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DID YOU KNOW?
We do student and youth marketing - we're brill at it - check out details here
TODAY'S NEWS
Top Stories
Virgin Media make announcement - we write an awful lot about it
Virgin's new download service - speculation and ramifications
Virgin's new download service - lots of people say things
Other factors contributed to Springsteen ticket prices rocketing
Awards & Contests
Jonathan Ross to receive broadcasting honour
Reunions & Splits
Nine Inch Nails play final US show
In The Studio
Frankmusik on Cheryl Cole
Ronson working with Sean Lennon
Razorlight hint at house album
Release News
New Bananarama material coming soon
Animal Collective give away remix
Freemasons accidentally release single
Gigs N Tours News
Blur play surprise Rough Trade gig
Festival News
Faith No More confirmed for Reading and Leeds
One man dies at RockNess
Reviews
Single review: Defend Moscow - Die Tonight (KIDS)
The Music Business
Polydor, KMV and Mean Fiddler collaborate on album launch
Coalition man launches own agency
Final US Virgin Megastores close
The Digital Business
Warner alter Imeem terms
New PlayStation video jukebox service launches
Facebook bigger than Jesus (well, MySpace)
The Media Business
Will Digital Britain now propose licence fee cash for C4?
Chart Of The Day
Total Rock World Album Chart
And finally...
New Jackson waxwork cast
Coldplay did steal, but not on purpose, says Yusuf
Courtney hints that album might be released one day
Advertising info
Consulting info
CMU Credits + Contacts
 
TUESDAY 16TH JUNE


PHUTURESONIC
Starting out as a solo project for producer Henry G, Phuturesonic has gradually grown into the six-piece band it is today, featuring rappers Jon Audio and MelanieJane, guitarist Jon Speedy, drummer Jimmy Norden and bassist Adam King. They released their debut single, 'World Adrift', earlier this month via their own Funk Hop Records. You can catch them live this Friday at the Notting Hill Arts Club in London and at the Secret Garden Party festival next month. We spoke to Henry G to find out more.
 
Q1 How did you start out making music?
It all started with a computer, a sampler and a copy of Logic, just messing around with samples and experimenting with different styles of music. The kind of music I began to make was crying out for some live instruments and vocals, so I started recording various friends of mine, and some new ones I made along the way, some of whom have become an integral part of the Phuturesonic project.

Q2 What inspired your latest single?
It started with the piano riff and I built it up around that. It was a work in progress for a while, along with dozens of other tracks. I completely forgot about it for six months then had another listen when I was with Mel and Jon and it sounded really good, we got some vocals down and that was that. It was probably three years later I came back to it again, recorded the double bass, then guitar, sax and finally the drums.

Q3 What process do you go through in creating a track?
There's no specific process when I'm writing a track. Sometimes it starts with a beat, a bassline or a melody. Sometimes Jon or Mel will have a vocal idea and we just record it over a beat, and work around that. I'll often start with an eight or sixteen bar loop and keep adding more layers, then try some arrangement ideas, then I'll work on the mix, do some editing, then just repeat those processes until it's finished.

Q4 Which artists influence your work?
I've had many influences over the years, one of my earliest has to be Nightmares On Wax. Through a chance meeting I started working with Sarah Winton who was the singer on their 'Carboot Soul' album. Her voice inspired a lot of the music I made with her. All the people I work with inspire me, with their different styles and performances. I also love old school hip hop, drum n bass and funk. People like Big Daddy Kane, Parliament, Herbaliser, Roni Size, Fabio, MF Doom, and a lot of Prince's earlier work. Ninja Tune, Mo Wax and Warp are some of the labels that I've been influenced by.

Q5 What would you say to someone experiencing your music for the first time?
I wouldn't say anything really. The music speaks for itself.

Q6 What are you ambitions for you your latest single, and for the future?
I'm extremely lucky to work with five really talented musicians. We've only played a few gigs so far but we've definitely turned some heads, and it all left us itching to play more. People should expect a very energetic, funky show with some incredible performances. The festivals are going to be amazing too. It's all very exciting.

MORE>>www.myspace.com/phuturesonic

 
KISSY SELL OUT
Having spent the last few years becoming the remixer of choice for, well, just about everyone, and championing all (or at least much) that is good in new music through his Radio 1 show, longtime CMU favourite Kissy Sell Out has decided to show everyone how to get it right first time round with his debut artist album, 'Youth', which is released this week. Full of fizzy, summery pop anthems, it has arrived at the perfect time, now that the weather seems to be warming up again. You can catch him live and DJing at festivals everywhere from now until the end of August, and you can listen to 'Youth' in full right now via his MySpace page, which is why we thought this was a good time to finally give him the SNAP Of The Day slot. Oh, and don't forget to check out our interview with him in this week's Remix Update here.

www.myspace.com/kissysellout



 

 

 

VIRGIN MEDIA MAKE ANNOUNCEMENT - WE WRITE AN AWFUL LOT ABOUT IT
So the crazee people over there at Virgin Media yesterday announced that they had only gone and done a deal with the dudes at Universal Music which will let them offer their cool cat customers an unlimited music service where by the head-nodding body-popping music fans among the Virgin faithful will be able to download as many tracks as they God damn like every single month for a set monthly subscription of just five million pounds. No, it'll be a lot cheaper than that. Three million perhaps.

In return for the privilege of being able to provide the kids with such a service, Virgin Media have agreed to hit naughty file-sharers among their customer base on the head. Not with a hammer you understand. Just a cushion. Though one of those heavy duck feather cushions that can real hurt.

I'm paraphrasing ever so slightly but, yes, later this year Virgin Media will launch a new digital music service for their ISP customers which enables subscribers to stream or download as many tracks as they like.

And unlike most other 'all-you-can-eat' music services, the downloads will be in the DRM-free MP3 format, meaning they'll play on almost any device (well, almost any digital music devices - not your iron), and, crucially, they will continue to play even when your subscription lapses, or when any of the kit you used to download the tracks in the first place ceases to be usable. The entire Universal Music catalogue will be available, and the ISP-come-cable-company is currently in talks with other majors and indies with a view to having as wide a possible catalogue as possible at launch.

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VIRGIN'S NEW DOWNLOAD SERVICE - SPECULATION AND RAMIFICATIONS
Although the specifics of the new Virgin service, and the "affordable fee" that will be charged to access it, are still to be confirmed, the proposed new platform does have the potential to be revolutionary.

Holes in the catalogue aside, and assuming the subscription fee really is reasonable, it would make it harder for music fans from the P2P generation to justify continuing to access illegal sources of music, and will put to the test the argument made by some in that community that they'd be willing to pay a monthly fee for a download service if only there was one which replicated the file-sharing network experience - ie comprehensive catalogue, unlimited downloading, no digital rights management system.

It also potentially has ramifications across the digital music sector, and the wider music business, potentially shifting the record industry into a predominantly blanket licensing based business, rather than one still centring on the sale of individual tracks and albums direct to consumers for a set unit price, whether on CD or via a la carte download platforms.

Arguably there would still be a role for the a la carte services like those currently provided by Apple, Amazon and 7Digital, for those consumers who only want to download a few tracks a month, or year even (which research suggests is actually most consumers), though if Virgin's unlimited music package was to ever be bundled in with unlimited TV and film downloads, then even casual music fans might sign up for the all-you-can-eat service rather than paying for the occasional download here and there.

The Virgin service could also have ramifications for other all-you-can-eat services, whether they be stream- or download-based. Services like Spotify would either have to focus more on their ad-funded model, competing with Virgin by being free, or ensure their player offers functionality to paying subscribers that the ISP service fails to offer.

Some in the industry, and especially in the independent sector, have advocated bundling an all-you-can-eat music service into ISP subscription packages for sometime - arguing that kids who like to file-share, and who are unlikely to stop doing so until you introduce the death penalty for online copyright infringement, can continue to do so if their internet connection is licensed to access all and any music anyway.

But there are issues with launching a completely comprehensive, uber user-friendly, totally DRM-free all-you-can-eat service.

Doing so may have a negative impact on both a la carte download stores and existing licensed streaming music services, just as they are starting to bring new revenues into the record companies. And that means the new platform needs to bring in sufficient subscription revenues to compensate for that impact, which it may only really do if and when such a service reaches critical mass, and every household is opting to pay a music licence fee to their ISP. What happens if a label's other digital revenues are hit before that happens? Does the ISP pay a guaranteed minimum fee until revenue shares are suitably sizable? Even if they were willing to do so, can they really afford to?

And then, of course, there's the issue of revenue distribution. Assuming such a model can only work, as far as the ISP is concerned, if the music companies agree to a revenue share rather than a set per-stream fee, who monitors what is being streamed and downloaded, who decides how the money is split up based on that data, and how does the artist - several places down the supply chain - know they are being paid the royalties they are really due. And again, is the ISP providing the labels with any minimum guarantee? This becomes even more complicated if you turn a blind eye to or, indeed, legitimise signed up users who continue to file-share. If one licenced user passes a track to another licenced user, in theory that's fine, but how do you track and report that kind of peer to peer distribution.

So, lots of issues. Still, I'm sure Virgin and Universal have it all in hand. The other big part of this story, of course, is that Virgin Media have agreed to tackle any of its customers who are accessing unlicensed music via their Virgin internet connection. Although the ISP has not gone as far as signing up to a full three-strike disconnection system as has been proposed in France, they have agreed to instigate a 'graduated response' programme against file-sharers on its network, which could lead to persistent file-sharers who fail to heed warnings having their net access temporarily suspended. Presumably Virgin would try and upsell said file-sharer their licensed music service before taking any such action.

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VIRGIN'S NEW DOWNLOAD SERVICE - LOTS OF PEOPLE SAY THINGS
There were quotes galore regarding Virgin and Universal's announcement yesterday morning.

First up, Virgin Media head honcho, Neil Berkett, who said: "In terms of both convenience and value, our new music service will be superior to anything that's available online today and provides a fair deal for both consumers and artists. There is no better example of Virgin Media's commitment to harnessing digital technology to give customers what they want, when they want and how they want".

One of Berkett's key shareholders, that Richard Branson fella, aired his support for his media firm's music initiative, telling reporters: "I'm thrilled to see Virgin back where it belongs at the heart of music and, once again, breaking the mould. Virgin Media's agreement with Universal is a world first and lays the ground for a truly unique service when it launches later this year. It will give music fans all the MP3s they want for a small monthly fee whilst supporting the artists whose creativity is the lifeblood of music".

Speaking for Universal, their top man over here, Lucian Grainge, had this to say: "Britain has a world-class reputation for artists and music. Now British consumers will have access to a world-class digital music service. I believe this puts all of us at the forefront of a new era".

UK Music boss Feargal Sharkey, who has been advocating more record company/internet service provider collaboration since taking over at UK Music forerunner British Music Rights, but who has been sounding increasingly frustrated with the net sector of late, told CMU: "This is fantastic news for music fans. UK Music has long advocated the potential of ISPs and music companies to strike commercial deals and launch groundbreaking new services. Today's announcement from Virgin Media and Universal Music is therefore hugely significant. We would urge other ISPs to follow Virgin's lead and create new music partnerships that offer the consumer legal access to the full range of content, regardless of platform".

Meanwhile the boss of record label trade body the BPI, Geoff Taylor, focused in particular on Virgin's commitments to target file-sharers, claiming that their agreement to adopt a 'graduated response' system against file-sharing vindicated the trade body's claims that such a system was reasonable and viable. Taylor: "It is very encouraging to see an ISP and a record label working together as creative partners. At the same time, the fact that Virgin Media will apply a graduated response system to tackle persistent illegal downloaders demonstrates that graduated response is a proportionate and workable way forward".

Virgin and Universal's announcement precedes the publication this week of the final draft of the government's 'Digital Britain' report, which will include a section on the file-sharing problem.

I think most in the industry remain pessimistic and expect that the recommendations the report will make on the issue will be somewhat lacklustre - forcing ISPs to do what they already do, forward on warning letters, while urging content owners and net firms to continue to try and find a voluntary solution to the piracy problem. Many in the record industry have become disillusioned with label/ISP talks, though given that Virgin were the first to agree to send out piracy warning letters, and their rivals soon followed suit, perhaps the Virgin/Universal deal is a sign there is, after all, a way around all this other that the government writing a three-strike disconnection programme into the law.

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OTHER FACTORS CONTRIBUTED TO SPRINGSTEEN TICKET PRICES ROCKETING
Remember how Ticketmaster's ownership and promotion of secondary ticketing website TicketsNow became big news earlier this year when Bruce Springsteen got word that his fans were being forced to buy tickets for a gig in his home state of New Jersey at hiked up prices via the resale site, which his primary ticket seller, Ticketmaster, were promoting?

Springsteen's public criticism of Ticketmaster's secondary ticketing operation led to allegations that the ticketing giant was letting primary tickets slip into the hands of touts because they had a commercial interest to do so - that way they'd earn twice off the same tickets, once when the original ticket is sold to the tout, and again by taking a commission when the tout resells the ticket via TicketsNow.

Well, now some in the US media are turning against the Boss following a report that one of the reasons why tickets for the gig at New Jersey's Izod Center were in such high demand was because 2262 tickets, included over a 1000 for the best seats in the house, were never put on sale to start with, them being held back for friends and family of Springsteen, his label and agent, and the venue's owners. That fact, some are now arguing, was what led to the touts dominating ticket sales for the concert, and as a result the highly inflated prices that touted tickets were being sold for.

While the reserving of some tickets for an artist's friends, and his label's associates, is normal practice, and such insider allocation is always going to be higher when an artist is playing in his home territory, the story is more fun because of New Jersey's strict ticketing rules. Some reports suggest that state laws there say only 5% of tickets for public concerts can be held back from public sale, while, according to the Newark Star-Ledger, 12% of tickets were held back for this particular show.

While consumer groups in both the US and especially Canada were already raising objections to Ticketmaster's promotion of its secondary service via its primary website, it was Springsteen's outburst that captured the headlines and forced the ticketing giant to change its official policy on the issue - from "we're just providing consumers with more options" to "we need to be more careful here". Aided by the coverage of Ticketmaster's attempts to merge with Live Nation, the whole story has since gained so much momentum that the ticketing firm is reportedly now trying to sell off TicketsNow, willing to write off its move into the secondary market as a mistake.

What that would mean for Get Me In, Ticketmaster's UK secondary ticketing website - which has never been integrated with the main Ticketmaster UK website, though that was presumably the original intent - isn't clear.

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JONATHAN ROSS TO RECEIVE BROADCASTING HONOUR
Jonathan Ross is to get this year's Music Industry Trusts' Award "in recognition of services to music broadcasting". He follows the likes of Elton John, Kylie Minogue and Universal's Lucian Grainge in receiving the honour, which will be presented in November.

Organisers said that Ross was chosen to receive the award because he has supported music acts throughout his career, via his BBC1 and Radio 2 shows, and on his various TV chat shows, from Channel 4's 'The Last Resort' in 1987 onwards. Calling it "an incredible honour", Ross added: "Music has always played a large part in my life and it's been a privilege to not only present most of my musical heroes but to give a leg up to the next generation".

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NINE INCH NAILS PLAY FINAL US SHOW
Trent Reznor had already announced that he was winding up Nine Inch Nails as a live band (for now, at least), but it turned out that the band's show at last weekend's Bonnaroo festival in Tennessee was the last they'll play in the US.

During the set, Reznor told the crowd: "It just dawned on me that this is our last show ever in the United States. Don't be sad. I'll keep going. But I think I'm going to lose my fucking mind if I keep doing this, and I have to stop".

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FRANKMUSIK ON CHERYL COLE
We reported back in April that electropopper Frankmusik is to help out on the production side for Girl Aloud Cheryl Cole's solo album. And now he's been telling Digital Spy about it, and the fact that he thinks that the album will need to be very different from Girls Aloud in order to be successful.

Frankmusik, aka Vincent Frank, said this: "You very rarely hear any of them sing in isolation. As long as they don't do the obvious thing and basically make a solo Girls Aloud album for her, then it should be quite good. Hopefully they can get across whatever personality she may, or may not, have on the record. I think that's crucial in any solo project - you've got to be something so strong without the help of the group you once had. You see the errors of people like Robbie Williams in the past. There's certain ways of doing it right and a lot more ways of doing it wrong".

Frankmusik's new single 'Confusion Girl' is out on 27 Jul.

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RONSON WORKING WITH SEAN LENNON
Mark Ronson has said that he is working with Sean Lennon's Ghost Of A Saber Toothed Tiger project, which involves the son-of-John-and-Yoko and his girlfriend Charlotte Kemp Muhl. Ronson will play bass and produce a number of songs for the band, and apparently told The Daily Star: "It's a '60s psych thing, quite Brazilian, with Sean and his girlfriend singing in unison".

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RAZORLIGHT HINT AT HOUSE ALBUM
Razorlight frontman Johnny Borrell has hinted that the band's fourth album could see them going in a more dancey direction. Which sounds like a barrel of laughs. Borrell told The Mirror: "It's going to be a different sound, I want to collaborate with someone. I'm thinking a house music extravaganza".

He went on to say something about Carl Barat which is totally irrelevant, but we're going to paste it in here anyway, because we can: "I was sifting through old things the other day and found a piece of paper with some songs from Carl Barat. That was another era. I wish The Libertines all the best if they do get back together".

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NEW BANANARAMA MATERIAL COMING SOON
Bananarama have made an announcement via their website regarding an album of new material. The iconic eighties girl group - a duo since 1991, of course - have said that a new single, which will later appear on their yet-to-be titled upcoming album, will be out in August.

This is what it says, in fact: "The first single taken from Bananarama's upcoming album is entitled 'Love Comes' and is planned to be released in August. This exciting new track is written by Bananarama and produced by Ian Masterson".

The track was apparently road-tested at last weekend's Isle Of Wight festival, where the duo, aka Sara Dallin and Keren Woodward, headlined the Big Top on Friday. The new album will be their first LP since 'Drama' was released back in 2005.

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ANIMAL COLLECTIVE GIVE AWAY REMIX
Animal Collective will release 'Summertime Clothes', the latest single from their 'Merriweather Post Pavilion' album, on 29 Jun. To celebrate this, they're giving away a Dam Funk remix of the track, which you can download at the link below (after you've given them your email address). By following the link, you can also watch the band performing 'Summertime Clothes' on The Late Show With David Letterman (which doesn't require your email address).

www.dominorecordco.com/uk/news/19-05-09/animal-collective-announce-new-single-summertime-clothes--free-damfunk-remix-download/

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FREEMASONS ACCIDENTALLY RELEASE SINGLE
The Freemason's new single, 'Heartbreak (Make Me A Dancer)', which features vocals from that Sophie Ellis-Bextor, is due for release next Monday. But you can get it from iTunes right now, because someone slipped and pressed the wrong button.

Ellis-Bextor said via Twitter: "Whoops technical blip means 'Heartbreak' OUT NOW! Available for download on iTunes. It's all very advanced!"

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BLUR PLAY SURPRISE ROUGH TRADE GIG
Following their previously reported intimate friends and family gig at the East Anglian Railway Museum in Colchester at the weekend, the fully reunited Blur have played a surprise set Rough Trade East. The in-store, which took place yesterday, was to mark the release yesterday of the group's new best-of, 'Midlife: A Beginners Guide To Blur'. The set, which lasted an hour and featured a number of the band's old favourites, was announced on the day via Graham Coxon's Twitter account, and only 170 fans were granted wristbands for the event.

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FAITH NO MORE CONFIRMED FOR READING AND LEEDS
Faith No More have confirmed that they are to play the Reading and Leeds festivals. Again.

You might remember the band briefly announced the dates back in April and then retracted them within minutes, seemingly so as not to impact on ticket sales for last weekend's Download festival, where they were also booked to play. Live Nation, who promote the Download festival, also co-own Reading/Leeds promoters Festival Republic, of course. With Download now safely out of the way, the official confirmation of Mike Patton et al's Reading/Leeds booking was issued.

Of course there had been clues they were playing the end-of-August festival, other than the premature announcement by the band themselves. The eagle-eyed guys over at Thrash Hits had already spotted that the Reading and Leeds dates were printed on the band's official tour t-shirts that were being sold at their Brixton show last week.

The real surprise, though, is that Faith No More will not be playing the main stage, they will be headlining the NME/Radio 1 Stage. Which will be nice for some people, perhaps not so for the hundreds who will no doubt be forced to stand outside the tent and listen to whoever's on the main stage at the same time.

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ONE MAN DIES AT ROCKNESS
Last weekend was rather a busy one for music festivals, what with the aforementioned Bonnaroo in the US, and Download, Isle Of Wight and RockNess all taking place over here in the UK. The latter was the most eventful by all accounts, with one death on site, and Brian Molko storming off the stage.

Taking the more serious incident first, a 22 year old man died at the Scottish fest, the third death at the event in the last three years. Previous deaths were drugs related. The cause of this guy's death is not yet known, though he is thought to have had an existing medical condition, which may have been the cause. The police officer overseeing the festival, Andy Cowie, told the BBC: "It is a very sad time for the young man's family and friends and our sympathies are with them at this time".

Elsewhere, Placebo's Brian Molko stormed off stage in the Clash Tent, seemingly after one clever fan decided it would be a good idea to throw a pair of scissors on to the stage. He and his bandmates walked off after playing just four songs, with the frontman declaring: "My safety cannot be guaranteed so I'm leaving". Some booing followed, but the band did return five minutes later, presumably reassured all cutting implements had been removed from the tent.

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SINGLE REVIEW: Defend Moscow - Die Tonight (KIDS)
Norwegian five-piece Defend Moscow haven't even been together a year yet and they've managed to follow up their sell-out debut single 'Manifesto' with a brilliant electro pop tune, 'Die Tonight'. The playful bass intro has echoes of Late Of The Pier and Franz Ferdinand though the song has a much more lo-fi and raw quality to it. The mix of vocals between the strong Jon Beck and the angelic Sofie Storaas give levels to the song that ultimately make you want to instantly skip back to the beginning to hear it again. The B-side, 'Sign Of Life', is a bit more by-the-book and lets the single down a bit. But the remixes and the original track are so confident by themselves, this doesn't detract from the fact that I am now very excited about the prospect of a Defend Moscow album. GM
Release Date: 22 Jun
Press Contact: Partisan PR [all]

Buy from iTunes
Buy from Amazon

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POLYDOR, HMV AND MEAN FIDDLER COLLABORATE ON ALBUM LAUNCH
The fact that a collaboration between a record company, a music retailer and a venue with regards an album launch is being described as a "music industry first" perhaps explains why the wider music business is in the mess it is in. I mean, it seems like a pretty obvious three way project to pursue really, doesn't it?

Anyway, Polydor, HMV and the Mean Fiddler Group are partnering on the launch of the debut album from the buzzy buzzy La Roux at the end of the month. Basically the Polydor-released album will be officially launched with a big gig at the MFG owned London Forum, and fans who pre-order the album via hmv.com will be entered into a draw to win tickets for the show. Simple really. Those who pre-order the album from HMV will also get to download a free remix of forthcoming single 'Bulletproof'.

The live dimension to this retail offer has happened, of course, because HMV is now co-owner of the Mean Fiddler venue network, through its business partnership with the Mama Group. In fact the venue being used is technically speaking called the HMV Forum, though I can't help thinking that makes it sound like a pretty dull chat room, so have so far avoided using that name for the Kentish Town venue. The promotion, and therefore the album, will also be promoted via other Mean Fiddler venues, and the Mean Fiddler website.

Commenting on the collaboration, Polydor's Senior Product Manager Hannah Neaves told CMU: "La Roux straddle the mainstream and credible spheres quite effortlessly. The promotional activity in conjunction with HMV and the HMV Forum gives the album high street coverage, online profile and a focus live event, and appealed to us as much for that as for its association with established and well respected music brands in the retail and live arenas".

Mama Group co-chief Dean James added: "This collaboration illustrates the potential and the 'joined-up' approach of the MAMA Group/HMV partnership - Mean Fiddler Group. The HMV Forum is a flagship venue and, along with the significant investment we have made there over the past year, we are always keen to explore new ways to provide a better service to our customers and bring new artists into the venue. The ability to simultaneously pre-order the album and win tickets to see La Roux live offers a new dimension to our relationship with audiences, and offers artists the opportunity to showcase their work in the best possible environment".

And completing this threesome, HMV Head of Music Rudy Osorio, said: "Over the years, we have supported artists and their new releases through every form of promotion imaginable, but this will the first time we have been able to draw on our relationship with Mean Fiddler Group to leverage a live music venue in this way to create a whole new retail template, which, dare I say, is not only multi-channel in character, but has a strong 360 dimension to it".

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COALITION MAN LAUNCHES OWN AGENCY
Alistair Lavelle, who has worked for Coalition for the last five years, has announced he is leaving the London-based management firm to set up his own agency, to be called Cody Management. At launch the company will represent Elspeth and the incredibly talented producer, remixer and DJ du jour Alex Metric. More at www.codymanagment.co.uk.

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FINAL US VIRGIN MEGASTORES CLOSE
The final two Virgin Megastores in the US are now no more. As previously reported, when Related Companies bought the Megastore chain off the Virgin Group in 2007, it was known their interest was in the property occupied by the record shops, not the entertainment retail business itself. Since then they've been slowing winding down the retail chain, with the final two stores, in New York and Hollywood, closed this weekend. It is, I believe, the end of an era.

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WARNER ALTER IMEEM TERMS
Warner Music has reportedly renegotiated its terms with music-based social networking whatnot Imeem meaning it has increased its stake in the company in return for accepting lower royalty rates for when its music is played on the website. Warner recently wrote off its original $20 million investment in the struggling online music service as Imeem sought new investment from other sources. Insiders say that Warner hope the new deal will help Imeem make their business viable moving forward and, when they do, that they will benefit from having a bigger stake in it.

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NEW PLAYSTATION VIDEO JUKEBOX SERVICE LAUNCHES
The new on-demand music video service from Sony PlayStation went live last week, but we've not had time to tell you until now. The service, called VidZone, let's net connected PlayStation 3 users to use their games console as a video jukebox, with over 10,000 videos to choose from. The service allows users to playlist their favourite vids, and is accessible once a user downloads a special free application.

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FACEBOOK BIGGER THAN JESUS (WELL, MYSPACE)
Personally I'm amazed Facebook didn't pass MySpace as the most used social networking service a long time ago - I mean, do you know anyone who uses MySpace these days? Other than for checking out the daily SNAP Of The Day artist recommendation here in the CMU Daily, of course. Perhaps that's why they still have relatively impressive user figures. Though now Facebook let you have proper user-friendly web addresses, perhaps we'll start tipping artist Facebook pages more.

Anyway, US-based research firm ComScore says that Facebook last month had more unique visitors than MySpace for the first time. Though it was close - MySpace had 70.255 million visits, while Facebook had 70.278 million. But those stats don't tell us how many people went to MySpace just to check it was still as shit as it used to be. (Note: it is.) Though, of course, Rupert Murdoch's just fired everyone at MySpace, so it might all be about to change.

But probably not - MySpace's many technical limitations have always been more about history (the fact a small-town and relatively old-school social networking platform grew and grew and grew real fast and got so big it wasn't practical to start again, even though they really needed to) and less about the skills (or lack of) possessed by the social networking outfit's senior developers, who have now all parted company with the firm.

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WILL DIGITAL BRITAIN NOW PROPOSE LICENCE FEE CASH FOR C4?
The BBC might be forced to share its licence fee with commercial rivals, which is the average BBC executives' worst possible nightmare. Albeit small-scale genocide is generally more palatable to BBC chiefs than the thought of being forced to share their precious licence fee revenue.

But, despite the government previously not supporting the idea of some licence fee money going to the commercially funded public service broadcaster Channel 4, it's thought the final draft of the much previously reported on 'Digital Britain' report may, in fact, support such a measure.

The long-awaited final draft of 'Digital Britain', which seems like it's been 'about to be published' for weeks now, is due out this week. The radical proposals regarding C4 getting a chunk of BBC cash are increasingly expected to be in there. Previously ministers have suggested C4 utilise BBC-developed technology to help it reduce the cost of its online and on-demand services or, more radically, for C4 to merge with the Beeb's commercial division BBC Worldwide, putting the two big commercially-funded public service media firms into common ownership.

No word on whether the report will suggest the BBC provide any cash or support to that other commercial broadcaster with public service obligations, ITV. Though one would expect 'Digital Britain' author Stephen Carter has been giving some serious consideration to safeguarding the future of the UK's main commercial telly firm. Gossipers say that Carter will quit his job as Communications Minister once the report is published, while others are suggesting he's favourite for the currently-being-recruited-for job of CEO at, yes, you guessed it, ITV.

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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. Green Day - 21st Century Breakdown (Warner Bros)
2. Nickelback - Dark Horse (Warner/Roadrunner)
3. Marilyn Manson - The High End Of Low (Universal/Interscope)
4. Taking Back Sunday - New Again (Warner Bros)*
5. Rancid - Let The Dominoes Fall (Epitaph)*
6. AC/DC - Black Ice (Sony Music)
7. Theory Of A Deadman - Scars & Souvenirs (Warner/Roadrunner)
8. Chckenfoot - Chickenfoot (Edel)*
9. Shinedown - The Sound Of Madness (Warner/Atlantic)
10. Manic Street Preachers - Journal For Olague Lovers (Sony Music)
11. Bruce Springsteen - Working On A Dream (Sony Music)
12. Heaven & Hell - The Devil You Know (Warner/Roadrunner)
13. Pearl Jam - Ten (Sony Music)
14. Iron Maiden - Flight 666 (EMI)*
15. Metallica - Death Magnetic (Universal/Mercury)
16. Kid Rock - Rock N Roll Jesus (Warner/Atlantic)
17. Disturbed - Indestructible (Warner/Reprise)
18. Mastodon - Crack The Skye (Warner Bros)
19. Rise Against - Appeal To Reason (Universal/Geffen)
20. Papa Roach - Metamorphosis (Universal/Interscope)

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NEW JACKSON WAXWORK CAST
Madame Tussaud's have cast a thirteenth waxwork model of Michael Jackson. I hope that doesn't cause any bad luck, because I can't help thinking that the pop star's O2 residency is going to need all the good fortune it can get. Not that I'm superstitious or anything.

The newest design has been created by sculptor Stephen Mansfield, that item of near-useless info we do know. But it's not clear when the new model will go on show. Only the Queen, by the way, has been cast more times; she's been reworked 22 times over the course of the years. She's not been booked to play 50 shows at the O2 Dome, though. So, you know, swings and roundabouts.

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COLDPLAY DID STEAL, BUT NOT ON PURPOSE, SAYS YUSUF
Yusuf Islam, or Cat Stevens to you, has said that while he still thinks Coldplay stole part of his 18 minute song 'Foreigner Suite' for their song 'Viva La Vida', he's not angry about it. Unlike Joe Satriani, who is, of course, accusing Chris Martin et al of the same thing, Islam doesn't think they did it on purpose and isn't planning to go legal on there arses.

Islam (Stevens) told The Sun: "I want them to know that I don't have any ill will towards them. I stand by what I said. They did copy my song but I don't think they did it on purpose. I can understand why they got so upset because they probably don't even realise they have done it. It happens all the time. I have even copied myself without knowing I have done it. I'll write down what I think is a new melody and then listen back to it and realise it's the same as something I have already done. It's just one of those things and I don't want them to think I'm angry with them. I'd love to sit down and have a cup of tea with them and let them know it's OK".

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COURTNEY HINTS THAT ALBUM MIGHT BE RELEASED ONE DAY
Courtney Love, you might remember, was supposed to release her latest solo album, 'Nobody's Daughter', on 1 Jan. But she didn't. At the time she blamed ghosts haunting the studio she was using for the fact that she'd failed to finish recording it. Or something. To be honest, we'd completely forgotten about it, but in a post on her blog on Saturday Love hinted that work is still continuing on the album.

She said: "What a weird week! Disasters and epics and Gruesome Grotesques Unfolding and yet the ROCK keeps coming. I can't wait to release this! It's going to be so fun to tour on!"

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