17 OCT 2012

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Alcopop! Records was founded in 2006 by Jack Clothier and Kevin Douch (the latter also founder of the Big Scary Monsters label). Initially launched as a singles club, the company has gone on to sign bands including Johnny Foreigner, Stagecoach, My First Tooth, Sam Isaac and Ute. In the run up to this year's AIM Independent Music Awards - where Alcopop! is nominated in the Best Small Label cataegory - CMU's Chris Cooke spoke to Clothier about the label's history, the challenges and successes of its six years in business, and more more>>
Joanna Newsom was guest of honour at the Treasure Island Music Festival on Sunday, playing a set featuring the first airing of new track 'Look And Despair'. As mythical and rich in strange citations as anything on the Carolina harpist's 'Have One On Me', it has that 2010 LP's same bright, pliable quality, lighting between arcane folk parables and bluesier phrasings as only a Newsom original can. It's bright to the ear, but less so lyrically, and sighs to a close with its gaze on dark cities, forlorn "tributes" more>>
- Ray Charles Foundation changes position on status of soul star's songs
- Church hits back at Murdoch's "celebrity scumbags" tweet
- Video awards People's Choice shortlist announced
- Jonas Brothers discuss new material
- Portishead songwriter scores woodland walk
- Justin Vernon directs Bon Iver video
- Strife to release first album for eleven years
- Gary Barlow to tour
- Hype Williams playing London show
- Festival line-up additions
- Justin Bieber appointed Adidas 'style icon'
- Trent Reznor announces Beats alliance
- Metropolis Studios to offer reduced rates for indie musicians
- Warner to meet with money lenders
- Mills comments on Adele profits
- OfCom refuses to amend Heart Cornwall's licence obligations
- Quarter of funeral homes have songs black list
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The Ray Charles Foundation has changed its position regarding songs written by the late soul star currently owned by Warner/Chappell, from which it receives royalties in accordance with the late musician's will. As previously reported, the Foundation sued Charles's children in March after they tried to reclaim ownership of the songs from which the charity earns a royalty.

Under American copyright law, songwriters can reclaim ownership of copyrights they previously assigned to a music publisher 35 years after their original deal. That rule was passed in the late 1970s, and the 35 year term only applied to deals done after the new law was enacted (for existing copyrights the term was longer), so is only now really coming into effect. The Charles family, like a number of veteran songwriters, are now trying to exercise that right to reclaim control of their father's works.

But the Foundation doesn't want that to happen, because it would deprive it of the royalties it receives from the Warner publishing company. In trying to block the family's termination notice (which tells the publisher the family wants their father's copyrights back), the charity presented various arguments, including a deal between Charles and his children when he was alive regards their inheritance which, the Foundation says, stops the descendants from making new claims over their father's estate now, and a claim that a 1980 renegotiation of Charles's deal with Warner voided the termination right under US copyright law.

The Foundation also threw in the argument that some of Charles's songs were written on a 'work for hire' basis while he was signed to Warner/Chappell, which would mean the copyrights in those songs would automatically belong to the publisher, rather than the publisher getting the rights via a pre-existing 'assignment' agreement with the musician. It's an important distinction, because if works are created by an individual on a 'work for hire' basis, the employer is technically the creator, meaning the songwriter loses the right to reclaim their works after 35 years (because they were never their works to reclaim).

US copyright law is a bit vague as to what constitutes 'work for hire' in this context, and that question is likely to become a very big deal in the next few years, as more veteran artists exercise their 35 year opt-out right. Some publishers will likely claim (indeed a few already have) that some termination notices submitted by songwriters are not valid because works were created on a 'work for hire' basis.

Though, actually, this debate will be more significant in the record industry, because the record labels are convinced the 35 year opt-out provision has no relevance to them, because all sound recordings created under a traditional record contract are done so on a 'work for hire' basis, meaning recording artists have no claim under this bit of American copyright law. Some recording artists and their lawyers beg to differ though, and the whole "how do you define work for hire" debate could end up in court.

But back to the Charles case. While the Charles family will dispute any claims their father's work was created on a work for hire basis, they also hit back at the Foundation's lawsuit by saying, if the songs in question were indeed made work for hire, meaning Warner/Chappell was the creator, then only the publisher could try to block the family's termination notice, because the charity wouldn't have any official status to pursue such a claim, as a mere beneficiary of work created by the Warner entity.

It's another area where American copyright law is ambiguous, though the judge hearing the case last month basically agreed with the Charles family's viewpoint on that issue. Which means, according to Billboard, the Foundation has changed its mind, and is now saying the disputed songs were not made on a 'work for hire' basis, but were created by Charles and the copyrights assigned to the publisher. Whether such a fundamental change of position will damage the Foundation's wider claim remains to be seen, the Charles family seem to hope so.

It also remains to be seen where this dispute goes next. Some had expected the case to provide some interesting insight on the 'work for hire' issue, which could have ramifications for other publishers and especially labels trying to block 35 year termination notices. Though if both sides in this lawsuit now agree the Charles songs were not created as a work for hire, it may have less relevance on that wider issue moving forward.

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Charlotte Church has taken to Twitter to hit back at comments made on the micro-blogging platform at the weekend by Rupert Murdoch about the Hacked Off campaign, the celebrity-backed lobby group that has been calling for reforms of press rules in the UK in the wake of the News Of The World phone hacking scandal, and other revelations made during the government-instigated Leveson Inquiry.

Hacked Off is busy putting pressure on the British government amidst fears ministers, still afraid of taking on the big newspaper groups despite the 'we got too close' rhetoric churned out during the peak of the NOTW scandal last year, will ignore any of Leveson's tougher proposals for regulating the press. It's also thought the government will support a new voluntary regulator for the newspaper industry to replace the Press Complaints Commission, which collapsed in the wake of Hack-gate, rather than creating an OfCom-style regulator with statutory powers.

To that end, a team of campaigners recently met with PM David Cameron to discuss their concerns, including Church, probably the highest profile music star to sue Murdoch's News International for the illegal hacking of her voicemail by the firm's journalists, and police officer and 'Crimewatch' contributor Jacqui Hames.

Murdoch, who had Church sing at his third wedding in 1999, and who was, in his own words during a guest spot at the Houses Of Parliament, "humbled" by the public outrage that followed the exposure of illegal phone hacking at one of his London papers, tweeted in response to that recent Hacked Off meeting: "Told UK's Cameron receiving scumbag celebrities pushing for even more privacy laws. Trust the toffs! Transparency under attack. Bad".

Which is somewhat hypocritical, given the real scandal of the phone hacking debacle was the total lack of transparency within the Murdoch empire, ie the cover-up instigated by his British lieutenants to try and hide the scale of his firm's illegal activity from the police, the public and the aforementioned PCC (whose credibility was fatally damaged by accepting News International's corporate lies).

Anyway, whatever, Church wasn't impressed and responded: "It would be decent to withdraw and apologise for calling me and Jacqui Hames 'scumbags'".

Murdoch bounced back by insisting he didn't mean Church or Hames when he said "scumbags". To be fair, I think it was probably Hugh Grant, perhaps the most famous celeb linked to Hacked Off, who was really being branded "scum" in that particular tweet, as a result of him being particularly critical of News International's newspapers at the same time as mainly working for movie studios that compete with those owned by Murdoch.

Linking the whole debate to the scandal-du-jour, the News Corp chief later mused that if the Hacked Off group get their way and press regulation is stepped up, then it will mean that the "likes of Savile further protected" from public scrutiny. Though that sort of ignores the fact that the relatively unregulated newspapers of the 20th century ignored the Savile rumours for decades, and it was a regulated television news organisation which finally blew the lid off the story earlier this month.

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The shortlist has been announced for the People's Choice Award at this year's UK Music Video Awards, the many other shortlists for which were announced earlier this month.

Staged in association with VEVO, this category starts off with eighteen videos from nine artists (the nine most viewed artists on VEVO UK in the last year). Fans are first invited to vote for which of the two videos selected from each artist they prefer, before a vote to decide which of the nine artists had the best video of the year overall. It all happens on VEVO's Facebook page here.

And the short list:
Calvin Harris - We'll Be Coming Back (dir Saman Keshavarz) and Sweet Nothing (dir Vincent Haycock)
Cheryl - Call My Name (dir Anthony Mandler) and Under The Sun (dir Anthony Mandler)
Conor Maynard - Vegas Girl (dir Travis Kopach) and Turn Around (dir Colin Tilley)
Emeli Sandé - Next To Me (dir Charles Mehling) and My Kind Of Love (dir Dawn Shadforth)
Jessie J - Domino (dir Syndrome) and Laserlight (dir Jonas and Francois)
Labrinth - Earthquake (dir Syndrome) and Express Yourself (dir Jonas and Francois)
One Direction - One Thing (dir Declan Whitebloom) and Live While We're Young (dir Vaughan Arnell)
Professor Green - Read All About It (dir Saman Keshavarz) and Remedy (dir Pierre-Edouard Joubert)
Rita Ora - RIP (dir Emil Nava) and How We Do (Party) (dir Marc Klasfeld)

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The Jonas Brothers have been discussing the new album they're currently working on, their first since 2009's 'Lines, Vines And Trying Times'.

Nick Jonas told MTV: "[We're] hoping to create an experience for our fans that is really personal, and shows a little bit deeper look into what our lives have been like, as far as lyrics. Musically we're trying to push ourselves and continue to grow and get better".

Joe added: "For us, the biggest moments we spoke about [before writing the album], it started with the music first. We wanted to sit in the studio and create new sounds that we were inspired by - getting in the studio and focusing on that".

Sounds thrilling.

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Portishead's Adrian Utley has composed a fifteen minute "aural landscape" (ie soundtrack) to a walk amid the ancient forests of Croft Castle in Hertfordshire. He's done it as part of the 'Sonic Journey' project, as is commissioned by sounduk and the National Trust.

His original score - and those by Shackleton & Vengeance Tenfold, Goldfrapp's Will Gregory and Micachu, who have participated in past examples of the scheme - is available to download for free via, as is a hand-drawn-by-Utley map of the Croft Castle woodland.

And now, a relevant video created by Portishead filmmaker John Minton.

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Justin Vernon has shared what may, or may not, be Bon Iver's last visual gasp in the shape of an official new promo for the band's 2011 LP finale 'Beth/Rest'. He and cinematographer Dan Huiting share directorial credits for the video, a sylvan 'Avatar' reimagining featuring people in 'learning gremlin'/Beastie Boys-style boiler suits.

Or at least, that's what I took from it. Justin favoured a more conventional angle, saying via a press release: "It's kind of about two people who are truly meant for each other and what happens to their essence. How they connect is some other thing that we don't know how to really talk about".

'Beth/Rest' is being released as a single via 4AD on 12 Nov. This is the vid.

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Californian hardcore band Strife have announced that they are to release their first album for eleven years through British indie label Holy Roar. Entitled 'Witness A Rebirth', the album also features former Sepultura drummer Iggor Cavalera on stick-waving duties, and guest vocals from Biohazard's Billy Graziadei and terror's Scott Vogel, plus a guitar solo from Soulfly's Marc Rizzo.

The album will be released on 12 Nov. Here's the tracklist:

Torn Apart
Carry The Torch
Show No Mercy
No Apologies
The Distance
Never Look Back
In This Defiance
The Burden
Look Away
Face Your Failures
End Of Days
Life Or Death

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Perpetually-peeved 'X-Factor' mentor Gary Barlow has set aside time in November, December and January for a number of solo concert dates.

The Take That star, who is rumoured to be voicing Postman Pat in a new animated film, enthuses thus about the tour: "I'm really excited about these dates. Playing live is my favourite thing and I haven't played a solo show for over a year now. Last year playing two London shows was brilliant, we all had such a good time, so I thought right let's get out and see the rest of the country!"

Unrevelatory artist quote over, we can now look at the dates:

13 Nov: Bournemouth, International Centre
14 Nov: Plymouth, Pavilions
21 Nov: Edinburgh, Playhouse
22 Nov: Nottingham, Royal Concert Hall
27 Nov: London, Royal Albert Hall
28 Nov: Sheffield, City Hall
6 Dec: Manchester, Apollo
7 Dec: Manchester, Bridgewater Hall
28 Dec: Newcastle, City Hall
30 Dec: Wolverhampton, Civic Hall
31 Dec: Oxford, New Theatre
2 Jan: Liverpool, Philharmonic Hall
4 Jan: Blackpool, Opera House
5 Jan: Cardiff, St David's Hall
7 Jan: Dublin, The Olympia
8 Jan: Belfast, The Waterfront

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Unclassifiable Hyperdub signees Hype Williams will, on 24 Nov, play a very rarefied live date at London's Tufnell Park Dome, also known as the Boston Arms.

The duo look to be appearing minus any opening acts at the show, additional details of which are minimal/don't exist. £10 tickets will seemingly only be available on the door, rather than in advance. So basically, just be at the Boston Arms at about 9pm if you want to go.

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THE END FESTIVAL, various venues, Crouch End, London, 16-17 Nov: Peggy Sue, Novella, Milk Maid, Gravenhurst, Eyes And No Eyes, Woodpecker Wooliams, One Eyed Wayne, Rachael Dadd, Dutch Barn, Ichi, Harry Oakwood Millionaire, Boxed In, Teleman, Anna Meredith, Soledad Velez, Jessica Sligter, We are Willow, Keepsakes, Orlando, Robert Rustad Amundsen, Adrian Roye, Chike, Kat May, Robert Rotifer.

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Adidas's NEO Label has collared never-naked popstar Justin Bieber to act as its 'style icon'. He'll serve a two-year sentence as the official face of the brand's "fresh" new range as a means of selling leisure wear to teens.

Biebs self-publicises thus: "I found a real connection with NEO because it is about fashion, freedom and being true to who you are. With my new album, 'Believe', I am spreading the message of believing in yourself. The first step is showing who you are, and one of the great ways to showcase yourself is through fashion. For me style is an adventure, something to have fun with and NEO believes this too".

Adidas marketeer Hermann Deininger, unsurprisingly, concurs: "Justin makes his mark in his own bold and expressive way through fashion, music and style. Justin will help us spread the spirit of NEO worldwide and showcase the brand's sports and lifestyle inspired apparel and footwear silhouettes".

Footwear silhouettes! Ahem.

NEO is marking JB's fashionable new role with a 'Find My Golden Shoes' online contest, details of which are available via Facebook.

And since I'm on such a Bieber tip, I may as well pass on the faux-candid new video for Justin and guest MC Nicki Minaj's new duet, 'Beauty And The Beat'. It was promoted via one of the most questionable and bad-taste music PR campaigns ever, so that's nice.

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Trent Reznor has announced that he is working on a new project in conjunction with headphones company Beats By Dre. Exactly what the project will involve is yet to be announced, but it seems to be a recording endeavour of some sort.

Reznor tweeted on Monday: "In the studio for a day of experimentation with a hero of mine", adding later that it wasn't David Byrne, despite the pair having been interviewed together on stage at the Library Foundation Of Los Angeles on Sunday: "David Byrne = hero of mine, but it's not him. I doubt you'll guess this one!"

Then yesterday on Facebook, the Nine Inch Nails frontman wrote: "Some of you may have read that I have begun working with Beats By Dre. For the past year I have indeed been involved with Dre, Jimmy Iovine, Luke Wood, and the rest of the team on a number of very interesting projects that will start to emerge next year. I have been wanting to experiment and focus my energy and creativity in some different directions, and Beats has afforded me that very opportunity".

He continued: "The process has been challenging and fascinating and as much as I'd like to tell you about the things we've dreamed up... I just can't. Not yet... I can tell you it's probably not what you're expecting!"

It's the second surprising deal for Reznor in recent weeks, given Iovine runs Reznor's former label Universal/Interscope, of which the NIN man has said quite a few critical words in the past. As previously reported, he also announced last month that, after a number of years of fierce independence, his new band How To Destroy Angels would release their debut album through Sony/Columbia.

Speaking at that LFLA event at the weekend, Reznor explained that the seeds of the decision to return to the major label system dated back to Nine Inch Nails' final tour in 2009. He explained: "We're playing that night in Prague, but I see flyers up for Radiohead, who's playing the same place we're playing, six months from then. Then I walk into the record shop, and there isn't a section that says Nine Inch Nails. [Going back to a major] was to have a team of people who are better at that [marketing] than I am, worldwide ... that felt like it was worth slicing the pie up monetarily. So far it's been pleasantly pleasant".

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Metropolis Studios in London has announced that it will offer studio time and access to a team of engineers for a reduced rate to independent labels and musicians for three weeks in January next year.

Artists who wish to take advantage of what is being call the Metropolis Indie Music Festival need to apply by 8 Nov. A team made up of Metropolis staff and experts from across the industry will then decide which bands will get the most benefit from the programme. Selected artists will then have access to the studios and engineering staff for £300-£400 per day between 7 and 27 Jan. In addition to this, they will receive a discount from The Vinyl Factory for CD and vinyl production.

Festival organiser Tamsin McLarty told CMU: "We have been an established studio for over 23 years and feel strongly that the time is right to support the extraordinary talent that exists across the country. This festival is part of a wide range of new services and opportunities offered by Metropolis as we continue to expand our reach in to all elements of the music business".

For more information and to apply go here.

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Warner Music will today host a prospective lenders' meeting to discuss a "potential senior secured bank financing transaction". Make of that what you will. The major, which still files financial reports with the US Securities And Exchange Commission, despite now being owned by Access Industries, because of its publicly traded bonds, expects to report a slight rise in revenues year on year for the quarter to 30 Sep.

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Beggars Group boss Martin Mills has commented on the previously reported annual accounts of XL Recordings, submitted to Companies House recently, which showed that the success of Adele's '21' led to a tenfold increase in profits at the indie label in 2011, to £41.7 million.

As previously reported, XL co-founder and chief Richard Russell received a £8.5 million dividend payment from the label, while Mills too, as the other shareholder, will have received a similar pay out, though his stake is via the Beggars Group, and he said earlier this week that the profits passed over to the Beggars business would be used "to invest in our future".

On the Adele success, Mills told the New York Times: "We've sold 25 million copies of '21' around the world. And when you sell that many records everyone makes money. Not just Adele and the label, but distributors, retail, everyone".

According to the Times, the Beggars Group, which has a stake in various labels, most notably XL and 4AD, but also Matador, Rough Trade and others, reported $138 million (£85.5 million) in revenue for 2011 and $37 million (£23 million) in operating profit.

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Regulator OfCom has rejected a request by Global Radio to change the format requirements on the FM licence now being used by Heart Cornwall.

Global acquired what was Atlantic FM in March to expand its Heart network into Cornwall. However, Atlantic's licence included more local programming obligations than the other FM licences used by Heart stations elsewhere in the UK, making it harder for Global to just pump out content from the central Heart network and neighbouring Heart Devon on the frequency.

The radio major wanted the Atlantic licence amended to reduce local programming obligations, but OfCom has refused, after nine out of twelve responses to their investigation objected to the proposal. That there are only two local commercial stations in Cornwall was key to the decision. As a result, according to Radio Today, Global will have to make a four hour programme every day specifically for Heart Cornwall.

The regulator said in a statement: "Given that the proposal affected Heart Cornwall's core requirement to be a 'full service local station specifically for Cornwall, with speech an important part of the content', and would require a significant rewording of its Character Of Service, the executive determined that the request, if granted, would represent a significant change to the character of the station's existing service".

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A quarter of funeral homes have a black list of songs they won't allow to be played at services because they feel they are inappropriate, according to a survey by Co-operative Funeralcare. Banned songs at some funeral homes include The Trammps' 'Disco Inferno' ("burn baby burn") and John Lennon's 'Imagine' ("imagine there's no heaven").

The survey also reveals that, when it comes to music choices at funeral home services, pop music is now requested more than hymns, with Frank Sinatra's 'My Way' the most requested song. 'Abide With Me' is, unsurprisingly, the most requested hymn, while Elgar's 'Nimrod' is the most requested classical tune chosen to celebrate a deceased friend or family member.

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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 or

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