13 JUN 2013

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This week Disclosure are number one in the UK album chart, a position already held this year by Rudimental, while Duke Dumont spent two weeks at number one in the singles chart back in April. What do these artist have in common? Two years ago they were considered underground artists, certainly not pop. In his latest CMU column, Eddy TM celebrates the prevalence of great dance music in the mainstream more>>
It's June's slightly delayed podcast, in which we look back at the launches of new streaming services iTunes Radio and Google Play All Access Music, Merlin's report on the digital and streaming revenues of its indie label members, and the latest developments in Universal Music's legal battle with Grooveshark. Moving away from streaming, Chris and Andy also look at Eminem's lawsuit against Facebook, Arts Council England's new pop music fund, and the entrance exam for gigs at Venue Cymru in Cardiff. more>>

- US industry responds negatively to Pandora's FM buy, and BMI might now go legal in royalties squabble
- New Myspace out of beta
- Irish ISPs ordered to block The Pirate Bay
- Inquest into death of Smiley Culture begins
- Live Nation wins in legal fight with CTS Eventim
- Geoff Travis to receive AIM's Pioneer Award
- Bloc Party to split (again)
- Kraftwerk working on new album
- Sigur Rós share Kveikur stream
- Chelsea Wolfe talks new LP, Pain Is Beauty
- Sam Duckworth details Pledge-facilitated new LP
- The Darkness ask Permission To Land on 'intimate' new live dates
- Cloud Control add September shows
- Waxahatchee sets extra Scala date
- Festival line-up update: Standon Calling, Hard Rock Calling, Latitude and more
- One Direction launch anti-bullying nail polish
- Former Mercury UK chief to lead Jay-Z's record label
- Beatles company enters into Bravado deal
- Dizzee Rascal seeks the voice (of Tom Jones)
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Well, once you're suing ASCAP with your right hand, you might as well be fighting BMI in the courts with your left, I suppose. According to Billboard, American song rights collecting society BMI is preparing to sue Pandora, the streaming music service which itself launched legal action against BMI competitor ASCAP last November.

Pandora has been pushing for a while to reduce its royalty payments to both the record companies and the music publishers, in the former case by lobbying in Washington to reform the statutory licensing system through which American interactive radio services can access sound recording rights, and in the latter case by negotiating hard with the US music publishing sector's collecting organisations, mainly ASCAP and BMI.

In both battles Pandora argues that its royalty obligations are unfairly higher than those of conventional radio broadcasters, which it sees as its primary competitors (rather than, say, iTunes, or even Spotify).

And in a novel move, this week Pandora bought an FM radio station in South Dakota to qualify for membership of the Radio Music Licensing Committee, which negotiates song royalty rates for the US radio industry's AM, FM and online services. Pandora hopes that as an RMLC member it will be able to access more preferential rates.

It's this move, says Billboard, that has convinced BMI management that it's time to withdraw from ongoing negotiations with Pandora chiefs, and instead to go legal in a bid to find a settlement with the digital service.

Though, given it was Pandora which took its negotiations with ASCAP down the legal route, that may not bother the streaming service's bosses too much, given they seem to think there are legal arguments as to why the collecting organisations have a duty to offer them parity with the traditional broadcasters. And especially with radio giant Clear Channel, which operates its Pandora competitor iHeartRadio under its RMLC licence.

But however strong, or not, Pandora's legal arguments may be, its ongoing royalty battles certainly provide PR challenges for the digital company. The music publishing sector did not respond well to yesterday's news about the FM station acquisition and Pandora's planned exploitation of the RMLC system.

ASCAP President Paul Williams told Billboard: "Pandora is trying every trick in the book to brazenly and unconscionably underpay and take advantage of the creative labour that produces the core offering of their business - music written by individual songwriters and composers. ASCAP has an ethical obligation to serve and protect the hundreds of thousands of small and independent songwriters, composers and music publishers we represent to ensure that they receive fair compensation when their songs are performed on any technology platforms".

Meanwhile the boss of the National Music Publishers Association David Israelite, who has been critical of Pandora before, said: "This is another sad step in Pandora's escalating war against songwriters. While other digital partners are making voluntary deals, Pandora chooses to sue the very creators who make its business possible".

But Pandora hit back, criticising ASCAP in particular - it being the music industry player in the digital firm's existing legal battle on this issue - arguing that the society was allowing key members to withdraw from the collective licensing system when it came to Pandora, so to negotiate even higher fees directly, while simultaneously negotiating more favourable terms with those companies represented by the RMLC.

A spokesperson said: "Pandora values and respects those who create music and seeks to pay a rate that is fair to all artists, and fairness needs to account both for what artists receive and what Pandora's competitors are asked to pay".

Adding: "In a good faith attempt to avoid a protracted disagreement, Pandora offered to pay ASCAP higher rates than it currently pays, but ASCAP refused, choosing instead to enable the publishers to try to extort even higher rates through a scheme of 'selective withdrawals' [from collective licensing]. At the same time, ASCAP agreed to the lower licensing rates with the RMLC, which was approved by the rate court, and extended these lower rates to virtually all of Pandora's competitors, including iHeartRadio, Pandora's largest competitor".

The digital firm concluded: "This is not a case of Pandora trying to pay less. It is a case of publishers discriminating against Pandora".

Though adding to Pandora's PR challenges - especially if litigation from BMI is indeed incoming - is the rumour that Apple has reached an agreement with BMI chiefs for its iTunes Radio service, offering the collecting society the same terms as it has to those music publishers - and BMI members - which have chosen to do a deal directly. While Pandora may well have a right to moan that its rivals in the traditional broadcasting sector are getting better deals, industry types will likely counter, if Apple can agree terms, why can't you?

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The all new look Myspace, which got pundits excited for a whole three and half days when it first went live late last year, is now out of beta, with a $20 million ad campaign due to tell the world that the one-time uber-social-network, that totally lost its audience to Facebook and Twitter et al, is once again the go-to place. Although for consuming, curating and sharing content, and especially music, rather than documenting your own lives.

Myspace's current owner, Specific Media, hopes that the digital set-up's steaming service - now brought to the fore and presented in more of a Pandora style - will play a key role in bringing people back to its platform, even though the streaming music market is arguably more competitive than the social networking space.

Though Specific boss Tim Vanderhook tells Fast Company: "I think we have a bigger idea. We're giving everyone in the world their own radio station. We're crowdsourcing to make new stations. Apple's taking an algorithmic approach [with iTunes Radio]. That's been done before".

So the Myspace streaming service will have better 'discovery' then, just like every streaming service claims. Though only Myspace gets a stream curated by pop-star-partner-in-the-business Justin Timberlake. A winner for sure.

To coincide with the move out of beta and the mega-bucks advertising campaign, Myspace has also launched a new iPhone app (with animated GIF generator and everything) and a mobile site for better user-experience on other mobile devices.

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The High Court in Ireland has followed in the footsteps of its UK counterpart and ordered six internet service providers in the country to block their users from accessing The Pirate Bay, reports the Irish Independent.

As previously reported, in May last year the High Court in London issued orders requiring the six main ISPs in the UK - Sky, Everything Everywhere, TalkTalk, O2, Virgin Media and BT - to block their customers from accessing the always controversial file-sharing search service. The injunctions were pursued by record label trade body the BPI, citing precedent in a case a year earlier led by the movie industry that resulted in the blocking of Newzbin.

In Ireland, the Irish Recorded Music Association, which had already secured a voluntary commitment from the country's leading ISP Eircom to stop its customers from accessing the Bay, began legal proceedings against all the other major net firms last December to force a block. And orders against UPC, Imagine, Vodafone, Digiweb, Hutchison 3G and Telefonica O2 Ireland were issued yesterday.

Of course, anyone who really wants to access The Pirate Bay will be able to do so easily, as has been the case here too, mainly via proxies which - although they too can be blocked, as has happened with a whole batch in the UK this last week - are popping up all the time. But the content owners would argue that blocks cause a certain number of users to give up on the illegal service, and anything that makes accessing unlicensed content just a little bit more inconvenient is a step in the right direction.

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An inquest into the death of former reggae DJ and MC Smiley Culture, real name David Emmanuel, has begun in Surrey, where he lived.

As previously reported, Emmanuel died at his Surrey home during a police raid in March 2011. Police attended the reggae man's house to arrest him on a new drugs charge (he was already facing other drug-related charges) and to search his premises. Three officers conducted the search while a fourth stayed with Emmanuel. But before the search was over Emmanuel had died from a single stab wound. His stabbing, officers insisted from the start, was self-inflicted.

In November 2011, the Independent Police Complaints Commission ruled that there were no specific failings on the part of the four officers involved while they were in Emmanuel's home, and therefore there wasn't a case to pass the matter onto the Crown Prosecution Service. However, Emmanuel's family have always maintained that there was more to the matter than a man suddenly and violently deciding to kill himself.

At the time of the IPCC ruling, the singer's nephew, Merlin Emmanuel, told The Guardian: "We firmly believe Smiley was murdered and that the IPCC have let us down and treated us miserably. They promised us a thorough investigation and that they would get to the bottom of what happened. But there are still so many unanswered questions - and the IPCC have now made sure that the officers who saw what happened are never going to be pressed to tell the truth about what happened that day".

As the formal inquest began, the story from the point of view of the police officer who was with Emmanuel at the time of his death, referred to only as Witness Two, was heard again. The Independent reports that opening the case, Surrey Coroner Richard Travers told the jury: "For his part, you will hear from Witness Two's evidence, Mr Emmanuel [seemed] to be relaxed and they chatted about a variety of things. Mr Emmanuel was allowed to make himself a mug of tea on more than one occasion".

He continued: "You will hear from Witness Two that, when they were coming to the end of the search ... Mr Emmanuel very suddenly and without warning stood up and Witness Two realised for the first time that he, Mr Emmanuel, had a large kitchen knife in his hand. The officer says that he shouted out 'knife' so as to warn his colleagues, at which point, Mr Emmanuel, he says, held out his arm and screamed at Witness Two: 'Do you fucking want some of this?' Or 'What about this?'"

Finally, he said: "Witness Two will tell you that Mr Emmanuel's face and body language had completely changed, he became angry and was screaming. He will tell you that he, Mr Emmanuel, then held the knife with both hands and plunged it into his own chest".

The case continues.

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Live Nation has won an arbitration ruling in a legal fight with European ticketing giant CTS Eventim. The legal squabbling relates to Live Nation's merger with Ticketmaster in 2010, and the live major's resulting termination of an agreement with Eventim, a rival of the ticketing company it had just acquired.

Live Nation argued that it legitimately ended its alliance with Eventim because the German company had failed to deliver on some of its contractual commitments. But Eventim argued Live Nation was in breach of contract, and took the matter to the International Court Of Arbitration of the International Chamber Of Commerce in April 2010.

It was thought that Eventim would pursue damages in excess of $200 million if successful at arbitration. But yesterday the arbitrator ruled in Live Nation's favour, a decision that immediately resulted in a spike in the US-based live firm's share price.

Welcoming the ruling, Live Nation chief Michael Rapino said: "The arbitrator's final decision vindicates Live Nation's steadfast position that we justifiably terminated our contract with CTS Eventim".

Meanwhile Eventim said in a statement: "The management board of CTS Eventim AG is disappointed but will accept the ruling without further comments. It is important, after three years duration of proceedings, that Eventim is able to fully concentrate on its operational business again".

As previously reported, it was Eventim which opposed the Live Nation and Ticketmaster merger in the UK, though ultimately it failed to block the consolidation of the two companies.

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Rough Trade founder Geoff Travis has been named the winner of the Pioneer Award at this year's AIM Independent Music Awards, joining previous recipients Daniel Miller of Mute and Laurence Bell of Domino.

Travis opened the first Rough Trade record shop in 1976, setting up the label of the same name two years later, and going on to sign artists including The Fall and The Smiths. He was later forced to sell off the label's catalogue, after the company's distribution arm failed in the 80s. However, in 1999, he and Jeannette Lee resurrected the label, signing the likes of The Strokes and The Libertines.

Travis was also the co-founder of the Blanco Y Negro label in 1983, the WEA Records subsidiary that went on to release music by Bananarama, The Jesus And Mary Chain, Everything But The Girl and others.

On the news of his award, Travis said: "There is not much that betters having respect from your peers. So thank you AIM!"

The Association Of Independent Music's CEO Alison Wenham added: "Geoff is an icon not just amongst independents but across the whole industry. He shows the way, he inspires, he is and always has been true to his beliefs".

The Independent Music Awards will this year take place at The Brewery in Clerkenwell on 3 Sep.

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Bloc Party's is a delicate band-marriage, so it is, and one that's in the process of disintegrating again as Kele et al have (again) decided to take a break. I keep saying 'again' because they did a similar thing in 2009, taking until 2011 to 'make nice' and record last year's 'Four' LP. Oh, Bloc Party.

This time, says BP guitarist Russell Lissack, the hiatus/marital split will start after the band's headlining set at Latitude Festival (19 Jul), and may last, he estimates, "at least six months, maybe a year, maybe two years". Apparently "it's hard to say". No kidding.

Sharing his wife's opinion that life in Bloc Party is a "rollercoaster of extreme highs and extreme lows", Lissack adds: "[With third album] 'Intimacy', when we toured that it was probably more lows than highs due to the relationships in the band not being very good and lack of communication and people not enjoying what we were doing".

"This time, before we set off on this record ['Four'], it was something we discussed and I think we've been dealing with it a little better. Not a lot better but a little better".

Despite the impended hiatus, Bloc Party will release a new EP featuring "five or six" tracks, all predating their present live stint, later this year.

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Kraftwerk are working on a new album - their ninth, eleventh or twelfth depending on your view. The group's sole original member Ralf Hütter says ninth though, so let's go with that.

The band have, of course, been recently performing the eight albums featured in their boxset, 'The Catalogue' (starting with 1974's 'Autobahn' and including 1991 remix album 'The Mix' but not featuring their first three albums as a duo). However, with their 'The Catalogue' tour now complete, and only a handful of festival shows to get out of the way, thoughts are turning back to the studio.

In a rare interview, Hütter told The Guardian: "Now this is done, one to eight. Now we can concentrate on number nine".

Asked if there was a timeline for work on the album, he added: "Of course. It's music non stop!"

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Amazon is hosting a free playback party for Sigur Rós's atypically dark and stormy new LP, 'Kveikur'.

The disc's official release date isn't till 17 Jun, so this is really quite a nice thing for Jonsi and co, and Amazon, to have done, isn't it?

Listen to all nine 'Kveikur' tracks at this link.

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Hard to classify 'drone-metal-art-pop' artist Chelsea Wolfe is to release her third solo LP, the dramatically titled 'Pain Is Beauty', on 2 Sep. Feted as a "heartbreaking story of love, loss and death in a natural disaster", it trails 2011's 'Apokalypsis'.

Wolfe says: "Honesty is what initially drew me to music, and I've been more honest and open with myself than ever through these songs. There is peace in truth. There is clarity in solitude. And there is power within simplicity and focus. Love is not always easy. Tormented love is something I understand more than society's skewed idea of what love should be. Love is indelible, severe, earnest, merciful. To push forward against the odds is to make history".

Moving on, this is a tracklisting:

Feral Love
We Hit A Wall
House Of Metal
The Warden
Destruction Makes The World Burn Brighter
Ancestors, The Ancients
They'll Clap When You're Gone
The Waves Have Come

And an LP teaser

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Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly everyman Sam Duckworth is waiting to sign off on a new solo LP titled 'Amazing Grace'. He's financing it via PledgeMusic, and has raised three quarters of the cash needed to finalise its TBA release date.

It features guest PAs by Sweet Billy Pilgrim, Jehst, Riz MC, Grace Petrie, Micall Parknsun and Rumour Cubes, and this, its lead single 'High Achievers'.

Says Duckworth: "The album is a collection of acoustic songs brought to life by a cast of friends. I am so happy to have an album that represents me as I am now. Life at 27 is a bit more challenging, events and emotions are heightened with a few years on your back, both good and bad. I've tried my best to sum that up in eleven songs. Thankfully I've had the pleasure of roping in some of the best folk I know".

Find details of Sam's Pledge campaign, which closes in nine days time, at this link.

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The Darkness have revealed a mass of new live dates the size of a small planet, quite apt given each and every one of said dates will find the "rock-based music band" playing each and every track on their 2003 LP 'Permission To Land', which has its tenth anniversary this year. Unbelievable.

The so-called 'Outreach Programme' will take Justin Hawkins to various 'intimate' and distant enclaves - like sites in Bath, Cardiff, Brighton and Belfast, none of which I've heard of.

So distant, in fact, that the following may not even appear on maps:

13 Nov: London, Electric Ballroom
15 Nov: Bath, Pavilion
16 Nov: Plymouth, Plymouth University
17 Nov: Cardiff, Coal Exchange
19 Nov: Buckley, Tivoli
20 Nov: Kilmarnock, Grand Hall
21 Nov: Inverness, Iron Works
23 Nov: Belfast, Limelight
24 Nov: Dublin, Olympia
26 Nov: Lincoln, Engine Shed
27 Nov: Middlesborough Empire
28 Nov: Holmfirth Picturedome
29 Nov: Scunthorpe, Bath Halls
1 Dec: Preston, 53 Degrees
2 Dec: Wolverhampton, Wulfrun
3 Dec: Leamington Spa, Spa Assembly
6 Dec: Portsmouth, Pyramids
7 Dec: Brighton, Concorde 2
8 Dec: Folkestone, Leas Cliff Hall
10 Dec: Salisbury, City Hall
11 Dec: Dorking, Dorking Halls
12 Dec: Oxford, Academy
14 Dec: Northampton, Roadmenders
15 Dec: Leicester Academy
16 Dec: Norwich, UEA

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Alternative rock band Cloud Control have pasted a miniature list of the live dates they're playing in Britain this September. The first is on 23 Sep, the last, 27. At the heart of it all is Cloud Control's new LP 'Dream Cave', which is released on 16 Sep via Infectious Music. Their new single 'Dojo Rising', meanwhile, will have its day on 15 Jul.

Stare fixedly at its video, and the dates, now - but only if you want to:

23 Sep: London, XOYO
24 Sep: Manchester, Deaf Institute
25 Sept Glasgow, King Tut's
26 Sept Birmingham, Hare & Hounds
27 Sept Bristol, Start the Bus

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Nice-voiced folk songwriter Katie Crutchfield aka Waxahatchee's shows at London's Shacklewell Arms (that's tonight) and Dalston Roof Gardens (that's tomorrow) may be all sold out, but it doesn't matter, not now that she's gone and added another at the capital's Scala on 22 Oct. Tickets to it will go on sale tomorrow, here.

Crutchfield releases her highly anticipated new LP, 'Cerulean Salt', via Wichita on 1 Jul. She's playing live in-store at London's Rough Trade East the next day (2 Jul), and that's accessible via wristbands only. Details on how to claim one here.

This is the video for new Waxahatchee track, 'Coast To Coast', as was appropriately filmed at Waxahatchee Creek in Alabama. Waxahatchee.

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So, this year's Standon Calling has added another lorry-load of artists into its act-bank; notably the new n cool likes of Lucy Rose, Disclosure, London Grammar and Chloe Howl. Be there, or be square (and miss appearances by Standon's headliners Digitalism, Band Of Skulls and De La Soul).

If folk's more your thing, you may perhaps appreciate news of the new names added to Cambridge Folk Festival's 'Emerging Talent' stage, The Den. Marika Hackman, We Were Evergreen, Luke Sital-Singh and groovy 'X-Factor' chick Janet Devlin are all billed to play things, this alongside Main Stage fare by The Mavericks, The Waterboys, Bellowhead, KT Tunstall, Levellers and Amadou & Mariam. Folk-tacular.

And with that bad, bad wordplay, it's time to skim-read over a list of extra updates to Devon's Beautiful Days; rock n roll Olympiad Hard Rock Calling; Suffolk-based alt-treat Latitude; flashy London pop bauble Lovebox; Poland's now-finalised OFF; and Sheffield's free-entry Tramlines fest:

BEAUTIFUL DAYS, Escot Park, Devon, 16-18 Aug: The Living End, 65daysofstatic, Dodgy, Dave McPherson, Hudson Taylor, The Correspondents, Goldblade, Citizen Fish, Electric River, Thea Gilmore, The Long Hill Ramblers, Robbie Boyd, Martin Prahl's Skelter Wheel, The Lancashire Hotpots, Monster Ceilidh Band, Subgiant, Melosa, Audio Razor, DJ King Farmer, Tricka Technology, Mr Nice, Ben & Lex, DJ Ambiessence, Lewah, Maxxi P, Re-Defeat, Grudge, Renzo, Don Johnston, Andy Guthrie, Urban Tourist, Simplistix, Dr Trippy, Freshold, Catalyst & Stokka, Agony, Crisis, Johnny G, Jay Tuns, Westman, Pacman Mr English, Just A Couple Of Mums, DJ Ambiessence, Golly, Slugrave, Dizzit, King Farmer, Snatch The Wax, Martin Harley Band, The Bar-Steward Sons Of Val Doonican, Sly & Reggie And The Middle Class Sound System, One Eyed Wayne, Lisbee Stainton, The Brendan Pig & Whistle Band, Denis Jones, Walk, Homebrood, Mrs Mills Experience, Winter Mountain, The Midnight Barbers, The Wolves Of Meantone.

CAMBRIDGE FOLK FESTIVAL, Cherry Hinton Hall, Cambridge, 25-28 Jul: Steeleye Span, Marika Hackman, Janet Devlin, We Were Evergreen, Luke Sital-Singh, Ellie Rusbridge, Matt Tighe & Tad Sargent, Cara Winter, Boho Dancer, Common Tongues, Rachael Dadd & Ichi, Dead Rat Orchestra, Luke Jackson, Jarlath Henderson, Hot Feet, Hudson Taylor, Robyn Sherwell, A Band Of Buriers, Ballina Whalers, Blue Rose Code, CC Smugglers, Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker, JP Cooper, Hladowski & Joynes, Freya Roy, Fiona Bevan, The Black Feathers, Sam Brookes & Magic Lantern, The Cadbury Sisters, Cocos Lovers, Joe Innes And The Cavalcade, Liz Lawrence, Jess Morgan, Woodpecker Wooliams, The Young Folk.

HARD ROCK CALLING, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London, 29-30 Jun: Lower Than Atlantis, Jack Savoretti, Passenger.

LATITUDE, Henham Park Estate, Beccles, Suffolk, 18-21 Jul: Zed Bias, Don Letts, Melt Yourself Down, Ossie, Shox, Lorca, Werkha, The Busy Twist, Mungos Hi Fi, Roy Davis Jnr, Benin City, Tuesday Born, Anushka, Moshi Moshi DJs, Jen Long, DJ Phil Hartnoll.

LOVEBOX, Victoria Park, London, 19-21 Jul: Charli XCX, Jon Hopkins, Chloe Howl, Fear of Men, Idles, Roscius, Moko, The Portillo Moment, The Lovely Jonjo, Dan Beaumont, Hannah Holland, Mark Ashley Dupe, Wara's Kris Di Angelis, Jodie Harsh, Jonny Woo.

OFF FESTIVAL, Dolina Trzech Stawow, Katowice, Poland, 2-4 Aug: Patrick Wolf, The Soft Moon, 1926, Trupa Trupa, Peter J Birch & The River Boat Band, Semantik Punk, Teenagers.

STANDON CALLING, Standon House, Ware, Hertfordshire, 2-4 Aug: Lucy Rose, Disclosure, London Grammar, Chloe Howl, Dizraeli And The Small Gods, Lazy Habits feat Baby Sol, Mary Epworth, Dancing Years, Vardo And The Boss, Lips Choir, Emily And The Woods, Sivu, Thomas J Speight, The Title Sequence, Lowpines, Gibson Bull, Alev Lenz, Matthew Neal, Danny And The Champions Of The World, Trevor Moss And Hannah-Lou, The Rockingbirds, Peter Bruntnell, Dreaming Spires, Case Hardin, Boo Hewerdine, The Willows, The Maiden, Reg Meuross, Freds House, The Folk, Interiors, Nick and The Sun Machine, Flaming June, Roxanne de Bastion, Indi Forde, Zoe Wren, Rob Finlay, Minnie Birch, Noel Cowley.

TRAMLINES, various venues, Sheffield, 19-21 Jul: Bez, Bondax, Martelo, Vince Vega, Graeme Park, Brawther, Jeremy Underground Paris, Timmy P, Nima Gorji, Alec Arnout, SamuL, Bad Apple DJs, Memorex DJs, The Organ Grinder, Soul Rebel, JV, Andy H, Mensa, Moose Blood, Nai Harvest, Citizen.

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Ever wondered what colour would best represent your favourite One Direction boy? Well, clearly Zayn is lime green, Liam navy blue, Niall purple, Louis orange and Harry just a basic blue. And we now know this for certain, because the boyband have launched a nail varnish range with Office Depot in the US. So, how about a bit of Harry blue on those nails then?

Unfortunately - given that a boyband launching their own nail varnish range is ripe for mockery - this is all in a good cause, as the colourful nail paint is being launched as part of an Office Depot campaign against bullying in American schools. 1D notebooks, pens and stickers are also being distributed as part of the campaign. Quite how all that stops bullying isn't clear, but it's an admirable message all the same.

Speaking for the group, Horan said: "We're really excited to partner with Office Depot and help spread the anti-bullying message with our fans and students in schools across America. And you know we're not long out of school ourselves so we can relate. It's a problem that's fresh in our minds and we're eager to raise awareness on this subject. We hope the [accompanying video] will help raise awareness, especially since it will be played at our concerts across America".

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Jason Iley, who departing his job running Universal's Mercury Records UK in March when the division was merged with the new Virgin EMI label, has just been appointed President of Jay-Z's Roc Nation Records.

Confirming the appointment, Jay-Z said: "Jason has a vision that extends beyond the status quo. He's innovative, has an ear for what's 'next' and sees past mundane, by-the-numbers marketing".

Meanwhile Iley said: "Jay-Z is not only a great artist but also has the sharpest business mind in entertainment. And I'm delighted to join [Jay's colleagues] Jay Brown, Tyran "Ty Ty" Smith and the rest of the Roc Nation team in the biggest music market in the world".

Although Roc Nation is a joint venture between Jay-Z and Live Nation, its label entered into an alliance with Universal Music last month, meaning Iley will be working with his former employer once again.

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Beatles t-shirt, anyone? The Beatles company Apple Corps has announced a new merchandising agreement with Universal's Bravado division in the US, which will give the merchandiser the right to develop and distribute Beatles-branded products in North America. Universal Music, of course, now controls the Beatles sound recordings catalogue after acquiring EMI last year, so in the US the Fab Four's records and merch will now sit under one roof.

Confirming the deal, Bravado CEO Tom Bennett told CMU: "We are extremely honoured to have this opportunity to work with The Beatles. We fully recognise that representing artists of this magnitude comes with enormous responsibility, and with our unparalleled creative team and infrastructure, we will apply the industry's best resources to execute the Beatles' vision to create products that their fans will love".

Meanwhile overall Universal chief Lucian Grainge said: "All of us at Universal Music Group are very excited about extending our relationship with the Beatles' iconic brand to include both merchandise and their legendary recordings, and about the potential for innovative marketing of creative new products".

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Tom Jones' flirtation with hip hop a decade ago may have been shortlived, but that doesn't mean he can never return to the genre. And Dizzee Rascal is the man to lure him back. Or so he hopes.

That said, Dizzee completely failed to do it on his latest album, telling The Daily Star that he'd wanted to get Jones on the record, but it didn't quite work out. He said: "Tom Jones is the original gangsta so one day I'll get him. I was just lucky other people's schedules meant they could do it. I'm blessed to have Robbie Williams, Tinie Tempah and Sean Kingston on there".

Dizzee Rascal's fifth album, 'The Fifth', is due for release on 1 Jul. As well as Williams, Tempah and Kingston, the record also features producers Warren Okay 'Oak' Felder, Andrew 'Pop' Wansell, Jean-Baptiste Kouame, Ryan Buendia, Damien Leroy III, Oliver Goldstein, MJ Cole and RedOne, plus vocals from Teddy Sky, Bun B, Trae The Truth, Angel,, Calvin Harris and Jessie J. But not Tom Jones.

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