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PreDaTor News: Webcaster Aid, Piracy's Consequences, VP Records, digital subscription, Sirius Satellite Radio, MP3.com, Artist Empowerment Coalition...
By Jim Bessman, PreDaTor ProDucTions
(more articles from this author)
2002-10-16
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The House of Representatives has passed the Small Webcaster Amendments Act of 2002, a landmark bill giving small Webcasters who gross less than $1 million a year major discounts in royalty fees paid to labels and artists. The fees cover 1998-2004 and will be tabulated according to a percentage of the stations' gross revenues.

In California, lawmakers heard artists, label executives, and laborers discuss the damage of music piracy to the state's economy. Former Supreme Mary Wilson warned about the prospect of a music historical figure like herself having to beg for money, while hit producer/songwriter Glen Ballard worried that few songwriters will be able to make a living if piracy continues.

With nine months gone by in 2002, Universal Music & Video Distribution continues its U.S. market dominance, with a total-album share of 28.5%, up by two-tenths of a point from the half-year mark and the 26.7% it had at this time last year. The distributor also leads in current albums, with a 30.6% share.

In other record company news, New York indie reggae label VP Records has pacted with Atlantic for its "Reggae Gold" compilation series and any other titles it may fancy, including first release of Sean Paul's "Dutty Rock" on Nov. 12. Tommy Boy Records has launched Tommy Boy Films to create films, original TV series, and DVDs. And New York dance label Strictly Rhythm Records--and its Groovilicious and G2 imprints-has shut down.

BMG Entertainment is the fourth major to license content to the Streamwaves digital subscription service, following Warner Music Group, EMI Recorded Music, and Universal Music Group. Listen.com has a new distribution deal for its Rhapsody subscription service with Verizon Online DSL, adding to its previous broadband distribution pacts with Charter Communications, DirecTV Broadband, and Time Warner Cable's Road Runner.

Staying online, Buy.com is launching an e-commerce site for music, movie, and game product with MaximNet Inc., the online operation of Maxim magazine's owner Dennis Publishing. And MP3.com has been sued for copyright-infringement by Bob Dylan, Billy Joel, and James Taylor, who claim that the site has distributed their music in its MyMP3 streaming locker service without permission. Other artists including Hanson and Tom Waits have previously sued MP3.com over the same charges, and the company had to settle similar suits from the majors, indies, and music publishers for millions of dollars before Vivendi Universal bought it out for $372 million.

Update on the Mp3.com trail is Cougar Records who continues to dominate the Top Forty Latin Cover charts. Checkout this great lounge-like artsy music at www.mp3.com/cougarrecords Volume 1 & 2 is dedicated to his late mother who died of Breast Cancer in this The Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Cougar Records has already donated hundreds to the American Cancer Society, and is currently looking for angel investors."Look out Top Five!"

Premium on-demand music programming for digital TV is in the works from licensing and merchandising firm Signatures Network and Liberate Technologies, to roll out next year in test markets. On the satellite radio front, Sirius Satellite Radio saw its stock jump 17% with the news that Ford Motor Co. will offer the radios in its 2003 Ford, Lincoln, Mercury, Jaguar, Volvo, and Land Rover models.

Stevie Wonder, DMX, and Roberta Flack are will star in the first fund-raising concert for the Artist Empowerment Coalition, a non-profit group looking to help artists, to be held at the Beacon Theater in New York on Oct. 28. AEC looks to increase awareness of issues including ownership of masters and music publishing, pension and health benefits, piracy, terms of recording contracts, and artistic integrity. In other concert news, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr will make a rare joint appearance in commemorating the one-year anniversary of George Harrison's death at the Royal Albert Hall in London on Nov. 29, also to feature Tom Petty and Ravi Shankar under Eric Clapton's supervision.

Everything old is new again: Topping the album charts is "Elvis 30 #1 Hits," with the Rolling Stones' new "Forty Licks" right behind. "American Idol" runner-up Justin Guarini, meanwhile, has signed with RCA.

Bon Jovi's album "Bounce" has been released, though marketing company DownloadCard Inc. tried to block it in a suit against Universal Music Group claiming that the major ripped off its technology allowing consumers to receive special bonuses online. Finally, jazz pianist Ellis Larkins, who backed the likes of Ella Fitzgerald and Joe Williams, has died of pneumonia at 79.


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