TODAY'S TOP STORY: It took the jury in the big Apple anti-trust case less than three hours yesterday to rule that the IT giant had not behaved in an anti-competitive manner with the software updates it made to the iPod back in the big bad days of digital rights management on downloads. As previously reported, a class action lawsuit alleged that Apple kept updating its FairPlay DRM system on... [READ MORE]
TODAY'S APPROVED: Every weekday in the run up to the Christmas break, we'll be revealing another of our ten favourite artists of the year. See the full list of artists announced so far here. Next up is Babymetal... When the music of 2014 is boiled down to three and a half minutes of reminiscence delivered by six rent-a-talking-heads in 20 years time, it would be a major oversight to miss... [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES Apple defeats anti-trust case over iPod software
LEGAL Beyonce sued by Hungarian folk singer
Man arrested after Pirate Bay raid now out of custody
DEALS Sony Music signs deal with Tencent in China
Van Morrison to release next LP via RCA Records
The Pop Group do label services deal with !K7
LABELS & PUBLISHERS Sentric Music and Imperial College granted funding for new digital publisher tools
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES Taylor Swift debacle means "we have to do more to convince artists" says Spotify chief
ARTIST NEWS Man shot in 'disturbance' at The Garage, Wiley shows cancelled
AWARDS Kasabian lead NME Awards nominations
ONE LINERS James Murphy, Rustie x AG Cook, Rock N Roll Hall Of Fame and a side of chips
AND FINALLY... 50 Cent inks pants deal
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Ministry Of Sound Recordings seek an experienced Digital Campaign Manager. The DCM will be responsible for the planning and execution of the digital marketing strategy for all Ministry Of Sound Recordings artists. MoS Recordings is behind many of the biggest dance hits of the last 20 years. It now has a growing roster of established and developing artists including London Grammar, DJ Fresh, Wretch 32 and Rhodes. While the role will be label-focused, the DCM will feed into all areas of the brand.

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Apple defeats anti-trust case over iPod software
It took the jury in the big Apple anti-trust case less than three hours yesterday to rule that the IT giant had not behaved in an anti-competitive manner with the software updates it made to the iPod back in the big bad days of digital rights management on downloads.

As previously reported, a class action lawsuit alleged that Apple kept updating its FairPlay DRM system on the iPod in the latter half of the last decade so that only its iTunes store could sell DRM-protected tracks that would work on what was then the market-leader digital music player.

Some of its rivals, especially RealNetworks, tried to engineer their own versions of FairPlay so that they could sell DRMed music that would play on the iPod. But Apple's software updates kept making those FakePlay tracks stop working (indeed it was alleged that software updates actually deleted unofficial tracks).

Apple claimed that the regular updates to its FairPlay software were to make the DRM system better, and that while they would have liked to allow other companies to use the software for their own download stores, opening it up to third-parties would have made the whole thing less efficient. One Apple exec cited how problematic Microsoft's rival DRM software, which was opened up to third parties, quickly became.

The jurors hearing the case sided with Apple after hearing arguments from both sides. Updates to FairPlay were about making the system better, the ruled, and not a deliberate attempt to block out competitors and skew the market.

Welcoming the ruling, a spokesperson for Apple said yesterday: "We created iPod and iTunes to give our customers the world's best way to listen to music. Every time we've updated those products - and every Apple product over the years - we've done it to make the user experience even better".

One of the lawyers pursuing the case against Apple indicated his intent to appeal, though during the trial most of his actual clients - ie consumers claiming to have been negatively impacted by Apple's alleged behaviour - were struck off the lawsuit as it was proven they hadn't, in fact, been affected by any software updates. Indeed a new primary claimant had to be signed up at the last minute, with the case already approaching completion.

Of course, Apple's FairPlay refinements ceased to be an issue once the major record companies finally agreed that DRM was not needed on downloads, meaning iTunes rivals could start selling unDRMed MP3s, which had always been playable on the iPod.

Then downloading became irrelevant, the streaming model came of age, the royalty issues all got solved, and everyone forgot about iTunes. Yeah, OK, none of that has quite happened yet. But given how long it took this case to get to court, by the time any appeal is through that'll probably all be true.

Beyonce sued by Hungarian folk singer
A Hungarian Roma folk singer is suing Beyonce for allegedly sampling and "digitally manipulating" part of one of her songs as the intro to 'Drunk In Love', the Grammy-winning lead single off Bey's latest LP 'Beyonce', without seeking permission.

The New York Post reports that Monika Miczura Juhász, aka Mitsou, also names Beyonce's husband Jay Z and six other 'Drunk In Love' co-writers (not least Timbaland) as defendants in the claim, which relates to a single she released with the band Ando Drom in 1995, titled 'Bajba, Bajba Pelém'.

Mitsou's lawyers state that "altogether, Mitsou's vocals are featured for over one and a half minutes of the five and one half minute song. ['Drunk In Love' exploits her voice] to evoke foreign eroticism alongside the sexually intense lyrics performed by Beyonce and Jay Z".

"[Mitsou] has never signed any documents that would permit anyone to use her voice for advertising or trade purposes... and never granted any of the defendants permission to use her voice for any purpose", continues the suit, adding: "Blatant unauthorised use of [Mitsou's] voice for trade purposes is causing irreparable harm and emotional distress".

This all follows the dismissal last week of another sample-based lawsuit filed against Beyonce's co-defendant in this latest case Jay Z, concerning the use of the word "oh" in his and Rihanna's 2009 track 'Run This Town'.


Man arrested after Pirate Bay raid now out of custody
The man arrested when Swedish authorities seized servers used by The Pirate Bay has been released from custody, according to Torrentfreak.

It was rumoured last week, as the server raid took The Pirate Bay offline, that one man had been detained. Although he has now been released, police investigations are ongoing, and both he and others may as yet be prosecuted.

The man in question was seemingly a moderator of the Bay. On the arrested person, prosecutor Fredrik Ingblad told reporters: "The suspicions relate to a violation of copyright law. Everything is being analysed now and new hearings may possibly be held".

It's thought that might mean the Swedish authorities are planning on prosecuting more people over their involvement in running The Pirate Bay. The service's three original figureheads, Fredrik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm and Peter Sunde, and a key funder of the site, Carl Lundström, were all convicted of copyright crimes in Sweden in 2009, and all served custodial sentences for their involvement in the Bay.

But by the time they were in court they'd passed running the controversial file-sharing website onto a new generation of operators and moderators. It's thought that up to 50 people are now involved in the site, likely based all over the world. It remains to seen if any others are now arrested; presumably those within the Swedish jurisdiction are most at risk.

Although the custodial sentences for the original Pirate Bay Four were somewhat controversial at the time, other operators of file-sharing sites that exist to encourage and profit from copyright infringement have since been jailed in other jurisdictions. Rights owners and law enforcement agencies hope that such tough sentences will convince the operators of other unlicensed file-sharing services that it's not worth running the risk.

As previously reported, one of The Pirate Bay's current operators has told Torrentfreak he and his colleagues are now reviewing their options since the site went down last week, while watching with interest the rise of copycat sites republishing the file-sharing service's data in other locations online.

Sony Music signs deal with Tencent in China
Sony Music has announced a partnership with Tencent, which will grant the Chinese internet company exclusive online rights to distribute the major label's music in the country.

The deal covers both Chinese and international acts, and follows a similar deal between Tencent and Warner Music last month. It will see music placed on Tencent's QQ Music service, which will also distribute tracks to other Chinese music platforms.

Tencent's Senior Executive Vice President Downson Tong said in a statement: "We have had a relationship with Sony Music for many years, this is a step up, to develop the Chinese music market. The market in China is a evolving rapidly and through QQ's massive userbase we can offer online and offline activity for Sony Music's entire roster of artists".

Tong added that piracy remained a problem in China, and that "a closer partnership between content owners and Tencent will help combat that".

Sony Music Entertainment International CEO Edgar Berger called it a "landmark deal", adding: "Through its advanced digital systems operations and huge customer base Tencent understands the amazing scope of the market for both Chinese and international artists. We share the vision that China can easily become within a relatively short period of time one of the world's largest music markets and look forward to developing greater consumer engagement and services".


Van Morrison to release next LP via RCA Records
Jazz-cat-in-a-hat Van Morrison has signed to Sony's RCA Records division, his first stint ever on Sony, which'll cover the release of his mystery-titled 35th LP in "early 2015". That will make it three years, give or take, since his last one 'Born To Sing: No Plan B', which was released in 2012 via classic jazz label Blue Note.

Joining their voices in song, RCA President/COO Tom Corson and CEO Peter Edge commented: "We are thrilled to have Van Morrison, the iconic musical visionary and legend, join the RCA roster. He is one of the most prolific and talented songwriters and performers in music today and we are honoured to have him join us at the label and work with him on his forthcoming new album".

And hearing that, Morrison added: "I am looking forward to working with Tom, Peter and the RCA team as we plan release of the new project for next year".


The Pop Group do label services deal with !K7
!K7 Artist & Label Services has announced a partnership with The Pop Group to release the post-punk band's first album in 35 years.

The band's Mark Stewart said in a statement: "It's an honour to be collaborating with !K7 - the koolest kidz on the block - and especially with Mr Adrian Hughes, the fastest gun slinger in town, for The Pop Group's comeback. Let the freak flag fly!"

Mr Adrian Hughes, head of !K7's Artist & Label Services division, added: "It's incredibly exciting to be working with such an iconic and important band as The Pop Group on their amazing new material. Everyone here at !K7 is utterly thrilled and totally buzzing!"

As previously reported, The Pop Group will release their Paul Epworth-produced new album, titled 'Citizen Zombie', on 23 Feb.

Sentric Music and Imperial College granted funding for new digital publisher tools
Government funded Innovate UK (what was the Technology Strategy Board, in case you wondered) has awarded music publishing service provider Sentric Music and Imperial College London funding to carry out a project titled 'Data Exploration And Predicative Analytics For Music Publishing'. Sounds exciting, no?

Using Sentric's catalogue of over 300,000 songs from more than 65,000 songwriters and the brains contained within ICL's Department Of Mathematics, the project aims to "create tools and algorithms [that] will enable predictive modelling based on data drawn from a wide variety of sources, including song registrations, royalty reports, streaming media, social media, and crowdsourced reviews".

Are you following this? Good. Anyway, once the boffins have polished up these tools and sharpened their algorithms, Sentric plans to use them to identify artists and tracks that have potential to become super popular, and identify instances where royalties are being underreported. The company's clients - labels and artists primarily - will be given access to these tools via online and mobile apps.

I think that means you'll be able to put a song in and it'll tell you that no one is ever going to like it, but that there are royalties not being claimed on the few plays it has got. So everyone's happy.

Sentric CEO Chris Meehan said of the new funding: "Our successful funding application is a great measure of validation for the technology that we've been building and deploying that will be further developed to become more useful to the music business and our artists".

Dr Christoforos Anagnostopoulos from Imperial College London added: "Our collaboration with Sentric Music is a unique pathway to ensuring that cutting-edge advances in machine learning and data science can permeate the music publishing industry, introducing efficiency gains for Sentric, and empowering the songwriter community, while simultaneously inspiring exciting developments in statistical methodology, designed to handle the heterogeneity and complexity of the song-songwriter data ecosystem".

And I think that we can take some comfort in how long and impenetrable that last sentence was. This project's in good hands.

Taylor Swift debacle means "we have to do more to convince artists" says Spotify chief
Spotify big cheese boss man Daniel Ek has admitted that the whole Taylor Swift debacle has confirmed that he and his colleagues still need to do more to convince artists of the benefit of the streaming business model, and especially the 'loss-leading freemium to drive premium subscriber' approach pursued by his firm.

When Swift pulled her whole catalogue from Spotify last month, the streaming service initially published a pretty flippant statement. But when the move by one of the world's biggest popstars kickstarted a very vocal debate in the artist and wider music community on how the streaming business was evolving, Ek issued a long statement defending his firm's approach, and insisting it was good for the whole music business.

Speaking to Billboard about the whole hoo haa, Ek said: "What it has highlighted for us is we need to do a better job explaining to artists how streaming benefits them. The point that's been lost is that Spotify's the fastest-growing revenue source the industry has. There are many artists to whom, through the labels, we're paying out millions a year already. Those cheque sizes will just keep increasing".

To be fair to Spotify, the company has done more than most of its rivals to reach out to the artist community, though a lot of that activity has been focused on the European rather than American music community. And actually most artists and most labels are pro streaming, and pro Spotify, even if they have concerns about how freemium works, and how the money paid by the streaming sector into the music rights domain is split between different stakeholders (labels generally get way more than artists, songwriters and publishers).

But Ek still insists that he's not going to change his freemium level - which some argue is too generous - and nor will he allow big name acts to opt out of free and just take part in premium (which is basically what Swift wants to do).

He went on in the Billboard interview: "There's a lot of other places where you can access that music for free, so our view is the only thing that happens by not being in the free service is that the consumer then has to go to another service to get the song, and they will". Having that consumer listening to songs on Spotify freemium makes them much more likely to become a premium subscriber, Ek adds. Plus Spotify does actually pay a royalty for free plays, even if it's significantly less than for premium plays.

For the time being - and as Ek looks to the next round of licensing deal renewals at the major labels - Spotify is more focused on making premium more attractive than limiting the functionality of free. "Just like we've had deluxe edition of albums, everyone is thinking about how does that look like in a future world? Lossless music - is that a higher priced tier? Is that something that comes with deluxe editions? How should we package subscriptions to consumers? That's a very big topic right now on the label side".

Of course, while Ek does need big name artists in his firm's catalogue to compete, the bigger problem with things like the Swift spat is that it hinders the PR spin that Spotify is THE future of music, something that the firm needs Wall Street to believe in order to maximise the value of the company when it floats. Though it helps that the majors and Merlin-affiliated indies have a stake in Spotify - and therefore a vested interest in Wall Street buying into that story - so with the exception of loose cannon artists like Swift, there shouldn't be too many headline-grabbing names out to rock the boat.

Until, that is, after Spotify's IPO. Once the firm's founders, early investors and label partners have all cashed in their stock, that's when things will get really interesting. Artists left out of the equity kickback will be looking for a better deal, and the publishers - currently only seeing about 10% of the money - might start threatening to pull if they don't get a bigger cut of the loot. Most of that is actually for the music community itself to sort out - while Spotify et al are loss making the percentage split they hand over to the music rights owners ain't going to go up - but a post-IPO Spotify could be caught up in the crossfire.

So that's something for everyone to look forward to, isn't it? Merry Christmas one and all.

  CMU Artists Of The Year 2014: Babymetal
Every weekday in the run up to the Christmas break, we'll be revealing another of our ten favourite artists of the year. See the full list of artists announced so far here. Next up is Babymetal...

When the music of 2014 is boiled down to three and a half minutes of reminiscence delivered by six rent-a-talking-heads in 20 years time, it would be a major oversight to miss out a mention of Babymetal. Their emergence into the world, and into the unlikely embrace of the metal community, may well be one of the most 2014 things to happen in 2014.

When I attended the Tokyo International Music Market conference earlier this year - the band having already played Sonisphere by that point and with a Brixton Academy headline show then looming - by far the most common question I was asked was: 'Why do you think Babymetal have become so popular overseas?' Initially it might seem like an easy question to answer, but there are variables on both the Eastern and Western sides that complicate matters.

For one thing, though a jarring novelty in the UK, mixing extremes of music isn't quite so uncommon in Japan. There's a whole side of J-pop 'idol' culture that allows for wild, experimental creativity within a manufactured pop system.

The CMU Approved, for example, make pop music played at hardcore punk speeds; Momoiro Clover Z worked with ex-Megadeth guitarist Marty Friedman, amongst others, on their second album '5th Dimension'; and BiS (whose weird, failed gimmick was to attempt to destroy the idol system from within) went to number seven in the Japanese charts this year with digital hardcore track, 'Stupig'.

More recently, new act Necronomidol have launched themselves as an occult-influenced idol act - having been forced to drop their original black metal schtick when it became apparent that the atmosphere-sucking metal sub-genre was not in any way suited to pop shows.

For the most part though, J-pop acts don't pick up much attention in the West beyond a fairly niche audience. So you can see how Babymetal's sudden popularity over here might be slightly perplexing.

Which is not to say that Babymetal don't stand out in Japan too - they do - but their combination of pop and metal was perhaps less unexpected there, making all the interest their genre-clash has caused in the West a surprise. Certainly when the video for the first single from the band's debut album, 'Gimme Chocolate!!', first hit the internet, the reaction to it was bigger than most people probably expected, sending the YouTube post viral and sparking vast amounts of debate.

Still, when their first UK live booking at this year's Sonisphere festival was announced, it looked like things were about to come crashing down. The path to stardom is littered with acts who took the comedy booking slot at a big rock festival and died under a shower of piss-filled bottles.

But that isn't what happened. People seemed genuinely into the idea of a metal pop group. OK, not everyone, but enough people for the Sonisphere show to go well and another show at the Electric Ballroom in Camden two days later to sell out, followed by that other show at the Brixton Academy last month.

"The reaction was so different than in Japan", singer Suzuka 'Su-metal' Nakamoto told MTV Iggy earlier this year. "At first I was nervous, because I wasn't sure whether anyone would turn up. And yet, some fans came in 'cosplay' or knew all the dance moves. Some of our lyrics use quite difficult Japanese words, but I think the crowd in England sang along even more than our fans at home".

Part of their success, I think, can be attributed to their name - it explains quickly and simply what they do. And then there's the tendency for metal fans to have a bit of a sense of humour about their genre of choice.

Giving his view on it all, the group's producer and founder Key 'Kobametal' Kobayashi told The Guardian recently: "Rock music hasn't changed much over its history. When a group from the other side of the world suddenly appears playing something so weird, it captures your attention".

"I think the reason people like us is because we make 'kawaii [cute] metal', and no one else does that", pondered Su-metal to MTV Iggy. "The three of us started out with no personal interest in metal; we all just thought the music seemed like fun. And that means that even people who aren't usually interested in metal might be interested in our music in a similar way".

Doing something different almost certainly did help the band get their start, but their continued success throughout 2014 really comes down to the fact that Babymetal are really, really good at what they do.

Conceived and formed by Kobametal in 2010, initially as a spin-off of more traditional girl group Sakura Gakuin (which translates as Cherry Blossom Academy), since then the producer has worked hard to ensure that both the pop and metal sides of the group are as strong as each other. So it's not just a case of a few riffs being chucked into the mix to make a quick buck off the gimmick. The three frontwomen - Su-metal, plus Yui 'Yuimetal' Mizuno and Moa 'Moametal' Kikuchi - are impressive and engaging performers, while the group backing them is made up of seasoned and very talented metal musicians.

And that's what really does it. You might not like what they do, but you can't argue with the fact that the realisation of Babymetal has been done very well. And it appears all the more amazing if your first experience of the group came this year, meaning you missed the more than two years of them working it all out. They just turned up in February and were amazing.

Of course, they aren't without their critics. Many are troubled by the fact that a group of teenagers, aged between fourteen and sixteen, have been placed at the front of a band who play a style of music they admit they'd not heard of before they were asked to join the outfit. Although that argument does ignore the fact that very few manufactured pop acts get to perform music they actually like (or at least would choose to make given complete artistic freedom).

Sure, this is an extreme case, but there's no sign that they're not enjoying it now. They may still be slightly perplexed by their audience ("I've never been in a moshpit", said Yuimetal to The Guardian. "I think I'd get smashed to bits"), and there are certainly some general criticisms that could (and should) be levelled at sections of Japan's pop music industry, but Babymetal actually seem to be one of the better treated and happier acts out there.

Su-metal described meeting Slayer at Sonisphere to MTV Iggy as a "really special experience", though that viewpoint emerged after she'd see them play live; having met them before their set, her original thoughts were that they seemed like "really nice old guys".

Speaking to The Guardian, Moametal admitted that it was supporting Lady Gaga in the US that made her friends "quite envious". Though she added that those friends also "sing Babymetal songs whenever we go to karaoke".

Who knows if they'll continue to be popular in 2015 and beyond, but I hope they do. Their particular brand of genre mashing feels like the kind of thing we've always been promised as the internet blurs the boundaries of people's tastes. There aren't many acts that could say they've comfortably shared bills with Slayer and Lady Gaga.

And here's the Gimme Chocolate!!' video that got them there.
CLICK HERE to read and share online

Man shot in 'disturbance' at The Garage, Wiley shows cancelled
North London venue The Garage was closed temporarily after a shooting took place outside it on Monday night. The victim, a 25 year old man, was admitted to hospital with non-threatening injuries, and is said to be in a stable condition.

Police have confirmed to the NME that officers were called to the Highbury venue following a "disturbance" shortly before midnight. Whilst no arrests have yet been made, and investigation by Trident officers and Islington Police is ongoing.

The incident meant that a show headlined by grime MC Wiley, slated to take place there last night, has been postponed, as have additional December dates (in Birmingham and Manchester) celebrating the recent release of his 'Snakes & Ladders' LP.

A spokesperson for the show's promoter SJM Concerts has confirmed that replacement dates will be revealed "soon", taking place in early 2015.

In a statement to press, SJM added: "Following an incident which took place outside The Garage in London last night, the main venue is unable to open this evening. It is with regret that the venue has no option other than to cancel tonight's Wiley show, which is a decision in no way related to Wiley, his management team nor his support acts".

Kasabian lead NME Awards nominations
The nomination shortlists for 2015's NME Awards, always a pinpoint monitor of the nation's tastes, have been released. Kasabian lead with eight 'Eez-eh' noms, closely followed by Royal Blood and Jamie T.

Keeping their commentary short, sweet and free of city-dissing expletives, Kasabian have said: "2014 has been such an incredible year for us, and being nominated for eight NME Awards is a better Christmas present than getting Castle Greyskull in 1986! Thanks very much".

Voting closes on 16 Jan, and the awards-giving will go down on 18 Feb at London's Brixton Academy.

All I can add at this point is, Slaves' Facebook to win Best Band Blog/Twitter.


Best British Band: Alt-J, Arctic Monkeys, Chvrches, Kasabian, Royal Blood, The Libertines

Best International Band: Arcade Fire, Foo Fighters, Haim, Interpol, Queens Of The Stone Age, Tame Impala

Best Live Band: Arctic Monkeys, Fat White Family, Foo Fighters, Kasabian, Royal Blood, The Libertines

Best New Band: Circa Waves, FKA Twigs, Jungle, Royal Blood, Slaves, Superfood

Best Solo Artist: Jack White, Jake Bugg, Jamie T, La Roux, Lana Del Rey, St Vincent

Best Album: Jamie T - Carry On The Grudge, Kasabian - 48:13, La Roux - Trouble In Paradise, Royal Blood - Royal Blood, Run The Jewels - Run The Jewels 2, St Vincent - St Vincent

Best Track: Future Islands - Seasons (Waiting On You), Jamie T - Zombie, Jungle - Busy Earnin', Kasabian - Eez-Eh, Noel Gallagher - In The Heat Of The Moment, Royal Blood - Little Monster

Dance Floor Filler: Iggy Azalea feat Charli XCX - Fancy, Jamie T - Zombie, Kasabian - Eez-Eh, Mark Ronson & Bruno Mars - Uptown Funk, Metronomy - Love Letters, SBTRKT feat Ezra Koenig - New Dorp. New York

Re-issue Of The Year: Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin II, Manic Street Preachers - The Holy Bible, Oasis - Definitely Maybe, Pixies - Doolittle, Public Enemy - It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back, Smashing Pumpkins - Adore

Best Video: Fat White Family - Touch The Leather, FKA Twigs - Two Weeks, Jamie T - Zombie, Jungle - Busy Earnin', Peace - Lost On Me, Royal Blood - Figure It Out

Best Music Film: Nick Cave, 20,000 Days On Earth, Finding Fela, Kasabian: Summer Solstice, Pulp: A Film About Life, Death And Supermarkets, Supermensch: The Legend Of Shep Gordon, Edwyn Collins: The Possibilities Are Endless

Best Film: Boyhood, Frank, Get On Up, God Help The Girl, The Inbetweeners 2, Northern Soul

Best TV How: Girls, Game Of Thrones, Foo Fighters: Sonic Highways, Peaky Blinders, Sherlock, True Detective

Book Of The Year: Bernard Sumner - Chapter And Verse, Ian Curtis - So This Is Permanence, Jesse Frohman - Kurt Cobain: The Last Session, John Lydon - Anger Is An Energy: My Life Uncensored, Viv Albertine - Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys, Steve Hanley - The Big Midweek: Life Inside The Fall

Hero Of The Year: Alex Turner, Dave Grohl, Kate Bush, Noel Gallagher, Russell Brand, Taylor Swift

Villain Of The Year: Bono, David Cameron, Harry Styles, Nigel Farage, Russell Brand, Taylor Swift

Worst Band: 5 Seconds Of Summer, Bastille, Blink-182, One Direction, The 1975, U2

Best Festival: Bestival, Glastonbury, Isle Of Wight, Latitude, Reading & Leeds, T In The Park

Small Festival Of The Year: End Of The Road, Festival No 6, Field Day, Liverpool Psych Fest, The Great Escape, Tramlines

Music Moment Of The Year: Alex Turner's BRIT Awards speech, Jamie T's comeback, Kasabian headline Glastonbury, Kate Bush returns, The Libertines reunite, Nirvana reunite at The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame

Best Fan Community: Jamie T, Kasabian, La Roux, Muse, Peace, Royal Blood

Best Band Blog/Twitter: ?uestlove's Twitter, Alana Haim's Twitter, Albert Hammond Jr's Twitter, Fat White Family's Facebook, Liam Gallagher's Twitter, Slaves' Facebook

James Murphy, Rustie x AG Cook, Rock N Roll Hall Of Fame and a side of chips

Other notable announcements and developments today...

• James Murphy has packaged his previously reported "algorithmically generated soundscapes", which incorporate match data taken from machines at the US Open tennis tournament, for a digital release (via the IBM SoundCloud) on Friday (19 Dec). This is a snippet of one of the tracks, 'Match 176'. Game over.

• Enter Shikari released a video for 'Slipshod', an exclusive iTunes bolt-on to their next LP 'The Mindsweep', ahead of the latter's release on 19 Jan. Watch the clip, which is animated by ex-'Ren & Stimpy' storyboardist Peter MacAdams, today, if possible.

• Thrifty post-hardcore band Make Do And Mend will, on 23 Feb, self-release their new eleven track long player 'Don't Be Long'. Get hyped for the premiere of its lead single/title track via this Noisey interview.

The LuckyMe label's advent calendar is, like most advent calendars, giving up a new daily gift in the approach to Xmas. Yesterday's was a Rustie edit of 'Beautiful', a single originally released by AG Cook, aka boss of one of CMU's favourite artist congloms of 2014, PC Music. Stream the remix here.

• The rockin and rollin Loveless bros (of Drenge) are hitting the road early on in the new year, with shows newly confirmed in Leeds (19 Jan) and Manchester (20 Jan), plus an already in place NME Awards Show date at London's Tufnell Park Dome (12 Feb). Get tickets here and then let's never speak of this again. Ever!

• Electronic lady Grouper, or Liz Harris, is to play a one-off UK show as part of the St John Sessions on 23 Apr, at St John of Hackney Church in London, as a live compliment/complement to her peculiar latest LP 'Ruins'. Tickets are available already so go and reserve them already.

• Next year's London Electronic Arts Festival and very mini convention, aka LEAF, will feature 'in conversation' events with Nile Rodgers, DJ Harvey, and the Black Butter Records and RAM Records teams, and some other speakers that haven't been revealed yet. The first-confirmed headliner is Modeselektor, and tickets to the event, which goes on between 6-7 Mar, are on sale now via the LEAF site.

• FAO anyone planning on going to either of Tove Lo's forthcoming shows at London's Koko (22 Jan) Manchester's Academy 2 (23 Jan): DO NOT GO TO THOSE SHOWS. For they have been postponed whilst Tove recovers from an ongoing inflammation of her vocal cord, which she says means she'll be inactive for two months or so. Read this very sorry Tove Lo Twitter note for more info.

• Synth-pop band Scarlet Soho have improved on news of their European tour by adding some UK dates at last: at the Railway in Winchester (20 Feb) and The Islington in London (26 Feb). SS's forthcoming album 'In Cold Blood' drops worldwide on 13 Feb, and this a trailer trailing it.

• Green Day, Lou Reed, Bill Withers and Joan Jet & The Blackhearts are amongst the 'class of 2015' of acts being thrown into the Rock N Roll Hall Of Fame as part of its latest wave of inductions. They'll be locked in and left to rot for all eternity.

50 Cent inks pants deal
50 Cent claims to have done "a deal for $78 million for underwear" with the brand Frigo, of which, it's stated on the fashion line's website (which I've been searching intensively for evidence of the new deal), he was already a 'celebrity backer'.

And here he is making that claim on Instagram. It's all there, black and white, clear as crystal. In other news, here's a photo of Fiddy sitting on his worktop eating a nice money sandwich. Good thing he's toasting some more dollar-bread (nice detail), too, to go with all that papery green filling.

50 Cent, everyone.

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 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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