Clear Channel Strikes Up the Stern Ban

Napster Puts Something in the Kitty

EMI and S-Curve Romance the Stone

Reprinted with permission from Hits Magazine

February 25, 2004

Clear Channel's announced "Responsible Broadcasting Initiaitve" just claimed its first victim as the radio monolith pulled the Infinity-syndicated Howard Stern Show off its stations that were carrying the program.

The move was consistent with its stated intention to make sure "the material aired by its radio stations conforms to the standards and sensibilities of the local communities [we] serve." After assessing the content of yesterday's Howard Stern show, Clear Channel worked with local market managers to take swift and decisive action.

"Clear Channel drew a line in the sand today with regard to protecting our listeners from indecent content and Howard Stern's show blew right through it," said Clear Channel Radio CEO John Hogan. "It was vulgar, offensive, and insulting, not just to women and African Americans but to anyone with a sense of common decency. We will not air Howard Stern on Clear Channel stations until we are assured that his show will conform to acceptable standards of responsible broadcasting."

Can't wait to hear what Stern has to say about it tomorrow morning.

Hogan is scheduled to testify tomorrow in Washington in front of the House Telecom subcommittee, which has been convened to discuss the pending Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act of 2004 along with Paxson CEO Bud Paxson, Pappas Telecasting Chairman Harry Pappas, Fox President of Entertainment Gail Berman, NBC President of Research Alan Wurtzel and ABC President Alex Wallau.

Clear Channel President/COO Mark Mays said: "Clear Channel is serious about helping address the rising tide of indecency on the airwaves. As broadcast licensees, we are fully responsible for what our stations air, and we intend to make sure all our DJs and programmers understand what is and what is not appropriate on Clear Channel radio shows. In other words, buh-bye Bubba."

Mays said the company will institute a zero tolerance policy for indecent content which will include company-wide training and automatic suspensions for anyone that the FCC alleges has violated indecency rules on the air.

"If the FCC accuses us of wrongdoing by issuing a proposed fine, we will take immediate action," Mays said. "We will suspend the DJ in question, and perform a swift investigation. If we or the government ultimately determine the offending broadcast is indecent, the DJ will be terminated without delay."

Ya think satellite radio can pick up the slack for dirty talk on the air?

Added Hogan: "If a DJ is found to be in violation of FCC rules, there will be no appeals and no intermediate steps. If they break the law by broadcasting indecent material, they will not work for Clear Channel."

FCC boss Michael Powell must be beaming.

In addition, the company announced that all of its contracts with on-air performers are being modified to ensure that DJs share financial responsibility if they utter indecent material on the air.

"From now on, every contract that Clear Channel enters into with on-air talent will include this provision," said Hogan. "While that won't relieve Clear Channel from our responsibility as a broadcast licensee, we believe it will have a significant deterrent effect on indecent content."

Reiterating its call for a "Decency Task Force," Clear Channel also has volunteered to fully participate with other representatives of the broadcast, cable and satellite industries to develop an industry-wide response to indecency and violence in the media.

Wonder if that includes the new Mel Gibson flick about Jesus. We heard there’s some real blood and gore in that one.

"In our view, industry-developed guidelines should be as effective as government-imposed regulations without running afoul of the First Amendment protections that we all respect," said Hogan.

And you thought this nonsense died along with Lenny Bruce.

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

February 23, 2004

Napster is trumpeting a new benchmark, declaring itself the first PC-only online music service to sell five million downloads. Furthermore, the Roxio-owned service—.comprised of the legendary outlaw Napster brand, elements of the major-label joint venture pressplay and Roxio’s own CD-burning and music-management software—says it expects to see some $20 million in music sales this year. Napster 2.0 launched in October of 2003.

"This important milestone is a testament to the quality of the Napster experience and the strength and continuity of our senior management team," burbled CEO Chris Gorog. "In this competitive market, Napster is defining itself as an immersive experience that enables members to legally explore and access the largest catalog of music available, experience the largest number of features and choose from 60 compatible digital music players, creating a very compelling offering for music fans."

Gorog then began murmuring "immersive" and "compelling" over and over, very softly.

Having scored deals with Pennsylvania State University and the University of Rochester to provide music for non-portable downloads on campus computers, Napster now hopes to broker further deals with educational institutions.

The company has also set up partnerships with Samsung (for a digital player to compete with the iPod) and Miller Brewing Company. The latter could come in especially handy in its dealings with college students. Kegger with the Kitty, anyone?

More than 26,000 retail locations now vend prepaid Napster download cards. In addition to selling a la carte downloads at 99 cents per track and $9.95 per album, the company offers a premium subscription service. Among its further offerings are a magazine, chart information, message boards and preprogrammed radio stations.

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

February 26, 2004

She's got Soul and she's superbad. Joss Stone isn't just your typical British teenager.

The rising star recorded her debut, The Soul Sessions (S-Curve/EMI), a collection of covers, with soul legends Betty Wright, guitarist Little Beaver, pianist Benny Latimore and organist Timmy Thomas, as well as Roots drummer ?uestlove and neo-soul diva Angie Stone.

The album, recorded in just four days and intended as an introduction to the talented teen when it was released last September, is now taking off on its own.

Sessions has sold 1 million copies worldwide, and is now poised to explode stateside thanks to Stone's version of the White Stripes track, renamed "Fell in Love With a Boy" and featuring the Roots, which, thanks to EMC's Kevin Carroll and his team, is ready to cross from Adult Post Modern to Pop.

Sales of the album have tripled over the past few weeks, and shipments now approach 300k.

S-Curve's Steve Green­berg, who originally discovered the ingenue, says the main elements of the campaign have been live performances, press, touring and television appearances. "It was a totally grass-roots effort. Everyone showed a great deal of patience and restraint. We didn't rush it. We let it grow at its own speed. We let radio and the music video channels discover her for themselves. We feel there's a ton of growth still to come here in the States."

There is a new album of all-original material scheduled to come out before the end of the year that is 90% done, according to Greenberg. "We're going to work this one for awhile, and then go right into the new one," he says. "We don't want people to live on just a taste for too long. Those who like The Soul Sessions will dig the new album."

Highlights include:

  • "Fell in Love With a Boy" video is Buzzworthy at MTV, Buzzworthy/Heavy on MTV2, "The Cut" on mtvU, and Stone is an Inside Track artist on VH1, where the song is receiving Top 20 airplay. Video debuted on TRL last Friday (2/20) at #18.

  • TV appearances on Leno (2/24) and Carson Daly (2/ 27), VH1 Divas Live (4/18), Austin City Limits (taping 4/23), MTV's Music Stars of Tomorrow (mid-March), Motown 45th Anniversary Special (CBS in May).

  • Performances Sunday night at Elton John’s post-Oscar party and a SXSW in-store at Waterloo Records.

  • Past TV includes Conan O'Brien and MTV You Hear It First in Sept., Good Morning America and Ellen Degeneres in Oct., Letterman and Craig Kilborn in Nov.; Kennedy Center Honors.

  • Upcoming press includes Glamour (March), Elle ("Women on the Verge"), Jane and WWD.

  • Previous print: Vibe, Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, USA Today, People, NY Times and more.

  • Borders-sponsored promotional tour.

  • Opened for Simply Red last fall, set to open six shows in May for Sting at Royal Albert Hall in London.

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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