TODAY'S TOP STORY: What the US Department Of Justice is calling the "largest US-based file-sharing service" was taken offline this weekend after the DoJ and the feds seized the various domain names via which it operated. According to the Recording Industry Association Of America, the Sharebeast network of sites - which had Sharebeast.com at its heart - was "responsible for the distribution... [READ MORE]
TODAY'S APPROVED: We mentioned this track already last week, but it's worth repeating here in the Approved column. Not least because I've just realised Tinashe's never been CMU Approved before, which just isn't right. New track 'Party Favors' is the first to be taken from Tinashe's upcoming second album 'Joyride'. Featuring rapper Young Thug and produced by Boi-1da, the slow-paced R&B track... [READ MORE]
CMU PODCAST: CMU's Andy Malt and Chris Cooke review the week in music and the music business, including the relaunch of Xfm and the BBC's streaming ambitions, more on the safe harbours debate and Google's takedowns, Sony/ATV’s concerns about one particular consent decree reform in the US, and Sam Smith being a big fat liar. And recording a Bond theme... [LISTEN HERE]
TOP STORIES US industry welcomes takedown of "largest file-sharing service"
LEGAL Appeal judges refuse to further postpone Kim Dotcom's extradition hearing
LIVE BUSINESS Hologram USA boss discusses Whitney live show
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES Human curation is "elitist", says Alphabet boss
INDUSTRY PEOPLE Labour appoints new culture spokesman
RELEASES Tidal makes Prince exclusive available to the world
Alcopop! Records to release QI podcast on vinyl
GIGS & FESTIVALS Pete Doherty suffered panic attack ahead of London show, Libertines reveal
Funeral For A Friend to bow out with 2016 farewell tour
ONE LINERS SESAC, Music+Sport, Zomby, more
AND FINALLY... Autographs out, retweets in, Twitter study finds
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US industry welcomes takedown of "largest file-sharing service"
What the US Department Of Justice is calling the "largest US-based file-sharing service" was taken offline this weekend after the DoJ and the feds seized the various domain names via which it operated.

According to the Recording Industry Association Of America, the Sharebeast network of sites - which had Sharebeast.com at its heart - was "responsible for the distribution of a massive library of popular albums and tracks and has been particularly problematic in its distribution of pre-release leaks of thousands of songs". The record industry trade group adds that it alone had reported more than 100,000 copyright infringing files that were available via the file-sharing platform.

Welcoming the FBI's move to take the Sharebeast sites offline, RIAA CEO Cary Sherman told reporters: "This is a huge win for the music community and legitimate music services. Sharebeast operated with flagrant disregard for the rights of artists and labels while undermining the legal marketplace".

He continued: "Millions of users accessed songs from Sharebeast each month without one penny of compensation going to countless artists, songwriters, labels and others who created the music. We are grateful to the FBI and the Department Of Justice for its strong stand against Sharebeast and for recognising that these types of illicit sites wreak major damage on the music community and hinder fans' legitimate listening options".

As previously reported, whereas in the early days of file-sharing the music and movie industries tended to pursue civil litigation against companies and individuals providing software, databases or hubs that facilitated online piracy, increasingly rights owners are seeking web-block injunctions against infringing sites (where local copyright laws allow such a thing) and are going after the domain names of piracy operations, often in partnership with the authorities.

Though, as we noted last week, one by-product of this is that many piracy sites now operate at multiple domains, hoping not all can be grabbed by rights owners and the feds, which in turn means content firms issuing takedown notices to Google to have links to infringing files removed from the search engine now often have to file numerous takedowns for one bit of content (ie one for each URL manifestation).

Whether any elements of Sharebeast will reappear elsewhere online remains to be seen. But in the meantime, the boss of America's Music Business Association, which counts many legit digital music services amongst its membership, also welcomed this weekend's action.

Its President, James Donio, told reporters: "[We are] heartened to see the US Department Of Justice taking decisive action against illegal file-sharing, with the recent shutdown of Sharebeast and its related sites dealing a strong blow in the fight against piracy".

He went on: "This action will have enormously positive implications for our diverse membership, which includes not only labels and distributors whose artists are not paid by sites like these, but also physical and digital retailers who cannot compete with this type of illegal access. We applaud this decision and vow to continue fighting against piracy on behalf of rightsholders throughout the US".

Appeal judges refuse to further postpone Kim Dotcom's extradition hearing
The long-awaited much-delayed many-times-postponed extradition hearing of Kim Dotcom and the other former bosses of long defunct file-transfer service MegaUpload will take place next week as planned, despite new efforts to push back the proceedings into next year.

As previously reported, the former MegaUpload execs - who have been facing extradition from New Zealand to the US ever since their often controversial file-transfer company was shutdown by the American authorities in 2012 - last week argued that they couldn't properly defend themselves because monies freed up from funds seized from their former business couldn't be used to pay for legal expertise from outside New Zealand.

The MegaUpload men's lawyers argue that any extradition hearing must assess whether there is a sufficient case against their clients under American law, and that therefore counsel from experts in US copyright and criminal law is required. The prosecution counter that at this stage it's all about New Zealand law, so only New Zealand lawyers should be required.

As the latest extradition hearing approached, Team MegaUpload requested a further delay last week so they could fight for more funds to hire US expertise. But yesterday that request was denied, with appeal judges insisting next week's hearing should go ahead.

The judges basically said that they couldn't be expected to properly assess all the arguments presented just last week, but they were satisfied that Dotcom et al would get a fair hearing either way, because the judge overseeing next week's extradition session has the power to adjourn the proceedings if necessary. And the MegaUpload defendants have further opportunities to appeal under New Zealand's Extradition Act if the upcoming hearing rules against them.

But, needless to say, Dotcom himself was not impressed with all this. Before the appeal judges ruled, he tweeted: "Today we'll find out if I get a fair extradition hearing or if the New Zealand judiciary will transform itself into a US-owned dancing bear". Post ruling he returned to the tweets to declare: "As expected... Dancing bear".

Meanwhile, long-standing Dotcom attorney Ira Rothken confirmed that his client's New Zealand team would file a 'motion for stay', again seeking to postpone matters, next week. He told Ars Technica: "The motion for stay is being raised with the District Court on day one of the extradition hearing".

He added: "We believe the [US Department Of Justice] is acting in a manner to deny due process in New Zealand and we are hopeful the court will decide the stay matter as a threshold issue. The DOJ is clearly concerned about the weakness of their case and what these experts have to say in order to resort to such procedural game playing to prevent their testimony".

Hologram USA boss discusses Whitney live show
Hologram USA CEO Alki David has been chatting to Billboard about his company's plans to bring Whitney Houston back to the stage in virtual form next year.

As previously reported, Hologram USA has done a deal with Whitney Houston's estate to stage a world tour of a 'live' show featuring a 'hologram' version of the late singer. It is one of a number of deals with the families of deceased musicians that the company is working on.

Speaking to Billboard, Alki said that fans could expect to see the show in "about a year", with a script still being "finalised". As that would suggest, there will be a narrative running through the performance, with documentary elements as well as the virtual Whitney singing. "The show will not just be Whitney comes on, sings and gets off", he said. "The narrative will document parts of her life, her achievements and celebrate Whitney".

As well as using pre-recorded performances, the show will use "digital components, in the same way that [the virtual] Tupac and Snoop Dogg interacted onstage at Coachella".

Alki also spoke about the importance of working closely with the families of the popstars brought back to life by his company's technology. Negotiations with Houston's sister-in-law Pat Houston, who oversees the late singer's estate, apparently took two years and are part of an ongoing process.

"These deals we make are really predicated on working really close with the estates", he said. "The musical arrangement, the choreography, right down to the lighting and the design will be done with the original artists and original technicians and composers who worked with Whitney in the past, so as to maintain absolute authenticity".

I'm not sure you can have "absolute authenticity" with something like this, but whatever. Hologram USA is reportedly also in negotiations with the estates of Patsy Cline, Buddy Holly and Bing Crosby. Meanwhile, Amy Winehouse's father Mitch has previously said he wouldn't be against his daughter re-appearing as a hologram.

Though it's not just dead musicians that the company is working with. Earlier this year, it was also behind a Chief Keef show, at which the rapper performed remotely at a Chicago festival in order to avoid arrest for outstanding warrants in Illinois while en route to the gig.

So, maybe one day we won't ever watch anyone perform live in the same room as us at all. Hooray for the future.

Human curation is "elitist", says Alphabet boss
Google boss man Eric Schmidt, now technically CEO of the web giant's new parent company Alphabet, has taken a light swipe at Apple Music - and any company that thinks real live people know anything about music - in an article for BBC News, accusing them of being "elitist".

Discussing the use of artificial intelligence, Schmidt said: "In the future, we need to do even more blending of AI research with solving real-world challenges. In the next generation of software, machine learning won't just be an add-on that improves performance a few percentage points; it will really replace traditional approaches".

"To give just one example", he went on, turning to music. "A decade ago, to launch a digital music service, you probably would have enlisted a handful of elite tastemakers to pick the hottest new music. Today, you're much better off building a smart system that can learn from the real world - what actual listeners are most likely to like next - and help you predict who and where the next Adele might be".

"As a bonus, it's a much less elitist taste-making process", he concluded. "Much more democratic - allowing everyone to discover the next big star through our own collective tastes and not through the individual preferences of a select few".

Many streaming services, including Apple Music, Spotify and Deezer, mix automated and human curation to serve up recommendations to users. In part, this is because they recognise that a bit of elitism goes a long way sometimes. Though obviously Google is totally egalitarian and wouldn't ever deign to know what's best for anyone.

Labour appoint new culture spokesman
The Labour Party appointed a new Shadow Culture Secretary yesterday following this weekend's leadership election and the dawn of what political commentators are surely calling New Old New New Old Old Old New Labour.

Replacing James Blunt fan Chris Bryant, Michael Dugher will now lead on media, sport and culture issues for the opposition. An ex-Gordon Brown spokesman who campaigned for former Culture Minister Andy Burnham in the Labour leadership contest, Dugher brings few cultural credentials to the job.

Though he could nevertheless be an outspoken and forceful opponent for the current government's Cultural Secretary Johnny Whittingdale on the big issues, most likely to include the future of the BBC and possibly press regulation, a passion of Dugher's friend and new Labour Deputy Leader Tom Watson.

Music-wise, The Guardian notes that - like Whittingdale - Dugher is a big karaoke fan, so maybe UK Music should set its safe harbour reform objectives to the melody of 'I Will Survive' and have the two men sing them at their respective upcoming party conferences.

Dugher also calls himself a "Beatles obsessive" on his Twitter biog, so perhaps he will stay out of trouble in the short term at least by speculating what the stream this countdown on the fab four's home page might be all about.

  Approved: Tinashe - Party Favors
We mentioned this track already last week, but it's worth repeating here in the Approved column. Not least because I've just realised Tinashe's never been CMU Approved before, which just isn't right.

New track 'Party Favors' is the first to be taken from Tinashe's upcoming second album 'Joyride'. Featuring rapper Young Thug and produced by Boi-1da, the slow-paced R&B track provides "a very in-your-face first impression" for the new long player, she told Rolling Stone earlier this month. And that it does. If this is the tone she's setting for her new music, then 'Joyride' could be a very exciting album indeed.

Listen to 'Party Favors' here.
CLICK HERE to read and share online

Tidal makes Prince exclusive available to the world
"Prince is releasing an album exclusively on Tidal", you chuckled to yourself a month ago. "I guess an album only four people can access is pretty exclusive".

Then you repeated that last line to yourself again, and slapped your hand down on the desk in front of you, so happy were you with your joke. You repeated it a total of seven times in the pub later, three times to the same person.

And that's fine. Of course it's fine. Except you weren't up to speed with the new definition of "exclusive" over at Tidal.

Sure, if you want to stream the album, you're going to need to sign up as Tidal's fifth user. But you want a download or a compact disc? Well, anyone can get those. Though you do have to buy them from the Tidal website, so it totally still counts as an exclusive.

Announcing the Tidal deal last month, Prince said: "After one meeting, it was obvious that Jay-Z and the team he has assembled at Tidal recognise and applaud the effort that real musicians put into their craft to achieve the very best they can at this pivotal time in the music industry. Secondly, Tidal have honoured us with a non-restrictive arrangement that once again allows us to continue making art in the fashion we've grown accustomed to and we're extremely grateful for their generous support".

The album was made available for streaming on Tidal on 7 Sep, before the digital firm exclusively made downloads and CDs available to anyone in the world.


Alcopop! Records to release QI podcast on vinyl
Here's an interesting record deal. Alcopop! Records has signed up QI's 'No Such Thing As A Fish' podcast to release an exclusive episode on twelve-inch vinyl. And you have to admit, there is something quite delightful about something as purely digital as a podcast being released on vinyl.

Discussing how the project came about, Alcopop! boss Jack Clothier tells CMU: "It actually all kicked off - although we didn't know it then - when we started working with the fundamentally awesome Emperor Yes, who provide the 'No Such Thing As A Fish' theme tune. Dan [Schreiber], one of the QI Elves, and I met at a typically hazy night at Ash [Gardner] from Emperor Yes's studio, got chatting over recording some dinosaur pop music I was working on, and then decided that this would be an awesome thing to do".

"I challenge anyone who's ever met anyone NOT to want to work with them!" he adds of the team behind 'QI' and its podcast. "They are a wonderful bunch, super fun - and wise to boot, as you may have guessed from the podcast. It was a really extravagant project, I love the show, and they wanted to be podcast rockstars. Releasing the show on vinyl and getting Corey involved are the first steps".

Corey? Corey who? Well, alongside the usual panel of QI Elves, the Alcopop! edition of the show will include a guest appearance from Slipknot frontman Corey Taylor (apparently a "massive QI fan") discussing his "favourite fact EVER".

On releasing a podcast on vinyl, Clothier adds: "I don't really believe in decreeing that certain mediums belong on certain formats, and it's something that we try very hard to mix up and make interesting at Alcopop! The podcast medium is a wonderful thing, but there's no reason we can't do something exciting physically - with exclusive episodes and bundles of downloads. Sales are suggesting it's been a popular move so far!"

As for whether podcast releases like this could become a regular thing for his label, he adds: "Nothing in the pipeline yet, but who knows. We'll never say never if there's an interesting project that we can bring something to. There's so much scope for running an indie label in 2015, and so many interesting ways to make it happen. So working with our favourite podcast in the world seemed like a good way to take things forward".

The record will be officially launched at the upcoming 'No Such Thing As A Fish' live show at the Lyric Theatre in London's West End on 20 Nov. Purchasing it will also give you access to the first year of podcasts, which are currently unavailable elsewhere. So pre-order here like a sensible person would.

Pete Doherty suffered panic attack ahead of London show, Libertines reveal
The Libertines have released a further statement on the last minute cancellation of two gigs last week, revealing the decision came after Pete Doherty suffered a "serious anxiety attack".

As previously reported, the two shows in London and Manchester were postponed sometime after the first should have already begun. At around 11.30pm on Thursday night, a spokesperson for the band appeared on stage at Camden's Electric Ballroom to announce that the show would not go ahead due to "a medical situation".

In a statement on the band's official website yesterday, they explained: "Peter suffered a serious anxiety attack during the hours leading up to the scheduled performance at the Electric Ballroom last Thursday. The ideal coping mechanism in this situation is to lock yourself away from the source of the anxiety and in this case he headed to a hotel near Coventry in the early hours of Friday morning, in order that he be close to friends in his support network".

"The decision to cancel the show in Manchester did not come from Peter it was made by management, who felt it important to ensure Peter's welfare is a priority in line with any other ongoing treatment", they added. Having taken a little time away, Doherty was able to rejoin the band for a scheduled Berlin date and, the statement concludes, "the Albion sails on course".

The band's counsellor Dylan Kerr explained: "Anxiety is notoriously subtle and greatly prejudiced against and sometimes there are no obvious outward signs at all. It's purely a psychological experience and the person must do whatever is necessary to arrest those feelings. It is a good thing that Peter is trying to live a normal life, as these are the reactions to stress that you're taught to use in rehab - rather than shutting yourself away. Avoid the stress and resume some normality".

Rescheduled dates for the cancelled shows are due to be announced later this week. For more information on anxiety and panic attacks and how to access treatment and support for them, read this Mind guide here.


Funeral For A Friend to bow out with 2016 farewell tour
Funeral For A Friend have announced that they will split next year, following a farewell tour that will close with two nights at London's Shepherds Bush Empire in April.

Commenting on the decision to end the band after fifteen years, frontman Matthew Davies-Kreye says: "It's the natural end. We've done everything we set out to do and way more than I could ever have hoped so I'm not upset that it's run its course. We all felt that [recent album] 'Chapter And Verse' was a pretty decent full stop on an incredible fourteen and half years of making music together".

The 'Last Chance To Dance' tour will see the band play two nights in each city they visit, performing their 'Hours' and 'Casually Dressed And Deep In Conversation' albums in full.

"For me it seemed obvious to go out with both 'Hours' and 'Casually Dressed', I feel that both those records distil what Funeral is to a whole load of people more definitively than just piecing together a set from all the records we've made", continues Davies-Kreye. "It seems to me that those are the records that matter most and 'Hours' to me is my proudest achievement in music with Funeral. I don't know why but it fills me with an overwhelming sense of pride".

Here are the full UK tour dates:

5 Apr: Cardiff, Y Plas
6 Apr: Cardiff, Y Plas
8 Apr: Manchester, The Ritz
9 Apr: Manchester, The Ritz
10 Apr: Glasgow, Garage
11 Apr: Glasgow, Garage
13 Apr: Birmingham, Institute
14 Apr: Birmingham, Institute
15 Apr: London, Shepherds Bush Empire
16 Apr: London, Shepherds Bush Empire

SESAC, Music+Sport, Zomby, more

Other notable announcements and developments today...

• US performing rights organisation SESAC has completed its previously reported acquisition of US mechanical rights firm the Harry Fox Agency, creating the first entity representing both sides of song rights in America. It's a joined up licensing hoopla extravaganza.

• Music+Sport, the company behind Jockey Club Live amongst other things, has announced a new alliance with Live Nation. The live music giant will book acts and help promote Music+Sport's events. The Jockey Club Live owner previously worked with AEG Live.

• Zomby has shifted around the Beggars Group a bit, and will release two new EPs through XL next month, rather than 4AD which has put out his last two albums. 'Let's Jam' EPs 1 and 2 are both due out on 9 Oct.

• French documentary 'Daft Punk: Unchained' will get an exclusive UK screening at Hackney's Oval Space on 20 Sep, as part of this year's Doc N Roll film festival. Tickets are free, but will be doled out via ballot. More info here.

• Jess Glynne has announced new tour dates for February, including a show at Brixton Academy on 20 Feb.

• Deaf Havana have announced a handful of UK tour dates in November, finishing up at London's Islington Academy on 23 Nov.

• The 2016 BRIT Awards will take place on 24 Feb with Ant & Dec as hosts again, on the off chance that works at the second attempt. Preparation is also already underway to work out what Madonna could trip over this time. Maybe Ant & Dec.

• BASCA has announced the list of people getting gold badges this year. And not just any old gold badges. BASCA Gold Badges, no less. Here it is: Michael Eaton, Peter Gabriel, Mark King, John Logan, Del Newman, Tom Robinson, Leo Sayer, Iain Sutherland, Claire Whitaker, Kim Wilde, Norma Winstone and Chris Wright.

Autographs out, retweets in, Twitter study finds
Have you ever queued up to get an autograph from someone you admire? It can be a pretty dispiriting experience. You come out afterwards realising that you were just on a conveyor belt of imagined personal connection. It's easy to see, perhaps, why the shine of getting a celebrity to scribble on something has worn off.

But, hey, The Kids. Stop thinking that a retweet is better than an autograph, you idiots. Yeah, I see you, sending tweets to popstars asking for them to repost your message because it's your birthday. Where is the value in that for anyone? I mean, at least with an autograph you've got something for your grandchildren to throw in the bin once you're finally dead.

Imagine in 30 years' time, saying to someone, "I still remember the day that James Bay retweeted me". It will be met with one or all of these responses: "Who is James Bay?", "What is a retweet?", "Why are you talking?"

At least with an autograph, the people of the future will still recognise that someone was once well known enough for you to consider having them write their name down to be of value. That is literally the last thing they will think about before they burn all of your former belongings and try to forget you ever existed.

I only mention all this because a new study carried out by Twitter (which you might think results in a little bias) says that many people now consider a retweet better than an autograph.

A spokesperson for the social network said: "Digital culture is changing the way we interact with our icons, now that fans have direct access to their favourite singers and the selfie has become a staple of the red carpet. For many the retweet really is the new autograph".

Oh well. At least one day the sun will explode and destroy all trace of any of us.

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.
Email andy@unlimitedmedia.co.uk (except press releases, see below)
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Chris provides music business coverage and analysis. Chris also leads the CMU Insights training and consultancy business and education programme CMU:DIY, and heads up CMU publisher 3CM UnLimited.
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SAM TAYLOR | Commercial Manager & Insights Associate
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CARO MOSES | Co-Publisher
Caro helps oversee the CMU media, while as a Director of 3CM UnLimited 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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