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CMU Info
Top Stories
Could Citigroup own EMI by Christmas?
BlueBeat downloads infringed copyright
In The Pop Courts
Carly Simon loses Starbucks lawsuit for second time
In The Pop Hospital
Aretha determined to be back on stage in the spring
Awards & Contests
Cardle wins X-Factor, chart race beings - let there be silence
In The Studio
Futureheads to record a capella album
Release News
Jackson producers get angry
Films & Shows News
Daft Punk attend Tron premiere
Album review: The Radio Dept - Passive Aggressive: Singles 2002-2010 (Labrador)
The Music Business
New fan funding enterprise steps up UK operation
Warner/Chappell buys 615
The Digital Business
New service makes it easy to create band apps
Imagem and Sony to launch Oklahoma SingStar edition
The Media Business
Radioplayer fees for stations revealed
Jensen to join Smooth
And finally...
McCartney and Lennon made peace before death
Dylan and Clapton stuff sells at auction
Example: Better music gets made when you're on drugs
Billy Ray upset by Miley bong video

I finally made it to one of promoter Arctic Circle's Daylight Music shows this weekend, which turned out to be an ideal way to spend a Saturday lunchtime. Headlining this one were the wonderful Bleeding Heart Narrative, who showcased a few songs from their forthcoming new album and some older tracks for which they were joined by a string quartet, which sounded incredible in the gothic surroundings of Union Chapel in Islington. This Saturday's show, the last of the year, is headlined by Shady Bard, and here are some other things to keep you amused this week.

01: Cage Against The Machine. So, our favourite challenger for the Christmas number one this year, the Cage Against The Machine version of John Cage's '4'33''', is now on sale. Four and a half minutes of silence is probably the hardest sell of all of them, which makes the possibility of it making it all the more exciting. Filling the number one position, or any position on the chart for that matter, with a conceptual avant garde piece would be quite something. Buy it from download stores now (it's 49p on Amazon), and check out the video on the Guardian website.

02: PLAYlist. The concept of PLAYlist is simple; playwrights pen new plays inspired by songs. The only rule is that a play can't be longer than the song it is based on. Tomorrow a special Christmas edition opens at Theatre 503 in Battersea with new plays based on festive songs from the likes of Zoe Cooper, Poppy Corbett, Inua Ellams, Joel Horwood, Bethan Marlow, Sian Owen, Dan Rebellato and Al Smith.

03: BRITs voting closes. This is really more a reminder for me than anyone else, but voting for the BRIT Awards closes on Wednesday, so any music or media types in the BRITS Academy ought to go online and place their votes. Apparently Gil Scott-Heron is up for Best International Newcomer, which is pretty impressive. It's also just been announced that Take That and Plan B will perform at the BRITS ceremony itself, which is due to take place in its new home at the O2 Arena in February.

04: New releases. As well as Cage Against The Machine, there are some other things out this week that you might want to buy. On the album front, there's Zach Hill's 'Face Tat' and the Shaun Ryder best of compilation, 'XXX: 30 Years Of Bellyaching'. Or if it's singles you want, check out Katy B's 'Lights On', Hiatus' 'Save Yourself', Slipknot frontman Corey Taylor's 'X-M@$', or 'Little Drummer Boy' by the unlikely combination of Shane MacGowan and The Priests. Also out this week is the new Motörhead album bundled with a special edition of Classic Rock magazine.

05: Gigs. Lots of special gigs coming up this week. Tomorrow night is the launch party for Cage Against The Machine at Madame JoJo's in Soho. Also this week, The Drums play a tiny free show at The Queen Of Hoxton, Everything Everything play with a classical ensemble tonight in Manchester and in London, there's also the London edition of Xfm's Winter Wonderland, XOYO's Tips For 2011 show headlined by Sunday Girl, Christmas shows from Gallows, Soulwax and Rolo Tomassi, plus Gogol Bordello, Ke$ha, Sophie Ellis-Bextor and those Kings Of Leon are all gigging.

This is the last full week at CMU before Christmas, so make the most of it. This Friday will also be the third outing for CMU Yearly, a little round-up of the year in music before the big CMU Review Of The Year next week.

Andy Malt
Editor, CMU
Back home in Slovenia, Maya Medvesek is best known as an actress and TV presenter, over here she's becoming increasingly known as Glasgow-based producer 8Bitch, making music which she describes as "a blend of synth-funk, hip hop and techno" and her dad calls "Super Mario jazz". Both are accurate, but one sounds like more fun.

Her tracks have a soulful, warm feel that can be so hard to capture in techno and more minimal production in general. Tracks like 'Heart Bit and 'Safari' don't just make you want to dance, they'll bring a smile to your face and a wobble of bass to your heart, too. This year she's released her excellent 'G41' single via Slit Jockey in May, while new EP, 'Equinox', came out on Seed last month.


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You know how the New York Post was last week predicting that this time Terra Firma's Guy Hands really won't be able to convince his investors to provide the £100 million EMI will likely need to meet its loan covenants with Citigroup next spring? Well, continuing on that theme, now both The Post and the Sunday Times here in the UK are saying the equity group could lose or give up control of the music company before the end of the year, so really rather soon.

As previously reported, earlier this year there was much speculation that Hands would not be able to raise the £100 million EMI needed by June to stay within the strict financial parameters set by the Citigroup loan, or if he did that Terra Firma's investors would not allow him to hand the money over to the flagging music firm. In the end Hands did raise both the money and win the vote to inject it into EMI, though reports suggested it was a very close run thing.

Last week The Post said that, following last month's embarrassing defeat in the US Courts when Terra Firma unsuccessfully tried to prove Citigroup had tricked it into buying EMI in 2007, Hands' backers are in no mood to provide further help to the music major.

Now the paper cites sources as saying Hands has been telling some of his backers that he will have to hand over control of the music firm to bankers Citigroup sooner rather than later. Of course, that may just be tough talking to try to force Terra Firma investors to recommit to EMI, but if that is the case many seem likely to call his bluff.

It is thought that Terra Firma might be able to negotiate a deal with Citigroup whereby the bank takes a majority stake in EMI, leaving the equity group as a minority shareholder. Though it seems unlikely, given recent court shenanigans, Citigroup would allow Hands to be anything other than a silent partner. And many still reckon that, once in charge, the bank would look to sell EMI asap, splitting it up if necessary.

Terra Firma has not commented on the latest speculation, though it rarely does. To be fair, commenting on EMI speculation could be a full time job.

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A US judge has ruled that BlueBeat.com was indeed infringing the copyrights of EMI when it started selling the major's music as MP3s for as little as 25 cents a track without a licence back in autumn 2009.

As previously reported, the low price download store came to wider attention when MusicAlly noticed that among the EMI tracks being sold by the service was The Beatles catalogue, then not available legitimately anywhere on the internet, and now only available legally from iTunes.

When EMI's lawyers went to court for an injunction to shut down the BlueBeat.com download store, the digital enterprise's founder, Hank Risan, came forward with an argument that was definitely original. He said he'd digitally recreated the tracks he was selling using "psycho-acoustic simulation", and that in doing so a new sound recording copyright had been created that belonged to him and not EMI.

While scoring highly on the originality front, the digital recreation line wasn't very effective in court, partly because of allegations Risan had actually just ripped tracks from his CD collection for his download store, and partly because, even it some sort of clever soundwave replication had taken place, it seems certain the copyright would still lie with whoever owned the rights in the original recording that had been replicated.

A judge first rejected Risan's arguments in November 2009, issuing an indefinite injunction ordering BlueBeat.com to stop selling EMI's music. Last week it was ruled that BlueBeat.com was guilty of copyright infringement during the short time it sold downloads, though as yet there has been no indication on what damages the digital company will be forced to pay. BlueBeat.com says it sold 67,000 downloads before being shut down.

Judge Josephine Tucker said in her ruling: "Risan's obscure and undefined pseudo-scientific language appears to be a long-winded way of describing 'sampling', ie copying, and fails to provide any concrete evidence of independent creation".

BlueBeat's streaming music service, which preceded the download venture, continues to operate. The legitimacy of that is also questionable, not least because it also has The Beatles in its catalogue, when the Fab Four's songs have not been licensed to any streaming services as yet. Somewhat dubiously, the BlueBeat streaming player carries the line: "You are listening to fully-licensed simulated performances (c)2010 BlueBeat.com".

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Carly Simon has failed for a second time to win damages from Starbucks over the release of her album by their short-lived music venture Hear Music.

As previously reported, Simon is pissed off that the coffee giant basically shut down its music operation, a joint venture with Concord Music Group, just as her 2008 album 'This Kind Of Love' was released by it. As a result, Simon argues, Starbucks failed to do any of the marketing activity around the record that had been promised, resulting in lacklustre sales.

Starbucks hit back by saying it didn't have any marketing commitments to Simon with regards the record. The company didn't have a direct contractual arrangement with the singer, and her contract with Hear Music specifically removed Starbucks itself from having any liability with regards the extent and success of the album's marketing.

Although a judge ruled in favour of the coffee firm back in June based on the specifics of the contract between Simon and Hear Music, the singer was given the opportunity to resubmit her claim with more information. She did just that, listing all the times Starbucks execs had reassured her about their commitment to their music projects and specifically to marketing her album.

However, a second judge ruled last week that none of that changed the fact the contract she signed clearly said Starbucks could not be held liable for her record's marketing, and Simon's second lawsuit was duly dismissed.

Given how much Starbucks raved about its big move into music when it first launched their label venture - this is the future of music, and all that - a project the company is now basically playing down as being a simple marketing partnership with a record distributor, you can see why Simon is a bit pissed off, even if the coffee firm is contractually in the right.

If nothing else, it's a lesson to other artists taking a brand's pound: however excited a brand manager seems about your music venture when you do the deal, be prepared to be written off as a boring old marketing campaign two years later.

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Aretha Franklin may be recovering from serious surgery for a mystery illness - widely reported to be pancreatic cancer - but the queen of soul is seemingly determined to be back on stage by next spring.

Brenda Corbett, a cousin of the singer, would not comment on the nature of Frankin's illness, but told the Detroit Free Press: "Aretha is doing better than doctors expected. She has a long life in front of her and will be back in concert, on stage, late spring or early summer".

Asked for more information about her cousin's illness, Corbett added: "It's her private business, and she's just not ready to talk about it. Give her time to heal. When people ask for their privacy, respect them for that".

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And so, despite Simon Cowell last week invading my home town - from where one fifth of his One Direction boy band set up originates - it was Matt Cardle who won this year's 'X-Factor' last night, pretty much as expected.

Once Cardle had been proclaimed the winner, ahead of runners up Rebecca Ferguson, One Direction and Cher Lloyd in that order, it was revealed he'd topped the viewer votes every week but one since this run of the 'X' franchise had entered the live show stage.

Mentored during the series by Danni Minogue, Cardle wins a record contract with Cowell's Syco record company, though it seems certain the 'X-Factor' chief will also sign One Direction - the boy band he created from five solo entrants - and may well enjoy more success with them than the show's actual winner. As JLS and Jedward will testify, in terms of success away from the telly show, who wins the contest isn't always all that relevant.

Cardle will now try to secure the Christmas number one slot for the 'X' franchise next Sunday with his debut single, 'When We Collide', a cover version of Biffy Clyro's 'Many Of Horror', a tribute to the Scottish miserablists that is certain to go down really well with their fans, who just love all things 'X-Factor'.

That fact, of course, also kicks off the various 'anti-X' campaigns to get alternative records to the Christmas number one spot, including the 'Family Guy' inspired push in favour of The Trashmen's 'Surfin Bird'; an attempt by the 'X-Factor's first winner Steve Brookstein to get his own back on Cowell, who he still reckons screwed him over; and following confirmation of Cardle's song choice, a new campaign to get the Biffy Clyro original to the top spot.

And, of course, it marks the start of the Cage Against The Machine campaign to get a brand new recording of John Cage's '4'33"' into the Christmas chart in aid of five under-funded music-related charities. On an artistic level this is, we reckon, by far the most interesting of all the alternative Christmas number one contenders, not to mention the most worthy on a charitable level. What could be funnier that four minutes of silence appearing in the Christmas chart, and let's not forget the simple genius of the Cage Against The Machine name which motivated this particular Facebook campaign in the first place.

You can buy the new version of '4'33"', recorded with The Kooks, Suggs, Mr Hudson, Dan le Sac, Scroobius Pip, Adam F, Bishi, Crystal Fighters, Dub Pistols, Fenech Soler, Gallows, Guillemots, John McLure, Orbital, UNKLE, Heaven 17, Enter Shakira, CMU's own Eddy Temple Morris and many more in the room, not to mention Billy Bragg and Imogen Heap on the phone, from all good download stores, the iTunes link is below. And check out the video about the silent recording on The Guardian's website.

Track on iTunes
Video on guardian.co.uk

Whether CATM, The Trashmen or Biffy Clyro can beat Cardle in the Christmas chart remains to be seen. Team X do seem to have stepped up their game after Joe McElderry's version of the mind bogglingly tedious 'The Climb' was beaten to the Christmas number one spot by Rage Against The Machine last year. Cardle's track arrived online with immediate effect last night and is already topping the iTunes chart and the press release landed first thing this morning. Plus, the decision to let each finalist have a different song ready to go means they rely less on Cowell - never that great at the actual A&R bit of being an A&R chief - picking a one size fits all hit.

Whatever happens, it seems there will once again be quite a bit of interest in this year's Christmas chart, which was sort of the point of the original RATM campaign, so job done.

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The Futureheads have announced that they plan to release an a capella album next year, as well as a full studio album with instruments and all that stuff.

Frontman Barry Hyde told Xfm: "We're gonna record an a cappella album next year. The plan is to record two albums next year, the a cappella one and a full on album, and release them at the same time".

So, there you go.

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Teddy Riley, one of the producers who worked on the new posthumous Michael Jackson album 'Michael', has his out at criticism of the record by Quincy Jones, who last month told Us Magazine that he was unable to comment on those claims that it wasn't really the singer's voice on the album, but that he nevertheless felt that the music on the long player "should have all stayed in the vault".

In his response, Riley seems to have focused on the ongoing 'it's not Michael singing' allegations, telling The Guardian: "Look at his age. He can barely hear you talk. How the hell could he hear Michael? Anybody who says [it is not Jackson on the album], I do have a comeback, because you're not right. That's just the bottom line".

This argument would be stronger if Riley had properly listened to what Jones actually said. His complete quote was as follows: "I haven't had a chance to listen to it [properly] yet. Somebody called me up and asked me if it was Michael, and I said it sounds like Michael. But it's backed up by so many [other] voices [that] I can't really dig down deep enough or I haven't really had time to dig deep enough to identify it. But no way it should be coming out. It should have all stayed in the vault".

'Michael' is out today.

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Daft Punk attended the Hollywood premiere of 'Tron: Legacy' this weekend, for which, of course, they have created the soundtrack. They wore black tie, as the occasion demanded, plus, of course, their customary identity obscuring helmets.

One half of the Punk, Thomas Bangalter, explained that their choice of dress for the premiere was a good representation of their soundtrack, telling the Hollywood Reporter: "It's fun to mix science fiction with something very classic. In a way the suits are the image of what we've tried to do with the music, which is to combine something that's quite futuristic with this idea of a classic Hollywood film".

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ALBUM REVIEW: The Radio Dept - Passive Aggressive: Singles 2002-2010 (Labrador)
Formed in Lund, Sweden, in the late 1990s, The Radio Dept have been one of the most successful and important Scandinavian bands of this century thus far, signed to the influential Labrador Records label. This compilation is a chronological overview of the last decade of recordings, across three albums, b-sides and non-album tracks, demonstrating not only a knack for gifted songwriting but also the evolution in their sound across their three albums.

Unlike most of their contemporaries, who specialised in twee indie-pop, The Radio Dept emerged with a sound that was influenced by early 90s shoegaze and dream-pop - My Bloody Valentine, The Cocteau Twins and The Jesus And Mary Chain are obvious comparisons. 2003's 'Lesser Matters', which contributes 'Why Won't You Talk About It?', 'Where The Damage Isn't Already Done' and 'Ewan' to this compilation was one of the most favourably reviewed albums of that year and didn't escape the attention of Sofia Coppola, who used a track in her film 'Marie Antoinette'.

Never a band to rest on their laurels, they completely changed tack with distortion replaced by synthesisers on second album, 'Pet Grief' (2006). Despite the plaudits given to this one, only 'The Worst Taste In Music' makes the cut, which is a tad disappointing. Unsurprisingly, tracks from the latest studio album, April's 'Clinging To A Scheme' ('David', 'Heaven's on Fire', 'Never Followed Suit') feature more prominently, as well as the most recent single, 'The New Improved Hypocrisy'.

Although there's no significant drop in quality between the older and later releases, it would have been a fairer retrospective if each album contributed a more or less equal number of tracks, though this is offset somewhat by the inclusion of rarer recordings, so that it doesn't feel so singles-heavy. Although fans will no doubt already own most of their previous releases, this is a worthy primer for those less familiar with the band. KW

Physical release: 7 Feb
Press contact: Hermana PR

Buy from iTunes
Buy from Amazon

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A new fan-funding company that originated in France over two years ago will properly launch in the UK this week after a couple of months in beta.

My Major Company is in a similar territory to Slice The Pie, Sellaband and Pledge in that fans are encouraged to invest in new talent, in this case earning a share of any profits generated. However, rather than being a platform through which pretty much any band can raise funding from fans, My Major Company operates more like a traditional record label, with an A&R team selecting a relatively small number of bands to appear on the MMC fund-raising website, and then playing a much more proactive role in the careers of artists who raise the required money.

Some of the other fan-funding sites do offer other services to artists who sign up to their fund-raising platforms of course, in particular Pledge, which recently announced it was also launching a record label to take an even more proactive role in some of its artists' careers. But, more so than its competitors, My Major Company does seem to play a bigger role in its artists' projects by default.

The venture was launched in 2008 by three former French record label execs in a bid to find a new model to replace the traditional record industry approach, which has crashed and burned particularly fast in France. They say they now have 28 fully funded acts on their roster, and back in October revealed that one 6000 euro investment via their platform had now paid back its investors 118,000 euros in profit.

Former Warner International chief Paul-René Albertini has been brought in to expand MMC outside of France, with the company having a soft launch over here in October. On Wednesday it will stage a launch event with its first ten UK artists in place.

Explaining his interest in the venture, Albertini told The Independent: "This is a very good alternative to fill the gap left by the traditional model. We are trying to break the mould with economics that still work. This model can sustain itself. It is based on collective risk-taking. Crowd-funding is available on other websites, but they don't give the support we do. We select those [artists] that already have songs, and that we believe have the potential and will be able to perform live".

Once up and running in the UK, MMC plans to expand into Germany, Italy, Spain and Scandinavia.

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Proving that it's not just BMG buying up every publishing enterprise that moves (and occasionally even those that sit very still), Warner's music publishing business Warner/Chappell has just announced it has bought 615 Music, a Nashville-based production music set up. As part of the deal 615's CEO Randy Wachtler will become VP for all of Warner/Chappell's production music operations in North America.

BMG won't like someone else filling our 'music publishing acquisitions' slot. Which is almost certainly why, according to Music Week, it is about to complete another takeover deal, this time of a mid-sized UK music publisher.

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A new service is launching that promises to enable even the least technically literate of bands to make a smartphone app available for their fans.

BandAppStore, which has been founded by Adam Perry, drummer with Bloodhound Gang and formerly A, and also an artist manager and co-founder of Medical Records, enables bands to upload biogs, photos, videos, news and tour dates to their own app, which fans can then download to a smartphone of their choosing. Using the service as a band costs a £19.99 set up fee and a £6.99 a month hosting fee.

Says Perry: "I have been unsigned and have also enjoyed success as a musician and a manager, so I know both sides of the fence. I know what bands out there need to help them succeed and get their band noticed. The idea of empowering thousands of unsigned bands, and giving them the tools I wish I'd had when we started, is what excites me and inspired me to create BandApp. Thanks to BandApp, price is no longer a barrier, so I really think we can make a big difference for bands everywhere looking to get noticed and sell music. BandApp is a mini record deal, with all the tools you need".

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Oh what a beautiful morning, you may wish to sing at your telly. Independent music publisher Imagem has announced a tie up with Sony Computer Entertainment which will see the musical 'Oklahoma!' appear via the SingStar franchise.

Imagem, of course, has controlled the rights in the musical since acquiring the Rogers & Hammerstein Organisation last year. The SingStar edition of the stageshow will come with recordings and footage from its 1955 movie release. Imagem and Sony will work together on the marketing of the karaoke title.

Says Imagem's synch chief Natasha Baldwin: "We are always very keen to find new ways to promote the Rodgers & Hammerstein catalogue and this new initiative with SingStar is a fantastic way to contemporise the timeless classic that is 'Oklahoma!'".

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Radio stations wanting to stream their services via the new Radioplayer platform will have to pay anywhere between £90 and £23,000 a year depending on their size.

As previously reported, Radioplayer is the new web service due to go live in the new year which will provide access to loads of UK radio services, including both BBC and commercial stations. It's big news for the latter, many of whom currently operate pretty rubbish online streaming platforms.

The idea of the not-for-profit Radioplayer venture is that stations large and small get access to a superior streaming platform - modelled on the BBC's iPlayer - for a relatively minimal cost. It's hoped the £90 rate means student and community stations will be able to take part too. Listeners, meanwhile, will be able to access the majority of British radio services in one place.

The service's MD Michael Hill told Radio Today: "One of Radioplayer's founding principles is fairness - we want to create a level playing field where the UK radio industry can agree on technology, and compete on content. That's why we've published this simple, egalitarian funding model".

According to the radio industry website, the rate card that has been distributed to radio stations also includes a guide to how the Radioplayer looks and works.

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That David Jensen fella is leaving the Global-owned golden oldies network Gold to join The Guardian's Smooth Radio. Jenson will take over the afternoon show at the same as Simon Bates joins the station to present breakfast. Existing presenters Mark Goodier, Carlos and Andy Peebles will complete the 2011 schedule for the easy listening station, which now broadcasts the same programmes all over England.

Jensen told reporters: "I'm delighted to be joining Smooth Radio. It's a great listen and I'll be joining some of the best broadcasters in the business".

GMG Radio's Group Programme Director John Simons added "When you get the opportunity to sign a talent like David there is only one answer. His experience and affinity with our audience fits perfectly into our stellar line-up of presenters. I'm delighted he will be joining us in the new year".

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Paul McCartney has said that he and John Lennon had "got [their] friendship back together", resolving "a lot of business problems" before his former songwriting partner was shot dead in New York in 1980.

In an interview on US TV show 'Late Night With Jimmy Fallon', McCartney said: "We'd chat about how to make bread. Just ordinary stuff, you know. He'd had a baby by then - he'd had Sean - so we could talk babies and family and bread and stuff. So that made it a little bit easier, the fact that we were buddies".

He said that when he learned of Lennon's death "a phrase kept going in my head about the guy who killed him: jerk of all jerks. It was just so, so sad because we thought John would be around forever".

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Handwritten lyrics for Bob Dylan's 'The Times They Are A-Changin', featuring the words to four verses jotted on a scrap of paper by the musician in the 60s, sold for $422,500 at an auction at Sotheby's in New York on Friday, far exceeding the expected sale price of between $200,000 and $300,000.

Eric Clapton will be hoping to have similar luck when he sells off his guitar collection in aid of the Crossroads Centre in Antigua, a rehab clinic he set up in the late 90s. As well as his own guitars and other equipment, instruments have been donated by Jeff Beck, JJ Cale and Joe Bonamassa. The items will go on display at Bonhams in London between 23 and 26 Jan before being sold by the auction house on 9 Feb.

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Example has said that music would be better these days if more artists took drugs. But then he says he took lots of drugs while making his first album, which damages his argument a little.

The musician told the Daily Star: ''All artists today would be making better music if they took more drugs, it's a fact. I think if you wanna make proper dance music, which is any good, it's important you've been to Ibiza and stayed up all night, so it definitely helps to take drugs".

He added that his second album is less drug influenced, so might be rubbish: "I took drugs much more on my first album. I haven't written anything on drugs lately, so we'll see".

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Billy Ray Cyrus might take some solace in Example's claims that drugs help musicians to make better music, though he still seems quite upset by a video of his daughter Miley apparently smoking the psychedelic herb Salvia out of a bong, which appeared on the TMZ website over the weekend.

Writing on Twitter, Billy Ray said: "I had no idea. Just saw this stuff for the first time myself. I'm so sad. There is much beyond my control right now".

Billy Ray is currently in the process of divorcing his wife and Miley's mother, Tish. Miley has so far remained silent on the video. But her career as a house producer is looking assured.

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Andy Malt
Chris Cooke
Business Editor &
Caro Moses
Eddy Temple-Morris
Paul Vig
Club Tipper
John Cage

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