TODAY'S TOP STORY: The Recording Industry Association Of America has submitted its updated list of 'rogue' websites to the American government, something which has become an annual event. Both the music and movie industries Stateside provide the Office Of The US Trade Representative with lists of websites they believe are guilty of enabling rampant copyright infringement, the hope being that the Trade... [READ MORE]
TODAY'S APPROVED: Molice are not a band who keep their inspirations a secret. Not that they sound derivative, but their name is an amalgamation of the 'olice' from The Police, and the collective 'mo' of Jim Morrison, Moe Tucker and Morrissey. Actually, none of the music of those names are especially prominent in the trio's own, with late 70s punk, early 80s new wave and Pixies really shaping the sound they've... [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES RIAA updates list of rogue piracy sites
DEALS Sony/ATV signs Tegan & Sara
LIVE BUSINESS Madison Square Garden Company may split
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES YouTube CEO says music service coming soon, hopefully
Tidal launches streaming service for men
MEDIA Media delivery service Fluence launches
ARTIST NEWS Bye Bye Dirty Beaches
Official Charts Company announces "real winners" of Mercury Prize
RELEASES Eric Clapton shares Jack Bruce tribute track
GIGS & FESTIVALS Tune-Yards confirms 2015 shows, WoW fest appearance
ONE LINERS Pandora, Slayer, Jose Gonzalez and some other fine treats too
AND FINALLY... Harry Potter can rap
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RIAA updates list of rogue piracy sites
The Recording Industry Association Of America has submitted its updated list of 'rogue' websites to the American government, something which has become an annual event. Both the music and movie industries Stateside provide the Office Of The US Trade Representative with lists of websites they believe are guilty of enabling rampant copyright infringement, the hope being that the Trade Representative can put pressure on countries where said sites are available and/or based.

Most of the sites on the latest list are usual suspects, though it's interesting that Russian social network vKontakte is still on there. But perhaps more noteworthy are the statements accompanying the list, in which the RIAA's Neil Turkewitz hits out at piracy operations which claim that copyright enforcement is a form of censorship, while accusing others of paying lip service to the takedown system as set out in the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act, but only so they can appear legit while exploiting weaknesses in said system.

On the former, according to Torrentfreak, Turkewitz writes: "[Some say copyright enforcement is a] form of censorship or restriction on fundamental freedoms, and some pirate sites cloak themselves in the language of freedom to justify themselves - sites like The Pirate Bay".

But the RIAA man argues that copyright in fact protects, and is therefore part of, the freedom of expression. He goes on: "If the protection of expression is itself a restriction on freedom of expression, then we have entered a metaphysical Wonderland that stands logic on its head, and undermines core, shared global values about personhood".

On the DMCA takedown provisions, which provide protection to digital platforms which host or link to copyright infringing content as a result of user-upload or automated activities, providing they give copyright owners a way to have offending content or links removed, Turkewitz says that piracy sites exploit these protections. Some of the sites on the RIAA's lists of offenders may operate a takedown system, but they do so knowing that infringing content will be reloaded onto their platforms as soon as it is removed.

"As a result, copyright owners are forced into an endless 'cat and mouse' game", writes Turkewitz, "which requires considerable resources to be devoted to chasing infringing content, only for that same infringing content to continually reappear. It is imperative that [such] site operators take reasonable measures to prevent the distribution of infringing torrents or links and to implement measures that would prevent the indexing of infringing torrents".

So make of all that what you will. And now a list of the bad guys in piracy-ville (according to the RIAA): vKontakte, EX.UA, The Pirate Bay,,,,,, Zamunda,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, Sdí, Hell Spy, HellShare,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, Degraçaé,,,,,,,,

Sony/ATV signs Tegan & Sara
Sister-sister pop types Tegan and Sara Quin, aka Tegan & Sara, have signed to Sony/ATV in a co-publishing deal that'll reach all over the globe. And beyond!

It'll cover every single one of the seven LPs T&S have released to date, and also apply to their next, which whilst it's still a glint in the pair's near-genetically-identical eyes, is anticipated to start taking shape in Q4 of next year.

Reading each other's minds in that weird way twins do, Tegan and Sara say this in unison: "We're very excited to be joining the Sony/ATV family, and we're pleased to have our seven-album catalogue united under one global roof. As we continue to deliver Tegan & Sara albums, we also intend to expand our unique songwriting brand with co-writes and toplines for other artists".

And dropping in his two dollars' worth on the deal, Sony/ATV's Senior Creative Director, Tyler Childs adds: "Tegan and Sara are two of the premiere songwriters and iconic artists of the past decade. We're so excited to dive into their extensive catalogue and collaborate on future co-writing opportunities. I look forward to working side-by-side with the girls for many years to come".

And ending this newsflash, Piers Henwood, MD of Tegan & Sara's management firm Amelia Artists, chimes in: "Having self-administrated Tegan & Sara's publishing company from our management office over the past few album cycles, we had a clear set of expectations for what we wanted in a global partner. Sony/ATV was able to check all these boxes, and we're excited to have a passionate staff there to help steward and grow Tegan & Sara's songwriting legacy".

Madison Square Garden Company may split
The Madison Square Garden Company has announced that it may spin off its music and live entertainment business. This would mean two publicly traded companies would operate, the other housing the firm's media and sport divisions.

Speaking to Billboard, MSG CEO Tad Smith said: "The [entertainment] company would capitalise on significant opportunities to grow rapidly within the changing entertainment landscape. The [sports unit] would enjoy steady growth and high cash flow that we expect will result in capital returns to shareholders".

I know, too sexy right? There's apparently no plan in place for any of this actually happen at the moment, but it's been under consideration since July, Billboard reports.

YouTube CEO says music service coming soon, hopefully
YouTube's long-awaited much-anticipated and sure-to-be-swell audio streaming service, code name (well, that's what the indie labels have code named it, I'm sure), will be with us very soon, oh yes it will be, soon I tell you, soon! How soon? Soon soon, that's how soon. So put it in your diaries, people. Next to the word 'soon'.

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki was asked about her company's much-mooted Spotify competitor at a Re/code conference on Monday and, according to CNet, said: "I remain optimistic that you can see it soon". And you can't say fairer than that. Optimism! Half full glasses are presumably in abundance around YouTube's music department.

The Google subsidiary's subscription-based music service has been a long-time coming, presumably hindered in no small part by the company's big fall-out with many of the indie record companies, who argued that YouTube was offering below-market terms for its Spotify-rivalling set-up, while threatening to cut off access to the firm's existing video platform if they didn't play ball. The tough deal making backfired on Google when the labels went public.

Nevertheless, said Wojcicki of the YouTube music service: "I think there's a lot of opportunity. It's amazing how much music we have". So that's good.

Given the more mainstream audience enjoyed by YouTube's existing video platform, and the amount of music consumed on it, there definitely is an opportunity for the Google subsidiary to make a serious play in the audio streaming market. Though the jury is still out on whether those more mainstream music fans will pay to access a Spotify-type set-up, because while YouTube may have much greater reach than the streaming music start-ups, it has little experience in charging users for content. (Digital music analyst Mark Mulligan has just published a report on this very matter, and more generally on the potential impact YouTube's streaming business could have).

Though Wojcicki indicated that YouTube might make a wider move into the subscription space in the future, offering ad-free access to video content as well as its planned new audio service. If a wider subscription option was available on the YouTube platform, that might make the music service upsell easier. Though there again, will consumers be persuaded to pay for ad-free video content? Especially given that more prolific YouTube users, for whom the pre-roll ads are probably an irritation, may well have ad-blocking software installed anyway.

Still, interesting times ahead.


Tidal launches streaming service for men
High quality streaming service Tidal has gone live, banking on the assumption that men (and only men, according to a video promoting it) will pay more money for better quality audio.

As previously reported, the service - which went live in the US and UK yesterday and plans to become available in a total of 50 territories - is a spin-off from Norwegian streaming service Wimp, rebadged with a more appealing name for English speakers (male ones). It has a catalogue of over 25 million tracks, plus 75,000 videos, and editorial content. And for all this, you'll pay a monthly subscription of £19.99.

Given that's double the going rate for standard audio streaming services, that price point is going to be a turn-off for a lot of men (and apparently all women), but the USP of higher quality audio may be enough to build a sustainable if niche business. At least until lossless streaming becomes the norm across all services. Which it will.

Switching between music playing at Spotify's current highest quality setting and the same music playing in Tidal on a fairly bog standard set of headphones, it was hard to hear much difference. The bass was slightly more pleasing in Tidal though. And the new service does have a much nicer and more user-friendly app. But while I'm all for streaming services having better apps, I'm not sure that's enough to convince me to spend an extra tenner a month. Maybe that's my feminine side talking though.

Tidal CEO Andy Chen (a man) said in a statement: "We are delighted that Tidal has launched and that music lovers can now appreciate music the way it is meant to sound. But the music is just one part of the service. The expert editorial educates, entertains and enriches the music experience while the music videos complement the music perfectly. We are sure that Tidal will quickly become the music streaming service of choice for all who appreciate high quality at every level".

Anyway, you're probably wondering what 'the five things a man should have' are. Knock yourself out fellas.

Ladies, please don't feel left out. Remember that you can still buy headphones with flowers on them that are designed not to hurt your inferior ears.

Media delivery service Fluence launches
After several months in beta, new content submission service Fluence has gone live. Set up by Topspin co-founder Shamal Ranasinghe, the site allows creators (musicians, say) to share their content (music, I guess) with 'curators' (maybe bookers, A&Rs, radio types and, of course, journalists).

The idea is that creators get access to people they think would be interested in what they do, and the 'curators', who presumably are interested in accessing good, new, relevant content, are able to "manage demands on their time". And those demands can be managed by charging the creators for that time (payment that can be donated directly to charity if the curator so chooses).

Writes Ranashinghe in a blog post explaining how Fluence came to be: "Our goal with Fluence is to make a transformative impact and fundamentally improve the way media is promoted across the web. We believe the best way to reach your full audience is to first connect directly to curators, domain experts, and other trusted sources who can give you feedback or recommend you to others. As more media is produced than ever before and everyone's attention fragments limitlessly online, curators are increasingly essential in reaching the right people".

While receiving more music than they can possibly listen to is certainly a gripe of many a music journalist, there do seem to be a few hurdles for Fluence to overcome before it achieves its goal. For one thing, unless there is mass adoption of the platform on the part of labels as well as self-releasing musicians, it's just going to be another thing demanding a journalist's attention, in addition to everything else. And potentially more time if gate-keepers are being paid to check out content and curators are therefore obliged to comment on it.

There may also be issues with journalists and other curators using the names of their employers to earn money in this way. And, arguably, it is already a music journalist / booker / A&R's job to listen to new music, so is it ethical to then charge musicians to listen to their music above others? There's also the issue that really good new music probably won't need to pay to get attention, so a sizable part of those musicians who do pay are likely sharing less good (maybe because it's not developed or finished) music. Which will become a turn off for curators.

These are all questions that will need to be answered, but Ranashinghe seems hopeful that Fluence can be used to benefit all involved, also saying in his blog post: "We believe that by improving the way media reaches its intended audience, it will help the creative economy reach its full potential. More people will engage with media that they are likely to enjoy and new fans will be reached who ultimately turn into paying customers".

Here's a video showing off the service, and you can find the site itself here.

  Approved: Molice
Molice are not a band who keep their inspirations a secret. Not that they sound derivative, but their name is an amalgamation of the 'olice' from The Police, and the collective 'mo' of Jim Morrison, Moe Tucker and Morrissey.

Actually, none of the music of those names are especially prominent in the trio's own, with late 70s punk, early 80s new wave and Pixies really shaping the sound they've carved into their own over four albums. The latest, 'Resonance Love', was released this year after the band raised money for the recording through Japanese crowdfunding site Fanbo, and it contains some of their strongest songs to date.

Their early set at last week's Tokyo International Music Market also gave an opportunity to witness frontwoman Rinko's infectious energy, an enthusiasm for the music she's playing, and just being in front of an audience, clearly buzzing through her limbs as she strikes the chords out of her guitar.

She also explained in some detail, during an on stage interview after the set, why Molice are like the giant Gundam robot standing outside the shopping centre that housed the venue. But that's another story. Right now, check out 'Thinkers' and 'Sensitive City' from 'Resonance Love'.
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Bye Bye Dirty Beaches
Taiwan-born and now Canada-based artist Alex Zhang Hungtai is casting off his nine year-old Dirty Beaches alias, and will take on another 'stage name' for whatever it is he's going to do next. Because why stick with the same name all your life? Quite. That's strictly for squares, losers and... erm, most of the human race.

Confirming the final dissolve of Dirty Beaches yesterday, Hungtai said in a series of tweets: "Hi guys thank you all for the support of [new album] 'Stateless', its sad to say goodbye to DB, but rest assured NEW PROJECTS NEW MUSIC COMING SOON 2015. This may not be a smart move and painful one too, but in the long run I'll look back and be glad I moved on from Dirty Beaches. Thank you all x. RIP DIRTY BEACHES 2005-2014. Time to move on".

'Stateless', Hungtai's forthcoming all-instrumental LP, is arriving next week. Nice timing. Get familiar with it in the meantime via Pitchfork's advance streaming thing, Pitchfork Advance, and please, don't cry for Dirty Beaches, he's already dead.


Official Charts Company announces "real winners" of Mercury Prize
The Official Charts Company has this morning announced what it's calling the "real winners" of the Mercury, ahead of tonight's apparently now pointless prize-giving ceremony.

Whoever 'wins' tonight, FKA Twigs, Kate Tempest and GoGo Penguin can be happy in the knowledge that they've had the biggest percentage sales increases of all the nominees, while Royal Blood have had the biggest sales overall.

GoGo Penguin saw the biggest uplift at 138% - going from 1522 sales of their album 'V2.0' pre-nomination to 3617 in total after. Kate Tempest comes next, with a 124% lift for 'Everybody Down' - from 3075 to 6881 - followed by bookies' favourite FKA Twigs, whose album 'LP1' leapt from 6980 sales to 12,750.

But they all look like clueless layabouts next to Royal Blood, who've been at their market stall day and night since they were nominated, and have sold an extra 59,060 of their eponymous debut album since the shortlist was announced - taking them from 95,258 units to a total of 154,318 - an increase of 62%.

They beat nearest sale figure rivals Bombay Bicycle Club, who have to date sold 79,888 of their latest album, 'So Long, See You Tomorrow'. They've only seen a 7% increase in sales since nomination (second from last ahead of Anna Calvi with 6%), but that album's been out for ages, hasn't it?

Anyway, OCC supreme leader Martin Talbot had this to say about all these stats: "Royal Blood set the Official Albums Chart alight this summer when they hit number one with the fastest-selling British rock debut in three years, and if the Mercury Prize was decided based on pure sales, it would most definitely be a one-horse race for the band".

He added: "This year's shortlist is full of faces yet to land on the radar of the wider British public, but all deserving of a place under the Mercury spotlight. Who the judges ultimately choose, is anyone's guess. But certainly, if this were the public choosing, it could be between FKA Twigs, Kate Tempest, Royal Blood, or GoGo Penguin".

Could be, sure. But thankfully this is one prize that the public aren't allowed anywhere near. Mercury judge John Kennedy stressed: "The aim of the Mercury Prize is to try and highlight albums that might have got slightly overlooked. This year's list is a good example of the Prize doing that. If the artists on this year's list are lesser known by the general public then hopefully the Prize will help get them better known as they certainly deserve to be. The winner has to reflect a particular year in music but also potentially to have a created a classic piece of work that can stand the test of time. Craft, skill, context, innovation, individuality and talent all come into play".

Anyway, we'll find out this evening who's actually won the whole thing, and then we can get on with our lives.

Eric Clapton shares Jack Bruce tribute track
Eric Clapton has shared a song dedicated to his late Cream bandmate Jack Bruce, who died last Saturday at the age of 71.

Titled 'For Jack', the short instrumental builds on a statement Clapton released on hearing news of Bruce's death, in which he said his former collaborator was a "great musician and composer, and a tremendous inspiration to me".

Listen to the song here.

Tune-Yards confirms 2015 shows, WoW fest appearance
Indescribable band Tune-Yards, aka Merrill Garbus and friends, are flying in with the spring next year to play a sequence of UK shows as Tune-Yards, so now you know. And if you still don't know what Tune-Yards are, a good way to find out is to watch the band's appearance (playing 'Water Fountain') on last night's 'Later... With Jools Holland'.

Falling in behind Garbus et al's reigning LP 'Nikki Nack', the tour starts on 3 Mar at Vicar Street in Dublin, and will feature a visit to the London-based Southbank Centre's Women Of The World Festival, which promotes gender equality and celebrates female achievers. That show's on 5 Mar, by the way.

And what follows is that reiterated in the full list of live dates, tickets for which go on sale tomorrow at 10am:

3 Mar: Dublin, Vicar Street
5 Mar: London, Southbank Centre
6 Mar: Liverpool, Anglican Cathedral
8 Mar: Gateshead, Sage
9 Mar, Glasgow, Art School

Pandora, Slayer, Jose Gonzalez and some other fine treats too

Other notable announcements and developments today...

• Chris Phillips has been announced as Pandora's new Chief Product Officer. He was previously Amazon Digital Music's Director of Product Management and User Experience.

• Slayer are releasing a new track in partnership with Scion AV (a website owned by car maker Toyota's Scion brand that "champions independent progressive urban culture", apparently). Here they are in the studio and stuff.

• Nicki Minaj and Lil Wayne's new albums have been delayed. Minaj's 'The Pinkprint' will now land on 15 Dec. Meanwhile, Lil Wayne's 'Tha Carter V', which was due out this week, has been delayed indefinitely.

• Bearded folk guy Jose Gonzalez is releasing his first solo LP in seven years, 'Vestiges And Claws', on 16 Feb. Please all celebrate very, very quietly. Acting as, says Gonzalez, his own "zoomed-out eye on humanity on a small, pale blue dot in a cold, sparse and unfriendly space", as in Planet Earth, the new record already has a little trailer, so watch that here.

• The Bug and Dylan Carlson of Earth have teamed up for a new double A-side single. Have a listen to the first of the two tracks, 'Boa', here.

Approved solo singing wit Frankie Cosmos, aka Greta Kline, has made a video for 'Art School', a track off her most recent LP 'Zentropy'. In it, Kline larks about acting as if she likes Justin Bieber. No mean feat. Press play on the clip here.

• Baauer off of 'Harlem Shake' and other hits' next EP will be 'ß' (ie 'Beta'), and will feature long-lost pairing AlunaGeorge on a track titled 'One Touch', which I'm quite disappointed isn't a Mini Viva cover. Check the real track, which is available now, as is the entire EP, via iTunes, at this live link.

• Jack White has hired a new live keyboardist and pianist, QOTSA/Dead Weather man Dean Fertita, in place of his late keys player Isaiah 'Ikey' Owens, who sadly died of a heart attack earlier this month. This will have a bearing on White's forthcoming solo tour of the UK, which starts on 17 Nov at Leeds Arena. Confirms JW in a statement: "Although it is impossible to replace Ikey, the incredibly talented Dean Fertita will be joining the band to play piano and keyboard for all of Jack's currently announced tour dates".

Harry Potter can rap
The number of child stars who manage to go on to become legitimate actors post-puberty is not a large one, percentages-wise (just ask Corey Feldman). But Daniel Radcliffe seems to be managing it, despite spending his youth apparently typecasting himself to oblivion.

His latest movie, in which he does some only slightly above average acting but earns extra points by not playing a wizard, is about to come out. It's called 'Horns', if you're interested. Anyway, as a result he's doing the interview circuit in the US, and earlier this week 'stopped by' (ie was booked to appear on) 'The Tonight Show' with Jimmy Fallon.

In his interview, Radcliffe 'revealed' (ie had prepared in advance) the information that he's reasonably adept at rapping, having spent much time at school learning Eminem lyrics off by heart. So far, so like the back story of every cringe-inducing improv comedy rapper from Surrey. But it turns out he is actually pretty good at it. Like, confident enough in his skills to attempt, and good enough to pull off Blackalious' unfeasibly difficult 'Alphabet Aerobics'.

I think I would have stuck with the 'Harry Potter' films a lot longer if the battles had involved less wand-waving and more of this.

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