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Hello there. Yesterday was apparently the most depressing day of the year, which means it's all uphill from here. Why not boost your new found joy by enacting your new year's resolution to start listening to the CMU podcast, which returned on Friday? It features discussion of all the important things happening in music. But before you rush off, check out what's happening this week more>>
Augmenting the afterglow of 'Space Is Only Noise', the debut album from techno producer Nicolas Jaar, comes stand-alone track 'With Just One Glance At You', which was actually released several weeks ago but with barely a mention from its modest author. The new track features vocals by Scout LaRue, the least fortunately named of Demi Moore and Bruce Willis' precocious brood more>>
- Pirate Bay promotes newer file-sharing approach to make identification harder
- Grooveshark launches HTML5 app to circumvent app store bans
- Terra Firma v Citigroup appeal could get March hearing
- Rafferty's fiancée sues for cut of estate
- Madonna wins Golden Globe
- MPG Awards announces Studio Of The Year shortlist
- Pop top genre in 2011
- Example signs US deal with Mercury
- Flaming Lips plan Bon Iver, Ke$Ha collaborations
- British Sea Power announce first of monthly EP series
- JJ Stereo expands into TV ads for compilations etc
- Stingray Digital confirms EMI deal
- Smooth Radio airs archive chart shows on 70s station
- Gaga track is a "wonderful redo of my song", says Madonna
- This Just-in: Blinged-out Bieber dances with music robot
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The Pirate Bay has announced that it will start linking by default to 'magnet' rather than 'torrent' downloads, though links to the latter will still be available, as a secondary option, for the time being.

Most file-sharers turned to BitTorrent file-sharing, as opposed to traditional P2P file exchange enabled by clients such as Kazaa or LimeWire, mainly because it was faster, allowing users to access files from multiple sources simultaneously, and thus overcoming the drag upload speeds caused on old fashioned P2P downloading.

The newer approach to file-sharing also had the added benefit, for file-sharers, that it was a bit harder for rights owners to track their activity. Though the magnet system makes identification even harder, which is why The Pirate Bay has been supporting it ever since the BitTorrent search engine's unsuccessful court battle in Sweden back in 2009.

So far TPB has been offering magnet links as a second choice alongside torrent links, but from now on the magnet option will come first, as the rogue file-sharing site seeks to phase traditional BitTorrent file-sharing out. Though not all users support the shift to magnet, some pointing out not all browsers support such links.

The Pirate Bay, of course, continues to operate around the world, despite numerous court rulings ordering the site be shut down and/or blocked by internet service providers. Record label trade body the BPI is currently urging UK ISPs to block access to the TPB site - citing last year's Newzbin court ruling as a precedent - though the net firms are unlikely to comply without an actual injunction ordering them to. And even if they did block access to the site, more prolific file-sharers will find ways to circumvent any efforts to stop them reaching the TPB site.

The other option for rights owners, of course, is to target individual file-sharers, either via litigation or using a graduated response system, like that in theory being introduced in the UK by the Digital Economy Act. Though such action relies on rights owners being able to track who is file-sharing online, hence the motivation by TPB et al to find new ways of hiding their online content sharing.

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If The Pirate Bay is the major labels' enemy number one still, then surely Grooveshark comes in close second, even if it still claims to be a legal digital music service. Which means major label execs won't be happy that the US-based streaming platform has just launched a new HTML5 app making it easier for music fans to access the service on their smartphones.

Grooveshark, of course, has already launched apps for both the iPhone and Android-powered devices, but Apple and Google banned them from their respective stores under pressure from the record companies, who accuse the Groovesharkers of infringing their copyrights by running a slack takedown system to remove unlicensed content when it is uploaded by users (and also, in Universal, Sony and Warner's latest lawsuit, of uploading unlicensed content themselves).

But when companies make web apps available for smartphones they can be accessed via a webpage, circumventing the regulated app stores. Which is why Grooveshark has now gone that route, utilising the extra functionality available with HTML5. Sneaky. Though not an especially clever move if Grooveshark genuinely wants to settle its major label lawsuits out of court and talk the record companies into licensing its streaming platform.

Perhaps the folks over at Grooveshark have concluded that will never happen, and are instead hoping they can prevail in court and carry on running a business based the inadequacies of America's Digital Millennium Copyright Act in setting minimum requirements for takedown procedures.

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So, Terra Firma's brief but costly dabblings in the music industry may now be nothing more than good pub chat fodder for former EMI staffers, but the equity group's audacious takeover of EMI in 2007 is set to get at least one more airing in court, maybe as soon as March.

As much previously reported, Terra Firma sued Citigroup in 2010 over the advice it received from the US bank ahead of its EMI acquisition, claiming the bankers provided shoddy counselling, partly because of a conflict in interest, with different divisions of the finance firm working for EMI and Terra Firma at the same time.

The subsequent court hearing in New York was all rather amusing really, with neither Terra Firma nor Citigroup coming out of the proceedings particularly well, though the bankers won the court battle itself. Terra Firma and its chief Guy Hands are appealing that ruling, and according to the Mail On Sunday the appeal could be heard in March.

Since the original ruling, of course, Citigroup, as the main money lender to the Terra Firma owned EMI, repossessed the major label and is in the process of selling it on to Universal Music and Sony/ATV. There's a chance Terra Firma may also sue over the way the bankers took control of EMI this time last year, which means the whole debacle could as yet have two more court hearings dedicated to it.

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Gerry Rafferty's fiancée, Ezina Fuschini, has launched legal proceedings in a bid to win a cut of the late musician's fortune.

According to the Mail On Sunday, Fuschini, Rafferty's partner at the time of his death just over a year ago, was left out of the singer-songwriter's will because it had been written before they met in 2008. Rafferty's only daughter Martha received her father's estate, worth $1.9 million according to the tabloid, while the royalties generated by his songs - including 'Stuck In The Middle With You' and 'Baker Street' - go to a trust to benefit his granddaughter Celia.

The Mail says Fuschini will try to get a share of Rafferty's fortune by using provisions in the Inheritance Act 1975 which allow dependents to make a claim against an estate even if they are left out of a will.

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The Golden Globes took place in Los Angeles last night, with that Ricky Gervais helping to hand out the Hollywood Foreign Press Association's annual awards for the third year in a row. Gervais used to have a show on Xfm, which possibly makes him an honorary music person. Assuming we actually want him to be one of us, which maybe we don't. Anyway, some people we're stuck with, whether we like it or not, were up for awards, so let's talk about them instead.

Madonna won Best Original Song for 'Masterpiece', which features in her directorial debut 'WE', beating off stiff competition (or at least competition) from Elton John, Chris Cornell and Mary J Blige. She didn't win any awards for directing though.

Over in the other music category, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross were denied their second Golden Globe win when their soundtrack for 'The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo' lost out to Ludovic Bource's score for 'The Artist'.

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The Music Producers Guild has announced the shortlist for the Studio Of The Year category at its 2012 awards ceremony, which will take place in London next month. And the nominees are... Air, Eastcote, Rak, and Snap, all of which are based in London.

The winner, along with all the other winners, will be announced at the Café de Paris in London one month from today on 16 Feb. More information from www.mpgawards.co.uk.

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I don't think this will come as a surprise to anyone - especially given last week's 'where have all the guitar bands gone' debatings online - but pop releases dominated 2011 in the UK, with the genre surpassing rock in terms of album sales for the first time in seven years.

According to Official Charts Company data released by the BPI this morning, big-selling albums from the likes of Adele, Bruno Mars, Lady Gaga and Jessie J helped pop increase its share of album sales from 30.9% to 33.6%. Meanwhile rock's share fell from 31.2% to 29.4%, with Coldplay contributing highly to that stat with their new album 'Mylo Xyloto'.

In terms of other genres, folk accounted for 1.6% of album sales, thanks to Laura Marling and Bellowhead, while Hugh Laurie helped take the blues genre from 0.6% to 0.9%. MOR/easy listening was at 7.9%.

In terms of singles sales, pop saw its share fall just over 2%, though still dominated, accounting for 36% of sales. Rock had an 18% share and dance 13.8%.

And now a quote from BPI chief Geoff Taylor: "2011 was a vintage year for pop albums so it is hardly surprising that the genre has elbowed rock aside as the nation's favourite. Although rock's share is the lowest for eight years, it still accounts for three in ten of every albums sold, so recent reports of its demise are premature".

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Brit pop bloke Example has signed a US record deal with Universal/Mercury, it has been announced. The rapper, who is signed to Ministry Of Sound in the UK, will release his fourth album later this year.

Example told CMU: "I'm pleased to have signed to a major label like Universal/Mercury in the US. It was important to me to sign with someone who understands not only my ambitions but also the way I work. I want to do it on my own terms, I enjoy a good challenge and can't wait to get started".

Mercury's US president David Massey added: "Everyone here is very excited to be working with Example, a world class songwriter and performer who is now a leading force in the live arena. A true modern day rock star who is at the forefront of the new wave of exciting electronic music exploding here in the US".

Ministry Of Sound MD David Dollimore said: "It's important for us to see commitment and passion from labels we partner with, David Massey and his team certainly showed that. The US market is primed for an electronic artist like Example, he is the real deal, a rockstar making hit songs and exciting, cutting edge dance music. He is the only artist making dance tunes with huge choruses, think a hybrid between Skrillex and Coldplay".

Yuk. UK fans can catch Example live in April when he heads out on a ten date arena tour.

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Following news that they were seeking out acts to collaborate with on their new album, The Flaming Lips have named Bon Iver as the latest of several artists already confirmed to work on said untitled LP. Justin Vernon joins an assorted company that also includes Nick Cave, Death Cab For Cutie and Neon Indian.

Rolling Stone reports that Lykke Li, Erykah Badu and - least likely of all - Ke$ha - also feature on the Lips' list of desired duet partners. I'll believe that last one if and when I hear it. The collaborations album is slated for release around Record Store Day, which this year falls on 21 Apr.

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Brightonian indie troupe British Sea Power have released details about their new EP 'BSP1', the first in a series that's set to be released by the band each month.

Featuring a mixture of brand new demos and what BSP term "experimental material", each EP will be available exclusively at the group's Krankenhaus club nights (the next of which takes place at Brighton's The Haunt on 3 Feb) and official online store.

The tracklisting for 'BSP1' (which the band say conjures up a "spectral, wintry mood", is as follows:

French Pornographic Novel
Lullaby For What You Are
Baby Grey
A Light Above Descending

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JJ Stereo, the maker of music-based telly programmes and TV ads for labels, last week announced the launch of a new division called JJ Commercial which will look to work specifically with the compilation and catalogue divisions at record companies.

To date JJ Stereo's ad production unit has predominantly worked on artist releases, but via JJ Commercial will look to work with those label divisions whose products are more led by TV advertising campaigns - often called 'Commercial' or 'TV' at the majors. The new JJ division will be headed up by Will Nicol, who has previously worked on marketing campaigns for compilation and catalogue releases at both Sony Music and Sanctuary.

He told CMU: "I am delighted to be joining JJ, to my mind one of the best music TV production companies in the UK. They have always produced ads that are both groundbreaking and highly successful. I hope I can bring a better understanding of the commercial side of the [record labels] and the unique challenges that marketers in that sector face. I want JJ Commercial to give commercial marketers all of JJ's creativity and production values but with a service that is tailored precisely to their needs".

JJ Stereo Co-Owner and Creative Director John Paveley added: "We are very excited to have Will joining our team at JJ Stereo. Will brings a vast amount of experience in the area of catalogue music and concepts, complementing our award-winning frontline music commercials and TV production departments for 2012".

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A Canada-based digital content firm called Stingray Digital, which operates various online, video-on-demand and web TV services, including Galaxie, The Karaoke Channel, Music Choice and Concert TV, has announced a global deal with EMI, giving the firm's channels access to recordings from across the major's catalogues. Although the deal has been done in North America, Stingray services in Europe will also benefit.

Stingray Digital CEO Eric Boyko told reporters: "We continue to grow our music products on a worldwide scale across new platforms, and we are actively pursuing global deals that will facilitate the deployment of these services. This innovative deal with EMI Music will secure our access to the best music available on a global as well as on a local scale".

EMI North American VP Digital Business Development Pat Shah added: "We are always looking to find ways for our artists to connect with their existing fans, and to allow a new and broader fanbase to enjoy their music. With its broad distribution of linear audio services in North America and Europe and their video-on-demand music services, Stingray has an important role to play in that goal".

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Smooth Radio this weekend started running archive editions of the 'American Top 40' show from the 1970s on its new digital station dedicated to the decade.

The Guardian-owned station has licensed old editions of the US-based radio show from its producers, Premiere Radio Networks, and they will play out each Saturday morning and Sunday evening. The shows are hosted by Casey Kasem, who fronted the syndicated chart programme in America from its launch in 1970 through to 1988, and again from 1998 to 2004, before current host Ryan Seacrest took over.

The heritage programming is airing on Smooth 70s, a new digital-only station launched by GMG Radio on Boxing Day, taking over from 'pop up' spin-off station Smooth Xmas. It is available on the national digital radio network Digital One, which has decade-themed stations from Absolute for the 80s and 90s, but not the 70s.

Announcing the launch of the old Kasem shows as part of the Smooth 70s weekend schedule, GMG Radio's John Simons told reporters: "Casey Kasem's 'American Top 40 - The 70s' is an iconic radio programme of the 1970s and it will add to the listening experience. We're delighted to be able to broadcast the original programmes in their entirety each weekend. Since its introduction, Smooth 70s has been warmly welcomed by listeners and we look forward to enriching their listening experience of the station with increased content in the coming weeks".

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Madonna has at last passed comment on comparisons made between her 1989 single 'Express Yourself' and Lady Gaga's much more recent 'Born This Way'. Many have noted similarities between the two songs' chord patterns, though Gaga has been quick to defend her songwriting integrity, last year claiming during an appearance on 'The Tonight Show With Jay Leno' that Madonna and her reps were "sending their love and complete support on behalf of the single".

Speaking as part of the promotional junket around her latest film venture 'WE' and forthcoming Superbowl performance, a magnanimous Madge told Newsweek that she thinks of 'Born This Way' as "a wonderful way to redo my song". "I mean, I recognised the chord changes", she adds. "I thought it was... interesting".

Well meant as it seems, I suspect that soundbite was delivered in a tone so scathing it could make even the hardiest of hydrangeas wilt in utter shame.

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Young Justin Bieber became the talk of the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas last week when he dropped by to introduce a dancing robot, a personal appearance made only slightly more newsworthy by the fact that he was clad in a small fortune's worth of clothing and jewellery whilst doing it. That's Justin, not the robot.

Invited to the Las Vegas conference to unveil the mRobo Ultra Bass bot - a robotic speaker and music storage gadget - Bieber was filmed sporting a custom Louis Vuitton jacket and diamond-studded 'Jesus' necklace that the Daily Star reports is worth a cool £200,000.

As previously reported, the Canadian teen last week also made the news with a public declaration that, even as a legal adult, he would never consider singing about "sex, drugs and swearing".

Hmm. Historically speaking, it's difficult to gauge whether the actual Jesus would consider JB's expensive pendant more distasteful than any of the above examples of bad behaviour. I mean, he did spurn those merchants from the temple steps. But there's just no way of knowing what he'd do now. Maybe he'd just dance with a robot.

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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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