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  A question people have often asked me, shortly after they've discovered Spotify for the first time, is: "Is it legal?" Such easy access to a huge catalogue of music for free seems too good to be true. Illegal it may not be, but too good to be true it indeed is. Well, sort of.

We've known for some time (possibly since the day it was launched) that one of Spotify's original business models, of charging users nothing but a bit of their time to listen to some adverts, was probably unsustainable. And as the service has subsequently attempted to draw more users over to its paid, ad-free version, that freemium model has been restricted a little - listening time was limited to 20 hours a month for new subscribers last year.
 
But this week Spotify announced the biggest cuts to its free service yet; as well as listening to increasingly frequent and irritating adverts, cheapskates like me (every single one of us) will be limited to ten hours of listening and only five plays of any one track. You want more, you'll have to pay for it. Which, to be honest, and contrary to what swathes of rabid commenters online this week may have told you, seems pretty fair.

Will it turn me into a paying subscriber? I'm not sure. I don't know how often I get close to ten hours of Spotify listening each month, nor how many tracks I've listened to five times via the service. I use it more as a preview tool, filling in gaps in my musical knowledge left by albums and artists old and new that I've not yet heard (or not yet fully absorbed, I guess). And it's great as a reference tool, when you need to hear something right now but don't have it otherwise to hand. There are playlists I listen to over and over (particularly several of our Powers Of Ten playlists), which I may find myself locked out of, but on the whole, if I really like something I've heard on Spotify, I'll still go and buy it.

Yeah, I know we're all supposed to be into access rather than ownership these days, but there's still something I quite like about actually owning stuff. I like knowing that no record label is ever going to get upset and take my CD or vinyl (or even MP3) away and put it out of reach on a high shelf until I give them a bit more money, or they sort out a dispute with someone else involved in making the record.

Also, I've always liked flicking through the shelves of record shops, and that's something the internet still hasn't managed to replicate satisfactorily. Back in the days when towns had several record shops, I'd spend hours walking between each one, checking out what each had and working how best to spend the few pounds I had in my pocket. And I particularly like shops whose staff take care to make personal recommendations - Reveal Records in Derby was always good at that. Back when I used to go there, they wrote little notes on their favourite albums which always seemed to be directly written to me. They weren't, obviously, but those recommendations tended to match my tastes perfectly.

I'm not aiming to get all nostalgic here, though. I have nothing against the instant gratification of downloading music - it's how I obtain much of my collection these days, but my preferred method is to pick something out of a rack, have a debate with myself over whether or not I can actually afford to buy it, put something back, find something else, and then think up some spurious excuse for buying both of them.

Partly I think I just enjoy the slower pace of getting music in this way. The internet is a sea of music waiting to be explored and I am in the privileged position of having a job where I constantly have CDs, MP3s and streaming links thrust at me. But sometimes it's nice to spend an hour selecting two or three things to enjoy at a more leisurely pace and, of course, to hand over some cash for it. But today (this edition of the Weekly coming out a little late) is the day that things really slow down, and we're all asked to spend a whole day perusing the shelves, it being, of course, Record Store Day.

As ever, the annual cerebration of the cult of the independent record store will see hundreds of artists perform in shops and sell exclusive releases. You know, I'm all for the digital world. I'm really very fond of it; the internet will undoubtedly be the thing that eventually turns the music industry's fortunes around (because you've got to destroy something in order to build it up again). But that doesn't mean everything about the old way of working is redundant, and real life record shops, despite being less convenient and less quick than digital services, are still a great tool for discovering and consuming music, and will always feel more personal.

A great tool for discovering the latest music business news (sorry, this is an incredibly weak link) is the CMU podcast, which is back this week a brief absence. In it we discuss the aforementioned changes to Spotify, the impending sales of Warner Music and EMI, the return of the proposal for copyright extension, the looming trial of Dr Conrad Murray, and covers of songs by Pulp and Paul McCartney. What fun.

Next Friday is a Good Friday, and the following week some couple are getting married and the banks are taking a holiday to celebrate. This means there will be no CMU Weekly for three whole weeks now, but don't worry, the CMU podcast will still be going live each week, so sign up on iTunes or via RSS or favourite our SoundCloud page so you get to check that out.

Andy Malt
Editor, CMU
 

 
 

  This week's biggest stories and developments in the world of music making...

Digital fun...
Spotify puts new limitations on free service
Amazon tells labels its locker doesn't need licences in a letter...
...then arranges to tell them face-to-face

Major label thrills...
Major labels offer HMV better sales terms
Warner owners now considering bids for entire group
EMI will be sold as a whole and not split up

Court craziness...
Conrad Murray prosecutors look to the ladies
Phil Spector's appeal is go

Miscellaneous enjoyment...
Soundgarden reformed due to a misunderstanding
No sex please, we're Coldplay fans
Jedward split a bowel for Coco Pops
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  Yuki Chikudate, Asobi Seksu
Formed in 2001 under the name Sportfuck, dream-pop duo Yuki Chikudate and James Hanna became Asobi Seksu (almost a Japanese translation of their original name - it comes out as 'playful sex') after the release of their first EP. Their eponymous debut album was released in 2004, though it was with the follow-up, 'Citrus', that they really began to receive critical acclaim, a trend that was continued with third album, 'Hush', in 2009.
 
Their latest album, 'Flourescent', was released in February this year, preceded by the single 'Trails', which was coincidentally remixed by last week's playlisters Deerhoof.

Ahead of a tour with ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, which kicks off in London tonight and is followed by headline show in London and Brighton on 19 and 21 Apr, we asked Yuki to put together a Powers Of Ten playlist for us. Handing over her carefully thought out choices, she said: "This selection of songs is what makes me happy right now. And would make me happy any time, any day. Speaking of which, I'm feeling a little down at the moment so maybe I'll listen to these songs right now. Instant happiness playlist!"
 
ASOBI SEKSU’S TEN
Click here to listen to Yuki's playlist in Spotify, and then read on to find out more about her selections.

01 Horace Andy - Take My Hand
One of the most oddly compelling male singers. I love his voice. This song makes me feel so good. The chord changes in the chorus make me gooey. Makes me feel so lucky I get to make music.

02 Patty Duke - All Through The Day
Written by some of the best songwriters - I think Hammerstein was one of them. This Patty Duke version has an awesome mariachi brass section. We loved covering this song.

03 Broken Social Scene - Cause = Time
Exuberant, energetic, rockin. I love this song. I was sold when I saw them live at the Sundance Festival in 2005 or 2006. Seriously fun show. Two drummers!

04 Camera Obscura - Lloyd, I'm Ready To Be Heartbroken
Possibly the catchiest, most perfect song ever. It's a staple in our pre-show mix. The line, "I can't see further than my own nose at this moment" is perfection. What a way to start an album.

05 Cocteau Twins - Evangeline
Off their album, 'Four Calendar Café'. While not my favourite album of theirs, this song is so so beautiful. I love how relatively simple it is and you can really hear Liz Frazer's voice. I would love to see her sing live. Her voice is unreal.

06 The Cramps - New Kind Of Kick
"Life is short, filled with stuff". Couldn't have said it better. Lux Interior was a genius and the best frontperson. The last time I saw them they played this Polish venue in Greenpoint called The Warsaw. He climbed up the PA speakers and took down the American flag and started rubbing his ass with it before the security there got mad. If you haven't seen the footage of them live at the Napa Mental Hospital, you should! RIP Lux, we miss you.

07 Minnie Riperton - It's So Nice (To See Old Friends)
The title says it all. Isn't it though, Minnie? Thanks for singing it for us. What a sweet chorus - her harmonies make you all smooshy.

08 Donovan - Celeste
I die for this song. Period. There's a video of him playing it acoustic sitting by a picturesque cliff and he clearly burps while singing it. So cute.

09 Ike & Tina Turner - Wake Up
OMG - need we say more? Tina Turner is a beast. She put all the boys to shame. What a God. When I heard her live performances I just said WTF. I bow down to her.

10 Otis Redding - Nothing Can Change This Love
He is the OG. The one and only. If someone said that all other music was gone except for Otis, I'd just nod and say: 'OK, no problem'. So hard to just choose one song - right now I'm listening to 'Nothing Can Change This Love'.
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  Artists, tracks, videos, tour dates, release updates and other online nonsense to check out this weekend...

This week's Same Six Questions interviews...
Katy B
Lamb
Hiatus

Some stuff you might like to do on the internet...
Stream the new Arctic Monkeys single
Watch a whole load of Pulp covers
Ask some questions with SoundCloud
Buy some of Courtney Love's old clothes

More Great Escape conference previews...
Mobile Roadie case study
A&R is dead, long live A&R
Influencing the influencers
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  #61: Justin Bieber v the heathen paparazzi
Justin Bieber is in Israel, having performed in Tel Aviv earlier this week. You may have seen him in pictures snapped by members of the paparazzi - there certainly seem to have been a few of them around, if angry messages posted on Twitter by the Canadian pop star are anything to go by. He thinks the media could have afforded him some privacy whilst on holy ground, which is really expecting them to exercise some integrity, so of course he's on a hiding to nothing.
 
Anyway, Bieber wrote: "You would think paparazzi would have some respect in holy places. All I wanted was the chance to walk where Jesus did here in Israel. They should be ashamed of themselves. Take pictures of me eating but not in a place of prayer, ridiculous... People wait their whole lives for opportunities like this, why would they want to take that experience away from someone ... Staying in the hotel for the rest of the week u happy?"

Following this outburst, Bieber announced that he would be taking a break from from Twitter. Not sure whether his decision to step back from the social networking site is to do with the rant or not. His explanatory post reads like this: "I'm just excited at this point to get on stage and perform. Gonna take a little break from Twitter and enjoy this time with my family until then".

Last month Bieber apologised to fans (again via Twitter) after he displayed his middle finger to waiting paparazzi as he drove away from a restaurant where he'd been enjoying a birthday dinner with girlfriend Selena Gomez. I don't like all this apologising and stepping back from things, I prefer angry Bieber. Isn't it about time he went off the rails, or something?
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Andy Malt
Editor
Chris Cooke
Business Editor &
Co-Publisher
Caro Moses
Co-Publisher
           
Eddy Temple-Morris
Columnist
Paul Vig
Club Tipper
John Vickers
Ringfence Coordinator

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