An UnLimited Media Bulletin
Monday 9 December 2013

 
TODAY'S TOP STORY: The impact of the acquisition of dance-music focused digital music firm Beatport by SFX back in February has finally hit just before Christmas, with a reported 26 people let go by the company last week, mainly on the IT development side of the business. It's thought the layoffs are the result of two decisions by parent company SFX. First, to focus on the core Beatport download store over other spin... [READ MORE]
 
ARTISTS OF THE YEAR: Each weekday in the run up to the Christmas break, we will reveal another of our ten favourite artists of the year. We kick off with Fat White Family. The debut album from late-in-the-day CMU approvees Fat White Family album is a dark and strange one, full of horrors, offal, and stories about riding donkeys into pubs. In short, you probably wouldn't want any of it on your mum's... [READ MORE]
 
TOP STORIES SFX confirms lay-offs at Beatport "to allow us to adapt and improve"
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DEALS Weezer/Black Keys sideline The Rentals re-emerges, signs to Polyvinyl
Captured Tracks nets Perfect Pussy
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ENTERTAINMENT RETAIL Retailers face stock issues due to Arvato delays
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MANAGEMENT & FUNDING John Mayer parts ways with long-time manager
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BRANDS & MERCH NME allies with Windows Phone on Primal project
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DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES Rara extends BMW alliance
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MEDIA BBC cuts some Barlow coverage, but says that's not due to Times report
Jazz FM confirms Digital One departure
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RELEASES Kanye eyeing minimalist eight-track LP
Tensnake confirms LP feat Nile Rodgers
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GIGS & FESTIVALS Festival line-up update: Graspop, Roskilde, Open'er and more
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AWARDS Grammy nominations out
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AND FINALLY... BlackBerry turned down Bieber brand ambassador offer
2013: The year Cliff broke - no more calendars says singer
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SFX confirms lay-offs at Beatport "to allow us to adapt and improve"
The impact of the acquisition of dance-music focused digital music firm Beatport by SFX back in February has finally hit just before Christmas, with a reported 26 people let go by the company last week, mainly on the IT development side of the business.

It's thought the layoffs are the result of two decisions by parent company SFX.

First, to focus on the core Beatport download store over other spin-off services that had been developed around the brand, including a social network for EDM artists and a set-up selling stems of tracks for DJs to remix. And second, to build SFX's own tech development team around the company's other recent techie acquisitions, rather than the Beatport engineers as was possibly originally planned.

Confirming the layoffs over the weekend, a spokesman for SFX told reporters: "With the additional resources provided by SFX, we are making significant new investments in Beatport and focusing on providing the best possible experience for our users - the DJ, the producer, the labels and the entire electronic music culture community. To allow us to adapt and improve our service, it was necessary to make some organisational changes".

According to Techcrunch, which first broke the news of the layoffs, the "organisational changes" took Beatport's employees totally by surprise. The firm's whole San Francisco team were amongst the lay offs and, while that's only thought to be six people, that move particularly shocked the workforce, with one insider telling Techcrunch that SFX decided to send an HR exec to oversee the layoffs first hand, rather than doing it on a conference call, because of fears staffers might "trash the office" in response.

Another anonymous insider told the tech site: "[SFX] is not concerned with anything but the store. It was crazy. It was a fucking bloodbath for sure. Some of the people laid off were working there for almost ten years". The rest of the lay-offs - which account for nearly a third of Beatport's relatively modest sized staff - were at the Denver office.

Giving the news a positive spin, SFX's spokesperson added: "Beatport has always been about innovation and connection and these moves allow us to focus on that. With the recently announced [SFX] acquisitions of PayLogic and [tech agency] Arc90, this refocus on maximising Beatport as the definitive site for everything related to electronic music is indicative of our commitment to igniting the simmering revolution of this astounding movement, electronic music culture. We look forward to unveiling a number of exciting new technology initiatives in 2014".

Weezer/Black Keys sideline The Rentals re-emerges, signs to Polyvinyl
Having been 'on a break' for the past fifteen years, no less, Weezer bassist Matt Sharp and Patrick Carney of The Black Keys' sideline The Rentals is back for hire (ie active as a band) once again.

Sharp, Carney et al have signed to Polyvinyl to release a new LP, which doesn't have a title at the minute, but is being mixed by LCD Soundsystem/Jay-Z whiz D Sardy, so that's something.

Confirming the Polyvinyl deal in an unimaginative way, Matt Sharp says: "I am beyond thrilled to announce The Rentals have just signed with my favourite record label Polyvinyl".

Firing all that love right back at him, Polyvinyl say: "We are happy to announce that the legendary band The Rentals have joined the Polyvinyl family".

Let's hope the album is more interesting than this announcement.

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Captured Tracks nets Perfect Pussy
Syracuse-based punk four-piece Perfect Pussy have signed with Captured Tracks, in so doing joining the likes of Mac DeMarco, DIIV and Wild Nothing.

The label confirms that PP are at work on making their first LP, the idea being to finish it in time for a 2014 release.

As we await the vital details, here in the meantime are Perfect Pussy singing '3' - a track off their self-released 'I Have Lost All Desire For Feeling' EP - in a live setting.

Retailers face stock issues due to Arvato delays
Music retailers are experiencing delays in receiving stock in the all important pre-Christmas rush, according to Music Week. The problem, it seems, is delays in the delivery system operated by Arvato, a subsidiary of BMG-owner Bertelsmann which provides logistical services in the UK to all the majors and indie-label distributor [PIAS].

Quite why there are delays in the Arvato logistical network isn't clear, though one retailer told Music Week: "Arvato has severely underestimated the amount of orders and the change from bulk ordering on a few lines to singles over more lines. [The company] appears to have completely underestimated how busy Christmas would be - especially with vinyl sales, which face the longest delays".

Arvato has confirmed there are some backlog issues, saying: "We'd like to apologise to anyone who has been affected by a delay in receiving their stock and can assure them that we're doing everything we can to rectify the situation as soon as possible. If anyone has a question relating to a delayed delivery, they can contact our customer services team on 0330 100 0640 for more information".

John Mayer parts ways with long-time manager
Chronic pop heartthrob John Mayer has broken off from his long time manager Michael McDonald (no, not that one) it was confirmed last week, the latter having worked with the former for thirteen years.

Whilst the reason for the split remains unexplained by either artist or manager (I've an idea that maybe Mayer's sickly 'collab' with GF Katy Perry played a tiny part in it all), McDonald has written a statement, which reads as follows: "After thirteen years, John and I are parting ways. It's been a magnificent journey, which began before his debut album, and along the way has included seven Grammy awards, years of massively successful tours around the world, and over 20 million albums sold. I hold John's talent in the highest regard and wish him nothing but the best".

NME allies with Windows Phone on Primal project
Well, if you're going to film a band who were big in the 90s, why not do it on a phone that was big in the 1990s too? And so the NME has announced an alliance with Nokia to document some upcoming live shows from Primal Scream using only a phone. A Nokia phone. Let's hope the filmmakers don't get too distracted playing 'Snake'.

To be fair, the phone being used doesn't date from the 20th century, it being the Nokia Lumia 1020 Windows Phone launched back in August which, apparently, is rather good at taking photos and filming middle-aged rock bands.

An NME photographer will be photographing the Scream with the smartphone, while band-members will also be snapping and a behind-the-scenes documentary will be filmed on the device, all of which will be shared with the music mag's lucky readers at www.nme.com/lumia1020 as the result of one of those brand partnership shindigs orchestrated by NME publisher IPC and media agency UM London.

Confirming the tie up, Arron Child, UK Marketing Manager for Windows Phone at Microsoft, which is in the process of buying the Nokia mobile business, told CMU: "It's great to be able to team up with NME and Primal Scream and get behind the scenes to find out what makes one of the greatest bands of this generation tick. We are really excited because, for the first time ever, we are going to be able to see the world through the different band members' eyes as they take photos with the Nokia Lumia 1020".

He waffles on: "It is living proof that nothing else comes close to the Lumia 1020 as we have unparalleled access and each image from the tour will contain crisp detail thanks to a 41 Megalpixel sensor. We wanted to ensure that music fans can get a view from behind the scenes and of the gig as though they were in the front row".

Meanwhile NME Editor Mike Williams added: "Mobile phone cameras have revolutionised the way in which live music moments are shared and loved, letting them become part of history rather than something 'you had to be there' to enjoy. We can't wait to get on the road with the Nokia handsets and start delivering content to readers, showing them the band as they've never seen them before".

Rara extends BMW alliance
Streaming music firm Rara has announced an expansion of its previously reported alliance with BMW which will see the music set-up available in virtually all of the car maker's new models, via the BMW ConnectedDrive Online Entertainment system.

Confirming the expansion of his firm's BMW alliance, Rara CEO Jez Bell told CMU: "BMW Online Entertainment with Rara represents a step change in the way we consume music in the car; no more scratched CDs or dusty old tapes in the glove compartment, no more having to plug in your mobile. Just stream all the music you want, direct to your car with Rara".

BBC cuts some Barlow coverage, but says that's not due to Times report
The BBC has scaled back its Gary Barlow coverage, though a spokesman for the Corporation says that's not linked to a recent report in The Times that claimed that the level of coverage being give to the Take That-er around the release of his new solo album could breach the Beeb's own editorial guidelines.

As previously reported, The Times quoted a rep from commercial radio sector trade body RadioCentre observing that: "The BBC overstepped the mark previously, with its promotion of acts like Coldplay and U2. We hope that the BBC Trust will be watching closely to ensure that this sort of undue prominence doesn't occur again".

And now the broadsheet has noted that one of the radio interviews the Beeb was planning with Barlow has been cut, as has an online Q&A session with the pop man. But, says the BBC, that's not related to concerns that the Beeb's Barlow-mania was getting out of control, with a spokesman noting "plans are always being fine-tuned and are often subject to change in advance of a live transmission".

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Jazz FM confirms Digital One departure
Jazz FM confirmed last week that it will drop off the Digital One network at the end of the month, meaning it will not longer be available via DAB digital radio sets nationwide. However, it will still be available via DAB in London by launching on the Switch Digital multiplex.

The boss of the now independently owned jazz station, Richard Wheatly, told Radio Today last week that the withdrawal from Digital One could see the firm lose about 150,000 of its 700,000 listeners, though he added that the majority of Jazz FM's DAB audience was in London anyway, and that he hoped those outside the capital might switch to online channels.

Wheatly: "Most of our audience listen to us on digital radio in Greater London - 400,000 people - and around 30% are listening on platforms other than DAB across the UK".

  CMU Artists Of The Year: Fat White Family
Each weekday in the run up to the Christmas break, we will reveal another of our ten favourite artists of the year. We kick off with Fat White Family...

The debut album from late-in-the-day CMU approvees Fat White Family album is a dark and strange one, full of horrors, offal, and stories about riding donkeys into pubs. In short, you probably wouldn't want any of it on your mum's mantelpiece.

Having grouped from the offcuts of rut-stuck south London indie 'urchins' The Saudis and The Metros - oh, I don't know how long ago - and moved into a pub in Brixton (the publicity around FWF oft confuses 'moving in' with 'squatting'), the band have slowly drawn fans, some by some, to their cause, and that of their first LP 'Champagne Holocaust'.

But what is Fat White Family's cause? Um, stolid communism, just to start, and for second course, a louche, world-sore disliking for "yuppies", "The Man", and, most famously, Mrs Thatcher, whose passing put the band 'on the map' as, quite literally, the poster boys for Brixton's unashamedly bad-taste "death party".

Sticking the group's blunt (if doubtful, in spots, though it's also doubtful how much of it is serious) politics in the corner for a second, and honing in solely on the music; it's worth considering that from all the doom of the gloomy post-indie hole in which they must've once found themselves, Fat White Family have somehow pulled out one of the most bold, genuine, and genuinely 'other' debuts of 2013.

Take the two outstanding tracks of 'Champagne Holocaust' - 'Auto Neutron' and 'Cream Of The Young' - which sound like (and thus, I suppose, are) dank, diabolical slips of rock n roll dissolution, all vile, bile-like riffs, and nasty talk of "fifteen year old tongues". Yucky as those songs are, or purport to be, they're also spoofing (so FWF's Saul has said to The Quietus) "the ridiculousness of the WHOLE rock n roll thing". Which, in the reign of the horrible, horrible likes of The 1975, is something someone absolutely has to do, for God and good music's sake.

I don't know what Fat White Family are up to, if I'm honest, and the real joy with them is: I'm not sure they do either. I mean, look at them, not caring one single damn if they're bare-naked, or toothless, or if a glorious and truly yucky ten-minute song titled 'Wet Hot Beef' is anyone's idea of a 'saleable' single. And whilst I'm happy to concede that they possibly do know a little bit what they are doing, as long as they continue on as strongly and autonomously as they've begun - Fat White Family can do and say as they please.

Meet 'Auto Neutron'
CLICK HERE to read and share online
 

Kanye eyeing minimalist eight-track LP
Thank 'Yeezus', at last, a thing Kanye West has said in passing that fans can actually grab on to and understand. And it is this: that he's pretty certain his next LP will feature eight tracks, and be minimalist, in terms of its aeshetic (as well as the fact that it'll only have eight tracks to it).

Speaking at this year's Art Basel exhibit in Miami, West said last week: "I think my next album is going to be eight songs. It's just reducing down the amount of information that you need. People say a design is the point where you can't take anything else away".

He went on: "'Yeezus' was very, very designed. I took a departure from radio and popular music in order to get this seat here. If I hadn't made 'Yeezus', I wouldn't be sitting here with this cool font at Basel right here".

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Tensnake confirms LP feat Nile Rodgers
German DJ Marco Niemerski, aka house producer Tensnake, has uncoiled info on his debut LP, 'Glow'. Released via Virgin EMI on 10 Mar 2014, it'll feature guest spots from Fiora, Nile Rodgers and Jamie Lidell, and a technical assist by Jacques Lu Cont.

Download one of its tracks, 'No Relief', at no cost via this link, and then find T-Snake's Nile Rodgers collaboration 'Love Sublime', and finally a 'Glow' tracklisting as follows:

First Song
Love Sublime (feat Nile Rodgers & Fiora)
Feel Of Love (Tensnake & Jacques Lu Cont feat Jamie Lidell)
No Colour
Ten Minutes
Kill The Time (feat Fiora)
Selfish (feat Jeremy Glenn)
Good Enough To keep (feat Nile Rodgers & Fiora)
Holla
Listen Everybody (feat Fiora)
See Right Through (feat Fiora)
No Relief (feat Fiora)
Things Left To Say
58 BPM (feat Fiora)
Last Song

Festival line-up update: Graspop, Roskilde, Open'er and more
So, wouldn't you know. Black Sabbath, Avenged Sevenfold, Soundgarden and co have joined the line-up at Belgium rock bash Graspop, as its first announced acts. As have Hatebreed, Bring Me The Horizon, The Dillinger Escape Plan and Napalm Death, and a horde of others. That's rock and roll for you.

Over on the 'indie eclectic' side of things, Danish main event Roskilde has signed on the likes of Pusha T, Deerhunter, Trentemøller, Haim, Carcass, Cyril Hahn, Dilated Peoples and MØ to play its 2014 iteration, which is so far looking promising.

And what's more, it's a double Black Keys whammy, as the band pop up on line-ups for both Poland's Open'er fest, and Portguese man-o-pop Optimus Alive!

Find more on all that, plus updates to Croatian EDM weekender Electric Elephant, and a list of rather big-name additions to choc-a-block Belgian bash Rock Werchter...

ELECTRIC ELEPHANT, The Garden, Tisno, Croatia, 10-14 Jul 2014: Chez Damier, Horse Meat Disco, FCL, Justin Robertson, Ashley Beedle, Rahaan, Max Essa, The Numero Group, Chris Duckenfield, Sean Johnston, Unabombers, Ruf Dug, Lowlife, Down To The Sea & Back, Kabal, Idiots Are Winning, Thunder, wOnK, Krysko, 2 Billion Beats, Will TRAMP!, Il Bosco, Matt Ward, Kosmonaut, Billy Scurry, Leon Sweet, Nick Acid Tree, Jan Hammered, Steve O'Connor, Martin Davies, Home Grown DJs, Ola, Engine DJs, Funky Navigation. www.electricelephant.co.uk

GRASPOP, Boeretang, Flanders, Belgium, 27-29 Jun 2014: Black Sabbath, Volbeat, Avenged Sevenfold, Sabaton, Soundgarden, Bridge, Opeth, Hatebreed, Carcass, WASP, Neurosis, Graveyard, Metal Church, Watain, Paradise Lost, Unida, Death, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Doro, Annihilator, Bring Me The Horizon, Eluveitie, Tiamat, Legion of the Damned, Cult of Luna, Orange Goblin, Comeback Kid, Cynic, We Came As Romans, Emmure, Kylesa, Powerwolf, The Black Dahlia Murder, Triptykon, Alestorm, Napalm Death, Walls Of Jericho, Enslaved, Skyharbor, Gloryhammer, Pro-Pain, Blessthefall, Huntress, Nails, Solstafir, Jeff Scott Soto, Prime Circle, Necrophobic, The Treatment, Battlecross, Crossfaith. www.graspop.be

OPEN'ER, Babie Doly Airfield, Gydnia, Poland, 2-5 Jul 2014: The Black Keys. opener.pl

OPTIMUS ALIVE!, Passeio Maritimo de Alges, Lisbon, Portugal, 10-12 Jul 2014: The Black Keys. www.optimusalive.com

ROCK WERCHTER, Leaven, Rotselaar, Belgium, 3-6 Jul 2014: Skrillex, Pixies, Franz Ferdinand, Placebo, Major Lazer, Triggerfinger. www.rockwerchter.be

ROSKILDE, Festivalpladsen, Darupvej 19, Roskilde, Denmark, 3-6 Jul 2014: Pusha T, Deerhunter, Trentemøller, Haim, Carcass, Cyril Hahn, Dilated Peoples, MØ, Nails. roskilde-festival.co.uk

TAKEDOWN, Southampton University, 15 Mar 2014: Funeral For A Friend, Heaven's Basement, Yashin, Feed The Rhino, Glamour Of The Kill, Canterbruy, Jett Black, Lost Alone, I Divide, The Dirt Youth, A Tale Of Two Cities, Baby Godzilla, Western Sand, Our Hollow Our Home, Dead! www.takedownfestival.co.uk

Grammy nominations out
So the Grammy nominations are out for another year, and if you're able to cancel all your appointments for the day you can check them out at www.grammy.com/nominees.

Jay-Z arguably dominates with no less than nine nominations overall, though 'Magna Carta Holy Grail' has not been shortlisted for the headline-grabbing Album Of The Year prize. And Justin Timberlake, who has seven nods across the noms, also fails to appear on the shortlist for best overall longplayer, which will go to either Sara Bareilles, Daft Punk, Taylor Swift, Kendrick Lamar or Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.

Lamar and Macklemore & Lewis are also up for Best New Artist, up against Brits Ed Sheeran and James Blake plus country singer Kasey Musgraves. Other UK artists appearing on the lists include Calvin Harris, Disclosure, David Bowie and Black Sabbath. The Grammys take place in LA on 26 Jan.

BlackBerry turned down Bieber brand ambassador offer
A former employee of the Blackberry company has revealed that, amongst the many mistakes the company has made in recent years, one was passing up signing an early career Justin Bieber as a brand ambassador for relatively little money.

Amongst many insights from former and current staffers at Blackberry Ltd (or what was Research In Motion until relatively recently) in this sizeable Businessweek feature, Vincent Washington, who was Senior Business Development Manager from 2001 to 2011, explains: "One thing we missed out on was that Justin Bieber wanted to rep BlackBerry. He said, 'Give me $200,000 and 20 devices, and I'm your brand ambassador', basically".

The offer seemingly came reasonably early in Bieber's ascension, though far enough in that he was hawking his face out to companies, so presumably his fanbase was already sizable and obsessive. And, as both he and RIM are Canadian, the partnership deal seemed to make sense.

So far so good, but Washington continues: "We pitched that to marketing: Here's a Canadian kid, he grew up here, all the teeny-boppers will love that. They basically threw us out of the room. They said, 'This kid is a fad. He's not going to last'. I said at the meeting: 'This kid might outlive RIM'. Everyone laughed".

Still, at least the company was quick to snap up "iPhone junky" Alicia Keys earlier this year. Though she was unable to halt the decline in BlackBerry's popularity, something illustrated by her own mobile device of choice.

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2013: The year Cliff broke - no more calendars says singer
Well, this is going to fuck up my secret Santa shopping. For years the Cliff Richard calendar has been my go-to purchase, but now the bachelor boy is hanging up his month signifying, er... jetski.

Appearing on BBC One's 'The Graham Norton Show' on Friday, Richard said that the 2014 calendar, his 35th, would be his last, adding: "I am not going to do any more. How many shapes can I pull with this body? It's a pressure".

To be fair, Richard has always gone the extra mile with his photo-per-month offering, flying to exotic locations and pulling poses you'd normally not find outside a glamour model calendar. So you'd forgive him for wanting a bit more of a quiet life. It's fine Cliff, I suppose I'll just go back to the Daniel O'Donnell calendar.

 
ANDY MALT | Editor
Andy heads up the team, overseeing the CMU bulletin and website, coordinating features and interviews, reporting on artist and business stories, and contributing to the CMU Approved column.
Email andy@unlimitedmedia.co.uk (except press releases, see below)
   
CHRIS COOKE | Co-Publisher, Business Editor & Insights Director
Chris provides music business coverage, writing key business news and analysis. Chris also leads the CMU Insights training and consultancy business, and is MD of CMU publisher UnLimited Media.
Email chris@unlimitedmedia.co.uk (except press releases, see below)
   
ALY BARCHI | Staff Writer
Aly reports on artist news, coordinates the festival, gig and release round up columns, and contributes to the CMU Approved column. She also writes for CMU's sister title ThisWeek London.
Email aly@unlimitedmedia.co.uk (except press releases, see below)
   
SAM TAYLOR | Commercial Manager & Insights Associate
Sam oversees the commercial side of the CMU media, leading on sales and sponsorship, plus helps manage and deliver the CMU Insights training courses and consultancy services.
Email sam@unlimitedmedia.co.uk or call 020 7099 9060
   
CARO MOSES | Co-Publisher
Caro helps oversee the CMU media, while as a Director of UnLimited Media she heads up the company's other two titles ThisWeek London and ThreeWeeks Edinburgh, and supports other parts of the business.
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Send ALL press releases to musicnews@unlimitedmedia.co.uk - this is checked daily by the whole editorial team meaning your release will definitely get to the right person.

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