PreDaTor News: Clarkson Charts Big, MUSIC Alliance, NARM, Christian music, XM Satellite Radio, Nirvana...
No, I didn't care much for "American Idol" winner Kelly Clarkson talent wise, but who can argue with sales? The overnight sensation notched the biggest one-week U.S. sales total for a single in three years with the two-sided hit "A Moment Like This"/"Before Your Love," which sold 236,000 units its first week out--most since Mariah Carey moved 271,000 copies of "Heartbreaker" in its first week in 1999.
Meanwhile, labels, artists, and music organizations have come together under the aegis of the RIAA to commence a multimedia campaign designed to educate the public that unauthorized downloading is illegal. Called the MUSIC (Music United for Strong Internet Copyright) Alliance, the coalition formed after studies found a woeful lack of consumer awareness regarding the criminal implications of unauthorized downloading.
The campaign's initial thrust involves full-page "Who Really Cares About Illegal Downloading?" ads in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Roll Call-a Washington, D.C. publication distributed in Congress. The ads send fans to www.musicunited.org for informational messages from nearly 90 artists, including Madonna, Missy Elliott, Eminem, Sting, Britney Spears, and Luciano Pavarotti. The multi-million dollar campaign will also include tv and radio spots.
At NARM's first Music Retailing Summit held in Chicago, the trade group's Retailers Advisory Council urged the music industry to bring back the singles format, expand the participation of traditional music retailers and wholesalers in digital music distribution, come up with fresh value schemes for consumers, and increase consumer research studies. On the record company side, the London-based V2 Records has appointed EMI veteran Tony Harlow as CEO of worldwide operations, who takes over as acting group CEO Stephen Navin moves to the U.K. government's Department of Culture, Media and Sport as an adviser on the music industry.
Nashville-based label Universal South is heading into the Christian music genre, having signed singer/songwriter Matthew West and linked with EMI Christian Music Group's Chordant Distribution for distribution and marketing (the label's secular releases will still go through Universal Music & Video Distribution). Warner Music Group is making more than 30,000 tracks available for sale as digital singles in the U.S. and Canada, at first via RioPort, which supplies downloads to BestBuy.com, Musicland Group, MTV.com, SONICBlue, and other distribution partners-with more to be named soon. With catalog tracks going as low as 99 cents (new and hit singles will likely go for $2), the massive roll-out of tracks, which can be burned to blank CDs and transferred to portables, is seen as a major boost to the commercial digital music marketplace.
In other online news, Altnet, the secure file-swapping service that runs alongside the KaZaA peer-to-peer network, is testing its new payment system permitting users to buy authorized downloads for less than $1-though KaZaA users, of course, are accustomed to getting unauthorized music for free.
In radio land, XM Satellite Radio has introduced a boom box-like plug-and-play portable receiver, for the first time taking the new satellite radio format beyond automobile playback. Nashville's Gaylord Entertainment Co., meanwhile, has made a deal with XM competitor Sirius Satellite Radio, which will begin carrying programming from legendary country station WSM-AM--including its live broadcasts from the Grand Ole Opry.
Big news for Nirvana fans: The long and bitter legal war between Courtney Love and the surviving members of Nirvana has apparently been resolved, as Love has announced that the much-anticipated release of rare Nirvana material is finally in the works for Christmas. On Howard Stern's syndicated radio show, Love professed mutual love for her former adversaries and proclaimed that the reason for the surprising rapprochement was "lots and lots and lots of money." She also said that her protracted legal challenge against Universal Music Group over her recording contract is over, too.
Finally, tenor saxophonist Paul Williams, who had a huge instrumental r&b hit in 1949 with "The Huckle-Buck" and later led James Brown's band, has died of cardiac arrest at 87.
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