A round up of music and music business events happening in the next seven days...
Mercury Prize. The Mercury Prize will be handed out to one lucky winner this Thursday. Who could it be? I reckon Richard Hawley should win for recognition of his work with The Longpigs. They really were a great band and didn't get enough recognition back in the day. I know the Mercury is supposed to be for a specific album, but come on, it's not like Elbow actually won it for 'The Seldom Seen Kid', is it? Sometimes they have to give it to someone who should have had it ages ago. Oh, and Hawley's 'Standing At The Sky's Edge' album is actually pretty good too, which is just a bonus.
MOBOs. Following the Mercury, the MOBO Awards will take place in Liverpool this coming Saturday. Leading the nominations is Emeli Sandé with five nods, followed by Labrinth, Plan B and Rita Ora with four each, and Ed Sheeran with three. AlunaGeorge are up for Best Newcomer too - we'd quite like to see them win that.
AIM Independent Music Awards. Before the Mercury and MOBOs there's another awards ceremony this week. This very evening, in fact. The AIM Independent Music Awards will be honouring artists and labels in the indie sector for the second year. If you missed our interviews with nominated indie label bosses over the last two weeks, you can catch up with them all right here.
Kickstarter UK launch. Kickstarter will go live in the UK this Wednesday, and creatives or entrepreneurs looking for financial support for new projects can register with the service now. Previously non-US based individuals wanting to use the crowd-sourcing website needed a partner or company based in America, but now us Brits can use the service without that extra hassle. Could you be the next Amanda Palmer? Maybe you could.
Grooveshark launching artist profiles. This Thursday, Grooveshark will launch its new artist profiles, which aim to get musicians on board by allowing them to collect cash donations via micropayments service Flattr. It will be interesting to see whether any artists embrace that new element of Grooveshark. The introduction of the monetised artist profiles is presumably part of the controversial digital firm's bid to present itself as a champion of artists, despite its various legal disputes with the 'big bad major music companies'.
New releases. It's less than two months until Christmas now, a fact marked by the release of Cee Lo Green's Christmas album, which you can purchase from today. If you fancy something a little less festive, try the new albums from A$AP Rocky and Ital Tek, or even the new mini-album from Lowell. Singles-wise, you can get the first of a new series from My Chemical Romance featuring tracks from an album they shelved because they thought it was rubbish, plus new shortform releases from The Joy Formidable, LCMDF and Brian McFadden.
Gigs. The number of gigs and tours happening at the moment is still ridiculous, amongst the artists playing one-off shows or kicking off tours this week are Jack White, Tinchy Stryder, Alt-J, Robyn, The Joy Formidable, DOOM, Efterklang, Dry The River, Spiritualized, Four Tet, Kate Nash, Polica, Maximo Park, Here We Go Magic, Eighties Matchbox B-line Disaster, Twin Shadow, Tame Impala, Opossom, Two Gallants, How To Dress Well, Halls and Ratking.
UNIVERSAL EMI LAY-OFFS BEGIN
According to Billboard, Universal merged EMI's American distribution division with its own late last week, resulting in 50 redundancies, most from the former EMI Music Services unit. Insiders have told reporters that they've been informed there could be further job cuts to come in distribution in the next three months, though a senior Universal exec has denied those reports.
Some EMI distribution staff will move to new roles within the equivalent Universal Music department, mainly to manage the distribution of releases by Capitol, the main EMI label stateside which now operates as a division of the mega-major, and releases from which will be handled by Universal Music Group Distribution moving forward. That includes Joan Kane, Saul Shapiro, David Miller and Dominic Pandiscia, the latter formerly the head of what was EMI Music Services in North America.
In addition to the cuts in distribution, the EMI and Universal Nashville divisions were also merged last week, resulting in around ten further redundancies.
Confirming the cuts, Universal said in a statement: "Following our acquisition of EMI Recorded Music, UMG will be expanding key creative areas as part of our ongoing integration. While this restructuring will unfortunately result in some redundancies, it is essential to UMG becoming an even more agile and efficient company, not just for this year or the next, but for years to come. Our goal is to maximise the resources available for reinvestment in our labels so they can do what they do best: develop and promote artists, increase the output of new music and expand opportunities for digital innovation".
Universal top man Lucian Grainge promised the major's parent company Vivendi that he could find £100 million in cost savings by combining the Universal and EMI businesses, and remains committed to that pledge despite the mega-major having to sell off over half of EMI's assets in Europe. Meaning plenty more of these kinds of announcements are expected in the next few months, though in Europe there is the added complication of the sell-off of those units being divested as part of Universal's deal with European competition regulators.
MEGA V2 TO LAUNCH EXACTLY ONE YEAR AFTER V1'S SHUTDOWN
As previously reported, Mega will be an enhanced version of MegaUpload, the controversial file-transfer and video-sharing platform that the music and movie industries accused of being a massive hub for piracy.
However, any files uploaded to the new Mega digital locker will be automatically encrypted, with a unique unlock key provided to the user, which - Dotcom and his associates reckon - will protect them from any liability for contributory copyright infringement, because the Mega company will have no way of knowing what files are being stored on its servers, and so will not be able to control the distribution of infringing material over its networks.
Mega will also be based outside the US, and in multiple locations in different territories. It was because most of the MegaUpload servers were stored in facilities in the States that the American authorities were able to so swiftly and resolutely take the original Mega service offline when they launched their criminal action at the start of the year.
Dotcom had previously indicated that the all-new Mega would go live this year, though announced this weekend that "the new Mega will launch exactly one year after the raid". Assuming it does, that will mean Mega v2 is up and running before the US's attempt to extradite Dotcom and three other former Mega execs from New Zealand has reached the courts there. Even if that was successful, it could then take years for the criminal case to reach a court in America.
It's thought Dotcom wants to expand the range of services the new Mega offers, and the extra add-ons may include Megabox, the direct-to-fan platform he has also been developing. Whether the new venture can ever reach the scale of the original MegaUpload remains to be seen.
While Dotcom says he has investors lined up, some potential backers will be wary of investing while the criminal case against the original Mega company is ongoing. Plus the encryption system will arguably make it harder for users to use the Mega network to access free music and movie files stored in other users' digital lockers, and the music and movie industries would argue that it was that easily accessible free content, rather than any of the technical services the platform offered, that made the original MegaUpload such a big hit.
Either way, 19 Jan 2013 could be interesting.
GARY GLITTER ARRESTED AS PART OF SAVILE INVESTIGATION
As of late last week, police confirmed they were pursuing 400 lines of enquiry relating to a possible 300 abuse victims of Savile, who died a year ago today. Victims across the country, mainly female, though some male too, have come forward to make allegations about the DJ and TV star after the screening of an ITV documentary at the start of the month, in which a handful of women first publicly claimed to have been sexually abused by Savile when they were young teenagers.
With allegations that some of the abuse happened on BBC premises, and with the embarrassment that the BBC's 'Newsnight' canned its own investigation into sex abuse allegations against Savile late last year, just before the Beeb aired tribute shows to its former star, the Corporation has also launched two independent investigations into its handling of allegations against the DJ, both recent and in the past.
Hospitals where Savile fund-raised and also, seemingly, abused young girls, are also likely to investigate past management decisions regards the presenter's access to patients, while two charities set up in the star's name have been wound down. Even family members of Savile are now talking to the media about their disgust regards their relation's conduct.
Since the Savile scandal erupted, it's been clear others were likely to be investigated as police responded to allegations against the former DJ, with allegations reportedly also being made against other stars and behind-the-scenes players from the both broadcasting and music industries who were linked to Savile in his hey day in the 1970s.
And Glitter, real name Paul Gadd, was always high up the list of contenders for arrest, given that Karin Ward, one of the first women to go public about Savile's abuse of her and others at the former Duncroft Approved School For Girls in Surrey, alleged in an interview with the BBC that she had once seen the former popstar having sex with another school girl in Savile's dressing room at the BBC.
Gadd's pop career, of course, all but came to an end when he was jailed for four months in 1999 for downloading thousands of images of child abuse to his PC (notably, as he fell out favour, one of the few media personalities to defend Gadd's actions was Savile). He subsequently fled the country, eventually residing in Vietnam, where he served more time in jail over allegations of sexual abuse of minors, though initial charges of child rape, which would have resulted in the death penalty, were dropped. After completing his jail term, the former glam rocker was deported back to the UK.
Gadd has always denied any wrongdoing in the various child abuse allegations made against him, and denies the latest allegations too. He was bailed until mid-December after being questioned in a London police station yesterday.
The Metropolitan Police confirmed that a man "in his 60s" had been arrested yesterday as part of Operation Yewtree, the Met's investigation into the plethora of claims against Savile. On Gadd's arrest, the police spokesman said: "The man, from London, was arrested at approximately 7.15am on suspicion of sexual offences. The individual falls under the strand of the investigation we have termed 'Savile and others'".
According to the Mirror, "many more people" will be quizzed in the coming days regards the allegations against Savile and others said to have abused teenagers with him. Mark Williams-Thomas, the former police detective who led the ITV News investigation into claims against the late star, has reportedly said some of those that face child abuse claims related to the Savile scandal are "people of significant standing".
Meanwhile, elsewhere in the pop courts, Gadd's estranged son Paul was among the latest batch of celebrities to begin legal proceedings against News International last week, over allegations journalists at the News Of The World hacked his voicemail in the year's following his father's conviction for downloading images of child abuse.
The News Corp-owned newspaper publisher is still facing mountains of legal action relating to phone hacking undertaken by staff at the now defunct Sunday paper, though in PR terms some of the heat has been taken off the company as its rival, Trinity Mirror, faced, for the first time, its own litigation over allegations of phone hacking last week.
BRITNEY'S MUM REPEATS ALLEGATIONS AGAINST HER DAUGHTER'S FORMER 'MANAGER'
As previously reported, Lutfi, who was very close to Britney Spears during her very public mental breakdown in 2007/8, is suing his former friend's family over allegations Lynne defamed him in a 2008 book, that Britney's father Jamie assaulted him the same year, and that he is due a cut of the popstar's earnings from that time because he worked as her manager.
Mrs Spears told the courts on Friday that Lutfi himself admitted to her in January 2008 to crushing drugs into her daughter's food and disabling the pop star's phone lines during her breakdown. She says Lutfi claimed he was feeding her daughter drugs in a bid to help her sleep. The Spears parents blame Lutfi for worsening their daughter's mental well-being during that time, by cutting her off from friends and family and making her more dependent on drugs. Lutfi maintains he was trying to help Britney overcome both her drug addition and inner demons.
Although conceding that she was already estranged from her daughter when Lutfi entered Britney's life, and admitting that she didn't contact police over her fears regards his caring for her daughter, she says that she became increasingly worried the more Lutfi seemed to control Britney's life.
As previously reported, the Spears family deny both Lutfi's defamation and assault allegations, while claiming that the claimant did not have a legitimate management contract with Britney, and did not fulfil any of the roles you would expect a manager to handle, so has no legitimate claim over the popstar's earnings from that time.
Britney herself will not testify at the court case, and insiders say friends and family are trying to stop the pop star, who has since overcome her personal issues and begun to rebuild her pop career, from reading coverage of it, to save her from having to relive the events of 2007 and 2008.
AGREEMENT REACHED REGARDING HOUSTON ESTATE
As previously reported, Whitney's mother Cissy Houston and sister-in-law Marion Houston, as executor's of the singer's estate, filed legal papers earlier this month requesting that the courts restructure the way in which Bobbi Kristina will gain access to her mother's fortune, fearing that the teenager may "waste her assets" and be subject to "undue influence" if given access to too many funds in one go.
But, according to TMZ, the older Houstons have now had the case dismissed after seemingly reaching a deal with Bobbi Kristina herself regards a pay-out plan.
Whitney died in an LA hotel room in February.
4MUSIC 2012 VIDEO HONOURS AWARDS TO AIR NEXT MONTH
Dave Young, Programming Director at Box TV, told CMU: "The 4Music Video Honours Awards have proven to be a massive success in their first two years. They received excellent viewing and voting figures, and saw One Direction receive their first ever award. We are excited to see what other fresh new talent 4Music can honour with a gong".
MADONNA IS BEST SELLING FEMALE ARTIST EVER IN UK
Here's the list (based on total UK single sales as of this weekend as listed by OCC below, with best selling single to date in brackets)…
SOLANGE TO RELEASE EP
'True', as she's titled it, has been supervised in-studio by Blood Orange's Dev Hynes - who has co-writing credits on all seven of its tracks - and Charli XCX/Sky Ferreira collaborator Ariel Reichstadt. And this is what its cover 'art' looks like, I mean really.
In the meantime, this is the B-side to the recent single release of 'True' track 'Losing You', called 'Sleep In The Park'.
FOALS DETAIL "DIRTIER, SWAMPIER" LP
JOHN TALABOT AND PIONAL SCORE SPANISH MARATHON
Anyway. Continental Europeans being much more measured in their sonic tastes than Muse, Spanish house DJs John Talabot and Pional - who also collaborated on Talabot's 'fIn' LP track 'Destiny' - have released an official single to be played to participants in Valencia's Divina Pastora Marathon.
'Brave' will be broadcast at the race's critical 22 mile mark as a means of "giving all the runners a sonic push when they're running the final metres". Keep pace with Talabot and Pional's new duet via this Fact-created SoundCloud player.
ROBBIE WILLIAMS TO SWITCH ON OXFORD STREET CHRISTMAS LIGHTS
The Heart FM-hosted concert/switch-on is ticketed, with free tickets being dished out via the London-outpost of the station this week.
This is Robbie's pretty unimaginative switching-on-the-lights quote: "Oxford Street is a fantastic place to do your Christmas shopping and it's great to be part of the celebrations. I can't believe I am turning on the lights! 'Take The Crown' is released on the same day - 5 Nov - and I'm looking forward to performing for the amazing crowds on London's Oxford Street".
TOM VEK, CHARLI XCX, BRETON PLAYING FRED PERRY PARTY
Tickets are selling fast at this link.
TRU THOUGHTS TAKING OVER LONDON KOKO
Says Tru Thoughts boss Robert Luis of the occasion: "As an independent label trying to push new and creative music it is great to get all the artists together in a nice big venue and showcase the different sounds that we support. These Koko events bring the acts to a diverse and passionate audience who love a good party and appreciate artists that push their own unique musical agenda".
So that's a lot to take in, but you have until 23 Feb 2013 - the night it's all happening - to do so.
FESTIVAL LINE-UP ADDITIONS
BEARDED THEORY, Kedleston Hall Park, Derby, 17-19 May 2013: Reverend And The Makers, Seth Lakeman, Asian Dub Foundation, Levellers, The Farm, Goldblade, Ezio, New Groove Formation, Karine Polwart, The Bee Keepers, Life & Times Of Brothers Hogg, Fat Cue, Pussycat & The Dirty Johnsons, Eighteen Nightmares In The Lux. www.beardedtheory.co.uk
BUGGED OUT WEEKENDER, Butlins Resort, Bognor Regis, 18-20 Jan 2013: Chemical Brothers (DJ set). www.buggedoutweekender.net
DESERTFEST, various venues, Camden, London, 26-28 Apr 2013: Dozer, Pagan Altar, Wo Fat, Belzebong, Low Rider, Ramesses. thedesertfest.com/london
UNIVERSAL UK CHIEF TO SPEAK AT RADIO CONFERENCE
Confirming the booking, Absolute Radio's Clive Dickens, in his guise as Chair of the Radio Festival, told reporters: "I have known David for over fifteen years and I'm thrilled he has agreed to share his unique experience for the first time at this year's Radio Festival. He has been at the centre of the music industry during its biggest period of change and evolution and has unrivalled in-depth knowledge of this highly creative market. His appearance will provide a rare opportunity for delegates to listen to his thoughts and get the inside track on one of Europe's leading music content companies".
WHITE FENCE TALKS NEW LABEL, NAMES FIRST RELEASE
Presley, who established the label specifically to have others appreciate Pratt's "classic sounding" voice, says: "Her music feels like I have found a lost LP of an old forgotten mystical folk singer, that feeling of discovering a record all by myself: Without the help of friends or the internet. Like Stevie Nicks singing over David Crosby demos, with the intimacy of a Sibylle Baier. I am in love with it. So much, that I saved up and threw all my money to get it into this world. I actually care about it, no matter which way the winds blow".
Ah, that is nice. Details via birthrcrds.com
YOKO DIDN'T CAUSE THE BEATLES SPLIT, SAYS MACCA
McCartney says that it was Lennon's changing view on the world, and on his creative output, that ultimately led to him wanting to end The Beatles in 1969, rather than any tensions caused directly by his relationship with Ono. He tells Frost in the interview: "She certainly didn't break the group up - I don't think you can blame her for anything".
Ono did have a big influence on Lennon's changing outlook, of course, though that in turn enabled some of his subsequent solo work to be conceived, McCartney reckons, including his former collaborator's most famous solo track 'Imagine'. Macca adds: "When Yoko came along, part of her attraction was her avant garde side, her view of things. She showed him another way to be, which was very attractive to him".