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HOUSTON'S BODY BACK IN HOMETOWN, SONY CRITICISED FOR ALBUM PRICE HIKE
Police again confirmed yesterday that Houston's death was not being treated as a homicide, but did not comment on what may have caused the singer's premature demise. Giving a little detail about the discovery of Houston's body - she was found underwater in her bath tub by her staff, who called hotel security, who in turn called paramedics, none of whom could revive the star - they added that so far it wasn't clear what circumstances actually led to the singer's death.
Of course there has been much speculation that drugs may have been involved in someway, with most speculators preferring some kind of theory involving the singer falling into a deep drug-induced sleep in her bath, and then slipping and drowning, though that theory is based wholly on supposition and not evidence. Police wouldn't comment on that theory, and the coroner, while revealing prescription drugs where near by when Houston died, noted that "you probably have just as many prescription bottles in your medicine cabinet".
Houston's body was flown from California to New Jersey yesterday, being driven in a gold hearse from Teterboro airport to Newark. The city's New Hope Baptist Church, where Houston first began singing in public, has become a mini-shrine to the pop star, with the BBC reporting that fans and mourners have left flowers, balloons and candles outside the building. It is thought her family are planning a public memorial service, though details of that so far remain sketchy.
Elsewhere, Houston's long-term record label Sony Music was yesterday accused of attempting to cash in on the singer's premature death when it was revealed that the major raised the wholesale price of the digital version of the singer's 'Ultimate Collection' compilation around twelve hours after she was pronounced dead.
While it's not clear where within the Sony Music empire the price hike was initiated, it had an immediate effect on the price of the album within the iTunes store in the UK, with the published price jumping from £4.99 to £7.99. Apple subsequently revised the price of the record - currently at number two in the iTunes chart - back to £4.99 later on Sunday, though it's not clear if Apple or Sony are taking the hit on that.
Neither company has so far commented on the matter, though a source told The Guardian that the price hike occurred when, after the news of Houston's death broke, someone at Sony reviewed what stock was available via iTunes and noticed the price for 'The Ultimate Collection' had been set too low, and therefore corrected that error. Which may well be true, though hiking the price of what was likely to be the most popular Whitney record on iTunes amongst those more casual fans rushing to download her music in the wake of her death is clearly going to look bad.
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EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT'S PRESIDENT EXPRESSES ACTA CONCERNS
As previously reported, ACTA, which took years of negotiations to write, has been subject to increased opposition in recent weeks, despite it being signed by many participating countries last year. High profile protests against anti-piracy proposals SOPA and PIPA in the US helped rally opposition to ACTA, especially in Europe, where the agreement was only signed last month.
Although much of this opposition is coming after the fact - the European Union and most of its member states have already signed the treaty - the agreement is yet to be approved by the European Parliament. Meanwhile, with opposition to ACTA becoming increasingly vocal, politicians in those European countries which did not sign up last month, are now expressing concerns about the agreement.
Plus ministers in some of those European states that did sign are also expressing more caution, with the Polish government - which ignored protests there last month and went ahead and signed ACTA - now saying it is planning a public consultation before making any changes to the country's IP laws to ensure the terms of the agreement are met.
European Parliament President, German MEP Martin Schulz, told a TV network in his home country that he didn't think ACTA was "good in its current form", adding that the need to appropriately balance the interests of copyright owners and individual net users is "inadequately anchored in this agreement".
The chief of the UK Pirate Party, Loz Kaye, has welcomed rising concern in European political circles with regards ACTA, telling the BBC: "One of the things that's very interesting is that now the ACTA agreement is coming under fire from all sides. It's becoming clear that European citizens are very concerned about this agreement. It's hard to find anyone who is standing up for it right now". Of course the UK government is still standing up for ACTA, telling reporters this weekend that the agreement provided an "international standard for tackling large-scale infringements".
As previously reported, supporters of the Agreement insist it doesn't introduce any new IP laws into Europe, with the principles of ACTA already ingrained in European law. And it does seem that most of the complaints raised by ACTA opponents are either misleading (ie not really in the agreement, and rely on a 'thin end of the wedge' arguments) or are about rules or practices that already exist, generally without controversy, in UK law, either explicitly in statute or via judicial precedent.
But nevertheless, the anti-ACTA movement does seem to be gaining real momentum in Europe, and especially Eastern Europe, which could ensure a rocky ride for the Agreement when the European Parliament discussed it in June.
SIMILARITIES NOTED BETWEEN NEW MADONNA AND OLD BRASIL
Anyway, the point here really is that label and legal reps for producer and musician Brasil are reportedly considering legal action over 'Give Me All Your Luvin', Madonna's new single (the one with Nicki Minaj and MIA guesting), after various people noted similarities between it and Brasil tune 'LOVE Banana'. I think it's mainly the cheerleading bit that is particularly similar, though that may just be the nature of cheerleading, and while in Madge's new record it's the pop queen herself being cheered, Brasil's track - as its title may suggest - celebrates the much more modest banana.
Anyway, whether or not there is a case for claiming Madonna's track copies 'LOVE Banana' in any way, this probably won't go legal, mainly because Brasil insists he's too big a Madonna fan to consider suing her. He told Brazil's Folha da Sao Paulo newspaper: "I still don't understand what happened. I'm a huge fan of hers. If it's plagiarism, then even better. She is always at the cutting edge of music, so it's a good sign about what I do... It's in their hands, they're looking at how to proceed and what they can do. But personally I don't want to do anything. The last thing I need in my life is a fight with Madonna".
Anyway, if you want to compare and contrast, or just join MIA and Minaj in some champion cheerleading of Madonna, or perhaps chant along as Brasil and his mate Lovefoxx big up the banana, here's the video links...
TLC SINGER'S BANKRUPTCY APPLICATION DENIED
But, according to TMZ, the US Bankruptcy Court last week ruled that the singer had not put enough effort into negotiating new payment terms with her creditors, and knocked back her bankruptcy application.
She can re-file in July, providing she can show stepped up efforts to settle her debts before then, though in the meantime her creditors can make efforts to seize her assets.
MAN WHO INCORRECTLY APPOINTED WINEHOUSE CORONER SUSPENDED
Andrew Reid thought his wife was qualified when he appointed her, believing her legal work in Australia should count, however it then emerged that the rules state a new coroner must have five years experience practising law in the UK, which Greenaway did not. Once this discovery was made, Greenaway resigned, and Reid was subsequently suspended. The Sun says Reid could now face disciplinary action or even the sack for his mistake.
There's no reason to suspect any of the inquests overseen by Greenaway while in the coroner role - including that of Winehouse - were handled wrongly, but her rulings could be overturned in the high court because she had been incorrectly appointed. Reid has written to all affected families, and earlier this month it was reported Winehouse's parents were taking legal advice on the matter.
COXON CONFIRMS NEW BLUR ALBUM, SORT OF
Speaking to The Daily Record about the band's impending BRITs appearance in honour of their being awarded the Outstanding Contribution To Music gong, he says: "We haven't planned the rehearsals yet, but there will definitely be another Blur album".
He continues: "We're always going to meet up and want to play things. We do like recording. Eventually, even if things aren't around the corner, Blur will do more recordings together. We all love each other and still like making music so that's not a bad start".
As previously mentioned, Coxon will release his latest solo LP 'A+E' on 2 Apr. Feel free to glance through the full Daily Record interview, in which he touches on the album, bad oysters, and getting "gyp" from Liam Gallagher, here: www.dailyrecord.co.uk/showbiz/2012/02/10/blur-star-graham-coxon-i-felt-guilty-when-we-won-brit-awards-but-we-ll-enjoy-it-now-86908-23742937/
AZEALIA BANKS PLOTS EP, TOUR
The MC and singer has also shared details of an autumn tour, dates for which are as listed:
28 Sep: Manchester, Club Academy
MICHAEL KIWANUKA TO TOUR
The outing comes by way of a promotional prop for the singer-songwriters's debut album 'Home Again', which is released via Polydor/Communion on 12 Mar.
Catch Kiwanuka's live act on these dates:
13 May: Bournemouth, Old Fire Station
JAMES MURPHY TO APPEAR AT GORILLAZ SOUND SYSTEM SHOW
Murphy, who has collaborated with Gorillaz and Andre 3000 on one-off track 'DoYaThing' (out on 23 Feb) as part of Converse's 'Three Artists. One Song' project, will stop by at London's 100 Club for a DJ set, as will electronic producer Om Unit.
Free tickets for the event are still available at www.converse.co.uk
DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN ANNOUNCE LONDON SHOW
And from excitement, let's move straight on to confusion, with DEP's new video for 'Parasitic Twins', taken from their 2010 album 'Option Paralysis'.
FESTIVAL LINE-UP UPDATE
ROCK AM RING, Nurburgring, Germany, 1-3 Jun: Anthrax, Azealia Banks, Crystal Castles, The Maccabees and Evanescence are the latest eclectic inductions to Rock AM Ring's 2012 roster, with Linkin Park, Soundgarden, Gossip, Skrillex, Tenacious D and MIA also set to perform. www.rock-am-ring.com/en
SOUTH WEST FOUR, Clapham Common, London: 25-26 Aug: Production duo Chase & Status have been confirmed to bring their signature bass-and-beats blend to the Saturday bill at this year's South West Four, with additional acts and a second headliner yet to be announced. www.southwestfour.com
WAKESTOCK, Abersoch, North Wales, 6-8 Jul: Rizzle Kicks, High Contrast, Burns and DJ Fresh join proceedings at this waterlogged wakeboard fest, which prior to this latest booking boasted co-headliners Dizzee Rascal, Ed Sheeran, and Calvin Harris. www.wakestock.co.uk
TICKETWEB INVESTIGATES MAILING LIST HACK
In an email to all TicketWeb's UK users, the company said: "We have discovered that our TicketWeb UK direct email marketing system was exposed to unauthorised access. As a result, you may have received up to four emails on Saturday, February the 11th, from an unauthorised party with the subject as 'Action Required: Update Your PDF Application' and containing a link to update an Adobe Acrobat PDF application. Please do not click this link, but delete the email".
The company assured users that it had taken "immediate action to close the vulnerability" and that credit card data in the TicketWeb system had not been accessed during the attack. However, users who clicked the link in the email were asked to enter credit card details. TicketWeb urged anyone who did this to contact their card issuer immediately.
Speculating on the cause of the attack, a Ticketmaster insider told CMU that discovering its origin may be difficult, saying: "TicketWeb gives each of the venues which uses the service access to the mailing system, so the database could have been compromised from any third-party machine connected to the network, making it hard to identify the source of the problem".
US CONTENT INDUSTRIES UPDATE COPYRIGHT WATCH LISTS
As is frequently the case, one amusing inclusion on the IIPA's 'most wanted' list is America's neighbour Canada. As much previously reported, Canadian copyright law has struggled to cope with the growth of online copyright infringement, much to the annoyance of both domestic content companies and those abroad, especially in the US. Efforts are ongoing to revamp Canadian copyright law, though progress remains slow going.
It's interesting China also remains of the IIPA's highest priority list, despite some being positive about moves made by the Chinese government in this domain, which have arguably led to some tangible results, most notably search engine Baidu's deals with rights owners regarding its music services. Though everyone knows China has quite some way to go in terms of copyright enforcement, which is presumably why the IIPA wants US trade reps to continue to put pressure on political leaders there.
Anyway, here's the IIPA's lists:
Priority Watch List (aka please kick these guys into action): Argentina, Canada, Chile, China, Costa Rica, India, Indonesia, Russian Federation, Thailand, Ukraine.
Watch List (aka we're not especially impressed with these guys either): Belarus, Brazil, Brunei, Colombia, Egypt, Greece, Israel, Italy, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mexico, Philippines, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Paraguay.
Countries Deserving Special Mention (aka we have some specific problems with these guys): Albania, Bulgaria, Hong Kong, Hungary, Latvia, Moldova, Singapore, Taiwan.
SONY DADC BAILS ON PHYSICAL DISTRIBUTION IN US, BUT EXTENDS DIGITAL
Sony DADC will continue to manufacture CDs Stateside and to distribute DVDs and Blu-Ray discs, though the Anderson deal does mean two of its American distribution centres will be wound down. Interestingly, at the same time the Sony distribution company was cutting back its disc operations, it was expanding its role in digital distribution by announcing a new deal with Warner Music, also in the US. That deal will see the Sony company handle the logistics of digital distribution for the major, though Warner will also retain account managers to liaise directly with digital platforms on a day to day basis.
MYSPACE SEES USER BASE RISE AFTER REVAMPING MUSIC PLAYER
Anyway, it's MySpace itself which are hailing this recent success, though its bold claims are seemingly based on independently verified comScore figures. Tim Vanderhook, one of the bosses of Specific Media, who bought the flagging social network from News Corp last year, told reporters: "The numbers tell an amazing story of strong momentum and dramatic change for MySpace. And the one million-plus new user accounts we've seen in the last 30 days validates our approach".
Vanderhook added that the turnaround in user figures - which had previously been declining for years - is a direct result of the service's new music player launching, coupled with Facebook and Twitter integration. He also stressed once again that the company has a bigger catalogue of digital music than any of its competitors in the streaming music space. Vanderhook: "MySpace is building a meaningful social entertainment experience around content, where consumers can share and discover the music they love. Consumers are getting excited about MySpace again - a testament to a great music product".
SARAH HARDING, CHRIS MOYLES TO JUDGE UNSTOPPABLE TV TALENT SHOW
The main difference between this and 'BGT' is that the studio audience will get a vote. While Harding, Moyles, cricketer Andrew 'Freddie' Flintoff and 'Pineapple Studios' dance personality Louie Spence will all provide what's sure to be quality critique of the wannabe acts that appear on the show, the studio audiences will then be able to vote on keypads for their preferred performers, with the less favoured ones condemned to expulsion from the stage via a trap door, bungee rope or on-stage explosion. The overall winner will receive a £25,000 prize, which should surely cover any potential loss of personal dignity incurred. Well, nearly.
Says Amanda Byron, who will take time out from sneering at 'Total Wipeout' contestants to present this terrible new show: "We're hoping to find some serious talent along the way, but contestants be warned! One bum note or bad joke and your hopes and dreams of success will be literally swept away from you, with a dramatic departure from the show".
And if that doesn't sound like a frighteningly 'real' realisation of 'Black Mirror' episode 'Fifteen Million Merits', I don't know what does.
M83'S GONZALEZ DISCUSSES SACKING AUSSIE SUPPORT BAND
Following their sacking, Teenage Mothers guitarist Raph Brous posted a lengthy statement on Facebook under the title: "Touring with M83, the meanest band in the galaxy". He wrote that his band's singer, James Kennedy, often inhales nitrous oxide on stage, but that the band had made sure M83's team were aware of this before the tour began. Also, when just that happened at their first show, no one seemed to mind.
However, says Brous, 30 minutes before their set the next night, they were told they would not be allowed to perform and were forcibly ejected from the venue. They then flew to Sydney for the next show, but were informed when they got there that they were now off the entire Australian tour.
Brous claims: "M83's tour manager claimed that we were 'disrespectful', because our lead singer inhaled a soda bulb onstage. So apparently M83 is a fundamentalist cult that requires abstinence from fun? Before the tour, I clearly informed M83 about our singer's antics".
He added that Gonzalez had said that the decision was made because Kennedy "looks like a junkie". Brous hits back at that, though, by claiming that Gonzalez had asked members of Teenage Mothers to procure illegal drugs for him and his band.
Commenting on the dispute to in an interview with Triple J, Gonzalez said: "It's hard for me to talk about it. I didn't really like the way he behaved in front of my audience - offering whippets [nitrous oxide bulbs] on stage and almost setting the stage on fire. You don't do that when you open for bands. I had tonnes of respect for all the bands I was opening for and I just wish the bands opening for me would have the same respect".
He continued: "It's not that I'm against punk and rock n roll, I love that. It's just not professional... I mean this is my career we're talking about and I want to make sure everything is under control and it wasn't, unfortunately".