Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Ugly Truth About Today's A&R

A&R has always been one of the most misunderstood aspects of the music industry. Heck, a lot of people don’t even know what A&R stands for (Artist and Repertoire, taken from the days where an A&R's job was to link songwriters up with a performing artist).  In the past, the most commonly known aspect of an A&R's job was discovering unsigned talent and getting them a record deal, which was partially true.  Today, you don’t even have to leave your couch to discover new music, but musicians still salivate at the thought of getting their music discovered by an A&R rep.  Truth is there aren’t that many major record labels anymore, meaning less A&R Departments, meaning an even less chance of being discovered by one of them.  It has been said by many in the industry that in the digital age, A&R is dead.  However, like most facets of the music business, the digital age has merely transformed it.  Now there is a new definition of how A&R works.
Back in the “golden years”, A&R used to serve as the middleman between the artist and record label and work very closely with the artist.  They would discover a band, convince the record executives to sign them, find the band a record producer and studio, and help develop many aspects of the artists career such as style, promotion and marketing.  Today, thanks to the internet, most of that can be done by the artist themselves.  Recording hardware and software is cheap, accessible. Marketing and promotion can be done through social media websites and digital distribution, and now every major player in the business wont even acknowledge you unless you already have some self-made clout. So now, who is an A&R rep for?  Record labels?  Artists?  Do A&R's even exist anymore?
The answer is yes. Although there are a lot less major labels, the power of an A&R rep is diminished, and the web has provided an easy way to discover music. These labels still have a few A&R reps that have new methods for discovering new artists, and are used to filter through the watered-down internet. In the independent label world, old school A&R is still used, and actually still a very relevant way to scout new talent. The best example of this is indie label XL Recording's discovery, development, and utmost support of Adele a few years ago. She is still with XL, and is very successful. Other than that, the face of A&R has changed so much, most wouldn’t even recognize it anymore. Many have been saying that music supervisors are the new A&R people. Music supervisors are the ones whom, most of the time, are selecting music for film, tv, and video game projects (among other duties). Some 90% of the music placed in these projects come from unsigned, independent artists, and many have been discovered and launched successful careers by this approach.
Others have said that another new form of A&R is websites and blogs.  The Artic Monkeys were the first band who’s career was greatly impacted by MySpace support. Incredibly popular music blogs have a lot of pull and can serve as the new “gatekeepers.”  A blog like Brooklyn Vegan, one which is viewed by millions a month, can essentially make or break a new artist simply by featuring an artist on their homepage. Other sites like Yahoo music helped launched Katy Perry and the Plain White T’s, and sites like YouTube offer an excellent platform for videos, and are debuted on a weekly basis. YouTube has also expressed that they are not just in it to just throw any old artist up, and hope for the best. The label department of YouTube actively seeks out artists that they actually believe in.
Music publishers have also been thrown into this new A&R conversation as well. Long before Coldplay was signed to Capitol Records, they were affiliated with BMG music publishing who provided funds for recording and even shopped the band to labels. Chrysalis Music Publishing is also building a reputation for really getting behind and pushing their artists into the spotlight, setting an example for other companies to follow.

Drake Passes Jay-Z For Most Number One Songs On The Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Chart

Drake gets a boost from 2 Chainz to become the official chart topper.

With 2 Chainz "No Lie" track landing at number 1 this week, Drizzy found himself ahead of Jay-Z with 10 number hits on the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Chart. Jay-Z currently sits in second with nine number ones.

R. Kelly Cancels Concert Cruise ...

R. Kelly just pulled out ... of his highly anticipated act aboard a cruise ship ... telling TMZ it's all because the company couldn't cough up the cash they originally promised.

If you didn't know already ...  a company called Concerts Cruise LLC hired the singer to headline their "Love Letter" cruise ... where he agreed to play two shows during a five-day trip in October, sailing from Miami to the Caribbean.

But now RK is singing a different tune ... he just axed his involvement with the shindig claiming the promoter (Concerts Cruise LLC) never actually paid him. 

A rep for the singer tells TMZ, "R. Kelly had been looking forward to the cruise and was ready, willing and able to perform for fans. He is sorry for any disappointment but plans to see his fans very soon on a U.S. tour."

Concerts Cruise sent an email to customers informing them of the cancellation and saying they will "handle all applicable refunds at point of purchase."

Ne-Yo Makes It RAIN

On Drake's Naked Ex

 Ne-Yo dropped an AVALANCHE of singles on Drake's ex-girlfriend's naked body Wednesday night ... a chick who happens to be a VERY famous stripper ... and TMZ has the pics.

Sources tell us, Ne-Yo burned roughly $5,000 at the famous Diamonds strip club in ATL -- a large portion of which was spent trying to impress a certain Maliah ... a famous stripper who dated both Drake AND Sean Kingston.


Go ahead, Google her.

We're told Ne-Yo had a great time -- but the fun ended in the club ... Ne-Yo's engaged ... and Maliah has taken a self-professed vow of celibacy.

Nate Parker on His First Spike Lee Joint, 'Red Hook Summer,' and Loving Brooklyn

Nate Parker has been preparing himself for the moment he could work with Spike Lee ever since his started acting back in 2001.

So, of course, he jumped at the chance to work with Lee in his latest film, Red Hook Summer. He prepared for his role as Box, a drug-dealing gang leader and wannabe rapper, by spending time with members of the Bloods gang in Brooklyn.  

He spoke about Red Hook Summer, relating to young men like Box and why he’d never take a role that requires him to wear a dress.  

Congratulations on your first Spike Lee joint.
NATE PARKER: It feels like a homecoming. When I first started in the game, I knew there were certain people I wanted to work with. Spike and Denzel [Washington] were at the top of my list. When I finally met them they both impressed me with their humility and desperation for the community to grow and be better. So to be working with Spike Lee – it doesn’t get better.    

Red Hook Summer is set in Brooklyn. What were your first thoughts of Spike’s beloved borough?
PARKER: My first thought of Brooklyn is always pride. There is a respect that goes along with it. Brooklynites are very, very proud of their borough.

You play a gang leader named Box who comes from the Red Hook projects. Did you spend time in Red Hook to prepare?
PARKER: Yeah, Spike asked me if I would be interested in meeting real Bloods. I said, ‘yeah,’ so he got in touch with them. [Laughs] I don't know how or what his connections were, but he made it happen. I pretty much disconnected myself from the crew and just went and chilled with the Bloods. It was interesting because you know I'm from Norfolk, Virginia so a lot of people see me as a square and kind of associate me with the person that I am now. Interestingly enough I identify more with the despondent young man than I do with the articulate polished ones because of where I come from.

So what did you take away from Red Hook Summer as Nate Parker the actor, not Nate, the kid from the projects?
PARKER: It's amazing. The biggest thing that I took from it is the understanding that as young men… before you judge someone for their pants hanging down, carrying a gun or wearing a red shirt, understand that somewhere along the line they were failed. Look at any child and they are a reflection of the leadership they’ve had. So before we can judge we have to understand our part in that.

Your character, Box, is a mean son of a gun…
PARKER: There’s a Box in every neighborhood. He’s just a young man suffering from the disease of impermanence; he just wants to be seen and heard. In Invisible Man, there’s a passage that talks about how he was walking down the street and he starting to figure out his invisibility. A man bumps him and curses him and he ends up beating the man within an inch of his life. When you constantly feel like you’re invisible, sometimes you will lash out just to show yourself, and the world, that you exist. Box isn’t just mean because it’s cool to be mean; he’s trying to survive.

There’s also a power struggle between the young and old here. Bishop Enoch (Clarke Peters) believes the church has all the answers. Box doesn’t agree.
PARKER: It’s the whole idea of survival. If you don’t feel like you’re going to be around tomorrow what’s the point of going to church? What’s the point of having hope or a goal? If we’re gonna deal with progress as a community, we have to deal with mind, body and soul. We deal with the spiritual aspect, yeah, but we also need to deal with financial literacy and credit. There are so many things that we have to deal with on the micro level before we pull ourselves up by the bootstraps.

Besides acting, you’re also a self-described activist.
PARKER: I consider myself an activist first. If I were to gain all the money in the world, but the people in my community fail, then I’ve failed. One day I will be on my deathbed, and all I’ll have to reflect on is the impact I’ve had on the community and I’ll have to answer some questions. I think my platform right now is really the Black male initiative. I’ve committed to seeking corporate sponsorships of young men in the community and giving 100 scholarships to attend Wiley College through the 100 Men of Excellence initiative. [Editor’s note: Parker’s debut starring role in The Great Debaters was based on students at Wiley College, a historically Black college.]

So now you’ve played a gang member in Red Hook Summer, a Tuskegee airman in Red Tails. What roles would you like, or not like, to tackle?
PARKER: I’d love to play Nat Turner. What I would never play? Anyone wearing a dress. We just need more images of me. We’ve been emasculated physically, metaphorically too many times for me to support it. For me, that’s where the line stops.

Red Hook Summer is in theaters this Friday, August 10

Where Venture Capital Money Is Flowing In Music

Where Venture Capital Money Is Flowing In Music
-- It's ironic that Warner Music Group now gets 25% of its recorded music digital revenue from some of services that were supposedly off limits to venture capital. The company announced in its earnings call it gets a quarter of its digital revenue from subscription services and on-demand video services in addition to webcasters like Pandora.    

Streaming (and download) services that require licenses are supposed to be a black hole for venture capital. "You're going to see most of the funding for digital music go away," Venrock partner David Pakman predicted at the Billboard Music and Money Symposium in March 2009. Plenty of other venture capitalists share Pakman's sentiment that digital music just isn't a good investment. Are they right?

There's no doubt many investors have steered clear of this class of company while putting money into license-free startups. But look at the hundreds of millions of dollars that have been raised since March 2009 by Spotify, Mog, Deezer, Rdio, Guvera, FreeAllMusic, and Beyond Oblivion. That's not to mention the money invested by corporations such as BSkyB in its digital music service, Sky Songs.

They can get money but they rarely deliver. Beats Electronics acquired Mog for $14 million after receiving roughly $25 million in funding from a litany of major venture capital firms such as Menlo Ventures as well as Sony BMG and Universal Music Group. Earlier in 2012, Beyond Oblivion folded before it could even launch ( it was reported that half its $88 million of funding was contingent on unmet goals). And although terms have not been disclosed, it seems highly unlikely Best Buy's $121 million acquisition of music subscription service Napster in 2008 made a profit when it was sold to Rhapsody late last year. Over time, these poor returns could be more of a deterrent than licensing and legal issues.

But it may be a moot point. Download and on-demand services are increasingly the domain of large retailers, technology and telecom companies that can afford the upfront costs and can bear some losses if there are gains elsewhere. Venture capital firms may have to look elsewhere.

Three additional areas of the music business continue to look good for investments: radio, ticketing and artist services. Check out the millions that have recently flowed into ticketing. Ticketfly announced two weeks ago it raised another $22 million of funding, putting its total at $37 million. Eventbrite hasn't raised any money in 2012, but it raised $50 million in 2011 and $20 million in 2010. Ticketbiscuit raised an undisclosed amount in late 2010.

Radio is a perennially hot area. TuneIn added $16 million to its first round of $6 million of funding. Miami-based Senzari has raised $3 million and operates in the U.S., Brazil and Spain; it launched in December. And, of course, Pandora had a successful public offering in 2011. Radio services don't require negotiated licenses, so they're more palatable for investors.

Artist services companies -- which don't require licenses with rights owners -- are numerous and well funded. In January, SoundCloud announced $50 million and Moontoast announced $6 million; BandPage (formerly RootMusic) announced $16 million last August. Crowdfunding platforms Indiegogo announced $15 million in June -- I wouldn't be surprised to see more funding in the crowdfunding arena. 

The direct-to-fan segment is one to watch, direct-to-fan platform Nimbit CEO Bob Cramer says. Cramer might be a bit biased, of course, because audio production technology maker PreSonus acquired Nimbit earlier this year. The deal was a bit of a rarity -- plenty of companies get investments, but far fewer take that next step and are acquired and allow earlier investors to cash out. Neither company disclosed the terms of the deal. Cramer declined to comment as well. But he speaks highly of the Nimbit-PreSonus combination and says the market will go through a lot of competition and consolidation in the coming years.

"I still think direct-to-fan is in its infancy right now," he tells

CD Sales Growing at CD Baby
-- The CD may be considered as good as dead, but CD sales are growing at distributor CD Baby. The Portland, Ore.-based company revealed this week that its CD sales are up over the previous year.

"We've been distributing MP3 albums since 2004," president Brian Felson said in a statement. "But we're still seeing robust sales of compact discs in the independent community -- and this year, our CD sales are actually up!"

The uptick in sales appears to be a result of improved distribution. CD Baby attributes its CD success to its recently formed partnership with distribution giant Alliance Entertainment; partnerships with resellers in Argentina, Brazil and Taiwan; and more accurate listings. CD Baby noted that its increase is only in the "low thousands of units," but an increase is still an increase.

The broader trend for CD sales is not so rosy. U.S. CD sales were down 13% through Aug. 5, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Warner Music Group's global physical revenue is down 12% in the nine months ending June 30 (from the company's Aug. 9 earnings release).

I figured CD Baby isn't the only place where CD sales are on the upswing, so I moseyed over to Bandcamp. I counted 155 new CDs for sale at Bandcamp this week alone from independent artists. It stands to reason so many independent artists wouldn't be manufacturing CDs if there weren't a market for them, right?

But Bandcamp CEO Ethan Diamond couldn't say with certainty whether or not Bandcamp CDs are following a trajectory similar to that of CD Baby. And while he said physical sales continue to increase, this could be a result of organic growth or new features such as the merchandise section added Aug. 1.

On a side note, Diamond sent me a link to an Aug. 3 post at the Atlantic with a breakdown of revenue sources of musician Zoe Keating. Diamond sent me the link because Bandcamp was the second-biggest slice on the pie chart: 30% of Keating's $84,385.86 earned from Oct. 2011 to Feb. 2012. iTunes made up a majority of her revenue (56%) while physical (10%) and digital (3%) sales at Amazon were the only other major tranches. Streaming services, Internet radio and terrestrial radio provided just a small bit of revenue. The Atlantic summed it up this way: "Keating made 97% of her revenue through people just buying her music, whether through physical sales or digital download."

Will Diddy Be The Next American Idol...Judge?

The New York Post reported that Ciroc's biggest fan, Diddy, is up for a spot on the famed American Idol judges row. Can the man that launched so many careers continue to call the shots on future talent's potential star power? Read on:

"Could Sean Diddy Combs be a judge on American Idol? We hear producers at the Fox show have reached out to the Bad Boy Records founder and rap mogul. Idol has an open seat on its judging panel after Steven Tyler opted to leave the show (it recently hired Mariah Carey to replace Jennifer Lopez). Fox had no comment, nor did Combs rep. We hear Combs will host a party at a private villa in Ibiza this week. Hamptonites still talk of Combs epic white parties from summers past."

Think Diddy still has the chops in the music department? One thing is for sure, if he's on the panel that show will be must watch TV. Imagine the side-eyes given by both Diddy and Mariah when an act sucks...classic.

Sanya Richards-Ross Lands Reality Show on WE

Four-hundred meter Olympic gold medal winner Sanya Richards-Ross is heading to TV. The athlete is letting cameras into her personal life, reports

Set to air later this year, the behind-the-scenes show will take a closer look at her life with husband and Super Bowl champion Aaron Ross and her "inner circle." Cameras will capture Richards-Ross' mother Sharon who acts as her agent, her father Archie who works as her manager and her sister Shari who is her business partner.

The yet-to-be-titled series was filmed in Austin, Texas weeks before she packed up and headed to the Olympics in London.

Although the series will feature portions of her Olympic training, it's unclear if cameras have been following her in London.

Will you be watching this reality show when it hits airwaves this fall?

The Lakers Add Superman To Make Their Own Super Team

Dwight Howard is now a Los Angeles Laker, according to ESPN. He will be sent there in a four-team trade involving the Philadelphia 76ers and the Denver Nuggets. Somewhere right now, Shaq is furious, as he knows the move from Orlando to L.A. will force the comparison between the two 'Supermen' to continue.

Here are the terms of the trade that will reshape the landscape of the NBA: 
Lakers: Receive - C Dwight Howard, F Earl Clark, G Chris Duhon from Orlando
Nuggets: Receive - SG/SF Andre Iguodala from Philly
76ers: Receive - C Andrew Bynum from LA, SG/SF Jason Richardson from Orlando
Magic: Receive - SG Arron Affalo, PF/SF/C Al Harrington from Denver, C/PF Nikola Vucevic, SF Moe Harkless from Philly, Denver 1st-Rounder (2014), Philly 1st Rounder (2015), LA 1st-Rounder (2017)
As of now, it seems that Howard will finish the 2012-2013 season without extending his contract so that he can become a free-agent on July 1, 2013. That will give him time to decide whether or not he's comfortable in L.A. If he decides to go elsewhere after this season, it will most likely be the Dallas Mavericks.

Dallas was part of Dwight's three-team-list (Brooklyn, Dallas, Los Angeles) he was willing to go to last season, and they will have the necessary cap space to sign him.  

This trade has made the Los Angeles Lakers the NBA's super team of the West - David Stern couldn't spite the Lakers two years in a row - like when he blocked the Chris Paul trade for it being irresponsible and 'creating super teams in the NBA.'  

Kobe Bryant was reportedly ecstatic that they were able to pull off the trade without giving up Pau Gasol. The Lakers now projected starting lineup is PG Steve Nash, SG Kobe Bryant, SF Metta World Peace, PF Pau Gasol, and C Dwight Howard. They'll also have PF Antawn Jamison coming off the bench. That's a lineup that can only maybe be competed with by Oklahoma City or the aging San Antonio.

The East of course will have the defending NBA Champs in the Miami Heat and Chicago, with a hopefully healthy Derrick Rose. Other than that, there's a decent Indiana team and Philadelphia that now has Andrew Bynum and Jason Richardson. Although Philly has not yet spoken to Bynum or his representatives and he hasn't said anything about them signing him long-term. 

One source said:
"The Sixers are willing to take a shot (without Bynum's commitment)." 
The presence of Dwight moving to L.A. paves the way for a Kobe vs. LeBron Championship final - super team of the West vs. the East - the two greatest players in the game. No doubt everyone would be watching. 

Hopefully this matchup happens this year. But if not, Dwight will have to resign with L.A. and get it done while Kobe is still Kobe. The man is a legend, but he's 34-years-old and not getting any younger. It would be a real disappointment if this move were to happen without leading towards an NBA Championship matchup of the two most elite squads the league has to offer.

The trade has been completed and been approved by Commissioner David Stern and therefore has the potential to steer the direction of the entire league for several years to come. If not, at least us fans can breathe now that the Dwight Howard saga has finally come to an end. Congratulations on getting what you wanted, Dwight!
For the 2012-2013 season, here's a list of a few important games as well as a link to their full season's schedule from
December 2: vs. Orlando
January 17: vs. Miami
February 10: @ Miami
March 12: @ Orlando
 Full Schedule Click Here.

Elle Varner, Colt Ford Heading for Top 10 on Billboard 200

Singer/songwriter Elle Varner is on her way to a better-than-expected bow on next week's Billboard 200 albums chart. Her debut album, "Perfectly Imperfect," should start in the top 10 of the tally as industry sources are projecting it may sell between 25,000 and 30,000. That number is about twice as much some forecasters initially thought the 23-year-old's set would sell.
The RCA album sports the hit singles "Only Wanna Give It To You" (featuring J. Cole), "Refill" and "I Don't Care," which respectively reached Nos. 20, 10 and 69 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. The latter is Varner's current single, and rose 80-69 on this week's chart.

Garcelle Beauvais and Jamie Foxx Team Up for New Movie

It looks like one of our favorite TV couples is reuniting for a brand new movie!

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Garcelle Beauvais and Jamie Foxx are reuniting to play the First Couple in an upcoming film, White House Down.

Directed by Roland Emmerich, the film follows a Secret Service agent (Channing Tatum) who springs into action when an out of control paramilitary group storms the White House.

White House Down is set to begin filming this fall in Montreal.

It's been a long 11 years since we've seen Beauvais and Foxx acting together. The duo made their mark in The Jamie Foxx show from 1996 to 2001.

Do you think the chemistry is still there as they take on the president and First Lady in this new action thriller?

Missy Elliott On New Aaliyah Album: "I Had No Clue There Was One."

Like the late great Aaliyah once stated, we need a resolution—at least when it comes down to who's actually producing on her upcoming posthumous album.

In the latest update, Missy Elliott currently has fans scratching their heads after denying any knowledge of a new Aaliyah album, let alone producing on it.

She responded to a fan's congratulations tweet on helping form Aaliyah next album by tweeting, "I had no clue there was one no 1 told me...". This comes the same day that Aaliyah's cousin, and head of her label Blackground Records, Jomo Hankerson confirmed Missy and Timbaland's involvement with the project—even stating the existence of an unreleased song featuring Missy herself.

The tweet (seen above) was later deleted from Missy's timeline, so maybe she just spoke prematurely. We certainly hope that everyone can come together and represent Baby Girl the right way.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Oprah recently sat down with RiHanna; Sneak Peek

Oprah: How Rihanna Surprised Me... 

Oprah recently sat down for an interview with Rihanna that was truly mind-changin

Riding around her native country of Barbados, the former talk show host’ notions of the pop star changed after realizing how open and honest she was.

"I'm super duper afraid of the pedestal that comes with fame," Rihanna tells Winfrey during their discussion.

While the full episode isn’t scheduled to air until August 19th, check out a sneak preview of their conversation below.


VP Promotion, West Coast Operations & Adult Music at RCA

Yesterday (Aug. 9), RCA Records announced the promotion of Wendy Goodman to Vice President Promotion, West Coast Operations & Adult Music. Previously, Goodman acted as Vice President, Adult Music.

With this new position, Goodman will continue her work in the adult music sector, but also take on overseeing the operations of the promotion team and field staff on the West Coast.

She is based in Los Angeles and will report to Joe Riccitelli for her new responsibilities. For adult music, Goodman will continue to report to Adrian Moreira.

"Wendy's vast experience, both field and national, makes her a perfect match for this newly created position. Her relationships with our staff, radio and managers is second to none. I am really excited to see her excel in this new role," said Riccitelli in a statement.

Goodman began her work for the RCA family in 2000, when she joined J Records as Southwest Regional Promotion Director in Dallas, TX. She then moved to Los Angeles, where she has held the positions of Director, then Vice President of Adult Formats. Throughout her career, she has helped to launch radioplay for artists such as Maroon 5, Kelly Clarkson and Gavin DeGraw.

Jessica Simpson's Dad, Joe Simpson, Arrested!

Joe Simpson, the father of pop star/designer Jessica Simpson, was arrested for DUI in L.A. last week.
According to TMZ:
According to law enforcement sources, 54-year-old Joe was busted on Ventura Blvd. in Sherman Oaks on August 4. 
We're told LAPD cops pulled Joe's car over around 10 PM ... and during the stop, officers got the feeling he was intoxicated and ultimately cuffed the famous pop and took him to the pokey.
Joe was booked and spent the rest of the night behind bars. He was released without having to post bail at 9:41 the following day.
Joe will not get any jail time, but a hefty fine is expected. Jessica and her NFL hubby Eric Johnson are new parents to an adorable baby girl named Maxwell.

Disrespectful? Congressman Calls President Obama "Son"

Congressman Joe Walsh (R-IL) calls President Obama "son"

After four years in the White House, many still can’t accept President Barack Obama as Commander-in-Chief. The disrespect continues, this time coming from Illinois Republican Representative Joe Walsh.

At a Sunday BBQ in his district, Walsh called the president “son” and said he wanted to “pat him on the head.”

Here’s what Walsh said about Obama:
“There’s something different on the ground, and I think it’s going to overtake us all again, think it’s going to overtake the political class…I think it’s going to respectfully pick this president up and pat him on the head and say, son, son, son, Mr. President, you were never ready to be president, now go home and work for somebody and find out how the real world works.”
The blatant disrespect is nothing new to the President, and he has said countless times that he just brushes it off his shoulders.

Take a look at Walsh going at Obama:

Religious figures denounce Rep. Walsh’s comments on Muslims, demand apology

Christian and Jewish figures in Chicago joined a coalition of Muslim groups Friday in denouncing a comment by U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.), who told a town hall gathering Wednesday in Elk Grove Village that some radical Muslims in this country are “trying to kill Americans every week.”
Let's look back

The following is a REPOST
Racist Congressman Joe Walsh Says Black People Are Dependent On The Government

Congressman Joe Walsh is at it again. The noted Tea Party representative continues to use his platform for evil, and in his latest remarks, accused black people of mooching off the government. During a speech in Schaumburg, Ill., the Chicago native attacked the Democratic party for allegedly encouraging Hispanics to follow the lead of black people, by leaning on the government for support.

"The Democratic Party promises groups of people everything," he said. "They want the Hispanic vote, they want Hispanics to be dependent on government, just like they got African-Americans dependent on government. That's their game."

His audience of followers sat intently as he also took aim at Jesse Jackson, stating that were it not for black people's dependency on the government, the civil rights activist “would be out of work.”

Walsh is becoming famous for his racist views. Earlier this month he remarked that President Obama was only voted into office because he's black.

Jeremy Lin Skypes Upset 5-year-old Knicks Fan

Devout "Linsanity" fans are still salty over Jeremy Lin's departure from the New York Knicks to the Houston Rockets, including 5-year-old Naim. 

His father posted a video of him crying over the news of his favorite player leaving, and it received 30,000 views. One of those viewers was Lin. After seeing it, he arranged a Skype call with Naim and his family to answer any questions they had for him. 

Lin told Naim, who has dreams of joining the NBA, to continue rooting for the Knicks with or without him.

Google Search to Start Targeting Copyright Violators

The new policy, meant to promote high-quality media sources on the web, won't banish sites like entirely -- but they will turn up much lower in results.

In a bid to steer Internet users to higher-quality video, audio, images and text on the web, Google beginning next week will push links that most likely contain content that violates copyrights lower in search results.
The effort should thrill the creators of TV shows, movies and music that have long complained of Internet pirates who illegally post their content on websites they have no control over and, therefore, earn no money from.

Google said in a blog post Friday that sites receiving a large number of valid copyright removal notices will continue to be listed during a search, though much lower on the results page.

GoogleAn example of some of the sites that could be negatively impacted by Google's new policy are,,, and

The new "signal," the latest of more than 200 already used in Google search algorithms, will apply to all of the sites the Google index touches, which amounts to an estimated 30 trillion unique URLs.

"The ranking change," senior vp engineering Amit Singhal blogged, "should help users find legitimate, quality sources of content more easily -- whether it's a song previewed on NPR's music website, a TV show on Hulu or new music streamed from Spotify."

In a statement, the MPAA cautiously applauded the move.

“We are optimistic that Google’s actions will help steer consumers to the myriad legitimate ways for them to access movies and TV shows online, and away from the rogue cyberlockers, peer-to-peer sites, and other outlaw enterprises that steal the hard work of creators across the globe. We will be watching this development closely – the devil is always in the details – and look forward to Google taking further steps to ensure that its services favor legitimate businesses and creators, not thieves.”

The RIAA on Friday called the new policy "a potentially significant change" that it has been "urging Google to take for a long time."

"Google has signaled a new willingness to value the rights of creators," the RIAA said in a press release. "That is good news indeed. And the online marketplace for the hundreds of licensed digital services embraced by the music business is better today than it was yesterday."

Young Jeezy Named SVP, A&R at Atlantic Records

Last night the internet went wild with reports that Young Jeezy had just been named senior vice president of A&R at Atlantic Records, and this morning those rumors were confirmed by the rapper himself.
Taking to his Twitter page, Jeezy acknowledged his new position -- in a message that was also retweeted by Atlantic, though it has since been deleted -- by saying "From the streets to the Boardroom. SVP of A&R at Atlantic Records I am. Let's Get it!"

The news was reportedly broken by DJ Greg Street of V103 out of Atlanta, and was confirmed by Jeezy's production coordinator DJ Folk last night.

Jeezy's latest album, TM103: Hustlaz Ambition, came out last December on Def Jam.

Atlantic Records could not be reached for comment at press time, but will update shortly.

Doobie Brothers' Michael McDonald Sues Warner Music Group Over Song Royalties

King & Ballow's Richard S. Busch continues his assault upon the major label tradition of paying standard artist royalties for downloads instead of a 50% licensing royalty. The attorney has filed a lawsuit on behalf of Doobie Brothers singer Michael McDonald against the Warner Music Group in the U.S. District Court of Middle Tennessee in Nashville.
The suit alleges that WMG has "failed to correctly account and to pay McDonald for masters licensed to third-part music downloaders." The damages amount is to be determined by the suit, but the filing alleges that it is expected to exceed $500,000. Busch began attacking the label royalty payment policies on behalf of Eminem's former production company, F.B.T. Productions. The company filed suits against Universal Music Group in 2007 and 2008 for alleged underpayment of royalties. The suit argued that UMG should've treated sales of digital downloads and mastertones of Eminem's music the same way it would treat a master license. In cases of a master license use, the artist and F.B.T. would be entitled to a royalty rate of 50% of net receipts, rather than the traditional 12%-20% rate on retail sales of music.

A federal jury rejected F.B.T.'s claim, but an appellate court overturned the ruling and the U.S. Supreme Court last year declined UMG's request to review the decision. Since then Busch has filed separate similar suits on behalf of the estate of Knack drummer Bruce Gary, Peter Frampton and Kenny Rogers.
This latest suit goes a step further by alleging a conspiracy among record labels to deprive artists of their proper royalties for the licensing of master recordings for sale or distribution by third-party downloaders. The suit claims that the conspiracy could not exist if any one label accounted for and paid licensed download royalties correctly.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Warner Music Reports Mixed Quarterly Financials

Warner Music Reports Mixed Quarterly Financials

UPDATED: The music major, owned by Len Blavatnik, posted lower revenue, but its loss narrowed, and digital revenue in the recorded music unit offset physical declines.

Len Blavatnik-owned Warner Music Group on Thursday reported mixed quarterly financials.
The music giant posted a loss of $32 million for its fiscal third quarter, compared with a loss of $46 million in the year-ago period.

But revenue declined 5 percent to $654 million amid unfavorable foreign currency impacts. Assuming constant currencies, revenue was down only 1.2 percent.

Recorded music revenue dropped 5 percent as music publishing declined 4 percent. Major recorded music sellers included Linkin Park, Jason Mraz and Germany’s Die Toten Hosen.

WMG said its digital revenue rose 13 percent, or 16 percent assuming constant currencies, to $230 million. It said digital amounted to 41.5 percent of total recorded music revenue in the quarter.

"There were several bright spots in our results for the quarter,” said WMG CEO Stephen Cooper. "In our recorded music business, strong growth in digital revenue more than offset the decline in physical revenue on a constant-currency basis, showing the promise of the industry’s transformation."

Madonna Gives Support To Russia's Imprisoned Pussy Riot at Moscow Show Despite Threats of Violence

MOSCOW (AP) -- Madonna has expressed support for the jailed members of Russian punk band Pussy Riot by donning a ski mask and scrawling the group's name on her back.

In March, two weeks before Vladimir Putin won Russia's presidency for the third time, members of the female band high-kicked and danced in Moscow's main cathedral, singing "Virgin Mary, drive Putin away!"
The three now face seven years in jail in a case that has outraged human rights groups.

Madonna voiced support for Pussy Riot at a Tuesday night concert in Moscow, saying  the band had "done something courageous, I think they have paid the price for this act and I pray for their freedom." She later exposed her bare back, which had "Pussy Riot" written on it, to the audience and put on the black mask, the band's symbol.
She went on to sing her 1990s hit, "Human Nature."
Earlier in the day (Aug. 7), the U.S. Embassy in Moscow and the U.S. Consulate General in St. Petersburg issued a warning  for U.S. citizens in Russia planning to attend Madonna's concerts in Moscow or in St. Petersburg (Aug. 9). The information has been shared with Russian authorities, who have indicated they will add increased security to the events.

Full Statement From the U.S. Embassy:
U.S. Embassy Moscow and U.S. Consulate General St. Petersburg

August 7, 2012

This is to alert U.S. citizens in Russia who are planning to attend the Madonna concerts in Moscow on Tuesday, August 7, or in St. Petersburg on Thursday, August 9, that the U.S. Consulate General in St. Petersburg has received information regarding a threat of physical violence against spectators and performers at the St. Petersburg concert on August 9.  The U.S. Embassy in Moscow and the U.S. Consulate General in St. Petersburg have shared the information with appropriate Russian law enforcement authorities.  Russian authorities have indicated to the Embassy that they are taking appropriate measures in light of this information.  While we expect that enhanced security measures will be put in place at both concerts, U.S. citizens are reminded to remain vigilant regarding their personal security, and to be aware of their surroundings at all times, especially in crowded areas.

Randy Travis Arrested Naked For DWI, Threatening Cops

DALLAS (AP) -- Randy Travis was charged with driving while intoxicated and threatening law officers after the country singer crashed his car and was found naked and combative at the scene, officials said.

It was the second Texas arrest this year for Travis, who was cited in February for public intoxication.

A Pontiac Trans Am registered to Travis, 53, had driven off a road west of Tioga around midnight Tuesday, said Tom Vinger, spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety. The vehicle had struck several barricades in a construction zone, according to DPS.

Vinger said Travis made threats against Texas Highway Patrol troopers and was not wearing clothes at the time of his arrest. He refused sobriety tests, Vinger said, so a blood specimen was taken.

Travis was released on $21,500 bond Wednesday morning pending an appearance before a judge in Sherman, about 60 miles north of Dallas. Blood test results are pending.

Grayson County Sheriff's Sgt. Rickey Wheeler said Travis faces charges of retaliation or obstruction in addition to driving under the influence.

"Travis had a strong odor of alcoholic beverage on his breath and several signs of intoxication," according to a statement from the sheriff's office. "While Travis was being transported, Travis made threats to shoot and kill the troopers working the case."

A Travis representative said there would be no immediate comment on the arrest.

Travis in February was charged with public intoxication after being spotted in a vehicle parked in front of a church in Sanger, about 20 miles from Tioga, where the entertainer lives.

He also has been involved in messy court proceedings with his ex-wife. Travis was divorced from Elizabeth Travis in 2010 after 19 years of marriage.

Earlier this year, Elizabeth Travis, who had been his manager for more than three decades, filed a lawsuit claiming that Randy Travis made it impossible for her to do her job and terminated her management contract without proper notice. She said her ex-husband sent several men, including an armed guard, to clean out her offices.

Randy Travis countersued in May, accusing his ex-wife of divulging confidential information about him in order to damage his reputation and career. The court documents don't say what information Elizabeth Travis is alleged to have betrayed.

Harry Belafonte on Capitalism, Media Moguls and His Disappointment With Jay-Z and Beyonc

At the Locarno Film Festival to pick up the Golden Leopard Honor Award, the singer and actor also talks about his fears of a Fourth Reich and why Mitt Romney shouldn’t be president.

Harry Belafonte, at 85, is as active and activist as ever. At the Locarno Film Festival, despite walking with a stick, he couldn’t be kept from introducing the films the festival screened in his honor, especially Otto Preminger’s Carmen Jones, which he said "put me most on the map of the world." Belafonte at one point called himself "the greatest actor in the world who always pretended to be a singer.“
The festival’s career honor is only his second-ever acting award, so Belafonte said he regarded it as a sign of "global recognition“ of his political activism, which was evident as he used the occasion to take a stand against unbridled capitalism and talk about his new film projects, one of them about the Arab Spring.
The Hollywood Reporter talked with Belafonte about his activism, views on U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney and what he sees as this age’s biggest enemy.

The Hollywood Reporter: Your acting career is less known than your singing career. What does an Honor Award from a film festival mean to you?
Harry Belafonte: Such awards, coming from culture and societies where I do not linger, are a validation that there was a global receptivity to the fact that I have taken a stand against war, taken a stand against racism, sexism and so on, throughout the years. While at home some people would want to crucify me because of my political position, I am also being honored for what I do, and that validation is extremely important.

THR: Has the world changed for activists like you?
Belafonte: Definitely. Back then, the enemies were very clear, very precise. It is easy to fight oppression if it comes in [the form of] a swastika and a boot, and as a dictator, and you can see it and feel it and touch it. It is easy when there is a sign that says "No N-----s“ or "No Jews.“ Where it becomes the most insidious is when it buries itself and you can no longer touch it but can taste that yet it is there, fully blown, doing insane mischief. That is why I think the period now is the most challenging I’ve ever lived in. The power in many societies has become almost absolute. Those who have the power in the free-enterprise system start to crush societies and create wars that are unholy. What we did during the Bush period, what we still continue to do, even with Barack Obama, is the continuency of not changing the paradigm, of not changing the view. We still have laws that encourage torture, we did not change Guantanamo, we have laws that allow the police to arrest you at any time, not having to tell you why, and take you wherever they want. This kind of capitalism is taking us to the doorstep of [a] Fourth Reich, I think.

THR: Would you want Mitt Romney to become the next U.S. president?
Belafonte: Only if I would like to see the end of civilization. No, absolutely not. Mitt Romney is not my cup of tea at all.

THR: Can you pin down what the enemy is nowadays?
Belafonte: Unbridled capitalism. The concentration of money in the hands of a very small group is the most dangerous thing that has ever happened to civilization. We are facing an oligarchy of force. Just look at who controls the press. We all witnessed how money and power squeezed out all essense of Rupert Murdoch and [Silvio] Berlusconi. Thank God for social media, which aids transparency. But even that becomes more and more restricted now, with companies like Facebook buying up all the roots of this technology. But I am currently involved with two documentaries, one Leadbelly: Legend, Life, Legacy and the other Another Night in the Free World, which I am shooting now for about five months. It is globally looking at the youth movement during the the Arab Spring, looking at what happened in Cairo and Tunisia and now in Syria.

THR: Back to the occasion of the award for your acting career. Are you happy with the image of members of minorities in Hollywood today?
Belafonte: Not at all. They have not told the history of our people, nothing of who we are. We are still looking. We are not determinated. We are not driven by some technology that says you can kill Afghans, the Iraqis or the Spanish. It is all -- excuse my French -- shit. It is sad. And I think one of the great abuses of this modern time is that we should have had such high-profile artists, powerful celebrities. But they have turned their back on social responsibility. That goes for Jay-Z and Beyonce, for example. Give me Bruce Springsteen, and now you’re talking. I really think he is black.

Aaliyah's Family Working Through Issues to Release Album

As the confusion remains at an all time high regarding Aaliyah's upcoming posthumous album, the late singer's family has given an update to Hot97's Miss Info. Yesterday, she reported the album was being worked out by her family.

A high-level source at Blackground Records (run by Aaliyah’s uncle Barry Hankerson and cousin Jomo Hankerson) sent us this message:

“Let them know that it’s family stuff that we’re working thru now but Aaliyah’s mother wanted us to do this!“
Stay tuned for updates on this developing story

Zynga COO Leaves Company

Two weeks after Zynga reported lousy quarterly financial results, sending its stock price into a tailspin, the company has revealed in a regulatory filing that COO John Schappert is resigning as an executive and board member.

News of Schappert's resignation comes a week after insiders said he was being partially blamed for an atrocious quarter and had been stripped of some of his duties.

Schappert was one of the more seasoned video-game executives at Zynga, having been lured to the maker of Facebook and other social games via a hefty pay package reportedly worth north of $40 million. Previously, he was with Electronic Arts.

Late last month, Zynga, the maker of "Words With Friends" and "Draw Something," reported a second-quarter profit -- after certain items -- of a penny, missing Wall Street's expectations of 6 cents and causing the stock to plunge after the closing bell.

On Wednesday, Zynga shares were trading at $2.95 apiece, down 71 percent from their December IPO price of $10 and off 42 percent since its second-quarter financial report.

Ri Ri a No No...

While all relish in Rihanna's "bad gyal attitude" and lavish lifestyle via her Instagram account and Twitter timeline, Nivea is all but pleased.

Though the skincare company employed the Bajan beauty for their 2010 campaign using Loud's, "California King Bed", according to the company's new CEO Stefan Heidenreich, Rih Rih isn’t a good fit for the company anymore.

"Rihanna is a no go ... I do not understand how to bring the core brand of Nivea in conjunction with Rihanna,” Heidenreich said to German newspaper Welt (according to Google translate). "Nivea is a company which stands for trust, family and reliability."

Rihanna made time to speak her mind and posted a picture of Heidenreich on her Twitter timeline with the words "No caption necessary."

Though Heidenreich’s objections are noted, the pop singer has yet to officially lose her endorsement.
Tags: Nivea, Rihanna

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Ice Cube Talks About Making It In Hollywood

In the new issue of the Source magazine, Ice Cube is featured on the Hip Hop Hollywood list. 

Ice Cube gave advice on how to break into the movie business. Here's what he had to say:  

"Well, I don’t really look at it as being 'Hip Hop in Hollywood,' you know what I’m sayin’. I look at it as just a filmmaker trying to make movies ... you gotta break it down to it’s rawest form or you’ll play mental tricks on yourself. Eveybody has a story to tell out here, everybody needs money to tell it, so you have to break through all that and make sure that you’re seen and heard, that your projects are taken serious, so that’s the fight ..."

"To get a movie together you have to deal with a lot of people, things got to come together, so when you see a good project you should jump on it and work on it because good projects just don’t come around. If you’re a person who says, “I do gangsta rap, I only want to to gangsta movies,” I’d probably only do 3 or 4 movies in my career if I had that attitude, so you gotta jump on good projects, you know, and make them better, or make them dope or get them made and just go for it."