23 OCT 2012

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Originally founded by Sam Dyson to release music by his own band The Chemists, Distiller Records was subsequently launched as a fully-fledged label in 2009, releasing music by artists like Sound Of Guns, White Belt Yellow Tag, Losers and Sparrow And The Workshop in its first year, and signing Funeral For A Friend the next. The company also owns a recording studio where many of its artists work, and has expanded into management and publishing too more>>
Bleeding Heart Narrative have been a reasonably regular fixture in the Approved column over the last couple of years, but this will sadly be my last chance to put them here, as the band have decided to split and will play their final show on Wednesday night. Entry is free, so you basically have to go. BHN's blend of classical music, baroque pop and post-rock is an amazing thing to witness live and in recent months they seem to have hit a real high point in the construction of their performances more>>
- MAMA takes stake in ATP
- BPI hopes to block three more file-sharing websites
- Live Nation pulls out of bidding for new Hyde Park contract
- Pussy Riot members sent to prison camps
- Q Awards awarded
- Artists and managers to honour Zane Lowe at awards
- Armin van Buuren regains top DJ title
- Spaceghostpurrp not quitting rap game, after all
- Will Young to sign to Island
- Wild Beasts making new LP
- Local Natives detail LP, London show
- Chad Valley LP now streaming
- Cherry Red announces Blow Monkey reissues
- Villagers touring cities
- Dutch Uncles add dates
- Festival line-up additions
- Could BMG's Parlophone bidding result in KKR rethinking its involvement in the music rights firm?
- AEG confirms roll out of AXS.com in UK
- Rara.com announces device, catalogue and market expansion
- VEVO UK appoints new Commercial Director
- IPC Inspire appoints Ellie Miles to senior NME and Uncut marketing role
- Former EMI boss joins ITV board
- Bruno Mars the pop impersonator
- Led Zeppelin not interested in Gene Simmons' millions
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The MAMA Group has announced it has taken a 50% stake in the All Tomorrow's Parties company, promoters of the consistently fine holiday-camp based ATP festivals and the I'll Be Your Mirror events. As previously reported, ATP founder Barry Hogan was forced to restructure his company earlier this year, putting one business into administration, after a particularly tricky time for the UK festivals market. However, the restructuring did not stop any planned events from going ahead.

Under the new deal, MAMA will work with ATPs Hogan and Deborah Higgins to develop the company's events in the UK and beyond. The ATP team will also assist in the booking of talent for other MAMA Festivals, including Lovebox, Wilderness and The Great Escape.

Confirming the new partnership, MAMA chief Dean James told CMU: "Barry and Deborah run a fantastic business and it is a real honour for us to be working with them. ATP's pioneering attitude and its success in the international market, combined with MAMA's infrastructure of major festivals and venues is a dangerous combination".

Hogan added: "We're thrilled to be joining up with MAMA who have been supportive of us throughout the years. The ATP team is looking forward to working with Dean and the rest of the MAMA staff to develop ATP events throughout the world".

Elsewhere in MAMA news, the company has appointed Rich McGinnis to the role of Head Of Talent, booking artists for both MAMA festivals and venues. Co-founder of various club brands, The Warehouse Project and the Parklife festival, McGinnis will continue to co-book the latter two events with his business partner Sam Kandel in addition to working on MAMA ventures.

On McGinnis' appointment James added: "We've worked with Rich and Sam for two years now and we know how talented they are. Rich will add a huge amount of innovation and energy to MAMA's estate and his arrival along with Barry and Deborah creates a bit of a Dream Team for us".

McGinnis said: "I'm ecstatic to be taking the lead at MAMA in this new era. The confidence Dean James and James Algate had in Sam and I at Angel Music and the results we achieved together is spurring us on for more of the same. Creating exciting events and programming talent is our forte and moving forward with MAMA the future is looking very bright indeed".

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Record industry trade body the BPI is seeking web-blocks against three more file-sharing websites, the BBC has discovered. Following the blocking of The Pirate Bay by all of the UK's major internet service providers earlier this year, the BPI now has its sights on Fenopy, H33t and Kickass Torrents which, according to Nielsen, collectively enjoyed over a million unique users in September.

The trade body has written to BT, Sky, Virgin Media, O2, EE (Orange and T Mobile) and TalkTalk requesting that they voluntarily block their customers from accessing the three offending sites. None of the net firms, even those more friendly to the content industries such as Sky and Virgin, are likely to comply with a request for voluntarily action, though the letter will be precursor to legal action.

The BPI successfully secured injunctions forcing ISPs to block access to The Pirate Bay earlier this year after the UK movie industry got similar injunctions forcing the blockage of file-sharing community Newzbin last year. The Newzbin case proved that such injunctions could be issued under existing UK copyright law, even though the web-block provisions in the 2010 Digital Economy Act were all but removed from that piece of anti-piracy legislation.

That said, without specific provisions setting out an anti-piracy web-block system in English law, securing such injunctions can be a time consuming process. Though, according to the BBC, the BPI hopes to secure its injunctions against Fenopy, H33t and Kickass Torrents somewhat quicker than it did with The Pirate Bay, and has set a desired deadline of Christmas.

How achievable that is remains to be seen, and ultimately is in the hands of the courts. The BPI will have to prove that the operators of all three sites are liable for authorising infringement by making it easier for others to infringe, that direct action against the three sites is impractical, and that therefore injunctions against ISPs - as the 'customs' of the internet - is required.

Of course web-blocks are controversial. Some argue that targeted sites will have some legitimate users too (small copyright owners may legitimately share their works), and that those users are unfairly hindered. Others, meanwhile, fear the precedent each web-block sets, and to what extent blocks could be secured against websites where legitimate use accounts for a higher portion of activity, but some illegitimate use occurs on the sidelines. And others still simply argue that web-blocks don't work, because all blocks can be circumvented by people who know what they're doing.

Commenting on its latest efforts to block access to file-sharing websites, the BPI told the Beeb: "Like The Pirate Bay, these websites are profiting illegally from distributing music that isn't theirs, without permission and without paying a penny to the musicians, writers and producers who created it. It is plain wrong. The existence of these sites damages the growth of Britain's burgeoning digital music sector".

Meanwhile Jim Killock of the Open Rights Group countered: "Web blocking is an extreme response. If courts are being asked to block websites they need to be taking into consideration the rights of users and any legitimate usage of those sites. It isn't clear whether a conversation between a judge, ISPs and rights holders is going to sufficiently represent the needs of users".

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Live Nation has reportedly said that it will not re-bid for the rights to stage festivals and concerts in London's Hyde Park, claiming licensing restrictions put in place in recent years have hindered the company's efforts to stage events there, and that the tender process put in place by the Royal Parks Agency for a new five-year contract to use the park for live events is "flawed".

Live Nation has operated a stage in Hyde Park for over a decade, putting on various city centre concerts and festivals, including the Wireless and Hard Rock Calling events. This year the live firm's activity was even more prolific as it staged a programme of entertainments in the park during the Olympics, including concerts to coincide with the opening and closing of the games.

But disagreements with well connected residents who live near the park, and their allies in Westminster Council, have hindered Live Nation's Hyde Park activities in recent years, with noise restrictions leading to criticism of sound levels by some audience members this year, and a strict curfew leading to the cutting short of a Bruce Springsteen and Paul McCartney encore this summer.

According to The Guardian, in a letter to the Royal Parks Agency Live Nation outlines a number of issues with the site, as well as criticising the agency's tender process for the new contract to operate the Hyde Park stage, including unrealistic revenue assumptions.

Some of Live Nation's competitors may now be interested in bidding for the Hyde Park live entertainment contract now the incumbents have pulled out, though staging events on the site would require considerable resources (and as this year showed, poor weather can increase logistical costs considerably), and other potential bidders might be deterred by the licensing issues Live Nation has faced this year.

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Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, the two members of Pussy Riot who earlier this month lost their appeals against their recent prison sentences, handed down for singing a protest song in a Moscow church, have now been dispatched to prison camps, their lawyers have confirmed. The lawyers had attempted to argue that the women should be allowed to serve their two year sentences in Moscow in order to be near their children.

While one of their lawyers, Mark Feigin, told Reuters that the women "have been sent away", he added that even he did not know where they had been taken at that point. However, the band tweeted last night that Tolokonnikova had been sent to Mordovia, about 300 miles east of Moscow, while Alyokhina was 700 miles from Moscow in Serbia's Perm region.

The band tweeted that these are "the most brutal camps of all possible options".

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The Q Awards were awarded yesterday, giving some old musicians the chance to pick up prizes again, so that's nice. Some young folks had a go as well, notably Django Django, who received the Best New Act award. So that's fun.

Here's the full list of winners:

Best Album: Bobby Womack - The Bravest Man In The Universe
Best New Act: Django Django
Best Track: Plan B - Ill Manors
Best Video: Keane - Disconnected
Classic Song: Dionne Warwick - Walk On By
Classic Album: Manic Street Preachers - Generation Terrorists

Best Act In The World Today: Muse
Best Live Act: Blur
Best Solo Artist: Emeli Sandé

Idol: The Killers' Brandon Flowers
Spirit Of Independence: The Cribs
Innovation In Sound: Underworld
Inspiration Award: Pulp
Icon Award: Dexys
Hero: Johnny Marr

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The Music Managers Forum and Featured Artists Coalition yesterday announced that Radio 1's Zane Lowe will be presented with an Industry Champion Award at this year's Artist & Manager Awards, which take place on 27 Nov in London.

The honour was last year presented to Beggars chief Martin Mills at the first ever A&M Awards event. On this year's winner, MMF CEO Jon Webster told CMU: "Martin Mills is a hard act to follow, but Zane's unswerving commitment to new artists has helped so many over the years. We are proud to recognise that selfless achievement".

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Armin Van Buuren has knocked David Guetta off the top spot in the annual DJ Mag Top 100 DJs poll to regain his position at the top. Guetta took the number one spot last year after four years at the top for Van Buuren.

The poll-topping DJ said of his win: "2012 opened new doors. David being number one last year, the popularity of Avicii, Swedish House Mafia and Afrojack, for dance music, it's amazing. It was great that David got it last year, to show dance music is evolving and it's still exciting. Being number one again feels fantastic - there's so much love out there. I'm so thankful for it".

Indeed, the stiff competition in 2012 puts Guetta down at number four, while Deadmau5 (supposedly the world's highest paid DJ) is at number five. Check out the full 100 here or have a quick glance over the top ten below...

1 Armin Van Buuren
2 Tiesto
3 Avicii
4 David Guetta
5 Deadmau5
6 Hardwell
7 Dash Berlin
8 Above & Beyond
9 Afrojack
10 Skrillex

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Remember that time 4AD-signed trillwave-ist Spaceghostpurrp all but said he was sick of the "shady ass rap game"? Well, he now says he isn't, and shame on anyone whoever implied that he was.

It all began with a disenfranchised Facebook post earlier this month in which the Miami MC said things like "I won't be doing this shit no more, I learned a lot about this shady ass rap game" and "it's like monkey see monkey do, and I'm not that type of dude". To many, this meant he'd be withdrawing from said shady ass rap game, maybe to take a lower-key collaborative role with his Raider Klan collective.

But Purrp has since shared a further post 'clarifying' his real stance, and writes: "I ain't retiring, I'm just stayin true to my people. Don't believe dem false rumours, if they ain't got proof or evidence then it's quite and to my fans".

Perplexed? Yeah, so am I. But I guess what we can take from this is that while the rap game may be "shady ass", it's apparently not intolerably so.

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Will Young is seemingly to sign a new deal with Universal's Island division, according to his new autobiography anyway. The singer last year completed the last album required under the five album deal he signed with Sony Music after his 'Pop Idol' win in 2002.

In the final paragraphs of his book, published earlier this month, Music Week has noticed that Young writes: "I think I'm at a crossroads. My album deal is up and as I write I'm in the process of signing to Island Records. I'm more excited about my music than ever".

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Wild Beasts songwriter Hayden Thorpe has given a half-musical, half-political interview to The New Statesman, sharing - amongst other things - various vague details of the band's fourth studio LP. Apparently they're about a fortnight into making it, so that's nice.

And so, to a quote. Asked to characterise the LP as it sounds at the moment, Thorpe replied: "We always try to write in terms of how we feel. It's always a feel thing and never a conscious thing, and the beauty of not knowing is the main draw. The DNA of what we do will always remain the same, kind of unavoidably. [But] I don't know what kind of creature it'll be really. And I don't want to know to be honest".

He added: "That's what the four of us get together for - that not knowing. I feel quite lucky that I can rely on that and take for granted that when the four of us get together in a room and play it's going to sound like us and not like anyone else. We've always prided ourselves on our difference rather than our compatibility".

You can read Thorpe's views on this and other topics - not least Ed Miliband, feminism and BBC 6music - via the full New Statesman transcript here.

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Pastoral guitarists Local Natives haven't really done anything LP-wise since 2010's 'Gorilla Manor', but all that's about to change with the 28 Jan release of their sophomore record 'Hummingbird'. It was overseen by The National's Aaron Desner at his in-house studio in Brooklyn, an ad hoc collaboration that came about after the two bands became touring partners.

Just ask drummer Matt Frazier, who says: "One night, after maybe drinking a little bit too much, he was like, 'Maybe I should work with you guys'. We were like, 'Sure, buddy'. After meeting with all these other producers, it just seemed like we should work with somebody we really get along with and respect as a songwriter".

Local Natives have a live date booked at London's Hoxton Bar & Kitchen on 6 Dec, after which they'll appear at The National's sold-out ATP festival.

Meanwhile, a tracklisting:
You & I
Heavy Feet
Black Spot
Three Months
Black Balloons
Wooly Mammoth
Mt. Washington

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CMU approved alt-pop artist Chad Valley - real name Hugo Manuel - releases his new LP 'Young Hunger' on Monday, this we all know. What you may or may not know is that The Hype Machine is presenting an advance stream of its eleven tracks. So, that's a bonus, as are its various guest duets with Twin Shadow, Glasser, TEED, Active Child and El Perro Del Mar.

Take advantage via hypem.com/artist/Chad+Valley

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Cherry Red Records has announced that they will reissue the first two albums by 1980s pop rock band The Blow Monkeys, who have been active again since 2007. The re-releases of 'Limping For A Generation' and 'Animal Magic', out on 26 Nov, will include extra remixes, demos, b-sides and other such gubbins.

The band's frontman Robert Howard has worked closely with Cherry Red on the reissues, and he told CMU: "Some of the demo's are very different to the finished songs, almost like completely different songs, and the band archivist Mick has unearthed some gems - the unreleased tracks 'Soulboy In Slumber' and 'Guess I Love her Now' are my favourites".

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Folk soloist Villagers has promised to mark the 14 Jan release of his forthcoming LP, '{Awayland}' via a headline tour. Conor O'Brien and his band, whose new video 'The Waves' is screening here, will honour the following live dates.

8 Feb: Sheffield, Leadmill
9 Feb: Newcastle, Warehouse
10 Feb: Glasgow, Stereo
12 Feb: Leeds, Wardrobe
13 Feb: Manchester, Gorilla
14 Feb: Birmingham, HMV Library
16 Feb: Bristol, Trinity
17 Feb: Brighton, Old Market
18 Feb: Portsmouth, Wedgewood Rooms
20 Feb: London, Village Underground

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Offbeat pop types Dutch Uncles have reserved the first half of February 2013 to spend 'on the road' promoting their new LP 'Out Of Touch In The Wild', which is released on 14 Jan.

They've attached to their tour announcement a Fester Meke remix of the long player's first single 'Fester' as a free MP3, so here that is.

Tour dates:

5 Feb: Newcastle, The Cluny
6 Feb: Glasgow, The Art School
7 Feb: Leeds, Brudenell Social Club
8 Feb: Liverpool, The Kazimer
9 Feb: Sheffield, Leadmill
12 Feb: Cardiff, The Moon
13 Feb: Brighton, Green Door Store
14 Feb: London, Hoxton Bar & Kitchen
15 Feb: Birmingham, Hare & Hounds
16 Feb: Manchester, Gorilla

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LIVE AT LEEDS, various venues, Leeds, 3-5 May 2013: The Vaccines. www.liveatleeds.com

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BMG's success, or not, in acquiring the EMI record label assets being sold by Universal Music could have an impact on the business partnership between Bertelsmann and equity group KKR, joint owners of the version two BMG company, or so says the New York Post.

Having sold its original major record company and music publishing business (to Sony and Universal respectively), Bertelsmann re-entered the music industry in 2008 with the creation of BMG Rights Management, which became a joint venture with KKR the following year.

BMG has since been on an acquisition spree, particularly in the music publishing space, perhaps most notably buying the Chrysalis publishing company in the UK. Though bids for Warner and EMI Music Publishing, which would have resulted in the BMG music business again becoming an undisputed major-player over night, were both unsuccessful.

It's now thought that BMG will bid for various EMI assets being sold off by Sony and Universal, which acquired the EMI record company and publishing business respectively, and both of which are being forced to divest units and catalogues in Europe as a condition of regulator approval for their EMI deals. As much previously reported, the divestment obligations put in place by the European Commission were much higher on Universal, which is being forced to sell the Parlophone business and Chrysalis sound recordings catalogue in the UK, and other units elsewhere in Europe.

Although the v2 BMG is an 'integrated music rights' business interested in both sound recording and publishing rights, most of its acquisitions to date have been in the latter domain. The firm has also insisted throughout that it has no interest in becoming a traditional record company, taking considerable risks investing in new talent in return for complete rights ownership, instead preferring artist partnerships on the recordings side.

Quite how this aim would fit with acquiring a traditional record company like Parlophone isn't clear, and you sense BMG are still working out how acquiring that EMI UK division could fit into its own long term objectives. What we do know from both the Warner and original EMI bidding processes, though, is that BMG management have no appetite for rampant bidding wars that could lead to them over-paying for high profile catalogues.

However, the Post says that KKR, whose commitment to BMG, as a private equity group, will be much more short term than that of Bertelsmann, are getting impatient, and are increasingly pushing for a landmark deal that gives the firm considerable size and market share overnight. Parlophone arguably is that deal. Leading Post sources to suggest that if BMG fails to secure that acquisition, KKR might look to exit its joint venture with Bertelsmann sooner than planned.

That said, there seems little evidence of tensions between the two partners in BMG at the moment, and in the main conservative private equity types prefer businesses that are careful of bidding wars that may result in over-paying for new assets. And one of the Post's own sources admits that, even if BMG is outbid for Parlophone, KKR is unlikely to start actively looking to offload its stake in the music company for another year. That would put us in KKR's fifth year of investment in v2 BMG, meaning the equity group might be reasonably looking to exit the joint venture anyway under a standard private equity timetable.

When KKR does sell its 51% stake in BMG, which will happen eventually even if not on the faster-than-expected timeframe being mooted by the Post, it will be interesting to see whether Bertelsmann can afford to buy its partner out, or whether another player might come into the mix. Perhaps that could result in the BMG/Warner merger we've decided, somewhat randomly, to start predicting now all the hoo and the haa of the long-lasting EMI sale saga is almost over.

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AEG Live has confirmed that it is launching its ticketing platform AXS.com in the UK. As previously noted, a UK version of the AXS.com website is already live focused on events at the AEG-operated O2 Dome, though when you click to book tickets you are currently taken to the Ticketmaster site.

AXS.com, of course, was set up by AEG in the US to end the live giant's dependence on the Ticketmaster platform, after the Ticketmaster company merged with AEG rivals Live Nation in 2010. AXS will actually start selling tickets in the UK itself later this week for the O2 dates of the previously reported Girls Aloud tenth anniversary tour.

AXS hopes to shake up the UK ticketing market by offering various technological innovations and, perhaps most importantly, not charging an extra fee when buyers print their own tickets at home. Which? magazine criticised Ticketmaster for its £2.50 charge for self-printed tickets just last week.

Confirming that AXS.com would now start to roll out in the UK, the AEG subsidiary's Europe VEP Dean DeWulf told CMU: "We are truly changing the way people buy tickets. We believe buying a ticket to see your favourite artist should be simple, convenient, social and fair. AXS.com is built around the fan".

Meanwhile Rebecca Kane, GM of The O2 Arena, which will be the focus of AXS.com UK at launch, added: "The O2 prides itself on providing the very best entertainment experience, so we are naturally very excited about the introduction of AXS.com for The O2 and the two million regular ticket buyers who choose to visit us every year".

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Rara.com, the streaming service launched by the team behind B2B digital music providers Omnifone and subsequently spun off to become its own entity, has today made a number announcements regards devices, catalogue and reach.

The digital firm, which like Rdio and Deezer stresses the editorialised curation services it offers in addition to fully-on-demand streaming, today launches apps that will extend the platform to Windows 8 and Apple OS devices, including the iPhone and iPad. Previously Rara.com was available via the web and an Android app.

Catalogue-wise, new deals with various indie label aggregators, including Merlin, INgrooves Fontana, The Orchard, Believe Digital and VidZone Digital, take the service's catalogue to eighteen million tracks. The service will also launch in seven new countries, meaning it is now available in 27 markets.

Rara.com does not offer a freemium version, either as a standalone service or promotional platform for its premium offer, and seems to have no ambitions to do so, though does offer a three month trial at one or two pounds a month (for web and web/mobile access respectively). Full rates are in line with most of its competitors, five pounds a month for web access, ten pounds for web and mobile.

Commenting on today's announcements, Rara.com chief Nick Massey told CMU: "I am pleased to announce today that Rara.com has made a significant step-forward in the execution of its roll-out strategy and can now be enjoyed in more places, on more devices, with more music and with more partners. Rara.com gives you the music you feel like listening to without you having to know the name of every track you want to play. Our expert team of musicologists hand curate Rara.com's channels and playlists bringing you music for every mood. Available today on web, Windows 8, iPhone, iPad and Android, Rara.com's beautiful user interface makes it easier to play the music you love wherever you are, whenever you want, with no annoying adverts".

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Sony/Universal-owned music video service VEVO has appointed Erroll Baran, previously Head Of Future And Digital Media Advertising at Channel 4, as its UK Commercial Director.

Baran basically fills a gap left when VEVO's UK MD and Commercial Directors, Jonathan Lewis and Jon Lewin, both departed as part of a restructure in July.

Baran reports to VEVO's SVP International Nic Jones who told Media Week: "Errol is a fabulous hire and his track record at Channel 4 speaks for itself".

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IPC Inspire yesterday announced the appointment of Ellie Miles as Senior Marketing And Events Manager for NME and Uncut. Joining IPC in 2005, Miles has been working on its music titles since 2010.

Publishing Director Emily Hutchings told CMU: "Ellie has played an integral role in a host of activities over the last two years, including NME Awards, the redevelopment of Uncut and Uncut.co.uk, NME's 60th birthday celebrations and various marketing partnerships with other leading brands including Spotify. Her proven track record makes her the ideal person for this role".

Miles added: "This is a fantastic position working with two great multiplatform music brands which are both rich in heritage and constantly innovating. I have thoroughly enjoyed being part of the music marketing team over the last two years and I'm looking forward to continuing to work with the talented teams to build the brands' success further".

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Former EMI boss Roger Faxon has been appointed as a Non-Executive Director of ITV, which will come in useful expertise wise when the TV firm is bought up by some clueless private equity twonks, subsequently gets repossessed by a bank, and is then split into its programme and network divisions for sale to Sky and Channel 5, ensuring the destruction of a once great British institution. Good times.

Said ITV Chairman Archie Norman: "Roger will bring to the board unmatchable experience of the adaptation of the media and rights management business to the digital world. His appointment reflects our commitment to the Transformation Plan embarked on two years ago".

Faxon added: "I look forward to contributing to the company's plans to revitalise this exciting British business. I am delighted to be joining ITV and working with Archie Norman and [chief executive] Adam Crozier".

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Well, if 'Unorthodox Jukebox' proves just too unorthodox for the pop buying public, that Bruno Mars definitely has a career as a tribute act to, well, pretty much any pop singer you care to mention. As he proved in a guest spot playing a Pandora intern on 'Saturday Night Live' last weekend. Clips of the Mars-featuring sketch posted on the net are subject to takedown notices, but we're relying on Hypebot here to ensure the posting they've embedded stays live. I particularly liked his Katy Perry.

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Gene Simmon's has claimed that Led Zeppelin turned down an offer of "a few hundred million dollars" to reform. The Kiss bassist was apparently given the money by a concert promoter who hoped that Simmons' relationship with the band would make them more likely to agree.

According to The Sun, Simmons said: "In 2009/10 I was given a few hundred million dollars in an account by a large concert promoter and given the task of reaching out to Jimmy and Robert and trying to convince them to get back together. Of course, it didn't work. Robert just doesn't want to do it".

Well I hope he gave the money back.

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