Monday, November 10, 2008

Digital albums now offer liner notes, lyrics

Digital albums now offer liner notes, lyrics

Saturday, Nov 08, 2008 3:35AM UTC

By Antony Bruno

DENVER (Billboard) - CDs come with booklets filled with liner notes, lyrics, photos and more. But a digital album or single comes with bupkis -- an omission that started at the dawn of downloadable music.

Now technology has brought a solution: downloadable artist-branded applications for cell phones and handheld media players. And the first of these work on -- not surprisingly -- Apple's iPhone.

Before the December 16 release of Fall Out Boy's "Folie a Deux," the band will release an iPhone app that at first blush looks like its Web site.

It's actually more than that -- it's basically an interactive CD booklet, one that's far more advanced than the PDF files that some labels have included with albums from iTunes. The Fall Out Boy app will contain track listings, photos and lyrics from the band's entire discography that can be accessed directly from the iPhone, as well as links to buy its songs from iTunes.

Perhaps best of all, they can be updated automatically. Just like iTunes and Internet Explorer can receive updates that add functionality, Fall Out Boy will improve its app in the weeks to come. Eventually it will include a mobile social network integrated with the community on, Twitter-like microblogging tools, photo uploading and the ability to find other nearby app users with the iPhone's GPS location technology.

Including such features in a standard music download has proved too difficult from both a licensing and a technology perspective. On the licensing side, embedding lyrics into each song downloaded from iTunes would raise prices. And such files wouldn't be compatible with all the devices meant to play them.

Making apps for the iPhone could be the first workaround to that problem. Pink, Snow Patrol and David Cook have already released iPhone apps like Fall Out Boy's with the same kinds of features: Pink has streaming video; Snow Patrol has a touch-screen "game" that lets users find lyrics and artwork; Cook has a flickering image of a cigarette lighter that's meant to replace an actual lighter at concerts.

If these programs find an audience, artist-branded iPhone apps may become as common as artist Web sites are today. But creating these programs -- particularly the more sophisticated ones -- requires an investment of time and money, so labels are being selective about creating them.

"We can't do for everybody what we're doing for Fall Out Boy," Island Def Jam senior VP of new media and commerce Christian Jorg says. "This is an artist we think has the right target demo, we know the iPhone is successful with that demo and has great capabilities, and we'd like to put a product out there that speaks to that demo."

Labels want to see other devices -- both mobile phones and MP3 players -- with Internet access and open-development platforms before creating such applications for their entire catalogs. The 7 million iPhones worldwide simply aren't enough of a market. But they could just be the beginning.

"This isn't just about the iPhone," says Sony Music Entertainment VP of mobile marketing, sales and business development Sean Rosenberg, who worked on the Pink app. "That's a very small part of the handset market. But, within the music environment and content usage, it's a great place to test out what people like, how they use these and whether there is a long-term play toward packaging not just our music but also our artist's properties and Web site assets in this new fashion so it's easier for fans to interact with on all mobile devices."

From the very beginning, the gatefold LPs and the booklets in CDs were meant to deepen fan interaction with artists. Artist Web sites, MySpace pages and YouTube videos have expanded that idea but at the expense of the portable device. Applications that deliver additional content to portable music devices could expand the audience for digital music and give fans a new way to connect with artists.

"The whole experience of being a fan of a band has completely turned upside down," says Dan Kruchkow of Crush Management, which handles Fall Out Boy.

"You used to listen to the radio, watch MTV or go to a show, and that's all you could do. Now, the possibilities are limitless. Anything you can think of, you can do."

Gene Simmons rushes to cash in on rock videogames

Saturday, Nov 08, 2008 

DENVER (Billboard) - Amid the flood of third-party instrument peripherals emerging for the new "Guitar Hero" and "Rock Band" music simulation games, God forbid if Gene Simmons would miss an opportunity to get his brand on.

The entrepreneurial Kiss bassist and reality TV star has created a replica of the bass he uses while touring, which is compatible with all PlayStation versions of both games. The Gene Simmons AXE Guitar is, yes, shaped like a battle axe, and includes Simmons' superimposed autograph as well as his betongued likeness in full makeup.

It has a wireless range of up to 30 feet, two sets of fret buttons, and whammy and strum bars. It should be available November 15 from Hip Street ( for $80.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Pink Floyd founder Richard Wright dies

Monday, Sep 15, 2008

LONDON (Reuters) - Pink Floyd keyboard player and founding member Richard Wright died on Monday after a short battle with cancer, his spokesman said. He was 65.

Wright, singer, songwriter and guitarist Syd Barrett, guitarist Roger Waters and drummer Nick Mason founded the band that became Pink Floyd in the 1960s when they were students. Pink Floyd went on to become one of the biggest names in rock.

"The family of Richard Wright, founder member of Pink Floyd, announce with great sadness, that Richard died today after a short struggle with cancer," his spokesman said in a statement.

"The family have asked that their privacy is respected at this difficult time."

Wright co-wrote five songs on "Dark Side of the Moon", which was released in 1973, spent 14 years on the Billboard 200 album chart and is one of the best selling albums ever.

Wright left Pink Floyd after falling out with Waters during sessions for "The Wall". He rejoined the band in 1987.

(Reporting by David Clarke; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

Friday, September 5, 2008

Next U2 album pushed to early 2009

Thursday, Sep 04, 2008

By Jonathan Cohen

NEW YORK (Billboard) - Initially expected this fall as a fourth-quarter blockbuster, U2's next album has been pushed to early 2009 while the band continues to write and record material.

"I thought a while back we might have the album wrapped by now, but why come up above ground now if there's more priceless stuff to be found?," frontman Bono writes on (

Of late, the group has been recording in the south of France, having already logged time in Fez and Dublin with longtime collaborators Brian Eno, Daniel Lanois and Steve Lillywhite.

'We know we have to emerge soon but we also know that people don't want another U2 album unless it is our best ever album," Bono says. "It has to be our most innovative, our most challenging ... or what's the point ?"

Bono says the band now was "50 or 60" new songs to consider for inclusion on the follow-up to 2004's Grammy-winning album of the year "How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb."

"The last two records were very personal, with a kind of three piece at their heart, the primary colours of rock -- bass, guitars and drum," he says. "But what we're about now is of the same order as the transition that took us from 'The Joshua Tree' to 'Achtung Baby.'"

Among the songs in the mix are "Get on Your Boots," "For Your Love," "Breathe," "No Line on the Horizon" and the eight-minute "Moment of Surrender."


Dylan rolls out rocking show in rarely used venue

Friday, Sep 05, 2008

By Darryl Morden

SANTA MONICA, California (Hollywood Reporter) - Leave it to an enigmatic-after-all-these-years rock legend to play a 50-year-old creaky venue that hasn't been a concert hotspot for quite some time. Back in the 1970s and '80s, the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium played host to shows from the Kinks to Queen to the Clash. The sound was never very good.

These days, the sound remains dicey, though one got used to it as Bob Dylan rolled out a two-hour show Wednesday (September 3) of the old and the recent. At 67, he can rest on his laurels, but instead he keeps touring and recording.

As always, it all comes down to what he's going to play, how he's going to arrange it and how he'll phrase it. Anyone expecting album re-creations hasn't been following the man these many decades. He's never been an oldies act.

Dressed in a black suit and wide-brim hat and still sporting that pencil-thin moustache, Dylan looked like a Western saloon gambler (the Jack of Hearts, anyone?), his backing quintet in matching light brown suits. He stood behind his keyboard, drawing roars whenever he blew a bit of harmonica.

The carnival parading of "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35" with its crowd-pleasing refrain of "everybody must get stoned" kicked off the show for the SRO crowd of about 3,500, followed by a raw "It Ain't Me, Babe" and the galloping "Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again."

That's the way it went all night, Dylan mining his vast catalogue from the '60s, then mixing in songs from 2006's "Modern Times." He skipped a lot of eras, but that's the way the set list rolls.

Dylan's current band -- guitarists Stu Kimball and Denny Freeman, drummer George Recile, bassist Tony Garnier and multi-instrumentalist Donnie Herron on viola, banjo, electric mandolin, pedal steel and lap steel -- have been with him for several years, adept at the changes that come with each performance. The boss lets them cut loose at times, though they never stray from the core of his songs, even in new guises.

The grooves were steady and jumping, too. There was the tale-spinning of "Mississippi," the Oscar-winning, caustic "Things Have Changed" from "The Wonder Boys" soundtrack and more classics, such as a ramshackle "I Don't Believe You" and the ever-biting "Ballad of a Thin Man."

A boogie-pumped "Highway 61 Revisited," channelling the spirit of John Lee Hooker, revved up the crowd, while the more recent "Thunder on the Mountain" closed out the main set. Dylan returned with the signature "Like a Rolling Stone" and a revamped yet still ominous "All Along the Watchtower."

The audience ranged from those old enough to collect Social Security to fans in their '20s, obviously thrilled to experience an American icon.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

Musical taste "defines personality"

Friday, Sep 05, 2008

LONDON (Reuters) - Fans of classical music and jazz are creative, pop lovers are hardworking and, despite the stereotypes, heavy metal listeners are gentle, creative types who are at ease with themselves.

So says Professor Adrian North of Scotland's Heriot-Watt University who has been studying the links between people's personalities and their choice of music.

"People often define their sense of identity through their musical taste, wearing particular clothes, going to certain pubs, and using certain types of slang," North said.

"It's not surprising that personality should also be related to musical preference."

In what North said was the largest study ever conducted into individuals' musical preference and character, researchers asked 36,518 people from around the world to rate how much they liked 104 different musical styles before taking a personality test.

"Researchers have been showing for decades that fans of rock and rap are rebellious, and that fans of opera are wealthy and well-educated," North said.

"But this is the first time that research has shown that personality links to liking for a wide range of musical styles."

The study concluded that jazz and classical music fans are creative with good self-esteem, although the former are much more outgoing whereas the latter are shy.

Country and western fans were found to be hardworking and shy; rap fans are outgoing and indie lovers lack self-esteem and are not very gentle.

Those who like soul music can take heart as the research concluded they are creative, outgoing, gentle, at ease with themselves and have a high self-esteem.

And if you've ever wondered why people driving expensive sports cars often have music blaring from their vehicle, North could have an explanation.

Those who choose to listen to exciting, punchy music are more likely to be in a higher earning bracket, he says, while those who go for relaxing sounds tend to be lower down the pay scale.

North is still looking for volunteers to take part in the research. Details on

(Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Steve Addison)

Rock group Heart says "Barracuda" use is fishy

Friday, Sep 05, 2008

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The rock group Heart, angry that its 70's hit "Barracuda" is being used as the unofficial theme song for Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin, is biting back at the Alaska governor.

The song, a nod to the "Sarah Barracuda" nickname Palin earned on the basketball court in high school, was dusted off for her appearance at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul on Wednesday.

Heart singers Ann and Nancy Wilson said a "cease-and-desist" letter has been sent to the Republicans asking them not to use the song.

"The Republican campaign did not ask for permission to use the song, nor would they have been granted that permission," according to a statement issued late on Thursday on behalf of the sisters.

There was no immediate comment from the Republican camp.

Last month, rocker Jackson Browne sued Republican presidential candidate John McCain, the Republican National Committee and the Ohio Republican Party, accusing them of using his 1977 hit "Running on Empty" in a campaign ad without permission.

Copyright law may not be on the Wilsons' side as the song is licensed for public performance under a blanket fee paid by the venue to ASCAP, the firm that collects royalties on behalf of composers and copyright owners.

Despite the Wilson sisters' objections, one of the song's co-writers said he was "thrilled" that the song was used.

In an e-mail to Reuters, the band's former guitarist, Roger Fisher, said it was a win-win situation. Heart gets publicity and royalties, while the Republicans benefit from "the ingenious placement of a kick-ass song," Fisher said.

Fisher and the Wilsons wrote "Barracuda" with drummer Michael DeRosier. It appeared on the group's second album, "Little Queen" in 1977. The song was inspired by the band's anger over an obnoxious record label executive.

(Reporting by Dean Goodman; editing by Jill Serjeant)

Sunday, August 31, 2008

John Lennon movie

John Lennon movie coming together

Friday, Aug 29, 2008

LONDON (Hollywood Reporter) - The story of John Lennon is headed for the big screen with "Nowhere Boy," which will focus on the former Beatle's troubled adolescence.

Screenwriter Matt Greenhalgh's script details the story of Lennon as a lonely teenager abandoned by his mother and raised by his authoritarian aunt. His only escape is music, art and his fateful friendship with Paul McCartney.

The film will be directed by visual artist Sam Taylor-Wood, who will shoot on location in Lennon's hometown of Liverpool.

"The women in John's early life truly shaped who he became," Taylor-Wood said, "and the strengths and weaknesses of their relationships are central to this film."

Casting for the major roles "is under way," said producer Ecosse Films, which is developing the project with the Film Council.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Gwen Stefani gives birth to baby boy

Gwen Stefani's baby boy

Friday, Aug 22, 2008

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Singer and songwriter Gwen Stefani gave birth to a boy named Zuma on Thursday in Los Angeles, her second child with husband Gavin Rossdale, her spokesman said.

Stefani and her baby are "happy and healthy" following the birth at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, publicist Dave Tomberlin said in a statement. Zuma Nesta Rock Rossdale weighs 8.5 pounds, Tomberlin said.

Stefani, 38, and Rossdale, 40, have one other child, a son named Kingston who was born in 2006.

The California-born Stefani rose to fame with the band No Doubt in the 1990s, scoring hit songs such as "Just a Girl" and "Don't Speak." Her 2004 album "Love. Angel. Music. Baby." became a breakout solo hit.

Stefani and Rossdale, who gained fame in the British rock band Bush, married in 2002.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis: Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

AC/DC to release "Black Ice" in October

AC/DC to release "Black Ice" in October

Tuesday, Aug 19, 2008

NEW YORK (Billboard) - Rock band AC/DC's first studio album in eight years, "Black Ice," will be sold exclusively in the U.S. via Wal-Mart, Sam's Club and the band's Web site, beginning October 20. First single "Rock 'n' Roll Train" will hit U.S. radio on August 28.

In an unusual move, the exclusive release comes with the full cooperation of AC/DC's label home, Columbia, which says it is planning "multiple activities for fans" leading up to release date.

The 15-track "Black Ice" is the follow-up to 2000's "Stiff Upper Lip." An extensive world tour in support of the set will begin in late October.

In addition, on September 9 Columbia will release "No Bull: The Director's Cut," a newly edited DVD of AC/DC's July 1996 show at Madrid's Plaza De Toros De Las Ventas.


U2 Bono pumps up the volume on new songs

Tuesday, Aug 19, 2008

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Rock stars may have to rein in their taste for loud music after a fan overheard U2 frontman Bono listening to tracks from the group's forthcoming album and recorded them before posting the songs on the Internet.

The fan heard the music blaring out of the Irish rocker's holiday home in the south of France, recorded it on his mobile phone and posted four tracks on video-sharing website YouTube, newspapers and music websites reported on Tuesday.

The previously unheard songs had now been removed from the website for copyright reasons but continuned to circulate via email, the Irish Independent newspaper said.

Nobody at U2's record label could immediately be reached for comment on the reports.

The quality of the recording was said to be poor, with the noise of waves and seagulls audible in the background.

(Reporting by Paul Hoskins)

Batman dominates box office for a month

Batman dominates box office for a month

Wednesday, Aug 20, 2008

LONDON (Reuters) - The latest Batman movie "The Dark Knight" was Britain's favourite film for a fourth week, just pipping "Mamma Mia!" for the top box office spot over the weekend.

Starring Christian Bale and the late Heath Ledger as the Joker, and directed by Englishman Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight took 2.3 million pounds, according to Screen International, for a four-week total of 40 million.

Mamma Mia, the film of the show based on Swedish supergroup Abba, took 2.2 million pounds for a 45 million pound six-week total and edged back up to second spot from third.

Coming in at three was Adam Sandler's new comedy "You Don't Mess with the Zohan," the story of an Israeli assassin fleeing to New York to become a hairdresser.

The third film of the Mummy franchise, "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon," was down two places at four with "Wild Child," featuring a spoilt Malibu brat at an English boarding school, coming in at five.

"Star Wars: The Clone Wars," an animated version acting as a pilot for an upcoming Cartoon Network series, came in at six while animated robot "Wall-E" was down three places at seven.

The galactic rescue mission by "Space Chimps" was back up one place at eight, swapping places with "Kung Fu Panda."

At 10, down four places, was Hindi action comedy "Singh is Kinng."

Dave Matthews Band saxophonist Moore dies

Dave Matthews Band saxophonist Moore dies

Wednesday, Aug 20, 2008

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Saxophonist LeRoi Moore, a founding member of the Dave Matthews Band, died on Tuesday of complications from a vehicle accident in June.

A statement on the band's Web site said Moore, 46, died unexpectedly at Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Centre in Los Angeles on Tuesday afternoon.

Moore had been injured in June while riding an all-terrain vehicle near his farm in Charlottesville, Virginia, the statement said.

He recently had returned to his home in Los Angeles to begin rehabilitation.


Lavigne asked to postpone concert

Lavigne asked to postpone concert

Wednesday, Aug 20, 2008

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysia's government has told promoters of a concert by Canadian pop star Avril Lavigne to postpone the show because it could mar the country's independence day celebrations, an official said on Wednesday.

The decision came after the opposition Islamic party, Parti se-Islam Malaysia, objected to the August 29 concert in Kuala Lumpur, saying that mainly Muslim Malaysia should not ape Western values and cultures.

Although Malaysia is a moderate Muslim country with sizeable non-Muslim minorities, conservative groups often frown upon departures from strict interpretations of the Koran.

A culture ministry official said the show's promoters now have to find another slot for Lavigne.

"We did not reject the concert. We asked them to find another date as the original date is so close to the independence day," the official said. "That's the only reason."

A spokesman for the organisers said more than half of the tickets had already been sold. "As far as we are concerned, the show is still on," he said. Malaysia marks its 51st year of independence from Britain on August 31.

Last October, U.S. R&B star Beyonce Knowles axed her debut concert in Malaysia in protest against the country's ultra-strict dress code and over fears of a Muslim outcry over her show.

But a year ago, U.S. singer Gwen Stefani performed in Malaysia despite calls from Muslim students to cancel the concert because they deemed it too obscene.

(Reporting by Jalil Hamid, editing by Miral Fahmy)

Monday, July 14, 2008

RedOctane execs on a roll with "Guitar Hero"

RedOctane execs on a roll with "Guitar Hero"

Sunday, Jul 13,

By Antony Bruno

DENVER (Billboard) - There were a lot of questions surrounding the "Guitar Hero" videogame when it first came out. Would gamers agree to pony up extra money for the special guitar-shaped controller needed to play it? Would the music industry agree to license master tracks? Would the addition of downloadable content be successful?

The answer to all those questions has turned out to be a resounding yes. "Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock" has sold more than 8 million copies, and the franchise has sold more than 20 million songs through its downloadable content store.

During the past month, publisher Activision -- which purchased the rights to the franchise by acquiring original publisher RedOctane -- rolled out a portable version of the game for the Nintendo DS called "Guitar Hero: On Tour," introduced a special edition dedicated to classic rock act Aerosmith and unveiled plans for its next instalment, "Guitar Hero: World Tour," which for the first time adds drums and vocals to the mix in a bid to compete with rival "Rock Band." An added twist for the expected fourth-quarter release: The game's "music studio" feature enables users to compose and record tracks and share them online.

To be sure, the story of "Guitar Hero" seems to be just hitting its stride rather than slowing down. Billboard caught up with RedOctane founders and brothers Kai and Charles Huang -- president and VP of business development, respectively -- to hear their reflections on the past and what they've got planned for the future.

Q: Why a whole expansion of the game dedicated to Aerosmith rather than just featuring the band as a downloadable content special?

Kai Huang: Because we really wanted to showcase Aerosmith the band. Downloadable content will allow you to just get the music, but we've gone much, much further than that. We've actually brought them into the studio to do full-motion capture of them in performance, and we put all of that into the game. We had the band consult on the actual songs that they wanted, including about 20 of the songs that they had over their 30-year career. And then they provided input on songs that were from bands that they'd either toured with in the past or that have influenced them over the course of their career. So the game is a lot more than just about Aerosmith music, it really is about the history and the rise of Aerosmith.

Charles Huang: Even the venues have changed, so the venues are the actual places where they played. We actually have Nipmuc High School (in Massachusetts), where they did their first gig, (and) Max's Kansas City, and all of (those) are authentic through the history of Aerosmith, so it was a lot more than just making their music playable with "Guitar Hero III." That's why we had to put it on disc to get all of that into the game.

Q: Is this the template for how you would like to do other expansion-type discs with other artists for "Guitar Hero?"

Kai: Yeah, I think definitely. If "Guitar Hero: Aerosmith" proves to be as successful as we think it will be, then we would love to continue doing this type of game with bands in the future because it's a lot of fun to work with the bands, No. 1, but again it's a great way to showcase the talents and the career and the histories of these bands.

Q: So you want to see how well this Aerosmith "band pack" works before doing the same with other artists?

Charles: We would love to work with a lot of other artists. Now to fill up a whole game, you have to have an artist that has some longevity and history, they have to have a body of work that can span 25, 30 great "Guitar Hero" tracks, and so there's a handful of bands that have that, and we'd love to work with them. But there's a lot of great songs out there that we would love to compile in a genre pack as well, so definitely the commercial success of this game will dictate some of our strategy. But some of it is just dictated by the music that's available from some artists.

Q: There's been some news about how Metallica might be the next on deck. Can you guys comment at all about that?

Kai: We're not ready to comment about Metallica yet, but what I will say is that we'd love to work with all of the top rock bands of all time, whether it's Aerosmith or Metallica or AC/DC or Led Zeppelin. If we get an opportunity to work with those bands, we would love to do that.

Q: In the space of just a few weeks there has been a lot of "Guitar Hero"-related news. How do you manage all this without the brand getting overexposed or diluted?

Charles: Even though they all have the "Guitar Hero" name, they are slightly different. "Guitar Hero: On Tour" is (for the Nintendo) DS and it's a portable experience. It's a little bit different (in) that we're targeting the game at perhaps a little bit younger audience that plays the DS, so this is kind of like the game for all the people that have to walk around all day with an iPod because they love their music everywhere they go. "Guitar Hero: Aerosmith" is the same experience as "Guitar Hero III" -- it's in your living room, you're playing with friends at parties.

Q: "World Tour" is quite a major evolution of the game and the bands from the last version. How will it be sufficiently different from "Rock Band," other than just the songs included in the game?

Charles: First of all, we've got our instruments, which for the first time really in the history of the franchise has some significant innovations. So the guitar will have new features, the drums will have new features as well. (They) will play differently. The drums will have velocity censors that will sense how hard you're hitting the drum, and that plays a big role in the music studio, where you'll be able to go in and record ... guitars and drum tracks and upload it onto the Internet. Then people can go and download those songs and play them on their "Guitar Hero" game, so that's the big innovation both on the hardware and (the) software side.

Q: Can you say anything about the Beatles rumours we're hearing?

Kai: Unfortunately, those are rumours right now and we don't have any comments yet.

Charles: Well, I don't have to tell you how difficult it is. Everybody in the world has tried to get the Beatles to put their music on all kinds of different platforms, and it certainly would be exciting, but it's also a difficult challenge.


New Guns song heads to "Rock Band 2"

New Guns N roses song heads to "Rock Band 2"

Monday, Jul 14, 2008 8:54PM UTC

NEW YORK (Billboard) - A new Guns N' Roses song, "Shackler's Revenge," apparently from the decade-in-the-works album "Chinese Democracy," will be included in the video game "Rock Band 2," according to a report in the New York Times.

The game will be released in September.

The news makes it seem increasingly likely that "Chinese Democracy" will finally see the light of day before year's end via Interscope. Nine seemingly complete tracks from the album, not including "Shackler's Revenge," leaked online earlier this summer.

"Rock Band 2," developed by MTV and Harmonix, will support all songs downloaded for the game to date and will also support the original game's instrument controllers. But it will also introduce new controllers for drums and guitar and boast a soundtrack of more than 100 master recordings.

In April, Motley Crue made its new single, "Saints of Los Angeles," available for download "Rock Band" well in advance of the release of the album of the same name. The only other place to obtain the track was iTunes.

According to data provided in late May by the band's management, Tenth Street Entertainment, the track was downloaded more than 47,000 times via the Xbox 360 version of the game alone in the first week after it became available. ("Rock Band" publisher MTV Networks was unable to independently verify these figures, and total downloads that include the PlayStation 3 version of the game were not available.)

By comparison, the same track received slightly more than 10,000 downloads via digital services like iTunes and Amazon, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The track has now sold more than 62,000 downloads.


Monday, June 23, 2008

Mick Jones back on track with revamped Foreigner

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Mick Jones back on track with revamped Foreigner

Saturday, Jun 21, 2008 2:22PM UTC

By Gary Graff

DETROIT (Billboard) - In 1976, Mick Jones found himself out of a job. The Surrey native had a reputation as a guitar gunslinger dating back to his own band, Nero & the Gladiators; session credits for George Harrison, Peter Frampton and Johnny Halliday; and tenures with the Leslie West Band and Spooky Tooth. But after an angry departure from the Leslie West Band, Jones was at a crossroads and looking for his next move. He came up with a winner -- Foreigner.

Recruiting an old mate, Ian McDonald from King Crimson, and some unknown American players, Jones created a juggernaut that has sold more than 70 million albums worldwide and enough hits to fill a double-disc retrospective (No End in Sight: The Very Best of Foreigner," due July 15 on Rhino Records).

After a brief hiatus, Jone put together a new lineup in 2005 and has been touring steadily since.

Critics may not consider Foreigner the hippest band to ever tread the rock 'n' roll boards, but it's hard to argue with that kind of successful track record and the enduring appeal that Jones and his latest incarnation of the band (which includes late Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham's son Jason and former Dokken bassist Jeff Pilson) continue to enjoy.

Q: In 1976, when you formed Foreigner, could you have imagined still leading the band in 2008?

Mick Jones: I guess I have to say no. (Laughs) The life expectation of bands was pretty low. I didn't even think I'd be playing after the age of 30, 35. I guess the (Rolling) Stones and (Led) Zeppelin were starting to become "classic" at that point, but I had no idea. I wasn't expecting anything like the reception we got for the first album, even. I thought it was going to be a labour of love for the next few years to establish ourselves. I certainly hadn't set my sights past that. So what's happened has been ... unbelievable, really.

Q: How did you assemble Foreigner's first lineup?

Jones: First of all it was with Ian Lloyd, the singer of a band called Stories, who really helped me a tremendous amount at the beginning to flesh out the songs vocally. And one by one I added players. I had recently met up with Ian McDonald, and he became involved. And then I believe it was Al Greenwood, the keyboard player. Then we finally settled, after quite a search for drummers, on Dennis Elliott, and then eventually Ed Gagliardi on bass. Then, after about 50 auditions of singers, we ended up with Lou (Gramm).

Q: Gramm was a crucial find. Was it love at first listen?

Jones: Yeah, it was. When I heard his voice on an album that I'd been given of his band, Black Sheep, I was actually in the midst of writing "Feels Like the First Time." I'd had a few demos from people who'd sent stuff in, and I was listening to them. The moment I heard Lou's voice, it clicked.

Q: What was your vision for Foreigner?

Jones: I wanted it to be a band that had the ability to choose its own direction. I needed it to have, like, a palette, to be able to choose from different colours and different sounds and different directions. I felt that we needed keyboards, from organ through synthesizers, which were still in the early stages at that point. Ian McDonald, who was a multi-instrumentalist, helped a lot, too. It had to have that ability to travel through different styles and create a different sort of style.

Q: At that time rock bands weren't really having pop hit singles. But Foreigner did from the get-go.

Jones: No, it was definitely more of an album-oriented world at the time. I knew that "Feels Like the First Time" was probably a bit more commercial than anything I'd written so far, and "Cold As Ice," I realized that had a bit of a pop edge to it. But to me the important thing was writing an album that you could listen to from the beginning to the end. The singles were sort of highlights, the songs that attracted people's attention more immediately. But my heart was more into making albums.

Q: Did you ever feel that Foreigner as an album band got short shrift because of the singles?

Jones: Not according to the sales of the albums and the amount of people who bought them. I think we were considerably more of an album-selling band. I think the thing really was we were fighting upstream a lot. We had to fight quite a lot with the different trends that came in -- the dawn of punk, the critics, the things flying around like "corporate rock," where the band had been put together in the boardroom of the record company; all this bulls--t. I was always confident in the music, and I put my heart and soul into everything that we did. That's all I could do, and it seemed to work. I always wanted this band to be regarded as an album band more than a singles band. I have a feeling at the end of the day we probably are.

Q: Lineup changes began with 1979's "Head Games." Were you disappointed that the original band didn't stay together?

Jones: I look back now and I think, "Was that the right thing to do?" I really don't know. It was just at the time I felt that the band needed to hone its direction. People may not have understood quite what was going on, but it was the normal process of a band growing and changing on its way.

Q: What's your perspective now on your relationship with Gramm?

Jones: That's a tough one. (Laughs) We had a great deal of respect for each other. We went through a tremendous amount together, highs and lows. We were never the closest of friends, but I think we both appreciated each other's gifts. At times it felt very close. I look back at a lot of great, happy times, a lot of very heady times, especially in the first few years. I don't think there's any malice between us now, but I think ... the chasm between us has deepened. But over time, I'd say it was a great relationship.

Q: Even when he was complaining about you being a control freak?

Jones: (Laughs) If I look back on it, I was probably a little too much that way. I felt I was the visionary of the band, if you like. I was sort of a little desperate at first to keep it that way. But from the very word go I really encouraged Lou's involvement. We wrote a number of great songs together.

Q: Some feel that "I Want to Know What Love Is" was the death knell for Foreigner, at least as a credible rock band. How do you see it?

Jones: I can't really say that. If you look at (our) whole history, each album had a couple of ballads on (it). I think that Lou aired his opinion about it at the time, and that's what led to people jumping on it as a reason for (our) differences. But I can never really think that having a worldwide No. 1 song would be detrimental to a band.

Q: You put Foreigner on ice earlier this decade, shortly after the band's 25th anniversary. What happened?

Jones: Lou and I had gotten back from a European engagement, and I think we both realized we didn't have much of a future; we were at odds about several different things. Lou sort of immediately put plans together to go out by himself, and I just took some steps back and took it easy. I spent a lot of time with my family, getting to know my kids again. It worked out very well for me.

Q: There's a new song, "Too Late," on "No End in Sight" that indicates you don't intend for this version of Foreigner to be an oldies act.

Jones: Yeah, it's not just pulling a band together for the sake of touring. There's a long-range plan now that we really do have with the lineup. It's just very exciting and I'm very much into that. I don't really have time to think about negative things from the past or dwell on things. I'm glad to say that I think I've found my way again.


Friday, June 13, 2008

Just a Minute With: Musician Peter Gabriel

Thursday, Jun 12, 2008 By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters) - Grammy-winning musician Peter Gabriel believes the Internet has drowned users with too much choice, failed to democratise the pop industry as much as was hoped and eroded the quality of what people listen to.

The 58-year-old producer, former Genesis frontman, world music champion and digital technology pioneer is involved in two new ventures he hopes will address his concerns.

The first is The Filter (, which aims to produce a blueprint of an individual's taste in music, movies, news and views by analyzing what the person buys online.

Users can recommend songs and films to each other, and, further down the line, may be able to customize their profiles by selecting particular directors, artists and critics.

The second is a venture with speaker makers Bowers & Wilkins that offers an exclusive album each month recorded at his Real World Studios and available online as an uncompressed file, which should ensure CD-standard quality.

Gabriel, who helps organize the WOMAD world music festival in Britain, this year from July 25 to 27, spoke to Reuters about his new projects.

Q: What is the main idea behind The Filter?

A: I think in a world in which we are drowning in choice and have access to everything, we are going to rely more and more on good filtering. I think one of the ways we are trying to do this a little differently is (to) integrate the best of expert systems -- best of machine and best of man. There are living, breathing people whose tastes and guidance we trust whether they be friends, experts, musicians, film directors, critics, journalists.

We're trying to integrate their parameters, if you like, with 'you bought this therefore you might like this'. That is part of the mixer idea and it's only in its first stage of implementation. Those people whose taste is available through The Filter, you can then allocate them to the mixer. That would be the aim ideally.

Q: Has the Internet been as much of a force for good in the music industry as you had hoped?

A: I think everyone thought that it was going to democratise the music business, but it's done less of that than we would have hoped. I think if you have good filtering then that is a tool to really level the playing field. If people are starting to really like what you do, and that enthusiasm and that sort of rating is getting in there, then that will make you more visible and accessible so it would then be based on passion and enthusiasm rather than just on dollars of merchandising and advertising.

Q: Are the kind of musicians you typically support, most of whom are not household names, benefiting from the digital revolution in music?

A: Not as much as I would like yet, and as a lot of the artists are losing one of the central sources of their income, i.e. record sales, they need to become smarter in building their own database as a means of accessing their own fans and learning and getting the feedback from their fans.

That's a channel through which they can sell other stuff. We do need to democratise the process of discovery.

Q: Another negative aspect of the Internet you identified is the poor quality of downloaded music many people listen to?

A: The iPod, for example, does have the capacity to hold ... what they call 'Apple Lossless' files, so it's built in and available, but very few people use it and an MP3 has become the sort of new standard and it's a giant step backwards. Whereas in television now most of us are getting used to wide screen or high definition, and that's gone forwards in terms of quality, music has certainly gone back.

To get as small a number of digits taken up as possible something has to be sacrificed and it's unfortunately the music.

... As good as CD, which I think should be the starting point. We're just trying that out with B&W (Bowers & Wilkins) and we have a small number of acts (to record the albums) but it would be great if a few more musicians would get involved and try and put stuff out in formats other than MP3.

Q: Will you be playing at the Nelson Mandela tribute concert in London on June 27?

A: I'm not going to play at this one. I've done four of the Mandela shows now and my wife is due a baby at this time so I didn't want to have a chance of missing that by being in rehearsal or playing. But I will be, I think, going to a private dinner for his birthday party.


Sunday, May 11, 2008

Tina Turner unveils first tour in 8 years

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Soul legend Tina Turner on Friday unveiled plans to tour for the first time in eight years after her friend and film icon Sophia Loren told her it was time to hit the road again.

Turner, 68, came out of retirement when she sang her hit song "Proud Mary" with R&B singer Beyonce at February's Grammy Awards, and the pair brought the crowd to its feet. Turner, who has been living in Europe, said that after the duet fans begged her to go back on tour.

An eight-time Grammy winner, Turner will bring her show to 17 cities across the United States and Canada, starting with an October 1 performance in Kansas City, Missouri, and wrapping up in Montreal, Canada on December 8.

"My blessing is that most of my audiences are right there with me," Turner said in an interview on "The Early Show" on the U.S. television network CBS.

"They're so ready," Turner said. "It's just like -- even when they're in their chairs, they don't stay in their chairs very long!"

Turner said her friend Loren, the Italian-born actress and 1960s sex symbol, told Turner she had "rested" long enough since her last tour.


Wednesday, May 7, 2008

the Beatles world records

The Beatles world records

Throughout their relatively short time recording and performing together, The Beatles set a number of world records - most of which have yet to be broken. The following is a partial list.

The Beatles are the best selling musical group of all time, estimated by EMI to be over one billion discs and tapes sold worldwide.

The most multi-platinum selling albums for any artist or musical group (13 in the U.S. alone)

The Beatles have had more number one singles than any other artist or musical group (22 in the U.S. alone). Ironically, the Beatles could easily have had even more number ones, because they were often competing with their own singles. For example, The Beatles' "Penny Lane" and "Strawberry Fields Forever" were released as a "double A" sided single, which caused sales and airplay to be divided between the two songs instead of being counted collectively. Even so, they reached number two with the singles.

The most successful first week of sales for a double album (The Beatles Anthology Volume 1), which sold 855,473 copies in the U.S. from November 21 to November 28, 1995).

In terms of charting positions, Lennon and McCartney are the most successful songwriters in history, with 32 number one singles in the U.S. for McCartney, and 26 for Lennon (23 of which were written together). Lennon was responsible for 29 number one singles in the U.K., and McCartney was responsible for 28 (25 of which were written together).

During the week of April 4, 1964, The Beatles held the top 5 positions on the Billboard singles chart. No one had ever done anything like this before, and it is doubtful that the conditions will ever exist for anyone to do it again. The songs were "Can't Buy Me Love", "Twist and Shout", "She Loves You", "I Want to Hold Your Hand", and "Please Please Me".

The next week, April 11, 1964, the Beatles held 14 positions on the Billboard Hot 100. Before the Beatles, the highest number of concurrent singles by one artist on the Hot 100 was nine (by Elvis Presley, December 19, 1956).

The Beatles are the only artist to have back-to-back-to-back number one singles on Billboard's Hot 100. Boyz II Men and Elvis Presley have succeeded themselves on the chart, but the Beatles are the only artist to three-peat.

The Beatles' "Yesterday" is the most covered song in history, appearing in the Guinness Book of Records with over 3000 recorded versions.

The Beatles had the fastest selling single of all time with "I Want To Hold Your Hand". The song sold 250,000 units within 3 days in the U.S., one million in 2 weeks. (10,000 copies per hour in New York City alone for the first 20 days)

The largest number of advance orders for a single, at 2.1 million copies in the U.S. for "Can't Buy Me Love"

With their performance at Shea Stadium in 1965, The Beatles set new world records for concert attendance (55,600+) and revenue.

The Beatles broke television ratings records in the U.S. with their first appearance on the Ed Sullivan show.

On June 12, 1965, The Beatles were awarded the order of Member of the British Empire (MBE) by the Queen.

On July 2, 1966, The Beatles became the first musical group to perform at the Nippon Budokan Hall in Tokyo.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Nine Inch Nails offers freebie of new album

By Susan Visakowitz

NEW YORK - In a surprise move, Nine Inch Nails posted access to a free download of its new album, "The Slip," on its Web site on Monday morning (May 5).

The 10-track album is available in its entirety in several formats -- including MP3 and high-quality, "lossless" audio compression options like FLAC -- via a link on All of the formats come free of digital rights management.

A statement on the site from frontman Trent Reznor says simply, "Thank you for your continued and loyal support over the years -- this one's on me."

Nine Inch Nails plans to release "The Slip" on CD and vinyl in July and will use traditional brick-and-mortar distribution. Further details about the physical product have yet to be announced.

The band's manager, Jim Guerinot, told that the timing for the free digital download felt right because "we just put a record out (and) we're going on-sale with tickets."

He added that Reznor's "been in a prolific phase and we didn't want 'business' to get in the way of getting the art in the hands of the fans. We've looked at the climate and the many advantages of being able to do whatever we want without bureaucracy."

"The Slip" features Reznor on vocals and various instruments, as well as Josh Freese, Robin Finck and Alessandro Cortini. Guerinot also told that Reznor "worked again with his team of Alan Moulder and Atticus Ross out of his garage" on the recording and said that word of the album arrived late.

"(Trent) let me know there was some new music coming, and the next thing I knew there was a full-length record done," Guerinot said. "It's very exciting to be finishing mixing on Thursday, mastering Friday, finishing artwork on Saturday and having the world hear it (Monday morning)!"

To get the download of "The Slip," site users need to provide an email address, to which a link is sent that includes access to all format options. All downloads also include a PDF with lyrics and artwork.

This is the first time Nine Inch Nails has made a new album available completely and exclusively for free as a digital download.

Demand for the new music appeared to be immediate and heavy. Just after 2:30 p.m. British time, the site was slowed to a crawl because of traffic.

Like the band's previous album, "Ghosts I-IV," "The Slip" is being released under a Creative Common license, so it can be redistributed freely. Reuters/Billboard

Friday, May 2, 2008

Jimi Hendrix sex tape not genuine

Jimi Hendrix company says sex tape not genuine

Friday, May 02, 2008 LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The company that controls rights to rock guitarist Jimi Hendrix's music and likeness said on Thursday a purported sex tape of the musician being sold on the Internet was not authentic.

"We strongly dispute the claimed authenticity of the tape," Experience Hendrix said in a statement.

"We view the release as nothing more than a callous attempt to trade on the image and reputation of a deceased artist who is unable to defend himself against such an outrageous and baseless assertion," the Seattle-based company added.

Earlier this week, Los Angeles-based adult video company Vivid Entertainment released a 45-minute DVD that includes 11 minutes of roughly 40-year-old film footage showing a man resembling Hendrix cavorting with two unidentified brunettes in a dimly lit bedroom.

Vivid said it consulted several experts to authenticate Hendrix's likeness on the tape, including women who knew the guitarist. It said it acquired the tape from an individual who purchased it from a collector who found it.

Steven Hirsch, co-chairman of Vivid, said in his own statement on Thursday that Experience Hendrix's comments were "not in any way a refutation of the authenticity" of the tape.

"We are very comfortable this is the real thing," Hirsch said.

Others have also called the tape's authenticity into question, including Charles Cross, author of Hendrix biography "Room Full of Mirrors." He told the New York Times that "it doesn't add up to Jimi" and said he had previously encountered the film himself when he was researching his book.

The sex tape DVD was available for sale online and Vivid said it would be in stores starting next Tuesday.

Hendrix is considered one of the great rock guitarists of all time with hits such as "Hey Joe," "Purple Haze" and "Foxy Lady." He died in 1970 at age 27 in London.

Vivid, in addition to marketing adult videos, has also distributed the notorious sex tape of actress Pamela Anderson and rocker Tommy Lee.

(Reporting by Bob Tourtellotte; Editing by Mary Milliken)

Aussie rockers Midnight Oil dusting off old albums

By Dean Goodman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - If there's a silver lining when a rock band breaks up, maybe it's that the members have more time to contemplate reissue projects.

This is the case with Midnight Oil, the politically inspired Australian rock band that enjoyed an unlikely international hit 20 years ago with a concept album about Aboriginal rights.

The band's 25-year run ended after imposing vocalist Peter Garrett announced in 2002 that he was quitting to pursue a career in politics. The surfing skinhead is now a member of Australia's new centre-left federal government.

His comrades kept busy with various musical endeavours, but now guitarist Jim Moginie is leading an ambitious reissue project, beginning with the aforementioned album, 1987's "Diesel and Dust." The disc, which features the hit single "Beds Are Burning," has been remastered, and a bonus track called "Gunbarrel Highway" appended.

The band also has included a DVD documentary of its 1986 tour of the harsh Australian outback. The trek, during which the musicians viewed first-hand the abysmal poverty of Australia's Aboriginal people, as well as their cultural achievements, inspired the tunes on "Diesel and Dust."

"When you think about us singing about dispossessed indigenous people, you wouldn't think that would be a record that anyone would want to hear," Moginie, 51, told Reuters in a recent interview. "But it turned out that they did. There's hope for the world yet."

The album, the band's sixth release, went to No. 1 in many countries, and peaked at No. 21 in the United States. "Beds Are Burning," which receives U.S. radio airplay to this day, hit No. 17 on the pop chart.


While the lyrics were decidedly forthright, "Musically, I think we managed to make it reasonably palatable and simple in a way that anyone could enjoy it," said Moginie, who wrote or co-wrote most of the band's songs. "It had a good beat, wasn't too messy or complicated or ragged. It's pretty focused."

He said plans are in the works for a follow-up documentary that will retrace the band's steps in such desert settlements as Kintore East and Yuendemu, which were both immortalized on "Beds Are Burning."

"The same problems are still there," he said. "The petrol sniffing's still pretty rampant, same poverty."

In the meantime, he is working on a reissue for iTunes of the band's 1982 breakthrough "10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1," which featured tirades against their compatriots' political apathy, the American military and colonial arrogance.

Moginie and that album's producer, Nick Launay, also have shot a documentary about the making of the album.

"We did find a bunch of cassettes with some demos on it," Moginie said. "It's really interesting to listen to. It was quite surprising."

He hopes both projects will see the light of day within the next 12 months.

With Garrett rocking the halls of power, Moginie often gets together for writing sessions with drummer Rob Hirst and guitarist Martin Rotsey, and has "vague ideas about doing something in the future" with them.

But it would take a lot to bring one former Oils member back into the fold. Bass player Peter Gifford left after the band's extensive touring to promote "Diesel and Dust." He is now the Lamborghini-driving owner of a company that makes micro bikinis and lingerie, Wicked Weasel.

"He's quite the ex-rock star actually, much more than the rest of us," Moginie said. "We're still chipping away at the coal face, whereas Giffo's, 'Nah, nah. I'm finished with that. I'll just become a bikini millionaire.'"


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Grand Theft Auto IV is a video game "masterpiece"

Tuesday, Apr 29, 2008 By Scott Hillis

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Video gamers geared up on Monday for the midnight launch of "Grand Theft Auto 4," as early reviews hailed the criminal action title as a brutal and satirical "masterpiece" equal to films like "The Godfather."

The near-universal accolades lavished on "Grand Theft Auto 4" also helped boost the shares of publisher Take-Two Interactive Software Inc as much as 3.4 percent, with analysts saying it could help the company's bargaining position as it faces a takeover offer from rival Electronic Arts Inc.

Judging from early reviews, "Grand Theft Auto 4" -- made by Take-Two's Rockstar studio -- appears on track to be the best- rated video game ever and one that could cement video games as a serious art form.

"'Grand Theft Auto IV' is a violent, intelligent, profane, endearing, obnoxious, sly, richly textured and thoroughly compelling work of cultural satire disguised as fun," The New York Times said.

Based on more than a dozen reviews compiled by Metacritic, a widely tracked aggregator of gaming reviews, the version of GTA4 for Sony Corp's PlayStation 3 game console has scored a perfect 100, while the one for Microsoft Corp's Xbox 360 has achieved a 99.

"Rockstar's magnum opus is a modern-day masterpiece that could change the way the world views video games," gaming news and reviews Web site GameSpy wrote, awarding the game a perfect five-star rating.

"You'll quickly come to realize that the nuanced story telling and presentation is on par with the finest films by directors like Martin Scorcese or Francis Ford Coppola."

The glowing reviews may bolster the position of Take-Two Interactive Software Inc Chairman Strauss Zelnick, who has rejected EA's offer as too low and has insisted on waiting until after the game's launch before entering discussions.

"These ratings are quite extraordinary. It's something special and helps us understand why Take-Two was so confident and adamant that they wanted to wait," said UBS analyst Ben Schachter.

The Tuesday launch of "Grand Theft Auto 4" is expected to be the biggest entertainment event of the year, with first-week sales forecast to be up to $400 million, beating those of last year's "Halo 3" from Microsoft Corp.

Many outlets of chains such as GameStop Corp and Best Buy Co Inc have taken advance orders for weeks and are throwing open their doors at midnight to accommodate gamers eager to be among the first to play.

"Our expectations are very high, higher than analysts give the game credit for," Take-Two Chief Executive Ben Feder told Reuters. "All the analysts had a (sales) number, give or take, and I think we will be on the upside of that."

"Grand Theft Auto 4" casts players as an Eastern European immigrant who delivers drugs, shoots cops and beats up prostitutes after falling in with a crime syndicate, stuff that has drawn fire from family groups and politicians.

Entertainment website IGN praised "Grand Theft Auto 4" for showing the effects of depravity on the main character.

"'GTA IV gives us characters and a world with a level of depth previously unseen in gaming and elevates its story from a mere shoot-em-up to an Oscar-calibre drama," IGN said.

Critics saved some of their most fulsome praise for the game's setting, a fictionalized New York called Liberty City, with distinct neighbourhoods and colourful inhabitants who react intelligently to the player and each other.

"The idea of a 'living, breathing city' has always been somewhat of a joke in gaming. Every city in the past has felt artificial in some way. But Liberty City feels like a real place," IGN said.

Some reviewers said the game was not without its faults, with many pointing out some graphical glitches and difficulty completing some of the nearly 150 missions on offer.

"Flawless? No. But it's about as close to a game can come to being perfect," popular gaming blog said.

(Reporting by Scott Hillis, editing by Gerald E. McCormick/Andre Grenon)

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Springsteen keyboardist Danny Federici dies at 58

Friday, Apr 18, 2008

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Keyboardist Danny Federici, who for four decades played alongside rock star Bruce Springsteen as part of the E Street Band and helped define his rollicking sound, has died of melanoma. He was 58.

Federici's death at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York on Thursday was announced on Springsteen's official Web site and the rocker postponed a pair of weekend concerts in Florida.

"Danny and I worked together for 40 years - he was the most wonderfully fluid keyboard player and a pure natural musician. I loved him very much ... we grew up together," Springsteen said on the Web site.

Federici had suffered from melanoma for three years and last played with the E Street Band at a concert in Indianapolis on March 20, delivering an accordion solo on the song "4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)."

Like Springsteen, Federici was born in New Jersey and played the accordion from an early age, performing at parties and clubs and developing an interest in jazz and blues music.

He first joined Springsteen in the late 1960s, when the singer songwriter who would become known as "The Boss" was still an unknown, and Federici's organ, accordion and keyboard work was considered a key part of the E Street Band's signature sound on such songs as "Hungry Heart."

Nicknamed "Phantom," he was often overshadowed onstage by the out-sized presence of saxophone player Clarence Clemons, but on leaving the band to seek treatment for his illness in November of last year, Federici was described by Springsteen as "one of the pillars of our sound."

When Springsteen put the E Street Band on hiatus during the 1990s to explore other projects, Federici recorded a solo jazz album titled "Flemington" after his New Jersey hometown. He released a second album, "Sweet," in 2004.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)

David Bowie to release 1972 concert bootleg

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Ziggy Stardust is rising again.

David Bowie will release a widely bootlegged live recording taken from his first U.S. tour in 1972, when he transformed himself into his androgynous, alien-rocker alter ego.

"David Bowie: Live Santa Monica '72," set for release on July 8 via Virgin/EMI, is taken from a show at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium in Los Angeles. The October 20 concert was recorded by a now-defunct radio station KMET-FM, and underground copies have made the show a fan favourite.

Bowie is also fond of the recording, according to a statement released on Thursday by EMI Music Marketing.

"We trainwreck a couple of things, I miss some words and sometimes you wouldn't know that pianist Mike Garson was onstage with us, but overall I really treasure this bootleg. (Late guitarist) Mick Ronson is at his blistering best."

About half of the tracks from his 1972 studio album "The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars" appear on the disc, including concert opener "Hang On To Yourself" and "Suffragette City."

Tunes from such earlier releases as "Hunky Dory" and "The Man Who Sold the World" also made the set list. Additionally, Bowie previewed "The Jean Genie," which would appear on his 1973 album "Aladdin Sane."

The CD and double-vinyl versions of the EMI release will include photos taken at the show and a reprint of Los Angeles Times pop music critic Robert Hilburn's review. It is also available as a digital download.

(Reporting by Dean Goodman)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Wild boys Duran Duran


Duran Duran "cool" at last. Thursday, Apr 17, 2008

By Alastair Himmer

TOKYO (Reuters) - Duran Duran, who shot to fame for a string of smash hits and dodgy suits in the 1980s, are officially cool at last.

Once panned for being pretty boys who used enough hairspray to blow a hole in the ozone layer, the band have become a reference point for many of today's chart-topping acts, such as indie rockers Arctic Monkeys and American outfit The Killers.

"It's the greatest form of flattery," Duran Duran drummer Roger Taylor told Reuters in an interview before a sell-out Tokyo show earlier this week.

"Sometimes the music press try to write us out of music history a little bit, so it's been really cool that bands have actually said we were a good band, and they were good songs and they want to be a little bit like us and take something from Duran Duran."

While videos of them on yachts wearing silk suits might be painful to watch now, over 100,000 Internet pages are devoted to Duran Duran, who have sold more than 90 million albums.

The band counted the late Princess Diana among their legions of female fans during their 1980s heyday with hits such as "Girls on Film" and "Hungry Like the Wolf."

However, Duran Duran bristle at the notion they are 80s relics, pointing to a new album made in collaboration with Justin Timberlake and top American producer Timbaland.

"I think people who grew up in the 80s are often going to think of us," said keyboard player Nick Rhodes. "That was when we started out so it's inevitable to a degree. We did have quite an impact musically at that time.

"But we've always carried on working, throughout the 1990s. In fact (1993 comeback single) 'Ordinary World' was, world-wide, the biggest hit we ever had.

"It's good to think we've been around almost 30 years and we've put together a new album like 'Red Carpet Massacre' which feels very fresh and sharp."


Rhodes and singer Simon Le Bon are the only two of the original five members to stick with Duran Duran through thick and thin, the band losing the last of its unrelated trio of Taylors with bassist John Taylor's departure in the late 1990s.

"All the Taylors went missing," smiled Rhodes. "It was very careless of us. That was a very difficult time without a doubt."

Although the original five members reformed in 2003, guitarist Andy Taylor has since left again.

"There was only one album we made completely Taylor-free," continued Rhodes. "It definitely didn't feel like the essence of Duran Duran anymore."

It has been a long and often painful catharsis for Duran Duran, with stories of bust-ups, spells in rehab and the occasional boating accident splashed across the tabloids.

"In the 80s our core audience were like 12, 13-year-old girls...very hormonally strung-out teenagers," said Roger Taylor, who quit the band in 1985 and bought a farm.

"We'd turn up at a hotel and we couldn't go anywhere because there would be thousands of them outside, glued to the window. We were just kept in our rooms.

"We would get torn apart if we went out. It was a very intense period of time. I just wanted to get away. I bought a farm. I wasn't really a farmer -- that was just a myth."


A generation on from the frilly-shirted exuberance of 1981 debut "Planet Earth," the former heart-throbs have lost none of their flair for courting controversy.

The video for the single "Falling Down" -- a Britney Spears-inspired portrayal of anorexic-looking models in rehab -- was banned for being too raunchy.

Although the musicians are now in their late 40s, Duran Duran concerts regularly sell out in minutes, the crowd mania at this week's Tokyo show testament to their enduring popularity.

Lifetime achievement awards from the music industry further underline the impact the band have had on popular culture.

"I'm sure when people see us come into the room they see a history," said Taylor. "I think it's very important that we keep looking forward. We rarely talk about the early days or listen to the music. It's bad to get stuck in an era."


Saturday, April 12, 2008

Alice Cooper and Slash honoured for work with addicts

Saturday, Apr 12, 2008
LOS ANGELES (Billboard) - After 26 years of sobriety, Alice Cooper has some advice to pass along to the younger generation: "I don't think you need to die for your art."

The shock-rocker will be honoured for his work with fellow addicts during a May 9 benefit dinner and concert in Hollywood organized by the MusiCares MAP Fund, which provides members of the music community access to addiction recovery treatment.

"I've made myself very available to friends of mine," says Cooper, who will receive the Stevie Ray Vaughan Award. "They're people who would call me late at night and say, 'Between you and me, I've got a problem.'"

MusiCares will also honour Velvet Revolver guitarist Slash for his dedication to the organization's mission and goals.

Cooper and Slash will perform at the alcohol-free event, at the Music Box at the Fonda theatre, as will Cat Power, Blind Melon and all-star group Camp Freddy.


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Elton John and Hillary Clinton

Elton John laments U.S. misogyny

Thursday, Apr 10, 2008

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Elton John, playing a fund-raiser for Hillary Clinton in New York on Wednesday, said he was amazed at the misogyny of some in America and he hoped that wouldn't stop her being president.

At the fund-raiser which Clinton's campaign manager said raised $2.5 million (1.26 million pounds), John said there was no one more qualified to lead the United States into the next era.

"Having said that, I never cease to be amazed at the misogynistic attitude of some people in this country. And I say to hell with them," he said, drawing cheers from the crowd at Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan.

"The reason I'm here tonight is to play music, but more importantly as someone who comes from abroad, and is in America quite a lot of the time (and) is extremely interested in the political process because it effects the whole world."

"I've always been a Hillary supporter," he said.

Introducing him, Clinton recalled that the entertainer had played at the White House at a state dinner when her husband Bill Clinton was president.

The New York senator, who is trailing Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, vowed to take her battle for the Democratic nomination to the end of the primary process, saying all the states should have their say.

Clinton said she couldn't sing but "What I want you to know is 'I'm still standing,'" -- echoing the title of an Elton John song.

John opened his set with the track "Your Song," dwelling on the line "How wonderful life is when you're in the world." Other hits he sang included "Daniel" and "Rocket Man."

(Reporting by Claudia Parsons, editing by Todd Eastham)

Prince a late addition to California festival


Thursday, Apr 10, 2008

NEW YORK (Billboard) - Prince will make what is believed to be his first U.S. festival appearance ever at the Coachella festival in southern California later this month.

He will headline the Saturday (April 26) lineup, organizers confirmed said Wednesday, joining previously announced headliners Jack Johnson (April 25) and Roger Waters (April 27).

The addition is reminiscent of 2006, when Madonna joined the Coachella bill just a few weeks before the show. But she performed just five songs in the dance tent, whereas Prince will play a full show on the main stage.

Other Coachella acts include Kraftwerk, Portishead, the Verve, Aphex Twin, My Morning Jacket, Spiritualized, the Breeders and Serj Tankian.

Prince has just one other date on his upcoming schedule: a June 16 show at Dublin's Croke Park.

According to gossip columnist Perez Hilton (, Prince was paid almost $4 million (2 million pounds) for the appearance. The report could not immediately be confirmed, but the figure comes close to the $5 million that rocker Morrissey said two years ago his former band the Smiths turned down to reunite at Coachella.


Lionel Richie and Steve Miller honoured at L.A. awards

Lionel Richie and Steve Miller honoured at L.A. awards

Thursday, Apr 10, 2008

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Lionel Richie didn't dance on the ceiling, and Steve Miller didn't fly like an eagle, but both veterans seemed pretty thrilled to pick up lifetime achievement honours at a music industry awards show in Hollywood on Wednesday.

Richie and Miller received Golden Note Awards during the 25th annual Pop Music Awards organized by ASCAP, an organization that collects public-performance royalties for its member songwriters and copyright owners.

The black-tie event, which took place at the Kodak Theatre, honours the writers and publishers of ASCAP's most-performed compositions during the past year. R&B producer Timbaland was named songwriter of the year, while Fergie's "Big Girls Don't Cry" and Gwen Stefani featuring Akon's "The Great Escape" shared the award for song of the year.

Miller, 64, took to the stage to perform six songs, including such '70s hits as "The Joker" and "Fly Like An Eagle," accompanied by his eponymous band.

In accepting his award, the rock guitarist said, "I never saw myself receiving any awards or doing anything."

Richie, 58, who did not perform, paid tribute to his former bandmates in the Commodores, the Motown hitmaking machine from which he launched a hugely successful solo career in the 1980s. Pondering a video retrospective that preceded the presentation, Richie joked that the only thing he wished he could go back and change was his hairstyle.

Timbaland was unable to accept his award in person, sending a message that said he was busy mixing the new solo album by former Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell.

Black Eyed Peas singer Fergie recalled that she came up with "Boys Don't Cry" five years ago while she was living at her mother's place and collecting unemployment benefits.

(Reporting by Dean Goodman)

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Disney previews 10 new animated movies


Disney previews 10 new animated movies

Tuesday, Apr 08, 2008

By Michelle Nichols

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Walt Disney Studios previewed 10 animated movies on Monday that it will release during the next four years, including further installments in the "Toy Story" and "Cars" series and two new fairy tales.

With the exception of "Wall.E," a robot love story opening on June 28, and "The Princess and the Frog," a hand-drawn animated fairy tale set in New Orleans and due to open Christmas 2009, the remaining eight movies will be made in digital 3-D.

"We're excited to be pushing the boundaries of 3-D and computer technology to tell our stories in the best possible way," said John Lasseter, chief creative officer for Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios.

Digital 3-D still requires moviegoers to wear geeky glasses, but the left- and right-eye images are calibrated so finely that most viewers experience no headache or eyestrain.

The first Disney digital 3-D movie for release is "Bolt," the story of a dog of the same name who thinks he has superhero powers. John Travolta gives voice to Bolt while hit teen singer/actress Miley Cyrus is voicing Bolt's owner Penny in the movie, due to open on November 26.

"Up," the story of an unlikely 78-year-old adventurer and his 8-year-old sidekick, is due to be released on May 29, 2009. "Toy Story" and "Toy Story 2" are due to be re-released in digital 3-D on October 2, 2009 and February 12, 2010 respectively, while "Toy Story 3" is due to hit screens on June 18, 2010.

All the original cast from the previous "Toy Story" films, including Tom Hanks, Tim Allen and Joan Cusack, are returning for the third film, which picks up with Andy grown up and about the head off to college.

The classic Brothers Grimm fairy tale "Rapunzel," about a girl trapped in a tower whose long golden hair is the only way for anyone to climb up to her, will be released at Christmas 2010.

Next comes "Newt," a story of the last two blue-footed newts on the planet that aims to show that love is not a science, which is due to hit screens in summer 2011.

Another new original fairy tale, "The Bear and the Bow" -- an action-adventure about a royal family in rugged and mythic Scotland -- is slated to open Christmas 2011 starring the voices of Reese Witherspoon, Billy Connolly and Emma Thompson.

"Cars 2," in which Lightning McQueen and his best friend Mater bid to take on the world's fastest cars, is due for release in summer 2012. "King of Elves," based on a 1953 short story by Phillip K. Dick, will hit screens at Christmas 2012.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols)

Friday, April 4, 2008

"Smoke on the Water" still top riff

Smoke on the Water" still top riff

Friday, Apr 04, 2008

By Atholl Simpson

LONDON (Reuters) - Deep Purple's 1973 hit "Smoke on the Water" is the greatest guitar riff of all time, according to a poll by a London music school that has taught members of top bands like Radiohead, The Kinks and The Cure.

The majority of the 25 songs selected by current students of the London Tech Music School, were recorded in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. Only seven were recorded in the last 20 years.

"It was the iconic era for the electric guitar." head of the school's Guitar and Bass section John Wheatcroft told Reuters.

"A lot of our students started listening to their parents records and discovered these bands through them."

The most recent song selected was "7 Nation Army" recorded by American rock duo The White Stripes in 2003.

But Wheatcroft does not believe this spells the end of modern music.

"The great riffs can simply be the ones that withstood the test of time." he said. "It might just be a question of waiting till the dust settles and in 10 years time it could be completely different."

Other songs include "Purple Haze" by Jimi Hendrix (1967), "Walk This Way" by Aerosmith (1975) and "Money For Nothing" by Dire Straits (1984).

A list of the top songs chosen follows:

1. Smoke On The Water - Deep Purple (1973)

2. Smells Like Teen Spirit - Nirvana (1991)

3. Walk This Way - Aerosmith (1975)

4. Purple Haze - Jimi Hendrix (1967)

5. Sweet Child O Mine - Guns N' Roses (1987)

6. Paradise City - Guns N' Roses (1987)

7. Ace Of Spades - Motorhead (1980)

8. Enter Sandman - Metallica (1991)

9. Under The Bridge - Red Hot Chilli Peppers (1992)

10. Welcome To The Jungle - Guns N' Roses (1987)

11. Run To The Hills - Iron Maiden (1982)

12. Walk - Pantera (1992)

13. Johnny Be Goode - Chuck Berry (1958)

14. Back In Black - AC/DC (1980)

15. Immigrant Song - Led Zeppelin (1970)

16. Wake Up - Rage Against The Machine (1992)

17. Highway to Hell - AC/DC (1979)

18. My Generation - The Who (1965)

19. 7 Nation Army - The White Stripes (2003)

20. Born To Be Wild - Steppenwolf (1968)

21. Give It Away - Red Hot Chilli Peppers (1991)

22. Paranoid - Black Sabbath (1970)

23. Voodoo Chile (Slight Return) - Jimi Hendrix (1967)

24. Eye Of The Tiger - Survivor (1982)

25. Money For Nothing - Dire Straits (1984)


Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Stone Temple Pilots reunion

Stone Temple Pilots plotting extensive tour

Tuesday, Apr 01, 2008

By Mitchell Peters

LOS ANGELES (Billboard) - The recently reunited Stone Temple Pilots will next week announce plans for a summer tour of more than 50 amphitheatres, sources said.

The L.A. rock group has already confirmed a handful of festival dates, beginning with the Rock on the Range festival in Columbus, Ohio, on May 17-18.

Further details about STP's tour will be announced during an April 7 news conference at the Harry Houdini Estate in Los Angeles. It is still unclear whether the band will record new material.

Rock on the Range will be Stone Temple Pilots' first show since 2002, when it played 13 concerts to promote its final album, 2001's "Shangri-La Dee Da."

Singer Scott Weiland went on to co-found Velvet Revolver, which is about to conclude a European tour in support of its second album. But he and drummer Matt Sorum are engaged in a public feud, casting doubt on the outfit's future.


Reading Festival England

Rage to headline Reading Festival

By Daniel Magnowski

LONDON (Reuters) - Political rock band Rage Against The Machine will headline the first day of this summer's Reading music festival, organisers said on Monday.

Festival goers can look forward to Rage's potent mix of heavy guitar-based rock and lyrics addressing human rights, capitalism and globalisation, with some of the band's hardest-hitting tracks such as "Killing in the Name" and "Bullet in the Head" expected to have fans on their feet.

Rage's debut album sold more than three million copies in the United States and band members have courted controversy since by attempting to gatecrash the New York Stock Exchange in 2000 and calling for the Bush administration to be tried for war crimes at an American music festival last year.

Rage Against The Machine will kick off the Reading Festival in the south of England on August 22, while indie rockers The Killers, who already boast a reputation as a blistering live act as well as a multimillion-selling band on both sides of the Atlantic with hit singles including "When You Were Young" and "Somebody Told Me," will headline the second day.

Californian heavy metal behemoths Metallica, widely credited with creating ultra-fast, ultra-loud "thrash" metal are scheduled to be the main event on the festival's third day.

Also on the bill are menacing Californian rock band Queens of the Stone Age, British hip-hop star Dizzee Rascal and Welsh polemicists Manic Street Preachers.

Pete Doherty, who is as notorious for his frequent arrests and non-appearances at gigs as he is feted for his musical output, is due to perform with his group Babyshambles on the first day, while his former Libertines band mate Carl Barat's current project Dirty Pretty Things play the following day.

As well as established acts, the three-day festival will feature performances from over 150 bands including newcomers Vampire Weekend, Foals and The Wombats.

(Reporting by Daniel Magnowski, editing by Paul Casciato)

Rolling Stones film set for U.S. release

Rolling Stones film set for U.S. release

Monday, Mar 31, 2008

By Christian Wiessner

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Director Martin Scorsese won't say the Rolling Stones are like the underworld characters in many of his movies, but he admits the band's music evokes memories of the rough, mob-tinged street life he grew up around.

The Academy Award winner and the legendary band founded in London in 1962 have combined on "Shine A Light," a concert documentary shot at New York's intimate Beacon Theatre in October 2006.

Scorsese and band members Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ron Wood and Charlie Watts held a press conference on Sunday ahead of the film's U.S. release on April 4.

"I don't know if I can make any direct associations," Scorsese said with a laugh when asked what similarities he sees between the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame members and the brutal criminals he has depicted in films such as "Goodfellas," "Casino" and "The Departed."

But the native New Yorker says their music has always struck powerful chords with him, so much that he used the group's violence-laced song "Gimme Shelter" in three of his previous films.

"The music has been very important to me over the years. It dealt with aspects of the life that I was growing up around, that I was associated with or saw or was experiencing and trying to make sense of," Scorsese said.

"It was tougher, it had an edge. Beautiful, honest and brutal at times. And it's always stayed with me and become a well of inspiration to this day," he added.

The film offers 17 songs mainly comprised of concert warhorses like "Jumpin' Jack Flash," "Start Me Up" and "Brown Sugar," and features guest appearances by blues legend Buddy Guy, White Stripes guitarist Jack White and singer Christina Aguilera.

The film's opening minutes show band front-man Jagger and Scorsese in a transatlantic teleconference tug-of-war over stage dimensions, camera placement and the song list.

Archival footage of the band and limited contemporary interviews also are included, but the film mainly is a straight depiction of the concert.

While Jagger initially wanted to film a larger concert -- possibly the band's February 2006 show at Brazil's Copacabana Beach that drew a crowd estimated at well over 1 million -- Scorsese pushed for the smaller venue.

Guitarist Richards said he was happy about the scaled-down show, especially because of his love of the Beacon Theatre.

"The Beacon Theatre is special for some reason ... The room sort of wraps its arms around you, and every night it gets warmer," Richards said. "And this band, you know, didn't start off in stadiums."

While filmed in a smaller venue, Jagger said the movie will have a larger-than-life look when it is shown in the huge-screen IMAX format. The film also will be released in theatres with regular screens.

"The funny thing is that Marty decided he wanted to make this small intimate movie and I said, 'Well the laugh is that, Marty, in the end, it's going to be blown up to this huge IMAX thing ...' But it looks good in IMAX," Jagger said.

The band was long on praise for Scorsese, who after five previous Best Director nominations finally won an Oscar for 2006's "The Departed."

"He's a fantastic director and ... very painstaking on the editing to produce the movie that you see," Jagger said.

"We didn't choose Marty, Marty chose us," said Richards.

(Editing by Vicki Allen)

Sunday, March 30, 2008

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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Rare Stradivarius on auction in NY


Rare Stradivarius on auction in NY

Friday, Mar 28, 2008

By Karen Brettell

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A 300-year-old Antonio Stradivari violin said to be sweet and feminine in its sound is expected to fetch more than $1 million (500,000 pounds) when Christie's puts it up for auction next week.

Known as "The Penny," the violin dates from around 1700 and is named after its previous owner, the pianist and violinist Barbara Penny. It will be the lead item in Christie's spring Fine Musical Instruments auction on April 4.

The auction will also include a violin made by fellow Italian Giovanni Guadagnini in 1755, known as "The Ex-Wollgandt," which is expected to fetch between $300,000 and $400,000, Christie's said.

"The Penny" was praised as being among the being one of Stradivari's more feminine pieces.

"This one has an especially good balance between the brightness and the sweetness," said Jesus Reina, a violinist from the Manhattan School of Music who played the precious instrument at a press preview on Thursday.

Stradivari's instruments are praised for their sound, which projects clearly with rich tones, and are considered easy to play as they are highly responsive to a musician's touch.

He made around 1,100 instruments in his lifetime, most of them violins, and around 650 of his instruments survive today.

Christie's estimates "The Penny" will raise $1 million to $1.5 million, below the $3.54 million sale of "The Hammer" in 2006, which remains the most paid at auction for a Stradivarius.

"The Hammer" dates from 1707, during Stradivari's gold period between 1700 and 1720.

"The Penny" has "a sweeter sound, more bell-like," than "The Hammer," which is more masculine, said Kerry Keane, specialist head of musical instruments at Christie's.

Penny owned the Stradivarius from 1929 until her death last year. She was the first woman accepted to the strings section of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

(Editing by Daniel Trotta and Doina Chiacu)

Musicians start social networking sites


Musicians start social networking sites

Saturday, Mar 29, 2008

By Jennifer Netherby

NEW YORK (Billboard) - 50 Cent has more than 1 million friends on MySpace, but if the rapper ever decides to leave the social network, he'll be leaving behind those friends, too. So like a growing number of artists, he's started his own social networking site.

On, fans can create profiles and friend lists just like on MySpace, but 50 Cent has direct access to the site's users and their e-mail addresses.

More and more acts, from Kylie Minogue to Ludacris to the Pussycat Dolls, are launching their own social networks, which are becoming a sort of next-generation version of artist Web sites.

The social networking component gives fans a reason to hang out on a site and visit more often than they would a standard Web site. And artists can sell advertisements on their sites and offer downloads and merchandise for sale -- options they don't have on MySpace or Facebook. Plus, they own the content and data on how fans use their site, which they don't get on other social networks.

"The thing that separates Thisis50 from MySpace is we control the e-mail database," says Chris "Broadway" Romero, director for new media at G-Unit Records, which handles Thisis50. "We can e-mail members if we want to."

Thisis50 isn't meant to be a fan club, but rather a platform for 50 Cent to showcase his music and music he likes, and comment on news and user profile pages. Ludacris', on the other hand, is more of a hub for aspiring artists to upload their music.

The artist networks aren't meant to replace MySpace or Facebook, which tend to attract a broader audience and more users.

"(Artists) think about MySpace and Facebook as funnels for their own social networks," says Gina Bianchini, CEO of Ning, a company that provides social networking tools for Thisis50, Sara Bareilles and others. "They take and use services where they don't know the users, don't have access and don't have full control, and funnel those fans to something they do control."


The key to getting users coming back to the sites is artist involvement, either through blogs or comments on user pages or exclusive footage and other content.

"The biggest thing we push to artists is, 'Embrace the site,'" says Evan Rifkin, CEO of, a social networking platform partly owned by MTV.

It's relatively inexpensive to create a social network if artists use one of the growing number of companies that provide the tools and hosting. For instance, Ning charges $34 (17 pounds) per month for a site and hosting. And Flux works with artists and labels on a revenue-sharing basis. Artists can set up their main site for free and pay a percentage of revenue from advertisements and sales on additional pages.

Artists also tend to pay for labour to run the sites. But if fans get involved and add things to the site to share with others, it can reduce the need for staff to constantly provide new content, Romero says.

In addition, many artists are simply turning their main Web site into a social network. Suretone Records director of new media Ashley Jex says the label is working with Flux to incorporate social networks into all its artists' sites to cater to the hardcore fans and keep them clicking around.

With Flux, which also has deals with Universal Music Group and Virgin, users create one profile and with one click they can join the network of any artist using it, rather than having to create new profiles for each.

Ice Cube and DJ Pooh added a twist earlier in March, launching UVNTV, a broadband TV and social networking site where artists and brands can create their own channel and subscribers can create profiles and chat with one another. Artists get detailed information on their users and can sell advertisements, merchandise, downloads or even subscriptions to their channel. They also own and control the content.

"You know the demographic of anybody watching your content," DJ Pooh says. "You know what they watched and clicked on." The service is in beta and free to artists and is expected to formally launch in January 2009. So far, Snoop Dogg has a channel there, as does Ice Cube and such brands as RockStar Games and Source.

Even more important: Fans seem to be buying directly from the sites. On Minogue's KylieKonnect, launched in fall 2007 through U.K.-based New Visions Mobile, nearly 25 percent of users have made a ringtone, download or merchandise purchase, company director Julia McNally says.


Nokia music store online

Dave Stewart and Nokia envision new mobile world

Saturday, Mar 29, 2008

By Antony Bruno

DENVER (Billboard) - At first glance, Nokia's Tero Ojanpera and Dave Stewart might seem like an odd pair.

As executive vice president of entertainment and communities for Nokia, Ojanpera oversees all of the company's music, gaming, video and social networking initiatives, including the Nokia Music Store and Comes With Music.

Stewart is a musician/producer best known as one half of the Eurythmics. In February, Stewart was named founding member of Nokia's new Artist Advisory Council, an initiative created to foster an artist-friendly environment within the company.

But the two have more in common that meets the eye. Stewart has strong ideas on how technology and digital business models should benefit acts and their fans, and, in fact, was the driving force behind the council's creation. Ojanpera, meanwhile, aims to combine Nokia's entertainment content services with its social networking capabilities to help fans and artists better connect and communicate to promote and distribute new content.

For Nokia, the effort is central to its reinvention from a handset vendor with 40 percent of the global mobile phone market share to a Web services company. For Stewart, the technologies of today and tomorrow represent a new stage of creative and professional development he hopes to share not only with musicians but also with filmmakers and others in the creative community.

Q: Can you give us a better idea what the vision of the Artist Advisory Council is?

Dave Stewart: It's a vision of the future where people would want to dig deeper in the world of an artist and where artists would be willing to be more experimental because the payment systems would be more transparent and different than they are today. It's about artists linking together and being collaborative.

Tero Ojanpera: If you think about the artist's point of view, it's not about selling one track or selling a ringtone or wallpaper. It's about how you create a discovery mechanism (that) represents the artist in a way that gives justice to their work. It's not just putting something online in a digital format -- the technology will enable us to make a rich world where things come together in a really new fashion.

Q: How do you plan to achieve this?

Ojanpera: At this point it's about understanding the artist and understanding the consumer and making that connection. The rest will sort itself out. It may need some facilitation, but we should worry about those two things first. If you can bring value to the consumer and to the creative talent, I'm sure we will do well.

Stewart: Imagine a future where you have a little cloud above your head and in that is everything you think is groovy, and you can carry that along with you and pull it down to either watch or share ... and it's all controlled by this little device in your pocket. The other part of it is that there are artists all over the world who don't want to share much more than what they can control -- there are filmmakers who want to make 10-minute short films. So you can't put everything into one bag. What you can do is create a facility that can put all that work -- whatever it is -- into a context and in a way (that) consumers can access it.

Q: Dave, what is your perspective as an artist on the current digital/mobile business constructs?

Stewart: What I'm talking about is dropping a neutron bomb on the old paradigm of the entertainment industry and the way in which it functions. It's completely insane. In America, it's all gotten completely strangleholded by these providers. Nobody ever talked to artists about what they wanted to do. Steve Jobs didn't talk to me about selling music online -- it just went straight to the music labels.

Artists make their work, and people come along and treat it like something you can chop up into bits and sell into other bits. They say ringtones is a $3 billion business; I still haven't seen one cent on a "Sweet Dreams" download. There's always been a bit of foggy accounting. There's ways and means through technology and through common sense to create a way in which the consumer gets a fair deal and the creator gets a fair deal and business is good.

Q: So it sounds like the vision is to try to use mobile phones as a way of distributing content directly to fans without all the other layers.

Stewart: I'm not going to try to do that. I am going to do it. It's also about trying to get artists to understand that, in the new world, it's not about making an album or a film that has to fit the exact demographic and exact length. It's going to be a completely different world. I can send you clips of what I'm working on and you can pre-order it. There's a dialogue going on so you actually know who your fans are and where they are.

Q: Do phone manufacturers have more power in the mobile value chain now that entertainment services have made the phone more of a consumer electronics device and less a mere network access device?

Ojanpera: This is a great opportunity for the whole industry to grow: device manufacturers, carriers and the content companies. The fact that content is coming to mobile will enable us to continue to innovate for the industry. We have the strength to invest in this space, and that's valuable to the content industry. This is not about who has more power or less power -- this is about, Can we attract the consumer to really use these services?

Q: So on that note, how is the Nokia Music Store doing?

Ojanpera: We're not sharing any specific data. But the service is live in the U.K. and Germany, and we are launching (in) additional countries in Europe and Asia. So one could describe it as a store rollout phase for the next month or two and getting the catalogue in place. The feedback from the U.K. store is good; people are using it and seeing that there's an easy way to get music on your device, both side-loading and (over the air). We're currently seeing about 75 percent side-loading and 25 percent OTA. We think once the Comes With Music service is in place later this year, it will make the purchase decision easier, and we believe that can and will really scale the music market up.