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So hello there everybody, how's your 2012 going so far? Have you joined in with the "whatever happened to guitar bands" debate yet this week? Or the "why the hell didn't these acts get any BRIT nods" discussion? Or the latest chapter in the "streaming services, blah" saga, perhaps wondering why the new single from the Van Halen isn't on Spotify in the US? But first, this more>>
US soul vocalist Jocelyn Brown is gracing the stage of the Cafe for two nights this weekend. I've been lucky to have witnessed her in action before with Louie Vega, performing hits like Masters At Work's 'I Feel It', all met with rapturous applause thanks to a truly awesome performance. Entry to her shows also gets you into the Jazz Cafe club night, which is usually quite lively more>>
- Record industry sues Ireland
- Velvet Underground sue over Warhol's banana
- Wiz Khalifa accused of song theft
- Braxton hospitalised by immune system condition
- BRIT Awards nominations announced
- Pelican to release EP
- Amateur Best announces Double Denim single
- Santigold working with Zinner on new LP
- Trailer for LCD Soundsystem's 'last days' documentary released
- Alex Winston plans tour
- Snoop Dogg launches cigar brand in US
- Relentless Records joins Sony Music
- EMI France takes slice of French multi-stream firm
- Facebook launches listen with friends feature
- Radio needs to be more visual, says BBC man
- Previously unheard Brahms piece to air on Radio 3
- CMU Beef Of The Week #93: Bob Lefsetz v Van Halen
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Following those previously reported comments made by the boss of EMI Ireland criticising his country's government over their inaction on the file-sharing issue, it has emerged that all four majors have put their name to a lawsuit that aims to force Irish ministers to introduce new anti-piracy rules.

As previously reported, the Irish record industry has been lobbying hard for new measures to help them crack down on illegal file-sharing similar to those being introduced in the UK, France and Spain, particularly as efforts through the Irish courts to force the internet service providers to police file-sharing in some way have all failed.

The labels did reach an out of court settlement with Ireland's biggest ISP Eircom which resulted in the company voluntarily launching a three-strikes programme, but other net firms have so far refused to likewise voluntarily start sending out warning letters to customers suspected of file-sharing, meanwhile the Irish Data Protection Commissioner has been very critical of the Eircom system.

Following various false reports over the last year or so that the Irish government was about to announce new anti-piracy measures, everyone now seems certain proposals for a statutory instrument addressing the issue are likely to be published this month. It's widely believed the government's proposals will be for a fast-track injunctions system, making it easier for rights owners to get injunctions to force ISPs to block access to copyright infringing sites, similar to new anti-piracy measures being introduced in Spain, and distinct from the three-strikes style systems being adopted in the UK and France.

The fact that we are still awaiting those proposals makes it a little odd that EMI Ireland boss Willie Kavanagh chose to hit out at ministers on this issue this week, and even more so that he and the other majors would launch presumably expensive litigation. Presumably they suspect political types plan to procrastinate on this issue, and/or publish lacklustre proposals that won't achieve the record industry's aims for a crack down on piracy. Though we don't really know that.

The lawsuit against the Irish government seemingly focuses on the country's obligations under European law, and claims ministers have failed to fulfil EU obligations to help content owners protect their rights online, though the exact nature of their legal arguments is not yet clear, and the Irish Recorded Music Association is yet to comment on the action. Quite what the litigation will mean for the Irish government's plan to publish their proposals for new anti-piracy rules later this month remains to be seen.

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Representatives for The Velvet Underground are suing the Andy Warhol Foundation over a banana. Well, not any old banana, but the one that appeared on the cover to the band's 1967 debut album.

The Andy Warhol Foundation was established after the pop artist's death in 1987 and basically administers his estate. The Velvet Underground says that the Foundation has been licensing use of the iconic banana image - which was created by Warhol, the band's then manager - without their permission. Because the image is so associated with the band, they argue, whenever the Foundation allows a commercial entity to use it - for example on a line of iPad covers - it implies they are endorsing the products bearing the picture.

If it gets to court, this legal dispute will presumably in part centre on just who owns the copyright in the image. Copyrights are registered in the US, but it seems that neither Warhol nor the band ever registered their interests in the banana picture. Therefore who should have control over the image, and the rights to earn off it, will likely depend on conversations or informal agreements dating back to the 60s.

That said, the Velvet Underground's litigation in the main focuses on the public's perception of the image, suggesting that the Foundation is inappropriately and possibly deliberately capitalising on the fact people associate the banana more with the band than with Warhol, and that by licensing it to third parties they are therefore "deceiving the public".

The Foundation is yet to respond to the action.

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So, the first 'song rip off' claim of the year for you now. Rapper Wiz Khalifa, real name Cameron Thomaz, has been accused of stealing the concept for his 2010 hit 'Black And Yellow' from a song by one Max Warren called 'Pink And Yellow'.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Warren says his song was featured in a mixtape created by hip hop outfit Ase & Zee in 2007, and that that recording was widely circulated, so that Thomaz or one of his associates could have heard it before creating 'Black And Yellow'.

Warren's lawsuit names Thomaz, his label and publisher as defendants, and seeks a mega $2.3 million in damages for the alleged copyright infringement.

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R&B singer Toni Braxton has been hospitalised in LA after a potentially dangerous immune system condition that she revealed she suffered from a couple of years back started to flare up. Systemic lupus erythematosus can result in the immune system turning on the body, causing inflammation and tissue damage, and can be ultimately fatal.

But Braxton has told fans that, while it's true the condition has flared up, causing her to require hospital treatment, she will be fine, and just needs to rest. TMZ quotes her as follows: "I wanted to say thanks to all my fans for their support, as I have been experiencing some flare ups with my lupus which has me in the hospital for a few days. I wanted to clear the record before rumours started, and I will totally be fine as I'm blessed to having an amazing family for support".

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The BRIT Awards nominations were announced in the ballroom of The Savoy hotel in London yesterday afternoon. Very swish. Leading the way is Ed Sheeran with four nominations, followed by Adele and Jessie J, who both have three.

Emelie Sandé has already been announced as the winner of the Critic's Choice prize (ie the British artist music critics think is most likely to break through into the mainstream this year) but also picks up a nomination to win the award for British Breakthrough Artist (ie the best British artist who broke through into the mainstream last year). Meanwhile, over in the International Breakthrough Artist category, Lana Del Rey gets a nomination based on her one single, which is pretty good going.

Performances at the ceremony, which will take place at The O2 Arena on 21 Feb, will come from Adele, Bruno Mars, Coldplay, Ed Sheeran, Florence And The Machine, Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, and Blur, the latter of whom will close the show after collecting their Outstanding Contribution prize.

Here are those nominations in full:

British Male Solo Artist: Ed Sheeran, James Blake, James Morrison, Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, Professor Green

British Female Solo Artist: Adele, Florence And The Machine, Jessie J, Kate Bush, Laura Marling

British Breakthrough Act: Anna Calvi, Ed Sheeran, Emeli Sandé, Jessie J, The Vaccines

British Group: Arctic Monkeys, Chase & Status, Coldplay, Elbow, Kasabian

British Producer: Paul Epworth, Flood, Ethan Jones

Critics Choice: Emeli Sandé

British Single: Adele - Someone Like You, Ed Sheeran - The A Team, Example - Changed The Way You Kissed Me, Jessie J feat Bob - Price Tag, JLS feat Dev - She Makes Me Wanna, Military Wives/Gareth Malone - Wherever You Are, Olly Murs feat Rizzle Kicks - Heart Skips A Beat, One Direction - What Makes You Beautiful, Pixie Lott - All About Tonight, The Wanted - Glad You Came

British Album Of The Year: Adele - 21, Coldplay - Mylo Xyloto, Ed Sheeran - +, Florence & The Machine - Ceremonials, PJ Harvey - Let England Shake

International Male Solo Artist: Aloe Blacc, Bon Iver, Bruno Mars, David Guetta, Ryan Adams

International Female Solo Artist: Beyoncé, Björk, Feist, Lady Gaga, Rihanna

International Group: Fleet Foxes, Foo Fighters, Jay-Z/Kanye West, Lady Antebellum, Maroon 5

International Breakthrough Act: Aloe Blacc, Bon Iver, Foster The People, Lana Del Rey, Nicki Minaj

Outstanding Contribution To Music: Blur

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Having sparked a critical storm with her debut album 'Santogold', genre-blurring singer-songwriter Santi White - or Santigold - has shared a few notes on her forthcoming album.

She's titled it 'Master Of My Make Believe' (not 'Go', as we surmised from comments made by her last year), and has worked on several tracks with collaborators including Nick Zinner of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, TV On The Radio's Dave Sitek, Major Lazer's Switch and prolific pop producer Greg Kurstin.

Describing recording with Zinner as a pivotal moment in the LP's creation she tells V Magazine: "I started writing with Nick, and it started being cool and fun. That was when I was like: 'I just want to work with who I want'. We recorded in Jamaica for a little while and finally some lyrics started to come to me. I think that time really coloured the record".

As for the album's title, she said: "No one wants to be real anymore. Wikipedia is always wrong. No one fact checks and it's not even a priority. Reality TV is more popular than ever, and it's the fakest thing ever. Where is there place for truth in all of that? My record is called 'Master Of My Make Believe' because I want it to be about creating your own reality".

Read the rest of Santigold's V interview here: www.vmagazine.com/2011/12/black-and-gold-santigold/

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Last heard making a post-metal racket on 2009's accomplished 'What We All Come To Need', US instrumental unit Pelican have announced details of a new EP entitled 'Atraxia/Taraxis'.

Apparently, said extended player - due out via Southern Lord on 9 Apr - will "highlight the manifold sonic strengths of the band by delving into moments of triumphant melodic rock, smokey doom, ambient soundscape, acoustic desert-folk, and minimalist electronics".

And while you digest that, here's a list of ancient Greek words (by coincidence, also the EP's tracklist) to puzzle over:

Lathe Biosas
Parasite Colony

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Former CMU approved Amateur Best, aka electro-pop producer Joe Flory, is set to issue a double A-side single on the consistently strong Double Denim label.

'Be Happy'/'The Wave' will be released in parallel to a 28 page comic book featuring Flory's illustrated creation James Best, the archetypal "London DJ, latent alcoholic and lifelong amateur".

With both tracks and book due out on 13 Feb, you can have a listen to the rather downcast 'Be Happy' here: soundcloud.com/doubledenim/be-happy

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LCD Soundsystem may be dead, but its zombie corpse lumbers on in the form of 'Shut Up And Play The Hits', a new documentary film charting the collective's farewell gala performance at Madison Square Gardens.

Credited to Dylan Southern and Will Lovelace, who also directed Blur's 2010 feature 'No Distance Left To Run', the film also includes footage by Spike Jonze. It will premiere on 22 Jan as part of the Sundance Film Festival, and is expected to be released on DVD at some point this year.

So, with scenes of LCD leader James Murphy appearing as a sort of forlorn, Bill Murray-esque character (waking up alone in a crumpled dress shirt, walking the dog in his pyjamas), you can watch the trailer here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=_FAUyrFWDvw

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'Sister Wife' singer-songwriter Alex Winston is set to cross the Atlantic for a series of UK dates in support of her full-length debut 'King Con'. The album, which saw Winston graduate from using Garageband to working with The Knocks, and producers Charlie Hugall (Florence And The Machine) and Bjorn Ytlling (Lykke Li), is released via V2 on 2 Mar.

Tour dates:

20 Mar: Manchester, Deaf Institute
21 Mar: Glasgow, King Tut's
22 Mar: Birmingham, Hare & Hounds
23 Mar: Bristol Thekla
4 Apr: London, XOYO

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Sony Music has announced plans to relaunch former EMI imprint Relentless Records, with co-founder Shabs Jobanputra back at the helm.

Relentless was founded in 1999 by Jobanputra and Paul Franklyn, catching the rise of UK garage with signings such as Craig David, Artful Dodger and So Solid Crew. The label began working with EMI in 2003 for the release of Joss Stone's debut album, 'The Soul Sessions', and in 2009 was sold to the major's Virgin Records UK division, of which Jobanputra became president.

But, as previously reported, Jobanputra left EMI in April last year, and while the Relentless roster - including Roll Deep, KT Tunstall and Cage The Elephant - stayed with the major, he took the label's name with him. In July last year the company released Ms Dynamite's 'Neva Soft' single, and its first signings as part of Sony Music are grime producer Rude Kid and folk musician Misty Miller.

Announcing the news, Sony Music UK's CEO Nick Gatfield (and former colleague of Jobanputra at EMI), said: "Shabs has a tremendous track record of working with artists across multiple genres. He is a great addition to our A&R capability".

Jobanputra added: "I'm very excited to bring Relentless Records to Sony Music. There are lot of great people here and I hope to learn lots as we begin the next chapter".

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EMI Music France has taken a "significant" stake in a French multi-stream music company called PlayOn, which works in production, publishing, artist management and live events. Set up by Sébastien Duclos and Julien Godin in 2006, the company has worked with various home grown talents and also represented international artists in the French market.

Confirming the new alliance with EMI, Duclos and Godin said in a statement: "With this partnership, PlayOn will be able to speed up its international development and more generally synergise its diverse activities with EMI Music, working in close cooperation with EMI Music Publishing".

EMI France chief Olivier Montfort added: "With many success stories behind it, PlayOn has become in a short space of time, a leading actor in France's independent production sector. PlayOn has also broken into the international market thanks to the worldwide development of the artist Zaz. The partnership with EMI will strengthen PlayOn's development in France as well as abroad".

It seems the new deal will see PlayOn working with both EMI's recorded music and publishing businesses, which is interesting given they will likely be owned by different people by the summer.

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When Facebook announced its big 'frictionless sharing' idea at the f8 conference last year, a big part of that was a new feature that would allow users to simultaneously listen to and chat about music with their friends in real time, playing back tracks in each user's streaming service of choice. However, at launch that option was not available.

The feature finally went live yesterday (and will continue to roll out to all users over the next few weeks), with Facebook Product Designer Alexandre Roche explaining: "This feature lets you listen along with any of your friends who are currently listening to music. You can also listen together in a group while one of your friends plays DJ. You can listen to the same song, at the exact same time - so when your favourite vocal part comes in you can experience it together, just like when you're jamming out at a performance or dance club".

More details on how it works are available here: blog.facebook.com/blog.php?post=10150457932027131

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Everyone at BBC Radio seems obsessed about doing things visually. Perhaps they all really wish they were working for BBC TV. Or perhaps they all agree with their boss, Tim Davie, who reckons that the future of radio will be dominated by the screen - as more people listen to radio shows via devices that can carry text, images and video (their TV set, the web, and the next generation of DAB devices which will have ever bigger screens). You might think that the very reason someone would choose radio over other forms of entertainment (even if their radio device has a screen) is because they want to listen and not watch, but according to Davie the kids are looking for a multi-media experience whatever channel they tune into.

According to The Guardian, in his address to a future of radio conference organised by Absolute Radio, the BBC man said yesterday: "With some regret we are moving to a screen world. Radio needs to accept that and get on with it and enjoy it. I'm a big fan of pure audio and I have always felt that audio will hold up for a long time, but in terms of the devices, it will have a screen on it. We have been at it for a while, but what information we give on that screen, that is now a real issue".

But Davie did caution radio types about getting too carried away with the visual element, adding: "Radio needs to be careful that you don't just visualise everything and chuck up video everywhere. Our power has always been about the curating and the editing, rather than just showing stuff on a webcam".

Clever ways to incorporate visual with audio services via smartphone devices are also needed, the BBC exec said, telling his audience: "We need to be on more smartphone devices. If I have one challenge for the industry, it is to get on devices. We need to be distributed on iPhones and all the various platforms. That is the real priority".

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A two minute piece of piano music written by Johannes Brahms in 1853, but never before heard, will be played for the first time on Radio 3 later this month.

The piece of music was found by conductor and musicologist Christopher Hogwood in the library of Princeton University, and came from a book that originally belonged to a director of music at Göttingen University in the nineteenth century.

Tom Service, presenter of 'Music Matter's, the Radio 3 programme which will premiere the piece, explained "[Hogwood looked through the book and] saw signatures of the famous musicians who had come to dinner with [the Gottingen University man], including Liszt and Schumann - and was astonished to find this complete little work by Brahms, written when he was 20. It was really thrilling to hear it in the studio - it felt like we were discovering something".

The new piece will air on the Radio 3 show on 21 Jan.

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Earlier this week the reformed again Van Halen's new single 'Tattoo' appeared on Spotify. If you're in the UK, it's up there right now. Go and listen if you want, I'll wait. Oh, you're still here. Well, anyway, any US readers who rushed off will by now be realising that it's not available for them to hear. Seemingly this is because Universal/Interscope signed a deal giving iTunes exclusivity on the track for its first week of release, but then accidentally distributed it to both services.

It's a simple mistake, I guess. And it's certainly not the first time such a thing has happened. The situation was rectified fairly quickly and everyone's happy. Well, everyone except music business blogger Bob Lefsetz, who last night fired off a rant under the assumption that the band were joining the line of artists who want to pretend that streaming services are merely a distraction, rather than a significant part of their future. And while that may not really be the case for Van Halen, it's a fine rant that makes some very good points.

"I'm sick and tired of these acts putting money first", writes Lefsetz. "Refusing to be on the bleeding edge but insisting on pulling up the rear, screaming, kicking and crying all the way that they just can't make the kind of money they used to. Meanwhile, they kick us in the balls by charging in excess of $100 for a concert ticket ... If these acts were in a burning building they wouldn't turn around and save their co-workers, they'd rush out, putting chairs under doors so no one could impede their descent".

Read more here: lefsetz.com/wordpress/index.php/archives/2012/01/12/tattoo-disappears/

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CMU Editor Andy Malt and CMU Business Editor Chris Cooke are both available to comment on music and music business stories. Together they have provided comment and contributions to BBC News, BBC World, BBC Radios 4, 5, 6music and Scotland, Sky News, CNN, Wired and the Associated Press. Email andy@unlimitedmedia.co.uk or chris@unlimitedmedia.co.uk.

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