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"How is your fitness regime going?" I was asked last week. "Fine", I lied. Which must mean it's almost February. Still, we have one full week of January left, and I'm going to attempt to use it to salvage what's left of my plans to go to the gym more. Problem is, there are too many distractions. I mean look at all these things that are happening this week. How is exercise supposed to compete with this? more>>
Having eschewed The Outs' company, it stands that Frankie Rose's solo debut 'Interstellar', released via Memphis Industries on 19 Mar, sounds like a lone labour of devotion. Her style when singing is to press the nectar from each honeyed note; thus rendering the music at once as close and grandiose; light and loveless as it sounds in moonlit album track 'Night Swim' more>>
- SOPA and PIPA votes postponed after week of protest
- The HMV Group announces new supplier and bank deals to ensure short term survival
- Live Music Bill passes through Commons
- MegaUpload drops Universal lawsuit as founder fights for bail
- DMN responds to Grooveshark subpoena and other claims
- Etta James dies
- Johnny Otis dies
- Trentemøller recording third LP
- 50 Cent wants to release back-to-back albums
- Morrison would sanction Skrillex collaboration, says Doors keyboardist
- Phenomenal Handclap Band announce tour
- The Wave Pictures announce album, tour
- Festival line-up update
- Universal UK appoints new COO
- VEVO in talks with Facebook
- Radio 1 announces new look multi-media chart show
- Neil Young: Modern music sounds rubbish

US Congress confirmed on Friday that votes on both SOPA and PIPA, the two sets of anti-piracy proposals that have been working their way through the American legislature for sometime, would be postponed indefinitely while the politicians behind the two bills have a rethink. The announcement was no surprise after a week in which opponents to the two acts took their protests to a new level, led by Wikipedia's 24 hour black out of its English language pages, a move which saw several congressmen who had previously backed SOPA or PIPA distancing themselves from the proposals.

As much previously reported, both SOPA and PIPA would have introduced new powers that would allow copyright owners to secure fast-track injunctions forcing internet service providers to block access to non-US websites that exist primarily to infringe intellectual property rights. SOPA would also have given the Attorney General the power to force search engines to remove said sites from its search results, and to ban American ad sales and credit companies from doing business with the companies that own blacklisted services.

The aim is to help the American content industries stop mainstream web users from accessing infringing sites outside the direct jurisdiction of the US courts and authorities, ie online operations which, unlike with MegaUpload, do not have servers based in the States. With MegaUpload, of course, the American authorities were able to directly shut down the allegedly infringing firm's main server hub, which was based in Virginia.

Opponents, however, feared that the powers SOPA and PIPA would have put in place were far too wide-ranging, and could be used to target web firms whose operations are fundamentally legitimate, but which, by carrying automated search results or allowing user contributions or uploads, may routinely host or link to some infringing content. It was unclear how such operations could avoid being targeted, and, given the speed with which sites could be blocked, how any appeals process would work.

Opposition from the tech community, and some in the artist community, had been building for some time in the US, but went truly global last week thanks to the Wiki protest. On Friday Harry Reid in the US Senate said he was postponing any vote on PIPA, while the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Lamar Smith, likewise said he was halting SOPA discussions until there was wider agreement on a way forward among affected stakeholders.

Reid confirmed "recent events" were behind his decision to put off any PIPA vote, while Smith told reporters: "It is clear that we need to revisit the approach on how best to address the problem of foreign thieves that steal and sell American inventions and products". Various other congressmen went public with their concerns about the anti-piracy measures late last week, echoing similar concerns expressed by the White House before the Wiki protest.

All that said, neither PIPA nor SOPA are totally dead, with both houses of Congress postponing rather than cancelling outright votes on measures to help content owners to enforce their copyrights online. The music and movie industries will continue to lobby on the issue of web-blocking, though their political allies in Washington will presumably propose they put a bit more effort into crafting safeguards to satisfy legit online operations that they would not be hindered by any new web-block system, and that claims of infringement by rights owners would be subject to proper scrutiny.

But Reid said he was optimistic that, given time, new anti-piracy rules that dealt with the web sector's concerns could be developed, telling reporters: "There is no reason that the legitimate issues raised by many about this bill cannot be resolved". He called for a redraft involving all parties, so that a new bill could be put to Congress that balanced "protecting Americans' intellectual property, and maintaining openness and innovation on the internet".

The Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation, Sue Gardner, welcomed the two announcements, but noted that discussions about new anti-piracy measures would continue, and urged Congress to remember the views of the Wiki protesters when doing so. She told reporters: "The Wikimedia Foundation welcomes these developments. This is another step towards the ultimate destruction of these two pieces of proposed legislation. But let's be clear, these bills are not dead. They will return, and when they do, they must not harm the interests of the hundreds of millions of people who contribute to the free and open internet".

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HMV announced a new agreement with its bankers on Friday that the entertainment retailer reckons will safeguard the company's short term future, and the immediate boost in the firm's share price suggests the City agrees. The new financing deal was possible thanks to a revamp of the retailer's arrangements with its key suppliers, including the major record companies, which will see 2.5% of HMV's equity distributed to said suppliers in the form of warrants.

The HMV Group has been struggling to meet the terms of its loan agreements for some time, the firm having net debt in the region of £180 million, much of it run up by the diversification-by-acquisition policy pursued by CEO Simon Fox when he first joined the firm. Loan agreements were reworked with the banks last year, but with more disappointing sales in the retailer's core high street business it was still struggling to meet covenant tests tied to those finance terms.

According to Fox, the new agreements will alter the banks' covenant tests, and give the retail firm more breathing space, assuring short term security. He added that he was also hopeful, under the new banking terms, that his company could cut its debts in half over the next three years, without factoring in the profits of any sale of HMV's live division the MAMA Group, and even though his company is now heading for a £10 million loss this year.

The supplier deals are thought to be with Universal Music, Warner Music, Sony Music and some key movie companies. The terms of the new arrangements are confidential, but it is assumed it will see the suppliers taking on more risk over stock in return for the small equity position. It's notable that no gaming companies have been mentioned as participants in the new deals, which backs recent rumours that HMV sees video games - a growth area in recent years - as less important in the years to come.

As previously reported, while HMV's last man standing status in high street entertainment retail is no longer an advantage in terms of revenue (high street entertainment retail sales have slumped so far that, even with no competitors, there's not enough business to prop up 200+ stores), it is a big help behind the scenes.

The big music and movie companies still rate a high street presence very highly (and no one's quite worked out how to do the web-coffee-digital-entertainment-shop thing just yet), so will offer deals to their one remaining high street operator that would have been unheard of ten years ago. Plus, of course, HMV's banks are the state-backed Lloyds and Royal Bank, and the government is in no mood to see another heritage retail brand go bankrupt, especially one whose demise would basically shut down a whole strand of high street shopping.

Though, of course, while better financing is key in the short term, and (despite what some bloggers say) the big music and movie companies have no immediate plans to phase out CDs or DVDs, it does remain true that HMV, in its current form, has a finite life-span. Unless, I suppose, you believe in Fox's grand plan that selling gadgets is the solution, which it is not. And with HMV's online offer still wholly lacklustre (in both mail-order and digital), and with the company's one profitable (and most interesting) division now up for sale, Fox's team really need to come up with some new business ideas as clever as the deals they have struck with their suppliers and bankers to ensure long term survival.

But, with his company having some good news to share for a change, it would be unfair to not let Fox have his temporary moment in the sunshine. Here's what he had to say about Friday's new banking arrangements: "Today's announcement is enormously welcome. These developments represent a material improvement in our financial position relative to the statement we made at the time of our interim results".

He continued: "The new relationship with our suppliers and the support of our banks will now enable HMV to wholeheartedly focus all of its energies - working in close partnership with its suppliers - on serving the changing needs of its customers ever more effectively. As a key part of this we remain committed to improving our specialist ranging and merchandising of music and DVD whilst also continuing to grow our sales in portable technology and further developing our online and digital offers".

And, just in case there was any doubt about the support HMV has from its suppliers, David Joseph, UK chief of the music industry's biggest player Universal, popped up in the retailer's press release to say: "HMV is a vital part of the UK music industry and we are delighted that the support of the film studios and music companies is helping to secure its future. We look forward to working closely with HMV in the years ahead".

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With literally minutes to spare, and after a lengthy discussion on the weighty issue of the time space continuum (well, on the proposal the UK adopt mainland European time), the House Of Commons passed the Live Music Bill on Friday. The proposed legislation now has one last call at the House Of Lords where amendments will be considered, but the Bill's parliamentary supporters say that is a routine process, and the new laws will almost certainly now proceed for Royal Assent.

This should be good news for the grass roots music community, who can expect to see the bureaucracy around small scale live music events, much of it introduced by the 2003 Licensing Act, drastically reduced, the hope being that simpler licensing rules will encourage more pubs and such like to stage music events involving grass roots musicians.

The Bill was introduced into parliament via the Lords by Tim Clement-Jones, and sponsored in the Commons by his Liberal Democrat colleague Don Foster. Although the proposals had proven uncontroversial in parliament, certainly since the Bill's second submission following the last General Election, it was a private members bill, and such proposals have a very limited amount of parliamentary time set aside for them, meaning allotted slots can run out before all the required debates, amendments and votes have taken place. Clement-Jones's bill got close to suffering that fate, but with enough MPs in attendance and the daylight saving debate finishing just in time, it passed what was basically the final hurdle on Friday.

Welcoming the vote in the Commons, Jo Dipple, acting CEO of UK Music, which has been lobbying MPs to support the Bill, told CMU: "This is a great day for music. The Live Music Bill will make a real and positive difference to lives of musicians. There is no doubt that the current Licensing Act has created needless layers of bureaucracy - making it complicated and expensive for pubs and other small venues to host live gigs. The entire industry would like to thank Lord Clement-Jones and Don Foster MP who have made this change possible".

John Smith, General Secretary of the Musicians Union, which has also been lobbying for the new live music rules, added: "We are delighted that the Live Music Bill has finally made it through Parliament. It is a real achievement for a Private Member's Bill to get through and the MU would like to thank Lord Clement-Jones, Don Foster and all of the other MPs who helped to pass this Bill. Over the past few years our members have been telling us that the number of gigs available to young musicians who are still perfecting their craft has gone down. This is primarily due to a reduction in the number of smaller venues which traditionally offered this level of gig, and is directly linked to the Licensing Act. The exemption that the Live Music Bill introduces will be hugely beneficial to these small venues".

Meanwhile the aforementioned Don Foster told CMU: "The current system has had a deadening effect on the performance of live music in small venues. At the moment, the landlord of a small pub could face a big fine and imprisonment for letting a customer play a piano without a licence. The support received this afternoon from all MPs from all political parties just goes to show how important live music is in our country and the overwhelming support for changing our obstructive licensing laws. We're now only one step away from the Bill becoming law and creating an even more vibrant and successful live music culture. This will benefit hundreds of small pubs, restaurants, schools, churches and community halls, and strengthen the British music scene immensely".

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MegaUpload founder Kim Schmitz will remain in custody, for the time being at least, despite the controversial web entrepreneur's lawyers insisting their client wouldn't flea New Zealand, where he is being held while the US goes through the motions to extradite him back to the States, partly because his "distinctive appearance" - he's 6'7" and weighs 21.5 stone - would make it hard for him to sneak through customs.

Prosecutor Anne Toohey told the New Zealand court this morning that the FBI believes Schmitz, who usually goes by the ID Kim Dotcom these days, has bank accounts not yet seized by the authorities, and would therefore have the means to break bail if it was granted. She added Schmitz had multiple identities, and a record for fleeing criminal charges.

But Schmitz's legal rep argued that her client had so far cooperated with the authorities, that his passport had been seized and bank accounts frozen, and besides "he is not the sort of person who will pass unnoticed through our customs and immigration lines and controls".

Schmitz was arrested with three other MegaUpload executives in New Zealand on Friday, and faces allegations in the US of widescale copyright infringement, racketeering and money laundering. The US authorities presented a pile of internal emails between executives at the Mega companies to back up their claims, and then on Thursday swooped on the Mega firm's Virginia server farm and took the organisation's various websites offline. If all the criminal charges that have been made against the Mega team were proven in the US courts, the web executives could face up to 20 years in jail each.

The New Zealand judge hearing Schmitz's bail application didn't rule either way this morning, saying the bail application was too complicated to make an immediate decision, and that he would issue a written ruling on the matter on Wednesday. Schmitz's lawyers insisted that their client's business was legit at the bail hearing, while Toohey talked up the US authorities' case against the accused, and also revealed two more men linked to the Mega operation had now been arrested in Europe.

While Schmitz tries to secure bail in New Zealand, his associates in the US are preparing to fight the criminal case against him and his Mega cohorts. As previously reported, court papers issued on Thursday say that Schmitz and his team deliberately built a multi-million dollar business on the back of a file-transfer and video-sharing site which relied on the distribution of unlicensed content, a portion of it uploaded by Mega employees. The authorities say the Mega companies took $110 million through PayPal alone, that Schmitz paid himself $42 million in 2010, and that $500 million worth of music and movie content was illegally transferred over the Mega servers.

The Mega team's legal battle was dealt an immediate blow this weekend when a high profile American defence attorney took on their case, and then stepped back from it, within days. Lawyer Robert Bennett, whose famous past clients include Bill Clinton and Enron, was quickly hired to advise the Mega management when the US's case against them was revealed on Thursday, but it was confirmed to Reuters last night that the attorney would not be able to represent Schmitz et al in their legal fight because a conflict of interest had emerged with another of the companies represented by his law firm, Hogan Lovells.

Elsewhere in Mega legal shenanigans, it was revealed this weekend that the web firm's lawyers had requested its lawsuit against Universal Music over the all-star 'Mega Song' be dismissed, albeit without prejudice (which means the company could refile the litigation at some point in the future). As previously reported, the Mega company sued Universal after the music major had its promotional 'Mega Song' video temporarily removed from YouTube.

It was initially thought that Universal requested the song be taken down on copyright grounds under the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and as the major had no copyright claim in the song, that constituted a misuse of American copyright law. However, the music firm insisted it demanded the song be taken down under a separate contractual arrangement with YouTube. The video site's owners Google subsequently denied it had any special arrangement with Universal enabling the music firm to remove content in which it had no copyright claim, and quickly reinstated the 'Mega Song'.

However, the exact circumstances around the takedown were never ascertained, and Mega's lawyers requested on Friday that, despite them dismissing their actual action against Universal, that their demands for Universal and YouTube paperwork relating to the removal of their song still stand. Or something like that, it was all a bit confusing really.

Talking of the 'Mega Song', it is - as previously reported - widely believed that producer and rapper Swizz Beatz was behind the promotional video, hence so many A-list artists agreed to take part, despite most of said artists being signed to major music companies then in the process of calling for MegaUpload and MegaVideo to be shut down. As also previously reported, it was claimed last week that Beatz was in fact CEO of the Mega companies, and it seemed Mega's own website confirmed that fact, though his executive position in the web outfit was denied on Friday.

The producer's exact relationship with Schmitz and the Mega businesses remains a mystery, though. It seems he was angling for a vanity title within the company, which might explain why Mega's website was calling him CEO, even if he hadn't officially been engaged as such. A legal rep of the Mega company told VentureBeat: "To my knowledge, Swizz Beatz was never involved in any meaningful way. He was negotiating to become the CEO, but it was never official".

Although the producer himself hasn't issued a statement since last week's dramatic swoop on the Mega companies, a rep did confirm to the Wall Street Journal that his client had been discussing taking on an executive role with the Mega firm, but that he don't know "whether the appointment actually went into effect". Certainly Beatz, real name Kasseem Dean, isn't being targeted by the US authorities, and sources close to the producer insist he was unaware of any illegal side to the Mega business. Others say talks for Dean to become Mega CEO were very recent, and the billing as such on the Mega website was premature, though others claim that billing had been on the web firm's official site for some time.

So, all in all, plenty of intrigue remains in what is looking likely to be the most bizarre chapter yet in the file-sharing saga.

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US digital news site Digital Music News has accused Grooveshark of trying to convince the wider music community that it is in cahoots with Universal Music over the major's latest lawsuit against the rogue streaming music site.

As previously reported, Universal has cited in its lawsuit an anonymous post left on the DMN site in which the writer claimed to work for Grooveshark, and that they were routinely asked to upload unlicensed content to the Grooveshark servers by their employer.

Those claims back up Universal's allegations that Grooveshark itself uploads unlicensed content to its website, to ensure all big artists are included, whereas, of course, the web firm contends that its users upload all such content, and that it routinely removes it, so to guarantee protection from copyright infringement claims under the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Grooveshark last week subpoenaed Digital Music News in a bid to try to identify who left the key comment on the website. In an email seemingly sent to a music industry email list, Grooveshark's EVP of External Affairs, Paul Geller, questioned why Universal was not likewise keen to identify the anonymous commenter, given the post arguably plays a key role in their litigation (the major might argue that upload data from Grooveshark itself is more important, though the web company claims that data has been deliberately misinterpreted).

In the email, Geller writes: "If UMG is going to make an anonymous comment a key piece of evidence, I'm surprised [UMG executives] don't want to know who it is. You'll notice the subpoena also demands details of the relationship UMG had with DMN, which we believe to be nefarious".

DMN has not taken kindly to that latter allegation, writing in response: "Beyond the paranoid aspects, the decision to broadcast this [claim] to a well-read industry list may also be part of a calculated PR effort. In this case, Geller and Grooveshark may be unfairly looking to characterise Digital Music News as a pawn of Universal Music Group, rather than an independent journalistic voice. Which of course sounds preposterous to us, but we'd offer these recent [critical] articles on UMG [linked to in the response] as evidence to the contrary".

DMN have also published their lengthy response to Grooveshark's subpoena, which you can read here: digitalmusicnews.com/permalink/2012/120119deargrooveshark

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Soul singer-songwriter Etta James has died, aged 73. She had been suffering from dementia and leukaemia, the latter of which it was announced in December was incurable. She was in hospital throughout Christmas after having trouble breathing, but her condition improved earlier this month and she was discharged. However, she passed away on Friday.

Born in LA on 25 Jan 1938, Jamesetta Hawkins began singing in a gospel choir in the 1950s, before moving to San Francisco, where she met legendary band leader Johnny Otis (who also died last week) when she and two friends auditioned for him as a group, calling themselves The Creolettes, hoping to record his answer to Hank Ballard's 'Work With Me, Annie', a track called 'Roll With Me, Henry'.

Taking them under his wing, Otis suggested Hawkins perform as Etta James, giving her the stage name should would continue to use for the rest of her life, while also renaming the group The Peaches. Re-titled 'Dance With Me, Henry', due to fears about the suggestive nature of the original title, the group released the song through Modern Records in 1955 (although only Etta actually appeared on the recording) and it went to the top of the R&B charts.

James soon went solo but initially struggled to match the success of that first hit. However, in 1960, her contract with Modern ended and she signed a new deal with Chess Records, which proved to be a turning point. After a number of hits, both collaborative and solo, she released her debut album 'At Last!' in late 1960, which featured songs such as 'I Just Want To Make Love To You' and the title track, which became her signature.

She released a follow-up, 'The Second Time Around', the following year, and continued to enjoy success with songs such as 'Pushover'. However, by the late 60s, her career had started to wane. In the 70s she began to struggle with heroin and alcohol addiction, and had various stints in both rehab and jail. And in 1974 she was sentenced to enrol in a drug treatment programme, which saw her spend a year and a half in a psychiatric hospital.

She released two more albums for Chess in 1978, before leaving the label the same year. Although she had been clean during that time, she relapsed and began using heroin again. For the next decade she continued to battle with her addiction and only played occasional gigs. In 1988, she went through rehab again, and signed to Island Records the following year, releasing here fifteenth studio album, 'The Seven Year Itch', and another, 'Stickin To My Guns', shortly afterwards.

In the 90s, James once again became hot property, being inducted into the Rock N Roll Hall Of Fame and winning her first Grammy, and she received a further career boost in 1996 when 'I Just Want To Make Love To You' was used in a Diet Coke advert.

James continued to record and perform into her 70s, playing her final shows in 2010, though health problems meant she was forced to cancel many planned dates. She released her final album, 'The Dreamer', in November last year, though by this time was suffering from her leukaemia and various complications and infections related to it.

She is survived by her husband, Artis Mills, and their two sons, Donto and Sametto.

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Legendary band-leader, Johnny Otis, often dubbed the "godfather of rhythm and blues", has died aged 90.

Although born to Greek parents, Otis grew up in a predominantly black area of California, and always said he felt part of America's black community, and associated more with its culture, once noting that "if our society dictated that one had to be black or white, I would be black". He began his musical career playing drums in various swing orchestras before founding his own band in 1945 who, among other things, were behind one of the biggest hits of the big band era, 'Harlem Nocturne'.

A streamlined version of that band, with Little Esther and Mel Walker as vocalists, enjoyed a string of successful R&B hits during the early 1950s, released via New Jersey-based label Savoy and later Mercury Records. And while his own chart success began to dry up as the decade progressed, Otis enjoyed new successes behind the scenes as a producer and songwriter, discovering Etta James, and writing 'Every Beat Of My Heart', which became a hit for Gladys Knight And The Pips in 1961. He also worked as an A&R exec, signing the likes of Jackie Wilson, Hank Ballard and Little Willie John.

In the late 1950s he started to work in radio and television, and via his own TV show he launched a second pop career of his own, scoring hits with the likes of 'Ma He's Making Eyes At Me' and 'Willie And The Hand Jive'. This second stint in the charts wound up around the time of the so called British Invasion, with Otis once saying that "the white boys from England came over with a recycled version of what we created [and] we were out of business".

But nevertheless, Otis continued to perform and record, albeit on and off, into the 1990s, while also continuing with his TV and especially radio careers. Though there were periods of inactivity in his music endeavours, mainly because of pursuits in other areas, including journalism, politics and the church.

Otis had been unwell for a number of years, and died at his home in LA on 17 Jan, his manager confirmed last week.

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Danish producer Anders Trentemøller has announced that he's working on a new album, which is excellent news if you liked his last one, 2010's 'Into The Great Wide Yonder', as much as I did.

Though he'll stay in Copenhagen to record the LP, Trentemøller is also set to push out on a fleet of European DJ dates. None are UK-based, unfortunately, so we won't elaborate further for fear of feeling left out.

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So, 50 Cent says a lot of things (some slightly far-fetched, like that time he said he'd quite like to be a bird), the latest being that he wouldn't be averse to releasing his next two albums in quick succession, perhaps by cutting short each LP's live and promotional campaigns.

Of course, Fiddy has been moaning for some time about just how long his label, Universal's Interscope, has been taking to release his new long player, which might be why his mind is already onto the follow up.

Speaking to Forbes on the subject of future plans, the rapper says: "I'm not sure if I'll tour the world [alongside the next LP], like I did on my last project, because it makes my album cycles two years long. I think I'd like to launch this record and then come right back and launch another record following it".

He adds: "I just feel like because I've created so much, I want to be able to get it out".

What Interscope think about those plans isn't clear. Though, 50 clearly wants some new tracks to perform at any future live shows, also telling Forbes when asked about performing his past hits: "Some of my biggest records? I hate to perform them. I'm really not excited to perform because I'm like: 'Oh here we go, this song again'".

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This year marks the 40th anniversary since the release of The Doors 'LA Woman' LP, and the band's surviving members have been celebrating the occasion in some style.

Take 'Breakn A Sweat', the group's collaboration with dubstep DJ Skrillex, for instance. The two acts worked together as part of that previously reported film project 'RE:GENERATION', which aimed to document diverse musical partnerships between the likes of Mark Ronson, Erykah Badu, The Crystal Method and the Berklee School Of Music Orchestra.

As regards 'Breakn A Sweat', Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek seems certain the band's late frontman Jim Morrison, were he still alive, would approve of the track.

Manzarek informs Billboard: "He'd love it. He was no purist. His words were his milieu. He might be, 'Don't fuck with my words', but he'd be open for all kind of improvisations. He loved that stuff".

Having said he felt "kicked in the arse" after his studio session with Skrillex, Manzarek predicts 'Breakn A Sweat' won't be the last of his and Doors cohort Robby Kriger's experimental forays.

He says: "We might do some stuff in that direction. What I'd like to do and what might happen is to do some electronic treatments of the songs, of the multi-tracks we have, Robby and I working with different people. That would be a lot of fun. That's the new realm of music, electronics. Electronics can go anywhere, so that's what I'm looking forward to in the future".

A future that sounds like Skrillex? Count me out. Unless he's doing the cooking that is. Here's 'Breakn A Sweat', anyway:


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Psych-disco-soul collective Phenomenal Handclap Band will promote the release of their second album 'Form And Control' with a just announced tour of five UK venues.

With the LP set to surface via Tummy Touch on 13 Feb, the dates look as follows:

24 Feb: London, Village Underground
28 Feb: Liverpool, Kazimier
1 Mar: Chelmsford, Hooga
2 Mar: Manchester, Night & Day
3 Mar: Birmingham, Hare & Hound

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Alt-pop set The Wave Pictures have shared details of 'Long Black Cars', their fourth full-length outing on Moshi Moshi, which is set for release on 2 Apr.

The band describe the LP as an attempt to imbue ordinary observations with a new significance, with frontman Dave Tattersall saying: "The point is not that it is interesting to sing about the mundane rather than the magical, but that we find the mundane magical: the everyday amazes me".

The band will accompany the release with a UK tour, which includes a three-date residency at London's Old Blue Last.

Dates are thus:

21 Mar: Leeds, Brudenell Social Glasgow - Nice N Sleazy
23 Mar: Sunderland, Bar One
24 Mar: Manchester, The King's Arms
26 Mar: Nottingham, Chameleon
27 Mar: Milton Keynes, Sno!bar
28 Mar: Cardiff, Clwb Ifor Bach
29 Mar: Bristol, Fleece
30 Mar: Truro, Bunters
1 Apr: Southampton, Cellar
2 Apr: London, Old Blue Last
3 Apr: London, Old Blue Last
4 Apr: London, Old Blue Last
5 Apr: Brighton, Green Door Store
6 Apr: Cheltenham, Frog & Fiddle

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BILBAO BBK LIVE, Kobetamendi, Bilbao, 12-14 Jul: The Cure and Camden band Tribes feature highly amongst add-ons just made to the BBK billing. Robert Smith et al will share their 2012 reign with previously announced headliners Radiohead, with Klaxons, Noah And The Whale and Snow Patrol also booked to perform. www.bilbaobbklive.com/2012

ISLE OF WIGHT FESTIVAL, Seaclose Park, Newport, Isle Of Wight, 22-24 Jun: Irrepressible pop force Jessie J is joined by fellow newcomers Miles Kane, Best Coast, Magnetic Man and Kelis on the Isle Of Wight line-up. Existing residents include co-headliners Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers, Bruce Springsteen and Pearl Jam, plus Elbow, Tinie Tempah, Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds and Professor Green. www.isleofwightfestival.com

PRIMAVERA SOUND, Parc del Forum, Barcelona, Spain, 30 May-3 Jun: The Cure make a second cameo in today's line-up update, this time topping a roster that also boasts Björk, Franz Ferdinand, Justice, SBTRKT, Shellac, White Denim, Beach House and alt-pop one-to-watch Grimes. www.primaverasound.com

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Universal Music UK has announced the promotion of David Sharpe, currently SVP of the major's Island Records division, to the group wide job of COO. In the new role, Sharpe will work with Universal UK top man David Joseph, overseeing all of the firm's UK operations, and looking for "new commercial opportunities".

The latter role will capitalise on Sharpe's experience at Island of working with the label's artists on non-recordings based ventures, such as direct-to-fan merchandise stores, ticketing deals and Tinchy Stryder's Star In The Hood clothing business.

Confirming the appointment, Joseph told CMU: "David has time and again demonstrated his entrepreneurial approach, which will be of huge benefit to our artists, labels and all aspects of our company in his new role".

Meanwhile Sharpe himself added: "I am delighted to be taking on this role and to be working more closely with David. These are very exciting and challenging times in the music industry and I'm looking forward to helping to grow Universal Music's business".

Universal UK also announced that the company's CFO David Bryant was leaving the firm. Presumably three Davids at the top would be just too confusing. Joseph said of Bryant: "I'd like to thank David who has been so integral to the business and for the huge contribution he has made in his seventeen years as part of the senior team at Universal Music".

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Bosses at Universal/Sony-owned music video platform VEVO have begun talks about a possible partnership with Facebook, according to C-Net. The exact nature of the talks is not known, though C-Net cites sources as saying that Facebook could replace YouTube as VEVO's technology partner.

VEVO, of course, is built on the back of YouTube's video platform, and also benefits from YouTube traffic, with users of the Google-owned video site sent to VEVO pages whenever they search for official videos from the Universal, Sony or EMI labels. For its part, VEVO brings the content via licensing deals with its parent companies and EMI, and also sells the advertising that appears alongside its content, paying a cut to YouTube for the use of its technology.

VEVO's YouTube partnership has another year to run, though it's likely bosses at the video site are already thinking beyond their current deal. Whether Facebook would actually be able to provide the technology VEVO needs is debatable, and while being a semi-official Facebook video channel would put VEVO in front of millions of users, it's arguable that being hooked into YouTube - the go-to place for video across much of the globe - is more valuable.

Facebook, of course, has been slowly building its music offer in the last year via strategic partnerships with various digital music platforms, encouraging users to access such services via the Facebook environment by enabling people to share their listening habits with friends and, following this month's launch of the 'listen with' function, to chat about music in real time.

An in-Facebook video offer with the sort of big pop catalogue boasted by VEVO would be attractive to the social network, though whether it'd really be able to offer everything Google currently brings to the VEVO party remains to be seen - though if Facebook was to offer more favourable terms on ad revenue splits, the music video site would give any offer serious consideration.

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While the BBC plans to slash its local radio services, it's good to know there's still money to fund the obsession Radio 1 execs have with making their channel a "visual medium". You might think that BBC radio execs with ambitions in video would be best seeking jobs in the Beeb's TV division, but why bother when you can waste loads of licence fee payers money making the final hour of the 'Official Chart Show' into a super-duper multi-media online viewing experience that no one will watch? Sorted.

Yes, Radio 1 will revamp 'The Official Chart Show with Rastamouse' next month, with the last hour also pumped out on the station's website, with videos of the top ten tracks, live clips of host Reggie Yates counting, and footage of that new fangled number one record trophy being handed over. Listeners - or viewers, I suppose - will be able to interact via Facebook, Twitter and text, should they want to.

Announcing the new look chart show, Radio 1 boss Ben Cooper told reporters: "This is the chart show for the 21st century. I'm very excited about this innovation. Young people will be logging on to listen, watch and take part in the show. I hope that this will be to our young listeners what listening to the chart and waiting to record your favourite pop songs was for another generation".

Meanwhile Official Charts Company boss Martin Talbot voiced his approval for the new plans, saying: "It feels completely appropriate that Radio 1 should choose to reinvent the concept of the radio show in the year that the Official Singles Chart marks its 60th anniversary. The Official Singles Chart has always reflected changing musical tastes and the evolving ways music fans have bought and enjoyed their music. And Radio 1's innovation will change the way music and chart fans engage with the weekly Official Chart Show".

Some major label execs do seem excited about the new look chart programme, which some have already dubbed "'Top Of The Pops' for the 21st century", though those working with less mainstream acts might wish the Beeb would pump some of the cash spent on Radio 1's little watched red-button and webcam endeavours to protect the specialist and new talent shows that air on the BBC local radio network.

Though given the BBC Trust is expected to reject BBC management's plans to slash local radio funding, in much the same way proposals to shut 6music and the Asian Network were axed, the Corporation's top guard may be finally forced to consider cutting budgets at its over-staffed, over-funded national music networks in order to meet its tough spending plans. Still, enjoy Reggie's web hour while it lasts.

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Neil Young reckons that the quality of all 21st century music is rubbish though, as wonderfully contentious as that statement is as a standalone voxpop, what he really means is the sound quality of music released today is not up to scratch.

Which is similar to what Bob Dylan was saying a few years back when he too was quoted out of context as saying all modern music was rubbish. Though Young reckons that the sound quality of modern recordings is having an impact on the creative side of musical output.

Young told MTV: "I'm finding that I have a little bit of trouble with the quality of the sound of music today. I don't like it. It just makes me angry. Not the quality of the music, but we're in the 21st century and we have the worst sound that we've ever had. It's worse than a 78. Where are our geniuses? What happened? If you're an artist and you created something and you knew the master was 100% great, but the consumer got 5%, would you be feeling good? I like to point that out to artists".

On the impact sound quality is having on musical genres, Young continued: "That's why people listen to music differently today. It's all about the bottom and the beat driving everything, and that's because in the resolution of the music, there's nothing else you can really hear. The warmth and the depth at the high end is gone".

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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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