17 JUL 2013

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Right. I'm begrudgingly writing this Editor's Letter about Nigel & Tommy's Anti-Spotify Roadshow. I did have something else planned, but that will have to wait, because this has become such a big news story, it would be odd not to comment. Though I say 'begrudgingly' because I kind of feel like this is a topic that's been covered many times before, and nothing new has really been added to the debate in the last few days more>>
Back to a state of (half) waking, this after a seventeen year interval disquieted only by a pair of 2011 singles, sleepy LA dreamers Mazzy Star will release a new LP, 'Seasons Of Your Day', on 24 Sep. Not that the nap has changed them. Listening to advance trail 'California', a paper chain of barely-there sighs and lapping, and air-light strings, it's like they've been sealed in time since 1996's 'Among My Swan', no mean feat in light of all the alien genre phases that've waxed and waned between then and 'the present day' more>>

- US rocker settles digital royalties dispute with Sony
- Varg Vikernes arrested in France
- Privacy group calls for investigation into Jay-Z's Samsung app as album hits US number one, breaks streaming record
- Stevie Wonder hits out at Florida's 'stand your ground' law
- James Murphy speaks on Arcade Fire LP
- No new Tool album this year
- Portishead's Geoff Barrow criticises The Weeknd for uncleared sample
- The-Dream to play Koko
- Panic! At The Disco touring anon
- Daughn Gibson maps shows
- Lonely The Brave add headlining date
- Festival line-up update: Bluesfest, Øya and more
- Nirvana and Sonic Youth not in Universal's vinyl-on-demand programme
- Danny O'Donoghue follows Jessie J's lead, leaves The Voice
- Another NME staffer moves to Buzzfeed UK, while Snapes returns
- HMV replacement flips its sign to avoid trademark dispute
- Aidan Moffat releases album on Vine
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Management Assistant required for London-based, established artist management company. Suitable candidates must have a minimum of three years management or related experience. Knowledge of release campaigns, promotion and touring required. Candidates must be super organised, capable of multi-tasking and possess a good knowledge of the music industry. Role will include providing support to artist managers, co-ordinating day to day activities for artists including general administrative duties and personal assistant duties.

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Partisan PR and Konkz are seeking to appoint a Social Media Manager to work across key client accounts. The candidate must have experience in devising and implementing digital campaigns for a broad range of artists. Experience of working at a record company or digital agency is preferred.

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American rocker Eddie Money has reached an out of court settlement with Sony Music regarding the payment of royalties on digital revenues. He was one of many US heritage artists to sue one of the majors following the landmark ruling in the case between FBT Productions and Universal Music.

As previously reported, there has been much dispute over what share of download revenues record companies are obliged to pay to artists whose record contracts precede and therefore do not mention digital. The question is whether download money should be treated as record sales or licensing income - artists usually get a much bigger cut of the latter than the former.

Eminem collaborators FBT successfully sued Universal on this issue, arguably setting a precedent that can be used by other artists with pre-iTunes record contracts to increase their cut of digital income. A plethora are now suing, with all three majors facing litigation on this issue.

Sony Music, which faced some of the earliest lawsuits in this dispute (pre the FBT v Universal fight), has been trying to reach out of court settlements, by offering a slight increase on the cut of download money shared with artists.

Money sued the major in June last year. Initially his lawsuit was focused exclusively on the digital royalty issue, but was subsequently expanded to include allegations of dodgy dealings on the major's part regards royalty reporting and deductions made on CD income. Sony tried, unsuccessfully, to have the case dismissed late last year.

Money's case was linked up with the separate and previously reported lawsuit being pursued against Sony by Toto, both of which have the digital royalties issue at their heart. More recently both cases have been subject to so called 'discovery disputes', with both the artists and the label claiming that the other side was failing to provide documentation that was required for the case to proceed. The judge overseeing the cases last month required the artists to provide Sony with various documents by last week.

Out of court negotiations clearly continued as all that was going through the motions, and last week, according to Law 360, the Money camp reached a deal with Sony which sees the artist drop all his allegations against the major. The terms of the arrangement are not known. Though the Toto case is seemingly still ongoing.

It was the second of these disputes to be resolved last week, The Doobie Brothers' Michael McDonald having settled with Warner Music too. It's in the majors' interests to keep these disputes out of the courtroom, where dangerous and costly industry-wide precedents could be set, though with so many artists suing, that might not be possible. Meanwhile artists outside the US watch with interest as they consider their own position regards the digital royalties they are being paid by their former label partners.

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Norwegian black metal musician and convicted murderer Kristian 'Varg' Vikernes (apparently now officially known as Louis Cachet, according to Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten) has been arrested in France, along with his wife Marie Cachet, on suspicion that they were planning a major terrorist attack.

Vikenes was sentenced to 21 years in prison in 1994 for the murder of Mayhem guitarist Oeystein 'Euronymous' Aarseth. During his prison stay, he became increasingly known for his writing, which expressed nationalist, racist and anti-Semitic views. He was released on probation in 2009 and now lives with Marie, a French national, and their three children, on a farm near the town of Salon-la-Tour, two hours north of Toulouse.

According to reports, police searched the couple's home after Marie, who has a licence to own firearms, bought four new rifles. Authorities had initially become concerned because of postings to Vikernes' website, on which he has long written about his extremist views. And on that site he last year claimed that he had been contacted by mass murderer Anders Breivik prior to him killing 77 people in Norway in 2011.

In that post, though espousing anti-Semitic views, Vikernes was critical of Brievik, writing that "the final solution to this problem is not to kill anyone" but rather for those who share his politics to raise their children to believe the same.

However, French Interior Minister Manuel Valls said in a statement following the arrests that Vikernes was "likely to carry out a major terrorist act [and is] a potential threat to society, as evidenced by the violence of his words intercepted in particular on his website". Though the minister later admitted that no evidence of a "target or project" had been found during the police search.

France's strict anti-terrorism laws, which allow police to detain people without charge, were updated last year to allow the monitoring of internet-based communications, shortly after Vikernes' website post about Brievik was published.

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The Electronic Privacy Information Center - that's EPIC for short - has called on the US government's Federal Trade Commission to investigate the app through which Jay-Z made his new album, 'Magna Carta Holy Grail', available to one million Samsung mobile phone users ahead of its official release.

As previously reported, there was much criticism of the app for its demands to access users' own personal details, as well as details about the contacts stored in their phones.

The privacy organisation said in its complaint: "Samsung failed to disclose material information about the privacy practices of the app, collected data unnecessary to the functioning of the 'Magna Carta' app, deprived users of meaningful choice regarding the collection of their data, interfered with device functionality, and failed to implement reasonable data minimisation procedures".

Responding to this, Samsung said in a statement: "Any information obtained through the application download process was purely for customer verification purposes, app functionality purposes, and for marketing communications, but only if the customer requests to receive those marketing communications. Samsung is in no way inappropriately using or selling any information obtained from users through the download process".

In other Jay-Z news, despite giving away one million copies of 'Magna Carta Holy Grail' for free, the rapper still managed to sell 527,000 copies of the new record in the US during its first week on sale - the second biggest one-week sales of the year in the American market - sending it straight to number one in the Billboard chart. It also broke a Spotify record for first week streams. Users of the streaming service played the album fourteen million times, vastly outstripping the previous record holders Daft Punk, who scored 9.5 million streams when their third album, 'Random Access Memories', was released in May.

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Stevie Wonder has vowed to never perform in Florida again until the US state abolishes its controversial 'stand your ground' law, a legal principle that says that people who act violently in self-defence are not obliged to first attempt to retreat from conflict.

The principle, of course, has come under the spotlight as a result of the controversial acquittal of George Zimmerman, who faced murder and manslaughter charges for killing seventeen year old Trayvon Martin in February 2012.

The criminal case, which has divided America, has thrown up all sorts of legal, political and social issues, the existence of the 'stand your ground' law being just one.

Many argue that the legal principle isn't actually necessary to ensure the good working of a 'self defence' plea, but can encourage people to pursue a violent route of self-defence when a non-violent one is also available. It is especially controversial when, like in Florida, it applies generally and not just when protecting an individual's own property.

Speaking in the wake of the controversial Zimmerman ruling, Wonder reportedly told his audience at a show in Canada on Sunday: "I decided today that until the 'stand your ground' law is abolished in Florida, I will never perform there again. As a matter of fact, wherever I find that law exists, I will not perform in that state or in that part of the world".

It's possibly a wide-ranging commitment, because 20 states in the US have versions of the 'stand your ground' law. Wonder continued: "The truth is that ... for those of you who've lost [loved ones] in the battle for justice ... we can't bring them back. What we can do is we can let our voices be heard. And we can vote in our various countries throughout the world for change and equality for everybody. That's what I know we can do".

A number of US celebrities have spoken out against the Zimmerman ruling; though doing so can be controversial, so divisive has the story proven to be in America. Veteran soul singer Lester Chambers was reportedly hospitalised at the weekend after he dedicated a song to Martin at a festival in California, resulting in him being attacked by a woman in the audience.

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James Murphy has made several vague hints relating to that new Arcade Fire LP he's been assisting on, the same LP the band started making at his label DFA Records' NYC studio earlier this year.

Speaking to NME, Murphy said of the sequel to AC's Grammy-winning 'The Suburbs' (which last week gained a 28 Oct release date when the band sent this Twitter revelation to a fan): "It sounds like Arcade Fire in the way that only Arcade Fire sound like Arcade Fire, you know? It's really fucking epic. Seriously. I mean, I feel at this point like I'm too close to it to really talk it up and do it justice. You know?"

Asked if the record was now close to completion, he said: "Well, thing is, for them, it's not finished until it's in stores. My bit is done. It's not up to me when it's finished. There's a whole complement of people in that band who could have their own bands, or are a successful solo artist. They're all so phenomenally talented and full of ideas so songs keep on coming. The last time I dared think it was finished I came back to the studio three days later to mix and they'd written two new songs for the album! So it was like, uh, 'Let's record these too!' But it sounds awesome. Really".

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Tool have, to date, been fairly unhelpful when it comes to giving any sort of concrete idea about when their fifth album, the follow-up to 2006's '10,000 Days', is coming out. For instance, in January the band's website informed us that writing had resumed after an unnamed member of the band delayed proceedings by falling off a scooter. Then frontman Maynard James Keenan said that he'd written nothing at all and that there was no album.

Now drummer Danny Carey has given a little bit more insight into the project, confirming that Keenan was, indeed, not currently working with his three bandmates, but adding that he would be soon. So that's good news. However, he also added that there's probably now no chance of the album being released this year.

Carey told Loudwire: "It's still the three of us right now and four of us it will be soon, you know, just working on all our parts and working on our compositions together. Stylistically, we're trying to push things in different ways, but it always comes out sounding like Tool no matter what we're trying to do. We're working everyday on it and it's going really well, so I'm hoping we'll get into the studio by the end of the year".

He continued: "I doubt it [will be released this year]. Right now, since we haven't started tracking stuff at this point, it'll be hard. We could have the record finished by the end of the year - that's a possibility, but the logistics of getting it manufactured and getting the record company in line and all this stuff, I doubt we'll be able to get it out before Christmas. We'll see how it goes. Most likely, it'll be early 2014".

Would now be a good time to put forward the conspiracy theory that the band, noted mathematics fans, are actually planning to leave exactly 10,000 days between the release of '10,000 Days' and its sequel? That would mean we only have a little over 20 years to wait.

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Portishead's Geoff Barrow has criticised The Weeknd, aka Abel Tesfaye, for releasing a new track featuring his band's 2008 track 'Machine Gun' even after permission was refused.

Responding to a Pitchfork tweet about the track, entitled (mildly ironically) 'Belong To The World', Barrow said: "I think it's a load of bollocks ... When someone asks to sample you, and you refuse, they should have the respect as a fellow artist to not use it".

He added: "We usually give sample clearance to tunes we like. It's got fuck all to do with money, as most of them are hip hop artists that are skint!"

The Weeknd's track is taken from his forthcoming new album 'Kiss Land', his first new release proper since signing to Universal/Republic last year. This is the second time Universal has been caught up in such controversy in recent months, after was caught using a track he'd previously been told he couldn't.

The world's largest record company wants to watch out, or some people might start suggesting it's knowingly using its size and legal weight to infringe the copyright of smaller companies and artists.

Though this morning Barrow returned to Twitter to say: "Seems [The Weeknd's people] have said there is no sample used or enough likeness to 'Machine Gun' to warrant any infringement... or credit".

Right. Well, here's 'Machine Gun' by Portishead.

And here's 'Belong To The World' by The Weeknd(/Portishead).

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It's been ordained that R&B luvvie The-Dream will rap live to his slimily-titled new LP, 'IV Play', at a show at London's Koko.

"Discover the genius of THE-DREAM, Wednesday 4 Sep", blares its poster, at the same time sharing this link to tickets.

And this is an 'explicit' lyric video for The-Dream's new single 'Michael' (the non-explicit one's also available if you want it).

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Emo-pop dreamboats Panic! At The Disco have calmly shared details pertaining to a live trek they're headlining later this year. The band release their new LP, 'Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die!', via Fueled By Ramen/Decaydance on 8 Oct.

Take in the dates, and a clip to fit P!ATD's Lolo-featuring new track 'Miss Jackson', here:

17 Nov: Nottingham, Rock City
18 Nov: Edinburgh, Picturehouse
20 Nov: Manchester, Academy 1
21 Nov: London, Kentish Town Forum

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Indefinable (genre-wise) Sub Pop signee Daugh Gibson will promote and play his new LP, 'Me Moan', live on six dates in late August/early Sept.

These are they:

30 Aug: Bristol, The Exchange
1 Sep: Brighton, The Haunt
2 Sep: Manchester, The Deaf Institute
3 Sep: Glasgow, Broadcast
4 Sep: Leeds, Brudenell Social Club
5 Sep: London, Electrowerkz

And this? This is Daughn's saucy new vid 'Kissin On The Black Top'.

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Insiders' rock tip(s) Lonely The Brave have added their first ever London headlining date to live listings spanning August, September and October. Based at The Lexington on 15 Oct, this last show will find the band playing their first LP, 'The Day's War', in its entirety.

While you're waiting for Friday, aka when tickets to the London show go on sale, hear one of its tracks, titled 'Deserter' now.

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So, as Oslo's attractively-placed Øya, which is headlined this year by Blur, The Knife, Kraftwerk, Kendrick Lamar and Slayer, shares listings for its city-wide 'night-time itinerary', what else have we to say re festival news? Leading today's headlines is the London-based BluesFest, an azure sea of the bluest bluesmen featuring Robert Plant (and his post-Zep band, the Sensational Shape Shifters) Van Morrison, Bobby Womack and friends.

Says the festival's director Leo Green: "I am thrilled that BluesFest London 2013 line-up includes some true icons of blues and soul, as well as some of the greatest artists the following generations have to offer. We look forward to welcoming you all to the Royal Albert Hall for a superb BluesFest London 2013".

Superb. Full stats on that, plus additions to Belladrum Tartan Heart, Bloodstock Open Air, and, brand new to the capital, the all-French-artists-all-the-time event OohLaLA!, as listed:

BELLADRUM TARTAN HEART, Belladrum Estate, Beauly, Inverness-shire, Scotland, 2-3 Aug: The 1975, Nina Nesbitt, Talisman, The Leonard Jones Potential, The Elephant Sessions, High Life Fiddle Forte, Camp Stag, Dingus Khan, Miniature Dinosaurs, Birdhead, Furry Vengeance, Fat Suit.

BLOODSTOCK OPEN AIR, Catton Hall, Walton-On-Trent, Derbyshire, 8-11 Aug: The Phil Campbell All Star Band, Wraith, Awake By Design, Incassu,, The Bastard Sons.

BLUESFEST, Royal Albert Hall, London, 29 Oct - 1 Nov: Robert Plant's Sensational Shape Shifters, Bobby Womack, Van Morrison, Gregory Porter, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Mavis Staples, Chris Rea, James Hunter, Marcus Bonfanti, Georgie Fame, Huey Morgan, Dr Feelgood, Ben Montague.

OOHLALA!, Village Underground, London, 21-24 Oct: ROVER, Melissa Laveaux.

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Universal Music has clarified its plans for a Beat Delete-style vinyl-repress service, stating that classic albums by Nirvana and Sonic Youth will not be part of the initiative.

As previously reported, Universal recently revealed plans to operate a classic album repress service via its vinyl-selling website Uvinyl. It's very similar to the Beat Delete service run by Ninja Tune, which proposes the repressing of old albums, but said records will only be repressed if enough people pledge to buy them to make the venture viable. It's a clever extension of the crowd-sourcing/pre-order approach some artists now take for new material.

In a survey of vinyl fans, Universal provided a list of records that were being considered for inclusion in the repress programme, and that included Nirvana's 'MTV Unplugged' and Sonic Youth's 'Goo'. But the major says that while both those records will be made available via Uvinyl, they were never lined up for inclusion in the pre-order venture.

A spokesman told CMU: "In our recent Facebook survey to gauge interest in Vinyl On Demand, we mistakenly listed albums including Nirvana's 'MTV Unplugged' and Sonic Youth's 'Goo' as being part of the service. These records will be made available through our regular channels. We regret the error. The initial list of albums for Vinyl On Demand will be announced when the service is ready to launch".

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Oh dear. Having said 'see ya' to one-time coach Jessie J last week, the BBC's ailing talent pageant 'The Voice' has lost another of its star voices. This time it's that Danny O'Donoghue, who's said he's leaving to spend more time with his band, The Script, as they "embark on the most important part of [their] career".

Says Danny: "I had two wonderful seasons on 'The Voice' and as everybody knows I gave it my heart and soul and couldn't be more proud of the show and what we have achieved".

Inconsolable in the face of an increasingly unreachable coaching tally, BBC controller Mark Linsey, admits: "'The Voice' coaches are all current music stars with recording and touring careers to manage alongside the show and we know this can be difficult to juggle".

Of the show's four original coaches, only and Tom Jones are still to confirm their place in its third series.

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NME reporter Dan Martin is leaving the music magazine to join Buzzfeed UK as the site's new Entertainment Editor. He follows former editor Luke Lewis, who was hired to set up the UK-based Buzzfeed operation earlier this year.

Tweeting his news, Martin said: "I'm off to join the team at Buzzfeed UK as Entertainment Editor. So, after twelve (!) years my beloved NME might just have a little less Biffy and QOTSA in it from now on".

On the upside, just look out for all those Biffy and QOTSA top seventeen lists on Buzzfeed. And while the NME might be losing one writer, it has recently gained another. Or regained, rather, as the magazine's former Assistant Reviews Editor Laura Snapes, who departed last year to join Pitchfork, is now back as its new Features Editor.

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In what is possibly my favourite story of the year so far, a former HMV employee in Derry/Londonderry in Northern Ireland, who set up an independent record store after his ex-employer shut its shop in his city, has circumvented a possible trademark dispute by simply turning his sign upside down.

The former manager of HMV's Derry store, Tony Cregan, found a backer to launch an independent record shop in the city after he failed to persuade the faltering HMV UK to keep an outlet there. He decided to call the shop HVM, with a logo and colour scheme very similar to that of his former employer.

At the time that plan was first plotted HMV's future was uncertain, especially on the island of Ireland, where the majority of the entertainment retailer's outlets had been shut in both the North and the South. But once Hilco had brought HMV out of administration, and set about reopening some of the firm's Irish stores, a legal letter arrived threatening action against Cregan for his HVM brand.

The solution was simple. He turned the sign of his new shop around which, in the HMV-style font he had employed, spelt out WAH.

Cregan told "We thought what is the point calling the new show Local CDs, or whatever, we'll just call it HVM. HMV is gone. [But Hilco's lawyers said the] presence in the market of a business operating under the name HVM has caused and will continue to cause substantial damage to our client's reputation and goodwill. So we just turned the sign upside down, now it's called WAH".

It's created a great little news story to build interest in the city's new indie record shop. And Cregan says things are going well. He added: "People are saying the vibe here is great, it's really friendly. I'd love to say that was our intention all along and we're really smart, but that wasn't the plan at all".

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Shortform video service Vine suffered a bit of a blow when Instagram launched a similar function last month. But now former Arab Strap man Aidan Moffat has chosen the Twitter-owned service as the platform to release a new album by his solo project L Pierre, which is nice.

Featuring eight tracks - six second loops recorded on Vine that you can leave playing for as much or as little time as you like - along with accompanying visuals, it's now available here and through the service's mobile app.

Meanwhile, on 16 Sep, Moffat will be releasing a new EP as L Pierre called 'Surface Noise', clips of which you can hear here.

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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 1, 4, 5, 6music and Scotland, Sky News, CNN, Wired and the Associated Press. Email or

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