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This week Saint Etienne released their eighth studio album, 'Words And Music By Saint Etienne', their first since 2005's 'Tales from Turnpike House'. Tour dates in support of the album began last night, ahead of which CMU's Marc Samuels met up with Saint Etienne's Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs to chat about pop, the digital music revolution, and the Beatles Jubilee more>>
A lynchpin of the 'ethereal R&B' genre, producer Tom Krell, aka How To Dress Well, has just set the internet agog with word of his second long player 'Total Loss'. A just-published preview of the LP, a track called 'Ocean Floor For Everything', contrives a lo-fi quality so sunken in its abyssal synth basin that you half expect a vast, silvery sea creature to glide by as you listen more>>
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Next course starts on 30 May, followed by, final course in 2012; 5 Sep.
- As she heads towards a million on Kickstarter, Amanda Palmer explains where the money will go
- Doobie Brother joins digital royalties litigation party
- Greek courts issue web-block orders on copyright grounds
- Lady Gaga still hoping to play Indonesia
- Mercury Prize moves to Roundhouse and Channel 4
- Funeral For A Friend drummer quits
- Yeasayer name new album
- Spector announce first LP
- White Denim EP given British release
- Savages share debut single
- Foxes releases Neon Gold EP
- Jessie J to tour arenas in 2013
- Festival line-up update
- HMV may keep hold of its festivals business for the time being
- Alliance acquires Audiolife
- Sony streaming service will reach Apple devices this week
- One Direction return to the Capital FM airwaves
- Chrissy Teigen under Twitter attack after criticising Brown
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Normally having someone talk you through a budget wouldn't make for especially compelling reading, but when a DIY artist outlines the costs they are incurring releasing records, touring shows and keeping fans happy it's usually a pretty interesting read, and the latest blog post from Amanda Palmer very much falls into that category.

Palmer, of course, recently launched a campaign on US-based crowd-sourcing website Kickstarter to raise money to fund a new album, art book and an ambitious tour, basically offering a wide range of packages to fans on a pre-order basis, so she can access now the cash required to make all that activity happen later in the year.

Such crowd sourcing by artists isn't new, of course, with many other new and established acts working with platforms like Kickstarter, or music specific crowd sourcing services like Pledge, to generate cash now in return for providing fans with products or services down the line. But Palmer's pre-order funded project is certainly one of the most ambitious.

Originally stating, at the start of 32 days of fundraising, that she'd need a minimum of $100,000 to make the project happen, that much was raised within hours and with a week to go her Kickstarter haul is currently standing at $817,055. With some reckoning she will break the million mark by the end of the month, one tweeter asked the former Dresden Dolls singer: "So, are you loaded?"

It's a question that motivated Palmer's budgeting blog, in which she explains how, actually, even if the million mark is passed by the end of her Kickstarter campaign, she will actually be lucky to pocket any more than $100,000 herself. And - given that any major project should probably allow 10% of contingency money for unforeseen expenditure - that could also be used up, so that Palmer will rely on the subsequent more conventional album and merchandise sales that the Kickstarter project 'kick starts' (via her website, at gigs and iTunes et al) to actually make a profit.

So, where will the million go? Well, she explains, it cost $250,000 to get to the point at which the Kickstarter campaign even went live, much of which was borrowed from friends and needs to be paid back (meaning if she had only raised the originally stated $100,000, the project would have made a loss). There are then costs in fulfilling the packages that have been sold via the Kickstarter initiative, and the more that are sold the more those costs go up.

Add the commissions that Kickstarter and Amazon take, the fees that need to be paid to the staff who help make everything happen, legal costs and any loss that might be made by the tour (that should break even, Palmer says, but she might have to take a hit if any shows don't sell so well), and the million is soon gone.

The singer notes that she could save money by cutting corners with the products she sends to fans who have contributed to the million, but says she doesn't want to, not least because if the products people pre-ordered on trust this time weren't of a sufficiently high quality, people would be less likely to pre-order in that way in the future.

Of course traditionally all these upfront costs would be covered by a record label, which would then recoup the money it had spent through subsequent record sales (though without the flexibility to sell premium packages that incorporate live events, merchandise and related art).

Palmer stresses that she has always recognised that, in making that upfront investment, labels have traditionally played a crucial role in helping artists succeed, even if artist/label relationships were at times fraught, but adds that she hopes the direct-to-fan pre-order model enabled by Kickstarter and Pledge might offer an alternative to the label system for new artists and "major label refugees like me". Which means, she says, this project will have been a huge success even if she only breaks even once all the bills are paid.

She writes: "[Because it will be] proof positive that [the traditional label system] is just not necessary any more. Paying now for value later is what historically would've been a label's primary purpose. Now you are able to bankroll and finance and keep control with the artists. Showing that this works... that's simply great art-karma, and awesome for everybody, including me. And all my art-making friends".

Read Palmer's full outline of where all that money will go here: blog.amandapalmer.net/post/23551030051/where-all-this-kickstarter-money-is-going-by-amanda

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Another day, another digital royalties dispute. This time its one of the Doobie Brothers who is suing a major label for a bigger cut of download revenue.

As much previously reported, the major labels treat downloads as record sales, and pay artists the same royalty on iTunes revenue as they would on CDs. But many artists with pre-internet contracts that don't mention downloading say that revenue generated by digital sales should be treated as licensing income, because it stems from licensing deals with companies like iTunes rather than the provision of records to retailers, which involves more risk for the label. It's an important distinction because under most record deals the artist gets much bigger cut of licensing revenue that record sales money.

All four majors are now being sued on this issue after Eminem collaborators FBT Productions won a legal action against Universal. And Doobie Brothers singer Michael McDonald, who is suing Warner Music, is being represented by the same lawyer as FBT, Richard S Busch, who has also filed digital royalty litigation on behalf of Peter Frampton and Kenny Rogers.

Though the McDonald lawsuit has an extra interesting element to it, according to Billboard. Among the allegations made is that the majors have conspired together to pay all artists the lower royalty on digital revenue, because if one record company paid the higher rate it would put an obligation on the others to follow suit. Whether there is any actual evidence of collusion on this issue isn't clear.

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The Greek courts are the latest to issue web-blocking injunctions against internet service providers on copyright grounds. As previously reported, such web-block orders have now been issued in various countries, including the UK, and are used where websites are deemed to be liable for copyright infringement, but are based outside the jurisdiction of a national court, so can't actually be forced to change or cease their operations directly.

The Greek web-block order, issued by the Athens First Instance Court, targets file-sharing community Ellinadiko.com and a Russian download store called Music-Bazaar.com. According to Torrentfreak, the former isn't actually even operating anymore, so the block against the latter is more interesting.

Music-Bazaar.com isn't a file-sharing service, but is similar to the now defunct Russia-based download store AllofMP3.com, which sold Western-released pop music worldwide at bargain basement prices, usually pennies per track (and, in AllofMP3.com's case, major label music in the MP3 format at a point at which the major's had not yet embraced DRM-free downloads). AllofMP3.com claimed it was licensed via Russian royalty organisations, but the Western record companies disagreed.

In some ways bargain-basement download stores are more of a problem than file-sharing services, partly because somebody is actually profiting directly from the download sales, and more so because - with money changing hands - many consumers will understandably believe they are buying music from a legitimate operation.

Although legal action was pursued, in the end AllofMP3.com was really defeated by persuading the Western credit card companies to not take money on the service's behalf. Presumably targeting Music-Bazaar.com through the Russian legal system is proving complicated, hence why rights owners in Greece have gone the web-block injunction route.

Of course web-blocks are always circumventable by those who know how to, and various web pages have already appeared online in Greece explaining how that can be done, though rights owners would argue that anything that makes accessing unlicensed content more complicated is a step in the right direction.

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Last we heard, Lady Gaga's planned show in the Indonesian capital Jakarta next month was off, after she was refused a visa amid fears of mass protests against a performance that the Islamic Defenders' Front has branded "satanic".

But, while a spokesman for the country's national police recently told Reuters that Gaga had been refused a visa to enter the country, it seems this may not be the case. Although the full scale stage show seen in other countries on the tour will definitely not happen there.

Posting on Twitter, Gaga said: "The Jakarta situation is twofold: Indonesian authorities demand I censor the show and religious extremist [groups] separately are threatening violence. If the show does go on as scheduled, I will perform the 'Born This Way Ball' alone".

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Back in March, organisers of the Mercury Prize announced a decision to shift the 'album of the year' awards show back two months to November, with the shortlist announced in September so that people don't get distracted from ranting about the judges' selections by the festival season. Now some other changes have also been announced - the ceremony's location will be shifted from Grosvenor House to The Roundhouse and it will all be broadcast on Channel 4, rather than BBC Two.

The change of venue will allow more table space to be sold to the labels of nominated artists, but also will enable more fans to be let in as well. So that's nice for everyone. Though having three stages to allow back-to-back live performances seems unlikely, so Channel 4 will film the event differently.

Shortlisted artists will also be invited to perform their nominated albums at a series of one-off events in October, which will also be broadcast on Channel 4.

The shortlist will be announced at The Hospital Club as usual, on 12 Sep - though this event will move to the evening and be televised for the first time too. The actual Mercury's ceremony will be held on 1 Nov, though most of it will be televised the next night.

Mercury Prize MD Dan Ford told CMU: "It's essential that the Barclaycard Mercury Prize proposition evolves and continues to deliver exciting and engaging experiences that appeal to music fans. By providing access to a whole season of Barclaycard Mercury Prize live events, broadcast coverage and online content, we will be able to help even more people discover and experience the amazing range of new music that comes out of the UK every year - generating more interest in the shortlisted artists and albums than ever before. It's fantastic news that we are in a position to move forward with these plans in partnership with Barclaycard as part of their ongoing support of music in the UK".

I think Barclaycard might be involved.

Coincidentally, Popjustice also announced yesterday that its Twenty Quid Music Prize will now be awarded on 1 Nov, with the shortlist announced on 12 Sep.

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Funeral For A Friend drummer Ryan Richards has announced that he has left the band. He will be replaced by former Rise To Remain drummer Pat Lundy, who will make his debut with the band at the Slam Dunk Festival this weekend.

Speaking to NME, Richards said: "After ten wonderful, enriching, emotional and fascinating years being a part of Funeral For A Friend, I've decided to hang up my drum sticks. I've always put music first in my life but the time has come now for my family to take the top spot, after patiently waiting and supporting me for the last ten years and more. I'm stoked to have my good friend Pat Lundy step into my vacant drum stool. There's not a better drummer than Pat for the job".

Singer Matthew Davies-Kreye added: "We give Ryan our full support and wish him the best in his future endeavours. Now, before you all start running around on the internet ringing the death bells for our band we just wanted to say that we're extremely excited to announce that Pat Lundy will filling the drummer's seat and will be kicking asses and taking names from here on in".

The band are currently working on their next album, the follow-up to last year's 'Welcome Home Armageddon'. You can listen to the playlist Ryan Richards put together for us ahead of the release of that record here: www.thecmuwebsite.com/article/ryan-richards-from-funeral-for-a-friends-powers-of-ten-playlist/

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Alt-pop tribe Yeasayer have now shared official notes on their new LP, 'Fragrant World'. Taking over from 2010's 'Odd Blood', the reputedly "weirder and darker" record is set for release via Mute on 20 Aug.

Component track 'Henrietta', 200 CD copies of which were sent to randomly-chosen fans last week, is now available to all as a free download. Just follow this link to make it your own: awe.sm/5sKqR

And the 'Fragrant World' tracklisting is...

Fingers Never Bleed
Blue Paper
Devil And The Deed
No Bones
Reagan's Skeleton
Demon Road
Damaged Goods
Folk Hero Shtick
Glass Of The Microscope

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Be-suited and booted London lot Spector have assigned a release date of 13 Aug to their debut album, 'Enjoy It While It Lasts', which should mean it arrives just in time to save indie guitar music from certain death.

Meanwhile, the band's Fred Macpherson (seen here saying things as 'host' of The Great Escape edition of Vice's 'Noisey Talks' youtu.be/Bo159dTxGmg) says this thing about the LP's transient title: "Life is short and happiness is fleeting. We search for it all our lives expecting that it will arrive and then everything will change. But if and when it does, it comes and goes. It's not forever: Nothing is. We need to savour every moment of love and pleasure. We need to enjoy it while it lasts".


True Love (For Now)
Chevy Thunder
Grey Shirt & Tie
Twenty Nothing
Friday Night, Don't Ever Let It End
Lay Low
Upset Boulevard
No Adventure
What You Wanted
Grim Reefer
Never Fade Away

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Some considerable time after its American release back in November of 2011, Texan psych quartet White Denim's new EP 'Takes Place In Your Work Space' has at last been granted a UK issue.

Out via Downtown on 25 Jun, it will feature all four original tracks (these being 'Cat City', 'Handwriting', 'Company' and the CMU approved 'No Real Reason), plus a two-part exclusive in live add-ons 'Darlene' and 'Gas On F'.

The band are also on tour at the moment, and play tonight at Manchester's The Ritz.

And here, for no real reason at all, is White Denim's cover of the R Kelly classic 'Don't You Say No'.


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Post-punk femmes Savages have caused a right old internet fuss with news of their debut single, 'Flying To Berlin/Husbands', which they'll self-release on 28 May via singer Jehnny Beth's label Pop Noire.

You needn't wait a week to hear B-side 'Husbands', because it's available to preview via this Pitchfork Rising piece, as also includes an interview with the band: pitchfork.com/features/rising/8837-savages/

Apparently (or at least, so says Pitchfork) Savages "thrive off of violence and twisted desire". If you'd like to see that manifest live, you'll have to be present at one or all of the band's forthcoming shows. The first of those takes place at London's Shacklewell Arms on 29 May.

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The new EP by pop type Foxes, aka Louisa Rose Allen, went up on iTunes at the weekend. Released by Neon Gold, the 'Warrior' EP will also be made available on good old vinyl on 2 Jul. The vinyl version will only have three tracks on it though, while the digital release has five. It's quality, not quantity though, isn't it? Not to say the other two tracks on the iTunes release aren't good. I just mean... er... shit, BUY BOTH! BUY BOTH!

Anyway, you can listen to the title track here, which features on the digital and physical release.


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FAO: People who'd like to see/hear vocal pop vocalist Jessie J without having to see/hear 'The Voice'... guess what! Ms J has announced a fourteen date tour of arena-sized UK venues, and will thus be projecting her very own solo voice to all corners of the British Isles. That is all.

Tour dates:

26 Feb: Nottingham, Capital FM Arena
27 Feb: Brighton, Centre
1 Mar: Birmingham, LG Arena
2 Mar: Manchester, Arena
3 Mar: Sheffield, Motorpoint Arena
5 Mar: Liverpool, Echo Arena
6 Mar: Cardiff, Motorpoint Arena
7 Mar: Bournemouth, International Centre
9 Mar: London, O2 Arena
12 Mar: Newcastle, Metro Radio Arena
14 Mar: Glasgow, SECC
15 Mar: Aberdeen, AECC
17 Mar: Belfast, Odyssey Arena
18 Mar: Dublin, O2 Arena

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OFF FESTIVAL, Katowice, Poland, 3-5 Aug: Organisers of Polish alt fest Off expands this year's programme by a further seven artists, gaining DOOM, The Wedding Present, Purity Ring, Fanfarlo, Chrome Hoof, Kuedo and Pissed Jeans in a single line-up upgrade. This lot align with Iggy & The Stooges, Nils Frahm, Bardo Pond, Iceage, Battles and Shabazz Palaces on the roster so far. www.off-festival.pl

PARK:LIVE, Gloucester Park, Gloucester, 21 Jul: Main stage supremos We Are Scientists are flanked by The Good Natured, Portia Conn and Dive Bella Dive on Park:Live's inaugural festival roster, to which free access is guaranteed throughout the day. www.facebook.com/parklivefestivalofficial

RELENTLESS BOARDMASTERS, Watergate Bay, Cornwall, 8-12 Aug: Pulled Apart By Horses, Set Your Goals, Crowns and Feed The Rhino are amongst the wave of acts new to strike the bill at watery sports/music fest Boardmasters, joining existing bookings Ed Sheeran, Dizzee Rascal, Maximo Park, Zane Lowe and Maverick Sabre. www.boardmasters.co.uk

ROCKNESS, Loch Ness, Scotland, 8-10 Jun: Guillemots, Errors, The Rifles and Odd Future sideline The Internet crest a late surge of acts to the RockNess line-up, as is co-headlined by Mumford & Sons, Biffy Clyro and Deadmau5. www.rockness.co.uk

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According to various sources, HMV's live division, the MAMA Group, may be split up before sale after all, though it's possible the flagging retailer might actually keep hold of some of MAMA's operations.

As previously reported, HMV let it be known that it was planning on selling MAMA late last year in a latest bid to raise quick cash to cut the company's debts. AEG Live was quickly tipped as a leading bidder, though many noted that the US-based live entertainment major was likely to be most interested in MAMA's venue portfolio, and in particular the flagship Hammersmith Apollo.

That led some to wonder whether MAMA's other operations, including festivals, sponsorship, youth marketing and artist management, might be bought by a separate bidder, or be subject to a management buy out.

However, reports earlier this week in the Independent, that claimed AEG now had preferred bidder status and was in the final stages of talks with HMV to acquire MAMA, made no mention of a second bidder, perhaps suggesting AEG would takeover the whole of HMV's live music business, even if it intended to sell some of the assets on down the line.

But, according to Sky News and City AM, there is a rumour that AEG is indeed only interested in the MAMA venues business, and that HMV is considering keeping hold of the other parts of its live division, in the short term at least. As previously reported, some of MAMA's periphery units have begun to wind down since HMV put the company up for sale, as key executives have departed, though the festivals division remains substantial, if dependent to an extent on some key partnerships with third parties.

HMV is yet to comment on any of this speculation.

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US-based distribution company Alliance Entertainment has acquired Audiolife, an American direct-to-fan fulfilment company that is utilised by more familiar names like Topspin and Reverbnation to get product sold via D2F websites to fan's homes.

Both Topspin and Reverbnation have welcomed the acquisition and say they will continue to work with Audiolife, with the former's CEO Ian Rogers telling Billboard: "This is a tremendous step towards bringing world-class fulfilment to the direct-to-fan world. Now artists using Topspin's customised marketing and commerce platform will continue to get the benefits of a boutique fulfilment solution along with Alliance's operational sophistication and their vast retail distribution network. It's a win-win for our clients, putting artist-created products in front of millions more potential customers worldwide".

Confirming the takeover, Alliance Entertainment's top man Mike Davis told reporters: "Audiolife will be an ideal complement to Alliance's expanding business model as we seek to diversify and deepen the range of services and products we offer our customers. Since launching in 2009, Audiolife has made its mark in the exploding e-commerce marketplace thanks to superlative direct-to-consumer technology, and a savvy understanding for what artists need and fans desire".

Meanwhile, Audiolife CEO and co-founder Brandon Hance added: "The affiliation with Alliance Entertainment will allow Audiolife to significantly increase its resources, logistical capacity and distribution reach - and ultimately re-define direct-to-fan fulfilment and retail distribution for the industry at large".

Alliance provides entertainment stock to a plethora of online and high street retailers, and the acquisition of Audiolife in theory offers opportunities for smaller labels and self-releasing artists who primarily sell direct to fan to get some key stock onto more traditional retail platforms. Earlier this month Alliance also announced a partnership with CD Baby which again offers artists selling their music via the independent music distributor opportunities to get some products stocked by bigger retailers.

Following the acquisition, Audiolife will continue to operate an HQ in LA with its existing management team still in place, though fulfilment operations will be moved to Alliance's distribution centre in Kentucky.

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The music bit of Sony's streaming content platform, the Sony Entertainment Network, will reach Apple devices later this week with the launch of an app for the iPhone and iPod touch (though not the iPad yet).

The Entertainment Network (operated by Sony's consumer electronics division and for a short time called Qriocity) primarily integrates different Sony-made devices, including VAIO computers, Bravia TVs and PlayStation consoles, though there is an ambition to make the service device agnostic, and Android apps have already been released. The move onto Apple devices is the next obvious step.

The Sony Entertainment Network's Music Unlimited service is similar to the premium version of Spotify, with a £9.99 a month subscription fee, though it now also offers a cheaper (£3.99 a month) service that works like Apple's iTunes Match, in that it scans a user's MP3 collection and allows them to stream any content in that collection to additional devices via Sony's servers.

Confirming the arrival to Apple devices later this week, Sony exec Michael Aragon told reporters: "We want to let users pick up their favourite device and crank up the Music Unlimited service at any time. With the addition of the new iPhone and iPod touch app, users with a Basic or Premium subscription can listen to their favourite songs across a number of the most popular connected devices - in and out of the home".

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So, what's this, not only are The Wanted insisting they have no beef with One Direction and would happily collaborate with their rivals on a charity record, now Capital FM - the pop station run by Global, which, of course, also manages The Wanted - has ended its 1D boycott. Pop music without pathetic pettiness is no fun at all.

As previously reported, Capital FM, now seemingly run by seven year olds, instituted a ban on One Direction after the 'X-Factor' boyband's floppy haired lothario Harry Styles mistakenly thanked Radio 1 rather than the BBC station's big commercial rival when picking up the BRIT Award for Best Single earlier this year. It was a bit of a faux pas given Capital was sponsoring that particular category, though one might have assumed Global Radio bosses would have taken it on the chin, laughed it off, and given Styles' subsequent "Capital is great too" statement top billing on the company's website.

But no, a 1D guest appearance was cancelled, the pop band's songs were barred from the Capital playlist and, according to reports, editors of the station's website were told not to mention the One Direction boys any more. All rather petty, and, given some in the music and radio industries have already raised concerns about Global owning both a pop management company and one of the UK's biggest pop radio stations, possibly unwise strategically too, given One Direction's main rivals are the Global-owned The Wanted.

Anyway, just as we noted yesterday that the 1D ban was still seemingly in place at Capital, last night at 7.45pm the group's hit 'What Makes You Beautiful' was played out by the station's James Barr. So, the ban, it would seem, is over. Until Harry pops up later today to thank Zane Lowe for playing his group's track last night. Go on Harry, I dare you.

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Ah, Chris Brown fans hey? I think we're just going to have to let the anthropologists of the future figure them out, because without the benefit of a thousand years of hindsight nothing about them makes any sense at all.

But model Chrissy Teigen, aka John Legend's fiancée, was forced to think about the R&B wifebeater's faithful fans in a more contemporary fashion earlier this week after being on the receiving end of their collective bile. She'd criticised the singer's performance at the Billboard Music Awards see.

Of course, some still wonder whether its appropriate for the US record industry to keep giving Brown star billing at its flagship events while he's still serving his sentence for beating his then girlfriend Rihanna unconscious in the street in the middle the biggest date in the American music calendar, Grammy Weekend. Though with each new awards show booking those concerns seem to get further pushed out of mainstream conversation. Because, after all, there are records to sell.

But Teigen wasn't commenting on the rights or wrongs of the decision to book Brown on Sunday night, rather she wondered aloud on Twitter whether the singer's very visual performance at the Billboard Music Awards wasn't a little style over substance. Or, in her words: "Why sing when you can dance?"

Now, it's true many were impressed with the visual spectacle Brown delivered, though Teigen wasn't the only critic on the social networks. However, she possibly received the angriest response from Brown's fans, one of whom tweeted: "You're just mad because you were another SLUT with a dress at the award show that nobody knows". Another declared that Teigen was a "ditzy dumb ass tramp [who] your mother should've aborted", while one charmer told the model: "All you do is talk shit, you need to be raped and murdered".

Many of the more offensive remarks were subsequently deleted by the powers that be, but not before TMZ screen grabbed them. Justifying the deletion of the remarks, Teigen subsequently wrote: "[The] messages [were] deleted due to, ohhhhh, i dunno, telling me I'm getting a bullet to my brain, asking for me to be raped and murdered... normal stuff".

She added: "I will do everything I can to make sure people know, internet or not, you CAN'T say this shit. It really makes me sad that 99% of the most disturbing comments come from young girls. I'll end it there but it makes me sad".

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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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