An UnLimited Media Bulletin
Friday 22 November 2013

 
TODAY'S TOP STORY: Following reports earlier in the month that Spotify was busy raising more cash to keep the streaming firm's ever growing team supplied with candy bars for at least another year or so, the Wall Street Journal confirmed yesterday that the digital company had secured another $250 million in investment. As expected, US-based Technology Crossover Ventures have led on the latest funding round. According... [READ MORE]
 
TODAY'S APPROVED: The original London superclub fights on and hosts another quality tech night headlined by MANDY's Philipp Jung in the formidable world class Box room. Jung will be joined by Jaymo & Andy George, Johnathan Joseph and Shane Kehoe. In 103 - the atrium room - the Spacestation crew have Ninetoes, The Golden Boy, South Royston and SE7EN with Jordan Wade, while the Loft will be hosted by... [READ MORE]
 
BEEF OF THE WEEK: I only really became properly aware of James Arthur very recently, thanks to the marketing campaign for his album, which seems to revolve around him insulting people on Twitter. To be honest, it was only on Wednesday this week that I learned he'd actually won last year's 'X-Factor', rather than just being one of the finalists. So that's a thing. Anyway, like many people, I've had something of a... [READ MORE]
 
TOP STORIES Spotify valued at $4 billion as more investment secured, Deezer confirms US plans
JUMP | ONLINE
DEALS Nonesuch signs Olivia Chaney
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MANAGEMENT & FUNDING Safehouse expands to better focus on South America
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DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES Nokia Music rebrands
AOL to wind down Winamp
JUMP | ONLINE
MEDIA Pitchfork previews new print Review
Cowell will return to X-Factor UK at some point
James Murdoch to join Vice Media board, says Independent
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ARTIST NEWS Madonna made lots of dosh this year, shocker
David Guetta working for the UN
Bruce Dickinson takes on new aviation role
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RELEASES Liars tease new LP
Blood Red Shoes to release new single via treasure hunt
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GIGS & FESTIVALS Gigs & Tours round-up: Arcade Fire, Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings and Darkside
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AND FINALLY... CMU Beef Of The Week #183: James Arthur v Everyone
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Click JUMP to skip direct to a section of this email or ONLINE to read and share stories on the CMU website (JUMP option may not work in all email readers). For regular updates from Team CMU follow us on Twitter, Facebook or Tumblr.
 
 
CMU INSIGHTS: MAKING MONEY FROM MUSIC RIGHTS
This in-depth half-day advanced course delves in more detail into the music rights industry, looking at how music rights can be exploited in the digital domain, the increasing importance of public performance and broadcast licensing and sync, the future role of physical product, and other opportunities for rights owners. It also considers the industry’s fight against online piracy, and offers advice on the ways in which rights owners can endeavour to reduce the unlicensed use of their content online.

For more information and to book click here.
   
ROUGH TRADE RECORDS - PRODUCT MANAGER
An exciting opportunity has arisen within the Rough Trade label for an experienced, creative and hardworking individual. The product manager is the team leader responsible for a number of projects on the roster. These are predominantly music releases but could also be films, books, events or more.

For more information including a full job description and how to apply click here.
   
MUSIC FESTIVAL - MARKETING CO-ORDINATOR
A well known summer music festival wishes to appoint a Marketing Co-ordinator to join their friendly team and to implement and manage the delivery of their marketing plan. This role will suit an ambitious marketing/sales/PR professional with at least two year’s experience in a music/arts/entertainment environment. The successful candidate will have proven ability to co-ordinate and contribute to successful target driven strategic campaigns and promotions.

For more information including a full job description and how to apply click here.
 
   
TICKETLINE - REGIONAL SALES MANAGER
This is an excellent career opportunity for an experienced sales professional, to build market share for this specialist rapidly growing and highly successful business. Ticketline and Ticketware specialise in the sale of ticketing software and ticketing solutions to various segments of the entertainment and sporting sectors.

For more information including a full job description and how to apply click here.
   
HOSPITAL RECORDS - DIGITAL MARKETING MANAGER
Hospital are looking for a talented, hard working, creative person to join our team based in Forest Hill. Working primarily under the Head of Digital and Head of Promotions, the candidate must have a great understanding of social media, record label or music company experience and a love of drum & bass music.

For more information including a full job description and how to apply click here.
   
KARTEL - LABEL MANAGER
Kartel is an independent music management and label services companies in the UK. We are looking for an experienced Label Manager to join it's growing team. This is a unique and challenging opportunity to work with a range of leading independent labels and artists and engage with both UK and International markets.

For more information including a full job description and how to apply click here.
   
DEFECTED - PRODUCT MANAGER
The Product Manager is a key member of the marketing team at Defected, the world’s leading House music label. Responsible for managing and developing artist and third party label projects, you will have an established and knowledgeable music background with comprehensive campaign management skills and extensive experience of the release process.

For more information including a full job description and how to apply click here.
   
DEFECTED - LABEL CO-ORDINATOR
The Label Co-ordinator is the main point of contact for all label administration duties. Attached to the Business Affairs department, the role co-ordinates all label administration work between Business Affairs and Licensing, Production and Finance.

For more information including a full job description and how to apply click here.
   
FIRE RECORDS - INTERNATIONAL PRESS ASSISTANT
Full time paid internship for a period of six months (can be flexible) with potential to result in permanent position within the company. Fire Records are looking for an enthusiastic person to assist the Head of Press and to coordinate key USA and European publications and radio stations for a range of releases on the label.

For more information including a full job description and how to apply click here.
   
MUSIC CONCIERGE - MUSIC CONSULTANT
Music Concierge, the award-winning music consultancy for boutique hotels and luxury brands, is looking for a Music Consultant to join our small but expanding creative team. You will have an encyclopaedic music knowledge across a multitude of genres, including jazz, classical, pop, world music, and all forms of electronic music.

For more information including a full job description and how to apply click here.
   
CHEAP THRILLS - PART-TIME LABEL MANAGER
The successful candidate would ideally have previous product/label management experience; knowledge and passion for dance music; the desire to learn quickly about all aspects of label management and a forward thinking social media and online mindset.

For more information including a full job description and how to apply click here.
   
YOUR ARMY - FULL-TIME ADMINISTRATOR/OFFICE MANAGER
Your Army Promotions & Management require the above to implement the accounts function across four small companies in the same media group based in West London. The ideal candidate would also have some office management experience.

For more information including a full job description and how to apply click here.
   
LISTEN UP - SENIOR PRESS OFFICER
London-based music promotions company Listen Up is recruiting for a highly experienced senior press officer to join the expanding company. The ideal candidate should have at least three years experience in a similar role with a thorough knowledge of online and print portals across music, culture and lifestyle with a contact list to reflect that.

For more information including a full job description and how to apply click here.
   
MAMA & COMPANY - GENERAL BUSINESS MANAGERS, ASSISTANT GENERAL BUSINESS MANAGERS & BARS MANAGERS
MAMA & Company are looking for dynamic, experienced General Business Managers, Assistant General Managers & Bar Managers with a proven track record within a live music operation. This is a fantastic opportunity to work and grow with an exciting company at some of London’s most established venues.

For more information including a full job description and how to apply click here.
   
CREAM GROUP - SOCIAL MEDIA & DIGITAL EXECUTIVE
The Social Media & Digital Executive works within the marketing team reporting to the Head of Marketing, and is responsible for implementing and assisting with the development of the company's social media strategy. This role coordinates with the rest of the marketing and PR team to support the respective event marketing strategy, ensuring consistency in voice and cultivating a social media network, that not only develops brand awareness and loyalty but that builds a communication platform which drives forward the maximum number of ticket sales for the relevant events and festivals.

For more information including a full job description and how to apply click here.
   
UNION SQUARE MUSIC - LABEL MANAGER
Union Square Music, one of the UK's most successful reissue and compilation specialists, is looking for an experienced Label Manager to join their team. This is an exciting opportunity to manage a specialist label which particularly focuses on classic album re-issues, unique compilations and definitive artist and label deluxe box sets, aimed at the knowledgeable music fan and collector in the UK and internationally.

For more information including a full job description and how to apply click here.
 
CMU Jobs is a proven way to recruit the best music business talent for roles across the industry at all levels, from graduate to senior management. To book an ad contact Sam on 020 7099 9060 or email ads@unlimitedmedia.co.uk
 

Spotify valued at $4 billion as more investment secured, as Deezer confirms US plans
Following reports earlier in the month that Spotify was busy raising more cash to keep the streaming firm's ever growing team supplied with candy bars for at least another year or so, the Wall Street Journal confirmed yesterday that the digital company had secured another $250 million in investment. As expected, US-based Technology Crossover Ventures have led on the latest funding round.

According to the Journal, the latest stint of investment values the Spotify company somewhere "north" of $4 billion. And while the valuations attached to loss-making tech start-ups are a nonsense on one level, interest in what Spotify is valued at will only increase in 2014.

Partly because of the PR battle the firm is quietly fighting with those in the artist community who feel the streaming service is screwing over the musical talent. Multi-billion valuations - and what share of those billions the company's founders and major label shareholders could earn - will only fuel that fire.

And while in practical terms it doesn't really matter if some high profile artists go around bad-mouthing the business (after all it's not really affecting Spotify's content supply), it is an irritation as the outfit looks to start wooing Wall Street, or the big web industry players, for the inevitable IPO or massive sell-off that will presumably occur in the next few years.

And, of course, because that big deal will surely appear on the agenda in the near future, that's the other reason Spotify's current valuation is news. Expect increasing comparisons between Spotify and its publicly listed rival Pandora, which currently has a market cap, according to the WSJ, of $5.7 billion.

Pandora is bigger than Spotify in terms of customers (over 70 million active users, versus Spotify's 24 million), though its younger rival is operating in many more countries, and actually brought in more revenue last year. Though both companies have seen losses widen in 2013.

And, while Spotify and Pandora are both market leaders in their respective strands of the audio streaming space (fully on-demand versus personalised radio), arguably neither have yet fully proven they have a long-term sustainable business model. After all, running costs are way higher for the streamers than the social media firms whose IPOs they presumably want to ape.

But hey, well done Spotify on raising more dosh, and good luck with the spring 2014 launch in Japan that everyone thinks the new financing will help to fund. And because we should remind you all that "other on-demand streaming services are available", let's note that one of the founders of Deezer has just told news agency AFP that his company will finally arrive in the US market next year.

Deezer, of course, is always keen to remind us all that it is just as big and important as Spotify, though not as "evil" obviously (Deezer might kick artists in the shins, but would never stamp on their heads). Following recent speculation that the Deezer geezers, who have so far avoided the particularly competitive US market, would soon be arriving Stateside, CTO Daniel Marhely told AFP: "The launch date is not final yet. But 2014 will be an American year for us".

It seems likely Deezer will seek to launch in America with a significant partner in place. Logic says that that would be one of the big mobile firms in the US, both Deezer and Spotify having been busy of late signing up tel co partners elsewhere in the world, the phone firms bundling streaming music into their 3G and 4G packages, providing the streamers with free marketing, easier-to-access revenue, and big 'user' figure boosts.

Though that said, some are speculating that Deezer might launch in the US with a different kind of partner - maybe a Microsoft - and that it's not out of the question that that partner could take a healthy slice of the company as part of the deal, or maybe even buy the French-based start-up outright. So that's fun.

Of course, while Thom Yorke et al like to think of the streaming music start-ups as being sinister corporations designed to line the pockets of their founders and investors at the expense of the artist community, as these high cost, low (or no) profit company's move towards 'the big sale', perhaps it'll be the idiots of Wall Street they'll screw over, as the City boys pay way over the odds for an invite to the latest dot com party.

So, actually Thom, the streaming music millionaires are really an offshoot of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Look out for Jay Z appropriating their identities for an overpriced fashion line any day now.

Nonesuch signs Olivia Chaney
London-based folk artist Olivia Chaney has signed to Warner's Nonesuch Records, who'll release her as yet untitled debut LP, worldwide, in 2014.

Chaney, who put out her eponymous first EP herself in February, discusses the signing thus: "I grew up listening to Nonesuch's eclectic output, from Steve Reich, Kronos Quartet and Laurie Anderson to traditional American music, Emmylou Harris and Oumou Sangaré; and not least my two heroines, the late Lorraine Hunt Lieberson and Joni Mitchell. Nonesuch encompasses everything I've searched and stood for since I was a child. To be welcomed into such a great musical ethos is a dream come true".

Senior Nonesuch VP David Bither in turn gushes: "We are very happy to begin working with Olivia. She possesses a remarkable wealth of talents, as a singer, a musician, a songwriter - those moments of hearing such an artist for the first time are specially momentous and we look forward to presenting her debut album next year".

Here is Chaney singing a song off her EP, titled 'Swimming In The Longest River', live.

Safehouse expands to better focus on South America
UK-based dance music orientated management and booking agency Safehouse has announced the launch of a new division focused on the South American market.

The firm will work with those DJs and producers it already represents worldwide on touring activity in the region, and will also handle bookings for Darren Emerson and Carl Craig exclusively in South America.

Says Safehouse director Ian Hindmarsh: "South America is consistently one of the best and most important regions for events of our kind and so it makes perfect sense for us to have an influential presence in the territory".

Safehouse has also announced the addition of Nic Fanciulli to its worldwide roster, and that it will be taking over the programming and management of the We Love Sundays franchise in Ibiza next summer.

Nokia Music rebrands
Nokia Music, the most recent music service from the one time king of mobile, has rebranded as Nokia MixRadio.

The revamp puts more of the focus on the personalised radio element of the service, and may well be part of a shift to make the set up more like Pandora and less like Spotify, the former model being cheaper to run in terms of licensing fees paid to the music companies. Though the fully on-demand element is still there.

Limited to date to Nokia devices, Nokia Music has been pushed most heavily in those markets where the bigger players in North America and Europe have less of a presence. Free to use, a premium option allows more song skips and offline listening, plus an MP3 store is integrated with the streaming experience.

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AOL to wind down Winamp
A new version of the classic digital media player Winamp was released this week, but it will be the last version ever. Or so it seems.

Owner AOL posted a message on the Winamp site on Wednesday saying that: "Winamp.com and associated web services will no longer be available past December 20, 2013. Additionally, Winamp Media players will no longer be available for download".

Although it has been something of a niche technology for some time now, as mainstream users chose to play digital audio through the iTunes player, streaming platforms, or the proprietary digital media players built into their portable devices, it's the end of an era because Winamp, launched in 1997 by developer Justin Frankel, was one of the first bits of software for playing MP3s to gain widespread popularity online.

Though, that said, rumour has it that Microsoft may acquire the IP in Winamp; whether that means it could continue to release products under that name remains to be seen.

Pitchfork previews new print Review
Having recently launched its iOS app Pitchfork Weekly, music website Pitchfork has revealed it will, on 4 Dec, swim against the media tide and go into print, via a 'serious' and 'substantial' new quarterly magazine titled The Pitchfork Review. Hmm.

Due to launch in mid-December, it's described in an introductory piece on Fast Company as a "journal ... focused on longform music writing and design-focused content". Pitchfork will partner exclusively with Converse for the mag's first four issues, the first of which will include articles on Glenn Danzig, Van Morrison, Otis Redding and Savages, plus a history of the jukebox, and a nostalgic appraisal on the "glory days" (ha) of the UK weekly music press by critic Simon Reynolds.

Talking it up, Pitchfork founder and CEO Ryan Schreiber intones: "Magazines have lost their foothold on breaking news, so the original content in the Review is new but less time sensitive. It looks at current music but also catalogue artists".

Relating the Review to the print edition of US music mag Spin which ceased to be last December (and thereby slightly twisting the knife... or the fork), Schreiber adds: "They kind of had the right idea, but it was still about everything being new and first. You were seeing a lot of the same things that had already been out there, the same artists that you're seeing every day".

By contrast, he says: "We're not trying to be what music publications have traditionally been. We're trying to break free from this constant racing to be first, which we do online".

Issue one of The Pitchfork Review, which will be printed on high-quality paper and be quite book-esque, will be in stock online on 14 Dec. Issues are priced individually at $19.96, in a nod to Pitchfork's birth year. Nice.

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Cowell will return to X-Factor UK at some point
Simon Cowell has indicated that he does plan to return to the UK version of 'X-Factor', following the news ITV has signed up to another three seasons of the ailing but still pretty darn popular talent show.

Asked if he will ever return to judge on the British version of the programme by Metro, the Syco chief said: "I will at some point. I still miss that, I mean that show is my baby and that last year we did, which was the One Direction year, was the most fun I've had - it was fantastic. When I look back at the clips now and remind myself about it, it was a really cool year that".

With most of the current 'X-UK' judges due to depart at the end of this series, Cowell indicated that he would quite like to return to a judging role alongside Rita Ora and former 'X' colleague Cheryl Cole.

On his famous falling out with the one time Girl Aloud after her axing from 'X-USA', Cowell added: "Cheryl and I patched up our differences a long time ago. I saw her recently, we speak a lot on the phone and text each other, and I think both of us would like the idea of working together again. She was a great judge. I mean, apart from being cute she's a great judge and she knows what she's talking about and, oh my god, she wears her heart on her sleeve!"

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James Murdoch to join Vice Media board, says Independent
It's been a while since James Murdoch has been able to suck the coolness out of anything, the last occasion being his involvement with Rawkus Records over a decade ago. But that might all be about to change, as The Independent reports that Murdoch Jnr is set to join Vice Media's board as a director.

As previously reported, Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox took a 5% stake in Vice Media earlier this year, a $70 million deal giving Vice a valuation of $1.4 billion. Although his reputation was tarnished by the phone hacking scandal at his father's UK newspaper division, James does still have various senior roles within his family's companies.

  Vigsy's Club Tip: Spacestation at Ministry Of Sound
The original London superclub fights on and hosts another quality tech night headlined by MANDY's Philipp Jung in the formidable world class Box room. Jung will be joined by Jaymo & Andy George, Johnathan Joseph and Shane Kehoe.

In 103 - the atrium room - the Spacestation crew have Ninetoes, The Golden Boy, South Royston and SE7EN with Jordan Wade, while the Loft will be hosted by Down The Road, with sets from J Lukey, Trimer, Just Geo, T.Bunts and Max Brokman.

Finally, in the well formed Baby Box, its decks see Seminor_lab head honcho Julian Amour headline, with Kerols, Hot Casandra, DJ Gio Q with Ben R Saunders, The Eastern Resident and Errol Young, plus a live PA by MAdam me.

Should be a cracker.

Saturday 23 Nov, Ministry Of Sound, 103 Gaunt St, London, SE1, 11pm-7am, £18, more info here.
CLICK HERE to read and share online
 

Madonna made lots of dosh this year, shocker
Madonna has been named the world's highest earning musician of 2013, so well done to her. Now she can finally afford to buy all the things she wants.

The singer pulled in an estimated $125 million before tax and fees to her agent and manager, according to Forbes. Largely this came from her 'MDNA' world tour, which pulled in $305 million, but she also got a few bits of loose change from sales of merch, and her clothing and perfume lines.

In second place was Lady Gaga, who only made $80 million, which hardly seems worth the effort. But she did have that hip injury, so we'll let her off. Now she can afford to buy some of things that Madonna used to want but is a bit bored of these days.

Further down the list, Justin Bieber came in seventh, with $58 million, thanks to shrewd business moves like abandoning monkeys and pissing in buckets. Which means he can now afford to buy stuff that Madonna and Gaga might be vaguely interested in. Though he'll probably just blow it all on South American prostitutes.

Here's the top ten in full:

1 Madonna ($125 million)
2 Lady Gaga ($80 million)
3 Bon Jovi ($79 million)
4 Toby Keith* ($65 million)
5 Coldplay ($64 million)
6 Bruce Springsteen ($62 million)
7 Justin Bieber ($58 million)
8 Taylor Swift ($55 million)
9 Elton John ($54 million)
10 Beyonce ($53 million)

*He's one of those country types who no one outside of America has heard of

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David Guetta working for the UN
It took him a while, but DJ David Guetta is at last doing his bit for peace, love and humanity, today in fact, and will join United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in presenting a special event celebrating the UN's international #TheWorldNeedsMore campaign.

The basis of this campaign is to translate Twitter #hashtags into real-life positive change. Let me explain. Certain set hashtags represented by celebs - like #empowerment, #healthcare, #education, or #shelter - are tied to bigtime firms like Intel and Gucci, and if tweeted, will equate to those companies making a $1 donation to relieve various humanitarian crises.

In Guetta's case, each time fans tweet the tag #love, Intel will pay $1 to aid the victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. Quite why tech giant Intel can't just write a big fact cheque for that cause without all this Twitter nonsense isn't clear.

But whatever. Hear Dave's sonic donation to the campaign, a track titled 'Rip' featuring Mikky Ekko, here, and find details on the #TheWorldNeedsMore initiative via worldhumanitarianday.org

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Bruce Dickinson takes on new aviation role
Iron Maiden frontman and plane flyer Bruce Dickinson has been named Non-Executive Chairman of Aeris Aviation, the European distributor of Eclipse aircraft.

Says Dickinson: "There are no other twin engine jets that can come close to the Eclipse in terms of cost and economy and, with a range in excess of 1000 nautical miles, it is ideal for Europe. It is great to fly and I am excited by the future for this remarkable aircraft".

So bear that in mind next time you're looking to buy a new commercial aircraft. As previously reported, Dickinson launched his own aviation training and maintenance firm last year, called Cardiff Aviation, of which he is also Chairman. Both companies are now in discussions about ways in which they can work together.

Watch a Q&A between Dickinson and Aeris CEO David Hayman here, if you want.

Liars tease new LP
Weird-pop men Liars have been having - so they say - an "immediate, fun, instinctual and confident" time making a new LP they're releasing next year, in March.

The signs so far - this photo of some multi-coloured wool, and a series of trailers featuring cryptic noise-clips - indicate... well, not a lot, really. But knowing Liars, and their last LP 'WIXIW', whatever it is, it'll be great. And anyway, they say the experience of making the new disc has been "almost the exact opposite experience to producing WIXIW", which was, according to the band, "doubtful".

Maybe read this interview we did with Liars' Angus Andrew last year, just until something good happens.

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Blood Red Shoes to release new single via treasure hunt
Blood Red Shoes will release their next single, the lead off their TBA new LP, by challenging international fans to find bits of it in their native cities.

The band will split the track into ten parts, accessible via QR codes that they'll hide in ten secret sites. Whoever finds the code will receive two free 'tickets for life' to Blood Red Shoes shows, and also free that segment of the single as an online stream.

BRS advise fans to stay fixed to their site for details in the next few days, and will on 1 Dec start revealing hints as to where the QR codes are hidden.

And this is a clip featuring scenes of the band writing and recording in Berlin.

Gigs & Tours round-up: Arcade Fire, Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings and Darkside
Arcade Fire's cool/annoying (depending on your POV on fancy dress) Reflektor Tour, which for some reason no one at Arcade Fire HQ has thought to call the 'Reflektour', has acquired a stop on 6 Jun 2014 at Earls Court in London town. Tickets to go to it are on sale - or in other words, have sold out - today. Also, it's 99.99% a sure thing that the band will play Glastonbury, lead singer Win Butler having let slip several very heavy hints regarding "wellies" last week when speaking via Jo Whiley's BBC Radio 2 show.

And here's a trailer trailing the Earls Court date.

And another tour. A tour starring soul monarch Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings, pulling into the UK on 16 May 2014 at the Roundhouse in London. Jones' live return is all the more significant by her recovery from pancreatic cancer earlier this year, a hardship she'll mark with a new LP, 'Give The People What They Want', released 13 Jan 2014.

She says: "My fans are what kept me fighting, and kept me focused on getting better. Everything I love can be summed up by the moment I get on stage. That's real love. That's real music. I'm looking forward to getting back on the road to give the people what they want!"

Info on the European tour is on Shaz's site.

Lastly, sonic artiste and handsome man Nicolas Jaar is bringing his and Dave Harrington's Darkside collaboration to London's Coronet. The show, a one-off promoting the pair's 'Psychic' LP, takes place on 29 Mar 2014, and will feature 'special guests'. Tickets via Resident Advisor.

CMU Beef Of The Week #183: James Arthur v Everyone
I only really became properly aware of James Arthur very recently, thanks to the marketing campaign for his album, which seems to revolve around him insulting people on Twitter. To be honest, it was only on Wednesday this week that I learned he'd actually won last year's 'X-Factor', rather than just being one of the finalists. So that's a thing.

Anyway, like many people, I've had something of a crash course in James Arthur-ness over the last week. 'Car crash' is possibly a more apt term.

As previously reported, Arthur was heavily criticised after posting a track to SoundCloud in which he rapped some homophobic lyrics (and racist ones too, but that line drew less attention, being somewhat less overt). The track was a response to another posted by rapper Micky Worthless - itself a long list of homophobic insults directed at Arthur - which all came about after the pair got into an argument about the 'X-Factor' star's authenticity (a topic Arthur raises with tedious frequency).

After being called out on Twitter by comedian Matt Lucas, Arthur eventually took the track down and addressed his critics, insisting that the line "You probably want to put your stinky dick in me, you fucking queer" wasn't actually homophobic at all. It was, he said, language commonly used in battle rapping that "has come to mean something completely different". Though he weakened this (already incredibly weak) argument slightly by saying that Worthless had "littered his track with severe homophobic slurs".

Just in case you weren't buying that, he also used the tried and tested 'I've got loads of gay mates, me' defence, pointing out that one of his friends, fellow 'X-Factor' contestant Rylan, is "as gay as they come".

Although Matt Lucas seemed satisfied with Arthur's apology, many were not calmed by it, and in the face of further anger (particularly from another comedian, Frankie Boyle), Arthur announced that he would be leaving Twitter for good and letter his management post on his behalf instead. More generic, less antagonistic tweets then began emerging, signed by "JAHQ".

Who JAHQ is exactly remains clear, though they write many of their tweets in a very similar style to that used by Arthur himself, so must have been very well trained in the Arthur brand. Some of you might have suspicions that the singer hadn't actually left Twitter at all, and he was still writing directly to fans, in between endlessly retweeting pretty much every positive mention of him (because it wasn't all naysaying, despite everything).

Whether or not he'd actually left Twitter wasn't a debate we had to have for very long though, because he was soon back for another round of being shouted down. On Wednesday, another 'X-Factor' finalist Lucy Spraggan posted screengrabs of text messages he'd sent her following comments she'd made about his controversial track.

"Lucy, what are you playing at having digs at me?" he had texted. "Is it coz you're a gay rights activist you had to say something as extreme as 'people kill themselves every day over words like queer'? Are you for real?"

He then added that she must "want attention" and suggested that she was angry because he hadn't tweeted a link to her album when it came out. He also said that his album had "sold ten times" what hers had in its first week, and that "real people don't care" about all the controversies.

Actually, most of those comments were possibly in relation to other veiled comments Spraggan had made after he insisted that his heavily co-written album was "self-penned", but by then the context had mostly been stripped and Arthur was on the back foot once more.

It was this that prompted a brief return to Twitter, in which he once again accused Spraggan of being an "attention seeker" and playing the victim, as well as posting more of her side of their text message conversation, which didn't really paint her in the bad light he seemed to think it did.

The battle, as far as he saw it, won, he then announced that he was heading back into Twitter exile, tweeting: "Keep the witch hunt coming, motherfuckers. Be a sheep or do some homework. I'm off again. Enjoy HQ gettin my lyrics wrong".

Then 'HQ' deleted all of his tweets to Spraggan, making it harder to "do your homework". But think for themselves many did, with one Arthur fan going by the Twitter name Louieloodle74 deciding that, actually, she wasn't that keen on him any more, what with all the homophobia and narcissism (apparently "real" people do care). Rather than simply deleting his album from her computer though, she got in touch with iTunes, from which she had downloaded the record, and demanded a refund.

Logic would suggest that Apple would refuse this, but the response came back: "I understand you would like to cancel the album you have purchased because of comments made by the artist which you didn't like ... After reviewing the circumstances of your case, we determined that issuing you a refund for your purchase of 'James Arthur' is an appropriate exception to the iTunes terms and conditions, which state that all sales are final".

While huge swathes of criticism may not have convinced Arthur of a need to think before he speaks (or tweets), for someone who clearly cares deeply about sales figures, a mass of fans digitally returning his album might have some effect.

And if enough Arthur fans (or former fans) did this, he might find that while he outsold Lucy Spraggan's total sales during the week of his album's release, by the end of the first month she might be overtaking him as the returns flood back to iTunes. Of course it's unlikely that a significant enough number will seek a refund for this to happen, but what a precedent it would set.

 
ANDY MALT | Editor
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