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INFORMATION
Jobs
Classifieds
CMU Info
TODAY'S NEWS
Top Stories
More MIDEM than you can probably digest in one sitting: the all-you-can-eat debate
CMU says: Industry right to be cautious of all-you-can-eat
Stephen Gately died from undiagnosed heart condition
Cherry Red seek brand new football songs
Dappy visa issues slow down an N-Dubz US launch
In The Pop Courts
US judge cuts Thomas damages
Another lawsuit for Jacko estate to consider
Obituaries
Neil Kellas dies
Awards & Contests
Black Eyed Peas win 1.3 awards at the NRJ Awards
Xfm Award shortlist announced
New BRIT award aimed at school kids
Reunions & Splits
Barat on Libertines reunion, again
Release News
White Stripes planning live album
Gigs & Tours News
Dangerfield US tour postponed
R Kelly announces UK dates
The Music Business
French culture minister confirms digital collective licensing plans
IMPALA launch friends of programme
Goldsmith calls on record industry to talk to the live sector more
[PIAS] launch new D2C offer
The Digital Business
Bach technology launch MusicDNA
Omnifone announce pan-European HP partnership
The Media Business
Channel 4 appoints new CEO
Chart Of The Day
Chart update
And finally...
Stern on Penk
Westlife Shane father again
No Slash-wear at GNR gigs thank you very much
Lady Gaga swore once in 2005


 
MONDAY 25TH JANUARY
PICK A PANEL TOPIC FOR LIVERPOOL SOUND CITY 2010
So, hello to those of you reading this on an iPhone or similar within the confines of MIDEM down there in Cannes. And hello to the rest of you not at the record industry's traditional January junket by the Med. Yes, its MIDEM week which means lots of product launches, press announcements and quotable quotes coming your way from France. There's plenty in today's CMU Daily for starters.

 
But before all that, I thought I'd look ahead once again to one of the UK's very own music business conventions, this year's Liverpool Sound City, which will set up shop next to the Mersey once more this coming May. Because if you're missing out on MIDEM this year and hear something has been discussed there that you'd like to have your say on. Or if you're in Cannes but the hot topic you wanted addressed isn't in the programme. Well, we can help.

Liverpool Sound City consists of four days of talks, debates, gigs, showcases and parties, aimed at everyone working in music, from the grass roots to the biggest corporate operations, from the artist, songwriter, producer, label, management, promoter, agent, A&R, digital, publicity and media communities. And, in the case of the showcases, every music fan within earshot.

This year the European edition of the mighty MUSExpo will help form the main conference strand of the Sound City event. The Sound City team, assisted by MUSExpo, will together compile an excellent line up of panels, keynotes and debates, covering the hot topics and issues in the music industry in 2010, and involving an array of leading industry practitioners.

But if you are one of those people who goes to this sort of event and always thinks to themselves "damn, I wish they'd talk about issue x", well, read on. Sound City have reserved one slot in their conference this year which will be filled by a topic chosen by you, the always insightful CMU readership.

So if there is something you have always wanted to see discussed at a music business convention, a topic you feel is too often ignored, or a specific viewpoint you'd like to be debated, or a quirky new angle on an old chestnut you think would be fun, then tell us now!

Email your suggestions for a panel topic to soundcity@unlimitedmedia.co.uk. You have until Friday 5 February to suggest a topic. The CMU and Sound City teams will then shortlist our favourite topics, and then let you guys vote on which one is best.

Whichever one wins will appear as part of this year's Sound City conference. The CMU and Sound City teams will hone the topic and select speakers to take part. What's more, we will give whoever proposes the winning topic two free delegate passes to Sound City this year (worth £400), and even pay for you to get to Liverpool (from within the UK!).

Not only that, but everyone who submits a topic will be entered into a prize draw to win another pair of free delegate passes for Sound City 2010. So email your suggestions today - soundcity@unlimitedmedia.co.uk.

Meanwhile, I should remind you all that early bird delegate tickets are already available for this year's Sound City for special price of £100. Go to www.liverpoolsoundcity.co.uk for more information, or to book.

Enjoy...

Andy Malt
Editor, CMU Daily

 
FEVER RAY ACCEPTANCE SPEECH
Award acceptance speeches are so formulaic, aren't they? Thanks to everyone involved. Check. My manager. Check. Mum and Dad. Check. God (if you're so inclined). Check. Everyone else I forgot. Check. Maybe cry a little bit. There just aren't enough hoods, masks and gurgling, I think you'll all agree.

Thankfully, Fever Ray, aka Karin Dreijer Andersson, is here to change all that. Her acceptance speech at last week's P3 Guld awards in Sweden ranks up their with the all time greats. Arriving on stage to receive the award for Best Dance Act, her appearance was short but certainly memorable. The effort and discomfort she went through for this minute of stage time is worth an award in itself. So, let's consider this CMU Approval as such.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=ymCP6zC_qJU




 
  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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Birds Eye View Film Festival announces line up
Fuller confirms Spice Girls musical, Craymer to produce
Banksy film to premiere at Sundance
 
Appeals court upholds Competition Commission ruling on Sky's ITV stake
New York Times to erect pay wall next year
Rock Band opens up Network store
 
Birds Eye View Film Festival announces line up
Glasgow Comedy Festival programme unveiled
Banksy film to premiere at Sundance
 

MORE MIDEM THAN YOU CAN PROBABLY DIGEST IN ONE SITTING: THE ALL-YOU-CAN-EAT DEBATE
Say what you like about MIDEM, but when it comes to product launches, press statements and quotable quotes, it could pretty much fill a few editions of the CMU Daily all on its own. Expect plenty of industry and digital news for the next two days.

Digital first, of course, because the digitally-focused MidemNet always begins proceedings, even though the whole conference is dominated by digital these days. The great and the good of the internet-based music industry were out in force in Cannes this weekend, and among the digital debates to be had was the viability of the all-you-can-eat unlimited MP3 service. This has joined the list of serious digital propositions since the last edition of MIDEM, of course, as a result of Virgin Media announcing their intent to launch such a service - with Universal Music on board as a partner - last June.

As previously reported, Virgin's original plans for an Autumn 2009 launch fell through as it became clear EMI, Sony and Warner, and even some key indie players, did not share Virgin or Universal's enthusiasm for this proposition. More recent talk has been of a "limited unlimited" service, where the 'unlimited' MP3 downloads would actually come with a cap. All this has frustrated more than just Virgin Media and their partners at Universal. There is some support for the all-you-can-eat idea across the wider music industry, and some reckon the UK government should be making record labels commit to sign up to such services in return for any new anti-piracy measures, such as the three-strike system currently being considered by parliament.

But it seems unlikely the big content owners are going to budge on this any time soon, if the all-you-can-eat session at MIDEM this weekend is anything to go by. Reps from both Sony and Warner argued that consumers at large aren't actually all that interested in the all-you-can-eat proposition, and that there was a real risk it would only be taken up by big-spending music fans who currently generate sizable monthly revenues for the record industry, considerably more than the fifteen pounds a month the Virgin service would bring in.

Even Simon Wheeler of the Beggars Group - who does think that some sort of unlimited download offering will launch eventually - said he had "a huge amount of concerns around getting to an unlimited model". He supported the capped 'unlimited' service, if only to give record labels some real consumer insights into the all-you-can-eat domain.

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CMU SAYS: INDUSTRY RIGHT TO BE CAUTIOUS OF ALL-YOU-CAN-EAT
For what its worth, I think the bigger record companies are right to be cautious about all-you-can-eat. As Sony and Warner's men at MIDEM rightly pointed out, it is actually a minority interest product, possibly of interest to two groups of music fans - ironically the record industry's favourite group - the aforementioned big-spend music fan - and their least favourite - more prolific file-sharers.

It's the latter group the service has really been designed to appeal to - it being a proposed solution to that question that always crops up at music business conventions these days: "how do we compete with free?" But it ignores the fact that, despite IFPI's scary stats on this subject, the prolific file-sharing community is still relatively small compared to the wider music market. It is also arguably a little naïve in its assumption that if you offer every song ever made as MP3 for fifteen quid a month then suddenly every file-sharer everywhere will go legit.

Some use file-sharing networks because large parts of the record industry's collected catalogue still isn't available via legit digital music platforms, certainly in higher quality formats. All-you-can-eat in itself doesn't address this issue.

Some use file-sharing networks because when they first hit the net two to ten years ago, looking for music, there were simply no decent legit services on there. Certainly none that weren't hindered by digital rights management or artificial blocks to on-demand play. Such services are now available, certainly in the UK, but given file-sharing had a ten year head start, more needs to be done to promote them. Such promotion doesn't necessitate adding all-you-can-eat to the legit menu.

Some file-sharers are teenagers and students whose predecessors in the 1980s and 1990s would have shared music with their school and college mates by distributing illegally-made home-taped copies. Many such teens of the 80s and 90s grew into fully-fledged paying customers of the record industry once they reached their mid-twenties, and there's every chance the Napster generation will follow suit - even without all-you-can-eat being an option.

It is also worth noting, some file-sharers are just selfish, and would rather artists, songwriters, producers and label people slog their guts out for free in order to provide them with some light entertainment at no cost. Fifteen pounds a month will still be off putting for these people.

And finally, some file-sharers wrongly believe their file-sharing kicks it to the man. Given it's the man providing all-you-can-eat, they're unlikely to sign up.

Of course, some file-sharers might be attracted to all-you-can-eat - especially if three-strikes becomes a reality and actually works (though that's a sizable 'if') - but it's wrong to assume such a proposition would be a panacea.

The record industry should, of course, consider a multitude of different digital music business models because it is unlikely any one will be enough to keep the business afloat. But it seems to me all-you-can-eat is more risky than most, with the potential to jeopardise the other models being developed.

Out of ten years of panic, false starts and bad strategy, a working digital music market is slowly starting to emerge, albeit in the main pioneered by venture-capital-backed net-pioneers rather than the major music companies (or the ISPs, who most actively support all-you-can-eat). This emerging marekt has three strands.

First, the ad-funded on-demand streaming services. So, Spotify, We7, MySpace Music, MUZU, Vevo. For some consumers this is the be-all-and-end-all service, but for many it provides the suck-it-and-see component that many say is the role P2P file-sharing often plays.

Second, the subscription services. So, Spotify Premium, Sky Songs, Napster. Ad-free streaming, and possibly a set number of MP3s bundled in each month for keeps. A more full-on service for more full-on music fans, and a business model with endless potential for niche-genre reinvention.

And third, the now old fashioned a-la-carte download store. iTunes, Amazon MP3, 7Digital. Generally for more causal music buyers (ie the majority), and probably used by many in unison with the ad-funded streaming services.

This is a nice set up that might just work in the long term. And I worry that throwing all-you-can-eat into the mix will seriously destabilise it all. Which seems like quite a risk just to satisfy a small group of music fans, some of whom will become legit customers over time anyway, and some of whom will never spend money with the record industry, even if you start putting them and their families in prison.

For my mind, the record industry would be better off working out a licensing model that makes the three above mentioned strands of the emerging digital music market work and prosper long term (because I think we all know the licensing deals currently offered to Spotify et al by the record companies and collecting societies are ultimately unviable).

And then the wider music industry needs to work out whether the combined sound recording and music publishing sectors - based on this three-strand digital market - will be profitable enough to continue to saddle the majority of the cash investment that needs to be made into new musical talent. If not, we need to jump start one variation or another of the 360 degree model - probably by having all interested parties in any one artist (so label, publisher, promoter, merchandiser, sponsors) putting money into a central business venture which then controls an artist's brand, marketing and fan engagement, while dishing out rights, products, performances and partnership opportunities that can be monetised by said enterprise's various business partners.

And here ends my MIDEM-inspired polemic for 2010. Though there's much from Cannes to come below.

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STEPHEN GATELY DIED FROM UNDIAGNOSED HEART CONDITION
A Spanish judge closed the official investigation into the death of the late Boyzone star Stephen Gately on Friday, concluding that he died of natural causes having suffered from a previously undiagnosed heart condition called atheromatosis, which results in a thickening of the arteries. A pathologist report submitted to court said that while Gately had been drinking heavily and had smoked cannabis shortly before his death, neither were actually factors in his passing. Both Gately's family and his widower Andy Cowles were formally informed of the ruling this weekend.

As previously reported, Gately died at his and Cowle's holiday home in Port d'Andratx on the Spanish island of Majorca after a night out last October. The judge's ruling regarding the causes of Gately's death will further vindicate those who were angered by comments made by rubbish Mail hack Jan Moir on the eve of the singer's funeral, in which she dubbed the Boyzone star's passing as "unnatural", musing that "healthy and fit 33-year-old men do not just climb into their pyjamas and go to sleep on the sofa, never to wake up again".

Recent revelations about the third man at Gately and Cowle's home on the night of the singer's death perhaps added to those who bought Moir's theory that the Boyzoner's lifestyle - that his to say his 'gay lifestyle' - might have played a part in his demise. Bulgarian Georgi Dochev, who originally claimed to have met Gately and Cowles for the first time on the night the former died, recently told a radio station in his home country that he had actually known them both for two years and that he had regularly met up with them for sexual liaisons.

But, of course, while such revelations make good gossip, they are irrelevant regarding the causes of Gately's death. Because, as the Spanish pathologist's report shows, and as anyone with any common sense but without a tedious weekly Daily Mail column to pad out knows, sometimes seemingly healthy and fit 33 year old men do just go to sleep and die.

In related news, Mika has been talking about one of his songs acting as something of an official tribute to the late Gately. Boyzone's next single, the Mika penned 'Gave It All Away', was recorded last summer and therefore features vocals from Gately, footage of whom appears in the accompanying pop promo alongside his bandmates looking all kinds of sad.

The band had originally hoped to release a version of the song as their comeback single back in 2008, after their 2007 reformation and to accompany their hits album that year, but word was Mika had declined to let them, dubbing their rendition "too cheesy". But since Gately's death he's given the all clear for this latest version to be released, he being quoted on the Boyzone website this weekend: "I was shocked and saddened when I hear about Stephen's passing, he touched so many people's lives both with his music and with his wonderful personality. It's an honour to hear him sing my song. I wish all the best to the rest of the boys. I'm proud of the song and proud of their version".

The single is doing the rounds on the net right now, and should get a physical CD release in early March, to coincide with the new Boyzone album 'Brothers'.

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CHERRY RED SEEK BRAND NEW FOOTBALL SONGS
Cherry Red Records is calling on musical fans of the England football team to pen a song for their side ahead of this year's World Cup, and to send it to them. They are planning a digital-only album of original England-supporting football-referencing songs, following an announcement earlier this month from the FA that there would be no official team anthem this year.

The footballing body said it was not intending on backing an official song this year because the England team's management "wanted to be fully focused on the football" this time. Yeah, like that's going to happen. The fact that the official FA-backed song has been awful for at least three World Cups now may or may not have been a factor.

Noting that the official all-star single '(How Does It Feel To Be) On Top Of The World' totally failed to capture the imagination of either music or football fans in 1998 when pitched against an unofficial re-release of the Lighting Seeds/Baddiel & Skinner hit 'Three Lions', and then remembering the tedium that was Ant & Dec's official football chant in 2002, the Cherry Red blurb says: "We don't even recall the entries from 2006. So this leads us to believe the world (and more importantly the England Squad) needs a new great World Cup anthem for the coming summer in South Africa. And seeing as Cherry Red Records already has the world's largest collection of football related repertoire, we thought we should be the ones to kick things off!"

Any bands interested in making a football-themed song should send it and some contact information to worldcup@cherryred.co.uk by 31 Mar. More info at www.cherryred.co.uk/football/world_cup.htm

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DAPPY VISA ISSUES SLOW DOWN AN N-DUBZ US LAUNCH
According to The Sun, plans to launch N-Dubz in America may be hindered by Dappy's criminal record, which is causing visa headaches for the band's management as they try to capitalise on interest in the urban combo from US labels. The Dapster got a suspended sentence after a drunken altercation in 2008, which is something US visa officials often look down on.

One of those sources told the tab: "This has been a massive setback. A lot of US label chiefs have been over to see the band and have been making serious noises about breaking N-Dubz in America. But Dappy has got a fairly colourful past, which is causing problems with the visa. He is gutted but he is confident it can all be sorted".

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US JUDGE CUTS THOMAS DAMAGES
Oh, so this is interesting. A US judge has dramatically cut the damages that prominent file-sharer Jammie Thomas must pay the record industry.

As previously reported, Thomas was initially ordered to pay the US record industry $222,000 after being found guilty in 2007 of illegally sharing 24 songs via Kazaa. A retrial followed last year for technical reasons, in which Thomas was found guilty for a second time, and then ordered to pay $1.92 million in damages. The discrepancy between the first and second set of damages was possible because US copyright law sets parameters of $750 to $150,000 per infringement, leaving a rather large margin of variation to the judge or jury.

The $1.92 million ruling - while providing the Recording Industry Association Of America who pursued the litigation with a headline grabbing deterrent for other file-sharers - was always a bit ridiculous, given there was no way Thomas could ever hope to pay it. It wasn't really good news for the RIAA either, it merely adding to the idea that the RIAA's lawsuits against individual file-sharers were unfair David v Goliath style legal cases.

As previously reported, there wasn't much precedent in US law for an appeal judge to overturn statutory damages awarded by a jury. However, last week Michael Davis, chief judge for the US District Court of Minnesota, did just that, setting new damages of $2250 per song, or $54,000 overall. In a rare application of common sense in such situations, Davis noted that the jury's mega-bucks ruling was in part designed to deter other American file-sharers, but he added: "The need for deterrence cannot justify a $2 million verdict for stealing and illegally distributing 24 songs for the sole purpose of obtaining free music". He's right you know.

The RIAA has been given a week to decide whether to accept the lower damages or push for another trial on the issue. It told CNet that it was "reviewing the decision". Team Thomas could also appeal Davis' ruling, and push for an even lower figure, all the way down to the $750 per track minimum.

While the RIAA would have a case for not accepting Davis' judgement - as we said, precedent is generally on their side with regards appeal judges not messing with a jury's damages decisions - some reckon they will now look to settle this case without further court time. Not even the most loony of the RIAA's lawyers really believed they would ever get $1.92 million off Thomas, plus they won the more important legal argument: Davis noted Thomas' copyright infringement should be punished, just with more realistic damages. More importantly, as previously reported the RIAA is no longer pursuing lawsuits against individual file-sharers, and having this one lingering on is doing no one any favours, given the RIAA backlash that is unleashed whenever the trade body goes to court.

Assuming the RIAA and Thomas do settle, this will strongly bolster the case for a similar cut in the damages awarded in that other high profile outstanding file-sharing case, the Joel Tennenbaum case. His lawyers are currently appealing the whole guilty verdict in his case, but might be persuaded to put the whole thing to rest if his $657,000 damages payment could be cut to five figures as with Thomas.

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ANOTHER LAWSUIT FOR JACKO ESTATE TO CONSIDER
Another party has joined the list of people making legal claims against the estate of Michael Jackson. According to US media there are now active lawsuits claiming some £12.5 million from the estate, most relating to alleged unpaid fees or collapsed projects involving the late pop star.

The latest comes from a US-based company called Machine Management (not the London-based artist management firm of the same name) who claim they are owed £178,125 relating to three aborted Jacko projects, one to set up a film company, another to launch a film festival in Oman, and the third a planned climate change awareness charity. TMZ say a rep for the lawyers managing the Jackson estate have confirmed receipt of the Machine Management's claim.

Jackson, of course, was sued by numerous people and companies in the years leading up to his death, though the estate is arguably in a better position to settle than he was when alive, despite the millions in debts the singer left behind. Partly because Jackson himself isn't alive to continue to run up millions of new debts, and partly because the previously tarnished Jacko franchise has been reenergised since the singer's passing.

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NEIL KELLAS DIES
Former music company exec Neil Kellas, probably better know as a great music writer hired by many compilation labels looking for good original writing to accompany their releases, has died from complications caused by a gastric ulcer.

Kellas worked in sales roles at a number of music companies, including SP&S and Counterpoint, while the likes of Proper Records, Chrome Dreams and Union Square Music all tapped into his encyclopaedic knowledge of music when they hired his freelance writing service.

Paying tribute, Union Square's Steve Bunyan told Music Week: "I first met Neil back in 1987 when we both worked at the deletions company SP&S and he's remained a dear friend ever since. Always good company we used to regularly meet up for dinner to discuss music and films, the state of the industry and his personal crusade against the copyright law".

He continued: "One of life's good guys he always looked out for his friends and took a personal pride in his work. He could get down sometimes - especially as the prospect of future work looked bleak - but a glass of red wine and good company would see the twinkle return to his eye and the mischievous comments flow. He was a great guy who's left us too early and I'm going to miss him greatly".

The "crusade against copyright law" Bunyan mentioned there regards the much previously reported proposals that the copyright term for sound recordings be extended from the current fifty years. Kellas opposed the proposals, and spent much time explaining his viewpoint to relevant ministers, MPs and MEPs.

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BLACK EYED PEAS WIN 1.3 AWARDS AT THE NRJ AWARDS
So, if France's NRJ Awards are to be believed, Black Eyed Peas had the Best International Song of the last year in the form of 'I Gotta Feeling', but they were only the Best International Group for the first part of Saturday evening. Yes, for the second year running there was a screw up at the big French music awards, which are timed to coincide with MIDEM, resulting in the Peas being incorrectly awarded the best non-French group prize. German pop-rockers Tokio Hotel were then presented the award via a special erratum section of the show later in the evening. So that's nice.

Other international winners on the night included Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Beyonce and Robbie Williams, the latter two winning lifetime achievement gongs. Domestic winners included French dance artist Christophe Willem and the cast of the comedy musical 'Mozart l'Opera Rock', who between them won three gongs, for best group, best song and breakthrough act in the form of one of its stars Florent Mothe.

The full list of winners this year was as follows:

Francophone Male Artist Of The Year: Christophe Willem
Francophone Female Artist Of The Year: Sofia Essaidi
Francophone Group/Duo Of The Year: Mozart l'Opera Rock
Francophone Revelation Of The Year: Florent Mothe
Francophone Album Of The Year: Christophe Willem - Cafeine
Francophone Song Of The Year: Florent Mothe - L'Assasymphonie (from 'Mozart l'Opera Rock')
Most Downloaded Song Of The Year: Helmut Fritz - Ca M'enerve

International Revelation Of The Year: Lady Gaga
International Female Artist Of The Year: Rihanna
International Male Artist Of The Year: Robbie Williams
International Group/Duo Of The Year: Tokio Hotel
International Song Of The Year: Black Eyed Peas - 'I Gotta Feeling'
International Album Of The Year: David Guetta - 'One Love'

NRJ Award Of Honour: Robbie Williams and Beyonce Knowles

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XFM AWARD SHORTLIST ANNOUNCED
The shortlist for this year's Xfm New Music Award, which goes to a debut album released in the last year, was announced last week, but we never quite got round to publishing it here in the CMU Daily, So, hey, here it is. Listeners voted to make this shortlist, and now a panel of pundit types will meet on 1 Feb to pick an overall winner.

And So I Watch You From Afar - And So I Watch You From Afar
Band Of Skulls - Baby Darling Doll Face Honey
Bombay Bicycle Club - I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose
Florence & The Machine - Lungs
Kill It Kid - Kill It Kid
La Roux - La Roux
Little Boots - Hands
Mumford & Sons - Sigh No More
The xx - xx
White Lies - To Lose My Life

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NEW BRIT AWARD AIMED AT SCHOOL KIDS
As part of the 30th year anniversary celebrations of the BRIT Awards, the BRITs team are launching a brand new award to celebrate future music talent - looking even further into the future that the Critics Choice BRIT which was launched three years ago to celebrate the artists most highly tipped for success in the next year.

The new award will be based around a competition to be called BRIT Class Act, and is aimed at aspiring musical types in schools around the country. Musically talented school students up to the age of nineteen will be encouraged to enter a song into the competition, which will kick off in September. Various heats will then take place during the Autumn, until a final winner is picked in time for the 2011 BRIT Awards.

It's all linked in with the government-supported National Year Of Music. To that end, that numpty Ed Balls, in his guise as Schools Minister, told CMU: "Music is at the heart of British popular culture. And now we're in the first ever National Year of Music in 2010, we want more young people than ever to get involved in the fantastic opportunities that are on offer. This could mean learning about how the music industry works through Class Act, becoming part of the school choir, or taking advantage of the free music tuition classes primary schools are offering to pupils. Far from it just being about who's top of the download charts each week, music teaches discipline, raises hopes and aspirations and gives kids skills that will stay with them for life".

The whole thing will also be supported and covered by First News, the newspaper for da kids co-founded by Piers Morgan, who says this: "Class Act is a fantastic opportunity for every school student who has ever dreamed of being a music star. I know we will be bowled over with the talent we uncover and it is after all the ultimate accolade to kick start a music career".

Details of how to enter Class Act, plus all sorts of tips for aspiring musicians, is online at this here URL: www.britclassact.co.uk

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BARAT ON LIBERTINES REUNION, AGAIN
Hey people, have another vague quote about the possibility of a Libertines reunion. Carl Barat is still up for it in principle, and he reckons Pete Doherty is keen also. Though not keen enough to bloody well respond to a text message about it.

Says Barat: "I sent him [Doherty] a text a couple of weeks ago, but he never got back. If things are looking good that'll be nice. I guess I'll have to have a chat to Pete about it - he wanted to do it sooner but we missed all the dates. I'm sure there's going to be some hostility towards it, but if it doesn't work out at least I've given it my all".

Insiders say any reunion is unlikely until 2011 because of band members' other commitments. Not to mention their inability to respond to text messages.

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WHITE STRIPES PLANNING LIVE ALBUM
The White Stripes are going to release a live album taking in recordings from their 2007 Canadian tour. The tour was filmed for a forthcoming live DVD and, according to the NME, a live album will also be released from the recordings. It's due out in March.

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DANGERFIELD US TOUR POSTPONED
More pop visa issues now, though not because of any past crimes this time, no, just admin delays, I think. Guillemots man Fyfe Dangerfield has had to cancel his upcoming solo American tour because his visa isn't through yet.

He posted on his website thus: "Really sorry to announce this, but due to a delay in my visa coming through we've had to cancel the US shows next week. We're hoping to be able to re-schedule and come out and play those shows, and more on top, in March, so we'll keep you posted on all that".

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R KELLY ANNOUNCES UK DATES
Lock up your daughters, R Kelly's coming to town. He'll play three UK dates in April, his first for eight years.

Tour dates:

5 Apr: Manchester, Apollo
9 Apr: London, Hammersmith Apollo
11 Apr: Wolverhampton, Civic Hall

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FRENCH CULTURE MINISTER CONFIRMS DIGITAL COLLECTIVE LICENSING PLANS
To Cannes, and French Minister Of Culture Frédéric Mitterrand had some interesting things to say this weekend, feeding back on the previously reported 'Creation & Internet Report' penned for the French government by, among others, Patrick Zelnik of French indie label Naïve. In his speech to the music business convention he confirmed which aspects of the report are most likely to be made government policy.

The French government have, of course, been more proactive than most in responding to the record industry's call for ISPs to be forced to help with the policing of piracy, with three-strikes already on the statute book there (albeit yet to actually launch). The 'Creation & Internet Report' included more proposals that would force the web sector to help the flagging French record industry (which is flagging more than most), including the idea of a levy on the ad revenues of Google et al that would pay for various initiatives, including a government subsidised pre-pay download card to encourage French teenagers to use legitimate digital music services instead of P2P networks.

But the report also contained some recommendations about the workings of the French record industry, including some that won't be as widely welcomed by the major music firms as France's three-strike laws were. In particular, the proposal that the record industry should move toward collective licensing in the digital domain, meaning all digital service providers can tap into the entire recorded music catalogue by getting licenses from one or two collecting societies, rather than having to do deals with every major, indie-label representatives Merlin and a number of other indie aggregators. Such a situation would mean an end to the big upfront cheques often demanded by the major music firms as part of licensing deals with digital start ups.

Speaking at MIDEM, Mitterrand said his government would give the French record industry a year to sort out a "possible" collective licensing system before forcing something on them. Asked by Billbaord for clarification as to what he meant by "possible" he confirmed his government saw the move towards collective licensing in the near future as an obligation on the record industry. He said: "I know this [measure] arouses opposition but it is necessary to work altogether as fast as we can to permit a richer online offer".

It seems likely, simply for convenience, that the whole record industry will eventually licence music to digital music services via a collecting society, like the music publishers already do, and like everyone has to in the TV, radio and public performance domains. Though France's proposals seriously speed up something that would probably take a good few years to happen organically.

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IMPALA LAUNCH FRIENDS OF PROGRAMME
IMPALA formally launched its new Friends Of IMPALA programme at MIDEM this weekend, which aims to connect the trade body with independent players from across the wider music industry, including music media. IMPALA is, of course, the pan-European trade body for independent record companies. Copying to an extent the 'Friends of' programme operated by UK indie label trade body AIM, the IMPALA scheme will be open to a wide range of music companies, including PR, retail, finance, legal and even music radio.

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GOLDSMITH CALLS ON RECORD INDUSTRY TO TALK TO THE LIVE SECTOR MORE
Given everyone seems to agree that the live sector plays an ever more important role in the wider music industry, and given that that sector will presumably soon need to start investing in new talent alongside the record companies and music publishers, it is perhaps surprising how disparate the music rights and music performance sectors still remain. Well, it probably isn't, but it would probably be in everyone's interest for there to be more close working between the labels and publishers and the promoters.

Well, anyway, that was the basic gist of celebrity promoter Harvey Goldsmith's stint at MidemNet this weekend. According to MusicAlly, Goldsmith told his audience of primarily record industry types: "The [wider music] industry doesn't talk to each other on a senior level. Normally all the conversations centre around recorded music, and live is left out". He said he thought subscription services were an important part of the future of music, possibly including live elements in the mix.

Touching on what is probably the biggest story in the live sector just now - the proposed Live Nation Ticketmaster merger - he said he thought that if that deal does go ahead it will provide new challenges to the whole music industry, though that might prove to be a good thing. Goldsmith: "I believe that the Live Nation Ticketmaster deal will make everybody else sharpen the pencil and start to become more creative. [And] there are tons of new solutions around to deal with the issues that everyone's concerned about with that deal".

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[PIAS] LAUNCH NEW D2C OFFER
[PIAS] used MIDEM to announce a number of new partnerships which will enable the independent distributor and label group to offer artists a whole range of so called 'direct to consumer' solutions. The collected services will be offered to artists and labels as one package via a [PIAS] D2C division. The new partnerships include alliances with e-commerce and marketing-based-technology companies Topspin Media and Digital Animal, and an arrangement with UK-based fulfilment firm MAM Logistic.

Confirming the deals, [PIAS]'s Adrian Pope told CMU: "[PIAS] is ideally positioned to support its labels and artists with direct to consumer e-commerce and CRM based solutions. [PIAS] D2C will develop to provide a range of solutions that compliment other services that we offer, from [PIAS] Digital Marketing to [PIAS]'s retail marketing, sales and distribution operations on an international basis".

Digital Animal founder Chris Thompson added: "It's great to have such an experienced full service channel partner that sees it's future in our space. We are thrilled to be able to offer competitive direct to fan solutions to Europe's most important independent artists and labels through [PIAS]".

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BACH TECHNOLOGY LAUNCH MUSICDNA
Bach Technology this weekend formally launched MusicDNA, what they are dubbing as the "successor to the MP3". It is basically a new technology that enables content owners to provide other content alongside their MP3 music files, including lyrics, artwork, videos, news, gossip and dates.

Said extra content is dynamic and can be updated, something which the tech firm says will make legitimate downloads more attractive because only MusicDNA files acquired from proper sources will be able to access the dynamically updated content.

Launching the new technology, Bach Technology boss Stefan Kohlmeyer told CMU: "Twenty years on from the initial development of the MP3, it is time for digital audio to once again evolve. Just as vinyl gave way to the CD and the CD to MP3, it is time for the MP3 to pass the baton onto MusicDNA".

Various label types lined up to big up the new technology. Among them Simon Wheeler, Director of Digital at Beggars Group, who said: "Beggars is supportive of any new initiative that looks to add value to our music and deliver more value and information to the fans who support us, being based on open standards the Bach implementation of MPEG-7 gives us an exciting opportunity to deliver a far richer experience to fans that goes well beyond the dumb file".

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OMNIFONE ANNOUNCE PAN-EUROPEAN HP PARTNERSHIP
Omnifone, the digital music service provider behind the MusicStation mobile music service and other mobile music platforms, has announced its first major play in the PC-based download domain, having announced its intent to move into this space through partnerships with ISPs and technology makers last year.

The new development, to be announced at MIDEM today, is a partnership with HP which will see a web-based version of MusicStation preloaded onto HP computers sold in ten European countries, including the UK. The subscription-based MusicStation service will offer unlimited plays of music from a vast catalogue while a subscription is active (delivered via a Napster-style DRMed download), plus ten MP3 downloads a month, which users can obviously keep and play forever.

Omnifone chief Rob Lewis told CMU: "Omnifone is proud to partner with HP, the world's largest PC manufacturer, to deliver MusicStation to consumers on millions of PCs in ten countries across Europe. The HP rollout sees MusicStation Desktop preinstalled on multiple HP PCs, available in seven languages with each territory featuring an individually tailored music catalogue from Omnifone's roster of over 6.5 million tracks. We look forward to extending our partnership onto even more PCs and territories, to ensure consumers have the ability to gain legitimate access to the world's music on every HP PC they purchase".

HP VP Personal Systems Group EMEA Charl Snyman added: "Partnering with Omnifone will enable HP to deliver music to millions of HP PC users across ten countries in Europe on our Pavilion, Presario and Envy PCs. Starting today, HP PC users in the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, The Netherlands, Austria, Belgium and Switzerland can try MusicStation for free for up to fourteen days, get access to millions of tracks, keep their favourite tracks permanently and share music and playlists with other MusicStation users".

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CHANNEL 4 APPOINTS NEW CEO
Channel 4 finally has a new top man. The broadcaster announced on Friday that it was hiring David Abraham, currently the boss of digital channel network UKTV, to take over from Andy Duncan, who stood down as C4 CEO last November.

C4 Chairman Terry Burns, himself new to the job, told reporters: "The board spoke to a number of other candidates and considered many more as part of a very thorough process and we're convinced that, in David, we have identified a creative manager of the highest quality. He has a track record of success as a chief executive and the right mix of skills to get all parts of Channel 4 working together to unlock our full creative and commercial potential and complete our transition into digital".

Abraham had been tipped as a stronger contender for the C4 top job, though his appointment has been met with a mixed reception. The state owned Channel 4, of course, is faced with an uncertain future as it tries to continue to provide public service television in the face of falling advertising revenues. A closer alliance with the BBC's commercial division BBC Worldwide seems likely, which is possibly why Abraham is well qualified for the job, UKTV being half owned by Worldwide.

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CHART UPDATE
I know what you're all reading this for. If three (possibly four) Facebook status updates by some of my friends are anything to go by, the whole world's gone 'Glee' mad. Therefore, I'm sure the only reason you're letting your eyes scan over this waffle is that you want to know how your new favourite show's cast have faired in this week's chart. Well, not so well, you cheesy American TV loving idiots.

Last week's 'Glee' single, a cover of Journey's 'Don't Stop Believin', is up two places to number three. The original version of the song is down one, but still in the top ten at seven. Which you could say was good going, but isn't the whole point of 'Glee' that it fills the chart with its songs every week?

None of last week's other four Glee singles managed to crack the top 40, and the only new one to hit the main chart is the cast's version of Madonna's 'Take A Bow', which has gone in at a pitiful 36. How is this going to be a TV/music phenomenon if you Glee fans don't play the game and buy the songs from it? If you don't, people might start to say it was a stupid, cynical idea. And then where would we be?

Moving on to the singles everyone bought instead, Owl City are this week's new number one, with 'Fireflies'. Example also has a new entry in the top ten with 'Won't Go Quietly', and there are new entries further down the chart from Girls Can't Catch with 'Echo' at nineteen, Jay Sean, Sean Paul and Lil Jon with 'Do You Remember' at 23, and Pitbull with 'Shut It Down' at 40.

In the album chart, Florence & The Machine are still at number one, ahead of Paolo Nutini, who continues to sell well for some reason. New at three this week are Lostprophets with their new album, 'The Betrayed', which narrowly heads off tiny irritant Justin Beiber at four with his debut 'My World'. Eels are in at 21 with 'End Times', narrowly beating tiny irritants Alvin & The Chipmunks with the soundtrack to their latest movie, 'Alvin & The Chipmunks 2: The Squeakquel'. OneRepublic are new in at 29, as are The Royal Dragoon Guards at 33 with 'Spirit Of The Glen: Ultimate Collection'.

The charts are matured for seven days by The Official Charts Company

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STERN ON PENK
Now, I never went to radio school, but I'm pretty sure that, if I had, I'd have been taught at some point that when Howard Stern starts saying one of your on-air stunts went "too far", then you've definitely crossed some sort of acceptability line.

The US shock jock last week discussed Steve Penk's previously reported playing of Van Halen's 'Jump' on his Manchester-based Revolution Radio station on the morning that the biggest local news story was the delays on the M60 where a suicidal woman was threatening to throw herself off a bridge. A listener had requested the song, but it was Penk himself who chose to play it.

When someone speculated that the woman, who did indeed jump (albeit, only incurring minor injuries in the process), might have done so after hearing Penk's show on a passing car stereo, the DJ responded thus: "If, as has been suggested, the woman jumped because she heard it from a passing car radio that's unfortunate. But I don't regret playing it for a minute".

As one UK mental health charity, Mind, said it would complain about the incident to media regulator OfCom, Stern discussed the stunt on his Sirius XM radio show last week. Stern, of course, is no stranger to controversial on-air antics and media/listener/regulator outrage.

It would be wrong to say that Stern and co-host Robin Quivers are especially judgemental about the 'Jump' incident, and at times they seem sympathetic towards a fellow radio DJ in trouble for his on-air antics (especially given that they seem to think Penk had been fired, which, of course, he has not, him owning Revolution Radio). But Stern did also imply some sympathy for the mental health charities who have criticised Penk, concluding that the stunt was "kinda lame really".

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WESTLIFE SHANE FATHER AGAIN
Westlifer Shane Filan has become a father for the third time, his wife Gillian giving birth to a son on Friday.

A spokesman for the couple told reporters: "Shane and Gillian are over the moon with their new arrival. They're thrilled it's a boy and have decided to call him after his dad, which Shane is chuffed about. Both mum and baby are doing great, although it was a last-minute dash to get to the hospital".

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NO SLASH-WEAR AT GNR GIGS THANK YOU VERY MUCH
I'm not sure I believe this, though it's one of those stories of supreme pettiness that you long to be true. TMZ are reporting that Guns N Roses fans wearing t-shirts featuring the band's original guitarist Slash were asked to turn their clothing inside out at a recent GNR gig in Canada, and to leave any Slash-inspired top hats at the door.

The gossip site says a security guard at the gig told them the no-Slash-wear rule came directly from one of the gig's promoters, who was presumably keen to save Axl Rose from having to spend the evening looking out into an audience of Slash imagery. What with the former rock-mates' famously long-running feud and Axl's band now being a weak imitation of its Slash-era self.

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LADY GAGA SWORE ONCE IN 2005
Everyone wants to know what famous people were like before they were famous, and the best way to do that is to watch a short clip of them on an MTV show. For example, here is a video of Lady Gaga, then plain old Stefani Germanotta, on 'MTV Boiling Point', a show which attempted to annoy people and then gave them money if they didn't swear, as far as I can see. These days they would have asked her if it's true that she has a penis, but back then all it took was a couple of bits of rubbish on her lunch. Oh, how times have changed.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=1SIK-yzlxiU

So, that's all fun. But really I'm just writing this as an excuse to trot out this video of a teenage Pete Doherty queuing up to buy an Oasis album again: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Quba72Xli8o

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