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PreDaTor News: Worldwide Music Decline / Koch & Sundazed / BMG / AOL 8.0 / Cyndi Thomson / The Estrada Brothers
By Kevin Vazquez, PreDaTor ProDucTions
(more articles from this author)
2002-10-22
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The international trade group IFPI (International Federation of the Phonographic Industry) reports that the value of global recorded music shipments in the first six months of 2002 was down 9.2% from the same period last year, accompanying an 11.2% drop in units shipped worldwide. Both percentages are up from last year's, which showed a value dip of 5% for the first half of 2001, compared to 2000, and a 6.7% decline in units. As usual piracy, weak economic conditions, and competition from rival consumer goods were blamed.

Speaking of declines due to piracy, soundtrack albums have been taking a big hit of late because of illegal Internet downloading, according to panelists at the Hollywood Reporter/Billboard Film & TV Music Conference in L.A. Where some 25-30 soundtracks were gold-certified or better every year from 1996-99, only 10-15 have sold that well in the years since.

In record company news, Koch Entertainment Distribution has signed the major indie reissue label Sundazed to a North American distribution deal, same with New York hip-hop label Babygrande-home of Canibus, Supernatural, Jedi Mind Tricks, the Mountain Brothers, and Chops. Producer NO I.D. (Common, DMX, Jaheim, and Toni Braxton) has a three-album production deal with Def Jam/Def Soul Recordings for his Face the Music Entertainment label, with the debut album from Chicago singer K-Fox to be the first release under the deal early next year.

At MCA, the deal to acquire 25% of leading underground punk label Victory Records has collapsed. Also collapsing-because of a fire-was the fabled Sugar Hill Studio in Englewood, N.J., where pioneering rap records for the Sugar Hill label (including Sugar Hill Gang's 1979 hit "Rapper's Delight") were recorded.

BMG has shipped the first titles in the new coin-size DataPlay disc format. Included in the 13 initial releases are hit albums by Pink, Outkast, Brooks & Dunn, and Britney Spears; priced at $15.98, the discs also include music videos, cover art, bios, and other material. The recordable DataPlay format can hold nearly five CDs of material and is seen as a possible replacement for the cassette. Also at BMG, the major, which owns the MusicNet subscription service with Warner Music Group, EMI Recorded Music, and RealNetworks, is licensing content to Pressplay, the competitor service of Universal Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment.

In other tech news, Warner Music Group has started a promotion and commerce service for AT&T wireless phone users and is supplying ringtones, streamed song clips, and artist messages and images. AT&T is also featuring content and from Listen.com's Rhapsody and hip-hop programmer Upoc Music, as well as recommendations from Amazon.com and playlists from over 1,000 radio stations.

America Online's latest software offering (AOL 8.0) includes new music features, including links to music merchandise e-tailer Musictoday and MusicShare, which lets members refer songs to others. Also accessible is a new entity, Musician Central, which offers networking and education opportunities, along with electronic sheet music purchase through MusicNotes.

Muze has a new deal with V2 Records to stream ahead of release 30-second clips from new tracks-via Muze retail partner sites including AOL, Tower, Best Buy and MTV--following the model set earlier with its pact with RED Distribution.

Turning to artists, Cyndi Thomson, whose debut album "My World" went gold last year and established her as one of the brightest newcomers in the country music scene, has incredibly decided to withdraw from her recording career, leaving her Capitol Records label understandably "heartbroken and bewildered." She said she was unable to meet the professional "obligations" that are part of being an artist, but will continue to write songs and make music.

The World Class Jazz Ensemble "The Estrada Brothers" have resurfaced to continue carrying Cal Tjader's torch. After personnel changes these giants once signed to Milestone's Fantasy Label will be back in full force on the West coast Nov 9th 2002 at Steamers Cafe. Ruben Estrada has been in the driver's seat on vibes for a couple of decades. He is also found on Poncho Sanchez' album "Tribute to Cal Tjader". He was selected from dozens of vibist on the West Coast to record this tribute. "Que Viva La Musica" Ray Barretto.

And veteran bandleader Ray Conniff has died at 85. Conniff scored major pop hits in the 1950s and '60s, including "Somewhere My Love," the 1966 version of "Lara's Theme" from the blockbuster movie "Dr. Zhivago."


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