Tuesday, February 24, 2009

An Article that needs to be read

Hitsville is live-blogging the hearings here.

Irving Azoff, the supermanager and CEO of Ticketmaster, and Michael Rapino, for now capo di tutti capi of Live Nation, will be in attendance.

tmaster-logo.png Following, a few issues the senators should address; any I missed?

(Hitsville’s complete coverage of the merger is here.)

1) A few questions about Ticketmaster. A typical $100 rock show might carry with it a collection of service fees reaching $20 or $30 or more. Where does the money go? How much, typically, goes back to the artist? How much to the promoter? How much to the venues? If you can’t generalize, give me specifics from one or two recent tours.

2) Now, aside from routing back specific fees from specific shows to a venue, how much a year does Ticketmaster spend arranging long-term deals with venues? How are they generally configured? Is it a lump sum, or an annual fee? Are there other considerations? What is a typical payment to, say, a basketball arena?

3) Now, don’t these long-term deals restrict competition? In other words, aren’t you in effect forcing people to pay money for fees, which you then use to tie up venues, which prevents competitors entering the business and helping to lower those fees?

4) By which I mean, far from letting you merge with an even more powerful company, shouldn’t we break up the monopoly you already seem to be guarding so jealously?

5) How much does it cost to actually sell a concert ticket? By which I mean, leaving aside the payments to venues, promoters and artists, what is your company’s net cost per ticket sold? Give me an estimate: Cost of the ticketing system, add on the personnel on the phones, divide by number of tickets you sold last year.

6) I note at venues that the folks at the gate now have electronic readers that scan the tickets. Are those proprietary? By which I mean, if I’m a competitor to you, will those scanners work with my tickets? Who owns the scanners? The venue or Ticketmaster?

7) How much a year, total, does your company pay back to artists, promoters and venues? Hard to estimate? You’re the CEO of Ticketmaster, right? You collect x number of dollars, right? And you know what your revenue is. The difference would be how much you pay back to artists, promoters and venues, right? Give me a rough estimate.

8 ) Mr. Azoff, you’re traditionally the biggest manager in the music industry, and you now run the biggest ticket-selling operation, which kicks back a lot of its fees to the artists. Whose interests do you put first?

9) Another question for you, Mr. Azoff; you’re now the “executive chairman” of this new company, which controls some 150 major venues and hence a large part of the United States concert promotion industry. You’re going to be cutting tour deals with some of the artists you represent, won’t you? Won’t you be at war with yourself? Who will win? In a recent interview in the Wall Street Journal, you said, “The artist’s interests always come first.” Now, if I’m a Live Nation shareholder, doesn’t that disqualify you from looking after the best interests of the company?

10) That’s all well and good to say you run a “decentralized operation.” In Fredric Dannen’s book “Hit Men,” you’re described as “one of the most despised men in the record business.” It says here your “tantrums were extraordinary.” That doesn’t sound like someone who runs a decentralized operation. So please tell me again, whose interests comes first? You are legally bound to look after your shareholders, aren’t you? If I’m one of your artists, how do I reconcile that with my own interests? And given your, ah, colorful reputation, if I challenge your decisions, don’t I now risk offending the most powerful tour promoter in the country? If I leave your company’s management stable, don’t I risk finding it difficult to tour?

11) And just you personally, Mr. Azoff, what are you personal income streams? When the Eagles tour, do you get a percentage of the tour income or does it go solely to Front Line? If the group gets a kickback—excuse me, “part of the service fees returned,” from Ticketmaster, do you get a percentage of that? Does Front Line?

12) With the merger, isn’t your company essentially going to be routing those fees back to itself?

13) Now, you personally aside, let’s talk about your former management company, Front Line. What are your top 20 acts—the ones that have grossed the most from live performances? It’s hard to remember? Again, forgive me for quoting “Hit Men” again, but one person quoted there saying “He had total retention on every level.” Another is quoted as saying “Irving is as fast mentally as it gets.”

14) How many of your artists were in Billboard’s top ten concert tours last year? The year before that? Now much did the last Eagles tour gross? The last Jimmy Buffett tour? The last Neil Diamond tour?

15) Mr. Azoff, how do the artists you manage handle their tour merchandise? On a typical tour, what is the average per person expenditure for T shirts and the like? It varies? How about on the last Eagles tour, the last Jimmy Buffett tour, and the last Neil Diamond tour?

16) Does your company handle tour merchandise for your acts? How many of them? How many of your biggest acts? What is the typical “cut” your company takes? In other words, you probably advance an artist a set amount of money against the merchandise sales for an upcoming tour. How much does the artist get back from, say, a typical T-shirt sale at a concert? And forgive me for getting so granular, but do you or does Front Line get a percentage of that from the artists, as their manager, as well? Is there a conflict of interest there? I mean, as their manager, do you recommend to them that they use your merchandising company?

17) Now, forgive me, but as I understand it, the venues typically take a cut of the merchandise sales at a typical concert as well. Is that true? If Live Nation is managing the venue, what is the typical percentage the venue gets from the merchandise sales at a concert? It varies? How about at the last Eagles tour, the last Jimmy Buffet tour, and the last Neil Diamond tour?

18) Finally, on merchandise, break it down for me. A T-shirt might cost $30, these days, at a concert. After the merger, what dollar amount of that $30 will Live Nation, as tour promoter, venue manager, merchandise company and artists manager, get?

19) OK, let’s go back to Ticketmaster. Mr. Rapino, you’re the head of Live Nation, which recently cut a deal with a company to compete with Ticketmaster. I understand you will be dismantling that agreement. In what way did Live Nation and Ticketmaster just agree not to compete in the industry of ticket sales?

20) You have been known for the so-called “360 deals” with artists like Jay-Z, U2, and Madonna. Front Line Management is the biggest artist management agency, and it’s now controlled by Ticketmaster. In what way did Live Nation and Ticketmaster just agree not to compete in the industry of artists management?

21) Tell me how your resale operation works. It’s called TicketsNow, right? You are selling a ticket, for, say $100. You collect another $20 per ticket from your Ticketmaster arm. That’s $120. Now, in theory, anyone who buys one of those tickets can thereupon put it up to scalp—I’m sorry, “re-sell”—on TicketsNow. How do you make money from that service? What is the typical fee? Where does that money go? Does any of it go back to the artist?

22) Sometimes, I notice, tickets are going for an awful lot of money there … hundreds of dollars. Do you, your company, or anyone associated with any part of your company put up for sale there tickets that have not yet been sold through the normal channels? In other words, do you ever scalp your own tickets?

23) I mean, let’s imagine what could happen. The Eagles are a big band. A ticket in the front row I notice, might cost $200 when the tickets go on sale, but could easily be sold for several times that, correct?

24) Do artists sell tickets through Tickets Now? How does that process work? If the Eagles, say, are playing a concert here in DC at the Verizon Center down the street, as part of the tour deal does the band get some segment of the tickets for itself? Are they allowed to resell them on Tickets Now? Mr. Azoff, as the biggest artists manager in the business, have you or anyone at your management company facilitated such dealings?

25) Who is in charge of the merged company? Releases have said that Mr. Azoff is the “executive chairman” of the new operation. What does that mean? Which of you reports to the other?

26) Mr. Azoff, as you know from your long years as an artist manager, the record labels make it routinely difficult to get full information on the number of CDs they are selling, and most artists lawyers will tell you that underpayment of royalties is common. Most, in fact, say it’s de rigueur. As the record industry shifts to a model in which a company like Live Nation will be the conduit of an artist’s income, do you support regulations that will make your company handle that money more transparently?

Monday, February 23, 2009

11pm and i am up once agin. Time to make the DONUTS

It seems like every few days i stay a little too long working on my passion...life,music,friends,family,improv,acting,writing,film and producing both in the same...and God is in the details. Currently i am spliting my train ride between reading a book by David Sedaris and the Quran. Improvement is my course and i will not stop. I hope you do not either. I will start posting music and reviewing one song per week and later on one song a day(whichever comes first). Remember to say hi to as many people as you can and kiss a family member or someone you love at least once a month if possible. I started a food blog called My Grain of Salt. For the foodies out there, i will be posting food that i love and restaurants that i like to go to and enjoy.

One of my favorites-Sort of like the Rock Tupac-Ryan Adams

"Ryan Adams was born on November 5, 1974 in Jacksonville, North Carolina to Susan and Robert Adams. His father left home when he was nine years old. His mother, an English teacher, encouraged Adams to read and as a child he became familiar with the works of authors including Jack Kerouac, Edgar Allan Poe, Sylvia Plath and Henry Miller.

Adams' grandmother played a modest role in his childhood, serving as his babysitter after school while his mother worked. When he was eight years old, Adams began writing short stories and poetry on his grandmother's typewriter. He is quoted as saying, "I started writing short stories when I was really into Edgar Allan Poe. Then later, when I was a teenager, I got really hard into cult fiction: Hubert Selby, Jr., Henry Miller, Jack Kerouac." At the age of 14 Adams began learning to play the electric guitar that his mom and stepdad had bought him, and shortly afterwards joined a local band named Blank Label. Although Blank Label did not stay together long, a three-track 7" record exists, dated 1991 and lasting less than seven minutes in tota

Forget Race, it is just RAP-How do you get out of your CAGE

Cage announced a new LP AND a new EP, both due in the first half of 2009. First up, Chris Palko aka the artist formerly known as Cage Kennylz will drop a "seven song mega-single/EP of exclusive bonus material entitled the I Never Knew You EP" for FREE via AdultSwim/Definitive Jux. Details to come, but look for it "sometime within next two months".

Cage's new LP, his first since 2005's critically acclaimed Hell's Winter, is due on June 30th via Definitive Jux. It's called Depart From Me and is executive produced by Sean Martin, recently ex-Hatebreed who also produced 9 of 14 total tracks with the rest of the production handled by El-P, Aesop Rock, and the late great Camu Tao. Check out the El-P produced "Nothing Left To Say" available for download above.

In other Chris Palko news, Cage recently shot a video for "I Never Knew You" in LA, directed by "close personal friend" and fellow Cardboard City member Shia LaBeouf, his directorial debut. Mr Transformers and Cage are working on a "full-length feature film based on the rapper's young life starring Labeouf":

Palko was born in W├╝rzburg, Germany... [and] lived there until the age of four when [his father Bill] Murray was dishonorably discharged for selling and using heroin... Murray would often force Palko to pull homemade tourniquets around his arm as he injected heroin. At the age of eight, Palko's father was arrested during a standoff with state troopers after threatening his family with a shotgun. Palko was kicked out of high school, [and] began using LSD, mescaline, cannabis and alcohol...

Palko was arrested several times for drug possession and fighting in the streets. When he faced jail time for violating probation, his mother convinced the judge that he was mentally unstable, and he was sent to the Stony Lodge psychiatric hospital for a two week evaluation. He eventually ended up staying in the hospital for eighteen months, where he was a part of a small group used to test fluoxetine. After being misdiagnosed and placed on the drug, he became suicidal and made several attempts to kill himself, including hanging himself with his shoelaces and saving his lithium dose for a month before ingesting all of them at once. -[Wiki]

Yikes. And that's BEFORE he got signed by Columbia, got dropped, was one of Fondle 'Em's first artists, beefed with Eminem, dropped his debut album, joined The Weathermen, and signed with Definitive Jux.

Cage is scheduled to play SXSW at the Biz3 showcase at Club DeVille on March 20th with These Are Powers, Kid Sister, Lady Sovereign, Chin Chin, Hollywood Holt, Thunderheist, Asher Roth, and Amanda Blank. No other dates at the moment.

Cage, Chauncey, Shia LaBeouf, glue and the late Camu Tao eating breakfast, and other videos, below...

Continue reading "Cage - new records, MP3s, Shia LaBeouf & SXSW"

Thursday, February 19, 2009

U-N-I Hey i found some hip hop you will like

Tracy Morgan survives the fishes and the fire

By Ismael AbduSalaam

Tracy Morgan's apartment nearly went up in flames on Wednesday (February 18) due to a defective light in the comedian's large fish tank.

Morgan was at his luxury, Upper West Side New York apartment when the fish tank's electrical outlet began sparking shortly after 8:30AM yesterday.

Luckily, the fire's growth was stifled by the property's sprinkler unit, which activated soon after the blaze ignited.

Even with the sprinklers, New York firefighters battled the fire for over 30 minutes before getting the potential deadly situation under control.

Morgan, a star of the popular 30 Rock sitcom series and 4-time host of VH1's Hip-Hop Honors, was more than grateful to New York's Fire Department for their efforts in saving his home.

"A fire broke out in my Manhattan apartment this morning, apparently with a lamp attached to my fish tank," Morgan explained in a prepared statement. "The sprinklers promptly activated and the NYFD came by to make sure it was contained. Fortunately, the fire did not spread and no one in the building was injured, even the fish are okay. My thanks to the New York Fire Department for their quick action."

Reportedly, Morgan's fish tank is large enough to contain exotic animals such as sharks, and the tank's massive size likely is the source for the light's electrical shortage

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

B.O.B. Generation Lost-A rapper that says something.

Political Attiude

Some people think rappers are not thinkers. Some are not sure why people are rapping. They just do not get it. More people need to listen to what these guys and girls are saying and then think about WHY they are saying these things. Some rappers decide that this art is their way out of a bad financial situation even though for the most part that is not true. Some feel rap is therapy. Others feel like rapping is their job and the only way out especially if they have a criminally background and cannot get a regular job like the most of us. Whatever the case, rappers rap about what they see, what they feel and how other people live their lives. I am only listing what some rappers do. There are many people who go beyond what i am even saying. I say search for those rappers that relate to how you are and what you do or where you would like for them to go. Recognize and realize.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I am adding a few things

I want to add a comedy section to the mix since i am also involved in making people laugh. Also, i intend on expanding to clothes/fashion in a few months. Enjoy. Bailout is signed and Alex is on roids. Oh..... I get now. A-roid.

Bailout Special

Liberty Media Corp. will invest $530 million in financially struggling satellite radio company Sirius XM Radio Inc., the companies said Tuesday.

The investment on the first business day comes after Sirius warned it could file for bankruptcy as early as Tuesday if it cannot successfully negotiate with its debt holders.

As part of the deal, Liberty will provide a $280 million senior secured loan to Sirius, $250 million of which will be funded on Tuesday. Sirius will use the proceeds of the loan to repay $171.6 million of its maturing 2-and-a-half percent convertible notes that had been due Tuesday. The rest will be used for general corporate purposes.

The loan bears a 15 percent interest rate and matures in December 2012.

The second phase of Liberty's investment provides another loan of $150 million to Sirius's subsidiary XM Satellite Radio. Liberty has also agreed to offer to buy up to $100 million of the loans outstanding under XM Satellite Radio's existing credit facilities from the lenders. [Yahoo News]

Blu ft Cross - city of los angeles

Blu - Fly (SongOfLiberation)

Blu ft. TiRon - All The Kings Men

Hey, time to self promote but i will listen as well. Brik Mason

Blu - Departing Flights

A good reason to cut off my dredlocks. I am not really sure why but by the end of the year, i will know. Time to change how i operate.

Blu - NeverBeAnotherMe

the day in blu but not sad for you.

Blu - Soul Provider

Monday, February 16, 2009

Once there was a man names Glen Hansard

Glen Hansard playing Joe's Pub & Carnegie Hall

Glen Hansard

"The Happy Ending Music and Reading Series, chosen by New York Magazine and NY Press as the best reading series in NYC, and singled out by the New York Times Magazine for helping to "Keep downtown alive," features the most interesting storytellers, writers, musicians, raconteurs and personalities, and requires the readers to take one public risk, while the musicians, who perform two short sets with their original, lyric-driven music, are required to play one cover song and try to get the audience to sing along."

The next edition of The Happy Ending happens at Joe's Pub on March 4th. Readers will be Julie Orringer, Ryan Harty, and Andrew Sean Greer. Music will be provided by Glen Hansard of the Frames and Swell Season. Tickets are on sale.

Glen appears at Carnegie Hall for the R.E.M. tribute exactly one week later.

According to MySpace, The Swell Season "are currently in the studio with Joe, Colm and Rob of The Frames, Graham Hopkins and other special guests working on their next album, with hopes of finishing it up and having it released later this year."

SMH reports,

And what about Hansard and Irglova? Once is a love story and it has such a persuasive documentary feel about it that surely the love that develops between the two of them has to be more than just an on-screen illusion.

"It did become a real relationship," Hansard admits. "I think it was just a very natural part of what we were doing together. We had made the film. We had gone through so much with the Oscar. Of course, we fell into each other's arms. It was a very necessary part of our friendship but I think we both concluded that that wasn't what we really wanted to do. So we're not together now. We are just really good friends."

The work they do together, which started with the film Once and continued with the album The Swell Season, has continued. Now the duo has recorded a new album that they are considering releasing independently.

"I am trying to keep the simple philosophy that the Frames have always had," Hansard says. "I don't want to start signing to a major label when I am 38. Right now I am trying to figure out the best deal for us."

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

It is Official

February 10, 2009
Live Nation officially to buy Ticketmaster!, faces scrutiny

Live Nation Ticketmaster

The world's largest concert promoter Live Nation Inc plans to buy Ticketmaster Entertainment Inc for about $400 million in stock in a bid to create a company with dominant holdings in concert promotion and ticket sales.

But shares of both companies fell on Tuesday, amid concerns the acquisition would be blocked by U.S. antitrust regulators under the new Obama administration.

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer slammed the deal ahead of its formal announcement on Tuesday, calling for a federal probe into Ticketmaster, the top U.S. ticket vendor.

"This merger would give a giant, new entity unrivaled power over concert-goers and the prices they pay to see their favorite artists and bands," the Democrat senator from New York said in a statement The combined company will be called Live Nation Entertainment, and sell more than 150 million concert tickets a year, promote 22,000 concerts annually, and own more than 140 venues globally. It will also handle more than 200 big name artists including Madonna, Jay-Z, Miley Cyrus and the Eagles.

Ticketmaster shareholders will receive 1.384 shares of Live Nation common stock for each share of Ticketmaster they own, the two companies said in a joint statement. Live Nation will own 49.99 percent of the combined company, while Ticketmaster will hold the remaining 50.01 percent.

The deal, which the companies called a merger of equals, will create a company with an enterprise value of $2.5 billion including debt.

Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino will run the new company as CEO while Ticketmaster Entertainment CEO Irving Azoff will be executive chairman. Ticketmaster chairman Barry Diller will be non-executive chairman. [REUTERS]

Monday, February 9, 2009

A new way to do businesss in music: For better or For Worse

This is a possible business model for new artists as well as more established artists. I threw this idea around to a few collegues of mine after i joined a fan sharing website in the UK representing a minor league football squad.

Big Music vs. Fans and Artists

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Published: February 8, 2009

It appears that Live Nation and Ticketmaster Entertainment are about to attempt a merger. Gee, what a great idea: Let’s take two behemoths with an overwhelming footprint in the live music business, smush them together, and see how that works out for the consumer.
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Merger Expected of Ticketmaster and Live Nation (February 9, 2009)
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Given the regulatory hurdles that the merger is bound to confront, it didn’t help their prospects that, on the same day, Bruce Springsteen posted an open letter to his fans accusing Ticketmaster of “a clear conflict of interest” in directing fans to a sister company, TicketsNow, that resells tickets at a huge markup.

“The abuse of our fans and our trust by Ticketmaster has made us as furious as it has made many of you,” Mr. Springsteen wrote. Irving Azoff, the chief executive of Ticketmaster, issued an apology and promised refunds. (Would you want the Boss testifying in front of Congress against your merger? Me neither.)

Fans moan that rock music is not what it used to be, but the business landscape behind all the amplifiers has changed even more drastically. The corporate version of the live music business is becoming a land of giants, which at Live Nation is built on so-called 360 deals with the likes of Madonna, U2 and Jay-Z, in which contracts give the promoter a percentage of revenue generated by live performance, merchandise and, sometimes, recorded music. Ticketmaster, through its Front Line division, has ties with Aerosmith, the Eagles and Guns N’ Roses.

If the prospect of a single company mounting a Guns n’ Madonna tour worries you, it also concerns some in the business. Via e-mail, Tom Morello, the guitarist in Rage Against the Machine, told me that a Ticketmaster-Live Nation merger could have huge consequences.

“Fewer and fewer gatekeepers mean fewer choices and higher prices for fans,” he wrote. “One huge monolith means no choice at all. Fans and artists must develop some organized counterweight quickly or resign themselves to their fate.”

A pretty grim forecast. Then on Thursday, a new CD by Jill Sobule arrived in the mail. “The California Years, Vol. 1” is a wonderful record, but the back story is just as good and a reminder that in among the giants, new models are emerging.

Ms. Sobule is a Denver native, a singer-songwriter who has been in the business for more than two decades and is probably best known for her 1995 song, “I Kissed a Girl.” In that time, she has been signed and dropped by two major labels and had two independent labels sign her, then go belly up.

Reluctant to go the label route again, she posted a question in a blog on allthingsd.com, the digital technology site owned by Dow Jones:

“How do I pay the rent?”

After listening to her fans, she came up with an updated version of the Medici model. To raise the $75,000 she needed for an album, she set up a Web site — jillsnextrecord.com — in which her fans would serve as patrons for her next record in return for various rewards.

Ten bucks earned them a digital download of the record, $50 an advance copy and a thank you in the liner notes, while $1,000 got them a personalized theme song written by the artist. Three people who paid $5,000 had Ms. Sobule play at their house. The person who gave $10,000 sang on the record.

If it sounds cheesy, like a virtual Tupperware party, consider that the record was produced by Don Was, who has produced Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones. The sessions, recorded in Hollywood at Henson Recording Studios, were available for streaming and comment on Ms. Sobule’s Web site before she chose the final songs. (One listener’s verdict? More cowbell, please.)

Reached at the TED conference (Technology, Education, Design) in Palm Springs — Ms. Sobule is that rare plugged-in folkie — she said her version of digital busking had real benefits.

“I have never received a single cent on a record that I have ever made,” she said, because sales never seemed to pay back the money she owed for an advance. “With all of this talk of new models and all of these big companies like Clear Channel and Live Nation trying to figure out a way to make a buck, this is one thing that makes sense for an artist like me. I have a small group of fans, but they are mighty.”

Ms. Sobule said that while the top of the business is busy finding ways to own more and more of what seems to be a shrinking pie, artists like her were tunneling their way to a direct route with their public. In a sense, the diminution in value of the CD has allowed musicians to re-examine what a contract with a label or a promoter really means.

A year ago, Ms. Sobule sold thumb drives to people at her shows and gave them a password so that within a week, they could download a version of the live show. “The people who come to your shows are going to want to share an experience, to have something to remember, and it just makes sense that you give them that kind of opportunity.”

Ms. Sobule is less the tech evangelist than a working musician who likes what she does. Jillsnextrecord.com is not always as earnest as it sounds: It offered a $500 “Gold” level of donation in which your name was to be sung at the end of the record, but also a cheeky “Gold Doubloons Level”: “Exactly like the gold level, but you give me more money.”

“I am never going to be a top 10, MTV person at this stage of my career, but this approach allowed me to make a record that I am proud of and I don’t owe anybody,” she said, and then corrected herself. “I still owe about 10 people theme songs.”

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Producer’s Track Record as a Label Executive Is Raising Questions

Published: February 6, 2009

Less than two years after Sony Music Entertainment made a daring move by hiring the legendary music producer Rick Rubin to run its Columbia Records label, the company is learning a lesson from baseball: sometimes the best players don’t make the best managers.
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Rick Rubin

Sony hired Mr. Rubin — a founder of Def Jam Records who has produced hits for Run-DMC, the Beastie Boys, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Johnny Cash — hoping the appointment would lead to a new business model for the struggling record business.

Mr. Rubin has continued his run as a hit producer, for acts within Sony and on other labels, including Warner Music, where he produced a hit Metallica album last year. But Mr. Rubin, in the words of his close friend, the hip-hop mogul and philanthropist Russell Simmons, “likes to work at his own pace,” and it appears he has done little so far to lift Columbia out of the doldrums that is the contemporary music business.

In recent weeks, as several executives at Columbia who were closely aligned with Mr. Rubin have left the label, questions have surfaced about Mr. Rubin’s continued executive role there, and about how much influence he has in the company’s business operations.

Associates of Mr. Rubin, some of whom spoke anonymously because they did not want to anger him, described the situation as one in which Mr. Rubin has steadily lost influence over the organization because his style is so different from that of the usual executive and because he is often absent from the corporate offices. The impression from these interviews is of a power game within Columbia in which Mr. Rubin refuses to participate.

Mr. Simmons, who in the early 1980s stayed in Mr. Rubin’s New York University dorm room while the pair built Def Jam, the legendary hip-hop label, said he had been surprised when Mr. Rubin took the executive role at Columbia. He described Mr. Rubin as “laid-back, calm, sweet, a meditator” and someone who is “not in a race for life.”

He added, “I don’t know what his role is” at Columbia.

Mr. Rubin, through his spokeswoman, declined comment. In an e-mail message, Heidi Ellen Robinson-Fitzgerald, his longtime publicist, referred to “misconceptions and false gossip that have been running rampant of late” in the music industry concerning Mr. Rubin.

From the outset his hiring was an eyebrow-raiser for some in the industry because Mr. Rubin, with his New Age affectations — his long beard, bare feet and Buddhist beads — and abhorrence of all things corporate, appeared miscast in an executive role. At the same time Sony was establishing a power-sharing arrangement of the sort that rarely works in big business, much less in the music industry, with its egos, glamour and rollicking culture.

More to see at NYTIMES

Friday, February 6, 2009

Comic Con is on this weekend. Yes Sir

NY Comic Con starts today, MASTODON is there! (+ all dates)

New York Comic Con is the East Coast's biggest and most exciting popular culture convention. Our show floor plays host to the latest and greatest in comics, graphic novels, anime, manga, video games, toys, movies, and television. Our panels and autograph sessions give fans a chance to interact with their favorite creators. Our screening rooms feature sneak peeks at films and television shows months before they hit either big or small screens. And with dedicated professional hours, New York Comic Con is a market place, bringing together the major players in the entertainment industry. New York Comic Con is the second largest pop culture convention in America and the only one that takes place in the comic book, publishing, media, and licensing capital of the world -- Gotham City.

Professional Only Hours:
Friday, February 6 -- 10:00 AM - 1:00 PM

Open to the Public:
Friday, February 6 -- 1:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Saturday, February 7 -- 10:00 AM - 7:00 PM
Sunday, February 8 -- 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM

New York Comic Con is held at the Jacob K. Javits Center in Midtown Manhattan. The Javits Center is located at 655 West 34th Street. See our Travel page for directions and information about New York City 's buses and subways.

Posterboy NYC Subway Art

Spending Time With Poster Boy

So i am not sure if i condone the destruction of property in our subway systems but he is trying to use what the city gave him. His environment became his art. A collage. Something made from nothing. His thoughts and brains. Comment!!!

Lily Allen returns with a new album and she is not rowdy

LILY ALLEN is in her bed, under the covers, fully dressed. It’s a temporary pose; Ms. Allen, the British pop star, is known for an exhibitionist streak in her lyrics and her lifestyle. Soon enough she will be up, disrobing and divulging, in preparation for a gossipy, and probably gossiped about, night out.

But first there is the matter of an interview in her modest flat here. Munching chips, she eagerly gives a tour. It’s a three-bedroom, but the smallest serves as a closet; her room is slate blue with a claw-foot tub not far from the bed. Like the rest of the place it is filled with art and mementoes: paintings by Saatchi artists, badges from her concerts, a cartoony cutout of herself (“It’s fatter than me,” she trilled), a mash note from Elton John and David Furnish (“big year for you in 2009”) and a framed blowup of her citation for assaulting a photographer. (“He was taking a picture up my skirt at the time, so I kicked him,” she said.) She slips on beat-up Chanel flats to show off the garden; before she was a singer, she briefly studied to be a florist.

Ms. Allen, 23, bought the apartment, her first, a year and a half ago, after the success of her debut album, “Alright, Still,” released in 2006. A raunchy ska- and reggae-inflected alt-pop hit that sold more than 500,000 copies in the United States and 2.5 million worldwide, it earned her MTV and Grammy nominations and a reputation as a MySpace and blog-era star. In vintage-style dresses, door-knocker earrings and sneakers, she sang bluntly about boyfriends, lousy sex, good drugs and nights out somewhere in between. The hedonism extended offstage as well; Ms. Allen went on a bender of bad behavior, with photographs of her stumbling — or being carried — out of clubs as a paparazzi staple.

Lately, though, she has been taking pains to proclaim her homebody-ness. Inside her apartment, wrapped in a gray blanket and drinking milky tea, she talks quietly, curled up in a blue chair in the living room. “We sit around this table and play Scrabble,” she said of evenings with her friends. On her new album, “It’s Not Me, It’s You,” which will be released on Tuesday by Capitol/EMI, she extols the pleasures of eating takeout Chinese, watching TV and taking her dog — a mutt, Mabel — for a walk. The sound is less Ibiza party girl, and in addition to the usual topics (love, drugs, fornication) she tackles more grown-up subjects: family tension, politics, religion. Mature is the word her label has tacked onto it.

“We really think that there’s an opportunity for her to take a big, big step forward,” said Howard Handler, the executive vice president for marketing at EMI. “There’s a real opportunity to connect her to a much bigger audience here in America. She’s also grown quite a bit as an artist.”

But the album, her first since “Alright, Still” made her an international symbol of girlish rebellion, also cheekily showcases her desire for the trappings of celebrity. “I want to be rich and I want lots of money,” she sings on the new single “The Fear.” “I’ll take my clothes off and it will be shameless/because everyone knows that’s how you get famous.” Her openness has always served her; Ms. Allen was one of the first artists to mine MySpace successfully for a fan base, posting demos before her debut and gaining attention with frank blog posts that highlighted her average-girl insecurities, about her looks and weight, and her pop star-in-the-making bravado, when she dissed better-known performers.

Now she is dealing with the aftermath of all that accessibility. “I don’t know what’s right and what’s real anymore,” she sings later in “The Fear,” which is rising on the radio charts. In Britain especially Ms. Allen is, in her view, a target of the tabloids. She no longer prizes the attention, least of all after a tumultuous year when she suffered a miscarriage, lost her grandmother and developed a talk show. Balancing her public persona with her private life, as she says she wants to, could make her a more serious international artist — or it could alienate the fans used to her openness.

Though she Twitters, she has cut down on blogging. “I just can’t be on there, defending myself the whole time,” she said. “Who am I defending myself to anyway?”

Her Wikipedia entry, she complained, is riddled with lies. Like what? She hopped up to her computer. “Claims to have grown up with her mother” — Alison Owen, a film producer; her father, the actor Keith Allen, left when she was 4 — “in a working-class environment,” she read. “That’s true. And attended 13 schools, that’s true.” Embarrassing and alcohol-fueled behavior? “O.K., kind of true, I guess.” She had to drill down nearly to the bottom to find misinformation: she did not have Kawasaki disease as an infant, doesn’t have Damien Hirst paintings in her bedroom and has “never been a size 12.”

Ms. Allen’s reality, it turns out, is largely of her own making. And that is both her appeal and her challenge. “Her voice, it’s very personal, which makes her very different from a lot of pop artists, like Nelly Furtado or Britney,” said Greg Kurstin — of the retro pop duo the Bird and the Bee — co-writer and producer of “It’s Not Me, It’s You.” “People like to know what’s going on with her. But there’s definitely a downside to that.”

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Merging is the new Black

Ticketmaster also considering merge with AEG


"Ticketmaster Entertainment, the ticket-selling giant, is in talks with Live Nation and the Anschutz Entertainment Group [AEG] over a potential merger with either music promoter, people briefed on the talks said Tuesday night." [NY Times]

Livenation Ticketmaster may merge

"Ticketmaster, Live Nation Near Merger" !?

Madonna Ticket

Ticketmaster Entertainment Inc. and Live Nation Inc. are close to a merger, people familiar with the matter said, in a deal that would consolidate two of the most powerful forces in the music industry under one roof.

The combined company would be called Live Nation Ticketmaster, and would merge the world's biggest concert promoter with the world's dominant ticketing and artist-management company. The resulting firm would be able to manage everything from recorded music to ticket sales and tour sponsorship. It could package artists in new ways, for example, allowing corporations such as a cellphone provider to sponsor a concert tour and to sell an exclusive download of a song.

Live NationBecause it would be so vertically integrated, the new company would also be able to muscle out competing concert promoters and have more power to dictate ticket prices to consumers.

The boards of both companies have yet to approve the all-stock merger, these people said. Terms of what these people described as a merger of equals have yet to be worked out. It was unclear last night which company would be acquiring the other. Live Nation's market capitalization, at $390 million, is slightly higher than Ticketmaster's $351 million. But the concert promoter has more debt and less cash.

Sticking points remain to any deal. Because a merger would concentrate so much power in the music industry under one company, it would require review by antitrust authorities. The deal, which wouldn't entail any exchange of cash, could be announced as early as next week, these people said. [Wall Street Journal]

Crazy. I'm guessing if it goes through, Live Nation would go back to selling tickets on Ticketmaster. That would also be weird since many of Live Nation's competitors use Ticketmaster and Ticketweb to sell tickets (Bowery Presents and AEG for instance).

Artists commisioned for Grammy's

Will.I.Am’s Peapod Foundation has commissioned several contemporary artists to create portraits of the 25 Grammy nominees being honored this week at the Grammy’s on Sunday. The portraiture will be featured in a gallery setting with a silent auction to benefit Peapod as well as the Watts Willowbrook Boys and Girls Club to support Los Angeles youths in need.

Commissioned artists and their featured portraits:
SAS CHRISTIAN – Riverview, FL (Rihanna)
LORI EARLEY – Red Bank, NJ (Madonna)
JEREMY LIPKING – Woodland Hills, CA (Snoop Dogg)
IAN JOHNSON – San Francisco, CA (Al Green)
DAVID STOUPAKIS – New York, NY (Will.i.am)
PAUL CHATEM – Los Angeles, CA (Rick Rubin)
RON ENGLISH – Jersey City, NJ (Metallica)
GREG GOSSEL – Minneapolis, MN (Jay-Z)
HENRY LEWIS – San Francisco, CA (Nas)
SHAWN BARBER – San Francisco. CA (Shawn Barber)
TRAVIS LOUIE – Red Hook, NY (Nine Inch Nails)
MATT BONE – Los Angeles, CA (Beyonce)
JOSHUA PETKER – Los Angeles, CA (Radiohead)
VAN ARNO – Los Angeles, CA (BB King)
HEIDI TAILLEFER – Montreal, CAN (Coldplay)
KRIS LEWIS – Los Angeles, CA (Beck)
MIKE MAXWELL – San Deigo, CA (Bruce Springstein)
GARY BASEMAN & NABIL ELDERKIN – Los Angeles, CA (Kanye West)
CHRIS PUGLIESE – Hoboken, NJ (The Eagles)
HELEN GARBER – Los Angeles, CA (Will.i.am)
SAUL ARMAS – Los Angeles, CA (Lil’ Wayne)
TRAE KING – Los Angeles, CA (Duffy)

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