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Jobs & Training Courses
CMU Info
Top Stories
Legal man Crossley bails on sue-the-fans litigation
In The Pop Courts
Murray still pleading not guilty, trial date set
Awards & Contests
Reznor and (in a way) Marr up for Oscar
NME Awards nominations announced
In The Studio
Beyonce collaborates with Diplo, Switch and Sleigh Bells
Release News
The Strokes announce album details
Jessie J reveals album details
Darwin Deez releases Wonky Wonka mixtape
Gigs & Tours News
Frankie & The Heartstrings announce UK tour dates
The Agitator announces UK tour
Mr Fogg announces new single and tour dates
Festival News
Festival line-up update
Single review: Young Buffalo – Catapilah (Young & Lost Club)
Talks, Debates & Conventions
Initial IMS speakers announced
Brands & Stuff
Will.i.am named Intel director of creative innovation
The Music Business
IMPALA bring the bankers to MIDEM
The Digital Business
Vevo could launch in UK this spring
Chinese file-sharing service blocks unlicensed content
And finally...
Britney re-signs boyfriend as agent
Elton John not invited to royal wedding
Robbie Williams haunted

Formed in 2003 by Stephen Cracknell, folk-collective The Memory Band, whose revolving line-up has included Simon Lord from Black Ghosts and Hot Chip's Al Doyle, released their eponymous debut in 2004, while stunning crowds with improvisational festival sets. LP 'Apron Strings' followed in 2006, as did a renowned run of performances of 'The Wicker Man' soundtrack.

Their third album 'Oh My Days', due for release via Hungry Hill on 7 Feb, harks back subtly to the folk-jazz echoes of its predecessors whilst also absorbing blues, soul and rock influences. Meanwhile an all-new vocal vanguard adds a fleshed-out warmth to this collection of original songs and novel cover versions.

Ahead of the release, and further 'Wicker Man' live dates starting at the Glasgow Film Festival on 24 Feb, Stephen Cracknell took a few minutes to respond to our Same Six.

Q1 How did you start out making music?
As a teenager in bands with my friends, mostly playing the same thing over and over again for hours. Then we discovered machines. It was quite a while before we got any good.

Q2 What inspired your latest album?

The thrills, spills and bellyaches of life. Being outdoors and also being happy.

Q3 What process do you go through in creating a track?

With The Memory Band I deliberately try different ways of creating music. From picking a guitar, messing around with loops on a computer or just trying out a different instrument. There are also lots of different collaborators chipping in here and there.

Q4 Which artists influence your work?

Always the hardest question because the list is so long and because I believe that if someone inspires you the last thing you should do is just repeat what they did. John Cale was a big influence on this album. I love the way he was always changing, taking risks and his vocal style made a big impression upon me.

Q5 What would you say to someone experiencing your music for the first time?
It will be different the next time you hear it.

Q6 What are your ambitions for your latest album, and for the future?

For the album, to enjoy the process of playing it and sharing it with people. In general, just to carry on being lucky enough to make music and work with as many amazing people as I do. The longer I do music, the more I realise just how lucky I've been.

MORE>> www.thememoryband.com
It's been ages since we last wrote anything about Thomas Truax. Well, four months. But four months ago was last year, and last year is old news. Right now it's all about 2011. I will accept discussion about no other year. Luckily, Thomas, much like fellow eccentric popster and CMU favourite Tim Ten Yen, has launched a year long project, which will see him release a new track every month until 2011 is but a dried up carcass of a year, discarded like so many before it.

Entitled 'The Monthly Journal', the project will see Truax write a new song each month, influenced by the goings on around him during that period of the year. The first track, 'January Egg Race Dream', is a largely spoken word affair with a smoky jazz backing, pulling the listener into a, er, dream about being in an egg and spoon race in January. You can stream it and, for a limited time only, download it for free on SoundCloud now.


"The best music business training event I have attended; relevant and up to date, your knowledge of and enthusiasm for the industry is simply exceptional" from delegate feedback

We are currently taking bookings for the following CMU TRAINING courses:

How to make money out of music - both now and in the future, with a look at alternative investment and revenue streams, and a new approach to monetising artists and their music. Wed 9 Feb 2011

A beginner's guide to music copyright - everything you need to know about copyright law, licensing, monetising copyright, the fight against piracy and the future of the music rights industry. Wed 23 Feb 2011

For more information or to book visit www.theCMUwebsite.com/training

The London law firm which became synonymous with sue-the-fans litigation last year has bailed on the whole procedure, with its previously bullish main man blaming harassment from the pro-file-sharing community for his decision to step back from the fight.

As much previously reported, ACS:Law was hired by various content owners – although only minor players from the music industry – to send out threatening legal letters to suspected file-sharers. The accused were encouraged to settle by paying a set damages fee rather than fight the allegations of copyright infringement against them in court.

Even if ultimately ACS's clients were in the right legally speaking – ie their copyrights had been infringed by those receiving letters – the law firm's approach was criticised by various quarters. Partly because it felt like the company's founder Andrew Crossley had entered the sue-the-fans domain not to uphold the principle of copyright, but because he saw a quick buck to be made by intimidating suspected file-sharers into paying out of court settlements and then taking a commission from said payments.

The business seemed to be based on the principle most accused file-sharers would quickly settle however strong the case against them to avoid the hassle of going to court, especially if the content they were accused of illegally accessing was pornographic.

Nevertheless, Crossley insisted he was willing to go to court if and when individuals refused to respond to his legal letters or to settle. But, when he did just that – with a total of 27 cases - it turned out the legal man was much better at sending out intimidating letters than negotiating the intricacies of copyright law in front of a judge. The judge in question, Colin Birrs, questioned Crossley's process, the right of his clients (as agents of copyright owners) to sue, and the strength of the lawyer's legal arguments.

So shambolic was Crossley's court appearance that Birrs called a special hearing to review the whole sue-the-fans system being employed by ACS. As previously reported, keen to avoid any such review Crossley withdrew all of the infringement lawsuits he had so far issued, and then sent a sick note to court on the day of the hearing, which Birrs insisted should still go ahead.

But on Monday he did show up in court, albeit only to bail. In a statement read out by the barrister hired to represent ACS clients MediaCAT, the lawyer said he was stepping back from all his anti-file-sharing work because of harassment. According to Torrentfreak, his statement read: "I have ceased my work. I have been subject to criminal attack. My emails have been hacked. I have had death threats and bomb threats. It has caused immense hassle to me and my family".

Of course, however questionable the tactics of ACS:Law in its bid to make a quick buck on the back the file-sharing phenomenon, none of that justifies the cyber-attacks against the company's servers, nor any of the personal threats made online against Crossley, however hollow those threats may be. The pro-file-sharing community will see Crossley's sheepish withdrawal from this particular battle as a victory, but in reality neither side comes out of this overly well. Protesting about lawyers sending out intimidating notes by sending in intimidating notes is a bit hypocritical, to say the least.

But for the content industries, having lawyers like Crossley arrogantly stomping around making suspect claims about copyright law is not a good thing, because, while he never worked for any major music firm, those who like to kick the music business will nevertheless use his likes as ammunition against the mainstream industry in the piracy debate.

And wrapping up this particular chapter of the file-sharing story, Judge Birrs was clear in his criticism of ACS:Law, calling the whole charade "absolutely extraordinary". According to The Guardian he told the court: "I am not happy about this. I get the distinct impression that at every twist and turn there is a desire to avoid judicial scrutiny. It seems to be first instinct to avoid judicial scrutiny. There's been thousands of letters, and only [the] 27 cases [brought to court] had to be dropped? I doubt that. Copyright infringement is a serious matter, but this is just mindboggling".

Birrs added that he had considered banning ACS:Law's client MediaCAT – who had reportedly starting using a brand new sue-the-fans company set up by former ACS associates after Crossley's meltdown – from sending out any more copyright claim letters. "That would be an extraordinary order to make," he noted, "but these are extraordinary circumstances".

The judge is still to rule on whether Crossley and his company will actually be able to bail on the 27 cases pursued to court and, if its decided not, whether the actual content owners who MediaCAT represent – believed to be the UK's biggest sex shop chain – will have to join the proceedings as a claimant as well.

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As expected, Dr Conrad Murray stuck with his not-guilty plea with regards the death of Michael Jackson in court yesterday, despite a preliminary hearing earlier this month reviewing the evidence against the doc seemingly swaying in the prosecution's favour, according to legal commentators at least. As much previously reported, Murray is accused of criminal negligence for administering the drug Propofol to Jackson as a cure for insomnia. A shot of the drug proved fatal.

In an arraignment in the LA courts yesterday Murray again pleaded not guilty, while his lawyers requested a trial sooner rather than later. Prior to the hearing, Murray's legal man J Michael Flannigan told reporters: "I think our case is really solid. We were very pleased with the way the evidence went at the preliminary hearing ... this should result in an acquittal".

Judge Michael Pastor set 28 Mar for Murray's trail. He added that he was inclined to let TV cameras film the proceedings, and while that's not confirmed, if the court hearing is screened it will no doubt turn what is already likely to be a high profile court hearing into a full on media circus. It's thought the trial could last up to two months.

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Having bagged a Golden Globe earlier this month, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross' soundtrack to 'The Social Network' has now been nominated for the Oscar for Best Original Score. Also nominated is Hans Zimmer's soundtrack to 'Inception', which features contributions from Johnny Marr. Elsewhere, Dido and Randy Newman are among the nominees for Best Original Song.

Discussing his nomination, Reznor told The Hollywood Reporter yesterday: "When we did this film, the concept of an Academy Award was not even in my sphere of imagination. Atticus and I generated a bulk of music to send to [director] David Fincher and we felt that 50% of it was too much because this isn't a movie about the end of the world - it's about nerds in rooms and betrayal and internal emotion. But we were surprised by what David responded to; we realised that he was willing to take chances and let the music play a pivotal role in the picture. When it was all finished I felt like we contributed a lot. It's not a traditional score, and I'm proud of that".

The full musical Oscar noms are as follows:

Best Original Score:
John Powell - How to Train Your Dragon
Hans Zimmer - Inception
Alexandre Desplat - The King's Speech
AR Rahman - 127 Hours
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross - The Social Network

Best Original Song:
Tom Douglas, Troy Verges and Hillary Lindsey - Coming Home (from Country Strong)
Alan Menken and Glenn Slater - I See the Light (from Tangled)
AR Rahman feat Dido - If I Rise (from 127 Hours)
Randy Newman - We Belong Together (from Toy Story 3)


The nominations for this year's NME Awards have been announced. Foals and Arcade Fire lead with four nominations each. Cheryl Cole also does well, picking up two nominations in the not at all pointless Worst Album and Least Stylish categories.

The ceremony itself will take place on 23 Feb at Brixton Academy. Those nominations in full:

Best British Band: Arctic Monkeys, Biffy Clyro, Foals, Kasabian, Muse

Best International Band: Arcade Fire, Kings Of Leon, My Chemical Romance, The Drums, Vampire Weekend

Best Solo Artist: Florence And The Machine, Frank Turner, Kanye West, Laura Marling, Paul Weller

Best New Band: Beady Eye, Everything Everything, Hurts, The Drums, Two Door Cinema Club

Best Live Band: Arcade Fire, Biffy Clyro, Foals, Kasabian, Muse

Best Album: Arcade Fire – The Suburbs, Crystal Castles – Crystal Castles II, Foals – Total Life Forever, My Chemical Romance – Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys, Two Door Cinema Club – Tourist History

Best Track: Cee Lo Green – Fuck You, Foals – Spanish Sahara, Gorillaz – Stylo, Janelle Monae (feat Big Boi) – Tightrope, Mark Ronson & The Business Intl – Bang Bang Bang

Best Video: Arcade Fire – We Used To Wait, Brandon Flowers – Crossfire, Chase & Status – Let You Go, Gorillaz – Stylo, My Chemical Romance – Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)

Best Festival: Download, Glastonbury, Reading & Leeds Festivals, T In The Park, V Festival

Best Dancefloor Filler: Crystal Castles – Baptism, Kele – Tenderoni, Plan B – Stay Too Long, Professor Green – Jungle, Tinie Tempah – Pass Out

Best TV Show: Misfits, Nevermind The Buzzcocks, Peep Show, Skins, The Inbetweeners

Best Film: Get Him To The Greek, Inception, Kick-Ass, Scott Pilgrim Vs The World, The Social Network

Hero Of The Year: Gerard Way, Julian Assange, Kanye West, Lady Gaga, Matt Bellamy

Villain Of The Year: Axl Rose, David Cameron, Justin Bieber, Nick Clegg, Simon Cowell

Most Stylish: Brandon Flowers, Hayley Williams, Lady Gaga, Liam Gallagher, Noel Fielding

Least Stylish: Cheryl Cole, Justin Bieber, Ke$ha, Lady Gaga, Liam Gallagher

Worst Album: Cheryl Cole – Messy Little Raindrops, Justin Bieber – My World, Katy Perry – Teenage Dream, Kings Of Leon – Come Around Sundown, My Chemical Romance – Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys

Worst Band: 30 Seconds To Mars, JLS, Jonas Brothers, Kings Of Leon, Tokio Hotel

Best Band Blog Or Twitter: Frank Turner, Hayley Williams, Kanye West, Lily Allen, Theo Hutchcraft

Best Book: Carl Barat – Threepenny Memoir, Jay-Z – Decode, John Lydon – Mr Rotten's Scrapbook, Keith Richards – Life, Russell Brand – My Booky Wook 2

Best Small Festival (50,000 capacity or lower): Bestival, Kendal Calling, Latitude, RockNess, Underage Festival

Best Album Artwork: Foals – Total Life Forever, Gorillaz – Plastic Beach, Klaxons –Surfing The Void, MGMT – Congratulations, My Chemical Romance – Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys

Hottest Woman: Alison Mosshart (The Kills), Emily Haines (Metric), Hayley Williams (Paramore), Lady Gaga, Shakira

Hottest Man: Alex Turner (Arctic Monkeys), Billie Joe Armstrong (Green Day), Dominic Howard (Muse), Jared Leto (30 Seconds To Mars), Matt Bellamy (Muse)

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Oh, see, now this could be interesting. Or disastrous. Actually, even if it was disastrous it would still be interesting. Diplo has revealed that he has been working on new music with Beyonce, Sleigh Bells bloke Derek Miller and his Major Lazer partner Switch. See? Interesting. And when can we hear the product of their labours? Maybe never. Oh, Diplo, you tease.

Writing on his Mad Decent blog, the producer said: "Me and Switch was in studio in NYC tryin to make tracks with Derek and Beyonce last week after we played her team [Sleigh Bells'] album... dunno if we gonna manage to finish but was good times".

Oh well, you can listen to Diplo's remix of 'Tell Em' by Sleigh Bells, at least: maddecent.com/blog/sleigh-bells-tell-em-diplo-remix

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The Strokes are going to release a new album. They spent ages not recording it, then they did some recording, then they played some festivals, then they finished recording it and now it's finished and they're going to release it. I imagine it will be as tedious as that last sentence.

'Angles' will be released on 21 Mar through Rough Trade, preceded by the first single, 'Under Cover Of Darkness', for which a release date has not yet been sent.

These are the names of the songs on it:

Machu Picchu
Under Cover of Darkness
Two Kinds of Happiness
You're So Right
Taken For A Fool
Call Me Back
Life Is Simple In The Moonlight

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Jessie J will release her debut album, 'Who You Are', on 28 Mar. It'll feature the singles 'Do It Like A Dude' and 'Price Tag', the latter of which features BoB.


Price Tag (feat BoB)
Nobody's Perfect
Big White Room
Casualty Of Love
Who's Laughing Now
Do It Like A Dude
Mamma Knows Best
Stand Up
I Need This
Who You Are

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Darwin Deez has put together a mixtape using only samples from 'Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory'. Because, um, I don't know, he just has. Must everything have a reason? Adding vocals and rap stuff to the tape, along side Darwin himself, are Dev Hynes, Das Racist's Kool AD and Chiddy Bang.

Says Deez: "It's a high concept mixtape, tailor-made for multi-generational impact, created exclusively from Willy Wonka samples with the songs all derived from/based on the original 1971 score. It's like [Dangermouse's] 'Grey Album' but with chocolate ... Why limit yourself to Willy Wonka samples? Limitations inspire me. Limitations give me the freedom to feel OK about whatever comes out because I can always blame the limitations".

To get hold of the 'Wonky Beats' mixtape, you need to first post a Darwin Deez video to your Facebook page and then email him a screenshot to prove you've done it. Full details on all that here: darwindeez.com/wonkybeats/

If that all sounds like a lot of effort, you can sample one track, entitled 'Where's The Chocolate', in MP3 form here: www.darwindeez.com/wheresthechocolate.mp3

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Frankie & The Heartstrings will release their debut album, 'Hunger', through Wichita/Pop Sex on 21 Feb. The title track of the album will be released as a single the week before that.

Watch the video for the single here: youtu.be/n-XN_7msXzQ

The band are also playing live in February. You should go because they are very good at playing live, and because if you manage to engage one or more of them in conversation they will make you laugh a lot.

Tour dates:

11 Feb: Durham, Live Lounge
12 Feb: Middlesbrough, Empire
15 Feb: Newcastle, Cluny
16 Feb: Leeds, Cockpit
17 Feb: Manchester
18 Feb: York, Fibbers
19 Feb: Liverpool, Academy 2
21 Feb: London, Heaven
22 Feb: Oxford, The Cellar
24 Feb: Kingston Upon Thames, New Slang
25 Feb: Cardiff, Dempsey's
26 Feb: Birmingham, Academy 2
27 Feb: Bristol, Fleece

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Right, all of you, you are all going to go to at least one date of this here tour by The Agitator. I command it. Frankly, if you don't want to see a band comprised solely of one vocalist and two drummers then I'm not sure we should speak any more.

Frontman Derek Meins has this to say of The Agitator: "I wanted a new kind of music, nothing more than banging, stamping, clapping and voices. Something anyone could do anywhere, on a march, at a protest, on the barricades..."

Listen to new single, 'Say NO!', which is due for release on 7 Mar, here: soundcloud.com/sainted-pr/the-agitator-say-no-2

Tour dates:

30 Jan: Oxford, Communion
3 Feb: London, Barfly
17 Feb: Brighton, The Green Door Store
19 Feb: Cambridge, Haymakers
21 Feb: Bristol, Thekla
22 Feb: Nottingham, Stealth
25 Feb: Leeds, Nation Of Shopkeepers
26 Feb: Glasgow, Captain's Rest
27 Feb: Newcastle, Riverside
28 Feb: Manchester, Night & Day

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Mr Fogg will release a new single, entitled 'Answerphone', on 21 Mar via Kicking Ink Recordings. You can watch the video for the track here as proof of its existence: youtu.be/-0sCPVn72WA

He'll be touring, too. Also in March. That's proper co-ordination:

12 Mar: Reading, 21 South Street
19 Mar: Nottingham, Stealth
21 Mar: Sheffield, The Forum
23 Mar: Southampton, Talking Heads
24 Mar: Bristol, Thekla
26 Mar: Sunderland, The Little Room
29 Mar: Guildford, The Boiler Room
30 Mar: Cardiff, Ten Feet Tall
31 Mar: London, The Barfly

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DOUR, Belgium, 14-17 Jul: Jump around! No, seriously. House Of Pain are the first act announced on the bill at this EFA-elected best medium-sized Euro festival. Providing backup to the jumpy hip hop legends, as if they needed it, will be The Amplifetes and German band Shantel & Bucovina Club Orkestar. www.dourfestival.be/en

DOWNLOAD, Donington Park, 10-12 Jun: The latest wave of acts to hit this summer's Download bill includes Korn, Pendulum (headlining the Other Stage), Thin Lizzy and Alter Bridge. Alice Cooper, Danzig, GWAR, Bullet For My Valentine and a host of other rowdy rock and metal talent will also join line-up supremos System Of A Down and Linkin Park. www.downloadfestival.co.uk/2011/

HIGH VOLTAGE, Victoria Park, London, 23-24 Jul: Jethro Tull and Caravan are to play the prog stage at the classic rock two dayer, which will also feature an exhibition of Evil Knievel memorabilia. Playing alongside already-confirmed main stage headliners Judas Priest and Dream Theater will be Spock's Beard, Michael Schenker Group and Black Country Communion. www.highvoltagefestival.com

HMV NEXT BIG THING, various venues, London, Birmingham, Edinburgh, 4-13 Feb: And So I Watch You From Afar and Chilly Gonzales are both newly confirmed from HMV's multi-city new talent fest. Sound Of Rum, Harrys Gym, David E Sugar and many more are also slated to appear. Shows by hotly-tipped Claire Macguire, Anna Calvi, Jessie J, James Blake and Dutch Uncles, Sunday Girl amongst others are all already sold out, sorry. www.hmvnextbigthing.com

MELT!, Gräfenhainichen, Dessau, Germany, 15-17 Jul: Organisers of this German fest yesterday confirmed they too would be getting a set from the reuniting Pulp this summer. Also on show will be Robyn, The Streets, Cut Copy, Boys Noize and Digitalism. www.meltfestival.de/en

OUTLOOK, Fort Punta Christo, Pula, Croatia, 1-4 Sep: Everyone's favourite La Roux-scrambler Skream heads up the newest announcements for this Croatian soundsystem/dubstep celebration this year. Also bringing the basslines will be Benga, Barrington Levy, Hudson Mohawke, Pharoahe Monch, Kode 9 And Space Ape, Twinkle Brothers and too many others to possibly mention. www.outlookfestival.com

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SINGLE REVIEW: Young Buffalo – Catapilah (Young & Lost Club)
Recent signings to US label Fat Possum, three-piece outfit Young Buffalo team up with Wavves producer Kyle 'Slick' Johnson for their storming debut single, 'Catapilah'.

Despite some considerable blog-based hype, not to mention the backing of Zane Lowe (who recently championed them on his reshuffled Radio 1 breakfast slot), the promising young band remain Mississippi's best kept secret. Sounding - sort of - like the southern rebel cousins of Fleet Foxes, Young Buffalo are under the same management as Arctic Monkeys and - like Alex Turner et al in their earlier days - they possess a strong musical instinct that belies their tender years.

This is an exuberant anthem free from any pretence or posturing, driven forward untiringly by a rattling backbeat and a soaring shared vocal of sweet triad harmonies. The chorus is instantly memorable, lastingly catchy and bawled at the top of their lungs in proper rabble-rousing fashion. Stay tuned for more tunes from this lot. AB

Physical release: 14 Feb

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Organisers of the dance music focused music business conference, the Ibiza-based International Music Summit, yesterday announced details of some of this year's speakers and panellists, and it's a packed line up.

Keynotes will include Mute Records boss Daniel Miller, whose label is not only a pioneer of electronic music, but also returned to independent status last year after demerging from EMI. Also keynoting will be Radio 1's music man George Ergatoudis, William Morris Endeavor agent David Levy and Emmanuel du Buretel, founder of the Because label. Artists will also be part of the conference mix, with Richie Hawtin, Sasha and Paul Kalkbrenner among those to speak.

Confirming the line up, IMS co-founder Pete Tong told CMU: "We are very proud to announce the first stage of our conference line up for the Fourth International Music Summit in Ibiza. Once again we are privileged to welcome an incredibly diverse array of brilliant guest speakers including the legendary founder of Mute Records Daniel Miller and George Ergatoudis head of music at BBC Radio 1. I'm sure event will continue to make a major contribution to the debate on the future of electronic music entertainment around the world".

The IMS this year runs from 25-27 May.

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Black Eyed Peas' Will.i.am has been forced to take a day job. He will now have an office at Intel where he has been appointed Director Of Creative Innovation.

Announcing his new role, Will.i.am said: "Nearly everything I do involves processors and computers, and when I see an Intel chip I think of all the creative minds involved that help to amplify my own creativity. Teaming up with the scientists, researchers and computer programmers at Intel to collaborate and co-develop new ways to communicate, create, inform and entertain is going to be amazing".

Intel Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Deborah Conrad added: "We're thrilled to tap into the limitless creativity Will.i.am brings to the table. He's not only a brilliant artist and producer, but also an innovator pushing the bounds of technology professionally and personally. We share a strong interest in innovation around music, art and lifestyle, and are excited to join forces to establish an authentic, emotional connection with consumers".

Precise details of the producer's day-to-day tasks at the company have not yet been confirmed, but I'm assuming he'll be tied to a desk from at least nine to five, this is a proper appointment right? Presumably all Black Eyed Peas touring will now have to be arranged around his annual leave allowance. It'll be tough, but Lady Gaga seems to have managed to balance her office job as Polaroid's Creative Director alongside an international pop career alright.

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IMPALA brought along representatives from the European Bank to MIDEM earlier this week to discuss possible new financial tools for the independent creative sector.

The pan-European independent music organisation launched a Finance Working Group at the Cannes conference last year involving indie label owners, bankers and EU representatives with the aim of exploring new investment routes for small and medium sized music companies. This time round reps from the European Bank met with said working group for discussions.

IMPALA also met with the French European Commissioner for Internal Market & Services Michel Barnier on Saturday, also to discuss helping smaller creative businesses to access finance and investment. On the agenda there was revising accounting standards to value copyright intangible assets, improving online market access and the status of copyright SMEs in Europe generally.

IMPALA Exec Chair Helen Smith told CMU: "Access to finance is vital and this is a clear step towards new financial instruments and proper valuation of copyright assets".

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Universal's YouTube powered music video service Vevo is all set for launch here in the UK, according to sources. An exact launch date isn't yet clear, but according to media sales magazine Media Week a London-based ad sales team is being put in place as we speak, while Marketing magazine reckons the service could go live in April.

As much previously reported, Vevo was initiated by Universal and is also backed by Sony and the Abu Dhabi Media Company, with EMI also licensing in content. It's an ad funded music video-on-demand platform that is accessible via its own home page, but also within the YouTube framework, the latter fact ensuring it had impressive viewing figures from the word go.

Vevo itself handles ad sales, even when videos are watched through the YouTube site. Exactly how well sales have been going isn't clear, though bosses there have been pretty bullish from the outset.

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A file-sharing service in China last weekend blocked the transfer of music and movies over its networks, instead pointing users to licensed content. Bosses at VeryCD, one of China's most popular file-sharing websites, were seemingly responding to increased pressure from the Chinese authorities who are known to have stepped up their anti-piracy agenda in recent months. In particular, the country's Ministry Of Public Security recently published a detailed list of penalties for online copyright infringement, which included up to seven years in jail for more prolific offenders.

Huang Yimeng, who founded the file-sharing site in 2003, didn't sound especially pleased with the development. According to Torrentfreak, he posted on the VeryCD blog: "Seven years of hard work and accumulation, that will now shut off, the end is the end. No one wanted this, but we had expected this moment would suddenly come. Now all we can do is face the reality with courage. We must never give up - 2011 is our new starting point. Work! Hard!"

Yimeng admitted that while he and his team had been preparing to respond to a crackdown on copyright infringement in China for some time, and had been considering reinventing their service as a legitimate content provider, in the end the need to act came much quicker than they anticipated. He said: "Although we have been preparing for this event, the required adjustment was very urgent. This led us to adjust rather quickly to delete the content of copyright-related disputes".

Despite the plans for relaunching VeryCD as a legit content platform, the speed with which the file-sharing network came to a halt on Friday is likely to see a majority of its users move over to rival, probably illegal services.

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According to reports, Britney Spears' boyfriend Jason Trawick has been re-hired as the singer's agent after she entered into a new deal with his employer, William Morris Endeavor. Trawick stepped down as Britney's rep in May last year so the couple could focus on their "personal relationship". He was subsequently accused of physically abusing Spears, of course, by an old friend of the singer, though those allegations were strongly denied by the couple. The agent will be working with his other half again professionally because she has signed up to WME, where he works.

A source told Us Magazine: "Jason will be part of the team handling her career. He won't be the only agent working with her, he will handling acting endeavours, but there will be a big music department also on her account. Jason is someone the family trusts, they know he will make the best decisions for her and she feels comfortable with him. WME is absolutely the best choice for Britney. They are the best at what they do and her team recognise that".

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Well, if re-writing a song for someone's dead mother isn't enough to get you an invite to their wedding, I don't know what is. Still, Elton John doesn't seem that bothered that he won't get to see Prince William marry Kate Middleton live. It's probably better watching it on TV anyway, cos you can get up and go to the loo. Or you could just tape it and then fast forward through the boring bits (possibly all of it) later.

John told Reuters: "I think because of my relationship with Princess Diana, people automatically think I'm going to be invited. I just wish them the happiest of lives together. ... I'm not invited to the wedding, I would not expect to be invited to the wedding. I don't really know the boys at all. I met the boys and had lunch with them when their mother was alive ... They're tremendous boys, but I don't know them [so] it would be presumptuous of me to even talk about them. They are great boys, their mum would be very proud of them".

I've edited this, he said "boys" even more than that.

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According to The Sun, Robbie Williams' house in LA is haunted by a ghost called Bertie.

A source told the tabloid this: "The dogs can see it. Its nickname is Bertie. They believe it's a man from the beginning of the 20th century".

Reports that the ghost is made of Liquorice Allsorts are as yet unconfirmed.

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Andy Malt
Chris Cooke
Business Editor &
Caro Moses
Eddy Temple-Morris
Paul Vig
Club Tipper
Andy Coulson
Switchboard Operator

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