TODAY'S TOP STORY: Kim Dotcom's hit back on all things MegaUpload shifted over to Hong Kong earlier this week, where legal reps for the founder of the always controversial former file-transfer service are busy trying to recover frozen assets. When the US authorities shut down MegaUpload back in 2012, accusing the firm of money laundering and rampant copyright infringement, there was actually... [READ MORE]
TODAY'S APPROVED: It's almost a year to the day that I last wrote about Josy in this column, but I think their name bears repeating. The kind of stage presence each member of this band displays with apparent effortlessness is rarely seen in anyone at all. And this is just some self-releasing band from Tokyo who you've probably never heard of. Despite my best efforts. Formed in 2010, the band have carved... [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES Kim Dotcom's battle for his MegaUpload assets moves to Hong Kong
LEGAL Former U2 bassist PA loses appeal against theft conviction
LIVE BUSINESS Music Venues Trust announces London conference
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES Universal chief comments on SoundCloud talks (a bit)
MEDIA Tim Ingham resigning as Music Week editor, plus new hires
ARTIST NEWS Japanese rock band Vamps discuss the challenges of making it abroad
GIGS & FESTIVALS Sharon Van Etten confirms 2015 shows, screens new video
AWARDS Young Fathers win the Mercury Prize
Ant & Dec to host the BRITs (yes, in 2015)
ONE LINERS Taylor Swift, The Death Weather, Tulisa and more
AND FINALLY... Ice Cube went on Sesame Street. The end.
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Kim Dotcom's battle for his MegaUpload assets moves to Hong Kong
Kim Dotcom's hit back on all things MegaUpload shifted over to Hong Kong earlier this week, where legal reps for the founder of the always controversial former file-transfer service are busy trying to recover frozen assets.

When the US authorities shut down MegaUpload back in 2012, accusing the firm of money laundering and rampant copyright infringement, there was actually concurrent activity on four continents. Servers were targeted in the US and Europe, key execs were arrested in New Zealand, and the firm's offices in Hong Kong were raided.

Some $42 million of MegaUpload's assets were frozen during the raid. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, Dotcom wants them back. And with America's criminal action against him and his former company moving along like an iceberg in a particularly frosty winter (mainly due to extradition issues), he reckons he shouldn't have to wait for that case against him to go through the motions before getting his HK loot back.

The Mega man's lawyers filed legal papers on the matter back in April, and the case reached court this week. As with a lot of Dotcom's arguments in the New Zealand courts, the case centres on the legal processes the local authorities went through when seizing his assets at the request of the Americans.

In Hong Kong, the argument is that the Chinese region's Secretary For Justice did not provide a "full and frank disclosure" of the facts to the court when seeking the warrant to seize MegaUpload assets back in 2012. And because the warrant was issued without MegaUpload in attendance - the element of surprise being required - the Secretary For Justice had a duty to be extra vigilant in providing the judge with all the fact, Dotcom's lawyers say.

And yet - said Dotcom's legal man about the 2012 hearing, according to Torrentfreak: "In about six or seven minutes, the applicant dealt with the position of nine defendants and managed to freeze a massive amount of money. There was not one word about Megaupload, not a jot, not a tittle".

A key fact missing from the 2012 court hearing was that MegaUpload the company had no US base, meaning criminal proceedings could not be formally filed against the business under American law. The US authorities have previously said that's an irrelevant technicality, but Team Dotcom insist it's a crucial point.

It remains to be seen how the Hong Kong court responds to the Mega team's arguments. In New Zealand, the US music and movie industries have moved - with some success - to stop Dotcom reclaiming his frozen assets, on the grounds that if the content owners are victorious in their civil copyright action against the defunct file-transfer business, they'll be claiming that dosh in damages.

Though if it can be shown Hong Kong authorities didn't follow due procedure in seizing MegaUpload assets in the first place, that claim might be deemed irrelevant.

And if Dotcom got his Hong Kong fortune back, that would go a long way to paying his mounting legal fees. Even more so if he then successfully sued the Hong Kong authorities for breaking protocol and damaging his business in the process.

So, more fun times ahead.

Former U2 bassist PA loses appeal against theft conviction
The former PA to U2 bassist Adam Clayton has lost her appeal against a conviction of stealing money from the musician.

As previously reported, Carol Hawkins was convicted in 2012 of embezzling 2.8 million euros from Clayton's bank accounts. At the sentencing, Judge Patrick McCartan said of the 181 thefts over a four year period: "Nothing, frankly, could explain away the scale of this dishonesty other than the greed in pursuit of a lavish lifestyle that was no responsibility of Mr Clayton's".

She was sentenced to seven years in prison, but later appealed both the conviction and the length of the sentence. Eventually reaching court this month, three judges yesterday rejected all arguments against her conviction. They are due to rule on the length of her sentence later this week.

Music Venues Trust announces London conference
The Music Venues Trust has announced Venues Day, an event due to take place at the Southbank Centre in London on 9 Dec.

Aiming to give a stronger voice to the UK's smaller gig venues, the day will see discussions between representatives of those venues and the wider music industry. There will be three main panels, dealing with: best practice, noise vs nuisance, and the question 'what happens next?'

Amongst the speakers on the day will be Horace Trubridge from the Musicians' Union, Attitude Is Everything's Suzanne Bull, Mike Weatherley MP, Lisa Lavia from the Noise Abatement Society and Dom Frazer from Guildford venue The Boilerroom.

Commenting on the new conference event, Music Venue Trust CEO Mark Davyd told CMU: "Venues Day is the first event of its kind in the UK, specifically created for the needs of the small and medium music venues. We want to change perceptions, about what these venues do, how they do it, what's good practice, and clarify the message so that the cultural sector, music industry and politicians can recognise, support and develop that work. We hope all the venues around the country will see this as an important opportunity to get their voices heard".

Venue managers, owners and promoters can apply for free delegate passes now by emailing Registration will open fully on 10 Nov. More info here.

Universal chief comments on SoundCloud talks (a bit)
Ah, SoundCloud. What are we to do about SoundCloud? Well, actually, it's nothing to do with me. Unless the thing to be done about SoundCloud is for you all to tune in to my ThisWeek London Podcast, which is streaming up there on the audio platform right now.

But what about SoundCloud becoming a revenue generating content platform and fan community for labels and publishers and artists and songwriters everywhere?

Well, as previously reported, the digital firm - having failed to find a buyer so that the "how the hell do we make money out of all this?" challenge could be someone else's problem - is busy trying to get a new ad-system off the ground, and is trying to get the labels to come on board as content partners in order to get a share of that ad cash.

But the labels are holding out for a better deal than SoundCloud has so far been able to offer, stalling things somewhat. And the most recent word on the label talks was that negotiations with the biggest record company of them all, Universal, had now stopped completely.

But good news! Universal top man Lucian Grainge hasn't yet confined his fluffy SoundCloud to the no-deal-let's-just-drive-em-out-of-business shelf (currently occupied by an inflatable Grooveshark) which definitely exists in his swish office.

Not at all. He told a Wall Street Journal conference on Tuesday there's an "opportunity for SoundCloud to create incredible revenue". It's just that no one's worked out quite how yet. But it's all still to play for in the streaming domain don't you know. According to Billboard, the Universal big cheese added: "We're in the experimental phase at the moment. The last two or three years has been about stopping the decline and creating as many platforms and as many services and opportunities to capture money".

So good news for the SoundClouders. Though it sounds a bit like the firm's founder Alexander Ljung has already accepted that Universal may not be on board at the start of the next bold chapter of his business venture. "We won't have everybody in from day one", he said at the same conference, albeit after declining to specifically comment on UMG talks. "Our intention is to create something that's valuable for everybody and so valuable that everybody wants to be in. We're not there yet".

Nope, we're not 'there' yet. And I'm not sure we're even on the outskirts of 'there', with its industrial estates of hope and low rent housing of joy. But hey, let's all pass the time on this slow-going autobahn to 'there' by listening to this week's edition of the ThisWeek London Podcast. Now on SoundCloud!

Tim Ingham resigning as Music Week editor, plus new hires
Tim Ingham is to leave his three year old post as Editor of Music Week at the close of 2014, it's been confirmed, in order to establish his own media enterprise in the new year.

MW's now-dep ed Tom Pakinkis will take over as editor from Ingham, who will stay on as an occasional consultant on various Music Week events.

Appraising the changes in editorship, Music Week Publisher Dave Roberts says: "It's obviously very sad that Tim's leaving us. He's played an important role in the renaissance of Music Week. But, Tom's been beside him every step of the way and is the perfect candidate to take over and keep pushing us on. Plus we'll be working with Tim on our bigger events anyway, so he's not gone completely".

Meanwhile joining the Music Week fam as of 1 Jan 2015 are veteran journalists Mark Sutherland - who comes in as Contributing Editor - and one-time global editor at Billboard Emmanuel Legrande, who'll act as Music Week's US editor from his base in Washington.

As to that, Roberts adds: "The addition of Mark and Emmanuel to the team is also a real coup and ensures that we'll continue to deliver original and informative content for all sectors of the business".

  Approved: Josy
It's almost a year to the day that I last wrote about Josy in this column, but I think their name bears repeating. The kind of stage presence each member of this band displays with apparent effortlessness is rarely seen in anyone at all. And this is just some self-releasing band from Tokyo who you've probably never heard of. Despite my best efforts.

Formed in 2010, the band have carved out a sound that spans decades - citing The Doors, Grand Funk Railroad and MGMT as their key influences. They released their first full-length album, 'No Way Back Home', a year ago, none of which is seemingly available in easily embeddable form, but it is up on Spotify so go and check it out there. And there is a reasonably well stocked SoundCloud profile featuring older material.

But while listening to Josy recorded is great and all, it still doesn't capture the amazing energy and musical dexterity of their live performances. So, if someone reading this could please bring them over to the UK, that would be a massive help. Book them. Book them now.

Here's a couple of tracks to whet your appetite, 'To The Light' and 'Let Me Dream'.
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Japanese rock band Vamps discuss the challenges of making it abroad
At last week's Tokyo International Music Market, the Japan Night organisation held a previously reported press conference announcing plans for a series of concerts around the world showcasing Japanese music. Then rock bands Vamps, [Alexandros] and Sakanaction played a showcase in Tokyo to mark the occasion.

The previous day, CMU Editor Andy Malt caught up with Vamps, asking frontman Hyde what the challenges are for Japanese artists trying to make it overseas.

"Not many Japanese artists are famous abroad at the moment", he said. "A big part of that is that there's no real predecessor to pave the way. No Japanese artists that have been really famous internationally yet, so it's really hard to get the support and the budget to get out there. It is really difficult, but little by little things are changing".

As for how Japanese artists can use streaming and other digital services (which are largely unavailable in Japan) to build their profile, guitarist KAZ added: "Streaming is mainstream abroad. And I think those platforms could be a good tool to help us jump from Japan to other foreign countries, and to give people a chance to find out more about Japanese music in general. So I think they are important in that regard. And as this new era evolves, perhaps music should evolve with it".

Read our full interview with Vamps here, and for more on Japan's digital music market and where it is heading, sign up to receive the next edition of the CMU Digest Report.

Sharon Van Etten confirms 2015 shows, screens new video
American folk lady Sharon 'Shaz' Van Etten has confirmed a good lot of shows in 2015, in so doing adding to the ongoing winner's lap for her heart-stoppingly heart-stopping latest LP 'Are We There'.

Van Etten, who's on this side of the Atlantic next month as it is for a European and UK/Irish tour, will be back again in April next year to play the following British/Irish dates:

21 Apr: Bristol, Trinity
23 Apr: Dublin, Whelans
25 Apr: Leeds, Brudenell Social Club
27 Apr: Gateshead, Sage
29 Apr: London, Shepherds Bush Empire

Details of and tickets to all the dates, near and far, are here. And finally this is the new video to the apex of 'Are We There', 'Your Love Is Killing Me'.

Young Fathers win the Mercury Prize
So, the ever masterful CMU Editor Andy Malt let me leave early yesterday to attend that Mercury Prize show in Camden and eat all the free food that came with it ("what a dessert!") on the strict condition I file a very comprehensive report of the entire Mercury Prize operation. So here goes.

In 1979, Margaret Thatcher came to power in the UK with an agenda to privatise a string of state-owned businesses, many of which had been brought into national ownership under previous Labour governments. High up on that agenda was telecommunications. At that point domestic telecoms were run out of a division of the Post Office, while the also state-owned Cable & Wireless had operations abroad, mainly in Hong Kong.

An act of parliament was passed in 1981 setting the privatisation of C&W into motion, while concurrently spinning off domestic telecoms into a stand-alone entity called British Telecommunications, which was quickly pencilled for flotation on the London Stock Exchange in 1984. With a key aim of the Tories' privatisation plan being the creation of competition in sectors previously dominated by state monopolies, ministers encouraged other parties to enter the market, going head to head with what would become BT plc.

And so the aforementioned C&W teamed up with British Petroleum, which was finding petrol a bit dull, and Barclays Bank, which had good money to burn, and formed Mercury Communications Ltd. Mercury was the Roman god of communications, see? The new company set about establishing various telecom-style ventures, plonking odd-looking phone boxes on the high street, giving Phil Collins a cash boost by syncing his music to invigorating footage of dirty cables being pushed into the ground, and getting into the phone card business big time.

Though the whole venture was hindered somewhat by every single person in the country (outside of Hull, obviously) having BT-connected phones. And for some reason a 'type ten digits into your BT phone every time your call to access the Mercury network' plan never really took off. But Mercury buttons started to be added to handsets, and those phone boxes always stood out, which meant, for a telecoms network nobody used, Mercury nevertheless enjoyed a pretty high profile. And even more so once mobile telecoms gained momentum in the mid-1990s, Mercury having won the rights to run one of the new 'personal communication networks'.

And then... hmm, actually, I've just done a word count and I'm thinking perhaps this report is a little too comprehensive. I'd blame Malt for that. Maybe I should speed things up a bit. OK, here goes...

Mercury Communications had a huge disadvantage because of the totally dominant BT. So they recruited an ambitious marketing team. And they did some quirky art and music stuff. Which led to them sponsoring a new music awards initiated by the then boss of Virgin Records, Jon 'Webbo' Webster. It took their name. But then Mercury got sold. And the brand was dumped. But the awards lived on. 22 years and counting. Last night Scottish hip hoppers Young Fathers won it. See, I can do concise, you just have to ask.

See you in February for my comprehensive coverage of the BRITs. In 1877, Thomas Edison invented the phonograph...


Ant & Dec to host the BRITs (yes, in 2015)
Hey, hey, what? No? Yes! Ant & Dec are only bloody well hosting the 2015 BRIT Awards, which is very exciting news indeed.

Well, it would have been fourteen years ago when they were still funny. Which is presumably why they were booked to host the music industry's big bash that year too. But BRITs 2015, Ant & Dec, that could work. Couldn't it?

And remember, while for you the BRITs is a big free party paid for by some credit industry twonks, for ITV it's a television programme. And the ratings have been slipping. And when ITV has a ratings slippage, it employs Ant & Dec. It's called stratagem four-point-five. It was either that or Norris from Corrie. Which actually, I think I'd have preferred.

But anyway, Ant & Dec to host the BRITs. Woooooooooooooo! And that's me quoting BRITs chief Max Lousada there. Well, almost.

Says Lousada: "Ant & Dec are two of the most popular TV broadcasters this country has ever produced and it's a real honour to have them take centre stage once again to host the BRITs. It's great that these two pillars of British TV will be part of a night about celebrating icons in British music".

Look at it this way, if the new BRITs show strategy is wheeling out pop telly show hosts of old in chronological order, that'll mean 'Popworld' co-host Simon Amstell in 2017. And I think deep down that's what we're all sitting around here waiting for.

Taylor Swift, The Death Weather, Tulisa and more

• Taylor Swift, aka the only artist OF ALL TIME that's loved by all living Americans right now (says one study), is to give the proceeds from her new '1989' single 'Welcome To New York' to NY public schools. She said it on the latest episode of 'The View', so it must be true. Long live Taylor Swift!

• The first track in a while by Jack White and Alison Mosshart's shared band The Dead Weather has blown in like... erm, a cold front. And that's my first and last go at making a weather joke, I hope you all liked it. 'Buzzkill(er)' and B-side 'It's Just Too Bad' will be available to buy on 4 Nov. Hear the former now.

• Lil Wayne's 'Tha Carter V' LP has a new release date... or at least, the first part of it does. Apparently there'll be several instalments. Aaaanyway, look for part one on 9 Dec, if that date even sticks. Here's a video of Lil Wayne explaining (not really) what's going on.

• Tulisa's back! With a new single! Featuring Fazer! And a video! In which she wears barely anything! View 'Living Without You' here.

• David Gilmour of soon-to-expire Pink Floyd fame has confirmed in a fireside chat with Rolling Stone that he is working on a new solo LP. "It's coming along very well", he tells RS, adding: "There's a few months' work in it yet. I'm hoping to get it out this following year. Then I'm hoping to do an old man's tour, not a 200-date sort of thing". Good to know.

• Experimental electronic pop artist and CMU approved alumnus Jonnie Common has shared a new single, 'Crumbs', ahead of the spookily-timed 31 Oct release of his latest LP, 'Trapped In Amber'. Listen to the song here, and get tickets to one or more of the three shows JC is doing next month as an intro to his new record.

• 'One Night In Hell', a short animated film inspired by, and somehow involving, Brian May and a pack of 'Diablery' cards he owns, is airing on Sky Arts tomorrow night, aka Halloween. No idea. Anyway here's a trailer, and here's an interview May did with Classic Rock explaining his diabolical new artistic distraction.

Ice Cube went on Sesame Street. The end.
Times have changed, big time, for one-time gangsta rap man Ice Cube since he first 'came on the scene' back in 1984. Yes, indeed.

Still, everything changes, like Keane said, and so now, today, I'm linking to a clip of ex-NWA MC Ice Cube chilling (and doing highly literal magic tricks) with Elmo on 'Sesame Street'.

All whilst sticking to the show's strict 'no sexiness or boobs on show' policy... barely. Ah-stounding.

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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