NEWS ITEMS:
Chicks Taking the Long Way to the Top

Centerstaging, MLB Play Ball

I.B. Bad Carefully Slices Up the Marketshare Pie

Bulletin Board


Reprinted with permission from Hits Magazine

May 24, 2006

They may not be "ready to make nice" for their anti-Dubya remarks, but the Dixie Chicks are finding a warm welcome back for their new, Rick Rubin-produced Open Road/Columbia Records album, Taking the Long Way, based on first-day reports from retailers around the country.

Thanks to glowing stories in Time magazine along with L.A. and N.Y. Times and an appearance on 60 Minutes, the trio's first album since 2002 looks headed for between 410-430k in sales. Home debuted in August of that year with 780k in sales, on its way to a total of 5.8 million.

This time, the group has gone for a more rock-oriented sound and image as they seek to cross from their Red State base, which had eroded after Natalie Maines' public Bush-bashing at the start of the Iraqui war three years ago, to a more left-leaning Blue State audience.

Poised to debut on the charts next Tuesday, RCA's American Idol compilation looks like 125-150k right now, but it's anybody's guess as to what it does after tonight's finale.

A new limited edition Disney Records' High School Musical album will kick sales back into the 130-150k range when combined with the old version.

Suretone's Angels and Airwaves, the new group started by Blink-182's Tom DeLonge, seems headed for between 135-145k.

Columbia Records' latest WWE album, Wreckless Intent, seems poised for 75k.

Other chart newcomers include Def Leppard's Yeah! on Island (45-50k), an all-covers album with versions of songs by Blondie ("Hanging on the Telephone"), T. Rex ("20th Century Boy"), David Essex ("Rock On"), the Kinks ("Waterloo Sunset") and David Bowie ("Drive-In Saturday").

Machete Music/Universal reggaeton star Don Omar's King of Kings is next at 45-50k, while Maverick/WB's The Wreckers, Michele Branch's country-rock collaboration, is headed for the 40k mark.

The full market was down 16% over last week, 13% vs the same week last year and is now off between 2-2.5% to date.


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

May 22, 2006

CenterStaging and Major League Baseball's MLB.com are joining for a double digital play.

The two have formed a strategic partnership to launch the rehearsals.com website. MLB.com has built and will power the company's showcase for musical artists as they prepare for concert tours, television appearances and recording sessions. In addition to the original streaming performances, the site will provide music news and weekly profiles with musicians discussing their experiences and talent with their original series Lessons from the Legends.

Since its launch in 2001, MLB.com now attracts more than 7 million daily viewers. Both rehearsals.com and MLB.com will offer links to direct their respective traffic to its sister website. Earlier this year, MLB Advanced Media entered into an agreement with music merchandiser, Signatures Network.

CenterStaging's rehearsals.com presents a unique gateway into the professional artist's workshop and rehearsal with high-definition streaming video as well as digital audio programming, exclusive performances, candid artist interviews and "intimate lessons from the masters."

Current programming includes The New Cars, debuting their new single, "Not Tonight;" R&B legends Earth, Wind & Fire performing their classic jam "Let's Groove;" and all-female revue the Pussycat Dolls as they prepare to hit the concert trail. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers 30-year anniversary campaign will also include footage shot at the facility as well The Panic Channel—the new act from Rock Star host Dave Navarro. CenterStaging's 150k sq. ft. Burbank, CA rehearsal and production facility features 11 rehearsal studios, one sound stage, a high-definition broadcast center, thousands of musical instruments and backline equipment.

CenterStaging CEO Roger Paglia took time out from examining Barry Bonds urine samples to note: "We partnered with MLB.com because Bob Bowman and his team have demonstrated an unsurpassed track record in the digital marketplace. They have shown an extraordinary ability to create long-term business and revenue growth through the delivery of streaming video and other advanced forms of online programming and e-commerce."

Added MLB Advanced Media CEO Bowman: "Our partners at rehearsals.com have exceptional facilities and vision. Their reputation in the entertainment industry is terrific, and together we are determined to serve music fans in the same way MLB.com feeds the passion for our national pastime. It's a natural fit. Every rock star wants to be a championship athlete, and vice versa. Getting into business with rehearsals.com demonstrates our belief in the importance of interactive, digital content and nonstop distribution through leading-edge technology."


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

May 22, 2006

SWEETENING THE POT? On the EMI-WMG front, the British company is rumored to be increasing its original offer by between $1.50 and $3.50 a share to a possible $32, bringing the total proposal potentially to $4.75 billion. Meanwhile, Edgar Bronfman Jr. is said to be frantically trying to round up new equity players, reportedly traveling as far away as Dubai and Russia in his search, in order to come up with an amount greater than EMI's offer in order to buy out the other investors and hold on to WMG. Most believe his chances of pulling off such a coup are slim to none—meaning that he may soon be out of a job. History could play a part in determining how Bronfman winds up. When he acquired PolyGram in 1998, current EMI Music chief/then-PolyGram ruler Alain Levy was offered—and rejected—a greatly diminished role in the combined companies, so most expect that Bronfman will similarly have a greatly diminished role in WEMI world, if he has a role at all. Speaking of which, Lyor Cohen's history with the current EMI management team begs the question: what will become of him when WMG changes hands? It has become apparent to practically everyone in the music business that Cohen isn't equipped to run a music group, though most believe he could return to heading up a hip-hop label. But sources inside EMI say there may be no place in the EMI hierarchy for someone with such questionable judgment, and one so prone to flying off the handle... Following EMI's acquisition of WMG, Warner/Chappell Music will quickly be sold off, and the publisher is being affected adversely by the current uncertainty. People working at WCM say they feel like lame ducks as they play the waiting game, and revenues uncharacteristically took a nosedive in WMG's fiscal first quarter. Nonetheless, virtually every investment banker and rival publisher is salivating at the prospect of picking up the perennial #2 company in the last bastion of economic hope in the traditional music business. Additionally, it's quite likely that BMG Songs, another of the top five publishing companies, will be on the block as well some time in the next few months. Charles Koppelman and outgoing EMI Music Publishing czar Marty Bandier have both enjoyed great entrepreneurial success with previous publishing ventures, and either or both could conceivably gather their resources to make a play for one of these companies. Expect major action in this sector... The marketshare report on the first four months of 2006 confirms that Doug Morris' UMG, at 31.8% in new releases, remains far and away the biggest of the Big Four, but there are a couple of surprises in the figures that have been gathered. At the beginning of the year, no self-respecting industry watcher would have predicted that Disney's Buena Vista Music Group (distributed but not owned by UMG), capably run by Bob Cavallo, would come out of nowhere to rack up the two best-selling albums of 2006 to date with #1 High School Musical and #2 Rascal Flatts. Conversely, few expected that powerful Interscope would lose nearly half its marketshare, plummeting from 10.5% to 5.5% so far in '06...but the situation is temporary. While this is a precipitous drop considering that Interscope was coming off the two biggest years in its history, bear in mind that the label's early-2005 performance was paced by blockbusters from The Game and 50 Cent. Interscope's current A&R star is Ron Fair, whose contributions to hits from the Black Eyed Peas, the Pussycat Dolls and Keyshia Cole, as well as Geffen's Mary J. Blige (who's #3 on the year), make it obvious why Jimmy Iovine has greatly expanded his responsibilities. The label is expecting new albums from The Game, Fergie and Will.i.am, with No Doubt, 50 Cent and Eminem possible as well... Pacing UMG so far this year is L.A. Reid's IDJ, with an industry-topping 6.5% share... Sony BMG (23.9% year-to-date) will have no competition for second place until WEMI becomes a reality, but the group's marketshare has been heading downward ever since the companies merged two years ago. Wonderers wonder whether internal turmoil has contributed to the decline or the decline has contributed to the turmoil. Either way, it appears that the resolution of Andygate with the ascension of Rolf Schmidt-Holtz to the throne of the merged companies has not ended the acrimony between BMG and Sony Music, as the barbs continue to pop up in the press. But through it all, Clive Davis soldiers on, with three of the year's Top 10 albums in Carrie Underwood, Jamie Foxx and Barry Manilow. Meanwhile, on the Sony side of the street, Columbia will get a big boost from the Dixie Chicks, John Legend, Beyonce, John Mayer and Jessica Simpson, while Epic is developing Shakira and The Fray, with Audioslave, Incubus and Los Lonely Boys on deck... Looking at the year's top sellers, it's readily apparent that adult and country titles are on the upsurge, while rock remains depressed—providing additional ammunition for those who insist that CD burning and illegal file sharing are at the root of the music industry's malaise... Names in the Rumor Mill: Scott Sperling, Eric Nicoli, Richard Blackstone, Roger Ames, Tommy Mottola, Puffy and Steve Greenberg.


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 Warner Music Group has created the Independent Music Group which will be comprised of Asylum Records, East West Records, and Cordless Records, respectively. Todd Moscowitz, current Asylum President, has been named head of ILG.

"Suge" Knight and Death Row Records filed for bankruptcy to avoid having to pay more than $120 million in debt. Ouch!

Look for a new George Michael CD to hit the streets by the end of 2006. Michael, signed to Epic Records worldwide, is scheduled to release his first studio set since 2004's Patience.

Velvet Revolver is working with Hip-Hop producer Pharrell Williams on their second CD for RAC Records ... New Country CDs from Rascal Flatts and Toby Keith continue to sell like wildfire. Don't be surprised if the Rascal Flatts CD tops the four million mark.

How have recent graduates from Musicians Institute been doing over the last year or so, you ask? Well, Alessandro Cortini was plucked out of school to play keyboards for Nine Inch Nails, Pop singer Heiarii graced the cover of LA's All Access Magazine after being voted Best Pop Artist of 2005, and most recently, VIT graduate Kalen Chase (also a member of Crucifix Doll) is the newest member of KORN. When you're hot, you're hot!

Bet ya dollars to donuts that Barry Manilow follows up his '50's songbook with a '60's songbook and Rod Stewart leaves his songbooks behind for a new Rock CD—of cover songs, naturally!


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