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INFORMATION
Jobs
Classifieds
CMU Info
TODAY'S NEWS
Top Stories
US ISP operating three-strikes
It's OK to go, but not to embed
U2 and Cowell's songs for Haiti
Wyclef admits foundation failings
In The Pop Courts
Winehouse pleads guilty to pantomime attack
US Justice Department back Tenenbaum damages
Charts, Stats & Polls
XL score first UK-indie US chart topper in 19 years
Reunions & Splits
So Solid is back
In The Studio
Vocal shift for La Roux
Gigs & Tours News
LCD Soundsystem UK tour
Yeasayer announce London show
Talks, Debates & Conventions
Band submissions open for Liverpool Sound City
AIM do the sync thing
The Music Business
Church back mic frequency campaign
!K7 appoint new A&R head
The Digital Business
Rock Band opens up to all bands
The Media Business
New York Times to erect pay wall next year
Future of Sky's ITV stake to be decided today
And finally...
Amanda Holden offered record deal


 
THURSDAY 21ST JANUARY
MALCOLM MIDDLETON
Malcolm Middleton is a Scottish musician, formerly one half of indie-folk duo Arab Strap. When they split in 2006, Malcolm began to focus more on his solo work, signing to Full Time Hobby to release his third solo album in 2007, which spawned his attempt to hit the Christmas number one, 'We're All Going To Die'. The single ended up being the only independent entry in the Christmas chart at 31. Malcolm's most recent album, 'Waxing Gibbous', was released last year, and he is set to play at the newly relaunched Borderline venue in London on 25 Jan. We caught up with him ahead of the gig to ask the Same Six.

 
Q1 How did you start out making music?
I was in a bunch of bands when I was a teenager in Falkirk. Eventually, I hooked up with Aidan Moffat and we started recording songs on a four-track under the name Arab Strap. We recorded six albums between 1996 and 2006 before splitting up. I've been doing solo records ever since.

Q2 What inspired your latest album?
Just the usual every day stuff like: Why am I here? What should I be doing? Is this right? What if it's wrong? What's going to happen to me when I die? Oh no, I feel like shit again. Wow, she's cool, I like her. I care about you so I need to write a song about it quickly. Stuff like that.

Q3 What process do you go through in creating a track?
It depends. Sometimes it starts with an acoustic guitar, or sometimes just messing around on a computer. It's then just a matter of imagining what the song should be like, what direction and production it needs, or whether it should be stripped back and acoustic. Then it's all about chipping away until I'm happy with the outcome.

Q4 Which artists influence your work?

Trevor Horn. Davy Graham. John Cale. Late 80s metal. Mid 80s pop.

Q5 What would you say to someone experiencing your music for the first time?
Listen with your ears, not your eyes. Don't let the accent put you off. Enjoy it. Or don't.

Q6 What are your ambitions for your latest album, and for the future?
'Waxing Gibbous' has been a critical and commercial failure. It's time for me to let go of it and move on. I'm doing a couple more solo gigs and then I'll be taking a break for a bit and having a serious talk with myself about what I want to do next.

MORE>> www.malcolmmiddleton.co.uk

 
HTRK
HTRK, pronounced 'hate rock', are an experimental trio from Melbourne, who create music out of a shared love of krautrock and David Lynch movies. The result is slow, mechanical percussion (courtesy of an old drum machine), repetitive but infectious bass lines, razor sharp guitar noise, and distracted vocals from frontwoman Jonnine Standish.

The group released a seven track EP, 'Nostalgia', through Fire Records in 2007, followed by their debut album, 'Marry Me Tonight', last year, courtesy of Blast First Petite, which led to tour support slots with Yeah Yeah Yeahs and The Horrors. I would strongly advise you to purchase all of the above records, and head over to Cargo in London tonight, where the band will be headlining, with support from Factory Floor and DJ-style antics from Andrea Parker.

http://www.myspace.com/htrk




 
  CONSUMER/ENTERTAINMENT PR AGENCY, ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES
This is a great opportunity to join a fast-paced consumer PR environment based in London. You will have some existing experience of working on high profile events and have an entirely proactive nature. There will be lots of opportunities to learn, and some really stimulating clients to learn from, however a good attitude is required to really be able to make your mark. This predominantly consumer but also full-service agency offers the full range of client services, with PR and event management forming a large part. Clients include a wealth of entertainment and film companies, plus show business awards and consumer brands and products. To apply, please send your CV and covering letter to jobs@unicornjobs.com quoting reference code TF94 in the subject line.
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  LET THE MAKERS OF CMU DO SOMETHING CREATIVE FOR YOU
UnLimited Creative is the creative services agency owned by CMU publishers UnLimited Media. We work with music and media companies, consumer brands, and other marketing and PR agencies, providing these services:

Marketing & PR: We devise and run marketing and PR campaigns, specialising in the youth and student markets, music and cultural products and marketing partnerships.

Content: We provide entertainment content to brands and media. We develop content strands. We produce original content. We manage content delivery.

Design & Print: We provide design, print and contract publishing services. We create brand identities. We design and produce websites. We produce & print marketing materials and corporate media.

Media & PR Training: We provide PR, media and music business training. We offer a menu of seminars. We develop bespoke courses. We develop out-reach training as part of CSR programmes.

To read about past projects click here. To discuss how we can help your company or project, email chris@unlimitedmedia.co.uk
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Adrian Chiles ordered to shave by BBC, apparently
Camden's Lion and Unicorn theatre may close
Bill McLaren dies
 
Stephen Fry, Ant and Dec lead field at National TV Awards
Public support wider remit for Press Complaints Commission
CNN enter into partnerships with Sub Pop and Vibe
 
London Roundhouse launches circus festival
La Linea announces initial festival line up
Lost Theatre to open new south London venue
 

US ISP OPERATING THREE-STRIKES
Despite being late to the "target the ISPs" party, it seems the Recording Industry Association Of America might be making better progress than their European counterparts.

US internet giant Verizon has told CNET that they have already sent out warning letters to some of their file-sharing customers and actually discontinued the net access of more prolific, unrelenting illegal music sharers. A spokesman for the net firm was vague about the specifics of their three-strikes style programme, but confirmed "we've cut some people off".

The RIAA announced it would follow the lead of its European counterparts and start lobbying the ISP sector to play a more proactive role in policing piracy in late 2008, after bringing to an end its self-harming campaign of direct litigation against individual file-sharers, a strategy that had led to thousands of file-sharers receiving legal letters from the trade body, but no noticeable decline in file-sharing in the US.

While some US ISPs cautiously agreed to work with the RIAA, albeit on undefined terms, Verizon said it would not participate. Those with longer memories when it comes to the file-sharing story will remember it was Verizon who fought the RIAA in the early days of the aforementioned direct lawsuit campaign.

They successfully disputed the trade body's interpretation of the US's Digital Millennium Copyright Act with regards the circumstances under which ISPs must hand over the identities of their file-sharing customers. And in doing so complicated the litigation campaign by requiring the record labels to take two sets of legal action against every file-sharer, one in reference to their IP address to discover a file-sharer's identity, and then one against the actual copyright infringer.

But according to CNET, Verizon's Bobbi Henson this week confirmed the company was now operating what record industry types like to call a 'graduated response' system to tackle file-sharers who use their network to share unlicensed music. She added that most of their file-sharing customers stopped dodgy file exchanges when they received the first warning letter.

Given Verizon's past relationships with the RIAA, to have them operating a three-strikes style system - whether that be in alliance with the trade body or on their own back - is nevertheless quite a coup for the US record industry.

As previously reported, while six UK ISPs voluntarily agreed to send out warning letters to customers who file-shared in 2008, and Virgin Media have said they will start tracking file-sharing on their network, no British net firm has gone as far as committing to suspend or disconnect customers who infringe copyright, with some - TalkTalk most notably - moaning loudly about the government's plans to force them to do so.

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IT'S OK TO GO, BUT NOT TO EMBED
The frontman of OK Go - one of the first bands to have a major viral video hit on their hands when their promo for 2006 track 'Here It Goes Again' went crazy on YouTube - has written a long missive to fans explaining why they can't now embed any of the band's YouTube content onto their own blogs or websites.

You see, EMI, and others, have stopped letting people embed YouTube versions of their videos because of the way the Google-owned video service's ad-share system works. The majors, of course, get a share of any ad revenue associated with their content on YouTube.

But because most of the advertising sits outside the actual video player, if a YouTube video is watched on another website - ie when it has been embedded on a blog, website or social network page - the label doesn't earn anything. Some labels' solution to this problem has been to stop bloggers et al from getting the embed code - a facility YouTube now offers.

Which means the fans who in 2006 helped OK Go's little piece of running machine-based art get so much attention by posting it on their blogs (and in doing so presumably boosting OK Go and EMI's record sales) now can't embed any official OK Go video content onto their own websites. Well, not using YouTube they can't. Embeddable videos are still available via both MySpace and Vimeo, despite EMI being locked in a legal dispute with the latter, presumably because they don't currently offer content owners the embed code opt out.

In a rather balanced polemic on the issue, in which he explains why record labels still have an important role to play in funding bands, and the issues said funders now face in recouping their investments, OK Go's Damian Kulash nevertheless expresses his frustration with the embed situation, and that EMI and YouTube haven't been able to find a way to make their ad-share system work without stopping fans from embedding their videos.

He wrote this week: "We've been flooded with complaints recently because our YouTube videos can't be embedded on websites, and in certain countries can't be seen at all. And we want you to know: we hear you, and we're sorry. We wish there was something we could do. Believe us, we want you to pass our videos around more than you do, but, crazy as it may seem, it's now far harder for bands to make videos accessible online than it was four years ago".

"[The four majors now have deals] with YouTube which pay them tiny, tiny sums of money every time one of their videos gets played. Seems fair, right? YouTube gets to keep the content, and the labels get some income. The catch: the software that pays out those tiny sums doesn't pay if a video is embedded. This means our label doesn't get their hard-won share of the pie if our video is played on your blog, so (surprise, surprise) they won't let us be on your blog".

"The obvious solution is for YouTube to work out its software so to allow labels to monetise their videos, wherever on the internet or the globe they're being accessed. That'll surely happen before too long because there's plenty of money to be made, but it's more complicated than it looks at first glance. Advertisers aren't too keen on paying for ads when they don't know where the ads will appear so there are a lot of hurdles to get over. In the meantime, the only thing OK Go can do is to upload our videos to sites that allow for embedding, like MySpace and Vimeo".

"We do that already, but it stings a little. Not only does it cannibalise our own numbers (it tends to do our business more good to get 40 million hits on one site than 1 million hits on 40 sites), but, as you can imagine, we feel a lot of allegiance to the fine people at YouTube. They've been good to us, and what they want is what we want: lots of people to see our videos".

He concludes: "For now, here's the bottom line: EMI won't let us let you embed our YouTube videos. It's a decision that bums us out. We've argued with them a lot about it, but we also understand why they're doing it. They're aware that their rules make it harder for people to watch and share our videos, but, while our duty is to our music and our fans, theirs is to their shareholders, and they believe they're doing the right thing".

To read the full piece - or for the sneaky Vimeo code that overcomes the embed problem - head to the full blog here: okgo.forumsunlimited.com/index.php?showtopic=4169

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U2 AND COWELL'S SONGS FOR HAITI
U2, Jay-Z and producer Swizz Beatz have teamed up to record a song together in aid of the victims of the Haiti earthquake. And at last night's National Television Awards, Simon Cowell revealed that he would also be putting a single together over the next two days.

The Edge told Irish radio station 2FM: "Bono got a call from a producer, Swizz. He and Jay-Z wanted to do something for Haiti. So Bono came up with the [vocal] phrase on the phone and last night we were here, we wrote a song, finished, recorded, and sent it back to them. So, that might be the next thing you hear from us".

Meanwhile, speaking to the BBC yesterday evening, Cowell revealed that his song would be a cover, saying: "We made a decision today. We had a request from the Prime Minister and The Sun newspaper - would we put a record together? We haven't got an awful lot of time, but we are going to do something and attempt to raise as much money as possible. I've got to try and get it all together in about 48 hours".

Asked who would be involved, he responded: "As many people as possible, whoever we've got available is going to be on the record".

Bono, The Edge, Jay-Z and Rihanna are set to appear together for a performance in London as part of the previously reported George Clooney-organised Hope For Haiti telethon, which will be broadcast on a number of US TV channels on Friday night. It's not clear if this will be a performance of the new song. Jay-Z will also perform separately with Coldplay, while other artists playing in New York and LA will include Kid Rock, Sheryl Crow, Keith Urban, Wyclef Jean, Sting, Mary J Blige, Shakira and Bruce Springsteen.

All money raised from the telethon, which will be broadcast in the UK on MTV1 from 1am on Saturday, will be donated to Oxfam America, Red Cross, Unicef, Partners In Health and Wyclef Jean's Yele Haiti Foundation.

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WYCLEF ADMITS FOUNDATION FAILINGS
In related news, Wyclef Jean has admitted that his Yele Haiti Foundation has been "poorly run". As previously reported, as Jean encouraged fans to donate to the charity last week in order to help their involvement in the post-earthquake relief effort, a charity monitor raised concerns about the way the organisation's finances worked, and at how closely the Foundation was linked to the former Fugee's other business interests.

Jean initially hit out at the criticism, but has now conceded that the Foundation is not as well run as it could be. Stressing he has never personally benefited from the organisation - on the contrary he says he has pumped money as well as time into the charity - he admits that now that serious amounts of cash are pouring into the Foundation it needs better management.

Speaking to Oprah Winfrey, he said: "When you're starting a business, it's important to have the right people around you. When you're starting a foundation it's even more important... It's important you have logistics on the ground - the helicopters, the trucks; that's the only way you're gonna make a difference. So the attack on me, it basically came because, once we started our movement, no one was focused on Yele until they noticed that we were raising $1 million a day after the earthquake. What that did is it rose a lot of eyebrows".

He continues: "Is there a mistake in [the] running [of] the foundation? Of course... Have I ever used Yele money for my personal benefits? No... I put money into my foundation. But I do think it was poorly run and I think that we have learned from our mistakes, and, moving forward, I think we're gonna be stronger than ever".

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WINEHOUSE PLEADS GUILTY TO PANTOMIME ATTACK
Amy Winehouse has admitted attacking a theatre manager at a pantomime in Milton Keynes last month.

The Milton Keynes Magistrates Court yesterday heard that Winehouse was in the audience at a performance of 'Cinderella' at the Milton Keynes Theatre, which a close friend was appearing in. Winehouse was sitting in the stalls near the front of the stage and began shouting out after the performance had begun. During the interval, Winehouse and her minders were asked to move to a box by front-of-house manager Richard Pound, to which she agreed.

During the second half of the show Winehouse got up to go to the toilet. Pound offered to show her where they were located. While walking they passed a bar and the singer, who admitted to having drunk five vodka and cokes already, asked if she could have another.

According to his lawyer, Julian Vickery, Pound "responded along the lines of 'don't you think you should have a glass of water?'". Winehouse, feeling "embarrassed and patronised", responded "with no premeditation" by "grabbing his hair and pulling".

The singer has been given a two year conditional discharge, meaning that if she commits any further offences in that time she will be re-sentenced for this one. She was also ordered to pay £85 in costs to the court plus £100 compensation to Pound.

District judge Peter Crabtree said while sentencing her: "Mr Pound is a person whose job involves interaction with the public... [who] deserves the court's protection. It was a reaction, an over-reaction. Clearly there was no injury. You clearly have taken effort from this report to address your alcohol problems and any other problems you may have [since then], so you get credit for that. [But] if you commit another offence you'll be hit hard and you'll be hit twice".

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US JUSTICE DEPARTMENT BACK TENENBAUM DAMAGES
The US Justice Department has supported the mega-bucks damages awarded to the music industry in last year's Joel Tenenbaum file-sharing case, one of the Recording Industry Association Of America's last sue-the-fan lawsuits. As previously reported, Tenenbaum lost the case and was ordered to pay the record industry $675,000, or $22,500 for each of the 30 songs he was accused of illegally sharing.

As well as appealing the whole ruling, Tenenbaum's people argued the damages awarded were way too high, being out of line with the actual loss to the record industry caused by the Boston student's file-sharing. US copyright laws allow damages to be awarded anywhere between $750 and $150,000 - Team Tenenbaum are pushing for damages to be reduced to $750 per track.

But the Justice Department said the court was perfectly in its rights to pick any figure within those disparate boundaries, adding that Congress had allowed significant damages to be awarded partly to act as a deterrent to others regards file-sharing.

Their filing on the issue reads as follows: "The current damages range provides compensation for copyright owners because, inter alia, there exist situations in which actual damages are hard to quantify. Furthermore, in establishing the range, Congress took into account the need to deter the millions of users of new media from infringing copyrights in an environment where many violators believe they will go unnoticed".

As previously reported, both Team Tenenbaum and lawyers for that other high profile file-sharer, Jammie Thomas, who was ordered to pay a whopping $1.92 million, are appealing their respective damages rulings. They are likely to cite the famous US Supreme Court case of BMW v Gore, where a high damages payment was cut by the higher court because the payment was considered to be disproportionate to the harm caused by the defendant.

However, as also previously reported, BMW v Gore was a case involving punitive damages rather than statutory damages, as was the case in both Tenenbaum and Thomas. As recently as last October a US court ruled that BMW v Gore does not apply in statutory damages cases.

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XL SCORE FIRST UK-INDIE US CHART TOPPER IN 19 YEARS
XL Recordings are celebrating after New Yorkers Vampire Weekend's new album 'Contra' went to the top of the US album charts this week. It's the band's first US number one album and the label's first US number one album. Which is nice.

It's also the first album released by a UK-based independent label to top the US charts in nineteen years. Which makes it something of a bigger news story, methinks. Not since a then still independent Virgin Records released Paula Abdul's 'Spellbound' in 1991 has a UK-based indie got a record to the top of the American album charts.

Richard Russell, founder and top man at the Beggars-owned XL told CMU: "We've always seen Vampire Weekend as a band with limitless potential. They've now reached number one in the world's biggest market with an original, inventive, self-produced album. They have toured tirelessly and built a loyal fanbase. As a completely independent label we are proud to have given such an independently spirited band a platform to achieve this great success without compromise".

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SO SOLID IS BACK
So Solid Crew are back, and they're going to personally rescue the UK music business. They're going to go out and stab every one of those pesky file-sharers. No, of course not. But So Solid Crew chief Megaman, or So Solid chief Mega, to use their new abbreviated names, is promising to "help the UK out musically" with their reformation, albeit as a trio consisting of him, Lisa Maffia and Romeo.

In various rambling interviews to promote the trio's comeback single and their planned album, Mega says the current plan is to take it one step at a time. Public demand will decide whether the group make many many more albums, or have one last swan song long player before turning So Solid into a studio and new talent operation. He told The Sun: "[Whatever happens] we'll carry on bringing in new talent. I think that's the most ideal situation for So Solid as a brand name and a company to be in - to function as a label and a production development company".

Most interviews turn to the So Solid operation's criminal associations, of course, and in particular the shooting that took place at a party for MC Romeo at London's Astoria in 2001, an incident that got the outfit blacklisted at venues around the country and arguably contributed to the still rising urban combo's early implosion.

Mega and Maffia argue that they were badly advised to not comment on that incident at the time which, they reckon, furthered their bad reputation. Maffia: "If we'd been allowed to put over our side of the story, we would have had more longevity". Mega: "At that time, if we saw Take That get in trouble, they'd be on a panel in front of the BBC News and they'd address it. We were told just to speak through our music. For me, that was bad advice - which I know today. If I feel I'm in the wrong, I'll apologise".

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VOCAL SHIFT FOR LA ROUX
Those of you who found the vocals on La Roux's debut album a bit painful on the ear will be pleased to know that Elly Jackson has been trying out a few new things with her voice. Which is good, because I've always suspected she might actually be quite good at singing.

Speaking to Radio 1's Newsbeat, she said: "The vocal style will be different, I've changed the way I sing. Not on purpose, it's just happened, seeing things I can do with my voice".

She added that she and producer Ben Langmaid are looking to different parts of the 80s for influence on their new material. She said: "The type of music I like now is completely different. I don't listen to 80s music any more. Obviously, I still do. But not the same type of 80s music. I've listened to a lot more Italo-disco and old funk. The influences will be very different for the next record".

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LCD SOUNDSYSTEM UK TOUR
LCD Soundsystem are touring the UK in April and May. Well, England, anyway. You'd better snap these tickets up, it's the band's last ever tour, don't you know? Well, so everyone seems to be saying, although this all stems from a quote in the NME where mainman James Murphy said that this "should be the last tour". Though he added that it's good to treat everything as the last thing you will ever do, so that you make it good.

Anyway, here are the dates:

23 Apr: London, Brixton Academy
26 Apr: Birmingham, Academy
27 Apr: Leeds, Academy
1 May: Manchester, Academy
2 May: Bristol, Academy

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YEASAYER ANNOUNCE LONDON SHOW
Yeasayer, who release their superb second album, 'Odd Blood', on 9 Feb, have announced that they will play a one-off headline show at London's Koko on 26 May.

This seems like a good time to once again point you in the direction of the first single from the new album, 'Ambling Alp', which you can download for free here: www.amblingalp.com

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BAND SUBMISSIONS OPEN FOR LIVERPOOL SOUND CITY
As previously reported, Liverpool Sound City will return in May, which means - alongside a packed conference programme for music people - band showcases in 35 venues across four nights all over the Merseyside city. Bands who fancy appearing in one of those showcases should put themselves forward right now. Sound City band submissions are now open, and interested acts should apply via the Sonic Bids website. The deadline for applications is 15 Mar.

Bands based in North West England with studio and live recordings in hand might also want to apply via the Sentric Music website. This way you don't have to pay a registration fee to Sonic Bids. Bands who fit the geographical criteria should head to www.sentricmusic.com, though the deadline for this is tomorrow, so do it quick!

As previously reported, Liverpool Sound City are also giving you - the CMU readership - the chance to pick a topic for one of the panel debates within the conference part of the event. For details of how to submit your topic suggestions check www.theCMUwebsite.com/soundcity. The person who suggests the topic we use will get two free tickets and travel to Sound City for free.

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AIM DO THE SYNC THING
Everyone loves sync rights yeah? Where once every new band's dream was to appear on Top Of The Pops, surely now it's all about having your music played in the background in the opening thirty seconds of 'Hollyoaks'.

Well, the Association Of Independent Music has announced details of its annual sync master class, which will take place on 18 Feb in London. A panel will discuss the sync market - What makes a track syncable? How do you get the deal? - while Ruth Clarke and Franke Lampen from new indie-label-focused brand-partnerships agency IMU will talk more generally about labels and bands working with those brandy types.

More info: www.musicindie.com/242.asp

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CHURCH BACK MIC FREQUENCY CAMPAIGN
Good news for those rallying against OfCom's plans to sell off the radio frequencies currently used by wireless microphones - God has given you his (her? its?) backing.

As previously reported, media regulator OfCom is proposing to change the frequency used by wireless microphones and the like from channel 69 to channel 38 in 2012. The move, which will enable OfCom to sell off the frequency currently used, will also render a lot of kit used by gig, theatre, TV and film producers redundant.

A lobbying group called Save Our Sound has been calling on the government to either rethink the plans, or to compensate those organisations who will have to replace equipment as part of the change. That campaign has now been backed by the Church Of England, who are concerned about the costs many of its churches will face when they are forced to replace wireless mics.

A spokesman for the church told reporters: "Many larger churches use wireless microphones to transmit the voice of clergy and services often using four or more radio mics". Replacing that kit, the church says, could cost up to a £1 million. They are calling on their congregations to lobby their local MPs to support an Early Day Motion on this issue tabled by Peter Luff MP.

Of course all those churchy people could just stop using microphones and learn to project their voices properly, like what I did back in my childhood bible reading days. This is the word of the Lord, and all that.

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!K7 APPOINT NEW A&R HEAD
Berlin-based indie label !K7 has announced that City Rockers founder Phil Howells will be joining them as Head Of A&R, taking over from Juan Vandervoort, who is moving to [PIAS].

Confirming his new role, Howells told CMU: "For me, happiness is working at an independent company making cool, electronic records so this role at !K7 could not be more perfect. !K7 has a great heritage and a fantastic infrastructure that's going to make my life as their A&R relatively easy. I also think that !K7 is so flexible in the relationships that we can build with partners, whether those are bands, DJs, producers, labels or managers, that we will be uniquely placed to grow and thrive over the next few years".

!K7 boss Horst Weidenmüller added: "We are all really excited about Phil bringing his seasoned A&R experience and extensive network of artist and label relationships to !K7".

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ROCK BAND OPENS UP TO ALL BANDS
The makers of 'Rock Band' - MTV Games, Electronic Arts and Harmonix - have launched the Rock Band Network Store, which will sell pretend-to-play tracks by artists who have uploaded their content to the previously reported Rock Band Network.

As previously reported, the Network was set up to enable any band to make their music available to - and therefore earn a royalty from - players of the 'Rock Band' game. Not that, even with the Network in place, that's an especially simple thing to do. Songs must be split into a number of specially formatted audio files, while lyrics, tablatures and instructions for camera angles, lighting and choreography need to be provided.

The Network aims to link unsigned bands with grass roots developers who might be able to help with that process. I don't know how well that bit of the proposition is going. Unless you can find a bedroom geek willing to do it for fun, then getting your music Rock-Band-ified can be expensive. Going rates seem to go up to £300 per minute of music. Bands can then charge between 99 cents and $2.99 for their pretend-to-play tracks, of which you they get a 30% cut. So it would take some time to recoup the investment on a three minute song.

Which is perhaps why this programme has been embraced more by established bands and labels than the unsigned acts the Rock Band team initially expected to get involved. An MTV gaming spokesman told the Wall Street Journal: "We expected this to be an initiative that would appeal to unsigned artists. What was surprising to us was how many artists with hit records have offered themselves up".

Rock Banders hoping that the Network might result in them getting less mainstream music to play along to may be pleased to hear that US indie Sub Pop is using the platform and new Rock Band store to make a greatest hits package available to the game's users, which will feature songs from the likes of The Shins and Mudhoney.

But even they admit the Rock Band Network isn't especially attractive to totally new alternative talent, partly because of the set up costs, and partly because no one expects Rock Band players to be using the new Network Store to take a punt on totally unheard of acts. Sub Pop Head Of A&R Tony Kiewel: "At three dollars apiece nobody's looking to 'Rock Band' as a discovery tool. That's not going to happen".

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NEW YORK TIMES TO ERECT PAY WALL NEXT YEAR
The New York Times has announced it will start charging readers for access to its online content from next year, adopting the subscription model used by the Financial Times and Wall Street Journal whereby a limited number of articles can be viewed for free, after which users must register and pay.

It's the first mainstream daily newspaper to confirm when a virtual pay wall will be constructed around its website, though, as previously reported, we know that Rupert Murdoch's UK newspapers - The Sun and The Times - are currently working towards making their respective websites subscription-based.

The newspaper industry is dabbling with the subscription model in the online domain once again as they continue to struggle to turn the massive amounts of traffic their websites receive into tangible income. Most newspapers' online advertising sales remain insufficient to fund their operations long term, mainly because the likes of Google have capitalised such a big portion of the online ads market.

NY Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr said this week: "This announcement allows us to begin the thought process that's going to answer so many of the questions that we all care about. We can't get this halfway right or three-quarters of the way right. We have to get this really, really right".

In related news, The Guardian - despite being the UK newspaper least keen on charging for its online content - has admitted it is considering charging for access to its digital media news site PaidContent, although such considerations are seemingly part of a wider review about the future development of the US-based service. The Guardian recently revealed if paid £4 million to buy PaidContent last year, quite a lot less than what had been rumoured when the acquisition took place in 2008.

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FUTURE OF SKY'S ITV STAKE TO BE DECIDED TODAY
BSkyB have again been ordered to sell their stake in ITV.

As previously reported, Sky bought a 17.9% stake in ITV in 2006. Virgin Media (NTL as it was) cried foulplay, because they were toying with proposing a merger with ITV at the time and claimed Sky bought the shares simply to scupper any such proposals.

UK media ownership rules did not stop Sky buying that sort of stake in Sky, but complaints were raised on competition grounds. The Competition Commission subsequently ruled against the share purchase, and in 2007 ordered Sky to reduce its stake in ITV to 7.5%. Sky have been appealing that ruling ever since, aware that selling any of their stake at this time will result in them making a considerable loss on their original investment.

But today the Court Of Appeal gave its backing to the Commission's original ruling. Sky have a month to decide whether to take the matter to the UK Supreme Court.

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AMANDA HOLDEN OFFERED RECORD DEAL
Actress and 'Britain's Got Talent' judge Amanda Holden has been offered a record deal, she has claimed. Apparently the label in question (Warner Music, says The Sun), got in touch after someone there learned that she will sing in her new TV show, 'Amanda Holden's Fantasy Lives'. Quite rightly, she thinks it's a ridiculous idea. Though she says she would do it if she could make a TV programme about it, so all points lost there, then.

Holden told PA: "I probably shouldn't say this, but it's bizarre, because a record company has got wind of the fact I did this and wants to talk to me, but I think that's so cheesy. Unless I can make a television programme about trying to make an album I don't know if I could do it.In this country they think, 'you can't be a presenter and an actress and a singer, that's three things'".

She added: "If I did it at all, I would love to release a song for charity, a tongue-in-cheek one, because I don't think I'm a recording artist. Simon [Cowell] would have a fit. Can you imagine? And it's not even Sony, it's another company!"

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