NEWS ITEMS:
Napster To Go Security Compromised?

Grammy Results: Company Town

Bulletin Board


Reprinted with permission from Hits Magazine

February 15, 2005

It's been axiomatic since the days of SDMI and even long before: If you build it, they will hack it.

We're talking about any kind of digital lock and key, or in this case, Digitial Rights Management—the software code that keeps you from making too many copies of your favorite downloaded songs.

Now that rule is being proved again with Napster's just-launched portable subscription service, Napster to Go. But in this case, it's not really a hack, but a simple audio workaround that's been around for some time.

According to reports, multiple Web sites are already spreading the word about a simple way to convert Napster to Go files, which come protected with a new kind of Microsoft DRM, into an unprotected file format that can copied freely.

Sites including BoingBoing.com and Engadget.com are telling visitors that by using music player Winamp and a secondary piece of software known as Output Stacker to play Napster's Windows Media-encoded tracks, those tracks can be converted to unprotected WAV files.

A Napster spokesperson downplayed the situation, telling Reuters that Napster to Go's DRM is intact and explaining that what the sites are talking about is capturing the output of a computer's sound card, which is not a new idea and can be done with any music program or service, protected or not.

"This kind of attack has been around for a long time and it's just because of our higher profile that it has sparked such interest," the spokesperson told Reuters. "The bottom line is that people are always going to find a way to get around the system, although we give people a way to enjoy music while respecting artists' rights."

Napster to Go is the first portable subscription service, which for $15 a month allows subscribers to transfer their "rented" music tracks to their portable players without paying $0.99 per track to own them. The system relies on a new Windows Media DRM system known as Janus to keep track of users' subscription status and how their tracks are being used.


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Reprinted with permission from Hits Magazine

February 14, 2005

Producer Ken Ehrlich hit several home runs, as he'd hoped in an interview last week, during a Grammy Awards show that alternated panoramic production numbers and touching moments.

"Actually," said, Bono as U2 picked up the best rock song Grammy they so deserved for "Vertigo," "I think this is the best Grammys we've ever seen."

The night's most poignant moment came when a hairless Melissa Etheridge, in her first performance since announcing she had breast cancer, channeled Janis Joplin in a stunning performance of the legend's trademark "Piece of My Heart."

Speaking of poignancy, Genius Loves Company, Ray Charles' final and best-selling album, also became his most honored last night, picking up eight Grammys, including the two biggies, album of the year and record of the year for "Here We Go Again," his duet with Norah Jones.

Alicia Keys, who won five Grammys for her debut album, Songs in A Minor, nearly repeated the feat, receiving four for the follow-up, The Diary of Alicia Keys. Usher's shutout in the major categories was a surprise to the prognosticators; he scored three out of the eight he was nominated for, but had to share one those—for best R&B performance by a duo or group with vocals—with Keys for "My Boo." A longshot who came in was John Mayer, whose "Daughters" took song of the year and male pop vocal. Kanye West, nominated for 10 Grammys, took rap album for College Dropout and rap song for "Jesus Walks," and that seemed to be enough to satisfy him. Many had West tapped for best new artist as well, but that award went to blue-eyed soulsters Maroon 5.

After a dramatic performance of "Jesus Walks," West delivered the evening's most insightful acceptance speech as he brandished the rap album trophy. "When I had my accident, I found out at that moment nothing in life is promised except death," he said. "If you have the opportunity to play this game of life, you need to appreciate every moment. A lot of people don't appreciate the moment until it's passed."

The big feel-good moment came when 70-year-old Loretta Lynn won country album of the year for the critically acclaimed Van Lear Rose and charmed the pants off everybody—including collaborator Jack White—during her characteristically homespun acceptance speech.

Otherwise, the awards were scattered around in generally satisfying fashion: Green Day took best rock album and Los Lonely Boys scored for pop performance by a group, while Elvis Costello & The Imposters and Velvet Revolver got the rock and hard equivalents. Wilco, Gretchen Wilson and Jay-Z scored with the Academy as well as the critics for A Ghost Is Born, "Redneck Woman" and "99 Problems," respectively. Brian Wilson won for rock instrumental, of all things, Steve Earle and Rod Stewart were first-time winners, and even Britney Spears took one home.

The big payoff of the southern rock-meets-modern country segment was supposed to be when Tim McGraw came onstage to join Dickie Betts on "Ramblin' Man," but McGraw was upstaged by Australia's Keith Urban, who sang his ass off, shredded on guitar, oozed charisma and generally looked like he belonged up there with all the grizzled veterans.

Earlier, Zach Braff rightly won for best compilation soundtrack album with his zeitgeist-capturing Garden State. "Wow! I never thought I'd win a Grammy—that is pretty cool! Yeah!" he said. Inexplicably, Jon Stewart beat out Come Poop With Me by Triumph The Insult Comic Dog; given Triumph's M.O., we certainly haven't heard the last of this miscarriage of justice.

RECORD OF THE YEAR
"Here We Go Again," Ray Charles & Norah Jones

ALBUM OF THE YEAR
Genius Loves Company, Ray Charles & Various Artists

SONG OF THE YEAR
"Daughters," John Mayer

BEST NEW ARTIST
Maroon 5

BEST FEMALE POP VOCAL PERFORMANCE
"Sunrise," Norah Jones

BEST MALE POP VOCAL PERFORMANCE
"Daughters," John Mayer

BEST POP PERFORMANCE BY A DUO OR GROUP WITH VOCAL
"Heaven," Los Lonely Boys

BEST POP COLLABORATION WITH VOCALS
"Here We Go Again," Ray Charles & Norah Jones

BEST POP VOCAL ALBUM
Genius Loves Company, Ray Charles & Various Artists

BEST DANCE RECORDING
"Toxic," Britney Spears

BEST ELECTRONIC/DANCE ALBUM
Kish Kash, Basement Jaxx

BEST TRADITIONAL POP VOCAL ALBUM
Stardust...The Great American Songbook Volume III, Rod Stewart

BEST SOLO ROCK VOCAL PERFORMANCE
"Code of Silence," Bruce Springsteen

BEST ROCK PERFORMANCE BY A DUO OR GROUP WITH VOCAL
"Monkey to Man," Elvis Costello & The Imposters

BEST HARD ROCK PERFORMANCE
"Slither," Velvet Revolver

BEST METAL PERFORMANCE
"Whiplash," Motörhead

BEST ROCK INSTRUMENTAL PERFORMANCE
"Mrs. O'Leary's Cow," Brian Wilson

BEST ROCK SONG
"Vertigo," U2

BEST ROCK ALBUM
American Idiot, Green Day

BEST ALTERNATIVE MUSIC ALBUM
A Ghost Is Born, Wilco

BEST FEMALE R&B VOCAL PERFORMANCE
"If I Ain't Got You," Alicia Keys

BEST MALE R&B VOCAL PERFORMANCE
"Call My Name," Prince

BEST R&B PERFORMANCE BY A DUO OR GROUP WITH VOCAL
"My Boo," Usher & Alicia Keys

BEST TRADITIONAL R&B PERFORMANCE
"Musicology," Prince

BEST R&B SONG
"You Don't Know My Name," Alicia Keys

BEST R&B ALBUM
The Diary Of Alicia Keys, Alicia Keys

BEST CONTEMPORARY R&B ALBUM
Confessions, Usher

BEST RAP SOLO PERFORMANCE
"99 Problems," Jay-Z

BEST RAP PERFORMANCE BY A DUO OR GROUP
"Let's Get It Started," The Black Eyed Peas

BEST RAP/SUNG COLLABORATION
"Yeah!," Usher featuring Lil Jon & Ludacris

BEST RAP SONG
"Jesus Walks," Kanye West

BEST RAP ALBUM
The College Dropout, Kanye West

BEST FEMALE COUNTRY VOCAL PERFORMANCE
"Redneck Woman," Gretchen Wilson

BEST MALE COUNTRY VOCAL PERFORMANCE
"Live Like You Were Dying," Tim McGraw

BEST COUNTRY PERFORMANCE BY A DUO OR GROUP WITH VOCAL
"Top of the World," Dixie Chicks

BEST COUNTRY COLLABORATION WITH VOCALS
"Portland Oregon," Loretta Lynn & Jack White

BEST COUNTRY SONG
"Live Like You Were Dying," Tim McGraw

BEST COUNTRY ALBUM
Van Lear Rose, Loretta Lynn

BEST TRADITIONAL BLUES ALBUM
Blues to the Bone, Etta James

BEST CONTEMPORARY BLUES ALBUM
Keep It Simple, Keb' Mo'

BEST TRADITIONAL FOLK ALBUM
Beautiful Dreamer - The Songs Of Stephen Foster, Steve Fishell & David Macias, producers

BEST CONTEMPORARY FOLK ALBUM
The Revolution Starts...Now, Steve Earle

BEST REGGAE ALBUM
True Love, Toots & the Maytals

BEST CONTEMPORARY WORLD MUSIC ALBUM
Egypt, Youssou N'Dour

BEST COMEDY ALBUM
The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Presents...America: A Citizen's Guide To Democracy Inaction, Jon Stewart and the cast of The Daily Show

BEST COMPILATION SOUNDTRACK ALBUM FOR A MOTION PICTURE, TELEVISION OR OTHER VISUAL MEDIA
Garden State, Zach Braff, producer

BEST SCORE SOUNDTRACK ALBUM FOR A MOTION PICTURE, TELEVISION OR OTHER VISUAL MEDIA
The Lord of the Rings - The Return of the King, Howard Shore

BEST SONG WRITTEN FOR A MOTION PICTURE, TELEVISION OR OTHER VISUAL MEDIA
"Into the West" (from The Lord of the Rings - The Return of the King), Annie Lennox

BEST RECORDING PACKAGE
A Ghost Is Born, Peter Buchanan-Smith & Dan Nadel, art directors (Wilco)

BEST BOXED OR SPECIAL LIMITED EDITION PACKAGE
Once in a Lifetime, Stefan Sagmeister, art director (Talking Heads)

BEST ALBUM NOTES
The Complete Columbia Recordings Of Woody Herman and His Orchestra & Woodchoppers (1945-1947), Loren Schoenberg, album notes writer

BEST HISTORICAL ALBUM
Night Train to Nashville: Music City Rhythm & Blues, 1945-1970, Daniel Cooper & Michael Gray, compilation producers; Joseph M. Palmaccio & Alan Stoker, mastering engineers

BEST ENGINEERED ALBUM, NON-CLASSICAL
Genius Loves Company, Robert Fernandez, John Harris, Terry Howard, Pete Karam, Joel Moss, Al Schmitt & Ed Thacker, engineers

PRODUCER OF THE YEAR, NON-CLASSICAL
John Shanks (for Ashlee Simpson, Kelly Clarkson, Sheryl Crow, Hilary Duff, Robbie Robertson and Alanis Morissette)

BEST REMIXED RECORDING, NON-CLASSICAL
"It's My Life" (Jacques Lu Cont's Thin White Duke Mix), Jacques Lu Cont (No Doubt)

BEST SURROUND SOUND ALBUM
Genius Loves Company, Al Schmitt, surround mix engineer; Robert Hadley & Doug Sax, surround mastering engineers; John Burk, Phil Ramone & Herbert Waltl, surround producers

BEST SHORT FORM MUSIC VIDEO
"Vertigo," U2; Alex & Martin, director; Grace Bodie, producer

BEST LONG FORM MUSIC VIDEO
Concert for George, David Leland, director; Ray Cooper, Olivia Harrison & Jon Kamen, producers


HITS magazine is the most powerful information vehicle in the music industry, and is read religiously by all the top executives and everyone else.




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By Kenny Kerner

The business of mobile telephone ringtones ballooned to a $2.2 billion business worldwide... Apple's iPod has sold over 5 million over the last four months... Sales of country music was up 12% last year with about 78 million country CDs sold... Former American Idol champ Kelly Clarkson will be joining her Idol-mate Clay Aiken over at The Firm Management company.

Global Spectrum and McFarlane Toys are making available Motley Crue action figures based on the band's Shout At The Devil CD image. These figures will be given away at Crue live days on March 4th and 15th, April 11th and 26th, and May 1st.

According to recent SoundScan figures, 2004 sales of Spanish-language CDs were up a whopping 23% over 2003. Sales totalled 32.3 million as compared to 26.1 million the previous year.

BDS (Broadcast Data Systems) December Spin Awards (given to the songs that got the most airplay in total) went to "I Hope You Dance," Lee Ann Womack for 700,000 spins; "Complicated," by Avril Lavigne with 600,000 spins and Usher's "Yeah" for half a million plays.

Once again, the fourth season of American Idol won its time slot killing all other programming. This time around, guest judges participated in the audition processes adding more humor. Also, the show added several years to the age requirements now accepting participants up to age 28. We'll see how this plays out. Personally, I think it will only serve to attract older people who are totally unprepared and who want to take a final stab at stardom. Remember—older does not necessarily mean better!


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