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GOOGLE UNVEIL NEW MUSIC SEARCH
Google Music will see the search firm enter into a plethora of partnerships with other digital music services. The streaming preview whatnot will be powered by MySpace (via its recent acquisition iLike) and Lala. Which stream a user will be linked to when they search, assuming both have content from the selected artist, will be random. MySpace, though, will also feed video content and tour dates into the player, which will possibly make their preview service more compelling than that of Lala. Which will be a new development, MySpace actually providing a more compelling service than, well, anyone really.
Other partners include Pandora, Imeem and Rhapsody, while Gracenote will power a lyrics search service. The licensing of any content delivered directly through the Google interface will presumably be handled by the relevant music service partner, who will presumably hope to boost their own traffic through their participation.
The more observant among you will notice most of those partners have a definite American bias, because this, people, is initially a service for the US. The music tab should appear on the Google US search engine any time now. But the web firm confirmed yesterday they were in talks to strike similar partnerships elsewhere in the world, and that they hoped to subsequently roll out the Google music flim flam around the globe.
Confirming the new service yesterday, a statement from the Googs said this: "[The new music service] doesn't just make search better. It also helps people discover new sources of licensed music online while helping artists to discover new generations of fans and reconnect with long time listeners".
Meanwhile the Product Manger for the new service, who seems to go by the name of RJ, added: "This is pushing search traffic and business opportunities downstream to online partners and artists and labels, so we're happy to ... provide a great music experience and also direct lots of music-seeking traffic ... to partners that can take it from there and convert it to great music discovery".
Some people are very excited about the new Google music search service, while some seem a little underwhelmed by the web giant's first major music play. I've decided to not have an opinion, but look, Universal Music's Wendy Nussbaum seems happy: "I think this is a game-changing thing Google has done. The key thing for us is you are leading people to legitimate sources of music. Consumers want something easy, and Google gives them that".
And as for EMI's Syd Schwartz, well he thinks "it's amazing", adding: "Any situation where we can make the process of discovery and helping artist and audience find one another in better ways is something that's going to help the business". So that's all loverly.
INDUSTRY RESPONDS TO MANDELSON'S THREE-STRIKES COMMITMENT
As previously reported, the Lord yesterday used the government-organised creative business jolly C&binet to confirm a three-strikes system would be included in the Digital Economy Bill due to go before parliament next month. The deterrent will be net suspension for naughty file-sharers who fail to heed written warnings (or who just can't read, I suppose), though the suspensions won't actually happen until Summer 2011. Just on the off chance every single file-sharer stops file-sharing when they get their note from Mandy.
Asked how his proposal compared to three-strikes system being introduced in France, which seems, by all accounts, to be more draconian, not least because they are talking about disconnections rather than suspensions, Mandelson told reporters: "The French approach is based on criminal law, as I understand it, therefore ours is different. Our approaches to this are not identical. But our system will be no less effective for that".
Needless to say, there was a mixed response to Mandelson's confirmation that three-strikes was on the British legislative agenda. The boss of record label trade body the BPI, Geoff Taylor, thought it was swell news. He told CMU: "We welcome the government's vision that the internet should be an environment that rewards British creativity. Music companies are supporting a wide range of new digital services to offer consumers unprecedented choice in accessing music online, in a way that rewards the artists they love. The measures confirmed today by government are a proportionate way of encouraging illegal file-sharers to embrace the new services, and will drive further innovation that will benefit online consumers".
Over at UK Music Towers Feargal Sharkey proclaimed thus: "The music industry [knows] that it is the market that will prove the ultimate deterrent to piracy. However, for this market to develop and for the UK's creative industries to meet their goals and aspirations in a digital age, intervention by government is essential. We therefore continue to welcome Lord Mandelson's commitment and support on this issue. In this context, right holders must also continue to licence, adapt and diversify their business models, while ISPs must evolve beyond a 'mere conduit' status and join with us as partners in a shared digital future as we increase our dialogue with fans".
On the other side of the debate, internet service provider TalkTalk, one of the most vocal opponents to three-strikes, accused Mandelson of proposed a "guilty until proven innocent" system, claiming accused file-sharers would be subject to a "kangaroo court". Which I've always thought was a bit of an offensive term myself, who are we to judge the judicial processes of the kangaroos?
Anyway, TalkTalk's Andrew Heaney said this: "The approach is based on the principle of 'guilty until proven innocent' and substitutes proper judicial process for a kangaroo court. We know this approach will lead to wrongful accusations". He added that his company might fight any suspension orders in the courts on human rights grounds, telling the Guardian: "If the government moves to stage two we would consider that extra-judicial technical measures and would look to appeal the decision [to the courts] because it infringes human rights. TalkTalk will continue to resist any attempts to make it impose technical measures on its customers unless directed to do so by a court or recognised tribunal".
Less confrontational, but still critical of the proposals, was We7 boss Steve Purdham. He's become increasingly vocal of late about the need for record companies to completely overhaul the way they license music to legit music platforms, arguing that only the existence of compelling licensed music services will ultimately combat file-sharing. While a plethora of such services have arrived on the scene in the last eighteen months, he argues those services will only survive long term - ie once the venture capital runs out - if there is a totally new approach to digital music licensing.
Responding to Mandelson's speech, Purdham told CMU yesterday afternoon: "This is a move which is directed at protecting the media industry and copyright law, but one which entirely misses the heart of the issue. Piracy is a reaction to an unsustainable situation, where reasonable, legitimate access to music has struggled to match demand. File-sharing sites have risen in the gulf between what consumers wanted and what has been available. Internet users don't want to use P2P networks; most are far from intuitive, full of sub-standard products and leave users' computers open to attack and infection. In the same way that the vast majority of consumers buy products from reputable retailers and not on the black market, most would rather support artists and their livelihood by consuming licensed music".
He continues: "Creating a variety of reasonable and sustainable models for providing music to consumers is key to ending rampant piracy. This is the approach that should be taken by the government rather than criminalising consumers and driving pirates further into the undergrowth. At We7, we believe that sustainable ad-funded music is a first step in migrating the pirate to legitimate consumption. In order to keep generating the music we love, artists need to be paid. People want to support the music they care about. But it is not for them to find a way to do that; the onus is on the government and the industry to monetise music instead of demonising and punishing the general public".
So there you go.
CMU RESPONDS TO MANDELSON'S THREE-STRIKES COMMITMENT
I'm not especially anti-three-strikes, particularly when the deterrent is suspension rather than disconnection. And sensational talk of "guilty until proven innocent" is a deliberate misunderstanding of the law. ISPs aren't the defenders of consumer rights they portray themselves as, they are just terrified of any increased liability for their customers' actions, mainly because of the financial implications; net providers operate on stupidly small profit margins having all jumped head first into a dumb price war a few years back.
And as a general rule web companies, whether they be ISPs or the Yahoos and Googles of this world, completely underrate the value of good content, and the risks content funders take when investing in new talent. True, record companies and collecting societies totally overrate the value, but whereas content companies have a commercial interest in investing big chunks of their profits in new creative talent, for web firms content is a means to an end.
But will three-strikes stop online piracy? No, of course it won't. And it's important the music industry doesn't let three-strikes become the distraction that digital rights management technology and file-sharer litigation proved to be at the start of the decade. The music industry needs to plough forward with new models - more fostering of artist/fan relationships, more monetising what was previously promotional content, and more reinvention of the way investors and creators work together.
Purdham's point is also valid. The only reason I've come round to newer anti-piracy proposals like three-strikes is because the argument that people file-share because of a lack of compelling legit music services - once a very good argument - no longer stacks up. There's flippin loads of legit music services, and some of them are marvellous. But most of these services - while paying out to the music companies - are currently funded by venture capital and similar investment money.
That's not sustainable, and if Purdham is right, that most of these services can't last long term without a radical overhaul of music licensing, then a radical overhaul there will have to be. Still, the record companies and music publishers have moved several miles in their attitude to new licensing models in the last three yeas, so, Steve, it'll take time and you'll need some plasters for all the wall hitting your head will do, but I reckon we'll get there. And providing we do, the three-strikes deterrent - with a workable appeals process - is probably justified.
CORGAN ON SWINE FLU
He began by questioning how scary the whole swine flu thing actually is, writing: "There is something mighty suspicious about declaring an emergency for something that has yet to show itself to be a grand pandemic. Our American President Obama has declared a national emergency about this virus, which he in his own words said was, at this point, a preventative measure. So, why declare an emergency if there isn't one?"
Which is all well and good, and he goes on to suggest that the virus is actually manmade, rather than something that has occurred naturally, which may or may not be true. But then he starts suggesting that it will bring about the end of the world and everything gets a bit weird: "Assume this flu is the worst thing to ever hit this planet, worse than the bubonic plague of the middle ages, or worse than any war ever conjured up. Evil itself has come to wreak havoc on the planet. Assume, for the sake of argument, it is The End".
Okay, I'm assuming. But how will Billy face this, that's what I want to know. Here's how: "I for one will not be taking the vaccine. I do not trust those who make the vaccines, or the apparatus behind it all to push it on us through fear. ... If the virus comes to take me Home, that is between me and the Lord".
However, keeping it all on a one-to-one basis with God might be tricky if the government decides to vaccinate you by force. Corgan continues: "The state of Massachusetts here in America is about to sign into law (if it hasn't already) for a mandatory vaccination. The state will have the power to come into your home and incarcerate you for being unwilling to comply with a vaccination order. Didn't you hear? Soon, you won't even have the choice to live OR die as you wish!"
So, make of all that what you will.
ASPIRING FOLK MUSICIAN KILLED BY COYOTES
Taylor Mitchell, who self-released her album 'For Your Consideration' in March, and who subsequently appeared at the Winnipeg Folk Festival, was hiking alone at the Cape Breton Park in Nova Scotia. It is unclear how the coyote attack occurred - the animals very rarely attack humans - but rangers were alerted by other walkers who heard the singer's screams. Bleeding heavily from bite wounds, she was airlifted to Halifax hospital but died from her injuries yesterday.
The rangers saw both coyotes, and shot one of them. A spokesman for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police told Reuters "coyotes are normally afraid of humans, this is a very irregular occurrence", while adding that the animals seemed "extremely aggressive" to the rangers when they arrived at the scene.
Lisa Weitz, Mitchell's manager, told the Associated Press last night: "Words can't begin to express the sadness and tragedy of losing such a sweet, compassionate, vibrant, and phenomenally talented young woman. She just turned nineteen two months ago, and was so excited about the future".
Mitchell, who was mid-way through a tour of her home region, had only recently been nominated for Young Performer Of The Year at the Canadian Folk Music Awards.
GEORGE MICHAEL SIGNS SINGLE DEAL WITH ISLAND
GUILLEMOTS MAN GOES SOLO
Recorded with producer Adam Noble, Dangerfield apparently opted to record as many songs as possible in the short time the pair had in the studio together. As a result, the album features songs that range wildly in style and keep a fun, carefree feeling running throughout. So I'm told.
You can download a track from the album, 'When You Walk In The Room', for free from www.fyfedangerfield.com now.
GABRIEL PLANNING INTERESTING COVERS RELEASE
Composer John Metcalfe, who has helped bring the project together, told 6Music: "I'm not allowed to say who [is involved], just yet, but there are some very, very famous singers and bands involved. It sounds amazing, even though I say it myself. It is literally Peter with an orchestra, sometimes the orchestra is quite large, then there are some more chamber music-style, sparse songs. But the songs are not simply covers, they are quite major reinterpretations of some famous stuff. It's quite radical and we're hoping that people really get it and enjoy it".
Metcalfe added that it was still to be decided how the material will be released - maybe an album of bands covering Gabriel, and then an album of Gabriel covering them, or maybe some sort of series of digital single releases. We'll let you know once they know.
ALARM MAN PETERS: SPECIAL GIG AND WEBCAST
The gig will be recorded and aired on Wrexham community radio station CalonFM, and then be made available via other community radio stations around Wales and on the net via www.calonfm.com. The gig, at Wrexham's Catrin Finch Centre, will promote the release of '21 - The Best Of The Alarm In The 21st Century', which is out on Monday. Press info from firstname.lastname@example.org
FAITH NO MORE PLAN US TOUR
CMU PUBLISHER ADDED TO DUBAI SOUND CITY LINE UP
And added to the line up of speakers this week - CMU Co-publisher and Business Editor Chris Cooke, who will take part in sessions on social networking and the issue of 'free' in the digital music age. Confirming his involvement, Chris told CMU: "The line up of speakers for Dubai SoundCity is remarkable, and I am looking forward to hearing and learning from them. And, of course, I hope to add something to the debate when we tackle the ever faddish social networking phenomenon - where exactly is that all heading? - and on the question of whether the music industry has to accept free is the future. Whatever I say, whatever I hear, look out for my reports on the CMU News-Blog". Hey look at that, I just quoted myself. Radical.
There's music galore, of course, at Dubai SoundCity. We'll be previewing a load of it with a CMU-Tube selection on Monday, and SSQ interviews throughout the rest of next week. Among the bands playing are Wombats, Wave Machines, Echo & The Bunnymen, Alphabeat, Meerkats, Bicycle Thieves and Doves. More at dubaisoundcity.com.
ALBUM REVIEW: Various Artists - Gilles Peterson presents Havana Cultura (Brownswood Recordings)
Disc two, meanwhile, is a round up of different moves and grooves by a bevy of Havana's locals. Highlights include 'Pa La Lucha' from Free Hole Negro, which features dynamic words laid on a madcap tropical beat; the almost tribal chant layered over sunkissed vibes on 'Accompanos' by Kumar; and 'Me Lastimas' by Obsesion, which goes brilliantly downtempo in a hip hop manner. 'Pasa El Borrador' by Los Aldenos goes for forceful rap which then apes Snow's 'Informer' towards the end (in a good way), but the best cut is the catchy 'Amor Internacional' by Doble Filo, although his other featured track, 'Que Tu Tres', cuts less well.
Press contact: Gerry Lyseight [all]
LILY AND CHERYL WANT LABELS
Cheryl Cole has also revealed she likes the idea of having her own record label, though for her it seems like it may be more of a distant plan. Speaking to Bang Showbiz, the Girl Aloud and 'X-Factor' judge said: "I'd love to have my own label in the future. I'd love to be on that side of it, I love hearing new artists, I love choosing songs and developing acts. So that's something I've got planned".
AEG REPORTEDLY BUY INTO US MANAGEMENT FIRM
LIVE NATION APPOINT COMEDY GUY
Confirming his move to Live Nation, Coburn told CMU: "I'm really excited at the prospect of working at Live Nation's London office and expanding both their UK and worldwide comedy roster. Last year I worked with their US comedy division on Russell Brand's US dates and I'm looking forward to working with them again".
RAJAR ROUND UP
Wogan lost 174,000 listeners over the summer quarter compared to the previous three months, but Moyles saw his audience slide by 700,000 listeners, meaning Wogan has a pretty safe lead on his BBC colleague, 7.75 million to 7.04 million. Of course all of that is probably irrelevant, because Moyles has his heart set on beating the Radio 2 breakfast slot once Wogan retires and Chris Evans takes over on the nation's biggest radio show. I secretly hope Evans will further the lead. I'm not sure why I care, but that's what I hope.
It was a good quarter for Radio 2 in general, which had seen its audience share drop to a three year low in the previous RAJAR report. It is still the nation's biggest radio station in terms of weekly reach. Radio 1's audience was down quarter on quarter, but up year on year.
In the commercial radio sector, all eyes are on London, as usual. There Global Radio's two main London stations - Capital and Heart - swapped places, so that Heart is second biggest, after Bauer Media's Magic (though, confusingly, Capital was in lead in terms of audience share, while Heart have the biggest breakfast show).
Elsewhere, Global's talk station LBC's overall figures were up significantly - 15.2% quarter on quarter, 40.2% year on year - while Bauer's Kiss 100 saw its listening figures fall from the previous quarter, but they were still up compared to the same quarter last year - and it is now London's fourth biggest commercial station. Xfm's weekly audience of 546,000 was down every so slightly on the previous quarter, but was still up 17.9% year on year, which is nice.
UTV CHIEF DISSES SWITCHOVER PLANS, AND GLOBAL CHIEF TABOR
Asked about the government's aims for turning the UK's radio listeners over to digital and internet services in six years, Taunton told the paper: "I don't think there is anyone who genuinely believes 2015 is realistic", adding that the proposals were "over-ambitious to the point of being farcical".
Expanding on the point, he explained: "DAB [the primary digital network] is not necessarily a next-generation service. There is already DAB-plus, and in order to launch DAB-plus in the UK you would have to make the vast bulk of DAB sets redundant. The future at the moment is FM - the next generation is about iPhones with FM receivers".
Taunton added that general commercial radio support for the 2015 deadline was being driven by his biggest competitor, Global Radio. They, he says, are supporting a fast move to DAB because - if digital was to be delayed for a significant time - certain existing FM licences would have to be re-auctioned off as existing franchises run out. Among them the valuable Classic FM licence owned by Global. The big guys of commercial radio, therefore, the UTV man argues, want a quick switch to DAB to ensure they don't lose one of their most valuable outputs. But a quick switch would, Scott says, "be wrong for the industry and wrong for the taxpayer".
Taunton's dislike for Global is no secret, of course, and his recent decision to quit commercial radio trade body RadioCentre was over allegations Global management were too dominant within the cross-industry organisation. Taunton's professional grievances with Global are at least partly down to a personal dislike for the boss of the relatively young but very big radio firm - Mr Ashley Tabor.
Noting that the Global chief's sudden elevation to the biggest player in commercial radio was only possible because of his billionaire father's money, which was used to acquire Chrysalis and GCap, Taunton dismisses Tabor as a "rich man's son". He continues: "He is a guy who is used to getting his own way. He isn't from the same school of business, the same school of negotiation, that I am. Don't get me wrong, he is a very clever guy but a very stubborn individual when it comes to negotiations. On a day-to-day basis I was not prepared to sit around an industry body with Ashley".
The Guardian note that Tabor isn't that keen on Taunton either. His response reads: "We believe it is utterly ridiculous for UTV plc to support an emotive and personal position taken by one of its executives, that must ultimately impact on its profitability. For UTV or any other small radio group not to align themselves with the RadioCentre in the drive to digital is tantamount to commercial suicide".
Not sure what we should make from all that, though I do like it when rival business execs get bitchy, so let's hope there's plenty more briefing and counter-briefing between the two radio firms as the government's plans for a digital radio future go through parliament.
GIRLS PROVIDE NAKED VIDEO FOR LUST FOR LIFE
A BIT MORE KANYE VID
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