TODAY'S TOP STORY: So, after much speculation, music weekly NME is finally going free, following the lead of London culture mag Time Out in greatly upping its print circulation by going the free route, while hoping that a boost in ads and sponsorship, both online and in print, can make up for the loss of cover price income. NME's print circulation has, of course, been in freefall for years, making... [READ MORE]
TODAY'S APPROVED: Originally posted to SoundCloud earlier this year under the name of vocalist Nick Klein, and gaining a play count in the hundreds of thousands, Klyne's debut single 'Paralyzed' received its official release through Aesop last month. The work of Klein and producer Ferdous Dehzad, the track - like b-side 'Break Away' - is a piece of slick R&B-influenced pop. The duo's styles... [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES NME to relaunch as free title
LEGAL Pirate Bay founders questioned as part of FBI investigation
DEALS Brownswood Recordings signs LV
LABELS & PUBLISHERS Labels keep close eye on revenues to assess impact of Apple Music and incoming New Music Fridays
LIVE BUSINESS Gatecrashers cause problems at Wireless
Live entertainment spending up, says Barclaycard
MANAGEMENT & FUNDING More MEGS funding distribution, though one recipient hits out at government's record on the arts
MEDIA Chris Moyles linked to new Xfm breakfast show
ARTIST NEWS Throne-bound Grohl returns to stage for Foo Fighters 20th anniversary show
AND FINALLY... Damon Albarn physically removed from Roskilde stage
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NME to relaunch as free title
So, after much speculation, music weekly NME is finally going free, following the lead of London culture mag Time Out in greatly upping its print circulation by going the free route, while hoping that a boost in ads and sponsorship, both online and in print, can make up for the loss of cover price income.

NME's print circulation has, of course, been in freefall for years, making each set of ABC circulation figures gloomy reading. But at the same time the title has been more successful than most of its old school music mag rivals in building an online following, with an extensive mainly free-to-access digital offering.

As with Time Out, the all new free NME - with a 300,000 print run compared to the 15,000 copies currently sold - will be distributed on commuter routes in London. And as with some other free music mags, a number of retail partners will also give away copies. On campus distribution is also planned at universities and colleges around the UK.

Confirming the change, the boss of NME publisher Time Inc UK, Marcus Rich, told reporters: "This famous 63 year old brand was an early leader in digital and has been growing its global audience successfully for the best part of 20 years. It has been able to do so because music is such an important passion and now is the right time to invest in bringing NME to an even bigger community for our commercial partners".

Focusing slightly less on the needs of those pesky "commercial partners", the mag's editor Mike Williams adds: "NME is already a major player and massive influencer in the music space, but with this transformation we'll be bigger, stronger and more influential than ever before. Every media brand is on a journey into a digital future. That doesn't mean leaving print behind, but it does mean that print has to change, so I'm incredibly excited by the role it will now play as part of the new NME".

If Time Inc can make it work commercially, the move to free could breathe new life into NME, which has remained influential in indie circles despite its slumping print readership. The all new NME will launch on 18 Sep.

Pirate Bay founders questioned as part of FBI investigation
Swedish police spoke to two of The Pirate Bay's convicted co-founders while they served their jail terms, it has emerged, in both cases seemingly on behalf of the FBI.

Both Peter Sunde and Fredrik Neij have confirmed to Torrentfreak that they were questioned by police while in prison, with officers stating that they were asking questions on behalf of American investigators. It was hoped that the two men might be able to throw some light on where backups and logs for the always controversial file-sharing website might be stored and accessed, and on who is currently running the piracy set-up.

It seems there was little information of use either men could provide, they having not been actively involved with the file-sharing site for a number of years now, having been originally convicted for copyright crimes in relation to the Bay in 2009 (it just took them five years to get round to serving their jail terms).

Sunde says: "They asked many questions about the TPB backups and logs. I told them that even if they have one of the backups that it would be nearly impossible to decrypt".

Meanwhile Neij, who was interviewed separately, adds: "They wanted to know if I could verify the accuracy of the IP-address logs, how they were stored, and how they could be retrieved".

It's not known what, exactly, the FBI was investigating in relation to The Pirate Bay. Swedish authorities have been particularly proactive in the last year in their bid to take the Bay offline once and for all, albeit unsuccessfully to date, despite some downtime in December and January.

But it's thought the FBI might not be investigating the Bay itself at all. Sunde says the officers questioning him talked about Prenda Law, a notorious and now defunct American legal practice that was found guilty of "copyright trolling", by placing pornographic content on The Pirate Bay, and then targeting those who downloaded the content with threats of legal action, with the option to settle out of court.

There were parallels between Prenda Law and disgraced UK law firm ACS:Law in terms of approach, though the American operation was even more dubious, not least because in most cases there was no actual client. The attorneys behind the operation were seemingly both client and legal representation, the aim being to simply embarrass file-sharers into paying out of court settlements, rather than actually targeting real copyright infringement.

Sunde told Torrentfreak: "I was told that Prenda Law has been under investigation for over a year, and from the printouts they showed me, I believe that".

Brownswood Recordings signs LV
Gilles Peterson's label Brownswood Recordings has signed LV, and has already posted a new track from the production duo, 'Jump And Reach', a joint effort with Armenian pianist Tigran Hamasyan, a collaboration that began on Peterson's radio show.

Commenting on its new signings, Brownswood says: "Anyone who heard the radio session that laid the foundations for the album will know how exciting it was to hear delicate jazz musicality at play with UK-tinged dance rhythms. 'Jump And Reach' builds on that potential, with circling piano going toe to toe with rolling drums and stabs of bass".

You can listen to the track here.

Labels keep close eye on revenues to assess impact of Apple Music and incoming New Music Fridays
It's set to be an interesting month for record labels as they assess the impact of two big innovations, the launch of Apple Music and the arrival of New Music Fridays.

Because, of course, while there is nothing hugely innovative about Apple's new music service (even if Beats 1 is doing a very good job of getting people talking), it is the first time the option to stream rather than download a new track or album has been so overtly offered right next to the place where most people go to buy new MP3s (or, technically, AACs).

And, as Peter Robinson asks on Popjustice, when the two options are offered quite so close to each other, why would people chose to pay to have a track on their Apple devices rather than just have it stream from Apple Music, especially while the latter is still free for all?

Of course, this was the main reason the indies were so adamant that Apple's proposed royalty free trial period couldn't work, because while the rise of the streaming platforms is already hitting download sales, the direct impact of Apple streams on iTunes downloads could be much more pronounced.

Though even with some nominal per-play royalties being paid by Apple during the free trial, the labels will still be watching carefully quite what impact the tech giant's new musical venture has on their traditional iTunes income and, longer term, whether new revenues from the subscription element of Apple Music properly compensate for that potentially big hit.

And then there is the global release day. As much previously reported, from Friday all new singles and albums will go on sale worldwide at the end of the week, Monday having traditionally been the release day in the UK, of course.

Some labels and retailers still worry the shift to Friday will kill the double spike that some artists and releases benefited from - whereby core music fans shopped on Monday to get the latest releases, with more mainstream consumers, and possibly core fans for a second time, following on Saturday. Will merging these two big pushes into one result in a slip of sales overall? In tandem with a significant new slump in iTunes download income, that could be challenging.

Still, ahead of all the royalty statement dissection that will likely take place in the coming weeks at the labels, record industry trade group BPI published figures from the Official Charts Company on Friday that showed that "consumption" of recorded music was up in the first half of the year, with the streaming boom and slowing CD sale declines resulting in a 4% increase in consumption overall.

Of course, the overall "consumption" metric, replacing old school units sold figures, makes for interesting year-on-year comparisons, though seems even more removed from crucial revenue figures (let alone actual profits, the key numbers often missing from the debate). But with a recorded music industry increasingly dependent on repeat listening to make money, it's good to know there's plenty of listening going on. Let's just hope the monetisation bit can work too.

Gatecrashers cause problems at Wireless
London's Wireless Festival became the Fenceless Festival for a minute or two on Friday night after a festival-goer on the inside unlocked a gate allowing a number of rowdy gatecrashers to invade the event's Finsbury Park site without tickets.

In a video of the incident, event security are seen trying to stop people on the wrong side of the festival's fence from pushing open a large gate. When security take a breather from those efforts, a festival-goer on the inside sneaks in and opens a latch, allowing dozens of people to rush in before security re-appear to close the gate and push back some of the stragglers amongst those who have illicitly gained access.

Commenting on the gatecrashers, a spokesperson for Wireless promoter Live Nation told reporters: "This was an isolated incident that was dealt with quickly where no one was hurt. The perpetrators were removed on an otherwise hugely successful first day. Organisers of Wireless Festival take security very seriously and work closely with ShowSec Security, local police and other agencies to put procedures in place to ensure the event maintains an enjoyable and secure environment for all its customers".

While successful site invasion may have been an isolated incident, there were plenty of other attempts by non-ticket holders to access the Wireless site, with other video footage showing event security and police - and on one occasion one brave solitary policeman - fighting off wannabe gatecrashers as they surge towards a gate in the festival's grand fence.

Meanwhile, on the inside of the Wireless fence, people who actually paid to see Nicki Minaj play the festival yesterday were disappointed as travel problems meant she missed her stage time.

Minaj had been due to perform for an hour at 7pm last night, but failed to appear after her flight from Denmark, where she had been forming at Roskilde the previous day, was delayed. Festival organisers were eventually forced to admit that they didn't really know what was going on, a message flashed up on the screens at one point telling the audience: "We are told that she was due to be speeding down the M1 from Luton Airport as we speak, but have lost contact with her. We are hoping that she will be here soon".

When she did finally arrive, after 9pm, David Guetta was already on stage for his performance, so she joined him to play their single 'Turn Me On', telling the crowd: "Our plane couldn't get out because of the weather but I want to tell you how much I fucking love y'all. I want to tell you how much I appreciate you guys for showing up from day one".


Live entertainment spending up, says Barclaycard
Spending on live entertainment is up, according to Barclaycard, which is basing that on what its customers have been busy splashing out on this year.

The credit card firm reckons that consumers have spent 8.5% more on live entertainment in the first half of this year compared to 2014, with three months in 2015 seeing double digit growth on last year. Though that does include all forms of live entertainment - including sport - so this extra spending isn't just benefiting the live music sector. Sorry.

Barclaycard also reckons that, while people are spending more often on live entertainment, individual transactions across the board are down, suggesting less big festival or high-end events and more cost effective forms of entertainment. The average live entertainment transaction this year is £37.62 compared to £40.37 for the same period in 2014.

Commenting on all this, Barclaycard Chief Marketing Officer Katherine Whitton told reporters last week: "As the country enjoys a rise in spending power, people are keen to indulge their love affair with live music and entertainment. The impressive growth so far this year shows no sign of slowing down, and we expect live entertainment to ride the wave of the economic recovery over the coming months".

More MEGS funding distribution, though one recipient hits out at government's record on the arts
The latest recipients of Music Export Growth Scheme funding were revealed this weekend.

As previously reported, this scheme is led by record label trade group BPI and the government's UK Trade & Investment unit, and aims to provide artists signed to small and mid-sized UK labels with grants to help them pursue projects abroad.

It's the sixth round of funding from the MEGS project, and BPI boss Geoff Taylor says the initiative "has played a pivotal role in launching the music careers of artists overseas. With one in seven artist albums around the world now accounted for by British acts, we know the UK's independent and major labels are at the top of their game in finding the most promising acts to develop. It's an exciting time for British music and the BPI is backing it all the way".

Meanwhile the government's Business Secretary Sajid Javid adds: "Music is a defining part of British culture, from the British Invasion in the 1960s to 90s Britpop. Through the Music Export Growth Scheme, the government is banging the drum for the UK's fledgling music stars and promoting the UK's world-class sound in overseas markets".

Though - while grateful for a contribution to a planned American tour - at least one of the recipients of a MEGS grant have distanced themselves from Javid's remarks, stressing that while they are happy to take government funding where they can get it, that doesn't mean they approve of the current government's policy on funding the arts.

In a long blog post on the topic, 65daysofstatic write: "The idea of 65daysofstatic being held up in any way as evidence that this hyper-Dickensian, fucking nightmare of a Tory government is apparently supporting the arts, when in actual fact they are destroying any kind of infrastructure for future creativity at the grassroots level and plunging the most vulnerable parts of society into further misery, leaves a bad taste in our mouths".

They also note that pretty much all the money received will be spent on travel, crew and instrument hire costs, meaning a big chunk of the change will likely go to airlines and oil companies. The band add: "The point here is absolutely not to complain that we as a band are not getting paid, but simply to point out that it is not accurate for this kind of funding to be held up as evidence of a government who is supporting the arts in this country when, in actual fact, they are destroying the conditions where it can even survive, never mind thrive".

You can read the full blog here.

Meanwhile, the other recipients of MEGS funding - who may or may not share the sentiments of 65daysofstatic - are as follows: Ciaran Lavery, Dr Meaker, Eska, Fearless Vampire Killers, Låpsley, Lonelady, Maribou State, Marika Hackman, MONEY, Oh Wonder, Sam Lee, SOAK, The Temperance Movement, Until The Ribbon Breaks, While She Sleeps and songwriters Paul Drew, Pete Barringer and Pete Boyes.

Chris Moyles linked to new Xfm breakfast show
There have been rumours for a while now that Chris Moyles is plotting a return to radio via a new gig at Xfm, and the latest chatter is that the former Radio 1 breakfast show host has now signed on to front the same slot on the alternative music station from September.

One of those always-on-hand sources told The Sun On Sunday: "Chris was enjoying not having all of the usual pressures and early starts that come with breakfast radio so bosses were well aware that they had to offer him a great deal to entice him back. He plans to spend the next two months developing ideas for the new show and how he wants the format to work".

Owner Global Radio has generally left Xfm to its own devices over the years, but it's thought the radio giant might be planning a big revamp of the station this autumn, at the same time as expanding its reach on the DAB network. Among the other gossip relating to a possible revamp are Vernon Kay getting the lunchtime show and Richard Bacon returning to Xfm for drive time, while one gossiper even suggests a new identity for the station is being considered. None of which has, as yet, been confirmed.

Though if only half of all this is true it seems likely that Xfm could be repositioning itself to take on Bauer's national rock station Absolute. Which would mean that - while much has been made of Moyles possibly going head-to-head with his successor at Radio 1, Nick Grimshaw - more interesting would be the impact the new Xfm breakfast show would have on the current programme of one of its former presenters, Absolute breakfast show DJ Christian O'Connell.

  Approved: Klyne
Originally posted to SoundCloud earlier this year under the name of vocalist Nick Klein, and gaining a play count in the hundreds of thousands, Klyne's debut single 'Paralyzed' received its official release through Aesop last month.

The work of Klein and producer Ferdous Dehzad, the track - like b-side 'Break Away' - is a piece of slick R&B-influenced pop. The duo's styles complement each other well, both building a level of tension that stop their songs from becoming too smooth. There's a depth to be uncovered in repeat listens.

Watch the video for 'Paralyzed' here.
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Throne-bound Grohl returns to stage for Foo Fighters 20th anniversary show
Dave Grohl returned to the stage on Saturday for the first time since breaking his leg during a performance in Sweden last month. Seated on a specially built throne, the musician played a show to mark the 20th anniversary of the release of the debut Foo Fighters album on Saturday.

As previously reported, Grohl broke his leg and dislocated his ankle after falling off the stage at a show in Gothenburg in June during the second song of the set. He managed to return to finish the performance (with a doctor holding his ankle in place initially while a brace was fetched from a local hospital), but afterward the seriousness of the injury forced the cancellation of the band's remaining European tour dates - including headline shows at Wembley Stadium and Glastonbury.

However, while in hospital Grohl apparently vowed not to miss the 20th anniversary show in Washington, DC. Bringing his audience up to speed with the story of Saturday, he explained that he'd drawn an initial idea for the throne he was now sitting on while "high as a kite" on painkillers. The design was finessed a bit after he came back down, but pretty much follows that original plan.

If you want to see what it looks like, just Google it and you'll find lots of pictures. Which is impressive, given the contract any professional photographers would have had to sign to bring them to you.

Damon Albarn physically removed from Roskilde stage
Damon Albarn was physically removed from the stage at the end of his Africa Express project's set at the Roskilde festival in Denmark on Saturday.

The show, which featured reinterpretations of Gorillaz tracks and covers of songs by artists including Randy Newman and The Clash, plus guest appearances from Laura Mvula and Graham Coxon, lasted for five hours. When, at 4am, Albarn was told that he'd reached the event's curfew, he refused to leave the stage, encouraging the audience to demand more.

The rest of the band having already departed, backstage staff tried to reason with him for several minutes before eventually giving up and carrying him off to much booing from the crowd.

Watch it all as it happened 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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