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THE ARTISTS &
THE MUSIC

Michael Jackson

Chris Brown & Rihanna

Les Paul

Phil Spector
Perez v Peas
Sugababes
Blur reform/Oasis split
Electro ladies
Experimental pop
Brrrap pack
THE MUSIC BUSINESS
Three-strikes
Tenenbaum & Thomas
Copyright extension
LiveMaster
696 and the Licensing Act review
The Mariah mag
Fan-funding
Music retail highs and lows
Continued rise of MAMA
Yet more EMI rumours
THE MEDIA &
THE INTERNET
The Pirate Bay
YouTube v PRS etc
Spotify
MySpace Music
Gately, Moir & Twitter campaigns
SuBo
Observer Music never
DAB disagreements
Everyone hates the BBC
It's end of the media as we know it, do you feel fine?
ON THE NETWORK...
Advertising info
Consulting info
CMU credits + contacts
 

CMU REVIEW OF THE YEAR 2009

We've all but switched off the lights here at CMU HQ, but there's still one more job to do before we all head off on our Christmas holidays. Yes, it's time for the annual CMU Review Of The Music Year, in which we cast our eye over the last twelve months in the world of music.

Looking back, it seems that 2009 was a year that did nothing by halves; the world's most famous pop star announced a massive comeback and then died before it started, the world's most famous young pop couple split when one beat the other unconscious, and the world's most famous producer ended up in prison for nineteen years after being found guilty of murder.

In the corporate domain, music almost disappeared from the high street, while the kids continued to nick tunes off the net. The music industry continued to falter, and the media industry decided to join in too, so together they could try to disconnect the world wide web.

Which all makes it sound rather bleak, but really it was one of the most exciting years in music for a long time. It felt like a year of change - artistically and commercially - much of which will hopefully come to fruition in 2010. But more on that, er, next year. For now, let's get on with the matters at hand, the big review and, before that, the results of CMU's Track Of The Year poll.

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Look out for CMU news on the News-Blog over the festive fortnight, and we'll be back here in your inbox on 4 Jan.

Andy Malt
Editor, CMU


Since last month, CMU Daily readers, an 18,000-strong group featuring all the key players and opinion formers in the music and media industries, have been voting for their favourite tracks of 2009.
   
Voting closed on Friday and over the weekend the scores were counted, recounted, dropped, picked up, and then counted one last time. And so now we can officially tell you that (drum roll, please), the very best track of 2009, as voted by the always discerning CMU readership, is Grizzly Bear's 'Two Weeks'.

The band were already off on their Christmas holidays by the time the news came in, but Adam Brooks, Product Manager at their label Warp Records, told CMU: "'Two Weeks' is something special - a song that has undeniable pop hooks without sacrificing great musicianship, and a song that has played a vital part in Grizzly Bear's emergence as one of this year's most treasured alternative bands. It's great to know that CMU Daily's readers agree and for it to be voted track of 2009 is a fitting end to a fantastic year for the band".

CMU Editor Andy Malt added: "Voting in this year's CMU Track Of The Year poll has been tight, but Grizzly Bear's 'Two Weeks' took an early lead and held it right up to the end. And deservingly so. It's certainly the band's most immediate and poppy track to date, but the standard they set in their songwriting and performance is as high as ever. A great track from a great album".

The full to ten is as follows:

1. Grizzly Bear - Two Weeks
2. Temper Trap - Sweet Disposition
3. Friendly Fires - Kiss Of Life
4. The Molotovs - Come To Grief
5. Biffy Clyro - The Captain
6. The Horrors - Sea Within A Sea
7. Dirty Projectors - Stillness Is The Move
8. Bon Iver - Blood Bank
9. La Roux - Bulletproof
10. Dizzee Rascal - Bonkers

A special mention must go to The Molotovs, who appear on a list otherwise made up of what you might call more obvious names. Their track 'Come To Grief', taken from their excellent mini-album 'And The Heads Did Roll', clearly struck a chord with a lot of fans this year, who managed to lift the band into fourth position in the poll.

But what about albums, you say? Well, we left it to CMU Editor Andy Malt to select the ten best long players, and you can check out what he picked here.
 

 

CMU REVIEW OF THE YEAR 2009: THE ARTISTS AND THE MUSIC

1. MICHAEL JACKSON
On 5 Mar, Michael Jackson appeared at a press conference at the O2 Dome in London, two hours late, to inform a 2000-strong crowd and thousands more watching via a live webcast, that he would perform ten shows at the venue in July. Shortly afterwards, the number of shows was upped to 50, though the subsequent months were filled with rumours and speculation that he wouldn't actually play any shows at all.

That turned out to be correct, as on 25 Jun, the singer died of a heart attack brought on by an overdose of the powerful anaesthetic propofol, administered by his personal doctor to overcome insomnia. Suddenly, what was already one of the biggest stories of the year became bigger than any other entertainment news event in recent memory. I could write a book on everything that followed - at one point CMU was averaging five Michael Jackson stories a day - and even then we were ignoring a sizeable chunk of the more tenuous rumour and speculation on offer. But to summarise: he returned, he died, he prospered.

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2. CHRIS BROWN & RIHANNA
On 8 Feb, Rihanna pulled out of a planned appearance at the Grammy Awards ceremony in LA. This coincided with reports that her boyfriend, Chris Brown, was also unable to attend as he was reportedly being questioned over an assault on an unnamed woman. Two and two were quickly put together, though the actual reality of what happened was far more shocking than anyone had imagined.

Residents of the Hancock Park area of LA had been alerted by screams in the early hours of that Sunday. Brown and Rihanna had been travelling home from a pre-Grammy party in Brown's Lamborghini. The pair had already been seen arguing at the party, and this continued on the drive home, until Brown had enough, stopped the car, beat his girlfriend unconscious on the pavement and then drove off, leaving her behind. In August, Brown was convicted of 'assault likely to cause great bodily harm' and sentenced to five years' probation, 180 days of community service and a year of domestic violence counselling. Meanwhile, the rehabilitation of the R&B star's career is ongoing.

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3. LES PAUL
Legendary guitarist Les Paul died in New York, aged 94, from complications arising from pneumonia, on 12 Aug. Jackson aside, of all the obituaries we wrote in 2009, we think it is his that deserves another mention here, he being such an important figure in modern music.

Credited with inventing the electric guitar as it is known today, the eight-track tape recorder and numerous recording techniques and effects, Les Paul - it could be argued - is the man responsible for almost all modern music. He continued to perform at New York's Iridium Club every Monday night up until his death, despite crippling arthritis and, still devoted to advancing the possibilities of sound, had been attempting to build the perfect hearing aid prior to his death.

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4. PHIL SPECTOR
Phil Spector's murder trials form one of the most written about stories in the CMU archive, partly because they dragged on for so long. The legendary producer, of course, stood accused of murdering actress Lana Clarkson at his Beverly Hills home in 2003. He said she had shot herself, the prosecution said he had a history of threatening women with guns.

His original trial in 2007 was declared a mistrial after the jury failed to reach a unanimous decision. Second time around though, the long line of former girlfriends recounting the times Spector had chased them around with guns convinced the new jury that he was responsible for Clarkson's death. He was sentenced to at least 19 years in prison, meaning he will be eligible for parole if and when he reaches the age of 88. His appeal is pending.

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5. PEREZ V PEAS
Awards ceremonies are supposed to be joyous occasions, where everyone gets along and does a bit of back-patting. That's 'back-patting', not 'face-punching'. However, at a party after Canada's MuchMusic Awards in Toronto on 22 Jun, celebrity blogger Perez Hilton and Black Eyed Peas' Will.i.am got into a discussion about some negative things the former had said on his website. Things got a little heated, and when Hilton informed Will: "You're not an artist, you're a fucking faggot", fists started flying.

Straight after the attack, Perez attempted to call the police using Twitter. But apparently that has not become the standard way to report crimes. Yet. Perez said Will hit him. Will said he didn't. Both issued lengthy video statements on the matter. However, although Will.i.am initially claimed that it was a fan who had done the punching, the band's manager Liborio Molina was arrested for the assault. After numerous delays to his trial, the charges were dropped in November after he issued an apology to Hilton.

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6. SUGABABES
Did she jump, or was she pushed? Er, she was pushed. Yes, on 21 Sep, the last remaining original Sugababe, Keisha Buchanan, announced that she was leaving the group. It seems it was fairly sudden, as only days before she had denied rumours that Britain's Eurovision entrant Jade Ewen was set to replace newest member Amelle Berrabah. And she was right, but it's possible she didn't realise at that point that Ewen was actually about to replace someone else in the group - her.

Although the reasons for the split in the official statement were vague, Keisha quickly revealed that it had not been her decision, but denied there was any animosity. Berrabah and bandmate Heidi Range said otherwise, revealing that the former had reached a point where she was no longer able to work with Buchanan. Once Heidi had picked her side, Keisha's fate was set. Jade Ewen has now re-recorded all of Keisha's vocals on the group's new album, now set for release next year.

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7. BLUR REFORM/OASIS SPLIT
The heady days of 90s Britpop were recalled briefly this year, when Blur announced that they were reforming for a handful of live dates. The band played a number of small shows in venues significant to their career, as well as two nights in Hyde Park and headline slots at Glastonbury, Oxegen and T In The Park. In order to play the latter show, which brought the reunion to an end, guitarist Graham Coxon discharged himself from hospital, after being admitted with food poisoning earlier in the day.

Meanwhile, at much the same time, Oasis were imploding. Back in March, Liam Gallagher had revealed that he and his brother "haven't got a relationship" and only saw each other on stage. Then, as the band were due to play at the Rock En Seine festival in France, a heated argument and a smashed guitar caused Noel to walk out of the band. He is now working on solo material, while Liam has formed a new band with Oasis members Andy Bell and Gem Archer, currently going by the name of Oasis 2.0.

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8. ELECTRO LADIES
Back around this time last year, we were told that 2009 would be the year of electro ladies. Was it? Well, yes, I suppose you could say it was. Lady Gaga, in particular, has been one of the year's biggest successes worldwide. Released in the UK in January, her album, 'The Fame', went to number one and has spawned three number one singles (if you count 'Bad Romance', which was taken from the repackaged and expanded version of the album, 'The Fame Monster')

La Roux, too, were something of a success. Although the duo features one male member, their public face is very much singer Elly Jackson and her quiff. Their eponymous album peaked at number two, and the pair have had two top ten singles. Fairing slightly less well was Little Boots, who we'd pegged for bigger things. Her album entered the chart at five but quickly dropped out of the top 40, although sales have improved more recently. It was also Little Boots who pointed out in August, "a girl isn't some kind of genre, you know".

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9. EXPERIMENTAL POP
Of course, the great thing about music is there's so much of it to choose from. So, while the new ladies of pop were doing their thing, there was also a whole swathe of more experimental acts, both new and old, releasing albums to great acclaim and success. It's in this domain that Team CMU probably got most excited when it comes to the music of 2009.

Bat For Lashes, Animal Collective, Dirty Projectors, The Flaming Lips, Micachu & The Shapes, Grizzly Bear, The xx, Fever Ray, Wild Beasts and Passion Pit all fared better sales-wise than you might have expected. And we also count one of the big success stories of the year in this camp - Florence and her machine. Flo may get a bit of kicking from the indie community, but if she'd released her album on an obscure Canadian label, they would all have needed a fresh pair of pants.

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10. BRRRAP PACK
Another messily-defined group of upcoming musicians, namely the so-called 'brrrap pack', were big news in music this year. The name, devised by The Sun, described the rising new wave of British urban artists, the likes of N-Dubz, DJ Ironik, Master Shortie, Chipmunk and Tinchy Stryder.

And it was N-Dubz and Tinchy who were very much the stars of the scene (assuming we're going to call it a scene). Both scored number one singles - on one occasion, with the aptly-titled 'Number One', they reached the top of the charts together - and both released their second albums in 2009. Chipmunk, while not scoring any number one singles of his own, did get three in the top ten, and his album, 'I Am Chipmunk', got to number two, before he was forced to take time out due to exhaustion.

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CMU REVIEW OF THE YEAR 2009: THE MUSIC BUSINESS

1. THREE-STRIKES
In early 2008 the UK government indicated that if internet service providers would not play a more proactive role in tackling online piracy, they'd introduce new laws to force them to act. Most probably by making them to operate what became known as the 'three-strikes' system - two warning letters to illegal file-sharers and then net suspension. But by the start of 2009, despite a general lack of action from the ISPs, ministers didn't seem too keen to pass those promised laws. Even though similar rules were being introduced in France and New Zealand, the government's big 'Digital Britain' report in June suggested 'three-strikes' should only be considered a few years down the line.

But then, in August, something changed. Some said a lunch engagement between Lord Peter Mandelson and record/movie industry mogul David Geffen did it. Either way, when the Digital Economy Bill, the legislative follow up to DigiBrit, reached the House Of Lords last month, 'three-strikes' was in there. It's still not clear how it will work. The big issue in France and New Zealand is how those accused of file-sharing can appeal before having their net connections cut. That issue hasn't been entirely addressed here, either. And might never be. Some reckon the DEB will not get through parliament before next year's General Election.

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2. TENENBAUM & THOMAS
Before 'three-strikes', the record industry's strategy for ending file-sharing was, of course, suing the kids who did it. It was meant as a deterrent. It didn't work. So much so that at the end of 2008 even the Recording Industry Association Of America - this strategy's biggest advocate - announced it would stop the lawsuits. Except, for some reason, the ones still outstanding. The most high profile of which were those of Jammie Thomas and Joel Tenenbaum, both of whom had decided to fight the RIAA in court (the former had already done so once before).

The law was on the trade body's side, but neither defendant was likely to actually pay any damages awarded (neither was rich), and their high profile court cases would just further damage the record industry's rep. The RIAA duly won the cases; despite a lot of promises from Tenenbaum's Harvard prof of a lawyer, his defence was rubbish. But the defendants predictably announced they couldn't pay the mega-bucks damages, and the record industry's rep was, indeed, further damaged.

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3. COPYRIGHT EXTENSION
In 2009, continued squabbling between EMI and Beatles company Apple Corps meant that the Fab Four's music, while being re-released in remastered form on CD, and appearing in a version of the 'Rock Band' video game, and on a USB stick, was still not available from any legitimate download store. On 1 Jan 2013, the sound recording copyright in 'Love Me Do' will expire and enter the public domain. EMI and Apple Corps really ought to get a move on. Or they could try to get the sound recording copyright term extended. Perhaps to 95 years, like in America.

And the wider record industry, led by the BPI, collecting society PPL and the Musician's Union, had another good try at doing just that this year. Despite the UK government previously being against extension, when the issue came up for debate in Europe at the start of 2009, ministers said they now agreed with it in principle. However, they didn't agree with the industry's exact proposal of how it would be achieved. That, and all out opposition from some other European countries, meant copyright extension ended up on the back burner once again as the year progressed. Yeah, Beatles people, better get 'Love Me Do' on iTunes while you still own it.

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4. LIVEMASTER
In February, live music conglom Live Nation and ticketing and artist management giant Ticketmaster announced their intent to merge. Ironically, the announcement came just weeks after Live Nation had begun the process of taking its ticketing in-house, having previously used the services of Ticketmaster. That fact proved problematic as UK competition regulators considered the merger proposals. The German company Live Nation had asked to handle its in-house ticketing division in Europe - CTS Eventim - assumed the merger would mean they'd lose that work and kicked up a fuss. UK officials are yet to decide whether the merger is inline with British competition laws, though their provisional report in October wasn't in love with the proposals.

Meanwhile in the US, where competition regulators are also considering the deal, the two companies found themselves countering all sorts of bad press. In particular, continued public concern over the growth of online ticket touting turned to TicketsNow, the ticket resale website owned by Ticketmaster. People didn't like the fact the unofficial resale service was promoted via Ticketmaster's official ticketing website. Lawsuits and political intervention followed. None of which helped the PR effort to convince US officials to OK the merger. Nevertheless, the two firms remain optimistic.

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5. 696 AND THE LICENSING ACT REVIEW
Opposition had been growing to the Metropolitan Police's 696 form in 2008, though it was this year that its opponents got a formal platform, as the government reviewed the impact of its 2003 Licensing Act. 696 was (and is) a piece of Met bureaucracy used to get information about future live music events. Opponents didn't like it because it asked for lots of personal information about performers, and, some said, had leading questions about musical genre that could be used for racial profiling, and therefore lead to prejudiced assumptions being made about an event being planned.

The form is linked to the 2003 Act because, many argued, that legislation had given too much power to local authorities over live music licensing. As a result, London boroughs had made 696 compulsory for licensing applications. UK Music's Feargal Sharkey led the opposition to 696 (and other bureaucracy introduced by the Act) when the whole thing was reviewed by parliament's Culture Select Committee. He wanted 696 abolished. In May, the Select Committee agreed with him. Though, alas, the government did not. The Met subsequently revised the form anyway and announced their focus moving forward would be on easy-target urban-music clubs. So, opposition is less vocal than it was.

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6. THE MARIAH MAG
Well, we couldn't get through a whole review of the year without saying 'three hundred and sixty', could we? Actually, talk of the '360 degree record deals' we've been hearing about for a couple of years now was less prominent in 2009. Record companies were still busy diversifying into areas of the music business other than selling sound recordings, and were quietly doing deals with artists that gave them rights to revenues other than record sales, we just didn't talk about it so much. Perhaps because the artist management community are still nervous about record companies getting control over too many aspects of any one artist's career, even if the up-front money is good.

Probably the most obvious manifestation of record companies diversifying (other than Sony and Universal launching its own ad-funded music video website Vevo, and Warner taking on the ad-sales for its own YouTube channels), was the new album from Mariah Carey. It came complete with a special Mariah edition of Elle magazine, ads in which, we were told, had basically paid for the production of the album. Brands sponsoring artists is nothing new, but record companies (Universal in this case) going after a brand's dollar, and getting it by selling ads on a glorified CD sleeve, is. Mariah's claims that she was reinventing the music business probably overstated the significance of the project, but it was still a landmark moment for the record industry.

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7. FAN-FUNDING
But why would artists give up more revenue streams to the evil old record companies in the digital age? Surely the point of the internet era is that the old corporates are no longer needed; artists can do it all themselves, and retain all their copyrights and profits in the process. Some artist managers would probably agree. Now albums can, in theory, be produced, marketed and distributed on a shoe-string, why do a record deal at all? Except that even doing things on a shoe-string requires some money, and probably five figures worth of it. Where to get it from? Well, the management community, who began reinventing its trade body the MMF this year, have been increasingly looking into other sources of start up cash that don't rely on the traditional record and music publishing companies.

One alterative much discussed in recent years is fan-funding. Get fans to stump up-front the money they'd spend on your record anyway, in return for other goodies. It's a concept still in its infancy, but it gained some momentum this year, as Patrick Wolf and Electric Eel Shock released their first fan-funded albums, and more established artists started successfully raising funds from fans. Still, the biggest story in fan-funding, the announcement that Public Enemy would fund an album this way, ended on a negative note - so far they've only raised 28% of their target sum. Nevertheless, I reckon fan-funding will continue to grow in 2010, people just need to work out how and when it can work.

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8. MUSIC RETAIL HIGHS AND LOWS
Following the collapse of independent distribution big boy Pinnacle, music-and-sweet seller Woolworths, and their supermarket-providing CD distributor eUK, all in the closing weeks of 2008, you might have thought this year couldn't have been worse for music retail. Though given Zavvi went into administration just before Christmas last year, you'd probably have guessed 2009 was set to be another difficult year for music on the high street. Things actually went relatively quiet for a while, though an attempt to relaunch six Zavvi stores under the Head brand soon faltered, and as the year closed, CD and book seller Borders began a closing down sale.

The exception to all this, though, was HMV, who had a rather good year. Though given nearly all their competitors had bitten the dust, it would have been rather amiss of them not to see some uplift in sales. Nevertheless, HMV impressed City types with more than just increased revenues, interest also grew in their clever diversification strategy. They launched high street cinemas through a partnership with Curzon, bought half of high profile MP3 sellers 7Digital and entered the live sector via a JV with the MAMA Group. The master's dog did well this year.

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9. THE CONTINUED RISE OF MAMA
Which brings us to MAMA. We've written quite a lot in recent years about how the live sector has boomed while the record industry slumped. We've also written about the shift of power towards the artist management community. So it's perhaps not a surprise that one of the big success stories of the music business in 2009 was the MAMA Group, whose primary (though not only) operations are in live music and artist management.

The London-based company saw its profits rise ten-fold this year, resulting in an optimistic (and knocked back) takeover bid. Among MAMA's big announcements were the JV with HMV, which saw some of the group's bigger venues shifted over to a new company, owned 50/50 by the two firms, and operating under the iconic Mean Fiddler name MAMA had acquired in 2007. On the management side a new venture with Brian Message's ATC Management and Terry McBride's Nettwerk, while as yet unproven, might just change the way the whole music industry works. I'd keep an eye on MAMA throughout 2010.

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10. YET MORE EMI RUMOURS
Also trying to reinvent the music industry in recent years was Terra Firma's Guy Hands, the curly-haired City geezer who bought EMI in 2007. While all of the major record companies struggled this year, as the ongoing CD sales slump mixed with the wider economic downturn, it was EMI that continued to dominate the business headlines. Although a big Beatles reissue programme brought in some money, and the firm's 'music services' division (that's distribution etc) seemed to be having some success, most reports about the major were of the negative kind.

After orchestrating the biggest roster and headcount cull in the record industry's history, Hands seemed to wash his hands of EMI this year, making increasingly candid statements about what a bad idea it had been to buy the company, and, as 2009 closed, suing the bank who financed the acquisition, partly because they refused to write off a sweet billion of the music firm's debts. All of which led to a renewal of the good old EMI/Warner merger rumours; so much so, that when Warner boss Edgar Bronfman Jr decided to move to London some people suggested he did so to engineer an EMI takeover. Such talk is highly speculative, though with enough substance that I'm going to predict an EMI/Warner will exist by this time next year. See you back here in twelve months to see if I was right.

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CMU REVIEW OF THE YEAR 2009: THE MEDIA AND THE INTERNET

1. THE PIRATE BAY
Oh The Pirate Bay, how ye entertain us so. After years of amusing those of us who pay extra attention to the world of file-sharing - with their contentious press statements, constant evading of the piracy police and grand plans to buy their own country (well, Sealand) to avoid litigation - the Bay entered the mainstream consciousness this year as the three men behind it, and their financial backer, faced both civil and criminal copyright infringement charges in the Swedish courts. They were initially bullish about their defence, especially when the prosecution dropped half its charges. But their legal arguments were weak, and they promptly lost the case. Mega-damages and prison sentences were ordered.

Not that they paid the damages or served the prison time. Claims of judicial bias and various appeals were launched. Defendant and Bay PR man Peter Sunde resigned. Then, in another court case in the Netherlands, the Bay's lawyers denied any of the four defendants had ever actually owned the infamous BitTorrent tracker and search service anyway. For a while it looked like the Bay would be bought by a company called GGF, who were going to turn it all legit. It was a bold plan that never quite happened and nearly caused GGF to go broke. The Bay did turn off its BitTorrent tracker in the latter part of the year, though for technical rather than legal reasons. Despite everything, in a year in which illegal file-sharing of all kinds continued to grow, The Pirate Bay still operates and dominates.

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2. YOUTUBE V PRS ETC
But what about the legit online content providers? Well, as 2009 started one of the biggest, YouTube, was busy blocking access to content owned by Warner Music, having failed to negotiate a new licensing deal with the major. Then, in March, the Google-owned video platform cut UK access to all "premium music content" after failing to reach a new deal with publishing rights collecting society PRS (or PRS For Music, as it renamed itself this year). A similar squabble followed with PRS's German counterparts GEMA.

The issue? YouTube thought the labels and collecting societies were overcharging for their content. The music bodies thought they were being underpaid, and demanded a bigger share of the multi-billion dollar profits Google were making. Both sides were right and both sides were wrong. Record companies and music publishers always overvalue their content, and fail to see that charging less money now might result in more streams and downloads later, resulting in more cash overall. However, Google and their like undervalue content, while their business models, based around providing low-cost net services and selling bargain basement advertising, can't really support it. Still, agreements were made between Google, Warner and PRS, so for now music videos are streaming on YouTube (outside of Germany that is).

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3. SPOTIFY
Although music videos disappeared from YouTube, 2009 was still the year of the streaming music service. And one in particular dominated. Spotify only publicly launched in October last year, but by January it had already started a mini revolution in digital music. After years of being told that what we needed was browser-based, Flash-powered music players with all kinds of features, it turned out what we really wanted was a simple standalone program that was quick and easy to use. Who'd have thought?

The other major attraction of Spotify was the size of its catalogue, aided by the fact that they launched with all four majors and indie digital rights body Merlin already on board. Much of this year has been taken up with debates over whether or not the company can actually make enough money to survive and if they're paying artists properly, but the catalogue continues to grow, the player remains popular and mobile apps for premium account holders have upped subscriptions income. One day the venture capital funding all this will run out. Let's hope together the record industry and Team Spot can ensure their business is viable before that day.

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4. MYSPACE MUSIC
Talking of streaming music, this year also saw the roll out of MySpace Music, the social networking giant's expanded music platform, another streaming music service. When the new service launched in the US last year it was instantly hit with all kinds of criticism. A major sticking point was that it had gone live without the aforementioned Merlin on board, meaning most indie label content, which was arguably what got MySpace where it is today, was not available on the site. Negotiations continued this year, but still no deal had been done when the service arrived in Australia in October.

However, by the time it all kicked off in the UK this month, Merlin were in the mix, having been given sufficient benefits to justify joining the MySpace Music party. The service still came in for some criticism though. That said, CMU Daily's Business Editor Chris Cooke noted that it was "not as shit as you might expect". Though whether that's enough for MySpace Music to both succeed, and save the flagging social network to which it is attached, time will tell. I'm guessing not.

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5. GATELY, MOIR & TWITTER CAMPAIGNS
MySpace may be floundering, but 2009 was definitely the year social networking came of age and it was all down to a service so simple that it's nearly impossible to explain - Twitter. Now social networking really did make us socially network with friends and like-minded individuals. Twitter linked together Facebook, YouTube and the blogosphere, and empowered the people who used and generated them. The first real proof of this power was seen when a certain boy band star died and a Daily Mail journalist declared "there was nothing 'natural' about Stephen Gately's death".

Columnist Jan Moir called Gately's lifestyle into question and, seemingly, suggested that it was his homosexuality that ultimately caused his death. Outrage spread across Twitter within hours, blog commentaries followed, a Facebook group explained how best to complain, and within days the Press Complaints Commission had received over 25,000 complaints - more than they'd had in the whole of the previous five years. Moir was forced to apologise, though also found column space to portray herself as a victim of the newly empowered Twitterati. Though, ironically, given the PCC can only act if a family member complains, it was actually the one complaint that arrived last week, from Gately's widower Andrew Coyles, that potentially had real power.

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6. SUBO
Social networking doesn't just generate complaints, however. It can also turn a contestant on a British talent show into an overnight global superstar. It may have been Simon Cowell's TV adventures that brought her to our attention, but it was the uncoordinated internet that caused this year's biggest pop phenomenon - the rise and rise of Susan Boyle. Thanks to YouTube, Twitter, Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore, the fact Boyle could deliver a belting tune, despite lacking the pop star physique, was world news overnight. Cowell, not exactly the most net savvy of men, was still able to hear the 'kerr-ching' as the world flocked to the YouTube video of this Scottish spinster's 'Les Mis' warblings.

In the end, she lost the final 'Britain's Got Talent' viewers vote, and started to lose her mind under the tabloid glare. Still, combine that momentum, Simon Cowell and a decently produced covers album and the world is your oyster. Within three weeks of releasing debut album, 'I Dreamed A Dream', Boyle had sold over six million copies worldwide, over a million of them in the UK, smashing all kinds of records along the way. Even Cowell surely couldn't have predicted just how big a goldmine his 'BGT' franchise could become thanks to the power of social networking. Though, of course, the social networkers turned against him when it came to his other TV show - and so the 'stop X-Factor getting to number one' campaign began - but presumably Cowell's interest in social media next year won't be in stopping future 'anti-X' projects, but in trying to repeat the SuBo phenomenon for a second time.

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7. OBSERVER MUSIC NEVER
But what about the traditional media? It's all very well talking up the bloody internet and all this social networking whatnot, but what about the good old fashioned music magazine? Well, it's not good news, people. With only a couple of exceptions, all music magazines lost readers this year, in print at least. One industry favourite - the Observer Music Monthly - was closed down completely, though more because of the crisis in the newspaper industry than anything else, more of which in a minute.

Conor McNicholas may have surrendered the NME editorship this year (so that both rock weeklies - NME and Kerrang! - now have ladies in charge, which is nice), but his strategy of brand extension will have to stay on the agenda of any music magazine wanting to survive the next decade. Web-TV services, radio stations, club nights, tours, books, you name it, diversification is the name of the game. We've all known that for a while, of course, though I'm still not sure anyone has cracked how to ensure there's consistent editorial identity across all the spin offs. Conor got close, but, frankly, we could all do better.

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8. DAB DISAGREEMENTS
Radio ratings remain high in the UK, even if the commercial radio sector has been struggling to sell enough advertising to make ends meet. Still, with the aforementioned Spotify competing for both listeners and advertisers, the radio sector (whose internet adventures outside the BBC have been pretty mediocre) should probably have a serious rethink to ensure future survival. With back-to-back streams and music-on-demand all over the net, radio could do worse than refocus on good presenters, quality specialist shows and close knit listener communities.

In 2009, the radio industry focused more on battling to get rid of industry regulation from OfCom, and agonising over what to do about digital audio broadcasting, the flagging digital radio network into which the radio industry has pumped millions. Still theoretically the most efficient way to broadcast in the digital age, the BBC is still backing DAB, even though many commercial digital-only stations have been closed and sales of DAB receivers, while up, are still slow. The commercial sector is still split over what to do about DAB, so much so its trade body, RadioCentre, has lost two of its smaller but significant members, who fear big boy Global Radio's thoughts on the issue are getting too much attention. These are squabbles set to continue, distracting radio types from the real challenges at hand.

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9. EVERYONE HATES THE BBC
God, the bloody BBC, eh? Wasting all our money with their overpaid execs and money-guzzling star turns. Still falling over themselves to apologise over last year's Sachsgate scandal, and with both Labour and the Conservatives calling for radical cuts, and maybe the shift of some of their licence fee money to other broadcasters, the BBC has had a difficult year.

It's a tricky one. We all love to diss the Beeb, despite most of us probably thinking they make most of the better British telly programmes, operate the superior radio stations, and provide one of the best websites on the internet. One hopes that, especially if the Tories win next year's General Election, BBC top brass can get Corporation spending back into the real world, but without letting the politicians and commercial media moguls cut its services into pieces.

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10. IT'S END OF THE MEDIA AS WE KNOW IT, DO YOU FEEL FINE?
Of course, one of the reasons the commercial media - the big TV operators and especially the newspaper owners (who increasingly compete with the Beeb in the internet age) - have been so vocal in criticising the BBC this year, is because they're all fucked. This was the year when the big media firms all began to properly admit they were in a real mess. The internet meant they were probably talking to more people than ever before, but no one had managed to turn that fact into substantial sums of money.

All of which means that the media industry, who have been reporting on the plight of the music business for years now, have suddenly realised they are facing exactly the same issues as their record company counterparts. The public is more eager to access music and media than ever before, and it's easier and cheaper to provide it. But the internet has conditioned everyone to want all of this for free - either because that's how content owners have been providing it so far, or because others have been distributing it illegally. This is all well and good, but with a limited amount of advertising money available, and content still costing a sizable sum to make, how can this all add up?

The future is surely subscriptions. Whether that be Spotify's premium service, or Rupert Murdoch's planned pay-to-read Times website, or Virgin Media's add-premium-content-to-your-ISP-bill proposals, somewhere out there there's a model that will work. If you find it on your travels, do dust it off, it'll be worth a fortune. Will we find that dream business model in 2010? Possibly, though it'll take a good few years to hone, I suspect. But, as 2010 approaches, I'm more optimistic than ever that - while the big music and media firms may, in some ways, be fucked for now - the future for all of this looks rather rosey. This, people, is the big period of flux. It's risky, but it's fun. And it's certainly great to write about. Hopefully you like reading about it too. So keep it CMU for another year, and let's see how it all turns out together, shall we?

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