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Top Stories
French Constitutional Council says "non" to three-strike
Unions and trade bodies pre-empt Digital Britain with call for government to safeguard creative jobs founders step down
UK regulator to investigate Live Master deal
Chris Brown gets death threats
In The Pop Courts
Rachel Stevens mugged
Lauryn Hill cancels European dates
Awards & Contests
Poison singer vs the Tony Awards
Reunions & Splits
Blur post rehearsal video
Blazin Squad prepare for "mature" comeback
Release News
Banhart remixes Oasis
Gigs N Tours News
Natalie Cole plans comeback concert
Jacko to provide children for deaf fans
Enter Shikari announce free show
Single review: Noisettes - Never Forget You (Universal/Mercury/Vertigo)
The Music Business
musicFIRST accuse US radio firms of dirty tricks
New GM at Abbey Road
New Germany boss for BMG
Which? name best etailer
The Digital Business
US majors not keen on Spotify
MP3 resale service going for a second launch
The Media Business
BBC tell top talent fee cuts in the offing
TLRC sell Silk
Chart Of The Day
This week's playlist
And finally...
Jackson in no fit state to perform, says former publicist
Little Boots intended to write songs for others
Spears is dating her agent
Maguire apologises for pop career
Advertising info
Consulting info
CMU Credits + Contacts

Since emerging on the electronic music scene, autoKratz have won themselves many fans, not least here at CMU. After the success of last year's 'Down & Out In Paris & London' mini-album, the duo release their first full length LP, 'Animal', on 22 Jun via Kitsuné. If you head over to their MySpace page, you can grab yourself a free MP3 of recent single, 'Always More', enter a remix competition to get your own rewoking of that track released by Kitsuné and check out tour dates, including a show at The Scala in London on 20 Jun. But first, check out this little Same Six Questions interview with guitarist and programmer, Russell.
Q1 How did you start out making music?
We both spent time in bands that we weren't feeling at that time. We got together and it just clicked musically. We spent a month locked away in an east London studio, played a few warehouse parties and got some people talking - and that's how we got the deal, the good old fashioned way.

Q2 What inspired your latest album?
It's inspired by our lives, and us wanting to tackle something much more personal than we have done before. This record is much more song based, and the focus is more on us as people and our lives. It's a much more personal record, with lots of depth and variation. There's still aggressive and driving moments, but we have certainly moved forward - and that's something uncontrollable - something we are compelled to so as writers. For us we just make music that gets us excited; music that sounds fresh to us, and it's the quality of the songs that has to carry that. I don't see us as an 'electro band'. We are a band that can choose whatever sounds we like to convey the meaning of the song... it's not about fitting into any genre or movement.

Q3 What process do you go through in creating a track?
There isn't one set process that we go through, and I really think that helps create variety and keep the sound dynamic. Sometimes David will start a track and work alone, other times I will, and sometimes we will bring separate bits together.

Q4 Which artists influence your work?
I'm not sure if any of these have influenced me but I do love The Smiths, Queens Of The Stoneage, Primal Scream, New Order, Nirvana and The Libertines. We try not to allow overt influences to get in to our music too much, to keep it as honest as possible - music we can get genuinely excited about.

Q5 What would you say to someone experiencing your music for the first time?
Don't have any preconceptions, because 'Animal' will shatter them. We are really happy with the variety and how different every track is; it's definitely not what people will expect.

Q6 What are your ambitions for your latest album, and for the future?
We are very much looking forward to the next few months mental touring the UK, Europe, Japan and Australia, meeting loads of top people and having the amazing opportunity to play our music out live.

MORE>> and

The Hospital Records-signed Mistabishi does a very nice line of dark-edged drum n bass. Since 2007 he’s released a string of EPs and his debut album, 'Drop', er, dropped earlier this year. He's perhaps best known for his contribution to the fairly niche office-based sub-genre of dnb (population, almost certainly, one), 'Printer Jam', which, as you may already have guessed, weaves samples of printers in between rapid beats and suggestions of turning it off and on again. But, actually, you're more likely to stumble across him thanks to his increasingly high profile remix jobs. His latest efforts have seen him twisting up the likes of White Lies, The Temper Trap and Placebo, making the latter's new single, 'For What It's Worth', all the better by adding some Joy Division-esque drums to the intro. But my current favourite of all the tracks up on his MySpace is 'Damage', which does exactly what it says on the tin.




Ah, OK, this is très intéressant. There's a chance that efforts to introduce the controversial three-strike anti-piracy system in France may have fallen at the final hurdle, after the country's Constitutional Council ruled that the new anti-piracy laws passed by the French parliament last month are, erm, unconstitutional.

The Council is France's highest legal body, and any legislation passed by the country's MPs must be approved by it before becoming law. Their job is to check that any new laws do not breach the French people's constitutional rights which, unlike in the UK, can't just be altered by parliament on a whim.

The Council wasn't originally expected to object to France's new Creation And Internet laws which, as previously reported, mean that people who access illegal sources of content online would receive official warning letters from a government department, and then, if they failed to heed those warnings, risk having their internet access cut off. Under the French proposals the new government agency would have the power to force an ISP to cut off an infringer.

However, the proposed disconnection system is not, of course, without controversy. The main issue with the three-strikes proposal is who decides when a file-sharer should be cut off, and what is that file-sharers right to appeal should they feel they have been unfairly accused of copyright theft. That very question has proved a stumbling block in New Zealand where the three-strike system was also passed into law by legislators.

The French proposals, unlike those down under, did consider that question, establishing the aforementioned special government department to manage warning letters and order disconnections (often referred to as the Hadopi). But, for some, a specialist government agency handling disconnections, even if it put in place an efficient appeals procedure for those who felt they had been falsely accused of infringement, is not good enough. Moves are afoot at a European level, for example, to ensure that only a court of law can have the power to stop someone from having internet access (assuming the someone is able and willing to pay for the access, of course).

It's that issue that concerns France's Constitutional Council - not because the new law would potentially breach new European regulations - but because they feel giving a government agency the power to disconnect people from the internet without a court hearing breaches a French citizen's human right to access the internet. They reckon only a French judge in a court of law should be able to instruct an ISP to deprive a user of that right on the grounds of copyright infringement.

It's not clear what the Council's objection to the three-strike component of France's new copyright law now means. The system has the strong support of French President Sarkozy, though the Council's ruling may mean he and his UMP party need to reconsider how their anti-piracy proposals might work, in the context of 'accessing the internet' being a 'human right'. The UMP is yet to respond to yesterday's Council declaration.

The news is also a blow to the music and wider content industries, who have supported the UMP's efforts to crack down on internet pirates, and who had hoped to use the introduction of the three-strike system in France to prove objections to it raised in other territories, by ISPs, politicians and consumer rights groups, are unfounded, allowing stricter online piracy rules elsewhere.

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And that includes in the UK, where some in the content industries are frustrated that the government, while talking loudly about the need to stop the sharing of unlicensed content on the internet, is still resistant to any proposals as draconian as the three-strike disconnection system.

Though, that said, former Culture Minister Andy Burnham, just before he left the job last week, did admit that communications regulator OfCom might need the power to enforce "technical measures" against persistent file-sharers who ignore warnings that their file-sharing is infringing copyrights. Such measures may include restricting the bandwidth of infringers, and blocking their access to certain file-sharing websites. How that would work is unclear though, and the internet service providers continue to speak out against any new measures which would oblige them to take on a more proactive role in combating piracy, or, even worse, to cut off good paying customers.

Here in the UK, of course, all concerned parties are awaiting with interest for the final draft of the government's 'Digital Britain' report which is expected to say something about combating internet piracy, though probably not really very much. It's presumably the low expectations amongst content owners regarding what 'Digital Britain' will propose for combating piracy that persuaded no less than fifteen organisations to publish an open letter in yesterday's Daily Telegraph calling on politicians to act decisively on this issue to, the letter says, safeguard jobs in the creative industries.

The Musicians Union and record label trade body the BPI were signatories of the letter, alongside their equivalents in the film and TV sectors, plus some anti-piracy bodies and other trade unions who represent people who work in the creative sector. A failure to tackle online piracy now, the letter claimed, would result in "fewer films, songs and TV programmes [being] commissioned", and that would mean "job losses will be felt right across the chain, from production to distribution, from technicians to manufacturers and from logistics companies to staff in high street shops. 'Digital Britain' is Gordon Brown's golden opportunity to tackle this growing threat and, at the 11th hour, to save the future of the UK creative industries".

Explaining their support for the call to action, Brendan Barber, the General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress, told reporters: "There is no doubt among members of our unions, as well as the coalition of rights-holders who voice the consensus of the creative industries, that filesharing poses a serious but utterly avoidable threat to jobs. This is through films never made, tracks never recorded and content never invested in. ISPs hold the key to creating the step change necessary to tackle illegal filesharing. For the vast majority, simply drawing attention to the illegality of their actions would be sufficient, but this needs to be backed by further graduated technical measures for those who do not change their behaviour".

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LAST.FM FOUNDERS STEP DOWN's three founders, Richard 'RJ' Jones, Felix Miller, and Martin Stiksel, have announced that they are leaving the now CBS-owned online music statistics and recommendation, social networking and information service thingy.

The trio first came together when Miller and Stiksel began using Jones' listening-statistics-logging-system, Audioscrobbler - which he had originally designed for a project at university - to power the recommendations component of their online radio service. and Audioscrobbler merged fully in 2005, and the company was purchased by CBS in May 2007 for $280 million.

No exact reason for the three men's departure has been given, as yet. However, given that it's almost exactly two years since CBS's purchase of, it is possible this may have always been the plan. Certainly the three founders seem keen to insist their departure isn't the result of any dramatic falling out with or shift in policy by their service's major player owners.

In a statement, they said: "After two years running within CBS we feel the time is right to begin the process of handing over the reins. This is the latest stage in a long journey for us founders, which began in a living room in east London in 2002, and took us to the headquarters of one of the biggest media companies in the world".

They added: "It's been a privilege working with the incredible team here in our London office, and we're extremely proud of what we've achieved together.'s users have more than doubled in the last 12 months (we are now at an all-time high of 37.3M monthly unique visitors), and we're confident the site will continue to go from strength to strength. Being a part of CBS, and the recently formed CBSi music group, continues to open up many opportunities for Recent product releases such as the new visual radio, and the on XBox announcement, are an indication of how much more will achieve".

As with many online music services, despite its large user base it is still not 100% clear what the long-term business model for will be. Although it offers paid subscription accounts, is largely ad-funded at the moment, and it's not clear if advertising revenues are really enough to make the operation pay.

Recently it withdrew on-demand streaming services from free accounts in territories where ad revenues were particularly poor, which was understandably unpopular with many users in affected countries. At last week's Making Music Pay conference in London, a rep admitted that growing the number of paying subscribers was important for their business, even in countries like the UK where the ad-funded free-to-use streams are still available.

No announcement has yet been made about who Jones, Miller and Stiksel will be "handing over the reins" to or what their plans are.

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As American regulators continue to consider the pros and cons of the proposed Live Nation / Ticketmaster merger, the whole shebang has just been referred to the UK's Competition Commission by the good old Office Of Fair Trading, which is a bit tedious for the live music and ticketing giants who'd rather get merged sooner rather than later.

When the two live music players announced their intention to merge earlier this year a number of commentators predicting European as well as American competition authorities would take an interest - with both companies boasting a significant share of their respective European markets.

The OFT's recommendation that the UK Competition Commission investigate the merger proposals seems to be based in particular on a submission to them by a German ticketing company called CTS.

As previously reported, prior to Live Nation and Ticketmaster's merger talks the former was in the process of ending its long term ticketing partnership with the latter, announcing it would take ticketing for its many festivals, tour and venues in house. That has already happened in the US where Live Nation's own ticketing operation went live in January - and similar plans were afoot in other territories as its other Ticketmaster contracts around the world expired.

Although Live Nation Ticketing is in theory an in-house operation, in fact it is powered by ticketing technology owned by Germany's CTS. Not only that, but in some European territories, including the UK, CTS were due to provide staff for Live Nation's ticketing operation as well as technology, in essence that's them taking over from Ticketmaster as the promoter's preferred ticketing agency.

When the merger proposals were first announced, CTS issued a statement saying they'd had assurances any merger wouldn't affect the ten year deal they had just struck with Live Nation. That, though, doesn't seem to be the case, because CTS seem to have now told the OFT that they are likely to lose their Ticketmaster contract in the UK as a result of the merger, and will probably withdraw from Britain completely if that happens, leaving the UK ticketing market dominated by just two major players, Ticketmaster and See Tickets. Although the UK market is already pretty dominated by those two companies anyway, CTS's statement on the matter was enough to get OFT officials concerned, hence their decision to get the Competition Commission involved on this one.

But the Commission's investigation is likely to consider much wider issues than just the impact the merger will have on CTS's grand plans to get a sizeable slice of the UK ticketing market. As in America, they will consider whether having one company so dominant in the tour promotion, venue management, artist management and ticketing sectors will give Live Master an unfair advantage, to the detriment of artists, smaller independent players in each of those areas of the music business, and, ultimately, to consumers, on the basis too much dominance in the market might allow Live Master to push ticket prices and booking fees up.

The two hopeful merging partners will presumably present arguments in the UK similar to those presented in the US. First, that the merger will likely lead to Live Nation's biggest competitions, AEG Live for example, ceasing to work with Ticketmaster, making the ticketing market more competitive. Second, that there will be no exclusivity arrangements between the different divisions of Live Master, and that execs in any one division will be able to do deals with rivals of another division if doing so is in the best interest of an artist, live music brand or venue. And third, that this deal isn't about Live Master dominating any one part of the live music business, but rather it is symptomatic of a trend in the wider music business for all major music firms to diversify. Live Master isn't just competing with CTS and AEG Live, but with Universal Music, and other media and entertainment congloms too.

It remains to be seen if UK regulators, or any other European authorities, prove to be problematic for the merging companies. With the UK Competition Commission not expected to report back on the merger until late November, the OFT's decision will certainly delay the Live Master merger a little - the merging firms had previously expressed an interest in doing the deal by early Autumn.

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According to reports, Chris Brown has been on the receiving end of death threats since he was charged with assaulting Rihanna back in February. The singer, who allegedly punched, bit and choked his then-girlfriend, has, of course, pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Now it's emerged that the 20 year old star has been forced to step up his security because of fears that an attack on his life could happen at any time. The Chicago Sun-Times reports: "It seems the music star has been targeted with death threats the authorities believe are actually legit. Brown is said to be 'totally paranoid' about the threats on his life and has become obsessed with his security".

The newspaper says that these days Brown hardly ever leaves home without three bodyguards in attendance, and has also asked for an extra three or four guards to follow him incognito. The police don't appear to have a clear idea whether the threats are coming from a group or from a single person, though are apparently investigating suggestions that they may have been made by a group called the Women's Protection Action League. Brown apparently believes that a potential attacker may pose as a member of the paparazzi.

Meanwhile, Brown has failed in a bid to delay a preliminary hearing in the assault case. Celebrity lawyer Mark Geragos is representing the singer, and earlier this month filed an appeal attempting to delay a 22 Jun hearing, arguing that it shouldn't take place until a decision from the California Supreme Court had been issued. That decision relates to whether the defence will be allowed access to certain police records, which, Geragos maintains, could prove crucial to the 22 Jun hearing. The lawyer claims that if he is only permitted to access said files following that court date, then his client may be subjected to "the expense and degradation of two preliminary hearings". That argument has been rejected, however, and the prelim hearing will take place as scheduled.

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Former S Club 7 star Rachel Stevens was robbed of jewellery, including her engagement ring, after three muggers followed her home to her north London flat on Tuesday afternoon. They also made off with a necklace and a Rolex watch.

Scotland Yard told reporters: "It's believed the woman returned to her flat and was followed in to the premises by three males. The suspects are understood to have threatened her before making off with a quantity of jewellery".

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Lauryn Hill as cancelled an upcoming tour of Europe because of health reasons. The former Fugee had been planning to play a number of dates this summer, one of which was a performance at Sweden's Stockholm Jazz festival; a spokeswoman for the event, Liisa Tolonen, confirmed to the Associated Press that the singer would no longer be playing the four day fest, which takes place from 15-19 July.

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A representative for Bret Michaels of rock band Poison has responded somewhat angrily to a comment from a Tony Awards spokesperson about an accident that took place at last weekend's award ceremony in New York.

Appearing at the event, the singer was hit on the head by a descending piece of set as he left the stage, in what looks like it could have been a pretty serious incident, if you watch this: The aforementioned spokesperson was seemingly relatively dismissive about the incident and claimed that it was Michaels' fault, as he had "missed his mark", though, if you watch the clip, it doesn't really look as though he had much time to get out of the way. That said, his bandmates skipped off pretty quickly, so perhaps they had been given some warning to make a quick exit.

Either way, Michaels' legal rep Janna Elias insists that her client was not warned the the piece would descend during rehearsals, and expressed shock at the way that The Tonys had responded to the incident. She said in a statement: "After a performance by singer Bret Michaels at the Tony Awards Sunday night, he turned to exit the stage and was struck in the head by a descending half-ton stage prop, sweeping him off his feet causing contusions to his face and knocking him to the ground. Even at that point of impact, the heavy prop was still not halted and continued to descend even though Michaels remained underneath it. Witnesses state the singer moved himself out of the way just moments before the prop touched down".

She continues: "With all due respect to everyone working the Tony Awards, somewhere down the line there was a lack of communication and the prop should have been immediately halted until Michaels was clear. Sunday morning at rehearsals, Bret was never informed that the descending set piece existed, let alone would be moving into position as he was exiting the stage. Although Bret was visibly dazed, he remained extremely calm backstage as members of Poison's road crew brought him a towel to wipe the blood from his face. His only comment at the time was, "What the hell just hit me?" The severity of this injury is not being taken lightly as symptoms from head and neck injuries at first may seem like nothing and sometimes do not present for days. At this time, the full extent of his injuries remain to be seen until all x-rays are back".

She added: "I find it surprising that a Tony spokesperson would brush off this incident with a comment stating that Mr Michaels missed his mark, with no mention of concern for his condition. If everyone at the Tonys were aware that Bret missed his mark, then they should have been aware enough to stop the set piece from hitting him or at least slowed it down until he cleared the stage. I feel had this incident happened to Liza Minelli, Dolly Parton or Elton John, the Tonys would have at least issued a letter of concern".

The Tonys, by the way, are the US's big theatre awards, just in case anyone isn't aware of that.

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Just in case you were suspicious that Blur were sitting around eating pies instead of earning all the money you spent on tickets for their reunion shows, they've posted a video of them rehearsing 'Song 2' to their official YouTube channel.

As well as playing live for the first time in ages and ages this month, the band will also release a new best of compilation, 'Midlife: A Beginner's Guide To Blur', on 15 Jun. As previously reported, the collection will span the band's entire career from their debut single, 'Popscene', to the 'ThinkTank' album.

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I know it sounds unlikely but the partially reformed Blazin Squad are promising to treat fans to a new "mature" sound. The five piece (reduced from the original line-up of 362), release a new single, 'Let's Start Again', on 15 Jun.

The only one whose name you can remember, Kenzie, told The Sun: "I guess this time around we're more grown up. We're more mature. But other than that it feels like we never really left".

One of the ones whose name you can't remember, Mus, added: "We've taken control and are making decisions. We've put a lot of pressure on ourselves, so if it all goes wrong it's our fault. But it's paid off because we've gained new fans who have told us they never used to like us".

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Devendra Banhart has remixed an Oasis song, at the band's request. The singer-songwriter was asked by the group to re-work any track from most recent album 'Dig Out Your Soul', and he chose '(Get Off Your) High Horse Lady'. It can currently be heard on the band's official website in the Radio Supernova section.

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Natalie Cole is planning a big comeback concert now that she's got that previously reported new kidney. The singer will perform at the Hollywood Bowl on 9 Sep.

Referencing the passing of her sister Carole, who died the same day she underwent surgery, Cole said in a statement: "My family and I want to express our extreme appreciation for the outpouring of kindness we have received... In the midst of sorrow I am still able to celebrate my new lease on life. There is always a silver lining. I thank God for this golden kidney and I look forward to going back to work in the fall. I will see you in the music".

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Michael Jackson is apparently assembling a choir of children who also know sign language for his upcoming O2 Dome shows, according to an email published by The Mirror. The choir is also required to be made up of "exactly equal" numbers of black, white, mixed-race and Asian children between the ages of five and 13, as well as six snare drummers who should be "young adults, clean-cut and of mixed ethnicity".

A 'source' told The Mirror that finding suitable candidates at this late stage in preparations is proving to be a "logistical nightmare", particularly as, due to pesky child labour laws, they will have to hire more than one choir.

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Enter Shikari will play a free show at Heaving in London on Monday 15 Jun to celebrate the release of their new album, 'Common Dreads'. Don't just turn up, though. That wouldn't do. You'll need to go and get yourself a special wristband from HMV on Oxford Street. Those will be available from 8am on the day of the event. The first 650 wristbands will also allow the holders to meet the band for tea, cakes and hugs. Well, except for the tea and cakes. There may be hugs. But definitely no kissing and inappropriate touching will be frowned upon.

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SINGLE REVIEW: Noisettes - Never Forget You (Universal/Vertigo)
After the annoyingly infectious 'Don't Upset The Rhythm', I approached 'Never Forget You' cautiously. But with the echoes of their previous single still fresh in my ears, it having been hideously over-played, the Noisettes' third single from their second album, 'Wild Young Hearts', manages to change the band's trajectory. Gone are the hipster beats and catchy chorus and instead they've been replaced with a 60s style pop track that lays bare the strong vocal talents of lead singer Shingai Shoniwa. If there's one problem with 'Never Forget You', though, it's that it's possibly a little too simple. The song doesn't really build towards anything. That's not to say it disappoints, and when originally hearing it in the context of the full long player I remember thinking that this was a really strong album track. But ultimately it's a weak choice for a single, even if it is refreshingly different to 'DUTR' - and there are so many stronger stand alone tracks on the album that could have also fulfilled that task. GM
Release Date: 22 Jun
Press Contact: Universal IH [NP, RP, O], Wild [CP, CR]

Buy from iTunes
Buy from Amazon

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Oh, this is interesting. The musicFIRST Coalition, a US body which is active in that previously reported campaign in the US to force radio stations to pay royalties to record labels and artists for the music they play, in the same way they do here in Europe, has accused some radio stations of blacklisting artists who have spoken out in favour of the proposed new royalty payment rules.

American terrestrial radio stations have always enjoyed preferential treatment in the royalties game, based on that old chestnut of an argument that the radio sector helps record companies and recording artists sell their music by promoting new releases to their listeners.

But with royalties from broadcasters and their like an increasingly important revenue stream for record companies around the world, and with online music service providers, who don't enjoy favourable royalty treatment under US copyright law, objecting that their terrestrial broadcasting rivals have an unfair advantage, moves are afoot to force US radio companies to start paying recording royalties - and the whole issue has been working its way through the US political system for sometime.

Needless to say the terrestrial radio companies aren't that keen on suddenly being presented with a brand new royalty bill to pay each month, and are busying lobbying against any change in the law. And, if musicFIRST are to be believed, that lobbying effort includes playing dirty and blacklisting artists who publicly speak out against the radio sector and in favour of a new radio royalty system.

The musicians body has asked the US media regulator, the Federal Communications Commission, to investigate allegations of artist blacklisting, and also to review an ad made by the National Association Of Broadcasters on the issue, being broadcast by some radio stations, which music types believe is misleading.

musicFIRST Executive Director, Jennifer Bendall, told reporters: "For more than 80 years radio stations have been using the work of artists and musicians without compensating them, now they're using the public airwaves unfairly for their own self interest".

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EMI has announced the appointment of Jonathan Smith as an interim General Manger at its Abbey Road Studios complex in London. Smith returns to EMI after a five year absence to fill the GM role following the departure of Dave Holly from the major's recording facility.

David Kassler, EMI Music COO, told reporters: "I would like to thank Dave for his years of service and to wish him all the best for the future. I'm delighted that Jonathan is returning to EMI to run Abbey Road. With over 20 years' experience in the music industry and his excellent management and operational skills, he will be a very strong addition to our team as we develop our Abbey Road business".

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BMG Rights Management, you know, the new music business owned by former SonyBMG partners Bertelsmann, have announced the appointment of Fred Casmir, a former major label man most recently heading up music projects for media giant Fremantle, to the job of MD Germany. He will report into Hartwig Masuch, who is global CEO of the music rights management agency.

Masuch sauys this: "Fred Casimir is outstandingly well networked in both the German and international music business and has many years of experience in all the segments of importance to us - especially in the traditional music industry and TV segment. Fred's commitment to BMG Rights Management is a clear indication of our increasing status in the market and highlights the promising outlook for our company".

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Music and other stuff etailer was declared Best Online Retailer for the second year running at the Which? Awards in London earlier this week. The consumer rights magazine commended in particular for offering good value for money (which is helped, in part, by the firm's Jersey base, meaning it can benefit from that much previously reported VAT loophole, and not have to charge VAT on low cost items like CDs and DVDs).

Commenting on his company's latest win, boss Stuart Rowe told reporters: "We are delighted to win this award and receive the continued endorsement of the ever-discerning Which? experts. At a time when money is tight, consumers are looking to buy from brands they trust and holding on to that trust is key to everything we do at".

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We were planning to offer the US a straight swap; Spotify for Hulu. Apparently we shouldn't hold our breath, though. There are some who are keen on seeing Spotify made available to America internet users, notably industry luminary Ted Cohen, who said in a blog post for MidemNet recently: "I can't wait until Spotify is available in the US. Until then, we are a third world nation!" However, major labels in the States don't seem to share his view.

The problem seems to be that subscription-based digital services are slowly taking hold in the US, and labels there are yet to be impressed by Spotify's record in signing up Europeans to their pay-to-use option. Speaking at the previously reported NARM Conference in San Diego on Tuesday, Universal Music Distribution's Executive Vice President Amanda Marks said: "Unfortunately, nobody is upgrading to the premium models, which is the hope down the road. There's almost no advertising in the free section so there's no impetus to upgrade. From the Spotify perspective, they can't actually sustain the business without bringing in the revenue".

The slow uptake of its subscription package could prove to be a setback for Spotify over here too. A source close to the service suggested that the hype around Spotify being free, and its rapid growth in use on this basis, has harmed its ability to transfer people to paid accounts. They told DigitalMusicNews: "This explosive adoption [in Europe] is almost harming Spotify in the eyes of content owners. Ek is already starting to see the beginning of a backlash".

Another source added: "The last thing they want to do is go into new territories before they've figured out how to convert people to the better proposition".

At another industry conference, the dance-centric International Music Summit held in Ibiza last week, a poll of delegates found that 45% in attendance did not believe that the Spotify's model will work for electronic music.

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That previously reported MP3 resale service, Bopaboo, has reportedly said that, after a false start late last year, it is now ready for a proper launch.

This is the service where you sell someone one of your MP3s and then promise to delete your copy. It's based on the idea that it's OK under copyright rules to sell on CDs you have bought to third parties, so why not MP3s?

It's reported that Bopaboo claim to have major label support for their MP3 exchange service, but I find it really hard to believe. Even if you accept in theory that legitimate copies of digital recordings can be sold on by music fans, the whole system is open to mass abuse.

Although I think it's set up so you can't sell the same song twice - a bid to stop people from selling the same MP3 again and again without fulfilling the promise to delete the original - if I was to sell one copy of every MP3 I own for 25p each, that would make me some good money. And I've legitimately acquired all my MP3s, many people would probably be selling on digital files they didn't actually buy in the first place.

Despite claims of record label backing, surely it can't be long before a lawsuit follows if this service gets properly going online?

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The BBC has apparently told its top presenters that they will all face substantial pay cuts when their contracts are up for renewal because of the recession and the continued challenge of making the licence fee income stretch to the cover the costs of all the Beeb's many services.

The Beeb, of course, has come under much criticism for agreeing to pay majorly large fees to some of its presenters. Some argue that in recent years the BBC entered into a number of above-market-rate pay deals with certain c'lebs that no commercial broadcaster could ever afford. Even if that's not the case, it is certainly true to say that with most commercial TV firms faltering as a result of the advertising recession, few of the BBC's rivals would now agree to pay the sort of money some of the Corporation's top talent receive.

It seems the Beeb called a meeting earlier this week where the likes of Jeremy Clarkson, Terry Wogan and Bruce Forsyth were told that any star earning more than £100,000 would see their fees cut by 25% when their contracts were next up for renewal. Those on the top fees (Jonathan Ross, Chris Moyles and Graham Norton weren't at the meeting apparently, though they would presumably fall in this bracket) could see their fees cut by 40%.

Confirming the meeting, a BBC spokesman told reporters: "No organisation is immune from the economic climate and we have to find substantial savings. Talent fees are not excluded from the economic pressures faced across the organisation and these will be reflected in our ongoing negotiations. This was an internal event as part of our ongoing dialogue with the artists and presenters who work for us".

Although the talent fee cuts have been in the offing for a while now, and some of the Beeb's top talent have publicly stated they would be happy to take a cut given the current economic situation, it seems the announcement made at this week's meeting came as a shock to some. The Guardian quote one agent at the event who says: "I find it disgusting. The BBC is taking it out on the talent, while its executives have made the mistakes. They messed up over Ross, they have bad property problems, and they have spread themselves too thinly over too many services. I thought we were going in for a sociable glass of wine and canapés, but instead there was this very grim meeting. No-one was left in any doubt what they were getting at".

Of course one of the BBC execs' biggest mistakes was arguably to agree to such OTT talent fees in the first place, so I'm not sure agents, who have been enjoying their cut of the mega-deals for years, have much to complain about really.

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The Local Radio Company has sold another of its radio stations, this time Cheshire-based Silk FM. The station has been bought by Chester-based Dee 106.3, essentially giving the combined radio firm a Cheshire wide reach, which should appeal to local advertisers.

Radio Today quote Dee's top man Chris Hurst thus: "As one of the few counties in England without its own BBC local radio station, local commercial radio has a vital role to play in Cheshire keeping listeners in touch with local news and information. I hope the local community will continue to support us as we bring these two Cheshire local radio businesses together under common local ownership. We believe that advertisers in East and West Cheshire will welcome this new opportunity to reach consumers right across the county".

As previously reported, a new management team has been put in place at TLRC since rival radio firm UKRD bought a majority stake in it last month. They are reviewing TLRC's portfolio - and have now sold off two stations, as well as Silk they sold off Bournemouth-based Fire earlier this week.

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These, in case you wondered, are the videos being played on the network of screens in students' unions around the UK this week. New entries marked with a *. More info from [email protected]

A List
Agnes - Release Me*
The All American Rejects - I Wanna*
Enter Shikari - Juggernauts
The Fray - Never Say Never
The Joy Formidable - Whirring
Kasabian - Fire
Kings Of Leon - Notion
La Roux - Bulletproof*
Lenka - The Show
Noisettes - Never Forget You
Paloma Faith - Stone Cold Sober
Röyksopp - The Girl and the Robot*
The Rumble Strips - Not The Only Person
VV Brown - Shark In The Water
The Yeah You's - 15 Minutes

B List
Chipmunk - Diamond Rings*
The Enemy - Sing When You're In Love
Florence and The Machine - Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)
Freemasons feat. Sophie Ellis-Bextor - Heartbreak (Make Me A Dancer)
Gallows - London Is The Reason
Grizzly Bear - Two Weeks
Lazee feat. Neverstore - Hold On
Maxïmo Park - Questing Not Coasting*
Metric - Sick Muse
Nickelback - If Today Was Your Last Day
Pixie Lott - Mama Do*
Placebo - For What It's Worth
Steel Panther - Death To All But Metal
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Heads Will Roll*

Tip List
Baddies - Holler For My Holiday
Chaka Khan feat. Mary J Blige - Disrespectful
Filthy Dukes - Messages
Kid British - Our House Is Dadless
Lethal Bizzle - Go Hard
Bombay Bicycle Club - Dust On The Ground
Melanie Fiona - Give It To Me Right
N.A.S.A. feat Kanye West, Santigold & Lykke Li - Gifted
Professor Green - Hard Night Out
Stevie Hoang - Addicted

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Arthur Phoenix, former Jackson 5 publicist, and advisor to Tito Jackson, has said that Michael Jackson isn't in a fit state to complete his fifty date O2 residency.

He said: "I just don't see it happening. I think there were 10 shows planned and then ticket sales were overwhelming and another 40 concerts were added. But Michael is not mentally, physically or spiritually ready for these shows. There's something missing in his soul. He's like Mike Tyson - it's over!"

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Victoria Hesketh, aka Little Boots, has revealed that prior to beginning work on her debut album, 'Hands', which is out this week, she had intended to write songs for other people.

She told The Daily Star: "'Hands' nearly never existed as originally I thought about writing for other people and not doing this project. What happened was that I had written about six demos and sent them out and got a really good reaction from everyone I sent them to. Soon I realised there was too much of me in the songs and they weren't empty enough to give to other people. I believe that if you write music for other people it has to be a song which anyone can sing".

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Following much speculation, reports are now claiming that Britney Spears is definitely dating her agent Jason Trawick. The pair were recently pictured on holiday in the Caribbean accompanied by Spears' two young children, and now a source has told People that they are "totally and definitely dating". It's all still hearsay of course. Anyway, the 'insider' continues: "Her dad loves him. He's the best thing that happened to her. They're very sweet together. He makes Britney really happy, and he's great with the boys".

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Actor Sean Maguire, star of new comedy series 'Krod Mandoon', who has been busy being more successful in the US than over here in recent years, has said he hopes Britain will eventually forgive him for his former career as a pop star. He told Metro: "I feel bad for the people of Britain that I put them through it but I'm hoping, over time, they may forgive me".

Asked if his work on the new programme is difficult, he added: "Everything is a stretch for me. I'm wildly unskilled at what I do. Part of me thinks: 'Why do I think I can pull this off?' but the part of me that has to pay the mortgage thinks: 'Just get on with it!' I'll just keep going until someone discovers I'm no good".

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