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IFPI CONSIDER LITIGATION APPROACH TO BRING GOOGLE IN LINE
Now it looks like those continuing frustrations could lead to litigation, despite record label trade bodies continuing to negotiate with the web giant on piracy issues, and despite more significant efforts elsewhere in the Google empire to stop copyright infringers from using the firm's publishing platforms and ad sale services.
But it's the fact that the Google search engine still links to websites and file-sharing networks that deal primarily in illegal content that is angering the big rights owners the most, and legal experts have now been consulted regarding the possibility of forcing the web firm's hand through the US courts on this issue, possibly via a copyright claim, or maybe an anti-trust action, Google execs being increasingly sensitive of allegations of anti-competitive behaviour of late.
While we don't know how serious suggestions of going legal on this issue really are, we know it's been considered because of a document circulated to a small group of record label chiefs by the IFPI which has been published by German newspaper Handelszeitung. According to Torrentfreak, the document says: "IFPI's litigation team, in coordination with the [Recording Industry Association Of America], is continuing to negotiate with Google to obtain better anti-piracy cooperation in various areas. [But] Google continues to fail to prioritise legal music sites over illegal sites in search results, claiming that its algorithm for search results is based on the relevance of sites to consumers".
On going the legal route on this issue, the document continues: "With a view to addressing this failure, IFPI obtained a highly confidential and preliminary legal opinion in July 2011 on the possibility of bringing a competition law complaint against Google for abuse of its dominant position, given the distortion of the market for legitimate online music that is likely to result from Google's prioritising of illegal sites".
It remains to be seen if the record industry's ongoing grievances with Google really do go legal. It's possible some label execs hope that the mere threat of messy litigation might persuade the web firm - which has its own ambitions to be a big time music provider of course, so needs to play ball to an extent despite its own market dominance - to step up its anti-piracy efforts in the one part of its operations where it seems least willing to comply with the rights owners' demands, ie web search.
DATE SET FOR REDIGI CASE, DEFENDANT ACCUSES EMI OF FOUL PLAY
As previously reported, EMI, and the wider US record industry, reckons ReDigi, which lets people resell MP3s, and supposedly forces the seller to delete their copy of the digital file after sale, is actually a platform that simply enables individuals to profit from copyright infringement. EMI's Capitol division is suing the digital start-up, though failed to get a summary injunction against the resale site earlier this month. It was confirmed this week that that case will now go properly to court in August.
Meanwhile, according to Wired, ReDigi has had to stop including artwork next to MP3s being sold on its platform, and is now relying on YouTube for preview clips of tracks, after US-based streaming service Rdio pulled out of a partnership with the resale site, allegedly at EMI's insistence. Obviously Rdio needs to stay on the right side of the major labels to ensure it still has access to their music for its core subscription-based streaming music service.
Wired quote from a letter written by ReDigi's lawyer Ray Beckerman seemingly filed with the courts, in which he confirmed Rdio had suddenly stopped providing artwork and previews to his clients. He also claims that was as a result of action by EMI, after ReDigi confirmed where it sourced said content from in a previous court submission. Beckerman: "Apparently, having been denied an injunction, they [EMI] have sought to use extrajudicial tactics to accomplish what they were unable to obtain in a court of law".
Of course, depriving ReDigi of its album cover jpegs and in-platform previews doesn't actually stop it reselling MP3s, even if its service will replicate iTunes less as a result of the move. EMI, of course, hopes to put the MP3 resale site totally out of business once this case goes to court this summer.
MPG AWARD WINNERS
Producer Of The Year: Ethan Johns
Recording Engineer Of The Year: Geoff Foster
International Producer Of The Year: Butch Vig
Breakthrough Producer of the Year: Yogi
UK Album Of The Year: PJ Harvey - Let England Shake
Studio of the Year: Eastcote Studios
The Joe Meek Legacy Award: Steve Lillywhite
DIGITAL BOOMS, THOUGH STILL NOT ENOUGH TO COMBAT PHYSICAL DECLINE
While digital albums flagged far behind single track downloads for some time, the format has now properly taken off, so that revenue from digital albums is almost on par with that generated by digital singles, so £117.8 million in trade income versus £120.5m for singles.
Though, of course, in terms of column inches and chatter, 2011 was the year of the subscription-based streaming service rather than the download album - and that part of the digital music sector did experience the most growth in terms of revenue, up 47.5%. Though it's worth noting subscription income for the labels totalled £24 million, while ad revenue from the streaming platforms slipped slightly to £10.7 million, putting all such services a long way behind more conventional download platforms in terms of overall cash generated (they together contributing about 12.5% of digital revenue).
We know all this, in case you wondered, because record label trade body the BPI told us. And look, here's BPI boss Geoff Taylor saying things: "It is highly encouraging for the long-term prospects of the industry that the pace of digital growth continues to accelerate. British labels are supporting a wide range of innovative music services and music fans are embracing digital like never before. The record industry has continued to invest heavily in discovering and supporting outstanding British talent, which has helped sustain revenues in the face of difficult economic circumstances".
WRONGTOM SIGNS TO TRU THOUGHTS
'Wrongtom Meets Deemas J', as the album is so aptly titled, will mark the second in a series of 'Wrongtom Meets' LPs, the first having been 2010's Big Dada released 'Wrongtom Meets Roots Manuva'.
Says Wrongtom of the new deal and project: "When I think of Tru Thoughts, I think of a grass roots business, which is what makes them the perfect label for this project. It's an honour for us to join the TT gang".
He adds: "This is a very special project for me as Deemas and I have been playing together since our teens, so an album is well overdue. We've covered a multitude of styles, taking in my love of dusty old dancehall and dub, and linking it with Deemas' experience in the jungle arenas and his lineage in London's soundsystem scene".
BUSDRIVER TO RELEASE EP WITH FUNKY HOMOSAPIEN
Says Busdriver, who last collaborated with Del on Flash Bang Grenada's 2011 album '10 Haters': "Its happening. Del The Funky Homosapien and I are back in gear to finish these handful of songs together. It'll most likely be an EP. Stay tuned". We will Bus, we will.
In the mean time, why not tune into the Q&A Busdriver did with CMU Editor Andy Malt last month.
MUMFORD & SONS SILENT NO MORE ABOUT NEW ALBUM
Lovett told MTV: "We're not finished; we don't quite know the exact tracklisting. But we have kind of road-tested some songs, and we have picked up some new songs, and dropped some ones that people might have thought we were going to be putting on the record. We just want to make a record that's cohesive and one that we feel represents us best right now".
As to a release date: "We can't tell you. There just isn't one yet. We can't even say that any particular song is definitely on the record, because we just don't know. But we're being urgent with it, we're trying very hard".
THIS JUST-IN: BIEBER BELIEVES NEW ALBUM WILL BE 'UNEXPECTED'
JB took to Twitter yesterday to share this message with fans: "In the studio making some tracks about to figure out these melodies and lyrics".
Done with pleasantries, he then tried a little 'idea outsourcing', inviting fans to tweet their suggestions as to what they'd like to see and hear on the new record. "You guys got any ideas. Put it with #BelieveIdeas", he wrote.
As for other facts on the latest recording sessions, he revealed he was working with one of his "favourite producers of all time" and that "this album is not what you are expecting..."
Personally, I'm anticipating a selection of preteen-suitable pop, a smattering of slick R&B production, plenty of Autotune, and maybe even a couple of Biebs' infamous 'raps'. And possibly a timely sequel to Busta Rhymes' eggnog verse on Justin's Christmas album 'Under The Mistletoe'. A recipe for tropical fruit punch, perhaps. Prove me wrong, Bieber, I double dare you.
DOUBLE DENIM ANNOUNCE ROYAL ALBERT HALL SHOWCASE
Taking place next week on 22 Feb in association with London promoters Hush, the showcase will comprise performances from Estonian avant-pop soloist Maria Minerva, lauded Liverpool band Outfit and R&B electronic sort NZCA/LINES, plus DJ sets by Juk Juk, aka producer Caleb Waterman, and the always fabulous Jon Hillcock.
FESTIVAL LINE-UP UPDATE
ATP'S I'LL BE YOUR MIRROR, Alexandra Palace, London, 25-27 May: Death Grips, Aiden Moffat & Bill Wells, Harvey Milk, Tall Firs and Forest Swords are amongst the latest acts destined to play ATP's springtime incarnation, as are post-rock types The Make-Up, who will reform especially for the Mogwai-curated event. www.atpfestival.com/events/ibymlondon2012.php
COSTA DE FUEGO, Valencia, Spain, 21-22 Jul: Staged by organisers of Benicassim, this 30,000-capacity rock riot will see in its first ever edition to the sounds of Guns N Roses and Marilyn Manson, with a further horde of acts due to fill its three stages. www.costadefuego.com
DOWNLOAD, Donington Park, 8-10 Jun: Killswitch Engage, Shinedown, Black Veil Brides, NOFX, Opeth and Nightwish are fresh on the Download scene, taking up space on an increasingly crowded bill that also features The Prodigy, Metallica, Soundgarden, Black Sabbath, Chase & Status, Megadeth and Biffy Clyro. www.downloadfestival.co.uk
HEINKEN OPEN'ER, Babie Doly Airfield, Gydnia, Poland, 4-7 Jul: Bon Iver, Wiz Khalifa, Friendly Fires and Bat For Lashes make for a satisfying supplement to Open'er's 2012 bill, which also boasts Franz Ferdinand, Björk, The xx, Julia Marcell and Justice. opener.pl/en
HENLEY FESTIVAL, Henley On Thames, 4-8 Jul: Henley is to mark the venerable occasion of its 30th anniversary with a headline slot by aptly august singer-songwriter Sting, who is down to perform on 4 Jul. Overall proceedings will take in five nights of live music, cabaret, street theatre, firework displays and fine foods, with the festival's full roster yet to be unveiled. www.henley-festival.co.uk
RHYTHM FESTIVALS, Mansion House, Old Warden Park, Bedfordshire: 24-26 Aug: Appearing across Rhythm's three sub-festivals are brand new conscriptions including Show Of Hands, David Knopfler, The Travelling Band, Lau and Richard Dignance. Recent line-up revelations confirm that Scott Matthews, Peatbog Faeries, Wishing Well and Strawbs are also amongst those set to perform. www.rhythmfestival.com
ONE-FEST, Tumuli Field, Rockley, arlborough, Wiltshire, 14 Apr: Having just been rechristened One-Fest, the festival formerly known as Honeyfest is fortunately still set to host headliner Damon Albarn, who'll recreate a section from the score of his opera 'Dr Dee'. Other line-up fixtures include Dry The River, Nick Harper, Ragu Dixit Project and Kidnap Alice, while Gaz Brookfiled, Young Blood, Old Colours and Crash & The Bandicoots, all acts aspiring to Albarn-like levels of greatness, will appear on the BBC Introducing Stage. www.onefestuk.com
AGREENERFESTIVAL ANNOUNCES LATEST ECO-FESTIVAL CONFERENCE
SOAP&SKIN STOCKS SIGNATURE CHOC BAR
The Austrian singer-songwriter has apparently given her name to a signature chocolate bar combining essences of red wine, white incense and white poppy seeds. Oh, and a sweet ganache heart of pig's blood. Which taints things somewhat to my mind, but you never know... might be nice.
With 'Narrow' due to be released via [PIAS] on 19 Mar, the chocolate bar, which is made in partnership with Austrian chocolatier Zotter, should at some point be stocked online at the Soap&Skin merch store: soapandskin.spinshop.com
PLAN B ANNOUNCES JV WITH EMI MUSIC PUBLISHING
Confirming his new venture and EMI partnership, Drew told CMU: "I've always wanted to be in control of my destiny and build my own empire, and this is one step closer to that. I feel I can help young musicians progress and plant some positive seeds in their heads. Before I made it I was trying to help other people, the only difference is now I've got a budget".
From EMI's side, the UK and Europe President of the major's publishing business, Guy Moot, added: "You have to have a huge amount of respect for all that Ben has achieved not just as an artist but as a writer in the last five years. He knows what it takes to become a successful writer, and he recognises real talent when he sees it. He will bring the same strong creative vision to his publishing company that he brings to everything he else he does, and we at EMI Music Publishing are looking forward to building this new long-term relationship with him to maximise the opportunity for the writers he signs to have their music heard on a global platform".
MEDIA JUNCTION CHIEF TO OVERSEE ESTATE OF FIFTH BEATLE
Sutcliffe, of course, died aged just 21 after suffering a brain haemorrhage in 1962, but he had already created a substantial collection of paintings, visual art being his true passion. Those artworks form a bulk of the estate, which is valued at £5 million, along with an array of memorabilia from The Beatles' early days performing in Hamburg.
Cooper has been asked to oversee the estate by Stuart's sister Pauline and Diane Vitale, who has previously helped Pauline managed her late brother's artwork. Confirming his new responsibilities, Cooper told CMU: "It's a tremendous privilege to be appointed CEO of the Stuart Sutcliffe Estate. Stuart was an incredibly talented man and despite dying at the very early age of 21, his influence has radiated the world-over for almost 50 years. I would like to thank both Stuart's sister, Pauline Sutcliffe, and Diane Vitale for the trust they have placed in me and I look forward with excitement to promoting Stuart's name and work over the coming years".
MUSIC PRESS SEE MORE DECLINES IN LATEST CIRCULATION FIGURES
With the exception of freesheet The Stool Pigeon, pretty much everyone saw their circulations fall year on year in the latter half of 2011, some significantly, and even those magazines aimed at an older demographic whose decline has been generally less severe over the last decade.
At IPC Media, Uncut suffered the second biggest circulation decline of them all in terms of percentages, down 14.2% year on year to 62,305 copies sold each month. Sister title NME's decline was only slightly less, 14% year on year to 27,650.
Rivals Bauer Media's music mags didn't fair much better though. Although Mojo saw a very slight rise in sales in the second half of 2011 versus the first half, and is now the biggest paid-for music title, year on year circulation was down 7.5% to 87,555. Q fell 3.6% to 77,522, and Kerrang - which, to be fair, is losing sales less slowly than most of its competitors (remember, at one point NME and Kerrang were more or less neck and neck) - saw a 2.1% decline to 42,077 copies.
Future Publishing enjoyed, if one can enjoy such things, the biggest percentage decline with its Metal Hammer mag, which dropped 15.7% in 2011 to a circulation of 35,259, while Future's other music mag, Classic Rock, experienced a 7.9% decline, down to 62,354.
In the pop market, Top Of The Pops magazine, now published by Immediate Media under licence from the BBC, saw a 10% dip taking its circulation down to 84,782 - though that's not so bad given it had to face off a brand new competitor in 2011, with Egmont Magazines' We Love Pop getting an ABC of 58,321 after its launch last July.
The free titles did better, The Fly slipped only 0.4%, and retained its title as the biggest music magazine in terms of circulation, with 100,574 copies distributed each month, while urban freebie RWD, while slipping 2.1%, is still second biggest with an ABC of 96,240. Newish quarterly title DIY Magazine, from the This Is Fake DIY team, had a 3.5% dip with a circulation of 36,801, while The Stool Pigeon enjoyed the only circulation increase, up from 51,750 to 53,676 from the start to the end of the year. Music distributor Proper Music's magazine Properganda had its first annual ABC figure in the latest set of stats, with a circulation of 46,542.
And that's your lot. Of course some of those titles whose print circulations continue to nosedive are doing well online, in terms of readership at least, the NME in particular. So much so, in some cases you start to wonder whether the main editor of those titles shouldn't be focusing on the website first and print spin-off second, rather than the other way round.
JEDWARD TV SHOW CONFIRMED
Which figures. I mean, it's a weird world were living in where Jedward continue to have such undeniable success. The programme will be one of those 'funny videos off the internet' shows, which sounds suitably cheap for the low-cost telly network.
LIL KIM IMPLIES NICKI MINAJ IS STUPID HOE
Having initially avoided the Minaj topic during an interview earlier this week on US TV show 'Watch What Happens Live', Lil Kim did then let slip her true thoughts on Nicki's current single 'Stupid Hoe'.
"I'm pretty sure I feel the same way everybody feels right about now", she told host Andy Cohen. "If you have to make a song called 'Stupid Hoe', you must be a stupid hoe". Ergo, Lil Kim considers Nicki Minaj to be a stupid hoe.
This latest comment has only served to intensify rumours of a feud supposed to have existed between the two MCs since Kim released her 'Black Friday' EP, thought to be a sarcastic play on Minaj's own 'Pink Friday' album.
Meanwhile, when asked about Minaj's baffling appearance at last week's Grammy Awards, Kim kept things cutting: "Who? It just slipped past me. I don't know with that one".
Speaking of said Grammys performance, in which Minaj ricocheted about a stage bedecked in religious iconography, had a heart-to-heart with The Pope, and then was exorcised of her own gay male alter ego Roman Zolanski, all while sing-rapping new track 'Roman Holiday', Minaj offered an explanation (well, sort of) to 'Good Morning America'.
Said she: "I wrote the song and envisioned it being in a monastery, because Roman gets shipped away there by his mother, who thinks there's something wrong with him and in fact there's nothing wrong with him being different...being eccentric. I wanted to show how ridiculous people look when they try to change someone just because they're creative and different".
CMU BEEF OF THE WEEK #98: CHRIS BROWN V HIS MUM
As previously reported, more than a few eyebrows were raised last weekend when Grammy bosses decided it was a good idea to give Brown two performance slots at the US awards show, despite it being only three years since he single-handedly made the Grammy brand synonymous with domestic violence.
Apparently for America's popk establishment, providing you say sorry when your lawyers tell you to, and remember to sell some records at some point, you can beat your girlfriend unconscious in the street all you want, it won't stop you being guest of honour, even while you're still on probation for the crime.
Though not everyone in America's music community was impressed by Brown's Grammy appearances, the most notable critic being country star Miranda Lambert, who knows a thing or two about the impact domestic violence has on its victims, her parents running a shelter for abused women. She tweeted about the Grammys show: "Chris Brown twice? I don't get it. He beat on a girl... Not cool that we act like that didn't happen".
Noting his critics' unwillingness to forget that photo of a horrendously bruised Rihanna, bashed up after her run-in with then boyfriend Brown while on the way to a pre-Grammy party in 2009, the singer took to Twitter himself to write: "HATE ALL U WANT BECUZ I GOT A GRAMMY NOW! That's the ultimate fuck off! I'm back so watch my back as I walk away from all this negativity".
That and other such tweets were later deleted, though not before some were grabbed by other media and bloggers. And once said media started to criticise the pop wife-beater for those responses, he returned to Twitter to type "DEAR MEDIA... Ur plan is not working. I'm not going anywhere so get used to me".
Which sort of shows a fundamental misunderstanding by the R&B star of his critics, who don't especially want him to disappear, just that he and the American pop establishment more publicly accept that his was a heinous crime that won't ever be forgotten, and that therefore celebrating the man at the very event his violent actions tarnished when even his probation period is incomplete is, in many people's eyes, inappropriate.
Anyway, to Mrs Brown, and according to Radaronline.com, the singer's mother is increasingly exasperated at her son's inability to show a bit of humility and remorse.
Radar quote a source close to Joyce Brown as saying: "Joyce is absolutely livid that those vile words and rants were posted on Chris' Twitter page. She feels like people were just waiting for a negative reaction to what others were saying about him. She had begged Chris to just ignore it and she is just beside herself that after such successful performances at the Grammys and winning the award, people are now talking about this Twitter controversy".
The source continues: "It's time for Chris to grow up, and his mother told him that. Chris is his own worst enemy at times and she constantly worries about how he is going to react to stressful situations". So, looks like those anger management classes, that Brown's people were so keen to insist had done the trick, worked really well, doesn't it?