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INFORMATION
Classifieds
CMU Info
TODAY'S NEWS
Top Stories
Final Oink case dropped
Bradshaw remains hopeful DEB will become law, with Tory assistance
UK Music tell government: "It's over to you"
Feargal backs 6 and Asian Network, Bradshaw urges listeners to tell the BBC Trust what they think
In The Pop Courts
Publisher sues EMI over royalties
Bone Thugs-N-Harmony man arrested
Jacko's drugs bag had eleven containers of propofol
In The Pop Hospital
Devendra Banhart cancels tour after skateboarding accident
Reunions & Splits
Libertines to reform for Reading
Release News
Pope Joan free download
Festival News
City Showcase announces classical strand
Festival line-up update
Reviews
Album review: Dan Le Sac Vs Scroobius Pip - The Logic Of Chance (Sunday Best)
The Music Business
Partisan PR launch new merchandising business
Idol firm may be bought
The Digital Business
Merlin have reservations about Virgin download proposal
Spotify US launch not definitely third quarter
Chart Of The Day
Total Rock World Album Chart
And finally...
50 Cent gets 50 grand for doing nothing
Some Ricky Martin news


 
TUESDAY 30TH MARCH
MOTION CITY SOUNDTRACK
Starting out in 1997, Motion City Soundtrack are a pop-punk band from Minneapolis. With only two of the founding members remaining, the band now consists of original members Justin Pierre and Joshua Cain, plus Matthew Taylor, Thony Thaxton and Jesse Johnson. Motion released their debut single 'Promenade/Carolina' way back in 1999, followed by two EPs, and then a debut album, 'I Am The Movie', in 2002. Support slots with the likes of Blink 182 followed, and three further albums were unleashed over the decade via their deal with Epitaph Records. Now signed to Sony's Columbia, they have just released their latest LP 'My Dinosaur Life'. We caught up with Justin Pierre to ask the Same Six.

 
Q1 How did you start out making music?
It was truly by default, mainly because I wasn't really any good at anything else, like sports or friendship making. I played the saxophone in my school band to start with, but eventually graduated to guitar and learned how to play Metallica songs via tablature books. I started my first band with fellow outcasts in high school. It was called Whatchufunado? True story.

Q2 What inspired your latest album?
The last couple years of my life. Although, I didn't know that at the onset. It is quite fascinating to me that the order of the songs on the record traces an almost perfect trajectory of my life, from the recording of last album 'Even If It Kills Me' to the beginning stages of this one.

Q3 What process do you go through in creating a track?
One of us will have a song almost put together, and bring it to the rest of the band, and we tinker until it is completed. Or somebody plays an idea to the rest of the group, and we all just instinctively join in and come up with the song on the spot. The latter method happens a lot less often, but does happen from time to time. Usually we struggle to get songs finished. There are a lot of tracks that don't make the cut.

Q4 Which artists influence your work?
Too many to name, but a handful of my favourites include: Tom Waits, Ben Folds, Pavement, The Flaming Lips, Jawbox, Sunny Day Real Estate, Superchunk and anything else from the early to mid 90s.

Q5 What would you say to someone experiencing your music for the first time?
"I apologise for what you are about to hear". Then I would say: "Just kidding". Then I would pause for a brief moment and add: "But not really".

Q6 What are your ambitions for your latest album, and for the future?
I hope that it allows us to continue touring and doing what we do. That's always been the goal.

MORE>> www.motioncitysoundtrack.com

 
MR B THE GENTLEMAN RHYMER
Hip hop is such an uncouth genre of music, what it really needs is a bit of style and class. Thank heavens, then, for Mr B The Gentleman Rhymer. Armed with a banjolele and a full grasp of the Queen's English, he performs odes to pipe-smoking, cricket and the fact that Lord Byron doesn't accept friend requests from bands on MySpace, on occasion by reworking a hip hop classic in a 'chap hop' stylee.

 
Speaking of MySpace, a number of tracks from Mr B's debut album, 'Flattery Not Included', can be found there. For a quick introduction to the man and his music check out 'Timothy', which asks why old school chum Timothy Westwood has dropped his accent (and is also available as a free download), and 'Straight Out Of Surrey', a reworking of a certain NWA classic which opens with the immortal line: "You are now about to witness the extent of my cricket knowledge".

www.myspace.com/mrbthegentlemanrhymer



 
  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
       
  CREATIVE DESK SPACE AVAILABLE TO RENT IN THE SHOREDITCH ARCH
Twelve fabulous desk spaces and one unit for four to six people left. Available to rent now in a shared, open plan office - The Shoreditch Arch on Rivington Street. Situated in a beautiful railway arch you would be sharing with a friendly PR company, promoters and a design company.

This is a cool, unique space behind Cargo, with access to a beautiful garden (bring on the summer!) and of course the restaurant, club and bar. Includes: fast broadband, cleaning, rates, all bills included (except landline phones), heating and air con for summer, 24 Hour Access, kitchen, pigeon holes and Royal Mail collection. Available NOW.

£220.00 per desk pcm + VAT. Units for four to six people from £600.00 pcm + VAT. Discount available when renting more than one desk. 6 weeks deposit required + 1 month in advance.

www.theshoreditcharch.co.uk - contact Dan to schedule viewings on 020 7684 5634
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Claudia Winkleman to host Film 2010
Dennis Hopper gets Hollywood star
Avatar does well at Empire awards
 
The Times will charge for its websites from June
Lebedev buys The Independent
Your Media goes under
 
New 'Robin Hood' film to open Cannes Festival
New company offers festival babysitting
Iain Banks to preview new book at Ullapool Festival
 

FINAL OINK CASE DROPPED
I think it is fair to say that the legal fight against the infamous British BitTorrent tracker Oink was rather screwed up, even though it did successfully take the file-sharing community offline. Whether that is the fault of the police or the record industry's anti-piracy experts I don't know.

Either way, the Crown Prosecution Service has just dropped its charges against the sixth of those accused of copyright crimes in relation to the file-sharing website. While four of the six did plead guilty to copyright infringement, the most high profile of the accused - the site's founder Alan Ellis - was acquitted, while the case against the final defendant was dropped yesterday amid allegations of dodgy tactics on the part of the piracy police.

As much previously reported, Oink was a BitTorrent community taken offline by the authorities in 2007. It provided members with links to unlicensed music content. Unusually, the site was not initially targeted with civil action by the record companies but rather the authorities agreed to take criminal action at the outset, with police collaborating with the International Federation Of The Phonographic Industry. This is a route more commonly used against those running profitable bootleg CD operations, and it is possible police believed the Oink operation to be much more organised and cash rich than it ever really was.

Six men were arrested, of which four pleaded guilty in late 2008 to copyright infringement for making music available to others without a licence; they got fines and community service.

But the most important case, against Ellis, floundered back in January after prosecutors chose to charge him with conspiracy to defraud the music industry instead of copyright infringement, presumably because English law is a bit vague when it comes to those who enable others to infringe through the provision of file-sharing services, the only precedent of relevance being the Kazaa case in Australia, where copyright laws and the concept of authorising infringement (which sort of covers enabling others to infringe) are very similar. But this was a foolish move on the part of the prosecution, due to the all round lack of evidence that Ellis had conspired to defraud anyone.

The sixth defendant, Matthew Wyatt, who was seventeen when arrested, faced similar charges to the other four Oink users who did plead guilty to copyright infringement, so the case against him should, in theory, have been pretty straight forward. But that case was halted yesterday amid claims the authorities and IFPI acted inappropriately following the teenager's arrest.

Wyatt's lawyer delivered angry criticism of the prosecution's handling of his client's case yesterday, accusing the authorities of an overly heavy-handed approach and dubious tactics. According to The Inquirer, legal man David Cook alleges that police unnecessarily invaded the teen's bedroom in the search for evidence, that they let an IFPI official conduct much of the police questioning, and that they may have breached European privacy rules in acquiring Wyatt's personal details via the IP address he was using. Cook also questions whether there was even a case against Wyatt under copyright law, accusing the prosecution of failing to present any evidence that anyone's copyright was actually infringed.

Cook: "At no time during the course of this prosecution did the CPS actually produce any evidence that the material in question was in fact copyrighted. In a world where kudos can be gained through early leaks, and fake tracks consisting of live versions, white noise and loops are rife, we believed that this was a dangerous gap in the evidence. We also found it extraordinary that the copyright holder was never asked to identify the tracks as being theirs".

On the allegations of privacy violations, Cook continues: "It was noted that the CPS would not explain how they came to 'find' Matthew. The story jumped from having an IP address to knocking at the door of his house. It was therefore apparent that either the CPS or the IFPI had breached both EC data protection laws and the UK's Regulation Of Investigatory Powers Act by tracing Matthew via this route. We did request clarification, but the CPS dropped the case before being obliged to provide this".

He concludes: "Every indication we had was that this should have been a civil, not a criminal, case. I think their eleventh hour decision not to proceed means that that is probably true".

Had the case gone to court, I'm not especially convinced Cook could have successfully defended Wyatt by picking holes in the prosecution's evidence. Attempts have been made in US file-sharing cases to say labels have failed to prove any actual infringement of their content took place, but generally, when defendants have used websites that exist almost exclusively to allow the sharing of unlicensed content, courts have been willing to overlook technicalities that arguably weaken evidence. Oink would have been heard in an English court, of course, but it wouldn't have been too wild a jump for the judge or jury to take the infringement as read.

Regarding the privacy allegations, it's not known what processes the authorities went through to secure the name and address of the defendant in this case, nor whether any privacy rules were violated during that process. Certainly when, in civil cases, the BPI went to court to secure the identities of suspected file-sharers based on the IP addresses they had identified, judges were generally very willing to force ISPs to hand over that information, without fearing they would violate European privacy laws in the process.

But I think Cook is very right to say the case against Oink should have been a civil action rather than a criminal one. Copyright actions only normally involve the police and criminal courts when large sums of money are changing hands, normally via sophisticated bootleg CD operations. None of this really applies to file-sharing, which is why the case against Ellis fell through earlier in the year.

Oink really provided an opportunity for the record industry to have the law clarified with regards the liabilities for copyright infringement of those who provide file-sharing services, ie those who don't host any infringing content, but deliberately link to it. True, a civil 'authorising infringement' lawsuit against Ellis would have put the onus (and costs) onto the record industry, and, given the vagueness of this concept in English law, such a case would not have been without risks. It also wouldn't have resulted in the immediate shutdown of the Oink service.

But, given international and, specifically, Australian precedent suggests the record industry would have won, it would have provided some clarity regarding the liabilities of the likes of Ellis, and would have stopped the record industry from again being portrayed as the bad guys, the shady characters in the dark who ransack the bedrooms of teenage boys, and then subject said teens to ruthless interrogation, and just because they shared a few albums on the internet.

Of course, supporters of the Digital Economy Bill would (rightly) argue that had the three-strikes system the Bill proposes been operational, Wyatt would more likely have been targeted that way, thus saving him the stress and embarrassment of the bedroom search and arrest.

Whether the Bill would help copyright owners go after Ellis is another matter. The BPI-penned Amendment 120, the new Clause 17 (now Clause 18), might prove useful in this domain, mainly because of its use of the word "via", so injunctions can also be used to stop access to websites "via which" people access infringing content, a phrasing that would arguably have covered Oink (but, critics say, could also apply to Google). Though that amendment, of course, is proving to be the most controversial part of the proposed legislation, and will probably be open to a lot of judicial interpretation even if it does become law.

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BRADSHAW REMAINS HOPEFUL DEB WILL BECOME LAW, WITH TORY ASSISTANCE
Talking of the Digital Economy Bill, Culture Minister Ben Bradshaw last night said he remained confident the controversial legislation would become law ahead of the General Election.

There has, of course, been much speculation as to whether the Bill, with its three-strikes proposing copyright section, would get through the parliamentary process before the big vote, after which a new government is likely to be in power. Although there won't be time to get the new laws properly through the House Of Commons before parliament is dissolved for the election, the plan is to pass the laws during the so called "wash-up" period, when government-proposed legislation supported by the opposition parties can become law on the nod, based on the principle that if both Labour and Conservative top teams support something, it can be assumed it would be passed by the Commons.

Speaking at the launch of UK Music's 'Liberating Creativity' report at the Houses Of Parliament last night, Bradshaw said: "With the support of some of my Conservative colleagues here this evening, we can still make the Digital Economy Bill happen". Noting the role the Tory chair of parliament's Culture Select Committee is likely to play in ensuring success for the DEB in the wash-up, Bradshaw concluded: "God and John Whittingdale permitting, we will get there".

That the DEB is likely to become law with little debate in the House Of Commons has, of course, been controversial, with the Open Rights Group calling on both record label trade body BPI and the aforementioned UK Music to clarify their position regarding the new copyright provisions becoming law without any real debate in parliament's lower elected chamber.

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UK MUSIC TELL GOVERNMENT: "IT'S OVER TO YOU"
"You asked us to speak with a united voice", the boss of UK Music Feargal Sharkey told the political community last night, "well, now we are, so over to you".

Sharkey was speaking at the launch of the previously reported UK Music report 'Liberating Creativity', which looks at the next decade of the music industry, and particularly how government can help ensure its success and growth. Since taking over UK Music, or British Music Rights as it was, Sharkey has, of course, tried to transform what was a rather useless communications body for the music publishing sector into a high profile voice for the wider music industry.

Or, more accurately, the music rights industry. Sharkey has successfully brought together, in the main, an alliance of music rights holders, though the live sector remains outside the UK Music camp. The featured artist community, via their Coalition, also reserve the right to shout loudly in opposition to any consensus reached by the rest of the music rights business, should it run contrary to the interests of the average pop star. Expect to see that come into effect when the extension of the sound recording copyright term is back on the agenda.

But, for now, it is easier for political types to get a viewpoint from the wider music rights industry, safe in the knowledge said viewpoint won't be too skewed towards the interests of the major labels, which was always a fear among more savvy politicians in the past. Sharkey's implication last night was that, because of UK Music, once the next government is in place in May, politicians won't be able to use the excuse of "confused messages" from within the music business as an excuse for not taking proactive measures to support the music community.

As previously reported, Sharkey has set out seven areas in which he wants specific government support for the music and wider creative industries. These include the creation of a creative industries 'cabinet committee' that reports direct to the Prime Minister, the launch of government-backed programmes that support investment in new talent, a swift implementation of the copyright provisions in the Digital Economy Bill (assuming it is passed), more clarity on how public-sector initiatives and organisations support the music community, the removal of complicated licensing rules for small grass roots gigs, support and funding for music business apprenticeship schemes, and a better strategy for the teaching of music in secondary schools. Nifty.

With the political community about to return to their constituencies to be kicked by the increasingly pissed off electorate, following last night's launch of the UK Music report at the Houses Of Parliament, presumably it will now be a few months before political types properly respond to the specific demands in Feargal's grand plan.

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FEARGAL BACKS 6 AND ASIAN NETWORK, BRADSHAW URGES LISTENERS TO TELL THE BBC TRUST WHAT THEY THINK
Members of the Save 6music Facebook group yesterday asked what UK Music's viewpoint on the possible demise of the digital music station might be - they, presumably, having heard coverage of the cross-sector trade body's big report on 6 yesterday.

Well, Feargal Sharkey used the end of his speech at the Liberating Creativity launch at the Houses of Parliament last night to confirm that he and his organisation are very much behind the campaign to stop the planned closure of both 6 and the BBC's Asian Network. Giving a particular welcome to the 6 and Asian Network reps at the party, he encouraged everyone present to support the effort to stop the two valuable music services being axed.

Culture Minister Ben Bradshaw also gave his support to the Save 6 campaign, sort of. As with Liberal Lord Tim Clement-Jones, who spoke at the Save 6 rally on the weekend, he stressed that it is not for MPs or ministers to tell the BBC management how to do their jobs. However, he encouraged everyone who opposed the plans to cut 6 and the Asian Network to make sure their opinions are heard by the BBC Trust, who must approve the cuts for them to happen.

He added: "[Trust chairman] Michael Lyons has assured me this is a genuine consultation, nothing is a foregone conclusion, and the Trust will really listen to what licence fee payers tell them. So I urge you all to respond to that consultation".

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PUBLISHER SUES EMI OVER ROYALTIES
US music publisher and rights administrators Bluewater Music have sued EMI over allegations the major has failed to pay royalties to various songwriters they represent. The lawsuit relates to the use of 24 songs by EMI on compilations and ringtones, and among the songwriters allegedly owed money are country song man Chris LeDoux and the Doobie Brothers.

The case is likely to go to court in May.

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BONE THUGS-N-HARMONY MAN ARRESTED
Bone Thugs-N-Harmony's Flesh-N-Bone, real name Stanley Howse, was arrested by police on Sunday night during a show at the House Of Blues venue in their hometown of Cleveland, Ohio.

The rapper was wanted in relation to charges of "domestic violence with a firearm specification" and "felonious assault with a firearm", warrants for which had apparently been outstanding for some time, which is possibly why police didn't hang around for the group to finish the gig before swooping. According to reports, Howse did attempt to flee when he saw police approaching the stage, but failed to escape the long arm of the law on this occasion.

Bone Thugs-N-Harmony reformed as a five-piece in 2008 after Howse was released from prison, having served nearly ten years for threatening a neighbour with explosives and an AK-47. The group are now preparing for the release of their eighth studio album, 'Uni5: The World's Enemy', in May.

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JACKO'S DRUGS BAG HAD ELEVEN CONTAINERS OF PROPOFOL
Police apparently discovered eleven containers of the surgical drug propofol when they searched Michael Jackson's LA home shortly after his death last June. As much previously reported, it was a shot of the drug, administered by Jacko's private doctor as a cure for insomnia, that killed the late king of pop. Murray faces involuntary manslaughter charges for giving the singer the drug.

According to the Associated Press, who have apparently seen search warrant papers, police searched Jackson's LA home shortly after interviewing Murray. It's thought the doctor told officers they'd find a bag full of the drug at Jacko's property, and that revelation instigated the search.

Assuming that is true, it possibly contradicts allegations that the doctor tried to hide the drugs minutes after the singer's death and, rather, he did, in fact, cooperate with police throughout, as Murray's lawyer always claims. Or, perhaps all the drugs were in the one bag because Murray had hidden them there, but he knew there was no point lying about them once under police interrogation.

According to US reports, police also found dozens of tubes of skin-whitening creams in the same bag, in particular tubes of hydroquinone and Benoquin, both commonly used to treat the skin condition vitiligo. Of course, Jackson always claimed it was vitiligo that led to the whitening of his skin over the years.

Murray is due in court to face the involuntary manslaughter charges on 5 Apr.

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DEVENDRA BANHART CANCELS TOUR AFTER SKATEBOARDING ACCIDENT
Devendra Banhart has announced that he is cancelling the final two dates on his current US tour after breaking his leg skateboarding.

He wrote on his official website: "So, your old pal Devendra just broke some bone in his leg skateboarding before the show yesterday. I wanted to play the shows anyway, like in a bed or something, but the doctors didn't think that was a great idea".

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LIBERTINES TO REFORM FOR READING
So, all the many many many rumours of a Libertines reunion were true. Well, all the recent ones. Not the 409 reunion rumours that preceded them. As expected, organisers of the Reading Festival announced last night that Peter Doherty, Carl Barat, Gary Powell and John Hassall will reform for their event in August, for what will be the band's first gig since 2004. Well, they will providing Barat and Doherty don't kill each other during rehearsals. And providing Doherty isn't in prison. Which he really could be by late summer, given the latest round of drugs and motoring offences he is facing.

Speaking to the NME about the reunion, Barat said: "We're reforming the band to play the songs that people want to hear. We're going to get together, play songs which have been collecting dust in the garage. People want to hear them, so we're going to give them a run. We'll be playing them like we're playing them for the last ever time".

Doherty added: "I can't really believe it yet. I haven't quite digested it. It's been a bit of a pipedream".

Also headlining the Reading and Leeds festivals this year are Guns N Roses and Blink 182, so a real celebration of yesterday's pop heroes. Other acts on the bill include Paramore, Dizzee Rascal, Biffy Clyro, Lostprophets and Klaxons.

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POPE JOAN FREE DOWNLOAD
To celebrate the release of their new single, 'Dictator', Brighton-based post-punkers Pope Joan have released another track, 'The Ground Is Shakey', as a free download.

'Dictator' is out this week via Furious Recordings and you can download 'The Ground Is Shakey' here: www.yousendit.com/download/THE2NWNnTXYwVW5IRGc9PQ

You can catch the band live at these dates:

24 Apr: Reading, The Bleep Test Club
3 May: London, Notting Hill Arts Club
8 May: London, The Rest Is Noise

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CITY SHOWCASE ANNOUNCES CLASSICAL STRAND
City Showcase has announced that this year's multi-venue London-based festival and convention will include a strand, dubbed 'Roots & Flutes', which will celebrate the depth and diversity of classical music from around the world that can be found being created and performed in London.

Taking place at the British Music Experience at The O2 and in the Arts Pavilion in Mile End Park, there will be performances from the first signing to Garry Barlow's new record label, vocalist Camilla Kerslake, string quartet The Raven Quartet, Indian folk musician Raghu Dixit, African multi-instrumentalist Mosi Conde and China's Guzheng Ensemble, amongst others.

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FESTIVAL LINE-UP UPDATE

BEARDED THEORY FESTIVAL, Hulland Ward, Derby, 14-16 May: The King Blues head up the acts announced to play at this year's Bearded Theory Festival, with the line-up also including New Model Army, Dreadzone, The Wonderstuff, Dodgy and Banco De Gaia. www.beardedtheory.co.uk

THE GARDEN FESTIVAL, Croatia, 2-11 Jul: Rob Da Bank, Killer Whale and 2020 Soundsystem have all been announced to play at Croatia's Garden Festival, along with Qool DJ Marv, Metro Area, The Revenge, Filthy Dukes and Cuban Brothers. www.thegardenfestival.eu

LOUNGE ON THE FARM, Merton Farm, Canterbury, 9-11 Jul: Martha Reeves And The Vandellas have been confirmed as Saturday headliners at this year's Lounge On The Farm. Other acts confirmed to play include Courtney Pine, Kitty Daisy & Lewis, DJ Yoda, The Glimmers, Fionn Regan plus many more. www.loungeonthefarm.co.uk

MELT FESTIVAL, Ferropolis, Germany, 16-18 Jul: Kings Of Convenience, Goldfrapp and Kele Okereke lead the latest artists confirmed for this summer's Melt Festival. Other acts added to the bill are Miike Snow, Hercules And Love Affair, Jamie Lidell and Hurts. www.meltfestival.de

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ALBUM REVIEW: Dan Le Sac Vs Scroobius Pip - The Logic of Chance (Sunday Best)
Le Sac and Pip return with their second album. More varied, musically speaking, than their first, topics wise it covers everything from knife crime statistics to music snobbery to the horrors of the last train home.

Dan Le Sac's beats provide an ever-changing backdrop for the intelligent rhymes that Scroobius Pip drops. Pip really is one of the UK's finest wordsmiths, whether he is engaging in some political discussion on crime figures, or rhyming his way through the love song that is 'Cauliflower', or providing some self-improvement advice, like on lead single 'Get Better'. He manages to tackle all these subjects with wit and dexterity, tapping into all the skills he gained during his time on the spoken word scene.

Guest vocals from Kid Carpet on closing track 'Cowboi', and KiD A on 'Cauliflower', add an extra melody, which works really well, with the sung lyrics blending perfectly with Pip's rapping, and making things a bit smoother for a time. 'The Beat', meanwhile, is "not about your brain, it's all about your feet", and is therefore a dance floor masher.

Another progression, let's hope these guys can just keep on getting better for ever. IM

Physical release: 15 Mar
Press contact: Sunday Best IH [NP], Freeman PR [O]

Buy from iTunes
Buy from Amazon

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PARTISAN PR LAUNCH NEW MERCHANDISING BUSINESS
Rob Dix and Peter Hall of Partisan PR have announced the official launch of a 'print-on-demand' merchandise service, which allows artists to make and sell brand merch to demand, so they don't have to shell out large upfront payments, and don't risk being lumbered with boxes of unsellable t-shirts. Totao Merch has been through a period of beta testing, and is now ready to go properly live.

Rob Dix told CMU: "Toto Merch makes the business of selling merchandise completely hassle-free, and removes bands' typical problem of scraping funds together to buy in bulk then being left with boxes of unwanted sizes and colours that they can't sell. At a time when it's more important than ever for bands to identify new revenue streams, some of our artists are already making more than £400 a month in passive income. Toto also allows more established acts to make limited edition shirts available, creating the exclusivity that fans crave and will pay a premium for. We also make fan data with bands available so they can connect with buyers directly".

The service can be used by labels as well as bands. One label using the service during its beta stage, Transgressive, said in a statement: "Toto Merch have allowed us to have more great designs on offer via our new t-shirt club. It is a reliable, great quality service and completely hassle-free".

For more info, take a look at www.totomerch.com

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IDOL FIRM MAY BE BOUGHT
CKX, the US entertainment firm which owns the Elvis brand and the Simon Fuller-created 19 empire, including the 'Idol' franchise, may fall into the hands of a consortium of equity types, led by JP Morgan Chase & Co's equity division.

Currently trading on the NASDAQ stock exchange in New York, word has it JP Morgan's One Equity Partners are plotting a takeover. It's thought the company's founder and CEO, Robert FX Sillerman, would stay on and retain his 21% stake in the firm.

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MERLIN HAVE RESERVATIONS ABOUT VIRGIN DOWNLOAD PROPOSAL
According to Music Week, the independent labels are yet to be convinced by the offer being made by Virgin Media to launch some sort of all-you-can-eat download service, most likely as part of an ISP package.

As previously reported, Universal last year gave its support to a truly all-you-can-eat MP3 download service, but the other majors are yet to be convinced that Virgin's proposals are workable, with some fearing a properly all-you-can-eat MP3 platform could cannibalise other digital music services, iTunes in particular, which have become a good income stream in the last few years.

Music Week has published a memo which shows that Merlin, which represents the big independents on digital licensing issues, are also unhappy with the exact proposal Virgin has put on their table. Though it may be that Merlin object to the specific deal currently being offered, rather than the actual concept of all-you-can-eat MP3s. The memo says: "Although we are deep into negotiations with Virgin Media, we do not believe we have yet reached a point where Virgin Media's offer in our view acceptably values a collective licence to our members' repertoire". But it adds that Merlin bosses are confident a deal can eventually be done.

Some in the indie community had previously worked with Virgin with a view to launching a licensed P2P file-sharing network, which arguably is just another way of positioning an all-you-can-eat MP3 service, though those plans were scuppered by major label resistance. Whether Virgin could or would launch its new digital service without the indies on board we don't know, though it seems increasingly likely this new Virgin plan will be scuppered by the majors too, so it is unlikely the importance of the indies to the ISP will ever be properly tested.

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SPOTIFY US LAUNCH NOT DEFINITELY THIRD QUARTER
Spotify told Music Ally yesterday that it plans to launch in the US "later this year". Crucially, that official line is less specific than comments credited to Spotify exec Paul Brown by Bloomberg last week, who reportedly suggested the streaming music service was planning a third quarter launch in the US market. You might also take Spotify's latest statement to mean a fourth quarter launch is looking more likely.

As previously reported, it's speculated some of the majors won't licence a free version of Spotify in the US market, forcing them to operate only their premium service in North America.

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TOTAL ROCK WORLD ALBUM CHART
It's this week's Total Rock World Album Chart, as counted down on Total Rock last weekend - www.totalrock.com. New entries and re-entries marked with a *.

1. Muse - The Resistance (Warner Bros)
2. Peter Gabriel - Scratch My Back (EMI/Virgin)
3. Nickelback - Dark Horse (Warner/Roadrunner)
4. Jimi Hendrix - Valleys Of Neptune (Sony)*
5. Journey - Greatest Hits (Sony)
6. Pearl Jam - Backspacer (Universal)
7. Queen - Absolute Greatest (EMI)
8. HIM - Screamworks: Love In Theory And Practice (Warner Bros)
9. Guns N Roses - Greatest Hits (Universal/Geffen)
10. Them Crooked Vultures - Them Crooked Vultures (Sony)
11. Train - Save Me, San Francisco (Sony/Columbia)*
12. Fleetwood Mac - The Very Best Of (Warner Bros)
13. Foo Fighters - Greatest Hits (Sony)
14. Rob Zombie - Hellbilly Deluxe 2 (Warner/Roadrunner)
15. Alice In Chains - Black Gives Way To Blue (EMI)*
16. Green Day - 21st Century Breakdown (Warner Bros)
17. Airbourne - No Guts, No Glory (Warner/Roadrunner)*
18. Daughtry - Leave This Town (Sony)
19. Alkaline Trio - This Addiction (Hassle)
20. Paramore - Brand New Eyes (Warner/Atlantic)

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50 CENT GETS 50 GRAND FOR DOING NOTHING
Being a rapper, 50 Cent knows a thing or two about the spoken word. As a result, you have to pay top dollar if you want him to speak - £50,000 per word, apparently.

A Mirror report last weekend revealed that Fiddy attended the launch party for a new Liverpool club called Bamboo last Thursday. I'm not sure what the club's owners were hoping for when they handed over 50 grand to secure the rapper's attendance, but presumably more than a momentary appearance on stage and the utterance of the word "hey". But that's all they got.

That said, if I'd been shot nine times, I'd probably be a little nervous about staying in one place for too long. You can never be too careful.

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SOME RICKY MARTIN NEWS
Ricky Martin is gay. Which I thought we already knew, but apparently not. The singer and father of two issued a lengthy statement on his website yesterday to reveal the news. He said he'd kept his sexuality a secret until now on the advice of others, who told him it would adversely affect his career, but he's now writing his autobiography and wants the truth to be known.

He told fans: "If someone asked me today: 'Ricky, what are you afraid of?' I would answer: 'The blood that runs through the streets of countries at war, child slavery, terrorism, the cynicism of some people in positions of power, the misinterpretation of faith'. But fear of my truth? Not at all! ... I am proud to say that I am a fortunate homosexual man. I am very blessed to be who I am".

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