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ZAVVI TO GO, HMV BUY MORE STORES, SO DO A THING CALLED HEAD
Confirmation of the former Megastore chain's full closure was announced by Zavvi's administrators Ernst & Young yesterday. Most of Zavvi's 130 stores, though, had already closed of course, with doors being shut on Zavvi units across the UK every couple of weeks since the company went into administration just before Christmas.
Before the final nail was hit into the Zavvi coffin, administrators announced two deals that will rescue between 10 and 13 shops. First HMV, who had already bought 14 of Zavvi's stores in the UK and Ireland last month, confirmed it was taking on another five.
Meanwhile a new company set up by Zavvi's CEO, Simon Douglas, the man who led the management buyout that turned Virgin Megastore into Zavvi back in 2007, bought five and may as yet buy three more. That company is expected to run stores similar in format to Zavvi in those five to eight locations, though under a new name. The new firm is called Head Entertainment, and it's thought they will trade under the name Head. Which is not quite as bad a name as Zavvi, though it's not great.
Confirming that the Zavvi chain would finally close completely this week, administrator Tom Jack said he was pleased the HMV and Head deals would save the jobs of 629 of the chain's 2360 odd employees. He told reporters: "Whilst it has not been possible to secure a sale of the business as a going concern, we are delighted to have been able to secure continued employment for 629 Zavvi employees. This is a fantastic result for the employees and customers of the stores concerned".
He added: "I would like to thank all of Zavvi's staff and customers for their commitment and continued support for the business throughout the administration".
In related news, the Office Of Fair Trading has said it will review HMV's purchase of former Zavvi stores to see if there are any possible conflicts with UK and European merger rules. Or at least I think that's what they said.
They confirmed that they were "considering whether arrangements are in progress or in contemplation which, if carried into effect, will result in the creation of a relevant merger situation under the merger provisions of the Enterprise Act 2002". If such a "merger situation" was deemed to have been created the OFT would investigate HMV's purchase in more detail, and could pass the deal over to the Competition Commission for review, though that doesn't seem likely. The OFT's comments related to HMV's original purchase of nine UK Zavvi stores, but presumably its new deal for five more will also be considered by the review.
In other related news, the demise of the Virgin Megastore in New York's Times Square will result in "the biggest sale in music retail history", apparently. As previously reported, while the UK Megastore chain rebranded when it was sold by Richard Branson's Virgin Group, the US stores kept the name after they were acquired by Related Companies. However the new owner, a real estate group, made it no secret that their plan was to wind down the music chain and profit by leasing out its prime location retail units to other firms. The prestigious Times Square store is the latest to be closed, and managers are promising that prices on goods sitting in the shop will be completely slashed in a bid to clear stock. The sale starts today, so if you're in NYC it might be worth checking out.
ABBA MAN HITS OUT AT PIRATE BAY FOUR CLAIMS
As previously reported, three founders and a funder of the infamous BitTorrent Tracker are in a Stockholm court to face criminal infringement charges - though only for "assisting making available" unlicensed copyright material, rather than actually copying movies and tracks without permission (the latter charges having been dropped on Tuesday).
The prosecution rapped up their opening statements and the defendants began theirs before the early in the day recess yesterday. Some of the four defendants, Hans Fredrik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, Peter Sunde and Carl Lundström, could take to the witness stand today.
With little action in court, but continuing media interest in the case across Sweden, news types were looking for a different angle on the case yesterday afternoon. Abba man Bjorn Ulvaeus provided that different angle, by criticising The Pirate Bay Four's claims that closing services like theirs would amount to a breach of "internet freedom". Such internet freedom, Ulvaeus argues, should not equate to nicking other people's work.
He also disputes the idea that The Pirate Bay's legal battle is a David v Goliath type fight between them, the grass roots internet innovators, and the Goliath like music and movie conglomerates. All the content they provide illegal access to, he argues, began with the creative spark of an individual.
Writing on the Swedish website Newsmill, the Abba man ponders "anything they [Pirate Bay users] steal was once one person's idea, a single little person... they [the defendants] don't want to talk about that". He then wonders why it was "so damn hard to understand" that creative ideas would only ever see the light of day if creators and, in particular, their financial backers knew they stood a chance of getting paid for their work. He concluded by asking his readers to put aside the legal wranglings of the current court case and to ask the question: "Is it really so damn difficult to pay your way?"
Millionaire pop stars are possibly never going to be the best people to tell the world at large that file sharing impacts on the little guy as well as the megastars and global corporations, even a millionaire pop star as affable as Ulvaeus. But, while the record companies totally screwed up in the early days of the internet, prioritising useless litigation and digital rights management technology over projects that capitalised on the potential of the net for artists and content owners, the Abba star does raise all the right points.
While their lawyers fight the charges against The Pirate Bay Four on technicalities and issues of statutory interpretation, the defendants themselves make bolder claims outside the courtroom that the concept of copyright is alien to a free internet. The record companies may not be right to waste so much time and money worrying themselves sick about file sharing services (home taping didn't kill music, and file sharing probably won't either), but they probably do need to make a stand for the concept of copyright, and its continued relevance in the digital age.
I'm biased - I'm a copyright owner - but at its core the concept of copyright as a way of funding creativity is, in my opinion, a good concept, and not worth sacrificing in order to achieve The Pirate Bay Four's definition of "internet freedom". To conclude, listen to Bjorn people, he's saying the right stuff.
DUFFY WINS BIG AT BRITS
Other winners on the night, hosted by overrated acting types James Corden, Matt Horne and Kylie Minogue (well, that statement is at least 67% true), included Elbow, who won Best British Group, Girls Aloud, who took the public-voted Best British Single award, and Paul Weller, who won the Best British Male gong, but was not present at the ceremony to accept it. Katy Perry did turn up, however, despite being ill, and was presented with the prize for Best International Female. She told the audience: "I'm so sick right now, but they said to show up to the Brits because something special might happen... Obviously I've worked pretty hard because I want to die now".
Elsewhere in the international categories, Kings Of Leon were judged Best Group, and also got Best International Album. Kanye West, meanwhile, didn't make it to the actual ceremony, but got Best International Male. He joked that he would take the title literally, saying: "In every nation I'm the best male. That means if you go to a club, and you're a girl, and you're looking for a male, and you see me, you now have the best".
Also absent were the winners of the Radio 2 listener voted Best British Live Act award, Iron Maiden, who thanked fans in their acceptance message. Bruce Dickinson said: "We couldn't keep this entire show on the road without our fans. They're the people that keep this band alive".
The winners we already knew about were Florence And The Machine, who got the Critics' Choice Award for new talent, and the Pet Shop Boys who picked up the Outstanding Contribution prize. The latter were among the artists to perform on the night, with unwise collaborations with both Lady GaGa and Brandon Flowers in a best of set. U2, Ting Tings and Estelle also performed.
For those who prefer their Brits coverage in list form, here it is...
British Female Solo Artist: Duffy
In case you wondered what last night's Brits bash would have looked like if only Team CMU's votes counted, here's our top two votes in each of the Academy-voted categories. Not sure how we'd have made the final decision. Toss of a coin probably. Which may be how things are done at the real Brits.
British Female Solo Artist: Mia/Alesha Dixon
ROSEANNE HITS OUT AT DIRTY BASTARD BROWN
Here's what she wrote on her website earlier this week in response to Brown hitting girlfriend Rihanna, and his subsequent not-really-an-apology statement: "Chris Brown's lies and excuses make me want to beat the crap out of him. He uses the language of the perpetrator just like every sleazy bastard who ever smacked his wife, kid mother or girlfriend around uses. You dirty bastard, I hope you go to prison for ten years. It's your fault, asshole!"
She also laid into the "mealy-mouthed Hollywood and music scene chicks" for failing to publicly condemn Brown's actions. They might be waiting till we find out a little more about what happened, though that didn't stop Barr telling them that their time as "whores for propaganda" is ending. Whatever that means.
VERA LYNN CONSIDERS LEGAL ACTION OVER BNP CD
Lynn's solicitor Nigel Angel said: "Her position is that the song was included without her approval. She does not align with any political party. I will be discussing it with her further". Her MP Norman Baker is quoted as saying: "The BNP will try to imply they have the support of individuals by this kind of action when they clearly don't have their support - it's extremely regrettable".
BNP deputy leader Simon Darby has responded, saying: "It is a commercially available piece of music and it is not as if we have bootlegged it. It is something you could buy off Amazon and we are proud to stock. There are a number of songs on the album and by no means are we implying Dame Vera is a nationalist".
SUGE KNIGHT PLEADS GUILTY TO BATTERY
Police officers saw Knight strike Isaac whilst holding a knife in the car park close to the Las Vegas Strip, and discovered during his subsequent arrest that he was carrying ecstasy and hydrocodone. The guilty plea was part of a deal that included the dismissal of the two felony drug charges and one felony coercion. Knight has been ordered to receive counselling and to pay a $340 fine.
As reported earlier this week, Knight was recently involved in an altercation in Arizona, and was admitted to hospital to be treated for injuries sustained in the fight. Two men were arrested and charged with aggravated assault.
HENDRIX COMPANY TO GET THREE MILLION OVER VODKA DISPUTE
The Hendrix Electric vodka case was really part of the long-term dispute between Jimi's stepsister Janie and his half brother Leon. The latter was excluded from the official Jimi Hendrix empire by his and Jimi's father, Al, who died in 2002. Janie runs the Experience Hendrix company, which controls the Jimi Hendrix name and image, and a disgruntled Leon has tried to both get a share of that company and launch his own Jimi ventures over the years.
The vodka brand was a joint venture between Leon Hendrix and his friend Craig Dieffenbach, a Seattle-based businessman who set up an Electric Hendrix company. The partnership lost a court battle with the Experience Hendrix organisation last year and had been told to cease making the drink, but another court hearing was scheduled for this month to decide what damages Dieffenbach should pay.
But both sides have confirmed that an out of court agreement has been agreed that will see Diefenback pay the Experience Hendrix company $3.2 million. The agreement was approved by the court last week.
USHER'S WIFE RELEASED FROM HOSPITAL AFTER CARDIAC ARREST
BREAKSPOLL NOMINATION ANNOUNCED
Breakspoll shortlists are as follows...
Best Album: Atomic Hooligan - Sex, Drugs & Blah Blah Blah; Evil Nine - They Live!; Plump DJs - Headthrash; Slyde - Everyones Entitled To Our Opinion; Splitloop - Pleasure Machine.
Best Compilation/Mix: 10 Years of Finger Lickin; Booty Breaks Vol 3 - Mixed by Deekline & Wizard; Fabric Live 42 - Mixed by FreQ Nasty; Lot 49 Presents Lee Coombs - Mixed by Lee Coombs; Stanton Sessions Volume 3 - Mixed by Stanton Warriors.
Best Track: A-Skillz feat Krafty Kuts - Happiness; Deekline & Ed Solo - Handz Up!; Far Too Loud feat SubSource - You Know the Sound; NAPT - Gotta Have More Cowbell; Stanton Warriors feat Big Daddy Kane - Get Wild.
Best Remix: DJ Deekline & Ed Solo - Handz Up! (Stanton Warriors Remix); Far Too Loud - Play It Loud (Broken Robot Remix); Freestylers - Push Up Word Up (Stanton Warriors Remix); Plump DJs - Shifting Gears (Stanton Warriors Remix); Slyde - Freqency (NAPT Remix).
Best Label: Against The Grain, Finger Lickin, Funkatech, Hardcore Beats, Lot 49.
Best Breakthrough Label: Cool & Deadly, Electric Tastebuds, Future Perfect, Ground Level, The Saw Records.
Best Producer: Deekline & Wizard, Evil Nine, NAPT, Plump DJs, Stanton Warriors.
Best Breakthrough Producer: Beat Assassins, Break The Box, Lady Waks, Specimen A, Vent.
Best DJ: A Skillz, Freestylers, Krafty Kuts, Plump DJs, Stanton Warriors.
Best Breakthrough DJ: Adsorb, Apply The Breaks, D*Funk, Lady Waks, Richie Balboa.
Best Large Club/Event: Breaks Arena, Breaksday @ Glade, FabricLive, Future Sound Of Breaks, Glastonbury Dance Village.
Best Small Club/Event: In Beats We Trust, Naughty Panda, Simian Sounds, Supatronix, Vinyl Touch.
Best Live Act: Atomic Hooligan, Deekline & Wizard, Evil Nine, Freestylers, London Breakbeat Orchestra.
Best Radio Station: Brap FM, Breaks FM, iBreaks, NSB Radio, NuBreaks.
Best Radio Show: Annie Nightingale (Radio One), Jay Cunning Breakbeat Show (Kiss FM), Beatz and Bobz Show with Ben and Lex (NSB Radio), PointBreakz Sessions (Point Blank FM), Rennie Pilgrem Galaxy Breaks Show (Galaxy FM).
Best MC/Vocalist: Beardyman, Chickaboo, Dynamite, Ken Mac, Ragga Twins.
Best Retailer: Beatport, Chemical Records, DJ Download, Juno, TrackItDown.
GHOST OF A THOUSAND JOIN EPITAPH FOR NEW ALBUM
Vocalist Tom Lacey told CMU: "I'm over the moon to be joining Epitaph. It's a huge deal to be a part of a label that has shaped punk rock in such a massive way, and I feel even better about the fact that our new record has a great home. We're not resting on our laurels though. The proper hard work starts now. We've been welcomed in by the staff like a new family member, so we can't let our folks down, we're going to do them proud".
Of the new album, he said: "NHND is still very heavy, heavier than [debut album] '...Fight...' in places, but its whole feel is a lot sadder, and its mood changes all the time. This album could have been a straight up sing-a-long catchy hardcore record, but it's very much not and I think that will come as a shock to some people. I'd like to think that the perception of us as a band within a scene will be blown apart now - the new stuff doesn't to me feel like anything that other bands are doing right now".
ISIS ANNOUNCE NEW ALBUM
Here's the tracklist:
Hall Of The Dead
COLDPLAY PLAN ALBUM GIVEAWAY
RAKES ALBUM LAUNCH
The album is out on 23 Mar via Universal's V2, preceded by a single, '1989' on 16 Mar. The band are to follow the release with a tour, dates as follows:
21Apr: Brighton Concorde 2
FUJIYA & MIYAGI ANNOUNCE APRIL TOUR
The band have also announced a string of UK tour dates to coincide with the single:
8 Apr: London, Cargo
KILLERS CONFIRMED FOR T AND OXYGEN
BRIGHTON FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES ACTS
The 2009 festival will include performances from Antony and The Johnsons, period instrument orchestra The Academy Of Ancient Music, big band ensemble Flat Earth Society, and Cuban cha cha cha masters Orquesta Aragon, as well as a wide range of big name acts and events from a host of other genres.
The festival takes place from 2 - 24 May. And Brighton is no distance from London, Londonites, so why not have a look at www.brightonfestival.org?
LIVE REVIEW: Vivian Girls at Proud Galleries in London on 14 Feb
TOPMAN PUT METRONOMY IN CTRL
Confirming the new venture, Topman Marketing Director Jason Griffiths told CMU: "Topman CTRL is a unique new music series which reinforces our strategy of supporting young talent, both in fashion and music. After many years of successful music sponsorships, we feel that the time is right to launch our own platform. We will be handing over the reigns each month to an upcoming artist to bring our audiences closer to their favourite new bands. We are really excited to provide a window to their creative world and are looking forward to seeing what they come up with".
Confirming their involvement, Metronomy's Joe Mount added: "Topman CTRL will be a great chance for me to go out and see some bands that I really like. The best part is that I also get to force people to hear the music that influenced me, or at least force them to read about my influences. I plan to be in everyone's face for a month".
TOUCH & GO CUT BACK TO A CATALOGUE LABEL
In something of a shock development (not least to staff there, apparently), the label will close down it's A&R unit and distribution company, and cease working on new music projects except for those already in the release schedule.
Twenty staff will leave at the end of March, leaving a small team who will work on this Spring's already scheduled album releases. It's not clear what will happen to them once all scheduled albums have been released - ie whether marketing and promotions people will be required for catalogue re-releases, or whether back catalogue will be simply licensed to another record company.
The label is still run by its founder Corey Rusk, who reportedly said he had decided to drastically cut back its operations because of the gloomy economic climate. According to Billboard, Rusk's staff had no idea the downsize was coming, with one telling the trade mag: "Last week we were talking about South By Southwest, and now this has happened".
Lee Dannay, previously running her own artist development consultancy GoodWorks Music, will be a New York based A&R VP, working with both existing Warner/Chappell talent and signing new songwriters looking for opportunities for her roster both within the US and abroad, which pretty much covers everything I think.
Brad Aarons, previously with BMG Music Publishing (before and after its acquisition by Universal), will also become a new A&R VP, though he will be based in LA.
Peter Visvardis, meanwhile, will become Senior Director of A&R, which may be more or less important than an A&R VP, I find American job titles confusing. Previously with Zomba Publishing, he'll also be New York based and work on existing and new talent.
FACEBOOK DROP NEW TERMS AFTER PROTESTS
NOKIA COMES WITH MUSIC TO LAUNCH DOWN UNDER
The sort of unlimited free download service, which allows users to download potentially millions of songs for free, but which locks the song to the mobile device or PC they are downloaded to, should now launch in Australia in the next couple of months.
Confirming it had licensed the Nokia service, APRA/AMCOS CEO Brett Cottle told reporters: "Our objective is to bring music creators and consumers together. The demand from Australian consumers for new digital music services is growing rapidly. Our aim is to accommodate that demand and translate it into new royalty streams for songwriters and publishers".
BUBBLE HITS BURSTS
Co-founder James Hyland told The Irish Times: "It was costing us money to run. There was no point throwing dead money after dead money. We didn't get any support from the advertising agencies. They simply weren't spending their clients' money".
GAMBACCINI HITS OUT AT MOYLES
As previously reported, Moyles was talking about the 'Who Do You Think You Are?' family tree show being made about his family history, and he told his listeners: "Unlike a lot of the Who Do You Think You Are? shows I didn't go to Auschwitz. Pretty much everyone goes there whether or not they're Jewish. They just seem to pass through there on their way to Florida". He also said something about Will Young which was deemed offensive, though I can't remember what that was.
Radio 2 presenter Gambaccini, who was the most vocal BBC insider to hit out at Jonathan Ross, Russell Brand and BBC radio management over the Sachsgate affair, laid into Moyles at a talk at Oxford University.
According to the Guardian, he told the event: "I find his continual presence on Radio 1 unacceptable. Chris Moyles should be gone. His recent comments about Auschwitz involved real people and their ancestors. That is no joking matter for them. To encourage this or sit by whilst it happens is unprofessional. He has done it so many times. He has no sense of responsibility".
The BBC apologised for the Auschwitz remarks and said it would speak to Moyles about it. But that pissed off Gambaccini even more. He added: "I am nauseated by the Radio 1 press office constantly rationalising his behaviour. If we do not get our own house in order, then sooner or later somebody else will and they might break the furniture in the process".
THIS WEEK'S SUB.TV PLAYLIST
NIKKI SIXX APOLOGISES FOR OUTBURST
Not realising that fact at the time, he shouted at the girl: "You think that shit's funny motherfucker? Suck my dick motherfucker, fuck you. The fact that you're a fucking whore means you can suck my dick a little more, you bitch. Ah, now she's fucking crying." Not surprised she cried.
Anyway, having viewed a video of the incident and realised his mistake, Sixx apologised via his blog, saying: "There was a recent event at one of our shows where someone threw a bottle at me during my speech and I got pretty pissed. The way it happened is, I threw a bottle of water to some fans and didn't realise the very bottle I threw to the fans was thrown back at me. I have to admit, bands get pretty pissed when people throw shit at you onstage. I didn't even think it was the same bottle, so with that being said, I'd like to say I'm sorry to the fan who threw the bottle back at me. These damn clichés seem to be true, like two wrongs don't make a right... Rock 'n' roll, and temper tantrums... PS: These self-help books are really helping. Ha-Ha".
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