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INFORMATION
Jobs
Classifieds
CMU Info
TODAY'S NEWS
Top Stories
BBC Trust boss comments on cuts proposals
Parliamentary motion supports 6 and Asian Network
More support floods in for 6 and Asian Network
Exclusive: PRS to host day one of The Great Escape 2010
In The Pop Courts
Lil Wayne sentencing delayed again
Apple sue another mobile making rival
Obituaries
Bernard Coutaz dies
Reunions & Splits
Eric Avery quits Jane's Addiction (again)
Books News
Alex James writing second autobiography
Gigs & Tours News
Hole announce UK tour
Band Of Horses add Roundhouse show
Festival News
Festival line-up update
Reviews
Album review: Gorillaz - Plastic Beach
Talks, Debates & Conventions
Black Music Congress announce events
The Digital Business
Ek defends his Spot
Grooveshark make app available for jail-broken iPhones
Twitter planning on putting ads into searches
The Media Business
MTV rename UK channels
Cable returns to BBC Wales
Chart Of The Day
This week's Subtv playlist
And finally...
Bands are a thing of the past, says Foals frontman


 
WEDNESDAY 3RD MARCH
DAG FÖR DAG
Formed in 2007, Dag för Dag are a Swedish-American indie band based in Stockholm, with the core being brother and sister duo Sarah and Jacob Snavely. The band first toured in 2008 with The Shout Out Louds, and have since gone on to support The Kills, Wolf Parade, Lykke Li, Handsome Furs, Wintersleep and Cursive. They released their debut EP 'Shooting From The Shadows' last summer via Saddle Creek Europe, and their debut album, 'Boo', came out last month on Cargo Records. Ahead of a gig at The Garage in London on 8 Mar, we caught up with Sarah to find out more.

 
Q1 How did you start out making music?
I started out playing violin at the age of five and have always been fiddling around with some sort of instrument. But Jacob and I didn't come together as a musical pair until late summer of 2007, when we were given the free use of a rehearsal space, and then a lot of pent-up musical desires came out!

Q2 What inspired your latest album?
Past demons, reverb, and the joy of the live show.

Q3 What process do you go through in creating a track?
Most happens in our rehearsal space. In general, one of us starts playing something and the other joins in, while we each write our own lyrics quite separately from one another. We are always amazed that they work when we put them together! We have quite specific rhythmical ideas, and direct the drummer initially, but definitely do allow him to write his own parts once the basic structure of the song has been established by us two. Songwriting is fortunately a rather effortless process for Jacob and me together... some sort of sibling witchcraft must certainly be involved.

Q4 Which artists influence your work?
PJ Harvey, Modest Mouse, Wolf Parade, The Walkmen, Yo La Tengo, Johann Sebastian Bach, Antonio Vivaldi

Q5 What would you say to someone experiencing your music for the first time?
Imagine no one's watching you. Let your heart react to its truest extent. And I hope this person is seeing us live. If not, I would urge the person to check out one of our shows, where Dag för Dag can be much more understood and accessed, where we can explain the sounds through the tools of the stage.

Q6 What are your ambitions for your latest album, and for the future?
To play play play record record record release play play record, and keep going on until arthritis slams the music out of us.

MORE>> www.dagfordag.com

 
GRAFTON PRIMARY
Formed in 2006 by brothers Ben and Josh Garden, who are joined live by drummer Robbie Mudrazija, synth-pop band Grafton Primary have built up a sizeable fanbase back home in Australia, thanks to heavy radio play and a ubiquity at festivals in the country. They released their debut album, 'Eon', in 2008, with it quietly making its way to UK stores last summer.

 
Currently in the studio working on album number two, their sound is distinctly 80s, but that's, I guess, a comparison that will be levelled at any synth-based act, so maybe it's not particularly helpful. I'd be better off telling you about how their songs are punchy with the kind of hooks that reach out and firmly take hold of your head. Sonic references include Depeche Mode, Sneaky Sound System and Shy Child. As far as I can tell, they've never made it over to the UK. Hopefully that's something they'll fix this year.

www.myspace.com/graftonprimary


 
  ANORAK LONDON SEEK BRAND PR
Anorak London, one of the UK’s leading independent music PR companies is looking for someone to head up a new Brand PR department. The ideal applicant will have at least 4 years experience as Senior Account Manager working in a PR role with brands, and an obsession with music. Experience working with youth brands would be an advantage. This is a hugely exciting opportunity for someone who is a fountain of knowledge of all things PR, is extremely creative and innovative and is ready to take the next step in their career - heading their own department. Proof of winning new business in the past is a must, as is proof of successful, creative campaigns. Agency experience will be beneficial.

Salary dependent on experience. Please apply in writing with covering letter and CV to: laura@anoraklondon.com

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  INTERESTED IN SELLING YOUR RECORD LABEL?
Music Gain is acquiring record labels and catalogue. If you are thinking of selling, or have a large catalog you want managed on your behalf, then please contact us. Introduction and spotters fees also paid. Please visit us - www.musicgain.com
       
  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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Howard et al set off on Sport Relief bike ride
Tributes paid to Kristian Digby
Miranda Hart show leads TV award nominations
 
Pocket TV looking for runner
Creative Student publisher corresponds with Tory culture man over 6music
mflow announce media partnerships
 
Music festival line-up update - 02 Mar 2010
Lily delays retirement for Jay-Z
HMV confirm Next Big Thing to return in 2011
 

BBC TRUST BOSS COMMENTS ON CUTS PORPOSALS
Following BBC top bloke Mark 'Tommo' Thompson's statement yesterday confirming proposals for wide-ranging cuts at the Corporation, which would include the axing of 6music and the Asian Network and a radical downsizing of the BBC website, the chair of the Beeb's overseer, the BBC Trust, has issued a statement.

As previously reported, the Trust will now consider the proposals, because its approval will be needed for the cuts to go ahead. Some of the proposed cuts do address previous Trust concerns - particularly regarding the BBC competing too fiercely with commercial rivals - but others seem to run contrary to past previous recommendations, for example the overseer recently commended 6music and encouraged the Corporation to better promote the service.

Trust chairman Michael Lyons confirmed yesterday that he had requested that Tommo and his team undertake the strategic review of the Corporation's activities, and to make proposals regards changes that could or should be made. He continued: "We will shortly be publishing the Director General's proposals, to find out what licence fee payers think of them and to test opinions and reactions to them from outside the BBC. This is consistent with the Trust's approach of basing all its work on the views and interests of licence fee payers".

He continues: "We take very seriously the privilege of licence fee funding and we recognise the direct and over-riding responsibility we have to those who pay for the BBC. A major driver behind this review is the fact that both audiences and industry have raised concerns about whether the BBC should focus more sharply on its public service mission. And we want to ensure that the BBC spreads licence fee money only as far as it can go to deliver quality content and that it asks the public for no more money than it needs to do this".

He concluded: "Aligned with this, we are conscious of the fact that digital switchover is two years away and that we are at a point where the so-called digital future really has become the digital present. The Trust wants a better understanding of what the seismic changes taking place in the media industry mean for the BBC, so that we can determine how the BBC can most effectively focus on its core public mission in a rapidly changing world. The strategic review will give us that understanding and shape the future course of the BBC accordingly".

You can give your own feedback to the BBC Trust on the Strategy Review by emailing srconsultation@bbc.co.uk and/or by completing this online survey set up by the BBC Trust: www.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/consultations/departments/bbc/bbc-strategy-review/consultation/intro

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PARLIAMENTARY MOTION SUPPORTS 6 AND ASIAN NETWORK
While there will be opponents to most and probably all of the cuts proposed by Team Tommo, and now being considered by the BBC Trust, the campaign to stop 6music from being axed has the highest profile, which is nice for the music industry, given it's the big music-based service that is likely to be lost as a result of the proposals. Though, of course, the Asian Network has a key music element also, and supporters of that station started to get more coverage yesterday too.

An Early Day Motion being put to parliament by Labour MP Tom Watson in support of 6music - first circulated over the weekend - has been amended to name check both digital stations. 33 MPs have now put their name to the Motion.

It currently reads as follows: "This House notes with deep concern that the BBC is considering closing its 6music and Asian Network radio stations; believes that both radio stations offer outlets for independent and non-mainstream music; further notes that both 6music and Asian Network reach out to audiences not otherwise well served by the BBC; congratulates 6music and Asian Network for acting as a source of talent for the BBC and other media; recognises that the BBC has a duty to represent and give a platform to minority interests that need a mainstream platform to develop and grow; and calls on the government to encourage the BBC to continue its support for 6music and Asian Network for many years to come".

Though some political types in both Labour and Tory circles have cautiously welcomed the BBC's proposals, though given many of those said politicians have been calling on the Beeb to stop empire building for years they have to really. To be fair to Tommo, and as he said yesterday, the Corporation has been criticised for years for being too big, but is now being criticised for making cuts.

As previously reported, Tory culture spokesman Ed Vaizey, one of the first politicians to give the BBC proposals his general support even when the cuts were still just rumours on Friday morning, has since spoken out in support of 6music, seemingly after he was deluged with emails from 6music fans over the weekend. One of the people he corresponded with is CMU Publisher Chris Cooke. You can read Chris' arguments for saving the station, and Ed's response, at this URL:

www.stuffbyme.co.uk/post/An-open-letter-to-Ed-Vaizey-Six-reasons-to-save-BBC-Six.aspx

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SUPPORT FLOODS IN FOR 6MUSIC AND ASIAN NETWORK
Support for the threatened 6music and Asian Network continued to be aired yesterday after BBC boss Tommo confirmed proposals to axe both digital stations. Most supporters point out that cutting high quality services in a bid to create more high quality programming elsewhere made little sense. Here are some quotes from a few more people who have spoken against the cuts in the last few days.

First up, the BBC Asian Network's Bobby Friction and 6music presenter Adam Buxton appeared on last night's Channel 4 News with Thompson.

Bobby Friction told Tommo that the Asian Network offered something that no commercial Asian-focused station offered its listeners. Commercial rivals, he argued, tended to be focused on the music, language and regions of the UK Asian community's homelands, rather than on British Asian culture itself. The BBC station, he said, was a "British Asian space - a space where most licence fee payers also live".

Adam Buxton, meanwhile, jokingly challenged Tommo to a fight, announcing "I've been practicing", before saying: "A lot of shows on 6music have got an incredibly devoted and intelligent and unusually witty and creative audience. When it's a station working really well and that people seem to love... It seems to be doing everything that the BBC wants to do best".

Elsewhere, former BBC Director General Greg Dyke, who is currently heading a Conservative review into the creative industries, told reporters the real problem remained over paid big name talent and senior execs, while adding that Thompson was being forced into his current position because he had failed to keep the support of his staff or the political community. Dyke said: "[The BBC is] in pretty good shape, but... a bit short of friends. Mark earns more than twice what I earned when I was doing it. The staff are whingeing. Mark is doing some great things, but he is not taking them with him".

In academia, one professor said closing the Asian Network would have a big impact on the Beeb's multiculturalism. Daya Thussu, director of the London-based India Media Centre at the University of Westminster, accused the BBC of "abandoning its inclusive agenda" by closing the Asian focused station, saying: "The closures show that the BBC is abandoning its inclusive agenda and thus compromising its public service remit. The demise of the Asian Network would make the BBC less multi-cultural and, to borrow an apt phrase from one of its former bosses, more 'hideously white'".

Back to "save 6 music", and 5 Live and 6music presenter Richard Bacon said via Twitter that the decision to close 6music could have dire consequences for other BBC services, because of the precedent the closure would set. He tweeted: "6music is staffed by talented people providing 'distinctive' programming that values 'quality over quantity'. Exactly what this restructure is supposed to be about. 6music is distinctive and serves an audience not catered for by the commercial sector. What happens when folk use whatever rationale they have come up with to justify the 6music decision and apply it to other parts of the BBC?"

Also commenting on the wider implications of shutting 6, The Quietus' Associate Editor Luke Turner says he reckons the station's closure could be disastrous for an already struggling independent music sector, writing: "Umpteen independent label bosses and staff I've spoken to this morning have said that 6music was the one radio station where their artists would be played. Though it's undeniably a ludicrous situation that says a lot about the state of mainstream music journalism, [it is important to note that the music and mainstream] press follow the 6music lead, covering artists that presenters feature on their shows. The same, I am told, goes for retail, who will give shelf space to fringe artists who had been featured on 6music". Lose that 6-based promotion, Turner argues, and indie artists and labels will struggle even more.

Back to politics, and the Liberal Democrats culture spokesman Don Foster welcomed the principles of the BBC's strategic review, but not decision to cut services, saying yesterday: "Today's report signals the end of the BBC roaming wherever it fancied. The decision to focus on high quality UK content is welcome. However, I am not convinced that using 6music and the Asian Network as sacrificial lambs to pay for it is the right approach. While the BBC has become overgrown in some areas and needs pruning, the licence-fee-payers must have their say about what's to go".

And finally, Glastonbury organisers expressed dismay at the decision to close two stations which have supported and broadcast from the festival, with a post on the event's official website saying: "It was announced this morning that the BBC is to close its superb 6music radio station as part of a cost-cutting shake-up. The station - and its DJs - have been huge supporters of Glastonbury, so we'd certainly like to do our bit to help them out now. We're also saddened at the closure of the BBC Asian Network, which has broadcast some great stuff from the Festival over the years. We believe that the decision to close the stations is the wrong one".

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EXCLUSIVE: PRS TO HOST DAY ONE OF THE GREAT ESCAPE 2010
CMU can exclusively reveal that day one of this year's Great Escape festival and convention on 13 May will be hosted by PRS For Music.

The publishing royalties collecting society will be helping delegates to map out the future for their bands or companies in 2010 and beyond, and providing practical advice on furthering music careers. All with help of their fantastic guest speakers who will include PRS For Music economists Will Page and Chris Carey, co-founder of Green House Group Rhiannon Price and McNally Consulting's Mike McNally with many more to be announced soon.

PRS For Music's Cheif Economist Will Page told CMU: "PRS For Music are delighted to be hosting the opening day of The Great Escape, bringing together expert speakers to discuss issues of income, innovation and investment in the fast changing music business. Personally, I think investment in talent has to be the number one issue in 2010 and The Great Escape provides a great forum for this discussion. By attending you can develop real practical solutions for developing emerging talent but also, you only need to walk 30 yards after the conference to reconnect with music and watch emerging acts seeking to make a living out of music. It's fast developing into a UK equivalent to SXSW which makes it more affordable to the bands who need to be networking with the industry or that big break on stage".

In addition to that, The British Council will be announcing the winner of their UK Young Music Entrepreneur award, with the chance to hear insights from the finalists on the Chinese music market after their industry tour there, and then to celebrate with a drinks reception. A number of the alumni from the sibling International Young Music Entrepreneur award will also be at TGE for a seminar about international music policy.

Now in its fifth year, The Great Escape is firmly established not only as one of the most vibrant music festivals around, playing host to over 350 bands in 30+ venues across three days, but also as Europe's fastest growing music industry convention. Attended by over 5000 industry professionals from across the globe this year the convention programme is held on 13-15 May and will have a very distinct flavour each day, featuring some intriguing keynote speakers.

Earlybird delegate tickets are now on sale for £150 and there are also discounted three-day hotel and ticket packages available at www.escapegreat.com. But if you want to stay in the festival's main hotel Queens Hotel - where much of the convention takes place - you'll have to be quick as rooms are almost all sold out.

Stay tuned to CMU for more Great Escape line-up announcements later this week.

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LIL WAYNE SENTENCING DELAYED AGAIN
It seems that Lil Wayne just can't be sentenced. Last time they tried, it had to be postponed while he had emergency dental treatment, this time the New York court where they're trying to send him down for gun-related crimes caught fire. Next time I fully expect him to be abducted by aliens.

As previously reported so many times that is almost seems pointless mentioning it again, Wayne was arrested in 2007, following a search of his tour bus when a police officer discovered a .40 calibre handgun. He always denied owning the gun, until October last year, when he changed his plea following news that the prosecution believed it had DNA evidence that could link the rapper to the gun and that said evidence would be admissible in court during the trial.

He was originally due to be sentenced on 9 Feb, but at the last minute his legal team requested a postponement while he flew to Miami to see his dentist. He was scheduled to return to court again yesterday, but a fire in the basement meant the building had to be evacuated and no justice could be served.

According to reports, it's possible that the court will be back in action this morning and that Lil Wayne can receive his expected prison sentence today, something that would please Wayne, who is apparently eager to get behind bars. His lawyer, Stacey Richman, told reporters: "Once you make up your mind to do something, you want to do it".
If he ever does make it to court, Wayne is expected to be given a sentence of year in jail, of which he is likely to serve eight months.

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APPLE SUE ANOTHER MOBILE MAKING RIVAL
Apple is certainly getting into a litigation frenzy to protect the patents that sit behind the iPhone. As well as their ongoing patent squabbles with Nokia, the IT firm this week began legal action against Taiwanese mobile handset maker HTC who they allege have infringed 20 of their iPhone patents.

Apple big cheese Steve Jobs stepped up to defend the new litigation, telling reporters: "We can sit by and watch competitors steal our patented inventions, or we can do something about it. We've decided to do something about it. We think competition is healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours".

As well as suing HTC, Apple have made a complaint to the International Trade Commission, who have the power to stop the Taiwanese company from importing their phones into the US, which would be a bummer, for HTC anyway.

Many HTC phones use Google's mobile operating system Android. Google and Apple have traditionally been friendly competitors, but since both entered the mobile market relations between the two corporations are becoming more frosty.

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BERNARD COUTAZ DIES
Bernard Coutaz, founder of independent classical record label Harmonia Mundi, which he ran for over 50 years, died on Friday aged 87 after suffering a heart attack, it has been announced.

Originally based in Paris, Harmonia Mundi was launched in 1958, with a recording of Slavic liturgic chants, which remains one of the label's best selling releases. The company's first internationally successful artist was English countertenor Alfred Deller, who so impressed Coutaz when performing with his group The Deller Consort at a concert in Avignon in 1962 that he "kidnapped" the singer, drove him back to his farm and, over dinner and wine, convinced him to join the label.

An American branch of the company, Harmonia Mundi USA, was launched in 1982, distributing the catalogue of the main label in France and signing its own acts, such as a capella group Anonymous 4.

French Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand said of Coutaz: "[He] remained faithful to his first loves, notably early and Baroque music [and had a] daring spirit, staunchly dedicated to preserving the future of records throughout the entire world".

He is survived by his wife, Eva Coutaz, who will also succeed him as General Director of the Harmonia Mundi company.

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ERIC AVERY QUITS JANE'S ADDICTION (AGAIN)
Bassist Eric Avery has announced that he has left Jane's Addiction.

A founder member of the band, Avery originally quit in 1991, leading to the break-up of the group. Despite a number of reunions featuring the three other members, Avery held out until 2008 when he joined the band for a performance at the first US NME Awards, where they were awarded the Godlike Genius prize. In 2009, they embarked on a co-headline tour with Nine Inch Nails, which was meant to signal their return to life as a full-time band, though frontman Perry Farrell has revealed on several occasions that attempts to write and record new material have been fractious.

Avery recently hinted that he would not be working with the band on any new material, and on Monday, following the completion of their recent Australian tour dates, announced that he was quitting the band once again.

He said via Twitter: "That's it. With equal parts regret and relief, the Jane's Addiction experiment is at an end".

Meanwhile, Farrell said via Facebook: "This was perhaps the best ending to a tour we've ever experienced together. Everyone is so excited to get home now and start working on a new record and a show. I wrote a song today, 'The Great Escape Artist', and I am going to write at least three more on the way back to LA. All I keep thinking is: 'This is the beginning of something that already feels great; I cannot wait'".

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ALEX JAMES WRITING SECOND AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Alex James has announced that he is writing a second autobiography. The first volume, 'A Bit Of A Blur', published in 2007, chronicled his escapades as an international rock star (or whatever). This time around, he'll being revealing what it's like to make cheese in the countryside. Sounds riveting.

Speaking to The Mirror, James said: "I'm trying very hard to write a book - I'm just finishing it so I'm going into my bunker and emerge in the spring. It's like [an] 'A Year In Provence'-type thing - only cheesier".

Asked if he had any advice for anyone else who likes the idea of giving it up and moving to the country, he added: "If you're thinking about it, just do it - I love my life in the country. It's funny, I never want to leave now.I thought I was retiring, but I've never been so busy. It's very absorbing, living in the country, it has very different rhythms to city life which you sort of grow into. It is very different to the city but the more you stay here, the more it grows on you. It's subtle but it's powerful".

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HOLE ANNOUNCE UK TOUR
When not feuding with Lily Allen, Courtney Love also fronts a band that she insists on calling Hole. That band will be back in the UK for more live dates in May.

Tour dates:

3 May: Glasgow, Academy
5 May: London, Brixton Academy
9 May: Birmingham, Academy

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BAND OF HORSES ADD ROUNDHOUSE SHOW
Band Of Horses have added an extra London date at The Roundhouse to their upcoming European tour, after their Koko gig sold out in 23 minutes. In addition to these headline shows, they will support Snow Patrol at Ward Park in Bangor and Bellahouston Park in Glasgow in June.

The band have also just announced that they will release their third album, 'Infinite Arms'. Produced by Phil Ek, it will be the first to feature guitarist Tyler Ramsey and bassist Bill Reynolds, who have previously only performed live with the group.

Tour dates:

12 Apr: London, Koko
5 Jun: Bangor, Ward Park (supporting Snow Patrol)
9 Jun: London, The Roundhouse
12 Jun: Glasgow, Bellahouston Park (supporting Snow Patrol)

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FESTIVAL LINE-UP UPDATE

BEAT-HERDER, Gisburn, Lancashire, 2-4 Jul: Easy Star All Stars, Zion Train and Chew Lips are amongst the first acts to be announced for this year's Beat-Herder Festival, along with Andy C & MC GQ, The Mighty Jah Shaka Sound System, Alex Metric, Utah Saints, Layo & Bushwacka! and The Lancashire Hotpots. www.beatherder.co.uk

HARD ROCK CALLING, Hyde Park, London, 25 - 27 Jun: Hard Rock Calling has announced Paul McCartney as the Sunday headliner for this year's Hyde Park event. www.hardrockcalling.co.uk

ISLE OF WIGHT FESTIVAL, Seaclose Park, Newport, Isle Of Wight, 11-13 Jun: Paul McCartney has also been confirmed to headline the closing night at this year's Isle Of Wight Festival. Macca joins the previously announced headliners Jay-Z, The Strokes and Pink. www.isleofwightfestival.com

LIVE AT LEEDS, various venues, Leeds, 30 Apr - 2 May: Hadouken! and The Drums are the latest acts to be confirmed for Live At Leeds. Also added to the line-up are Rolo Tomassi, Blue Roses, Darwin Deez, Duke Special, Everything Everything, Male Bonding, Sky Larkin, The Invisible and Woodpigeon. www.liveatleeds.com

SONISPHERE, Knebworth, 30 Jul - 1 Aug: Skunk Anansie and Apocalyptica head up the latest additions for this year's Sonisphere, along with Gallows, Funeral For A Friend, Fightstar, Madina Lake and Family Force 5. www.sonispherefestivals.com

TRUCK FESTIVAL, Steventon, nr Abingdon, Oxfordshire, 23-25 Jul: Mew are the first act to be confirmed for this year's Truck Festival. They will headline the main stage on Saturday. www.thisistruck.com

WOOD, Braziers Park, Oxfordshire, 21-23 May: Frank Turner has been announced as the headliner for this summer's Wood festival, joining the previously announced Fionn Regan, Tunng and Peggy Sue. www.thisistruck.com/wood

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ALBUM REVIEW: Gorillaz - Plastic Beach (EMI)
After almost five years, Gorillaz return with yet another ambitious, eclectic but unique take on pop music. Arguably the first post-modern band, their image, designed by artist Jamie Hewlett, inevitably remains one of their focal points, but Gorillaz have never eschewed substance in their pursuit of style. 'Plastic Beach' is yet another great leap forward for Damon Albarn and co. Who would have guessed fifteen years ago that one of the founders of Britpop would become one of pop music's renaissance men?

The record's influences are myriad; from electro to grime, from hip hop to classic and Middle Eastern orchestral arrangements. The roster of guest artists is also quite staggering, including home grown artists such as Kano, the Swedish electro band Little Dragon and American music legends such as Lou Reed and Bobby Womack. The themes are more urgent than ever. A sense of ecological and environmental menace looms everywhere and Albarn is always sincere in his concerns, never pious or preachy. Lead single 'Stylo' sets the musical tone; it's fizzing synthesisers complemented by Mos Def's rhymes, Albarn's poignant ruminations and Womack's explosive soul vocals.

'Plastic Beach' is an incredibly diverse record throughout; not just changing musical style from one song to another but often within one song. Take 'White Flag', for instance, which utilises The Lebanese National Orchestra For Oriental Arabic Music to fine effect before mutating into a slice of UK grime, with Kano and Bashy contributing verses, before reverting back. 'Superfast Jellyfish', with its advertising jingle device juxtaposes De La Soul's input with Gruff Rhys in full Boom Bip mode. 'Broken' features some of Albarn's most affecting vocals for some time in addition to what sounds like a woozy, dubstep-inspired production.

Some of the featured artists don't make quite the contributions they could have - Mark E Smith and Snoop Dogg, for instance - but this is a minor quibble. Albarn's creativity shows little sign of abating, taking some of the freshest, daring musical subgenres of recent years and mixing and matching but 'Plastic Beach' still sounds, uniquely, like a Gorillaz record. Its ambition and execution is something to marvel at. KW

Physical release: 8 Mar
Press contact: EMI IH [all]

Buy from iTunes
Buy from Amazon

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BLACK MUSIC CONGRESS ANNOUNCE EVENTS
The Black Music Congress will stage two events this month, both in London on 23 Mar.

The first is a debate at the Houses Of Parliament called 'Copyright + Music Industry + Music Industry Education - 2010, Where Are We At?', which will consider copyright rules and the general public's awareness and perceptions of them. The government's intellectual property man, the rather useless David Lammy, will be on hand to smile for the camera. For more info email editor@britishblackmusic.com.

In the evening there will be a discussion and audio-visual presentation on the careers of African British classical composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and jazz musician Courtney Pine. This bit will take place at Harrow Civic Centre from 6.30pm. Email akobenawards@gmail.com for details.

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EK DEFENDS HIS SPOT
Following all the chatter in recent weeks with regards whether or not the freemium version of Spotify is sustainable, the streaming music platform's top chief man Danny Ek has defended the relationship between his company's free and pay-to-use services.

As previously reported, some wonder if Spotify's free version is so good that not enough people will be persuaded to upgrade to the ten pounds of month premium version. And with ad revenues always a bit wobbly, many reckon a subscription-based business model will be better for both the digital and music sectors long term.

In the US, where Spotify is yet to launch, record label execs fear that the platform's uber-groovy free service - if it were to launch in the States - would not only prevent the Swedish company from signing up a sufficient number of premium customers, but it would also damage the various subscription-only streaming services which have been building a user-based in America, and maybe the all important a la carte download market led by iTunes. To that end, some reckon Spotify will have to launch in the US as a premium only offer (certainly Warner have said they won't license Spotify Freemium there), while some have gone as far as to suggest Spotify will eventually have to turn off free in Europe too.

But speaking at a Financial Times conference in London this week, Ek said that he was confident that his business model - and Spotify's current free/premium balance - would help the music industry boost revenues long term, rather than just let existing paying customers get what they are actually willing to pay for without paying.

According to the FT, he told the conference "What a lot of people in the music industry talk about is cannibalisation - getting the most profitable customers to become free users. That obviously doesn't work. But we are convinced and seeing a lot of research that actually we are doing the opposite: we are taking pirates and moving them into a legal service".

Ek added that he sees incorporating social networking and the sort of sharing P2P networks arguably offer as being part of Spotify's future, and possibly a way to encourage more people to upgrade to premium. He added: "Music is probably the most social object there is. If we can enable sharing of music on the internet, that application is going to be huge. That could be bigger than uploading your photos on the internet. Hundreds of millions of people want to share music with their friends ... It would be as big if not bigger than what Facebook or Twitter is. Our ambition is to be one of those players that drives that".

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GROOVESHARK MAKE APP AVAILABLE FOR JAIL-BROKEN IPHONES
Talking of a streaming music service with social networking and sharing functionality, Grooveshark, the US-based streaming whatnot which began very much as asocial sharing network, has said it is making its iPhone app available for use on so called jail-broken handsets, ie those Apple phones unlocked from the constraints of the IT firm's proprietary system.

This follows the news Apple have refused to approve the Grooveshark iPhone app for distribution via their official app store. Bosses at the streaming service say that Apple has "ritually rejected" the app for "primarily selfish reasons". Presumably those alleged "selfish reasons" are that the app enables paying Grooveshark subscribers to access the streaming service via their mobile, and to store music on the handset to continue listening when outside of mobile range, and that arguably competes with Apple's own iTunes services.

That said, the Grooveshark app works very much like the Apple-approved Spotify and We7 apps which offer a similar service for paying subscribers in Europe, so for Apple to now block the US firm's app in a bid to protect its own digital services would be odd. Whether Grooveshark's ongoing legal dispute with Universal Music had any bearing on Apple's decision isn't clear. Obviously, both Spotify and We7 have all four majors on board as content partners.

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TWITTER PLANNING ON PUTTING ADS INTO SEARCHES
So, yesterday I was running my obviously excellent 'beginners guide to digital media' and was introducing Twitter to some never-before-tweeted types, and among the questions asked was: "How do they make any money". I pondered for a second and then responded: "Well, I guess they'll have to sort out some sort of proper advertising system at some point".

Little did I know, that 'point' was the exact moment I was speaking, to the second. Well, not quite, but the Wall Street Journal's tech blog has just reported on plans at Twitter HQ to incorporate advertising into the micro-blogging service's search facility, so that when you search the tweetosphere for tweets on, say, "New York", you'll see an ad for things to do in New York. When you search for tweets on "laptops" you'll see an ad for laptops. And when you search for "6music" you'll see an ad for clueless executives who specialise in making proposals that won't achieve any of their own aims.

Basically it will work like Google's basic search-linked ads system, though ad copy will have to be 140 characters long, so they take the form of a tweet. They should be much more obvious than the current text ads that appear on the web-based Twitter interface, and it's thought the social networking firm will sell the new ad spots much more proactively, the existing ones generally just promoting Twitter-related services. It's thought these new ads would also show when searches are done off the Twitter network via third party clients like Tweetdeck. People who primarily connect with Twitter using such apps currently completely avoid all Twitter advertising.

According to the WSJ the new ad system should go live this side of the summer.

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MTV RENAME UK CHANNELS
When it was announced last month that MTV were rebranding VH1 in Australia as MTV Classic we wondered whether the Video Hits One brand would be eased out in other territories too. And it looks like it will be. MTV UK has renamed three of its channels this week.

VH1 will become MTV Classic, MTV2 will become MTV Rocks and the non-music programmes channel MTVR will become MTV Shows. The branding of MTV UK's other three 'sister channels' (ie all the MTV channels that aren't MTV itself) will also be refreshed a little, though they will keep their existing names - ie MTV Dance, MTV Hits and MTV Base.

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CABLE RETURNS TO BBC WALES
Former Stereophonic Stuart Cable is returning to BBC Radio Wales, or at least he is until Mark Thompson shuts Wales down so that the commercial sector can have a go at providing valleys and mountains and 'Torchwood'. Cable, who has been a presenter at the Beeb's Welsh outpost before, will present a rock show each Saturday evening from 6.30pm.

Cable told reporters yesterday: "I am thrilled to be returning to BBC Radio Wales to present my own show, it will be great to be part of the team again and share my love of music with the listeners".

BBC Wales Acting Editor Steve Austins added: "Stuart is an iconic figure in the Welsh music industry and we are delighted to bring him back to the station. We're hoping that Stuart will provide new Welsh rock bands with a platform for future success, and it gives us another avenue to play contemporary Welsh music on BBC Radio Wales".

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THIS WEEK'S SUBTV PLAYLIST
Hey look, people, it's the music videos that are playing this week on the Subtv network of video screens in students' unions around the UK. New additions marked with a *. More info on all things Subtv from DavidLloyd@sub.tv.

A List
Cheryl Cole - Parachute
Chiddy Bang - Opposite of Adults
Daisy Dares You feat Chipmunk - Number One Enemy
Dan le Sac Vs Scroobius Pip - Get Better
Delphic - Halcyon
Ellie Goulding - Starry Eyed
Gramophonedzie - Why Don't You
Jason Derulo - In My Head
Laura Marling - Devil's Spoke
Mumford and Sons - The Cave
Naughty Boy Presents: Wiley feat Emeli Sandé - Never Be Your Woman
Pixie Lott - Gravity
Rihanna - Rude Boy
Steve Aoki feat Zuper Blahq - I'm In The House
Tinie Tempah - Pass Out

B List
Amy MacDonald - Don't Tell Me That It's Over
Avril Lavigne - Alice*
Bombay Bicycle Club - Evening/Morning
Broken Bells - The High Road
Chris Brown - Crawl
Florence & The Machine - Dog Days Are Over
Gabriella Cilmi - On A Mission
Kids In Glass Houses - Matters At All
Livvi Franc - Automatik
McLean - My Name
OK Go - This Too Shall Pass (Live)
Paloma Faith - Upside Down
Plan B - She Said
Paramore - The Only Exception*
Scouting For Girls - This Ain't A Love Song*
Wild Beasts - We Still Got The Taste Dancin' On Our Tongues*

Tip List
Audio Bullys - Only Man*
Band Of Skulls - I Know What I Am*
General Fiasco - Ever So Shy*
Hadouken! - Mic Check*
Local Natives - Airplanes*
Operator Please - Logic
Shy Child - Disconnected
Three 6 Mafia feat Tiesto, Sean Kingston & Flo Rida - Feel It
Tunng - Hustle*
We Have Band - Divisive*

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BANDS ARE A THING OF THE PAST, SAYS FOALS FRONTMAN
Foals frontman Yannis Philippakis reckons that bands are slowly becoming a thing of the past, as it becomes easier and cheaper to knock out a record on your own.

Speaking to Xfm, he said: "It's too early to say, but there's a feeling that everything is going to start heading towards solo musicians that can make music cheaply and of a high quality on their own. The whole thing about being in a band will get eroded.There's something amazing about being in a band and collaborating... [but] there seems to be more solo stuff. You don't need to get five friends. Or rehearsal rooms. You can just record and put it out without people disturbing your vision".

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Andy Malt
Editor
Chris Cooke
Business Editor &
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Caro Moses
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