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UNRELEASED JACKSON MATERIAL TAKEN DURING HACK ATTACK ON SONY SERVERS
The mega-hack occurred last spring, and two British men were arrested in connection with the incident last May, but the whole thing has come to light now because the suspects appeared in court to face charges under the Computer Misuse Act and Copyright, Designs And Patents Act last week. James Marks and James McCormick both pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Sony seemingly discovered the hack had occurred during routine monitoring of social networks, hacking communities and Jackson fan sites last spring, and subsequently identified how the breach of their server had occurred. Having linked the data breach to a British source, the UK Serious Organised Crime division took up the case.
The Sony music files hack came just weeks after the personal data of millions of users of the Sony gaming and content-on-demand networks was grabbed by hackers, forcing both offline while security measures were reviewed. It seems affected artists, including the Michael Jackson estate, were informed about this second major data grab, though no public statement was made because no customer information was taken.
A source at the music major told The Sun this weekend: "Everything Sony purchased from the Michael Jackson estate was compromised. It caused them to check their systems and they found the breach. There was a degree of sophistication. Sony identified the weakness and plugged the gap".
Sony Music has confirmed that its servers were compromised just under a year ago, but has refused to comment on just how many tracks were taken, or which artists were affected.
OVER AMBITION, BAD DEALS AND A TERRIBLE NAME KILLED BEYOND OBLIVION, SAY EX-BOINCERS
Or at least that's what a fascinating investigation by Evolver FM into the demise of the multi-million dollar digital music disaster zone reckons. Citing various anonymous sources, most former Beyond Oblivion execs seem to agree that it was ultimately over-the-top advances promised to the major record companies that caused the sudden collapse of the digital start up, but they blame Kidron for agreeing to such payments, rather than the rights owners for making such big demands.
The advances - that would have totalled $150 million - were so high because Kidron wanted to go global at launch, and securing worldwide deals from the majors for an unproven and complicated new business model required big cash incentives.
With just $77 million in start-up capital, over half of which was dependent on meeting various targets, to go live Kidron needed to secure big commitments in terms of guarantees from the technology partners that he wanted to sell his service - the plan being that the costs of the software-with-content platform would be morphed into the price of smartphone and tablet devices, so it appeared to be free to the end user.
But with the big consumer electronics firms engaged in a price war, already eating up profit margins, no one was willing to commit to fully subsidising the app for their customers, despite some key gadget makers having initially expressed an interest in the Beyond Oblivion business model. Having pushed so hard that this service would be global from the off, it was hard for Kidron to subsequently backtrack on that promise in order to re-negotiate lower advances with the majors.
Add to this the fact that - while the Sony and Warner record companies had signed up, and Universal was reportedly close to signing - no deals had been done with any of the music publishers; that the much delayed launch meant that fees being paid to retained consultants and PR reps were out of control; and that everyone bar Kidron hated the brand name expensively devised by marketing consultants for the planned consumer launch - Boinc - it's perhaps no wonder the whole thing came crashing down overnight, while most staff were under the impression everything was moving smoothly towards an albeit delayed launch.
Obviously those who lost their jobs in the wake of the Boinc collapse, and those likely to go unpaid as the firm's bankruptcy works its way through the motions, aren't going to be the biggest fans of Beyond Oblivion's former top man, and it's notable even the most bitter former Boincers admit there was an air of genius about the champion charmer Kidron. Though they also reckon foolish ambitions to be the next Steve Jobs out to "save the music industry" resulted in a string of bad decisions, which ultimately led to the Boincer-In-Chief losing the trust of some key financial backers.
Whatever, Evolver FM's Beyond Oblivion dissection makes for fascinating reading:
US FILES EXTRADITION PAPERS FOR MEGA FOUR
As previously reported, four Mega execs, including top man Kim 'Dotcom' Schmitz, were arrested in New Zealand in January at the request of the US and are currently under house arrest in the country. US authorities, who shut down the entire Mega network, claim the company deliberately infringed copyright on both its file-transfer and YouTube-style video site in order to drive up traffic, subscriptions and ad sales, building a multi-million dollar empire on the back of that infringing activity. Schmitz and his colleagues, though, say their operation was legal.
The extradition papers are currently confidential, and applications by local media to see them will have to be reviewed by a judge, who will likely consult the prosecution and defendants before deciding what to make public. As previously reported, America's extradition claim won't be heard in court until 20 Aug.
SONY SIGNS THE MOSHI MONSTERS
However, Dr Strangeglove, Big Bad Bill and Sweettooth will all provide songs for the first twelve track record to be released via the Sony/Moshi partnership. Jason Perry, who is heading up Moshi Music, told the Telegraph: "Moshi Monsters has never released an album before so this is a big opportunity. The thinking behind it is that we don't want the company to just be a computer brand. We want to turn it into the number one children's brand".
GEOFF BARROW'S INVADA TO RELEASE DRIVE SOUNDTRACK ON VINYL
Featuring pieces from an original score by film and TV composer Cliff Martinez, the album will also include The Chromatics' 'Tick Of The Clock', Desire's 'Under Your Spell' and College's Electric Youth collaboration, 'A Real Hero'.
Says Geoff Barrow: "I am very excited for Invada Records to release the 'Drive' soundtrack on vinyl. It is nice to see good music allowed to play a pivotal role in a great film".
Also taken from the soundtrack, which is set to impact on 21 May, here's Kavinsky and Lovefoxx's cinematic synth duet 'Nightcall': www.youtube.com/watch?v=MV_3Dpw-BRY
LIARS TO RELEASE LP
Imminent, indeed, since the last posted clip ends (as accompanied by a never before heard track) fixed on the phrase 'June 2012', which by strange coincidence is also when Liars are booked to play London's Field Day festival on 2 Jun.
So, there you are: a brand new Liars album will be released in June, and - given images in the trailers - it's possibly based on bananas.
BENJAMIN FRANCIS LEFTWICH BOOKS TOUR
That awe-inspiring live slog as listed:
2 Oct: Bournemouth
FLUX PAVILLION ANNOUNCES SINGLE, LIVE DATES
3 Apr: Manchester, Academy
FESTIVAL LINE-UP UPDATE
2000 TREES, Upcote Farm, Withington, Gloucestershire, 12-14 Jul: Not to be outdone by the considerable competition in this season's festival stakes, super-green rural fest 2000Trees counts Gallows, We Were Promised Jetpacks and Dog Is Dead amongst its latest instalment of line-up extras, with these acts and more joining the previously announced 65daysofstatic, Pulled Apart By Horses, Rolo Tomassi, The Xcerts, Johnny Foreigner and Brontide. www.twothousandtreesfestival.co.uk
INCUBATE, various venues, Tilburg, The Netherlands, 10-16 Sep: Buzzcocks, Nils Frahm, Ramesses, a resurgent Divorce and Human Don't Be Angry (aka Malcolm Middleton) lead those acts just booked to partake in Incubate's reasonably-priced alt-rock revelry this year, with additional festival guests including Frank Fairfield, LUIK, Digger & The Pussycats, House Of Wolves and Royal Headache. www.incubate.org
MFEST, Harewood House, Leeds, Yorkshire, 7-8 Jul: Stocking relatively fresh produce in the forms of Matt Cardle, Cher Lloyd and Scouting For Girls, this Morrisons' supermarket-sponsored bash will also feature consumer durables the Human League, Heaven 17, Beverley Knight, The Blockheads and Sir Bob Geldof at its first ever edition. www.morrisons.co.uk/Family-Life/MFEST/
ROCKNESS, Loch Ness, Scotland, 8-10 Jun: Organisers have confirmed Friendly Fires, The Drums, The Rapture, Dave Clarke and Kassidy as the latest acts to align with prior conscriptions Mumford & Sons, Biffy Clyro, Deadmu5, Justice and Ed Sheeran on RockNess' 2012 roster. www.rockness.co.uk
SPRINGFESTIVAL, various venues, Graz, Austria, 16-20 May: Electronic types Cassius, Skream, Benga, Gilles Peterson, Modeselektor, Toddla T and Solumun are each destined for Springfestival's green and pleasant climes this year, with a further horde of names for the ultra-cultured Austrian event still to be revealed. www.springfestival.at
INGROOVES BUYS FONTANA
The deal will create INgrooves Fontana, to be co-run by Dave Zierler and Ron Spaulding, currently presidents of INgrooves and Fontana respectively. The new venture will offer a complete distribution service to independent artists and labels, with the two companies' digital expertise combined, and Fontana's physical distribution network added into the mix. Universal already has a minority stake in INgrooves, and the company already provided some digital services to Fontana's clients.
Confirming the deal, INgrooves CEO Robb McDaniels told CMU: "Through this acquisition, we are now able to offer the independent music community a fully integrated physical and digital distribution marketing solution in North America. We believe that a successful relationship between distributor and label is, at its root, a flexible structure with a transparent flow of information. By combining INgrooves and Fontana, we will be able to extend this philosophy into a comprehensive distribution operation that provides our collective client base with a larger sales force, more marketing resources and a one-stop global retail network that maximises opportunities in this dynamic, challenging environment".
Meanwhile Universal's COO Zach Horowitz added: "INgrooves' commitment to independent music is second to none. The combination of INgrooves and Fontana creates one of the strongest, most innovative companies in the business today, uniquely positioned to superserve its distributed labels with some of the most sophisticated executive talent in this genre of music, cutting edge technology, and enhanced marketing services. As a minority owner of INgrooves, we believe this new style of relationship with the independent community maximises the potential of our investment and creates the single best home for independent labels".
The Fontana brand dates back to the 1950s and had various incarnations as a label, before the name was attached to Universal's indie label distribution division in 2004.
ANDREW WEATHERALL FOUNDS VINYL-ONLY LABEL
Bird Scarer's inaugural release will be 'The Final Reel', the new eleven minute track from Weatherall's long-time Rotter's Golf Club affiliate, "analogue curator, multi-instrumentalist, remixer and solo artiste" Timothy J Fairplay. Featuring a B-side remix by Weatherall himself and set to be limited, as with all the label's future exports, to 300 copies, it will be available from 19 Mar.
Full details here: aboveboarddist.co.uk/bird-scarer-records/BS001
WING OF NEW BROADCASTING HOUSE NAMED IN JOHN PEEL'S HONOUR
The new building, part of the wider overhaul and extension of Broadcasting House, has so far been known as the Egton Wing, named after the old building it replaced, which from 1985 to 1996 housed Radio 1. The nation's favourite, currently housed in a building four minutes away off Great Portland Street, will take over the top floor of the new extension at the BBC HQ in the autumn and, for reasons not clear to anyone really, will have its own street level entrance, which will be in the Peel Wing, making it rather apt to name that bit of the new building after the station's greatest.
Confirming the plan in a memo to staff last week, BBC Director General Mark Thompson said: "John was one of the BBC's great radio talents, broadcasting regularly on Radio 1 from its launch in 1967. With a reputation for being in the vanguard, he was widely recognised as a champion of new music, supporting punk, reggae and hip hop before they went mainstream".
He continued: "Well known to our global audiences through his work on the World Service, he later won over a whole new legion of fans with 'Home Truths' on Radio 4. John's death in 2004 was sudden and shocking, especially for those of us who had grown up with him. However, his legacy lives on today not just in the UK, but around the world. He was a great ambassador for the BBC, and as we move into the BBC's iconic new home at Broadcasting House, the Peel Wing will be a fitting tribute to a man who personified so much of what the BBC stands for - quality, creativity and innovation".
NME INDIA GOES LIVE ONLINE
Confirming the launch, Emily Hutchings, the IPC Publishing Director who oversees NME, told CMU: "NME has a strong presence in India, but with such a vibrant music scene and such passionate music lovers it would be madness not to provide the country with their own edition of the magazine and 24/7 music news online. NME in India will be tailored to India's favourite home-grown artists as well as featuring the very best from the UK and beyond. It's a very exciting time for the NME brand".
Meanwhile Pilot Ventures MD Asha Sondhi Madan added: "We are absolutely thrilled to be entering the Indian market with NME. The Indian music scene is one of the most vibrant and exciting phenomena anywhere in the world and NME, with its unparalleled six decade legacy, is the perfect medium to showcase Indian talent to the world at large".
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BILLBOARD SHUTS DOWN DIY ARTIST SERVICE
The new service, priced at $99 a year, went online last March, but was put on hold in terms of new subscribers in August. At the time Billboard publisher Prometheus Media Group insisted it was still committed to the new platform, and was just putting things on hold to review how it worked, but last week it was confirmed that the indie community-focused spin off was shutting for good.
The publisher said in a statement "Billboard Pro has been discontinued, effective 1 Mar 2012. We will be moving our DIY and indie artist-focused content to a new section on Billboard.biz in the coming weeks, and the Uncharted Chart will continue to operate on Billboard.com".
It's assumed few self-releasing artists were persuaded to pay even $99 a year when so much free content about digital music and the DIY scene is available from other blogs and websites, while various prolific tweeters and music distribution services aggregate industry news for free for the same audience.
The news comes as Digital Music News posts a report alleging rising discontent amongst staff at the trade title over a lack of resources, which - DMN claims - has led to a string of journalists and execs leaving the magazine, taking years of experience and knowledge about the industry with them. Meanwhile, DMN also claims, backers of Prometheus Global Media, which bought Billboard and a stable of other trade titles off Nielsen in 2009, are likely to look for further savings in the coming months.
Some still wonder whether Billboard and sister title The Hollywood Reporter could be merged - the former's website taking an increased amount of content from the latter - though both are such strong brands any such consolidation would be controversial.
LA STATION PROMISES 'CULTURAL SENSITIVITY TRAINING' FOR DJS AFTER HOUSTON REMARKS
John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou, hosts of the popular 'John & Ken' drive time show on KFI AM 640, rarely shy away from contentious commentary on their radio programme, but it seems such disrespectful language to the late pop star pushed things just too far. Amidst the outrage the comments caused station management suspended the DJs for ten days, and had them issue an apology admitting their comments were "inappropriate" and that they accepted the grounds for their suspension.
Detractors of the KFI duo, who argue that a lot of the two men's output is misogynistic and racist, said the pair's Houston remarks demonstrated ingrained racism. The DJs, for their part, denied their comments were in anyway racially motivated, insisting they were trying to lampoon the hypocrisy of Planet Celeb.
But KFI bosses clearly recognised it was LA's black community who were most outraged, and met with reps of that community last week, promising the aforementioned "cultural sensitivity training", and to involve more members of ethnic minorities in its operations, which - opponents say - are currently totally dominated by white men, meaning the station is out of touch with the population it serves.
While insisting that Kobylt and Chiampou, and the execs they report to, would have a better "awareness of the cultural melting pot that is Southern California" after their enforced training, KFI management also said: "While our plans are still developing, we anticipate creating unique programming to reflect important issues to our multi-cultural community. This will be a great launching pad for identifying talent for future opportunities".
THE WANTED ARE ALL ABOUT THE MUSIC, NOT LIKE 'FACE BAND' 1D, SAY THE WANTED
Of course we're sure that the Global-managed, Universal-signed Wanted haven't been told to up the bitchiness against the ITV-created Sony-signed 1D just because Harry Styles thanked the wrong radio station when picking up the Global-sponsored Best Single BRIT last month, not even the Global top guard are that petty. Though it is possible some clever marketing spark reckons a good old fashioned band feud could help maintain interest in these two pop franchises a little longer.
Anyway, both pop creations are currently trying to replicate their UK successes Stateside, and thanks to some clever telly appearances (and, possibly, both groups seeming alluringly rebellious to pop-buying teenage girls when put up against their US teen pop counterparts), they are both scoring some successes. Though it's The Wanted who have beaten even Take That to become the first British boyband to score a top five hit in the Billboard Hot 100 with 'Glad You Came'.
And with that in mind, here's Wanted boy Max George telling Metro that his group is doing super well in the US because, unlike 1D, they are all about the music, and not just pretty faces with media partnerships. Says George: "I'm not sure how well [One Direction] are actually doing yet [in the US]. I don't think people really look at us over there as the same kind of band [as 1D], because I think people look at them more like a Jonas Brothers sort of band, that are very TV and children's magazine based. They make magazines instead of you actually hearing them on the radio".
He continues: "I think our audience over there is sort of eighteen to 25 or 30. We have a lot of radio play but I think we're more of a music band". Asked about Wanted/1D relations, he continued: "We don't talk. 'The X-Factor' family stick together. They're very close, you know, all the 'X-Factor' contestants, and they kind of stay in that one circle normally".
THIS JUST-IN: BIEBER PUNKS SWIFT
Young Bieber, who isn't really so young any more, comperes 'Punk'd' proceedings in a brand new trailer for the forthcoming run, the premise of his 'punk' being to fool country sweetheart Taylor Swift into believing she has ruined a stranger's wedding.
"I think we should start with Taylor", schemes Bieber. "She's the sweetest girl ever".
Cut to Swift, looking on in horror as a wedding cruise ship is set alight, its bedraggled bride struggling to shore, saying: "This is completely not okay".
So what, exactly, does Swift get out of all this? Undue guilt, significant emotional trauma and an awkward embrace from a sandy-haired man child once it's over. And nobody, but nobody, deserves that.
Here's the clip: www.youtube.com/watch?v=3_iVFlbHtnA