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TODAY'S NEWS
Top Stories
BPI calls on UK government to get moving on ISP file-sharing measures
U2 manager backs new French P2P law
French web-users still anti-three-strike
PRS line up songwriters to diss YouTube
German publishers back GEMA
Lady Sovereign discusses Def Jam split
ITC receiving unsigned demos
In The Pop Courts
Jim Jones arrested, drama unfolds via Twitter
Houston to countersue stepmother
Pete Townshend's divorce completed
Awards & Contests
Music Week award winners
Artist Deals
Simpson probably going back to pop
In The Studio
Limp Bizkit to team up with Neil Diamond?
Patrick Wolf to team up with the Cheeky Girls?
Release News
Sigur sleeps
Gigs N Tours News
Healthy Japanese bands come to UK
Placebo announce dates
Festival News
AIF festivals join euro tourism campaign
Festival line up update
Reviews
Album review: The Virgins - The Virgins
Brands N Stuff
The Saturdays launch Rare clothes
Common launches fragrance
The Music Business
ASCAP president steps down
Sony touring division launches in Australia
BPI appoint new comms chief
ERA supports Record Store Day
The Digital Business
Spotify agree terms with PRS
Variable pricing cropping up across digital music market
We7 launch subs option
Chart Of The Day
This week's sub.tv playlist
And finally...
Glade's lawyers check out nude rules
Kardashian not offended by Eminem

Kaiser brand Oasis "bitter"

 

THURSDAY 9TH APRIL

CAMERA OBSCURA
Formed in 1996 by vocalist and guitarist Tracyanne Campbell, vocalist and percussionist John Henderson, and bassist Gavin Dunbar, Camera Obscura came to wider attention with the 2000 release of their debut album 'Biggest Bluest Hi Fi', partly because of the support of a certain John Peel. A decade on from that album, and some line-up changes later (Henderson left in 2003), the band are now preparing to release their fourth album. 'My Maudlin Career' is out on 20 Apr on 4AD, with a single, 'French Navy, out on 13 Apr. They'll also be doing some gigging around the UK and Ireland later this month. Ahead of all that we spoke to Tracyanne Campbell to ask our Same Six Questions.

 

Q1 How did you start out making music?
I decided to learn guitar when I was 20, and then decided to try to get a band together. I met John when I went to college and we put an ad out for a drummer and bass player. The rest, as they say, is history.

Q2 What inspired your latest album?
Mainly a relationship I had, but other factors like touring and being away from people I cared for influenced the lyrical content.

Q3 What process do you go through in creating an album?
I write the songs and then take them to the band. We work the ideas in the rehearsal room and try out various structures. We then invite the producer into the rehearsal room for some pre-production, where he might suggest a key change or a structure change. We discuss the instrumentation, for example if the song should have strings or brass. We then try to get the songs in shape and make sure everyone is happy with how they're sounding. Then we try to play the songs the way we plan to record them live, and that's about it really.

Q4 Which artists influence your work?
It's clear we like certain artists, like The Supremes and Sandy Posey, for example, and it's clear we like certain styles of music like Motown and country, but I'm not entirely convinced other artists really do influence the music we make as much as people think they would or should. We're our own band and I'd like to think we make our own kind of music that is influenced by each one of us.

Q5 What would you say to someone experiencing your music for the first time?
I'd say I hope you like it. If not then maybe you should listen to something else. I recommend My Morning Jacket or Arthur Russell.

Q6 What are your ambitions for your latest album, and for the future?
We hope we keep the fans we have and we hope to gain new ones. We'd like to sell enough records to enable us to financially make a new record and continue with our career. Onwards and upwards.

MORE>> www.camera-obscura.net and www.myspace.com/cameraobscuraband

 

BEAUTIFUL SWIMMERS
Marylanders Beautiful Swimmers were recently described as a cross between Can and Daft Punk, which fits pretty well I reckon. Lead track 'O Yea' takes it beat from elsewhere, though, nabbing the crashing drums from the start of New Order's 'True Faith', reducing the pace and getting all tribal, mixing in bongos and the type of urgent synth sounds you got in 80s slasher flicks just as the protagonist walks around a corner straight into the villain's lap. It's a brooding industrial beast and - bonus - the video sets the song to a montage of leotard clad fitness fanatics. Eat that, Eric Prydz.

www.myspace.com/letsgoswimmers

   

SENIOR PR ROLE - www.spring-pr.com
This is a dream role in a small and exciting PR agency. We specialise in music, events and youth PR with clients ranging from corporate brands to underground recording artists, festivals and alternative art projects. We're looking for a senior member of staff to work across all areas of the business and as such we can only consider applications from people who have a proven track record in handling brand PR in a multi-agency setting. With an eye for detail and top-notch organisational skills, you'll be enthusiastic about working in a small team environment. You'll have 6 years of music and corporate PR experience, strong client servicing skills, and the highest communication skills. This is a full time role with a competitive salary and is based in our easily accessed central London offices. To apply, please email your CV and a covering letter to rhiannon@spring-pr.com

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ADVERTISE WITH CMU - classifieds £120 per week, job ads £100 per week, banner ads £150 per week, leader box £200 per week - call 020 7099 9050 or email ads@unlimitedmedia.co.uk for information or to book.

 

 

INTRODUCING LEYLINE PUBLICITY
Leyline Promotions - better known as one of the capital’s leading independent promoters (The Remix, Kill All Hippies, Insomniacs Ball, Twisted Licks, Breaking Ground) - have created a new publicity department headed up by Nick Bateson and Adrian Leigh. The pair have worked on major campaigns including a-ha, Glade Festival, Fat Freddy’s Drop, Standon Calling Festival and Hervé amongst others.

In addition to their wealth of experience in the live arena, Leyline Publicity now specialise in bespoke PR services including online and offline music and lifestyle press, radio plugging, brand development, digital marketing and blogging. For further information please contact: nick@leylinepromotions.com or adrian@leylinepromotions.com t: 020 7575 3285

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ADVERTISE WITH CMU - classifieds £120 per week, job ads £100 per week, banner ads £150 per week, leader box £200 per week - call 020 7099 9050 or email ads@unlimitedmedia.co.uk for information or to book.

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IT'S EASTER EVERYBODY!
No, we're not suggesting that this is a news story CMU is breaking, rather we feel we ought to remind you that there'll be no CMU Daily tomorrow or on Monday. Enjoy the chocolate eating festivities, and see you back in your inbox on Tuesday.

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BPI CALLS ON UK GOVERNMENT TO GET MOVING ON ISP FILE-SHARING MEASURES
With the three-strike system for combating illegal file-sharing now almost certainly about to become law in France - only the French Constitutional Council still has to approve the provisions that sit within the proposed Creation And Internet Law - UK record label trade body the BPI has called on the UK government to make good on past promises to force internet service providers to take a more proactive role in policing online piracy.

As much previously reported, under the new French laws persistent file-sharers will be sent warning letters telling them what they are doing is illegal. If they continue to file-share after receiving two such letters they risk having their internet connection disconnected at the order of a new government agency set up to police such things.

Early last year, when the music business started to become much more vocal about their frustrations with ISPs with regards their failure to play a part in policing piracy, UK ministers gave indications that if the net firms would not enter into a voluntary agreement with the content owners regarding combating file-sharing then new laws would be introduced to force them. The French three-strike system wasn't ever officially mentioned, but it was much discussed on the side-lines at the time.

Such ministerial comments persuaded net firms to begin more formal talks with the UK record companies, and to voluntarily send out warning letters to suspected file-sharers, albeit without the threat of disconnection. But those formal talks haven't progressed much in terms of the ISPs taking on some responsibility for curbing file-sharing, which means that the content owners really need the government to come through with its promises to force the net firms to act.

Alas, a year on the relevant political types, and especially IP Minister David Lammy, don't seem so keen to act. As a result, proposals for protecting copyrights online in the government's recent 'Digital Britain' report were somewhat lacklustre.

Nevertheless, the BPI takes those proposals as a starting point in urging the UK government to follow their French counterparts in taking some solid and probably legislative action in this domain. In particular they note the report's proposals of a 'code of practice' regarding the ISPs' role in monitoring and stopping illegal file sharing, and call on the government to draft that code asap. They also ask that plans for a Digital Rights Agency, also outlined in the 'Digital Britain' report and which might administer any new systems put in place, don't get in the way and further delay proper action.

In a statement published yesterday, the BPI confirmed that it has "asked the government to strengthen its planned legislation on ISP responsibility for illegal filesharing, and to publish its draft legislation, as quickly as possible".

They add: "In the interim 'Digital Britain' report, published in January, Ministers made a commitment to introduce legislation requiring ISPs to notify alleged infringers of copyright and to collect anonymised information on repeat offenders. This legislation is to be underpinned by a Code of Practice drawn up by industry. [We believe] that the Code is an urgent requirement and should be the primary focus of action, along with the publication of the draft legislation. [We believe] that the Code should require ISPs to implement measures that prevent customers who ignore warning letters from continuing to use their internet service illegally. And if the Code cannot be agreed by industry before legislation comes into force, Ofcom should have the power to impose a Code and to enforce it".

The trade body sees media regulator OfCom has having an important role in all of this, which is another reason why they feel the Digital Rights Agency is less important, and possibly just a distraction from more pressing matters. They add: "[We feel] it is not necessary to create a new Digital Rights Agency to achieve these core aims. They could be delivered more quickly and more effectively through a forum of interested parties, facilitated either by government or by Ofcom, without the need to establish a new agency".

Putting their demands in the context of developments in France, BPI boss Geoff Taylor told CMU: "The French government has acted with admirable speed in bringing forward a solution to online copyright infringement. Its legislation will establish clear rules to discourage freeloading and allow legal services to succeed. Although the UK approach may differ in detail, Britain's creators need concrete action here to get off the ground. The French system will be up and running by Autumn, so ministers need move swiftly if the UK is not to be left behind".

He added: "The focus now should be on taking the steps that are necessary to give effect to the proposed new legislation. That is what will have the greatest impact in reducing unlawful filesharing; not the complexity of creating a new organisation. Ministers should publish the draft legislation without delay so that work on the Code of Practice can begin, to ensure that it is ready for when legislation comes into force. Work around joint consumer education and looking at potential obstacles to legitimate business models can take place in parallel, while further consideration is given to the wider issues proposed in the Rights Agency paper. Britain's creative industries must not lose out to those of other countries where copyright infringement is being dealt with".

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U2 MANAGER BACKS NEW FRENCH P2P LAW
Also chatting about the developments in France, and the need for the UK government to introduce similar measures here, is U2 manager Paul McGuinness, one of the first music industry types to make publicly confrontational remarks about the ISPs' failure to combat file-sharing at MIDEM last year. In an article for Le Figaro, also published by the Guardian, he also takes time to dispute one commonly made claim in the P2P debate, that artists who lose out on record sale income because of file-sharing can still do quite nicely thank you very much through the apparently booming live music industry.

Beginning by saying that the current debate on how to protect online copyrights "will shape the lives and the working conditions of creative professionals for years, even decades, to come", he says: "France is leading the way on this issue, with its new 'Creation And Internet' law, and where France goes, the rest of the world may follow. This is certainly not about the future of U2, the band I have managed for over 30 years. But it is about the future of a new generation of artists who aspire to be the next U2 - and about the whole environment in which that aspiration can be made possible".

Justifying his support for France's proposals, and the adoption of similar measures elsewhere, he says: "The world of music is rapidly changing, and new business models are developing fast, but all of this progress is threatened in a world where 95% of music downloads see no reward going to the creator. There are clearly people who oppose the new law, but I have not heard of any viable economic alternative to the system now being introduced, committing ISPs to helping protect copyright. The only other proposals offered look like solutions produced for the laboratory, not for the market place".

Opposing the aforementioned idea that the music business of the future has live performance as its main revenue stream, he adds: "It is a myth that artists can build long-term careers on live music alone. U2 will this year fill huge stadiums around the world. [But] that is because they have had parallel careers as recording artists and live performers since their inception 30 years ago".

He continues: "A generation of artists, all over France, and further afield, are seeing their livelihoods destroyed, their career ambitions stolen. Investment that should help them build careers is draining out of the industry. Critics who speak of the victims as 'fat record and film companies' are evoking tired caricatures, which I don't believe the majority of people today accept - certainly not those who have recently spoken to an aspiring music professional, a film producer, a TV researcher or the owner of an independent music label".

His article concludes by suggesting that, while some who oppose the new system claim large numbers of innocent web-users may lose their net connections after being falsely accused of copyright infringement, in fact the French laws are not as draconian as many suggest, and the graduated response (so two warnings before disconnection) means the new law has both "balance and proportionality".

You can read the full article here.

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FRENCH WEB-USERS STILL ANTI-THREE-STRIKE
While key players from across the music industry welcome the new French laws, and increasingly hope the introduction of three-strikes there might persuade governments elsewhere that they too should introduce such a system, there is still strong opposition to the proposals in France itself, and around the world.

Torrentfreak report on a new survey by the French Institute Of Public Policy which claims that 60% of internet users in France are against the new laws, while 69% think they will fail in their bid to cut the amount of unlicensed content hosted and accessed on the world wide web.

The Institute surveyed just over a 1000 French net users, and found that just under half, 42%, were 'strongly against' the new laws. Perhaps unsurprisingly attitudes towards the new legislation varied according to the age of the respondent, though it was only in the 65 years plus category that more people were for than against the new laws. Though according to Torrentfreak, pessimism regarding the potential success rate of the new anti-piracy initiative was pretty high among all age groups.

It does remain to be seen how effective the three-strike system is in cutting illegal file-sharing overall.

Paranoia among those who oppose the system that thousands of innocent web-users will lose their net access is probably unjustified - while the record companies' monitoring of file-sharing is obviously not 100% accurate, the warning letter system should offer plenty of opportunities for appeal, and the government agency set up to administer the whole thing - an element sadly lacking from New Zealand's previously reported three-strike laws - should ensure such appeals are properly dealt with.

However, claims by the P2P-brigade that the increasing use of software that hides a user's file-sharing activity, and the growth of offline disk-to-disk file sharing, will hinder the effectiveness of three-strike in terms of stopping serious file-sharers from file-sharing, are probably well founded. Though a few high profile disconnections may be enough to stop casual file-sharers from accessing illegal content. And, for the record company execs, most of who do realise you can only reduce and never obliterate copyright theft, that may be enough to justify the hassle of lobbying for, introducing and administrating the three-strike system.

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PRS LINE UP SONGWRITERS TO DISS YOUTUBE
From squabbles about illegal online music services, to squabbles about legal ones.

PRS For Music continued its 'YouTube are evil' campaign yesterday (that's my name for the campaign by the way, not theirs, I think they're calling it the 'YouTube are a bunch of tight bastards' campaign) by lining up a bunch of high profile songwriters to explain to the press why their collecting society is right to stand firm in its royalty rate dispute with the Google-owned video website.

As much previously reported, Google have pulled premium videos off its UK and German YouTube websites after failing to reach new licensing deals with the two countries' song copyright bodies, PRS and GEMA respectively. Google say the music bodies are being totally unrealistic in their per-click royalty demands. PRS and GEMA argue that, while YouTube may currently be a loss-making service, parent company Google is a multi-billion dollar company, and that if they want to transform YouTube into a quasi-MTV they need to be willing to pay a fair rate for the music that is at the heart of such a business.

At a press conference officially launching the previously reported website www.fairplayforcreators.com, the Chairman of PRS, Ellis Rich, did some tough talking, telling reporters: "Google, a massive commercial enterprise with profits last year of £3 billion, decided to ride rough shod arrogantly and ruthlessly over the music creators that contributed to YouTube's success. Maybe we should be calling them 'me tube' because they certainly don't care much about you. PRS for Music is proud to represent every one of our 60,000 members and help them guard their rights and collect the income we believe they are entitled to. They all deserve fair recompense for their creativity, whenever and wherever it is used by for profit, benefit or advantage. Google's YouTube is a big internet business that thinks it can steamroller over small businesses - and many of our members are very small businesses!"

Among the songwriters there to voice their support for PRS's campaign against YouTube, was sometime Robbie Williams collaborator Guy Chambers who said: "Google/YouTube are in effect asking songwriters to give away their songs for nothing. The longer music is available for nothing or next to nothing online, the quicker the demise of the recording industry. Google is manipulating the PRS for Music dispute in a deeply cynical way; to confuse the public into believing that the industry is outdated and behaving in a protectionist manner. Nothing further could be from the truth".

Beverly Knight was also there. She kind of claimed that YouTube was putting its deals with major record companies before the rights of the songwriting community, and that that was unfair, because it meant labels benefited but songwriters did not. She said: "It's great that the internet allows anyone the freedom of accessing and enjoying all kinds of music easily. However those of us who actually create the music constantly lose out when big companies pay labels to exploit that music. The creators get cut out of the deal when they are not paid royalties. This is entirely wrong. Everyone expects to be paid for their work and musicians are no different".

Pete Waterman was also there, and again told reporters how his YouTube royalties for 'Never Gonna Give You Up', a song he co-wrote and which was watched "over 100 million times" on the video site thanks to the Rick-rolling phenomenon, were just £11, a royalty he'd receive if the song was played just once on BBC Radio Stoke.

It's a good voxpop for the PRS campaign, though there has been quite a bit of discussion in the blogosphere about the reliability of Waterman's claim since he first made it at the outset of the PRS/YouTube squabble, with some adding up the total number of views of the various versions of the Astley song on the video service and getting a figure under 50 million views, and others wondering whether PRS have actually paid out royalties for the period when Rick-rolling was at its peak.

Still, Waterman seem convinced he was right when he retold his story at yesterday's press call, adding: "Panorama did a documentary on the exploitation of workers in Dubai. I feel like one of those workers, because I earned less for a year's work off Google or YouTube than they did". Yeah, perhaps PRS shouldn't rely too much on millionaire Waterman to gain public sympathy for their fight against the evil Google.

And it's clearly public sympathy the collecting society is after. The aforementioned Rich concluded by saying: "We need support to make big businesses like Youtube realise that they do not have the right to trample over the soundtrack to our lives - it's time for them to face the music and pay a fair price for it".

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GERMAN PUBLISHERS BACK GEMA
In related news, Germany's music publishers publicly voiced its support for their collecting society GEMA in its fight for better YouTube royalties yesterday. The German music publishing sector's trade body, DMV, said that Google needed to return to the negotiating table with "reasonable arguments" and a deal will included "fair remuneration" and a commitment to provide GEMA with all the information and data it needed to be able to properly account to its members. DMV VP Karl-Heinz Klempnow was quoted as saying: "The music publishers hope that polemics can be cut out in favour of the whole matter", a statement possibly lost a little in translation.

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LADY SOVEREIGN DISCUSSES DEF JAM SPLIT
Lady Sovereign, who releases her second album, 'Jigsaw', via her own Midget Records label this month, has been talking to The Guardian about her split from Universal's Def Jam last year.

She said: "I went on strike and stopped doing stuff, so Def Jam got the hump with me. I lost the plot a few times. I was cutting myself and stupid things like that. I was tired. I felt like it was just push, push, push. I didn't have a chance to record any new stuff, it was the same old songs".

However, she insists that the decision for her split from the major was, in the end, mutual: "My manager rang me and said, 'OK, it's definitely over.' And it hit me. It just had to be done, for their sake, for my sake. It wasn't messy, it was just... gone".

Now releasing through her own label, she's picked up a distribution deal with EMI. On that she says: "They offered us an amazing distribution deal. I want to make money, but I want to be happy and I want to be in control. I sit in my murky purple bedroom on my laptop, and go through everything. I put in a lot more work than I used to, because it is my thing now. I'm determined and excited. This is never going to stop; I'll keep making music, I'll keep doing my own thing. I'm not a one-trick pony".

'Jigsaw' is released on 13 Apr.

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ITC RECEIVING UNSIGNED DEMOS
Organisers of In The City have said they are welcoming demos from bands interested in playing at the unsigned bit of the music industry convention this year. If you're an unsigned band and you want to apply to play, well, go to www.inthecity.co.uk/applytoplay, obviously.

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JIM JONES ARRESTED, DRAMA UNFOLDS VIA TWITTER
US hip hopper Jim Jones was arrested in Teaneck, New Jersey on Tuesday, in relation to an unpaid traffic fine dating back four years. The Diplomats star was taken to a local police station where he paid the fine in full (it was only $120), whilst keeping fans updated on events via Twitter. "Well, it didn't go the way I wanted" he said at one point. "I'm in the precinct but I still have my phone they ain't trippin, they said just procedure".

Following his release, he told fans: "The funny part was watching them have to count all the money in my pocket lol. I must say they were very cool. And it was a punk ass warrant from 2005 for 120 dollars. Make sure you pay old tickets".

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HOUSTON TO COUNTERSUE STEPMOTHER
Whitney Houston is to countersue her stepmother for $1.6m in response to a previously reported suit relating to the execution of father John Houston's will.

The dispute is over payments relating to the house where Barbara Houston now lives, which was bought with money loaned by Whitney, and whether the singer's father's life insurance money was meant to be used to pay off debts associated with the property.

Whitney claims that Barbara Houston owes her money for failing to make mortgage, tax, and condo association payments, whilst Barbara says that the singer improperly kept proceeds from John Houston's $1-million insurance policy after his death in 2003. Whitney claims the insurance money was repaying an earlier loan plus interest.

Whitney's lawyer is paraphrased all over the place as saying that Barbara is not an inform old lady, and that the 45 year old star should not have to subsidise her 47 year old stepmother's living expenses.

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PETE TOWNSHEND'S DIVORCE COMPLETED
The Who's Pete Townshend has finally divorced from wife Karen Astley, following a separation of fourteen years. The couple, who married in 1968 and split in 1994 announced their intention to divorce in 2000, but it's taken until now to make it official. A decree nisi was granted on Tuesday, according to The Sun. Townshend currently lives with partner Rachel Fuller.

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MUSIC WEEK AWARD WINNERS
Chris Blackwell, founder of Island Records, of course, has been named the most influential figure in the last fifty years of the British music industry at this year's Music Week awards. Blackwell beat the likes of George Martin and Simon Cowell to win the special prize, awarded this year to celebrate Music Week's 50th anniversary, and conveniently coinciding with Island Records' own fiftieth birthday. Blackwell's Island records brought us music from Jimmy Cliff, Traffic, Nick Drake, Roxy Music and, perhaps most famously, Bob Marley. In a pre-recorded acceptance message, Blackwell said the award was an "unbelievable" honour.

Other special prizes at the Music Week awards bash this year went to Alison Wenham, who won a Special Achievement prize to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the trade body she runs, the Association Of Independent Music; while a posthumous award was given to the late Rob Partridge, the founder of the Coalition PR and management company who died last year. His award was preceded by a video tribute which included, among others, U2, who said: "I think it's fair to say that you believed in us before we believed in ourselves".

The full list of winners at the trade mag's awards were as follows...

The A&R Award: Jim Chancellor
Manager of the Year: Jeanette Lee
Producer of the Year: Xenomania

National Promotions Team of the Year: Atlantic Promotions
Regional Promotions Team of the Year: Columbia Records

Artist Marketing Campaign of the Year: Liz Goodwin from Polydor for Elbow The Seldom Seen Kid
Catalogue Marketing Campaign of the Year: Rachael Paley from Mercury Records for Stereophonics - Decade In The Sun - Best Of
PR Campaign of the Year: MBC PR for Duffy: The Rise of Little Big Voice
Music & Brand Partnership of the Year: Bacardi & Groove Armada - KLP
Music Sync of the Year: Boots "Here Come The Girls" - Sugababes - Universal Music

Digital Achievement of the Year: Lost Tunes - Universal Music Catalogue, UK

Publisher of the Year: EMI Music Publishing
Independent Publisher of the Year: Kobalt
Record Company of the Year: Polydor
Independent Record Company of the Year: XL

Music Sales Force of the Year: Sony Music
Distributor of the Year: Proper Music Distribution
Music Retail Brand of the Year: Amazon.co.uk
Music Retail Store of the Year: Rough Trade East, London

Music Venue of the Year: O2 Academy Brixton
Concert Promoter of the Year: Rob Hallett

National Radio Station of the Year: BBC Radio 2
Regional Radio Station of the Year: Radio City 96.7

Special Achievement - 10 Years of AIM: Alison Wenham
The Strat: Rob Partridge
UK Music Executive of the Past 50 Years: Chris Blackwell

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SIMPSON PROBABLY GOING BACK TO POP
Jessica Simpson's dabblings with the country genre are seemingly over after the label who released her last album, Sony Nashville, confirmed she is no longer on their roster. A spokesman says that her deal with the Sony country division, and indeed her ambitions in the country genre in general, were a one album thing, and that she will now return to her usual label - Sony's Epic - for her next release, another pop album. Simpson's move into country music wasn't without controversy, and she was booed at her first country music concert, and subsequently overlooked at the Country Music Association Awards. Nevertheless, her album did top the country chart, and she told reporters: "I am a country girl. I grew up in Texas, and country music was what I listened to. I think there is a strength in female country artists".

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LIMP BIZKIT TO TEAM UP WITH NEIL DIAMOND?
Okay, here's one to file under 'WHAAAAAAAAAT?!', Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst and Neil Diamond have been discussing working together after getting in touch via Twitter.

Prolific Twitterer Fred Durst fired off a message to Neil Diamond last month, saying: "I am a huge fan of yours. We should do a collaboration - Neil Diamond meets my band Limp Bizkit. Sounds fresh".

Yeah right, you think to yourself, but back came the reply: "I'd love to, where and when?".

Before moving to a private conversation, Durst said: "FANTASTIC!!!!! Incredible!! What a dream come true thanks to Twitter!!"

Assuming both Twitter-ers are the real deal, which I think we are, it remains to be seen if anything will come of this. I mean, what could be bad about a collaboration between a 68 year old singer-songwriter and a man who writes messages on Twitter like this: "It's Freddy D. I'm gonna attack this. No slack. Flip you like a mattress. Yall's tactics need practice. Who's actor? Who's actress? - morning".

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PATRICK WOLF TO TEAM UP WITH THE CHEEKY GIRLS?
Here's another one for the file mentioned above. Patrick Wolf is apparently trying to team up with Transylvanian double act The Cheeky Girls.

Wolf told The Quietus: "I once asked AQA [Any Question Answered] who should I duet with next, and they said 'Patrick Wolf would benefit in his career by dueting with the Cheeky Girls. A friend of mine was a PA for Mama Cheeky once, so I think there's connections there. I'm on the hunt for the Cheeky Girls".

Asked what form that collaboration might take, he said: "I've been exploring a lot of Dracular mythology, not sixth form goth project, but things like Vlad The Impaler and the history of it, and I really wanted to do a Transylvanian-themed section on [new album] 'Bachelor'. Dracula and vampires were great to illustrate the idea of addiction, the idea that when you're bitten by this thing you're addicted to blood. I thought it was a metaphor for a great many things. So I was thinking of getting The Cheeky Girls in to do some spoken-word Transylvanian on it".

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SIGUR SLEEPS
Sigur Ros vocalist Jon Por Birgisson has announced details of the debut album from Riceboy Sleeps, his new side project with his artist boyfriend Alex Somers. The duo's eponymous first LP will feature collaborations with Amiina and the Kopavogsdaetur choir and will be released on 20 Jul.

Here's the tracklist:

Happiness
Atlas Song
Indian Summer
Stokkseyri
Boy 1904
All The Big Trees
Daniell In The Sea
Howl
Sleeping Giant

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HEALTHY JAPANESE BANDS COME TO UK
British bands are always going off to Japan and attaching themselves to throngs of slightly insane new fans, but the reverse happens less often. Which is a shame, because once you get past the endless amounts of terrible pop they seem to love in Japan, there are loads of great bands and producers to be found. This is something a new tour coming this way in May hopes to highlight.

Dubbed the '100% Genki' tour (genki, if my ropey Japanese is correct, means healthy), the tour is organised by Smash (who are also responsible for the Fuji Rock festival) and Strummerville, and will wing its way around various music events over ten days. The four bands chosen for the inaugural round of touring are the CMU-approved 80kidz, ambient studio boffin De De Mouse, ska band Riddim Saunter, and acrobatic turntablist Tucker.

Say Strummerville of 100% Genki: "Supporting this tour is in line with what we do here at Strummerville - we give opportunities to musicians who would not normally have access to them. We are committed to help break down cultural and physical borders and boundaries around music - we're really excited to support this exceptional musical talent out of Japan".

Tour dates:

15 May: The Great Escape
16 May: The Great Escape
17 May: Futuresonic
19 May: Secret Strummerville Yard Party (guest list only event)
21 May: Stag & Dagger festival
22 May: Liverpool Sound City

For further information, go to www.newmusicfromjapan.com

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PLACEBO ANNOUNCE DATES
Placebo have announced three UK live dates ahead of the release of their new album 'Battle For The Sun', out on 8 Jun. The band, who also play Reading/Leeds and RockNess this year, will appear on the following dates at the following venues...

9 May: Sheffield O2 Academy
10 May: Bournemouth Opera House
12 May: London O2 Shepherds Bush Empire

And here's a quote from frontman Brian Molko all about the new record: "I believe 'Battle' to be the first of our albums to tell a story over the course of its 52 minutes. Our previous releases were really only collections of songs and even though the songs are ordered according to the musical flow, I hope that if you listen hard enough to the words that some kind of discernible thematic unity will begin to emerge. I'm very optimistic about the future. I'm in a positive frame of mind and a good head space. It's very exciting. There's a lot of life in the old dog just yet".

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AIF FESTIVALS JOIN EURO TOURISM CAMPAIGN
The Association Of Independent Festivals has announced it is participating in a £1.8 million marketing initiative by tourism body VisitBritain to promote the UK as a destination to young people across Europe. The marketing campaign uses the slogan 'See More For Less', and is seemingly partly about bigging up the current weak status of the pound and the benefit that brings to those coming into the UK from abroad.

Among the AIF members participating, by offering a 20% discount to overseas music fans who buy tickets to their festivals via the VisitBritain website, are Bestival, Big Chill, Creamfields, Field Day, Secret Garden Party, Summer Sundae Weekender and Womad.

AIF co-founder Ben Turner told reporters: "VisitBritain has been completely open to our thinking and ideas, and shares a similar understanding of the true importance of the great British festival to UK tourism and creative culture. I'd like to think this is relationship that will grow and grow as we mirror the trend of people wanting to base international holidays around music festivals. We believe that this new genre of tourism is now officially recognised through VisitBritain".

Laurence Bresh, VisitBritain's regional director for Europe, added: "The link-up with the Association of Independent Festivals is an exciting development for us, as the organization has opened up the door to over 20 of Britain's finest festivals. The great British festival is a major tourist attraction for our target audience so this deal is a great value added addition to our annual campaign".

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FESTIVAL LINE UP UPDATE

THE GREAT ESCAPE, various venues, Brighton, 14-16 May: The Charlatans, Gang Of Four, Just Jack and Mystery Jets are the latest batch of artists to be announced to play. The Rumble Strips, Idlewild and Titus Andronicus have also been confirmed. www.escapegreat.co.uk

GUILFEST, Stoke Park, Guilford, Surrey 10-12 Jul: The Stranglers, Will Young and The King Blues have all been confirmed for this year's Guilfest, joining headliners Motorhead, Brian Wilson and Happy Mondays. www.guilfest.co.uk

GREEN MAN FESTIVAL, Glansuk Park, Brecon Beacons, Wales, 21-23 Aug: Animal Collective have been confirmed as headliners for this year's Green Man Festival. British Sea Power, Bon Iver and Wilco have also been announced, with Rory Erickson, DJhistory and Idjut Boys set to play the In The Far Out After Dark Stage. www.thegreenmanfestival.co.uk

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ALBUM REVIEW: The Virgins - The Virgins (Atlantic)
New York City has certainly churned out some bloody good music over the past handful of years. It seems to be the city where the cool dwell and flourish, and are, most importantly, discovered and exhibited. The Virgins are the latest to be picked out of NYC's melting pot of talent, and are, somewhat predictably, skinny-jeaned up to their necks and suited-and-booted in hipster-hugging attire - all with matching sneers and pouts, of course. Their eponymous debut album isn't much different, either - it's cool, it's ironically nu-new-wave, it's practically wrapped in neon nylons and, not forgetting, it's already been featured on the sardonically craptastic but addictive 'Gossip Girl'. So how does it sound, I hear you cry? Well, shove Phoenix, The Teenagers and Van She in a room together with a couple of instruments and you might find yourself a close enough answer. So it's nothing truly original, but what's there is nonchalant, instantly-catchy dance rock with a new wave edge. 'One Week Of Danger' is a fun, sexy song and an instant winner, with the robotic-vox-infused 'Private Affair' and the summery 'Rich Girls' swaggering close behind. A casual triumph of a debut from the boys of the city. TW
Release Date: 20 Apr
Press Contact: Charm Factory

Buy from iTunes
Buy from Amazon

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THE SATURDAYS LAUNCH RARE CLOTHES
The Saturdays are to launch their own range of clothes for the fashion brand Rare, which flog their garments in Topshop stores I think. Each of the five members of the girl group will 'design' two items of clothing, meaning that gullible pop-teens will be able to dress like their favourite Saturday girl.

Confirming the tie up with The Saturdays, Rare CEO John Quinn told reporters: "The girls encapsulate the very essence of our brand; fashion conscious, on-trend and full of fun. They really love fashion and understand what it takes to make a great collection".

A statement for the group said: "We absolutely love fashion and having the chance to design our own collection is brilliant. Our relationship with Rare started with Mollie's yellow dress in our 'If This Is Love' video, so it's great that we now get to have our very own range".

The Saturdays fashion range will be in store this summer.

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COMMON LAUNCHES FRAGRANCE
Rapper Common is to launch a new fragrance for men via a tie up with fashion brand Diesel. The hip hopper come actor will perform a number of shows around the US this summer to promote the new fragrance, kicking off with an instore at Diesel's LA shop on 20 May.

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ASCAP PRESIDENT STEPS DOWN
Academy Award winning songwriter Marilyn Bergman has announced she is stepping down as President of US song copyright collecting society ASCAP after fifteen years in the job. Her successor should be elected at the next ASCAP board meeting later this month.

Bergman: "I am grateful to have had the honor of serving as the president and chairman of ASCAP for 15 years, and am exceedingly proud of all that was accomplished during my tenure. I will continue to be a passionate advocate for all music creators through my work on the ASCAP board of directors. But in terms of the presidency itself, I see that now is the right time to step down".

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SONY TOURING DIVISION LAUNCHES IN AUSTRALIA
Sony Music Australia has announced it is launching a new touring and events division to be called Day 1 Entertainment, and that they will be co-promoters of the recently announced Simon & Garfunkel dates in the country.

It's the latest move by a major record company into a domain of the music business other than recordings. Exactly what the new division's role will be in the live projects it promotes isn't clear - ie primarily investment, or if they will have in-house marketing and/or logistical staff - but it does seem that co-promotions arrangements, such as the one it has with Aussie uber-promoter Michael Chugg on the S&G tour, are very much on the agenda.

Sony Music Australia CEO Denis Handlin told reporters: "On some of the tours we will really enjoy partnering up with the promoters and working with them, and some tours we'll do on our own. The promoters now know that we can partner up with them. We're not there to be the enemy or a threat".

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BPI APPOINT NEW COMMS CHIEF
UK record label trade body the BPI has announced the appointment of a new Director Of Communications to take over from Matt Phillips who moved to the BBC earlier this year. And the new Comms man is Adam Liversage, currently Head Of Corporate Media Relations at BT - so a man from the evil telecommunications sector, that's interesting. Though, we should note, he was previously PR Manager for Universal Music, so he knows the music biz too.

Confirming the appointment, BPI boss Geoff Taylor said this: "We are delighted that Adam is joining us and he is a very strong addition to the BPI team. I have no doubt that he will make a great contribution to the BPI's task of explaining the role of music companies in the digital age, and help us communicate our members' position on key issues facing the music business".

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ERA SUPPORTS RECORD STORE DAY
With Record Store Day, a celebration of the good old-fashioned record shop, approaching here's something nice and cheerful for you to digest. There are now barely 300 independent record shops left in the UK, compared to 408 in 2007 and 1000 just over a decade ago. Actually we already knew that, the Entertainment Retailers Association released those figures a few weeks back, but they have reaffirmed how few and far between indie music sellers are becoming ahead of the aforementioned Record Store Day on 18 Apr, in a bid to get us all to support our local independent store on that day, and beyond.

ERA Director General Kim Bayley told reporters yesterday: "Independent record stores are an essential part of the UK's unique musical culture. They are at their best a heady mixture of unofficial youth club, cultural centre, recruitment agency for musicians and music education centre. They recommend new music and they nurture new artists. Anyone who believes in British music must fear for the future of the independent record store. That is why ERA, on behalf of everyone selling music, video and games, is delighted to be supporting Record Store Day".

Bayley added: "The independent nature of these stores has meant historically that they have found it difficult to organise themselves collectively, but the fact that more than 70 of them have come together for Record Store Day gives cause for optimism".

So that's all good. I'm sure at three indie record store owners would say that if ERA had done more to stop the VAT loophole that helps online mail-order operations based on the Channel Islands undercut the high street so much on CDs then there might be more than 300 indie stores to support, but I won't let such talk spoil the Record Store Day celebrations.

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SPOTIFY AGREE TERMS WITH PRS
While staging the latest YouTube-diss session in London yesterday, songwriter collecting society PRS For Music let it be known that they had "agreed commercial terms" with Spotify regarding the royalty the ever popular streaming service will pay for the use of the songs it represents. I think there was an implication of "if Spotify can do a deal, why can't YouTube?".

To be honest I didn't know Spotify was still in talks with PRS, though it is common for online music services to go live without some licensing deals in place, especially on the publishing side. It's also not clear whether Spotify have negotiated a special start-up deal or if they are paying the collecting society's standard streaming rates - though I suspect the former.

If so, then the Spotify/YouTube situations aren't the same. Most streaming services happily enter into start-up deals with PRS, the problem comes 2-3 years later when the collecting society starts to demand higher rates for what should now be, in their eyes, proper revenue-generating operations from which their members can benefit. On that logic, Spotify's second PRS deal in 2-3 years time will be more interesting, should they, we and the world at large still be around then.

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VARIABLE PRICING CROPPING UP ACROSS DIGITAL MUSIC MARKET
Well, we wondered if the move by iTunes into variable pricing this week, so that some downloads are priced at $1.29 instead of 99 cents, would be replicated at other download stores, and it looks like it will be, and, for that matter, already has been. According to CNet, more than a few downloads are now selling for $1.29 on the US version of Amazon MP3. There are also reports in the US that Walmart and Real Network's download stores are selling tracks above the 99 cents price point.

It is likely that the price increases across the board are being caused by an increase in the wholesale prices for some downloads as set by the labels and their digital distributors. The labels have wanted variable pricing in the download space since the very early days of legit download stores, of course, and it looks like they are now getting their way. Presumably that means that the labels' deals with other download stores allowed for variable pricing, but possibly only once Apple had agreed to move away from the 99-cents-for-all-tracks model it created and had been very committed to until recently.

Given the price changes are seemingly happening across the board, the introduction of variable pricing probably won't have too big a negative impact on iTunes, as had been predicted by some. Though some commentators still reckon that by raising prices, and even just by adopting the more confusing variable pricing model, some consumers of legit download stores will be pushed toward illegal services where everything is consistently priced at zero cents.

I'm not sure that's really true, though it might make sales and price cuts on specific tracks a bigger deal in the digital market. Both Amazon and Play.com have in the past run promotions offering certain tracks at considerably less than the usual 79 pence price point in the UK market.

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WE7 LAUNCH SUBS OPTION
We7 has announced that it too is launching a subscription version of its streaming music service meaning people can opt to hear tracks on-demand without ads. Such a subscription option is available via their main rivals Spotify already, of course, though the ad-free subscription idea isn't especially new, Yahoo! used such a system for its Launch service for years.

We7 are also running a loyalty programme which means that people who tune into music on the platform on a regular basis are rewarded with ad-free days - so like a free mini-subscription.

Confirming the new ad-free options, We7 CEO Steve Purdham told reporters: "We7 has seen increasing dynamics that are indicating that ad-supported music can be a significant contributor to the overall music revenue streams. Part of making ad-funded work is providing the consumer with choice, so they control how they consume and pay for music whether it be with money, activity or adverts".

Both new services will be promoted in the Daily Star newspaper this weekend, where a code will be given to readers that can be redeemed for a month's free subscription.

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THIS WEEK'S SUB.TV PLAYLIST
These, in case you wondered, are the videos being played on the Sub.tv network of screens in students' unions around the UK this week. New entries marked with a *. More info from DavidLloyd@sub.tv.

A List
A.R. Rahman & Pussycat Dolls - Jai Ho! (You Are My Destiny)
Asher Roth - I Love College
Beyoncé - Halo
Calvin Harris - I'm Not Alone
Ciara feat. Justin Timberlake - Love Sex Magic*
The Enemy - No Time For Tears
Franz Ferdinand - No You Girls
James Morrison - Please Don't Stop The Rain
Jason Mraz - Make It Mine
Just Jack - Embers
Pink - Please Don't Leave Me
Tinchy Stryder feat N-Dubz - Number 1
The Virgins - Rich Girls
White Lies - Farewell To The Fairground
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Zero

B List
Britney Spears - If You Seek Amy*
Fightstar - Mercury Summer
Fleet Foxes - White Winter Hymnal
Frankmusik - Better Off As Two
Ironik feat. Chipmunk & Elton John - Tiny Dancer*
Keri Hilson feat. Timbaland - Return The Favour*
The King Blues - I Got Love*
The Lonely Island feat. T - Pain - I'm On A Boat
Madina Lake - Never Take Us Alive
Marmaduke Duke - Rubber Lover*
Royksopp - Happy Up Here
Steve Appleton - Dirty Funk
Theory Of A Deadman - Hate My Life
T - Pain feat. Chris Brown - Freeze*
The View - Temptation Dice

Tip List
Bombay Bicycle Club - Always Like This
Delphic - Counterpoint*
Esser - Headlock*
Freeland - Under Control
Gallows - The Vulture (Act III)*
Go:Audio - Drive To The City
In Case Of Fire - Enemies*
PJ Harvey & John Parish - Black Hearted Love
The Qemists feat Jenna G - On The Run*
The Temper Trap - Science Of Fear*
Tommy Sparks - She's Got Me Dancing
Twisted Wheel - We Are Us*
Will and The People - Knocking*
Zarif - Let Me Back

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GLADE'S LAWYERS CHECK OUT NUDE RULES
Organisers of the brilliant Glade Festival are having to seek legal advice after a group of German nudist ravers asked if they could come to this year's event and party for three days without the hassle of clothing. It seems that word has spread that the Glade crowd gave a warm welcome to a lone nudist who graced the festival for two years running, and the group of 30 nudists now want to come to the 2009 fest. But while the festival's organisers don't have any problem with the proposal themselves, they fear that such a large contingent of naked people might present licensing or legal problems.

Festival Director Nick Ladd told CMU: "I think it all started two years ago when we had a guy from San Francisco stark naked and painted purple from head to toe cavorting round the festival all weekend. At one point he was picked up by security, but we had him released as he was actually quite entertaining and a really nice bloke".

Regarding the proposal from the German nudists, who apparently arrive en masse at German music events, the authorities there seemingly being a little more liberal about these things, Ladd continues: "We are not too sure what to do to be honest. I asked them if they would be prepared to wear fig leaves or something and even explained that it can get chilly in England in the summer, and that maybe, at least the guys amongst them might be happy to cover up their shortcomings, but they said it was out of the question as it would compromise their right to party naked".

He concludes: "I told them they could probably get away with it provided they all paint themselves different colours and don't hassle anybody". That said, the festival's lawyers are double checking that, and there are proposals that, if necessary, a special enclosure might be set up for the naked ravers.

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KARDASHIAN NOT OFFENDED BY EMINEM
Kim Kardashian has said that she's not offended by Eminem's previously reported new video, and in fact thinks it's quite funny. Some of you may be wondering who Kim Kardashian is; if you are, she's one of these inexplicably famous socialite types, you know, a bit like Paris Hilton, or someone, who does reality shows and bits of acting. And, she is parodied in Eminem's new promo.

Kardashian blogged: "It was a total surprise to me because I had no idea he was going to talk about me in the song - I think the video is so funny. I am a huge Eminem fan and find it flattering he would rap about me. He's a bit harsh about some other celebrities, but you just have to let it go and have a sense of humour. Personally, I'm honoured".

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KAISER BRAND OASIS "BITTER"
Kaiser Chiefs have reignited their feud with Oasis because, well, The Sun asked them about it and they responded. As you'll no doubt remember, Noel Gallagher started it all by comparing the Kaisers, negatively, to The Monkees. This got Oasis lots of coverage for their new album, because Kaiser Chiefs, were then asked about it in every interview they did to promote their own new album. Liam Gallagher later followed up by calling them a "bad Blur", which is probably fair.

Anyway, Kaiser Chief Andrew White told The Sun: "We have no time for [Noel]. Music is an art but he doesn't appreciate music for what it is. He started it. It shows what a bitter old man he has become".

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