16 OCT 2012

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Simon Raymonde founded the Bella Union record label with this Cocteau Twins bandmate Robin Guthrie in 1997. In the run up to this year's AIM Independent Music Awards - where Bella Union is nominated for Independent Label Of The Year and Raymonde himself for Independent Entrepreneur Of The Year - CMU's Chris Cooke spoke to the label chief about his record company, past, present and future more>>
As both a radio show and a podcast Jon Hillcock's 'New Noise' was always essential listening for anyone looking to navigate a route through the tricky and often treacherous world of new music. Hillcock is very good at finding the best new music. That's all over now though, because in August 'New Noise' died. But never fear! It's gone, but only to be replaced by 'All Back No Front', an almost identical podcast more>>
- AT&T may launch six-strikes next month
- Classical site found liable for distributing rival firm's recordings
- Nas's home repossessed and auctioned
- One Direction win best UK act ahead of EMAs
- Girls Aloud tease reunion as single leaks
- Prince and Gaga to soundtrack Luhrman's Gatsby, maybe
- Christmas Rules compilation to feature Paul McCartney, The Shins, Rufus Wainwright
- Bryan Ferry records instrumental jazz LP
- Novella detail new single
- Sky Ferreira stars in short film
- MJ Hibbett offers Dinosaur Planet show to schools
- Rolling Stones announce 50th anniversary shows
- Hit Factory festival back on
- Festival line-up additions
- Wychwood Festival allowing fans to buy shares in the event
- AEG ticketing platform to enable customers to reserve seats for friends
- CI announces deal with Secretly Canadian
- Polydor plugger Thompson launches new agency
- Music identification technology firm reckons 80% of commercial music usage badly reported
- Real Radio to network daytime shows
- Leona found no love in a hopeless place
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According to TorrentFreak, American tel co AT&T will start sending out anti-piracy warning letters to customers believed to be accessing unlicensed content from 28 Nov. The letters will inform file-sharing customers about the copyright implications of their actions, and it's thought that continued accessing of unlicensed content sources after receiving such letters could result in customer-specific web blocks being instigated.

The three-strikes style system is the result of that previously reported alliance between the US record and movie industries and most of the big internet service providers in America. First revealed in July 2011, under the alliance the ISPs pledged to help the content industries protect their copyrights online by sending copyright alerts to customers suspected of illegally file-sharing.

Under that agreement, customers who ignore warnings will be subject to sanctions, to be decided on by each ISP individually, though ultimately it will be for the rights owners to take legal action against the most persistent file-sharers, with a central information exchange enabling labels and studios to identify who those file-sharers are. It's thought five copyright alerts would be sent before action of that kind was pursued, making this basically a six-strikes system.

The 2011 deal between the American content industries and net companies was quite an achievement, given similar efforts to persuade ISPs to voluntarily introduce anti-piracy systems of this kind in other territories have in the main been unsuccessful, with the music and movie industries instead looking to governments to force the net providers into action. And the deal will be all the more impressive if it actually results in the launch of a widespread warning letters system against file-sharers.

The deal-making Stateside was presumably helped by the fact many of the country's key ISPs are also content owners or providers themselves, either as cable TV networks or part of bigger entertainment groups. Certainly in the UK, Virgin Media and Sky have generally been more willing to assist the British content industries, them having a vested interest in combating the unlicensed accessing of content, especially movies.

Because it has been initiated by a voluntary agreement in America, each ISP will instigate the six-strikes process in a slightly different way, though all would ultimately hand over data to the central Center For Copyright Information, which will enable rights owners to decide who to sue. It's thought that, before that stage, AT&T will block access to certain websites for those customers who persistently file-share, forcing them to read a copyright statement and complete a copyright quiz to unlock any blocks.

Neither the ISPs nor the music and movie industries have actually commented on any of this as yet, with TorrentFreak's report based on a confidential AT&T staff briefing that has been leaked. Though if a process is launched like that described in the TorrentFreak article, it would likely put the US ahead of even those countries where governments have forced ISPs to act, with countries like France and New Zealand, amongst the first to legislate three-strikes, now struggling to decide exactly how strike three should work.

Of course whether any of this will actually combat online piracy is another debate. Critics will always point out that prolific file-sharers are already good at hiding their activity from both rights owners and their own ISPs, and that other kinds of file-sharing (ie not P2P) have boomed in recent years that aren't necessarily being tracked. Though those who advocate three-strikes et al still reckon that more casual file-sharers not sufficiently tech savvy to circumvent the checks could be persuaded to use only legit music services with an appropriately written warning, and it is that bigger audience that is the target of this activity.

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A court in Edinburgh has ruled against a website that provides recordings of classical music for use in sync projects and such things for a one-off fee, after a label claimed that it was making available two of its recordings without permission.

The website is called www.royalty-free-classical-music.org, and provides access to a plethora of traditional classical recordings, offering licences to use the music in various contexts for a nominal one-off fee. Of course the compositions themselves are old enough to be out of copyright, though a separate right will exist in the sound recording itself.

Project Management [Borders] Limited, which operates the website, says it owns the sound recording rights in the music it provides, and in most cases that may well be true, but another classical music distributor called Naxos claimed that the versions of Christmas carol 'Joy To The World' and Vivaldi's 'Four Seasons' that the site provided were recordings it owned.

Keith Salmon, owner of Project Management, disputed that claim, but, based on expert evidence presented in court, judge Angus Glennie sided with the claimants. He ruled that the version of 'Joy To The World' and at least part of the 'Four Seasons' suite on Salmon's site were indeed the recordings owned by Naxos, adding that it seemed likely the recordings had been tweaked to disguise that fact, something with the judge reckoned damaged Salmon's credibility.

Project Management will now have to remove said recordings from its site (though actually I think it already had) and share information of any sales of those tracks to date, to enable Naxos to prepare a bid for damages.

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Despite releasing a well-received new album this year, Nas's ongoing financial problems don't seem to be abating. According to TMZ, a house owned by the rapper in Georgia was repossessed by SunTrust bank after he failed to keep up with mortgage payments. It was reportedly sold at auction last month for $348,000 - $159,000 less than he paid for it in 2004.

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Perhaps unsurprisingly, given this is punter voted, One Direction have been declared the Best UK/Ireland Act ahead of this year's MTV European Music Awards.

They will now be pitched against similar winners in other nations across the continent for the title of Best European Act, which, if they won it (and they probably will), would put them on a shortlist for Best Worldwide Act, against artists representing North American, Latin American, Asia Pacifica, and Africa/India/Middle East. And all of that's got to happen before the EMAs actually take place in Frankfurt on 11 Nov.

Responding to the news, albeit from behind a tree (the squirrels were out in force, see, and none of those 1D boys want to go the way of bandmate Niall), the group's Louis Tomlinson told reporters: "We're so happy and incredibly honoured to have won this. Once again our amazing fans have done us proud - thanks so much as always to you all!"

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Girls Aloud yesterday released a teaser video for their pending reunion, featuring a brief snippet of their new single. Though this was somewhat upstaged by a leak of said single, the Xenomania-produced 'Something New', in full on YouTube (though the group's label Universal obviously moved quickly to have it taken down).

The single is expected to be officially released on 19 Nov, and will form part of a new greatest hits compilation. The group will also head out on tour to support this, after which their future is uncertain, thanks to comments in Cheryl Cole's new autobiography (or on Alan Carr's 'Chatty Man', depending on who you ask). She writes: "We'll be working on a tour and greatest hits album. Then I think that's it for Girls Aloud. We've achieved more than any of us ever dared to dream of".

Anyway, watch the teaser video here.

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Prince and Lady Gaga may or may not be recording music for the soundtrack of Baz Luhrman's screen adaptation of 'The Great Gatsby'. Or so says one of the 3D feature's stars, actress Adelaide Clemens, who hinted about it at a press conference this past weekend.

Asked by Indiewire about the movie, whose premiere has been set back from its original December release to a tbc date in spring 2013, Clemens said: "They have some new music that's going to be added to the film. Some pretty huge artists have approached Baz and are writing songs for the film, and I don't think Warner Bros are going to turn down Prince and Lady Gaga knocking down your door".

"I don't know if I'm allowed to say that", she added.

No, she probably wasn't. But it does seem likely that, Prince/Gaga tracks or no Prince/Gaga tracks, Luhrman's 'Gatsby' will feature a contemporary-sounding score. I mean, its official trailer speaks - and practically yells - for itself.

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Not to be out-yule-tided by the array of artists (Cee Lo Green, Sufjan Stevens, surf-pop commodity Colbie Caillat) who have already confirmed their festive-themed LPs so far this year, Hear Music, the sometime record label of coffee purveyor and champion tax dodgers Starbucks, has compiled a record featuring new versions of Christmas standards by the likes of Paul McCartney, Irma Thomas, fun., Rufus Wainwright, Sharon Van Etten and The Shins. 'Christmas Rules', as it has been titled, will be available in all gift-wrappable formats from 5 Nov.

Hear mini samples of all its seventeen tracks via this SoundCloud player.


fun. - Sleigh Ride
The Shins - Wonderful Christmas Time
Rufus Wainwright feat Sharon Van Etten - Baby It's Cold Outside
Paul McCartney - The Christmas Song Ages
Black Prairie feat Sallie Ford - Man With The Bag
Civil Wars - I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day
Calexico - Green Grows The Holly
Agesandages - We Need A Little Christmas
Holly Golightly - That's What I Want for Christmas
Irma Thomas feat Preservation Hall Jazz Band - May Everyday Be Christmas
Heartless Bastards - Blue Christmas
Eleanor Friedberger - Santa Bring My Baby Back To Me
Fruit Bats - It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas
Y La Bamba - Senor Santa
The Punch Bros. - O Come O Come, Emmanuel
The Head & The Heart - What Are You Doing New Year's Eve
Andrew Bird - Auld Lang Syne

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Marking his 40th year as a studio musician, Bryan Ferry has re-recorded thirteen of his greatest hits - that's solo and as part of Roxy Music - as 'roaring 1920s'-style jazz instrumentals. The collection bears the title 'The Jazz Age', and is set for release on 26 Nov.

Says Ferry, who co-composed the new arrangements with erstwhile collaborator Colin Good: "After 40 years of making records, both in and out of Roxy Music, I thought now might be an interesting moment to revisit some of these songs, and approach them as instrumentals in the style of that magical period".

He adds: "Most of the music I listen to nowadays is instrumental and I wanted to let my songs have a different life, a life without words".

Check out a 'making of' trailer, a preview of 'Don't Stop The Dance' and then the complete traccklisting of 'The Jazz Age' here:

Do The Strand
Love Is The Drug
Don't Stop The Dance
Just Like You
The Bogus Man
Slave To Love
This Is Tomorrow
The Only Face
I Thought
Reason Or Rhyme
Virginia Plain
This Island Earth

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Longhaired psych-pop lot Novella have pledged to release a new seven-inch single via Italian Beach Babes on 26 Nov, and its name is 'Mary's Gun'. "Why 'Mary's Gun'", you ask. Well, apparently the track is about Mary Weiss of The Shangri-Las, who - rumour has it - was caught by the FBI toting a gun she'd acquired after being scared by a hotel break-in. So, now you know.

In Novella's words, it draws from "the rebellious, gang-like mentality of The Shangri-Las, contrasted with their sweet schoolgirl persona. Being in a band is a bit like being in a gang and we wanted to write a song about our favourite girl-gang".

Listen to it now

Novella are breaking a pause from live performance this Wednesday (17 Oct) at Norwich's Take 5, and have some ad hoc further dates arranged through to late November.

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LA filmmaker Grant Singer has cast alt waif Sky Ferreira as an alt waif in his and writer Patrick Sandberg's new short film, 'IRL' (aka 'In Real Life'). Ferreira, whose new solo video 'Everything Is Embarrassing' Singer also directs, stars as "a girl who struggles to piece together the events of the previous night over 24 incandescent hours in New York City". So, that sounds very nice, very Vice.

Throbbing Gristle's Genesis P-Orridge, DIIV drummer Colby Hewitt and Brooklyn band Starred's Liza Thorn and Matt Koshak also act in the movie, while musicians John Holland and Aaron David Ross - of Salem and Gatekeeper respectively - compose its original score. Apparently the short will be premiered "soon", so keep track of updates via its official Twitter account. Meanwhile, the 'IRL' trailer.

And if you haven't heard it yet, you might also like to listen to Ferreira's new EP 'Ghost', as features the above-mentioned 'Everything Is Embarrassing', via her Tumblr.

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Indie singer-songwriter MJ Hibbett has announced that he is offering schools, youth groups and amateur dramatic societies free performance rights to his lo-fi rock opera 'Dinosaur Planet'.

First performed as a one-man show by Hibbett in 2009, 'Dinosaur Planet' has since expanded its cast (to two) and toured the country several times, including two runs at the Edinburgh Festival. This year Hibbett and his band The Validators also released an album version of it.

Says Hibbett: "I've always thought it would make a brilliant school play. The songs are very easy to play and sing along to, and making the giant robots and space dinosaurs would be a lot of fun! It also contains a lot of educational information, such as the need for good academic research methods, and ways not to get eaten by space dinosaurs".

For more information, click here and listen to and download the album here.

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So, as entirely expected, The Rolling Stones have announced some 50th anniversary shows - two at London's O2 Arena and two at the Prudential Center near New York.

Tickets for the UK shows will officially go on sale on Friday, though are available now to American Express customers or people who want to own an expensive boxset too. Whatever, the cheapest ticket from an official seller is going to cost you over £100. Oh, and tickets were already being resold on Seatwave for up to £11,000 yesterday. So, you'd best think quite hard about how much you want to go to this before you commit.

Maybe hearing the members of the band asking if you're ready will help. Do that here.

As also expected, the shows are the first project for new global touring enterprise Virgin Live, a joint venture between the Virgin Group and the Dainty Group.

Australian promoter Paul Dainty, head of the Dainty Group, told CMU: "I've worked with The Rolling Stones for many years and I still get a buzz every time I see them live, these four shows are without doubt a must-see event. I am extremely excited about this collaboration with Virgin. There will be a lot more to say about Virgin Live soon but, for now, it's all about the Stones..."

And Richard Branson added: "Today marks the beginning of Virgin Live and what a beginning! In the future Virgin Live plans to make a real difference to how fans experience, interact and enjoy live events - Virgin Live gigs will be truly people driven. It's great to join forces with Dainty Group to launch Virgin Live with the Rolling Stones 50th Anniversary shows. Who would have believed, that a relationship with the band that started in the 60s, would still be going strong five decades later with us working together again on these amazing shows".

The band also have a new single out, which you can listen to here if you want.

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With organisers having worked out that aging Stock Aiken & Waterman fans and rain just don't mix, the Hit Factory Live event, originally due to take place in Hyde Park during the summer, has been moved indoors, with a pre-Christmas date at The O2.

As previously reported, the original date for Hit Factory Live, designed to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the launch of Pete Waterman's pop label PWL, was cancelled after Live Nation's Hyde Park stage area became waterlogged after weeks of heavy rain. The midweek bash was called off to allow the live firm to bring in a forest's worth of wood chip, to make the site usable for other weekend festivals and the subsequent Olympics gigs.

Although the weather-damage excuse for the cancellation of the original event was credible, there were rumours that ticket sales for the Hit Factory extravaganza had not gone as well as hoped. Whether or not that was true, a last-Friday-before-Christmas indoor bash actually seems more sensible for this event, which will feature sets from Jason Donovan, Rick Astley, Bananarama, Steps, Sinitta and more.

Whether the promised Kylie and Jason reunion can be delivered at the new date isn't yet clear. Asked about that by the Official Charts Company website (which is a media partner on the event for some reason), Waterman himself said, somewhat vaguely (given Kylie wasn't technically on the actual bill of the summer date): "Everybody's on the bill that would have been on the bill at Hyde Park. As ever, I can't give away too many secrets. The thing with all these things is, you have to wait and see!"

Tickets go on sale on Friday.

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PITCHFORK FESTIVAL PARIS, Grande halle de la Villette, Paris, France, 1-3 Nov: Breton. www.pitchfork.com/festivals/paris/2012

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Promoters of the Wychwood Festival are giving festival-goers the opportunity to buy a stake in the event via crowdsourcing website CrowdCube, in a bid to raise new finance to help stage the annual Cheltenham-based bash.

Anyone who invests a £1000 will get an albeit very small stake in the festival, meaning in the future they could receive dividends based on profit, though in reality it's the various other shareholder benefits that will be of value.

Those who invest will get a free pair of tickets to the event for life, discounts on tickets for friends, other benefits at the festival itself, and similar discounts to other ventures staged by promoters Tribe Festivals Ltd. And any investors will be able to get tax relief under the Enterprise Investment Scheme on the money they put in.

Organisers reckon that the innovative scheme could be a valuable new approach for smaller independent promoters always faced with cash-flow challenges, especially after a difficult year for the UK festivals market like 2012.

Wychwood Festival co-founder and Festival Director Graeme Merifield told CMU: "Just after the 2011 Wychwood Festival we had a big rethink about where we want to take the festival and our other projects. I'm very pleased to say that we have a new and exciting team on our board and we want to expand our Tribe business into a number of other events, so it seems only fitting that we invite those who have been loyal to our current festival portfolio over the last eight years, to come and join our Tribe".

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AEG's own ticketing enterprise, AXS, is launching a new service called AXS Invite, which will enable customers booking tickets at venues with allocated seating to reserve seats next to the ones they book, and to then promote those reservations to friends via Facebook and/or email, so that said friends can then book their own tickets knowing they will be seated next to their mates. Just make sure you didn't accidentally 'friend' someone on Facebook who you actually despise before letting AXS send out that alert, otherwise that'll be a fun evening.

Initially available at certain specific venues owned by AEG itself (in the US at first), it's the latest initiative by the live music giant to compete in the ticketing market, which it entered after its rival Live Nation bought Ticketmaster. AXS.com GM Tom Andrus told the Associated Press: "For us and for the artist and the venue, it's really about finding a way to sell more tickets. For the customer it's a way of making it more convenient".

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UK-based digital distribution company Consolidated Independent has announced a new deal with Secretly Canadian Distribution, the distribution arm of the rather fine American indie Secretly Canadian. The new alliance will see CI provide digital delivery services for SCD's catalogue of independent labels and artists.

Confirming the deal, Chris Welz, General Manager of SCD, told CMU: "We're thrilled to bring our labels a wider range of services via CI - who bring a level of access and ease of use to digital delivery that allows SCD a greater focus on our paramount goal: building our label and artist profiles across all retail platforms".

Meanwhile CI GM Kieron Faller added: "Having courted Secretly Canadian for some time, we're very pleased to bring them into the CI client community. CI are the clear market leaders in digital delivery for independents, helping them to compete on a level playing field with the majors. In the wake of the Universal-EMI merger this becomes ever more important. Our service allows indies to deliver to at least the same technical quality and speed as the majors, but without having to maintain the infrastructure and know-how on their own".

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Former Universal Music TV plugger Ruth Thompson has announced the launch of a new promotions company called Yes Please!, described as "a boutique music TV promotions agency offering bespoke TV campaigns and music consultancy delivered with passion and expertise".

Thompson worked in Polydor's TV promotions department for six years, working with artists like The Saturdays, Elbow, La Roux, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Horrors, Gwen Stefani, White Lies and Kate Nash, and before that had a promotions role at independent V2.

The new agency is online at yespleasetv.com

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Utilising Shazam-type technology to better report music usage to rights owners or their collecting societies has always seemed like a good plan, if the development and installation of such technology could be priced so not to be prohibitive, and a start-up in New York is basically doing just that with TV, via a fingerprinting system which it reckons can detect the use of music on any television programme, even if said music is in the background and has speech plonked on top.

Whether the use of music in television shows is licensed directly from labels and publishers, or via rights bodies, the reporting of such usage is, to a large extent, reliant on broadcasters being honest and competent, the constant manual monitoring of TV networks worldwide being impractical. But, says TuneSat, the majority of commercial use of music by the television sector is either unreported or misreported, hence the need for its technology, it says.

Indeed, a spokesman for the company told Digital Music News that he reckoned up to 80% of music "played commercially" is not fully reported to rights owners and bodies. Says the spokesman: "Musicians and songwriters all know that if their music is being played commercially, the reports they are getting back are more than likely wrong. Cue sheets and affidavits are routinely entrusted to interns to fill out - sometimes by hand. One misspelled song title and the artists wave goodbye to their royalties. In fact, over 80% of music played commercially is either unreported or misreported".

Quite where that 80% figures comes from, and how accurate it is, isn't clear, though either way, if technology can reliably track commercial music usage for rights owners and collecting societies cheaply, there does seem to be a market in that. After all, why not a tracking device in every shop, bar and café playing music, providing, for the first time, accurate data regards all public performance of songs and recordings? The technical know-how is more or less there now, though cost will surely remain a factor for a time, though if the use of such technology can increase income as well as reliability of reporting, that might be an incentive to invest.

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The Real Radio network, formerly owned by The Guardian and now in limbo while its acquisition by Global Radio is investigated by regulators, is to network its daytime output, between breakfast and drive time, resulting in up to six presenters departing the company nationwide.

From next month North West-based presenters Darren Parks and Debbie Mac will also have their respective late morning and early afternoon shows networked to Real stations in Wales, Yorkshire, the North East and Central Scotland, replacing local DJs in each of those regions.

The networking of daytime programmes in this way has become common in commercial radio of course, and is standard on the existing multi-region stations operating by Global Radio, such as Heart and Capital.

Indeed some reckon that if and when the Global acquisition of the Real And Smooth Radio networks is completed, the former will be rebranded as Heart stations, likely meaning the subsequent departure of Parks and Mac too, with existing Heart daytime programming taking over. Time will tell.

In the meantime, Andy Carter, MD of the interim company Real and Smooth Limited, is quoted by Radio Today as saying: "Advances in technology mean we know we can produce high quality programming which is relevant to the lives of our audience and maintain the local content that is important to them, such as news, travel and weather. Our recent experience with Smooth shows that you can grow audience by providing high quality content from a single source providing you continue to offer content that is relevant to their lives".

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Rihanna's Calvin Harris-produced single 'We Found Love' was originally recorded by Leona Lewis. And her version was better. According to her, anyway.

Speaking to the Daily Star, Leona said: "I worked with Calvin and we recorded 'We Found Love'. But he went touring with Rihanna and she ended up releasing it. I didn't commit to it because I wanted 'Trouble' to be my first single [from new album 'Glassheart'], so I think that was another reason they went with Rihanna. It was the same version and production, but mine's better. I still have the recording but I'd never leak it. That's so unprofessional".

Ah, spoil sport, leaks are fun. And, by the sounds of it, there could be a whole album of unreleased Lewis songs that fall into this category. See, this sort of occurrence is common it seems. Leona continued: "There are so many songs I've recorded, only to hear other people singing them. It happens all the time. It was a bit annoying to see how big a hit it was around the world, but if I'd released it maybe it wouldn't have done as well".

Yes, it must be tough suddenly discovering that someone's recorded a song you thought of as your own.

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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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