FRIDAY 26 NOVEMBER 2021 COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM
TODAY'S TOP STORY: The consortium of movie producers suing US internet service provider WOW in one of the more recent safe harbour disputes wants the net firm to identify thousands of its customers who are accused of copyright infringement, some of whom the producers might then choose to sue directly. Unsurprisingly, WOW doesn't want to hand over that information, and certainly not if it makes it much easier for the film firms to take their customers to court... [READ MORE]

TOP STORIES Movie producers want right to sue WOW customers it identifies as part of its safe harbour case with the internet firm
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LABELS & PUBLISHERS Distiller Music announces new appointments
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DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES Spotify piloting TikTok style feed and curating Netflix soundtracks
Fortnite maker buys Rock Band maker

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ARTIST NEWS Brian May says Queen would be "forced" to have a trans member if they formed today
Deaf Havana return as a duo

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ONE LINERS Years & Years, Kojey Radical, D Double E, more
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AND FINALLY... Steve Aoki to DJ Sonic The Hedgehog 30th anniversary show
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Check out all the latest job opportunities with CMU Jobs. To advertise your job opportunities here email advertising@unlimitedmedia.co.uk or call 020 7099 9060.
   
HAL LEONARD EUROPE - COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER (LONDON)
Hal Leonard Europe is seeking a Communications Manager to lead and deliver the company's external communication strategy, managing corporate website and social media channel activity, overseeing media relations and developing the corporate brand.

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NONCLASSICAL - LABEL & ARTIST DEVELOPMENT MANAGER (REMOTE)
Nonclassical is looking for a collaborative Label Manager to support emerging artists to develop new music to share with diverse audiences through our label and event platforms.

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BAND ON THE WALL - JUNIOR PROMOTER (MANCHESTER)
Band On The Wall is seeking a dynamic, confident, enthusiastic self-starter who is ready to develop their career as a live music promoter, to join our programming team as the venue gears up for reopening in 2022 following a major expansion project.

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9PR is looking to build the team by recruiting a full time music publicist. Candidates must have at least two years' experience in either print, online or radio publicity. 

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DOMINO PUBLISHING - COPYRIGHT & ROYALTIES ASSISTANT (LONDON)
Domino Publishing requires a passionate music person to assist the copyright and royalties staff. This is a unique opportunity to work within the worldwide hub of a young, expanding music publishing company and help us provide an unrivalled and exemplary service to our songwriters and publishers.

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Movie producers want right to sue WOW customers it identifies as part of its safe harbour case with the internet firm
The consortium of movie producers suing US internet service provider WOW in one of the more recent safe harbour disputes wants the net firm to identify thousands of its customers who are accused of copyright infringement, some of whom the producers might then choose to sue directly. Unsurprisingly, WOW doesn't want to hand over that information, and certainly not if it makes it much easier for the film firms to take their customers to court.

The movie producers - many linked to Millennium Media - have recently been following the lead of music companies like BMG and the majors in targeting ISPs with legal action in relation to copyright infringement undertaken by those internet companies' customers.

Usually ISPs would claim that they are protected from liability for their users' infringement by the copyright safe harbour, but the music and movie industries argue that those net firms have not fulfilled all the obligations that must be met to enjoy safe harbour protection, in particular having and implementing an effective policy for dealing with repeat infringers. Both BMG and then the majors successfully pursed that line of argument against Cox Communications.

The case between the movie producers and WOW is continuing to go through the motions, with the ISP trying to get the whole thing dismissed, while both sides have been preparing for the discovery phase in the dispute. It's the latter that could lead to the film firms also suing a stack of the ISP's customers.

Copyright owners can usually only link infringing activity to IP addresses, not to the specific people accessing the internet via those IP addresses. In order to identify the actual users, an ISP would need to first file a 'John Doe' case - so a lawsuit targeting an unknown person - via which a court might order an ISP to reveal the identity of the person actually illegally accessing or sharing unlicensed content. Then that person can be properly sued.

However, the movie producers also want to identify WOW's specific copyright infringing customers in order to prepare for its case against the internet firm, and is therefore asking the court to order the net firm to hand over that information.

That's not an unknown request during the discovery phase of a case like this, though when the ISP Charter was ordered to share customer information as part of its safe harbour legal battle with the major record companies, said information came with a restriction: it could only be used to inform that specific case, and the majors couldn't start filing lawsuits directly against any individual identified customer.

In this case the movie producers want a list of WOW's allegedly copyright infringing customers without that limitation. They want any court order regarding the sharing of data to formally state: "For the avoidance of doubt, the plaintiffs are not limited from using subscriber information to pursue legal relief against certain subscribers".

The producers add: "Since defendant refuses to terminate the accounts of its customer that are pirating plaintiffs' works thousands of times in response to [copyright notices that have been submitted], plaintiffs must preserve their opportunity to take actions to protect their valuable copyrights from the piracy of defendant’s customers, including seeking injunctive relief against defendant's customers".

WOW argues that if the producers want to target its customers with litigation, they should go the John Doe lawsuit route. Though the producers note that the ISP has criticised that kind of action elsewhere in this dispute. They say: "Defendant simply cannot identify any cognisable harm from permitting plaintiff to pursue legal relief against some of its most egregious customers, besides loss of profits from its customer’s piracy, rather than requiring plaintiffs to file John Doe lawsuits - the same type of lawsuits defendant criticises in its motion".

It remains to be seen what information WOW is forced to hand over as this case proceeds, what the producers are allowed to do with that information, and whether a stack of new lawsuits against WOW customers follow.

Although the producers add that another option is for WOW to just terminate the accounts of the alleged repeat infringers they have identified. They'd happily drop their demand to be able to use WOW's customer information for future litigation if "defendant will stipulate to an injunction to do what it claims it is already doing - terminate the accounts of its customers for which it receives multiple notices of infringement".

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Distiller Music announces new appointments
Distiller Music has announced four new appointments in its team, including bringing in Ian Carew - formerly a Marketing Director at Universal Music - as Consultant Head Of Strategy. The indie label will be one of the first clients of Carew's new company, idoesMarketing.

In addition, Joseph Hatch joins as General Manager. Most recently he headed up marketing for AEG Presents' European festivals, but has previously had roles at labels like [PIAS] and Cooking Vinyl. Meanwhile, Sophie Lathom-Sharp has been promoted to the position of Campaign Manager, and Jess Thompson moves up to Label Coordinator.

"We are extremely proud of our passionate, committed and motivated team and these promotions are in recognition of the huge contribution the team have made to our recent successes", says Distiller CEO John Thompson. "We're very happy to be working with Ian Carew, who will bring insight, experience and expertise to our marketing strategy and implementation".

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Spotify piloting TikTok style feed and curating Netflix soundtracks
And now for this week's Spotify innovations. The streaming firm is testing a new feature called Discover which is basically a TikTok-style vertical feed of short-form videos that users can scroll through. Because, I mean, everyone else has ripped off the TikTok feed, so Spotify might as well do it too.

Spotify confirmed it was piloting the new feature after developer and entrepreneur Chris Messina spotted it on the beta-testing TestFlight app and then tweeted about it, though the streaming firm, somewhat predictably, didn't say any more about it.

Seemingly the feed - which would be available via the main toolbar at the bottom of the Spotify app - is currently pulling in so called Canvas videos that artists and labels can already upload to the Spotify platform. Though if it rolls out - and becomes an important new music discovery tool - artists and labels might want to start creating bespoke content that works on a feed of this kind. We shall see I guess.

Elsewhere in Spotify news, the streaming firm announced an alliance with Netflix this week with the former officially curating and pushing music that appears in the latter's telly shows.

"Today's trending shows and movies aren't just inspiring fandoms", Spotify says, "they're also fuelling internet-wide obsessions".

In fact, they add, within two weeks of recent Netflix phenomenon 'Squid Game' going live, "Spotify listeners had created more than 22,500 unique themed playlists to keep the experience going. It's clear that after the credits roll, viewers are left wanting even more - and they come to Spotify to hear it".

With all that in mind, "the two streaming companies are coming together to launch an all-new Netflix Hub on Spotify where fans can get the full audio-streaming experience from the entertainment they love. On the hub, free and premium listeners in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Ireland and India can access official soundtracks, playlists, and podcasts, along with exclusive Spotify content". Lucky, lucky us.

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Fortnite maker buys Rock Band maker
Fortnite maker Epic Games announced earlier this week that it has bought Harmonix, the gaming firm behind the original 'Guitar Hero' games and, subsequently, the Rock Band franchise, and which - for a time back in the 2000s - was an MTV subsidiary.

Why is Epic getting itself some Harmonix goodness? Well, "Harmonix has a track record of creating fun and engaging music experiences designed for everyone to enjoy". And, "as we work to build the metaverse, this expertise is needed to reimagine how music is experienced, created and distributed".

The acquisition builds on Epic's previous dabblings in music, most notably the virtual concerts within Fortnite. "The Harmonix team", Epic's announcement added, "will collaborate closely with Epic to develop musical journeys and gameplay for Fortnite while continuing to support existing titles including 'Rock Band 4'".

In a blog post confirming the deal, Harmonix said: "This is a monumental day for the team, and one that wouldn't have been possible without years of support from you, our fans - thank you!"

Name-checking the firm's key games to date, the blog post added: "Over the last 26 years we have pushed ourselves to redefine how people experience and interact with music. From the earliest days of 'The Axe' to 'Guitar Hero', 'Rock Band', 'Dance Central', our VR titles, 'Fuser', and everything in between, we have aspired to redefine what a music game can be".

And, looking to the future, it concluded: "Now, we'll be working with Epic to once again challenge expectations as we bring our unique brand of musical gaming experiences to the metaverse, and we couldn't be more excited".

So, let the musical metaverse good times roll on, I guess. But not before some official quotes - don't forget the official quotes!

Harmonix co-founder and Chairman Alex Rigopulos: "Harmonix has always aspired to create the world's most beloved interactive music experiences, and by joining Epic we will be able to do this at scale. Together we will push the creative boundaries of what’s possible and invent new ways for our players to make, perform and share music".

Epic's VP For Game Development Alain Tascan: "Music is already bringing millions of people together in Fortnite, from our emotes to global concerts and events. Together with the Harmonix team we will transform how players experience music, going from passive listeners to active participants".

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Playlists: Brand New On CMU and CMU Approved
As well as rounding up all manner of exciting new music every day in the CMU Daily and on our website, we also curate all the music we cover into playlists on Spotify.

You can see the full range on offer on our profile page on the streaming service, but here are the two key playlists that we update weekly…

Brand New On CMU  
Every Friday, we take all the new music we’ve covered over the course of that week and put it all in this playlist. Always an eclectic mix, it brings in the latest from a broad range of genres, and is a great way to stay up to date with what’s happening in contemporary music. This week’s playlist includes Years & Years, Kojey Radical, French The Kid, Blood Red Shoes, Nick Cave & Warren Ellis, Bloc Party, The Bug & Jason Williamson, Yard Act, Eddie Vedder and more. Listen here.

CMU Approved  
Every Tuesday and Thursday we publish our new music column CMU Approved, introducing a new or emerging artist who we think you should know about. In this accompanying playlist, you can keep track of all the latest acts that have been approved – including this week’s artists, Ferla and Lvra. You can delve way back into the archives too, with the playlist stretching all the way back to 2014. Listen here.
 

Brian May says Queen would be "forced" to have a trans member if they formed today
Queen guitarist Brian May says that the BRIT Awards dropping gendered categories next year is a "frightening", "dangerous" and "ill-thought out" decision that could have "long-term consequences". He is also "sure" that if Queen formed in 2021, they would be "forced" the change their line-up to include "people of different colours and different sexes and a trans [person]".

May's comments were made at ITV's Palooza industry event earlier this week, and reported on by The Sun. "I feel very uncomfortable about some of the decisions that are being made, often out of fear", he said. "Because people are so afraid of being called out. It is a horrible atmosphere".

"I get so sick of people trying to change things without thinking of the long-term consequences", he went on. "Some of these things are improvements and some are not. Some of them are depriving people. I would like to see a lot more care taken to make sure we don't just jump on people and accuse them of this and that".

The decision to drop the BRIT Awards' gendered categories was announced earlier this week, with BRITs Chair Tom March saying: "It is important that The BRITs continue to evolve and aim to be as inclusive as possible. It feels completely the right time to celebrate the achievements of artists for the music that they create, and the work that they do, irrespective of gender".

This follows years of campaigning and internal discussion by organisers, with arguments that women should be considered as equals to men rather than having their own categories, and that the awards needed to allow the growing number of musicians who do not identify on binary gender lines to be included.

One of the reasons it has taken so long - and there has been so much consideration before making the change - is that there are potential negative consequences. A particular concern is that women will not receive so many nominations under the new system.

Speaking earlier this week, UK Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said that she felt dropped gender-specific categories was "quite a sad decision", adding: "If you wanted to look at who used to win awards for novels and many things in the past, then men always dominated. My concern would be that women weren't fairly represented moving forward".

Those concerns are entirely legitimate. If we look at the categories that were already not split along gender lines at the BRITs - such as Best Group - there have indeed been many years where no female musician has received a nomination.

Although, saying that women need to have their own special group in order to get prizes doesn't really seem like a proper solution to a wider music industry problem: which is, of course, the sexism within the industry that has traditionally made non-gendered award lists male skewed.

Queen have had several BRITs nominations during their long career and several wins. Though, as a group, never in a gender-specific category. They also picked up Outstanding Contribution To Music in 1990. Would it have been better if they'd won Male Outstanding Contribution To Music?

"I honestly don't know if it disadvantages one group but it's a decision that has been made without a lot of thought", May claimed of the awards changes. "I don't know what the long-term consequences are. A lot of things work quite well and can be left alone. I think some things need to go back".

"What matters is justice and equality of opportunity, no matter who you are", May continued, which you'd think would actually be a reason to support the changes at the BRIT Awards. "[But] that is actually not happening at the moment as everyone is jumping to conclusions and everyone is scared of doing the wrong thing. I do find it very uncomfortable. I don't think things are going very well, I have to say".

"I want to see people start to understand each other in the new year and recognise the differences there are between us", he added. "Between our colour, between our sex and between our talents and celebrate the differences".

This does happen already, of course. But while any of those things might bring a different perspective to music-making, someone's gender doesn't really have any sway on their ability to make music. And if May really wants to celebrate these differences, surely he should be calling on the BRITs to split every award into numerous categories based on gender, race and sexual orientation.

Queen, of course, formed at a time when diversity and inclusion weren't really part of the conversation. Although, with a frontman born to Indian parents who, while not always openly gay, didn't exactly hide it either, it could be argued that the band were trailblazers, paving the way for today's more open culture. That's not how May sees it though. In fact, he said, Freddie Mercury would find it "difficult" to make it in music today.

"Freddie came from Zanzibar, he wasn't British, he wasn't white as such - nobody cares, nobody ever, ever discussed it", he said, according to The Mirror. "He was a musician, he was our friend, he was our brother. We didn't have to stop and think: 'Ooh, now, should we work with him? Is he the right colour? Is he the right sexual proclivity?' None of that happened, and now I find it frightening that you have to be so calculating about everything".

I'm not sure if he thinks that BRIT Awards will now only be given to non-binary artists, or something.

"I am sure if Queen started now we would be forced to have people of different colours and different sexes and a trans [person], but life doesn't have to be like that", he says. "We can be separate and different".

Again, none of this is an argument against getting rid of gendered categories, it's an argument for adding loads of new categories and forcing everyone to state all sorts of personal information about themselves before being considered for a prize. None of which would have anything to do with their talent for making music.

Plus, the BRIT Awards is adding several new genre-based awards in place of the gendered categories that it is removing. And you could argue that these will do a better job of celebrating differences between artists.

Anyway, we'll see how quickly the 2022 edition of the BRIT Awards destroys civilisation as we know it when it takes place on 8 Feb.

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Deaf Havana return as a duo
Deaf Havana have announced that they are now a duo, with bassist Lee Wilson and drummer Tom Ogden no longer part of the group. Brothers James and Matthew Veck-Gilodi will continue on without replacing their former bandmates.

In a post on Facebook, they explained that they came close to ending the band entirely, but have instead opted to move "in a different direction".

"Early last year we were all ready to head our separate ways and call it quits", write the Veck-Gilodis. "We'd had an incredible journey, but like all the best journeys it felt like it was time for it to end. Then the pandemic hit and we had no choice but to stop".

"Then, more through circumstance than design, the two of us found ourselves writing songs together again", they go on. "As we got deeper into the music, and had time to re-evaluate what was important to us, it became clear that these songs had a real, cathartic impact on our relationship as brothers. We thought about starting something new as a duo, but they just felt like Deaf Havana songs. We didn't want the journey to end, it was time for it to go in a different direction".

"There is definitely some sadness at the fact we're not all together anymore", they say of the departure of Wilson and Ogden. "It's been a long, incredible and sometimes difficult journey, but we did it together and sometimes that was the only thing that would get us through. We would like to thank our brothers and day one bandmates, Tom and Lee, for slogging it out with us up until this point. We wish them and their families all the best and every success for the future".

Deaf Havana released their last album, 'Rituals', in 2018, and have not performed live since November 2019. No indication has been given for when the now duo's new music will arrive.

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DEALS

Reef have signed a deal with Absolute Label Services for the release of their new album 'Shoot Me Your Ace', with the firm providing distribution, marketing and project management services. "After a period of lockdown, it is great to start coming out the other side and release some great albums - and this is a great album", says Absolute MD Henry Semmence. "Very proud to be involved with this great band as they move forward and head into 2022 with dates, new music and festivals booked".

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APPOINTMENTS

Decibelle Management founder Hannah Joseph has been elected and Musicians' Union General Secretary Horace Trubridge re-elected as PPL Performer Directors at the UK record industry collecting society's Annual Performer Meeting. Both will sit on the PPL Performer Board and main PPL Board. PPL chief exec Peter Leathem says that their "knowledge and experience will no doubt help PPL continue to deliver for its members".

Chord Records' Stefania Passamonte has been elected to the Council of UK record industry trade group BPI, while One Media IP's Alice Dyson has been re-elected. "Along with all our other elected and co-opted members, we have a board that reflects a breadth of talent and experience drawn from many parts of UK recorded music", says BPI Chair Ged Doherty.

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RELEASES

Years & Years has teamed up with Galantis for new single 'Sweet Talker'. The track is taken from new Years & Years album 'Night Call', which is out on 27 Jan. "I was writing from a fantastical space, stuck in the same four walls", says Olly Alexander of the album. "I wanted to have as much pleasure as possible in the music".

French The Kid has released new single 'Uptown'.

Kojey Radical will finally release his debut album, 'Reasons To Smile', on 4 Mar next year. "This is the first time I've done it to the scale and ambition of what I speak", he says. "Previously it's been 'I'm warming, I'm warming, I'm warming up'. But I'm warm now – put me in the game". He released his latest single, 'Gangsta', earlier this month.

D Double E has released new single 'G's Only', featuring Chip. The rapper is also set to begin a UK tour next month, including a date at The Forum in London.

KO has released new track 'Money On My Head'.

Blood Red Shoes have released new single 'I Am Not You', from their upcoming new album 'Ghost On Tape', which is out on 14 Jan. "The song takes industrial synths, and guitars distorted through the cheapest digital interfaces we could find and smashes them together into one harsh metallic slab of pure rage", says the duo's Steven Ansell.

Jaakko Eino Kalevi is back with a cover of Anastacia's 'Left Outside Alone'. "We changed the song quite a lot", he says. "The verses were too fast, so I left some words out and sang it in half-speed. I added a wild synth solo as a climax".

Fifi Rong will release new album 'There Is A Funeral In My Heart, For Every Man I Loved' on 10 Dec. Here's new single 'Out Of Clock'.

Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.

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Steve Aoki to DJ Sonic The Hedgehog 30th anniversary show
Sonic The Hedgehog is 30 years old and he's having a big party to celebrate. He's even booked Steve Aoki to DJ.

Due to take place in "a digitally created and immersive Sonic Universe", Aoki will play a 60 minute DJ set, featuring his own music and remixes he has created of classic tunes from Sonic The Hedgehog games.

"My favourite song from Sonic The Hedgehog is definitely 'Stardust Speedway'", says Aoki in a promo video for the show. "That's why I remixed it. When I hear it, it takes me back to when I was a kid playing the game".

"Sonic is memorable because of who he is and what he represents", he goes on. "He's this dude that is edgy and he's ready to go at any moment, and he's tapping his foot like like, 'Let's go, let's go'. It's the same kind of energy that I have in life. I love that. It's memorable. You just wanna charge. Charge at life. So, I really resonate with this character a lot".

Sure. Anyway, these virtual show things, they must be quite different to play, compared to normal live shows. Especially one like this where he's playing against a green screen, unable to see what the final show will look like.

"Virtual concerts and live shows are extremely different", Aoki agrees. "When I'm playing a virtual show, I have to really play in side my head. When I play a live show I see a crowd in front of me and I vibe off that crowd. So when I do virtual shows - and I got pretty good at this because during COVID I did virtual shows - I create my own fantasy world. Literally, you create a fantasy world in your head of what you imagine people are seeing".

Of course, the fantasy world in this show has actually been created outside of Aoki's head.

"I've seen what this world looks like", he admits. "The virtual world we're playing in is gonna be something you've never seen before [or] experienced - this immersive feeling. It's all about this new metaverse. And I'm excited about what that looks like, what that feels like for everyone else. So when I'm playing in it, I'm imagining what you're seeing. It's absolutely phenomenal, something that you won't have experienced yet. So I can't wait for you guys to see my show the way it will look in this immersive experience".

I hope that's all clear. The virtual show will air on Twitch on 30 Nov, which also happens to be Aoki's 43rd birthday. You can catch it at 8pm UK time.

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ANDY MALT | Editor
Andy heads up the team, overseeing the CMU Daily, website and Setlist podcast, managing social channels, reporting on artist and business stories, and writing the CMU Approved column.
andy@unlimitedmedia.co.uk (except press releases, see below)
   
CHRIS COOKE | Co-Founder & MD
Chris provides music business coverage, writing key business news and CMU Trends. He also leads the CMU Insights consultancy unit and the CMU:DIY future talent programme, as well as heading up CMU publisher 3CM UnLimited.
chris@unlimitedmedia.co.uk (except press releases, see below)
   
SAM TAYLOR | Commercial Manager
Sam oversees the commercial side of the CMU media, leading on sales and sponsorship, and also heads up business development at CMU Insights and CMU:DIY.
sam@unlimitedmedia.co.uk or call 020 7099 9060
   
CARO MOSES | Co-Publisher
Caro helps oversee the CMU media as a Director of 3CM UnLimited, as well as heading up the company's other two titles ThisWeek London and ThreeWeeks Edinburgh, and supporting other parts of the business.
caro@unlimitedmedia.co.uk
 
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