Friday, June 6, 2014

Ghostface Admits "It's F*ckin' Hard" To Keep Wu-Tang Together

Wu-Tang Clan's Ghostface Killah recently weighed in on the drama surrounding his crew, notably Raekwon initially falling back on plans to contribute to a new reunion album. #FamilyTies

Instead of choosing sides, Ghost acknowledged how much effort and force is needed to keep a veteran hip-hop group together for decades.

"You can't really get mad at it because look at all the groups you know that was from back then. They replace them with new members and some n*ggas die off. That's what happens. So, to try to keep this family together, yo, it's f*ckin'' hard," Ghost said in an interview. "We love each other, but love and business is two different things. You gotta understand. We're men now. We ain't coming in on some Fat Albert And The Gang sh*t like we did early on. We got heads on our shoulders now. We got babies. Some of us is grandparents. So, you gotta make sure your foundation is right. Wu-Tang is the foundation." (Complex News)
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This week, Raekwon admitted business complications had delayed his involvement on a new Wu project.

"I'm happy. I love the Wu-Tang fans. I love my crew," Rae said in an interview. "But it's business. When you got babies, nothing don't count unless it makes sense for them." (Shade 45)

According to a Wu-Tang blog post from last month, a truce between Rae and RZA had been made.

Breaking news : Raekwon and Rza truce : Raekwon scheduled to hit studio Breaking news : Raekwon and Rza truce : Raekwon scheduled to hit studio to complete verses for album : A Better Tomorrow Details coming! (Wu Tang Clan)

Recently, RZA revealed there were two possibilities if the Chef did not take part in the upcoming group release.

"I haven't said this publicly but let me say this," RZA explained in an interview. "The album is slated to come out in July. If we don't come to terms I think within the next 30 days, then this will have to be an album without Raekwon or it'll never see the light of day and that's a very strong potential because I would not want to put out a Wu-Tang album without every alive member available. I can't put Ol' Dirty on it because he's not here physically." (Sports Illustrated)

The Future of Interscope: Iovine Is Gone

Jimmy Iovine’s gone. But the label he helped build isn’t missing a beat.

A version of this article first appeared in the June 14th issue of Billboard Magazine. company is losing one of the biggest names in the business, a genuine titan who has tight personal ties to scores of top-selling artists and has put out many of the highest-grossing albums of the last quarter-century. So you’re freaking out, right?

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Wrong. Jimmy Iovine’s exit from Interscope Geffen A&M as part of the Apple-Beats deal may have robbed the label of its house guru. But the transition to the new chairman/CEO, John Janick, 36, is going about as smoothly as a succession could. That’s due in no small part to Iovine, who saw it coming -- he was in talks with Apple CEO Tim Cook long before word leaked, although the deal ultimately happened "quickly," says a source -- and put a strong plan in place.

In fact, Janick has been “100 percent running” day-to-day operations for at least a year, adds an insider at Universal Music Group (UMG), Interscope’s parent company, and looks to have won the hearts and minds of IGA staffers, while Iovine was crowing that he had set out to accomplish "something that none of his peers had done: find a successor," according to one UMG executive. Indeed, the source credits Janick, who only arrived in the summer of 2012, with propelling Interscope to its first No. 1 ranking among U.S. labels last year. (It tallied a 7.7 percent market share in album and tracks -- albums plus track-equivalent albums, or TEA, according to Nielsen SoundScan.)

That doesn’t mean it’s all smooth sailing ahead. Iovine’s reputation was critical in helping Interscope build its formidable talent base. credits Iovine with convincing The Black Eyed Peas to sign, despite much more lucrative offers from other labels. “Jimmy was like, ‘Look, Will, you can go sign for a million. I’m not going to give you that kind of money — it’s ridiculous. But I promise if you sign with me, no matter how many records you sell, you can always make records with me until you guys get it right.’ ” That kind of personal power may be hard to replace. “When you lose someone of that caliber, it has to have an impact on the company,” says Sony/ATV Music Publishing chairman/CEO Martin Bandier. “It’s like the Yankees losing Robinson Cano.”

And some industry executives question Janick’s hip-hop pedigree, speculating that Interscope could lose traction with rap artists -- one of the label’s strengths through the years. (It has been ranked as the No. 1 or No. 2 rap label in the United States every year since 2009, according to SoundScan.) However, Eminem's manager Paul Rosenberg has faith in Janick's management style, telling Billboard, "[Janick] didn't come in the door telling everybody what they should and shouldn't be doing and imposing his will. Quite the opposite: He's there when you need him and happy to help whenever you ask but he isn't inserting himself just to be present."

Rosenberg is not alone. By seemingly all accounts, Janick, who was unavailable for comment, is drawing rave reviews -- and also is reflecting well on UMG chairman/CEO Lucian Grainge, who wooed him from Warner Music Group, where Janick spent 16 years helming Fueled by Ramen (fun., Fall Out Boy, Paramore).

Warner fought to hang on to Janick, but was outmaneuvered and outspent by Universal, according to multiple sources. “John wanted more and had bigger ambitions,” says a former colleague still lamenting Janick’s exit. “He was smart, detail-oriented and cautious -- he came from indie roots and took his time while wearing multiple hats. He’s someone who’s in the business for the right reasons.”

WMG owner Len Blavatnik and WMG CEO Steve Cooper's initial efforts to rein in executive salaries, which led to Janick walking out the door, could prove more costly in opportunity lost than the salary increase they saved themselves.

In the meantime, the pending acquisition of Beats by Apple and the ascension of Janick with Iovine's blessing heads off a potential messy problem for Grainge. It means that the UMG chairman and CEO doesn't have to deal with the drama of imposing a timetable on Iovine, nor does he have to contend with what some viewed as Iovine's preoccupation with recently launched Beats streaming business while still under the employ of UMG (no doubt the nearly $500 million payout UMG stands to receive from its investment in Beats Electronics would erase any hint of animosity).

Not all industry successions plans have gone so well. For instance, when Vivendi imposed a succession plan on Doug Morris before he was ready to go, it worked out fine for UMG in the long-run, as it was able to maintain its profitablity and competitiveness, but in the short-term, it proved to be messy as Morris bolted to head up Sony Music Entertainment, which ignited tit-for-tat signing wars for executive and artist talent, all of which escalated the cost of doing business.

Indeed, as IGA faces a future without Iovine, Janick can count on one of the more stable management teams in the business, which includes vice chairman Steve Berman, president of promotion Brenda Romano and senior vp of artist strategy, head of business affairs David Cohen and media Dennis Dennehy, all of whom have been at the company for at least 15 years. Says Rosenberg: “A lot of people we’ve worked with since the beginning are still there. It's bittersweet for us. Jimmy's presence will be missed, of course, but Interscope still feels like home."

And with new albums by Maroon 5, Lana Del Rey and Robin Thicke on the horizon, along with U2 and Kendrick Lamar, both of whom are said to be readying releases for the fall, that should help the new boss ease worries about the post-Iovine era.

Rihanna Flips The Script On TLC After Disses W/ Semi-Nude Pics

Grammy-winning singer Rihanna is firing back at music veteran group TLC following jabs shot at her over dicey and NSFW fashion outfits she has worn as of late. #RiRiMad

Following TLC's publicized comments, RiRi relied on her Twitter page to speak out by switching up her Twitter header to half-naked photos of the group.


      Because Rihanna is the queen of Twitter shade, she responded to the criticism by changing her Twitter header to the infamous picture of TLC below. The group has yet to respond to this silent comeback from Rihanna, but we will be sure to update you if they do. The photo of Rihanna's new Twitter header can be seen below. (Complex)
       Group members T-Boz and Chilli took direct aim at RiRi for losing her clothes to gain attention.

      In an interview with Channel 7's Sunrise in Australia, before their Sydney performance, T-Boz said, "Every time I see you you don't have to be naked. It's hard for us to say anything because any time we do, they say, 'Oh TLC must be jealous,' but I call a spade a spade." "We became the biggest selling girl group of all time with our clothes on and that says a lot," added Chilli. "We could go around too with booby cakes out all day long." (The Root)
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      A few weeks ago, RiRi clowned mega celebrity Charlie Sheen courtesy of her Twitter pagek.

      The Anger Management star called the singer out for being rude to his fiancé at a restaurant Wednesday night -- so Rihanna knew she had to come up with something good. Cue the HIGHlarious set of tweets. To top this feud fabulocity off, Ri changed her profile background image to a silly photoshopped picture of Charlie's head on a small body, while she's signing an autograph! You can see that (above)! So many LOLz, so little time! Mr. Sheen hasn't responded to the shade quite yet...but we're sure he'll come around! (Perez Hilton)

      Charlie posted his epic rant toward Rihanna on Twitter a couple weeks ago.

      "so, I took my gal out to dinner last night with her best friends for her Bday. we heard Rihanna was present as well. I sent a request over to her table to introduce my fiancé Scotty to her, as she is a huge fan. (personally I couldn't pick her out of a line-up at gunpoint) well, the word we received back was that there were too many paps outside and it just wasn't possible at this time. At this time? AT THIS TIME?? lemme guess, we're to reschedule another random 11 million to 1 encounter with her some other night...?" (Charlie Sheen's Twitter)

      Monday, June 2, 2014

      EXCLUSIVE//Pirate Bay fugitive Peter Sunde arrested in Sweden


       Peter Sunde, one of the founders of file-sharing website Pirate Bay, was arrested in Sweden this past weekend to serve an outstanding sentence for copyright violations.

      Peter Sunde
      Sunde has been on the run for almost two years since a Swedish court in 2012 found him guilty of breaching copyright laws and sentenced him to 8 months in prison.

      A Swedish police spokeswoman said Sunde had been arrested on Saturday after a raid on a farm in southern Sweden.

      The 35-year-old computer expert was one of four men who co-founded The Pirate Bay, the world's most popular site for the illegal sharing of copyright-protected material. Sunde's arrest came exactly eight years after Swedish police raided The Pirate Bay's servers, kicking off the prosecution of the company's four founders. Of the four, Gottfrid Svartholm and Carl Lundstrom has completed their prison sentences while the fourth defendant, Fredrik Neij, remains a fugitive and currently resides in Asia.

      Svartholm, however, remains in prison, having been extradited from Sweden to Denmark late last year on separate hacking charges. He is being held in solitary confinement and faces up to six years in prison if found guilty.

      Despite this police crackdown, The Pirate Bay has remained active, shifting ownership and the locations of its servers to stay ahead of European authorities. Over the weekend, the site celebrated its “independence day” on the eight-year anniversary of the first police raid.

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      Swedish media reports that Sunde's lawyer, Peter Althin, said he client will likely now serve his 8-month sentence. Sunde fought the ruling against him but his requests were rejected by both the European Court of Human rights and Sweden's Supreme Court.

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      While officially a fugitive from justice, Sunde remained very much in the public eye -- most recently running for the European Parliament as a candidate for the Finnish Pirate Party in last week's European elections. He was the most successful of the Pirate Party candidates but did not receive enough votes to win a seat in Brussels.

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      Sunde was also involved in numerous tech startups in recent years, including the short messaging service (“secret” in Swedish) - reportedly a NSA-proof service – for which he raised more than $150,000 through a crowd-funding campaign.

      Lawsuit Claiming Led Zeppelin Stole 'Stairway to Heaven'

      EXCLUSIVE//Using the Led Zeppelin IV typeface, and including a claim for the "Falsification of Rock N' Roll History," the heirs of songwriter Randy Craig Wolfe have finally lodged a copyright infringement lawsuit against Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and others Led Zeppelin parties over the 1971 song, "Stairway to Heaven."

      Kennedy Center Honors | Washington D.C., Dec. 2
      The complaint -- 43 years in the making --  was filed in Pennsylvania federal court Friday, and it's indeed a colorful one.

      It tells the story of Wolfe (aka Randy California), a guitar virtuoso who was discovered by Jimi Hendrix at the age of 15 and later became the founding member of the band Spirit, which in 1968 released a self-titled album that made Billboard's Top 40 charts. Most notably on that album was a 2-minute, 37-second instrumental titled "Taurus" with a distinctive guitar line. According to the complaint, "Little did anyone know at the time, 17-year old Randy had created what would become some of the most famous guitar work in the history of music."

      That same year, Spirit was touring. The opening band? Led Zeppelin, of course. "Jimmy Page’s use of the Etherwave-Theremin, and other psychedelic-type audio effects which helped give Led Zeppelin its distinctive sound — especially prominent in 'Whole Lotta Love' — was inspired by seeing California effectively use these types of audio-enhancing effects on tour," states the complaint.

      In 1970, the official story of Rock N' Roll History goes, Page holed himself up in a remote cottage in Wales called Bron-Yr-Aur, and by fireside, wrote "Stairway to Heaven."

      "I had these pieces, these guitar pieces, that I wanted to put together," Page would later explain in describing the writing of the song. "I had a whole idea of a piece of music that I really wanted to try and present to everybody and try and come to terms with. Bit difficult really..."

      The song was recorded in London in 1970-71. It was released on an untitled album now known as Led Zeppelin IV. Its introductory passage is now quite iconic -- arguably the one song that every aspiring guitar player tries to learn. See Wayne's World.

      But the trustee now managing the Wolfe estate is taking legal action. See better-late-than-never.
      "Any reasonable observer, when comparing 'Taurus' and 'Stairway to Heaven,' must conclude that—at the very least—significant portions of the songs are nearly identical," the lawsuit argues.
      Judge for yourself.

      Although the complaint admits that "Led Zeppelin is undeniably one of the greatest bands in history, and their musical talent is boundless," it also notes that "this is hardly the first time Zeppelin has been accused of lifting their most famous songs."

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      A chart of 17 allegedly stolen songs is provided. Titles like "Dazed and Confused," "Whole Lotta Love" and "Since I’ve Been Loving You" are sourced to others. Among the allegedly ripped-off are Howlin' Wolf, Eddie Cochran, Willie Dixon and Ritchie Valens. Led Zeppelin is said to have made six settlements (evidenced seemingly by song credits). Other supposed "infringements" prompted no legal actions.

      The plaintiff is demanding statutory damages, defendants' profits, punitive damages plus equitable relief in the form of an order that Wolfe is credited as a writer of "Stairway to Heaven." A footnote in the lawsuit indicates that funds obtained from the lawsuit will go into a trust whose proceeds go to buying needy children musical instruments.

      Below is the full complaint, notably from the same lawyer who just two weeks ago, was sanctioned in a songwriting dispute involving Usher. That lawyer is apparently unaware of the rash of copyright cases targeting font infringement.

      As for Page, the legendary guitarist himself told a French newspaper recently that the claims of plagiarizing "Stairway to Heaven" were "ridiculous."

      Twitter: @eriqgardner


      Wendy & Lisa to Receive ASCAP's Inaugural Shirley Walker Award

      Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman
      Composers Wendy Melvoin (L) and Lisa Coleman attend "SCORE! A 
      Concert Celebrating Music Composed for Television" presented by 
      the Television Academy at UCLA's Royce Hall on Wednesday, May 
      21, 2014, in Los Angeles.
      Vince Bucci/Invision for the Television AcademyAP Images

       Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman will receive the inaugural ASCAP Shirley Walker Award at the performing rights organization’s 29th annual Film & Television Music Awards on June 25.

      Named for the first prominent female film and TV composer, the Shirley Walker Award is given to those whose achievements have contributed to the diversity of film and television music.

      Wendy & Lisa, as they have been known since their days in Prince’s band the Revolution, have been working on films since 1995 when they scored “Dangerous Minds.” Their TV credits include “Crossing Jordan,” “Touch” and “Heroes”; they won an Emmy in 2010 for “Nurse Jackie.”


      "Their music sets new standards for excellence, and their achievements have inspired a generation of female composers looking to follow their lead,” says Shawn LeMone, ASCAP vice president of Film & TV/Visual Media.

      The ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards will be held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel and will honor composers of the top box office film music, the most performed television music and the top video game music of 2013.

      New Digital Music Store to Cater to Theater Fans


      The digital age virtually wiped out specialty theater record stores, where show-tune lovers could happily browse aisles bursting with cast albums and sheet music. Now some entrepreneurs are hoping to bring back such an experience — online, of course.

      This screen image provided by shows the home page to their new digital theater music site.   (AP)
      Monday marks the launch of, which promises to become the Internet's most comprehensive catalog of digital musical theater music.

      The website will have Broadway-related songs, albums and compilations on sale, as well as better ways to search for music, a personal locker to hold all downloads, a player to listen, access to AccuRadio curated Broadway-dedicated radio channels, links to sheet music and several blogs. It will even feature music for2 shows in development.
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      The new, ad-supported site is the brainchild of theater marketing professional Jim Russek, an executive creative director at theater advertising agency AKA-NYC, and Erik Hartog, a Wall Street strategist. They have partnered with 7digital, a fast-growing music and content digital platform with broad licenses with record companies.

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      "Every time I'd go on Amazon or iTunes, what I was looking for was hidden in 25 million songs and it was a long search," said Russek, who with Hartog has spent three years on the project. The result is free-floating location for casual fans and music buffs: "As the specialty music store was on the corner of a side street in a city, we're on every street corner in America."

      While he didn't want to divulge the full costs of the project, Russek said the site becomes viable if it attracts 50,000 users a year, and direct mail invites will soon be going out to 600,000 theater fans. Music prices, which are set by the record companies, are the same as in iTunes — $1.29 for many songs and $8.99 and up for albums.

      Some differences from other Internet locations include that fact that MP3 downloads at will be provided at a bit rate of 320 Kbps, compared with the 256 Kbps at other locations. The creators also have added the production credits for cast albums to allow searchers to find even the most obscure figures. Down the road, they'd like to offer gift cards.

      Russek, who as a young man used to race over to the Colony Record store near Times Square to get recordings or sheet music as a low-level employee of the "Ed Sullivan Show," now finds himself recreating that fabled store, which closed in 2012.

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      "In a lot of ways, that's true," he said, adding that revenue streams will come from the music, banner ads and offers from shows. "We'll try to stay a profitable business so that we don't have to be the online version of Colony going away."

      Appeals Court: Digital Music Store Was Illegal Pyramid Scheme


       A federal appeals court determines that BurnLounge was focused in building revenue through participant recruitment, not through sales of any product.

      BurnLounge, a New York-based company that launched a decade ago, has failed in its bid to legitimize its novel method of selling music. On Monday, the 9th Circuit Court of appeals affirmed a lower court's holding that certain aspects of the e-tailer represented an illegal pyramid scheme. The opinion provides warning to other companies whose success is tied to recruitment rather than products sales.

      The Federal Trade Commission sued the outfit in 2007, three years after BurnLounge began operating a service that allowed its customers to double as independent retailers. Customers could buy different levels of packages and then spend extra to qualify as "moguls." Participants got customized web pages to sell music, merchandise and "right to sell" packages, and if they qualified as moguls, they were given the ability to redeem credits for cash rather than goods.

      The system provided an incentive towards downline recruits. BurnLounge preferred to think of its business model as "concentric retail bonuses" whereby customers in one ring of the hierarchy would sell to those in another. To qualify for bonuses, moguls had to meet certain targets in selling packages and albums.

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      Whether or not BurnLounge's multi-level marketing business constituted an illegal pyramid scheme came down to an interpretation of whether it met the FTC's test of participants paying money in return for (1) the right to sell a product and (2) the right to receive rewards for recruiting others into the program unrelated to the sale of the product to ultimate users.

      The first prong was easily satisfied.

      As for the second, evidence that participants were focused on recruitment included that 96.8 percent of those buying packages became "moguls," and that the moguls themselves bought the most premium packages to drive their bonus returns. Non-moguls were much more interested in basic packages.

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      Then, there was the financial impact of a stipulated injunction. After the FCC raised a red flag about BurnLounge's approach, the company agreed to stop its mogul service. Before the shut-down in June 2007, the company's monthly revenue was at $476,516. By August, revenue had dropped to $10,880. The appellate court says the dramatic decline provides further evidence that participants were most interested in the Mogul program, where it was once possible to earn cash rewards.

      In the opinion that is likely to be closely scrutinized by followers of controversial outfits like Herbalife, circuit judge Morgan Christen also writes, "In practice, the rewards BurnLounge paid for package sales were not tied to the consumer demand for the merchandise in the packages; they were paid to Moguls for recruiting new participants. The fact that the rewards were paid for recruiting is shown by the necessity of recruiting to earn cash rewards and the evidence that the scheme was set up to motivate Moguls through the opportunity to earn cash. Rewards for recruiting were 'unrelated' to sales to ultimate users because BurnLounge incentivized recruiting participants, not product sales."


      Mack Maine Gives Big Update On Lil Wayne's Final LP & Nicki Minaj's "Pink Print"

      Diehard Young Money fans have received a huge update courtesy of label president Mack Maine who revealed a significant detail involving Lil Wayne's Tha Carter V and Nicki Minaj's The Pink Print albums. #WeezyWatch

      Although he would not dish out release dates, Maine did admit Nicki's long-awaited LP would arrive before Weezy's.

      With Nicki's upcoming album having an extremely strong presence last night at Hot 97?s Summer Jam, one had to wonder if this was in fact strategic. When asked if YMCMB had plans to release The Pink Print prior to Tha Carter V, Mack Maine responded, "It will be before Carter V as of concrete date yet." (XXL Mag)
      Nicki recently discussed her upcoming The Pink Print.

      "I think everybody knows how obsessed I am with Jay Z. He's always been my favorite rapper -- him and [Lil] Wayne," Nicki said in an interview. "He did such a great job of creating this Blueprint brand for male rappers, I felt. And I studied a lot of his blueprint, just in terms of becoming a mogul. ... I wanted to be like Jay Z. I felt like with what I'm doing, I want female rappers to be able to pattern themselves with what I've done one day," she said. "And I think the album is soooo classic, it's gonna feel so good and it will probably be one that female rappers will look to as a 'pink print' for years to come." (Power 106)

      //PALACE NEWS//
      A few weeks ago, Nicki said the LP would remind fans why they rode behind her since day one.

      "It feels very uplifting and it feels very soulful," she shared. "It's a great, I feel, indicator of what The Pink Print will feel like in terms of the storyline of that song." The album, due sometime this year, marks a return to her roots. "The Pink Print will remind people why they fell in love with Nicki Minaj," she added. "And I think that needs to be done." (Rap-Up)
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      Recently, the rap star talked about holding her own weight with notable male competition.

      "I do not see myself as a female rapper anymore, I'm sorry," she told MTV News on Monday. "I see myself as a rapper. ... I've worked with the greats and I've held my own with the greats and they respect me - so I should respect myself enough to see myself the same way they see themselves." (MTV)

      Apple Introduces Newest Employee: Dr. Dre

      Apple Introduces Newest Employee: Dr. Dre At WWDC (Updated)
      EXCLUSIVE//Apple senior vice president of software engineering Craig Federighi introduced Dr. Dre as a company employee via telephone during the keynote presentation at the company’s Worldwide Developers Conference. 

      “What time should I show up for work?” asked the hip-hop producer/entrepreneur, joking that he wanted to arrive at the company’s campus in the morning before early-arriving CEO Tim Cook.

      “New employee orientation starts at 9:00, and you don’t want to miss the free t-shirt,” Federighi told Dre in a tongue-in-cheek conversation. The company did not announce a job title for Dre.

      Apple acquired Beats Electronics and Beats Music, founded by Dre and former Interscope CEO Jimmy Iovine, for $3 billion in a deal announced last week.  Dre’s equity stake in Beats was believed to be worth several hundred million dollars, though the exact amount hasn’t been made public.

      Iovine was not introduced, and neither Federighi, Cook, nor any other presenter mentioned Beats by name during the presentation. Iovine has joined Apple as part of the deal, however, as has Beats Music CEO Ian Rogers and chief creative officer and Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor. A report surfaced over the weekend suggesting that Reznor had left the company, but both Beats and Reznor have confirmed that he will remain with Beats under Apple’s ownership.

      The brief telephone exchange with Dre was part of a demonstration of Apple’s desktop-based calling system, one of many new features of its newly updated operating system OS X Yosemite. The Cupertino, Calif.-based company also introduced iOS 8, the newest version of its mobile and tablet operating system.
      “Hey, Doctor, you’re on speaker phone via my Mac,” Federighi said shortly after Dre picked up. “We all want to welcome you to Apple.”

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      “I love a big audience,” Dre replied. “I want to thank everyone there for creating such amazing apps.”

      The new Mac-based phone calling system features desktop caller ID, integrated with incoming calls to a nearby iPhone. Federighi dialed Dre directly from a Mac onstage, using it as a speaker phone.

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      For the iOS 8 update, Apple revealed the integration of song-recognition service Shazam, including functionality within the Siri voice-response system. A tie-up with Shazam had been rumored for months.