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Top Stories
Terra Firma v Citigroup: Victory for the bankers, is this the end of EMI?
Thomas ordered to pay $1.5 million to RIAA, she says she can't
In The Pop Courts
Lil Wayne released from prison
Police search for Bez after claims of restraining order violation
Pop Politics
Kanye West responds to George Bush
In The Studio
Arcade Fire to begin writing new album
Stones ready to go back into the studio
Release News
REM announce guest vocalists
Massive Attack to release remix EP
Shaun Ryder to release best of
Films & Shows News
U2 scored musical could be further delayed over safety concerns
Album review: Suede - The Best Of Suede (Ministry Of Sound)
The Music Business
New research suggests young Americans becoming less interested in live
Universal appointments - Polydor, Deutsche Grammophon
The Digital Business
MySpace losses increase, News Corp chief talks tough
The Media Business
BBC journalists are on strike
Guardian unveils new mobile site
And finally...
Madonna likes em young
Fuck you, Shatner

Wow, running a bit behind today, possibly with all the excitement of strikes and mega-bucks damages and the end of EMI and MySpace (well, not really). It's been a busy seven days. But that hasn't stopped me using my superpower skills to reduce the week in music down to just five short stories, for consumption by anyone who is simply too busy to digest every development, or for those of you who have only just recovered from your Hallowe'en festivities and are now planning to knock off work early to go to a bonfire party. Happy Guy Fawkes Day, people.

01: Terra Firma lost its lawsuit against Citigroup. As expected, Terra Firma failed to convince a New York jury that Citigroup misled it into bidding too soon and too high for EMI in 2007, costing them millions. Terra Firma insisted it had been right to pursue the case. No word on whether they'll appeal. Meanwhile, the whole thing has led to new speculation on whether Terra Firma can and will keep hold of EMI. If not, most expect the last British major music company to be split up. CMU report

02: Jammie Thomas was ordered to pay $1.5 million to the US record industry. The famous file-sharer, sued by the RIAA for illegally sharing 24 tracks, was back in court having turned down a previous offer by the record industry to settle for $25,000. The new trial was concerned only with damages and the jury proved once again to be very pro the record industry, awarding the RIAA $1.5 million, only slightly less than the $1.92 million awarded in an earlier trial with a judge deemed to be totally inappropriate. CMU report | WSJ report

03: Ministry Of Sound put its sue-the-fans litigation on hold, because it turned out BT had deleted a whole load of data they were trying to obtain through a court action. BT last month asked for Ministry's legal claim to access contact information of suspected file-sharers to be adjourned while it proposed a new way for such data to be provided to content owners. The delay has proven extra problematic for MoS because BT delete private data about its customers after 90 days, meaning the superclub's record label has to start again with its file-sharer monitoring. Nevertheless, Ministry says it will launch more file-sharing lawsuits in the future. CMU report | ISPreview report

04: New Zealand published a report on three-strikes. The country has been trying to get such an anti-piracy system up and running for a while, put hadn't given much thought into how it might work before actually making three-strikes law. The new report says that the warning letter bit of three-strikes should begin forthwith, but that the net-suspensions bit should be postponed two years to see what impact the letters have first. CMU report | New Zealand Herald report

05: MP3tunes pushed for a summary judgement in its EMI legal battle. EMI claims the music search and digital locker service infringes their copyrights, while MP3tunes says its content storage system is no different to all the other digital lockers on the market. MP3tunes wants a summary judgement in its favour, saying if it loses this case future music strategies of Google and Apple will be negatively impacted. It asked the court for such a judgement again this week. CMU report | C-Net report

And there you have it. Enjoy the fireworks.

Chris Cooke
Business Editor, CMU
VIGSY'S CLUB TIP: Groove Odyssey at Fire And Lightbox
'Little' Louis Vega, one half of the Masters At Work, headlines this South London event.

There will be five rooms of fun, with Vega and the awesome Blaze man Kevin Hedge flying in from the US to play the main room, alongside Garage City stalwarts Bobbi and Steve, and Funkie P. Vega is still one of the brightest stars in house, and his live take on his 'Elements Of Life' project only reinforces what a musical force to be reckoned with this man really is.

Elsewhere at the Groove Odyssey there will be live PAs from the classy Shelly Nelson and Mr D, and in the lightbox we have Soul Avengers, Craze, Liam D and Hatty Lovehearts. On top of that there's a HouseFM room with DJ Leo and Jodie, and an 80s revival night with Muzzy, Richie Hill and Connie, with Leroy Burgess. Bonus.

Saturday 6 Nov, Fire And Lightbox, 6A South Lambeth Place, London, SW8, £17.50 adv, more info from www.grooveodyssey.com

So, as expected really, Terra Firma yesterday lost its lawsuit against Citigroup, having failed to convince a New York jury that the only reason it bought faltering music company EMI for four billion pounds in 2007 was because one of the US bank's top advisors gave the equity firm false information about the intentions of another bidder.

That false information, Terra Firma claimed, came in undocumented phone calls in the 48 hours before its audacious bid to buy the music firm, phone calls that the equity group's chief Guy Hands had a strangely clear recollection of, despite him remembering very little else about those two days, other than that chocolate biscuits were on the menu.

Citigroup didn't come out of the trial especially well either. The bank's man David Wormsley was shown to be rather two-faced, while some may question why the banker chose not to share concerns being raised in various quarters of his organisation about the nature of Terra Firma's acquisition of EMI with his then good friend Hands.

But Terra Firma's case was never very strong, the killer witness never materialised, and Citigroup's argument - that Hands' lawsuit was just a case of sour grapes over a deal he orchestrated that went bad - always seemed stronger. The jury took just four and half hours to rule in Citigroup's favour.

After the jury had revealed its conclusion, Citi's legal man Ted Wells criticised Terra Firma for pursuing the litigation. He told reporters: "I think Mr Wormsley was put through a terrible ordeal. He was totally innocent, he did nothing wrong. He is a man of honesty and integrity".

Hands left the New York court rather quickly and without comment, though Terra Firma later told reporters in a statement that it still felt the lawsuit had been "an important action to bring and that we had a responsibility to our investors to bring it".

Had Terra Firma won the case it would have sent repercussions around the investment community, posing big questions about the way big banks work in deals where they are offering advice to all parties, and are set to personally gain by providing a chunk of the finance. But Terra Firma losing poses more questions for the music business. In particular, what now for EMI?

Terra Firma insisted yesterday that nothing has changed. The company said in a statement: "EMI will continue to build on its track record of the last three years, during which time it has improved its market position, achieved tremendous success with its new and existing artists, and produced remarkable growth in cash profits".

Meanwhile, EMI chief Roger Faxon insisted that the major was unaffected by the ruling, telling reporters: "EMI has had a solid operational performance over the last six months, driven by considerable success in both recorded music and music publishing. We are wholly focused on further developing our business, and on delivering positive outcomes for the talented artist and songwriter communities we are privileged to represent".

On many levels Faxon is right. EMI is doing quite well day-to-day, and, as we've said before, the post-Terra Firma revamp of the EMI record labels - while very traumatic at the time - has actually resulted, probably more by accident than design, in a pretty well structured record company, even if it does still struggle to keep senior execs in place for more than a year. And artists-wise, despite the horrible cloud of a three billion pound debt with a bank your owner's are suing putting a lot of managers off doing a deal with the major, EMI is still behind some of this year's mainstream success stories, most notably Tinie Tempah.

But Faxon isn't stupid, and he must know that his moderately successful music business is balancing on a very narrow wedge. Terra Firma will almost certainly have to pump another 100 million into EMI next June so that it can meet its loan covenants with Citigroup, covenants the bank is very unlikely to relax. We know there are a number of Terra Firma investors who didn't want that cash injection to happen last June, preferring to wash their hands of EMI, and it was a testament to Guy Hands' skills as wheeling, dealing, investor pleaser that he managed to raise the money and get approval from enough of his backers to let him hand it over to the music firm.

While Hands' very public bruising in the New York court probably won't hugely damage his ability to continue to mastermind ambitious takeovers, backed by his party of rich dudes and financial institutions, and aided by Citigroup's rivals - certainly Terra Firma has continued to do some pretty impressive deals in 2010 - many reckon it will have affected his ability to keep enough of his investors on side to continue to support EMI when it needs an extra 100 million next summer.

Which leads the pessimists to assume that by the time 2011 is out, Citigroup will have repossessed EMI and - with no one likely to want to buy it as a going concern - will have split it up, selling recordings to Warner Music while trying to instigate a bidding war for EMI Publishing in a bid to get as much of its three billion back as possible. And if that happens, it doesn't matter how well Faxon's business plan is working out, EMI will be no more.

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Jammie Thomas won't pay because she can't pay. That was the message delivered by the famous file-sharer earlier this week, and pretty much her line ever since she was first found guilty of copyright infringement for sharing 24 songs on Kazaa back in 2007. It's a fair argument, though the Recording Industry Association Of America might argue that Thomas could have realistically committed to paying $25,000 - over a period of time - and she should have accepted that out of court settlement offer when it was made earlier this year.

As much previously reported, Thomas was one of the thousands of people sued by the RIAA for file-sharing. She chose to fight her case in court, but lost twice, so much so her liability for infringement is no longer doubted, in the eyes of the law at least. The question still to be answered, though, is how much in damages she should pay. As also previously reported, US copyright law allows a rather crazy level of flexibility for judges and jurors considering infringement damages, able to charge anyway between $750 and $150,000 per infringement.

In the first trial Jammie was ordered to pay $9,250 per song, or $222,000 in total, which seemed an awful lot at the time until the judge hearing the case decided there were errors in the first trial and called in a second jury, who awarded the record industry $1.92 million in damages. But Judge Michael Davis was on Jammie's side, saying that level of damages was totally inappropriate for the sharing of 24 songs on the internet. At the start of the year he cut the payment due down to size big time, setting the figure the file-sharer must pay at $54,000.

The RIAA, while rejecting Davis's damages ruling, had an unusual moment of common sense. Clearly wanting out of the case, it offered Thomas a $25,000 out of court settlement, even promising to give the cash to a charity for struggling musicians. But Jammie, possibly feeling things were going her way, refused to pay either 54 or 25 grand, and let the RIAA go ahead with its appeal against Davis's January ruling.

That case came to court this week. A new jury was signed in, this time only to consider what damages Jammie must pay. And what level of damages did they opt for? Not quite the unfeasibly high figure set in the second trial, but not far off - $62,500 per infringement, $1.5 million over all. That 25 grand is looking like pocket money now.

As we said, Thomas, reasonably really, maintains that she'd never be able to afford to pay damages on that level in her entire life, telling reporters yesterday: "I can't afford to pay any amount. It's not a matter of won't, it's a matter of 'I can't'. Any amount that I pay to them is money that I could use to feed my children. Any amount that I pay to them is money I could use to clothe my kids, and pay my mortgage so my kids have a place to sleep". Think of the children people, think of the children.

Her attorney added that the law that allows juries to award damages of up to $150,000 per copyright infringement is "unconstitutional" and amounts to "legalised extortion". Even damages calculated at the lowest rate the law allows, $750 per infringement, is, he argues, way out of line with what the record companies really deserve. In fact, he goes as far as to argue the labels are only really due the $24 they'd have got had Jammie bought her songs via iTunes rather than downloaded them via Kazaa, which possibly takes things to the other extreme.

The RIAA, obviously, welcomed the latest damages ruling in the ongoing Thomas case. Of course, Davis could now slash the new damages figure once again, but the record industry trade body is sure to argue that, with three juries having now awarded six figure plus damages, it would wrong for the judge to meddle. Meanwhile, Thomas seems likely to appeal.

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Lil Wayne isn't in prison any more, which is nice for him. He was released from Rikers Island jail in New York yesterday after serving eight months for illegal possession of a handgun.

As previously reported so many times that it 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. After much delay, due variously to fire and dentistry, he was sentenced to a year in prison, though, as expected, he only served eight months.

Earlier this week, writing on the website he set up to communicate with fans during his prison stay, Wayne said that he "was never scared, worried, nor bothered by the situation", then he started banging on about an imaginary woman, so it probably is a good time for him to get out of jail.

Later, speaking to MTV News, the rapper's business partner Mack Maine confirmed that a big party was being put together to celebrate Wayne's release this Sunday, followed by a trip to a strip club. How nice.

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There's still a little part of me, even thirty years on, that thinks that one day, perhaps one day soon, it will all be revealed that the entire concept of Bez was an audacious, twisted, avante garde art project dreamed up by a Mancunian art student. Mark Berry, perhaps, is just the world's greatest ever character actor.

But until that day, the plot thickens. Greater Manchester Police have confirmed they are hunting high and low for the aging Madchester space cadet after he breached a restraining order put in place after he was found guilty of assaulting his ex-girlfriend and baby-mother Monica Ward. Said ex has claimed Berry has pestered her with text messages and phonecalls since being released for prison, where he served four weeks in jail for the assault after refusing to do community service.

Berry had been staying with friends in Urmston, just outside Manchester, but has seemingly disappeared since Ward made her new claims regarding his failure to adhere to the two year 'no-contact' order. A spokesman for Manchester police told reporters: "He is said to have made repeated attempts to contact Monica by phone and text. Attempts are being made to track him down. We may need to get another police force involved".

It's no surprise Bez hasn't been adhering to the restraining order. He was very dismissive of his original trial at Manchester Magistrates Court, and when he lost an appeal at Manchester Crown Court last month he shouted "It's a joke. I'm going to take this to a higher court. I'm not paying nothing". His lawyer, though, seemed less certain another appeal would follow.

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Kanye West has responded to George W Bush's recent comments regarding the rapper's claim that "George Bush doesn't care about black people" during a telethon for victims of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Bush has said West's diss was one of the lowest moments of his presidency.

Responding, the rapper has told fans he now feels compassion for George, likening the criticism the former President received during the aftermath of Katrina to that West himself had hurled at him after he ruined Taylor Swift's acceptance speech at last year's MTV Video Music Awards. Yes Kanye, they're exactly the same.

As previously reported, speaking to Matt Lauer on NBC (the same network that aired the fundraiser where Kanye dissed the President), Bush said this week: "He called me a racist ... I didn't appreciate it then. I don't appreciate it now. It's one thing to say: 'I don't appreciate the way he's handled his business'. It's another thing to say: 'This man's a racist'. I resent it, it's not true, and it was one of the most disgusting moments in my presidency ... My record was strong, I felt, when it came to race relations and giving people a chance. And it was a disgusting moment".

In an interview on Houston's Hot 97.9 The Boxx radio station, West said yesterday: "I can understand the way he feels to be accused of being a racist in a way, because the same thing happened to me [after the Taylor Swift thing]. With both situations, it was a lack of compassion that America saw".

He rambled on: "With him, it was lack of compassion, not taking the time to rush down to New Orleans. With me it was lack of compassion, cutting someone off in their moment. But nonetheless, I think we're all quick to pull a race card in America. And now I'm more open, and the poetic justice I feel to have gone through the same thing as him. And I really connect with him on a humanitarian level, because the next morning, when he felt that, I felt that too".

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Arcade Fire's Will Butler has said that the band are hoping to get to work on their next album very soon, if they can get over the problem of not being able to write and tour at the same time.

Butler told The Wall Street Journal: "We'll definitely be touring next Spring - the weather is be nicer for driving around then than in the winter. We're going to experiment this winter. We're not quite sure what we're doing in February, but January and March we'll probably be off. We've never successfully written or done anything really in a middle of a touring cycle, [but this time we'll try]".

He continued: "We're going to see if we can maybe get into a different rhythm besides the tour, tour, tour, rest, rest, rest, tour, tour, tour, rest, rest, rest. We're going to see if we can intertwine them a little bit".

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Keith Richards has told the BBC that the Rolling Stones are ready to go back into the studio to record a brand new album ahead of another tour, which should kick off next year.

He told 6music: "Everybody's ready to go out there again. Who said it should stop, and who said when? Only we will know when it comes to an end, with a crashing halt... After these many years working together, we have a lot of unfinished stuff to work on that we had to leave off the last album. And knowing Mick, as I do, he's a very prolific writer. I have ideas [too] and we'll put them together in December or January. We're looking forward to working".

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REM have revealed that Eddie Vedder, Patti Smith and Peaches have all recorded guest vocals on the band's new album, 'Collapse Into Now', which is due for release next year. I'm not sure it will increase the chances of the album being worth listening to at all, but Patti Smith did appear on the band's last good LP, 1996's 'New Adventures In Hi-Fi'.

Speaking about the sound of the new long player, the band's Mike Mills told Spin: "With [2008's] 'Accelerate' we were trying to make a point by making the songs as short and as fast as possible. So we wanted this new one to be more expansive. We wanted to put more variety into it and not limit ourselves to any one type of song. There are some really slow, beautiful songs; there are some nice, mid-tempo ones; and then there are three or four rockers".

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Massive Attack have announced that they will release a limited edition remix EP, 'Atlas Air', on 22 Nov in aid of War Child. It will feature remixes of two 'Heligoland' era tracks - 'Red Light' remixed by Clark and 'Atlas Air' (obviously) remixed by Tim Goldsworthy and Shape Of Broad Minds' Jneio Jarel.

Pressed on 180 gram vinyl, the release will be limited to 1000 copies and will come in a screen-printed yellow fluoro and glitter covered sleeve featuring a painting, Minstrels, by Robert Del Naja, aka 3D.

Speaking to Spinner recently, Del Naja revealed that fans could expect more new releases next year. He said: "We got quite a few EPs out next year. We're tired of the cycle of album, tour. It's more fun putting things out randomly, sort of spontaneously. We've done it quite traditionally this year, so maybe next year we'll be a bit unorthodox".

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Shaun Ryder will release a compilation featuring tracks spanning his entire career next month. Entitled 'XXX: 30 Years Of Bellyaching', the album will be released by Rhino on 13 Dec.

Ryder said of the release: "It's been an interesting journey, people have always bet against me but I guess that now I've reached this point I've proved them wrong. I've had a colourful life played out in the tabloids, but music's always come first and it's great to pull it all together here".

The tracklist is:

Happy Mondays - Wrote For Luck
Happy Mondays - Step On
Happy Mondays - Kinky Afro
Happy Mondays - Loose Fit
Black Grape - Rev Black Grape
Black Grape - In The Name Of The Father
Black Grape - Kelly's Heroes
Happy Mondays - Hallelujah
Happy Mondays - Bob's Yer Uncle
Gorillaz - Dare
Happy Mondays - 24 Hour Party People
Happy Mondays - Sunshine And Love
Happy Mondays - Judge Fudge
Happy Mondays - Angels & Whores
Black Grape - Get Higher
Black Grape - England's Irie
Shaun Ryder - Close The Dam

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According to the New York Times, the launch of the long, long, long awaited Bono-and-Edge scored Spiderman musical may be delayed again.

Originally due to premiere at the start of this year, after five years in development, 'Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark' has been hindered by all sorts of production problems. The most recent plan was to start previews on 14 Nov for an 11 Jan premiere. But safety inspectors from New York City say that, when they attended the theatre this week to check the safety of the various high-wire stunts in the show, producers couldn't show many of the manoeuvres that will happen above the stage, meaning they can't give the production the clearance it needs to open to the public.

A spokesman for the New York Department Of Labor, which oversees such things, said: "The producers were not prepared to demonstrate all of the manoeuvres today, as they were supposed to, because they weren't ready for all of the flying and aerial work to be shown. We made it clear that we need to see every manoeuvre before they are legally allowed to hold their first performance. This is a unique production, with an unprecedented amount of activity going on directly above audiences, so we want to see each one of those activities demonstrated".

Despite New York officials implying they expected to see all the show's stunts in one go, producers of the Spiderman musical insist that was never the plan, and multiple inspections were expected in the run up to the opening of their production. In theory the stunts could still be cleared by the authorities before 14 Nov, though some commentators reckon that is optimistic thinking, and another delay in opening is now likely, for the previews at least.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Suede - The Best Of Suede (Ministry Of Sound)
More often than not, a chorus of mutters about record boss fat cats and cash-ins accompanies the release of a best of, and often it's not hard to see why. I don't know whether that applies here, but either way, this Suede collection is more than welcome.

Refreshingly, this 'Best Of' has been complied by lead singer Brett Anderson himself, offering a more, well, Suede feel than with many compilations complied apparently on a whim by label bosses. Meanwhile, all the tracks have been digitally remastered by Chris Potter, with both Anderson and former guitarist Bernard Butler involved in that process. Although for the most devoted of Suedophiles - of which there are many, who are very, very devoted - there's probably nothing new, the inclusion of a second disc of album tracks and b-sides will be welcomed with open arms.

The hits - all of the band's singles excluding 'Positivity' and 'Attitude' - creates the perfect inroad for new listeners, and a timely reminder for the die-hards of how breathtakingly brilliant this band was and is - not only for the quality of their singles output, but for their astonishing breadth. But it's the second disc that showcases Suede at their unashamedly grandiose best, demonstrating that while they excel at instant gratification with glammy, pomped-up singles, their b-sides are an experimental, introverted ying to their pop yang.

So, all in all, while there will always be wails of omissions (notably 'This Time' in this case) and huffs of "this is totally unnecessary" from certain corners, there's little to fault in this neat surmise of one of the best bands of the 1990s: reminding us that Suede resonate as potently now as ever. EG

Physical release: 1 Nov
Press contact: Ministry Of Sound IH

Buy from iTunes
Buy from Amazon

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The thing about the live music industry, right, is that the kids can't download a gig, that's why live is the future of the music business, see? A common line in recent years as the record industry saw its revenues slump while the live sector - the top end of it anyways - went through a period of record ticket sales and profits.

But, of course, in some territories the live sector has also peaked, partly as a result of the depressing wider economic climate, though also partly because of consumer resistance to ever-rising ticket prices and add-on fees at the premiere league artist/arena venue end of the industry. The UK live sector - like the UK record industry ten years ago, interestingly - is weathering the incoming storm better than most. But in mainland Europe, and now the US, the live industry isn't quite so rosy.

And for new proof of that fact, have some stats on us. Edison Research has released the results of a survey of 12-24 year olds in the US, and found that where as ten years ago that demographic went to an average of just over 2 gigs each per year, the average has fallen to just under 1 gig each every twelve months. Moreover, the number of yoofs going to more than three gigs a year has fallen from 24% to 12%, while the number of people in that age group going to no gigs at all has increased from 43% to 64%.

So that's fun reading isn't it? Perhaps someone should have pointed out previously that, while it's true the kids can't download a gig, that doesn't mean they want to go to one. Happy Guy Fawkes Day.

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Universal Music has announced the promotion of Ross Anderson to the role of Creative Director at its Polydor division. Anderson has been at the label for ten years already, commissioning videos and more recently working as Head Of Audio Visual. In his new job he'll be responsible for creating a new audio-visual business under the Polydor banner, while also continuing to oversee the label's music video operations.

He'll report to Polydor MD Joe Munns, who told Music Week: "Ross's creativity and reputation within the industry are second to none. I look forward to working with him on creating new opportunities for our artists and our company".

Elsewhere in the Universal empire, Ute Fesquet has been promoted to the role of VP A&R for Deutsche Grammophon, one of the major's key classical labels. Fesquet, a cellist, journalist and musicologist as well as a label exec, has worked at the major for over a decade in marketing and A&R roles. In her new role she will lead the Deutsche Grammophon A&R team.

She will report to Deutsche Grammophon President Michael Lang, who told CMU: "I've had the pleasure to work with Ute for almost ten years - and I look forward to many more. She embodies the creativity, spirit, knowledge, dedication, and personality of Deutsche Grammophon. I'm thrilled that she will bring these qualities - and more - to her new, well-deserved role as our Vice President of A&R".

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Earlier this year I half-jokingly/half-seriously suggested MySpace would go off line on 17 Nov. Given the flagging social networking company is planning on rolling out its new look site in the UK this month - following its unveiling in the US last week - that's probably not going to happen. But this month might just prove to be the beginning of the end for the one time social media giant.

MySpace has been put "on notice" by its owners, Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, after quarterly losses in the company's digital and other activities rose by $30 million to $156 million.

Even though MySpace had arguably peaked even before it was bought by News Corp for $580 million in 2005, the site still enjoyed substantial traffic for a few years, mainly as a result of it being the primary online base for nearly every band in the world. That traffic resulted in pretty respectable ad revenues, which kept News Corp happy.

But MySpace was already in decline as users jumped to other more user-friendly less frustrating social networking services, in particular Facebook. The mass exiting from MySpace has continued, and gets worse as more and more bands shift their social media activity to Facebook and Twitter. The growth of services like SoundCloud, which provide a compelling alternative to MySpace's one USP - it's easy to use, easy to manage music player - also hasn't helped.

Various executive shuffles and culls have since followed as News Corp, who had hoped to see their big MySpace investment start to pay off by now, are instead seeing the red figures on their spreadsheets getting bigger. Various service relaunches have occurred, the most recent, the one due to roll out in the UK this month, widely seen as being MySpace's last chance to secure a long term future.

News Corp COO Chase Carey this week told investors that it was clear that MySpace was "a problem", adding that "traffic numbers are still not going in the right direction" and that News Corp chiefs would be reviewing this part of their business "in quarters, not in years". That implies that MySpace bosses need to turn round their company's fortunes within the year or Carey and Murdoch will be reaching for the big off button.

Presumably execs in the social networking company really hope their latest revamp works. Part of me does too. But many commentators reckon - however nice the new MySpace might look, and even if all the technical foibles that have dogged the service for years have been fixed - it's all too little too late. The social networking world has moved on.

So, how about 17 March for the MySpace switch off party? I do feel we are approaching the end of an era in the world of Web 2.0.

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Team Beeb are on strike, or at least their journalists are. A 48 hour walk out began at midnight in a dispute over pensions. Staff are angry that BBC bosses have tried to renegotiate the pensions of existing staff at the Corporation, making them rather less attractive to have. Management there are trying to deal with a mega deficit in the Corporation's pension fund, believed to be in the region of £1.5 billion.

It's the National Union Of Journalists who have decided to strike, while BECTU - which represents studio technicians and such like - has chosen not to walk out. They argue that the most recent pensions deal offered is the best that can be realistically expected, assuming the pensions fund really is £1.5 billion in deficit.

The different conclusions of the two unions will result in the rather tricky situation of BECTU members having to cross the NUJ's picket lines at BBC offices. Though both the Beeb and officials at the technicians' union have said they won't take action against any BECTU members who refuse to do so though, of course, they will lose a day's pay.

The strike will be most obvious on news programmes which will be severely lacking staff today. Radio 4's 'Today' programme has already fallen victim to the strike, though the 'BBC Breakfast' TV show did go ahead, albeit in a reduced form.

BBC boss man Mark Thompson has said that while strike action will almost certainly have an impact on the Corporation's output, it won't change the pensions deal being offered to its staff, because deal makers on the management side are constrained by the realities of the huge deficit in the organisation's pension fund. Says Thommo: "[The strike] may manage to take some output off the air or lower its quality. But strikes aren't going to reduce the pension deficit or make the need for radical pension reform go away".

But NUJ head Jeremy Dear remains adamant that the Beeb must find another way to tackle its pensions crisis, saying last night: "NUJ members across the BBC have consistently dubbed the proposals a 'pensions robbery'. That hasn't changed. The BBC have now left members with no choice but to take action to defend their pensions".

While the strike ends at midnight tomorrow night, a work to rule then kicks in which will see NUJ members only work their allotted shifts, including taking all breaks in full. Some insiders say that that might prove almost as damaging as the all-out strike in terms of hitting programme quality, because some BBC news outlets rely as a matter of course on staffers working well beyond their contracted hours each day, which, to be fair, is pretty common across the whole media.

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The Guardian has relaunched its mobile website, m.guardian.co.uk, which originally went live in 2009 and is now the biggest UK mobile-based newspaper website.

While many newspaper owners hope that their readers might be persuaded to pay for compelling mobile services, The Guardian - which is known to currently oppose the subscription route for its online operations - is keeping its mobile site free to access, it being paid for by advertising. The revamp includes a new look and feel, faster updates, more comprehensive content and a type re-sizing function.

The Guardian's website editor Janine Gibson told CMU: "Mobile is a crucial part Guardian News & Media's digital strategy, and the statistics speak for themselves in terms of how important being able to access our content on the move is to our readers. The new mobile site - along with a number of other mobile products in the pipeline - demonstrates our commitment to this growing medium".

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Madonna has told In Touch Weekly that she's no interest in dating men her own age because, of course, they are all, without fail, "grumpy, fat and balding". Well, OK, she said "usually" first.

The 52 year old singer has been recently linked to 33 year old choreographer Barhim Rachiki, who worked on her 2008/2009 Sticky & Sweet Tour. Prior to that, of course, she was dating 22 year old Brazilian model Jesus Luz. And even ex-husband Guy Ritchie was ten years Madge's junior.

Young men of the world, beware.

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Everyone loves William Shatner's spoken word renditions of pop hits, don't they? Yes, everyone does. So you're all going to love seeing him perform Cee-Lo's 'Fuck You' on US TV show 'Lopez Tonight'.

Here it is: youtu.be/d5hae6PlPYA

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Andy Malt
Chris Cooke
Business Editor &
Caro Moses
Eddy Temple-Morris
Paul Vig
Club Tipper
Harriet Harman
Head Of Diversity (Non-Ginger)

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