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-- Spotify CEO Daniel Ek tells BBC News a U.S. launch is near - although we've heard this before. "We're in the final stages of preparing with the US. We're doing the rounds, we're speaking to artists, we want to make sure that people understand us." Note that Spotify is talking to artists about the service. Steve Jobs did the same thing before launching iTunes. It's a good plan of attack: gets the artists on board so the hearts and minds of their labels will follow. (BBC News)

-- Just as Shelby Lynne is self-releasing her next record (which Business Matters pointed out last week), Citizen Cope is putting out his next album with the help of Mick Management. “The Rainwater LP,” produced by Citizen Cope and released on his RainWater Recordings label, will have a digital release on February 9 and a wider release on March 2. Mick Management tells Billboard that RED will handle distribution, Big Hassle is doing press, and Right Arm Resource and Black Dog Promotions, in conjunction with RED, will do radio promotion. Other project management aspects are being handled at Mick Management. Again, it’s good to see an artist take ownership of his recorded music and underscore that alternatives to standard label deals exist – if you’re will to take them. (MVRemix Rock) (MVRemix Rock)

-- Direct-to-fan service provider Topspin has announced a slew of new partnerships as well as the opening of an office in the U.K. Among the new partners are Universal Music Group, EMI Music, Atlantic Records, ATO Records, Dangerbird Records, Nacional Records, Thirty Tigers, Fontana, Caroline, [PIAS] Entertainment Group (Europe), The Orchard, INgrooves, IODA, TuneCore, William Morris Endeavor Entertainment, On Target Media Group and Toolshed. (Press release)

-- Jonathan Benassaya, the CEO of French music streaming site Deezer, has been forced out by investors. Deezer has raised €12.2 million in venture capital, including €6.5 million in October 2009. (TechCrunch)

-- Digital distributor IODA has announced two partnerships to expand its presence in the classical world. First, the Philadelphia Orchestra has joined IODA's catalog. Second, IODA has a partnership with, a leading online resource for the delivery of classical music. IODA labels will be able to access's widgets, mobile applications and marketing tools. (Press release)

-- Global time spent on social media sites rose 82% in 2009, according to Nielsen. (NielsenWire)

-- A Flux Summit panel titled "What's Shaking Down SF Music Venues?" had many tales of problems that San Francisco venues had recently with local law enforcement. "According to the speakers, patrons of the arts are undergoing abusive assaults at venues, being physically searched on the spot, with employees pushed around, up against a wall, in every neighborhood around the venues, bar owners and licensed party-throwers are reportedly getting handcuffed, their offices turned upside down, their computers seized, hit with fines that are impossible to meet." (SF Appeal)