Wheels & Deals: of Superproducers and Superstars

Recording Artists Coalition on the Move

Bulletin Board

Reprinted with permission from Hits Magazine

August 27, 2004

By Rodel Delfin

HE AIN'T SMOKIN', HE'S ON FIRE: If you produced the #1 album in the country and the #1 single at radio in the same month, you would probably get some props in this pathetic excuse for a trade rag. But you haven't, so no ink for you. Unless, of course, you paid us. We sure miss those Fed Ex envelopes. However, one guy who didn't have to peel the greens for this mention is mega-producer and now TV star John Shanks. Wth Ashlee Simpson's Autobiography having hit #1 on the Top 50 Albums chart for several weeks and her track "Pieces of Me" currently #1 on the CHR/Pop Top 50 chart, the Tim McDaniel-repped studio whiz maintains his juice as one of the top producers in the biz. But wait, there's more. Shanks has produced six singles by five different artist currently on the charts—Sheryl Crow's "Light In Your Eyes," Ashlee's "Pieces of Me," Alanis Morissette's "Everything," Kelly Clarkson's "Breakaway" and Hilary Duff's "Fly." Shanks' next project is a new record by Robbie Robertson... More talk on the Taking Back Sunday/Victory Records deal. Two majors are reportedly in the mix to sign the act, which includes a buyout for the band's third-album commitment to Victory. The deal is rumored to be hovering around $5 million. Will this deal close, or might the labels involved lose patience and decide to walk?... Lots of chatter in A&R circles regarding Fueled By Ramen act The Academy Is... The band is committed to record two albums for the indie. As you may recall, FBR recently made an arrangement with Warner Music Group for distribution. Naturally, any of the WMG labels would say they are best suited to upstream the band if the group's record takes off. However, is a buyout of the band's commitment to FBR a possibility if another label suitor wanted to make the play? Would FBR even be open to such an arrangement? The indie has made arrangements with majors in the past, as in the case of Fallout Boy with Island Def Jam. We'll keep you posted... The Scott Bradford-repped April Sixth is out of their Elektra deal and signs with Tim Devine and Jon Pikus at Columbia Records... Meanwhile, don't think that publishing house Warner/Chappell has not been in the mix. The pubco has entered into new long-term agreements with writer/producers John Shanks and Brian Michael Cox, who has recently worked with Usher, Monica and Jagged Edge. In addition, deals have been concluded with Lava act Antigone Rising and urban artists Ciara and Fat Joe, who, along with Terror Squad, is blazing on the Urban charts. And keep your ears open for the WC-signed Latin Bangers, who have signed with WEA Latino... BUZZIN': Emily Hudson, Sleepwell, Flaw, J. Wells and Minus... Hit me up:


Fri., Aug. 27, 5:00 p.m., Greek Theatre (L.A.)

Sat., Aug. 28, (time TBD), Mercury Lounge (N.Y.)

Thurs., Sept. 2, 10 p.m., Arlene's Grocery (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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Reprinted with permission from Hits Magazine

August 31, 2004

The Recording Artists Coalition's August newsletter gives a fairly detailed account of the group's activity since its emergence amid the flap over California's seven-year statute two years ago. RAC has had a fairly low public profile since the heyday of California Senator Kevin Murray's political pot-stirring, but the group has been busy weighing in on a host of issues and "monitoring" certain settlements and legislative processes.

One of the issues RAC has taken part in is the FTC CD price-fixing ruling spearheaded by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. RAC is monitoring the two part settlement, which requires the record labels to pay a total of $67.4 million to consumers (at $13.86 each) and to distribute $75.7 million in CDs to libraries, colleges, and schools, to make sure the labels see the settlement through.

Another two issues RAC is involved in are the FCC's rules for the proposed transition to high-definition digital radio and proposed legislation to allow more low-power, non-commercial radio stations. In the case of digital radio, RAC is lobbying to secure recording artsts a performance right for songs broadcast digitally. Currently, only publishers and songwriters receive performance royalties, but because the advent of digital broadcasting is likely to negatively impact sales of physical product, RAC wants to level the playing field for artists. It also proposes that digital broadcasts be encrypted to slow the capture and propagation of digital broadcasts as downloadable files.

In the case of low-power stations, RAC backs legislation proposed by Senators McCain and Leahy allowing the expansion of low-power radio into urban areas. RAC thinks such expansion will be good for the health of independent music and new music genres, and so is working to help get the bill passed despite opposition from the National Association of Broadcasters.

RAC has also been active in keeping fine increases for performers out of the Broadcast Indecency Act passed by the Senate; supporting the Third Circuit Court's decision to block the FCC's new media consolidation rules from taking effect; supporting Sen. Murray's record-royalty accounting bill (which has been passed and is expected to be signed but no longer includes specific remedies for artitsts); and backing New York Attorney General Spitzer in his settlement with the record labels to distribute $50 million in unpaid record royalties. RAC is monitoring the settlement to ensure label compliance and says it was member Bob Donnelly who originally brought the issue to Spitzer's attention and gave ideas on how to resolve it.

Perhaps the most compelling issue RAC is currently involved with, however, is Senator Orrin Hatch's so-called INDUCE Act, which RAC backs as an "incredibly important piece of legislation." INDUCE is a bill that would allow copyright owners to sue those whose products or businesses may be used to infringe copyrights, under the theory that such products or businesses induce people to infringe. If enacted, the bill would effectively overturn the recent Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling that P2P developer Grokster and others are not guilty of vicarious or contributory copyright infringement because P2P networks have significant non-infringing uses (upholding the Betamax precedent) and because the decentralized nature of P2P networks doesn't allow their developers sufficient time to identify and stop infringement (as opposed to the original Napster, which operated an array of central indexing servers).

While RAC's intent, naturally, is to reduce copyright infringement and restore the financial value of artists' works, some believe INDUCE is a misguided bill that would actually work to stifle technology developers who might otherwise help the cause of legitimate digital distribution. These critics see the bill as overbroad and anticipate that it would encourage a deluge of frivolous lawsuits.

Nevertheless, RAC sees INDUCE as the right way to go, in that it would allow its members to go after the companies providing the technology to infringe copyrights—the "inducers"—rather than suing individuals—the actual infringers—who also happen to be the consumers who buy RAC members' products. RAC says it will continue to monitor the situation.

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

Now that Sony and BMG have tied the knot and EMI-Warner Bros. is likely to follow, where does that leave the American music industry? Well, it leaves them looking to gobble up independent labels making sales inroads. Therefore, every single new indie CD is worth more than ever before. Make sure that you have a plan when you release your product. You never know who's watching.

And speaking of new indie labels, yours truly (Kenny Kerner) has just opened the doors to newly formed Allure Record, a pop/dance label. And I may as well get this over with now—send material to Allure Records / 8306 Wilshire Blvd. / #645 / Beverly Hills, CA. 90211. First release on Allure will be Heiarii Amaru's Dance! in early 2005.

Get ready for the onslaught of holiday CDs about to hit retail stores... Lots of legendary classic bands are turning to reality TV to look for new band members. Some think it's cool but I believe it's the height of laziness...George Michael's latest CD is a big disappointment. No hit single. No incredible sales. And, the singer looks fat...Earthdance 2004 is coming up on Saturday, September 18th...Green Day and New Found Glory hit the road on October 19th to begin a North American Tour in support of GD's American Idiot CD.

MTV2 Headbangers' Ball Volume 2 will be released later this month on RoadRunner Records. The two-disc package will contain 40 tracks from the likes of Megadeth, Slipknot, Korn, Three Inches of Blood, Escape Plan and others.

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