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CMU DAILY CELEBRATES TEN YEARS INFORMING THE WORLD OF MUSIC
With file-sharing litigation, a record label in strife and a major festival facing licensing issues, the first edition featured some of the many stresses and challenges that the music business, as an industry in flux, would regularly face in the decade that followed. Though it's been an exciting decade of new opportunities too, with CMU dedicating as much coverage to exciting new companies, innovative new business models, and interesting new digital platforms. And, of course, there's been an awful lot of rather good music along the way as well.
There were legal shenanigans too in edition one. Marilyn Manson was fined for gyrating his genitals against a security guard at a concert in Michigan, and Jason Newsted was facing a trademark battle with a group called Echo Drain over his new band's name Echobrain.
That all kicked off ten years of popular Pop Courts coverage in CMU, that has included two major Michael Jackson-themed trials (one involving the singer himself, the other the doctor who killed him); two Phil Spector court hearings (one that failed to reach a conclusion, and one that put the legendary producer in jail); litigation that successfully put Grokster, Kazaa and LimeWire out of business, and numerous legal assaults that failed to do the same to The Pirate Bay; long drawn out arguments about who exactly wrote Procul Harum's 'A Whiter Shade Of Pale'; various unsuccessful efforts to finally solve the Tupac and Notorious BIG murder mysteries; and countless run ins with the law for various pop stars, DMX probably being the most prolific. Oh, and financier and one time EMI owner Gary 'The Guy' Hands moaning about his bankers and reminiscing about biscuits. Good times.
Over the ten years CMU has grown in terms of output as well as readership. theCMUwebsite.com is read by thousands of music people and music fans daily, the CMU Weekly podcast now has a strong loyal following, and the CMU team have programmed two acclaimed editions of The Great Escape convention, the UK's premiere music business conference. Meanwhile, the CMU Training courses have enlightened and enthused hundreds of music business practitioners, utilising both the CMU editorial team's knowledge, and CMU publisher UnLimited Media's fifteen years of music and media training and consulting experience.
Commenting on the tenth anniversary of the CMU Daily, co-founder and Publisher of the Complete Music Update, Chris Cooke, says: "I think our assumption has always been that, if you work in music, you are almost certainly a big fan of music too, and so there's a place for a media that covers both the business, but also artists, releases and tours. And our 25,000 daily readers seem to agree. We also felt that, in a rapidly changing industry, it was important for everyone in music to hear about and grasp new legalities, digital systems and business models, oblivious of their legal, technical and business experience, and whether or not they had the budget to buy in advice, or to sign up to subscription-based information services. And ten years on, I think that's more important than ever".
He continues: "Of course, my industry - news provision and magazine publishing - is also in flux, and currently faces even bigger challenges than the music business. But I feel our model, with our publishing business integrated with our creative services agency, and training and consulting companies, all of which benefit from CMU's knowledge and contacts, and in turn support the publication, remains the strongest. As with music, media firms need to diversify to succeed in the digital age".
He added: "Though, of course, CMU has only been possible because of the consistent support of various individuals and partners, and because of a team at CMU HQ who work so above and beyond the call of duty, we might have to relocate the office to the roof. But we still all love doing this every day - whether we are analysing the pros and cons of Universal's EMI bid, considering the lessons to be learned from Amanda Palmer's DIY approach, pondering the intricacies of the government's fair use copyright proposals, or admiring Justin Bieber's new haircut".
So onwards and upwards. Look out for a little refresh to the CMU Daily later this month, plus yet more additions to the services CMU and UnLimited Media offer. Meanwhile, let's all celebrate by telling a friend to sign up to the Daily, liking CMU on Facebook, following us on Twitter, checking out the latest CMU podcast and watching Justin Bieber walk into a door.
MILLS REAFFIRMS OPPOSITION TO UNIVERSAL'S EMI DEAL, BUT SEAN PARKER COMES OUT AS A SUPPORTER OF THE TAKEOVER
Reconfirming his opposition to the proposed takeover, the Beggars man told the US trade mag: "I believe that this [deal] will damage the market and will hurt the opportunity for independents and other smaller majors to access the market. I think it's about dominance in market share, market control, and I just don't think that music is a commodity, using the word loosely, which should be subject to that kind of dominance".
With Universal now expected to offer concessions to regulators in the Europe to address concerns listed in the Statement Of Objections they handed to the major this week, Mills was asked if that would allay any of his fears. "I don't really think that's the issue" he replied. "I don't think that some small divestments really solve the problem. I think the problem of having one super dominant player in the industry is too big to be solved by small remedies".
But what about recent reports that Sony Music actually had a bigger market share in the first quarter of 2012 than Universal? Does that not show that opponents to the EMI deal are exaggerating UMG's dominance, Billboard's Andy Gensler wondered. Mills: "There was a week last year in the UK where my company had a bigger share than Universal, let alone Sony. Maybe it was more than one week. But I think the Adele record has been a phenomenon [and] you can't draw any conclusions from that. What you should do is look at the second biggest independent record label. I think what this is about is the biggest player trying to increase and re-establish control of the market and put the genie back in the bottle, when I think [the rest of us] like the genie out of the bottle".
Mills was also asked about why he - as the British boss of a British record company - had been asked to speak in front of America's Congress. Admitting he wasn't really sure why he'd been approached, he pondered: "I did a similar thing at the House Of Commons quite a few years ago on consumer pricing, so I have done it in the UK. I guess my label is fairly prominent in the independent world these days and I've been fairly outspoken about this merger and so I guess they probably wanted somebody to put that point of view".
You can read the full interview with Mills, including his thoughts on Sony's bid to buy the EMI publishing company, here.
Meanwhile, as Mills, former Warner Music CEO Edgar Bronfman Jr and Gigi Sohn of American lobby group Public Knowledge prepare to diss Universal's bid to buy the EMI labels in Congress later today, the mega-major won a new supporter for its EMI ambitions yesterday in the surprise form of Napster co-founder, former Facebook President and current Spotify advisor Sean Parker; though you do sense that whenever Parker takes part in a Q&A at a conference these days he arrives with a killer voxpop that will grab the headlines, and I'm never sure how much he really believes what he says.
The EMI deal came up right at the end of a conversation at the New Music Seminar between Parker and the event's founder and Tommy Boy Entertainment boss Tom Silverman. According to Billboard, Parker said, after stressing he wasn't speaking for Spotify on this issue, that after "twelve years of the music industry languishing" and with it still being in a "difficult transitional period", Universal buying EMI would "ultimately be a good thing for an industry that needs leadership willing to drive change".
Of course, regulatory investigations into Universal's EMI bid are still ongoing in the US and Europe, though according to Music Week the previously reported (and only slightly pointless) separate investigation in New Zealand has given the acquisition the all clear, despite opposition from Warner and key independents.
TOO MUCH KIT AND TOO LITTLE TIME MAY HAVE CAUSED COLLAPSE OF RADIOHEAD STAGE
As previously reported, Radiohead's drum tech Scott Johnson was killed and three others were injured when the roof to the outdoor staging set up for the band's Toronto show crashed down about an hour before audience members were due to be admitted.
According to CBC, the Ontario Labour Ministry, which is leading the investigation into the accident, is focusing on four companies that were involved in setting up the outdoor staging. These include Toronto-based Optex Staging & Services, Vancouver-based Nasco Staffing Solutions, overall promoter Live Nation, and Ticker Tape Touring, one of Radiohead's own companies.
None of those four companies have provided much comment to date on the incident, presumably believing doing so would be inappropriate while the Labour Ministry's investigation is ongoing. However, a US spokesman for Radiohead said: "[The band] is unable to comment concerning the stage structure at Downsview Park. Radiohead installs its production into the performance space as provided by the venue and/or promoter".
Unnamed sources have told CBC News that staff from the company hired to manage the lighting for the show had expressed concerns that the stage structure would be bearing too much weight if it was to carry all of the kit Radiohead take on tour, but that an engineer had nevertheless given the set up the all clear. Meanwhile, two other experts have told the Canadian news channel that they feel the speed with which the Radiohead stage set up was built could also have been a factor.
Toronto-based civil engineer David Bowick told them: "The thing that's unique about this type of facility is the speed that it goes up and the speed that it comes down. And it might very well be that the pace of the industry is just too fast to allow normal protocols to do their job. [And] a very small human error could precipitate a chain reaction".
It remains to be seen if there are any general lessons to be learned from last weekend's tragedy, and whether any of the companies involved in the event will be held liable.
GOOGLE BLOCKS AUDIO-RIPPING SERVICE
YouTube-mp3 says Google has stopped its servers from accessing YouTube, after issuing the company with a cease and desist on copyright grounds. They added that the web giant threatened to sue if YouTube-mp3 didn't stop enabling others to download audio content that featured in videos streaming on the YouTube platform.
The YouTube ripping service's spokesman, known simply as Philip, hit out at Google, arguing that audio-ripping YouTube videos was legal in some territories. Of course the legalities of providing a service like this are somewhat complicated in most jurisdictions, though precedent in the US and many European countries would suggest that, if the service was being primarily used to access copyright material without permission, and if YouTube-mp3 did not introduce measures to curb such use, then it could be held liable for copyright infringement.
Philip also accused Google of hypocrisy, noting that the web giant itself has been accused in the past of copying or digitising copyright material without permission, via its search, content sharing and Google Books ventures, though the web firm would likely say that, in the main, it operates well within American copyright law (albeit sometimes only after litigation clarifies its exact obligations).
It's not entirely clear why Google has chosen to act against YouTube-mp3 now, nor whether it's because the web firm sees such services as potential rivals or because of pressure put on it by the rights owners which licence video content to YouTube, including the music firms. A spokesman told The Register: "We have always taken violations of our Terms Of Service seriously and will continue to enforce these Terms Of Service against sites that violate them".
It's also not clear whether Google's new resolve on audio-ripping sites will result in similar cease and desist actions against YouTube-mp3's competitors, though The Inquirer has noted that one rival, Clip.dj, has recently gone offline.
VIVA BROTHER REINCARNATED AS LOVELIFE
Well, guess what. The band's one-time frontman Lee Newell (and potentially the remainder of the Viva Brother line-up - opinion is divided on that point) is back and recording under the alias Lovelife. I know this to be true from looking at Lovelife's official website, which features several new tracks of the synth-pop variety (a novel move for Newell, who in the past has been touted - albeit primarily by himself - as something of a modern rock n roll saviour).
Oh, and here are those three tracks I just mentioned. They are entitled 'Brave Face', 'She Makes It Look So Easy' and 'Love Rush'.
EIGHTIES MATCHBOX B-LINE DISASTER REUNITE
PALMER TO WORK WITH COOKING VINYL ON KICKSTARTED ALBUM RELEASE
Palmer, of course, is a leading advocate of the DIY approach to releasing music in the digital age, keen to keep control of projects and copyrights for her and her core management team. That team will lead on the new album campaign globally, and will perform most label functions directly in the US, but, says Palmer, Cooking Vinyl will be her "boots on the ground" in European territories.
Meanwhile Cooking Vinyl top man Martin Goldschmidt added: "I am proud to welcome Amanda to Cooking Vinyl, as well as being a fantastic artist she is very forward thinking in approach to the business. Our relationship is not a traditional record deal and reflects her ethics. [And] she joins The Cult to become our second refugee from Roadrunner Records!"
LONDON SIGN MAJOR LOOK
It's a "summer anthem in the waiting". I know this, because the press release I'm reading just told me, and who am I to argue? Certainly Major Lookers Crystal Clear and vocalist/MC Stapleton are pretty prolific.
Confirming the deal, Nick Raphael, who has been leading London since its relaunch as a stand-alone imprint at Universal last year, said he signed the duo "because Stapleton is a star and Crystal Clear is a genius!"
LILY ALLEN "THROWING SHIT" IN THE STUDIO
Tweeting mock-furiously at Popjustice's Peter Robinson (who's clearly been demanding a new album from her for a while) the off-duty singer said: "You will be pleased to know that I am currently in the fucking studio with @GregKurstin so SHUT UP PETER!".
Don't get excited yet, though, because she was quick to add that the studio session was: "No big deal really, I'm just throwing shit at the wall and seeing if anything sticks".
PINK RELEASING NEW SINGLE SOON
Pink also said that young Willow had played "bells and bass" on various other tracks across her still-untitled new LP, which would mean she's a very clever baby indeed. 'Blow Me', as was co-written with Lily Allen's pop producer pal Greg Kurstin, is set for release on 9 Jul.
PURITY RING GIVE AWAY TRACK
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WOODS NAME NEW LP
PURE LOVE TO TOUR
They've named it the 'Handsome Devil's Club Tour', presumably after their new single 'Handsome Devil's Club', which can be seen here.
And the dates are:
18 Jul: Birmingham, Glee Club
PATRICK WOLF ANNOUNCES ANNIVERSARY ACOUSTIC DATES
A statement on Wolf's website confirms he'll wield a grand piano, Celtic harp, dulcimer "and more" during each performance, playing a different set-list combination every night.
The same statement also er... states that Patrick plans to release a new LP later in the year, so that's nice.
ESSENTIAL ANNOUNCES NEW DEALS
Commenting on the new deals, Essential MD Mike Chadwick told CMU: "Essential Music And Marketing is really pleased to be signing up such venerable international labels; Razor & Tie particularly has been in our sights for a while and to have them on board is a real coup. These North American partnerships are exactly where we want to be expanding as a company and having such success so early on for our US office is a testament to the ability of our US CEO Erik Gilbert and his team".
JAPAN INTRODUCES TOUGH NEW FILE-SHARING PENALTIES
Those convicted under the new law could face up to two years in prison and/or a fine of up to two million yen (about £16,000). The uploading of unlicensed content in Japan already carries a maximum penalty of ten years in prison and a 10 million yen fine.
The new penalties for downloading have been criticised by some in both the net community and the legal world, though the domestic music and movie industries have been lobbying hard for such changes in the copyright system.
Although the decline in CD sales has been slower in Japan than most other countries, and while file-sharing there has not been as prevalent as in much of the rest of the world (for cultural, legal and technical reasons), the Japanese music business is still facing similar challenges to the global industry as digital content becomes the norm.
Whether the new penalties will have any major effect on file-sharing in Japan remains to be seen. It's thought rights owners will continue to primarily monitor such net usage, and it's likely they will primarily go after prolific file-sharers, and mainly those who prolifically upload, who already faced tough sentences. There is also a little ambiguity in the new law, in that it must be proven a file-sharer knew the content they were downloading was not licensed.
Nevertheless, critics of the new rules fear they could be used to unfairly target more casual file-sharers who, they argue, are not really the problem.
BBC TRUST SAYS R1 STILL NEEDS TO DO MORE TO ENGAGE YOUNGER LISTENERS
In its new report, the Trust said it wanted to see "BBC1 make further progress in offering distinctive programming in peak-time", while it reckoned Radio 1 was still appealing to too old a listener, though it did concede work was already underway to address this.
The Trust noted: "Our aim that Radio 1 focuses more clearly on a young target audience so that its median age is within the target age group is still outstanding, although work is under way to address this issue. The median age has remained constant since our review completed in 2009 although, due to a change in RAJAR methodology, it stands at 30, rather than 29, so just outside the target age group of 15 to 29-year-olds".
In a debate about the role of Radio 1 at The Great Escape last month, panellists, including Xfm founder Sammy Jacob, radio expert Matt Deegan, PR veteran Mark Borkowski and Wall Of Sound chief Mark Jones, also felt that - while successful in many ways - the BBC station wasn't truly achieving its remit to "entertain and engage a broad range of young listeners with a distinctive mix of contemporary music and speech". Though they conceded that was partly because that aim was contradictory, in that you arguably can't engage a mainstream youth audience by providing a distinctive mix of music.
The panellists observed that Radio 1 addressed that problem by focusing on engaging "a broad range of young listeners" in daytime, and fulfilling its "distinctive mix of contemporary music" remit at night-time. Jacob said that he felt the station should try harder to combine some small elements of its nighttime programming into daytime shows, though both he and Deegan conceded that doing so would likely result in a drop in listening figures in the region of 10-20%. Though, given the station's public service remit, the panel felt that would be a ratings slide worth tolerating.
ROLLING STONE STREAMLINES EDITORIAL TEAM
Sources says that management at the title have told staff they plan to more closely integrate print and online editorial teams, something done by many other newspapers and magazines in recent years, after initially hiring separate journalists to generate online content when the world wide web first gained mainstream momentum ten years ago.
Although Rolling Stone has an extensive free-to-access website, some say the online operation has been more overtly promoting the print edition of late. Content from the latest issue of the magazine and its 45 year archive is only available to subscribers of the print version, an online-only subscription package to access that content having been phased out.
ONE DIRECTION BOYS TOO FAMOUS FOR UNDERAGE GAMBLING
One of those legendary sources told The Sun: "The boys were hoping to go wild in Vegas by boozing and gambling into the early hours. But security at every casino in town knew who the lads were and threw them out because the legal drinking and gambling age in the US is 21".
The city-wide ejections meant the 1D boys had to make do with the two floor suite at the Palms hotel that their management had arranged, which only came with a hot tub, pool table and basketball court. Life is hard when you're in a globe trotting boy band.