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TODAY'S NEWS
Top Stories
Merlin signs up to MySpace Music
Concern expressed over Digital Bill's increase of ministerial powers over copyright law
Island Def Jam exec arrested after Bieber fans get out of control
In The Pop Courts
Britney's ex jailed
Gibson investigated over illegal wood claims
Jacko doc docs released
Noel Gallagher attacker pleads guilty
DMX faces legal fight after pulling out of something more physical
Awards & Contests
Jacko and Swift win big at AMAs
MPG to honour Les Paul at annual awards
In The Studio
Fiddy and The Game to guest on new Dre album
Release News
Rolling Stones to re-release Wild Horses
Gigs N Tours News
Girls announce tour dates
Little Comets tour dates
Talks, Debates N Trade Fairs
Delegate registrations up for Eurosonic Noorderslag
Reviews
Single review: Girls - Laura (Fantasytrashcan/Turnstile)
The Music Business
Linn discontinue CD players
The Digital Business
Ek confident of Spotify model, and US launch
The Media Business
Forest Of Dean Radio to close
Chart Of The Day
Chart update
And finally...
Jedward voted off X-Factor
Advertising info
Consulting info
CMU Credits + Contacts
 
MONDAY 23RD NOVEMBER


ANOTHER 2009 SELECTION
So, like we said this time last week, we want to know what your favourite track of 2009 is. To help you (or perhaps hinder you) in your choice, here's a second collection of tracks that came out this year for you to have a listen to. Once you've made your decision, let us know via this easy-to-use form. Remember, it can be any track released in 2009, you don't have to restrict yourself to this list.
 
01: Friendly Fires - Kiss Of Life
One of 2008's most popular bands, Friendly Fires only released one single this year. But what a single, eh? Taking their already hefty samba influence to its extreme, they went all Rio carnival on our arses and pulled this percussion-heavy track out of the bag.

02: Sub Focus - Rock It
At the forefront of the new wave of drum n bass, Sub Focus stamped his mark firmly on the UK dance music scene with this track, and at the same time pricked up the ears of a rock scene, already primed for such things by Pendulum.

03: Animal Collective - Summertime Clothes
Certain to appear in many an album of the year poll in the coming weeks with 'Merriweather Post Pavillion', Animal Collective also released one of the year's weirdest and catchiest pop songs with this track. But does weird + catchy = best?

04: Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Zero
Yeah Yeah Yeahs' fourth album sounds almost like a remixed version of their first album, with synths aplenty piled on top. 'Zero' sums up the treats held inside it perfectly, with some irresistible pop that's sure to get your legs jiggling.

05: Little Boots - New In Town
When I first got the Little Boots album I played it over and over again, but after about a month it started to feel like eating a bag of sugar with a teaspoon - fun at first but then increasingly sickening. However, in small doses it can still be fun, like on this track.

06: Chipmunk - Diamond Rings
Chipmunk's had to take some time out from the biz due to exhaustion. Is this because he's been working too hard creating the very best track of the year, or has having to hawk a big turd all got too much? You decide.

07: Hafdis Huld - Kongulo
Kongulo means spider in Icelandic, and this song is about the skyscraper-climbing Frenchman Alain Robert. It's not an obvious subject matter for a song, which is something that makes it worthy of your consideration on its own.

08: Nneka - Heartbeat
The album this is taken from is far too bloody long, especially when you factor in the third disc of bonus tracks. This track is fantastic, though, and it shines brightly amongst the 35 others that surround it. Even if you've not heard it before, I reckon it could still win your heart at this late stage in the year.

09: Micachu And The Shapes - Lips
Micachu makes her own instruments. And you can tell. But a lot of people like that about her. This is one of two singles taken from her debut album this year and it catches her on particularly upbeat form. Too lo-fi, or just lo-fi enough to be the year's best?

10: Cheryl Cole - Fight For This Love
Well, this single has sold more than any other so far in 2009. But does that mean it's the best track of the year? No, of course it doesn't. There's no way anyone could think that. No possible way at all. But maybe including it here will remind you of something better.

You can watch the videos for all these tracks, plus last week's 2009 selection, here.

There you go then, there's another list of randomly selected songs released since January. Was your favourite amongst them? Or do you rate something else? Let us know here.

 
NEW EFTERKLANG
CMU favourites Efterklang performed their 2007 album, 'Parades', in full with the Britten Sinfonia at the Barbican in London last month. It was by far my favourite gig of the year. But now it's time to look to the future, because the band have just completed work on their third album, 'Magic Chair'. It's not due to be released until February next year, courtesy of 4AD, but the band have already made a track from it available to download for free. A sonic shift from the material that appeared on 'Parades', particularly in the vocals, 'Modern Drift' hints at a more intimate, less grand direction for the new album.

efterklang.net/home/2009/11/19/magic-chairs-our-new-album-listen-to-new-song/

 

 
 

 
PRESS OFFICER WANTED
Leading independent music PR company looking for a Press Officer with experience in both online and traditional PR. Must be passionate, enthusiastic, intelligent, and a creative thinker. Knowledge of communications: PR, marketing, and blogging would be ideal, but not essential. If you are looking for a challenge within a dynamic company, please forward a copy of your CV to: recruitment@mediajunction.co.uk

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Advertise your jobs here: £100 for five editions - ads@unlimitedmedia.co.uk

 

 

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Either studying or working in the music industry and never attended MIDEM, benefit from a special discount rate at 280 euros, more than 50% off October rate.

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Live concerts: hook up with partners and new contacts at the Opening and Closing Night Parties; discover new international artists with Talent showcases.

MIDEM: the one stop destination for the world’s music community, 23-27 January 2010. Register now! Click here

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MIDEM 2010, Cannes: Intimate club venue available for hire in the Palais du Festival - to showcase your artists and bands.

4am license. UK bar prices. 400 Capacity. Private entrance. Staff and DJ supplied.

Leyline has teamed up with Splash Promotions in Cannes to offer production, event management and PR services.

Contact 020 7575 3285 adrian@leylinepromotions.com / info@splashpromotions.co.uk

www.splashpromotions.co.uk - www.leylinepromotions.com

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SHOREDITCH OFFICE, 764 SQUARE FOOT (15-20 DESKS), £1000 PER MONTH
Self-contained office space available in the centre of Shoreditch, on the corner of Shoreditch High Street and Great Eastern Street, next to the CMU HQ. 5-8 minutes walk from Liverpool Street and Old Street tube stations. A top floor workspace with plenty of natural light in an exciting neighbourhood that is home to numerous music, media, PR and creative companies. 764 square feet, with room for 15-20 desks plus its own kitchen area and adjacent toilets. £1000 per month plus service charge and business rates (£275 per month and £600 per month respectively). Includes heating. Available now. For more information contact ashka@unicornjobs.com.

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Advertise your stuff here: £120 for five editions - ads@unlimitedmedia.co.uk

 

MERLIN SIGNS UP TO MYSPACE MUSIC
So the war, mainly of words (though I read somewhere Alex Turner and Jack White had taken out Tom with a hand grenade), between MySpace Music and indie label digital rights body Merlin is over. This means indie label music will be available via the social network's expanded music service, or at least it will until MySpace goes out of business, which I think is due to happen three weeks on Wednesday.

As much previously reported, when MySpace launched its expanded streaming music service in the US last year it did so without Merlin on board - and therefore without the majority of the indie label catalogue. Merlin objected to the fact the major record companies had been offered equity in MySpace's new music company, while the indies were not. If they signed up, Merlin argued, they would be helping boost the profits of their competitors, without equally benefiting from said competitors' involvement.

Indie aggregators The Orchard and IODA did licence their catalogues to the new service, and some major-label distributed indie labels were on board, but the lack of a Merlin deal meant that the bigger independents, and therefore the bigger indie-signed artists, were not included in MySpace Music. That remained the case even as MySpace Music launched in Australia last month.

None of this stopped stop indie labels uploading their content to individual MySpace artist profiles, but it meant that bands like Arctic Monkeys, Adele, Antony & The Johnsons, Basement Jaxx, Bjork, Tom Waits, Franz Ferdinand, Prodigy, Animal Collective, Rancid and Vampire Weekend did not feature on the expanded MySpace Music platform, which offers users a much wider catalogue of music and playlist functionality, putting the social networking site's music strand into Spotify and Grooveshark territory (albeit in the "not very good" enclosure of that territory, just next to the Comes With Music tent).

Numerous indie labels around the world criticised MySpace for not doing a deal with Merlin, pointing out it was they who originally embraced the artist profile section of the social network platform, helping the service gain a hold in the music space, and providing the one USP that has kept MySpace in business despite the rise of superior social networking tools like Facebook and Twitter.

But in a statement this weekend, Merlin confirmed it had done a deal with MySpace. The specifics of that deal are not known, but the statement says the indie labels represented by Merlin will enjoy "an opportunity to participate in and benefit from the financial growth of MySpace Music". While Merlin will not, like the major record companies, get a place on the MySpace Music Board which oversees the new service, they will attend its meetings in an advisory role.

Confirming the deal, MySpace Music's top man Courtney Holt told reporters: "We're excited to have Merlin's labels join our platform. We can now provide our users with access to the rich catalogue that Merlin brings while simultaneously enabling Merlin labels to monetise their content within the MySpace community and easily track their fan engagement via our Artist Dashboard".

Merlin chief Charles Caldas, meanwhile, said this: "We have worked hard with Courtney and the MySpace Music team to find a way by which Merlin's members could participate in the platform that MySpace Music offers as well as benefit from the long-term value that they bring to the MySpace Music venture. The creation of this participation plan, along with the ability for Merlin nominees to participate in MySpace Music board meetings, shows that MySpace Music has recognised the value Merlin offers. I believe the announcement of this participation plan will ensure that MSM will move forward with the full support of our members, and by making this plan available to all independents, with the support of the entire independent community".

A string of indie label chiefs affiliated to Merlin lined up to welcome the deal. We'll give you two of them. First, Beggars Group boss Martin Mills: "I am very happy that, after considerable effort on all sides, we now have an agreement through Merlin to participate in the exciting opportunities that MySpace Music offers, and that those labels and artists who were so much at the heart of MySpace from the outset will now be a part of and benefit from its growth."

And second, Horst Weidenmueller of !K7: "MySpace was the first social network service that enabled indies to introduce new music to consumers without a major marketing budget. This has changed the music industry, but gave birth to the misconception that labels had to give away their music for free in exchange for increased profiling. This new partnership enables both sides to enjoy the financial growth of MySpace Music".

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CONCERN EXPRESSED OVER DIGITAL BILL'S INCREASE OF MINISTERIAL POWERS OVER COPYRIGHT LAW
So, the Digital Economy Bill was published on Friday. This is the government's legislation that, among many other things, puts a version of three-strikes on the British statute book, forcing internet service providers to send warning letters out to those who persistently file-share unlicensed content, and ultimately to suspend those file-sharers' net access if they fail to heed the warnings.

Of course the three-strikes debate has been running wild ever since the record industry first started seriously talking about what they refer to as a "graduated response" system for combating online piracy early last year. And that debate was stepped up considerably this August when Peter Mandelson let it be known that some sort of three-strikes system was likely to appear in the Digital Economy Bill, even though the 'Digital Britain' report which informed the proposed legislation wasn't so keen on the idea.

We all know that content owners and trade unions across the music, film, TV and other creative industries are pro three-strikes, while some artist, author and artist management groups are more cynical of what such legislation can really achieve. Consumer rights groups, pro-file-sharing communities and most internet service providers (with perhaps the exception of those ISPs who also have interests in the content industries, ie Virgin Media and BSkyB) are very vocal opponents of the proposals. As you'd expect, key players and trade bodies representing all those groups spoke in support or opposition of the bill followings its publication on Friday.

Though some who have been vocal opponents of three-strikes to date actually expressed more concern about another clause that has been sneaked into the bill. If the proposed legislation became law it would give the Secretary Of State with ultimate control over intellectual property - so, probably Peter Mandelson under the current government - powers to amend the Copyright Designs & Patents Act 1988 on whim. Well, "for the purpose of preventing or reducing the infringement of copyright by means of the internet, if it appears to the Secretary Of State appropriate to do so having regard to technological developments that have occurred or are likely to occur".

This, defenders of the bill will argue, is an attempt to overcome a problem that exists in the age when technological developments happen so fast that the law making process cannot possibly keep up.

Whenever content owners seek to stop one kind of infringement-enabling technology, whether through the courts or through parliament, even when they are successful, normally another newer technology has already taken over as the kids' infringement-tool of choice by the time a court ruling or law change has been achieved.

One big issue for those protecting copyrights online, ever since the dawn of the web, is that most copyright legislation pre-dates the internet. But some argue that even if copyright laws had been amended at the end of the 90s, like they were in the US, even those laws would now be out of date, such is the speed of development in the digital age.

The government's Digi-minister Stephen Timms basically said that when asked to defend the "change whatever you like" clause in the bill. Timms: "We want to future-proof the steps that we are taking against emerging online copyright infringement activities which we cannot be certain of at the moment. The proposal is for civil infringement of copyright only, it is not about taking powers to create any new criminal offences and as the bill will make clear, we will consult fully and have to procure affirmative votes in both houses before any power could be used. It would be a very, very public process".

But some worry that the new ministerial power over copyright rules will give the content-owner lobby the option to secure more draconian copyright-protection measures without said measures being scrutinised by parliament. A lack of parliamentary scrutiny is also likely to reduce mainstream media interest in any new rules. Given the UK's three-strikes proposals are a lot less severe than those being introduced in France, some wonder if this clause in the British bill is partly there to enable a future government to ramp up the penalties for those who access illegal content online.

The executive director of the Open Rights Group, Jim Killock, said this weekend that the clause "opens the door to a ratcheting up of unwarranted powers without democratic scrutiny". Killock also reckons that this clause will further rally public opinion against new piracy provisions in the bill, adding: "There is a massive swell of action against this bill, led by creators, citizens and people working in digital industries, who are outraged by this attempt to hijack our rights".

The boss of The Pirate Party UK, the political organisation set up to lobby for looser rather than tighter copyright restrictions, agrees with Killock. Andrew Robinson told CMU: "Giving an unelected official the power to change laws on a whim is obviously wrong, and I don't think the public will stand for it. The prospect of Lord Mandeson having the power to increase punishments for file sharing above disconnection and a £50,000 fine, the power to force ISPs to hand over personal information without a court order and the power to impose statutory duties on ISPs is going to drastically increase the number of votes that the Pirate Party gets at the General Election".

Robinson reckons that even those within the record industry should worry about the "futureproof clause", because it might push public opinion - the majority of which is probably indifferent towards copyright issues at the moment - into the anti-copyright camp. Robinson: "If I was an industry insider with a vested interest in extending copyright, I would definitely worry that Mandelson has gone too far. There's a limit to the amount of spying, restriction and heavy-handed punishment that the public will take before getting really angry. The public didn't really care when it was the Pirate Party arguing about fair use with that cheeky chappie from the Undertones on high-brow Radio 4 panels, but faced with the prospect of an out of control unelected Lord with unlimited powers, the public might just start to give a damn about copyright".

Of course, many still doubt that the Digital Economy Bill will get through parliament before the General Election, though with the likes of The Pirate Party likely to be increasingly vocal in 2010, and the Tories supporting most of Labour's proposals, the issues being debated here will continue act or no act.

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ISLAND DEF JAM EXEC ARRESTED AFTER BIEBER FANS GET OUT OF CONTROL
Proving that it's not just British teenage pop fans who can bring a busy shopping centre to a halt, police in New York were forced to shut down a shopping mall appearance by a rising teen pop sensation called Justin Bieber after 3000 young mainly female fans got out of control. Though when JLS fans went insane in Birmingham, no one from their record company was arrested.

There was still two hours until Canadian popster Bieber was due on stage at the Long Island shopping mall when fans surged forward, knocking down somewhat flimsy rope barricades. Five fans were taken to hospital with minor injuries as police ordered the appearance be cancelled.

It was Island Def Jam VP James Roppo who was arrested, seemingly because he refused to send out a message via Bieber's Twitter feed telling the kids to go home. Which is a previously unheard of crime, I think. A police spokesman told reporters: "We asked for his help in getting the crowd to go away by sending out a Twitter message. By not cooperating with us, we feel he put lives in danger and the public at risk". So, a lesson for all you Twitter feed managers there I think.

Bieber himself did later report via Twitter that he'd been refused entry to the mall, therefore confirming his appearance would not go ahead. He claims he was also threatened with arrest if he didn't comply with police orders to get the hell out of there.

Perhaps police were keen to test Bieber's claim in the title of his debut album that this is 'My World'. When it comes to him meeting his fans in New York shopping centres, I think a higher authority is probably in control.

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BRITNEY'S EX JAILED
Britney Spears' ex-boyfriend Adnan Ghalib will serve 45 days in jail after entering into a plea bargain in relation to those charges he tried to run over a court official trying to serve papers in relation to the Spears camp's efforts to stop the photographer from making contact with the pop star. He originally pleaded not guilty to the various charges against him, but last week he agreed to plead guilty of leaving the scene of an accident in return for having the more serious assault charges dropped. The pap man will also face 36 months of probation and must complete an anger management course in addition to the jail time.

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GIBSON INVESTIGATED OVER ILLEGAL WOOD CLAIMS
Gibson is reportedly being investigated by US police over claims they used illegal wood in the manufacture of their guitars. It has been alleged Gibson used rosewood originally from Madagascar and bought via agents in Germany.

According to The Guardian, America's Lacey Act bans the import of Madagascan rosewood into the US because of both corruption and environmental issues. I think the guitar company are claiming that, as far as they are aware, they have only bought wood from legal sources, which either means they are denying the use of illegal wood or are accusing their German suppliers of misleading them.

Either way, the guitar firm told reporters it was "fully cooperating" with the federal investigation.

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JACKO DOC DOCS RELEASED
Those documents relating to searches undertaken by police investigating the death of Michael Jackson have been released, despite a request from the LAPD to keep them sealed until the New Year.

Various US news agencies had been pushing the courts to release the documents, though they are probably a bit disappointed by what is in them, with no great new revelations on offer. What they do show is that Jackson's private doctor, Conrad Murray, bought five bottles of propofol - the surgical drug that possibly killed the pop star - from a Las Vegas pharmacy shortly after joining the late king of pop's staff.

However, Murray had already told police that fact, and there is nothing illegal about his buying the drug in Las Vegas for use in another state, ie at Jackson's home in LA, because Murray is a licenced doctor in both Nevada and California.

Murray is, of course, being investigated over allegations he caused Jacko's death by negligently administering propofol to the singer to help him sleep.

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NOEL GALLAGHER ATTACKER PLEADS GUILTY
The man who attacked Noel Gallagher while Oasis performed at the Canadian version of V Festival in Toronto last year has pleaded guilty to assault.

Daniel Sullivan admitted causing bodily harm to Gallagher in the Ontario Court of Justice on Friday. The court heard how Sullivan managed to get on stage, lunging towards Noel G and then lining himself up to attack Liam Gallagher before being brought down by security guards.

Noel G suffered three broken ribs during the attack and had to pull out of a number of live commitments as a result.

Sullivan, who claims to have been so drunk at the time of the attack he can't remember how he managed to get on the V Festival stage, will be sentenced on 5 Feb next year.

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DMX FACES LEGAL FIGHT AFTER PULLING OUT OF SOMETHING MORE PHYSICAL
More legal woes for rap type DMX. He is being sued for pulling out of a celebrity martial arts competition, which would have seen him compete with actor Eric Martinez next month.

The hip hopper's people claim he was forced to pull out because the event's organiser, Thunder Productions, couldn't assure his safety. Team Thunder allege that the rapper bailed when they refused to rig the event so he'd win. They've managed to secure Coolio to replace DMX, but are suing him for wasting their time, seeking damages of up to $1 million.

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JACKO AND SWIFT WIN BIG AT AMAS
Michael Jackson won four gongs at last night's American Music Awards, having been shortlisted for five. The late king of pop took the Best Male and Best Album awards in both the Pop/Rock and Soul/R&B sections of the public-voted awards event, proving there is one albeit nominal bright side to a tragically premature death. Jermaine Jackson picked up his brother's awards.

Performance-wise, Lady Gaga probably stole the show, while it was another rather good night for Taylor Swift who also picked up four awards, including Artist Of The Year, and without one stage invasion from Kanye West, despite Beyonce only picking up one gong.

Anyway, here's your list of winners in full...

Pop Or Rock Music
Favourite Male Artist: Michael Jackson
Favourite Female Artist: Taylor Swift
Favourite Band, Duo Or Group: The Black Eyed Peas
Favourite Album: Michael Jackson - Number Ones

Country Music
Favourite Male Artist: Keith Urban
Favourite Female Artist: Taylor Swift
Favourite Band, Duo Or Group: Rascal Flatts
Favourite Album: Taylor Swift - Fearless

Rap/Hip-Hop Music
Favourite Artist: Jay-Z
Favourite Band, Duo Or Group: Black Eyed Peas

Favourite Album: Jay-Z - The Blueprint 3

Soul/Rhythm & Blues Music
Favourite Male Artist: Michael Jackson
Favourite Female Artist: Beyonce
Favourite Album: Michael Jackson - Number Ones

Favourite Alternative Rock Music Artist: Green Day
Favourite Adult Contemporary Music Artist: Taylor Swift
Favourite Latin Music Artist: Aventura
Favourite Contemporary Inspirational Artist: Mary Mary
Favourite Soundtrack: The Twilight Soundtrack

Artist Of The Year: Taylor Swift
Breakthrough Artist: Gloriana
International Award Of Excellence: Whitney Houston

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MPG TO HONOUR LES PAUL AT ANNUAL AWARDS
The Music Producers Guild has announced it will present its Joe Meek Award For Innovation to the late great Les Paul at its annual awards event in London next February. As previously reported, legendary electric guitar maker Paul died in August aged 94. The music producers' award will remember not only Paul's guitar-based innovations, but also a number of other recording and studio techniques he pioneered in the middle part of the twentieth century.

Confirming their plans to present a posthumous award to Paul, MPG boss Steve Levine told CMU: "This award, more than any other, recognises the originality and experimentation of the producer. The ability of a great producer to push the boundaries is often imitated thereafter, resulting in the contemporary recording techniques that many musicians now take for granted. In the case of Les Paul, his innovations changed the course of 20th-century popular music and it is safe to say that rock and roll as we know it would not have existed without him".

The MPG Awards take place on 11 Feb, more at www.mpgawards.co.uk

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FIDDY AND THE GAME TO GUEST ON NEW DRE ALBUM
Dr Dre has confirmed that both 50 Cent and The Game will make guest appearances on his long-in-development new album 'Detox', despite the past rivalries between the two rappers. Though I don't think their involvement required the two men to be anywhere near Dre's studio at the same time. Dre revealed some of the guests due to appear on his new long player while launching that previously reported venture that will see Dre's range of headphones sold in special zones in certain stores of US retailer Best Buy.

Asked about the relationship between the two rappers by RapRadar.com, Dre said: "Everything is good. Both guys are gonna be on my record. And you know, I'm just trying to put it back where it's supposed to be, all love".

He was less committal when asked when this bleedin album was going to come out - we've been waiting an awfully long time for it, of course. Asked about a release date he said: "The minute it's done and it feels right to me, that's when it'll come out. Hopefully in the beginning of the year".

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ROLLING STONES TO RE-RELEASE WILD HORSES
To coincide with the release of 'Britain's [Apparently] Got Talent' star Susan Boyle's debut single, 'Wild Horses', Universal/Polydor have announced that it will re-release The Rolling Stones' original version as part of a special digital bundle featuring three versions of the track.

Recorded almost exactly forty years ago in December 1969, the original version of the song was the last of three songs that came out of Stones sessions at Muscle Shoals in Alabama, after 'Brown Sugar' and 'You Gotta Move', and appeared on the band's 1971 album 'Sticky Fingers'. It's notable only because it's bloody awful.

However, the version recorded backstage during the band's 'Voodoo Lounge' tour in 1995, and included on the 'Stripped' live album, is completely amazing, so you'll be pleased to know that it is also part of the bundle, along with a video of a live performance of the song recorded at Knebworth in 1976.

The bundle is released today via all good download stores (as is the Boyle version), and it would be marvellous if the 'Stripped' version charted because, like I said, it's brilliant.

The decision of Universal to cash in on Boyle's high profile cover version, and the accompanying customary 'X-Factor' performance, is rather clever, and perhaps a sign the majors are waking up to the potential of staging low-cost digital catalogue releases whenever one of their catalogue songs becomes newsworthy, especially through some high profile telly exposure. You'll remember Leona Lewis singing 'Run' on 'X-factor' last year helped a resurgence of interest in the Snow Patrol original, meaning an impromptu sales boost for their label, Universal's Fiction.

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GIRLS ANNOUNCE TOUR DATES
Girls are still very buzzy, and apparently they're expecting to continue that into next year, having just announced a European tour in February and March, which will hit the UK and Ireland for the following dates:

22 Feb: Brighton, Audio
25 Feb: Southampton, Talking Heads
26 Feb: Lancaster, Library
27 Feb: Glasgow, Stereo
1 Mar: Dublin, Whelans
2 Mar: Manchester, Deaf Institute
3 Mar: Birmingham, Hare & Hounds

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LITTLE COMETS TOUR DATES
Set to become a band a lot of people have heard of in 2010, Little Comets will be touring the UK in the coming weeks as they prepare for the release of their debut album. The dates include a show as part of the Little Noise Sessions and another supporting Reverend & The Makers.

Tour dates:

24 Nov: London, Union Chapel (Little Noise Sessions)
3 Dec: Kingston, Slang
5 Dec: Loughborough, University (supporting Reverend & The Makers)
8 Dec: Reading, Oakford Social
9 Dec: Oxford, Bullingdon Arms
11 Dec: Barnstaple, Square
15 Dec: Hull, Adelphi
16 Dec: Edinburgh, Cabaret Voltaire
17 Dec: Sheffield, Boardwalk
18 Dec: Cambridge, The Junction

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DELEGATE REGISTRATIONS UP FOR EUROSONIC NOORDERSLAG
Despite the music business convention market being more crowded than ever, resulting in a number of the industry's former flagship events struggling, Dutch live music convention Eurosonic Noorderslag has told CMU its delegate registrations are already up 40% on last year.

The fact the industry conference and new band showcase festival, held in the Dutch city of Groningen, is targeted very much at the live sector, rather that the record industry, might be partly responsible for the convention's growth, though interest in the event does seem to be growing across the business.

And one of the stand-out events from this year's conference programme will focus on the recordings side of the music industry, though possibly not in a way that will be appreciated by too many execs at major record companies.

One of the convention's keynotes will come from Rolling Stone contributing editor Steve Knopper who will be talking about his book 'Appetite For Self-Destruction: The Spectacular Crash Of The Record Industry In The Digital Age', which should be fun. I'm told the book concludes with how independent artists might just be the winners of the internet era, so I'm assuming there'll be some optimism in his keynote address.

Eurosonic Noorderslag runs from 14-16 Jan, more at www.noorderslag.nl

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SINGLE REVIEW: Girls - Laura (Fantasytrashcan/Turnstile)
One of California's most interesting recent indie rock buzz bands, Girls is frontman Chris Owens' opportunity to showcase an artistic flair held back for sixteen years by the Children of God cult he found himself born into.

He's made up for it since, finding himself in San Francisco after years of letting the world take him where it felt best, and knowing that making positive prog pop was a destination worth fulfilling.

This effort may not quite have the passion of previous single, 'Lust For Life' but this remains an addictive, playful melody that sweeps over the bleakness of a failed relationship, self-aware that there are worse things for us to face. TM

Physical release: 9 Nov
Press contact: Radar Maker [all]

Buy from iTunes
Buy from Amazon

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LINN DISCONTINUE CD PLAYERS
High-end audio manufacturer Linn Products, based in Glasgow, has discontinued its entire line of CD players, thanks to booming sales of its Linn DS hard-disk based stereo systems (which they refer to as 'streaming players').

Speaking to The Guardian, the company's MD, Gilad Tiefenbrun said: "We introduced our streaming players two years ago, and thought they would be slow to take off. But sales of CD players have declined 40% year-on-year, while streaming players now make up 30% of our total business. It's unprecedented growth".

Another side effect of this boom in higher-end digital music devices is that people who rate high quality (or perceived high quality) audio are also willing to pay more for their downloads. Linn's music retail division, Linn Records, has also seen a boom in sales of uncompressed audio in FLAC format, and particularly in 24bit studio master quality files (which offer much higher quality than CDs can), for which the company charge £18 an album.

With the cheapest 'streaming system' costing £975, none of this isn't likely to have much of an effect on the average music listener in the short term, though with audiophiles seemingly choosing high quality streaming audio now, thanks to large hard disks becoming increasingly available and more affordable, it is likely that in the coming years that demand and technology will filter down to medium range and ultimately budget systems, meaning higher quality digital audio will become a standard feature.

However, it remains to be seen how quickly uncompressed audio will take off. It's most likely that the mainstream music industry will want to keep flogging compressed files for as long as possible before announcing that they're rubbish and that we should all replace our music collections with FLAC and WAV files. And so the record industry can return to its strategy of reselling us the same music but in a new format yet again.

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EK CONFIDENT OF SPOTIFY MODEL, AND US LAUNCH
Daniel Ek has again said that he expects Spotify to launch in the US early next year, though speaking at last week's Media Festival in Manchester he was talking "first half of 2010".

As much previously reported, the arrival of the popular European streaming music service is much anticipated in the US digital music market. Though concerns remain in some American record labels that if they licence a free-to-use ad-funded Spotify service - like in Europe - they might damage the slowly emerging subscriptions market in the US digital music domain. The fact Spotify is struggling to turn its free-service users into paying subscribers in Europe adds to those fears. Some question if the ad-funded free-to-use model is a viable solution for streaming music long term.

Some - most recently research firm Big Champagne's Eric Garland speaking to NPR - reckon that when Spotify launches in the US it will do so as an exclusively subscription-based service without the free-to-use suck-it-and-see version that has made it so popular over here.

But at the aforementioned Media Festival, Ek talked up his company's existing model of offering both free and paid-for services. He also argued that his strategy to turn European free-service users into paying subscribers was working, most notably through the addition of the mobile service for premium members (a service further expanded today through the release of a Spotify app for Symbian-based Nokia phones).

Though admitting that the ad-funded model alone is unlikely to work long term, according to Billboard Ek added: "Subscription doesn't work on its own [either], and that's been proven for ten years now. But the combination of an ad-funded model and a subscription model does. So far, in terms of Spotify, we haven't actually spent any money at all on marketing. But what we have done is that we have taken a lot of people in by them using the free service. They start using the free service and then find attractive options that motivate them to become paid users - may be because they want to use the service on their mobile phone, or because they want to have higher volume quality. Enough people have now done this so that we can say that we're the biggest subscription service in Europe".

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FOREST OF DEAN RADIO TO CLOSE
What was the UK's first fully licenced full-time community radio station will go off the air at the end of the month due to a lack of funding. Forest Of Dean Radio was one of the first groups to benefit from new community radio licences offered by UK media regulator OfCom (and its predecessor the Radio Authority). It got an Access Radio licence in 2002 and a full Community Radio licence in 2005. However, with a year of its 2005 licence still to go, it has been unable to raise the monies required to stay in business.

A statement from bosses at the station told reporters: "Despite many months of effort the project has been unable to secure sufficient funding and resources to enable it to continue until the end of its present five year license at the end of 2010. Management have taken this decision now in order to preserve the core of the project assets so as to provide a foundation on which community media work in the future may be built, although what form that may take is currently uncertain".

It's not the first community radio project to close, though as one of the early success stories of the UK community radio phenomenon its closure is significant.

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CHART UPDATE
Apparently there's some soap opera on TV called 'X-Factor', which loosely follows a story line examining what the music industry could be like if everyone in the world went insane. Anyway, in a strange crossover between reality and hideous fantasy, the cast of the show have recorded a single, a cover of Michael Jackson's 'You Are Not Alone', which has gone straight to number one.

Also new in the top ten is American pop singer-songwriter Jason Derulo with his debut single, 'Watcha Say' at three. Everything else in the top ten has fallen at least one place this week, except 'Bad Romance' by Lady Gaga, which is up three places at number eight.

The story is much the same in the rest of the chart - everyone seems to be falling ever closer to the oblivion that is number 41. However, there are some new entries, with Alesha Dixon in at fifteen with 'To Love Again', Peter Kay's Animated Allstars at eighteen with 'The Official Children In Need Medley', 50 Cent with 'Baby By Me' at 23, Shakira with 'Did It Again' at 26, Taken By Trees' charming cover of 'Sweet Child O Mine' at 38 and finally, Agnes with 'I Need You Now' at 40.

Over in the album chart, Leona Lewis sees off those dull scamps JLS, barring them from spending more than seven days at the top of the chart by firmly plonking her second album, 'Echo', there instead. Meanwhile, at number three, 'Absolute Greatest' by Queen is also new, N-Dubz's new album is at six and Will Young's greatest hits compilation comes in at nine to complete the new entries in the top ten.

Moving on, The Stereophonics are new at eleven, with their helpfully-titled new album 'Keep Calm And Carry On', Them Crooked Vultures, with their massively disappointing eponymous debut, are at thirteen, Ronan Keating's collection of songs for the winter, 'Winter Songs', is at sixteen, The Carpenters are one place ahead of 50 Cent's new album, with both at 21 and 22 respectively, while Norah Jones follows close behind at 24. And last, but certainly not good, are Foster & Allen at 34 with 'Sing A Million Sellers', and John Mayer at 35 with 'Battle Studies'.

The charts are often discovered smoking behind the bike sheds by The Official Charts Company.

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JEDWARD VOTED OFF X-FACTOR
John & Edward have been kicked off the 'X-Factor' after coming in the bottom two in the public vote on the telly talent show this weekend. It was judge Dannii Minogue's vote that ultimately ended their reign as the biggest headline grabber on the ITV franchise.

I propose this be the last that anyone says about the terrible twins. I fear it won't be, however.

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