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Named after the Mac keyboard shortcut for the delta symbol (∆), Alt-J formed at Leeds University in 2007. The next few years were spent developing their songwriting, before settling on the "folk-step" sound that has found them so many fans of late. Ahead the release of their debut album later this month, we asked keyboard player Gus Unger-Hamilton to put together a playlist for us more>>
Irish four-piece Funeral Suits released their debut single 'Colour Fade' last year. Now they're readying themselves to release their debut album, 'Lily Of The Valley', via Model Citizen Records on 4 Jun. Produced by Stephen Street, the album balances upbeat guitar pop with mild melancholy, tempering the initial rush of excitement with extra layers of interest beyond those first few listens more>>
This unique fast-track course covers the A-Z of the music business in sixteen classes over four months. Each day long class covers a specific area of knowledge.

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Next course starts on 30 May, followed by, final course in 2012; 5 Sep.
- The Pirate Bay hit by DDoS attack
- Robin Gibb continues to fight illness
- 50 Cent in hospital with stomach virus
- Scottish Album Of The Year shortlist announced
- Bill Ward definitely out of the Black Sabbath reunion
- Swizz Beatz announces JV with Imagem
- My Chemical Romance "a month away" from recording new LP
- R Kelly announces new album
- Dirty Projectors detail new album
- Flying Lotus sets back LP release
- Laurel Halo streams album
- Ash to play landmark live date
- Charli XCX announces single, live pledge lottery
- Festival line-up update
- Will.i.am features on magazine seven-inch
- Kopparberg launches festival-themed playlisting app
- Pharrell Williams launches media venture
- Songkick data added to new Universal artists site
- RAJAR round-up
- X-Factor already having to defend new judge Spears
Our expanding online department is looking for a sharp Online PR who loves the web and takes pride in doing a Superstar job. You will require significant music online experience, with a proven track record of working across artist PR, events and social media campaigns. You must also have excellent writing ability, coupled with a passion for music and youth culture. You will be driven, highly organised and be able to work on your own initiative. Superb training and support provided. HTML, graphic design skills and technical knowledge a distinct advantage.

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Six07 Press is looking for an experienced national music press officer to take the role of Senior PR within the company. The candidate must ideally have two to three years' experience and have managed music press campaigns.

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Union Square Music, one of the UK's most successful reissue and compilation specialists, is looking for an experienced Business Affairs Administrator. Already working within a music company you will be a highly organised and motivated administrator with an eye for detail.

For more information including a full job description and how to apply click here.

We are seeking a self-motivated, proactive individual to help expand fabric Records beyond our compilation series. The successful candidate will have strong artist and industry contacts across all electronic genres, and at least two years record label experience.

For more information including a full job description and how to apply click here.

The Pirate Bay was inaccessible for many for much of yesterday, but not because British ISPs were in the process of erecting blockades to stop their customers from reaching the controversial file-sharing site (although they are), rather the Swedish file-sharing search service was the victim of one of those Distributed Denial Of Service attacks usually reserved for the websites of major copyright owners or the organisations and government departments that help them enforce their rights.

It's still not clear who instigated the DDoS attack against the Bay, though some initially pointed the finger at hacktivist group Anonymous, noting that representatives of TPB were critical of that informal organisation last week after it targeted the website of Virgin Media for being the first UK ISP to put in place a block against the file-sharing search site.

Asking that its users refrained from participating in DDoS attacks in its name, the Bay said in a statement last week: "We do NOT encourage these actions. We believe in the open and free internets, where anyone can express their views. Even if we strongly disagree with them and even if they hate us. So don't fight them using their ugly methods. DDoS and blocks are both forms of censorship".

But reps for Anonymous yesterday took to the tweets to deny involvement in the DDoS attack on The Pirate Bay, tweeting: "YES The Pirate Bay is down. YES it's under DDoS attack. NO we don't know who from. We'll update as we hear more".

A spokesman for the Bay then acknowledged the Anonymous statement, and added that the Bay was certain the hacktivist group was not behind the DDoS attack on its servers, despite last week's disagreements.

For UK users of The Pirate Bay, the sudden and sustained collapse of the file-sharing service made some worry that moves to force ISPs to block access to the site were proving much more effective than anticipated.

As previously reported, the London courts recently ordered five British net firms to instigate web-blocks against the controversial service after a claim by record label trade body the BPI. The web-block order followed a ruling earlier this year that confirmed that, under English law, the Bay is liable for the copyright infringement it enables, and a court decision last year in the Newzbin case that said web blocks can be ordered against copyright infringing websites if said sites are based outside the jurisdiction of the UK courts, making it impossible to enforce a shutdown.

Of course while ISPs can put in place blocks that mean that when their customers go to thepiratebay.org they see a warning message instead of the site they were looking for, it's relatively easy for web savvy users to circumvent the blocks, and various web pages have gone live in recent weeks explaining how that can be done. Though when, yesterday, TPB users accessing the net via those ISPs that have already instigated the block (Virgin Media in particular) found that the alternative ways for accessing the Bay were also down, some wondered if the big net firms had found a much more effective way of blocking rogue websites than had been previously used. But no, it was just that the Bay itself was down.

Debate continues as to whether, given that web-blocks can be circumvented by those in the know, the entire web-blocking thing is actually a waste of time, though some rights owners argue that their aim is to simply make it harder to access unlicensed sources of content, not necessarily impossible, and while blocks may be passable by those who know how to, the more hassle it is to access sites like the Bay the less people will bother to do it.

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Robin Gibb remains very ill, according to reports, despite his significant efforts in fighting various ailments.

As previously reported, the Bee Gee spent over a week in a coma last month after suffering from pneumonia following surgery, but he regained consciousness and was talking with family members again. According to The Sun, more recently a tracheotomy tube has had to be placed in his neck, making it impossible to speak, so that he is communicating with close family and friends by blinking.

Nevertheless, friends say he continues to communicate and remains committed to fighting his illness. Tabloid reports suggest that he will require another bout of chemotherapy at some point as part of his continued treatment for liver and colon cancer.

A source told The Sun: "His mind is sharp as a tack but his body seems to be failing. But Robin will not give up. And [his wife] Dwina is determined he continue treatment".

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50 Cent has been in hospital this week, seemingly because of a stomach virus. Though the rapper's recent collaborator DJ Drama told XXL that the condition wasn't too serious.

And Fiddy himself, via Twitter, said that the hospital stint would not delay the release of his and Drama's new EP, 'The Lost Tape', which is due out next week. Though whether it will impact on the rapper's supposedly-near-completion fifth album, remains to be seen.

Possibly to prove to bosses at label Interscope, who are presumably keen to have a completed album to work with, that he really was in hospital, Fiddy tweeted some pictures from his hospital bed, our favourite of which is this one: lockerz.com/s/209491970

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The shortlist is out for the first ever Scottish Album Of The Year Award, the sort of Scottish version of the Mercury Prize which was launched last month. An industry panel picked nine albums from the long list of 20 for the shortlist, while a 24 hour public vote selected the tenth shortlisted record. And the final ten are...

Bill Wells & Aidan Moffat - Everything's Getting Older
Conquering Animal Sound - Kammerspiel
Happy Particles - Under Sleeping Waves
King Creosote & Jon Hopkins - Diamond Mine
Mogwai - Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will
Mungo's Hi Fi - Forward Ever
Remember Remember - The Quickening
Rustie - Glass Swords
Tommy Smith - Karma
Twin Atlantic - Free (public vote winners)

The overall winner will be announced at an event in Glasgow on 19 Jun, with that artist getting £20,000, while each runner up will get £1000.

Commenting on the shortlist, Caroline Parkinson, Director Of Creative Development for Creative Scotland, told CMU: "The SAY Award is a fantastic recognition and celebration of Scotland's rich and diverse musical talent, as this shortlist confirms. We are a nation of music lovers, and the award is a brilliant way to connect these music lovers with our talented artists. Even better that the public, in this the Year Of Creative Scotland 2012, have had a say in the shortlist".

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Black Sabbath drummer Bill Ward has said in a lengthy statement published on his website that he will definitely not be joining his Black Sabbath bandmates for their upcoming reunion shows.

As previously reported, plans for the original line-up to record and perform together seemed on track after all four members confirmed their involvement in the latest reunion in November last year. However, in February Ward released a statement saying: "At this time I would love nothing more than to be able to proceed with the Black Sabbath album and tour. However, I am unable to continue unless a 'signable' contract is drawn up; a contract that reflects some dignity and respect towards me as an original member of the band ... Several days ago, after nearly a year of trying to negotiate, another 'unsignable' contract was handed to me".

Presumably this was an attempt to force the hand of Black Sabbath's management, but sadly it failed because the next day the rest of the band published a statement of their own, saying: "We were saddened to hear yesterday via Facebook that Bill declined publicly to participate in our current Black Sabbath plans. We have no choice but to continue recording without him although our door is always open".

With that door remaining open, Ward seemingly attempted to forge on with negotiations. And in the statement published yesterday he said he tried even harder to reach a resolution after a Birmingham show was announced, because he didn't want to miss out on playing to a hometown crowd. However, all hopes for having the full original line-up on stage for their three planned shows this year (the rest of the tour already having been switched to an Ozzy Osbourne solo outing) have now collapsed.

Ward wrote: "I am sincerely passionate in my desire to play with the band, and I'm very, very sorry that it's fallen to this ... I have had to stand up for myself and in doing so realise my actions indirectly, although unintentionally, are upsetting and hurting a lot of you. I know in my heart I couldn't have done these concerts by agreeing the terms suggested. I made a solemn vow after the last European and Ozzfest concerts that I would never again enter into what was, in my opinion, a totally unsatisfactory contract. I have to stand for something, and as painful as it is, I'm doing it".

He also said: "Although the statement was made that 'the door is always open' for me, as explained above, walking through that door is not always as easy as it sounds. There are many complicated issues and unseen and unspoken agendas on hand. I can assure you, my criteria for a 'signable" contract is based in mindful principles, respectability, and acknowledgement of my history within the band".

Read the full statement here: www.billward.com/2012/05/statement-on-upcoming-black-sabbath-shows/

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Swizz Beatz has launched a new joint venture with the US division of independent publisher Imagem in the form of a new publishing enterprise under the producer's own Monster Music umbrella. The first signings to the Monster Music Publishing business will be Swizz Beatz protégés Tyrone Johnson and Naki 'Snagz' Levy.

Says Beatz, aka Kaseem Dean: "I'm excited to be partnering with Richard [Stumpf] and the entire group over at Imagem Music. This partnership will enable me to further develop my group of talented producers and also introduce many new producers and writers to the world".

While the President of Dean's Monster Music Group, Monique Blake, told CMU: "Monster Music Publishing is one of the first ventures to come from the Monster Music Group umbrella, and we're looking forward to much success with Imagem as our partner".

And Imagem US chief Richard Stumpf added: "In addition to being a fantastic artist, writer and producer himself, Swizz is a magnet for great talent. We are very excited to partner with such an important member of the creative community. Amanda [Schupf, Creative Manager at Imagem Music] goes back a long way with Swizz and his team, so it is great to see that trust and friendship blossom into a business relationship".

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My Chemical Romance are soon to begin recording sessions for an as-yet untitled fifth album, as will form the band's first full-length since 2010's 'Danger Days: The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys'.

Speaking in this interview with The Aquarian, MCR guitarist Frank Iero said: "It's going really well, actually. I'm really excited. I can't wait to start tracking. I think we're maybe a month away from the record button lighting up".

Asked if new drummer Jarrod Alexander - who joined the band when his predecessor Michael Pedicone was fired over allegations of in-band theft - would be playing on the new record, he replied in the affirmative. Here's his answer, and see if you can spot the subtle jibe aimed at Pedicone.

Iero: "Jarrod is a rad guy and a fantastic player. It's been really fun making music with him these past few months. He loves coffee and hitting drums super-hard... and the fact that he's not a thieving piece of garbage is a breath of fresh air".

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He may not have been doing much singing in any strip clubs lately, but R Kelly has seemingly been doing some singing in the studio. I can't think of any other explanation for how he's managed to record a whole new album.

The singer has revealed that he will release his eleventh studio LP, entitled 'Write Me Back', on 25 Jun. You can hear the latest single from it, 'Feelin Single', here: soundcloud.com/r-kellyofficial/feelin-single

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Last heard lending vocalist Amber Coffman to Major Lazer's 'Get Free', Dirty Projectors have attached various vital details to their forthcoming LP, 'Swing Lo Magellan', which is to be released via Domino on 9 Jul.

Firstly, the tracklisting:

Offspring Are Blank
About to Die
Gun Has No Trigger
Swing Lo Magellan
Just From Chevron
Dance For You
Maybe That Was It
Impregnable Question
See What She's Seeing
The Socialites
Unto Caesar
Irresponsible Tune

And you can still stream the above listed 'Gun Has No Trigger' here; soundcloud.com/dominorecordco/dirty_projectors-gun_has_no_trigger

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Electronica artist Flying Lotus has delayed the release of his new record, 'Until The Quiet Comes', as was originally intended for a summertime issue, to October this year. October, "or some shit".

We know all this to be fact because of remarks the LA-based producer made to crowds during his festival set at Sónar São Paulo, which included this key quote: "I just finished a record. It's called 'Until The Quiet Comes'. That shit comes out in like October or some shit".

So, until 'Until The Quiet Comes'... er, comes, you'll just have to make do with staring futilely at this blank video of FlyLo's Sónar set, which - despite being posted on the festival's official YouTube channel - has been blocked by Warp on copyright grounds. Spoilsports.


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Laurel Halo has made her debut album, 'Quarantine', available to stream ahead of it release via Hyperdub on 28 May.

As previously reported, Halo's King Felix alter-ego has also been busy of late, releasing the 'Spring' EP back in March via Mute sub-label Liberation Technologies.

Now, let's all get on with listening to this new album, eh?


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Ash are to mark their 20th year as a band with a party at The Garage in London. Taking place on 17 Jun, the night will feature comedienne Josie Long as compere, plus a list of special still to be announced guest performers, one of whom may or may not be former Ash guitarist Charlotte Hatherley, who briefly re-joined the band on tour last October to celebrate the tenth anniversary of their 'Free All Angels' album.

Tickets for the show are divided into various price bands, with premium VIP passes (pitched at a mere £80) granting extras like early entry, after show access and an additional set of Ash rarities.

Further details at www.ash-official.com

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Alt popstar Charli XCX is releasing a new single entitled 'You're The One' quite soon, on 30 Jul via Asylum Records, as it happens.

Apart from accompanying Coldplay and Santigold on their forthcoming North American tours, as well as appearing at a just announced headline show at London's XOYO on 1 Aug, Charli is also running a new live initiative whereby she'll play two further solo shows in as-yet undecided UK cities on 29 and 31 Jul.

Thanks to a joint venture with Detourjam - which does this sort of thing all the time - it's up to you, the public, to decide which cities Charli visits. XCX fans must pledge a £7 ticket fee that'll also register as a 'vote' for Charli to perform in their desired city. The first two cities to win 50 pledges or votes will guarantee a live cameo from Charli, and can "bask in the glory of knowing they are the biggest fans".

Those living in or near one of the eligible sites (these being Glasgow, Manchester, Brighton, Leeds, Bristol and Birmingham), can make pledges at detourjam.com/charlixcx

And here Charli is again, mingling with Ed Sheeran in her self-made SxSW tour diary: www.youtube.com/watch?v=DlCQ2-POC9k

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FESTIBELLY, Lymington, Hampshire, 25-26 Aug: Kitty Daisy & Lewis, Skinny Lister, James Yuill and Howard Marks are amongst the latest acts to be absorbed into Festibelly's line-up at large, and join The Big Pink, New Young Pony Club, Ghostpoet, Rob Da Bank, TEED, Man Like Me and Toy. www.festibelly.com

GUILFEST, Guildford, Surrey, 13-15 Jul: Performances by Ash, ABC, Heaven 17, Benga, Kids In Glass Houses and Stooshe, plus a Sub Focus DJ set, are new on the GuilFest billing, and complement an overall programme featuring family faves Olly Murs, Bryan Ferry, Jools Holland, Tulisa, Jimmy Cliff, Gary Numan, Candi Staton, Cher Lloyd and Tim Minchin. www.guilfest.co.uk

HOP FARM MUSIC FESTIVAL, Paddock Wood, Kent, 29 Jun - 1 Jul: Jose Gonzalez, Athlete, Nitin Sawhney, I Am Kloot and Taj Mahal form organisers' last-chosen supplements to a fruitful Hop Farm roster, as also houses co-headliners Bob Dylan, Peter Gabriel & The New Blood Orchestra and Suede, not to mention Damien Rice, Primal Scream, My Morning Jacket and Maximo Park. www.hopfarmfestival.com

SUMMER SUNDAE WEEKENDER, De Montfort Hall, Leicester, 17-19 Aug: Acts including Micachu & The Shapes, Man Like Me, Japandroids and Bastille further expand upon Summer Sundae's existing billing, more established fixtures of which include Adam Ant, Billy Bragg, Death In Vegas, Speech Debelle, Gold Panda, Datarock, Francois & The Atlas Mountains, Friends and Ghostpoet. www.summersundae.com

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It would be interesting to know whether the supposed vinyl revival is resulting in an increase in the sale of record players and styluses, or are the cool kids actually downloading the tracks to their iPhones and then just staring at the black plastic lovingly in a "wow, remember the days of vinyl; no, actually I was born in 1994" kind of way.

Anyway, there's some good news if you do actually own a record player. And live in Brazil. And like Will.i.am (Anyone? Come on, someone's got to sit where that Venn diagram intersects). Well, here's something a bit quirky to look out for. Budweiser is running 'vinyl adverts' in various Brazilian magazines which, if you tear out the page and plonk it on your record player, will play Will.i.am's new song 'Great Times'.

According to Billboard, Budweiser and its ad agency are saying the record-come-advert is a first, though really I think it's just a transparent flexi-disc glued to the page of a magazine, which has definitely been done before. I mean, there was that Five Star mega-mix flexi-disk glued to a page of Look-In that time (yes, I was born well before 1994). Though it is true that that 1980s record-glued-to-a-page wasn't flogging a beer brand. It did, however, contain shit pop music. Ah Look-In. Happy days.

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Cider brand Kopparberg has launched a new festival-themed Facebook app that also brings together Spotify and Last.fm.

The Kopparberg Festival Player will offer lists of people playing at British festivals this summer, organised according to stats provided by Last.fm. Users will be able to pick three artists they rate, and the app will automatically create a Spotify playlist of similar acts. Said playlist will then also be shared via Facebook. Very multi-platform, don't you think?

Kopparberg Head of Marketing, Rob Calder, told CMU: "Kopparberg is proud to bring this innovative app to festival and music lovers - using Spotify's fantastic content and Last.fm's music discovery service means this is a totally unique app. The partnership elevates our continued support of new music and festivals allowing us to shine a spotlight on the talent of 2012 and give something back to our 110,000 Facebook fans".

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Pharrell Williams, he of NERD and entrepreneurial solo renown, has established a "content-driven property" called i am OTHER.

Part record label, part social media enterprise, part symbiotic partnership with United Entertainment Group, the new venture will sign up arty types from various genres (aka "multifaceted, pro-active people who live outside the box and aren't confined by categories") and develop products, services or events that their fans can spend cash on. Or something like that. Signings to the new company so far include clean-cut viral misfit Chris Cab - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=asE3zMujh1w.

"It's for people who think 'other'", says Pharrell. "It's about delivering those experiences through products, excursions, anything that is tangible to a human that can make their life easier. A lot companies claim they can make the world better. We want to make lives easier and unlock what normally would seem impossible possible".

And here's the 'KONY 2012'-style introduction to i am OTHER, which plays like a promotional video for a teen UFO cult with Pharrell as its alien overlord.


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Songkick has announced an alliance with Universal Music that will see the gig data service's tour information included on artist pages within the mega-major's recently launch Umusic website.

The artists section of Umusic includes pages for all artists currently signed to Universal labels, with each page pulling in links and content relating to that artist from all over the web so that, alongside the customary biog and photos, there are embedded VEVO videos or Soundcloud tracks, plus links to where people can stream or download the artist's music, to social media and other online activity, and to coverage in a select few media.

And now gig information via Songkick, a rep from which wrote on the company's blog yesterday: "Having Songkick's touring information on Universal's artists pages takes us a step closer to bringing Songkick's giant concert database to all the places you listen to music online. While you're checking out your favourite artists' videos and recent tweets on their Universal page, you can see where they are playing near you and click through to quickly find the best ticket offer".

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So, the latest set of not especially reliable RAJAR figures are out, so everyone in the British radio community will be busy celebrating or commiserating the rise and fall in their respective listening figures, most of which can probably be explained away by statistical error. Here's ten highlights...

1. Chris Evans saw his audience grow in the last RAJAR quarter to 9.23 million weekly listeners, and while that's not his biggest ever audience since taking over the Radio 2 breakfast show, it does put him over two million listeners ahead of Chris Moyles over at Radio 1, which is presumably what really matters.

2. Radio 2 had a good quarter overall, getting very close to breaking its own listening record with 14.56 million weekly listeners. Ken Bruce and Jeremy Vine also helped with Radio 2's overall performance by boosting their respective audiences.

3. Overall, Radio 1 saw its ratings slip in the last quarter in terms of listening figures and audience share (11.14 million listeners and 8.2% share compared to 11.67 million and 8.5% in the previous quarter and 11.83 million and 8.7% a year earlier).

4. It was a groovy quarter for 6music which, after its Sony Awards Best Station win earlier this week, posted record listening figures for the last RAJAR quarter, up to 1.45 million. Now they just need to find a way to shut up Huey Morgan, and all will be perfectomundo.

5. Capital FM is the biggest radio station in London with 2.26 million listeners per week - and it also now has by far the biggest breakfast show in the capital, with 1.26 million listeners versus Magic's 793,000, Heart's 759,000 and Kiss FM's 750,000.

6. Elsewhere in the building at Capital owner Global Radio, Choice FM saw its audience size grow to 577,000 listeners, a 36.4% rise year on year, putting it ahead of sister station Xfm, which saw its audience drop from 604,000 a year ago to 409,000 in the first quarter of 2012.

7. Although Heart FM saw its audience slip 8% year on year in London, to 1.94 million, the Heart network (which now broadcasts in various places around the UK on FM) saw its listening figures grow year on year to 7.48 million. And while Capital's London listening is higher than sister station Heart, UK-wide it is behind at 7.04 million (though that may be explained by reach - ie how much of the country is covered on FM).

8. Absolute Radio saw its audience slip quarter on quarter but grow year on year, to 1.6 million listeners. Though when you add in the other Absolute stations available via various digital platforms, Absolute is reaching three million listeners overall.

9. Possibly because the genre it champions is still dominating the charts, Bauer Media's Kiss is doing rather well at the moment, with 4.4 million listeners across the UK, a 7.2% increase year on year. In London it is now ahead of Heart and not far behind Magic in terms of audience reach.

10. Back at the Beeb, Radio 3 saw the biggest fall in listening figures, down 15.8% year on year and 9.3% quarter on quarter, to just over 1.9 million listeners, ironically following a schedule revamp designed to make the station appeal to a wider audience.

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'American Idol' executive Nigel Lythgoe has been busy dissing the news earlier this week that Simon Cowell has recruited American pop types Britney Spears and Demi Lovato to be judges on the next series of 'X-Factor USA'.

Although admitting that both Spears and more recent Disney graduate Lovato have had eventful personal lives which should make them "interesting" additions to the show, he questioned their qualifications for judging and advising pop wannabes, telling E!: "I hadn't ever considered them [for 'Idol']. I always like mentors who have a lot more experience. I like someone who's been there and knows the whole gamut of what these kids are going through".

Meanwhile Team X have had to deny various rumours that have circulated since it was confirmed Spears had been recruited for their US show, including that the popstress's contract dictated she must always sit next to Cowell, that her dressing room demands pushed her agreement with the show' to "a point of disgust", and that producers plan to give the singer pre-prepared comments to deliver on the live shows, because of fears about Spears's ability to form her own opinions on live television.

A spokesman for the show said all the rumours were "total utter malicious rubbish", that dealings with Spears and her people had been "fantastic, productive and positive", and that America should wait and see what the pop singer would bring to the show. Cowell apparently reckons she could be the secret weapon that could make his talent franchise top the ratings in the US.

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CMU Editor Andy Malt and CMU Business Editor Chris Cooke are both available to comment on music and music business stories. Together they have provided comment and contributions to BBC News, BBC World, BBC Radios 4, 5, 6music and Scotland, Sky News, CNN, Wired and the Associated Press. Email andy@unlimitedmedia.co.uk or chris@unlimitedmedia.co.uk.

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