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CMU in Liverpool
TODAY'S NEWS
Top Stories
Record sales decline, but less than they used to
Met police defend 696
In The Pop Courts
Jim Jones pleads not guilty to assault
Awards & Contests
Ono to judge Haiku contest
Artist Deals
EMI do 360 degree deal with Deadmau5
In The Studio
Albarn has been busy with Gorillaz tracks
Take That to collaborate with Spandau Ballet
Release News
Manics cover Horrors
Films N Shows News
Jarvis Cocker scores some voice work
Gigs N Tours News
Two Strokes to play at Dylan tribute
Tori Amos gigs
Festival News
Virtualfestivals launch green channel
Reviews
Single review: Robot Disaster! - Guitars Are Overrated (Gash Digital)
The Music Business
Universal, slight declines but optimistic
Warner music shares rated as 'buy'
MPA chief to keynote at MusicTank
The Digital Business
Digital stores launch new B2B site
The Media Business
Branson shareholding in Virgin Media down to 6.5%, media group relaunches flagship channel
UTV revenues down
BBC chief says licence obligation should be extended to iPlayer
Student press suffer from advertising slump
Radio festival announces speakers
Chart Of The Day
Total Rock world album chart
And finally...
Debbie Harry loves Lady Gaga
Lily Allen uses very rude word
Sugababes cross about spoof video
Eminem on Carey
Advertising info
Consulting info
CMU Credits + Contacts

 
TUESDAY 19TH MAY


TARTUFI
Tartufi are San Francisco based Lynne Angel & Brian Gorman. When they recently signed to Southern Records they wrote on their MySpace: "Lynne and Brian a saw a light on in the far off cabin at Southern Records. A kind maiden at Southern welcomed them in, sat them beside the hearth, and fed them delicious English soup and beer. Well worn from their travels the two musicians listened intently as the label maiden told them tales of battles fought, won, and lost in the kingdom of Indierocklandia. Her eyes were true and her words sure. Their amulet - the one the wizard of the glenn gave them to reveil trickery - confirmed that she was pure of heart. She invited them to stay. They accepted". I think that tells you that these guys are a little bit quirky. But in a very good way. And once the soup and beer had been consumed, Southern got about the business of releasing the duo's new album 'Nests of Waves And Wire', which came out in the US last month and is properly released here this week. We asked Brian our same six questions (actually Lynne answered them too and you'll be able to read her answers on theCMUwebsite.com next week).

 
Q1 How did you start out making music?
Though I didn't know it at the time, I began working towards what we do now in Tartufi when I got an old audio transcribing machine (the kind that legal assistants use). It had foot pedals for forward, reverse, and speed. I would bend the hell out of the tapes, plait several of them at the same time, and re-record them on to several boomboxes I had in a circle around the transcriber. I was amazed at how musical the results were. I was basically looping and effecting those loops before I even knew what loops or effects boxes were. I made the decision to be a musician while playing in a street band in Japan. When I moved to San Francisco I made the decision to play music with Lynne when I saw her destroy a room with her insano, beautiful vocals. As she finished playing the entire audience was asking, "What the hell was that?!" I replied, "My future bandmate". Then I told them all to eat it.

Q2 What inspired your latest album?

A great deal of disenchantment. We were neck deep in the Bush administration, two wars, good ideas were being corrupted everywhere we looked, and the funk of non-stop touring for a few months definitely coloured our ideas. There are reoccurring themes of man vs nature and man vs man on the new album - in both battles man loses through ignorance, arrogance or accident. Be careful what you build because one day it will fall, and chances are it will fall on someone. Patience also inspired 'Nests Of Waves And Wire'. 'UUBUU' was a whirlwind - we wrote, recorded, released, and starting touring on it all in about three months. We wanted our new album to be more contemplative and thorough. I think we nailed it.

Q3 What process do you go through in creating a track?

We are ridiculous in the studio. Lynne and I are both self-taught musicians so our music vocabulary only makes sense to us and even then only sometimes. We do a lot of drawing, working toward an image of what the song could be, and often throw themes and scenarios back and forth to inspire each other: "Pretend you are a grandmother who just lost her legs to diabetes. You are babysitting your two year old granddaughter who has climbed from your lap and running towards the street. Fortunately you have a sling-shot, you load it with a stone and take the little giant down with a direct hit. You broke her knee and her parents, your child and his wife thank you for it. You saved her life. 10 years later your granddaughter is wheeling you around a top a San Francisco hill. She walks with a limp. At the crest of the hill she pauses. You wonder if she might let go and roll you into traffic. OK now play that on bass with lots of delay".

Q4 Which artists influence your work?

Les Claypool, Sia, Andrew Bird, Celebration, The Heartless Bastards, Band of Horses, and Dept of Eagles.

Q5 What would you say to someone experiencing your music for the first time?

If they are experiencing us recorded for the first time I would say to be sure to listen to the album from start to finish. We wrote 'Nests Of Waves And Wire' as one piece. If they are experiencing our live show for the first time, it's all live. We do not use laptops, midi clocks, or click tracks. Tartufi plays without a net. We like to dance the nudey dance with the possibility of crashing into the mountain tops. If we don't say much during the show - usually because we play seamless sets and never stop playing - do not take offense we still like you. We are silent so you can hear us better.

Q6 What are your ambitions for your latest album, and for the future?

We are going to tour the US and Europe until we know all of the state birds and regional cheeses by heart and learn to say, "No, we can not turn down" in 14 languages. We hope our new album is a worthwhile escape for our fans, and we are looking forward to working with our great team at Southern to make the album huge and keep it real. We have a new, new album almost entirely written and Lynne and I are itching to get back in the studio to build something that will eventually fall on someone else.

MORE>>www.tartufirock.net and www.myspace.com/tartufi
 
PLUGS
When Morgan Quaintance left Does It Offend You, Yeah? earlier this year, there was a flurry of press around new outfit Plugs who are, ultimately, better than his previous band, so it's probably seeming like a wise move on his part right now. 'All Them Witches' is their pitched single and sounds like !!! making lounge music with Nintendo bleeps, though they also have some groovier numbers that seem to have taken bass lessons from Tina Weymouth. There stuff is available via Filthy Dukes' label Kill 'Em All and they're 'plugging' it all fairly extensively on a tour that includes a host of festival dates, so there are no excuses not to catch them at some point soon.

www.myspace.com/plugsmusic




 

 

IT'S LIVERPOOL SOUNDCITY 2009!
This week the music business turns to Merseyside where Liverpool SoundCity will be presenting four days of talks, debates, panels and networking opportunities for music people, alongside a whole barrage of brilliant music showcases, featuring no end of great bands. You can check the full line up at www.liverpoolsoundcity.co.uk (check out CMU's sessions in the 'Special Events' section), meanwhile we'll be picking out some of our favourite bands who are playing SoundCity here in the Daily each day, throwing our same six questions at five of them, and digging into the SSQ archives to get a little insight from 20 more.


ATTACK! ATTACK!
Welsh foursome Attack! Attack! have been busy building a fan base for themselves via lots and lots of gigging, supporting fellow countrymen like Funeral For A Friend and Lostprophets, and more recently travelling the UK on a co-headline tour with Tonight Is Goodbye. Aside from all the gigging, songs from their eponymous debut album, released last Autumn, are also reaching a wider audience through the wonderful of sync, with their Feburary single appearing in both the revived 'Beverly Hills 90210' and on the latest edition of 'Guitar Hero', which is rather exciting. With latest single 'Honest' out this week, the band are doing more gigs this month, including one at Liverpool Sound City at The Barfly on Saturday afternoon. Ahead of all that, we put the SSQ to the band's Neil Starr.

Q1 How did you start out making music?
I remember watching a TV programme on channel 4 called 'The Word' when I was a teenager and I saw Nirvana and Rage Against the Machine on there. That inspired me to want to learn how to play guitar. I pretty much learned guitar and singing by playing along to the Nirvana albums 'Bleach' and 'Nevermind'. The next step was to form a band; I met a drummer in school and forced one of my best mates to learn to play bass. That drummer and myself went on to form a band called Dopamine after completing a university degree.

Q2 What inspired your recent single 'You And Me'?
That was one of the first songs we ever wrote as Attack! Attack! I remember when we first started jamming our bassist Will gave me a demo CD he had done over a year prior to forming A!A! As soon as I heard the intro riff and the chords I knew it was going to be a great song. I pretty much came up with the vocal melody there and then, the lyrics kind of just flowed out too. I guess you could say our bassist Will inspired our latest single!

Q3 What process do you go through in creating a track?
There are two main ways that we write as a band. Either someone writes a pretty much completed song at home and then brings it to practice for everyone to hear and learn, or whilst in the rehearsal room one of us will start playing a random riff or set of chords and it will develop from there. That's one of the great things that excites me about making music, you never know where or when you might be inspired to create a song. It just seems to happen!

Q4 Which artists influence your work?
Personally I am majorly influenced by 90's grunge such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Smashing Pumpkins. I also love musical geniuses such as Prince, Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson. I know the rest of the guys would say bands like AC/DC, Blink182, Stereophonics, Lostprophets and Foo Fighters. I guess any band/artist that has melody in their music could potentially be an influence of ours.

Q5 What would you say to someone experiencing your music for the first time?
I would say something like "listen with an open heart and mind" because we try to be as varied as possible within our tracks and "make sure you listen to the album from start to finish" because for us it's not about one individual track but more of a focus on diversity and dynamics on the whole record.

Q6 What are your ambitions for your latest single, and for the future?
We are quite grounded about our aims for any single. We obviously want to reach a wider audience by getting radio plays on different stations and TV plays on different channels. That's our main objective for the single because, up until now, the only way you would of heard about Attack! Attack! is from seeing us live or from 'word of mouth' on the internet. The future objectives aren't too dis-similar to what I just said, basically we want to get our music out there to as many different people in as many different countries as we possibly can. We also want to keep playing sellout live shows to fans that are coming out to sing and jump along with us. Ultimately we want to keep having fun because right now we are having the time of our lives!

ATTACK! ATTACK! AT LIVERPOOL SOUNDCITY>> 23 May matinee show at the Barfly (1pm kick off).
MORE>>www.myspace.com/attackattackband


 
LSC-SSQ: What would you say to someone experiencing your music for the first time?
From the SSQ archives, bands playing LSC tell us what they'd say to people hearing their tunes for the very first time.

Hot Club de Paris: "I hope you paid for this and didn't download it you horrible little shit because I WILL come down your modem and fuck you up" Barfly Theatre, 10 May

Little Boots: "All the songs are quite different and have their own characters so maybe bear that in mind... but I guess just see if you like it!" Academy 2, Notion, 22 May,

Metronomy: "It's probably best to say nothing, I might just confuse them otherwise, in my normal rambling style" Alma de Cuba, 21 May

Official Secrets Act: "Enjoy it, question it, take it into your arms and give it a big hug, but then treat it bad, treat it mean and keep it keen, then dance with it all around your room" Magnet, 22 May

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RECORD SALES DECLINE, BUT LESS THAN THEY USED TO
See, sometimes a decline can be a good thing: the decline of the UK's record industry is declining. Perhaps not the headline you'd choose to have at the top of your industry's end-of-year financial report, but things could, and have been worse. Plus, of course, decline's in fashion these days, so the record industry's falling revenues and profits don't look so out of place anymore.

The UK record label trade body, the BPI, yesterday announced that the trade value of the British record industry was down 5.3% to £894 million in 2008. Retail value was down 6% to £1.308 billion, the higher decline a sign of the tightening profit margins for music retailers, instigated, of course, by the supermarkets and online CD sellers, who can afford a smaller mark up on music. So some doom and gloom, though 2007's figures were 13% and 15% down (trade and retail respectively) compared to 2006, so, as you see, the decline is declining, and there's your silver lining.

Other stats from the BPI report on all things 2008 include news that album sales were down 3.2% overall, though the sale of digital albums was up 65%. 109.8 million single tracks were downloaded in the UK in 2008, which is 41.6% up year on year, and downloading now accounts from the vast majority of single sales - 95.3% of the singles market in fact. 9.5% of the population bought some digital music last year, up from 5.1% in 2007.

The use of legit digital services is, as you might expect, highest among 20-29 year olds, who accounted for 43.9% of digital expenditure last year. 7.2 million MP3 players were sold in 2008, and almost a third of 16-24 year olds now listen to music at least once a week on a mobile phone.

The top level stats gave little insight into the use of licensed streaming services like Spotify, presumably a considerable growth area for the record industry, though it did reveal that BPI research suggests 10% of the aforementioned 16-24 year olds use a Spotify-style service at least once a week.

Commenting on the latest stats, BPI boss Geoff Taylor told CMU: "The rapid growth of the digital market is clear evidence that British record companies have the business models in place to deliver music to fans online. The impressive fact that one pound in every ten is earned online shows that labels are leading the way in the entertainment world in developing digital services. At the same time these figures also demonstrate that the CD is still a highly valued and loved product and that music fans appreciate the physical album. BPI's research also shows that UK record companies invest 21% of turnover on sales in A&R expenditure - identifying and developing new musical talent - over the last three years. The rapid growth of the digital market is clear evidence that British record companies have the business models in place to deliver music to fans online".

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MET POLICE DEFEND 696
Two spokesmen for the Metropolitan Police have defended the controversial Form 696 that has been much criticised by the whole music industry and, as of last week, by MPs too.

As previously reported, the form is now used by local authorities in London as part of the licensing process for live music events. Promoters and musicians object to the fact that the personal details of all performers are demanded, and also that very specific genre information is requested. It's believed that information is used to make possibly prejudiced judgements about the demographics of an event's possible audience. With cross-industry trade body UK Music leading the opposition to the form, parliament's Culture Select Committee last week criticised the paperwork, saying in its report on licensing laws that it was part of an "increasingly authoritarian approach" employed by police and local authorities in the licensing of music events.

But, according to Billboard, the Met's Thomas Bowen and Adrian Studd argued at The Great Escape last week that there had been an 11% reduction in crime at live venues in London this year, and that club shootings were down, adding that information garnered from the Form 696 has helped in that process. They claimed: "The development of 696 has undoubtedly contributed to lowering shootings in these venues".

Speaking for the live industry, MAMA Group's Steve Forster said he wasn't convinced 696 was the right way to go about policing crime at clubs and music events. He said the form was "too narrow", and that police should be focusing on the small number of "high risk events" rather than putting all promoters through the unnecessary and intrusive 696 process.

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JIM JONES PLEADS NOT GUILTY TO ASSAULT
US rap-type Jim Jones has pleaded not guilty to assaulting a seventeen year old at a concert in Panama City, Florida, back in March.

Damion Johns alleges that the incident occurred during a performance for MTV's 'Spring Break' programme, and claims that Jones told him to move out of the way, and then attacked him. Johns responded by hitting the rapper back, before two bodyguards pushed him to the ground and continued with the assault.

Jones is also due to appear in court in New York next month in relation to another incident which took place in December last year at the city's Louis Vuitton shop, where it's alleged he was involved in an brawl with Ne-Yo's manager, Jayvon Smith.

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ONO TO JUDGE HAIKU CONTEST
Yoko Ono is to judge a haiku contest that is set to happen via Twitter and King's Cross Station.

Yes, I have got that right. You see, what's going to happen is this: visitors passing through King's Cross Station will be encouraged to send a self-penned haiku on the subject of 'the British summer' via their Twitter accounts. A display board in the station will show the best of the short poems within minutes of them being sent. They'll be displayed at the nearby King's Place arts centre too.

By the way, I imagine you all know what a haiku is, but just in case you don't, it's a form of Japanese poetry consisting of seventeen syllables in three phases or lines of five, seven and five syllables each.

Ono and poet Jackie Kay are to judge the haiku, and a winner will be given free entry to to King's Place's 'Words On Monday' events throughout 2009. Though if you want to enter, you better get down to Kings Cross and get your haiku written, because entries must be submitted by Friday.

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EMI DO 360 DEGREE DEAL WITH DEADMAU5
EMI's Virgin UK division has announced a worldwide deal with producer deadmau5 which is one of those nifty 360 degree set ups, in that the major will be involved in the producer's recordings, live activity, sponsorship, merchandise and all things TV, film and sync.

Confirming the deal, Deadmau5's manager Dean Wilson, of the aptly named Three Six Zero Group, told CMU: "The Three Six Zero Group are ecstatic that our client, deadmau5, has signed such a ground breaking deal with such a forward thinking group of people that understand what our artist and we are looking to achieve in the future".

EMI A&R top man Nick Gatfield added: "Deadmau5 is an extremely talented and versatile artist and the hottest name in the world of electronic music. I am delighted to have signed this agreement which will see us working together for many years to come across all aspects of the artist's career".

Deadmau5 recently won the Best Breakthrough DJ award at the Miami Winter Music Conference, and is the number one selling artist on dance music store Beatport.

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ALBARN HAS BEEN BUSY WITH GORILLAZ TRACKS
Damon Albarn has been very busy writing songs for the next Gorillaz album, according to the band's manager, Chris Morrison, who has been speaking to 6music about it all.

Morrison said: "He's got a plethora of tracks at the moment. Whether they all make the light of day or get refined and come down to a normal amount you get on a record of 10 to 15 tracks, I can't tell at this point in time. It's far too early in the stage of what we are doing. It'll come round when it's ready and when it's been finished and when he's happy with what he's done".

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TAKE THAT TO COLLABORATE WITH SPANDAU BALLET
According to reports, Spandau Ballet are planning to work with Take That, and soon. Well, Tony Hadley say he hopes to collaborate with Gary Barlow, which is sort of the same thing. MSN quote Hadley as saying: "I'm hoping to start writing with Gary after the Spandau shows and we've started talking about it. I love Gary, he's great".

Hadley is also quoted talking about the Ballet's previously reported reunion, coming, as it did, after years of animosity among the former bandmates. Hadley: "We had a few pints together and actually got on extremely well. It took a while but it's amazing what beer can do. It's been nice to bury the hatchet, but not in each other's heads".

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MANICS COVER HORRORS
Manic Street Preachers have recorded a cover of 'Vision Blurred' by their new favourite band The Horrors, and it's currently available as a free download, exclusively from the NME Daily Download Blog. You need to go and get it soonish, though, as it will only be available until 5pm today. You can also get a version of Manics track 'Doors Closing Slowly', from new album 'Journal For Plague Lovers', remixed by The Horrors.

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JARVIS COCKER SCORES SOME VOICE WORK
Jarvis Cocker has done some voice work for a new film adaptation of Roald Dahl story Fantastic Mr Fox, directed by Wes Anderson. The movie, which numbers the likes of George Clooney, Meryl Streep and Bill Murray amongst its cast, will see Cocker providing the voice of a mandolin playing marionette. He told The Times: "I did a narration bit at the start, too, but they showed that to test audiences in the US and they were very bamboozled. So I've ended up on the cutting-room floor".

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TWO STROKES TO PLAY AT DYLAN TRIBUTE
According to reports, The Strokes' Fabrizio Moretti and Nikolai Fraiture are to unite for a performance at a Bob Dylan tribute gig at the Mercury Lounge in New York on Thursday. The Bob Dylan Birthday Bash will also feature appearances from Jesse Malin, Adam Green and members of Fountains Of Wayne. The Strokes, by the way, haven't made a live appearance together since 2006. And they're not doing now, to be fair, it's just two of them, so not quite sure why I mentioned that.

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TORI AMOS GIGS
I sort of over-dosed on Tori Amos yesterday having set her entire back catalogue, live albums and all, playing on Spotify. But I'm sure I'll have recovered by the time she returns to the UK to play four live shows in September, dates as follows...

6 Sep: Manchester, Apollo
7 Sep: Birmingham, Symphony Hall
8 Sep: Glasgow, Royal Concert Hall
10 Sep: London, HMV Hammersmith Apollo

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VIRTUALFESTIVALS LAUNCH GREEN CHANNEL
AGreenerFestival, the group who encourage music festivals to be more eco-friendly, are applying their ethos directly to music fans through a joint venture with VirtualFestivals.com, who will launch a new channel offering festival-goers tips on how they can be more green while enjoying this summer's music festivals. I think a lot of it has to do with how festival-goers get there in the first place.

A GreenerFestival co-founder Ben Challis, who will pen a blog on the new channel, told CMU: "The just published 'Jam Packed' report from Julies Bicycle [the body lobbying for more eco-friendliness across the music industry] shows that 68% of greenhouse gas emissions from festivals comes from audience travel. With over 1 million fans at festivals in 2008 that's quite a lot of carbon and something we all need to tackle - and this includes the audience".

He continued: "Our website www.agreenerfestival.com has been a resource to support festival and event organisers, suppliers and artists, but we felt that by working with Virtual Festivals we could start to engage with the audience [as well]. We already had a partnership with Virtual Festivals through our Greener Festival Award scheme's link with the UK Festival Awards and this initiative, linked with our new Great Big Green Ideas competition to get fans to think about the environment, means that we now can directly ask the audience to do their bit in the fight against climate change".

Virtual Festivals man Steve Jenner added: "Although many festival organisers are now taking active measures to minimise the carbon footprint of their events, by far the greatest negative impact on the environment is caused by the audience, particularly through their transport to the event and waste generated on-site. Through Virtual Festivals we have a unique and powerful platform to promote awareness of this and show people the simple, cheap and easy ways in which they can make a significant difference, not only in the festival field, but at home too. Our partnership with AGreenerFestival ensures our users receive the most credible, trusted and authoritative content, messages and advice on this critical issue and we are thrilled to have their participation".

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SINGLE REVIEW: Robot Disaster! - Guitars Are Overrated (Gash Digital)
With a name like that, this single was going to either be awesome or awful. Thankfully, it's the former. Full of expletives and bile, the lyrics bite sarcastically at the MP3 blog scene where wannabe producers trade tracks in a 'you're awesome!' echo chamber. "I've got my own special style, but so does every other cunt online", screams the chorus. Although you wouldn't want to bump into this track in a dark alley on your own, its unhinged melodies, wonky synths and (shh!) guitars match up perfectly with the damning lyrical content. You won't want to listen to this a lot, but you can't deny that Robot Disaster! make their point well. DG
Release Date: 25 May
Press Contact: Push Promotions [all]

Buy from iTunes
Buy from Amazon

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UNIVERSAL, SLIGHT DECLINES BUT OPTIMISTIC
Although both revenues and profits were slightly down at Universal Music for the first quarter of 2009 - revenues fell 0.7% year on year to £0.91 billion, while earnings were down 0.9% to £98.4 million - the world's biggest music company was upbeat when it released its financials last week. Those declines are relatively modest given the current economic climate, and while they admitted currency fluctuations had helped keep profit declines to the minimum, Universal bosses added that a boost in music publishing activity and an increase in recorded music revenues in the UK and even France had helped keep thing rosier. So that's nice. Parent company Vivendi was also upbeat about its wider financials, first quarter underlying earnings were up 16%, slightly above expectations.

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WARNER MUSIC SHARES RATED AS 'BUY'
Elsewhere in investment news, US-based investment firm Pali Research has announced it is upgrading Warner Music, the only major record company to directly trade on a stock exchange, from a 'neutral' rating to a 'buy' rating.

The move shows partly an increased confidence in the wider music industry despite continued record sales declines, as well as some specific confidence in Warner where albums from the likes of Green Day, Wilco, Sean Paul, Missy Elliot and Goo Goo Doll, plus the expected Madonna hits package, are all expected to deliver.

Pali analyst Rich Greenfield reportedly wrote last week: "We have been quite negative on Warner Music and the broader music industry for the past few years, [but] Warner Music Group is in a position to generate over $400 million of [pre-tax earnings] and nearly $200 million of free cash flow in each of the next several years".

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MPA CHIEF TO KEYNOTE AT MUSICTANK
MusicTank have announced that the boss of the Music Publishers Association, Stephen Navin, will give the keynote speech at their next Think Tank event which, as previously reported, has the title 'Media Composers: New Rules Of Engagement? and will "investigate emerging business models and how they might be impacting on revenues for composers for TV, advertisements and music production libraries". Endemol Music Supervisor Amelia Hartley has also been confirmed as a panellist. It all takes place at the PRS For Music HQ in London at 6.30pm on 4 Jun. Details at www.musictank.co.uk.

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DIGITAL STORES LAUNCH NEW B2B SITE
Direct-to-consumer digital store operators, Digital Stores, have relaunched their B2B company website to better showcase the 100 odd online stores they operate for music and media clients. The company recently revamped their own consumer-facing operation, Recordstore.co.uk, but with the company's B2B services, which enable bands, labels and media owners to run their own online merchandise stores, probably a bigger part of the operation these days, a revamp of their B2B site seems sensible.

Digital Stores top man Russel Coultart told CMU: "With the direct-to-consumer sector proving itself to be an increasingly important area for the music and entertainment business, Digital Stores is proud to be leading the way in terms of the quality of the design and functionality we produce for our clients. We give our clients the ability to present their customers and fans with a stylish, dedicated storefront integrated into their existing websites, which also provide them with security and fraud protection that is second to none. The new site is designed to show the world that we mean business".

The new website can be found at www.digitalstores.co.uk.

In related news, Coultart has just been appointed to the board of the Official Charts Company, which, as you all surely know, compile the music charts.

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BRANSON SHAREHOLDING IN VIRGIN MEDIA DOWN TO 6.5%, MEDIA GROUP RELAUNCHES FLAGSHIP CHANNEL
Richard Branson's Virgin Group have cut their already quite small shareholding in the mobile/cable TV company that uses their brand by a third, meaning Branson's company now has just a 6.5% stake in Virgin Media.

Branson sold just under 4% of his stock in Virgin Media to investment bank Credit Suisse in order to free up funds to fund Virgin Mobile's expansion into the Indian market. It's not a new deal by any means, it was done in 2007, but has only just come to light as the result of regulatory filings made by the Virgin company in the US. The newer element to story is that as part of the deal Branson had the right to buy the shares back after two years, an option Virgin Group have not taken up.

The Virgin Group denies that the sale of the Virgin Media shares, and subsequent decision not to buy them back, is a sign that Branson or his company are losing interest in the UK mobile and media enterprise, which was created by the merger of cable companies NTL and Telewest with Branson's Virgin Mobile business in 2006.

A Virgin Group spokesman is quoted thus: "Our brand is in Virgin Media and we are committed to it, we have board seats and a lot of support for management there. This is just about asset allocation, we have fifty big businesses and we are investing in new ones all the time. This was done two years ago. Just look at the economics of it: it was done at a time when share prices were high and we had a number of other ventures that we wanted to invest in. It was a bit of financial engineering to get some capital and it just makes sense now to see it through".

With 6.5% of Virgin Media, Branson's company is the fourth largest shareholder in the media/mobile company, behind three investment houses. The cable company has a 30 year licensing deal to use the Virgin brand in the UK cable, mobile and internet markets, and the firm has certainly benefited from operating under the Virgin name - with neither NTL nor Telewest loved by anyone really - so Branson's share deals shouldn't affect the public face of the media firm.

Talking of the public face of Virgin Media, one of the media firm's most public uses of Branson's brand, the Virgin1 TV channel, is to relaunch next month with, and I quote, a "dynamic new logo, eye-catching idents and creative online elements". So, that will be nice. The rebrand comes amid efforts to "reinvigorate" the channel, which is available via Freeview, Sky and the Virgin cable network, and which has never really lived up to its glitzy launch in 2007, consisting, as it doaes, of a very small number of flagship US shows, some terrible home-grown programmes, and a load of very old school US and UK repeats.

Confirming the revamp, the channel's Director Of Programmes, Daniela Neuman, told reporters: "Virgin1 is one of the fastest growing channels on TV with audience share increasing by 18% year-on-year and it has just celebrated its best month ever. This rebrand, combined with our 24 hours move to Freeview, is just the start of a really exciting time for the channel with it truly finding its voice and personality".

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UTV REVENUES DOWN
Telly and radio firm UTV - owners of TalkSport, fourteen (I think) local UK radio stations, and the Northern Ireland ITV franchise - has said that its financials are down, but within both expectations and market trends.

In a prelim statement covering the four months to the end of April, UTV management say that revenues at their TV division are down 19%, in line with decline across the ITV network, while its radio division saw revenues fall 15%, compared, they say, to a 19% industry-wide decline.

Looking forward to the next two months, bosses at the media firm said they expected half year TV profits to be about 20% down overall, though they expect their radio division's fortunes to improve a little in the next couple of months, so the overall fall in revenues could be as low as 9% overall.

The company concluded: "We continue to focus on cost reductions across the business and are currently operating ahead of our budgeted savings. We remain confident of their achievement for the full year".

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BBC CHIEF SAYS LICENCE OBLIGATION SHOULD BE EXTENDED TO IPLAYER
The BBC's digital chief Erik Huggers has called for the closing of a loophole whereby technically speaking users of the Beeb's iPlayer TV-on-demand service do not need a TV licence. As it currently stands, if you only access BBC programmes on-demand via your PC - ie you don't have a TV in your house - then you don't need a licence. You would, however, if you watched any of the BBC's live simulcasts on the internet.

Quite how the TV licensing people would be able to easily check whether you used your PC to access on-demand rather than simulcast BBC programmes I don't know - at the moment I don't think they are even bothering to chase those who don't own a TV but who might be accessing the Corporation's services online.

Anyway, with the possibility that there could become a small but significant minority of households who access the BBC's TV programmes exclusively via the iPlayer - ie do away with their TV set altogether - and in doing so avoid TV licence obligations, Huggers says the licence fee system needs to be reviewed so to consider online only viewers.

According to the Daily Telegraph, he told the Broadcasting Press Guild: "My view is that if you are using the iPlayer you have to be a television licence fee payer. I don't believe in a free ride. If you are consuming BBC services then you have to be a licence holder. We are seriously looking at the impact on new digital technology on TV licensing".

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STUDENT PRESS SUFFER FROM ADVERTISING SLUMP
It seems the student media sector isn't immune to the advertising slump that is hitting he mainstream media, which isn't a surprise I suppose. An investigation by the Leeds Student newspaper, which questioned 13 of the UK's biggest student media, has found that over 45% of student newspapers have cut back on print runs or cancelled issues because of funding problems. More than a quarter expressed "serious concerns" about the future of their titles as the potential for local advertising sales declined. 60% admitted not meeting advertising targets.

The scale and funding of student newspapers and magazines varies from university to university, of course. Some are funded in the main through grants from their university or, more commonly, their students' union, with ad revenues just a happy bonus. Others need to bring in ad money in addition to their grants to successfully operate, while some are totally advertising funded - ads being sold sometimes by students' union staff members, sometimes by agencies, sometimes by students themselves. It should be said that the financial situation of many student titles who rely on advertising sales, especially if the students themselves are involved in ad selling, has often been a little wobbly, though with local newspapers all over the UK struggling to make ends meet, it stands to reason any student titles who rely on advertising income will be struggling more than usual.

The Associate Editor of Leeds Student, John Puddephatt, told the Guardian that student papers affiliated to their students' union in anyway also sometimes suffer from restrictions put in place by said union regarding who they can sell advertising to. The restrictions may be politically motivated - eg if the union has a Nestle ban going on, that rules out advertising from the conglom - though more often the restrictions are to stop pubs, shops and promoters who compete with the union in the provision of services and entertainment from reaching students through the campus newspaper. For many student papers that rules out some of their most obvious advertisers.

The problem of advertiser restriction rules were seemingly part of the motivation for Leeds Student to do the survey in the first place - they recently failed in their attempt to push through a change to said rules through their union's general meeting. Student newspapers, of course, as well as providing a bespoke media for local students, are also traditionally the training ground for many of tomorrow's professional journalists. Some student newspaper editors go onto launch music business news services and cultural festival review media, though that's not to be encouraged.

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RADIO FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES SPEAKERS
This year's Radio Festival will take place in Nottingham and will include a Jon Snow hosted session on the Sony Award winning Prison Radio project, plus talks from BBC radio chief Tim Davie, the author of that recent report on the state of commercial radio John Myers and the Tories' culture man Jeremy Hunt, on what his party would do to radio if they ever came to power, which people increasingly seem to think they might. The radio industry's big bash takes place at the Nottingham Playhouse from 29 Jun to 2 Jul.

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TOTAL ROCK WORLD ALBUM CHART
It's this week's Total Rock World Album Chart, as counted down on Total Rock last weekend - www.totalrock.com. New entries and re-entries marked with a *.

1. Nickelback - Dark Horse (Warner/Roadrunner)
2. AC/DC - Black Ice (Sony Music)
3. Heaven & Hell - The Devil You Know (Warner/Roadrunner)*
4. Pearl Jam - Ten (Sony Music)
5. Metallica - Death Magnetic (Universal/Mercury)
6. Papa Roach - Metamorphosis (Universal/Interscope)
7. Theory Of A Deadman - Scars & Souvenirs (Warner/Roadrunner)
8. Lacuna Coil - Shallow Life (Century Media)
9. Mastodon - Crack The Skye (Warner Bros)
10. Lamb Of God - Wrath (Warner/Roadrunner)
11. Bruce Springsteen - Working On A Dream (Sony Music)
12. Kid Rock - Rock N Roll Jesus (Warner/Atlantic)
13. Disturbed - Indestructible (Warner/Reprise)
14. Shinedown - The Sound Of Madness (Warner/Atlantic)
15. Nickelback - All The Right Reasons (Warner/Roadrunner)
16. Chimaira - The Infection (Nuclear Blast)
17. Rise Against - Appeal To Reason (Universal/Geffen)
18. Static-X - Cult Of Static (Warner Bros)
19. Linkin Park - Minutes To Midnight (Warner Bros)
20. Guns n Roses - Greatest Hits (Universal/Geffen)

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DEBBIE HARRY LOVES LADY GAGA
I have always liked Debbie Harry. Not sure how I feel about Lady Gaga. Debbie Harry knows how she feels about Lady Gaga, however. She thinks she's great and would love to collaborate with her.

Harry told The Mirror: "Lady Gaga is wonderful. I love all that. I'd love to perform with [her]. She's wonderful and having a great time. She's bringing a lot to what she does. As a fellow New Yorker I appreciate her punkness. I appreciate her tribute to style, being outrageous and playing around."

She added that she attempted to attend one of Gaga's live shows lately, but failed. "I went to see her show in New York and it was a confusion on my part", she explained. "I was either two hours too soon, or two hours too late. I didn't really want to wait around so I will have to catch her another time".

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LILY ALLEN USES VERY RUDE WORD
Lily Allen has used the C word when referring to the paparazzi who follow her around. Using clean language to begin with, she said via Twitter: "[The paparazzi] are not nice people, they try and get a reaction, so they get good pics. I'd be happy if they went away. I don't wanna be where I am. I want to do my thing. I don't use those guys' pics to promote my career. I use my own".

But then, referencing the pictures she's taken of animals whilst currently on a safari holiday in Africa she added: "I already feel guilty about exploiting the animals with my camera, I've got a big long lens, reminds me of some cunts I know".

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SUGABABES CROSS ABOUT SPOOF VIDEO
It's been claimed that Sugababes are very cross about a spoof video which shows a member of their band, Keisha Buchanan, having an argument with Girl Aloud Cheryl Cole. It's also claimed that the band responded via Twitter, as you might expect in this Tweety day and age, but I have looked at their official page, and can't find any of this anywhere.

Anyway, this is what they are claimed to have tweeted: "We just wanted to give a BIG 2 fingers and a Kiss our Ass to the sad prat who made that YouTube video about Us against GA. Get the FUCK over it. We like what they do. We Love what we do. We are a completely different band. Who gives a fuck if we've had 2 lineup changes... Even more reason to show us support & respect because we are still surviving!!! WE have had Nearly TEN yrs. There will only ever be ONE Sugababes and even though the last album wasn't A huge hit (lol) Who gives a shit. We are not giving up. And we STILL remain (According to OVERALL SALES) THE BIGGEST GIRLBAND FROM THE UK!"

Having read that again, I'm really not sure this is true.

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EMINEM ON CAREY
Eminem has told Radio 1's Tim Westwood that Mr Mariah Carey, Nick Cannon, "misinterpreted" his song 'Bagpipes From Baghdad', which name checks the singer. Cannon has hit out at the song, which appears on new Eminem album 'Relapse', and contains the line: "I want another crack at ya... Nick Cannon better back the fuck up. I'm not playing, I want her back, you punk". The rap, you see, is actually meant as a compliment to the Cannon/Careys. Somehow.

Eminem told Westwood: "There's a line on there that was a little harsh. It's a harsh line. But it's like this, the way I look at it, I had no idea he was gonna take it like he took it. I had no idea Nick Cannon was gonna start wildin' out on me. No pun intended. I didn't read his blog or anything. But it is what it is. He's supposed to defend his wife, and I expected him to do that. But at the end of the day, it's a line I said - it's a song. What I actually meant to say is, I wish them the best. That's what I meant to say. That's the whole message of the record".

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