

In related news, internet service providers in Denmark are awaiting a decision regarding the possibility of appealing that previously reported ruling that forces ISPs in the country to block access to the Bay.

As previously reported, Danish ISP Sonofon (previously called Tele2) was ordered to block access to the popular source of illegal content after it lost a legal action brought by the country's music, video and publishing industries. Sonofon unsuccessfully appealed the ruling through the country's High Court last year, and as a result the International Federation Of The Phonographic Industry has taken the ruling as law, and last month wrote to other net firms in the country telling them they also need to block access to the Pirate Bay.

Sonofon is now trying to appeal the ruling through the Supreme Court, with the support of the Danish Telecoms Association, who argue that providing access to a website like The Pirate Bay is not, in itself, illegal, so there should be no obligation on them to block access to it. The net firms should hear soon as to whether the Supreme Court will hear their appeal, though, as previously reported, one of Sonofon's rivals, TDC, has voluntarily agreed to block access to the Pirate Bay oblivious of any court rulings.

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BROWN ISSUES STATEMENT OVER RIHANNA FRACAS
Following a week of speculation as to what exactly Chris Brown did to Rihanna last weekend, and why, and with reports that the power couple of US pop had officially split up, Brown finally issued a statement this weekend.

Looking like it had been through several lawyers before reaching the press, the statement said that Brown was sorry for "what transpired" but provided very little insight into what happened and no real apology to Rihanna herself. With the police's investigation into the altercation - which left Rihanna bruised and possibly unconscious - still under way, presumably Brown didn't want to say anything that could incriminate himself. So instead he talked about his family and God. And stressed that much of what has been said about the incident to date is wrong, and certainly any other comments credited to him online are false.

Brown: "Words cannot begin to express how sorry and saddened I am over what transpired. I am seeking the counselling of my pastor, my mother and other loved ones and I am committed, with God's help, to emerging a better person. Much of what has been speculated or reported on blogs and/or reported in the media is wrong. While I would like to be able to talk about this more, until the legal issues are resolved, this is all I can say except that I have not written any messages or made any posts to Facebook, on blogs or any place else. Those posts or writings under my name are frauds".

If Brown's lacklustre apology didn't piss off Rihanna's fans, then comments made by one of his cousins, Phylicia Thompson, probably did. Though not defending her cousin's actions, Thompson said Brown must have been provoked to behave the way he did. She told US TV show Extra: "There had to be something to provoke him for Chris to do it. He wouldn't have done it just to be having fun. Yes, he's done something wrong, because he put his hands on her, but you don't know what happened. He had to be provoked to do it. Everybody loved Chris... This comes as a surprise to me".

The latest c'leb to comment on the incident is Jay-Z, who was heavily involved with Rihanna's career during his time heading up Universal's Def Jam label. He called on everyone to support Rihanna as she recovers from last weekend's incident and the subsequent split from Brown, telling reporters: "It's not a sound bite, this is a real situation. If you can't have compassion for others ... just imagine it being your sister or your mom or someone like that, then think about how you should talk about that. I just think we all should just support her. She's going through a tough time. You gotta realize she's a young girl, as well. She's very young".

Rihanna is currently with her family in Barbados recovering from the ordeal. Meanwhile, the police continue to investigate the altercation after the District Attorney last week asked for more information before decide what charges to press (presumably whether to increase current criminal threat charges to actual assault charges). Brown is due in court next month in relation to the incident.

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CHUCK MANGIONE LOSES BANDMATES IN BUFFALO AIR CRASH
It's emerged that two of the people who lost their lives aboard the aeroplane that crashed in Buffalo, New York last week were members of jazz star Chuck Mangione's band. Gerry Niewood, 64, was a jazz saxophonist originally from Rochester, New York, a former classmate of Mangione's. Coleman Mellett, 34, was a jazz guitarist who performed with his wife, jazz singer Jeanie Bryson - daughter of Dizzy Gillespie - as well as with Mangione. Mangione has said in a statement: "I'm in shock over the horrible, heartbreaking tragedy".

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RAPPER ARRESTED OVER TRAINERS
Reports claim that US rapper Kid Cudi has been arrested after getting into an argument over trainers. The hip hopper was to perform at a Reebok party in Phoenix during the NBA All-Star game on Saturday, but ended up in a confrontation with Reebok staff because he turned up to play the set wearing a pair of Jordans, which are manufactured by rival trainer company Nike. The ensuing arguments led to an altercation in which Cudi, real name Scott Mescudi, was reportedly tasered by police officers before being arrested. According to AllHipHop.com, he has not been charged with anything, as yet.

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JACKSON COULD LOSE NOSE TO MRSA, SAYS SUN
Michael Jackson, as you may already have heard, has reportedly developed an MRSA infection on his face and hands following plastic surgery on his nose, and The Sun have consulted an MRSA expert on just what could happen to his nose, assuming that he doesn't succumb to the infection, which I'm sure you know, is potentially deadly. He is apparently receiving antibiotics via a drip to treat the illness, so hopefully he'll be okay.

Anyway The Sun quote Professor Mark Enright as saying: "A wound infection like MRSA on a delicate area like the nose could cause the tissue to collapse".

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PETER GABRIEL PULLS OUT OF OSCAR PERFORMANCE
Peter Gabriel has pulled out of a scheduled set at the Oscars after being told that he would not be allowed to play his whole song, as he would have a mere 65 seconds allocated to it. The singer is nominated for 'Down To Earth', which he co-wrote with film composer Thomas Newman for the Pixar film 'Wall-E', and which is nominated for Best Original Song.

Gabriel explained via his website that he'll still be attending the Academy Awards ceremony on 22 Feb even though he won't take part in the Best Original Song, adding: "I'm an old fart and it's not going to do me any harm to make a protest. But the ceremony should be fun and I'm looking forward to it".

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GAGA TO PERFORM WITH PET SHOP BOYS AT BRITS
According to reports, The Pet Shop Boys are to perform with US popstrel Lady GaGa when they appear at the Brits this week. The singer is to join the duo for a performance of 'What Have I Done To Deserve This?', the pair's 1987 track originally featuring the late Dusty Springfield. The Pet Shop Boys are, as previously reported, set to pick up the Outstanding Contribution To Music gong at Wednesday's ceremony.

Meanwhile, Aussie singer Gabriella Cilmi has been talking about both Lady GaGa and The Brits. According to The Daily Star she isn't too keen on her fellow singer's image, because they quote her as saying "I like to be myself and not a character. I saw this picture of Lady GaGa touching her crotch and I wasn't keen on that. She needs to put some clothes on. Eventually you're just going to catch something and have to go to hospital if you keep walking around in your bra and knickers".

And before you start thinking she's just a woman hater, she has good things to say about Girls Aloud, and hopes they'll win the British Band gong at the upcoming Brit ceremony. Cilmi, nominated in the Best International Female Category, told the tabloid: "I want to see Girls Aloud win British Band. I think they deserve recognition and I know the people behind the music. They're real musicians who are talented. I would also like to see James Morrison win British Male as he's got a beautiful voice".

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HERB ALPERT AND LANI HALL GET ELLA AWARD
Herb Alpert and his wife, singer Lani Hall, are to receive the eighteenth Ella Award, the honour presented by America's non-profit Society Of Singers to those judged to have matched their musical accomplishments with significant dedication to humanitarian and charitable causes. SOS is a charity focussing on the health and welfare of professional singers worldwide, and the Ella, if you were wondering about it, is named after its first recipient, Ella Fitzgerald. A date is yet to be announced for the presentation.

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GIRLS ALOUD RE-SIGN TO POLYDOR
Well, presumably this means at least another three years of "Girls Aloud about to split up" rumours. Despite speculation that Cheryl Cole's booming TV career is causing tensions with her bandmates, Girls Aloud are presumably planning on being around for sometime yet given they have just signed a new three album deal with their label, Polydor imprint Fascination. The first of the new long players should be out next year.

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BURKE SIGNED TO £2.4 MILLION US DEAL
Sony Music is presumably hoping to emulate the success they've had with Leona Lewis stateside with the latest 'X Factor' champion Alexandra Burke, given that their Epic US division has just signed her to a £2.4 million record contract in addition to her existing UK deal with Sony UK and Simon Cowell's SyCo. Remains to be seen if it's an investment that pays off.

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FREE DOHERTY DOWNLOAD
What does Pete Doherty sound like with an 'r' on the end of his first name and no drugs floating around his bloodstream? Well, here is (possibly) your chance to answer that question. It's certainly your chance to hear a new track from Peter Doherty's debut solo album, 'Grace/Wastelands', which will be released by Parlophone on 16 Mar. The first single will be 'Last Of The English Roses' on 9 Mar, but you can download another track, 'New Love Grows On Trees' for free right now.

Get it here: links.emi.com/peter/freemp3

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U2 PLUG NEW ALBUM WITH LIVE LOUNGE SPOT
Following the news last week that they'll guest as the house band on David Letterman's US TV show as part of their promotion for upcoming new album 'No Line On The Horizon', news today that U2 will play a special live set in the Live Lounge slot on Radio 1 later this month. Bono et al will play on the nation's favourite on 27 Feb, meaning Jo Whiley, currently on maternity leave, will be back in the chair to ask some questions. Confirming her first Live Lounge guests, Whiley told reporters last week: "It's always a bit nerve-racking going back after having a baby. But having U2 playing in the Live Lounge is especially thrilling". U2's twelfth studio album is out on 2 Mar.

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NEW SIMPLE MINDS ALBUM OUT IN MAY
Simple Minds are to release a new album, 'Graffiti Soul', on 25 May. The band's Jim Kerr says that the follow-up to 2005's 'Black & White 050505' contains "the most ballsy pop songs we have written in years", adding: "Sometimes you hit a period where everything just fits together perfectly and turns out exactly as you hoped it would. 'Graffiti Soul' reflects that very sentiment"

The band are planning to follow the release with a tour, dates tbc.

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A1 REUNITE FOR GAY
Three members of A1 are set to reunite for a show at GAY in London. Ben Adams, Christian Ingebrigtsen and Mark Read will all appear for the performance, without fourth member Paul Marazzi. A message on the GAY website reads: "TAKE ON ME & BE THE 1ST TO BELIEVE that it's nearly the SAME OLD BRAND NEW YOU with BEN, MARK & CHRISTIAN reforming for G-A-Y."

Ben Adams hinted during his recent appearance on 'Celebrity Big Brother' that a comeback might be in the offing. Which is all good, because we're fans of A1 here at CMU. We are hopelessly addicted to their 2001 single 'Caught In The Middle'.

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SOUND CITY ACTS ANNOUNCED
The producers of Liverpool Sound City, the latest city centre music festival and industry conference to become an annual fixture following its launch as part of the Capital Of Culture proceedings last year, have announced some of the acts that will play the event this year.

As I'm pretty sure we've previously reported, LSC will take over venues across Liverpool from 20-23 May, providing a Northern alternative to Brighton's The Great Escape, which takes place a week earlier in that other sea side city.

And we can now tell you that heading up the proceedings at LSC 2009 will be White Lies, Animal Collective and CMU favourite Little Boots, with Cage The Elephant, Deerhunter, Mumford And Sons, Hot Melts and sort of indie supergroup Mongrel also on the bill.

Confirming the line up, Liverpool SoundCity Festival Director Dave Pichilingi told CMU: "SoundCity is all about what is fresh, innovative and exciting - just like Liverpool itself. It's going to be tough for some festivals in 2009, but in White Lies and Little Boots we've got two of this year's hottest acts coming to SoundCity".

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FESTIVAL REPUBLIC LAUNCH MEGA YOUTH SURVEY
Festival Republic are launching a new youth research programme around its flagship Reading and Leeds festivals to be called Sixty Thousand Voices.

The programme will see the festival promoters or, more likely, their research company partners Crowd DNA asking 60,000 16-24 year olds who come to their August Bank Holiday festivals various questions, both onsite and online before and after the event, so that brands, and especially those operating in the music space, can get a better understanding of the youth market.

I can probably tell you everything you need to know without speaking to 60,000 young consumers, but not everyone can be as brilliant as me. Though the cynic inside me predicts the mega survey will discover that brands are best off sponsoring major music events taking place in Reading and Leeds or elsewhere in the Festival Republic if they want to engage young consumers, though I'm trying to suppress Mr Cynic, so suggest you don't listen to anything he says. Listen to these people instead.

Commenting on the research venture, Festival Republic Sponsorship Manager, James Kent told CMU: "In the current climate brands need to work harder to ensure their music sponsorships deliver for them. Sixty Thousand Voices will allow them to engage in a long-term dialogue with a key demographic, and as a result help inform those aspects of a campaign that will really deliver return on investment".

Crowd DNA MD Andy Crysell added: "This is a fantastic opportunity on a number of levels. We have a huge sample of 16-24 year olds to research; also the scope to develop really innovative methodologies and compelling ways to bring the insight to life. Moving beyond traditional approaches to insight, we're looking to develop techniques that allow us to kick-start a potent two way conversation with the audience. The connection between music and brands is well established, but the time has come for fresh ideas and new perspectives to come to the fore, and Sixty Thousand Voices has a major role to play".

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SINGLE REVIEW: Brakes - Hey Hey (FatCat)
Brakes return with this, the first single off their third album, 'Touchdown', and it's another joyous slice of no nonsense rock with lyrics this time taking in the story of a shipwreck and the desire to grab life by the horns. In fact, the single package covers all your Brakes bases with the upbeat title track, six second long 'Consumer, Producer, A Chicken Or An Egg' and the more elegiac and breezy 'Set A Course', which I think I almost prefer to the A-side. So nothing new from the boys but it's a tempting teaser of more to come and hopefully the new album will be as good as the first two. IM
Release Date: 2 Mar
Press Contact: Fat Cat IH [all]

Buy from iTunes
Buy from Amazon

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SHAREHOLDERS AND EUROPEAN OFFICIALS TAKE INTEREST IN LIVE NATION/TICKETMASTER DEAL
This is interesting. The biggest single shareholder in Live Nation has said he supports the proposed and previously reported Live Nation/Ticketmaster merger, and the proposal that the two companies' current CEOs, Michael Rapino and Irving Azoff, jointly run the new merged venture. However, he says he is less happy about the proposal that Ticketmaster Chairman Barry Diller become Chairman of the new company.

Speaking to Reuters, Sam Shapiro of Shapiro Capital Management, who own 15% of Live Nation, said: "There's never been a question whether I think the combination of the two companies is a big positive. But as investment managers, we're interested in creation of shareholder value for our clients and I worry about Barry Diller because shareholder return of value to his companies have not been that great".

Shapiro is referring to the shareholder return delivered by Diller's main business IAC/InterActive, of which Ticketmaster used to be a division. Although Diller still has a stake in and non-executive role at Ticketmaster, and will continue to do so at the merged company, he isn't involved in the day to day running of Ticketmaster, and won't be at the post-merger Live Nation Entertainment either. However, as Non-Executive Chairman he will form part of investor Shapiro's relationship with the merged company, so the investment man's resistance to him could prove to be a problem, both in getting the merger through, and, if it does get through, in day to day investor relations moving forward.

Talking of hurdles the Live Nation/Ticketmaster merger must cross before going ahead, commentators suggested this weekend that the scale of the two companies' operations in Europe, coupled with the sizes of their respective turnovers, may well mean the merger will need the approval of EU competition regulators as well as US officials.

While indie label trade body IMPALA would tell you EU competition officials have a very poor record in stopping the consolidation of the music industry (they having approved the SonyBMG merger, then Sony buying Bertelsmann out of that merged entity, and the separate sale of BMG Music Publishing to Universal Music), getting past European competition officials has often proved more tricky than getting US regulators onside. That means that, while the European Commission probably won't block the deal, Live Nation and Ticketmaster will have to step up their lobbying efforts on this side of the Atlantic to ensure as swift as possible a merger.

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REFURBED MANCHESTER VENUE CONFIRMS NEW STAFF
From live music on a mega-bucks global scale, to live music of a more organic kind now. Manchester venue Band On The Wall, which has been undergoing a big refurb since winning a £3.2 million Arts Council/Heritage Fund grant back in 2007, has announced two new recruits ahead of its relaunch in September.

First up Gavin Sharp, who worked for the venue a few years back in a programming role, will become co-CEO, while Mike Chadwick, best known for his presenting work on radio stations like KFM, Sunset Radio, Jazz FM and Smooth FM, will become the venue's new music programmer.

The re-opened venue will combine a music programme with various educational projects involving local schools and colleges.

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GERMAN INDIE GUN CLOSES
German record label GUN, or Great Unlimited Noises, has reportedly closed down. The label, a joint venture originally with BMG and subsequently SonyBMG, was founded by one Wolfgang Funk in 1992, and was credited for discovering Bullet For My Valentine and Him, among others. It's not clear if the closure of the label is related to Sony gaining full control of SonyBMG, or a result of the grim times being experienced by the wider German record industry. Artists currently signed to GUN will be handled by other Sony subsidiaries moving forward.

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OMNIFONE EXPAND MOBILE SERVICE TO THE NET, AIM FOR ISP PARTNERSHIPS
It's the GMSA Mobile World Congress conference in Barcelona this week, so expect some mobile music stories to be coming your way, though this is actually more a web music story really.

Omnifone, the company that operates the MusicStation mobile music service offered in the UK by Vodafone, and the firm who will power Ericsson's in development Comes With Music competitor, has announced it will be making its subscription-based all-you-can-eat music service available over the net, in particular through partnerships with various internet service providers.

In the online domain MusicStation is in some ways a bit like existing subscription-based digital music services - Napster being the main survivor in that domain - though Omnifone plan to offer MusicStation Next Generation, as it will be known, via ISP partners, meaning that the cost of the service, rather than being paid by the customers directly, will be bundled in with net subscriptions, making them invisible to the consumer. Omnifone hope that by enabling ISPs to offer a compelling all-you-can-eat digital music service of their own, which includes music from all four majors, they will be more receptive to restricting access to illegal music services.

Confirming his company's plans for MusicStation Next Generation, Omnifone top man Rob Lewis told CMU: "Tens of millions of European consumers are engaged in music piracy every day. Whilst government pressure is growing, we also need to deliver alternatives that recognise the needs and desires of the YouTube generation. With today's announcement, Omnifone is offering consumers something better than piracy. MusicStation Next Generation gives consumers legitimate unlimited access to the world's music, in audio and video format, direct to their living room, through set-top box or personal computer, in partnership with their ISP or cable company. Broadband providers can deliver a better music experience; a legal alternative to piracy that differentiates their consumer proposition".

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GUNS N ROSES ROCK BAND GAME UPCOMING
MTV will release a 'Chinese Democracy' version of their pretend-to-play game 'Rock Band' this Spring. The news follows Axl Rose's critical reaction to GnR song 'Welcome To The Jungle' being used as part of rival game 'Guitar Hero's tie up with his former bandmate Slash.

Commenting on the development of the 'Chinese Democracy' version of 'Rock Band', Rose told Billboard: "They [MTV Games] felt the record - based on the nature and complexity of the depth of instrumentation - sdeserved a bit more attention and some more involved elements than they've generally dealt with. I have no idea what that means but it's my understanding they were very enthusiastic".

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ITV MIGHT SELL FRIENDS REUNITED
Executives at major record companies may have completely screwed up their early dabblings with the internet, but there's always been something to say in their favour regarding the early days of the web, at least they didn't buy Friends Reunited.

ITV bought the first big social networking website in 2005 for £120 million, approximately four years after everyone stopped using it, making it one of the most pointless internet purchases ever. Clueless ITV bosses hoped it would help them catch up the BBC in the online domain, failing to recognise that while the site may have had millions of registered users, most people had stopped using it in 2001, and they'd have been much better off using the £120 million to build a decent ITV.com website.

Anyway, this is all relevant today because ITV top man Michael Grade (who, it should be noted, arrived after the dumb ass acquisition) is planning on selling the site in a bid raise much needed funds to help prop up the struggling commercial telly company. I'm not sure the eight pounds I'd give for Friends Reunited will help much, but with a major hole in Grade's budgets, every penny helps I suppose. And there are reports ITV will have to pay a second sum to Friends Reunited's founders later this year unless they offload the site.

Insiders say programme budgets will also be slashed and up to 500 jobs could go in the next few weeks as ITV try to make the sums add up, while there are rumours Grade is even considering mortgaging some of the network's biggest shows - most notably 'Coronation Street' - in order to make ends meet. Despite the cuts, Grade may still have to tell his shareholders to expect a reduced dividend pay out as the broadcaster comes to terms with a major slump in the TV advertising market, coupled with rising competition from newer digital channels and those websites people still use.

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CHART UPDATE
So, Lily Allen is still number one in the singles chart, but has she made it the double? Has her second album gone straight in at the top of the album chart? Well, you'll just have to read on to find out.

With Lily sticking fast in the singles top 10, there's little movement from anyone else, either. After eight weeks on the chart, Alesha Dixon has crept up to number three, and Shontelle has crept into the top 10, at number 10, after five weeks on the chart with 'T-shirt'. Meanwhile, doing no creeping whatsoever, The Prodigy have shot straight in at number eight with 'Omen'.

Other new entries to the singles chart have not reached such heights, however. Morrissey managed to get to just 21 with his new single, 'I'm Throwing My Arms Around Paris', despite (or perhaps because of) the promise of a semi-nude shot of him and his band on the single's artwork. TI and Justin Timberlake enter at 30, the re-release of M.I.A's 'Paper Planes' makes it to 33, still a way off the previous release's peak of 19, while The Fray enter at 37, and The Killers bring up the rear at 40.

Over to the album chart now and, yes, Lily Allen's second album has gone straight to the top, bumping the ever-present Kings Of Leon back down to number two. There's been a bit of a spike for albums with a romantic theme. Can't think why that would be. UB40's 'Love Songs' jumps from 19 to three, Luther Vandross's 'Lovesongs' is up from 27 to four (so UB40 clearly win the battle of how the words "love" and "songs" should be put together), Bette Midler's 'The Best Of Bette' is up from 32 to six (although, after 19 weeks on the chart, it's not specifically a Valentine's release), and Pavarotti's 'The Duets' moves from 15 to 10. Not an event-specific release, but valid nonetheless, The Fray have a new entry at eight, with their album, 'The Fray'.

Outside the top 10, AR Rahman's soundtrack for 'Slumdog Millionaire' is a new entry at 30, The Airbourne Toxic Event make it to 35, while Robert Plant and Alison Krauss's 'Raising Sand' benefits from the pair's five Grammy win, re-entering at 38.

The charts are compiled with gay abandon by The Official Chart Company

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MIA GIVES BIRTH
MIA has given birth to her first child, a baby boy. As previously reported, the singer performed at the recent Grammy ceremony despite being heavily pregnant. There's no indication as to what the baby's been called, but MIA addressed fans via her MySpace blog, saying: "My baby was born Wednesday, he is healthy, fine, beautiful and the most amazing thing ever on this planet, of course, I'm his mum!"

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LEONA LEWIS TO MISS BRITS
According to reports, Leona Lewis has decided not to go to The Brit Awards this week, because she is afraid she won't win anything. Which isn't unlikely, given that she's only nominated in the Best British Single category. That's decided by a public vote though, so presumably she's in with more of a chance than if she were nominated elsewhere.

A source told the Daily Star: "The Brits is the biggest night of the UK music calendar, and Leona is arguably our biggest star, but she's giving it a wide berth. Leona was shocked she didn't pick up even one award last time and only last week watched her rivals clean up at the Grammys. With her massive sales it's ridiculous, but she's aware there's a lot of snobbery around reality TV winners. Rather than face the humiliation of being snubbed again, Leona's staying away".

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HAWKINS ON GROHL
Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins has responded to talk that Dave Grohl is a bit overbearing by saying that he is the "nicest control freak you [will] ever meet in your life".

Speaking to NME, Hawkins added: "He tells me what to do but we work off each other as well. He's a drummer first and foremost. He's become a great singer and songwriter but he's a drummer first. When we're working together on music, not only do you have one drummer's ideas but you have two of them coming from totally different places".

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LILY ALLEN ON HOW PARENTS SHOULD HANDLE DRUGS
Lily Allen has been quoted as saying that parents shouldn't necessarily discourage their children from taking drugs, just weeks after having to release that previously reported statement saying that she doesn't condone drugs, despite having said things that implied that she endorsed cocaine.

The singer is quoted by Dutch magazine Revu as saying: "Parents should say, 'Drugs might seem fun, but they do funny things to your brain. Some people react to it good, some don't. Try it and see what you think'".

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FLOWERS QUITS DRINK
Parents not keen on using Lily as a role model for their kids, could look to The Killers' Brandon Flowers instead. According to The Mirror, Flowers says he's quit drinking since he became a father. The singer, who is a Mormon, told the tabloid: "Drinking definitely conflicted with what I was raised to believe and what I want to teach my children to believe. When I think about the pain that came with it, it's a no-brainer. Music has taken the place of drinking for me. I write songs in a hotel room at 2am rather than go to a party".

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