Saturday, August 18, 2012

K. Michelle Twit Pics!

K. Michelle looking hot in a series of photos she posted on Twitter for the world to see! 

Helpful Tips For Selling More Merch

Selling merchandise is one of the best ways for generating income for your band, and as a matter of fact, it may be the only source of income that you as an artist can make that you can easily control. If you are a touring act, selling merch is often times your livelihood, providing money for food, and gas to get to the next gig. Following these easy tips will help you sell more items at your shows, and will help you get off the road-dog diet of gas station hot dogs and beef jerky. 
The most important thing when selling your band’s merchandise is the location of the merch booth/table and also having a trusted friends run the booth during the show.  Visibility is crucial at whatever venue you are playing. Hopefully, if the venue has a designated area, it is in a well-lit and easily accessible area of the club.  Ideally, you want to be set near the door or near the stage. If the venue doesn’t have a good spot, see if you can work with them, or come up with a creative idea to draw attention.  Make sure you always bring a few small lamps, in case the area needs more light.
Being organized and smart with the quantity of merchandise is also key. Make sure you sure you count all your items with your trusted friends before and after the show.  Make sure you have adequate change, and keep the prices at well rounded numbers like $5 and/or $10.  Keep all t-shirts with t-shirts, all hats with the hats, etc. Try to do your best to organize the items by size and by male/female apparel. The last thing you want is your music contact to be fumbling around looking for a specific size of shirt, especially when the show is over, the venue is closing, and time is of the essence. Be realistic about what you expect to sell.  If you are planning on doing a small tour of only 15-20 shows, there is no need to print 10,000 cds or t-shirts. There would be nothing worse than having a garage full of 5,000 extra t-shirts that say “2006 US Tour Dates” on the back, so make sure not to over order.

Stay updated on current fashion trends. Have your music contacts do research on popular designs or styles of clothing people are currently wearing. When the booty-shorts craze was in, I noticed how smart it was to sell a product with your bands name in a spot where most people are looking anyway. Mind as well capitalize the prime real estate! Also, trends in hats change often, so make sure staying up to date on those especially.

Try to create as much buzz around your merch booth as possible. It is always helpful if you can find a motivated friend that doesn’t play in the band to help out. Think outside the box in order to draw more people over. Hold raffles, give away small items for free like stickers, key chains etc. Offer deals like buy a t-shirt, get a cd, etc. Really try to push the limits on this one. There is a lot you could get away with in a club, but just to be safe, double check with the venue before you try anything too outlandish.
Lastly, fans love items that are tour or album specific. Try selling a previously unreleased track from the album your promoting, and sell it exclusively at your live shows. T-shirts with the name of the city and venue on the back are great because people love to prove they were actually there (but as mentioned don’t over order these). It’s a bit tacky to sell your set list, but coupling your set list with a purchase is appealing to consumers.
A lot of these tips can be applied to selling merch online as well, just make sure your music contacts are heavily promoting the fact that you sell online too. The most important thing to remember with this is to be sure to punctual in sending out orders. No one likes to wait, and if you don’t send the item promptly, you may lose a fan.

Joey Kovar Of MTV's "The Real World" Found Dead

Joey Kovar, known for his televised battle with drugs on MTV's Real World: Hollywood and VH1's Celebrity Rehab has been found dead.

TMZ reports,
Joey Kovar -- the troubled "Real World" star who appeared on "Celebrity Rehab" -- was found dead at a friend's home near Chicago this morning ... and family members believe drugs are to blame ... TMZ has learned. Kovar was 29 years old.

Kovar's rep tells TMZ ... Joey was discovered by a female friend early this morning who noticed blood coming out of Joey's ears and nose. 

The woman called 911 ... and authorities rushed to the scene where he was pronounced dead.
Kovar had famously battled drug issues -- and sought help for cocaine and ecstasy during his stint on "Celeb Rehab."

While on "Real World: Hollywood," Kovar entered rehab halfway through the season for alcohol and drugs, admitting he'd struggled with substance abuse for years. It was a pretty powerful moment on the show.

Evelyn Lozada Drops Chad's Last Name

After allegedly being head-butted by her husband, the 36-year-old reality star - who hasn't tweeted in 3 days -has changed her Twitter name from "Evelyn Johnson" to "Evelyn Lozada." The two were only married for a little more than a month. 

Returning back to her maiden name, Evelyn, who filed for divorce from the former Miami Dolphin's wide receiver, seems to be wasting no time moving forward with her life after Chad!

Madonna Faces $10.5 Million Lawsuit Over LGBT Support in Russia

Activists claim 'moral damage' from pop star's recent St. Petersburg show

After Madonna challenged St. Petersburg's gay pride ban at a concert there earlier this month, a group of activists has announced they will file a $10.5 million lawsuit against the pop star for "moral damage," reports RIA Novosti, a Russian news agency. Members of the Union of Russian Citizens, the civil group People's Assembly and the New Great Russia party are submitting the lawsuit today.

"We demand that she pay for moral damage suffered by St. Petersburg residents as a result of her actions during the show on August 9th," a spokeswoman for the Union of Russian Citizens said. "We must defend our right to normal cultural life without propaganda of values and views that contradict the Russian culture."
A lawyer representing the group said the "psychological stress and emotional shock" was felt beyond the show's attendees, claiming many other people were affected by footage of the show and reports on the Internet. "While speaking of tolerance, she abuses the feelings of believers," said Alexander Pochuyev, claiming Madonna's "open promotion of homosexuality" was at fault. The singer handed out handed out pink bracelets and repeatedly showed support for the LGBT community during her set August 9th, despite protests in the city.

The lawsuit adds more controversy to Madonna's MNDA tour: Elton John bashed her earlier this month and called her career "over." She displayed World War II-era footage of the Warsaw Uprising at a tour stop in the Polish capital, in reaction to protests. In July, a Paris crowd booed and call her a "slut" after her 45-minute set at an unexpected show. France's far right National Front party announced they will file a lawsuit against Madonna for her use of Nazi imagery at a tour stop in Paris. She has also canceled the Australian leg of her MDNA tour and was recently sued over an uncleared sample on her 1990 hit "Vogue."

Terry Crews Talks 'Expendables 2,' Being An Action Hero and Working With Hollywood Elite

There's more to Terry Crews than a Vanessa Carlton song and Old Spice commercials.

What about your character is going to shock people this time around?
Terry Crews: The big thing is the black guy doesn’t die. I’m just going to say that right now. I’m putting that out here. There’s no spoilers here - I ain’t dead! That’s the shocker. 

It’s not a horror film, so…
Yeah exactly. But still! Look, I’ve been in action movies where the brother always gets one. What people are going to be surprised about is the scale of the movie because the first one was really kind of a happy accident. It was really a hair string budget. People were excited on the Internet about it and then it gained momentum out of nowhere because no one knew everybody wanted those '80s movies back. It just became a monster. That was really what the first 'Expendables' did. Now this thing here is starting off in the monster stage and moving to the mega monster stage. It’s the biggest thing I’ve ever been involved with.

What kind of monster action sequences did you pull off?
We went to Europe and blew it up, and when I say blew it up, we had structures and bridges specifically [built] to blow ‘em up. It blew my mind as compared to the first one. It’s on the scale of a Bond movie where it’s so gigantic and worldwide. Then we went to Hong Kong and filmed some things there. You get the feeling that the whole world is behind this film. 

Describe the moment you realized this movie was kind of a big deal.
I do have one. We were in Hong Kong, and you start to realize what’s amazing and people don’t know [that] in Hong Kong, they’ve been making movies for years. It’s kind of like the Hollywood in the East. When I saw these stunt men come out of nowhere and start climbing up and jumping up on cables and Jet Li hitting people with real frying pans and kicking people in the face for real, [the staff] like, "Go, Terry, go!" And I’m like 'Holy cow!' I’m bad but I ain't taking a kick in the face for real. Those guys were the most amazing things I’ve ever saw and I mean there were no nets, no safety stuff. This is how the best do it. 

What was it like working with an iconic line-up of action stars?
[I remember] one of the big things is that we were on this airport tarmac, there we were: Sly, Arnold [Schwarzenegger], Bruce Willis, Dolph Lundgren, Jason Statham, Randy Couture, myself, Chuck Norris, all shooting at Jean-Claude Van Damme. That was one shot. And I literally said we are witnessing something that will probably never ever happen again in the history of movies. These guys are all the status of kings. Modern celebrity has kind of taken the place of kings and queens. These are people who in the most remote parts of the world [where] they know who they are. To see this all at once and me being a part of it, it was surreal. It was my 12-year-old dream coming to life. You really can’t quantify and put it on a plaque. It’s mine and no one could ever take that from me. Sly has made sure, and this is what I appreciate about him, he literally told me, “Terry, you take your place. You belong here. You are ready.” He basically anointed me as this action star.

How did everyone's fighting styles gel together?
We never trained together. What we did specifically was work on everybody’s style. Randy Couture is a martial artist; he had a wrestling style about it. I had big powerful giant moves, giant punches and kicks, and I had my gun, which is this AA12 [that] is a character in the movie all to itself. Each character had different specialties. Jason is the slick smooth European. Dolph was just crazy. We didn’t work together because he didn’t want anyone to have their own styles. We were all individual creating our own looks and styles and we had to have the workout that went right with it.

For those who may not have seen the first, what's the scope of the storyline?
The Expendables are for-hire and don’t have really any affiliation. [In the opening,] we're invading and had to free one of our own from being taken hostage. I don’t want to tell too much of the story but that’s what we do. It just goes to all those 'Dirty Dozen' flicks, a throwback in every sense of the word but reinvented.

How do the new characters fit in?
Liam [Hemsworth], Mr. Hunger Games, brings the youth to the set because we’re all over 40 [years-old]. Liam was awesome. He had to prove himself. Everybody in the original 'Expendables' went through a lot of things. Even me with the NFL background and Randy with the MMA stuff and Dolph was in action movies for years, we’re like, 'Who is this kid?' And Liam walked right in and killed every scene. He’s from Australia and understands you got to come in and prove it. He didn’t come asking of anything on a handout and nobody took it easy on him. He had this gigantic gun because he’s a sniper. They made him run up the hill about 25 times but he never quit. We were waiting for him to be like ‘I’ll be in my trailer’ and get angry. He never did. He earned all of our respect that day. 

How about the only female on deck - Yu Nan?
Yu Nan is the female everyone’s been waiting to see. She’s from China and she was a killer, one of the toughest women I ever seen in my life. As a guy group, we didn’t feel like a girl could even really fit in but Yu Nan wouldn’t take no for an answer and always came through. She’s already been a huge star in China [and now] the West is ready to see her.

What’s in it for the lady viewers?
All the women are going to love Jason and Liam. Everybody knows. I tell everybody we’re the ugly crew. Not too much sex appeal over here. When Liam touches those screens, the world is going to swoon. 

In what parts of the world was the movie filmed in?
You’ll get some very interesting time in these caves in Bulgaria, which have never been filmed before. We used Bulgaria for two months [and] blew the country up. They were 20 years out of communism and love the action movie genre. We also filmed in New Orleans and some parts of Hong Kongs.

Any final words?
'Expendables 2' is more of the same, but bigger!

Sesame Street' holding open call

Popular children's show looking for a new Latino character to join the eclectic cast
By // Mariah Craddick

As children, many of us wondered how to get to Sesame Street. Well, now a select few will actually have the opportunity to find out first hand. The producers of Sesame Street are looking for a new Latino character to join the eclectic cast.

On Monday, Aug. 20, there will be an open casting call at New York’s Roseland Ballroom. Hopefuls should be bilingual speakers in English and Spanish and between the ages of 18 and 25.

The long-running children’s show has had a history of introducing characters of diverse backgrounds, debuting the memorable Maria (Sonia Manzano) and Luis (Emilio Delgado) in 1971.

Though the specifics of this new character would depend on the chosen actor or actress, producers are looking for someone with a good sense of humor who is comfortable with improvisation, according to the Associated Press.

The 44th season of Sesame Street will focus on Hispanic heritage.

Date: Monday, Aug. 20, 2012
Location: 239 West 52nd Street, New York
Time: 10am-2pm

Kelly Rowland to Star in BET Comedy Pilot

Kelly Rowland is turning her attention to acting these days. The talented vocalist and former Destiny's Child singer will star in a brand new BET comedy pilot, What Would Dylan Do.

The show focuses on Dylan, who's an L.A. relationship blogger, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Dylan lives with her best friend, Cherise, played by Gabrielle Dennis of The Game, and recently divorced and wealthy roommate, Brooke, played by Melanie Liburd of Strike Back.

However, Dylan's ex-fiancé, played by Grey's Anatomy star Brandon Scott, comes back in the picture and leads Dylan to question if she ended her relationship prematurely.

Dylan won't be Rowland's first time in front of the camera. She has several titles under her belt including, Think Like a Man, Single Ladies, Girlfriends, Eve and 2003 horror flick, Freddy vs. Jason.

Go Kelly Rowland!

Michael Phelps Could Lose Olympic Medals for Louis Vuitton Ad

Trouble could be in the near future for Olympian Michael Phelps.

Late last week, photos by famed photographer Annie Leibovitz of Phelps taken for fashion house Louis Vuitton surfaced on the internet. Athletes promoting non-Olympic sponsors from July 18 to Aug. 15 violate the International Olympic Committee’s Rule 40.

The rule states "a competitor or a team may lose the benefit of any ranking obtained in relation to other events at the Olympic Games at which he or it was disqualified or excluded; in such case the medals and diplomas won by him or it shall be returned to the IOC," meaning he could be stripped of his London medals.

The campaign was set to officially release Aug. 16 in order to be in compliance with the rule. Both Leibovitz and Phelps’ camp denies leaking the photograph.

It appears to be out of both parties’ hands, so hopefully he’ll get a pass.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Our platform will allow artists the opportunity to intimately interact with their fans, gain exposure and sell their entertainment or creativity as an experience.

This is the new destination for singers, rappers, comedians, dancers, live bands, directors, actors and fashion designers to network and discover each other's work to collaborate or just enjoy. 

"Here, we teach artist to become a brand, then build on creating strategies that they utilize to monetize themselves. PMG always will be a spot for diverse artists because we have opened up the playing field and will be the the go to guys the major A&R scouts will come to select the rising superstar. Our website will provide upcoming artists opportunity to showcase their talent by submitting video, audio or pictures in which their fans can view." or 'PMG' is a media based website for our members who will include upcoming artists (musicians, comedians, thespians, models, poets, and short film directors) and their fans.

Is Bow Wow Unhappy With Cash Money?!

After his new record was pushed back countless times, the rapper formerly known as Lil Bow Wow is pissed! The former child star took to Twitter last night to air out his frustrations with his Cash Money label.

Bow Wow tweeted:
Doing everything on my own. No help from nobody. Going to radio dolo going to da clubs fuk’n with dh’s doll. So when i win im thankn myself. Shit so fucked up maaan. I swear. Im tryna stay focused but its like at this point ‘fuck that album’ and fuck a release date. Im doin shows. On tours my shows is sell’n out. Im able to feed my fam and do what i do. Thats whats important. Dis album has fallen 9th place on my list.
via Rhyme With Snitch
Bow Wow should hardly be surprised, because there has been a long history of talented artists forced to battle against their labels, Cash Money Millionaires Baby and Slim Williams not excluded. 

We're not sure of the specifics of the sitch, but unfortunately for Bow Wow, this is 2012 and the only people that truly care are his bank account, his entourage and himself. Bow Wow, strap your boots on and make it so they can't ignore you!

Check out Christina Aguilera's heavily altered 'Voice' promo pic

Christina Aguilera is looking pretty good in the new advertisement for her NBC singing competition, "The Voice." Perhaps a little too good.

The photo is, to paraphrase many an Internet commenter, a bit too perfect (just check out this candid photo of Aguilera at a recent press event). Regarding the promo pic, a commenter over at writes, "Well duh of course she looks good. Photoshop fixes everything." Another posted: "Nice Spanx."
But it's not like Aguilera is the first celebrity to undergo a little digital alteration. Supermodels do it. Britney Spears did it, but then released both the pre- and post-airbrushed photos so folks could see the differences for themselves. Beyonce's skin tone underwent an odd transformation between two magazine covers.

And the airbrushing doesn't stop there. The cover of Adam Lambert's "For Your Entertainment" album is so clearly processed that it borders on the bizarre. In one case, an ad for Lancome featuring Julia Roberts was banned in the U.K. for too much photo manipulation

The thing is, though, the subject of the photo is in trouble either way. Take, for example, the case of Sarah Palin. Palin's photo on the cover of Newsweek was not digitally altered, and people were rather shocked to see that she looked like a regular person with flaws and wrinkles.

Digital alteration isn't always about celebs. One unfortunate example came from Target Australia. The male model in the shot appears to have three hands. One of our personal favorites came from a wedding where the father of the groom wasn't able to make it on the big day. The bride inserted her father-in-law into the wedding photos, with no attempt to be subtle.

RedOne Talks Cash Money Venture, Working With Slim and Baby, New Signings

In the wake of RedOne's new label deal with Cash Money, many thought the hitmaker would be signing on as the label's in-house producer. But the man behind the boards for top 5 smashes like Lady Gaga's "Just Dance" and Jennifer Lopez's "On The Floor" (featuring Pitbull) is embarking on a joint venture with Cash Money to build some of the signings from his 2101 label, including Mohombi and Talkback through the combined forces of his background as an artist and producer and Ronald "Slim" Williams and Bryan "Birdman" Williams backgrounds as some of the most successful label heads in the music business. spoke to RedOne about the terms of his partnership with Cash Money, his philosophy on building artists, and knowing a worldwide hit when he hears one.

How did your Cash Money deal come about?
RedOne: Cash Money and I go back a few years now, and we've been admiring each other's stuff, and I really respect and like the way they do it. It's been mutual the whole time. We've been like "We gotta work together, we gotta work together. We have to find some projects." We both felt like we could complete each other's work, like it'd be the ultimate combination of both worlds. It worked really, really well.

We started with Mohombi and then it went back. He was my first signing on 2101 Records, and he's been having many, multiple No. 1's all around the world and has over 200 million views on YouTube and Vevo. He's been all over the world, and this is my first time working with him. To work with Cash Money is like giving him the ultimate platform that he needs. Then there's Talkback from Cleveland, and they're this rock-pop trio. They have this single called "Last Laugh," and it's having a really, really great reaction from all over the Internet. That's our first project together for Cash Money.

Are these two - Mohombi and Talkback - signed to 2101 or Cash Money?
It's a joint venture, so it's both of us. Mohombi is 2101, he's my first signing on 2101 Records, so now he's gonna be 2101/Cash Money. We're working on this project together, and the same thing for Talkback. So this is the beautiful thing about this. All the articles that said RedOne signs to Cash Money as a producer, it's wrong, we are two labels getting together and using our expertise and our hits and artistry and knowing what an artist needs and giving them the platform that an artist needs.

I love their personalities, Slim and Baby, they're such nice people and they understand how to build a project. It's not just record a single and put it out, it's about really working the project, and that's what we want to do, build for a long career. And of course I've worked with them with Nicki Minaj, with "Pound The Alarm," we've proven we can do good stuff together in terms of getting the right songs and the right artists.
How do you pair artists with songs?
It's easy. I'm a music fanatic, I just love music. It's not like a personal thing; if I see something is not working for the artist, even if I am the one who [wrote] it, I'll find another hit from somebody else. It's different than writing a song as work for hire, because then you just focus on writing the hit for that person and that's it. But when it's your artist, you always want to deliver the best, but if somebody gives you an incredible song that fits the artist, that goes first.

I just love hits. When I hear a hit people see it in me, I'm very passionate, I go crazy, like a kid:. "OH MY GOD, THIS IS CRAZY!" That's how I am (laughs). And if a hit is a hit, it's not just about me me me me, it's about what's best for the artist.

What about a song makes you say, 'that's a hit!'
Honestly, it's about catching the world's ear, and I think I have a really good sense of the world's ear, because since I was a kid I've been traveling the world, I listen to music from all over the world, and I just feel like "oh my god." It's easy to remember. The simpler it is to get across, the bigger it can get. Some people tend to complicate songs, to complicate music, but music is beautiful, and all the biggest hits, all the classics, are the easiest ones that are just straight to the point, that give people what they want to hear, because not everyone is very educated musically. Not everybody understands jazz, but everybody can dance to Rihanna. You don't have to think to like something. You just have to get into their brain or heart or blood, and suddenly they're moving. So that's very important to me. I know the formula, I know how it feels, and when I get that feeling I just know it.

But sometimes I'll have a hit, but I'd keep them for two years, until it was the right situation and I can give it to an artist and it becomes the biggest number one in the world. "On The Floor" by J. Lo (which peaked at No. 3 on the Hot 100), I had that for two years on my computer before it came out. Everybody said to me "this is going to be the biggest number one." I just felt the world was shaking. And I was waiting for the right moment, and then boom, Jennifer Lopez wanted to work with me, and I was like 'oh my god, that's the song.'

Will you be working with other Cash Money artists?
The love is there, of course, they're my friends. I was working with Nicki before we closed the deal, and we did four or five songs. It's not even a question about it -- if they need me, I'm there for them.

Zoe Saldana Replaces Mary J. Blige in Nina Simone Biopic

There's been a casting shakeup regarding the upcoming Nina Simone biopic.

Mary J. Blige was originally slated to play the late music icon, but due to funding issues she's "moved on," according to The Hollywood Reporter. Zoe Saldana will take her place.

Simone's illustrious 40-plus-year career began in 1959 with Top 10 hit "I Loves You Porgy" and in the years to come she would produce more than 40 albums. Not only was she known for her music but her passion for politics and Civil Rights. In 1993, she left America and relocated to Southern France where she lived out the rest of her days. She passed away in her sleep in 2003.

It's unclear if Simone's entire life will be captured or just select portions.

Despite previous bumps in the road, production is set to begin on October 16 in Los Angeles. The script for the film was written by Cynthia Mort and will be produced by Mark Burton, Barnaby Thompson, Stuart Parr and Ben Latham Jones. The biopic will also co-star David Oyelowo as Simone's assistant and manager Clifton Henderson.

Saldana could not be reached for comment regarding her new role.

Benzino Gives His Thoughts on Evelyn and Chad's Divorce

It's hard not to have an opinion on the drama that's unfolded in the public eye between Evelyn Lozada and Chad Ochocinco.

In a recent interview, Bossip consulted Love & Hip Hop star Benzino to play love doctor and offer his thoughts on the reality couple's domestic violence dispute.

"I think the Chad Johnson and Evelyn situation is where reality TV has to be careful because eveyrbody wants a marriage," said Benzino. "If you're not gonna marry someone, really in love with someone and have that spiritual, physical, emotional connection with somebody, it's not good to go into a marriage situation based on money, fame because all that does is put two people together that are eventually going to get frustrated because they have to be with each other."

The media mogul goes on to say that it adds pressure on the couple to act a certain way in front of the cameras. (cc: Karlie Redd)

New Report Predicts Digital-Vs.-Physical Tipping Point That Already Happened

Being a day behind the news was acceptable before the rise of the Internet and the 24-hour news cycle. But there's really no excuse for being a year behind major forecasts and trends.

The press has been drawn to a new report by Strategy Analytics that forecasts U.S. digital recorded music revenue will exceed physical in 2012. Unfortunately, Strategy Analytics is predicting an outcome that has already arrived and has been well documented.

According to the IFPI, U.S. digital recorded music revenue exceeded physical revenue in 2011. The IFPI's Music Industry in Numbers 2012 puts the trade value of the U.S. digital recorded music market at $2.21 billion and the physical market at $1.84 billion. If we just take into account traditional purchases and set aside subscription revenue, digital still beats physical $1.95 billion to $1.84 billion.

Exhibit B is the RIAA's "2011 Year-End Shipments Statistics" report. This report, available at the RIAA's "Research" page since March, details an even 50/50 physical-digital split in retail value across all formats in 2011. Naturally it's no stretch to say the U.S. recorded music market will reach a tipping point in 2012 when it was balanced the year before and nearly on a precipice a year earlier (54 to 46). Again, the RIAA is historical data. The media covered this tipping point back in March when the RIAA made the announcement. Needless to say, forecasts should precede, not follow, historical data.

There are always differences in methodologies, of course. The RIAA included performance royalties (from digital services such as Pandora). Take out those performance royalties and physical would have slightly exceeded digital revenue. But in an age when consumers have access to both streaming services and purchases, why leave one out when calculating trends?

The same digital trend is also seen at Warner, whose Atlantic Records division started getting most of its revenue from digital back in 2008. In terms of recorded music, digital beat physical to the tune of $215 million to $188 million in Warner's fiscal quarter ended June 30, 2012. Physical and digital were effectively even in the first calendar year of 2012 -- $229 million for physical (and other) and $222 for digital.

Executives said in the company's last earnings call that digital gains were making up for physical losses. So as you can see, Warner's revenue is well on its way to tipping to digital in 2012.

Strategy Analytics' report has more forecasts, such as a global digital tipping point in 2015. And it has an incredibly rosy projection for a 9% decline in U.S. physical revenue in 2012. With year-to-date CD sales down 13.4%, according to Nielsen SoundScan, and both retail and wholesale prices getting seriously squeezed, a 9% physical revenue decline seems unlikely. 

Strategy Analytics didn't respond for comment at deadline.

Gabby Douglas

LOOKING GORGEOUS!!! Nuff Said!Gabby Douglas at the America's Got Talent post-show event in New Jersey.

Would you eat this Albino Burmese Python? It's sweet and tasty; seriously!

The photo of this Albino Burmese Python looks so real, Francesca Pitcher of North Star Cakes in Kent, U.K., was prompted to add this tagline: "****I DO NOT SELL SNAKES****. This photo is of a snake CAKE made to look like an Amelanistic Burmese Python for a birthday party."

Yes, the snake is a fake. It's a fake snake cake.

Indeed. Just take a look at this real Albino Burmese Python for comparison sake. The fake snake cake has an incredible resemblance to the real Albino Burmese Python, which is one of the six largest snakes in the world with most averaging 12-feet long. But it can grow up to 19 feet, and, if not handled properly, can be quite dangerous.

The only danger with Pitcher's snake, however, is to the waistline.

According to the U.K. Daily Mail, Pitcher's now-6-year-old daughter, Claudia, who loves reptiles, wanted a spooky-themed birthday party. She wanted something that would scare her friends. Pitcher suggested a snake cake.

She regretted that idea immediately, and for good reason. Pitcher has a snake phobia.

From the U.K. Daily Mail:
'At first I couldn't even look at the images of them online but as I kept researching them I realised they weren't so bad and had quite beautiful patterns.

'Once I had got over my phobia I just cracked on with it...'

Over the course of three days, Pitcher spent 12 hours baking and shaping sponge layers, using "a white chocolate fondant with special dye to make the skin and replicate the distinctive markings of the dangerous snake," according to the Daily Mail.

As it turned out, none of the kids at the birthday party were afraid of the snake. Instead, they fought over who was going to eat the head.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Nas and Jay

The past 24 hours have been a living hell for hip-hop heads. Frank Miller Jr. of Rappers I Know stirred up the 'net late last night when he wrote a blog recalling a phone conversation he had with Jay Electronica about ghostwriting Nas' Untitled album.

The 'net really went crazy when highly respected and esteemed hip-hop writer, dream hampton, confirmed on Twitter that "Nas' "Nigger" album was largely written by Jay Electronica and of dead prez ." of dead prez has since released a statement denying the allegations, and now, Roc Nation rapper Jay Electronica is coming out to address the ghostwriting rumors. 

Jay Electronica took to his Twitter to address the ghostwriting rumors surrounding Nas: 
"Nas is one of the Greatest Ever. never has and never will need a ghostwriter. that man’s pen and legacy is without question."
We're glad the ghostwriters in question, Jay Elec and stic, are coming forward to set the record straight.
There still hasn't been an official word from Nasty Nas, but fans should be expect to hear from the Don himself soon. 

MTV Unveils Artist.MTV Pages, Tries to Catch MySpace Napping

If MySpace isn't going to be the online destination for musicians, maybe MTV is up for the job.

MTV unveiled its long-awaited Artists.MTV platform on Wednesday, launching a public beta for artists, managers and labels to claim pages at and populate content. Each page streams music and video, contains video and news and has the capability to sell music and merchandise (via MTV's partnership with Topspin Media). The platform will be open to all artists on September 6.

Individual artist pages are a clean, uncluttered mix of images and links to media. A row of official, live and other videos - called the music section - lies below the masthead (the masthead can be added once the page is claimed). MTV calls this the "music carousel" and says its content can be either audio or video (in either case, it's official, license content and not user-generated stuff). "Our audience just wants a play button," Shannon Connolly, VP of Digital Music Strategy, tells
Further down the page are rows of social media updates, updates from MTV News and other sources, and ecommerce powered by the artist's Topspin account. Nothing here will remind you of complicated, unattractive layout of MySpace. Some pages also have small badges that basically act as endorsements from music blogs (such as I Guess I'm Floating), record stores (Amoeba) music sites (Pitchfork) and radio stations (KCRW). MTV also adds other tags, such as the Buzzworthy badge seen at the Lady Gaga page.

MTV wants users to browse the site, discover new artists and delve into the music scenes of cities around the world. The site has what MTV calls "pivot points" such as hometown, genre and started (the year the artist or band started) at the top of each artist page. Clicking on that field will allow the user to browse according to those pivot points.
The devil will be in the details and execution. During last week's walk-through I told Connolly I found it annoying that a screen full of artist pictures - meant to encourage discovery - didn't include the artist names. The only way to see an artist's name is to hover over the image. But moving the cursor over dozens of images takes far more time - I'd estimate 10 or 20 times more - than simply reading text. As any of the hundreds of millions of Craigslist users will attest, the form should follow the function. Textless browsing remains Wednesday. It looks good, but it's not practical and efficient for th euser. As a result, some fine-tuning may be needed in the early weeks and months. 

MTV wants to be the Internet's landing page for music. With the MySpace re-launch missing in action and Facebook's appeal to artists up in the air, MTV certainly has an opportunity to grab here. There are already some moving parts to work with: MTV already has artist pages that get millions of hits, and it already licenses a lot of video content from Vevo and Warner Music Group. It has the kinds of relationships that can get artists to remain active on their Artists.MTV pages. And, of course, there's the on-air and online real estate. Starting next month, MTV will merge on-air promotion and Artist.MTV pages. 

Mobile, says Connolly, will get a big push. The Artists.MTV app will launch by the end of the year and the site will have a mobile-optimized experience. MySpace does not have a strong mobile presence (and it's been ten months since MySpace equity owner Justin Timberlake infused optimism in people at  Advertising Week 2011). Facebook infamously has an incomplete mobile strategy. That spells even more opportunity for MTV.

Vanessa Bryant Doesn’t Want a Loser Husband

Vanessa Bryant loves her championship winner husband. So much so, that she wouldn’t be married to him if he wasn’t one.

In an upcoming interview with New York Magazine, Vanessa Bryant opens up about importance of winning.
“I certainly would not want to be married to somebody that can’t win championships," she is quoted to have said during her interview. "If you’re sacrificing time away from my family and myself for the benefit of winning championships, then winning a championship should happen every single year.”

Well fortunately for Kobe Bryant, he’s able to hold on to his a wife a little longer. The Los Angeles Laker and member of Team USA won gold in Basketball this past weekend in London. Talk about motivation.

2 Chainz Set for No. 1 Debut on Billboard 200

2 Chainz is headed for No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart.

The rapper's debut studio effort, "Based On a T.R.U. Story," is on course to sell upwards of 130,000 copies by week's end on Aug. 19, according to industry forecasters. That will easily place him atop the Billboard 200 heap next week, as he has little competition standing in his way.

The new Billboard 200 chart's top 10 will be revealed on the morning of Aug. 22.

Since debuting a little over a year ago on the R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart (under his former stage name Tity Boi), the hip-hop artist has notched 10 hit singles on the tally. Of those, two have hit No. 1: his own "No Lie" (featuring Drake) and "Mercy" (credited to Kanye West, Big Sean, Pusha T and 2 Chainz).

The Billboard 200's next biggest bow will likely come from Insane Clown Posse's "The Might Death Pop!," which may do 35,000 or more. The duo's last studio set, 2009's "Bang! Pow! Boom!," debuted and peaked at No. 4 with 50,000, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

Other albums on course for a high entry on the Billboard 200 include Yellowcard's "Southern Air," Slightly Stoopid's "Top of the World" and In This Moment's "Blood."

Are You One of 50K Artists Not Claiming Your SoundExchange Royalties?

SoundExchange has released an updated list of more than 50,000 sound recording owners and performing artists who have yet to register with the organization. Rights owners and performing artists can use SoundExchange's searchable database to register and locate their share of unclaimed royalties. Amounts ranging from $10 to over $100,000 wait to be collected.

SoundExchange collects statutory royalties for the digital performance of sound recordings by webcasters, satellite radio services and cable radio. For ten years it has collected royalties and, because digital services are legally compelled to pay royalties whether or not artists and labels are registered, have struggled to pay out all it has collected. SoundExchange says its list includes $31 million of royalties that are three or more years old.
In addition to making its list of unclaimed royalties public, SoundExchange partners with digital companies to reach out to artists. Recently, BandPage helped SoundExchange pay out $2 million in unclaimed royalties to thousands of BandPage musicians.

Dead Prez’ Dismisses Ghostwriting for Nas: “That Didn’t Happen”

When news surfaced this week that Nas had reportedly used rebel conscious duo dead prez and fabled lyricist Jay Electronica as ghostwriters for his politically-charged 2008 album Untitled (a.k.a. Nigger), it was like the world had imploded. How could arguably hip-hop’s most celebrated lyricist be exposed as a mere puppet. Indeed, veteran journalist and Jay-Z scribe Dream Hampton and Frank William Miller Junior of the Rappers I Know blog co-signed the chatter, with Hampton even claiming to hear actual reference tracks. Since then, both Jay and of dead prez have vehemently refuted such talk. But there’s more to the story.

In an exclusive interview, VIBE caught up with to discuss his and partner M1’s role in the making of Untitled. It’s an illuminating interview that not only captures Nas as a fearless artist, but also underlines hip-hop’s at times muddied view of what constitutes as a producer. For stic, the message is clear. “We were the only three in the studio,” he says of dead prez’ experience with recording with Nas. “So it’s kind of like, well, who are all the people that are saying how the record was created? They wasn’t even there.” Read on.

You dismissed all the talk about dead prez ghostwriting for Nas on your Facebook page. Having produced and contributed to the chorus for “Sly Fox,” what did you make of Dream Hampton’s comment that you did ghostwriting for Nas?
Stic Man: I don’t know. At the end of the day, I just feel like the people who are saying different things about the process of how that record was created I’m wondering, where were you at? To be totally honest, me and M1 went to Cali at the request of Nas. And we would be in the studio together working on stuff with nobody else there except Nas, who would come in and leave. I think people are making assumptions because of the content of the record. It’s gone from the collaboration that we did with Nas, which involved producing, idea exchanging and writing hooks, which is one thing, to us being ghostwriters.

As a producer can you talk about how you approached your collaboration with Nas?

To me, ghostwriting, as far as I know, is hiring somebody to write words for you to actually say. That didn’t happen. The way we got hired for Nas’ project wasn’t clear up front. M1 was in L.A. before I came to L.A. and he was like, “Nas wants to bring you out here to work on this project.” I remembered thinking we were just going to do a song together. But I later found out we were there to work in general: production, writing and ideas to help develop some of the songs on the album. So of course I’m thinking, “It’s called the Nigger album so that means you want dead prez type songs together, right?” But it was revealed to me that Nas wasn’t looking for that. He didn’t want us to rap. He wanted help with beats and concepts. And that surprised me because I’m thinking, “You want beats??? Of all the people to make beats for, you want us to make beats?” I was like, “Wow.”

So this wasn’t the typical guest spot?
No. To me we were there to make whatever contribution we wanted to make. So I was like, “Shit…I’m playing beats, I’m coming up with some song ideas…I’m going to do whatever.” And this is Nas, so I’m going to give my best and give my all. Me and M started making dead prez songs in some of those sessions because there wasn’t a clear direction of what Nas wanted [laughs]. But later on Nas would come in and say, “I know I want to do something that would get at FOX News.” And he would tell us, “Just play me some shit…what ya’ll got?” We are talking about way beyond “Sly Fox.” There was a moment he even expressed interest in signing dead prez to his company. My impression was we were forming a team. That’s how Nas presented it. But as far as the rumors, people are off-base. They are all based on assumptions because of the content that we are more [associated] with than what Nas does.

Can you talk about a specific instance of how a Nas/dead prez song came together?

Even some of the songs we gave input on, in terms of hooks and phrases, it was Nas’ vision in terms of knowing what he wanted. He’s the one that came up with the concept for FOX News. I would have said, “Fuck FOX News…let’s do a song about something else.” [laughs] But this was a Nas project, so that was the box we were put in terms of how he wanted us to input. He wrote his verses. We just brainstormed about different aspects of FOX News (“Sly Fox”). I work 24/7—so as soon as I knew that, I started writing hooks just to present an idea. Because that’s what a producer does.

Do you think the concept of producing in hip-hop equals—make a beat and give it to a rapper to rap over?
Yeah. But when I produce I compare it to producing a film…that was my role on Untitled. That’s what I took away from the tracks that I worked on. But Nas was the director. It was his vision on everything. My job was simple: can you help make this happen whether it was music or concepts. The only thing is they didn’t want [the standard] dead prez/Nas collaboration. They didn’t want to have me and M on the record with Nas. We were there as producers and collaborators.

So there was no period in time when Nas asked you to write a verse for him?
No. Take “We’re Not Alone.” That was a beat and hook that I already had for dead prez’ Information Age album. But because it was Nas we just felt, “Hey, man…let’s just give our best.” He happened to like “We’re Not Alone” and he wrote verses from his own point of view of what that song was about. My view of “We’re Not Alone” was about our connection to the environment and each other. But Nas’ take on the song was different—he was talking about aliens…he took it there. And that’s why I say I was more of a producer than a director because I would have taken that song to a different place.

In the end, what has this whole Nas “ghostwriting” talk taught you?
People don’t understand what [traditional] producing is. I’m kind of still like, “Wow.” I’m trying to understand what’s the big deal and where it’s coming from. It’s weird. I’m like, “Hmmm…what’s going on here?”

Jeff Price, Peter Wells Out of Tunecore

After several weeks of rumors, Tunecore CEO/President Jeff Price announced today that he and Peter Wells have left the company. Price, Wells and Gary Burke founded the company in 2006.

According to sources, the Tunecore board voted to oust Price from his position of president and CEO on July 20, although Price denied to on July 26 that the board had taken that action.

At the time, sources suggested that he had been ousted because the board was unhappy with the company's financials. Others said it might have been because of the spitting contest he got into with Amazon that saw Tunecore titles removed from the merchant's U.K. website for a period beginning in late January. Still others speculated that the board might have been unhappy because he refused to close deals with digital service providers unless they agreed to pay Tunecore the publishing for the music he distributed. While that might have proven lucrative for Tunecore in the long run, in the short term it meant the distributor decided to forego revenues from companies like Rdio, with which it signed a deal just a few weeks ago, after a year of trying to force them to pay publishing to Tunecore.

Over the last month, the Tunecore board of directors did not respond to repeated requests for clarity from

In an email, Wells told "Regarding my leaving TuneCore: I wasn't terminated: my position was dissolved. I'm saddened that, at the time, TuneCore didn't find a way to keep me on board, I know I have a lot to contribute. And I'm dismayed I wasn't given the chance to carve out a place for myself either. But I left with handshakes and good-feeling all around, and Jeff was still very much CEO.

"That being said, I certainly didn't want to go. Now that Jeff's terminated, I'm seeing things in a new light, and I'm deeply concerned. My very first title at TuneCore was 'Customer Advocate' -- something we made up, because we wanted someone at the root of the company ready and able to go to bat for the artist. When my position was dissolved, I at least knew Jeff would still be there to fight for artists. We'll have to see if the company stays with the principles Jeff and I worked so hard to instill."

When told of the reports of infighting and asked when things began to go sour at the company, he continued, "Hard for me to tell. I can say that letting Jeff go came like a bolt out of the blue--there was no foreshadowing I could recognize. From the vantage point of my desk, all I've ever seen was Jeff was working tirelessly (that's normal for him) right up until my last moment, and it's all I heard about until his."

In a report on TechDirt, Wells said:

"Jeff is the heart and soul of TuneCore, and frankly, its brains. No one knows this space like he does, especially when it comes to publishing. ... Why on earth would Jeff be asked to leave? Why now, in the face of so many successes, and on the cusp of doing for publishing what he'd already proven he could do for distribution? It makes no sense."

While Price said in his announcement that "Peter and I look forward to continuing to change the industry on a global scale to the further betterment of artists, songwriters and investors and to issuing our next announcement," Wells was less definite when asked about his plans by "I got to work with Jeff once at eMusic in the late 90s and early 00s, and agains at TuneCore. They do say great things come in threes. I'd count myself lucky if I got the chance again.

"For me, nothing compares to the rush of doing something right. I mean it--my happiest times in business were in the early years of TuneCore, when we felt like we were smashing manacles and building a bridge to freedom for artists. I want that feeling again. Perhaps it'll be in starting my own new company. Perhaps a powerful player ... For now, I'm looking for that opportunity and the right people to partner with to make it happen. If it's Jeff, then watch out, world: we've got a track record together."

2009 Q&A With Jeff Price

At press time, it was unclear who is running the company, although two weeks ago an assistant for one of the directors told she had been working with Tunecore's chief operating officer, who is listed on the company website as Scott Ackerman.

Other sources say that Tunecore's former outside consultant and legal advisor Josh Grier had told them he was taking a bigger role in the company, although one source said he had been telling people that he was running the company. However, that source added that it could have meant an interim role until Price's replacement was named. At press time, neither Grier nor reps for the company were available for comment; Price said he had no further comment at this time beyond the open letter, which follows below. will have more on the situation as it develops.

SXSW Panel Tackles Questions, Perils of Royalty Contracts

Price's announcement came in the form of the following blog post:

An open letter from TuneCore Founder Jeff Price
August 15th, 2012

Peter Wells, Gary Burke and I launched TuneCore on January 25, 2006. Our motto and mission: for artists to "sell their music not their soul."  We envisioned changing the global music industry for artists for the better by serving, not exploiting, them. TuneCore's impact was significant and immediate. It turned the industry on its head by removing gatekeepers, allowing all artists onto the shelves of the digital music services while not requiring them to give up rights and revenue from the sale of their music. It also provided the industry's first transparent royalty system with easy 24/7 real time access. In late 2011, phase two of TuneCore launched with the announcement of its Global Publishing Administration service, allowing any songwriter access to a global publishing administration deal. This first-of-its-kind global pipeline permits all songwriters to access their additional royalties and enforce their copyrights while maintaining control and ownership of their songs.

With our vision, guidance, execution and hard work we made TuneCore the leader in its space as the largest music distribution and publishing entity in the world. From just three people in 2006, TuneCore grew to over 40 employees working out of the headquarters in Brooklyn, NY and the Publishing Administration office in Burbank, CA.

I am announcing today that I am no longer CEO/President of TuneCore and co-founder Peter Wells is no longer working with TuneCore.

Under our tenure, TuneCore took take significant market share away from the traditional major labels. As of July, 2012, TuneCore artists represent over 4% of all US gross digital music sales revenue and have sold over 610,000,000 units of music generating over $310,000,000 in gross music sales. More than four songs a second are sold on iTunes somewhere in the world by a TuneCore artist. Through the execution of the vision and the trust of the artist, TuneCore achieved about 40% of the market share of EMI and 25% of the market share of Universal in regards to digital music sales in the United States.

We were also able to attract artists across the spectrum: from emerging artists to the older legends and the new legends. Artists such as Drake, Soulja Boy, Sonic Youth, Nine Inch Nails, Zac Brown Band, Hoodie Allen, Civil Wars, Lecrea, Boyce Avenue, Kelly, Colt Ford, Ed Sheerhan, Alex Day, Aretha Franklin, Jay Z, Girl Talk, Blood On The Dancefloor, Jason Mraz, Nice Peter, Tiesto and hundreds of thousands more used TuneCore to place number one albums and songs on iTunes, Amazon and many other digital stores, breaking the control of the traditional industry while democratizing it.

Under our leadership, TuneCore changed the global music industry, provided hundreds of thousands of artists access to digital music services, shifted the power of the industry to the artist while administering hundreds of millions of dollars back into their hands under a new model, all while growing the company into a global force.

Peter and I look forward to continuing to change the industry on a global scale to the further betterment of artists, songwriters and investors and to issuing our next announcement.

Yep, Nas Probably Used Ghostwriters On "Untitled"

Remember that horrible feeling you got when you first found out that Santa Claus wasn’t real?
That was the same pain thousands (millions, maybe?) of hip-hop fans endured the other day when news came out that Nas, one of hip-hop’s most celebrated lyricists, didn’t pen most of the lyrics for his last album, the militant-sounding Untitled LP.

Christmas has been ruined.

If you were in some kind of slumber, here is the obligatory summarization of what happened:

1) Veteran writer dream hampton, who has penned work for every publication from The Source (when it was still “The Bible”) to The Village Voice, said while answering a question about Jay-Z making an album like Untitled, that Jay-Z writes what he feels and that, one half of dead prez, and Jay Electronica, largely wrote Nas’ controversial Untitled album, which, if you remember, was supposed to be called Nigger before politics and Wal-Mart got involved.

2. Frank William Miller Junior, a former Hot97 employ, backs up dream in this blog post.

3. The Internet says WTF and forever halts dream's original conversation (about the role hip-hop should play in helping the people, or something like that).

4. Nas fans attack.

5. Jay Electronica and both deny the claims, without really denying the claims. 
6. Nas fans attack.

8. Nas fans attack.

(This whole thing makes me realize how passionate Nas fans are. Where the f*ck were ya’lI at when I try to argue Nas >> Jay-Z or that Nastradamus is a good album?)Essentially, what we have here, if you cancel out all of the noise from Nas Stans, is a bunch of voices yelling. I trust one voice the most, and that would be the most credible one, which is dream hampton.    
Here's an interesting interaction that occurred between and dream hampton yesterday:
For me, the most damning stuff is when dream says: “I heard whole bars you’d written and performed…verbatim by Nas.” A statement like that, coming from a women who has sent 20-plus years building her reputation as a credible person, shouldn’t be discarded. Something like this could tarnish a legacy, forever. Why would she risk it?

I can ignore what and Jay Electronica are saying because, if they are ghostwriters, they are just doing their proper ghostwriting duties of shutting the f*ck up.

The truth is, if they say something about pening Nas verses, there might be legal implications, and the same goes if dream hampton is found lying.

She’s not lying. (And miss me with that she's a Jay-Z-Stan sh*t. Child please, grow up.)

My only gripe with dream: you can't just throw out this nugget, and casually say whatever, just because. We need facts: What songs? Were they entire songs? Etc. I think she’s past the point of ignoring this now.  
As for what happens to Nas if it’s true … nothing, really. We’re talking about the man who made Illmatic and It Was Written, two of the greatest rap albums of all time.

Just because he got help on his fifth best album means little, to me, at least.  Nas’ greatest skill was his ability to flip street narratives, not as a participant, but as a bystander, who’s spent years observing the madness surrounding him. The Untitled album as a project is a complete departure from previous projects, doing away with those street narratives and focusing on racism and the plight of black people.

What I think happened, and I have no real proof, is this: Nas announces that he wants to make this incredible album about the N-word. He sits down to write the album and realizes he might be out of his depth. He calls upon, who, with M-1, has been making these revolutionary songs for years, for help.

I think there are various kind of collaborations, maybe throws him a couple of verses, and, yada yada, we have a Nas album that sounds more like a Dead Prez album.