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It seems there is no end in sight when it comes to piracy.

In November, Universal Music filed a lawsuit against MySpace, accusing the largest social-networking site of copyright infringement. At issue are the thousands of music videos uploaded by MySpace users.

Songs being uploaded are no longer the real issue, but songs being stolen.

While MySpace is kind enough to let artists select which songs they would like to have available for download, it seems they don’t really have a choice at all. Backdoor sites are cropping up which allow anyone to download any song from MySpace instantly in MP3 format, despite the status thats been chosen by the artist.

This web site allows individuals an illegal hack into Myspace and others.

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New Music and Recommended Listening…

Stop By Delorentos

Guarantees by PooPan

Maybe Dead at 27 by Overview

That Aint Me by the Love Willows

I Wonder Why by Maggie Mcclure

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Universal has announced that it will test the market for DRM-free, high-quality downloads offering them through digital retailers including Rhapsody, Amazon.com, Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Real Networks, Transworld, and PureTracks —but not the iTunes Music Store.

Universal will be selling the DRM-free downloads for 99 cents on other retail outlets instead of the $1.29 price for EMI’s high-quality, DRM-free music on iTunes.

According to sources, the label wanted to compare DRM-free sales from other outlets against protected sales from iTunes. Other sources conclude this is just simple a face off and that Universal wants to take away the iTunes monopoly by building more retail outlets for consumers. Universal refused to enter into any long-term licensing deals with iTunes, and opted for a month-to-month arrangement.

UMG says the test is designed to measure various factors such as consumer demand, price sensitivity and piracy effects of selling unprotected files versus those locked by DRM.

This is unknown territory — Will removing copyright protection increase sales? No one knows. I also  believe consumers will  typically gravitate to one site like iTunes when purchasing music. Regardless, this is just another step into the future.

(Billboard)

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AT&T censored portions of Pearl Jam’s live concert cybercast on Sunday.

Pearl Jam performed a portion of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall,” during which frontman Eddie Vedder sang, “George Bush, leave this world alone” and “George Bush, find yourself another home.” Those lyrics were missing from the broadcast.

Vedder also ranted against oil giant BP during the set, and later, brought a disabled Iraq War veteran onstage to call for an end to the conflict. Neither of these segments were edited.

AT&T attributed the bleeping to “a mistake by a Webcast vendor”. According to AT&T they do not censor performances, but they do consider editing excessive profanity.

The company also said it was “working with the band to post the song in its entirety,” a sentiment echoed by Pearl Jam on its official Web site (http://www.pearljam.com).

The incident has garnered hundreds of posts on Pearl Jam’s web forum as well as a response from the Future of Music Coalition, a strong advocate for “net neutrality” laws that ensure free speech online.

Lastly, Pearl Jam  rants against the issue of censorship and the increasingly consolidated control of the media….

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Major music labels who have taken a blow from shrinking CD sales are diversifying their business portfolio hoping to boost profits.

Typically Major Corporations focus on the core business. The Core business for major music labels is the CD. But since the CD has fallen, major labels like Universal Music and Warner Music Group announced investments in companies specializing in artist management or Web networking.

Major record companies have traditionally acted like venture capital firms by seeking out unknown talent, taking a risk in developing artists. If an artist has a HIT album, the record company can usually make a profit through CD sales. If the artist flops — no dice.

Although the record company cultivates the artist they make no money from the artist’s touring, personal appearances, advertising and merchandising.

With that said — Warner Music has invested around $110 million in the artist management company Front Line Management, whose clients include Jimmy Buffet, Neil Diamond and Christina Aguilera. Warner also has formed a joint venture called Brand Asset Group with Violator Management whose clients include rapper 50 Cent.

Universal Music has taken a stake in Loud.com, a hip-hop social networking site which offers competitions to win cash and recording contracts. The deal follows an $88 million deal by Universal to buy British management and merchandising firm Sanctuary, whose artists include James Blunt and Elton John.

There is no doubt that major music labels need to broaden their business to offset the decline in CD sales. But major corporations who choose to stray beyond their CORE business must be cautious.

Are labels familiar with artist personal management? How will they work with NEW and OLD talent? what will the percentages look like?

Although the road map in question, at least the future of music is in progress.(Reuters)

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