NEWS ITEMS:
Vagrant Hawks Some Winners

Teen Queen Beats a Cowboy Hat... But Just Barely

Wheels & Deals: Will Hot Lava Exec Flow to a Rival Label?

Bulletin Board


Reprinted with permission from Hits Magazine

August 23, 2005

Vagrant Records is one of this decade's great success stories. The L.A.-based label has released some of the best-selling indie rock of the era via the Alkaline Trio, Dashboard Confessional and others, while scoring critical cache by signing old-school legends the Eels and ex-Replacements leader Paul Westerberg after both tired of the major label game.

Vagrant is now facing an exciting fourth quarter, with two new releases by high-profile bands a week apart: The Bled's Found in the Flood on August 23 and From Autumn To Ashes' Abandon Your Friends on August 30. The Bled played the main stage on the recent Vans Warped tour. From Autumn To Ashes is poised to become one of metal-core's biggest bands, with a radio track, "Inaprope," set to impact at Modern Rock, also on 8/30. Their last album scanned over 135k. The 10-year-old label is also excited about an upcoming soundtrack to Tony Hawk's American Wasteland videogame, featuring new versions of punk classics by such current hitmakers as My Chemical Romance, Fall Out Boy and others, on October 18. Historically, videogame soundtracks haven't done well, but this one's different, says Vagrant's co-founder/CEO Rich Egan.

"Activision said, 'Look, we're considering this but these things have never done well.' But we realized the earlier ones had previously-released material on them and they weren't cohesive. When they told us what the game was about, with skateboarding's roots and a Dogtown theme, we started thinking old-school punk with new-school bands covering them. Kids can vest themselves in that. Before, it was 'Why would I want to buy that, especially since I already own all these tracks on my iPod?' But with this one, we hopefully captured the feeling that goes along with the game. And it's also a great compilation that stands on its own. I think we're going to ship 100,000 on it—which is pretty great for a compilation.

"All the credit goes to the bands because we literally had six weeks to put it together. Some of them were on tour and had to duck into an available studio in the middle of nowhere. It was pretty crazy—you forget these bands have 18-year-olds, some of whom don't know what a Black Flag song sounds like! But they all stepped up and delivered. There isn't a dud in the bunch."

Egan—who credits partner Jon Cohen, GM Dan Gill and their relatively small staff with "running the ship over here"—claims they've always aimed for quality. "We do pay attention to that. We release about one-third of what most indies our size do. We definitely go for quality over quantity. We'll put out maybe 10 albums a year, tops, but we love every band. And I think kids are loyal to the label because of that. They know we're not going to shove out a record a week that sounds like the one we put out last week. Unfortunately, I've seen that become a model now in indie rock. But we want to be a safe haven for artists because it's becoming less and less a reality in this business. Artists are getting lost in the shuffle. So once we find a band that we love or you have a chance to sign the Eels or Paul Westerberg, it's like we'd be idiots not to sign them."


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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Reprinted with permission from Hits Magazine

August 23, 2005

It wasn't quite Godzilla versus King Kong, but it was BIG, nevertheless. Yes, it was the battle of the Teen Queen and the Cowboy Hat all week... and it was neck-to-neck until the last minute. But Teen Queendom prevailed, and Hollywood's Hilary Duff debuts at #1, with 200k sold. The Cowboy Hat didn't do too shabbily, though, with Arista Nashville's Brad Paisley debuting at #2, with 197k. Not much more for us to say on that front aside from a hearty "Yee-hah!"

"It's a great first week showing for Hilary Duff, especially considering it's a greatest hits package" says Virgin Entertainment Group's Jerry Suarez. "It shows just how big a star she has become." Hastings' George Deahl, meanwhile, liked the Cowboy Hat: "Brad Paisley is really coming into his own," says the retailer. "The set-up on this record was just phenomenal."

The other notable debut this week is Volcano/ZLG's 311 coming in at #5, with 91k. As for the rest: Island/IDJ's Mariah Carey saw an 8% sales increase this week, rising to #3 from last week's #4, with 109k. Capitol's Now That's What I Call Music 19 compilation drops two spots to #4, with 107k sold. A&M/Interscope's Black Eyed Peas came in at #6, dropping one position at 82k, despite a 13% sales jump. Flip/Atlantic's Staind drops from #1 to #7—angry intensity is still no match for Teen Queendom and Cowboy Hats—with 79k. Rounding out the bottom of the Top 10 are Warner Bros.' Faith Hill at #8, with 73k; RCA/RMG's Kelly Clarkson, who maintains #9, with 62k; and Def Jam South/IDJ's Young Jeezy drops to #10, with 62k sold (thank goodness, since we've totally run out of Jeezy name jokes...).

One major change this week: Island/IDJ's Killers saw a phenomenal 77% sales jump with 60k, enough to take them from #25 to #12, thanks to a limited-edition release.

Other notable debuts include Lava/Atlantic's Click Five (nothing like cute boys in Beatle-do's to spike sales) at #15, with 52k; Victory's Silverstein at #31, with 29k; and Aly & AJ (more Teen Queendom from Hollywood) hitting #40, at 23k.

Look out next week for a debut from Jim Jones... and that's all, folks. Now, if you'll excuse us, we're off to drink some refreshing Kool-Aid...


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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Reprinted with permission from Hits Magazine

August 25, 2005

A&R WHEELS ARE SPINNIN': Lots of changes going on in the weasel world. The recent departure of Atlantic Co-CEO Jason Flom has folks speculating on his next move. Meanwhile, lots of chatter in A&R circles as to what will happen to the Lava staff—most notably Lava's senior A&R exec/department head Andrew Karp and marketing exec Lee Trink. Word on the street is that Karp—who has an impressive signing resume that includes Kid Rock, Simple Plan and Uncle Kracker—was in negotiations with WMG to renew his contract prior to Flom's abrupt exit. Apparently, phone calls are now coming in from label suitors who are interested in Karp. We'll keep you posted... Meanwhile, in case you haven't heard, Columbia prexy Steve Greenberg has been making A&R hires at the label. Urban A&R player Mike Lynn, who on the West Coast, was formerly at Aftermath Entertainment, where he worked with acts such as Eminem, 50 Cent, the Game, Eve and Busta Rhymes. As part of the deal, Lynn will sign, develop and produce artists for joint release on Sony Urban Music/Columbia and Lynns' own imprint, Big Ego Entertainment. Additional East Coast hires include Steve Yegelwel, who was previously at Greenberg's label S-Curve; former Atlantic A&R rep Nick Cassinelli; Maria Egan, who comes from Nettwerk Management; Beka Callaway, who comes from BMI; Benjamin Simone, who comes from Deston Songs; and Maureen Kinney, who was previously at Universal Records. And expect some West Coast hires to go down in the near future... Lots of buzz building down under for ass-kicking rockers Airbourne. Barrister Craig Averill will be handling the legal duties in the U.S. Our pals in Oz land are telling us that Australian labels are going gaga for the rock band. Seems like it could be a similar situation to what went down with Jet a few years ago. Expect some U.S. label folks to be making the 17-hour flight Down Under in the immediate future... Big weasel turnout for the Steve Sessa-repped/Steven Melrose-managed the Gun Shys. The band reportedly packed club Moscow last week in front of a number of label reps. Stay tuned, as this one will probably close soon... Lastly, keep your eye on female songstress Lucy Walsh. Yes, she's the daughter of Eagles band member Joe Walsh. Her Dave Cobb-produced album is apparently perking weasel ears, so get on it if you're lagging. The young Walsh is repped by Beverly Martel, the sister company of Worlds End. Looks like Sandy Roberton and Andrew Brightman have stuff cooking; as they've had a string of signings with the Rock & Roll Soldiers (Atlantic), The Strays (TVT) and Candace (Maverick)... BUZZIN': Pulse Recordings, Brad Smith and Christopher Thorn... Hit me up: brotherxx@earthlink.net

BUZZ GIGS:
FIXER Thurs., Aug. 25, 9:45 p.m., CBGB
THE BLOOD ARM Wed., Aug. 31, TBD, Troubadour
GOLDSPOT Thurs., Sept. 8, TBD, Troubadour


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

ASCAP has had a busy summer filing lawsuits against bars, clubs, and restaurants playing music written by the members of the PRO without first securing a public performance license. Y'all should know better than that!

The Universal Music + Video Distribution Group nailed down a 32% market share for U.S. albums compared to 26% by Sony/BMG and 18% for the indie labels and a rather weak 14% showing for WEA.

CDBaby is in the process of opening offices in Japan and Australia—with more foreign offices to come later. Marketing VP Alex Steininger said that about 35% of CDBaby's orders come from overseas.

Country music legend Bobby Bare is back in the studio after taking a 20-year hiatus! He's recording a new CD called The Moon Was Blue for Dualtone Records. Between 1962-1986, Bare charted some 70 different titles. The CD is set for an October release.

Look for Cream (Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker) to rock the Big Apple with a series of concerts at Madison Square Garden. Their recent record of four sold-out shows at London's Royal Albert Hall grossed $3.6 million. The group officially disbanded in 1968. The New York shows will sell out in minutes hopefully prompting the Rock trio to head out to Los Angeles.

The TAXI Road Rally is officially scheduled for November 3-6 and if you miss it you're totally illin! Once again I am honored to be a part of it. I'll be critiquing your original music (so make sure you get there early and sign up under my name) and hosting the open mic shows. Seminars, panels, forums, live performances, books, videos, networking, and much, much more. Make your reservations now. And please don't forget to bring your guitars, CDs, and business cards.


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