TODAY'S TOP STORY: The former MegaUpload employee who suddenly showed up in the US last week has pleaded guilty to criminal copyright infringement, and on Friday was sentenced to a year and a day in jail. Which for a case that has gone more or less nowhere in three years (its main achievement to date being the deletion of thousands of files belonging to former MegaUpload customers) is quite... [READ MORE]
TODAY'S APPROVED: Last November, the Tru Thoughts label added a new string to its bow, in the form of Sharp & Ready, a new imprint with the express purpose of celebrating the UK's sound system scene. South London duo Ghost Writerz turned in the label's first single, 'Back It Up', in December, which featured vocals from GOLD and Shiffa Dan alongside their own Jimmy Screech. Now they're... [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES Former MegaUpload exec pleads guilty to copyright infringement, jailed for a year
DEALS Nude signs publishing deal with Honeyblood
iSHi signs to Avicii manager's label and management agency
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES Rara up for sale
MEDIA Annie Mac steps up at Radio 1 as Zane Lowe heads to Apple
Do Androids Dance winds downs, merges with sister site
OBITUARIES Steve Strange 1959-2015
ARTIST NEWS Syco parts with another X winner
AWARDS Paul Epworth takes producer BRIT at MPG Awards
GIT Award shortlist announced
ONE LINERS Next BRIT Thing, Taylor Swift, Estelle, Marky Ramone and some more Monday morning marvels
AND FINALLY... Meghan Trainor reveals "lifelong fear"
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Former MegaUpload exec pleads guilty to copyright infringement, jailed for a year
The former MegaUpload employee who suddenly showed up in the US last week has pleaded guilty to criminal copyright infringement, and on Friday was sentenced to a year and a day in jail. Which for a case that has gone more or less nowhere in three years (its main achievement to date being the deletion of thousands of files belonging to former MegaUpload customers) is quite a lot of progress in one week.

As previously reported, Andrus Nomm was one of seven men wanted by the US authorities for their role in running the one-time file-transfer service, an operation that - American prosecutors, Hollywood and the major record companies say - made millions on the back of industrial-level copyright infringement.

Unlike MegaUpload founder Kim Dotcom and three other of the targeted men, who have been busy fighting extradition to the US in New Zealand, Nomm and the two other Mega defendants were in Europe when the Americans shut down the file-transfer platform in 2012. Though Nomm, an Estonian residing in the Netherlands, was the only one of the Europe-based former Mega execs under the reach of an extradition treaty with the US. Leaving him on bail in Rotterdam facing an extradition hearing.

But then last week it emerged that Nomm had suddenly arrived in the US and had been promptly arrested. It was generally assumed he had gone to the States having done a deal with American prosecutors, with Kim Dotcom's US-based lawyer Ira Rothken saying at the time: "Given he didn't have any more resources, it was expected the US would take advantage. This is to be expected where the US Department Of Justice, in an experimental case, is trying to get folks scared and to testify in certain ways".

Just how scared Nomm had become isn't known, but he had indeed done a plea bargain deal with American prosecutors, agreeing to travel to the US without an extradition order and to plead guilty to various copyright crimes, in return for a more lenient sentence. For the feds, Nomm was a small player in the alleged 'MegaUpload Conspiracy', and prosecutors will be hoping his admissions will help their case against Dotcom et al down the line.

In a statement on Friday, the DoJ said Nomm had admitted that "he was aware that copyright-infringing content was stored on the [MegaUpload] websites" and that "harm caused to copyright holders by the Mega Conspiracy's criminal conduct exceeded $400 million. He further acknowledged that the group obtained at least $175 million in proceeds through their conduct". But despite this knowledge, the DoJ statement added, "Nomm continued to participate in the Mega conspiracy".

After three years of navigating all kinds of legal complications in New Zealand as the DoJ tries to extradite Dotcom, so far without success, US Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell called Nomm's arrest and conviction last week "a significant step forward in the largest criminal copyright case in US history".

She added: "The Mega conspirators are charged with massive worldwide online piracy of movies, music and other copyrighted US works. We intend to see to it that all those responsible are held accountable for illegally enriching themselves by stealing the creative work of US artists and creators".

For his part, Rothken labelled Friday's developments a "publicity stunt". Speaking to Torrentfreak, he said: "The DoJ apparently used Andrus Nomm's weak financial condition and inability to fight back to manufacture a Hollywood-style publicity stunt in the form of a scripted guilty plea in court. [But] the facts mentioned in court, like a lack of cloud filtering of copyrighted works, are civil secondary copyright issues not criminal issues".

That's an important distinction, because the US needs to prove that there is a case for criminal copyright infringement here to successfully extradite Dotcom from New Zealand.

Rothken continued: "The DoJ apparently convinced Andrus Nomm to say the conclusory phrase that Kim Dotcom 'did not care about protecting copyrights' and such point shows off the weakness in the DoJ's case as MegaUpload, amongst many other ways of caring, had a robust copyright notice and takedown system which gave direct delete access to major content owners and from which millions of links were removed".

Meanwhile on Twitter, Dotcom himself said: "I have nothing but compassion and understanding for Andrus Nomm and I hope he will soon be reunited with his son", though later he added that a witness for the defence had heard his former colleague say "I would sign anything to get out of this mess".

So one down, six to go. Though getting Dotcom to America to face the heat ain't going to be so easy.

Nude signs publishing deal with Honeyblood
Nude Music, the Bucks Music Group-allied publishing company that spun off from the famous Nude record label, has just signed Honeyblood, the duo fronted by songwriter Stina Tweeddale who last year released their debut album on Fat Cat, and who are about to embark on a US tour with fellow Scots Belle & Sebastian.

Confirming the deal on Friday, Nude Music MD Saul Galpern told reporters: "I'm really pleased to be working with Honeyblood and their manager Jaimie Hodgson. I am fortunate that through my relationship with Bucks I was able to sign Stina. I think there is a dark pop edge and authenticity about this band that has been lacking in recent times and a strong, traditional songwriting ethic that really pulled me in".

He added: "We are all very much looking forward to working with Stina and exploring sync opportunities for her songs supported by Bucks sync team, particularly in the film and TV world".


iSHi signs to Avicii manager's label and management agency
Avicii manager Ash Pournouri has confirmed he is branching into hip hop with his latest signing, Stockholm-based producer iSHi, who has signed to both Pournouri's management agency At Night and his label PRMD.

Having worked with the likes of Emeli Sandé and Tinie Tempah, iSHi was seemingly signed up by Pournouri last year. The producer's debut single 'Push It' features Pusha T, and will be out on 27 Feb over on the Spotifys (Pournouri having recently penned an op-ed defending the streaming service).

On his companies' move into hip hop, Pournouri told Billboard: "I like so many different types of music, and, growing up, I went through most genres one by one. Hip hop was a big part of my youth".

Rara up for sale
Omnifone's consumer-facing streaming service Rara is up for sale, the parent company's CEO Jeff Hughes told Music Ally last week. But this is not a sign that his company is in trouble, he insisted. launched in 2011, aiming to lure more mainstream consumers who were still unsure about streaming. Omnifone claimed at the time that it was "designed specifically for the mass market who still use CDs". The service was latterly spun off to become a separate entity, with various staff members moving over to the new business, but then last year the operation was brought back in-house. And now Omnifone wants to sell it.

Of the service, Hughes said: "Rara's still going today, but Omnifone took control of Rara about a year ago, mainly to make sure that we could run it at break-even or at a small profit. Previously, it was a completely standalone company with separate management which ultimately wasn't able to fund it. We took back control, and it now runs at about break-even".

He added: "We're trying to sell Rara, to be perfectly honest. We're a B2B company, so we don't want to run it: it's not our thing. We've nurtured it along and kept it going, and hopefully we'll find a buyer. If we don't, we won't keep it going forever, but it's a good service and I'd like to see it in the hands of somebody who can market and grow it. That's not us".

There has been speculation over the B2B side of Omnifone's business of late, following the loss of some big clients, not least Sony Corp which announced it was shutting down its Music Unlimited platform on 29 Mar.

But Hughes says that his company had been preparing for this for some time, well aware that Omnifone had, in the past, relied too much on a few key clients.

"We knew there was a lot of concentration of revenue with our big partners, so we started trying to lower the cost of entry and build everything into the cloud so it's scalable", he said. "We have signed six new clients in the last six months, and two are companies larger than Sony in their size and ambition in the music space: massive global companies that fit the type that Omnifone is known for serving".

Read the full interview over at Music Ally here.

Annie Mac steps up at Radio 1 as Zane Lowe heads to Apple
So this got the social networks into a frenzy yesterday, didn't it? Yes, there was some big news coming out off Radio 1 Towers this weekend: Annie Mac is being promoted to the big 7-9pm weekday new music slot. Which is welcome news indeed, and definitely worthy of a tweet here and, dare I say it, a Facebook post there. Maybe even a Tumbl. Yeah, why not? Have a Tumbl on Annie.

But what do you mean you'd rather wildly speculate about what the man she's replacing has got planned? OK, that is quite interesting. Because yes, Mac is replacing long-term Radio 1 voice, even longer-term MTV 'rock' man and, for those with very good memories, one time CMU columnist Zane Lowe, who, you see, is heading to the States to work for Apple.

He's due to take up a new role within iTunes, which has led to much chatter about what exactly that means, and, more to the point, what does it tell us about Apple's plans for its new play in the streaming content space? It's widely expected that Apple will relaunch its music platform later this year, bringing together the iTunes download store, the Pandora-style iTunes Radio and the Beats Music fully on-demand streaming service into one new integrated mish-mash musical masterpiece.

But where will Lowe fit in? Beats Music, of course, made much of human rather than algorithm-based curation being at the heart of the service on its launch last year, and Apple is likely to replicate that with its new music set-up. Though some have pointed out that traditional radio done well offers more than just playlisting, bringing personalities and story-tellers into the mix. Could Apple be seeking to offer that extra layer of content when it properly enters the ever competitive on-demand streaming market this summer?

Time will tell. In the meantime, Lowe says of his departure from the nation's favourite for the big Apple: "I want to thank everyone at Radio 1 - for their support and friendship. The station has allowed me to share incredible music with the country's best music fans - I've loved every minute of it. Exciting times lie ahead".

Exciting times indeed. But hey, people. Annie Mac on the flagship new music slot on Radio 1, that's exciting too right? And here she is: "I am so excited and humbled to be asked to do this show. The thing I love about music radio is those private epiphanies it provides. Having eleven hours of airtime a week to share those moments with music that has no boundaries, is beyond a job, it's a privilege".

And finally Radio 1 boss Ben Cooper on all these developments: "Annie has proven she is a great ambassador for new music, and I'm delighted that she's bringing her passion and knowledge to young audiences across the week. I'd like to thank Zane for twelve wonderful years at Radio 1, and wish him all the very best".


Do Androids Dance winds downs, merges with sister site
Popular US-based EDM website Do Androids Dance has posted its final post, with the site's owner Complex Media saying that dance music coverage will now move over to its main entertainment and lifestyle website

Complex Media CEO Rich Antoniello told Billboard: "EDM has cross-pollinated with hip hop, it's a lifestyle topic now. It didn't make sense to keep covering it on this stand-alone, narrow vertical. We wanted that traffic to contribute to Complex. We didn't let anyone go, they're all going to keep writing for us, so it's more of a merger".

So there you go. While there may be one more stand-alone narrow vertical in heaven, they'll still be plenty of horizontal EDM waffle on the internet. And don't worry, Antoniello knows that covering dance music is different to other genres.

"EDM is an experiential culture", he says. "It's about going to shows and maybe revisiting them in a large scale video later. It's not like hip hop, which is about rumours and collaborations and feuds and shopping. People are trying to apply general music standards to electronic music, but it's different. It's still compelling, but it's very different".

Though did we ever find out whether androids do or do not dance?

Steve Strange 1959-2015
Musician and former club promoter Steve Strange died on 12 Feb, aged 55. He suffered a heart attack while on holiday in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt and passed away later that day in hospital.

Born Steven Harrington in Wales in 1959, Strange began putting on punk gigs in his home town of Newbridge in 1976, prior to moving to London, where he initially worked for Malcolm McLaren and joined a number of punk bands.

In 1978, he also began promoting club nights with Rusty Egan of The Rich Kids, dubbed 'Bowie nights', first in Soho and then at Covent Garden's Blitz club. A door policy to only admit "the weird and wonderful" - strictly enforced by Strange himself, who once famously turned away Mick Jagger - made the club the centre of the New Romantic scene, particularly after Strange appeared in the video for David Bowie's 'Ashes To Ashes'.

Jagger aside, it was attended by many people who were already famous, and others who would become famous - Boy George worked in the cloakroom, while Spandau Ballet became the house band. Strange's success as a promoter eventually saw him move up to the 2000 capacity Camden Palace (now Koko).

While still putting on the club night in Soho, Strange formed Visage with Egan and fellow Rich Kids member Midge Ure, plus Barry Adamson, John McGeoch and Dave Formula of Magazine. They released their first single, 'Tar', in 1979, following it up later that year with 'Fade To Grey', which became a top ten hit. The band eventually split up in 1985, after two albums.

Strange also struggled with drug addiction, and after a number of periods living in Ibiza during the 80s, fell on harder times in the late 90s back in the UK. This came to public attention in 1999 when he was found guilty of shoplifting.

More recently, he returned to music, reforming Visage with different line-ups twice since 2004. Then in 2013, he released the band's first new album for 29 years, 'Hearts And Knives'. And in December last year, they released 'Orchestral', an album of Visage songs re-recorded with a symphony orchestra.

Also in December, Strange received hospital treatment in Wales for a bronchial infection and an intestinal blockage. He then travelled to Egypt in January, before falling ill there this month.

Steve Strange is survived by his sister Tanya Harrington, who told ITV News last week: "He was a proper charmer. Very loving, very sensitive. We've had some brilliant times. He is my world. It's going to be awfully hard without him - but he'll be remembered by everybody".

  Approved: Pete Cannon Meets Ghost Writerz - How We Living
Last November, the Tru Thoughts label added a new string to its bow, in the form of Sharp & Ready, a new imprint with the express purpose of celebrating the UK's sound system scene.

South London duo Ghost Writerz turned in the label's first single, 'Back It Up', in December, which featured vocals from GOLD and Shiffa Dan alongside their own Jimmy Screech. Now they're back with a new single produced by Pete Cannon, which is released today.

More of an outright party track than 'Back It Up', Cannon mixes old skool jungle and reggae under with Screech and GOLD reappearing on vocals, this time joined by RTKal too.

Says Cannon: "Jungle music always seems to be coming back, but if you look, it's always been there for me. It's a massive part of the musical movement and influence over here from the 90s and has gone on to inspire everything from garage to grime. I mean, as a country we're doing pretty well for pioneering genres, right... and I must give a solid nod to all those that paved the way from Micky Finn to DJ Ratty".

Listen to 'How We Living' here.
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Syco parts with another X winner
If ITV is looking for a replacement for 'The Big Reunion', how about this: ITV2 gets together all the 'X-Factor' winners quietly dropped by Simon Cowell's Syco label once it had fulfilled its one album release obligations.

Then we can follow them all as they tour the karaoke bars of Britain, with the viewing public voting on which one seems the most bitter about the whole 'X' experience. No, what am I talking about, Steve Brookstein would win hands down rendering the whole competition element pointless. Oh well, back to the drawing board.

Meanwhile, 'X-Factor' 2013 winner Sam Bailey has been dropped by Syco. But there's no bitterness here, oh no. Look, the Daily Mail is quoting a Syco source as saying "everyone wishes Sam all the best for the future. After discussion, it was just felt it was the right time to follow different paths".

While Bailey herself has been busy tweeting: "Hi guys, yes it's true I have parted ways with Syco! Don't worry though, I'm happy. Lots of exciting things happening".

That's right. I mean, there's 'The Big X-Flop Reunion' for starters. Twice nightly on ITV 9.

Paul Epworth takes producer BRIT at MPG Awards
Paul Epworth is nothing if not efficient, he winning his BRIT Award for 2015 a whole two weeks before the BRIT Awards have even happened. And I bet all those popstars haven't even decided what to wear yet. This is why producers are the musical people who actually get things done. If we could just get rid of them, we'd never have to tolerate any new music ever again.

Which is exactly what the Music Producers Guild was celebrating last Thursday night. Well, not really. But yes, it was the annual MPG Awards last Thursday, the event where the BRIT Award for best producer of the year is also presented, usually to Paul Epworth. And this year it went to Paul Epworth. Which I think I'd already mentioned.

As for the other winners, well, they took the form of a list...

Recording Engineer Of The Year: Mark Rankin
Mix Engineer Of The Year: Mark 'Spike' Stent
Mastering Engineer Of The Year: Mandy Parnell
Re-Mixer Of The Year: James Rutledge
Breakthrough Producer Of The Year: Tom Dalgety
Breakthrough Engineer Of The Year: Robbie Nelson
International Producer Of The Year: Dan Auerbach
Studio Of The Year: RAK Studios

UK Album Of The Year: Goldfrapp - Tales Of Us
UK Single Song Release Of The Year: Sam Smith - Stay With Me

The A&R Award: Korda Marshall
The MPG Award For Innovation: Giorgio Moroder
The MPG Award For Inspiration: Damon Albarn
Outstanding Contribution To UK Music: Dave Stewart


GIT Award shortlist announced
The shortlist for this year's 'Scouse Mercury', the GIT Award, has been announced, pulling together what the judges deemed to be the finest new artists Liverpool has to offer.

One of those judges, 4AD's Rich Walker, said: "What a great award to be asked to help judge. Working at 4AD, there's never a shortage of new music to listen to but I've particularly enjoyed discovering what a fertile and supportive scene Liverpool currently has. More cities really should copy the GIT template and do their own award".

GIT Award founder Peter Guy added: "The GIT Award 2015 shortlist represents a new phase in Liverpool and the wider region's artistic development; these artists are creating new sounds quite unlike any other and surpassing most other cities in the world. This year there's ten brand new names on the shortlist selected by judges who travelled from all corners of the UK to Liverpool to listen to them and deliver the final shortlist - it proves what a vital time in Merseyside music's history this truly is".

The full shortlist looks like this:

All We Are
Circa Waves
Hooton Tennis Club
Roxanne Jones
Esa Shields
Xam Volo
Jane Weaver
We Are Catchers

The GIT Award ceremony this year will take place at Kazimer in Liverpool on 4 Apr. Tickets here.

Next BRIT Thing, Taylor Swift, Estelle, Marky Ramone and some more Monday morning marvels

Other notable announcements and developments today...

• Remember the lottery-funded Big Music Project? You know, with those big career events and the internship funding scheme. Well it also had a battle of the bands element, which was basically a return of the old Next BRIT Thing contest. And the final is only this coming Thursday at IndigO2 with Rizzle Kicks and Laura Wright set to join Island Records' Darcus Beese and RCA's Colin Barlow to judge.

• Will Smith is pondering a return to music, having been in the studio with Kanye West. "I went into the studio with Kanye. I'm thinking about it. I'm exploring", he said at a screening of his new film 'Focus' last week.

CMU Artist Of The Year 2014 Taylor Swift has released the video for her new single 'Style'. Is the song brilliant? Yes. Is the video brilliant? No.

• And lo, as was foretold, Florence And The Machine have announced a new album. It's called 'How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful', like that video from last week. It's out on 1 Jun, and its first single is 'What Kind Of Man'.

• Estelle has a new album out this week. Here's an interview she did with Jay-Z's Life+Times blog.

• The first track to emerge from Chilly Gonzales's new album 'Chambers' is here. 'Freudian Slippers' is its name.

• The fabulous techno quintet that is Vessels have a new single out called 'Echo In'. Here's the video.

• Electro duo April Towers will release their new single, 'No Corruption', next week. You can catch them live at Hoxton Bar & Kitchen on 9 Mar too. Here's the single's video.

• Pissed Jeans will be playing two nights at London's 100 Club on 18-19 Aug. Tickets here and here.

• The 13th Floor Elevators will reunite for their first live show in 48 years at Austin, Texas's Levitation festival in May. I know where're generally pretty down on reunions, but 48 years! Come on, that's worth some light applause.

• Marky Ramone has come up with a genius solution to the much documented Prick Watching A Gig With His Smartphone Held In The Air Problem. And it's a solution we should all adopt with immediate effect. Though, erm, you first.

Meghan Trainor reveals "lifelong fear"
Meghan Trainor has a "lifelong fear" of 'camel toe'. Bad luck to those who had anything else in the sweepstake. I had clowns.

"I have a lifelong fear of camel toe and told my record label right away that I would never wear a bathing suit on stage", she told The Evening Standard. "Jessie J and Ariana Grande can do it - they've got those tiny ass legs - but if I did, people would just be thinking, 'Vagina, vagina, vagina'".

She adds, perhaps due to this fear: "Skirts are my life. I wore trousers and a jacket on 'The Ellen DeGeneres Show' and I was so uncomfortable. It drew too much attention to my butt".

Despite all this, she said: "I feel comfortable in my own skin and wouldn't say no to doing a nude photo shoot. Not the Kim Kardashian 'here's my nipples' thing, though. More Marilyn Monroe: sexy but subtle".

I just Googled 'Kim Kardashian fear of' in an attempt to find something to get me out of this 'news' story. According to various websites, she is both terrified of spiders and finds Kayne West's fear of spiders "hysterical". So, I think we can all agree that none of this has been a waste of anyone's time.

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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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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