Saturday, 30 January 2010

Digital Music Downloads 'may be uninsured', Warns Experts

Experts have warned music lovers could find their digital music collections may not be covered by some home insurance policies.

The UK has amassed an estimated total of £1.3 billion music downloads from legitimate digital music sites, but less than one-quarter of polices include cover for digital tracks, claims a study by Sainsbury's Home Insurance.

It is thought that around 36 per cent of British adults now own some music that they have downloaded, with the average collection to be worth £85, although nearly one million fans say they have spent more than £250 on digital music.

The report also showed that only five per cent of music lovers know that their digital collection is included in their home insurance, while almost one-quarter think they would not be covered if it was lost.

However, the bank warned that the rise in downloaded music has not been followed by an increase in safety, with 76 per cent of home insurance policies not offering coverage for the hard drives and storage systems which hold the music.

This means that if a home is burgled, the user will lose all of their downloaded tunes without hope of recompense, Sainsbury's claimed.

Ben Tyte, home insurance manager at the bank, said: 'There may be an assumption from consumers that once they've made a purchase any loss could be recovered from the retailer but most outlets only allow for a single download.

'The likes of Amazon and iTunes do offer receipts via online accounts so even if a computer was totally destroyed the customer would be able to retrieve these and claim for their loss on their home insurance policy. It's also a good idea to back-up your collection onto another computer as a precautionary measure.'

ALBUM REVIEW: First Aid Kit, The Big Black and the Blue

After capturing hearts with a Fleet Foxes cover, and notching up more than 1 million YouTube views, the pair of teenage sisters from suburban Stockholm have released, 'The Big Black and the Blue' the follow up to their debut EP, 'Drunken Trees'.

'The Big Black and The Blue' is an emotive, breathy, melancholic folk soundtrack to their lives with vocal harmonies which belie their tender years, although they are young, they posses old souls, and a maturity in their storytelling, with beautifully plucked guitars and heavenly vocals.

Klara and Johanna Söderberg's voices are astonishing from the get-go; they have a phenomenal way with gorgeous melodies and heart-melting harmonies.

The evocative, echoing harmonies of opener ‘In the Morning’, paves the way for the lyrically captivating and note perfect ‘Hard Believer’ that showcases their vocals best, and the twirling lines with the ’60s swing of ‘Waltz for Richard’.

While there are tracks of beauty and wonder on the album, there are also some duller moments, and the musical arrangements behind those amazing voices are sometimes underwhelming. The instrumentation is primitive, the acoustic guitar occasionally augmented by flurries of piano.

Track listing:

1. In The Morning
2. Hard Believer
3. Sailor Song
4. Waltz for Richard
5. Heavy Storm
6. Ghost Town
7. Josefin
8. A Window Opens
9. Winter Is All Over You
10. I Met Up With the King
11. Wills of the River

Thursday, 28 January 2010

2010 Surface Unsigned Festival – Closing Date for Applications

Any unsigned acts that would like to take part in this year’s Surface Unsigned Festival have until Sunday, January 31 to apply.

Starting in February, the Surface Unsigned will tour the UK, giving artists from cities such as Glasgow, Newcastle, Manchester, Bristol, Cardiff, Birmingham, Portsmouth, Brighton and London the chance to compete for £60,000 worth of prizes.

Surface Unsigned Festival is a national live music event helping to discover and promote new talent, bringing unsigned acts to the attention of the music industry.

The top 16 bands from Surface Unsigned in 2010 will play an industry showcase at London’s IndigO2 and support a major touring act.

The winning act will get £5,000 in cash, a slot at the 2011 Sziget Festival in Budapest – playing to a potential audience of 65,000 people – a digital distribution contract with Zimbalam Digital and various other incentives.

The event’s judging panel is headed by Jon Brookes, drummer of The Charlatans.

For bands interested in applying to the 2010 Surface Unsigned Festival please visit & fill out an online application.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Deadline Looming for 2010 Music Week Awards

There are just a couple of days left to submit entries for the Music Week Awards 2010; the deadline closes on Friday, January 29. The Awards focus on every sector within the music industry and encourages companies, big or small to enter.

This is reflected in the range of categories including ones for PR, marketing, sync, publishing, music and brand partnership and radio stations.

This year’s event will also include a number of new judged categories, including awards targeting digital, retail, live and the independent sector.

Music Week editor Paul Williams says, “The event’s about celebrating the successes of the music industry over the past year and we can only do that by companies and individuals submitting entries, so we can rightly highlight what they have achieved.”

“We have widened the scope and the number of categories for the 2010 event to make them more relevant to more of the industry, so there is even more of a reason than ever to consider entering.” He added.

The ceremony takes place at the Hilton on London’s Park Lane on Thursday, April 15.

Full details are available at

Sunday, 24 January 2010

UK Music Stars Hold Auction for Oxfam in Haiti

Some of the biggest names in music, including Damon Albarn, Chris Martin, Arctic Monkeys and Pet Shop Boys, have come together to put on a special auction to raise funds for Oxfam’s emergency response in Haiti appeal.

Damon Albarn, former frontman of Blur announced that he will record a “bespoke” piece of music for the winning bidder. While Coldplay singer, Chris Martin's "Viva La Vida" tour jacket, which has been signed by the band, is up for grabs.

Arctic Monkeys frontman Alex Turner has donated the Fender Stratocaster guitar he played in the music video for the band's 2005 chart-topping single 'I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor'.

The Chemical Brothers have given a Roland drum machine, while The Magic Numbers will play an acoustic gig in the home of the highest bidder for their lot.

Scottish singer Annie Lennox has donated an original South African painting from her own private collection. Glastonbury tickets and a meet and greet with Gang of Four's Andy Gill are also up for grabs.

The auction closes at 0900 on Tuesday 2 February. All proceeds will go to Oxfam’s Haiti Earthquake Appeal.

For details of items up for auction, go to: Oxfam Haiti Earthquake Appeal: Celebrity Auction

For any further information, visit

Friday, 22 January 2010

Simon Cowell signs stars for Haiti charity single

Rod Stewart, Leona Lewis, Michael Bublé and JLS have all agreed to take part in the Haiti charity single, which has been organised by Simon Cowell.

The artists will record a cover of REM's 1993 ballad ‘Everybody Hurts’.

The Sun newspaper, which has teamed up with Cowell, said Robbie Williams, Coldplay, Take That and Sir Paul McCartney have been approached, and Will Young, X Factor winner Joe McElderry and hip-hop trio N-Dubz are said to have expressed an interest in singing.

The proceeds from the single, will be split between the official Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) and the Sun's Helping Haiti campaign.

The government has already agreed to waive VAT on the single and REM, who own the rights to the song, have also waived royalties on the charity track.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who apparently requested Cowell organise the charity track, said he thought the single would make a big difference.

The song will be produced by renowned music industry figure Steve Robson, and with modern recording technology the artists will not all have to be in the studio at the same time.

The single will be released later this month by Sony, who has agreed to give studio time free.

An estimated 1.5 million people were left homeless by the 7.0-magnitude quake, which is believed to killed as many as 200,000.

At least 75,000 bodies have so far been buried in mass graves, the government has said. Many more remain uncollected in the streets.

Disasters Emergency Committee chief executive Brendan Gormley said: "Buying the charity single will greatly aid our work and help us build new lives from the ruins."

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

MTV to show ‘Hope for Haiti’ benefit concert in UK

George Clooney and Haitian born Wyclef Jean’s star-studded benefit show for the victims of the Haiti earthquake will be shown on MTV UK, the network announced.

The two hour telethon, Hope for Haiti, will be screened live from 0100 GMT on Saturday, 23 January. It will then be repeated at 0900 GMT on Saturday morning.

Jay-Z, Coldplay, Justin Timberlake, Alicia Keys, Rihanna, Bono and Taylor Swift are just a few of the many stars set to perform at the fundraising event.

Funds raised will go to Oxfam America, Red Cross, UNICEF, Partners in Health and the Yele Haiti Foundation.

Performances are also due from Bruce Springsteen, Bono and Christina Aguilera.

Speaking to the BBC, ahead of the Golden Globes on Sunday, Clooney said more than 40 stars had already signed up to take part.

He added the aim of the event was to "to show the people of Haiti that the whole world is paying attention".

In the US, the telethon is being screened without commercials on 11 channels, including the main broadcasters NBC, ABC and CBS.

Other musicians contributing to the Haiti cause include Lady Gaga, who will donate the proceeds of a forthcoming concert in New York to the relief effort.

Scottish indie rockers Mogwai have announced they are auctioning the band's piano on eBay and will donate the money to Oxfam and Doctors without Borders.

The Caribbean nation has suffered another devastating earthquake today (20.01.10), while the area is still recovering from last week’s first natural disaster.

Friday, 15 January 2010

Music file-sharer Cleared of Fraud Charges

A man who ran a music-sharing website from his bedroom, which had almost 200,000 members, has been found not guilty of conspiracy to defraud.

Alan Ellis, 26, was accused of making thousands of pounds from the Oink website, which he ran from his Middlesbrough flat from 2004 until it was shut down in a police raid in 2007. In that time Oink facilitated the download of 21 million music files.

The jury at Teesside Crown Court unanimously cleared the software engineer of the single charge. Mr Ellis smiled as the jury foreman returned the not guilty verdict.

Ellis told the jury that he set up Oink to brush up on his computing skills while he was studying at Teesside University.

He said the website was developed from a free template, which had a Torrent file-sharing facility included in it, which allowed members to find other people on the web who were prepared to share files, allowing users to get hold of music for free.

During the trial the jury where told, when police raided his home in October 2007, they found almost £200,000 in accounts. Ellis said the money was to pay for the server's rental and any "surplus" was intended to eventually buy a server.

Mr Ellis said there was no intention to defraud copyright holders. He had a full-time job as a software engineer and said administering the site was just a hobby.

The prosecution said he told police officers: "All I do is really like Google, to really provide a connection between people. None of the music is on my website."

As he left court, Ellis declined to comment.

Politicians to Debate Live Music Bill, Later Today

Lib Dem peer Lord Clement-Jones’s Live Music Bill, which has the backing of the Musicians’ Union and UK Music, will be debated in the House of Lords later today.

The bill aims to amend the Licensing Act to make it easier for musicians to perform in small venues by proposing a Licensing exception for venues with a capacity of 200 or less and reinstating the two-in-the-bar rule, so they don’t need a licence to host acts with two or fewer performers.

The Government’s 2003 Licensing Act means all live musical performances must have a licence or the organisers risk criminal prosecution with a potential 6 months in prison or £20,000 fine.

Lord Clement-Jones, who believes his Bill would also help boost local pub trade, says he expects a smooth ride for the second reading before it goes towards the next stages of the legislative process.

Lord Clement-Jones said: “The Government says live music must be licensed to prevent public disorder. But pubs don’t need a licence to show a live football match on TV. Do they really think people who listen to live music are more of a threat to public order than football fans?

“Small venues are vitally important to Britain’s creative culture. Many successful musicians got their first break gigging in pubs or student unions. But, he says the cost and time of applying for a licence means fewer small spaces are prepared to put on live music.

Without the proposed changes, Clement-Jones adds that “we risk suffocating our live music scene in red tape. The Government is out of tune with the live music scene.”

Lord Clement-Jones, who believes his Bill would also help boost local pub trade, says he expects a smooth ride for the second reading before it goes towards the next stages of the legislative process.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

The Shure Songwriting Award 2010 has been launched

The Institute of Contemporary Music Performance (ICMP) and Shure are both delighted to announce the launch of their 2010 Shure Songwriting Award.

The ICMP and Shure have come together for a third year to offer a pioneering and innovative 'Songwriting Award' for talented, aspiring singer-songwriters. Previously known as the Shure Creative Award, it will now be: The Shure Songwriting Award.

This year’s competition will be judged by the sensational singer-songwriter, Paloma Faith, who is proving herself as a major new star in the music industry.

Paloma’s debut album, 'Do You Want the Truth or Something Beautiful?' took the music world by storm. Her first single, Stone Cold Sober, had its release brought forward by a month due to the interest and enthusiasm shown by UK radio.

If you are a singer-songwriter and would like to emulate Paloma and make a career out of your talent, then why not take part in this year’s award competition.

First prize is a unique opportunity to attend a one-year Professional Diploma in Songwriting course at the ICMP, Europe’s leading school of modern music.

Studying at the ICMP, you will be able to take part in regular live showcase events, professionally develop your talent and have access to leading industry professionals.

In addition, two runners up will get the opportunity to attend the same course at a discounted cost plus win some amazing prizes from competition sponsor, Shure.

To enter, all you have to do is upload an original song to the award website before April 2nd 2010. A combination of an expert panel of judges plus public voting will select a top 8 and then Paloma will be making her selection for this year’s winner!

For details on entry guidelines, terms and conditions or for any further information, please visit

Friday, 8 January 2010

Born To Be Wide Celebrates 6th Birthday with German Night

Scotland’s leading music scene social night, Born to be Wide, is hosting a special German Music Night to celebrate its sixth birthday.

Born to Be Wide was founded in 2004 to provide a meeting place for those involved or interested in the Scottish music scene.

Berlin duo Jeans Team, whose track Keine Melodien has featured on everything from a VW Golf ad to a 2 Many DJs compilation, will play live at the event after a seminar from some of Germany’s leading music professionals.

The speakers, who include veteran music journalist Christian Stollberg and Reeperbahn Festival managing director Alex Schulz, will be giving advice on European music trends, getting gigs in Europe and which festivals to go to.

Born to Be Wide co-organiser Olaf Furniss says, “Germany still boasts one of the biggest music markets in the world and enjoys a great reputation for its live venues, festivals and vibrant music press.

“A diverse range of Scottish artists have extremely dedicated fans in Germany including Franz Ferdinand, Travis, DJ Ewan Pearson and Amy Macdonald. We plan to bring the Scottish and German scenes closer together.”

The one off German night will be held on February 4 at the Voodoo Rooms in Edinburgh.

More info at:

Music File-Sharer in Court Over 21-Million Illegal Downloads

The founder of an illegal file-sharing website raked in £188,000 in “donations” from people who had downloaded 21 million songs, a jury heard yesterday.

Alan Ellis amassed the fortune via his Oink website, which provided music files to its 200,000 members, allowing them to obtain albums free, sometimes long before they were officially released in the shops.

Ellis claimed he was ‘like Google’, the website never had to upload any music itself, all it did was provide the facility of pointing users in the right direction, linking one person to another who wanted that music.

Peter Makepeace, prosecuting, said it was "large scale, professional, clever, technical ripping off" from 200,000 music files.

He told the jury: "Every penny was going to Mr Ellis. He hadn't sung a note, he hadn't played an instrument, he hadn't produced anything. The money was not going to the people it rightly belonged to."

The 26-year-old, from Middlesbrough, set up the site in May 2004. It was free to join but was invitation-only, with members paying a £5 donation to propose a friend.

It was initially hosted in Norway before being moved to the Netherlands seven months later when the music industry asked Ellis to stop.

Oink was shut down in 2007 when police simultaneously raided its server site close to Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport as well as Ellis’s home, they found about £188,000 in donations in Ellis' Paypal accounts.

Ellis denies a charge of conspiracy to defraud.

The trial continues.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Muse Win Best Art Vinyl of 2009 Award

Muse have won Best Art Vinyl Of 2009 award for last year’s album, The Resistance.

The eye-catching sleeve for their latest album has been named the best record cover of 2009, by the Art Vinyl Gallery of London.

The band’s album cover was designed by La Boca Design who also designed the album artwork of Bullet for My Valentine’s debut album, The Poison.

Runners-up were the Manic Street Preachers for Journal for Plague Lovers.

The Top 50 album covers of 2009 are currently being featured in exhibitions at The Art Vinyl Gallery, Basement Level, Selfridges London; Rough Trade East, London; Snap Galleries in Birmingham; Georges House Gallery in Folkestone.

For the full list, see