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Reprinted with permission from Hits Magazine

September 25, 2006

The battle lines are being drawn as the majors wrestle with the question of how to deal with the ever-growing global colossus that is YouTube. For UMG, which has signaled its intention to take legal action against the wildly successful site on the grounds of what it regards as massive copyright infringement to the tune of "tens of millions of dollars," it appears to be about the money, as Doug Morris eyes yet another potentially lucrative new revenue stream—one that could turn into a veritable torrent. Most believe that the perennial industry power, which has a history of aggressively going after any operation that makes its content available to the public without sharing revenue, is using the threat of shutting down YouTube as a club in order to force a favorable result... UMG's saber rattling comes at an unfortuitous time for YouTube, which is said to be in talks with bankers about an IPO or an outright sale of the company... By contrast, Warner Music's pact with YouTube appears to be yet another ploy on the part of Edgar Bronfman Jr. to be seen as a leader of the digital revolution in the eyes of Wall Street, in an effort to boost WMG stock. Music biz veterans find this self-spinning laughable, asking how an executive with his history of making bad business decisions could lead anyone anywhere. They further note that Bronfman, who was clearly in a big hurry to get a deal done, is taking short money for PR purposes—and possibly mortgaging his company's future in the process... Meanwhile, EMI and Sony BMG have both acknowledged that they're engaged in discussions with YouTube, even as the British company is benefiting in a big way from the site's unprecedented viral-marketing clout, which has not only breathed life into OK Go's stillborn 2005 album but turned it into a major hit via the new-paradigm equivalent of massive multi-format airplay. It's no wonder Capitol has begun posting clips from other acts on the site... The business has some encouraging momentum going into the fourth quarter, as Justin Timberlake generates the year's second-biggest debut with 711k units (coming within spitting distance of Rascal Flatts' 714k first week), John Mayer's 288k bow beats expectations by a sizable margin and Bob Dylan continues to show that his 65-year-old legs still have considerable spring in them, as the worldwide sales momentum of the legend's new Modern Times shows no signs of flagging. Dylan has gotten a sizable boost from adult-skewing outlets iTunes and Starbucks, while Columbia labelmate Mayer's strong first week was dramatically impacted by iTunes album downloads, helping Continuum to come in around 20% higher than the intelligentsia had predicted. Indeed, some believe there's a very real possibility that iTunes may in the not-too-distant future be posting the biggest numbers of any retail account, online or terrestrial. Considering this sobering possibility, many in the music business are rooting for Microsoft's Zune to give Apple some serious competition at long last, leveling the playing field and giving "the smartest guy in the room" a run for his money... Venerable rocker Bob Seger demonstrates surprising appeal, as Capitol moves 146k of his first album in 11 years—a testament to Andy Slater's two-decade relationship with Seger and longtime manager Punch Andrews... Timberlake, Mayer, Dylan, Beyonce and Christina Aguilera are leading a charge into the fourth quarter on the part of a rapidly heating up Sony BMG, which has a host of potential hit albums on deck, including Clay Aiken (9/19, with 2.7m on his previous release), Kenny Chesney (9/19, 2.3m), Monica (10/3, 984k), Jimmy Buffett (10/10, 1.5m), Sarah McLachlan (10/17, 2.4m), Ruben Studdard (10/17, 1.8m), Harry Connick (10/24, 993k), John Legend (10/24, 1.7m), a Dave Matthews Band best of (11/7, 1.4m), Incubus (11/28, 1.1m) Ciara (12/5, 2.6m) and Barbra Streisand (12/5, 1.1m). SBMG looks like a powerhouse for the rest of the year, getting busy at the right time... Inquiring minds want to know what chain of events could have possibly precipitated the management company of 30 Seconds to Mars and the band's film-actor frontman Jared Leto to "fire" their longtime clients last week, just as the Virgin act was on the verge of breaking big... Chatter once again picking up about one high-profile promotion executive being in trouble over his occupational performance anxiety... Names in the Rumor Mill: Alex Zubillaga, Johnny Wright, Tim Bowen, Merck Mercuriadis, Bill Ham, Britney Spears and Janet Jackson.


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

September 22, 2006

Justin Timberlake's Future Sex is still in the now, as he beats back a challenge from none other than Clay Aiken for #1 next week, while BMG looks primed to hold down the top three spots on Tuesday's chart.

Timberlake looks to follow up his impressive 710k+ debut with between 225-235k in sales, which should be enough to withstand the debuting Aiken, whose RCA Records album, A Thousand Different Ways, looks like it will cross the 200k line, thank to appearances over the past week on Leno, Good Morning America and The View.

Kenny Chesney's new live Sony BMG Nashville album is up next, looking for a total in the 150k range, mas o menos, which would be good for #3 thanks to appearances on Regis & Kelly, Best Damned Sports Show and this Monday's Ellen.

A&M/Interscope's Fergie takes the "London Bridge" to a Top 5 debut for her solo bow The Dutchess in the 125-135k range thanks to recent performances on The Today Show and Letterman, with and without the Black-Eyed Peas.

Columbia's John Mayer is having a good second week, down just a little over 50% to around 125-135k, good enough for Top 5, with labelmate Beyonce right behind him at 115-125k, giving Sony BMG five of the Top 6 overall.

Atlantic rising reggaeton/hip-hop star Lupe Fiasco is up next with between 85-90k for an impressive #7 debut, followed by warhorses, Columbia's Bob Dylan (giving Steve Barnett and company three in the Top 10) and Capitol's Bob Seger at around 70-75k apiece. Capitol rapper Chingy is also in the mix for a Top 10 debut.

Other debuts include Verve's Diana Krall (60-65k), Hollywood's Jesse McCartney (60-65k), Interscope's Elton John (45-50k) and Geffen's New Found Glory (45-50k).

Next week, look for dueling Jacksons, as Virgin's Janet and SBMG Nashville's Alan hit the street, with IDJ's Ludacris, Geffen's Beck, Columbia's Tony Bennett, J's Ruben Studdard and Volcano/ZLG's Weird Al also on the release list for Tuesday.

No, go blow a shofar.


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

September 21, 2006

Fans of this season's MTV reality show Laguna Beach will be pleased to hear that cast member/lead singer Chase Johnson and his band Open Air Stereo have signed with Epic Records. Label prexy Charlie Walk and crew get the kudos for signing the Bobby Collin-managed group. Meanwhile, TV exposure continues to be a dominant form in breaking new acts on the multi-platinum level. Whether it's High School Musical or American Idol, mass TV exposure now seems to have almost as much juice as Top 40 radio in fueling mega album sales. Most new rock acts that get high on the Alternative radio chart aren't getting to platinum, with a handful of exceptions. By contrast, according to our lemon-stand sales guru Mark Pearson, Clay Aiken's just-released new album is projected to hit between 190-200k in its first week, and there's no serious radio play for his single. Meanwhile, in case you haven't heard, High School Musical cast members Vanessa Hudgens and Ashley Tisdale signed deals with Hollywood and Warner Bros. Records, respectively. And with YouTube reigniting sales for acts like OK Go, TV and video content for new acts is fast becoming a necessity for breaking big... Buzz building on the Drake Sutton-Shearer-managed/Peter Lewit-repped Aphasia. Weasel ears are perking up to the band's new demos. We hear private showcases are lining up this week. Stay tuned... ON THE POP TIP: Early heat is building on teen sisters Tory & Taylor Thompson. The two were finalists on the American Idol spin-off American Juniors a few years back. Now in their early teens, the sisters have recorded tracks with a number of A-Level producers, including The Matrix, and showcase requests are now coming in. We'll keep you posted... RED-STATE ROCK STILL SELLS: Kudos to producer/songwriter Brian Howes for the success of Universal Republic act Hinder. The album has sold over 600k and continues to clock 50k-plus every week. It's definitely on its way to platinum. Howes developed the band with producer Joey Moi. And just like Nickelback back in the day, when these demos were going around, most A&R types passed, opting instead to pursue the next emo/indie-cred rock thing. Meanwhile, there's another red-state rock band that apparently is starting to get label folks on both coasts quite antsy. Hope your scouts are on it... Finally, we'd like to thank ASCAP's Tom DeSavia for hosting a good ol' A&R dinner at Ruth's Chris Steak House last week in honor of the U.K. ASCAP reps who were in town. The dinner was followed by a hugely buzzin' ASCAP showcase at the Coconut Teaszer featuring Hayden, Silverjet, The Odds and Agnes Gooch. Booyaaa.... BUZZIN': Carl Stubner, Dilana and Toby from Rockstar: Supernova... Hit me up: brotherxx@earthlink.net

BUZZ/GIGS:
AWAY STATION Mon., Sept. 25, 9:00 p.m., Knitting Factory, L.A.
APHASIA Tues., Sept. 26, TBD, Viper Room, L.A.
ABIGAIL Wed., Oct. 18, 8:00 p.m., Bitter End, N.Y.


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

Music industry mogul Danny Goldberg has formed Gold Village Entertainment, a company focused on all areas of the biz. The company's first clients are Allison Moorer and Steve Earle, both of whom will be co-managed by Burt Stein of Gold Mountain Nashville.

Madonna's North American tour grossed more than $86 million…To celebrate his 80th birthday, crooner Tony Bennett released Duets: An American Classic with vocal contributions from Bono, Elvis Costello, Celine Dion, George Michael, Sting, Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Billy Joel, Tim McGraw, and about a dozen other superstar performers. Can you say Grammy nomination?

After releasing nine successful CDs on Arista, Country act Diamond Rio left the label amicably… MCA Nashville moved Country act Lee Ann Womack to its sister label, MercuryRandy Scruggs produced the first ever Toby Keith Christmas CD which has been pushed back to 2007… Little Texas signed with the Montage Music Group.

Much to the amazement of millions, Los Angeles folks woke up one morning, tuned into Country radio station KZLA, and heard "The Mix That Makes You Move" instead of Toby Keith. The station changed formats and is bringing back Rick Dees.

An experimental version of myspace.com has launched in France with a disclaimer that it is still under development. Eleven other European countries are also being targeted.

Don't look now but Clay Aikens' third RCA CD is a collection of cover tunes called A Thousand Different Ways and it features (along with four originals) versions of "Here You Come Again," "Without You," and "When I See You Smile."


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