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Top Stories
FAC speak more against government's anti-P2P plans
Apple preview Project Cocktail
Jackson tribute gig line-up confusion
Glasvegas bloke turns up
In The Pop Courts
Chart Show TV win royalty dispute with VPL
Awards & Contests
Country Music Association Awards announced
Jackson to perform Jackson tribute at VMAs
Reunions & Splits
Copeland urges Talking Heads and Smiths to reunite
Dimmu Borgir comment on sacked members
In The Studio
Grinderman put finishing touches on second album
Release News
Rammstein announce album details
Deep Elm free download compilation
Gigs N Tours News
Rolo Tomassi announce final shows of 2009
Cancer Bats announce UK tour
Mariachi El Bronx return to the UK
Festival News
thelondonpaper cancel HEADLINERS festival
Album review: Union Jack - Pylon Pigs (Platipus)
The Music Business
Bertelsmann private equity deal gets EC approval
Another EMI exec appointed
Former outsider launches new PR agency
The Digital Business
Has Virgin's big all- you-can-eat offer hit a brick wall?
The Media Business
BBC boss hits back at Murdoch criticism
And finally...
Rascal and Moss clash at GQ awards
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CMU Credits + Contacts

Growing up with a folk duo Jeff and Julie Gleave for parents, it's perhaps unsurprising that Charlie Winston and two of his siblings (Tom Baxter and Vashti Anna) grew up to become musicians. It was while playing bass on his brother's debut album that he met Peter Gabriel, who went on to produce Winston's own debut, 'Make Way'. His second album, 'Hobo', which is this time produced by Mark Plati (David Bowie, The Cure, Robbie Williams), is released on 28 Sep, with the latest single to be taken from it, 'Like A Hobo', out next week. We spoke to Charlie to ask our Same Six Questions.
Q1 How did you start out making music?
I was into breakdancing and electro between the ages of six and ten, as well as Michael Jackson. So I used to beatbox, which was inspired by Dougie Fresh, De La Soul and Run DMC, and sing in the style of Jackson, seeing myself on the stage like him. My parents were singers too, so it was natural to sing together and harmonise with my brothers and sister. My parents spotted my interest in rhythm and bought a drum kit when I was eight. I played for six months until my brother Jo took over. But it was enough to leave me with the beats (a disease where by one cannot stop hitting themselves in time), which lead to an understanding and interest in percussion for the rest of my life. At ten, I started piano lessons. At twelve, I started writing songs. At eighteen, I started learning bass because I left university piano-less and penniless; there was just an old bass guitar in the flat I was sharing with my brother, who was heartbroken at the time. At 22, I needed to get back to the simplicity of melody and tone and began to write songs on the guitar. I've always sung.

Q2 What inspired your latest album?
Life. Death. Romance. Existentialism. Buddhism. The Bible. Modern culture. Traditional culture. Everyday life and other things like that which are much more accessible and less heavy on your average John. Films: 'Fight Club', 'Wings Of Desire', 'Casablanca', 'In The Mood For Love', 'This Is England', and many more.

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

It depends on the track. Usually, the music comes first, then the melody, then the arrangement, then the words. But that is not always the case. Sometimes, it's a process of elimination, sometimes a process of creation. It's up to the song. A song has needs and I am just here to fulfil them. I am the servant to the song. It's discovery. They already exist - I just have to take the time to discover them.

Q4 Which artists influence your work?

Múm, Esbjorn Svensen Trio, Polar Bear, The Mills Brothers, The Beastie Boys, Joni Mitchell, Stravinsky, Hariprasad Charausia, Jacque Brel, Nick Cave, Virginia Rodriquez, Nina Simone, Miles Davis, Beethoven, Dizzee Rascal, Led Zeppelin, Howlin' Wolf, Tom Waits, Feist, Kraftwerk, Animal Collective, Sufjan Stevens, Bob Dylan, Dizzie Gillespie, Radiohead, Aphex Twin, Hermeto Pascal, Leonard Cohen, The Jackson Five, Curtis Mayfield, Massive Attack etc, etc.

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


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

My ambition is that the work of my album inspires people to want to spread it. If it has the power to inspire people then it has a great obligation to reach as many of them as it can. I will do what I can to help it but the music has to work the hardest, or else I am fooling myself along with everyone else. My ambition for the future is to be in a position to continue making records, write for film and theatre, as well as acting in it, write for orchestra, learn tap dancing, think about life seriously but not take it too seriously, have kids, get old, look back, tell stories, die happy.

MORE>> and

Recently partnering with US indie Kanine, the original home of Grizzly Bear and Chairlift, Zaza are a New York two piece making woozy, at times shamanistic tunes in the guise of Ride and Slowdive, but with broader, more textured vocals. 'Repetition' is a particular highlight, capable of inducing a trance-like state via its looping melody, which sounds like it should be building to an ear splitting crescendo, but instead reaches a relatively mellow cascade of noise before shirking away around the five minute mark. 'Sooner Or Later', meanwhile, takes the ritualistic references one step further with pounding tribal drums filling out the backbone of the song, with some rather lovely dream-pop guitars adding sheen. Excellent stuff.

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Some of the Featured Artist Coalition's higher profile members have been talking to the BBC about their opposition to those government plans to ramp up measures to combat illegal file-sharing. As previously reported, despite being rather non-committal on forcing internet service providers to penalise persistent file-sharers in their 'Digital Britain' report earlier this year, the UK government is now talking tougher on the issue, putting the possibility of a 'three-strikes' style system, which could lead to some file-sharers having their net connections suspended, very much on the agenda.

The Featured Artist Coalition has taken a different viewpoint to many other music business trade bodies on this issue since its formal launch earlier this year, and last week they issued a joint statement with the Music Producers' Guild and the British Academy Of Songwriters, Composers And Authors speaking out against plans that could lead to music fans losing their net connections, even just for a short period of time.

Expanding on the issue, FAC board member and Blur man Dave Rowntree told the BBC: "We don't want to make enemies of our fans. The sensible thing to do is to try to see how we can monetise all this file-sharing activity, which is evidence of a lot of interest in music".

Another FAC director, Radiohead's Ed O'Brien, says his key objection to the government's proposals, which are supported by many on the business side of the record industry, is that they simply won't work. He says: "It won't work. It's as simple as that. I was talking to a serial file-sharer the other day who is a friend. He downloads films and he hasn't paid for music for six years. I asked his opinion of it and he laughed. He said, 'even if they cut me off I'll still be able to do it'. It's something you do not want to take on, so move on".

That other FAC man Billy Bragg, adds: "We're concerned that, in an age where there is much greater competition for attention, these proposals are in danger of driving young people away from the idea of listening to music. As musicians, we're worried about that". Noting that some people had discovered his music for the first time through P2P file-sharing, and had then bought gig tickets or merchandise, Bragg continued: "We should be encouraging people to become music fans, and whether we like it or not, illicit downloading does encourage people to become music fans".

The Music Managers Forum, who work closely with the FAC of course, have also been critical of the government's new view on the P2P file-sharing issue. In an interview with MusicTank, MMF boss John Webster expressed similar views to O'Brien - that basically the proposals being considered simply won't have any major impact on file-sharing.

He said: "The technology develops so fast that, by the time OfCom come up with something about what they are going to implement, then go through consultation, draw up legislation and then comes into effect, it'll make no difference, social change comes so fast that people will be consuming music in different ways, the legislation won't be relevant. It's all just PR for them at this moment in time. I remember when I was at the BPI a few years ago, they laughed at the idea of a celestial jukebox - we have that now in Spotify - that just goes to show how quickly these things move".

Webster wants all interested parties to get round a table to discuss the issue further, rather than allowing those in the record industry who support the government's latest proposals to get their way. And that, he reckons, should include the internet service providers who, of course, hate the idea of having to suspend their customer's net access over copyright infringement issues. He notes: "The time that the ISPs did come and talk to [cross sector trade body] UK Music was very productive and I believe that they've asked for another meeting again and I think we should have it. We have to involve them".

You can read the full interview with Webbo at this here URL:

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So, as increasingly expected as Apple's big music-focused press conference approached last night, there was no talk of the Beatles coming to iTunes once Steve Jobs and his team took to the stage in San Francisco.

As previously reported, some had initially speculated that the choice of date for the latest Apple product launch event, 090909 - the day Beatles fans across the world queued to buyt the remastered versions of the Fab Four's catalogue on CD or to pretend-to-play Beatles tunes via the latest 'Rock Band' game - meant the computer giant's latest announcements may have a Beatles theme. But with Paul McCartney telling NME just last week that efforts to get the Beatles' catalogue on iTunes and the like were proving as tricky as ever (it's all EMI's fault, remember), the chances of Jobs telling the world those remastered albums were ready for iTunes download looked slim.

And so it was. This Apple event had nothing to do with John, George, Paul or Ringo - the fact the proceedings began with a snippet of a Rolling Stones song made that pretty clear. No, this session was all about the all new iTunes 9 and its expanded Genius recommendation system, about new iTunes/iPhone syncing capabilities, about new functionality (and colours) coming to the iPod range, about a whole load of new gaming ventures ("who needs a PSP or DS when you've got your iPod touch?" they mused), about the much discussed Project Cocktail, and, somewhat strangely given this is 2009 remember, about the fact 30,000 ringtones are about to be added to the iTunes store.

Perhaps the biggest news of all was that Steve Jobs was back as host, his first major press event since his previously reported life saving kidney transplant earlier this year. With that in mind, Jobs began the proceedings with a rather sombre thought - a statement that begins sounding a little like a flippant remark, but which quickly became an advocacy for carrying a donor card.

"I'm very happy to be here today with you all - I now have the liver of a mid-20s person", he said, before continuing, "who died in a car crash and was generous enough to donate their organs. And I wouldn't be here without such generosity. So I hope all of us can be as generous and elect to become organ donors". Not sure how many hacks passed on that message once all the new iPod buttons and functions had been discussed, but it's an admirable statement for Jobs to open with.

Moving on to the buttons and functions though, and while we now know the iPod classic isn't being phased out, as some had speculated, and that the iPod touch is coming down in price, and that the nano is getting a camera, and the shuffle an even wider range of colours, probably the thing that most music types were interested in hearing about was the so called 'Project Cocktail'.

As previously reported, this is an effort to persuade downloading kids to invest in full albums rather than picking and choosing just the good tracks, something both artists and labels have been keen to see for a while now, though 'cocktail' does seem to be an Apple-led initiative.

More cynical music business types wonder whether bundling in photos and videos and lyrics and slightly interactive liner notes with each set of ten MP3s (or AACs in the case of iTunes) will really excite the average music fan, who can normally access that kind of content via an artist's website or YouTube channel for free. They may add that artists and labels who are clinging onto the album format are ultimately flogging a dead horse - after all, the ten track album came about for logistical distribution reasons, based on how many tracks would fit on two sides of 12" vinyl, and not because there is any artistic reason for an artist to produce songs in sets of ten (or thereabouts).

That said, the 'Cocktail' products, or iTunes Albums as I think they'll be known moving forward, are predictably pretty and fun to play with, and some artists will probably relish the chance to produce clever visual and/or interactive whatnots to accompany their music. It will be very interesting, though, to see what consumer response is like. The fact Apple types demo'ed the new format with Doors and Dave Matthews Band 'iTunes Albums' possibly suggest labels see cocktail as appealing more to older music fans. Or perhaps they felt uneasy about mixing a cocktail for a sixteen year old emo kid. Who knows? I remain rather cynical about the whole thing, but promise to watch consumer response with interest.

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Jermaine Jackson has denied that two of the biggest acts he had announced would play the upcoming Michael Jackson tribute concert in Vienna earlier this week had pulled out of the event, and refuted rumours that he does not have the backing of the rest of the Jackson family. Despite his apparent certainty on these matters, his second round of line-up announcements in London yesterday was less confident.

Following Tuesday's announcement that Chris Brown, Mary J Blige, Akon, Natalie Cole, Sister Sledge, Angela Basset and German boyband US5 would play the event, a spokesperson for Brown said: "Chris is not confirmed to perform or participate in any capacity for this show", while a rep for Blige said that she would also be unable to attend as she would be at a fashion event in Italy.

However, Jackson told reporters yesterday that Blige planned to fly to Vienna to perform in the latter part of the show, and said that Brown's only issue was whether or not his parole conditions following his conviction for beating up Rihanna would stop him from leaving the US. He told reporters: "Chris Brown is working out some situations but he definitely expressed to us that he wants to be there. It's just up to what he's going through with his court case right now. He's definitely going to work that out and be there".

Asked whether he thought Brown's recent conviction would taint the event somewhat, Jackson said: "Not at all. And I'll tell you why. He's asked for forgiveness. People make mistakes and he's a wonderful performer and during these times people need support".

Meanwhile, when quizzed on whether the rest of his family had given their support to the concert, he said: "I invited my mother, I invited my brothers and sisters as well. I am not happy with the talk being said in the press that the support isn't there. My mother from the very start supported this".

Despite his apparent confidence that everyone on the previously announced line-up would appear at the concert, he would only say that it was "likely" that Stevie Wonder, R Kelly and Maroon 5 would also perform.

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So, it turns out Glasvegas frontman James Allan wasn't ill, or dead, or abducted by aliens after all. He'd just gone on holiday without telling anyone.

As previously reported, Glasvegas were forced to cancel their performance at Tuesday's Mercury Prize ceremony, as Allan had been missing since Friday, following the band's return from a festival in Italy.

However, the band's manager said on Wednesday: "He got in touch with me yesterday at 1.45pm to tell me he was OK because he knew people were worried. I've been just as much in the dark about this as anybody - the last time I saw James was at the gig in Cardiff. I don't even know exactly when he went missing".

Columbia Records later released a statement, saying: "James is not missing and he's very much looking forward to the Kings of Leon tour dates which start on the 11 Sep in Bristol, Massachusetts in the USA".

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The company that operates music telly channels Chart Show TV, The Vault and NME TV has scored a victory at the Copyright Tribunal which will see the broadcaster's royalty obligations cut quite considerably.

CSC Media Group licences the music videos it plays via VPL, the video-focused sister organisation to recording rights collecting society PPL. VPL's deal with CSC is based on a percentage of gross revenue. The collecting society had been demanding a 20% cut of the cash, a figure which CSC argued was "unreasonably high". After negotiations failed to reach an agreement CSC took the issue to Tribunal, the statutory body that has the right to rule on royalty disputes relating to compulsory blanket licences.

CSC's legal team presented the tried and tested (and some at the labels might argue, somewhat dated) argument to the Tribunal that record companies received a promotional benefit from having their videos played on their channels. That promotional benefit, CSC argued, had not been taken into consideration by VPL before deciding on the revenue cut it demanded.

The telly firm ultimately won the argument, persuading the Tribunal to set a royalty rate of 12.5% of gross revenue, more than the 8% the broadcaster was hoping for, but a lot less than the 20% VPL had been demanding.

Commenting on the Tribunal ruling, one of the legal men involved in CSC's case, Kevin Bays, told Music Week: "This case once again raised the issue of the promotional benefit received from the broadcast of copyright material. There is no doubt that this must be taken into account in fixing a reasonable royalty for the use of this material".

A VPL spokesman said: "This is a very disappointing result for our members who invest a great deal of time and money in creating this valuable repertoire, albeit the Tribunal did not go as far as awarding the 8% that was being sought by CSC Media Group Ltd. We fundamentally disagree with a number of the key conclusions that led the Tribunal to make its decision".

While collecting societies do, as a general rule, ask, by default, for more money than they are probably due (you might argue that's their job), the promotional value argument, used by MTV for years to pay nothing to the record companies, is an interesting one. There is an argument that the plethora of rolling music channels that appeared in the late nineties were as much to blame for a slump in record sales as P2P file-sharing, putting, as they did, music on tap long before the YouTube revolution.

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The Country Music Association has announced the nominees for their 43rd annual awards ceremony, which will take place in Nashville on 11 Nov.

Leading the nominations is singer Brad Paisley, who is up for six awards - Male Vocalist of The Year, Album Of The Year, Single Of The Year, Song Of The Year, and Music Video Of The Year. Handily, he's also co-hosting the event with Carrie Underwood (herself up for two awards), so if he wins in all those categories it should keep things ticking along nicely.

Coming up behind Paisley on the numbers front are Taylor Swift, Keith Urban, George Strait, Jamey Johnson and the Zac Brown Band, with four nominations each.

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While there may be some conjecture over who will actually be performing at Jermaine Jackson's Jacko memorial concert, his sister Janet has lined up something a bit more definite. MTV confirmed yesterday that she would open this year's Video Music Awards with a "special performance" paying tribute to Michael. To be fair, though, she only had to confirm with herself that she could be there, so it's a bit easier. Chin up, Jermaine.

Anyway, enough waffling. The VMAs take place on Sunday, and Janet's performance will apparently feature more that 20 backing dancers and choreography by some of the biggest names in the dance world. One of the dancers, Kryiss Grant, who was also an usher at Michael's funeral, told TMZ that rehearsals were taking up to 15 hours a day and when people see what they've come up with "there won't be a dry eye in the house".

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Police drummer Stewart Copeland has advised Talking Heads and The Smiths to ignore their sensible reasons for not getting back together (you know - not diluting people's memories, not going back to something that's clearly finished, not being a money-grabbing bastard - that sort of thing) and just go for it.

He told Spinner: "In most bands that I know, and certainly my own band, you have a real bond with your band members. Love them or hate them, there's a bond. We in the Police found and slayed a lot of dragons. We really put a lot of misconceptions about each other and ourselves to rest. We conquered the world together, same as Talking Heads. They have had a big part in each other's lives and wouldn't it be great if they all got along? It's like burying the hatchet".

Okay, it's a bit like therapy. But not The Smiths, surely. Only someone who didn't know anything about The Smiths would think it was a good idea for them to get back together. Here's what he had to say about them: "I don't know anything about the Smiths, but yes [they should reform]. It isn't any act of courage to not do it. What quality does it take to say no to something like that?"

Still, if it's such a great thing to do, can we expect more gigs from The Police any time soon? Copeland concluded: "The Police, as I've said, are each a bitter pill the other must swallow and yet the medication is very effective. This therapy I would recommend to be administered I'd say every 20 years".

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Symphonic black metallers Dimmu Borgir has released a lengthy statement after fans reacted angrily to news that the band's bassist ICS Vortex and keyboard player Mustis had been sacked from the band last week.

The remaining members of Dimmu Borgir said: "For someone to be in a band, on any level, first there's got to be commitment and dedication, a drive and urge to do what you do, whether you're part of the song writing process, planning the touring part, business part, the administrative part or simply just the performing part - doesn't matter which one you're mostly involved in. However, you need to be involved in some of it to a certain extent to be considered and treated as a member and you have to show some sort of level when it comes to responsibility, not only for yourself but for others around you as well".

Bearing this in mind, the band listed numerous reasons why the outgoing band members had not lived up to these rules, including turning up to gigs without their instruments, smashing glasses over their own heads, selling signed copies of the band's albums on eBay, and demanding ransom money for the return of unreleased recordings to the rest of the band.

Meanwhile, those remaining members - Galder, Shagrath and Silenoz - are in the studio working on the band's ninth album. They told fans: "We're more than halfway into it at this point and to say we're excited about this material would be an understatement!There will be an orchestra and a choir which we still have to pick out, but judging from what we have so far and what is brewing, it's going to sound absolutely massive and heavy, dark and epic!"

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Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds side project Grinderman have completed work on their second album, the band's Warren Ellis has revealed.

Speaking to The Quietus, Ellis said: "We finished the Grinderman album three weeks ago. I mixed it over the summer, and finished it before [Ellis' other band Dirty Three's] Green Man show. We've still got to do the track ordering, and a few tweaks on the mastering, but the album's there".

He continued: "It's very different from [Bad Seeds' last album] 'Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!' and it's very different from the first Grinderman album. That was something we were very aware of, we didn't want it to be like that at all. There's an attitude in there that's similar, but sonically it's got some pretty weird things going on. It's probably more fleshed out than the first one, we've probably learned to play the instruments a bit more. I play lots of stuff on there, there's violin on it, which I didn't get in the other one, and a lot of backing vocals".

Describing the overall sound of the new album, he added: "It's kind of like stoner rock meets Sly Stone via Amon Duul. It's very diverse, and there's a lot of stuff on there that doesn't sound like anything we've done before. Nick's got a different thing going on with the lyrics than he would have from the Bad Seeds, and he's found a new thing from the first album. Less sex? I wouldn't say that. It's psychedelic, and I think it's great. We're really excited about it".

The as-yet-untitled album is due for release early next year.

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German metallers Rammstein have announced details of their sixth studio album, which is due for release on 19 Oct. Entitled 'Liebe Ist Für Alle Da' ('There Is Love For Everyone') and produced by Jacob Hellner and Rammstein at the Sonoma Mountain Studio in California, the first single from the album, 'Pussy', will be released on 21 Sep.


Ich Tu Dir Weh
Waidmanns Heil
Frühling In Paris
Wiener Blut
Liebe Ist Für Alle Da
Roter Sand

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US indie label Deep Elm is giving away a sixteen track download compilation for free until the end of the month. Included on the album are tracks by Latterman, The Appleseed Cast, Sounds Like Violence, 500 Miles To Memphis, Slowride, Burns Out Bright, Flanders, So Sad Althea, Settlefish, Desert City Soundtrack, Free Diamonds, Clair De Lune and Small Arms Dealer.

Download it here.

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Rolo Tomassi have announced two special shows to close their 2009 touring schedule, before they head to the States to record their second album. If you've not yet seen them play, now is the perfect opportunity, as the shows will feature some special secret guests and merchandise that will not be available anywhere else. Also, as I think I've said before, they are the best live band in the country right now, so all that other stuff is just a bonus.

Here are the dates:

3 Oct: London, The Rest Is Noise
8 Oct: Leeds, Brudenell Social Club

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Canadian hardcore band Cancer Bats, who are currently working on their third album, have announced a string of headline shows in the UK beginning next month, which they will fit around dates supporting Billy Talent.

Tour dates:

22 Oct: Middlesborough, Uncle Albert's
24 Oct: Liverpool, The Masque
28 Oct: Tunbridge Wells, The Forum
2 Nov: York, Fibbers
3 Nov: Bournmouth, Ibar
4 Nov: Falmouth, Princess Pavillions
5 Nov: Exeter, The Cavern

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US hardcore types The Bronx will be returning to the UK in their guise as mariachi band Maricahi El Bronx to play four shows in November.

Tour dates:

18 Nov: Glasgow, Oran Mor
19 Nov: Manchester, Club Academy
22 Nov: Oxford, Academy
23 Nov: London, Islington Academy

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In news that is only surprising because it's taken so long to be announced, thelondonpaper has confirmed that it is cancelling its typographically annoying HEADLINERS festival, which was due to take place in venues around Soho in London on 16 and 17 Sep. As previously reported, the London free newspaper will be closed on 18 Sep by its parent company News International.

In a statement, the festival's organisers said: "NI Free Newspapers Limited owner of thelondonpaper and MAMA Festivals have cancelled the two night, multi-venue live music event, thelondonpaper HEADLINERS that was scheduled for 16 and 17 September 2009 in central London.Both parties felt it would be inappropriate to go ahead with the event in light of thelondonpaper's imminent closure.It is with great regret that we have reached this decision however investing in an event of this scale when the paper is due to close the following day would be an irresponsible move".

Refunds will be available from point of sale from Friday.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Union Jack - Pylon Pigs (Platipus)
If you thought trance was one-dimensional, then seminal electronic duo Union Jack will go a long way in proving you wrong. Their first new material in eleven years, 'Pylon Pigs' bears the hallmark of a group who were at the forefront of the progressive/trance genre in the 90s, but also has enough subtlety amidst its arpeggio action to appeal to those who enjoy the best of electronica from a more cerebral perspective. So, among the throbbing basslines, crashing percussion and effervescent electronics on the imposing slabs of dance music ('Papillion', 'Triclops', 'Longhorn') there are quieter, more subdued moments. The likes of 'Submerge' and 'Mainlining' are beatless wonders, all shimmering underwater ambiences, whilst 'The Dark Major' has an unexpected bossa nova rhythm, making it a lovely slice of jazzy sun-kissed downtempo. Working equally as a collection of seismic big room anthems and as a melodic rewarding listening experience for the armchair clubber, 'Pylon Pigs' is a very welcome return indeed. MS
Physical release: 6 Oct
Press contact: Get Involved [all]

Buy from iTunes
Buy from Amazon

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Bertelsmann has got regulatory approval for its previously reported JV with private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co which is interesting, mainly because I didn't realise (or had possibly forgotten) they needed EC approval.

As previously reported, KKR recently bought into Bertelsmann's rather interesting new music venture, BMG Rights Management. This is the company the German media conglom set up after selling its half of SonyBMG to Sony Music and having previously sold its music publishing firm to Universal. It's interesting because it works more like a music publisher than a record company, but manages and exploits recording as well as publishing music rights.

KKR have committed to invest 250 million euros into the venture, mainly to allow catalogue acquisition over several years. The deal led to speculation BMG was interested in buying EMI's publishing interests, though that seems rather unlikely, partly for mathematical reasons, and partly because EMI Music Publishing is not currently for sale.

Anyway, it seems the KKR/Bertelsmann joint venture needed approval from the European Commission's competition officials, and the news is that they've got it. A spokesman for the EC told reporters: "The Commission found that the proposed concentration would not give rise to any competition concerns, given the very small market share of the joint venture in music publishing and recorded music".

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Yes, yet another EMI executive appointment for you. Timothy Ryan was formerly Marketing Director for Setanta Sports, one of the biggest failures in recent British broadcasting history. So he should fit in just fine at EMI where he'll be SVP Global Priorities, Catalogue Marketing, which is a mouthful of a job title if nothing else. Prior to sports telly, Ryan had senior marketing roles at AOL and Orange.

Confirming the appointment, his new boss, EMI's catalogue chief Ernesto Schmitt, told CMU: "A music fan himself, Timothy is an expert in positioning high-growth media brands and consumer propositions and has a strong track record in applying digital marketing across mobile, broadband and broadcast. These will be valuable skills as we grow our consumer insight capability and leverage it to provide consumers with the music products and services they want to buy."

If anyone knows what that means, keep it to yourself. Always good to hear that record labels think it's something worth noting when they hire a music fan, though.

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Former Outside Organisation publicist Stuart Bell has announced he is launching his own PR firm.

As previously reported, Bell left Alan Edwards' London-based entertainment PR agency somewhat suddenly back in June. Although the reasons behind his sudden departure were never revealed, it was widely assumed Bell would return heading up a rival agency once his non-compete obligations with Outside were fulfilled.

This week Bell did indeed confirm he was launching his own PR company. He has teamed up with Richard Dawes, formerly Head Of Publicity at Universal Music's Polydor Records, to create Dawbell PR.

Like Outside, the new company will focus on entertainment PR with a music bias. Initial clients will include Leona Lewis and Polydor-signed artists Ronan Keating, Take That and newish band Detroit Social Club. It's also thought Paul McCartney, one of Bell's highest profile clients at Outside, will move his representation to the new company.

Confirming the launch of the new agency, Bell told reporters that Dawbell would provide a wide range of communication services to its clients, commenting that: "The role of the publicist has changed greatly in the last few years. We're not just press officers, we provide the whole package. With a lot of PR agencies, their offline and online just doesn't join up".

Dawes added: "We want to offer a fresh new service that looks at every aspect of communications. We want to come up with creative press plans that will get people noticed".

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Virgin Media's much ballyhooed (that's a word I'm planning on using with increasing frequency, by the way) unlimited download service may not be as exciting as expected because all but its primary content partner, Universal Music, are yet to sign up.

As previously reported, Virgin announced back in June plans to launch an all-you-can-eat download service bundled in with one of its internet provision packages this Autumn. A bit like Nokia's Comes With Music, but without all the horrible digital rights management, under the new service Virgin customers will be able to download as many MP3s as they want for a monthly subscription fee. Being MP3s, the tracks will work forever, however long a customer keeps their subscription with the ISP.

It's quite a revolutionary offer, and, it seems, a little too revolutionary for many in the record industry. While Universal Music was a partner in the venture from the word go, according to New Media Age both EMI and Sony Music are cautious of the whole big plan, while Warner Music are also yet to sign up.

It seems that without the crippling DRM of Comes With Music, the majors fear that everyone will sign up for a month, download every song ever made to their PC after paying whatever the minimum subscription rate may be, and then bid Virgin and the major labels farewell, no doubt laughing in a very evil way as they go. Or, perhaps more realistically, that the Virgin offer will steal custom away from a-la-carte download stores and streaming-based subscription services like Spotify just as they are starting to build a solid customer base.

Virgin Media tell NMA that they are happy with their ongoing discussions with the record companies regarding their all-you-can-eat music offer, though a record label source told the trade mag that - while the majors do not oppose the principle of Virgin's new service - they are nervous about the deal currently on the table. That possibly means they want the ISP to take more of the risk should users use the new offer to download massive amounts of MP3s in one go (despite Universal research that suggests the average user would only download about 35 tracks a month).

Said source said: "We want to work with Virgin Media as a partner but any deal has to sit comfortably with how we value our assets against how it values its customers. We have to evaluate each deal as it comes in and make sure we're happy with the overall value of the proposition".

Of course, as also previously reported, Virgin is also promising to take a more proactive role in combating illegal file-sharing as part of any deal that enables the all-you-can-eat offer. That promise is presumably viewed as a big fat carrot by the ISP, who also argue that it's only by offering a service as revolutionary as its all-you-can-eat proposition that any crack down on P2P file-sharing will have any positive results.

Whether the majors can be persuaded that the carrot is big enough to accept other terms with which they are not 100% happy - especially given that ISPs like Virgin may now be forced to crack down on file-sharing anyway - remains to be seen. Though, with BSkyB lining up a similar offer, if the labels do eventually follow Universal's lead and sign up there could be some interesting times ahead, for music fans and Virgin's digital music rivals as much as the record industry itself.

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BBC top man Mark Thompson has issued a strongly worded response to James Murdoch's attack on the Corporation. Son of Rupert used his big speech at the Edinburgh TV Festival last month to issue a stinging attack on the licence fee-funded broadcaster, accusing it of having ambitions far beyond those its public service remit should allow, and calling on government to cut the Corporation down to size.

The Murdoch regime, and therefore the family's UK papers, have always been anti-BBC, though it's true that many more commercial media chiefs have become increasingly critical of the Corporation in the last 18 months as they see BBC bosses lobby for an increase in the licence fee (and complain loudly when an increase is denied) even though pretty much every Corporation-owned channel is vastly better funded that their commercial rivals, even more so given the recent advertising recession.

But, buoyed by a Guardian poll last weekend that showed the majority of the British public support the BBC, DG Thompson has hit back in an internal memo. He told his employees yesterday: "It must have made uncomfortable reading for those critics who would like the world to believe that trust and pride in the BBC is getting weaker rather than stronger. We've seen a pretty relentless onslaught from the press over the summer, culminating in James Murdoch's MacTaggart Lecture. The most important thing to say about that lecture and about many of the recent attacks on the BBC is that they are desperately out of touch with what the audience themselves are telling us".

Despite the strong words, Thompson admitted that the BBC did have to reconsider its role and position given the big changes going on in the commercial media, but argued that the Corporation is already doing exactly that. Meanwhile the BBC boss used the memo to imply once again that he and his colleagues will fight any efforts by the government to allocate a portion (even a tiny portion) of the licence fee to commercial media players with public service obligations, most likely to include ITV and Channel 4.

Just to clear up any confusion, the BBC has been vastly overfunded for 20 years and bosses there focus exclusively on empire building and never on delivering better value for licence fee payers. But then every home-grown programme ever commissioned by the Murdoch controlled Sky has been shit. So we probably shouldn't pay too much attention to either side in this debate.

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Ah, it wouldn't be the GQ Men Of The Year Awards if no one had an argument, would it? Last year it was Lily Allen and Elton John, who fell out while presenting one of the awards. This year is was Dizzee Rascal and Kate Moss, after Moss interrupted an interview being conducted with Dizzee twice.

The rapper was reportedly being interviewed backstage at the event, when the model and her entourage barged past. As the group moved off, Dizzee shouted: "Fuck all youse, man. You ungrateful fuckers! I was thinking, 'Who was that?' How rude".

Once the interview got underway again, Moss apparently returned and stopped the interview for a second time to ask if anyone had seen her lipstick. To which Dizzee replied: "You keep stealing my light, man! Kate Moss has lost her lipstick, it's a fucking disaster!"

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