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THE GREAT ESCAPE CONVENTION MARKS XFM'S 20TH ANNIVERSARY WITH JOHN KENNEDY IN CONVERSATION
For the uninitiated, The Great Escape is Europe's leading festival for new music and the UK's premiere music business convention. The conference side is programmed by the team at CMU, with support from a range of content partners, and features a packed programme of panels, discussions, interviews and insight sessions focused on the challenges of discovering, developing and monetising great new music in 2012. Add to that delegate parties, networking sessions and priority access to the 300+ bands playing The Great Escape festival.
One particular focus this year is the ever changing new music media, and the role radio plays in promoting new bands. Xfm began staging regular 'RSL broadcasts' (on air for a month at a time) in 1992, before becoming a permanent fixture on London's airwaves in 1997, and going live on FM in Manchester in 2006. John Kennedy became involved in Xfm at the start in 1992, and is the only DJ to have been with the station full time ever since it became a fully fledged broadcaster in 1997. His nightly 'X-posure' show has given early support to countless great artists over the years, many of whom have also played The Great Escape, including Adele, The xx and Kate Nash.
Jon Hillcock, host of the popular 'New Noise' podcast and a regular voice on BBC 6music, began his radio career as an intern on 'X-posure'. Commenting on the prospect of interviewing his former boss, he told CMU: "It's thanks to John Kennedy that I work in music radio. This isn't merely because I regard him as the finest new music broadcaster working today and my most significant personal inspiration. Neither is it because I was fortunate enough to gain my first valuable work experience helping out on his show. Most crucially, it's because listening to John's programmes, and the way they seek out the different, celebrate the unorthodox and champion the new - irrespective of genre, geography or agenda - fundamentally shaped and enhanced the way I listen to music, full stop. I can't wait to ask him the questions I've always been too scared to ask".
Hillcock will also lead a Great Escape panel debate on the growth of podcasting and online radio programmes, looking at the role such services play in promoting new artists. He will bring his own experience as host of 'New Noise' to the proceedings, and will be joined by, amongst other people, digital marketing expert and co-host of the 'Mr Trick & Wrongtom' online radio show Darren Hemmings, and Daniel Nathan, Chairman of Brighton radio station Juice 107.2. Meanwhile, another radio-focused panel will invite music business people to imagine what they would do if put in charge of Radio 1. It's very easy to knock the BBC's flagship pop station, but what would you do differently if faced with the challenge of both championing new talent and entertaining the nation's young music fans?
Commenting on the radio-focused panels that will appear as part of this year's Great Escape, CMU Business Editor and TGE Convention Programmer Chris Cooke has these words to say: "Whereas the music business seems to nearing the end of its ten year's of flux, I believe the radio industry is about to enter its big decade of change, as the internet reaches the kitchen and the car dashboard, and online radio finally comes of age. What will this mean for radio shows that champion new music? There's huge potential for new programmes, and new platforms, and I look forward to discussing the future of new music radio with leading players in both broadcasting and music this May. That we'll also get to learn from John, one of the best new music radio DJs in British broadcasting, just makes the whole thing even more exciting!"
The Great Escape convention and festival takes place from 10-12 May in Brighton. Full delegate passes are currently available at the early bird rate of £120 from www.escapegreat.com. This includes access to all convention events, plus priority access to The Great Escape festival venues, subject to capacity. We look forward to seeing you all there.
NOEL GALLAGHER TO TAKE NME'S GENIUS PRIZE
Responding succinctly to the news he'd be presented with the NME honour on 29 Feb, Gallagher told reporters: "I would like to thank NME for bestowing upon me such a great accolade. I have dreamt of this moment since I was 43 years old. I accept that I am now a genius, just like God".
NME Editor Krissi Murison had more to say, waxing lyrical thus: "For the best part of two decades, the voice of one man has dominated the pages of NME more than any other. That man is Noel Gallagher. Opinionated, intelligent, passionate and always hilarious - Noel walks and talks it better than any other musician out there, and it's just one of the reasons why the British public loves him so dearly".
She continues: "The other reason, of course, is the anthems. No individual has written as many sing-out-loud classics as Noel. His songwriting has defined a generation, and for that reason I'm incredibly happy to declare Noel NME's Godlike Genius. That he keeps pushing boundaries as a solo artist proves that there's a long way to go in the story of one of the most talented musicians Britain has ever produced".
Previous winners of the NME Genius prize include The Clash, Paul Weller, The Cure, Manic Street Preachers, New Order and Joy Division, and Dave Grohl. Morrissey has never been in the frame for the prize, though word has it he is up for Most Hilarious Libel Litigation at this year's NME bash.
DIGITAL CONTINUES TO GROW, THOUGH PIRACY REMAINS A PROBLEM, SAYS THE IFPI
That helped assure that single download, digital album and subscription services all saw growth in the last year (single sales up 11% and albums 24% globally), despite some fearing the growth of Spotify et al could have a negative impact on more conventional digital stores like iTunes. It's thought digital revenues for record companies increased by about 8% worldwide, faster than in 2010, probably aided by the rapid expansion of the streaming services, and in the US that means digital income now exceeds that generated by physical product. Worldwide, digital accounts for about 32% of record sales revenue.
Digital sales are still not compensating for the slump in CD revenue, though the overall decline in the record industry did slow in 2011, to about 3%, possibly encouraging some optimistic thinking that the recorded music sector - in decline for years now - might soon bottom out. Who knows, perhaps there could be growth later this decade? So, why are we still worrying about SOPA, and MegaUpload, and all that three-strikes nonsense?
Well, the IFPI says, in its customary "but the fight against piracy must continue" statement, the steady and continued growth in digital is being helped by the slow crackdown on piracy in some corners of the world, partly by legal efforts - civil and criminal - taking the likes of LimeWire and MegaUpload offline, partly by pressure being put on credit firms to stop taking monies for piracy sites, and partly thanks to new laws that make it easier to send warning letters to file-sharers and to block access to casual web users to unlicensed content sources.
France, Spain and New Zealand were noted as leaders in this domain, and even the US got a good rating in the IFPI's report, despite anti-piracy proposals SOPA and PIPA untangling as we speak, partly for the US court's ruling against LimeWire, partly for moves by the American net firms to voluntarily send warning letters to suspected file-sharers, and partly because of last week's dramatic Mega developments. The UK, despite putting three-strikes onto the statute book in the Digital Economy Act, is viewed less favourably by the global record industry, for still not getting the new anti-piracy system up and running.
A quarter of web users continue to access unlicensed content sources worldwide, IFPI reckoned, so more should be done around the world to deal with piracy, to ensure the continue growth of digital, the revival of the record industry, and the enabling of more commercial investment in new artists, etc etc etc etc. Read the report at: www.ifpi.org/content/library/DMR2012.pdf
WILLIAM ORBIT MIGHT BE WORKING WITH BLUR
Orbit may or may not be working with Blur on a new album, or song, or something. He certainly seems to have done something with both Damon Albarn and Graham Coxon recently. On 16 Jan, he sent a message via Twitter to World Circuit Records about one of their artists, saying: "I just found out that [Fatoumata Diawara] has done track with Damon A, who I'm in the studio with from Wednesday!"
Yeah, that could be any Damon A, and Damon Albarn does have about 300 projects besides Blur. But then on Sunday Orbit sent a message to Graham Coxon saying: "Hi Graham! Loving the guitars you laid down! Vocal sesh 3 Mar!"
Could it be coincidence that he apparently worked with both Graham Coxon and someone called Damon A in the same week? Maybe. Although a year ago Coxon did tell NME: "Every now and then we like to meet up and record a few things. I suppose it might turn into an LP in six years or something". So there you go, Blur fans, only five more years to wait. Possibly.
FRIENDLY FIRES WRITING IN REMOTE SWEDISH STUDIO
It seems he's even willing to sacrifice inter-band relations (and at worst, his own life) in the name of innovative songwriting, telling 6music that the group aim to emulate in the studio the close conditions of one very ill-fated Stanley Kubrick movie.
"I think we are trying to force on an element of the film 'The Shining'", he says. "We're trying to alienate ourselves into a world of music alone and see what we come up with".
KLAXONS PREPARING TO RECORD ALBUM THREE
Of course, that doesn't mean we'll hear the album any time soon. Second long player 'Surfing The Void' took three years to complete. After their label Universal/Polydor rejected some tracks recorded with Simian Mobile Disco's James Ford for the album, the band then scrapped the entire project and started again with metal producer Ross Robinson.
No word on who Klaxons will be working with for album three, but rumours are that they're signed up LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy and The Chemical Brothers.
CYPRESS HILL AND RUSKO CONFIRM COLLABORATIVE EP
Says Cypress Hill MC B-Real of the venture: "We've always been the type of group to take chances on doing something radically different than what people expect from us. So this carries with the tradition of us going out of the box. If it's not something that we embrace then we don't dare mess with it and this is something we fell right into the pocket of".
Pending a full-length listen, you can preview EP feature 'Roll It, Light It' here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=r-3VcTlQ-NI
FAIR OHS TO RELEASE NEW SINGLE VIA POSTCARD
Available from various outlets, copies of the single ordered direct from the X-Ray website - xrayrecordings.bigcartel.com - will be mailed out with a personal message from the band scribbled on the back of them. The postcard will come with a code giving access to downloads of 'Salt Flats' plus bonus track 'Gold Hill'.
Listen to 'Salt Flats' here: soundcloud.com/x-ray-recordings/salt-flats-fair-ohs
MITCH WINEHOUSE PLANNING AMY TRIBUTE GALA
A statement issued to the Press Association reads: "The Amy Winehouse Foundation is very excited to be planning a benefit concert in tribute to Amy. We will be talking to a variety of people in the coming months and will announce those performing as soon as we can".
It's said that the charity concert will aim to attract those artists who inspired, and are inspired by, Winehouse's musical oeuvre. An early contender could, in that case, be N-Dubz rapper Dappy, with his self-styled "homage to the 27 Club and amazing artists such as Amy Winehouse", the astonishing (and Brian May-featuring) 'Rockstar'. Or not.
THE MACCABEES TO PLAY ALLY PALLY
The Maccs' full touring itinerary is as follows:
26 Jan: London, Brixton Academy
LOSTPROPHETS TO TOUR
Dates as listed:
15 Apr: Dublin, Olympia
WILD FLAG TO TOUR
Do so after these dates:
27 Jan: Bristol, Thekla
TRUCK FESTIVAL TO RETURN WITH NEW PROMOTERS
As previously reported, it was revealed last August that the 2011 edition of the totally independent Truck Fest had caused financial problems for the events founder's and promoters Robin and Joe Bennett. At the time Robin admitted things weren't looking good, and in September the duo's company, which promoted the event, went into administration.
Commenting on that experience yesterday, Robin told CMU: "The company which traded as Truck Festival 2011 went into administration in September because it was unable to cover the debts incurred by last year's event. As directors of that company, and on a personal level, Joe and I deeply regret this, and are profoundly sorry for the difficulty this caused. This was the first time we had been unable to pay people fully in thirteen years of Truck Festival".
Some feared that the administration might bring an end to the popular festival, but, while the Bennett brothers have decided to step back from the event, yesterday they announced Truck would continue with new promoters from this summer, in the form of the team behind the Y-Not festival, which won the Grass Roots Festival Award at last year's UK Festival Awards.
Confirming that Y-Not would take over Truck, the Bennetts said in a statement yesterday: "Since last year's event, which was at the time hailed as a great success, many rumours and half-truths have abounded (appropriately, as the event closed with a performance of 'Rumours' by Fleetwood Mac) and many people have been asking whether the festival will return. The answer is: yes, under new management and with a back to basics approach".
They added: "We have always felt a great responsibility for the integrity and sustainability of Truck Festival, which grew so quickly and with such enthusiasm from very humble beginnings in 1998. However, after a notoriously difficult summer of trading for Truck Festival, and festivals in general, we have decided it is time for us to step down from our role at the event. During the fourteen years of its existence, since we started it round our kitchen table, the festival has suffered various threats and disasters, from floods and foot-and-mouth to finances, and taken on a life of its own. We like to think it has brought joy to a lot of people. It's right for this tradition with so many benefits to the community to continue; and a chance encounter with the organisers of Y-Not festival in Derbyshire has given it the opportunity to do so".
Concluding, they said: "We are glad to say that, rather than finish for good or be in corporate hands, the festival in 2012 will go back to basics under the management of the Y-Not team. We feel they are the right people to take on the event, give it a fresh start and rebuild it over the next few years, and we hope you'll give them your full support".
Truck 2012 will take place at Hill Farm, Steventon on 20 and 21 Jul.
FESTIVAL LINE-UP UPDATE
HONEYFEST, Secret Location, Wiltshire, 14 Apr: Dry The River, Raghu Dixit Project, satirical bard Nick Harper, and céilidh collective Cut-a-Shine lead the first batch of bookings at this year's homespun Honeyfest, with headliners and further acts yet to be announced. www.honeyfestuk.com
OUTLOOK FESTIVAL, Fort Punta Christo, Pula, Croatia, 30 Aug - 3 Sep: Acts including Gold Panda, Joker, Goldie, Phaeleh, Fat Freddy's Drop and A Tribe Called Quest's Phife are first to be confirmed to appear at this bass-heavy bash, which boasts beaches, boat parties and a prime location on the shores of the Adriatic. www.outlookfestival.com
WAKESTOCK, Abersoch, North Wales, 6-8 Jul: Wakestock favourite Dizzee Rascal is fresh atop the bill at the festival's 2012 edition. With headlining duties distributed amongst Dizzee, Ed Sheeran, and Calvin Harris, the remaining roster is still to be revealed. www.wakestock.co.uk
KOBALT EXPANDS INTO ARTIST SERVICES AND NEIGHBOURING RIGHTS
The new artist and label services division will look to offer a range of distribution, direct to fan, social media and analytics services, with AWAL continuing to offer digital distribution, marketing support and sync representation as a stand alone company under its existing management within the new strand of the Kobalt company. The new division will be headed up by Paul Hitchman, whose past music business ventures have included Playlouder, MHP and Consolidated Independent.
Commenting on the new label services division, Kobalt founder and CEO Willard Ahdritz told CMU: "The launch of Kobalt's Artist And Label Services division and the acquisition of AWAL is a response to our clients' needs, and to a major shift in where we see the market is heading".
On his partners and new colleagues in the expansion, he added: "With an efficient platform, direct distribution channel, a successful track record and strong management, AWAL was built on similar core values of transparency and integrity as Kobalt was. This acquisition is a building block in Kobalt's long-term strategy of creating a new kind of full music service alternative for rights holders including artists and labels. I am also very pleased to welcome Paul Hitchman to the company as MD of Kobalt Artist and Label Services division. Having known Paul for ten years, he has a wealth of experience and a successful track record as a pioneer and innovator in the digital music market".
The other new business will be known as Kobalt Neighbouring Rights, and will provide royalty collection and administration services to artists and producers who earn from those music copyrights sometimes referred to as "neighbouring rights", including broadcast and public performance royalties from sound recordings.
Kobalt reckons that its experience in administering publishing rights, coupled with the expertise in neighbouring rights brought to the new business by recruits Hans van Berkel, Sabine Jones and Matthew Seal, who all have backgrounds at neighbouring rights collecting societies and agencies, will mean the company can increase the royalties collected for artists and producers it represents by up to 25%.
Van Berkel will be Executive Chairman of the new division, and he told CMU: "Kobalt's business model and corporate values of transparency, integrity and client service focus parallels the values that fuelled the success of [van Berkel's previous venture] SENA to be one of the top neighbouring rights societies in the world. Therefore I am very excited about now working on a global level in a commercial environment focused on better servicing our clients and playing a leading role in the evolution of Kobalt's neighbouring rights division".
IGGY POP NAMED AS AMBASSADOR FOR RECORD STORE DAY
Officially giving his support to Record Store Day, indie record shops everywhere, and the very concept of the physical world, Pop said in a statement: "A person should have a personality. You won't get one dicking around on a computer. It helps to go somewhere where there are other persons. Persons who are interested in something you are. That's how a record store, or any shop that's got some life to it, should work. It's not about selling shit".
He continues: "I got my name, my musical education and my personality all from working at a record store during my tender years. Small indie shops have always been a mix of theatre and laboratory. In the 50s and 60s the teen kids used to gather after school at these places to listen free to the latest singles and see if they liked the beat. You could buy the disc you liked for 79 cents and if you were lucky meet a chick. Clerks in these places became managers (like Brian Epstein), label heads (Jack Holzman) and faces on album covers (like me)".
"Personally I feel best in a store that, while staying small and socially relaxed, still keeps a complete variety of music types and non-musical recordings on offer. I'm aware though that a lot of great places are genre-specific, like dancehall shops in Jamaica, or Compas here in Little Haiti. In Europe and on the West Coast the same goes on for punk and goth".
"All of this is cool and has a much bigger future than most people realise today. When the [big] record and record store businesses began to die at the turn of the new century, they deserved it because they got too big, too boring and too plastic. As Record Store Day Ambassador for 2012 I feel like a representative from some exotic jungle full of life and death and sex and anger, called upon to wear a leopard skin and translate joy to the world of the dead".
More at www.recordstoreday.com
TULISA'S ARM DID NOT BREACH OFCOM RULES
As previously reported, OfCom announced in November that it would investigate whether Contostavlo's trademark greeting at the beginning of the show - flashing a tattoo on her arm bearing her nickname, 'The Female Boss' - constituted advertising for her perfume of the same name.
OfCom ruled that the salute did not constitute undue prominence for the product, because the perfume is officially known as 'TFB by Tulisa'. However, it did find that an exchange between Tulisa and the presenters of 'X-Factor' spin-off show 'The Xtra Factor', Caroline Flask and Olly Murs, was in breach of product plugging rules.
On 26 Oct, while interviewing Contostavlos, Flack said: "Your perfume, 'The Female Boss', came out this week, and I've been wearing it all day by the way". To which Murs responded: "I wondered why you were smelling so nice".
They then linked to a video clip of various celebrities copying Contostavlos' arm wave. This, OfCom decided, did count as giving the perfume undue prominence, as, despite the fact that Flack in theory referred to it by the wrong name, Murs then endorsed it, adding further that the perfume wasn't the only thing that had been "catching on" before showing the video clip.
PLANET ROCK MD STEPS DOWN
Confirming his departure, Arendt told CMU: "The last eighteen months have been brilliant, working with truly talented people and great rock music - what could have been better? Malcolm has big plans for the station and I know it will go from strength to strength".
FRANKLIN CALLS OFF ENGAGEMENT
In a statement credited to both Franklin and Wilkerson, the singer said: "Regretfully, to our friends and supporters, Will and I have decided we were moving a little too fast, and there were a number of things that had not been thought through thoroughly. There will be no wedding at this time. We will not comment on it any further because of the very personal and sensitive nature of it. We appreciate all of the many well wishes from friends".