TODAY'S TOP STORY: It's no secret that the Motion Picture Association Of America would like some web-blocking to occur on its patch. It's boss bigged up British web-blocking at a conference in London in June, and then the Hollywood trade group wrote a report citing research that suggested UK web-blocks was delivering great results. And now Torrentfreak claims that the organisation has... [READ MORE]
TODAY'S ARTIST OF THE YEAR: Every weekday in the run up to the Christmas break, we'll be revealing another of our ten favourite artists of the year. Next up is PC Music... Doing a quick scan back over 2014, I can't think of any one sonic 'thing' as innovative, or on the flipside, as mind-slicingly schismatic and impossible to pin down as PC Music, aka Personal Computer Music. And no, in spite of this... [READ MORE]
BEEF OF THE WEEK: It just occurred to me that some of our readers might not know who Simon Bates is. And that seems like a terrible state of affairs. Terrible. So I will take it upon myself to educate you. You may thank me later. Simon Bates is a man. No, more than a man, he is a legend of broadcasting. He's almost a mythical beast, it's hard to believe that Simon Bates even exists in real life... [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES US movie industry investigating if web-blocks can be secured under existing law
DEALS 401K to represent Shaun Ryder's Black Grape catalogue
LABELS & PUBLISHERS Ged Doherty named new BPI Chairman
LIVE BUSINESS Soho's 12 Bar Club to close current site in 2015
MANAGEMENT & FUNDING Sinead O'Connor now managed by Simon Napier-Bell
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES Trends: Visualising the streaming experience with OpenAura
AWARDS BBC Music Awards presented
Melvin Benn confirmed for lifetime prize at European Festival Awards
ONE LINERS Little Mix, The Dø, Young Fathers and oodles more
AND FINALLY... CMU Beef Of The Week #235: Tom Binns v Simon Bates
Click JUMP to skip direct to a section of this email or ONLINE to read and share stories on the CMU website (JUMP option may not work in all email readers). For regular updates from Team CMU follow us on Twitter, Facebook or Tumblr.
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US movie industry investigating if web-blocks can be secured under existing law
It's no secret that the Motion Picture Association Of America would like some web-blocking to occur on its patch. It's boss bigged up British web-blocking at a conference in London in June, and then the Hollywood trade group wrote a report citing research that suggested UK web-blocks was delivering great results. And now Torrentfreak claims that the organisation has had its legal beagles busy busy this year trying to work out ways to secure web-blocks Stateside without requiring new laws to be past in Congress.

Web-blocking, of course, is where the courts order internet service providers to stop their customers accessing websites deemed to be rampant copyright infringers, and it has become a very common anti-piracy tactic in some European jurisdictions. Such a system was at the heart of two pieces of anti-piracy legislation proposed in Washington on 2011 - SOPA and PIPA - both of which were abandoned after widespread opposition from the tech community and online in January 2012.

Interestingly, in the UK when measures for combating online piracy were considered as part of the 2010 Digital Economy Act, both web-blocking and so called graduated response, ISPs being forced to send warning letters to suspected file-sharers, were considered. In the end the latter was adopted, with the former kicked into the long grass. Though ironically, while graduated response (aka three-strikes) is yet to go live, the UK movie industry found that web-blocking injunctions could be obtained under existing copyright law, and both it and the record industry have been happily securing web-blocks ever since.

And it seems that the MPAA Stateside - having originally investigated how it might resurrect the web-block elements of SOPA/PIPA in Congress without causing so much controversy - has now opted for seeing if it can find a way to secure web-blocks in the American courts under existing laws, without requiring new legislation to be written and passed.

Torrentfreak analyses four approaches that have been considered, including using America's Digital Millennium Copyright Act ("difficult"), the Federal Rules Of Civil Procedure ("promising but largely untested"), the International Trade Commission ("maybe feasible") and The Communications Act (down to semantics). Read the Torrentfreak article for more info on each approach.

Legal advice from various sources has been shared with the film studios which now need to decide if any of the possible legal routes are worth pursuing. That web-blocks haven't "broken the internet" in Europe will also be stressed, while any research showing the effectiveness of the blockades elsewhere is likely to be pushed forward, presumably ignoring just how easy it is to circumvent most blocks until Google can be persuaded or forced to stop linking to proxies and 'how to get around the block' web posts.

401K to represent Shaun Ryder's Black Grape catalogue
Shaun Ryder has signed a new worldwide publishing deal with Brooklyn-based 401K Music, covering songs he wrote as part of Black Grape.

Says 401K founder Veronica Gretton: "Shaun is one of my favourite people in the music business and I'm delighted to be back working with him. I first worked with Shaun nearly 20 years ago while at Radioactive Records. Next year is the 20th anniversary of [Black Grape's] number one debut album, 'It's Great When You're Straight... Yeah!', and I think its distinct mix of rap, house, rock and pop has yet to be duplicated by anyone. I can't wait for us to start working the songs and bringing them to new audiences".

She adds: "I'm pleased that he's happy and healthy and got his life back on track and we're here to clean up some business dealing that took advantage of him back in the day. First order of business on the publishing and recording side is to do a worldwide sweep of the monies due to him, to tidy up copyright registrations worldwide, and get his share of monies rolling in to him immediately. We're going to team up with the label, Universal, to pitch all the music supervisors and ad companies. We want them all to know that Shaun Ryder and Black Grape are very much open for business".

As well as pushing Black Grape's music for sync in 2015, Ryder will be touring with The Happy Monday's to mark the 25th anniversary of their 'Pills, Thrills And Bellyaches' album, and working on a number of TV projects, including the second series of 'Shaun Ryder On UFOs' for The History Channel.

Ged Doherty named new BPI Chairman
The BPI has announced former Sony Music UK CEO Ged Doherty as the replacement for Tony Wadsworth as its Chairman.

There was a time when BPI chairs were generally jobbing label execs, but Wadsworth set a new precedent when he left EMI while remaining in his role at the label trade group. Seemingly it worked and a precedent has now been set that chairs should be semi-retired ex-execs with nothing else better to do. I'm joking, of course. You guys are super great.

And anyway, Doherty's had loads on, actually. After leaving Sony Music in 2011, he founded film company Raindog Films with Colin Firth, became chairman of 'interactive music games company' (no idea) FOAM, and is a partner and shareholder at artist management firm Major Influence.

That latter role - ie having some insight into artist management - is a definite plus for someone inputting into the record company community, given the changing label/artist/management relationship that's going on all over the place. And if the BPI ever needs an interactive music game, it'll be sorted.

Announcing his new position at the BPI, Doherty said: "I started out in music when I was sixteen years old playing in bands in Manchester, a lot has happened since then and I hope some of what I've learnt along the way may be of some use in this role. I am honoured and humbled to be following on from Tony, who has been an incredible figurehead for the BPI. I am very much looking forward to working with Geoff [Taylor] and his team, Mike [Batt] and the BPI Council, and, of course, all the BPI members".

And I know what you're thinking, you're thinking that quote was nice and all, but it was a bit too short. Well, lucky for you, here's Tony Wadsworth, with his final quote for the BPI, which he's made the most of, so you should too: "It's a pleasure to congratulate Ged Doherty on taking over the BPI chair in the new year. I know Ged has all the attributes to do this job well, and I hope he enjoys his time as Chairman as much as I have".

He continues: "I feel immensely privileged to have had the opportunity of chairing the organisation for the past seven years, and hope that my passionate belief in music, the industry and the value of record labels has helped to make a contribution to the future of our music business".

And continues: "Thanks to everyone I have worked with over the years at the BPI - colleagues, Council members and to the many people in the industry who serve on the various committees and working parties. Special thanks go to my Deputy Chairman, Mike Batt and CEO Geoff Taylor - we have developed a close-knit and productive relationship and I have learnt a lot from both of them".

And continues: "I am not retiring, just recalibrating... and will continue to be involved in a variety of areas of our industry for as long as they will have me!"

Had enough? Of course not. Here's BPI CEO Geoff Taylor, who says: "Tony is a very hard act to follow and he leaves with our profound thanks and best wishes, but I am delighted that in Ged we have one of the few heavyweight executives who could take on this important role".

And says: "Like Tony, Ged has an outstanding track record working with labels and artists. His breadth of experience and knowledge will help us build on the strong legacy Tony leaves behind as our sector continues to transition successfully to new formats".

And says: "I know that everyone at the BPI and on the Council will want to join me in welcoming Ged and to wish him well as our new Chairman - we are all looking forward to working with him".

Oh, and here's Deputy Chairman Mike Batt: "I have worked alongside Tony as his Deputy Chairman for seven years, and in that time have come to respect enormously his particular blend of bonhomie and seriousness of purpose. We've been a good team, I think, with Geoff driving it all along. I'm delighted that Ged has joined as our new Chairman. I have the highest regard for him both personally and professionally, and I look forward to working together with him".

Well, that's all nice. But what is the consensus of the BPI Council? Well, here's BPI Council member Korda Marshall: "Tony has been a wonderful Chairman for the BPI, and I am sure my fellow Council members will want to join me in thanking him for his dedication and for the guidance and support he has given us at a time of great transformation in our industry. We are delighted to welcome Ged to the helm as we continue our journey into an exciting new streaming-led era, with all the possibilities this offers".

I'll tell you what I'd really like to know though. I'd really like to know what Calvin Harris's manager Mark Gillespie thinks of all this. Mark? "We worked incredibly closely with Ged when he ran Sony Music. His love of music and understanding of artists always sat at the core of our relationship together, something that will be a huge benefit to the BPI in his new role".

Thanks Mark. But Calvin Harris is hardly Sony's biggest artist, is he? We should really have got someone who works with One Direction to comment. And oh look, there's 1D's manager, Richard Griffiths. OK, Rich, you can say something, but make it quick: "Ged is the perfect person to take over from Tony as his knowledge of how the business works and his relationships all across the spectrum of music will be invaluable to the BPI".

Great, thanks guys. Although you were all talking so long, I think we might have missed Christmas.

Sinead O'Connor now managed by Simon Napier-Bell
Sinead O'Connor has hired herself a new manager in one-time Wham! warden Simon Napier-Bell of Snap-B Music, and has a deal already in place to release a memoir.

As previously reported, O'Connor became managerless last month after parting ways with her old one for mostly personal reasons (aka they were having an affair), placing a 'manager wanted' ad of sorts on her blog.

Napier-Bell says that, on reading the post, he and his Snap-B partner Bjorn de Water took a plane straight to Dublin to talk with Sinead (not for a holiday or anything), telling Billboard: "We saw that piece which Sinead put on her website, and I said that's really just the right person for us. The whole thing took four days. Everybody clicked and we're very happy about it".

He adds that he will give O'Connor free rein to say and do whatever she likes (which personally, I bet she'd do anyway), saying: "I don't do muzzling. Muzzling's the death of an artist, for Christ's sake. What other artist was ever muzzled and ever produced anything any good? She's a mature mother of four children. She herself has worked constantly on making herself a more controlled and disciplined artist. She absolutely must not change her involvement with social objectives and politics, and her songs should always reflect that - otherwise you don't have Sinead O'Connor".

Fair. Napier-Bell adds that O'Connor also wants to write songs for other artists, and will mainly be concentrating on writing her book in the near future, having apparently got a publishing advance from Penguin in the US. And then he says that she reminds him a bit of George Michael. Anyway read the whole interview here.

Trends: Visualising the streaming experience with OpenAura
The latest CMU Digest Report comes out later this week for subscribers to our premium service. It includes reports on the digital debates that took place at the M For Montreal conference in Canada last month, snippets of which will appear in the CMU Daily this week. Today CMU Business Editor Chris Cooke chats to Marisol Segal, Industry Relations & Marketing at OpenAura.

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Beyond the licensing squabbles, and the question as to whether or not YouTube really can turn its massive freemium audience into music subscribers, the other thing the video site's new music set-up will do is make the streaming experience more visual. Something its sister service Google Play has been slowly evolving for sometime. And even in YouTube Music Key flunks, that's a trend that is likely to be seen across the market.

"Look at social media, where best practice says always include an image, not just text and a link", says OpenAura's Marisol Segal, whose previous roles having involved both sides of the digital music industry, having worked at both distributor IODA and digital service provider Rdio. "Look at the trends in advertising and social media and how important the visual content is. That is your indicator of how we can enhance the playback experience in the streaming music domain".

The streaming music market is yet to fully embrace the visual side of the music experience, Segal reckons. "Listening online hasn't evolved much. You get pack shots, and a static artist page, usually with one photo and a biog. I mean, who reads a biog on the artist page of their streaming service? But all the DSPs think they need it, mainly because its one of the few things they have easy access to".

But it's in everyone's interest for streaming services to become more visual, Segal says. "Mainstream consumers are clearly engaged by visuals, we know that. And the DSPs need your attention on screen too, and need to find ways of encouraging that. And artists as well, artists need to be able to market themselves better via streaming platforms".

She goes on: "Artists can promote themselves on social media, but increasingly they'll be lucky to reach more than 10% of their audience without paying. They have their website at the top of the tree, but only a slice of fanbase will get that far. In the middle you have millions and millions of fans connecting to artists via streaming platforms, but the artists have no way of interacting with those fans, or pushing information to them, and trying to turn passive fans into active fans. It's crazy that these services are giving fans a little bit of what they want, and then forcing them to go off elsewhere the find everything else".

Of course, various DSPs have dabbled with offering artists the ability to tweak their profiles, or add buttons linking through to their merch stores. But, says Segal, "the challenge for the DSPs is that they need scalability. So they might be able to offer a little functionality direct, and for the most important artists and labels they can do something bespoke, but really they need one content source that can offer scale".

Which is the thing that OpenAura - the new business from IODA founder Kevin Arnold which launched earlier this year - is hoping to provide. "Streaming services need better artist information and visual content, and artists need to be able to control that, and that is why OpenAura was launched. Essentially we are building a giant artist meta-data and visual content toolkit, which we think complements existing meta-data and recommendation engines, but which enables DSPs with this need to offer more of the artist experience".

"We look at ourselves as first-to-market providing DSPs - who will be our clients - with artist identity resources. We are sourcing content from numerous places, Getty, Associated Press, professional photographers, labels, and artists direct. Anyone can contribute content, but artists control what goes out. 50% of revenue is shared back with the content owners, so we are creating a new revenue stream for the people creating this visual output".

One of the challenges for DSPs in getting this kind of content direct is that visuals are created and controlled by multiple stakeholders - labels, artists, management, promoters, media - many of which a digital service doesn't have direct contact with. OpenAura hopes to crack this problem. "We have artist tools", Segal goes on, "allowing artists and their teams to manage content, contribute their own images, update their information, make sure their own photographers are in the system".

But how does an artist get this control? "We have nearly a million artists in our database. These have been curated not just by scraping the entire internet, but by focusing on official artist profiles. We say each of these artists has an 'aura', and whoever is in control of an artist's official Twitter or Facebook account can claim control of that aura. It's a great way to authenticate".

But even once the dots have been joined, do artists have enough visuals to satisfy the appetite of a picture-hungry consumer base? "I hear this a fair bit from digital marketing teams, they don't have enough images to work with for social media. But on the flipside, the artist on Twitter and Instagram is often constantly creating and posting images. The music industry is being more visual than ever, we just need the hub to bring it altogether".

From vinyl to CD to the tiny pack shots in the original iTunes, it seems like the music industry's official imagery has been getting smaller and smaller over the decades, yet via other digital channels artists are - as Segal says - becoming more visual than ever before. So it seems certain that visual elements will be enhanced in the streaming domain in the near future, and it will be interesting to see the role OpenAura plays in that process.


CMU Artists Of The Year 2014: PC Music
Every weekday in the run up to the Christmas break, we'll be revealing another of our ten favourite artists of the year. Next up is PC Music...

Doing a quick scan back over 2014, I can't think of any one sonic 'thing' as innovative, or on the flipside, as mind-slicingly schismatic and impossible to pin down as PC Music, aka Personal Computer Music. And no, in spite of this being an Artist Of The Year feature, PC Music isn't any one artist, but a London-based label collective of many, captained by young London producer and pop fanboy Alex 'AG' Cook.

And it's not an ordinary label, either, more like a mirror maze of criss-cross collaborations by a sitcom-like cast of avatars and aliases (most listed in this handy 'who's who' feature on Pitchfork), all in some way looping back to Cook, the JME or Johnny Jewell-like boss of his own A&R kingdom.

Cook's own "shiny and detailed" dance-pop makings are traceable back to his time studying at the arts-specialising Goldsmiths college, University Of London, and the genesis of PC Music "prototype" Gamsonite.

Of all the acts on Gamsonite, only a few got carried over to its level-up PC Music, Dux Content, GFOTY and most significantly CMU approved singer/stylist Hannah Diamond. Although never much more than a name on Gamsonite's roster, Diamond was the one who kicked the PC's profile into high gear with her first solo single 'Pink & Blue', a spinny fantasy ride of babyish vocals and sticky-sweet beats as addictive and sickening as candy itself.

It's safe to say that not all the world liked it, at least not at first. But with its universal story of 'a love unrequited', told in the most basic ABC rhymes at top pitch over a 'Shanks & Bigfoot go to Disneyland'-style beat, 'Pink And Blue' is at once 'just a dumb pop song' and also a highly smart bit of manufacturing. And so, so good... infuriatingly good.

Dux Content, the other common factor to the PC Music and Gamsonite directories, is one of AG Cook's collaborations with PC Music's other main lynchpin, experimental classicist and trained composer Danny L Harle, whose poppiest tracks 'Broken Flowers' and 'In My Dreams' are perhaps the most - dare I say it - 'chart ready' of any in the PC library, both delicately layered sugar-towers belying an intimidating intricacy.

It's hard to spotlight PC Music's higher ranks without clicking over to the outfit's most A-list satellite affiliate, the CMU approved Sophie, who via singles like the Numbers-released 'Hard' and l-l-'Lemonade' has changed the face of electronica, irreversibly. There is no going back from the likes of 'Bipp', itself a mini Hadron Collider of extremes; sweet and creepy, static and manic, conventional and abstract, pop and its polar opposite.

In reality a man named Sam (that's him on Cook's right, DJing at SXSW), Sophie is the first of Cook et al's circle to sign a big deal with another label, having released his single 'Hey QT' (also a 50/50 split with Cook) on XL Recordings earlier this year.

This was the first (and to date only) release from the world's first virtual-popstar-inspired 'virtual reality' popstar QT (given a face and voice by American artist Hayden Dunham). QT herself is a deeply meta twist on the idea of the post-internet celebrity; having risen as if from an alien pod, with no history and only the personality her 'press team' creates for her. In this, her big live premiere at a Boiler Room x Ray Ban event in LA, she sings - or lip-synchs - sweetly, looks immaculate, and even has her own energy drink ("Looks fizzy. Tastes bouncy. Feels QT") to sell to the pop-thirsty kids.

As typified in QT - a mesh of flesh and bone, lipgloss, fibre-optic wires and html code - Sophie, AG Cook and co deal strictly in the 'hyperreal', both in the OTT-kitsch imagery clipped on to every PC Music release, and in the pithy elixir of the tracks themselves, which is (and I'm generalising massively here) a mix of regular genres like UK garage, Guetta-style club trance, chart pop and R&B, only elevated to the hyperreal extremes, inspired in that regard by J-pop artists like the deathly-sweet friend-of-Sophie Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, who herself cites - and then, twists - Japan's 'gyaru' (girly) and 'kawaii' (cute) trends.

In fact "extreme" is a word Cook fires off a lot in an early interview with Tank Magazine, which since it's the only case of him speaking in any depth on the PC Music 'aesthetic', is now like a kind of style bible in terms of getting to the gooey centre of his creative brain. "I always find any kind of 'extreme' pop music interesting", he says. "One of my favourite albums is 'Cupid And Psyche 85' by Scritti Politti, which was a conscious decision to take pop music and make it as shiny and detailed as possible - it's a really beautiful balance of great hooks, rhythms and sounds".

Strange, then, that a most the jibes aimed at Cook et al relate to the idea that they're snidely ripping on that exact kind of mass-appeal chart pop, making it dance on its hind legs for their own high-minded entertainment. And whilst it's fair to say that Sophie, and acts like PC Music's gobby GFOTY (Girlfriend Of The Year) is, by cheerleader-chanting lyrics like "Go to the party, time to get drunk / Arrive in a Clio, driven by a hunk", are in a way wringing something dark from the clichéd things teens do/don't do on a 'Friday Night', AG Cook, for one, appears to have a real, non-ironic and almost dorkish love for even the most commercial GM mega-hits.

In the Tank piece he cites Taylor Swift hitmaker Max Martin and R&B team Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, and even the Rebecca Black 'Friday'-enabling Ark Music Factory, as prime - or at least partial - inspirations, also adding: "I really like [R&B star] Cassie - some of her tracks epitomise the minimal, synthetic, almost robotic potential of commercial music, something which can sound crap when it's done badly, but can also become a sort of perfect, untouchable product when done in the right way".

And that (as I'm sure was the point of him saying it) says a lot for his own operating system, and for the OS of the PC Music network as a whole; it's about sucking you in to this totally other "untouchable" space and leaving you to consider it, or simply soak it in, in all its infinite weirdness, some of that strange and some of it strangely familiar.

It's sort of impossible to pick any one emblematic PC single from the pile, so this is PC Music's mix of its 'Top 40' tracks, followed by a mix of 'Mixes', followed by one of the most bizarre Boiler Room live-streams of all time, c/o Sophie (or a man in a wig fake-DJ-ing Sophie's set while the real Sophie hides in plain sight as a 'security guard').
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BBC Music Awards presented
At my local tube station there's a poster board that hasn't been replenished with a new piece of promotional print for quite some time, and a very old, slightly torn Transport For London poster from the past is peaking through (so old, in fact, I don't think TFL actually existed when it was made).

On it we are told that a double decker bus could lean over more than you could without ever tipping over. Which is actually quite a long way. You try leaning to your left right now and see how far you go before you topple over and hit your head hard on the cold tiled floor. See, that's reassuring isn't it?

Because I've often wondered whenever a double decker whizzes down one of the London's less congested highways, perhaps over a particularly high flyover with some unnecessarily excessive camber, do these things ever fall over? And if so, would we all survive such an incident? Me, all my fellow passengers, my driver, and my laptop, which has got my articles on it for the next day's CMU Daily which I'm not 100% sure synced with my Dropbox before I departed the office and ran for this bus.

But now I'm reassured. Because you leaned over really far just now before toppling onto the floor and getting that head injury. And even the most shaky of buses I've been on has never leaned that far. So, I'm thinking me, my fellow passengers, my driver and my laptop are all fine. Phew.

So, well done TFL for some fine communication there, reassuring me about my chances of bus death. Well, except, as I say, I think that poster pre-dates TFL. But well done TFL for failing to put up a new poster in that poster board so that I saw the old educational sheet instead.

Though while we're talking about communications Mr Tube Man, here's a thing. A few weeks ago the Central Line was down. I suspected this because as I walked towards my nearest Central Line station in rush hour far too many people were walking in the other direction. So I checked your nifty app to see if I should make alternative plans and deviate to another station. But see, your app said the problems were down the line and all was fine for my personal journey.

Except when getting to said station it turned out the whole line was, in fact, not currently running. Like, not working at all. So I walked up to one of those station attendant blokes charged with that task of turning tetchy commuters away and mused "but why does your app - and, actually, this big digital sign you're standing right next to - tell me this bit of the line is working; because if your app had it right, people like me would never have made it this far, and you wouldn't have to bother turning us away".

"But my job is to provide information to people at this station, and I'm telling you the whole line is down and the app is wrong", he replied. Very politely, I should add.

"But you don't understand", said I, trying my best to match his polite manner. "If you could call the people who control this app, and that there sign, and get them to publish the right information about the current status of the Central Line, it would help you, because there would be fewer people to deal with right here".

"But that's not my job" he repeated. "I'm here to inform passengers at the station".

And I'm sure he's right, though that seems like a very poor job description to me. As I told the TFL complaints team later that day.

"We're sorry you were delayed", they said.

"Don't worry about the delay", I replied. "These things happen, but why can't you have station staff - who will always have the most accurate information - input said insight into your app?"

"We'll pass on your feedback", they said. I bet they didn't.

Anyway, it was the first ever BBC Music Awards last night, an event EVEN MORE POINTLESS THAN THIS ARTICLE. The same old artists sang the same old songs as the same old deejays delivered the same old platitudes, while Pharrell Williams and Ed Sheeran won yet more awards, only this time at your expense. Oh, and defending the BBC from the licence-fee-chopping Tories got a little bit harder. So well done everybody.

Coming soon to the BBC: Six more specialist music programmes are axed to fund an exciting new show, the Cellnet Music Prize, artists from an eclectic mix of genres compete to be named the best album of the year.


Melvin Benn confirmed for lifetime prize at European Festival Awards
Live music veteran Melvin Benn, MD of Reading/Leeds/Latitude/Berlin Festival/Electric Picnic promoter Festival Republic no less, has a Lifetime Achievement Award coming his way at January's European Festival Awards. Good for him.

Considering the prize, Benn - only the second Briton (behind his one-time Glastonbury colleague Michael Eavis) to receive it - says: "I'm very flattered and honoured to receive this prestigious award and join an incredible line-up of previous winners. I work with the best in the business and couldn't do what I do without a really strong team around me; my thanks go to all those individuals past and present who've helped to make our events what they are. I'm hugely passionate about our industry and every day continues to excite me as we push the boundaries of the festival experience and create lifelong memories for music fans and audiences".

Meanwhile Festival Awards director Steve Jenner gets in early with his big-ups, saying: "Melvin Benn's signature has, for a long time, been engraved deeper than any other's into the shape and character of the UK's major festival market. This takes the form of a unique and unequalled blend of operational pre-eminence and heartfelt passion for his events and audiences, one which continues to set new standards in production, safety and sustainability that extend tangibly well beyond his own events. It's a great testament to Melvin that his commitment and contributions are now being recognised at a Continental level, and it is an honour for us to be the ones presenting this award".

Little Mix, The Dø, Young Fathers and oodles more

Other notable announcements and developments today...

• Electronica's own Dan Deacon is to release a new LP, the apparently "simpler" 'Glass Riffer', on 23 Feb 2015. Go and look at the video for its lead single 'Feel The Lightning', which features Deacon pretending to be a girl, here, and click here to get tickets to his only forthcoming British show, at London's Islington Assembly Hall on 16 Feb.

• Cinematic pop artiste Kissey has released a new single, and its title is 'Melting Pot'. Stream the video for the track, which features on the score to Sundance-winning film 'Dear White People', at this link.

• Little Mix's Jade and Leigh-Anne have remade Beyonce's 'one long selfie' of a '7/11' video in a distinctively lo-fi style. From the looks of it, alcohol was involved. Contrast the Yonce original with the Little (re)Mix one by clicking the appropriate links.

• Marina And The Diamonds has siphoned off a sad, slow jam from her new LP 'Froot', this following approved first single 'Froot'. And isn't this ironic, the sad song's name is 'Happy'. Ha ha / boo hoo. Stream it via Popjustice.

• French-and-Finnish pop team The Dø have signalled the slow approach of a newly-confirmed show they're playing at London's Koko (19 Mar 2015), by releasing a track in the shape of 'Sparks'. All of which backs the release of the pair's latest LP 'Shake Shook Shaken' on 26 Jan.

• Makers-of-discomforting-R&B-that-sounds-a-lot-like-The-xx 18+ are so hot right now, what with the recent-ish release of their first LP 'Trust' and all that, and so will be heading off to London to play a show at Corsica Studios on 28 Jan 2015. Thereafter they shall see the sights 'on the continent'. In the meantime download the pair's track 'Rebirth' for free, just because, here.

• This year's Mercury Prize winners Young Fathers have disclosed the dates of a nineteen stop UK tour they're taking in 2015. The first show is on 13 Mar at Skelmersdale Library, and the last is on 7 Jun at Liverpool's Kazimier. Find which shoes go where in between here.

• Big-in-Norway (and in this CMU approved article) singer Emilie Nicholas has forewarned fans of a show she's headlining at London's St Pancras Old Church on 28 Jan, so everyone take notice because you won't want to miss it. Tickets are on sale right now.

• Shia Le Bouf's girlfriend Mia Goth's fave band, aka American synth-pop types Sylvan Esso, have, like everyone else in the world, confirmed only one UK show in... guess which city. Yes, it's London. On 26 Feb, at the Scala. To the ticket shop!

• Lana Del Rey, Sia, Lorde and some not-as-important other 'leading artists' have been nominated for the 'Best Original Song' awards at the 2015 Golden Globes. Also, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross' 'Gone Girl' compositions are up for the 'Best Original Score' globe against... find who via this link.

CMU Beef Of The Week #235: Tom Binns v Simon Bates
It just occurred to me that some of our readers might not know who Simon Bates is. And that seems like a terrible state of affairs. Terrible. So I will take it upon myself to educate you. You may thank me later.

Simon Bates is a man. No, more than a man, he is a legend of broadcasting. He's almost a mythical beast, it's hard to believe that Simon Bates even exists in real life. And how has he achieved this status? 'Our Tune', that's how.

'Our Tune' was a feature launched on Bates' Radio 1 show in 1980, in which he read some weepy story a listener had sent in over Nino Rota's 'Love Theme From Romeo And Juliet'. That's this, by the way. You might like to play it on a loop as you read the rest of this article. Or you might like to stop and listen to one such weepy story. Here's one. Yes, large portions of that story do seem fantastically inappropriate to be used as light entertainment 20 odd years later, don't they? Basically as a preamble to a song request. But the 90s, man. They were like a different time. Or something.

Anyway, as you can hear, Simon Bates is a very sensitive man. A sensitive man who has used the sad stories of his listeners as the basis for his career for more than 30 years. Because he loves those listeners. And they love him. Everyone's in love right now, oh my god I can't even etc etc.

Another broadcast is a man called Tom Binns. He's also a comedian. He tells jokes. He mainly tells them in character - either as a medium character called Ian D Montfort or a hospital radio presenter character called Ivan Brackenbury. Two characters. One of whom once made a playlist for CMU. He also says things as himself, like in 2010 when he was presenting a Christmas Day show on Birmingham radio station BRMB and cut off a broadcast of the Queen's speech, saying: "two words: bore ing" (an incident which got him sacked). Like I say, he's a joker.

Now, you might think that I've just talked about two men who have no connection to each other. But that just shows that you have a terrific lack of trust in me as a storyteller, and I find that quite upsetting, if you must know. Because there is a connection. A connection I was just about to come to before you bloody interrupted me with all you talk of me dragging this out and not getting to the point. You don't have to read this, you know. Can I continue? Good. Thank you.

Where was I? Oh yes. Tom Binns is married to Liesl Soards. Liesl Soards is a radio producer. In fact, she used to produce Simon Bates' show on Smooth Radio - the station he left earlier this year, before recently announcing that he would re-emerge on BBC Radio Devon in January.

In the latest edition of his podcast, Binns told a story about how Soards' relationship with Bates came to an end prior to him departing Smooth. Tom Binns has a podcast, by the way. I didn't mention that before. But he does. And in the latest edition, he explains: "Everyone thinks of [Bates] as Mr Compassion, but what they don't know about him is what a focussed broadcaster he is ... Liesl was the producer on his show, and her mum got ill, in fact she was diagnosed with cancer and Simon was just fantastic every day, saying, 'How's your mum, is everything alright? If there's anything I can do to help, just let me know'".

There's that sensitive guy we all know and love. Binns continues: "Eventually it got to a situation where the end was very close, the doctors said it was only a matter of days, so Liesl went to her boss and arranged to take some time off".

Seems pretty reasonable. Binns then reads out an email from Soards to Bates, in which she explained that she would be unable to come to work for two days later that week, but that she'd arranged two other producers to cover for her while she was away. And then comes Bates' apparent response to this email, which allegedly went like this: "Sorry Leisl, that's outrageous and unfair on me. I simple can't have a producer who isn't there when she feels like it. And equally, I can't have a producer who arranges for a deputy without asking for my agreement".

After this Binns reveals that Soards was sacked shortly after the exchange. So it doesn't seem like Bates is quite as sensitive a man as someone (I forget who) led us to believe. The exact term Binns uses to describe the DJ is "cunt".

Although a fairly throwaway item at the beginning of the podcast, it apparently attracted the attention of The Sun and Mail On Sunday, who decided not to publish anything once Binns had refused to comment. "There's one thing being funny in a podcast, there's another running off to the papers", he said on Facebook.

Binns did give a comment to radio industry news service Radio Today though, saying of the incident: "I'd like to apologise to my wife for talking about a private matter in my podcast. She is a very talented and creative producer and unlike me she has an incredible capacity to rise above things like this and did not wish me to make this public".

He added: "I would also like to apologise for using the word 'cunt' in relation to Simon Bates. It was a totally unnecessary thing to say, as anyone who has read or heard his reaction to my wife taking a few days holiday to spend time with her dying mother would have naturally come to that conclusion themselves".

Simon Bates has apparently not listened to the podcast, so offered nothing on the matter himself. But he and you can hear it all here.

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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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 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 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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