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TODAY'S NEWS
Top Stories
More Jackson: Mum's pay day, legal settlements, Jackson TV
Guitar Hero defends Cobain game
Anti-suicide group criticise Gaga
In The Pop Hospital
Joe Perry's Aerosmith anger
Reunions & Splits
Former Clash members reunite
Pavement confirm reunion
Artist Deals
Infectious sign Local Natives
Release News
Smashing Pumpkins to release 44 free tracks
Gigs N Tours News
Sunn O))) announce UK tour dates
Thomas Truax announces more tour dates
Our Brother The Native announce UK dates
Festival News
Glastonbury 2010 details announced
Super Furry Animals added to Liverpool Music Week
Talks, Debates N Trade Fairs
In The City announce showcases
The Music Business
IMPALA members input on French net creativity debate
Hands gets reflective on the big EMI purchase
The Digital Business
Blackberry's U2 app goes live
The Media Business
Observer not to close
Scottish ITV to have its own news
And finally...
Lavigne and Whibley confirm split
Advertising info
Consulting info
CMU Credits + Contacts
 
FRIDAY 18TH SEPTEMBER


TOMMY REILLY
Winner of this year's Orange Unsigned Act competition, and the Young Scottish Entertainer Of The Year Award, Tommy Reilly reached number 14 in the singles chart with his debut single, 'Gimme A Call'. He then retreated to Edwyn Collins' studio to record his debut album with Bernard Butler, popping out to play well-received sets at various festivals over the summer and a couple of headline tours. The album is released by Universal/A&M on Monday and he begins his latest round of touring this weekend. We spoke to Tommy to find out some more.
 
Q1 How did you start out making music?
When I was young my folks sent me off to piano lessons. The deal was if I tried it and liked it I could keep going but if I didn't I could quit. I guess I liked it, because I kept on going and even started writing little piano pieces. But it wasn't until I started learning to play the guitar that I started attempting whole songs.

Q2 What inspired your latest album?
Essentially girls, and how things weren't working out with them. Most of the songs came to me at a time when I was pretty down about a lot of stuff but I don't think it comes across as a bleak or sad album, because all the tunes are upbeat. There were a couple of incidents in particular that sparked the first few songs and the others sort of fell into place after that.

Q3 What process do you go through in creating a track?
It used to always be the music first and then the lyrics with a definite melody in my head so the words would be tailored to the tune. When I was in the studio with Bernard Butler making my album we recorded it backwards and started with an acoustic recording of the song. The aim was to build the songs up a little without taking away from what they were about, so we would build around the acoustic song and not just add in a full band for the sake of it. He was awesome to work with and I couldn't believe how much freedom we had to do what we wanted.

Q4 Which artists influence your work?
Sometimes it's hard for me to tell. I think all that happens subconsciously. I guess if I list the bands and writers I like they will all have had some kind of impact. I've been listening to Mumford & Sons a lot. I love Frightened Rabbit and The Cure, as well as timeless songwriters like Bob Dylan and Ryan Adams.

Q5 What would you say to someone experiencing your music for the first time?
I really hope you like it but it's quite alright if you don't.

Q6 What are your ambitions for your latest album, and for the future?
I want to tour this album like crazy. I'm really enjoying playing live. It's so much fun getting to go to new places all the time. It's like being on holiday with your mates except we get to do our favourite thing every night as well by playing a show. It would be insane if we could go and play in Europe and/or America. I think it would be the ultimate to take my music to new countries.

MORE>> www.tommyreillymusic.co.uk and www.myspace.com/tommyreillymusic

 
VIGSY'S CLUB TIP: MATTER'S 1ST BIRTHDAY
Can it really be a whole year that has passed since the opening of Matter? We've already heavily tipped the first event in the birthday celebrations of Fabric's natty big sister venue, tonight's Remix All-nighter (www.remixupdate.co.uk for all the goss). But we thought the venue's official birthday party was also worth a nod. In Room 1 - the massive three level main stage room with 1600 capacity and a sky bridge - you will witness the three deck wizard himself, Mr Carl Cox (with an extended set), Philly mayhem meister and Ovum records man Josh Wink, and 20/20 man Paul Woolford, doing some real damage on the dancefloor too, no doubt. Over in Room 2 it's Jedi Knights man (and half of Global Communication) Tom Middleton, with Greg Wilson, and the Riotous Rockers. If it's as good as the opening night this time last year you are in for one helluva night, and congrats to the Fabric team for taking this project on - some said this venue would never work but this definitely raises two fingers up squarely to the doubters. Happy birthday Matter!

Saturday 19 Sep, Matter, O2 Arena, Peninsular Square, North Greenwich, London, SE10 0DX, 10pm-7am, £15 adv/£20 on door, info from www.matterlondon.com, press info from the lovely Danna and Gin at Fabric HQ


JOB OPPORTUNITY FROM ALAN BEARMAN MUSIC
ABM is looking for a full time administrator to undertake a variety of duties to support the company's day to day running. ABM is primarily a music agency representing a number of significant artists in the folk and roots music world. We are based in Finsbury Park, London N4. Please see www.alanbearmanmusic.co.uk for more information on our activities.

There will be opportunities to get involved in projects such as festivals and conferences but in the main we are looking for reliable admin back up on the agency side of the business. If you would like any more details or to apply, please email a CV and cover letter to Alan on bearman@btinternet.com

Salary and benefits will be based on experience/ qualifications. Please apply by end of September.

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DESK SPACE TO RENT IN SHOREDITCH
A bright Shoreditch third floor 4 desk unit, ideal for a start-up. You'll be sharing with 4 other small media enterprises (film, publishing, PR and design). The space comes with four desks, chairs and shelving units and is ready for you to move in today. Office has internet, wifi and is fully air-conditioned. In a very desirable location 5 minutes from Liverpool Street station and 10 minutes from Old Street station. Rent is £250 per desk, per month, including rates and service charge. Please contact  rachel@devenportpr.com

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FILM PRODUCTION STUDIO TO RENT IN SHOREDITCH
A fully equipped film production studio in the heart of Shoreditch. An ideal temporary studio to meet all your freelance and overspill needs, with access to 2 cameras (Z1E and HC1E) with 2 sound kits, an HD edit suite with FCP Studio 2, HD deck, HD monitor and sound station. Full specs available on request. Includes a working space for up to four people. The space with production and post-production equipment is £200 per day, minimum hire of three days; 7 days is charged at 5 days. Discounts available for hire of 4 weeks plus. Please contact jobeda@fairknowledge.co.uk or 07809601366.

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MORE JACKSON: MUM'S PAY DAY, LEGAL SETTLEMENTS, JACKSON TV
Katherine Jackson will receive over a million dollars a year to cover the costs of caring for her late son's three children. Court papers have revealed that Judge Mitchell Beckloff approved the payments last month, but details of the monies have only just been revealed.

About $60k a month will be spent directly on children Prince Michael, Paris and Blanket, a big portion of which will go on staff to care for them, though just under $160k a year will be set aside for "entertainment expenses". Mrs Jackson will then receive just under $27k a month directly to cover her expenses, including an assistant, housekeeper and driver. So that's nice.

The judge overseeing the winding up of Jacko's affairs also considered a business deal and legal claim involving the late singer's estate.

The first was a deal between the Jackson estate and Sony Music regarding the soundtrack to the previously reported Jacko documentary 'This Is It'. As previously reported, the executors of Jackson's estate have been keen to enter into new business deals even though the late singer's affairs have not been fully settled, presumably to cash in on the former king of pop's legacy while he's still big news.

The second matter related to a lawsuit brought by blues man Syl Johnson. He sued twelve artists accusing them of sampling one of his recordings without his permission - one of the twelve defendants named was Jackson. An out of court settlement was reached for a total of $150,000, of which Jacko was committed to pay $12,500. Beckloff gave his OK for that litigation to be settled by the Jackson estate.

Elsewhere in Jackson family news, Tito Jackson has been talking about the reality show that will follow him and three of his brothers. As previously reported, Tito, Jermaine, Jackie and Marlon Jackson were signed up to appear in a one off fly-on-the-wall documentary by US TV station A&E, but the network then proposed turning it into a full on reality series and all four brothers seem to planning to appear in it.

Tito told reporters: "It basically shows the insides of the Jackson brothers. What they are about, what they are about musically, their recording and their personal life as well as their public life, as you guys know it. We're getting ready to continue our shooting as little as next week so we're going to pick it up in New York and go from there".

The original documentary, which will now act as a pilot for the series, has already been filmed. It's not clear which other Jacksons appear in the filming. It was filmed prior to Michael's death, but it's not clear if he will be seen in the programme.

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GUITAR HERO DEFENDS COBAIN GAME
With Jon Bon Jovi laying into the Kurt Hero debate this week, the boss of the 'Guitar Hero' franchise has spoken out about the inclusion of the late Nirvana frontman in the latest incarnation of the pretend-to-play video game.

As previously reported, Courtney Love was the first to hit out at Cobain's appearance in the latest version of the 'Hero' game, saying he was appearing without her blessing, and basically blaming Kurt's former bandmate Dave Grohl for the whole thing. Then Grohl and fellow Nirvana man Krist Novoselic publicly criticised Cobain's appearance in the game, saying they could live with him singing Nirvana songs in the pretend-to-play franchise, but hated the fact his character could be 'unlocked' and made to sing any other songs available on the platform. That, they reckon, would not have gone down well with the Kurt-meister.

Jon Bon Jovi, who was quizzed on the matter because it's a video of the virtual version of Kurt singing one of his songs posted on YouTube that got this whole debate going, told the BBC that he sympathised with Grohl and Novoselic, admitting he'd not appreciate appearing in a game where players could make him sing any song. He told the Beeb: "I don't know that I would have wanted it either. To hear someone else's voice coming out of a cartoon version of me? I don't know. It sounds a little forced".

As previously reported, 'Guitar Hero' makers Activision have insisted from the start that Courtney Love was very much involved in the inclusion of Cobain in the game. One of their VP's told reporters last week: "Courtney supplied us with photos and videos. She picked the wardrobe and hairstyle, which turned out to be the 'Teen Spirit' look, then we went back and forth over changes - some subtle, some not so subtle. [She wanted a] sort of athletic definition but not overly so".

Now the CEO of the gaming franchise, Dan Rosensweig, has again insisted his company had a deal with Love regarding the inclusion of Cobain in 'Guitar Hero 5', adding that the Hole lady has already taken the cash she was due from the agreement. Speaking to NME, he said: "I do know that there's absolutely a contract and we know that the cheque has been cashed. I can only deal with the facts. It's very clear what the terms are".

Admitting he was disappointed that Grohl and Novoselic had negative feelings about the game, he continued: "We care about the artists more than anyone else and we would like to make artists happy in every circumstance. I'm disappointed in this case that there seems to be confusion between the band and the estate. It's really not Guitar Hero's confusion. We went and spoke directly to the estate and made it crystal clear, got the rights, paid for the rights, and really we've done what we've always done. The fact that the rest of the band and the estate did not communicate - I'm not aware of those facts".

You'd have thought someone would have told Rosensweig that doing deals with Courtney isn't quite like doing deals with most other people, wouldn't you? Rosensweig said he would be happy to speak to Grohl and Novoselic about the matter, but it seems unlikely the game maker will 'lock' the Cobain character so that he only plays the Nirvana tracks, as some have suggested they should.

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ANTI-SUICIDE GROUP CRITICISE GAGA
UK-based teen suicide prevention group Papyrus have criticised Lady Gaga's performance at the MTV VMAs on Sunday, in which she poured fake blood over herself and then pretended to die, saying that she was "romanticising suicide".

Gaga herself said that the performance of her song 'Paparazzi' represented her private life being killed by the paps, but the charity said in a statement: "This act is not cool - sensationalising and romanticising suicide is irresponsible. Celebrities, who are often idolized by young people, need to be more aware of the impact that such acts can have on vulnerable young people".

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JOE PERRY'S AEROSMITH ANGER
Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry is angry at the band's frontman, Steven Tyler. Seemingly because Tyler sustained a couple of injuries that caused the band to cancel most of their summer tour dates.

As previously reported, Tyler had to be airlifted to hospital after falling off stage just three songs into a set at a motorbike rally at the Buffalo Chip Campground last month. Tyler broke his left shoulder and needed 20 stitches in his head, forcing the band to cancel their remaining tour dates while he recuperates. Prior to this, the tour had already been delayed by two weeks after Tyler pulled a muscle in his leg.

Speaking to Associated Press, Perry said that Tyler's inability to remain injury-free was annoying, and as a result he'd put all his efforts into his new solo album, which is released next month. Although the release was already planned, it seems he wasn't expecting to push it particularly hard.

He said: "The tour was building up to be a great tour, and I was pretty [upset], you know. I haven't talked to [Tyler] in over five weeks. I don't know what's going on with him. I hear he's getting better, but I don't know I really don't know what's going on with him. I was pretty [upset], because right before [his stage fall], he had pulled a muscle in his leg. And we had to take two weeks off and we missed probably seven dates. The bottom line is that every hole that Aerosmith left I filled [by focussing more on the solo album].

This isn't the end for Aerosmith, though. Perry said: "One thing I do know, there's still life left in the old band. [Tyler's] got to get his act together. I mean, he and I haven't written a song together alone in the same room in over ten years, so there's been some changes in [the] paradigm of what Aerosmith is".

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FORMER CLASH MEMBERS REUNITE
Former members of The Clash, guitarist Mick Jones and drummer Topper Headon, have recorded a new version of their 1978 song, 'Jail Guitar Doors', in aid of the campaign of the same name run by Billy Bragg to help rehabilitate prisoners through music. Teaming up with Bragg for the new version of the song, it was the first time the Clash pair had been in the studio together for 30 years.

In a statement, Jones said: "The guys [participants in Bragg's scheme] were telling us how much this scheme had helped them move on from their previous lives before prison. It was really touching to think we've helped, even if it's in a small way".

Headon added: "When I was in prison myself, many years ago, I was lucky enough to have access to a guitar, which belonged to the prison vicar. I know how much it helped me get through it".

Explaining the idea behind the campaign, Bragg said: "We want people to be able to move on from their situation and reconnect with the outside world, and my hunch was that playing an instrument - particularly a guitar - could help that".

The recording session was filmed for a documentary about the scheme, called 'Breaking Rocks'. The film will premier at the Raindance film festival at Proud Galleries in London on 1 Oct, followed by live performances from Bragg, Jones, MC5's Wayne Kramer, Foo Fighters' Chris Shiflett and more.

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PAVEMENT CONFIRM REUNION
Pavement have confirmed rumours that they will reunite next year, with the line-up of Mark Ibold, Scott Kannberg, Stephen Malkmus, Bob Nastanovich and Steve West.

Kannberg told Rolling Stone in an exclusive interview yesterday: "It's been a long time coming. I think in the back of our minds, we always thought we'd do something again. But we never really talked about it until the last couple of months. It's come together fast. [Frontman] Steve [Malkmus] and I just had a conversation on the phone, and we'd never talked about it before at all. We've talked over the years, but the subject never came up. Then our agent asked us about these New York shows, so we went around to everybody in the band, and they said, 'Yeah, the time is right - if everybody's ready to do it, then we'll do it and see what happens'. There was no real impetus - it just kind of happened naturally".

As expected, the band are booked to play one show at the Central Park Summerstage in New York on 21 Sep, although there is the possibility of more. Kannberg continued: "We'll do some rehearsing in the new year. The Central Park shows... we'll probably end up doing one or two of those. There's festivals and stuff that we're talking to, like Coachella. After that, anything that happens in the future is in the future".

Speculating on what the band dynamic would be like after ten years apart, he added: "It's not gonna be like Echo And The Bunnymen, where they don't talk to each other, yet they tour every year. I flew in to see them do 'Ocean Rain' at Radio City last year, and it was good, but it wasn't the same, you know? I don't think we'll be that way. We're not still trying to flog a record or anything. It'll probably feel like we're just starting again. It'll be fun to play these songs".

Further information and that can be found at www.crookedrain.com

Incidentally, Kannberg releases 'The Real Feel', his debut solo album, under the name Spiral Stairs, on 19 Oct via Domino.

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INFECTIOUS SIGN LOCAL NATIVES
Korda Marshall's recently re-launched Infectious Records label has signed a third band to its new roster. Hotly-tipped LA band Local Natives join The Temper Trap and Irish trio General Fiasco, and will release their first single for the label, 'Camera Talk', next month.

Announcing the signing, Marshall said: "Local Natives are a fantastic addition to our roster. They blew everybody away at SxSW this year and we resolved there and then to sign them if I could. We had to fight off a lot of competition for their signatures so it is a real compliment that they chose us. The band has made a stunning record and everything is stacking up nicely for the campaign ahead".

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SMASHING PUMPKINS TO RELEASE 44 FREE TRACKS
Billy Corgan has announced that the next Smashing Pumpkins album will be released as 44 individual tracks, all of which will be made available for free. The first track should be released next month, with the rest coming at regular intervals for as long as it takes to get them all out. A series of limited edition EPs featuring four songs each will also be released as purchasable items. All of which doesn't make it sound much like an album, but that's what Billy Corgan's calling it.

Corgan said on his blog on Wednesday that recording had begun on Tuesday this week, and that the album would be titled 'Teargarden By Kaleidyscope'. He explained: "The album will feature 44 songs, four of which are now being recorded. My desire is to release a song at a time beginning around Halloween of this year, with each new release coming shortly after until all 44 are out. Each song will be made available absolutely for free, to anyone anywhere. There will be no strings attached. Free will mean free, which means you won't have to sign up for anything, give an email address, or jump through a hoop. You will be able to go and take the song or songs as you wish, as many times as you wish".

Explaining the story which will run throughout the songs, and the feel of the 'album', he continued: "The story of the album is based on 'The Fool's Journey', as signified in the progress of the Tarot. It is my intention to approach this by breaking down the journey of our life here into four phases as made by these different characters; the Child, the Fool, the Skeptic, and the Mystic.The music of 'Teargarden By Kaleidyscope' harkens back to the original psychedelic roots of The Smashing Pumpkins: atmospheric, melodic, heavy, and pretty".

He added: "I already have 53 songs written for the record, so I am quite confident that I already have much of the material that I would need to undertake such an extensive project. I am very committed to seeing this album through to its completion and very, very excited about the prospect of delivering new Smashing Pumpkins music to you in a unique and exciting way".

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SUNN O))) ANNOUNCE UK TOUR DATES
Sunn O))), as that headline up there suggests, have announce some UK tour dates, which is very exciting news. As I have noted here before, I would like to see if I can watch one of their shows without vomiting or passing out. Apparently that can be a problem. Sound like fun? Heck yes it does! Let's all go together, here are the dates, I'll bring the sick bags.

6 Dec: Glasgow, Stereo
7 Dec: Gateshead, The Sage
8 Dec: Manchester, Islington Mill
9 Dec: Bristol, Trinity Church
10 Dec: Birmingham, Asylum
12 Dec: Minehead, ATP
13 Dec: Minehead, ATP
14 Dec: London, Koko

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THOMAS TRUAX ANNOUNCES MORE TOUR DATES
You should have all been to see Thomas Truax play live by now, if my various pleas and threats of violence have worked. Just in case you haven't (why the hell not?), he's just announced a second round of touring in support of his latest album, 'Songs From The Films Of David Lynch', on which he covers songs from the films of David Lynch.

Tour dates:

19 Sep: Livestock Festival
20 Sep: Chester, Telford's Warehouse
21 Sep: Manchester, Trof
22 Sept: Preston, The Mad Ferret
23 Sep: Leeds, A Nation Of Shopkeepers
24 Sep: Edinburgh, Sneaky Pete's
26 Sep: Aberdeen, Moorings Bar
27 Sep: Inverness, Market Bar
29 Sep: Newcastle, Cumberland Arms
30 Sep: Sheffield, The Washington
1 Oct: Hull, Adelphi
2 Oct: Huddersfield, Peacock Lounge
16 Oct: Cambridge, Portland Arms
17 Oct: London, Bizarre Ball

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OUR BROTHER THE NATIVE ANNOUNCE UK DATES
Our Brother The Native have announced some UK shows in support of their latest album, 'Sacred Psalms'.

Tour dates:

23 Oct: Swn Festival
24 Oct: Bristol, The Croft
25 Oct: Brighton, The Freebutt
26 Oct: London, Luminaire
27 Oct: Edinburgh, Sneaky Pete's
28 Oct: Glasgow, Captain's Rest

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GLASTONBURY 2010 DETAILS ANNOUNCED
Details of tickets for next year's 40th anniversary Glastonbury Festival have been announced. The bad news is that the price is going to increase by £10 - something Michael Eavis has described as "a shame" and a lot of other people have described as something a lot more sweary.

Tickets will go on sale on 4 Oct at 9am, and anyone wanting one needing to register by 2 Oct. The deposit scheme introduced for this year's festival will still be used, meaning you won't have to pay the whole price straight away, though you will eventually need to find £185, plus £5 for the booking fee and another £4.95 for postage.

Announcing the price hike, Eavis said: "[The price has risen] a little bit, I'm afraid. I do try and hold it down, but the girls doing the budgeting are so thorough and so clever, and they said: 'Look, the minimum rise we can get away with is ten quid more'. It is a shame, because I really wanted to hold the price".

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SUPER FURRY ANIMALS ADDED TO LIVERPOOL MUSIC WEEK
Organisers of Liverpool Music Week have added the Super Furry Animals to this year's line up. They join Kasabian, The Specials, Calvin Harris, Seasick Steve, Reverend & The Makers, The Enemy, Gallows, The Bays and Twisted Wheel on the schedule of gigs which take place in venues around Liverpool throughout November (yes, the 'week' in the title is a bit misleading these days). The SFAs will play on 5 Nov at Nation.

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IN THE CITY ANNOUNCE SHOWCASES
Music industry convention In The City, which takes place in Manchester from 18-19 Oct, has announced details of this year's new band showcases, alongside a wristband offer for members of the public who want to check out some up-and-coming artists.

Hosting this year's showcases will be NME Radar, Xfm, BBC Introducing, SJM Concerts, Now Wave, Big Scary Monsters, Swn, Front Magazine, Love Music Hate Racism, Same Teens, Future Sounds, Drowned In Sound, Rock Sound, Fierce Panda, Sentric Music and Murkage.

Bands playing this year's showcases include: Frightened Rabbit, Ou Est Le Swimming Pool, Crystal Fighters, NewIslands, The Molotovs, The Drums, Hatcham Social, Ellie Goulding, and Tek One.

Public access wristbands, which will be limited to 2000, will be available for £20 from www.inthecity.co.uk/wristbands.

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IMPALA MEMBERS INPUT ON FRENCH NET CREATIVITY DEBATE
Patrick Zelnik of French independent Naïve yesterday held a brainstorming session on internet issues with other indie label leaders from across Europe at the Annual General Meeting of pan-European indie label trade body IMPALA. The discussion centred on "how the internet can be used to the benefit of creators and consumers alike as well as to finance the cultural industries".

The brainstorm wasn't just a fun conference session, it was part of Zelnik's brief from the French government to provide recommendations on how the cultural industries could be better using the internet to enable creatives, to give consumer's better access to those creatives' work, and to encourage commercial investment in creativity.

Zelnik's 'mission' is linked to the much previously reported Creation & Internet law being introduced in France, which includes the measures to introduce a three-strike system to combat file-sharing. Part of the new legislation package is an obligation on the creative industries to consider and develop new ways of providing music and entertainment services via the net.

Commenting on the session at the IMPALA AGM, Zelnick, who is also Co-President of the trade body, told CMU: "It is a great honour to receive such overwhelming support from my peers. Yesterday's meeting was an excellent opportunity for the mission to benefit from some of the most innovative brains in the business. I've worked with these people for years so it was no surprise that the ideas and creativity were very inspiring. I feel we've already made great progress".

The IMPALA AGM also elected a new board. The aforementioned Zelnik plus [PIAS] chief Michel Lambot and !K7's Horst Weidenmueller were re-elected as Co-Presidents.

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HANDS GETS REFLECTIVE ON THE BIG EMI PURCHASE
In what I think is Terra Firma man Guy Hands' most blatant admission that his purchase of EMI was a mistake, the investment chap has admitted that, had the deal to buy the struggling London-based music major have been on the table two weeks later than it was back in 2007, he would probably have walked away. The deal, of course, was done just before that tedious credit crunch, leaving the private equity outfit with a mega-debt linked to an underperforming company that might have looked like an ambitious but worthwhile gamble during the economic boom, but which looked like a foolish error in the context of the recession.

Speaking at a Dow Jones conference yesterday, Hands admitted: "If the EMI auction started two weeks later, it wouldn't have occurred. We wouldn't have bought it. We'd have 90 percent of our funds still to invest and we'd look like geniuses".

Of course since buying the struggling music firm Hands has instigated sweeping cuts to reduce the overheads of the major's recorded music arm, and set about introducing a totally new business culture based on monetizing artist relationships, and providing marketing and distribution services to self-releasing artists and other labels, rather than focusing exclusively on buying up master recording rights, most of which provide a very poor return on investment.

But despite those efforts - and some improvement in terms of revenues - the company continues to struggle, partly because the costs of the downsizing and restructuring were significantly more than Terra Firma expected, and partly because the artist community (or rather the artist management community) proved to be a lot less willing to collaborate with EMI on non-recording projects than Hands seemed to expect.

It didn't help that Terra Firma's acquisition of EMI landed the music firm with large and expensive debt commitments to Citigroup - debt commitments it's been hard to renegotiate or redistribute given the credit crunch - plus the company lost a lot of knowledge and contacts by cutting off quite so many senior execs during the restructure, and has since struggled to keep hold of the new senior appointments it has made.

But despite seeming to regret his big EMI gamble, Hands insisted the company was doing much better now than when they acquired it. Earnings had gone from $80 million a year to just over $260 million, and were set to top $330 million this year. That said, EMI remains a burden for Terra Firma, and its future is still in the balance pending debt restructuring negotiations, which have been ongoing with Citigroup for sometime.

Commenting on those negotiations, Billboard reports that Hands told the Dow Jones event: "Will we get to a solution that's a win-win for all stakeholders? I don't know, but I certainly know there's desire from all parties to do it. Right now, the reality is we're improving the company as much as we can".

Allowing EMI to collapse isn't really in Citigroup's interests, which plays to Terra Firma's advantage in their negotiations with the US bank, though some say if the major's assets (ie its catalogues) were to be auctioned off - maybe the master recordings to Warner and the publishing catalogue to the KKR/Bertelsmann JV (yes, those rumours persist) - that might bring in enough cash to make cutting the good ship EMI loose a conceivable proposition.

Time will tell I guess. Either way, I think it's fair to say EMI more than anyone could really do with people liking that new Robbie Williams album.

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BLACKBERRY'S U2 APP GOES LIVE
When it comes to mobile internet devices being entertainment machines rather than business tools, I don't think the iPhone has much to fear just yet from the Blackberry, despite them launching their much anticipated U2 app - or Mobile Album as they are calling it.

Blackberry, of course, are sponsoring U2's current 360 Degree tour, and the free multi-media package is part of the mobile firm's partnership with the band. It's been a long time coming, and most people who have reviewed the final product seem to be a little under whelmed. There are samples of tracks from the band's recent album 'No Line On The Horizon' on there, and users can download the album for ten dollars should they want too, though you'd think anyone who'd go to the effort of downloading the app would already own the album. The rest of the app includes video clips, an interview, and a news feed and photo gallery also available via U2.com.

The most interesting bit of the Blackberry whatnot is a location-based tool that enables fans at U2 gigs to communicate and share their experiences. This, though, isn't yet live. Oh well, the tour is only three months in.

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OBSERVER NOT TO CLOSE
The Guardian Media Group confirmed yesterday that there will be more integration between the teams who make The Guardian and The Observer, but said their Sunday paper would not, as had been rumoured, be shut down.

GMG said in a statement: "As announced earlier this year, [our newspaper division] Guardian News & Media is conducting a strategic review of its operations. One element of the wider process was a review of weekend publishing, which considered a range of different products and editorial structures across Saturday and Sunday. As a result of this review, GNM will develop its current weekend offering and introduce a greater degree of integration between the editorial teams of the Guardian and Observer".

Quite what "closer integration" means in terms of head count remains to be seen. With the Guardian group needing to cut overheads to remain a viable business, a number of editorial jobs are expected to go.

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SCOTTISH ITV TO HAVE ITS OWN NEWS
In another move to distinguish the Scottish ITV service from that of the rest of the UK, the owners of the ITV franchises North of the border, STV, have announced they will stop broadcasting the tea time ITV News bulletin, instead incorporating national and international news into their own Scottish news show.

STV, like ITV in other regions, currently airs a local news show at 6pm with national news coming from London at 6.30pm. From later this year STV will broadcast a self-produced hourly news show at 6pm, where Scottish, British and international news will be combined. They will work directly with ITV news provider ITN on the new show.

It's another move by STV to reduce the amount of programming it takes from the ITV network South of the border. STV has already stopped broadcasting some ITV drama shows, mainly because it wasn't willing to make the level of financial contribution to the shows ITV plc was demanding.

As I'm sure we've previously reported, while London-based ITV plc now owns all the third channel franchises in England and Wales, the Scottish franchises are owned by STV.

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LAVIGNE AND WHIBLEY CONFIRM SPLIT
Well, yesterday we were taking the latest round of rumours that Avril Lavigne and Sum 41 frontman Deryck Whibley were beginning divorce proceedings with a pinch of salt, but now Lavigne has confirmed it. Although she denied claims by a source, who broke the news to Us Weekly earlier this week, that they now hate each other.

In a post on her MySpace blog, Lavigne said: "Deryck and I have been together for 6 and a half years. We have been friends since I was 17, started dating when I was 19, and married when I was 21. I am grateful for our time together, and I am grateful and blessed for our remaining friendship. I admire Deryck and have a great amount of respect for him. He is the most amazing person I know and I love him with all my heart. Deryck and I are separating and moving forward on a positive note".

If I'd found the most amazing person I knew who I loved with all my heart, I'd probably want to stay married to them. But I don't know the ins and outs of it, do I? Whibley has not yet made any comment himself.

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