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MTV Networks is merging its online digital-music offerings into a joint venture with RealNetworks in order to create a stronger competitor to Apples market-dominating iTunes Store.

This new move also appears to spell the end of MTV’s Urge digital service, launched in partnership with Microsoft. MTV’s Urge fell apart quickly with the lack of focus and few subscribers.

MTV has been investing in digital technology. They plan to invest at least $500 million in games, on top of acquisitions like that of Harmonix Music Systems the developer of the Guitar Hero game series. (WSJ)

Consumers need approximately three dominating digital retailers allowing them a couple of options.

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Switchfoot has cut ties with Columbia Records and will release new music on an independent.

Virgin Megastore in NYC could close: Real estate developers have inked a deal to buy Virgin Megastores North America. Industry insiders say the sale would allow the developers Related and Vornado – which are already Virgin’s landlords at their Union Square and Times Square stores, to close the two stores where Virgin has long-term leases well below market rates. (NYPost)

Jordin Sparks will be the first American Idol winner not signed to the RCA/Arista/J Records system, the usual home base for music mogul Clive Davis’ artists. Instead, Sparks was moved to Jive Records.

Alternative act Anberlin have signed to Universal Republic and plan to release a new album mid – 2008.

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The Disney Machine: Disney Channel’s “High School Musical 2” broke records Friday night to become the most-watched basic cable television event of all time according to TV Week. The broadcast drew 17.2 million viewers.

Also, Walt Disney Records soundtrack could crack 600k in first-week sales making it the highest debut of the year..

Orange County based alternative pop/rock band and KOAR favorite I Hate Kate have signed to Glassnote Records. The band is repped by Legal Ben McLane and Justin Maximov

50 Cent has blamed his bosses at Interscope Records for leaking the video for his new “Robin Thicke collaboration” on the internet, insisting that their actions have jeopardized his chances of turning the song into a hit single. Regardless, if the song is a real hit, a leak won’t prevent it from becoming a hit. Chill!

Got New Music? Send a myspace link here.

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With the lack of anything currently happening in mainstream music, keep your passion for this business alive by catching Zappa Plays Zappa. A string of new dates have recently been added. Check out their website for more information

Up and coming artist news:

Chicago based Frisbie return with New Debut on indie Appendix Records. Check out the title track and Lather

Hotspur continue to land placement with virtually their entire album Beta following their series of Warped Tour dates. Their song Skydive was prominently featured in the season premiere of MTV’s The Hills and continues to pop up on MTV and affiliate programming.

The October has just completed their video for Runaway, the first single off their Lost Since Graduation EP. Check out the video here. The band is also Snocap’s featured artist via MySpace offering a free download of the title track from the album.

Upside, who have made numerous appearances on KOAR, have decided to call it quits and start the next chapter. They are currently playing a series of farewell dates to sold out crowds throughout the south and Midwest. After 7 years and thousands of live shows, this is a band that will be missed. We look forward to seeing what the future holds for these talented musicians.

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Sirius will play satellite radio at home via the internet: Sirius has struck a deal with Sonos for streaming most Sirius channels, by way of the Internet, through home stereo systems.

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Controversial P2P application Limewire that allows users to share files is now preparing a paid download store. “Subsequent releases will enable users to browse and purchase music directly from within the Limewire program,”. Iris Distribution and Nettwerk Music Group have licensed their content to the store.

Without Tomorrow is the first up and coming band that has been able to reach beyond the pages of MySpace and give a live worldwide concert through Network Foundation Technologies (NFT). NFT’s patented technology used in its NiFTy Online Broadcasting product, is the most efficient and successful method for enabling distributed video broadcasting over the Internet

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Study finds kids justify illegal downloads…according to a major European Commission survey, children in Europe are aware of the risks of illegal downloading, but often rationalize their act by saying that everyone — including their parents — is doing it. Almost all of the children surveyed in the 27 European Union member countries as well as in Norway and Iceland said they expect to continue downloading. They also said the risk of downloading a virus was far more dissuasive than the risk of legal proceedings.

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Speaking about illegal downloading, KOAR recently posted “Songs at Stake on Myspace“. Why aren’t the artists, major music labels, and myspace fuming over myspacemp3.org? Myspacemp3.org is an illegal website that allows users to hack into myspace and convert song streams into mp3’s. This is theft ladies and gentlemen in its purist form. If these problems aren’t solved, its only time when the United States Government will regulate the internet because of criminal abuse.

Virgin Megastore flexes it’s creative muscles: The Virgin Megastore chain will host its first annual Battle of the Bands contest.Submissions can be made at all 11 Virgin Megastores from Aug. 20 – Aug. 31, and the winners will battle it out with live performances in seven of the stores, including the New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco locations. Fans will be able to vote on the contestants at the Virgin Megastores and online at virginmegamashup.com from Sept. 10 – 21. The grand prize winner, which will be announced Oct. 1, will win travel and accommodations to meet with A&R representatives from Immergent Records and an evening with Virgin executives. (Billboard)

Universal Music Group will incorporate watermarks into its upcoming, DRM-free download experiment. Watermarks will be used to track the path of files after a transactional purchase

Check out the new act on The Last Goodnight. Their new release titled ‘Poison Kiss’ will be released August 28th on Virgin Records. Check out the track Poison Kiss.

Artists to check out: Alternative band My Favorite Highway has sold 4500 more singles on iTunes.  26,000 + for the year to date.  Also, Making April will be playing at Pianos (NYC) for Atlantic Records on Wednesday at 9 and Suburban Legends will be performing at the Knitting Factory on Thursday night. For more information contact Dan Friedman.

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How do the kiddie anthems beat rock and hip-hop to the top of the charts without the support from mainstream radio?

The Disney Machine is quite interesting. Matthew Gerard has written more than 200 songs for Disney Music Publishing which has turned Disney’s tween pop into the shrinking record industry’s grown area. Gerrard and a few partners write the candy coated, controversy-free songs while the Disney Channel and more than fifty Disney Radio Stations promote it.

David Agnew, President of Walt Disney Records tells Rolling Stone that the Disney Channel plays more music than MTV and VH1 combined.”

With no support from mainstream radio, the formula works…

The Cheetah Girls 2 TV-movie sountrack went platinum while Hanna Montana went 3 million.

Gerard sees the phenomenon as an echo of the teen-pop boom of 1998-2002, except “younger and cleaner”. “We live in a tough world,” adds Agnew. “People want wholesome family entertainment”.

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Rap Wars: 50 Cent I’ll Quit if Outsold by Kanye!…..
50 Cent believes his new album will outsell Kanye West’s upcoming disc, and he’s betting his solo career on it. Both 50 Cent and West have albums due out Sept. 11. 50 Cent, who has sold better than West, has been riled by forecasts that sales of West’s “Graduation” could rival those for his “Curtis” CD. “If Kanye West sells more records than 50 Cent on September 11, I’ll no longer write music” — 50 cent.

Epic teams up with Koch: Being that Epic Records lacks a staff to market urban songs specifically to hip-hop/ R&B radio stations and music video outlets has hired New York-based Koch Records to market rappers. The question was: how do we be in the urban business without having to rebuild an entire team and being delayed a year or two,” Walk said. “A lot of what we are doing now as a label is outsourcing to the best people in certain areas. (NYPOST)

Universal to buy V2 Music: Universal Music Group will buy V2 Music Group for about 14 million in a deal that would add artists Paul Weller and Stereophonics to the Universal portfolio.

Apple is now offering iTunes-related widgets for social-networking profile, websites and blogs.

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