A round up of music and music business events happening in the next seven days...
Girls Aloud announcement. On Monday last week, the Girls Aloud website went black. The next morning, a countdown timer appeared, and has been counting down to this coming Friday ever since. As the very least, when it ends it will be ten years to the day since the group first performed together on ITV's 'Popstars: The Rivals'. It's then likely that they will announce their reunion, because that is the worst kept secret in the music business right now. Though they might throw a curveball and just release a DVD or something. That would be fun.
CMJ and ADE. In the world of city-based music conferences and festivals this week there are a couple of notable events. The CMJ Music Marathon will be taking over New York, showcasing acts from across the globe and from various genres. Meanwhile, the Amsterdam Dance Event hits Amsterdam (what gave it away?) covering all things dance music. Both will also stage industry-focussed panels and networking events.
BASCA Gold Badge Awards. The British Academy Of Songwriters, Composers And Authors will hand out its Gold Badge Awards at a ceremony at The Savoy in London on 17 Oct. Now in its 38th year, the badge scheme recognises people from across the music industry who have been particularly supportive of songwriters and composers. This year's winners are: Paul Carrack, Mark Cooper, Jude Kelly, George Martin, Nick Mason, Fran Nevrkla, Mandy Oates, Nigel Ogden, Caroline Redman Lusher, Chris Welch, John Williams.
Welsh Music Prize. Returning for the second year (having been picked up by Gruff Rhys in 2011), the Welsh Music Prize will be handed out to the finest Welsh album of the last twelve months, Mercury Prize style, this Thursday. On the shortlist this year are Bright Light Bright Light, Cate Le Bon, Cowbois Rhos Botwnnog, Exit_International, Future Of The Left, M, Islet, Jodie Marie, Kids In Glass Houses, Kutosis, Los Campesinos! and Truckers Of Husk.
New releases. It's possible I said Susanne Sundfør's new album was out in the UK last week, but I forgot it was moved back. It's out this week though, and you should definitely buy it. And also check out Halls' fantastic debut, which is also available for your listening pleasure today. As well as that, Bat For Lashes, Martha Wainwright, Alice & Michi, Trust and Godspeed You! Black Emperor have albums out this week. If you're a fan of watching bands long past their best, then look no further than Led Zepplin's new live DVD, and if you're a fan of Kings Of Leon side projects, then Jared Followill's Smoke And Jackal will be up your street.
Gigs and tours. There are several one-off London shows worth your attention this week, including label showcases from Erased Tapes and Wichita Recordings, Squarepusher's show at the Hackney Empire, plus headline performances from Blanck Mass, The Cribs and Rachel Zeffira. Kicking off tours this week are Bat For Lashes, Dirty Projectors, Tim Burgess, Micachu And The Shapes, Tamaryn, O Children, Toy, King Krule, Lucy Rose, Tenebrous Liar and BIGkids.
MICROSOFT TO UNVEIL LATEST ATTEMPT AT MUSIC SERVICE TODAY
The big innovation for Microsoft with Xbox Music is that it will include a streaming service operating pretty much on the Spotify model, with an ad-funded freemium option, as well as a ten dollars a month ad-free subscription package that will also work with Xbox consoles and Windows smartphones.
The streaming service will be added to the download store previously operated by Microsoft under the Zune banner, though with a scan-and-match digital locker function included too, so that users of the Xbox streaming service will also be able to access any tracks in their MP3 collections not in the Microsoft songs catalogue via devices connected to the Xbox network.
This is Microsoft's third big attempt at digital music. It originally offered downloads via its MSN platform, using the firm's proprietary WMA file format complete with its PlaysForSure digital rights management technology, which was also used by most of the other early legit download stores. But, of course, WMA files didn't work on the market-leader iPod, which could only play the DRMed AAC files provided by iTunes, or the MP3s offered by some independent download stores, but mainly, at that time, unlicensed file-sharing networks.
As MP3 (or AAC in the case of iTunes) became the default file-format for the emerging digital music market, Microsoft rebooted its efforts with the launch of Zune, a move into hardware as well as software, and a totally new content platform (so much so Zune players didn't support DRMed music previously bought via MSN).
Despite some positive reviews for both the Zune hardware and accompanying Marketplace, neither really took off, even after the major labels finally dropped their demand for DRM, allowing Microsoft to sell all its music in the consumer-friendly MP3 format. Apple continued to dominate, while Amazon emerged as the second player in downloads, and new competition from YouTube and the streaming audio services pushed Microsoft further down the list of music providers, even in the US where Zune was most prominently marketed (the Zune devices were never sold beyond North America).
Xbox Music is another total relaunch, a year in the making, and benefiting from having former Universal Music exec Christina Calio leading on label relations. The big innovation, of course, is the addition of streaming, though Microsoft is likely to push the fact that its new music platform is the first from a major player to combine all the elements of digital music - downloads, digital locker, streaming and curated content.
Though another possibly more important change is that while Zune always seemed like a side project for Microsoft, Xbox Music will be a core service, its launch being carefully timed with the big marketing push around the new Windows operating system. And while Zune's global expansion was slow, and only ever reached eight territories, Xbox Music will be available in 22 markets from launch.
That Xbox Music is so tightly linked to Windows-powered devices is, of course, a major weakness, though versions compatible with both Apple's iOS and Google's Android operating system are planned for 2013, and that is when the true potential of Microsoft's third music service will really be tested.
US PUBLISHERS WIN LAWSUIT AGAINST LYRICS WEBSITE
As previously reported, American's National Music Publishers Association announced its members were suing LiveUniverse in August 2009, claiming that the site was infringing copyright by making lyrics available without a licence from the relevant publishers. Warner Chappell, Bug Music and Peermusic led on the litigation.
Judge George Wu ruled in favour of the publishers last week without a full hearing, mainly because of "misconduct" Greenspan is accused of in relation to the case, failing to provide information and to show up for hearings as requested by the court.
LiveUniverse was ordered to pay the claimants $12,500 for each of the 528 listed songs for which the site published lyrics without permission, while an injunction bans Greenspan from publishing any other lyrics on his site without first getting permission from the relevant publisher.
LOFIDOGMA RECORDING PROJECT COMES TO LONDON
The LofiDogma team have taken over Ilkatron Studios in South London, with a new band coming in to record each day. Recording today are The Wave Pictures, while Jamie Harrison, Laish, Red Kite and Nimmo And The Gauntletts will follow as the week progresses.
More information at www.lofidogma.com
SCOTT WALKER SHARES BISH BOSCH TRAILER
Featuring studio footage and excerpts from a number of the long player's component tracks, specifically 'See You Don't Bump His Head', 'Tar', 'Dimple', 'Corps De Blah', 'Phrasing' and 'Epizootics!', it's available to watch now.
'Bish Bosch' also has its own special 'online presence', and you can experience that via this link.
LANA DEL REY RIDES AGAIN, PREMIERES MINI MOVIE
That's Lana's character saying that by the way, not the real Lana. Well, maybe it's Lizzy Grant - Lana's less lucrative self in a past life - talking. I guess we'll never know either way.
Talking of talking, I'm going to stop, and leave the saying of inane things to Lana/'Lana', who does it so very beautifully.
'Ride' the single was released yesterday, and also features on the now-available 'Paradise' restyle of Del Rey's debut LP 'Born To Die'.
DAVID BYRNE TO TALK ABOUT MUSIC AND NEW BOOK, THRICE
He'll be popping into London's Curzon Cinema on 24 Oct first, to pose the question 'Do We Need Any More Music?', before calling at Manchester's Royal Northern College Of Music the following evening to muse on whether or not 'Music Matters Less In The Current Era?' Third and finally, he'll grace Glasgow's Film Theatre the day after that (26 Oct) to converse re 'How To Survive As A Label And Artist'.
Music authorities Mathew Herbert, Dave Haslam and Alun Woodward will accompany Dave at talks one, two and three respectively.
LIANNE LA HAVAS REPLACES CANCELLED DATES, ADDS NEW LONDON SHOW
The revised 2013 dates look thus:
28 Feb: Cambridge, Junction
GET CAPE. WEAR CAPE. GO ON ACOUSTIC TOUR
And the dates are:
8 Nov: Bristol, Fleece & Firkin
CHARLI XCX CANCELS NOVEMBER TOUR
By way of explanation for voiding the shows, XCX tweeted/shouted: "TO ALL MY UK FANS! I AM SO SORRY I CANCELLED MY NOVEMBER UK TOUR - THE REASON FOR THIS IS THAT I HAVE TO FINISH MY ALBUM..."
She added: "THIS WILL REALLY BENEFIT MY ALBUM... I WANT TO MAKE THE BEST RECORD POSSIBLE FOR U! THEN DO THE BEST TOUR POSSIBLE FOR U!!!"
Charli assures fans that they'll receive all monies paid for tickets back at point of purchase, also promising revised dates and a Halloween mixtape asap.
In the mean time, Elle UK commissioned Charli and her precarious boots to do a minimal version of her new single 'She's The One', and this is what happened.
FESTIVAL LINE-UP ADDITIONS
BLOODSTOCK OPEN AIR, Catton Hall, Derby, 8-11 Aug 2013: Kind Diamond. www.bloodstock.uk.com
WICKHAM FESTIVAL, 1-4 Aug 2013: Seth Lakeman, Roy Bailey, Shooglenifty. www.wickhamfestival.co.uk
SNOOP POCKETS LIKE IT'S HOT
Sorry, I was going to lead you into that bit of news more gently, but I'm still too dumbfounded by the whole thing to think of anything to say. I mean, what can you say? It's not like when Shed Seven changed one line of 'Speakeasy' for mobile phone shop The Link. This is a whole song. A whole song that is now about microwavable snacks. Oh, and it features a guest rap from Andy Milonakis.
Enough talk now, watch.
BRANSON HOPES UNIVERSAL WILL "REINVIGORATE LANGUISHED" VIRGIN RECORDS
As previously reported, when Universal was negotiating with European regulators to get approval for its acquisition of the EMI record company, it was mooted that Virgin Records - sold by Branson to the British major way back in 1992 - would be one of the EMI units divested to placate those concerned by the market dominance of a combined Universal/EMI.
Branson was then linked to a bid to buy the Virgin label from Universal, being spearheaded by former Virgin Records exec Patrick Zelnik, now boss of French indie Naïve and an active player in the European indie label trade body IMPALA (somewhat controversially, given his Virgin acquisition ambitions meant Zelnik became pro the Universal acquisition of EMI, with remedies, whereas IMPALA's official line was to oppose the merger outright).
In the end Zelnik's Virgin bid, with or without Branson as a backer, wasn't to be, because Virgin Records was not on the list of EMI units to be sold when Universal finalised its divestment plans with European regulators, indeed in the UK it will be pretty much the only part of EMI that moves over to Universal HQ, with Parlophone and the Chrysalis catalogue to be sold.
Asked about the music business in a new interview with the Financial Times, Branson alludes to some kind of alliance with Universal as the new operators of the Virgin brand in the record industry, reckoning that EMI's most recent owners under-utilised the Virgin Records name, especially in the US where the Virgin label was merged into EMI's Capitol division. Though what the relationship between the Virgin Group and Universal might be isn't clear.
In terms of any really active involvement by Branson and the Virgin empire in music in the short term future, most attention is now on the group's rumoured ambitions in live music, which could kick off with the much mooted 50th anniversary shows for the Rolling Stones. The Virgin chief was coy about those plans in the FT interview too, though indicated such a venture was indeed in development, adding "rumour has it we've landed quite a good catch".
Read the interview here.
ADELE'S '21' FUELS TEN-FOLD PROFIT INCREASE FOR XL
The surge in revenues mean profits were up tenfold, from £4.1 million in 2010 to £41.7 million in 2011. Though, according to City AM, the accounts note that 2011 was an "exceptional year" because of the success of that one record, and that 2012 figures will likely fall back in line with usual expectations, though, of course, '21' is still generating revenues even now.
According to the Sunday Times, the label paid out a £8.5 million dividend to co-founder and co-owner Richard Russell, while Beggars Group chief Martin Mills received a similar amount from his equity stake.
SIMFY WITHDRAWS FREEMIUM IN BELGIUM, SPOTIFY PLANNING JAPAN LAUNCH
Meanwhile, taling of Spotify, word has it that the Swedish streaming platform is planning a launch in Japan in early 2013. According to paidContent, talks are already underway with the labels there. Subscription-based streaming services have been slow to launch in Japan, mainly because of reservations in the labels there, though Sony got its Music Unlimited service live in the country earlier this year.
AS SAVILE SCANDAL GROWS, DLT ACCUSED OF GROPING AND PEEL WING OF BBC HQ QUESTIONED
With various female broadcasters now recalling what a chauvinistic place British broadcasting was from the 1960s to the 1980s, former Radio 1 DJ Dave Lee Travis has now been accused of inappropriate behaviour back in the day, albeit not on the level of Savile.
Former BBC and Sky News presenter Vivien Creegor says DLT "jiggled her breasts" while she was on air in the 1980s, while an unnamed woman has accused the DJ of groping her when she was just seventeen. Travis says he "categorically denies" both allegations.
Meanwhile there's been speculation that the late John Peel might be pulled into the quagmire, after a woman told the Daily Mail that, during his early career as a radio DJ, he got her pregnant while she was just fifteen. She decided to keep the pregnancy secret from the presenter and had an abortion. That has led some critics to question whether the BBC should go ahead with plans to name a wing of its new HQ in Central London in the late Radio 1 DJ's honour.
When still alive, Peel made no secret of having had sexual liaisons with teenage fans in the early part of his radio career, especially when working in the US. The big difference between Peel and Savile, of course, is that he is not accused of forcing himself on teenage girls, but rather accepting the sexual advances of underage fans. And while there may be a strong argument that adult celebrities have an obligation to resist such advances, if that rule is to be applied across the board to the rock and pop world of the past, a lot more former stars could be in the dock.
A BBC spokesman responded to the Mail's report, and questions over naming part of New Broadcasting House in memory of Peel, by saying: "Clearly, in the event of proven allegations of sexual abuse the BBC would re-consider its decision on the naming of part of our new building".
The scale of Savile's alleged abuses continues to grow as new allegations and revelations are made in the papers and filed with police, while on Friday the BBC said it would launch two independent enquiries into the scandal once police investigations were complete - one looking into what BBC management knew about the DJ and presenter's behaviour when he was working for the Corporation, and another asking whether management interference caused the canning of a 'Newsnight' investigation into the sex abuse allegations against the then dead star late last year.
GLOBAL'S TV STATIONS GO LIVE
Global's Stephen Miron told reporters: "The launch of these new TV channels are a natural evolution for the Capital and Heart brands and will allow us to provide increased commercial opportunities for our radio partners".
Global station Classic FM did operate a TV channel on the Sky and Virgin networks under its previous owners GCap until 2007.
The radio major's main competitors, Bauer Media, is already very active in the music telly space, of course, via its joint venture with Channel 4, the Box TV business, which operates various music television services utilising the C4 and Bauer magazine and radio station brands.
CHANNEL 4 TO PHASE OUT T4
Confirming T4, made for Channel 4 by Princess Productions, will stop after the end of this year, Channel 4's Head Of Formats Dominic Bird told reporters: "Whilst T4 has historically been a much loved destination for our young audiences, its popularity has been incrementally diminished over time by the digital revolution".
On the plans in music, Bird added: "This is an incredibly exciting opportunity to develop a credible popular music show for Friday nights. The pilots reflect our continued ambition to provide our younger audiences on Channel 4 with a range of entertaining music content".
ONE DIRECTION'S NIALL REQUIRES SURGERY AFTER SQUIRREL ATTACK
Well, that's what Niall Horan from One Direction reckons, anyway. Because if that's not the case, then he tore all the ligaments in his knee trying to escape from an entirely harmless small animal.
Speaking on Capital Radio's Sunday Breakfast Show recently, Horan said: "A squirrel attacked me. I got attacked by a squirrel in Battersea Park. They're dangerous. It's rare. I've torn most of the ligaments in my knee. So no football for me, it's early retirement now. I've got a floating knee cap".
So, watch out residents of Battersea, there's a squirrel on the loose.