[PIAS] back in business just eight days after fire

•August 22, 2011 • Leave a Comment


It has been announced that fellow distributors will help independent label distributor [PIAS] to get up and running following the recent arson attack on their warehouse.

Last Thursday the distributor claimed on its website to have finalised a ‘watertight logistics plan to ensure the broad depth of independent new and catalogue releases will continue to be distributed across the retail spectrum – from HMV to Honest Jon’s, Amazon to Asda.’

Sony has already set up shop in a new facility based in Hoddesdon in Hertfordshire. This operation which will take charge of all supermarket business, HMV bulk orders, wholesalers and international shipments will be in full swing as of today.

Though it was originally thought that the fire would spell disaster for many already vulnerable indie labels, there could be a light at the end of the tunnel in the shape of Proper Music Distribution. Proper have agreed to help to fulfill [PIAS]’ indie shop and  HMV catalogue orders, as well as orders from online retail giants, Play and Amazon.

[PIAS] UK MD Peter Thompson said: “I am overjoyed to have this solution in place so soon after the fire at the Sony DADC warehouse which destroyed the stock of all our labels. Sony DADC have been amazing in getting things up and running so fast, and have excelled in their actions and flexibility in supporting our teams in looking after the needs of our labels. Meanwhile Proper have been extremely accommodating and with their help we now also have the best possible solution for supplying a depth of catalogue to the spectrum of independent retailers.”

Kenny Gates Founder & CEO, [PIAS] added: “’I am happy we have found a solution to resume selling physical stock from our recording artists and our labels. The way this has been dealt with by all involved, the support from everyone around us and the shared determination to come out of this stronger is exceptional and truly inspiring. I want to thank everyone who has been showing genuine support in the last few days and the [PIAS] UK staff who have been admirable in their swift actions. We can now fully focus on supporting our labels beyond resolving the immediate logistical issues and ensure we all come out of this stronger and more resilient than ever before”.


Kingston University boat clubs voice concerns about prizewinning River Thames

•August 21, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Article written November 2010-

-Intended for River Online, Kingston University-

Though the Thames has won a prestigious prize for river management and restoration, KU boating clubs still fear for their health when using the river.

The River Thames has fought off stiff competition from the Yellow River in China and Hattah Lakes in Australia to be awarded this year’s International Theiss River Prize.

The Thames has undergone a remarkable transformation since it was declared biologically dead in the 1950s but KU students who use the river recreationally say they will remain vigilant.

Scott Tulloch, third year English and Business Student and Kingston University Kayak Club President said: ” The Thames has got a lot better, quality wise, over the past few years, although there are still algal blooms on the river.”

Good water quality is vital to the KU Kayak Club which uses the Thames on a weekly basis for training sessions. Tulloch said: “For us the river is obviously very important, more in terms of the features it provides us with, but ultimately without decent water quality no amount of whitewater features would render it usable.”

Thomas Wilson, second year Mathematical Science Student and President of Kingston University Sailing Club commented that certain parts of the river carry the least risk. He said: “Water quality is good when in the middle of the river where the stream is strongest.”

“As a person in charge of the safety of sessions by biggest concerns are the river banks, very high risk of infections from dirty water if open wounds/scrapes are exposed to it like  Weil’s disease,” Wilson continued, “It’s just the un-avoidable messes that we take concern over.”

On October 25th this year Weil’s disease became news when 51-year-old double Olympic gold medal winning rower, Andy Holmes, died from the bacterial infection. It is reported that Weil’s disease kills around 3 people in Britain per year.

Tulloch said that the KU Kayak Club will continue to practice on the Thames. Despite their safety concerns, when compared to other rivers, the Thames appears to be relatively safe. “We’ve not had any problems with illness from it, and it’s especially good considering rivers such as the Trent whereby a large percentage will come away throwing up.”

Wilson suggested that the local council should take better care of the river’s surroundings. “I’d like to see the council take a much more active role in the up-keep of clearing these shrubs and bushes as it gives a much clearer view of the river to those on the footpath and there would be less shrubs for rowers to get caught on.”

First victor of NUJ’s Cashback for Interns Campaign still values internships

•August 21, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Despite the courtroom drama that she endured, Keri Hudson, says she still recognises the value of journalism and media internships.

On May 12 2011 the 21-year-old NUJ (National Union of Journalists) member became the first person to successfully prove to an employment tribunal that she had a right to be paid for work that she carried out when she was wrongly labeled as an intern in the workplace.

She would “encourage any student looking for experience to apply to an internship – as long as they feel they’re getting a good deal out of it.”

However, she is keen to illustrate the difference between a valuable work placement and one where the intern is taken advantage of. She said: “Two weeks shadowing a top journalist, learning the tricks of the trade and contributing to some column inches is invaluable. Being set briefs and being given the same expectations as other staff is not.

“If you’re being treated like a slave, get out and move on – your talents are worth more than that,” she continued.

Keri’s experience as an intern at  the MyVillage website was very much in the later category. At that time, Keri was no stranger to internships.

Having deferred the third year of her Interactive Media Production Degree at Bournemouth University for a move to London, Keri had completed several internships including two months part time work at Worth Digital Marketing Agency, four months at 1000 Heads Marketing Company and two weeks at EMAP Publishing Company, amongst others.

Keri says that there were two distinct periods of her time at MyVillage, originally to be for one month.

During December her work was exactly what was described, “reviewing venues/events, conducting interviews and doing admin tasks.”

Keri did not claim for this time period as the tasks that she was performing were as prescribed. However in early January, she was asked to stay on at MyVillage  with pay. 

She said: “My duties completely changed, to managing and training a new team of staff, delegating articles and managing the website.”

Keri reached a breaking point on the 6th of February when her boss revealed that the company had decided that they could not afford to pay her or any of the intern team.  

After resigning from the position, Keri approached the NUJ and began court proceedings against TPG, MyVillage’s parent company, as part of the Cashback for Interns Campaign.

Keri was grateful for the support of the NUJ and the campaign. Describing them as a ‘godsend’,  she said: “I don’t know if I could have done it without the NUJ – they sorted me out with a Lawyer who was able to define which area of the law I’d need to reference during my case, and who also helped me write my witness statement.”

Though going through the court system was somewhat unnerving, Keri is certain that the process was worth it.

She said: “I actually get my pay now, which as a student is going to be really, really helpful! But secondly, I hope it sends a message to companies like TPG that make money out of exploiting young people’s talents.”

“Most interns work so hard at these internships, putting in all the hours and producing the best work – just for the company to use and make profit out of. It’s just not an equal value-for-value exchange.”
When asked if she would encourage others who had a similar experience to her to approach the NUJ about Cashback for Interns, she was unwavering in her reply, “Yes, yes yes. Without a doubt.”

Following the tribunal, NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear said: “Today’s judgement sends a clear warning to all employers to pay their interns, abide by the law or face the consequences.
“It is unacceptable that full time staff are being sacked while unpaid interns are being exploited. This is the first case of its kind – if employers continue to break the law it will not be the last”.
NUJ legal officer Roy Mincoff said: “This sends a clear message to media companies that if they treat interns like cheap labour, the NUJ will take you through the courts. If in reality interns are workers, they are entitled to National Minimum Wage and holiday pay and NUJ will fight for these rights to be enforced”.

Here are the NUJ’s work experience guidelines


The NUJ has appealed to other interns who believe they should have been paid to contact the union at legal@nuj.org.uk

Musical Memorial to mark Pukkelpop Festival disaster

•August 21, 2011 • Leave a Comment



An acoustic musical memorial will be held at the Pukkelpop Festival site next Thursday, to mark the one week anniversary of the tragedy where five people died.

The artists who will perform at the memorial have yet to be confirmed.

A further 73 festival-goers were injured when staging collapsed and tents fell when a fierce storm struck Hasselt, the Belgian town where the 3-day festival is held.

The mayor of Hasselt, Hilde Claes said: “The storm struck in an incredibly sudden way. It was a real whirlwind. I have never seen anything like it in Hasselt before.”

The Royal meteorological Institute of Belgium declared the sudden storm which occurred on Thursday evening at Pukkelpop to have been  ‘exceptional’.

On Saturday Belgian press reported that the country would declare the storm a natural catastrophe.

Belga news agency reported that the federal public interior ministry had announced that damage that was not already covered by insurance policies could be claimed by festival organisers and residents of Hasselt whose property had also been damaged.

UK music community fights to keep indie labels afloat

•August 21, 2011 • Leave a Comment

In the wake of the London riots, the UK music community have mobilised in an effort to save the indie labels they love.

A number of fundraising initiatives have been instigated by the music community as they fight to save labels effected by the recent London riots.

Label Love

Just 2 weeks ago, the SonyDADC warehouse in Enfield, North London, was burnt to the ground during the recent London riots. The three-storey, 20,000 square metre storage facility housed stock for [PIAS], a distribtution company for more than 150 independent record labels across the UK & Ireland.

It is estimated that 3.25m cds and records were destroyed and as we know from from the necessity of events like Record Store Day, even before the disaster the industry was struggling to cope with competition from obstacles that the internet has thrown up like piracy and cheaper online stores. Now for some, keeping their heads above water may prove impossible as they wait for the insurance payout.

The UK label Finders Keepers have launched a series of benefit albums entitled Make Do and Mend. Each of the ten releases will be curated by an artist who belong to the label, including Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker, Zola Jesus, David Holmes and Super Furry Animals Gruff Rhys.

A new volume will be released digitally and physically every two weeks over five months. You can subscribe to the entire series in one fell swoop for £40 or purchase Jarvis Cocker’s contribution here as a CD or a download.

A benefit gig featuring Sebadoh and Electric Soft Parade will take place at Brighton Coalition this Sunday from 7pm.

Radio djs such as Lauren Laverne have filled their playlists with music from artists who have been effected by the fire.

Music journalists, bloggers and the indie labels themselves have been urging readers to help them by buying music and gig tickets either from indie record stores or follow this list of artists and links to buy releases from the labels digitally.

Anyone who wishes to contribute directly to the [PIAS] emergency fund can do so through the LabelLove Campaign website or directly with these details:


Account Number: 07699611
Sort Code – 18 00 02 – Add any special references

Swift code – coutgb22
Iban – GB91COUT 18000207699611

Best (of the worst) Royal Wedding cash-ins

•August 16, 2011 • Leave a Comment

– Finance Mail Online http://www.thisismoney.co.uk 28 April 2011 –

Tomorrow is the big day, the Royal Wedding and it’s about time too, because it seems some of us have gone matrimony mental, writes Maria Buckley

Companies have jumped on the Royal bandwagon by peddling products, research and press releases in various different forms, often straddling the line between whimsical and bizarre.

This is Money has been inundated with Royal Wedding press releases from special edition toaster bags, Gold Ring Krispy Kreme doughnuts and even the importance of getting a will for the big day. We present the best (of the worst).

How much?

According to Moneysupermarket.com we will be spending £480million on a  right royal knees up. Almost two million Brits (that’s 12% of us), according to Moneysupermarket.com, plan to buy in extra food and snacks to consume whilst watching the wedding and more than one in ten plan to purchase extra celebratory drinks. Except, of course, that’s probably not exactly true because they didn’t ask everyone, just the usual small sample. Are you one of these people?

Wedding gift? Don’t forget to get a will for Wills! 

Forget the pre-nuptial agreement the lawyers at solicitors firm, Moore Blatch have skilfully seized the Royal Nuptials as an opportunity to suggest that a Will is the perfect wedding present for prospective wedding guests to gift.

While some may think of a will as a morbid gift, Carla Brown, senior solicitor from Moore Blatch, argues: ‘Whilst we appreciate that this isn’t the most romantic of wedding gifts, a Will should be an essential part of married life. Couples must consider what could happen to them financially if the unthinkable happened.’ What better to do on a bonus bank holiday than contemplate your mortality.


Don’t forget the rings

Krispy Kreme Doughnuts have announced that their limited edition Gold Ring Doughnuts will play a vital role on the Big Day. The confectionary chain are planning to send best man, Prince Harry a ‘exclusive box of regal treats’ to remind him not to forget the two gold rings on the big day. Surely the Royals will rest easier knowing that Krispy Kreme will be there to offer Harry a ‘helping hand to ensure the Royal nuptials go without a hitch.’

A toast with a difference 

While the Royal Wedding guests are quaffing champagne and toasting the marriage of William and Kate (or Catherine…), household products company Planit Products are inviting us commoners to ‘raise a ToastaBag to Will &Kate’. The opportunist firm has launches a special edition ‘ToastaBag’, which features a black and white portrait of the fair. For those of us  unfamiliar with the toastabag concept – it is a bag which means you can put your sandwich in the toaster so that you can cook it without the contents seeping into the electrics. It’s not clear whether Toastabags are on the Royal wedding present list.

This just takes the biscuit

So that`s dinner sorted, but what about desert? Fret not, Doubletree by Hilton have the answer. They have decided that the perfect way to honour the heir is by giving away free biscuits and you don`t even need to be a customer.  People are welcome to walk into their nearest Hilton Hotel with a DoubleTree room (special business suites for travellers) between 12:01 a.m. Friday, April 29, 2011 and 11:59 p.m. Monday, May 2, 2001 to celebrate the special occasion and receive a delicious, warm chocolate chip cookie, while supplies last.

Get ‘appy

On the off chance that you may have some downtime amidst the revelry, sandwich toasting and free biscuit getting, there’s an app for that, of course! GetJar, the world’s largest open apps store, is your one stop shop for all your Royal Wedding Day needs. They have even thought about the morning after. According to GetJar, their Yoga Remedy app will sort out any self-inflicted ailments: ‘There will be a few sore heads in the UK on 30th April. Banish any signs of a hangover by spending 10 minutes doing the ‘Hangover’ yoga pose featured on the Yoga Remedy app.’

Royal insurance? Surely not!

With all of this useful technology at hand, how could anything go wrong? Just in case, insurers have used the Royal Wedding to let us know that they have our backs.

If you are hosting your own celebration, Zurich has taken the guesswork out of insuring your street party by launching a new policy ‘specially designed with the big day in mind’. Zurich is also offering ‘2 for 1’ to individuals purchasing street event insurance for both the Royal Wedding and ‘The Big Lunch’ if the covers are arranged at the same time.

If you`re using the bonus bank holiday to take a trip, Nationwide have reminded us of the dangers of taking a holiday without cover.  John Baker, head of general insurance for Nationwide said: ‘If you’re planning more than one break this year, even if it’s in the UK, annual travel insurance will often work out to be the cheapest solution.  It also provides you with peace of mind to know that you’re covered even if you do decide to get away for a short unplanned break.’ Phew, Thanks for reminding us!

Royal reception            Heathrow

Missing out on the Royal Wedding reception, don’t worry Heathrow is rolling out the red carpet to give arriving passengers a welcome fit for any future King or Queen.  To celebrate Will and Kate’s big day – and to ensure even those without an invite are given the royal treatment – the airport is laying half a kilometre of red carpet in all of its arrivals halls. Handy for sleeping on, when planes are delayed.

The last word

And lastly, words will never do this one justice, simply watch the video below. Poopsta has launched the world’s first unofficial Royal Wedding poop scoop – embellished with the couple’s initials there is even a chance to win your very own Poopsta by visiting their Facebook page.

On the record

•August 16, 2011 • Leave a Comment

– Entertainment http://www.riveronline.co.uk April 2011 –

As Record Store Day 2011 approaches, fans limber up to ensure that they bag their holy grail record.

Record Store Day 2011, a celebration which causes collectors to swoon at the cornucopia of exclusives and rarities on offer, is almost upon us.

The annual event brings artists, fans and independent record stores together on a global scale and this year there really is even more to celebrate as indie stores stick it to the corporate chains. The economic downturn means that retailers of every kind are having a rough ride but the music retail industry is blatantly struggling to cope with the seismic shifts in how we consume music.
Retailers who deal in physical releases are taking the biggest hit. According to the latest figures released by the Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA), physical album sales have taken a 12.4% nose dive while digital album sales have increased by 30.6%.
Taking stock of the frontages on your local high street today is evidence enough. Woolworths is gone, Zavvi is kaput and now HMV Group have announced the closure of 40 of their 285 branches in the next 12 months. Even die-hard vinyl enthusiasts are going online to avail of endless choice and value (thanks to offshore VAT loopholes) from online retailers like Play and Amazon. If the corporate behemoths can’t make it work, what chance does the independent record store have?
A fighting chance, it would seem. Though the number of independent record stores in the UK has dwindled, plummeting from 578 in 2006 to 269 in 2009, the good news is that 12 new stores opened their doors last year. It could well be time for the bigwigs to sit up and take notice of the little guy.
Adam Sait of Kingston’s own Banquet Records agrees: “Even if you look at the large retail chains such as HMV, it’s not working. If the decine of these chains continue, the way we buy music will change. There will be a shift from the individual to a music community and that’s vital as to what we’re about. From the gigs we put on to the records we put out, it’s all to strengthen that sense of community.”
For successful indie stores like Banquet, being a retail outlet is only a fraction of what they do. They are promoters, nurturers, publishers, distributers and reliable imparters of specialist knowledge. Most importantly, the Banquet brand has amassed a fiercely loyal following around Kingston who shop in their store, but also frequent their club nights, gigs and instores.
Adam maintains that one-trick pony record stores will find it hard to stay afloat: “I think as a modern indie record shop you have to do more. Relying on physical releases alone isn’t enough with the growing prominence of downloads.” Banquet sell a physical product but they are also the center of a community. This essentially, is what Record Store Day is about: a celebration of organic homegrown industry and those who live and breath music.
This Saturday, Banquet Records will join forces with hundreds of independent record stores worldwide in the name of Record Store Day 2011. There will be gigs, instores and special events galore but the main feature is the chance for fans to bag themselves an exclusive title, some with very limited runs. The records on offer are the kind of gems that cause collectors to shiver on the pavement in the wee hours to ensure that they nab that elusive release.
Prospective buyers are advised that purchases are limited to one item per customer in an attempt to deter Ebay touts form the sales. Different stores will stock different releases but Banquet will have rarities from The Clash, ACDC, Sonic Youth, Jimi Hendrix, Fleet Foxes, Grinderman, Panda Bear and Jamie Woon amongst many others.
Though Record Store Day has been around since 2008, Adam told us that it wasn’t until 2010 that Banquet first decided to participate, “Until last year we didn’t really do much for Record Store Day. It wasn’t what we were about. We are a record store days 365 days a year, not just one, so it was almost offensive.”
It’s a famine or a feast at Banquet. They went from opting out to going all out with instores & celebratory gigs at the Hippodrome and the Fighting Cocks. “In 2010 it was completely different. Bands we love were putting out releases for RSD and it was a real exciting day. We had performances from Tinie Tempah and Professor Green at our night at the Hippodrome and an in-store and Fighting Cocks show from Cancer Bats,” Adam explained. This year, a special event curated by Banquet at The Fighting Cocks will round off the day nicely.
The reception that their efforts received from Kingston audiophiles ensured that Banquet are well and truly on board with the Record Store initiative for the future: “Last year it gave us our busiest day since the shop’s existed. We saw queues round the block, with people camping outside the store from six in the morning, it was crazy.”
Anything that promotes business and boosts sales is obviously a bonus, but Adam told us that participating in RSD means more to them than profits: “It’s a day where we can celebrate being an independent record store against the pressures of downloads and HMV. The day is all about physical releases, and it’s so good to see bands get involved with record store day and fans get excited about their favourite artist releasing that limited vinyl or cd. There’s a real sense of the music community coming together.”
There’s only a few hours to go until Banquet fling open their doors at 10am. “It’s going to be another long day, but we’re all very excited, especially if last year is anything to go by.” Check out the video below to see what Adam means with your own eyes.

See you in the queue.