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EMI is the first major label to strike an agreement with Snocap. EMI will now sell DRM free high quality MP3’s through the Snocap stores. (Snocap)

Kelly Clarkson who was formerly managed by the Firm has signed with Nashville based Starstruck Entertainment. Starstruck is the home to Reba Mcentire and Blake Shelton. CEO of Starstruck and McEntire’s husband will serve as Clarkson’s personal manager. (Billboard)

Los Angeles continues to lose indie record stores….
Clifford says that when he opened up shop in 2001 he used to love customers. “Now when customers come in, I’m like, ‘Just buy it and leave,’ ” he says. “This isn’t a job where I should wake up and say, ‘I don’t want to go to work. (CNN)

Lastly,

KOAR has picked up several new releases recently.  When you hear the first single on a new record, it can be rest assured that it doesn’t get better than that. Back in the good ol’ days the first, second, and third singles were all on even par. In some cases the third single could have been the strongest. We have not picked up a decent record in months. So sad, a creative drought.

Also, many of the new releases are just simply tame and lame, no passion and intensity. The iPhone has recieved way more attention than any records has gotten. So why are indie retailers burning out? see above.

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Universal Music Group notified Apple that it will not renew its annual contract to sell music through iTunes, according to executives briefed on the issue who asked for anonymity because negotiations between the companies are confidential.

Instead, Universal said that it would market music to Apple at will, a move that could allow Universal to remove its songs from the iTunes service on short notice if the two sides do not agree on pricing or other terms in the future, these executives said.

It appears Universal is aiming to regain some leverage.  Sources claim that major record labels are discouraged and feel that Steve Jobs CEO of Apple has created a monopoly in the digital sector.

If Universal were to pull its catalog from iTunes, Mr. Jobs would lose access to record labels that collectively account for one out of every three new releases sold in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan data.

If Apple were to decide not to carry Universal’s recordings, the music company would likely sustain a serious blow: sales of digital music through iTunes and other sources accounted for more than 15 percent of Universal’s worldwide revenue in the first quarter, or more than $200 million.

Some industry observers have cautioned against taking on Mr. Jobs directly. “When your customers are iPod addicts, who are you striking back against?,” said Ken Hertz, an entertainment lawyer who represents artists like Beyoncé and the Black Eyed Peas. “The record companies now have to figure out how to stimulate competition without alienating Steve Jobs, and they need to do that while Steve Jobs still has an incentive to keep them at the table.”

Other music industry executives say the major labels must take a harder line with Apple at some point if they are to recalibrate the relationship. In particular, they say, it is unfair for Mr. Jobs to exert tight control over prices and other terms while profiting from the iPod. Mr. Jobs, in February, noted that less than 3 percent of the music on the average iPod was bought from iTunes, leading music executives to speculate that the devices in many instances are used to store pirated songs. (Of course, users can also fill their players with songs copied from their own CD collections.)

The final results will be interesting. This is a struggle for power and pricing. 

(NYT)

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The new album by Prince is being launched as a free CD with a national Sunday newspaper that has drawn widespread criticism from music retailers.

Music biz execs are simply outraged…

“It’s all about giving music for the masses and he believes in spreading the music he produces to as many people as possible,” said Mail on Sunday managing director Stephen Miron. “This is the biggest innovation in newspaper promotions in recent times.”

One music store executive described the plan as “madness” while others said it was a huge insult to an industry battling fierce competition from supermarkets and online stores. Prince’s label has cut its ties with the album in the UK to try to appease music stores.

“It would be an insult to all those record stores who have supported Prince throughout his career,” ERA co-chairman Paul Quirk told a music conference. “It would be yet another example of the damaging covermount culture which is destroying any perception of value around recorded music

HMV chief executive Simon Fox said: “I think it would be absolutely nuts. I can’t believe the music industry would do it to itself. I simply can’t believe it would happen; it would be absolute madness.”

Prince also plans to give away a free copy of his latest album with tickets for his concerts in London. The singer had signed a global deal for the promotion and distribution of Planet Earth in partnership with Columbia Records, a division of music company Sony BMG. A spokesman for the group said last night that the UK arm of Sony BMG had withdrawn from Prince’s global deal and would not distribute the album to UK
stores.

The Bottom line: The sea of madness will continue until the music biz can collectively construct a system that works. Honestly, SONY BMG has the right not to distribute the album in the UK. Giving away CD’s glued to newspapers is not a SEXY marketing campaign and could appear to be an act of desperate measure. Exposure is necessary, but how do you go about it? Aside from this, in all honesty, I never expected much from Prince other than Purple Rain. He always walked the line of cheeze and eccentricism. I always had a hard time buying into his act, but his character is fascinating.

(Guardian)

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Even though Kelly Clarkson’s new record ‘My December’ is poised to go #1 with up to 320,000 copies sold, the saga still continues…

Some insiders claimed that Jeff Kwatinetz of The Firm was fired because he had allegedly made himself the bad guy in an ongoing feud between Clarkson and RCA. Now, sources claim that Kwatinetz actually demanded a $15 million advance for Clarkson from RCA last summer.

This was the beginning of the end. Hence, Clarkson received a much more reasonable $1.5 million advance.

Also, The video for “Never Again,” the first single, cost $600,000, and that another $300,000 was spent on promoting it to radio stations. Its seems RCA was disappointed with the results since “Never Again” didn’t chart well or garner the airplay they anticipated.

RCA is now following Clarkson’s wishes and putting out the second single ‘Sober’.

Some label people are skeptic. As the label’s people say: Clarkson is a pop star. She isn’t Joan Jett. There will be euphoria next week when she’s No. 1, but in weeks two, three and four when the album fades away, no one will remember that.

RCA shipped 850,000 copies of “My December” and doesn’t expect to need more.

Lastly, Kwatinetz, is held responsible for Clarkson’s tour plans being scuttled.

“He booked her into arenas that she couldn’t possibly have sold out, instead of 2,000 or 3,000 seat theaters,” a source said. “He really blew it.”

Despite all the ruckus over “My December,” Clarkson won’t be leaving RCA any time soon.

“We have a long term deal with her,” a source said. “We’re in the Kelly Clarkson business for a long time.

If she wants to come back and make a big hit record next time, we’re here.”

Bottom line: This isn’t the first time that a manager got fired for convincing an artist they should playing arenas when they should be performing 2,000-3,000 theaters. Its embarrassing for an artist to walk out on stage to a half empty arena. This music business is a marathon not a sprint. Managers need to build an artist slowly. Some execs choose to play the greed card, but they always lose in the end. I hope it was worth it.

(Roger Friedman)

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KOAR Briefs…

Recording industry ‘threatened to interrogate 10-year-old’… (Read here)

Bon Jovi tops The Billboard 200. “Lost Highway” sold 292,000 in United States, according to Nielsen soundScan. The White Stripes debut with 223,066.

More scans this week

Amy Winehouse 62k
Linkin Park 63k
Paramore 16k
Papa Roach 12k
The Used 12k

Kelly Clarkson and Hannah Montana are expected to debut with at least 300k next week.

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R&B artist Cene who hails from North Carolina is creating a buzz among some label heads. Cene’s new disc was produced by Roy Hamilton and wrote #1’s for R Kelly and Britney Spears. Her first track My Bumper was just added to WXBT-Columbia, SC WHXT-Columbia, Charlotte NC WPEG, Jacksonville NC WIKS,
Richmond VA WRVZ and SC WQHH-Lansing. Check out the video My Bumper which garnered 55,000 views within weeks. Myspace plays are averaging 10-15k plays a day propelling her to the top of the myspace charts. Cene is being repped by Jason Davis at Fahrenheit Media Group.

iNews……...

Playboy launches iPlayboy for the Apple iPhone. Had enough yet?

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