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It's Christmas this week. But there is still work to be done, like putting together the final Five Day Forecast column of the 2011. As precisely nothing is happening this week apart from Christmas parties, I thought I'd use it to tell you about some upcoming CMU-related stuff. There's also one exciting new project I'm not allowed to tell you about just yet, so stay tuned for that in the new year more>>
Throughout December, we will be revisiting some of our favourite artists to have appeared in the CMU Approved column this year. Featuring in CMU for the first time in August, The Dying Seconds released their debut single, 'Mora Minn', the following month, a subtle and wonderful mix of piano, percussion and glitchy electronica which quietly builds over four minutes more>>
- HMV publishes gloomy figures, set for first ever year end loss
- Welsh language artists go on strike
- Spector appeals murder conviction to Supreme Court
- Etta James's leukaemia incurable
- PJ Harvey tops HMV's poll of polls
- Researchers to present hit record formula
- Brian Wilson to rejoin Beach Boys
- Grinderman drummer comments on split
- Arcade Fire release interactive video
- Sleigh Bells stream new song
- Gil Scott-Heron memoirs due in new year
- Dry The River announce tour
- Festival line-up update
- Anti-piracy delays: SOPA, Sinde Law and DEA
- Former EMI A&R boss on the Terra Firma era
- Celador buys Midwest Radio
- Harry McFly wins Strictly
- Shakur sex tape goes to private collector
- Company designs "Amy Winehouse tribute lamp"
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We are looking for an Affiliate Manager to join our team in London and run our in-house affiliate programme. You should be capable of establishing and developing strong partnerships within the live entertainment industry and across brands that drive traffic to the websites of Eventim and our partners, help secure presales, deliver promotions and generate ticket sales.

A passion for live entertainment is essential.

To apply please send a cover letter including salary expectations together with your CV to: [email protected]. Closing date: 13 January 2012
Enthusiastic individual required to manage a small private recording studio and generally assist a team of established dance music producers.

Must be organised and willing to deal with the day to day running of a recording studio, web/social media savvy, be familiar with Pro-Tools, Logic, Ableton etc. and have a genuine interest in cutting edge dance music of all genres.

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Looking to interview pre-Christmas for possible mid-January start. Please e-mail CV to [email protected]
Kilimanjaro Live are promoters of live music and other events including Sonisphere and Wakestock festivals and are looking for a Ticketing Manager to join our team. We work on hundreds of events a year with a wide variety of artists and at capacities from small rooms to arenas to stadiums and green field sites so ideally you would have a good level of experience in the ticketing requirements of some if not all of these event types.

An interest in music and willingness to work within a pressured environment as part of a team is essential. The role is based in London but involves some travel, particularly in festival season.

Please send your CV and a covering note to [email protected]

More gloomy numbers are coming out of HMV today, which seems set to report its first ever annual loss, or at least that's what most analysts are now predicting based on the entertainment retailer's half-year figures.

Sales are down 17.6% so far this year, and 13.2% year on year in the last seven weeks, the most important part of the year for any retailer. And, while a statement insisted that the company still enjoys the support of its bankers and has adequate resources to continue trading for the foreseeable future, it admitted that "the economic environment and trading circumstances create material uncertainties which may cast significant doubt on the group's ability to continue as a going concern [long term]".

Gloomy reading indeed. Having sold off both its Waterstones chain and Canadian division to raise funds earlier this year, speculation is now rising that HMV boss Simon Fox may be forced to sell off some of the assets he bought, when first in the CEO's chair, as part of his original plan to rescue the retail firm by diversifying its operations. As previously reported, it has already been speculated that might include selling HMV's 50% stake in 7Digital, while today's report admitted a strategic review of the HMV Live division - aka the MAMA Group - is under way, which might lead to a sale.

It's thought HMV execs will meet with key suppliers today to keep them on side despite the gloomy financials. Bosses are likely to stress the good performance of the big Christmas bestsellers, DVDs in particular, and the potential of Fox's grand plan to sell more gadgets through the HMV shops (which is certainly good for turnover if not profit).

Of course, despite widespread concerns about the future of the HMV empire, its key suppliers will remain supportive to an extent, the major record companies in particular recognising HMV stores are their last big presence on the high street. Some have even speculated Universal might step in to buy the company, though that does seem unlikely, especially given Universal's ongoing EMI purchase.

But what are the City types making of all this. Well, analysts have been down on retail, and especially entertainment retail, for ages now, and see announcements like this as verification of those concerns. Philip Dorgan of investment bank Panmure Gordon told the Telegraph: "It's not looking too good for HMV. It's a shame because the staff are doing a good job, but they have been dealt a terrible hand.

They are being picked off by the supermarkets and the internet. Anything you can buy from HMV you can buy cheaper or more conveniently elsewhere. It is high up on my list of [potential] Christmas casualties".

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Welsh-language musicians are on strike. Or, rather, they have called on the BBC's Welsh language radio station BBC Radio Cymru to stop playing their music in an ongoing dispute over royalties.

The Welsh Music Publishers And Composers Alliance accuses the Beeb of reworking the way royalties are calculated so that the money paid out to the writers and performers of tracks played on the Welsh language station are now much less. They are staging a three day strike this week, starting today, and have asked BBC Cymru to not play there music during that time period.

Commenting on the impact of recent changes in royalty levels, Dafydd Roberts, CEO of Welsh language record company Sain, told The Guardian: "It is certain to lead to a significant reduction in the production of new Welsh musical works".

It's tricky for the BBC, which is facing big pressures to cut costs across the board. The Corporation also argues that royalty levels are ultimately set by PRS For Music, and that the BBC in Wales has been working hard, talking to both the collecting society and local artists, to find a solution.

Radio Cymru bosses have said they will try to respect the wishes of those artists affiliated with the Alliance today, though are likely to return to normal output tomorrow and on Wednesday. Of course as it operates under a collective licence from PRS the BBC is not actually legally obliged to respect the Alliance's protest.

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Phil Spector is having another go at appealing his 2009 murder conviction, this time taking his case to the US Supreme Court. The legendary producer is in jail, of course, for killing one time actress Lana Clarkson at his Californian home in 2003. He has always maintained that she killed herself.

Spector's appeal centres on allegations about the conduct of Judge Larry Paul Fidler during the producer's court case, in particular comments he made about an expert witness, which, Spector's lawyers say, stopped their client from getting a fair trial.

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The doctor caring for soul legend Etta James has said that the singer's chronic leukaemia has been confirmed as incurable and that she is now very ill. Urging the singer's fans to pray for James, she added that while said fans knew her patient had been sick for some time they didn't realise "just how sick".

Dr Elaine James, who isn't related to the singer, was speaking after a conservatorship hearing in California to discuss the management of James's $1 million estate, and expenditure on the singer's healthcare.

As previously reported, James's son has previously raised concerns about his mother's medical treatment, and her husband Artis Mills' management of her financial affairs.

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Hopefully distracting at least some attention from those disappointing sales figures, HMV has released its annual poll of polls, working out which records have come up most frequently in the end of year music round ups published by various British media. And the overall record of the year according to this polling? Well, PJ Harvey's 'Let England Shake', obviously.

Look, here's HMV Music Manager John Hirst saying words: "It's not a great surprise that Polly should come out on top of this year's polls, particularly after already winning the Mercury Prize. Musically it's untouchable, combining deceptively simple songwriting with sublime musicianship and sparse production to great effect. It's perhaps also appropriate, in some of the most politically charged times in recent memory, that a protest album should be so recognised as a great work".

But what other albums have been getting year-end approval from multiple media sources? Well, look here, HMV have only gone and published a full Poll Of Polls top 50, which we have very kindly reproduced below.

1. PJ Harvey - Let England Shake
2. Bon Iver - Bon Iver
3. Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues
4. Radiohead - King Of Limbs
5. tUnE-yArDs - Whokill
6. Wild Beasts - Smother
7. Kurt Vile - Smoke Ring For My Halo
8. James Blake - James Blake
9. Tom Waits - Bad As Me

10. Horrors - Skying
11. Adele - 21
12. Destroyer - Kaputt
13. Real Estate - Days
14. Lykke Li - Wounded Rhymes
15. Gillian Welch - Harrow And The Harvest
16. Bjork - Biophilia
17. Washed Out - Within and Without
18. Girls - Father, Son And The Holy Ghost
19. Mastodon - The Hunter
20. Jay-Z and Kanye West - Watch The Throne

21. Frank Ocean - Ultra Nostalgia
22. Wilco - The Whole Love
23. War On Drugs - Slave Ambient
24. Laura Marling - A Creature I Don't Know
25. Metronomy - English Riviera
26. EMA - Past Life Martyred Saints
27. Florence And The Machine - Ceremonials
28. The Weeknd - House Of Balloons
29. Iceage - New Brigade
30. Shabazz Palaces - Black Up

32. Drake - Take Care
33. Ryan Adams - Ashes and Fire
34. Yuck - Yuck
35. Antlers - Burst Apart
36. White Denim - D
37. Josh T Pearson - Last Of The Country Gentlemen
38. St Vincent - Strange Mercy
39. King Creosote and John Hopkins - Diamond Mine
40. The Decemberists - The King Is Dead

41. M83 - Hurry Up We're Dreaming
42. Wild Flag - Wild Flag
43. Feist - Metals
44. Gang Gang Dance - Eye Contact
45. Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds - Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds
46. Fucked Up - David Comes To Life
47. Beirut - Rip Tide
48. Panda Bear - Tomboy
49. My Morning Jacket - Circuital
50. The Black Keys - El Camino

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Can science predict whether a song will be a hit or not? No, but it's always fun when it tries. And researchers from the University Of Bristol will this week present a paper which they say includes a formula that will predict whether a tune will be a hit or miss.

The researchers looked at the top 40 singles from the past 50 years and examined factors such as tempo, time signature, song duration, loudness and harmonic simplicity. They say they now have a formula which will predict with 60% accuracy whether a song will chart, and whether or not it will go top five.

The researchers say: "The equation works by looking at all the UK hits for a certain time and measuring their audio features. [Though] musical tastes evolve, which means our 'hit potential equation' needs to evolve as well. Indeed, we have found the hit potential of a song depends on the era. This may be due to the varying dominant music style, culture and environment".

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After years of speculation, and the odd denial from Mike Love, The Beach Boys have announced that they will reunite with Brian Wilson to tour and record a new album to mark their 50th anniversary.

As previously reported, US entertainment journalist Robin Leech claimed in June 2010 that Love had told him such a reunion was in the pipeline, but then Love himself issued a statement denying there were any plans for Brian Wilson to join him on a Beach Boys tour. Then the following month another founder member of the group, Al Jardine, seemingly told reporters that a reunion involving him, Love and Wilson was being considered for the 50th anniversary of the band, prompting Love to issue another denial that there were any plans on the table, though he did admit there had been "a conversation".

In May of this year, Brian Wilson himself confirmed that he was considering a reunion, telling BBC 6music: "I'm considering it. I don't know yet but I'm considering it. Nothing's really holding me back. I just don't know if I want to be around those guys you know. They're zany guys. They're crazy".

Then on Friday, it was finally announced that the surviving members of that band will indeed reunite next year. So far only one show has been confirmed, with the band to be one of the headline acts at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, which is due to take place from 27 Apr to 6 May.

Confirming the news, Wilson said last week: "This anniversary is special to me because I miss the boys and it will be a thrill for me to make a new record and be on stage with them again".

Love added: "We got together at Capitol Records and re-recorded 'Do It Again'. Brian and I wrote that song, which went to number one in Great Britain, Australia and elsewhere some 44 years ago. Brian paid me a compliment saying: 'How can a guy sound that great so many years later?' Later on, while working out some harmonies on a new song Brian had written, I got a chance to return the compliment".

He continued: "Music has been the unifying and harmonising fact of life in our family since childhood. It has been a huge blessing that we have been able to share with the world. Wouldn't it be nice to do it again? Absolutely!"

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Grinderman drummer Jim Scalvunos has spoken to FasterLouder about the band's recent announcement at Australia's Meredith Music Festival that they are splitting up (as much as four men who still play together in another band can split up).

As previously reported, at the end of the band's set frontman Nick Cave said: "That's it for Grinderman. It's over. See you all in another ten years when we'll be even older and uglier".

Asked if Cave's announcement was a surprise, Sclavunos said: "No, not at all. I knew months in advance that it was going to be our last show as Grinderman. Was there any looking back? No, because the very next day I was going into the studio and start production on a new band's [Teenage Mother's] album. What happened at Meredith was more a bye-bye than an announcement. An announcement would be like a press release, but who knows what will happen in five or ten years time. My crystal ball is a bit low on batteries at the moment so I can't predict what the future of Grinderman is - if there is a future".

He added that there were now plans for another stint of activity with Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds, which possibly means we can look forward to the follow-up to 2008's 'Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!' album. Read more of Sclavunos' comments here: www.fasterlouder.com.au/news/local/31021/Grinderman-Exclusive-Theres-always-the-prospect-of-the-dreaded-come-back-tour

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Arcade Fire have once again worked with director Vincent Morrisset on an interactive video, this time for 'The Suburbs' standout, 'Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)'. It follows Régine Chassagne of the band as she flounces free-spiritedly about a town populated by a beige-clad plebeian mob.

Featuring movable scenes that react to mouse-clicks (as used in the band's previous collaboration with Morrisset on 2007's 'Neon Bible' - www.beonlineb.com), the 'Sprawl' video can also be connected to a webcam, thus letting the viewer control on-screen actions with their own movements. It's all very innovative, as is Regine's dancing.

You can give the interactive version a spin here: www.sprawl2.com. And if all else - even this teaser - www.youtube.com/watch?v=tWDMTzwrAbM - featuring the band's personal invitation to dance - fails, watch the 'traditional' take below.


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Following a release announcement and tracklisting from their new album, 'Reign Of Terror', the trickle of Sleigh Bells exclusives continues with a stream of the LP's lead single 'Born To Lose'. The track, a double-time tumble of mangled riffs and singer Alexis Krauss' brattish sigh, will feature in second place on the album, which is out on Valentines Day 2012. Stream 'Born To Lose' here: www.spin.com/articles/sleigh-bells-exclusive-hear-new-single-born-lose

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Memoirs attributed to late hip hop pioneer Gil Scott-Heron are to be published next year, it's been announced.

Canongate will release 'The Last Holiday', which charts Heron and Stevie Wonder's 1980 'Hotter Than July' tour, in early January. Heron, a passionate civil rights activist, organised the outing to garner public support for a federal holiday in honour of Martin Luther King. It is thought that the memoirs will be made available just before King's birthday on 15 Jan, now a recognised US holiday of course (or thereabouts, next year's Martin Luther King Day is actually on 16 Jan).

Canongate have previewed a chapter in which Heron remembers first hearing the news of John Lennon's assassination after a show with Wonder in Oakland, California. You can download both the audio and text versions of the extract here: www.canongate.tv/gil-audio

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Having sold out a show at London's XOYO as part of Q's Sessions, alt-rock quintet Dry The River are to further promote their debut album, 'Shallow Bed', with a lengthy live outing. With the band's previously reported LP due out via Sony/RCA/Victor on 5 Mar, the tour will run as follows:

17 Apr: Nottingham, Bodega
18 Apr: Cardiff, Clwb Ifor Bach
19 Apr: Manchester, Academy
21 Apr: Aberdeen, Café Drummond
22 Apr: Glasgow, King Tut's
23 Apr: Belfast, Limelight
24 Apr: Cork, Cyprus Avenue
25 Apr: Dublin, Whelans
27 Apr: Leeds, Brudenell Social Club
28 Apr: Newcastle, The Cluny
30 Apr: Bristol, Fleece
2 May: London, Electric Ballroom
12 May: Norwich, Arts Centre

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RHTYHM FESTIVALS, Mansion House, Old Warden Park, Bedforshire, 24-26 Aug: Now offering day tickets as well as a full weekend ticket (for the cash strapped, presumably), next year's triple-barrelled Rhythm bill is so far set to host Hawkwind, Ken Boothe, The Damned, David Rodigan, The Beat and The Slackers. www.rhythmfestival.com

BY:LARM, various venues, Oslo, Norway, 16-18 Feb: Sweden's Loney Dear and I Break Horses square up to Sondre Lerche and Mirror Lakes amidst by:Larm's penultimate line-up announcement. Also brimming with Scandinavian promise on the overall bill are Rubik, Simian Ghost, and previously announced acts Cody, IGNUG, and Rebecca & Fiona. www.bylarm.no

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Despite tough talking on both sides of the debate outside Congress, discussions in the House Of Representatives last week on America's Stop Online Piracy Act were typically tedious. As previously reported, SOPA has got a lot of coverage in the US. The act has parallels with legislation elsewhere in the world, providing a high speed system for rights owners to force copyright infringing websites offline. Opponents claim it's a move that will let big business censor the internet.

Last week's meeting discussed various issues around the Act, and considered proposed amendments to it. Many of the proposals were voted down, though revisions to protect websites that inadvertently host infringing content - so, a SOPA equivalent of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's safe harbour clauses - were supported.

Despite most people expecting the House Judiciary Committee to reach some kind of conclusion regards the Act by Friday, in the end it was a agreed to reconvene this coming Wednesday to continue discussions, a delay which many of those who oppose the Act saw as a victory. It's actually quite hard to assess the mood of the actual lawmakers on this one, though the anti side of the debate certainly delivered the best voxpops last week with their predictions of sinister online censorship should SOPA become law.

Elsewhere in the world, plans for a similar web-blocking system in Spain have been delayed as the country's outgoing government confirmed it wouldn't be able to put live its anti-piracy system before stepping down from power, despite the so called Sinde Law that set out a web-blocking process passing through the country's parliament earlier this year.

Like SOPA, the Sinde Law had many vocal opponents, some of whom now hope that the failure of the current Spanish government to get the web-blocking system live before losing power might severely hinder the new anti-piracy measures. But the copyright industries are hoping that it's just a temporary setback, and Spain's incoming government will take over where the outgoing leaders left off.

Back in the UK, the web-blocking provisions in the Digital Economy Act were, of course, put on permanent hold pending further parliamentary consideration, the British government prioritising three-strikes (though not even that is live yet). In an interview with The Observer this weekend, Sony Music UK chief Nick Gatfield expressed frustration that web-blocking had been put on the back burner during legislative efforts to crack down on piracy over here.

He told the paper: "Broadband businesses are being built on the back of illegal file-sharing. As high-speed broadband becomes ubiquitous the problem is going to get bigger and bigger. We need site-blocking, and it's an incredibly spurious argument for the ISPs to say that they can't do it because they can do it and they do do it".

Of course, while the web-blocking provisions of the DEA are on permanent hold, following the Newzbin ruling earlier this year, web-blocking injunctions can be achieved under current copyright law, albeit via a somewhat slower judicial process. The BPI has been trying to use that ruling to pressure British ISPs to block access to The Pirate Bay, though from what we hear the net providers aren't playing ball, and it remains to be seen whether the record label trade body will actually go to court to secure Newzbin-style injunctions.

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Talking of The Observer's interview with Nick Gatfield, if you got a moment with the newish boss of Sony Music UK you'd obviously use the opportunity to ask him about his last job, as A&R Supremo at EMI when it was being run by the Terra Firma twonks who caused such turmoil. And that's exactly what interviewer James Robinson did.

Says a smiling Gatfield: "It was an interesting experience but not one I'd want to repeat. You had a private equity group and on top of that, people with 'fast moving consumer goods' type backgrounds trying to manage the business as if it was a production line of inanimate products. Taking someone out of Procter & Gamble and putting them in a music company - it's just an uncomfortable fit. Your 'product' is human beings who have opinions".

Illustrating that set up with a nice example, he continues: "I remember someone at Terra Firma asking why the [release date for the] Gorillaz album had slipped. I said: 'Well, you know, Damon [Albarn]'s not ready', and he said: 'But it's on the release schedule'".

As for Terra Firma's ambitious/arrogant/deluded (delete as you wish) top twonk Guy Hands, Gatfield continued: "I will give Guy a huge amount of credit because I think some of his instincts were fairly sound [but] the business to him was far more complex than he thought it would be. You're dealing with the psychology of running a creative business".

Anyway, Robinson's interview with Gatfield is this week's compulsory reading:

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The acquisitive Celador Radio Broadcasting, one of the UK's smaller commercial radio operators, but one that is growing, has added another station to its portfolio, by buying Somerset and Dorset based Midwest Radio.

Midwest Radio, which began life as two separate stations, Ivel FM and Vale FM, was previously owned by a totally independent company, whose Chairman, Paul Roberts, told Radio Today: "We are very pleased with the sale of Midwest Radio to Celador. They have a great passion for radio, as does everyone based at Midwest. We wish the whole team good luck in their future broadcasting".

It's not clear what Celador plans to do with the station, ie whether it will remain as Midwest Radio, or rebrand as a Breeze station. Although not all Celador stations use that name, the company has been building something of a Breeze network in the South and Southwest.

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So, you probably know this already, but we reported on McFly bassist Dougie winning 'I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here', so we probably ought to cover McFly drummer Harry winning 'Strictly Come Dancing'. McFly quickly responded by announcing they were adding four new dates to their spring 2012 tour, in York, Birmingham, London and Manchester. And why the devil not?

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The sex tape allegedly featuring the late Tupac Shakur has been sold to a private collector, according to a US report.

As previously reported, it emerged in October that porn companies were bidding for ownership of the tape, which supposedly shows Shakur receiving oral sex in 1991. The late rapper's estate threatened to sue anyone who tried to use the recording commercially, though it wasn't entirely clear on what grounds.

But such a case is now unlikely to go to court, as the man currently in possession of the video has, according to TMZ, decided that all porn kings are "parasites" and he has therefore sold the tape to an individual rather than an adult entertainment company. An individual who collects hip hop sex tapes presumably.

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Oh dear. If you're one of those people who thinks Amy Winehouse's Christmas-convenient posthumous LP 'Lioness: Hidden Treasures' is bordering on distasteful, you probably won't like what I'm about to tell you.

So. Portuguese lighting company Delightfull are at this moment marketing a signature 'Amy' lamp in tribute to the late songstress, modelling its shape on her infamous beehive and silhouette. Available both in standard floor and reading sizes ("perfect to enjoy with your favourite book"), the lamp-makers say this: "Inspired by what makes her unique, 'Amy' is a tribute to the great British singer and songwriter". Words fail. www.delightfull.eu/floor/amy_floor.html

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