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<em>Picture: Chris R Snyder</em>

Picture: Chris R Snyder

Harry Hill may know how to sort out an argument, but in the music industry, the battleground is more of a moveable feast.

What was interesting about the latest pop feud between Dumfries’ answer to David Guetta, Calvin Harris, and Chris Brown (or more to the point, Chris Brown fans) was where it was conducted – on Twitter.

Brown’s new single Yeah 3X bears more than a passing resemblance to Harris’ No 1 from last year, I’m Not Alone.

Cue a tweet from Calvin Harris last Tuesday: “Choked on my cornflakes when I heard new Chris Brown single this morning”.

After a barrage of abuse from Brown fans about not being on the same level as their idol, Rihanna’s very ex-boyfriend, Harris responded: “Listen if anyone ever sees me on the same level as Chris Brown, let me know and I’ll stab myself.”

The Harris-Brown face-off was the latest platform for that age-old duel known as the pop bust-up. Here’s where some (you may have others) have been conducted over the years:-

On-stage bust-up

“Take it outside!” doesn’t work when you’re effectively the boss of your manager and you’re performing on stage in front of 10,000 screaming fans. See: Sting vs Stewart Copeland (The Police), Brandon Flowers vs Ronnie Vannucci (The Killers), Dave vs Ray Davies (The Kinks) Andy Burrows vs Johnny Borrell (Razorlight), Carl Dalermo vs Johnny Borrell (Razorlight)…

In song

The upside of John Lennon and Paul McCartney breaking up the most successful song-writing partnership of the 20th century (with apologies to Richard Rodgers) was that John Lennon and Paul McCartney continued to write songs … often about each other. How Do You Sleep was the most memorably cruel. See: John Lennon’s How Do You Sleep, 2Pac’s Hit Em Up (about Biggie Smalls), Nas’s Ether (about Jay-Z), Pet Shop Boys’ How Can You Expect to be Taken Seriously (about, principally, Sting)

Thin line between love and hate

Break-ups begat more break-ups. It wasn’t just The Beatles and Spinal Tap, where love got in the way.
See: The Rolling Stones falling out over Anita Pallenberg, George Harrison and Eric Clapton both falling for Patti Boyd – though this was hardly a feud, Blur’s Damon Albarn and Suede’s Brett Anderson falling out over Justine Frischmann, and Mick Fleetwood dating bandmate Lindsay Buckingham’s ex Stevie Nicks.

In court

This is normally between band members or after someone is seen to have lifted a song. Mike Joyce suing Morrissey, Tony McCaroll suing Oasis, Kris Novoselic and Dave Grohl taking on Courtney Love

Award ceremonies

“I’d like to thank my agent, my stylist and God. Not necessarily in that order.” Boring. “10 grand of my money, ten grand of his – who wants to see me fight Liam?” Slightly more interesting. See: Noel Gallagher taking down Michael Hutchence at the BRITs, Robbie Williams challenging Liam Gallagher at the BRITs, Kanye West making an enemy of Taylor Swift at the VMAs.

New Musical Enmity

The rock press, particularly weeklies like Sounds, Melody Maker and NME used to be the playground where rock stars liked to bully each other. Morrissey was the sultan of sour, from threatening to have Robert Smith and Patti Smith shot (NME), “If met Vic Reeves, I’d have no desire other than to smack him in the face.” (Q), “Brett Anderson will never forgive God for not making him Angie Bowie”. (Vox)

Tim Burgess called Morrissey “a fool” in – where else? – NME. Morrissey versus the NME key points, 1984-1989, 1992-1994, and 2007-present. Recent examples include Fiery Furnaces on Radiohead, M.I.A. on Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga, and Kasabian on Test Icicles.

The not-very social networks

Calvin Harris doesn’t plan to sue Chris Brown’s people – he just wanted to make a point on his own social network. The fact that Twitter exists means he could do that to his fans without the need for journalists, PR or even leaving his own bed.
See also: Courtney Love vs Taylor Momsen and Jess Origliasso (Twitter division), Lily Allen versus Cheryl Cole (on MySpace) and rather inevitably Lily Allen vs Courtney Love (Twitter).

Ping logoThe word “apple” and music – a marriage made in heaven.

The Beatles’ record label, Chris Martin of Coldplay’s firstborn and the people who gave us the iPod, the iPad and iTunes.

Now they’ve unleashed its social net-working music-sharing part of site, the future of Apple is brighter than Orange. They can’t put a foot wrong.

iRight…

Ping, Steve Jobs’s attempt to muscle in on the social networking circus misfires on so many levels.

First impressions on a first date are vital. Googling Ping will lead you a manufacturer of golf putters, a David Lloyd-style chain of table tennis joints, a dim sum restaurant in London, another social network aggregator and finally you arrive at the iTunes Ping.

Once downloaded, the thing recommended to me that I “might like” The Dave Matthews Band and Taylor Swift. Talk about having the soup thrown in your face before you’ve ordered the main course.

After that insult’s been digested, interesting people to “follow” on Ping – similar to following others on Twitter but you’re just looking at what they purchased on iTunes and the occasional Facebook-style “Like” – are few and far between. Stadia dwellers Muse, Coldplay and U2 are on there, as are left-field pop stars Lady Gaga and Scissor Sisters frontman Jake Shears.

By “on there”, that means they post the way you and I send postcards – infrequently or never. Or they flog their records – I didn’t need to “follow” Mark Ronson on Ping to know he has a new record out. Alesha Dixon’s is clearly churned out by her record company/management. Lenny Kravitz’s “Recent Activity” is a blank page which may say more than the nothing he intended.

You occasionally strike gold and find someone whose taste may interest you – I found Teenage Fanclub’s Norman Blake, now living in Ontario, by accident – but most of the time you don’t know who’s who – whether the Phoenix in New York is the French indie band. for instance.

It does have some value. Who knew the guys from Soulwax liked Erol Alkan and Nick Lowe? Producer Rick Rubin made some interesting recommendations from The Doobie Brothers to Procul Harum and Mason Williams’ Classical Gas. Some reliably funny music writers like Andrew Harrrison, Peter Robinson and Eamonn Forde are on there. You never know – if artists with a proven record in owning loads of records from Mogwai to Quincy Jones to Michael Nyman and Dangermouse to Joanna Newsom to Craig Armstrong as well as other music writers, film directors and artists all wash up on there, it could yet be quite a fun playground.

The social networking etiquette rules are inevitably still being drawn up. Twitter is good to eavesdrop on celebrity conversations, and sometimes even initiate them. Spotify works for streaming music and sharing playlists. MySpace used to be where bands hawked their wares and, for some, perhaps remains that place. Facebook, well, that’s a whole other movie… And probably a privacy lawsuit waiting to happen.

Here’s the real problem with Ping. You know very well that the music you bought on iTunes – a song you heard in a club, on a movie, on the radio – is a fraction of your record collection. Some of the rest was bought on Amazon or isn’t something you physically own except as a streaming device on your computer.

Those crucial hours spent leafing through racks of CD or vinyl – I had a very enjoyable hour in a second-hand classical/jazz shop this lunchtime – are really what formed the soundtrack of many of our lives. Ping is almost the polar opposite of Record Store Day. The spontaneity of discovering a disregarded nugget, the hours of leafing through different tunes, the joy of getting out the house – iTunes can’t give you that.

The overhanging impression left by Ping is that it’s a device purely to flog songs on Apple’s music-flogging service. They want you to part with your cash before you’ve barely begun the conversation. And on a date, that’s a real no-no.

nobodyknowsyouareadogA famous New Yorker magazine cartoon from 1996 showed a pooch sitting in front of a computer with the caption: “In cyberspace, nobody knows you’re a dog.” The suggestion, of course, was that the anonymity of computer communication meant you could pretend to be whoever you wanted to be.

Not any more. Far from being anonymous online it’s generally pretty easy not only to find out your canine origins, but also those occasions when you’ve been a very bad dog. And there could well be pictorial evidence to go with it.

Don’t believe either that if you don’t use Facebook or any online services at all that you won’t have a searchable online reputation that’s good, bad or indifferent. At the moment there’s nothing you can do about it. The internet never forgets. At least it never forgets anything you want it to.

On a simple level, for instance, the 1974 Rehabilitation of Offenders Act is supposed to “wipe the slate clean” after a certain amount of time has elapsed for people convicted of all but the most serious crimes. But, there is no requirement for news websites to delete court reports from old trials, so even if somebody is found not guilty their name could show up through a simple search.

And if you apply for a job the chances are you will be Googled and more by your prospective employer. It’s just about impossible to tell if you’ve not had an interview as the result of information revealed. So it may be illegal to discriminate on the grounds of “spent” convictions or sexual orientation, but proving that is the reason a person hasn’t been hired is another matter.

The reason sexual orientation is mentioned here is that recent research from MIT shows, to put it bluntly, the more openly gay friends you have on Facebook, the more likely it is that you are also gay. It seems likely the same is true if you have, for instance, strong political or religious views.

What is more than a little frightening about this is it’s information which can be gleaned from apparently fairly innocuous sources, and ones that we may not control. For instance, even if you have strict privacy controls on Facebook and other social networks which prevent third parties from seeing your list of friends, it doesn’t prevent anybody from accessing lists on which you appear, your friends’ lists of friends.

Other advances in technology threaten to render privacy settings on social networking sites even more irrelevant. For instance, if you’ve tried Google’s Picasa on-line picture storage service you may have come across a function which allows you to search automatically through your photographs for individual faces. It’s an uncannily accurate way of finding every picture of a friend in your collection.

It’s clearly not much of a step from this to carrying out a reverse image search where you can upload an image and find similar ones that are displayed online. There are already companies such as Tin Eye and LTU which use this type of technology for tracking everything from copyrighted photographs to identifying the children being abused in paedophile images.

It won’t be long before it’ll be easy to find the snap taken of you by a friend of a friend on an over-lubricated night out. It might not even be accurate. One of the most apparently incriminating pictures of me was taken when I was the designated driver trying to prove you can have fun while you’re sober.

If there’s anything encouraging to be taken from the way more and more indiscretions are appearing online it’s the small number of cases where people have lost their jobs as a result. Indeed, even the best-known current example doesn’t really bear scrutiny.

A recent article in the New York Times, “The Web Means the End of Forgetting”, focused in its introduction on the case of Stacy Snyder who it says was denied a teaching degree because of a picture posted on her MySpace page with the caption: “Drunken Pirate”. There was a furore because she was old enough to drink and therefore not committing any sort of crime outside school hours.

The full judgement after she challenged the ruling tells a rather more detailed story. It’s available as a downloadable PDF from the Washington Post. The judge lists a whole catalogue of reasons why she should not be given a teaching degree of which the pirate picture is only one. And there would appear to be a fair chance that the incriminating picture would not have been seen by the authorities if Ms Snyder hadn’t pointed her high-school students towards her MySpace page.

If hers is the best example anybody can find of people suffering as a result of material posted on the internet then there’s hope. Perhaps the way almost everybody has done something they’ve regretted will take the sting out of those indiscretions that have appeared online.

With the increasing popularity of mobile phones and other devices with video capabilities it is absolutely certain that more incriminating material will appear on the internet. One only slightly tongue-in-cheek suggestion on the geek website Slashdot was that all first year students should be photographed as a matter of course naked, drinking from a bottle of vodka with a blow-up sex doll. Then there’d be something incriminating on everybody.

It’s also possible that the increasing lack of concern as to whether a person is gay or not is the by-product of the growing ease of discovery. It’s so much harder for celebrities in particular to stay in the closet that they’re not bothering any more. Perhaps that attitude will spread.

The digiital age’s capacity total recall is already having a profound impact on society and it’s only just beginning. The effects could be seen as positive or negative. We’ll have to wait and find out, unless somebody comes up with a “solution”.

Viktor Mayer-Schonberger who set the debate rolling with his book, “Delete: The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age,” proposes a system of time-limited data that would self-destruct after a certain period. Given the technogy of the internet and the way it stores copies of everything all over the place, this would seem to be a non-starter.

We may have to learn to forgive when we aren’t allowed to forget. Ever.

David Guetta. <em>Picture: Ellen Von Unwerth</em>

David Guetta. Picture: Ellen Von Unwerth

Is dance music as important as rock?

There used to be only one figure that counted in the music industry: record sales. Everything else was secondary. Tee-shirts, badges and other paraphernalia were given away. Tours lost money, but none of this mattered as long as the effect was to push the artiste up the charts. The only other area that was ever monitored was the number of times a track was played on the radio.

The internet turned everything on its head. Despite the desperate rearguard actions of the recording industry it’s unlikely music sales will ever be seriously profitable again. Instead the focus has moved to the previously promotional activities of merchandising and touring. This works particularly well for established stadium bands such as the Rolling Stones and U2 who, according to Billboard magazine, made over £75 million from their tour in 2009. This year they could have made even more had Bono not been injured.

So how else do you measure pop success in the digital age? It’s a question that analyst Kevin Watson is one of the first to try and answer. His report was prepared for the dance music business’s annual conference, the International Music Summit, held over three days in Ibiza, Spain.

“There’s not been much research on dance music,” he said. “So what we’ve tried to do is define the industry and how big it is by measuring the media impact.”

The reason for the focus is that many in the dance or electronic music business feel it is marginalised relative to rock and pop. Official industry figures suggest dance music in 2009 accounted for 9.4 million album sales in the UK or about 7.5 per cent of the total. That’s a larger proportion than any other major country. But those figures, Watson said, don’t tell the whole story.

Much electronic music isn’t included in official figures as it is downloaded from specialist sites such as Beatport. In fact the very means of its creation makes measurement difficult. Many of the tracks played in clubs are mixes, mashups and samples combining tunes from a number of artistes, often without the official permission of copyright holders. Generally these are created on home computers and most are never commercially released.

The combined scale of the UK dance music scene, however, is enormous. According to Watson there are around 100,00 DJs in Britain playing in around 1500 clubs with a combined capacity of 550,000. Specialist dance music festivals attract more than 200,000 people each year and that’s not including events such as Glastonbury which also feature big-name DJs.

Globally, the popularity of DJs such as David Guetta or Tiësto measured in terms of the number of Google searches puts them ahead of almost all other musicians with the exception of Lady Gaga and the Black Eyed Peas. Each attracts tens of millions of searches a month, but Guetta beats them all in terms of fans and followers on Facebook and Twitter. And, according to Watson just one of Guetta’s tracks “When Love Takes Over” received over 50 million user plays last year. That is, rather than having a radio station or DJ choosing the tune, fans selected the specific track on YouTube, last.fm, MySpace and Spotify or opted to download it.

French DJ Guetta has very much been at the forefront of the resurgence of dance music. He provided the soundtrack to the Citroën skating robot commercials, but it’s his work with the Black Eyed Peas that’s made him globally successful. He co-created their biggest hit “I gotta feeling” and since then every American hip-hop and R&B artiste wants to work with him. But it remains to be seen whether his current success is a one-off or part of a trend which will increase the proportion of US record sales represented by dance music above its current one per cent.

- Nick Clayton has lived in Ibiza for the last six years.

<em>Picture: Pdunant</em>

Picture: Pdunant

Grave doubts about reusing burial sites

Council chiefs are plotting to reuse grave sites to ease a shortage of burial grounds in South Ayrshire.

The plan to exhume bodies and reuse burial sites every 75 years is backed by the Scottish government, the Ayrshire Post reports.

In some cases, the paper says, headstones could be reused and the names of the newly interred added to the existing epitaphs.

One undertaker said: “We’re not foolish enough to think we’ll be fully consulted on this. The council will probably see the pound signs they can make by re-selling the lairs every 75 years.”

Could this be an April Fools Day prank story? We’re not so sure.

Hungry burglars make off with mince

Three packages of mince were among items nabbed from a Perthshire house last week.

Two batches of beef mince and one of pork mince were stolen alongside cash, a video camera and a pair of jeans while the homeowners slept in an upstairs bedroom.

Police say they plan to catch the burglars in a stake-out.

Big tents, Hitler and a gay rooster

A musical duo are clucking mad after organisers of a Fife music denied their application to perform because one of their songs is about a gay rooster.

Roy McIntosh and Rab Thomson of the band Tackety Boot said one of their barnyard ditties was judged too offensive for this year’s Big Tent festival, Fife Today reports.

“I’ve had a wee look at your MySpace,” wrote one of the Big Tent organisers. “I don’t think it really suits the Big Tent, unfortunately.”

Mackintosh said: “We sent a request to The Big Tent Festival giving a brief description of our act hoping to get a spot at the festival.

“In my opinion, all we got back was a PC, Hitler-like-type village idiot’s reply.”

The Traquair tadpole massacre (actual headline)

Dozens of frogs were killed last week after some 1,500 people ran through their spawning grounds during an adventure competition.

Organisers of Traquairs Mighty Deerstalker race said they hadn’t realised the pond was home to the unfortunate amphibians and have pledged to avoid such a scenario in future.

One bystander told the Peebleshire News: “It was terrible. One minute the pond was calm but as soon as the first runner went through frogs started appearing from everywhere and they were all getting squashed. Some of the first runners also had spawn hanging off them. It spoiled a really good day for me .”

Scottish SPCA Chief Superintendent Mike Flynn said: “The organisers of the event should have taken into account the likelihood that frogs would be present in the ponds and planned an alternative route as a result.”

Google logoIs Facebook the new Google?

For the whole of last week Facebook overtook Google to become the most visited website in America according to online intelligence specialist Experian Hitwise. It does illustrate the meteoric rise of the social networking website and also, perhaps, the hype surrounding it.

The figures show Facebook’s market share has risen by 185 per cent since the same week in 2009. Google’s grew by nine per cent over the same timeframe.

These statistics have caused much excitement amongst technology analysts, but they may not be quite as dramatic as they first seem. To start with the numbers refer only to visitors to the google.com website, not to YouTube, Docs and other Google-owned services. Nor do the statistics cover searches made directly from browser toolbars. And, of course, most internet users aren’t American.

Even so it would seem likely that Facebook’s phenomenal growth will ensure it overtakes Google on every visitor measure sooner rather than later. There is, however, a history to these statistics which shows the danger of extrapolating too much.

Google has been the most-visited US site each week for two and a half years. In September 2007 it overtook the then leader MySpace which had been seen as the future of social networking and the internet. Before that AOL was king. Very little is solid on the internet.

Even the most recent figures are not to be trusted entirely. As Hitwise announced Facebook’s milestone another analytics company Compete released statistics showing not a rise but a drop in visitors to the main social networks for the month of February. Facebook fell by 4.32 per cent, Twitter by 9.6 per cent, LinkedIn by 8.30 per cent and MySpace by 11.5 per cent.

It sounds dramatic until you realise February actually has 9.7 per cent less days the January. It was really only News Corporation’s MySpace that had a bad month.

<em>Picture: Oren neu dag</em>

Picture: Oren neu dag

The difficulty of reconciling the interests of copyright owners and the rights of internet users has been revealed again in a successful Lib Dem and Tory amendment in the House of Lords to the Digital Economy Bill which would force internet service providers to block access to “online locations” where a “substantial proportion of the content” infringes copyright.

One of the amendment’s movers, Lib Dem peer Lord Clement-Jones said: “There are several sites out there on the web, many of which are based outside the UK, which refuse to stop supplying access to illegal content – indeed whose business plan depends on supplying illegal content.”

The services he was talking about, presumably, include ones which replicate Apple’s iTunes but are based in Russia which has different copyright laws; file-sharing sites where the owners do not question what subscribers store on their servers and Torrent sites which point users in the direction of where to download music, film and software files which may be pirated. All are, arguably, legitimate targets.

Many breaches of copyright are not as black and white as this amendment suggests. As a number of commentators have pointed out a “substantial proportion of the content” on YouTube infringes copyright. With 20 hours of video uploaded to the site every minute of the day it is probably impossible to monitor all of it and certainly it would not be cost-effective. YouTube’s owner Google instead relies on users to report infringements.

Although YouTube has been the most-quoted example, the amendment potentially poses a threat to all sites which host “user-generated content”. This includes blogs; picture-sharing services such as Picasa and Flickr; and social networks such as Facebook and MySpace. All rely mainly on visitors to alert administrators to any breaches of the rules on the use and display of copyrighted, pornographic or hate material.

The movers of the amendment say sites such as YouTube which comply quickly with requests to take down offending material would not be affected by the new law. The Internet Service Providers’ Association (ISPA) whose members would be affected was not so sure describing the amendment as “hastily constructed and rushed through at report stage without due consideration of the implications”.

Whatever the amendment’s intentions it has created a great deal of concern in the technology industry. One of its great buzz phrases of recent years has been “cloud computing”. Although the meaning is somewhat flexible this essentially describes the sharing of resources over the internet including programs and file storage.

This can mean, for example, a number of people in different offices can collaborate on a single document. To ensure it’s secure it may be encrypted and password protected. So far, so legitmate. But the same technology can be used to share copyrighted material. It’s impossible for the service provider to know what’s stored without breaching the privacy of its subscribers.

The amendment also seeks to get round the problem that many of the pirate services it wants to protect British internet users from are based overseas. So it puts the onus on the internet service providers (ISPs) to block access to the “online locations”. Not only is the term vague, but if an injunction is brought the ISP will have the choice of whether to block or face costs.

It’s not difficult to imagine a situation where a company could use this against a competitor. There are many cases where ownership of copyright is less than straightforward. Pictures can be altered and incorporated into designs. Computer programs can contain code from several sources. Music may sample elements from other songs. Courts can take years to sort out who owns what and is entitled to royalties and other payments.

Instead of waiting for due process a company could simply seek an injunction. If the ISP refuses to block the site it could face costs and could have little to gain from its failure to comply. The amendment does not compel anybody to inform the alleged copyright breaking service that it is doing anything wrong. Presumably this is to get round the problem of tracking down the owners of pirate services who often go to great lengths to conceal their names and whereabouts.

In the wake of criticisms of the amendment one of its proposers, Liberal Democrat peer Lord Clement-Jones, gave a lengthy interview to the technology website ZDNet UK in which he defended it against accusations that it would stifle free speech in a similar way to English libel laws.

“Libel law is often a matter of opinion. Sometimes there are super-injunctions made, as with [John] Terry, which are often designed to gag free speech,” he said.

“This is about the protection of legitimate rights. It is perfectly easily establishable whether there are rights attached to a particular copyright owner.” (One researcher pointed out that the Daily Telegraph’s display of MP’s expenses probably breached copyright.)

He concluded by saying that he would look at suggestions on any “rough edges” to his amendment. “But I don’t believe, in its current form, there is any possibility of censorship.”

Spotify logoIt was when writing about Journey t’other day, that the thought of making a compilation of that sort of on shaggy-haired soft-rock, largely from the ‘80s, occurred.

Years ago, this would have involved a tortuous process figuring out how not to crash the song at the end of side one. Or a few years ago, how many tracks you could squeeze on the CD before the 78 minutes was up. Or, more recently with iTunes, how many seconds you leave between tracks. Now, thanks to Spotify, you can be sent a playlist (like this Poodle rock one) and share it with friends, acquaintances and perfect strangers in ten minutes. Even the hassle of getting hold of the music has vanished.

Just when myspace was losing its shine, Spotify burst on the scene, offering a bridge between those who bought music online and those who got it for free. Spotify’s concept (listening to it for free with ads, unless you were willing to pay the £9.99-a-month for unlimited listening) seem to attract the record companies from the big guns to indies like Domino looking to promote a suck-it-and-see policy for new music.

Spotify’s big challenges are ahead of it. Unlike Robbie Williams, many think it has a decent chance of breaking America. Spotify, founded by Swede Daniel Ek, fancies giving Apple a bloody lip after Spotify applications moved recently to iPhone and Android phones. Ek, rather sickeningly, only turns 27 on February 21.

On Wednesday this week, something happened. Spotify thought it was going steady with the big record companies. One of their number, Warner Music Group chaiman Edgar Bronfman Jr told them, well, that He’s Just Not That Into You. Some, including the BBC, suggested one of the three main big cats was about to pull the plug. Sony BMG and Universal are the others – the once all-conquering EMI are “having a moment“. By Thursday, Spotify was adopting the “Hey, we’re cool” air of the ditched boyfriend, quickly dismissing this story as that old chestnut of “media reporting out of context”.

Here’s the exact comment: “Free streaming services are clearly not net positive for the industry and as far as Warner Music is concerned will not be licensed.

“The ‘get all your music you want for free, and then maybe with a few bells and whistles we can move you to a premium price’ strategy is not the kind of approach to business that we will be supporting in the future.”

Hardly flowers in time for Valentine’s Day.

If Spotify wants to enjoy its own US invasion the following questions will require an answer:-

Can it exist without the music giant which owns the catalogue of R.E.M, Michael Buble, Aretha Franklin, Jay-Z and umpteen other artists?

Of its 7m users in Europe, can it persuade more – much more – than the current estimate of 250,000 who pay £9.99 a month to cough up for its ad-free premium service?

If Warner Music are having itchy feet, can it keep the other two happy? And then “break” America?

If the answer isn’t yes to all these questions, Spotify could have had its moment in the sun.

In mitigation, there are reasons for the company to be optimistic.

Many industry experts have contended that the iPad indicates Steve Jobs is falling out of love with sellling music. The record companies can’t keep going to war with their customers by prosecuting file-sharers … can they?

Battle-lines are currently being drawn, with Spotify in the green corner for music streaming, Apple in the sleek silver corner for music-buying with the illegal file-sharers cast in the role of touts. The record companies, who own all this music, are taking all sorts of positions. Some think streaming is their best chance at profit. Others have long been unhappy with Apple’s pricing strategy, which has been gradually changing. Music fans, used to free music, won’t be thrilled at rising prices – this again could play into Spotify’s hands.

Edgar Bronfman Jr’s remarks suggest Spotify has some way to go before its fan club numbers the same as the Bay City Rollers in the early ’70s.

The big decisions lie with the companies who own and produce most of the music industry. What will they do? Well, right now, to quote the great screenwriter William Goldman‘s comment about Hollywood – nobody knows anything.