TODAY'S TOP STORY: The boss of Mega, the file-storage service set up by MegaUpload founder Kim Dotcom after his original business was shut down by the US authorities, has hit out at a new report which brands the New Zealand-based operation as a "shadowy cyber locker". Mega is included in a new report from the Washington-based Digital Citizens Alliance, which looks at numerous companies that offer... [READ MORE]
TODAY'S APPROVED: With a pretty respectable five LPs to his name already, 21 year old Philadephia freshman Alex G(ianascoli) will on 10 Nov re-release his latest, 'DSU', via a new deal with Lucky Number and an upgrade to Domino Music Publishing. A pensive thirteen track meander into Gianascoli's all-American-kid-type psyche; the real appeal of 'DSU' lies in the fact that it comes over as easy, earnest... [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES Mega hits out at inclusion in critical cyber locker report
Grants available to fund music business internships
LEGAL YouTube star Michelle Phan counter-sues Ultra Records
Cher hit by racial discrimination claims
Jamie Foxx sued for plagiarism on new single
DEALS Azoff MSG buys into ATM Artists
LABELS & PUBLISHERS Universal Music owner sells off remaining tel co asset
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES Pandora CFO reckons he is finally placating the music community
GIGS & FESTIVALS Cat Stevens to return to the UK for twin London shows
ONE LINERS CMU's One Liners: The Grateful Dead, Queen, Aaliyah and more
AND FINALLY... Nadine Coyle still in Girls Aloud, even if no one else is
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Mega hits out at inclusion in critical cyber locker report
The boss of Mega, the file-storage service set up by MegaUpload founder Kim Dotcom after his original business was shut down by the US authorities, has hit out at a new report which brands the New Zealand-based operation as a "shadowy cyber locker".

Mega is included in a new report from the Washington-based Digital Citizens Alliance, which looks at numerous companies that offer file-storage and sharing facilities. Its particular focus is how such platforms are often used for illegal practices, most often copyright infringement, and how the owners of said services allegedly allow rampant piracy because it generates subscriptions and therefore income.

That, of course, was the primary allegation against Dotcom's MegaUpload, which was shutdown by the Americans in 2012. Criminal proceedings against the firm's management, including Dotcom, are ongoing, with the US still trying to get the accused extradited to face money laundering and copyright infringement charges in the American courts.

The Digital Citizens Alliance report basically notes that there are plenty of other companies operating file-transfer platforms that are also possibly just a cover for copyright infringement, charging monthly subscriptions that technically give customers cloud storage space for their own files, but also provide access to infringing music, movie and TV content sitting in other users' digital lockers, which, copyright owners say, is the real reason consumers pay the subscription charges in the first place.

One of the aims of the Alliance's report seems to be to put pressure on the credit card companies and firms like PayPal to stop taking monies for such services, to cut off their revenues. Of course many of the targeted companies, like MegaUpload, would likely argue that they offer legitimate services, and that they respond to takedown requests from copyright owners when infringing content is spotted, meaning they operate in line with US copyright law. Though the report argues that the distribution of infringing content accounts for a very large portion of these firm's operations.

But Mega, the file-transfer company Dotcom set up after the forced shutdown of MegaUpload, argues that that is simply not to case with its operations. And Torrentfreak supports that claim, reckoning that the Alliance's report is skewed because, while it may be true that the majority of the publicly shared files stored on the Mega platform infringe copyright, as the report claims, that ignores the fact that the vast majority of files uploaded to the Mega servers are not shared at all.

Certainly Mega CEO Graham Gaylard has reacted angrily to his firm's inclusion in the report, telling Torrentfreak that he has demanded the Alliance amend its document and issue an apology about Mega's inclusion in it. Said Gaylard: "Mega is a privacy company that provides end-to-end encrypted cloud storage controlled by the customer. Mega totally refutes that it is a cyber locker business as that term is defined and discussed in this report".

He goes on: "We are vigorous in complying with best practice legal takedown policies and do so very quickly. The reality, though, is that we receive a very low number of takedown requests because our aim is to have people use our services for privacy and security, not for sharing infringing content. Mega is not a haven for piracy, does not distribute malware, and definitely does not engage in illegal activities. Mega is running a legitimate business alongside other cloud storage providers in a highly competitive market".

Gaylard also hit out at the insinuation that Mega incentivises users to upload infringing content, which is one of the accusations previously made against MegaUpload. But, the Mega CEO says, his company's incentives programme is entirely based on users referring or helping attract new customers, not on the amount of content they upload. "It is designed to reward genuine referrers and the developers of apps who make our cloud storage platform more attractive".

Elsewhere in Dotcom news, the Mega founder's political endeavours in his adopted country did not come to much in the New Zealand elections this weekend. The Internet Mana party, a partnership between Dotcom's political group and supporters of Māori activist Hone Harawira, scored just over 1.2% of the vote, which is someway of the 5% required for representation in the New Zealand parliament.

After the results came in, with Dotcom's arch-rival in the political domain, incumbent NZ PM John Key, winning an easy victory overall, the Mega chief conceded that his public persona likely damaged the chances of the Internet Mana movement.


Grants available to fund music business internships
UK music companies are being encouraged to offer paid internships to young people considering a career in the industry. The call is being led by the Lottery-funded Big Music Project, which is now making grants available to music firms who provide three to twelve month internships, which could cover up to 50% of an intern's wages.

The initiative follows a recent Inland Revenue-led crackdown on unpaid internships in the music sector, with many music firms now more closely adhering to the rules about unpaid work experience to avoid falling foul of minimum wage legislation.

Companies can apply for grants to help them offer paid internships, with details of the scheme and an application form here. Applications need to be made by 6 Oct.

Announcing the project, Geoff Taylor from Big Music Project co-organisers the BPI, said,
"Talented interns provide an injection of new blood, bright ideas and fresh thinking into growing businesses. Through The Big Music Project, we are giving a helping hand to music companies across the UK to fulfil their potential and to invest in the future of our industry".

The Big Music Project is also staging a series of music careers events around the country, the first one taking place in Glasgow yesterday. The events include a session from CMU:DIY, more information on which can be found at

YouTube star Michelle Phan counter-sues Ultra Records
YouTube star Michelle Phan has counter-sued Ultra Records, following a lawsuit launched by the label accusing her of using its music in her videos without permission.

As previously reported, Ultra is suing for allegedly uncleared use of a number of tracks it released and/or published, seeking $150,000 for each infringement. One of the tracks included in the lawsuit was '4am' by Kaskade. However, the producer criticised the label after news of the litigation broke in July, and tweeted a message of support to Phan, saying: "You're awesome. You've turned millions of people on to my music. Which, ironically, I cannot say for my label".

According to Variety, Phan launched her own retaliatory legal action last week, claiming that she received permission to use music released by Ultra in 2009 in exchange for promoting iTunes links for the tracks on her videos - something arguably worth having, as she has accumulated more than 150 million plays on her account and has more than seven million subscribers.

Her claim states that a senior member of staff at Ultra said that they were "more than happy to let you use this content". She adds that by suing her and issuing takedown notices against twelve of her videos, the company has acted "with fraud, oppression and malice".

Phan is seeking a court ruling that she received a non-revocable licence from Ultra and is within her rights to use the label's music in her videos.


Cher hit by racial discrimination claims
Cher is facing legal action from her one-time choreographer Kevin Wilson and two ex-backing dancers, who claim they were racially-discriminated-against and unfairly fired from the singer's tour.

Wilson alleges that Cher had banned him from casting "dark skinned" dancers as she felt there was "too much colour" already in the show. He and backing dancer Suzanna Easter, who are both black, claim they were then dismissed from the tour for racial reasons, whilst another dancer, 42 year old Jacquely Dowsett, says she was fired because of her age.

In the suit, obtained by CNN, the three add that the fact that they had acted as 'whistleblowers' on a sexual assault by one of Cher's male dancers on a female fan may have also contributed to their being struck off. The official reason given by Team Cher for the three firings was "budget cuts".

Cher's publicist was quick to deny the allegations last week, releasing a statement that read: "The accusations are ridiculous. They couldn't be further from the truth".

The trio are seeking $10 million in damages.


Jamie Foxx sued for plagiarism on new single
Entertainer Jamie Foxx has found himself in legal trouble over his first new single for four years, released last week, 'Party Ain't A Party'. Record label Nontra Records claims that the track is a rework of a recording it owns that was made by singer J Rand last year.

The company's slightly complicated lawsuit, obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, says that producer DJ Mustard originally gave the track's instrumental to Rand's then label Poe Boy Records. The singer recorded vocals for the track, after which Nontra bought out his recording contract and paid to mix and master the final recording. The label says it then began initial radio promotions for the song in October last year, but at that point DJ Mustard "went radio silent".

More recently Foxx's new single emerged, which, says Nontra, not only uses the same instrumental as Rand's song, but also lifts lyrics directly from it too. In fact, Nontra claims, "the only discernible difference found between the [two songs] is the choice of featured guest artist" - 2 Chainz appearing on Foxx's single, and IAMSU! on Rand's.

Nontra says that Poe Boy Records was the sole owner of the copyright in the original track - the combined DJ Mustard and J Rand collaboration - and that it then acquired ownership when it purchased Rand's contract.

The company is seeking $150,000 jointly from Foxx, DJ Mustard and 2 Chainz for copyright infringement, as well as additional individual payments of $150,000 from both Foxx and DJ Mustard for contributory copyright infringement.

You can read the full lawsuit via The Hollywood Reporter, and listen to the two tracks below.

Jamie Foxx - Party Ain't A Party (feat 2 Chainz)

J Rand - Party Ain't A Party (feat IAMSU!)

Azoff MSG buys into ATM Artists
Azoff MSG Entertainment has purchased a 50% stake in management and marketing firm ATM Artists, best known for its involvement with Swedish House Mafia and other big name 'EDM' artists.

As previously reported, Irving Azoff launched his new joint venture with the Madison Square Garden Company last year, after leaving Live Nation. The company has subsequently made a number of acquisitions, as well as setting up its own collecting society. This latest acquisition sees it push into the EDM industry currently dominated by Robert Sillerman's SFX Entertainment - though Azoff says that is not his motivation.

"I'm not doing this to be in the EDM business", Azoff told Billboard. "I'm looking to be in business with [ATM boss] Amy [Thompson]. She could sell ice to an eskimo. Whatever she wants to do, we'll do".

Thompson added: "I've seen what happens when big money smells opportunity - it's awful. But I welcome certain clever investors who bring more than just money to the table. I don't even think Irving knows what EDM is. He's interested in legends".

Universal Music owner sells off remaining tel co asset
Universal Music owner Vivendi is selling its Brazilian broadband business GVT to tel co giant Telefonica in a seven billion euro deal, it's been announced. Vivendi will receive 4.66 billion euros in cash, and will get shares in Telefonica Brazil and Telecom Italia as part of the arrangement.

It's part of Vivendi's long drawn out withdrawal from the telecoms industry, it having sold off its struggling French phone firm SFR earlier this year. It means the conglom is now pretty much exclusively focused on the entertainment industry, with its two main assets being Universal Music and the Canal+ television business.

The deal was generally well received by analysts, though one told Bloomberg: "Good news for Vivendi [but] we expect the next step to be a more concrete outlining of their strategy".

It is thought that strategy will focus on expanding Vivendi's TV interests beyond the French market.

Pandora CFO reckons he is finally placating the music community
The CFO of Pandora has spoken to the Wall Street Journal about his attempts to mend relationships between his company and the American music community, the undeniably successful streaming service having come under fire from multiple corners of the music industry in recent years (think about the criticism Spotify was facing from some of the artist community last year, and then add in similarly angry outbursts from the labels and publishers).

Criticism of Pandora grew after its big bucks IPO in 2011, partly because the finances of the business were now easier to scrutinise, and partly because, with Wall Street to placate, the digital music firm had to be seen to be trying to bring down royalty costs that many investors reckoned were too high. But with Pandora licensing both recordings and songs via the collective licensing system, where rates are ultimately set by a court, the labels and publishers already reckoned the streaming set-up was getting their content too cheap.

Cue much public dissing of Pandora, much of which continues; moves by the major publishers to pull digital rights out of their collecting societies are in no small part motivated by a bid to increase Pandora royalties. Though recent direct deals between the digital company and indie labels group Merlin and nearly-major BMG suggest that it is starting to win some friends within the music community.

And CFO Mike Herring, who joined Pandora in February 2013, reckons that is because of a change of approach he instigated at the company. He told the WSJ: "[Musicians and record labels] are people we pay a lot of money to in royalties. [But] that doesn't make us partners...just writing cheques didn't make us partners. As a CFO it was central to my responsibility to change that dynamic. Without the music experience we wouldn't have anything to play. We really needed to have a better relationship".

Reckoning Pandora had, in the main, become a "scapegoat" for a music industry coming to terms with the rise of the streaming market, he explains: "We took the discussion about licensing and moved it from our legal department to my department, so the music copyright holders feel compensated and their businesses are gaining value over time". The company tried to have more of a presence at music industry events, and to talk more to rights owners, artists and managers. "[And they begin to think] maybe Pandora isn't all bad".

That Herring has been courting managers is interesting, you sense that it was Pandora-dissing within the artist community that caused the most headaches for a firm wary of share-price-hitting bad press. And, as Spotify concluded when tackling its own high profile pop star critics, some of that criticism is based on all round confusion in the artist community as to how streaming royalties are calculated and paid, and ignorance of what other benefits the streaming business can offer the music industry.

Says Herring: "[Artists] get a cheque every quarter and they don't know where the money comes from. Almost every artist conversation starts with 'you don't really pay for the music'. Once they understand the dynamic, their attitude changes very dramatically".

I think many in the music community - rights owners and artists/managers - would argue that Pandora still has a long way to go in this domain, with its placating efforts not on the same level as the Spotify Artists initiative, though those recent deals might suggest Herring's claims of turning a corner are not entirely unfounded.

Read the full WSJ Q&A here.

  Approved: Alex G
With a pretty respectable five LPs to his name already, 21 year old Philadephia freshman Alex G(ianascoli) will on 10 Nov re-release his latest, 'DSU', via a new deal with Lucky Number and an upgrade to Domino Music Publishing.

A pensive thirteen track meander into Gianascoli's all-American-kid-type psyche; the real appeal of 'DSU' lies in the fact that it comes over as easy, earnest and totally uncalculated; though not naive, since even lite-seeming tracks (like slanty hymn-to-a-girl 'Black Hair', for instance) are sharpened with a certain sadness, and occasionally, a kind of black-sky fatalism. Basically, it's a real-life record written by a real kid with real, relatable things to say, and a real 'way' with expressing them.

'DSU' is still available to listen to on Bandcamp c/o the label that originally released it, Orchid Tapes. If you find you're into it, you can catch Alex G playing live at London's Rough Trade East (17 Nov), opening for Ought at Manchester Sound Control (18 Nov) and/or at the also London-based Sebright Arms on 19 Nov.

In the meantime, taken from the official 'DSU' repackage, this is 'Hollow' and 'After Ur Gone'.
CLICK HERE to read and share online

Cat Stevens to return to the UK for twin London shows
Yusuf Islam - who now seems to have conceded that his (not especially) new name has never caught on and is instead billing himself (or at least is being billed) as Yusuf/Cat Stevens - has announced a pair of London shows for November. His first UK concerts for five years, they will follow the release of his new album, 'Tell Em I Gone', though Legacy recordings on 27 Oct.

Says Islam/Stevens of the new album, which features guests including Richard Thompson, Bonnie 'Prince' Billy and Tinariwen: "Although I was to venture through many lyrical terrains, melodious valleys and cadences during my 50 year musical and spiritual exploration, and though many would agree that I have covered a lot of ground, there was always one path I meant to take. Hidden in the background behind my renowned troubadour persona lurked an R&B alter-self waiting to be let free".

He adds: "What's powerful and profound, to me, is the overall message which emerged, lyrically [here]. It suddenly stared me in the face: the innate struggle for freedom! Isn't that what most human beings dream of? Music and the blues particularly was a means of escape for many chained to the destiny of the rich and powerful".

The two live shows will take place at the Hammersmith Apollo on 4-5 Nov. Tickets are on sale now, and you can hear a track from the new album, titled 'Dying To Live', here.

The Grateful Dead, Queen, Aaliyah and more

Other notable announcements and developments today...

• Partially-dead rock band The Grateful Dead have signed a revitalising 50th anniversary deal with Universal Music Publishing Group, Billboard has confirmed, so fancy that.

• That slightly iffy Aaliyah TV biopic 'Princess Of R&B' is finally going to air, via American channel Lifetime, on 15 Nov. Alexandra Shipp will play Aaliyah in the movie, its original star Zendaya Coleman having quit the film back in July.

• Guided By Voices have fallen silent again, which is to say they've split up. Again. Having split the first time in 2004, and then got back on the horse in 2010. "It was a hell of a comeback run", state the band in a statement.

• GWAR have replaced late frontman and founder Dave Brockie, aka Oderus Urungus, who died earlier this year. Kim Dylla, who has taken the stage name Vulvatron, made her live debut with the band at Chicago's Riot Fest last week.

• Queen will release a new compilation, 'Queen Forever', on 10 Nov as a means of making ultimate dollar from three previously unreleased and unfinished tracks. One of the new/old recordings is the long discussed duet between Freddie Mercury and Michael Jackson, aptly titled 'There Must Be More To Life Than This'.

• Laminated pop guy Adam Lambert (and sometime Queen frontman) has given away the game re his new solo LP, his first since his 2013 split with Sony's RCA Records and signing to a new mystery label. The TBA album is, says A-Lamb, "really good", and has him working with "an amazing executive producer".

• "NICK JONAS HAS ARRIVED", screams a press release. It also informs us that he will release a solo album called 'Nick Jonas' on 11 Nov. Here's the video for lead single 'Chains'.

• The nominations are out for the first ever Music Ally Digital Music Awards, which take place on 16 Oct. Check out the noms here.

Nadine Coyle still in Girls Aloud, even if no one else is
In a strange twist of fate/paperwork, Nadine Coyle has said that Girls Aloud haven't technically split yet, since at the time of their final separation back in spring 2013, she very politely declined to sign any contracts formalising the break up.

Speaking to the Daily Mirror last week, Coyle revealed that, while Cheryl, Nicola, thingy and whatnot had initialled the 'Girls Aloud are officially over for now and always'-type contract: "I never signed it, so technically I'm still in Girls Aloud; I'm a one man band! I need holograms made up of them so I can go back out on stage in 30 years time!"

Gah! The world really isn't ready for a Sarah Harding hologram. Not. Ready.

Still speaking, Coyle added: "I didn't want to put my name to anything to do with it so I said [to management], 'If you want to write this thing from these four, then write it from these four - but I am taking no part in it'".

So, that's all quite odd. Please all stand by for a single from a solo Nadine 'the one man band' Coyle, which may or may not be available in all good shops. Or only certain shops, good and bad. Or only in Tesco. Or Asda. Or as a free gift stapled on to bottles of windscreen- leaner at your local garage. Whatever.

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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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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