CMU Daily - on the inside Wednesday 14th December

yesterday's Daily - Daily archive

In today's CMU Daily:
- It's The End Of The Year As We Know It
- U2 top Billboard 2005 tour chart
- Legit sheet music seller concerned of impact of MPA campaign
- European parliament to consider data directive
- JCB song outsells Westlife on day one
- Maximo Park on new album
- Xtra Mile release some limited vinyl
- More talk from Kaiser Wilson
- Cuban Brothers compo upcoming
- Fear Of Music sign to SonyBMG
- Marr and Rourke set for reunion
- Embrace announce forest tour
- Floyd's Gilmour announces solo tour
- Thisgirl UK tour dates
- Darren Hayes tour dates
- Stones to play on Brazilian beach
- Blur pull fans only gig
- XM announce Bob Dylan radio show
- Heart announce rejig
- Gervais' Guardian podcast is number one
- Telegraph appoint podcast editor
- ITV close news channel
- MTV and Microsoft combine forces to take on iTunes
- Real to launch new streaming music service
- EMI Japan sells CD pressing factory
- McFly Harrods signing
- Sugababes Take That, may party
- Cerys joins Pogues on stage
- McCartney on being a vegetarian, again

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IT'S THE END OF THE YEAR AS WE KNOW IT>>
Now, here's something scary. There are just five more editions of the CMU Daily before Christmas. This is partly because we are all buggering off early (21 Dec), but also because the year that's been known as 2005 is nearly at an end. With that in mind, CMU has been busy chatting to the artists behind ten of our favourite albums of the year. You can find out why we liked those albums here in the Daily, and then read the full interviews on our website. And then, of course, you guys have been busy voting for your favourite track of the year. You can still vote on that, meantime check out how people have been voting here in the Daily.

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FAVOURITE ALBUM OF 2005 #6: Hal - Hal (Rough Trade)
The problem with the Rough Trade label is that they sign so many good artists that there is always a real danger that their records will pretty much fill up any list of CMU's favourite albums. Had this been our 20 favourite albums of the year, I'd say at least five would have come off their roster (and with the Strokes album, that arrived yesterday, and the much much much anticipated second album from Delays both due for early 2006 release, I suspect they may already be reserving slots on next year's favourite albums list too). But possibly our very favourite release from the Rough Trade fold in 2006 wasn't one of their biggest releases - the debut long player from Irish band Hal. This was one of those albums for which I developed a kind of amnesia. Each time my co-editor chose to play it (which was quite a lot) I'd find myself saying "I really like this - who is it?" That, I think, was because there is something so wonderfully familiar about Hal's music that you can't help thinking you are listening to an old favourite, and not a brand new album from a fledgling band. That is possibly because these guys are clearly influenced by some of the pop greats of old - Brian Wilson in particular - but it doesn't mean they have simply pillaged the jukebox of old. Hal have managed to hone their own style of happy sing along songs that only a fool couldn't warm to. According to their biog, Rough Trade A&Rs had to do battle with a stormy Irish night before first meeting the band, in a cramped house by the sea. Not the most favourable conditions in which to win a record contact, but if there was one band capable of filling some sad, damp, wind swept with musical warmth and happiness, Hal are that band. So, while this was the soundtrack to CMU's summer, we can recommend that, should the wind, rain and cold of this season get too much, 'Hal' is a great winter album too.

Read our interview with Hal here: http://www.cmumusicnetwork.co.uk/interviews

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FAVOURITE TRACKS OF THE YEAR #6: Your votes

Jammer - Murkle Man (Jahmek The World)
"This has been a great year for grime, with incredibly strong albums from Statik, Kano and Roll Deep but the year's top single has to be Jammer and 'Murkle Man' because it emphasises the humour, energy and utter uniqueness that is so evident in this UK music. Grime's version of Flava Flav/ Lil Jon, Jammer is generally a better producer than he is rapper but these completly nutso lyrics guarantee chaos when he does them in a club. And the video, which sees our hero dressed in a green and purple all in one hurtling round Leytonstone as he rescues people on his mini moto? Brilliant!"
Voted for by: Hattie Collins, RWD magazine

Tom Vek - Nothing But Green Lights (Tummy Touch / Island)
"Images of festivals, sunshine, overpriced beer and good times are conjured into my head whenever I hear this track. Oh happy days, definitely a winter warmer for me in these cold Christmas months...."
Voted for by: Emma Edmondson, Strike 3

Death From Above 1979 - Little Girl (679)
"A lot has to be said for DFA 1979 - a band who seem to just dip beneath the radar. They are a monster of a genius playing live - ironically supported by one of most overrated bands of the year, Test Icicles. From the opening riff blasting through both ears to the unbelievable remix package (from Masterkraft) this track certainly drew my attention. 'Little Girl', like the other tracks on the album, is a simple idea, with just drum and bass grafted to jagged rock ruthlessness. The result is something powerful yet catchy, inventing an important musical niche of hard rock you can actually dance to.
Voted for by: James Palmer, H Bauer Publishing

Vote for your track of the year - send the name of your favourite track, a few words on why, and your name and company to 2005@cmumusicnetwork.co.uk.

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U2 TOP BILLBOARD 2005 TOUR CHART
U2 had the top grossing US tour of 2005, according to trade magazine Billboard Boxscore. According to year end figures to be published next week, U2's Vertigo Tour grossed $260 million over 90 sell out concerts in which 3 million people saw Bono et al play.

That puts U2 some way ahead of the other top grossers: Eagles ($117 million), Neil Diamond ($71 million), Kenny Chesney ($63 million), Paul McCartney ($60 million), Rod Stewart ($49 million), Elton John ($45.5 million touring, $30 million ticket sales for Las Vegas show), Dave Matthews Band ($45 million), Jimmy Buffett ($41 million) and Green Day ($36.5 million).

In addition to their US touring revenues, Billboard will also name U2 'Boxscore Of The Year' for their 24-27 June run at Dublin's Croke Park, which grossed $21.1 million and drew nearly 247,000 fans.

The survey does not include, however, revenues from the ongoing Rolling Stones tour, because promoters tend to submit their figures at the end of a tour. They too would no doubt rate quite highly.

Elsewhere in the Billboard round up of the US live sector this year, New York's Madison Square Garden is named top-grossing arena of the year for the sixth year running, while Mansfield, Massachusetts' Tweeter Center is listed as the top-grossing amphitheater for the third time.

Overall US concerts attracted 45.7 million people and made just over $2 billion in ticket sales. Both figures are down on 2004 - revenues by 6.2% and attendance by 3.8%.

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LEGIT SHEET MUSIC SELLER CONCERNED OF IMPACT OF MPA CAMPAIGN
The man behind one of the legitimate online sellers of sheet music has expressed some concern at the Music Publishers' Association's announcement that they are planning a more proactive legal campaign against those websites illegally supplying musical scores online.

Jonathan Irons of Sheetmusic.now says that he essentially supported the industry association's campaign against those people making sheet music available without reimbursing publishers or songwriters, but urged the publishing sector to be careful in how it how it managed the communication of any campaign.

Those remarks seem to centre on comments made by the Music Publishers' Association earlier this week in which it said it would be targeting "big sites that people would think are legitimate". Irons fears that remarks like that will confuse the public as to which websites are legitimate and which are not, and as a result might stop sourcing sheet music online altogether.

Irons: "The picture that comes over is that the MPA thinks that music download sites are illegal. We feel this is adding to the scepticism around and we do expect this to have a negative effect."

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EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT TO CONSIDER DATA DIRECTIVE
The European Parliament is today expected to back new rules which could force ISPs and mobile companies to keep hold of customer data, and to share that data with authorities investigating copyright violations.

As previously reported, the entertainments industry has been lobbying for the reach of the European Union's new Data Retention Directive to be extended to assist pan-European efforts to combat online piracy. Those moves have been criticised by some consumer rights groups who claim that the content owners are hijacking legislation initially aimed at assisting authorities investigating suspected terrorist groups. Nevertheless, the European Parliament is expected to pass the more broad interpretation of the Directive later today.

This whole thing does have the potential to be a lot more interesting than just another spat between content owners and consumer rights groups. Depending on how far the Directive goes, it could be argued that the holding and sharing of customer data in this way violates the privacy rights extended to individuals by the European Convention On Human Rights. That convention, of course, is separate from the European Union and is protected by its own courts. Therefore there is the potential that the courts of the European Union in Luxembourg and the European Human Rights courts in Strasbourg could clash - and constitutionally, it's not entirely clear which court's opinion should prevail.

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JCB SONG OUTSELLS WESTLIFE ON DAY ONE
But enough of that, what's the latest on the 'JCB Song'? Well, here's some good news for you. With something of a cult following for this quirky little number from Nizlopi following much support from Radio 1 and Xfm, there is a strong possibility that it could beat Westlife to the number one spot this Sunday. Nizlopi were slightly ahead of the Irish warblers on Monday sales wise, though of course Westlife are more likely to benefit from a late week sales boost - we'll see I guess.

Commenting on Nizlopi's performance so far, HMV Singles Buyer Stewart Allan told reporters: "There's definitely been a buzz building around Nizlopi and, while it wouldn't be a complete shock if they pipped Westlife to the No.1 spot this week, I'd have to admit that it would still come as a bit of a surprise, especially after their stunning 'Record of the Year' success at the weekend."

The good performance of Nizlopi's sales mean that William Hill have now made the musical tale of driving around in your dad's JCB second favourite to be Christmas number one a week on Sunday, although the X-factor winner (whoever that might be) is still favourite for the festive top spot. For those that understand bookies odds and all that, here's how William Hill rate the chances of the ten most likely contenders for the Christmas number one.

X-Factor winner - title tba - 2/5
Nizlopi - JCB Song - 15/8
Westlife & Diana Ross - When You Tell Me That You Love Me - 11/1
Keedie with the England Cricket Team - Jerusalem - 25/1
Robbie Williams - Advertising Space - 33/1
Girls Aloud - See the Day - 33/1
Coldplay - Talk - 40/1
Eminem - When I'm Gone - 50/1
McFly - Ultraviolet / Ballad of Paul K - 50/1
Mariah Carey - Don't Forget About Us - 50/1

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MAXIMO PARK ON NEW ALBUM
According to Gigwise, Maximo Park have been writing songs for a second album and plan to get into the studio from March to work on them. Frontman Paul Smith said: "You don't stop writing when you're on the road, even though you're not in control of whatever comes out of your mind! Whether it be translating through your instrument or through words, you find a way of doing it. We'll probably set aside a month in March to play the songs as five people and get a group sound; then another couple of months to record and mix."

He continued: "We'll probably move on producer-wise [from Paul Epworth] because we want to work with as many people as possible and try and enrich our sound. I think the feel for this next record will be different; it will be five people playing in a room whereas the first record was five people on a stage - playing in pubs and a small practice room produces a claustrophobia that comes across on the record. But you move on as people - we have different musical goals. Personally, I think we made a great record but now I want to make one that's even better."

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XTRA MILE RELEASE SOME LIMITED VINYL
Xtra Mile Recordings are to release four limited edition vinyl double A sides at the start of next year, featuring acts such as This Et Al and former Million Dead man Frank Turner. The records will be released one a week throughout the month of January. Here are the release dates and what's going to be on them all:

9 Jan
This Et Al - Pigs Make Children Sick
Adzuki - You Are The Answer

16 Jan
No 1 Son - 27
My Luminaries - All I Really Want

23 Jan
Dartz! - Fantastic Apparatus
The Maybes? - Stop, Look & Listen

30 Jan
Reuben - Every Time A Teenager Listens To Drum & Bass A Rockstar Dies
Frank Turner - The Real Damage - 30

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MORE TALK FROM KAISER WILSON
Yesterday we reported that he wants to parade around Leeds with a gold plated hat on, but the latest musings from chief Kaiser Ricky Wilson are a bit more serious. The singer has spoken to 6Music about the effect that touring has had on his band's music, saying: "We've been on tour all year and we've kind of become heavier as a band - but that's just because we've been enjoying rocking out. And it's a lot of fun to rock out."

Looking ahead to the possibility of a new album, Wilson continued: "This year has been hard work and next year is more about reaping the benefits, I think. People keep asking about the second album - 'Are you under pressure or worried or whatever?', but we are really looking forward to it. It's the light at the end of the tunnel for us."

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CUBAN BROTHERS COMPO UPCOMING
Here's something to look forward to in 2006. Sunday Best will launch a new A-Z compilation in March featuring 26 tracks (one for each letter of the alphabet, obviously) selected by the always wonderful Cuban Brothers. As you'd expect, the Brothers provide a bit of commentary between the tracks, taking the listener on a journey from Average White Band through to Zapp. The album is released on 13 Mar - press info from Get Involved, more at http://www.thecubanbrothers.com or http://www.sundaybest.net.

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FEAR OF MUSIC SIGN TO SONYBMG
Manchester child-band Fear Of Music signed a deal with SonyBMG at the end of last week, following months of speculation. You may remember that the band were a bit of a smash at In The City 2004, but previously put off signing to a major label so that, amongst other reasons, one member could finish his GCSEs. See, I told you they were a child-band. Well, one of them is nearly twenty. But one of them was born in 1990. So you see where I'm going with that.

Anyway, they've settled for SonyBMG because, lead singer Jo Rose says: "SonyBMG seem the most willing to give us the creative control we want but also make the music we want to make." The band will begin recording early in 2006, and are also planning to play some live dates in the new year.

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MARR AND ROURKE SET FOR REUNION
And talking of Manchester bands, and being young, personally I was weaned on The Smiths. And, perhaps controversially, my favourite two band members did not include Morrissey. My two favourites were Johnny Marr and Andy Rourke. So it is with great excitement that I impart the news that, according to reports, the pair are to be reunited onstage for the first time since the breakup of The Smiths back in 1987.

As previously reported, Andy Rourke has been organising that huge Manchester vs Cancer gig to raise funds for the city's Christies hospital, a specialist cancer unit. The concert takes place at the MEN Arena on 28 Jan and will feature a performance from Marr and Rourke alongside other northern acts such as New Order, Badly Drawn Boy, Doves, Mani and Stephen Fretwell.

On his appearance at the gig, Marr said: "Andy and I go back a long way, since our school days. We have been hanging out and seeing each other and he told me about this project he was involved in and of course I literally stood up and applauded. I said I'd get involved if he needed any help."

He continued: "It's a privilege to be part of it as I am aware of the work that Christie's does. It's not the easiest thing getting something like this together because it needs to be done on a fairly big scale for it to be significant so I think Andy is really brave. But who would refuse his offer to get involved? I mean, who could refuse it? You can't unless you are out of the country on tour. I made sure I was around and I'm looking forward to it - it will be a good night."

See http://www.manchestervcancer.co.uk for more info. Tickets go on sale this Friday.

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EMBRACE ANNOUNCE FOREST TOUR
Embrace have announced that they are to play a fistful of woodland gigs in association with the Forestry Commission this summer. Frontman Danny McNamara says: "We've played in some unusual places over the last few years; caves, beaches, even the Big Brother house. But next year we're trying something special even for us. In the past we've done secret gigs in forests giving the fans a map reference so they can find us, but these gigs are on a much bigger scale, they are going to be something else. The new album will be out by then and it gives us a great opportunity to play our new songs in really spectacular settings."

Tickets go on sale Friday at 9am, and here are gig details:

10 Jun: High Lodge, Thetford Forest
11 Jun: Bedgebury Pinetum, Goudhurst
16 Jun: Westonbirt Arboretum, Tetbury
17 Jun: Delamere Forest, Delamere
23 Jun: Sherwood Pines Forest Park, Edwinstowe
24 Jun: Cannock Chase Forest, Rugeley
25 Jun: Dalby Forest, Thornton Le Dale

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FLOYD'S GILMOUR ANNOUNCES SOLO TOUR
David Gilmour has announced a series of live dates in support of his new solo album. The former Pink Floyd star releases 'On An Island' on 6 Mar before heading out on a European tour a few days later. Here are all the dates; although it might really only be the last two that you're interested in:

10 Mar: Dortmund Konzerthaus
11 Mar: Hamburg Congress Centrum
15 Mar: Paris Le Grand Rex
16 Mar: Paris L'Olympia
18 Mar: Frankfurt Alte Oper
19 Mar: Amsterdam Heineken Music Hall
20 Mar: Amsterdam Heineken Music Hall
24 Mar: Milan Teatro Arcimboldi
25 Mar: Milan Teatro Arcimboldi
26 Mar: Rome Auditorium Parco Della Musica
29 Mar: London Royal Albert Hall
30 Mar: London Royal Albert Hall

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THISGIRL UK TOUR DATES
More tour dates. Thisgirl have announced details of a fourteen date UK tour. They'll be releasing a new album sometime next year, in the meantime you can hear some new demos at their myspace place - http://www.myspace.com/thisgirl.

Here are the tour dates:

25 Jan: Northampton Soundhaus
26 Jan: London Water Rats
27 Jan: Tunbridge Wells Forum
28 Jan: Bath Moles
30 Jan: Cardiff Barfly
31 Jan: Birmingham Bar Academy
1 Feb: Manchester Music Box
2 Feb: Sheffield Corporation
3 Feb: Derby Victoria Inn
4 Feb: Stoke Sugarmill
5 Feb: Leeds Josephs Wells
6 Feb: Glasgow Barfly
7 Feb: Newcastle Academy
8 Feb: Peterborough Met Lounge

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DARREN HAYES TOUR DATES
And yet more tour dates. Darren Hayes has announced plans for a solo UK tour. He plans to perform some songs from the Savage Garden catalogue as well as material from his solo career, and promises a gig with a 'twist'. Not sure what the twist is, to be honest, but it may have something to do with him speaking and not just singing. Here are the dates, tickets go on sale tomorrow:

21 Apr: Newcastle City Hall
23 Apr: Manchester Apollo
24 Apr: Notts Royal Centre
26 Apr: London Hammersmith Apollo
27 Apr: Ipswich Regent
29 Apr: Bristol Colston Hall
30 Apr: Portsmouth Guildhall
2 May: Sheffield City Hall
3 May: Wolves Civic

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STONES TO PLAY ON BRAZILIAN BEACH
The Rolling Stones are planning to play a free concert in Brazil next year, which is expected to attract an audience of at least 1.5million fans. The gig will take place on Rio's 4 kilometre Copacabana Beach on 18 Feb. A local spokeswoman told a press conference that they expect the occasion to be as big as the city's legendary New Year celebrations: "City Hall considers this show to be like another New Year. We will treat it like that".

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BLUR PULL FANS ONLY GIG
Blur have apparently pulled a 'fan only' sold out gig planned for Thursday night. The band revealed the last minute news of the concert to their fan-club at the weekend, but decided pretty soon after that they don't want to do the show after all, saying "the band ultimately felt they couldn't do justice to a full show right now, and want to concentrate on writing and recording instead."

According to Fake DIY, someone from the Blur fan club confirmed the cancellation, saying: "Thursday night's gig is definitely off. Any info that suggests the contrary is wrong. You can get a full refund by calling the same telephone number. At present, there are no plans for a re-scheduled gig, but we'll keep you posted. I advise you to please get a refund. We are truly sorry for any inconvenience caused by today's events and for the disappointment."

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XM ANNOUNCE BOB DYLAN RADIO SHOW
Following all the media hype surrounding the move of legendary radio DJ Howard Stern to US satellite radio network Sirius, their main competitor was able to bite back yesterday with the addition of a music legend to their roster of presenters. XM satellite radio have confirmed that Bob Dylan will be presenting a weekly show for their Deep Tracks channel as of next March.

Dylan's show will feature "an eclectic mix of music hand-selected by Dylan", as well as interviews and commentary. The radio group's Chief Creative Officer, Lee Abrams, told reporters: "Bob Dylan epitomises the American music experience and his unflagging integrity and vision defines everything we hope for XM to be".

Dylan himself added: "A lot of my own songs have been played on the radio, but this is the first time I've ever been on the other side of the mic. It'll be as exciting for me as it is for XM."

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HEART ANNOUNCE REJIG
Staying with radio, though of the British kind, and Heart 106.2 has announced a couple of schedule rejigs for the New Year. Former Radio 1 DJ Emma B, a weekend presenter on Heart since August, will be joining Greg Burns as co-host of the station's drive time show, replacing Erika North who is leaving the station after ten years there. Meanwhile Heart fill in guy Simon Beale will take over the station's late night slot from the also departing Nigel Williams, who's been playing those late night songs on Heart for as long as I can remember.

Confirming the rejigs, Heart programme director Mark Browning told reporters that, as a "passionate music-lover and a 32-year-old mum", Emma B "connected very closely with the lives and lifestyles of our listeners" and therefore her arrival in daytime would "cement" the station's relationship with its audience. So there you go.

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GERVAIS' GUARDIAN PODCAST IS NUMBER ONE
Well, the Guardian news alerted us this morning to tell us the second Ricky Gervais podcast is now available to download. Quite how that constitutes a news flash we're not sure - fancy using your trusted news service to plug your own commercial ventures - never catch us doing that. Anyway, the other Gervais podcast related story is that the first of his twelve programmes for the Guardian is apparently the number one podcast in both the UK and US, having been downloaded 180,000 times last week.

As previously reported, the Guardian will release twelve podcast programmes bringing back together Gervais with his Xfm co-hosts Stephen Merchant and Karl Pilkington. Commenting on being number one, Gervais told the paper: "When I heard that we were the number one podcast, my first thought was that it wasn't a fair fight as The Office is shown in over 80 countries around the world. Steve's first thought was 'why aren't we charging for it?', and Karl's first thought was, 'Is a chimp allowed to win the lottery?'."

Emily Bell of Guardian Unlimited added: "We are delighted to have the Christmas number one on both sides of the Atlantic. The spread of Ricky and Stephen and particularly Karl's popularity throughout the English speaking world is as pleasing as it is inevitable."

Other podcasts faring well in the UK just now include Chris Moyles Radio 1 podcast (formerly number one in the chart), Chris Evans' Radio 2 show and podcasts from Stuff magazine, New Scientist and Kerrang!

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TELEGRAPH APPOINT PODCAST EDITOR
And talking of podcasts and national newspapers, the Daily Telegraph has joined the bandwagon by appointing a podcast editor, presumably the first such editor to be appointed in the mainstream UK press. Former Radio 5 presenter Guy Ruddle will take on the new role. He told reporters: "Radio and sound has long been considered the most personal medium and the close relationship that the Daily Telegraph has with its readers makes it the perfect paper for the intimate nature of podcasting. This is a fantastic opportunity - one where I hope to be setting new standards for others to follow."

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ITV CLOSE NEWS CHANNEL
In a surprise to, presumably, no one, ITV have confirmed they are axing their news channel. The money saved will go to fund a new international bureau, northern news operations and new bulletins on ITV2 and ITV3. There has been much speculation about the future of the news channel since ITV cut the number of hours it broadcast via Freeview. The axe has been expected to fall ever since a senior exec left a copy of the company's 'channel closure plans' on the photocopier.

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MTV AND MICROSOFT COMBINE FORCES TO TAKE ON ITUNES
With things having been a bit quiet in the Microsoft camp music wise since they dropped their original plans to launch an iTunes style platform, this could be interesting.

Microsoft are working with MTV to launch a new digital music service called Urge which will debut in the US next year. Quite what this will be isn't quite clear, though the aim seems to be to provide a download service that assists customers in navigating a million odd tracks through MTV created editorial. What is certain is that there will be one hell of a marketing push once this goes live, with the service bundled into Microsoft's Windows Media Player and considerable plugging across the MTV network. More details are expected at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas next month.

Clearly the aim is to take on Apple in this space, and the service might come at just the right time in terms of helping the major labels battle the dominant iTunes for a more flexible price-point model. SonyBMG and Warner are both confirmed as being signed up to the new Microsoft / MTV platform, and EMI and Universal are expected to follow.

The fact that the two corporations have to combine their efforts to take on iTunes shows just how dominant Apple has become in the digital music space. It's also a bit ironic, given that until recently it was the dominance of MTV and Microsoft in their respective sectors that concerned senior players in the music business. Now the labels need the two companies to combine forces to take on the overly-dominant Apple. Whether they'll succeed remains to be seen.

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REAL TO LAUNCH NEW STREAMING MUSIC SERVICE
More digital music, and RealNetworks have announced details of a new pan-European online radio service to be called RealMusic. The new venture, which will launch here in the UK first, will offer punters access to 300 CD-quality ad free online radio stations via the net for £8.50 a month. The stations will include a number of genre specific channels run by Real themselves, plus streams produced by third parties, which will include Ministry Of Sound and Carl Cox at launch. Once subscribed, music fans will also be able to buy ringtones and full-track downloads via the service. Rolling out into Germany, France, the Netherlands, Italy and Spain in the first half of 2006, the new service is the first big push music wise for Real in Europe. The launch of the RealMusic service seems to replace or at least postpone Real's original plans to launch their US music platform, Rhapsody, over here.

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EMI JAPAN SELLS CD PRESSING FACTORY
The Japanese bit of the EMI Group - Toshiba EMI - has announced that it will sell its CD pressing plant in Gotemba, Shizuoka Prefecture as part of the group's global strategy to concentrate more on releasing recorded music and less on manufacturing CDs. A consortium backed by Goldman Sachs is reportedly buying the plant. A statement from Toshiba EMI said: "More investment is required to discover and develop artists, and to produce and promote songs, and Toshiba EMI realizes that restructuring and intensifying competition in the CD-manufacturing field make it difficult to reduce production costs".

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MCFLY HARRODS SIGNING
Well, one CMU reader specifically drew our attention to this on the grounds that it is "our sort of thing". No need to go into CMU's McFly love now methinks (there'll be plenty of time for that later in the week), but should you like McFly, legendary department stores and queuing, then this is for you also.

McFly will be doing a signing session at Harrods this Thursday (15 Dec), though you have to buy something from the department store's music department (which is basically an HMV) to get in. Basically you buy a copy of McFly's 'Wonderland' album or DVD from Harrods on Thursday. The first 600 people to do so get a pass which entitles them "to queue outside the store" (the email to McFly fans actually says that) until doors open for the signing in Harrods' Georgian Restaurant at 6pm.

The band will arrive at 5pm in a horse drawn carriage accompanied by "real reindeer". Each fan will then shuffle in to get their CDs/DVDs signed, after which they will receive some McFly wrapping paper and a Christmas card. Fifty of those cards will include a 'golden ticket' that gets the holder access to a intimate gig in Harrods later on that night.

So don't go saying we didn't tell you. Press info (on the signing) from the Harrods press office.

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SUGABABES TAKE THAT, MAY PARTY
Although no partying has actually been confirmed, Sugababes are definitely set to appear as special guests for the three stadium dates on Take That's reunion tour - that's the City of Manchester Stadium (17 Jun), Cardiff's Millennium Stadium (21 Jun) and at Wembley Stadium(24 Jun). Gary Barlow said recently: "We'll be really buzzed finishing at Wembley. I love Charlotte Church so would like her and the Sugababes to support and maybe we could bring back another act."

Barlow has also recently revealed that he's going to try and get in shape in time for the tour, saying: "I've been taking a lot of tips from Jason (Orange) because he's in really good shape. I'm doing aerobics, running and weights and I've got myself a personal trainer. I've got a little bit of weight to lose, probably half a stone."

So maybe we'll see them don hot pants and vests after all. Oh no, shouldn't have written that. There's now a strange and nasty image in my head.

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CERYS JOINS POGUES ON STAGE
Cerys Matthews appeared on stage with The Pogues on Monday at their gig at the Cardiff International Arena. Matthews joined the band to sing the late lovely Kirsty MacColl's bits of 'Fairytale Of New York' alongside Shane MacGowan, and by all accounts it was rather good.

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MCCARTNEY ON BEING A VEGETARIAN, AGAIN
Famous vegetarian Paul McCartney has said in an interview with schools publication The Newspaper that Disney films played a part in his moulding his views on animals, their rights, and not eating them, saying: "If you think of Bambi, its mum gets killed by a hunter, and I think that made me grow-up thinking hunting isn't cool. It always gave me that idea.

He continued: "You look through a lot of these great stories, Dumbo, his mum is quite badly treated, A lot of these classic stories, through their efforts, kids, as I once was, have grown up feeling it's a bad idea to be cruel to animals."

McCartney, 63, is a musician and songwriter from Liverpool, who first found fame with sixties buzz band The Beatles.

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