Joni, James Go for Starbucks

Now 25 + Colbie=Wow!

EMI, Burger King Team On DRM-Free Downloads in U.K.

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Reprinted with permission from Hits Magazine

July 25, 2007

Move over, Macca. You've got some company at the local coffee bistro.

After the success of the Paul McCartney album, Starbucks' Hear Music, their joint venture with Concord Music Group, have announced their next signing, and it's another legendary brand name.

Joni Mitchell's Shine will be released on the label Sept. 25, and as with the McCartney album, it will be available at both the 9,000-plus Starbucks locations in U.S. and Canada and traditional retailers.

"I am thrilled to be able to work with the Hear Music label on my new CD," said Mitchell. "Starbucks and Concord are joining me in releasing a project which has enabled me to appreciate what I loved about making music in the first place."

While Starbucks Entertainment President Ken Lombard was close-mouthed on the identity of other signings, sources insist it will be veteran singer/songwriter James Taylor, now out of his deal with longtime label Columbia.

"This is the storytelling album Joni's fans have been waiting for," said Lombard. "Her voice, both in the physical and lyrical sense, is as powerful as ever. It's a perfect fit for what we're trying to do—put out great music from extraordinary artists."

Lombard admits that heritage and new artists alike were coming to him even before the success of McCartney's Memory Almost Full.

"We realize there are a lot of artists out there disgruntled with their relationship with their labels," he said. "We are providing a great option for musicians as they attempt to find a balance between their business arrangements and the ability to be creative."

Lombard refused to divulge when they'll announce Taylor's signing.

"We don't comment on rumors," he said, which is a shame because here at HITS, innuendo is our stock in trade. "We're in lots of discussions with artists, as you can imagine. We absolutely hope to be able to announce additional signings in the near future."

Lombard expects to release a total of three artists on Hear Music in 2007, and another eight in 2008. "Our goal is to continue to sign great artists who can provide us with great music opportunities for the music consumer and Starbucks customer. That's what drives us."

"Our goal is to continue to sign great artists who can provide us with great music opportunities for the music consumer and Starbucks customer. That's what drives us," Ken Lombard, Starbucks Entertainment.

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

July 24, 2007

The digital era is now in full effect.

UTV/Ume's Now 25 may be #1, but Universal Republic's Colbie Caillat is the big story this week on HITS' Album Sales Chart, translating an iTunes free download into a Top 5 debut.

The long-running compilation of hits sells 224k to finish on top, but the ability for fans to create their own hits compilations via online retailers has certainly cut down on the series' popularity with a first-week total that is the lowest in its 25-album history.

That was still enough to turn back the challenge of Disney's two-CD Hannah Montana 2: Meet Miley CD, the only other album in six figures at #2 with 112k.

Grand Hustle/Atlantic rapper T.I. slips to #3 after two weeks at #1, with his album T.I. vs. T.I.P. selling another 92k.

New Line's Hairspray soundtrack takes advantage of the film's impressive box office opening to move #16-4, with a total of 70k that represents a whopping 81% increase. Not even John Travolta in drag can ruin this one.

Malibu singer/songwriter Caillat is the big shocker, with her debut album Coco selling 53k to finish at #5, thanks in large part to impressive iTunes activity.

A&M/Interscope's Fergie (#6), WB's Linkin Park (#7), Universal Republic's Amy Winehouse (#8), Roadrunner's Nickelback (#9) and Island's Bon Jovi (#10) round out the Top 10.

Other chart newcomers include Capitol's Yellowcard (#11), Island's The Rocket Summer (#43), Geffen's Rooney (#44) and Columbia's Boys Like Girls (#50).

Aside from Hairspray, the week's big gainers are Hollywood's Plain White T's, riding #31-21 with a 20% increase, thanks to the chart-topping single, "Hey There Delilah." Other gainers include Interscope's Timbaland (#33, +7%), Curb's Tim McGraw (#34, +9%) and Jive/ZLG's Justin Timberlake (#40-35, +8%).

Next week, the big story will be Prince's Planet Earth, his first release on Columbia. The Epic EP from rapper Yung Berg as well as Billy Ray Cyrus' Buena Vista bow are also coming out today.

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

July 24, 2007

EMI's DRM-free downloads are already opening the door to significant strategic partnership with name brands in the U.K.

The company announced a pact with Chicago-based digital agency VerveLife to open its extensive music catalog for global brand promotions and "loyalty experiences." The partnership will allow the company's brand partners access to high-quality, DRM-free downloads.

As part of the arrangement, Burger King is the first of VerveLife's brand partners to take advantage of this opportunity in the U.K. Consumers will be able to search for, sample and download a pre-paid EMI Music track from a specially created microsite after inputting a unique code. Codes are being distributed to Burger King consumers upon purchase, and there will be links from the microsite to an online retailer, allowing consumers to purchase further tracks by EMI artists featured on the microsite. EMI is the only major music company offering content for this first-of-its-kind program and will be featured as the exclusive provider of digital music in experiences being developed by VerveLife for several other global brands.

EMI Global Head of Digital Barney Wragg comments: "EMI's recent decision to drop DRM has had a hugely positive impact on our potential to collaborate with brands in order to offer consumers downloads that they can play across all digital music players. We are very excited about this deal with VerveLife which provides the perfect platform for us to partner with a wide spectrum of high profile brand names such as Burger King. Now, if that's not a Whopper, I don't know what is."

Said VerveLife Founder/CEO Justin Jarvinen: "This agreement significantly alters the landscape of the $500 billion per year promotion industry. Consumers are increasingly asking for digital rewards such as music, movies and games. With this partnership, VerveLife can now reward tens of millions of consumers worldwide with instant access to some of the hottest music on the planet, in MP3 format. We're proud to be partnered with EMI and look forward to bringing the most innovative and successful digital promotions to market with them. And they can always say, 'Do fries come with that Lily Allen download?'"

EMI Music UK Head of Business Development Giles Harris believes that "this program illustrates perfectly how EMI continues to break the mold, by working with new partners in new ways to tap into fresh revenue streams and promotional opportunities for our artists. It's what we call 'special sauce.'"

Added VerveLife Director of Media Licensing Barry O'Connell: "We are thrilled to have the opportunity to share EMI's amazing catalog of music with millions of consumers through the trusted brands that are part of their everyday lives. What goes better with a cheeseburger than an Interpol track?"

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

2007 marks the 40th anniversary of the release of the Beatles' landmark album, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Rated as the number one album of all time by Rolling Stone, here are some facts about the album, courtesy of BBC News:
  • This was the group's eighth album.

  • The album was recorded at Abbey Road studios and took 129 days to complete.

  • The album was to be played from start to finish in one sitting.

  • It was the first Rock album to win a Grammy for album of the year and best contemporary album.

  • The front cover was designed by Sir Peter Blake.

  • Photos of Hitler and Jesus were deleted before the final printing.

  • The lyrics to "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite" were taken almost word for word from a circus poster John Lennon bought at an antique shop in England.

Yahoo Music has inked a deal with NBC Universal's USA Network that will allow them to cross promote music by unsigned artists. Here's how it works: Yahoo will send data on artists who are popular on their streaming radio site to the USA Television Network who will then ask the artists to make licensing deals and will use their original music for upcoming USA Network programming.

Country superstar Trisha Yearwood has signed with Big Machine Records after being with MCA Nashville. Trisha's debut for the new company is expected in early 2008.

In a story that almost seems too bizarre to be real (but it is), one of the items that went up for auction at a recent Julien's Summer Sale at the Beverly Hills Hotel was an undated bottle of the antihistamine drug Naldecon, prescribed to Elvis Presley by Dr. George Nichopoulos who had been treating The King since 1967. Darren Julien, president of the West Hollywood auction house said that the pills were very old and heavily discolored. Did anyone buy these things to actually take them? There were four other Presley items up for grabs.

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