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TODAY'S NEWS
Top Stories
BlueBeat defend their 25 cent downloads, judge does not concur
EU telecoms legislation ready, basically allows three-strikes
MTV and U2 cause controversy with a wall, in Berlin
Rihanna speaks more about the brown incident, Carey says some things too
In The Pop Courts
No Doubt sue Activision over Band Hero
In The Pop Hospital
Sugababe back to work
Awards & Contests
MTV EMA winners
Release News
Pavement may release best of
Shy Child album news
Reviews
Album review: Brakes - Rock Is Dodeljik (Fatcat)
The Music Business
Competition Commission extends Live Master investigation
New gig promoter training course welcomed
What motivated AEG's Wright purchase?
Dubai SoundCity: Middle East market has real potential for music rights owners
Dubai SoundCity: So, where's the money?
The Digital Business
Dubai SoundCity: Use social networks to build your own mailing list, artists advised
More Dubai SoundCity - check the online coverage
The Media Business
Murdoch subscription website plans delayed
New Channel 4 boss appointed
The Cribs promo new album via sports website
And finally...
Sufjan says states project was 'a joke'
Advertising info
Consulting info
CMU Credits + Contacts
 
FRIDAY 6TH NOVEMBER


THE WOMBATS
This three-piece indie band from Liverpool formed in 2003 after meeting at the city's Institute for Performing Arts. Comprised of two native Liverpudlians - Matthew Murphy and Dan Haggis - and one Norwegian, Tord Overland-Knudsen, The Wombats have become rather well known for creating their own brand of danceable indie rock. Initially signed to indie label Kids Records in 2005, with whom they released three singles, the band came to wider attention after joining the 14th Floor Records roster, most notably with the 2007 release of breakthrough single 'Let's Dance To Joy Division' and then debut album 'A Guide To Love, Loss & Desperation'. We're telling you all this today because The Wombats are set to play Dubai Sound City tomorrow night, which seemed liked as good an excuse as any to ask frontman Murphy our Same Six Questions.
 
Q1 How did you start out making music?
I used to play classical guitar, which I was forced into (more or less) by my Dad. Eventually I became bored of that, and wanted to delve deeper into the creative element of music. I have to say I find it much more rewarding in almost every aspect.

Q2 What inspired your latest single?
We don't really have a new single at the moment, so I'll tell you about my latest song. I was driving from London to Liverpool a few weeks ago, and nearly found myself in a fairly serious car crash. Luckily no one was hurt, but there was a lot of skidding in and out of lanes, and the car in front ended up facing the wrong way down the motorway. The song is about 'what if the worst had happened blah blah'. I guess it's a fairly morbid topic for a song, but it's a good challenge to see how breezy I could make it feel! As a band we have a good knack of making the most miserable of lyrics feel almost joyous.

Q3 How do you go about creating a track?
So far, I will write the bulk of the song, play it to the guys. Then we arrange it, add things or take them away, and decide on the general direction the song should go down. Some newer songs have come from little riffs of melodies that we found in the rehearsal room, then I would take these away and write a song around them.

Q4 Which artists influence your work?
I can never answer this question. We try to draw from as much music as we can.

Q5 What would you say to someone experiencing your music for the first time?
Hope you like it.

Q6 What are your ambitions for your latest album, and for the future?
I want our second album to offer something slightly different to our fans, whilst still retaining the qualities they liked in the first place. It has to further our craft and step our career up a notch too. But I just hope people like it basically!

MORE>> www.thewombats.co.uk or www.myspace.com/thewombatsuk

 
VIGSY'S CLUB TIP: BORDER COMMUNITY AT CORSICA STUDIOS
A good vibe is generally to be had at this stripped down no nonsense club. The outdoor terracey bit is a great place to socialise, and after going to a Wang event there last year I've been sold on the place. I'm tipping it this week in particular because the BC and We Fear Silence crews are combining here tonight, and they've put on a great line up. In room one we have James Holden and someone I rate highly - Mr Kieran Hebden aka Four Tet - plus Luke Abbott (live) and Rocketnumbernine (live PA). Room 2 has Nathan Fake, with his mad blend of beats and pieces, plus some electro soul with Lone from Werk Recs (live) and Wesley Matsell. It should be a blast.

Friday 6 Nov, Corsica Studios, London SE17 1LB, 10pm -5am, £10 in advance, info from www.bordercommunity.com



 

 



Name are one of the UK's leading music PR and marketing agencies, with unrivalled specialist knowledge and direct links to the heart of the UK music industry.

With over 10 years of experience, Name deliver full-spectrum PR services for a wide range of music clients, both trade and consumer. These include [PIAS] Entertainment Group, the Association of Independent Festivals, Merlin, Digital Stores, MusicTank, WeGotTickets, Blink TV, Corsica Studios and the Soundwave Festival.

For more information or to see how Name can help your business, visit www.namemusic.co.uk or email [email protected]

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SHOREDITCH OFFICE, 764 SQUARE FOOT (15-20 DESKS), £1000 PER MONTH
Self-contained office space available in the centre of Shoreditch, on the corner of Shoreditch High Street and Great Eastern Street, next to the CMU HQ. 5-8 minutes walk from Liverpool Street and Old Street tube stations. A top floor workspace with plenty of natural light in an exciting neighbourhood that is home to numerous music, media, PR and creative companies. 764 square feet, with room for 15-20 desks plus its own kitchen area and adjacent toilets. £1000 per month plus service charge and business rates (full breakdown available on request). Includes heating. Available from November. For more information contact [email protected].

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Advertise your stuff here: £120 for five editions - [email protected]

 

BLUEBEAT DEFEND THEIR 25 CENT DOWNLOADS, JUDGE DOES NOT CONCUR
Well, given they've been pretty opinionated on copyright issues in the past, even going so far as to accuse Apple and Microsoft of infringing copyright with their licensed music services, we predicted the response from the owners of BlueBeat.com to EMI litigation over their sale of the Beatles catalogue digitally would be, well, interesting. And interesting it is. Not to mention a little bit bizarre.

As EMI filed its previously reported lawsuit demanding BlueBeat.com stop selling not only Beatles tracks via its 25-cents-a-track download store, but all music owned by the label, the boss of BlueBeat owners Music Rights Technologies, Hank Risan, released a rather novel argument that proved, he said, his company wasn't infringing EMI's copyrights.

Risan says that before making music files available via the BlueBeat.com service his company makes new recordings of each track using what he calls "psycho-acoustic simulation". I think this is technology that technically speaking analyses the sound make up of a track and recreates it, rather than making a straight copy. In doing so, Risan argues, his firm creates a new master recording in which they own the recording copyright, which means that providing they pay a mechanical royalty to the songwriter or publisher who owns the actual song, they don't need any licence from the record companies.

This presumably means that none of the music on the BlueBeat.com download platform, which span out of the online radio service of the same name and which is currently in beta form, is licenced. Which would figure. As previously commented, it seems unlikely that record companies would licence a service selling tracks for 25 cents a piece even if it was the digital provider who was taking a hit on the price point. With record companies keen to ease the standard price of downloads up, they are hardly going to back a digital music service doing the opposite.

As previously reported, the BlueBeat.com bargain basement download service came to wider attention late last week when the guys at Music Ally noticed they were selling Beatles downloads, even though the Fab Four's catalogue isn't currently available via any legit digital service.

No legal expert has so far backed Risan's interpretation of US copyright law - ie that so called "psycho-acoustic simulation" shifts copyright ownership from the simulated to the simulator. But several legal experts have come forward to proclaim the argument nonsense. That said, Risan provides as evidence paperwork seemingly proving that the US Copyright Office allowed him to register copyrights in his simulated recordings (copyrights having to be registered in the US, of course). Lawyers don't seem to think that changes anything, though it could lead to some red faces among American copyright officials.

Perhaps most importantly, a federal judge in a US court failed to be convinced by the argument. Said judge promptly issued an order for BlueBeat to stop selling The Beatles and other tracks with immediate effect. As a result the 25 cents download element of BlueBeat.com does seem to have been taken down - punters are now linked through to iTunes if they want to buy digital tracks from featured artists (and for The Beatles, just a sell through to CD mail-order via Amazon). The full -track on-demand ad-free streaming element of BlueBeat does remain, however. Whether that is licenced remains to be seen. Given Risan's viewpoint on recording copyrights, I suspect not.

EMI will presumably now pursue their litigation in order to get damages. Whether the other majors will join in also remains to be seen.

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EU TELECOMS LEGISLATION READY, BASICALLY ALLOWS THREE-STRIKES
As expected, the European Parliament will clear the way for member states to disconnect or suspend the net connections of file-sharers despite moves earlier in the year to use European-level legislation to stop national governments from introducing three-strike type systems for combating online piracy.

As previously reported, the amendment that would have potentially barred three-strikes was dropped last month, amid pressure from content owners and those member states currently considering variations on the three-strikes system, and concerns such a law would go beyond the European Union's legal powers. The final draft of the Telecoms Reform Package in which the rules affecting three-strikes are included is now ready for the big vote in the European Parliament and Council.

In a bid to placate those who oppose national laws that force internet service providers to disconnect or suspend net users who access or share unlicensed content, the new European legislation will say that member state governments must ensure there is a "fair and impartial procedure" before anyone is deprived on their net access. However, in reality that won't appease the consumer rights lobby, as France, who, at the insistence of their own Constitutional Council, have added a nominal judicial stage to their three-strikes system, will say that amounts to a "fair and impartial procedure". But consumer rights types don't like the French system.

Commenting on the watered down wording of the European telecoms legislation on file-sharing, Monique Goyens, the director general of BEUC, a European consumers' organisation, is quoted by Billboard thus: "It has been long hard battle but at least all sides have acknowledged that fundamental rights of users need to be guaranteed in the digital world. However, these rights will be meaningless if [French style three-strikes] laws are allowed to be enforced at national level".

BEUC is now calling for a "fundamental re-examination and overall assessment" about what constitutes illegal downloading - and an independent evaluation of the economic harm of online piracy to the music and film industry.

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MTV AND U2 CAUSE CONTROVERSY WITH A WALL, IN BERLIN
Promoters of a U2 gig marking the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall have caused a bit of a controversy by constructing a, er, wall, around the venue.

The MTV organised concert, which followed last night's MTV Europe Music Awards, also in Berlin, was at the city's Brandenburg Gate, and a two metre barrier was erected in the vicinity to stop people without tickets from seeing the show. Ten thousand tickets for the event had been given away online, but police expected thousands more to show up to try and see the gig from the sidelines.

Some of the locals are a bit brassed off about the barrier around the gig, including politician Frank Henkel, who told the BBC: "It's a shame that a barrier has been set up. It's stopping many Berliners from hearing the concert. It would have been so much better if as many Berliners as possible could have taken part. We don't know who's responsible for this, whether it's U2 or MTV. 10,000 people is a lot, but U2 could have had an even bigger audience enjoying their music at this wonderful location".

The BBC also quote a Canadian fan, Pierrie Boily, who travelled to the city hoping to see the show, despite having failed to get tickets: "It's completely ridiculous that they are blocking the view. I thought it's a free show, but MTV probably wants people to watch it on TV to get their ratings up".

MTV, though, insisted the barriers had been put up to ensure the safety of its audience, while adding that reports they had built a new wall in Berlin were "erroneous" because what had been erected was clearly a fence. Which of course makes all the difference.

The network said in a statement shortly after the gig last night: "The safety and well-being of all attendees at any MTV produced event is of the highest priority. MTV worked closely with our local promoter DEAG, the Borough of Berlin and the Berlin Police department to create a comprehensive security plan for the event. To that end, MTV placed a temporary security fence around the site perimeter".

The gig seemingly went off without any major hitches. And Jay-Z managed to get over the fence to join in on a song with Bono, so that's nice.

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RIHANNA SPEAKS MORE ABOUT THE BROWN INCIDENT, CAREY SAYS SOME THINGS TOO
Rihanna has been speaking some more about the Chris Brown incident as she does the promo rounds for her new album. Speaking to ABC's 'Good Morning America', the popstress said that a violent attack by a partner, such as that unleashed by Brown on her back in February, "could happen to anybody".

Reflected on the altercation, that left her unconscious and badly bruised, the singer said she had come to terms with the incident emotionally, noting: "I am strong. This happened to me. I didn't cause this. I didn't do it". Again saying she hoped that the incident might help other abused women take action against their abusers, she admitted that she had briefly reconciled with Brown after the beating, but that she was embarrassed to have done so.

Rihanna: "[I was] so far in love, so unconditional, that I went back. That's not what I want to teach people". Dwelling again on what other abused women might take from her own experiences, she said going back to Brown would send out the wrong message. "I realised that my selfish decision for love could result in some young girl getting killed".

As in her interview with the US edition of Glamour mag, the singer also discussed the pressure of all the press coverage that surrounded the incident. She said: "There are a lot of women who have experienced this, but not in public. That made it really difficult. I thought 'there goes my little bit of privacy'. It's something that nobody wants anybody to know. So here I am, the whole world knowing".

In related news, Mariah Carey, doing the promo rounds herself to plug new movie 'Precious', said she had huge sympathy for Rihanna for what she has been through since February. She observed that at the start of her career she was protected from potential harm, though added that she had since suffered emotional abuse through personal relationships. Those comments seem to relate to her marriage with former Sony chief Tommy Mottola.

Speaking to Larry King, who asked whether she had ever been abused, Carey observed: "Abuse has several categories... emotionally, mentally, in other ways". Saying she sympathised with women who struggled to get free from abusive relationships, she continued: "It's scary. I just think you get into a situation and you feel locked in. If your situation is similar to one of the situations I've been in, which I won't harp on... For me, to really get out of it was difficult because there was a connection that was not only a marriage, but a business where the person was in control of my life".

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NO DOUBT SUE ACTIVISION OVER BAND HERO
No Doubt are suing Activision over their 'Guitar Hero' variation 'Band Hero'.

The band's objections echo those raised by Courtney Love and the surviving members of Nirvana over Kurt Cobain's inclusion in 'Guitar Hero 5': that artists featured in the pretend-to-play franchise can be unlocked so that their animated representations sing songs other than their own.

No Doubt agreed that they could be used in 'Band Hero', but don't like the fact that the Gwen Stefani 'character' can sing songs by other artists. They reckon that goes against their agreement with the gaming giant, and have filed legal papers in Los Angeles accusing Activision of breach of contract and fraudulent inducement.

The band's manager, Jim Guerinot, told Rolling Stone that the band were "mortified" when they found out that their 'characters' could sing songs by other artists, and also that they could be isolated from the rest of the band and could be used to perform tracks inappropriate to their gender.

The group say that they contacted Activision with their concerns, but the company say that they've acted within their rights based on "an agreement signed by No Doubt after extensive negotiations with its representatives". Given the legal action, the band presumably view the matter differently.

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SUGABABE BACK TO WORK
Sugababes have said that Amelle Berrabah will be back at work this week, after receiving treatment for her previously reported exhaustion at a clinic in Austria. The band's Heidi Range confirmed: "She feels much better now and is positive and looking forward to getting back into things", and added, in reference to the recent departure from the group of Keisha Buchanan and arrival of new member Jade Ewen: "It's a new challenge, a new start for us and we know we've got to prove ourselves to people but I think it's something that we're excited about now".

Range also spoke about the pressure she and her bandmates have been under of late, since Buchanan's departure, presumably, and explained why she has stopped using Twitter. "I stopped putting messages on it because I wasn't in a happy, light-hearted mood to be saying, 'I'm off to a spin class' or whatever", she said. "There were negative things on there and there are some pretty horrendous people out there. Things like, 'Burn in hell', 'Why don't you get an eating disorder? You look fat next to Jade and Amelle'. Pretty nasty things". She adds, however, that she expects to go back to the networking site at some point.

Heidi also adds that the band have no intention of dropping the name Sugababes, in reference to the fact that none of the original members of the band are now in the group, of course.

"I don't want to sound like I'm being bigheaded but the [original] Sugababes had one album which didn't sell and they were dropped", she said. "I joined eight years ago and we were signed together by Island records. I've been there since our first number one, 'Freak Like Me', and [have] been part of the history of the band ever since. Amelle has been in the group for over four years and she's been part of our biggest album as a group. I think it's unfair [to suggest we don't have a right to use the name]. That's not disrespecting what previous members have brought to the group, but we were signed as Sugababes to Island Records and I'm still signed to Island records as Sugababes".

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AWARDS & CONTESTS

MTV EMA WINNERS
So, other than the whole U2 fence thing, last night's MTV Europe Music Awards seem to have passed off without incident. Probably because they gave the best video prize to Beyonce, and nothing to Taylor Swift. Kanye would approve. It was a good night for Ms Knowles all round really, what with her winning three awards. Here is a full list of winners.

Best Video: Beyonce - Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)
Best Song: Beyonce - Halo
Best Male: Eminem
Best Female: Beyonce
Best Urban: Jay-Z
Best Group: Tokio Hotel

Best Rock: Green Day
Best New Act: Lady Gaga
Best Live Act: U2
Best Alternative: Placebo
MTV Push Artist: Pixie Lott
Best World Stage Performer: Linkin Park
Best European Act: maNga

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PAVEMENT MAY RELEASE BEST OF
Pavement guitarist Spiral Stairs - aka Scott Kannberg - has told NME.com that his band are thinking about releasing a best of album that will include previously unreleased radio sessions and what have you. "There's talk of doing a best of, with some really cool outtakes on that", he explained. "The very first radio show that Pavement ever did has never been released. I don't think anyone's heard it, so we'll put that out there sometime".

As much previously reported, the band are to play various comeback gigs in the southern hemisphere in the spring, followed by shows in London, then Minehead, where they're on curation duty at All Tomorrow's Parties. As far as I'm aware, there's still no talk of new material.

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SHY CHILD ALBUM NEWS
New York duo Shy Child have announced details of their next album. 'Liquid Love', the follow up to 2007's 'Noise Won't Stop', is scheduled for release on 1 Mar. A track from the long player, 'Criss Cross' is presently available from the Shy Child website.

The band's Pete Cafarella says this about it: "We like to think we made this album for those who live in the past, who've traversed the vast landscape of ideas and feelings enough times so they can deeply trust and be deeply trusted. The free track 'Criss Cross' is about a major problem we feel with society in that people seem to be embarrassed of their creativity as there's always someone out there who will shoot you down. You should just get it out there"

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ALBUM REVIEW: Brakes - Rock Is Dodeljik (FatCat)
The first live album from Brighton's Brakes sees two concerts of their explosive live set used to create one whole record. It's an interesting technique, which sees the first thirteen songs come from a hometown gig, and then the remaining seven taken "raw" from the mixing desk in Cologne. This means that we get a couple of songs twice and Eamon signs off with 'Comma Comma Comma Full Stop' half way through. Which is a bit strange.

Still, the album as a whole is a great indication of the energy that Brakes always have live - an energy which often converts people who maybe aren't so taken with their records - and this really comes across in a set that spans all three of their albums.

From the raucus opening of 'Hi How Are You', which could have been written to back up Andy CMU's recent CMU Weekly rant about people talking at gigs ("won't you shut the fuck up I'm just trying to watch the band!") to the closing country jig of Johnny Cash cover 'Jackson', we see Brakes in all their guises on this record.

So yeah, great stuff. But, to be honest, it still doesn't quite match up to seeing them in a sweaty pit of a venue somewhere, so I recommend you get out there and do that first. IM

Physical release: 2 Nov
Press contact: Fatcat IH [all]

Buy from iTunes
Buy from Amazon

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COMPETITION COMMISSION EXTENDS LIVE MASTER INVESTIGATION
The UK Competition Commission has announced it has extended its inquiry into the proposed merger of Live Nation and Ticketmaster by a whole eight weeks, meaning it won't rule on the proposals before the New Year.

As previously reported, in its provisional report last month the Commission said it had concerns that a Live Master merger would result in less competition in the UK ticketing market, mainly because it would potentially stop German ticketing giant CTS from launching in the country, as they had originally planned to (because CTS had planned to launch here via a partnership with Live Nation).

Confirming the extension of the inquiry, the Commission said it has received a substantial number of responses on the merger and that it needed more time to consider them. The competition body is looking into possible remedies that might alleviate their concerns about the deal - most likely selling off some of either Live Nation or Ticketmaster's UK assets.

The Commission said in a statement: "The range of possible remedies is complex, and the group wishes to explore all the possible remedies with both the parties to the merger and third parties. As the proposed merger is being investigated by competition authorities in other geographic markets, the CC's guidance also requires the group to consult with relevant competition authorities in other jurisdictions to seek consistency and effectiveness in its approach to remedies".

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NEW GIG PROMOTER TRAINING COURSE WELCOMED
Something the Met Police and the live music industry can agree on - hurrah. A new training programme for gig and club promoters has been launched, alongside a new qualification called the Award For Music Promoters, or AMP. The programme has been commended by both key live music players and the Metropolitan Police, both of whom welcome the training programmes aim to "enhance the standard, quality and legacy of promoters and events".

One of the first to undergo the pilot training scheme was Radio 1's live events producer Ray Paul, who told Music Week: "I found the course invaluable and very thorough. I learnt many things about areas I knew little about and I would recommend it to anyone who is serious about working in, and promoting, events".

Meanwhile Adrian Studd of the Met Police Clubs & Vice Unit told reporters: "[The organisers of AMP] have our full support in the development of this award which we believe will help set and maintain the highest standards in the field of music promotion".

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WHAT MOTIVATED AEG'S WRIGHT PURCHASE
OK, so more gossip regarding live music giant AEG Live's recent acquisition of the US-based artist management company headed up by Johnny Wright.

HitsDailyDouble claims that AEG's previously reported investment in the management firm, while possibly part of a wider bid to diversify into new areas of the music industry, was mainly motivated by Wright's decision to end a long standing partnership with AEG and to work with their rivals Live Nation with one of his key artists of the moment, the Jonas Brothers.

HDD say AEG Live chief Randy Phillips persuaded his superiors that the $6 million acquisition of Wright Management was the right move in a bid to stop Live Nation signing up more of the agency's artists. If that is true, it's interesting that the first thing the Wright agency has done since announcing he acquisition is close a deal with Live Nation regarding Justin Timberlake's next tour. Either AEG's acquisition is more strategic than HDD reckon, or some senior AEGers are going to be mightily pissed off.

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DUBAI SOUNDCITY: MIDDLE EAST MARKET HAS REAL POTENTIAL FOR MUSIC RIGHTS OWNERS
The music rights market in the Middle East has great potential, though it is sync rights that are currently generating the serious money. Moves are afoot, however, to form some sort of collecting society, in the United Arab Emirates at least, which could result in new revenues for labels and publishers with operations in the territory.

That was the message from Fairwood Music's Hussain Spek Yoosuf, and as MD of pretty much the only serious music publishing firm in the region he should know. He was speaking on day one of the Dubai SoundCity convention, leading a debate on the opportunities and challenges for Western music rights owners eager to capitalise on emerging markets in this part of the world.

"There is a copyright framework here in the UAE", Yoosuf explained, "it was introduced into federal law in 2002. The issue, of course, is enforcement. We have no collecting societies, and while in theory we are due both mechanical and performance royalties, there is no precedent for enforcing these rights. And given the biggest users of our content are the big media companies here, many of which are at least partly state owned, it is questionable if anyone would want to enforce them".

However Yoosuf has been able to build his business by capitalising on the potential of the sync rights business, licensing music to local advertising agencies whose clients - mutli-national brands - are more easily convinced of the need to pay for the music they utilise, even if there is no precedent in the region of enforcing music rights through the courts.

"Government here recognises the value of developing a more publisher friendly copyright system", Yoosuf added, "because doing so will encourage major content owners to expand into this market, and invest in the region. We currently represent both EMI and Universal's publishing catalogues in this territory, but obviously if the market matured they'd look to have their own bases here".

"But things take time, and often move slowly", he continued. "That said, there's possibly an analogy with the growth of physical property here. Where there's building development, it often seems like you stare at desert for fives years, and then a building appears in just two months. I think the same may prove be the case with the development of the intellectual property industry out here too".

Certainly if Yoosuf and his like can find a way to develop a collecting society system that can work in this region - and it is very much on their agenda - then a more tangible music business could well grow out of the desert pretty damn quickly.

But is there an appetite for Western Music in the Middle East on a cultural level? That was the question posed by Deltasonic Records MD Alan Wills. Even if a more workable copyright enforcement system came into being, would the local population want to consume non-native content? True all the radio stations here play primarily music by Anglo-American artists, but is that aimed at the natives or the very large ex-Pat community?

"I think there is an appetite among nationals", Yoosuf countered. "Put it this way, whenever I stop at a traffic light there seems to be an Emirati in the car next to mine listening to 50 Cent! Like in many music markets, the Anglo-American catalogue very much crosses into this territory. Which is why the Western music business has much to gain if and when our copyright system matures".

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DUBAI SOUNDCITY: SO, WHERE'S THE MONEY?
With an increasing number of artists looking at investment options other than the traditional record label deal, and with many labels having less to invest anyways, a big question for the artist management community these days is this: are there alternative sources of investment for artists looking to cover the costs of recording and promoting a new album, or launching an entire career?

The Dubai SoundCity convention posed this very question yesterday, with a tentative "yes" being the answer provided, though I think all involved would agree it is still early days for non-traditional music investment.

First up to debate the issue was Brian Message, a partner in London-based ATC Management, chair of the UK Music Managers' Forum and increasingly the British management community's most vocal player. Admitting that until as recently as five years ago his company operated to a traditional model - with investment in his artists coming exclusively from record companies and music publishers, while his agency charged its twenty percent fee - he said that in more recent years things had changed.

"Whether we're working with new bands who are yet to get label interest, or more established artists who have been dropped by their label, or artists who just want more control over their copyrights, we have been looking into ways to raise funding other than doing a traditional record deal. It's not easy - even when you have a good track record in the business like we do. But when we believe an artist still has the potential to be a commercial success, we'll do our best to find the money to make it happen".

Sometimes ATC put their own money into new talent, though Message has also been busy forming partnerships, both with wealthy individuals, and corporate partners like the MAMA Group, in a bid to raise development funding. "We see our bands as businesses, and demonstrate to potential investors how that business can bring in a return on their investment. By providing a clear business plan, and capitalising on an investors' trust in us as the experts, there are many deals to be done".

Another manager who knows about such deals is Jon O'Mahony, who as manager of folky indie duo Honey Ryder has raised nearing £300,000 through selling shares to individual investors. "The band decided early on they didn't want to do a traditional record deal", Jon explains, "so we looked at alternative routes to raise the £350K we reckoned we needed to properly launch the band. We sold 100 shares in the band at £3500 a time, with each investor getting a half percent of revenues. The copyrights stay with the artist".

Although Mahony admits that this route requires a lengthy business plan to be written, he says there was definite interest for the band's investment opportunity once said plan was completed. "When you apply the UK government's EIF tax relief for investing in new businesses, this wasn't a huge investment, and while there are risks, we have found numerous individuals interested in participating. Some see the potential for a return, others simply like the idea of having a stake in a band".

But if courting investors, whether large or small, doesn't sound like your cup of tea, are there any other routes to seed funding? Government perhaps? "We have provided funding to managers looking to position there new artists so they can take a step to the next level", revealed Iain Bennett from the North West Development Agency, a supporter of Dubai SoundCity's sister event Liverpool SoundCity. "Various government funding initiatives can aid new artists, normally providing money for specific small projects. My advice if you are going that route? Before you make an application, understand the motivations behind the government fund you are trying to tap into. My agency is about regional economic growth - simple creative innovation, which may work with the Arts Council, won't impress us - we'd need to see how the local economy can benefit from your proposal.

I think its fair to say that, despite the seismic change that has occurred in the music industry in the last ten years, the majority of new talent investment still comes from the record labels and publishers. But, as Message, O'Mahoney and Bennett demonstrated in Dubai yesterday, there are other emerging investment options which could provide all artists with genuinely alternative funding models in the near future.

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DUBAI SOUNDCITY: USE SOCIAL NETWORKS TO BUILD YOUR OWN MAILING LIST, ARTISTS ADVISED
Artists should use social network sites to drive traffic to their own websites, rather than using the likes of MySpace and Facebook as their primary fan engagement tool. That's the advice of Lou Plaia, Founder of ReverbNation, whose company provides tools to help artists and their managers better connect, directly, with their fanbase.

"I come back to the good old fashioned mailing list, albeit one made up of email addresses" Plaia observed, speaking on day one of the Dubai SoundCity convention. "It's all very well being able to message your fans through MySpace or Facebook, but nothing connects like a communication directly to a fan's email. Think about it, when you sign up with one of those social networking sites, the first thing they ask for is your email address. Even they know the value of that".

As CMU Business Editor Chris Cooke, also speaking as part of the SoundCity social networking panel, pointed out, many artists initially shifted their fanbase away from their official website to their MySpace profile because it actually gave them more control.

Cooke: "Many artists' websites were and are controlled by their record companies. Which is why artists so quickly embraced MySpace, despite all its limitations, because it gave them an easy way to connect with fans directly - no longer was a label's web team or agency required. Even more so with Twitter - simply because it is so easy to use - while some labels do control their artists' MySpaces, most acts seem to directly manage their Twitter feeds".

But Cooke agreed with Plaia that bands should try and use their social networking activity to drive traffic to a website they themselves control. As the ReverbNation man added: "It seems crazy to me that artists would let MySpace have exclusive access to their fans' email addresses".

Controlling your own mailing list is, of course, easier now than ever before, because a number of companies - ReverbNation among them - provide tools that enable artists and managers to aggregate email addresses and communicate with fans, often at no cost. This means bands no longer need to rely on a label or social networking platform to provide the technology needed for online fan management. And hurrah for that.

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MORE DUBAI SOUNDCITY - CHECK THE ONLINE COVERAGE
Dubai SoundCity continues through to Saturday night. You can check our continued coverage of the convention part of the proceedings on the CMU News-Blog - newsblog.theCMUwebsite.com - while if you want the lowdown on the gig showcases can we recommend you check out Peter Guy's coverage at this URL: www.getintothis.co.uk?

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MURDOCH SUBSCRIPTION WEBSITE PLANS DELAYED
Rupert Murdoch has admitted that his grand plan to put walls up around many of his newspaper's websites, including The Sun and The Times in the UK, had been delayed a little. He had hoped to start turning those newspapers' websites into subscription operations by next June, but now that is unlikely to happen until later in 2010. Reasons for the delay are unclear, though Murdoch has admitted he is talking to other newspaper groups about collaborating on subscription initiatives, in particular The Telegraph. Though that has, in turn, led to chatter that Murdoch's grand plan, if it does involve newspaper groups working together on subscription offers, might contravene competition laws. If true, that could delay any launch even further. None of which is good news for a newspaper industry that seems to be relying on the Murdoch empire to find a business model for making online news pay.

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NEW CHANNEL 4 BOSS APPOINTED
Terry Burns, a former permanent secretary at the Treasury, has been appointed the new chairman of Channel 4. He takes over from Luke Johnson.

Confirming his appointment, which had to be approved by OfCom and Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw (C4 being state owned), Burns said this: "I am delighted to be joining Channel 4. This is a time of great change as we experience the impact of the rapid development of digital technology in the communications sector and Channel 4 has a very special and continuing role to play".

Burns first challenge will be to find a new CEO, given that the channels top exec, Andy Duncan, is also standing down.

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THE CRIBS PROMO NEW ALBUM VIA SPORTS WEBSITE
The Cribs have set a first with the promotion of their new single 'We Share The Same Skies', giving the exclusive first play of the video for the track to Talksport Magazine, the online publication of the national sports radio station. It's a leftfield promo partnership developed by Shoot Promotions, recognising that sports fans buy music too. It follows on from the growth in recent years of pluggers, like Shoot, targeting sports promoters to get their music played at sports events, especially football matches. The video will appear at www.talksport.net/mag on 12 Nov.

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SUFJAN SAYS STATES PROJECT WAS 'A JOKE'
Sufjan Stevens has said that his plan to write an album about every one of the US states was a bit daft. Well, with the greatest respect, he's probably not the first person to come to that conclusion. The American musician, FYI, those not paying attention at the back, has so far released two state related albums, 'Greetings From Michigan: The Great Lake State', and 'Illinoise'.

Stevens told Paste magazine: "The whole premise was such a joke. Maybe I took it too seriously. I started to feel like I was becoming a cliché of myself".

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WINEHOUSE SENIOR PLANNING AN ALBUM?
What's crazier than Mitch 'father of Amy' Winehouse having his own web TV show on the Living channel website? Him releasing a record? Well, according to The Sun an album of Mitch singing Sinatra covers and a few original songs is in the pipeline. They quote a source thus: "Mitch has been working on it for a while now. Amy always credits her dad with getting her into singing. He loves music. He has a good voice and wants a go at turning professional". So the message for any parents of pop stars hoping for a bit of fame and fortune for themsleves? Have your child develop a dangerous drink or drug addiction that requires you to deliver regular statements to the press, build a profile for yourself, and then you're laughing. Mrs Doherty must be kicking herself for not implementing such a plan when her son was still in the news everyday.

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