8 JAN 2013

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The first music industry conference and showcase festival of the year, Eurosonic Noorderslag, gets underway in Groningen in The Netherlands tomorrow. Showcasing bands from all over Europe, each year the event selects one featured country that is given extra attention, and this year that is Finland. Ahead of it all, CMUs Andy Malt caught up with Riku Salomaa from Finnish export agency Music Finland to find out more more>>
First heard by many as a principal guest voice on Bonnie 'Prince' Billy's 'Wolfroy Goes To Town', folk artist Angel Olsen released a long player titled 'Half Way Home' last September. And now she's just released two new videos, one for album track 'Tiniest Seed' - a kernel of bereft Western blues stashed at the very end of 'Half Way Home' - and 'Sweet Dreams' - a non-LP-featuring extra in which Olsen's voice lights a glade of grey, thorny guitars more>>

- MegaUpload says raid warrants dishonestly secured
- Dappy petrol station trial begins
- Cassette single sales treble in 2012
- iHeartRadio users more offended by Grammys snubbing Coldplay than Bieber
- David Bowie announces new album, first single already online
- Interscope deems MIA LP "too positive", pushes back release
- Suede talk new LP, give away track
- Brian McFadden back with covers LP
- Perry Farrell working on "immersive" Jane's Addiction musical
- Pere Ubu to tour
- MØ sets London date
- Universal combines Christian music publishing interests into one unit
- Sony UK profits up in 2011/12
- Investment firm acquires 75% of SESAC
- Grim Twitter fad follows Bieber smoking pics
- Pitchfork launches pre-release album streaming feature
- Smooth Radio announces schedule rejig
- The Wanted + One Direction = The Beatles
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Lawyers for MegaUpload chief Kim 'Dotcom' Schmitz have filed new papers with the US courts accusing America's Department Of Justice of deliberately misleading the controversial file-transfer company, and judges for that matter, in order to pursue its criminal case against their clients.

This relates to previously made allegations that a chunk of the unlicensed movie content stored on the Mega platform, that has been listed in the criminal case against Dotcom and his former company, wasn't deleted by the file-transfer firm because it was evidence in a separate DoJ investigation into alleged copyright infringements committed by a MegaUpload customer.

One of the core allegations in the infringement case against Dotcom et al is that MegaUpload operated a deliberately shoddy takedown system, so that it could appear to comply with American copyright law (that says web operators must remove unlicensed material if made aware of it by a copyright owner), but at the same time have the steady supply of movies, TV shows and music videos that generated lucrative traffic.

Dotcom, however, denies that charge, and argues that a chunk of the unlicensed movie content not removed from the Mega platform for over a year, identified as incriminating evidence in the case against the Mega founder, was only there because it was linked to another DoJ investigation, and Team Mega didn't want to hinder that case by deleting the files.

He first made these claims last year, saying he'd been advised he could possibly sue the US government and/or the Hollywood studios for closing down his business on the back of evidence which, Team Mega would allege, had been dishonestly presented.

But it seems that lawyer Ira Rothken reckons these allegations could also be used to hinder the criminal case against Dotcom and the Mega business, because he says that the US authorities secured the warrants that allowed the raids on MegaUpload's American server facilities just under a year ago by withholding information about their key evidence against the file-transfer company.

In court papers filed last week, Rothken alleges that the American government secured said warrants based on affidavits that referenced the movie files from the investigation in which Mega had assisted, but without mentioning the circumstances of that earlier investigation.

Arguing that the DoJ deliberately withheld that crucial information to help their case against Mega, Rothken wrote last week: "[These affidavits] purport to offer as proof that MegaUpload had requisite knowledge [and] suggest that MegaUpload was warned of its potentially criminal complicity yet persisted in hosting the files without concern for their illegal content. In short, [they] paint MegaUpload as a brazen scofflaw".

"[But this] isn't the case", he continued, "because MegaUpload purposely left those files in place in order to cooperate with the Justice Department. MegaUpload had every reason to retain those files in good faith because the government had sought and obtained MegaUpload's cooperation in retrieving the files and warned that alerting users to the existence of the warrant and the government's interest in the files could compromise the investigation".

He concluded: "The government's affidavits underpinning the warrants omitted critical, exculpatory information regarding whether, why and how MegaUpload knew it was hosting criminally infringing files". It remains to be seen how the US courts respond to Rothken's latest arguments.

As previously reported, efforts to extradite Dotcom from New Zealand are ongoing, but are unlikely to now reach court until early summer. Meanwhile, Dotcom will launch a new Mega file-transfer service, based outside the US, later this month.

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Dappy was indicted on two counts of common assault and one of assault yesterday.

The rapper was appearing at Guildford Crown Court in relation to his previously reported arrest following a fight at a petrol station in the town last year. As previously reported, Dappy and three other men are accused of being involved in the incident, which took place in the early hours of 28 Feb.

Dappy is also charged with affray, and denies all charges. Two other defendants denied affray, while a fourth pleaded guilty to that charge and will be sentenced at the conclusion of the trial, which continues this morning.

Arriving at court yesterday Dappy tweeted a picture of himself looking sad. Make of that what you will.

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Hot on the heels of the news that 389,000 albums were bought on vinyl in 2012, The Official Charts Company has released figures that show the much-promised resurgence of the cassette is well on its way, with sales of cassette singles trebling in 2012. Yep, 604 were sold last year. Though, if you add to that the 3823 cassette albums that were snapped up, that's still considerably more than is necessary.

The highest selling cassette single of 2012, accounting for much of the overall sales of the format, was of 'Borders' by Feeder. Meanwhile, the top selling cassette album was 'She: The Best Of Charles Aznavour'.

The OCC also reports that 270 albums were sold on MiniDisc last year. It's still early to be calling that a resurgence, but we can hope.

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The Beliebers may not have been impressed that Justin Bieber was 'snubbed' by the US Recording Academy when it failed to shortlist his most recent long player 'Believe' for 'Best Pop Vocal Album' at this year's Grammys, but when Clear Channel surveyed users of its American streaming music platform iHeartRadio about this year's Grammy noms last month, more were upset about the lack of nods for Coldplay, Carly Rae Jepsen and One Direction.

iHeartRadio surveyed users in December about what they considered to be this year's biggest 'Grammy snub', and here are the five most deserving non-Grammy nominees according to that poll...

1. Coldplay (not nominated for Album Of The Year for 'Mylo Xyloto') - 21.9%
2. Carly Rae Jepsen (not nominated for Best New Artist) - 16.5%
3. One Direction (not nominated for Best New Artist) - 14.3%
4. Justin Bieber (not nominated for Best Pop Vocal Album for 'Believe') - 12.8%
5. Rihanna (not nominated for Best Pop Vocal Album for 'Talk That Talk') - 10.6%

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Well, it's definitely grabbed everyone's attention this morning. Indeed, so much was the immediate excitement at the somewhat sudden news that a new David Bowie album was incoming and the first single from it was already available on iTunes, even Radio 4's 'Today' programme was planning on playing the new track.

That single is called 'Where Are We Now?', and surfaced on the Apple download store in 119 countries in the early hours of the morning. It appears alongside no less than sixteen other tracks on the new album. 'The Next Day', which can be pre-ordered on iTunes already, and which has a provisional release date of 12 Mar.

The new track has been produced by long-term collaborator Tony Visconti, and the video for it can be seen here.

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MIA has claimed that the release of her third studio LP 'Mathangi' - as was initially meant to fall in December - has been set back by her new-ish label, Universal's Interscope, on the basis that the record is "too positive". Apparently it now won't be available till April, presumably minus all that surplus positivity.

Interviewed by Australian site Gold Coast, MIA - real name Mathangi Arulpragasam - said: "I thought I'd finished it. I finished it and then I handed the record in, like a couple of months ago. At the moment, I've been told it's too positive. So we're having a bit of an issue at the label. They're like, 'You need to darken it up a bit'".

A pragmatic MIA, who's chosen to go with Interscope's instinct since "that's the point of being positive", adds: "I don't know what it is but as soon as I work that out... I'm taking my time to decide what they mean. It's an interesting one for me. It's like, 'We just built you up as the public enemy number one, and now you're coming out with all this positive stuff'".

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Suede are giving away a brand new track in advance of their just-titled new LP 'Bloodsports', which is to be granted a March release.

The band, who'll promote said LP via a standalone show at London's Alexandra Palace on 30 Mar, shared 'Barriers' as a free MP3 yesterday, attaching this note: "After a year of sweating and bleeding over the record, it's finally finished, so we wanted to get some music out there as soon as we could. 'Barriers' isn't the first single but we are proud of it enough just to chuck it out there and thought that its pulsing, romantic swell somehow summed up the feel of the album quite nicely".

Adding a paragraph or so about 'Bloodsports' at large, Brett Anderson says: "It's about lust, it's about the chase, it's about the endless carnal game of love. It was possibly the hardest [record] we've ever made, but certainly the most satisfying. Its ten furious songs, for me, have reclaimed from ourselves what Suede was always about; drama, melody and noise".

Download 'Barriers' via this link.

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Last seen absconding with a solo single borrowed off the telly, ex-Westlife star and non-date-rapist Brian McFadden is now back to doing safe, straightforward covers, and will release an LP of just such tracks on 11 Mar.

'The Irish Connection' will feature Irish-only duets with Sinead O'Connor (who, strangely, isn't a named guest on Brian's rendition of 'Nothing Compares 2 U'), Aslan's Christy Dignam and Ronan Keating.

And this is its entirely Irish-themed tracklisting:

Black Is The Colour (feat Sinead O'Connor)
All I Want Is You (feat Ronan Keating)
9 Crimes
Crazy World (feat Christy Dignam)
No Frontiers
Only Time
Nothing Compares 2 U

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Jane's Addiction frontman Perry Farrell is working on an "immersive" musical featuring the band's music, he has told Prefix.

Says Farrell: "My next project is that I'm working on a play, it's a musical, but it's going to be immersive theatre. It's not going to be in a theatre, I'm going to create an environment and the music will be within that environment, and Jane's Addiction will be within that environment".

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With their first LP in four years and first via Fire Records, 'Lady From Shanghai', being released yesterday and all, what time more apt for rock godfathers Pere Ubu to share dates of a tour they're taking in April? No time, that's what.

And the relevant dates are:

13 Apr: Brighton, Haunt
14 Apr: Colchester, Arts Centre
15 Apr: Gateshead, The Sage
16 Apr: York, Fibbers
17 Apr: Glasgow, Mono
18 Apr: Manchester, Band On The Wall
19 Apr: Bristol, Thekla
20 Apr: Nottingham, Rescue Rooms
21 Apr: Bilston, Robin 2
22 Apr: Liverpool, Eric's
23 Apr: London, Bush Hall

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Danish alt-pop 'one to watch' MØ, real name Karen Marie Ørsted, is going to play a show at London's Electrowerkz on 28 Feb, and you should probably all go. I mean, why not?

Tickets to the date are purchasable here. And in the stead of new single 'Glass', which is set for a Scandinavian release on 14 Jan, this is MØ's past track 'Pilgrim'.

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Universal Music has launched a new unit within its publishing company in America to be called Capitol CMG Publishing, which will bring together the music publishing interests of the former EMI Christian music division with those of Brentwood Benson, the Christian music publisher Universal acquired when it bought the original BMG publishing business back in 2007.

Universal, of course, bought the EMI record company last year, while EMI Music Publishing was acquired in a separate deal by a Sony-led consortium. However, for legacy reasons (well, God does move in mysterious ways), EMI's publishing interests in a catalogue of Christian music sat within its recorded music business, as part of the EMI Christian Music Group, and so those publishing copyrights were acquired by Universal rather than Sony/ATV.

The newly combined Christian publishing unit, which will operate under EMI's American brand Capitol, will be headed up by Eddie DeGarmo, previously of the EMI Christian Music Group. Brentwood Benson President Dale Mathews is leaving the major as part of the rejig. In his new role, DeGarmo will have two bosses, Bill Hearn within what will now be known as the Capitol Christian Music Group and Evan Lamberg within Universal Music Publishing.

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Some UK-focused Sony Music figures have come to light thanks to annual account filings with Companies House from both Sony Music UK, and Simon Cowell's Simco, aka Syco Entertainment, in which Sony Music has a 50% stake.

According to the submitted accounts, in the financial year that ended during 2012, Sony's UK record company saw revenues fall 2.4% year-on-year to £191 million, but pre-tax profits nevertheless grew 128%, from £6.6 million to £15.2 million, suggesting some considerable savings in running costs.

Meanwhile, in the financial year ended 31 Mar 2012, Syco saw turnover nearly double, shifting from £28.1 million to £54.7 million, with profits up from £3.2 million to £22.9 million. Much of the boost came from the growth of Syco's US interests, in particular the launch of 'X-Factor' in America, meaning that American operations now account for nearly 42% of total turnover.

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Investment firm Rizvi Traverse Management, which has various existing interests in the entertainment industry (including co-ownership of the Playboy empire), has acquired a 75% majority stake in the smaller of the American publishing rights collecting organisations, SESAC, which unlike ASCAP and BMI, is a commercial entity rather than a not-for-profit organisation.

SESAC's existing owners had been toying with selling some or all of the company for a while, but reportedly engaged bankers just under a year ago to approach possible buyers. According to the Wall Street Journal, the Rizvi Traverse deal was worth $600 million, though it's not clear if that's what it has paid for its 75% stake, or whether that is a valuation of SESAC in its entirety, and the investment firm therefore has paid $450 million. $600 million for just three quarters of SESAC would seem a lot, given word had it the organisation was being valued in the region $500 million a year ago.

According to Billboard, it's also not known whether the deal means that some of the collecting society's existing owners have been bought out of the company completely, or whether they have all equally diluted their shareholdings, and therefore share the remaining 25% between them. Songwriters represented by SESAC include Bob Dylan, Neil Diamond, Rush and Robert Johnson.

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A rather sinister hashtag was reportedly trending on Twitter yesterday following those pictures of Justin Bieber smoking that were posted by TMZ at the weekend.

As previously reported, the US gossip site reckons the photos of the Biebster holding a cigarette were actually pictures of the pop teen smoking marijuana. The pop star hasn't properly commented on the snaps, but told his Twitter followers shortly after the TMZ article was published that he would try harder in the future, because "I never want to let any of you down".

The related hashtag that began being posted yesterday was #cutforbieber, the premise being that some Beliebers were so shocked and outraged by their hero's rather modest drugs scandal, they were partaking in some self-harm to blackmail the popstar into staying away from the dope.

The whole thing began as a morbid joke within the 4chan community, with one poster suggesting: "Let's start a cut yourself for Bieber campaign. Tweet a bunch of pics of people cutting themselves and claim we did it because Bieber was smoking weed. See if we can get some little girls to cut themselves".

Many of the photos circulating alongside the #cutforbieber tag bought into the jokey nature of the whole thing (ketchup covered wrists, a female fan cutting a sheet of paper, a male fan holding pair of scissors next to testicles), though some of the photos looked much more realistic.

And while they too were very possible hoaxes (set ups or Google-nabbed existing photos of real self harm), the whole thing was in particularly poor taste, even by internet chatroom standards, given that the Belieber demographic are generally most at risk of self-harm-based disorders.

Elsewhere in Bieber photo news, word has it that the pop teen's minders are now posting signs at parties and events the singer attends stating that the copyright in any photos taken of the star will belong to him and not the photographer, so that any future pot head shots could be suppressed on copyright as well as privacy grounds.

Which may or may not stand up in court, though - if said signs really are being posted by Team Bieber - it's an interesting manifestation of the smart phone age where celebrities can be globally exposed the minute anyone works in the room.

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Pitchfork has announced that it is launching a new album preview feature called Pitchfork Advance, which it hopes will stand out from all the other pre-release album streaming features out there by having nice artwork. The first album to be made available is 'Fade', by Yo La Tengo, which is due for release later this month.

The site's founder Ryan Schreiber told Mashable: "In most cases, the artwork we publish will come from the album's actual packaging, but there will be some other material that's created exclusively for Pitchfork Advance. We can do a lot more with this platform than just reproduce static images and text. I've been surprised by the lack of innovation in digital album art over the last decade, especially because artists and labels are still designing elaborate packaging for physical releases. Pitchfork Advance allows you to have an experience with the music that's immersive in the way that engaging with a vinyl LP would be".

Head over to the Pitchfork Advance website here.

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Following a plethora of recent changes to the schedules of the various Real Radio stations around the UK, sister station Smooth Radio will overhaul its line-up next week.

The main change is that Pat Sharp, who has previously presented a weekend show for the station, will get the daily afternoon slot, with that show's incumbent Carlos moving to evenings. Current evening show host, Andy Peebles, who has been with Smooth since 2004, will depart the station's daily schedules, though will continue to present his weekend soul show.

Lynn Parsons has recently taken over the morning show on Smooth from the now departed Mark Goodier. David Prever will replace Parsons in the weekend morning slot, while Daryl Denham, formerly of Real Radio in Yorkshire, will takeover weekend breakfast.

Both Real Radio and Smooth are in the process of being acquired by Global Radio, of course, and are currently in limbo while that takeover is investigated by the Competition Commission.

Whereas recent on air and behind the scenes changes at Real Radio were very much about streamlining the operation (to the extent that many expect Global to phase Real out, if and when its acquisition is approved, with Real frequencies being reallocated to the Heart and Capital networks), the changes at Smooth somehow seem less ominous.

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Tom Parker from The Wanted has said that the combined adulation for his band and One Direction over there in the US is akin to that for The Beatles in the early 1960s. Though, considering One Direction managed to achieve something that The Beatles (nor any other UK band, for that matter) did not, and get their debut album to number one in the States, it's possible they don't actually need The Wanted's help.

Anyway, Parker told Bang! Showbiz: "It's Beatlemania for both boybands, really. The whole boyband thing has really come back. Us and One Direction have gone over to America and are literally just tearing it apart. The whole boyband thing is really alive, and it's good that it's two British acts doing it. People in Britain liked the fact that we were very real... We were very 'say what we want' and we wanted to produce the music that we wanted to do. We took it to America and people really liked it. Every radio station was like, 'It's a breath of fresh air to us, we've not seen this realism for so long'".

Another thing The Beatles never managed to do was to "literally tear America apart", so well done to The Wanted and One Direction for that achievement. Of course, the environmental impact will be devastating, but if it sells a few more records, who cares?

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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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