WEDNESDAY 3 SEPTEMBER 2014
TODAY'S TOP STORY: The still rather acquisitive BMG has announced it has acquired Infectious, which will bring the UK indie's acts to its recordings roster, and founder Korda Marshall and his team to BMG's London HQ. The new asset will be overseen by BMG's UK Exec VP Alexi Cory-Smith. Confirming just that, Cory-Smith told reporters yesterday: "Infectious has proven itself to be one of the UK's... [READ MORE]
 
TODAY'S APPROVED: Having bagged a support slot on Phoenix's French tour last year, Sable Noir this week release their debut album, 'Chew!' Describing themselves as "making zouk love songs go grunge", the record hones in on ethereal tones and growling vocals. And chewing; the majority of tracks being named after items of food. They have a very interesting video for their track 'Banana Coins'. It fittingly features... [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES BMG acquires Infectious Music
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LEGAL Select Committee says BBC "acted perfectly properly" on Cliff Richard reporting
Universal exec pleads guilty to £650,000 fraud
Justin Bieber lands more bad driving and bad punching charges in Canada
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DEALS New Order sign to Mute
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LIVE BUSINESS Ultra Miami imposes age limit, hires new security chief
Live Nation confirms JV with leading promoter in the Philippines
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EDUCATION & EVENTS AIF announces more details about its Festival Congress
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ARTIST NEWS Faith No More working on their first new album for eighteen years
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AWARDS AIM Awards presented
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ONE LINERS Other notable announcements and developments today...
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AND FINALLY... Gary Barlow apologises for offence caused by all that tax avoidance stuff
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BMG acquires Infectious Music
The still rather acquisitive BMG has announced it has acquired Infectious, which will bring the UK indie's acts to its recordings roster, and founder Korda Marshall and his team to BMG's London HQ. The new asset will be overseen by BMG's UK Exec VP Alexi Cory-Smith.

Confirming just that, Cory-Smith told reporters yesterday: "Infectious has proven itself to be one of the UK's most successful and artist-friendly independent labels with an outstanding roster. I look forward to working with Korda and the Infectious team to deliver an exceptional service for artists".

The original Infectious Music was founded by Marshall in 1993, initially forging an alliance with Aussie record company Mushroom, and later merging into Warner, where the label's founder took a senior role within the UK operation. After leaving the major, Marshall re-entered the indie label domain mainly so that he could sign then new discovery The Temper Trap, subsequently working with a number of new artists, enjoying his most high profile successes with Alt-J.

On his new alliance with a bigger player in music, Marshall said: "BMG's fresh approach to the music business and its understanding of the structural changes faced by the industry make it the obvious choice to partner with. After 33 years in music, my ambition for this business is undiminished and all of us at Infectious are looking forward to working with the BMG team. BMG shares many of our essential values, and offers access to a level of scale, infrastructure and financial support that will help take the label to the next level".

He added: "I would like to express my appreciation to my business partner Michael Watt for his unstinting support and wisdom over the past five years, and to Pat Carr and the entire Infectious team and to all of our artists".

Although the v2 BMG company is best known for its numerous acquisitions in the music publishing domain, it has also bought up a number of recordings catalogues, while its artist services division has worked with new and established talent on recorded music projects. Infectious will operate alongside BMG's services unit once it has moved into the firm's London offices.

Select Committee says BBC "acted perfectly properly" on Cliff Richard reporting
Parliament's Home Affairs Select Committee has concluded that the BBC did not act improperly in its coverage of the recent raid on Cliff Richard's Berkshire home. Even though at a hearing yesterday Chief Constable for South Yorkshire Police, David Crompton, told the Committee that the BBC had put his force in "a very difficult position".

As previously reported, Richard's house was searched last month in relation to accusations of sexual assault of a boy under the age of sixteen by the singer in 1985. Accusations the star denies. South Yorkshire Police subsequently complained to the BBC over its conduct in reporting the case.

The police force said that it had agreed to inform the broadcaster of the date of the search, in exchange for it not publishing information it had received on the case some weeks earlier. However, said the police, after the search, various media reports suggested that South Yorkshire Police had leaked information on its own initiative "in order to maximise publicity", and that the BBC had been "slow to acknowledge" that this was not the case.

Crompton said: "We were placed in a very difficult position because of the original leak and the BBC came to us knowing everything that we knew, as far as the investigation was concerned. My concern was that if we showed the BBC the door, the very clear impression which had been left with my staff in the media department was that they were likely to publish the story. That would have impeded our investigation. I'm confident that we made the right decision in difficult and unusual circumstances".

The select committee, however, did not agree, with Chairman Keith Vaz accusing the police force of "sheer incompetence" in its handling of the matter. Vaz asked why, once aware that the BBC knew about his force's investigation, the Chief Constable had not contacted senior management at the Corporation to ask them not to run the story, rather than doing a deal with the journalist direct.

Crompton argued that he "did not really have that much faith" that the story would be withheld, even if management intervened, which is what led to the agreement to inform reporters of when the search would take place.

But ultimately, Vaz said that the Committee had concluded that the BBC had "acted perfectly properly in respect of this matter".

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Universal exec pleads guilty to £650,000 fraud
A former Universal Music exec yesterday admitted in court to stealing almost £650,000 from the major music company, which is a lot of Take That records, even after Gary Barlow's dodged the tax on his share of the loot.

Duncan Schwier, who worked for the production music division of Universal's publishing business, admitted to taking almost £650,000 from his employer. The fraud was only uncovered when Schwier was promoted last year and his successor, John Clifford, discovered a number of invoices that had been paid to non-existent companies.

Schwier has enjoyed a long career in the music production business, originally joining Atmosphere Music in 1984. That company was subsequently bought by the original BMG, the publishing side of which was acquired by Universal in 2007. Becoming a General Manager for Universal Publishing Production Music, of late he had been very involved in the firm's alliance with the BBC.

Pleading guilty to the fraud, Schwier, without legal representation, told Hammersmith Magistrates Court that ill-health had led to him stealing from Universal. According to the Daily Mail, he said: "The background for this is a series of cancers for which I have medical reports".

Prosecutor Caroline Mungal said: "The Crown invite the court to commit this matter for sentence. You can see the value of the monies involved, in excess of £600,000. The date range is [also] long".

She went on: "What has happened in this situation is that Mr Schwier was employed by Universal Music as head of production. He was promoted in early 2013. Mr Schwier moved and his replacement was a person by the name of John Clifford. He noticed there was something strange about some of the transactions. It was discovered that in fact there were a large number of fraudulent transactions".

Referring the case upwards to the crown court, chair of the bench at Hammersmith Magistrates, Paul Brooks, told Schwier: "Although you have pleaded guilty to this offence, the amount of money and the period over which this fraud took place means this is too serious for this court to deal with".

Sentencing will now be considered at Isleworth Crown Court on 30 Sep.

Universal declined to comment for this report.

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Justin Bieber lands more bad driving and bad punching charges in Canada
Hey, remember when Justin Bieber was just a clumsy kid who used to walk into doors a lot? He was a lot more fun than this guy who keeps driving around too fast and punching people.

The charges of driving too quickly and punching people usually come separately, but this week the Biebs is consolidating his driving and punching activities. The singer was charged with assault and dangerous driving in his hometown of Stratford, Ontario, after he allegedly crashed a quad bike into a minivan and then got into a fight with the driver of said minivan.

The Ontario Provincial Police said in a statement yesterday that an "investigation revealed that after colliding, the driver of the [quad bike] and an occupant of the minivan engaged in a physical altercation". Bieber was released on bail after he "promise[d] to appear" in court on 29 Sep.

In a statement, the singer's lawyer Brian Greenspan said: "Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez's peaceful retreat in Stratford this weekend was unfortunately disrupted by the unwelcome presence of paparazzi. This has regrettably resulted in charges of dangerous driving and assault".

Oh yeah, Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber are back together. And that's not the only partnership Bieber is involved in at the moment. He has recorded an album with Cody Simpson, who is also managed by Scooter Braun.

The album will be released in November. Simpson told the Australian Daily Telegraph: "It is a smack bang duets [album]. Justin has been a good mate of mine for a while. It's just us writing. He told me he felt like I'd figured myself out and have grown into what he knows I will be so he was like, 'I see you as that guitarist, singer songwriter you've always wanted to be'. I play all the guitars on the album".

Oh yeah? Well what's Justin Bieber doing in this picture then? Don't deny him his full rockstar credentials, Cody. He might crash into you and punch you if you do. Allegedly.

New Order sign to Mute
New Order have signed to Mute and are working on material for a new studio album, the follow-up to last year's 'Lost Sirens' and their first newly recorded LP since 2005's 'Sirens Call'.

Announcing the signing yesterday, Mute boss Daniel Miller said: "This is an exciting new chapter for both Mute and New Order and I feel privileged to be working with artists with such a long, creative and successful history. When the possibility of us working together first came up, I was invited to hear some of the new material and immediately had no doubts whatsoever that Mute would be the right home for New Order. We've already had a number of creative conversations, and I am looking towards an exciting future".

The band added: "New Order are delighted to be signing to Mute. We couldn't imagine a better place to be than working with Daniel Miller and his team. Mute has a superb roster of artists and a history that complements our own. In many ways joining the label feels like we are coming home, returning to our independent roots".

Prior to the announcement, there were rumours that the band were set to sign to DFA, though these obviously turned out not to be true (because they signed to Mute, which I think I already mentioned).

Former bassist Peter Hook remains estranged from the band, and is not part of the current line-up.

Ultra Miami imposes age limit, hires new security chief
Ultra Music Festival in Miami has announced that it will introduce a minimum age limit for its 2015 edition, and that it has hired a new head of security. Previously an all-ages affair, the event will now only be open to over eighteens.

As previously reported, the festival struggled to gain a licence for 2015, following an incident this year which saw a security guard seriously injured when part of the fence surrounding the festival was pushed down.

Miami city officials were critical of Ultra promoters, claiming that the authorities had warned organisers about the issues with the particular area of fencing where the incident took place. Although a licence for 2015 was ultimately granted, the city's mayor Tomas Regalado has said that he intends to oppose the event in subsequent years. It's not clear if the new changes will go any way to placating him (he did not return a request for comment).

In a statement yesterday, Ultra's organisers said: "While we sincerely value the incredible ongoing support from our younger fans, we ultimately believe that Ultra Music Festival is a premium event geared towards adults. This decision has been made to reinforce and promote the safety of all Ultra Music Festival fans and to ensure the overall enjoyment of all future attendees".

They added: "We are extremely grateful for all the support we have received from our younger fan base to date and we encourage them to attend the festival once they reach the appropriate age. Until then, our free YouTube stream 'Ultra Live' is available worldwide for everyone, all ages to enjoy and to share in the Ultra experience".

The event has also hired a new head of security, former Miami Beach Police Chief Ray Martinez, who said: "The first step to having fun is feeling safe. We have chosen to adopt several new measures during next year's festival to ensure our event is safe and secure. The first step to preserving the unique atmosphere that Ultra is famous for is to be proactive in attracting the right crowd".

Ultra Miami 2015 will take place from 27-29 Mar.

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Live Nation confirms JV with leading promoter in the Philippines
Live Nation has announced an alliance with Music Management International Corp in the Philippines via which the live music major will operate in the country. The first gig staged by the joint venture will be a One Direction show. Lucky Philippines.

US-based Live Nation has struck up a number of similar alliances as it has entered different Asian markets, part of the firm's bid to have an operational base in pretty much any country a band would wish to play in. MMI, led by Rhiza Pascua, is already a leading player in live entertainment in the Philippines.

Confirming the partnership, Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino said in a statement: "Following the recent addition to our network in Taiwan, this partnership with Rhiza in the Philippines means we can now provide artists a turnkey solution connecting them with the leading promoters across this rapidly growing region and further expands our global footprint, which includes operations in more than 40 countries".

AIF announces more details about its Festival Congress
The Association Of Independent Festivals has announced more details about its Festival Congress, which will take place in Cardiff on 17 and 18 Oct.

Confirmed to speak are Southbank Centre Artistic Director Jude Kelly, Welsh minister Edwina Hart, and a number of festival reps, including Rob da Bank (Bestival), Martin Elbourne (Glastonbury/The Great Escape) and Ivan Millivojev (Exit Festival).

Commenting on all that, da Bank, as both panellist and AIF co-founder, told reporters: "As the hour rapidly approaches, all at AIF are absolutely buzzing about the Congress. These latest announcements show that we're bringing the cream of the independent festival world together in Cardiff. The stage is set for an excellent conference and we'll be celebrating a big season that has seen more sold-out AIF festivals than ever before".

More info at here.

  Approved: Sable Noir
Having bagged a support slot on Phoenix's French tour last year, Sable Noir this week release their debut album, 'Chew!' Describing themselves as "making zouk love songs go grunge", the record hones in on ethereal tones and growling vocals. And chewing; the majority of tracks being named after items of food.

The album is available on Bandcamp here. They also have a very interesting video for their track 'Banana Coins', which was released earlier this year. It fittingly features a bunch of bananas. You can watch it here.
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Faith No More working on their first new album for eighteen years
Faith No More have revealed that they are working on a new album. I can't say I'm happy about this news. If bands are going to go around reuniting, they could at least do it quietly. Anyway, it's happening, so let's just accept it.

Speaking to Rolling Stone, bassist Billy Gould said that the band have been working on new material for "probably a year and a half" on and off. He added that it had been difficult to keep the project a secret, saying: "People ask me all the time, 'What are you doing now? You're working all the time, but what the hell are you doing?' And you can't say anything. 'Oh, you know, just working on stuff; working on some projects'. Who wants to start hype with nothing behind it, you know?"

Hey, maybe it'll be OK. Maybe this will be the good reunion album. Maybe, maybe. Anyway, of the record's sound, Gould went on: "I think what we're doing reflects where we've gone since we made our last record as Faith No More [1997's 'Album Of The Year']. I think this kicks things up a notch. And I think there's parts that are very powerful and there's parts that have a lot of 'space'. Everything we do, with our chemistry, the way we play; it's always going to sound like us. It's just what we do, that makes us feel good. Hopefully it doesn't sound like a bunch of 50 year old men... which we are!"

Read the full interview with Gould here.

AIM Awards presented
Now, if you thought the indie label community came together in London EC1 last night for an annual awards bash, you're sorely mistaken.

Oh no, that was just cover for a meeting of the Indie Label Generals who, having now taken the offensive in the Magnificent Battle Of The Google, were meeting to select their next target. The evil wizards of Warner, Sony and especially Universal, under Grand Master Grainge, are always an obvious target, but you have to be careful bombing those content distribution tunnels, because you never know when they'll come in useful for launching that new indie-folk band you just signed into the Latin American market.

MTV was beaten into submission long ago; MySpace was fully defeated through that uneasy alliance with The Zuckerbergs; you'll never trust the Apple boys, but let's see what happens with their Beats Stratagem; and Spotify will probably need a good bombing in a few years time, but let's wait till we've cashed in our shares on IPO Day. So who to use our ultimate weapon, AKA The Wenham, against next?

Aha, you thought I was going to tell you, didn't you? No, this is confidential information available only to the privileged few granted full security clearance by the Mills Committee ahead of last night's gathering in The Brewery. And any cab drivers they blabbed to on the way home. Though, just to give the cover some credibility, some awards were handed out over port and cigars...

Independent Breakthrough Of The Year: London Grammar
Best Live Act: Sophie Ellis-Bextor
Hardest Working Band or Artist: Ghetts
Most Played New Independent Act: London Grammar

Independent Album Of The Year: Arctic Monkeys - AM
Independent Track Of The Year: Twin Atlantic - Heart & Soul
Best 'Difficult' Second Album: Ben Watt - Hendra
Catalogue Release Of The Year: Various - Purple Snow: Forecasting The Minneapolis Sound
Independent Video Of The Year: Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip - You Will See Me

Golden Welly Award For Best Independent Festival: Barn on the Farm

Best Small Label: Hyperdub
Independent Label of The Year: Domino

Indie Champion Award: John Doran, The Quietus
Special Recognition Award: Alison Wenham, AIM
Outstanding Contribution to Music: Richie Hawtin
Pioneer Award: Martin Mills, Beggars Group
Innovator Award: Steve Goodman aka Kode9, Hyperdub Records

Other notable announcements and developments today...

• Jessie Ware has released a live video for her upcoming single 'Want Your Feeling', a single taken from her forthcoming album 'Tough Love'. Give it a look here.

• Prince has shared two new songs from his two forthcoming albums ahead of their dual release on 30 Sep. Here's 'U Know', from solo album 'Artofficialage' and here's 'Whitecaps' from 3rdEyeGirl's 'Plectrumelectrum'.

• Fat White Family are due to re-release their debut album 'Champagne Holocaust' through Trashmouth Records on 15 Sep. It will include a bonus CD with previously un-released and live tracks along with various illustrations of famous serial killers drawn personally by Saul from the band. Nice. They are also releasing a new single on 27 Oct called 'I Am Mark E Smith', which you can listen to here.

• CMU approved outfit Rökkurró are set to release their new single 'Blue Skies', which is full of yet more Icelandic pop goodness, on 15 Sep. You can listen to the track here.

• The previously reported Doc N Roll Festival, which is dedicated purely to music documentaries, has announced its full line-up of films and live events. It's due to take place on 25-28 Sep at Hackney Picture House, and you can see all the details here.

• Marilyn Manson's forthcoming album "is prepared for landing" according to a tweet from the man himself.

• Slayer have returned to the studio to record a new album, as per a series of photos posted to Instagram. Their fifteenth studio album is being produced by Terry Date.

• Peggy Sue have announced a one-off show in London at Bussey Building on 2 Nov. They will be performing with a backing choir who are appropriately named 'The Choir Of Echoes' after the group's third album. You can purchase tickets here.

• Honeyblood have teamed up with Superfood to co-headline this year's NME New Breed Tour in October and November. Tickets are not yet available to buy, soz. In the meantime, here's a music video.

Gary Barlow apologises for offence caused by all that tax avoidance stuff
Gary Barlow returned to Twitter last night, following a break from the social network since May this year. The songwriter explained that he'd stopped using the site after a hacker gained access to his account and used it to post some "disturbing text".

Clearly eager to get back to tweeting, he used his first 20 minutes back on the network to say various things he'd been unable to communicate over the last four months, including apologising for the offence caused by the emergence of his involvement in a tax avoidance scheme. Though not the tax avoidance itself.

He wrote: "I want to apologise to anyone who was offended by the tax stories earlier this year. With a new team of accountants we are working to settle things with all parties involved ASAP. We have been working since the new year on a new Take That studio album".

So, actually, given that the tax avoidance story is now pretty old news, I guess the big scoop is that Barlow has sacked the other members of Take That and replaced them with accountants. OK, it's possible that those were two different subjects, but the quick succession his updates came in makes it impossible to tell. Impossible, I tell you.

 
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