Conversion Masterclasses 2014-08-18
August saw some exciting workshops at Conversion. Consisting of 3 sold-out sessions, Justin Sandercoe (justinguitar.com) and Hollywood Songwriting production team T.Y Songs, instructed interactive and creative experiences into both blues&major guitar tutorials, and the inner workings of songwriting for film and tv.

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Songwriting Masterclass 2014-08-18
LA based writer producers T.Y Songs, offer an insight into the inner workings of writing for and placing music in film & tv. This talented and diverse group also got an interactive experience into speed co-writing to brief, wrapping up with a group performance.

Expect more Masterclasses in the future at Conversion, so please drop us a line if you have specific interests. info(at)conversionstudios.co.uk.

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T.Y Songs & Bridgette Amofah 2014-08-09
LA based writer producers T.Y Songs get creative @ Conversion with Bridgette Amofah, currently on the road with Rudimental.

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Imogen Heap`s state-of-the-art wearable tech 2014-04-01
Imogen Heap`s state-of-the-art wearable tech lets you control sounds with your hands. Let`s change the way we make music!

The Opportunity: Forging a path into the future of Music The time has arrived! We are making the first Mi.Mu gloves available to people who want to work with us to shift the paradigm of how music is made and performed. This Kickstarter campaign has been designed to take us from where we are now, having created a self-funded, elaborate, and wildly successful gestural music system with and for Imogen Heap, to finalising a design that can be open-sourced, allowing everyone access to the power of glove.

What Exactly Can the Gloves Do? The gloves capture the movements and postures of your hands. Our software allows this information to be mapped to musical control messages which can then be easily routed to your favourite music software. READ MORE...

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We Came As Strangers - Back in the studio! 2014-01-23
We were delighted to welcome back We Came As Strangers to the studio for a great two weeks of writing and recording for their second album.
The creative collective, consisting of Justin Sandercoe, Ellem, Owen Thomas and Tim Harries came together once more for what turned into something very interesting - thanks to their varied influences and desire to think outside the box!
With mixing soon to take place in Los Angeles, we can look forward to a release in late spring.
For more information and album pre-orders check out the link:
http://www.justinguitar.com/en/WCAS-WeCameAsStrangers.php
And hit them up on Facebook for more session photos and regular updates :-)
https://www.facebook.com/WeCameAsStrangers/

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Film Music: John Debney on `Jobs` 2013-08-17
John Debney

How can you write music that captures the spirit of a man who has profoundly altered the way that we live and work? That was John Debney`s mission in scoring Jobs, the new biopic about Apple founder Steve Jobs. The Emmy-winning, Oscar-nominated composer wrote a sparkling score, thematically simple but emotionally complex. Put on your comfiest black turtleneck and read what Debney has to say about it. ********

What kind of research did you do while preparing to score Jobs?

I read as much as I could about Steve, books, interviews, etc., embarking on a personal mission to try and discover the emotional essence of who this guy was. Believe it or not, just hanging around in Apple stores helped me start to grasp the immense impact that Steve and his cohorts have had on all of us.

There`s such a wide-open, airy quality to your score. Did Apple`s design aesthetic influence your music at all?

I wanted to create a very organic score almost in counterpoint to the digital computer world. The score itself borrows from popular music of the different eras of Steve`s life. Sometimes ambient, sometimes almost operatic, I wanted to create a score that could not be pigeon-holed into any stylistic constraints.

For a film about a man who founded one of the biggest tech companies in the world, there`s very little in the way of electric or digital instruments. What`s behind the decision to score with mostly live/organic instruments?

I would say that it was my interpretation of Steve`s spirit put into music. Steve was an avid music fan with eclectic tastes. A big Dylan fan, jazz fan, Bach fan, Steve had a wide ranging variety of musical tastes. I felt my job was to express his life through the prism of music.

I hear a sitar poking through in a couple cues. Was that a little nod to Jobs`s time in India?

Good ears! Yes, not only a nod to his time in India, but also some of the sounds of the era. I wanted people to discover these little musical nods and have a smile or two about them. At the core, there is a childlike quality to Steve. He imagined things that could be and then tried to materialize them. Oft times he was dogged and difficult but he was also always focused on the ball. I find him to be a fascinating and complex guy and that was the challenge of writing the score for this film.

This is the second feature you`ve scored for Joshua Michael Stern. What`s unique about collaborating with him?

Josh is so passionate and collaborative - I love working with him. I`ll drop anything I`m doing to try and carve out adequate time for our work.

The argument could be made that Apple products have changed the way that listeners experience music. What about for the composer?

Well, composing has been changed in every way with the advent of technology. Apple products have mostly dominated the music business. I write on a Mac and all of my sounds live within its case, so you could say I`d be lost without some kind of Apple product. Steve, and by extension Apple, have had a profound effect on all aspects of music. The reality of the way music is shared and stored is completely different because of Steve and Apple.

So...what was in heavy rotation on your iPod while you were working on Jobs?

I have to be honest, it was talk radio most of the time. I was so immersed in the score that I mostly listened to talk radio while away from my work station.

You`ve been kind enough to donate your time to ASCAP educational programs and panels. What`s important to you about ASCAP`s mission?

I think that ASCAP does an amazing job fostering and mentoring young talent. It is an essential aspect of what ASCAP does, and I`m a huge supporter of the wonderful programs that ASCAP sponsors. ********

In equal demand for family films like Elf as he is for adventure films like Iron Man 2, Oscar-nominated composer John Debney is an agile jack-of-all-genres. He composes for comedies (Bruce Almighty), sci-fi action (Predators), horror (Dream House) and romance (Valentine’s Day) with the same confidence and panache. Debney is also known for his work in such films as Princess Diaries, Liar Liar, Spy Kids, No Strings Attached, The Emperor’s New Groove, I Know What You Did Last Summer and Hocus Pocus. Debney’s most recent work includes the Steve Jobs bio-drama Jobs and Brad Anderson’s thriller The Call. Coming up for Debney is the drama Broken Horses.

Debney won his first Emmy in 1990 for the main theme for The Young Riders. Since then he has won three more Emmys (Sea Quest DSV) and been nominated for a total of six (most recently in 2012 for his work on the Kevin Costner western miniseries Hatfields & McCoys). His foray into video game scoring—2007’s Lair—resulted in a BAFTA nomination and a Best Video Game Score award from The International Film Music Critics Association. He was nominated by the Academy for his Passion of the Christ score (adapted into a symphony that had a live performance in Rome), and in 2005 he became the youngest-ever recipient of ASCAP’s Henry Mancini Award.

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Jon Kenzie Album 2013-07-10
Manchester based Jazz Folk Singer songwriter Jon Kenzie spent the week at Conversion tracking his upcoming album. Connect with Jon Kenzie here - -.

Check out these beautiful videos of Jon live in session.


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We Came As Strangers `Pre Release` 2013-03-03
December`s tracking project with Justin Sandercoe and co is wrapped. With some transatlantic Mixing and mastering, the project if swiftly taking shape with powering momentum towards it`s May 6th release. The band, now aptly titled `We Came As Strangers`, has just partnered with Pledge Music to ochestrate a pre-release campaign, so jump on the journey, get a FREE SONG DOWNLOAD from #WCAS, and explore the exclusive goodies on offer.
Pledge Music
wecameasstrangers.com
Facebook.com/wecameasstrangers

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Pro Tools Now Available! 2013-01-24
We`re pleased to announce that since upgrading the studio computer we have installed Pro Tools 10, giving our clients more choice, flexibility and compatibility. Combined with world class Otari Radar and its converters it`s the perfect way to record, edit and mix your music.

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Tunng back in the studio 2013-01-24
We have just finished a second stint with uk folktronica outfit Tunng. Since their first visit last April the band have been adding their unique ideas and sounds to the songs, and we`ve spent the last 12 days recording the final vocals, guitars, percussion and tidying up arrangements.

Mixing will happen in Iceland (not the shop) during February, before a summer release. Check out the Tunng website for updates.

http://www.tunng.co.uk/

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Justin Sandercoe Album 2013-01-16
Happy New Year everyone!
December was a busy month here at Conversion with YouTube guitar hero Justin Sandercoe writing and recording his new album.
With a band consisting of bassist Tim Harries (Katie Melua, Brian Eno, Steeleye Span) and drummer Tom Meadows (Kylie Minogue, Girls Aloud, Will Young), a vocal collaboration from Ellem, and produced by Owen Thomas, the tracks are sounding great - a really eclectic fuse of styles and ideas.
Currently being mixed in Los Angeles, the album is due out in the spring. To find out more about Justin and the album, check out his website - and pick up some guitar playing tips whilst you`re there!
http://www.justinguitar.com

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Survival of the Fittest in the New Music Industry 2012-11-12
Bands are cutting costs, touring more and getting creative to make up for falling album sales

As they prepared to record their new album, Not Your Kind of People, Garbage received a crash course in the new realities of the music business. Having parted ways with Geffen, their former home, the band began investigating new ways to distribute its music. "We`re used to the old system," says singer Shirley Manson, "so we thought, `Let`s see what`s out there,` because we`ve been gone so long."

Unwilling to sign with another major label, Garbage decided to follow in the groundbreaking footsteps of Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails and release the album themselves. In doing so, the band realized it had to pay for recording and videos out of its own pocket. "The freedom it affords you is so amazing," Manson says, "but it`s nerve-wracking. We`ve put our own money into it. Bringing the record out on our own label poses some problems for us."

Garbage Make Their Big Comeback

As Garbage and newer bands are learning, the music business is no longer what it was in the Nineties – or even five years ago. In the past, bands would receive respectable cash advances from labels to make albums and videos. After their records were released, they`d tour for months, or perhaps a year. With any luck, mass outlets like MTV would promote them and air their videos. Then bands would take a break before starting the cycle once again.

In a business hobbled by recession and declining CD revenue, few of those rules apply anymore – in ways that can be both encouraging and demoralizing. To compensate for the fall-off in record sales, musicians are touring for longer stretches and are being forced to cobble together a living by any means necessary, from licensing songs to any TV show or video game that will have them to asking fans to contribute to their recording costs.

"I used to hear the word `overexposure` more than I do now," says Dan Reed, music director of NPR`s World Café, who sees more bands than ever visiting his studio. "In this crowded media market, I don`t think there`s such a thing anymore. Bands are vying for any spot they can where they can reach a sizable number of people. We`re all working harder. The music business is no different."

To satisfy fans who`ve grown up with the Internet, musicians are expected to churn out new material as quickly as possible. Tennis opted to release their second album, Young & Old, 13 months after their 2011 debut. "The demand for music and output is so high," says singer and keyboardist Alaina Moore. "If you stop altogether, which bands used to be able to do, people will assume the worst and move on and forget about you. Our management will message us on tour, saying, `We could use another B-side.` And we say, `Well, we`re not even home, but OK.` It`s crazy."

The rise of Twitter and Facebook has helped bands connect with their followers like never before, but it also means another distraction from the creative process. "Fans expect things to come directly from the artist," says Tennis manager Rob Stevenson. "You have to get yourself to the next gig and do a good gig and do your social media stuff. And there are still only 24 hours in a day."

Former Dresden Dolls singer-keyboardist Amanda Palmer was tweeting with fans while sitting at her piano and writing a song for her new solo album, Theater Is Evil. "I felt kind of silly, and my superego was saying, `Really, Amanda?`" she says. "But hundreds of people were writing, `I can`t wait to hear the song.`"

The new rules of the shrunken music business begin in the studio, where recording budgets, especially for new and indie acts, have been slashed. "The big difference is that there are no longer big advances," says Richard Grabel, a music business attorney who represents bands like Passion Pit and Ra Ra Riot. Jeff Castelaz of Dangerbird, home of Silversun Pickups and Liam Gallagher`s Beady Eye, says his bands rarely get to spend more than $10-15,000 making a record.

"Everybody is under major constraints to drive down the cost of making records," says Castelaz. "You have to watch every penny. You`re not going to spend $50,000 to make a record that`s going to sell 5,000 copies. That would be a bloodbath."

To get around diminished budgets – or labels altogether – some bands have begun turning to Kickstarter, the "crowd-funding" service that lets musicians pay for recording costs by way of contributions from fans. (The site also helps fund movies, video games and other creative endeavors.) On the site`s music category, fans have contributed an average of $25, according to a source at the company, and bands have been able to raise in the area of $20,000. In return for their investment, fans receive autographed records, concert tickets and other memorabilia.

9 Ways Musicians Actually Make Money Today

Thanks to thousands of fans, Palmer raised more than $1 million to help pay for and promote Theater Is Evil. The biggest number of contributors, 7,000, paid $25 for a special-packaging edition of the album. Thirty-five backers paid $5,000 each for Palmer to perform in their homes; one paid $10,000 for Palmer to visit and paint his portrait. Palmer says $250,000 of what she raised will go toward recording and production costs, along with $105,00 for producing a coffee-table CD and art book; after multiple other expenses, she`ll be left with less than $100,000. "People say, `Don`t you feel awful begging your fans for money?`" Palmer says. "And I say, `You don`t get it – I`m doing my job.` Musicians used to think that if they worked hard, they`d be a star like Madonna. Hopefully we`re seeing a new understanding of what it means to be a working-class musician. It`s a job."

Record sales were never a major income generator for musicians, thanks to high recording and promotion costs that were charged against the artists` accounts. In the current climate, they`re even less of a factor. Last year, the L.A. R&B party band Fitz and the Tantrums prepped for a major breakthrough when they performed at the VH1 Critics` Choice Movie Awards.

"It was a huge opportunity," says co-manager Lisa Nupoff. "There we are playing in and out of every commercial, in front of Spielberg and Scorsese." But the following week, the band`s debut album, Pickin` Up the Pieces, only sold 300 more records. "That`s the new music business," says Nupoff.

Digital streaming sites like Rhapsody and Spotify are not yet proving to be viable financial substitutes for CDs. According to Moore, Tennis` typical digital-streaming royalty checks are minimal: "You`ll get a check for $100 in six months." Managers are equally skeptical. "You have to sell a thousand copies to equal a few cents," says Brian Klein, co-manager of Fitz and the Tantrums. "As a user, I like Spotify. But as a business, I don`t think it`s going to be profitable for an artist. It wouldn`t even buy coffee for the whole band."

Bands like Fitz and the Tantrums and Dawes are also spending more time than ever on the road. Both acts left home to promote albums – and stayed out for up to three years, performing sometimes multiple shows a day at clubs and for online outlets. "In the last 16 months I`ve been home maybe two months collectively," says Fitz lead singer Michael Fitzpatrick. "It`s really exhausting. You`re doing a performance for a website and you know they have almost no readership, but you do it anyway. You`re in somebody`s garage doing a taping and you know no one will see it, but you think, `OK, five more fans here or 10 more there.`" As a result of the nonstop roadwork, Fitz broke up with his girlfriend, and drummer John Wicks defaulted on his mortgage and had to find a new home. The band has to earn $3,000 a night to satisfy its overhead – a figure it only began hitting last summer, after almost two years of touring.

Thanks to the role touring now plays with bands, it`s become increasingly common for your favorite act to come through town multiple times during the lifespan of a new album. "We never used to see third cycles for tours," says Andy Cirzan, a promoter at Jam USA in Chicago. "It`s increasingly commonplace. Bands want to build momentum, or they just need money." Yet that strategy has its pitfalls. "You have to make sure you don`t hit markets too much," says Stevenson. "You might get a short-term financial gain, but it might hurt you – `Oh, I saw them already,` or, `I`ll catch them next time.` That`s the kiss of death. Familiarity breeds contempt."

Yet musicians also say the altered landscape of the music business is affording them opportunities they never had before, like creative freedom. "We were immensely relieved not to have any major label influence whatsoever," says Manson, who claims Geffen executives rejected a solo album she cut right before Not Your Kind of People. "I turned in some songs and they were met with unbelievable contempt," she says. "They were telling me that because they weren`t pop songs they were worthless, and I should make a record like Duffy. Fuck that."

Bands and managers are also becoming adept at using social media to sell music and tickets. To get the word out about shows at Madison Square Garden, the reunited cult band Dispatch cut a deal with Facebook for a special fan page. "We spent no money and sold 58,000 tickets," says manager Steve Bursky. Fitz and the Tantrums initially gave away free MP3s of their music to spread the word – and, in the end were rewarded with respectable album sales of 120,000 copies.

As for the song she wrote while on Twitter, Palmer says the track, "The Killing Type," was worth it: "It`s the best song I`ve ever written. I emerged from it thinking, `Whatever it takes.`"

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Saturday Sun `Seagull` Track Of The Day 2012-07-01
Recorded and produced at Conversion Studios, Saturday Sun`s beautiful song `Seagull` was selected as UK Q Magazine Track Of The Day -
CLICK HERE To Download full EP.

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Tune In! 2012-05-25
It seems obvious to say `tune your instruments` - especially when recording. I say it before almost every take - nothing worse than nailing that guitar part to hear a slight tuning issue afterwards - something that could irritate you (and me) forever.

I think I once worked with a guitarist who asked me to tune their guitar for them. That`s pretty unheard of - surely if you play something you should have the capability to tune it (pianists excluded).

So it baffles me when drummers don`t tune their kit prior to recording. I don`t care if you`re Steve Jordan or Steve who tours local pub toilets - you really should invest some time in learning how to properly tune your instrument because it WILL make you and your recordings sound better.

I recently recorded a session drummer who`s playing for a couple of well known artists - his kit was pretty much perfectly tuned straight out the cases. Ready to go before I`d made his coffee. Not only does it save time, it makes getting sounds so much easier - I threw some mics up and it sounded great. It sounded great because it was a great player on a great kit in a nice room.

Finally a note for guitarists/bassists: Please use an electric tuner and not guess! It may sound `very close` but if everyone in the band is `very close` in the other direction, things get messy.

For more tuning tips (in a slightly less grumpy old man/slightly more detailed format) check out this page from Universal Audio:

http://www.uaudio.com/blog/studio-basics-instrument-tuning/

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Mastering Engineer Greg Calbi on Compression and the Loudness War in Mastering 2012-05-23
Greg Calbi, a Senior Mastering Engineer at Sterling Sound, NY, has mastered albums for dozens of artists such as John Lennon, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, and Bruce Springsteen. Greg discusses compression and the current debate over the appropriate level of loudness for a mastered album.

CLICK HERE to Watch Video...

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Bass guitarist Donald "Duck" Dunn, who played with Booker T and the MGs, has died in Tokyo aged 70. 2012-05-13
The MGs were the house band for Stax Records, and Dunn can be heard on songs such as Otis Redding`s Respect and Sam and Dave`s Hold On, I`m Comin`.

He was in Japan for a series of concerts, and had played two shows on Saturday night.

His friend and fellow musician Steve Cropper, who was on the same tour, said Dunn had died in his sleep.

CLICK HERE to read more...

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Tunng in the studio 2012-05-01
UK 6 piece Tunng have just completed a couple of weeks at Conversion writing and recording for their 5th studio album.
The experimental folk/folktronica group were great fun to work with and we can`t wait to hear the end result.
For more on Tunng check out their website, and you can see some photos from the session on our Facebook page.

http://www.tunng.co.uk

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Saturday Sun EP 2011-08-20
This nu-folk/post-rock outfit is certainly one to keep on your radar. Sitting comfortably alongside Jeff Buckley, Nick Drake and Ray LaMontagne may sound like a tall order but `Saturday Sun` are certainly up there.

Saturday Sun embark on Conversion Studios to work with Owen and Josh on a new upcoming acoustic EP.

You can watch a great live performance from Saturday Sun here on the Conversion Live web show - www.conversionlive.co.uk

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Long Dead Signal 2011-08-08
Nottingham based band `Long Dead Signal` take to Conversion Studios to work on their upcoming EP.

For more info on the band check out - http://www.facebook.com/longdeadsignal

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For The Love Of Music 2011-06-20
Finding great new music today is hard. Especially if what really gets you going is honest music played sincerely by real musicians. When I was growing up it wasn’t easy per say but it was definitely a damn site easier than today. MTV and VH1 no longer broadcast a glorious stream of new music, replaced instead by gaudy reality shows made by 30 something’s and skewed at stereotypical ideas of “youth”. The radio seems stuck on Justin Bieber and Katy Perry – nothing against either but they aren’t breaking any boundaries, not for me anyway.

But hold on – new music isn’t dead right? – No, there are definitely venues in every city which still champion exceptional music-making talent, the kind that has yet to be sucked into the world of major labels and the politics that go with them - But how do you find these venues now – and what if like my pre-pubescent music-hungry self, all those years ago, you’re not old enough to get in!? It almost feels like before the age of 16 you have to take your parents records (I love you dad – but Engelbert Humperdinck doesn’t really pull my chain) or the overproduced drizzly-pop that’s on loop on every radio station – or worse than either of those – nothing, a world without music because you simply don’t relate to the ‘mainstream’.

All this and perhaps also my own incessant hunger for new music, is the reason I started Conversion Live. Conversion Live or CLive as it’s now fondly referred to, is a monthly online music show featuring new but good, really good musicians, playing stripped down sets in a converted barn at my home in Dorset. 10 years ago I converted much of the 18th century farm buildings into a full residential recording studio (www.conversionstudios.com) able to accommodate music makers of all capacities from choirs to bands to string sections. The floating ash floor which transforms monthly into the stage for CLive, has felt the boots of many a recording artist and is still one of the professional homes of legendary recording engineer Digby Smith (Bob Marley, Led Zeppelin, Free). With commercial studios taking a notoriously bad hit of late, I found my state of the art recording space with a little more time on it’s hands, so I went back to the beginning. Back to why I poured my heart into creating this space in the first place, For The Love Of Music. And thus CLive was born.

Were just starting out with CLive but already have a great following and have been privileged to host some really inspiring new talent. We’re excited about the future of the show but also the future of music. Shows like CLive are giving music lovers the chance to access previously unattainable music and are creating a stage for new bands to play and be heard by thousands. We have a state-of-the-art acoustically designed space, running through a fully loaded professional recording studio and captured in HD by a young and enthusiastic film crew. We’re FREE for artists, FREE for fans and we very firmly intend to stay that way.

Our site www.conversionlive.co.uk, the hub of the show itself is user friendly and for the most part pretty self-contained. We have a great media player and social interaction capabilities which are both easy and fun to navigate. There is one third party service however that has undeniably been a huge benefit to our launch and continued growth. TOPSPIN a company built on similar ideals champions great music and it’s makers and adds huge value to what we can offer our viewers. Through TOPSPIN we’re able to offer free downloads, and more recently use their data capture for our newsletter sign up. With their customizable widgets we’re able to integrate their tools right into the body of our website allowing fans to access either music or video content in exchange for an email address. We’ve also integrated a TOPSPIN powered store right into our facebook page (www.facebook.com/conversionlive) allowing fans to browse and purchase CLive goodies without ever having to leave facebook. In a web obsessed world which can at times feel completely saturated by companies offering services that don’t do “what they say on the tin”, I think it’s important to champion the ones which do what they say and do it well. TOPSPIN have been invaluable to us and here at CLive we feel great about recommending them to all our artists. You can sign up here and try em’ out – it’s free: www.topspinmedia.com.

Next on the setlist for CLive were gearing up for our ½ birthday garden party. We’re going to celebrate the summer in style with double the artists performing live right in the beautiful grounds of the studio itself. There will be a limited number of invited guests (stay tuned on our facebook page for opportunities to snag yourself some tickets) and along with the live music there will be food, drinks and many an opportunity to make merry.

Owen Thomas

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Sex First, Music Second. Can Female Artists Do Better? 2011-06-01
Nothing wrong with some sex appeal, but is this getting out of control? In a recent conversation with the Guardian, XL Recordings founder Richard Russell aggressively challenged the notion that female artists must be hyper-sexualized to succeed, while recoiling from the "faux porn" seeping into videos today. "I felt a bit queasy," Russell said after watching a raft of sex-focused music videos broadcasting on MTV.

That includes Rihanna`s "S&M," which - surprise - perfectly describes the video. "But now you see that Adele is number one. What a great thing, how amazing. Not only are young girls going to see that, but [also] the business people who are behind all those videos. It`s going to make them rethink what they should be doing."

But hasn`t this been the formula for most female artists for decades, at least in genres like pop and urban? And, a central component of the vitality surrounding artists like Lady Gaga and Madonna before her? Perhaps, but Russell complained that the resulting product is more typically "boring, crass and unoriginal," which could easily be pinned to artists like Rihanna, Katy Perry, Beyonce, Christina Aguilera, and even Gaga.

The question is whether Adele is an exception, or whether she really has the power to transform the marketing and perception around female acts. "The whole message with [Adele] is that it`s just music, it`s just really good music," Russell said. "There is nothing else. There are no gimmicks, no selling of sexuality. I think in the American market, particularly, they have come to the conclusion that is what you have to do."

Then again, maybe all the hyper-sexualization is helping Adele, simply because consumer appetites are often reactionary. Meaning, too much of one thing simply produces an appetite for another, often the exact opposite. And that`s a trend that will probably never go away.

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The Ultimate Studio & Music Video Package! 2011-05-20
Lights, Camera, Action.

Coincide your next release with `the making of` music video.

Let our film crew follow your recording session and work with you to capture and create a professional video. What`s more...We have multiple packages to accommodate your budget.

See our film crew in action here @ Conversion Live!

Pick up the phone or drop us an email and lets discuss how we can help create your ultimate promo package.

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Google Music Cloud Service has Finally Arrived 2011-05-10
For months the rumor mills have been spinning tales of Google Music and the major-label hurdles the service faced (labels fear rampant uploading of pirated music). But Google has pushed forward despite adversity and launched the new music service in beta. It’s a cloud-based music service similar to what Amazon launched just a few weeks ago. Basically, it allows you to store your music online (cloud server) and access it on various devices.

If you have a Gmail address you can request an account here. Currently the service is free, but that may not last.

Will you use Google or Amazon’s cloud service? Or will you hold out for iTunes to launch something similar?

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Warner Music Group Acquired by Access Industries 2011-05-06
This morning it was announced that Warner Music Group is being acquired by Access Industries and owner Len Blavatnik (who previously had a 2% ownership stake in the company), with an offer of $8.25 that values the company at $3.3 billion. Blavatnik beat out a handful of rival bidders, with the most competition coming from Platinum Equity/Gores Group (read this post on the New York Times DealBook blog for a look at how Warners’ investors made out on the deal)… No sooner than the news broke, did attention turn to Citigroup’s upcoming EMI auction, which many are speculating will include a heavy play by Blavatnik in an effort to combine the two music groups. It’s believed that with Access taking over WMG, current CEO Edgar Bronfman Jr. will remain safely installed in the company, and will play a key role in any attempt to buy EMI – speculation of a Warner/Chappell Publishing sale in order to help finance such an acquisition, and remove one of many probably regulatory hurdles, continues. However on the heels of WMG’s announcement, the Independent Music Companies Association (IMPALA) has already made comments warning that any attempt to combine EMI with Warners would be met with investigative scrutiny by the European Commission – IMPALA previously challenged the Sony and Bertelsmann merger in 2006… Stay tuned.

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New Grand addition to a Conversion family 2011-04-13
Our Yamaha G2; curvaceous, full bodied, and hot off the press...my, you`ll certainly want to tinkle her ivories. What a piano!

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The 20 Hardest Working Bands Of 2010 2011-03-10
There are lots of ways to measure hard work in this business. But the road is often where the blood, sweat and tears come out. And according to data compiled by Songkick and shared with Digital Music News, these were the artists putting in the longest hours and most miles away from home last year. There are lots of ways to measure hard work in this business. But the road is often where the blood, sweat and tears come out. And according to data compiled by Songkick and shared with Digital Music News, these were the artists putting in the longest hours and most miles away from home last year. counter counter

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14 Artists Who Launched Their Own Labels 2011-03-07
There are few relationships more delicate than those between an artist and a record label. Freedoms can be compromised and creativity can be staunched. There’s also that little problem of the money. No matter the issue, it seems as if labels and musicians are often coming to blows. In light of Kid Cudi’s recent announcement that he would be leaving Dream On—a label he helped launch in partnership with Motown—we’re looking at artists who decided they could do a better job running a label on their own.

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Battle Over Limewire Damages Drags Google And MySpace Into The Fray 2011-03-01
After a four year battle, the only issue remaining in the record labels’ lawsuit against the Limewire file-sharing network is the battle over damages. And it’s turning out to be a big fight, with dozens of documents filed in the last week alone. Now, Google (NSDQ: GOOG) and MySpace (NSDQ: NWS) have been sucked into this legal vortex, and those companies are complaining that Limewire is making ridiculous and burdensome document demands to try to justify its damages defense case.

Limewire wants to know all about the deals that the record labels have struck with online services in the past. That’s likely because Limewire wants to show that the actual deals done by the record companies don’t justify their outsize damage demands. The record labels have said in the past that their damage demands against Limewire could be hundreds of millions of dollars, or even top $1 billion. There’s no way Limewire ever made that kind of cash, but the labels are hoping to force founder Mark Gorton, who also owns and manages a hedge fund, to pay up out of his personal fortune.

The deals that labels have struck with online services like Google and MySpace are, without a doubt, far cheaper than the damages the labels are asking for; Limewire will use the value of the deals to argue they are more realistic valuations of what the record labels’ copyrighted songs are worth. In order to prove its case for low damages, Limewire filed motions in December to force Google and MySpace to hand over documents regarding any copyright licenses they struck with the 13 plaintiffs, which include all four major record labels and several smaller labels. (That would likely include deals struck allowing YouTube to feature music videos, or MySpace to host many artists’ songs, for example.) Now Google and MySpace have handed over copies of all their licenses and the prices they paid—but Limewire still wants more. The internet companies are peeved that Limewire actually wants to see all the letters and emails that even talked about those licenses. In a joint motion, Google and MySpace argue that request will result in an expensive hunt for documents that are either irrelevant or privileged communications with their lawyers. Similar objections were also filed by a smaller company, iMesh. Today, Limewire filed responses to the internet companies’ objections, saying in essence that it really needs those documents—and it needs them before a March 14 deadline, at which point it has to have its list of exhibits ready for its damages trial. “Google’s stonewalling has gone on for months,” Limewire’s lawyers complain.

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Express Youself - This Way..! 2011-02-11
Madonna / Gaga mashup... Let us hear your thoughts? Click Here To Listen

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EMI & WMG: Hands Won’t Give Up & Warner Racing to the Block 2011-02-11
In his first public appearance since the turnover of EMI Music to Citigroup, Terra Firma’s Guy Hands said he is considering buying EMI, according to a report in Bloomberg, but that it is a “question of price,” adding, “They are going to auction it, and we will see if they can get more for it than we offered.” Addressing the split of EMI’s two divisions, Hands declared, “You’ve really got to keep the two together so that you have the stability of publishing’s earnings versus the volatility of the recorded music division.” Following the bank’s takeover of the music company, much of the publicity has shifted to EMI CEO Roger Faxon, and his rumored stealth efforts to save the label, being credited with leading a behind the scenes effort without Hands’ knowledge. Others in the know share that the spin has been well orchestrated leading up to Citi taking control, to keep Faxon’s place at the table moving forward… Meanwhile, the New York Post reports that Warner Music Group is trying to beat Citigroup to the finish line, hoping to get a sale in place before EMI. Particularly in light of the presumed interest in selling off its publishing division Warner/Chappell before EMI Publishing, as it would be hard pressed to compete. Interested bidders named include Zomba founder Clive Calder, Russian investor Leonard Blavatnik, Universal Music, Sony Music, KKR and music publishing giant Imagem. While whether or not WMG backers Thomas H. Lee Partners, Bain Capital and Providence Equity Partners are looking to cash out or just unload WC is unclear, the article claims CEO Edgar Bronfman Jr. is anything but ready to get out of the music business

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Album Covers In Lego! 2011-02-10
Check out some well known album covers made out of Lego. Some people have too much time on their hands... http://www.nme.com/photos/26-album-sleeves-recreated-in-lego/203791/1/1

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Conversion Live! Launch... 2011-02-08
Conversion Live! launches Episode #1.

www.conversionlive.co.uk

A great big thanks to everyone involved helping bring this together! Onwards and upwards and lets keep music LIVE!

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Spotify should give indies a fair deal on royalties 2011-02-03
Independent labels have threatened to leave the music streaming service, claiming it treats them unfairly.

Last year, major labels Universal and Sony received more revenue from Spotify than any other Swedish music service or digital and physical record store, according to local newspaper reports.

The news came as a surprise to many independent labels and to Swedish songwriters, as their royalty statements tell a very different story. It appears that not only do the majors own shares in Spotify, they – and their artists – also get much better streaming rates than the indies. Some of the indies threatened in early December to withdraw their music from Spotify in response.

The Swedish head of Naxos, one of the world`s biggest classical record labels, told Dagens Nyheter in December that despite Spotify`s number of paying subscribers soaring to 750,000, his label has not seen much of an increase in revenue. Indie music consortium Merlin, which represents a number of independent labels, including Naxos, and negotiated their members` deal with Spotify, says this was due to a misunderstanding, that it didn`t represent the facts as they now stand and that they wouldn`t accept a substandard deal on behalf of their members.

In response to the Swedish newspaper reports, Spotify said: "Indie label content is a crucial part of Spotify and offering their music on the service allows our users to experience a hugely diverse catalogue spanning every musical genre. In return, we give indie labels a powerful monetisation and promotional platform as well as exposure to an eclectic and passionate audience of music lovers across Europe. Crucially, Spotify has paid many millions of euros to the indie music community since our launch and we enjoy an excellent relationship with the vast majority of our indie label partners."

Blancomusic Records – a small indie based in Spain – is, however, far from impressed by Spotify royalties: "The rates offered to us as an indie label were so insulting that we`d prefer to forgo the `privilege`." Digital director Simon Wheeler of Beggars Banquet, one of the largest independents (also represented by Merlin), agrees that each licence would have different terms. "As to how different they are I can only guess," he says. "The majors aren`t as accommodating as they used to be in sharing information."

Though all deals with Spotify are covered by non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), it is well known in music industry circles that Universal was able to secure a minimum streaming rate for the ad-funded version of the site – something, it is understood, not even the other majors have been able to accomplish.

You can`t blame Universal for securing the best deal possible. After all, it has a lot of leverage, being the world`s biggest music group. Spotify would be a lot less successful without Universal artists such as Lady Gaga, Eminem and Black Eyed Peas.

I do, however, have an issue with a track by Lady Gaga earning more money for 100,000 streams than, for example, one by Adele or the xx, just because Gaga is signed to a major label.

After all, when their songs are played on the radio in the UK, they receive the same royalty rate. This is because radio royalty rates are negotiated by PPL, which collects performance royalties for all the labels and performers (including musicians featured on the recordings), in the same way PRS for Music collects – and negotiates rates – on behalf of songwriters and their publishers.

Traditionally, record labels only collect and distribute the revenue from record sales (so-called "mechanicals") and synchs (advertising and use in games, for example), while PPL collects radio and live (so-called "performance rights"). So why wouldn`t PPL negotiate the Spotify rates for all the labels? Because the bigger labels don`t want them to. Their argument is that on-demand streaming is not the same as radio.

If you think all this is confusing, you`re not the only one. Many people I`ve talked to inside the music industry do too – and members of the public even more so.

The publishing (songwriters) copyrights system is just as confusing. The local collection society negotiates performance rates for all music played in their country: PRS sets rates for all UK radio and live performances, Stim sets rates for Swedish radio, and so on.

But for mechanicals, publishers and songwriters can choose which European collection society they want to belong to – Universal Music Publishing, for example, belongs to the French society, Sacem. So Sacem negotiated the rates with Spotify for all songs belonging to Universal Music Publishing. To put it in simpler terms: If a song written by Mariah Carey, who`s publishing is signed to Universal, is streamed 1m times on Spotify, and one of my songs is streamed an equal amount of times, Spotify could pay us different amounts, since I belong to Stim.

Granted, when it comes to songwriter royalties we`re talking about very small amounts, even for high levels of streaming. Even the major publishers I spoke to in Sweden said that they earned a pittance from the music service. Judging by other streaming deals, it`s probably less than a fifth of what the major labels earn.

It often seems digital music services only calculate the cost of licensing of major-label recordings into their budget, before launching, with independent labels a mere afterthought (the latest example being Rdio`s deal with Merlin). The fact that they need to get a licence and compensate the songwriters is seen as an unwelcome extra expense – even though, I`d argue, without great songs there would be no point in having a music service at all.

Spotify is a great music service for its users and I`m sure most musicians would prefer to be featured on the site. What they don`t want is to be treated as second class. A popular track is a popular track and should be rewarded equally whether it has had the powerful PR machinery of a major label or not. The internet was supposed to liberate artists, giving unsigned artists the same chance of succeeding by cutting out the middleman.

This is not only a Spotify issue: it is a growing problem for smaller labels and unsigned artists with most new digital music services. In addition, the major labels tend to get upfront payments from new services, which is rarely the case for independent labels.

If in the future, as many predict, almost all royalties will be distributed not on a set rate per stream or download but on a share of subscription revenue – a share divided according to usage reports from the music services – what are the chances that smaller labels and independent artists will be remunerated correctly?

If the bigger labels are shareholders in the service, I must say I`m sceptical. Even major-label artists could be shortchanged, as they`re not allowed to know on what basis or what rate they`re paid due to NDAs. Is this really the price music creators must pay for free enterprise?

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Why And How Digital Music Products Have Indeed Failed 2011-01-28
The quote which really grabbed the attention was “As Things Stand Now, Digital Music Has Failed”.

The problem with a quote like that of course is that it can mean many things to many people without further context, so here’s the additional context I gave around this in my Midem speech:

Digital music is at an impasse. Digital music has failed to reach its three key objectives:

1 – to offset the impact of declining CD sales,

2 – to generate a format replacement cycle and

3 - to compete effectively with piracy.

With music’s first digital decade behind us, we’re still trying to define a role for mobile, we’re still waiting for a 99 cents downloads market to emerge outside of iTunes, we’re still waiting for 9.99 subscriptions to break out of a niche, we’re still trying to work out how to make the economics of ad supported add up, we’re still waiting for piracy to decline, we’re still watching recorded music revenues decline and we’ve still got CDs as the bedrock of music sales.

The simple fact is that current music products do not meet consumer demand and the divergence between emerging consumer behavior and legitimate music products is widening at an alarming rate.

Current digital music products are essentially transition technologies that were useful for bridging the gap between the analogue and digital worlds, but now it’s time to start the digital journey in earnest. The current portfolio of digital products will not get us there. Consumer behavior, as disruptive as it may be, is rapidly outpacing the evolution of digital music products. This means a complete new wave of music products that embrace access and experience, instead of trying to replicate analogue-era distribution business models in a digital context.

Selling units of ‘stuff’ is not the future. The slow down in digital music growth is rock solid evidence of this fact.

Music products must harness disruption, that isn’t in question. What is, is whether they do so quickly enough to prevent another massive chunk of the marketplace disappearing for good?

Click for more coverage...

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Panel: Reinventing the Music Biz 2011-01-26
Sound insight from Jeff Castelaz, Mathieu Drouin, Toby Langley, Emily White,


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10 Ways to Trade a Song for an Email Address 2011-01-25
I measure my success as a recording artist by the growth of my mailing list. The best way to get someone to subscribe is to offer something in return, and a great song is a powerful incentive. Here are ten techniques to negotiate that delicate exchange:

1. The classic squeeze page. You’ve probably stumbled onto one of these before: a fine-tuned infomercial-style pitch with a clear call to action and no exit links. The sole goal of the site, often just a single page, is to generate conversions. In our case, a conversion means “squeezing” an email address out of a potential fan. Seamus Anthony describes the method here and demonstrates it using his own music here. It may do the trick for first-time visitors, but returning fans have no clear path to explore the rest of your content.

2. The homepage squeeze. Identical to the classic squeeze page, except for a small link that takes you to the rest of the site. Returning fans are forced to opt out every visit - an annoying speed bump. Then again, if the free song is rotated often enough, it may encourage repeat visits. Theoretically, a site could use cookies to bypass the squeeze page for return visitors, but I don’t know of any service or WordPress plugin that does it.

3. The “free mp3 download” page. This is my current strategy, but there’s definitely room for improvement. An SEO friendly “yourbandname.com/free-mp3-download” URL and clever use of keywords can pull in traffic from Google searchers trying to freeload your music. While a simple “free mp3s” link in your site’s navigation isn’t distracting for repeat visitors, it’s easy to overlook. Still, I’m not going to force my fans to jump through hoops every time they want to post a comment.

4. The fan club. Thomas Dolby offers two full EPs exclusively to registered members of his forum. This soft sell approach encourages die-hard fans to join the conversation, but I doubt it pulls in much new blood. If your focus is to satisfy your existing fanbase, fan club exclusives offer a surefire way to retain their love and devotion.

5. The widget. Your mailing list service should provide a widget to gather fan addresses (I use ReverbNation’s FanReach, but FanBridge is another great choice). You’ll obviously need it for the squeeze page of your site. If you’re still sporting a MySpace page, you’ll want to embed it there as well. On sites where you can’t embed a widget, you can link directly to the signup form. ReverbNation and FanBridge provide every artist with a landing page to send potential subscribers to (for example, mine is here).

6. The Facebook page. As far as I know, you can’t embed a mailing list widget directly onto a Facebook page. Fortunately, RootMusic and ReverbNation have Facebook applications to run their all-in-one profiles, including mailing list signup, in their own tab. You can also build a custom HTML landing tab in Static FMBL, which isn’t as hard as it sounds. I’m using Facebook ads to direct potential fans to my FMBL tab, which encourages them to download songs from the Band Profile tab, courtesy of ReverbNation’s My Band application. Embedding a mailing list widget directly on my FMBL tab would streamline the process, but it’s beyond my technical abilities.

7. Viinyl. The slogan for this new service, currently in beta, is “one song, one site, one URL.” I’m auditioning it at colortheory.viinyl.com. It’s slick, simple, and direct, allowing the listener to focus on the featured song with minimal distractions. On the flipside, it doesn’t offer a clear path to the rest of my content. Whether or not that’s a fair trade remains to be seen.

8. NoiseTrade. Speaking of fair trades and horrible segues, NoiseTrade isn’t as streamlined, but it offers a high degree of control. Artists typically give away an entire release in exchange for an email address and a Facebook or Twitter update linking back to said release. Fans have the option to tip up to $100 (you get 80%), so it’s essentially a “pay what you want” model.

9. Tweet for a Track. A variation on the same theme, Tweet for a Track does pretty much what you’d expect. Fans enter their email address, which is passed on to the artist, and then share a link back to the song’s TFAT page on Facebook or Twitter. You can see it in action here. The catch is, they charge a minimum of $24.99 to share your fans’ email addresses with you.

10. Bandcamp. The backbone of my entire operation. Bandcamp offers up my discography to the world for sale, streaming, and sharing. Even if you don’t have anything to sell, you can host as much music as you’d like for free download in a variety of audio formats. You choose whether or not to require an email address on a per-song basis, and it doesn’t cost a penny if you stay below 200 downloads per month. Another great feature is their Facebook-embeddable widgets, which play right from the news stream.

Getting folks to subscribe is the easy part. The hard part is holding on to them! Nurture those new fans by communicating with them on a regular and consistent basis, and don’t think about selling anything until you hit 1000 subscribers.

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Warner Music Plan: Buy or Be Bought 2011-01-24
Warner Music Group, one of the four major record companies, has hired the investment bank Goldman Sachs to seek out potential buyers for the company, a process that will play out while Warner continues to explore buying the beleaguered British music giant EMI.

The decision to hire Goldman Sachs came after several suitors, including the buyout firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, approached Warner Music’s management in recent months about buying the company, according to an executive briefed on the matter who spoke only anonymously.

Instead of negotiating solely with K.K.R., the company’s management decided to begin a formal sale process by hiring Goldman, which has recently begun making pitches to financial investors and media companies about buying Warner.

One possible outcome of the auction is for Warner to sell not the entire company but only Warner/Chappell, its prized publishing arm, said a person with direct knowledge of the process.

Meanwhile, a separate set of bankers within Goldman has been working on a potential acquisition of EMI by Warner. Goldman has reached out to Citigroup, which owns a large amount of EMI’s debt and could soon control the company if it fails to meet its payments, according to executives involved in the process, who would speak of the confidential negotiations only anonymously.

Click here to read more...

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Conversion Live 2011-01-17
Initial filming sessions of Conversion Live were a great success.

Would like to say a big thanks to; Ange Boxall, Ellem, Mutant Vinyl, StopGoSixty, Bel Casino and James McVey.

We aim to coincide the launch of the first episode along with ConversionLive.co.uk at the beginning of Feburary.

We have some great lineups in the works for future episodes so check back soon!

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How music-buying habits have changed 2011-01-15
Continuing a series of features about the UK`s changing music-buying habits, writer Graham Jones, pictured above, takes a closer look - and listen - at five of the country`s most unusual record shops. My claim to fame is that during the last 20 years, I have visited more record shops than anybody else that has ever lived.

Working for various music distributors, I would spend almost every weekday visiting about five stores all over England, Scotland and Wales.

Whenever a new record shop opened, I would be there like a shot, in an effort to ensure that my product filled their shops before my competitors approached them.

When I started my career, the UK had more than 2,000 independent record shops. Today only 269 remain.

Over the last five years, an independent record store has closed on average every three days.

It got me thinking: Wouldn`t it be tragic if all the record shops shut down without anybody documenting their history

So I decided to tour the UK and interview the 50 record shops I believed would be the "last shops standing", to find out why they are still going when hundreds of others have bitten the dust.

I started off thinking I was writing the obituary of the record shop. Instead, my resulting book became a celebration of great characters who shared some amazing tales with me.

The UK still has some fabulous record shops, and here are just a few.

They all have one thing in common: they are run by knowledgeable staff who share a love of music and give great customer service. READ MORE..... http://http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-12164531

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NME Music Recommendations 2011 2011-01-05

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New Conversion Studios website launched!! 2011-01-01
Welcome to the new Conversionstudios.co.uk

Conversion has an exciting lineup for 2011 - kicking it off with a refreshed socially interactive website. Take a browse around, join us on Facebook, follow us on twitter - and even add yourself to our `Band Cal` on CS homepage.

Once you`ve made yourself at home virtually - get your foot in the door and come and have a coffee at the studio in person.

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2011 Dorset Music Awards 2010-12-22
Conversion Studios proud sponsor of the 2011 Dorset Music Awards. Entry for the 2011 Dorset Music Awards is now OPEN! For your chance to win some cool prizes, including time at Conversion, click the link for details:

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Bel Casino EP 2010-12-15
Bournemouth based 4 piece indie pop band Bel Casino embark on Conversion Studios for their forthcoming 2011 EP release. http://www.belcasino.co.uk/

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