MySpace Purchases iLike, Stops Auto-Song Play

myspace-logoMySpace has purchased music based social networking site iLike for an estimated $20 million. The sites will continue to operate separately but will begin sharing technology, such as iLike’s search capabilities, syndication network and discovery tools. MySpace CEO Owen Van Natta says the acquisition is about technical talent, as well as promoting MySpace across the broader social web.

Brothers Ali and Hadi Partovi founded iLike in 2006. It eventually grew to be the largest music application across all social networks with 55 million total users and 1.5 billion monthly impressions. The Partovis will stay on at the company.

In related MySpace news, the company expects to save a significant amount of money in licensing fees by turning off the feature that makes music play automatically whenever the site is visited. Reports say the company is spending around $10 million a month on paid streaming of songs, with autoplays accounting for a billion or more streams per month. It is expected that stopping this feature will give artist handlers more accurate listening data. Some users and MySpace execs saw this as one of the site’s distinguishing features. Accordingly, users can still opt-in to autoplay songs.

Alan, Wy, Willie, Bluebird, and Bucky

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Alan Jackson’s most recent album "Good Time" just reached the one million worldwide sales mark and his Norwegian Favorites album hit the No. 1 spot on the charts in that country, making his first No. 1 in Norway. Jackson recently played Skien, Norway; Eskilstuna, Sweden; and Bergen, Norway, where 20,000 fans waited 9 hours in the rain to see him.

Wynonna Judd won $50,000 on last night’s episode (8/18) of ABC’s Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, 100% of which she will donate to Backpack Mission Ministries charity. Wynonna was presented with a puzzling mathematical scenario and with the help of a ‘Phone-A-Friend’ lifeline—her Aunt Margaret Mandell—Wynonna provided the correct answer to win the money for the kids’ charity. Also, Wynonna’s 4-part web series “I’m With Wy” launches tomorrow (8/19) on ABC.com. The series is in support of the primetime special, CMA Music Festival: Country’s Night To Rock, airing Aug. 31. Wynonna also chatted backstage with Cameron Mathison from ABC’s All My Children before her performance and you can see that interview on Good Morning America August 31.

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Willie Nelson will celebrate the release of his new album, American Classic, his first collection of popular standards since his chart-topping Stardust album in 1978, on his SIRIUS XM channel, Willie’s Place, this weekend (8/21). Listeners will hear Nelson’s personal stories about various tracks from American Classic every hour throughout the weekend of August 21. The album will be in stores on August 25.

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Songwriter Jim Photoglo will replace fellow songwriter Rivers Rutherford for The Bluebird Café’s Dyer Observatory Show this Saturday, August 22 at 8:00PM. The line-up will now be: Victoria Shaw, Dave Berg and Jim Photoglo. The rest of the season will feature Kim Carnes, Tim Nichols and Greg Barnhill with Billy Panda, Tim Lauer & Dave Ellingson on Sept. 12; Thom Schuyler, Fred Knobloch, Don Schlitz & Jelly Roll Johnson on Sept. 26 and Kim Richey, Don Henry and TBA on Oct. 10. Tickets are available at Ticketmaster.

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Bucky Covington was in Los Angeles recently to tape an episode of FOX TV’s Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader to benefit The Arthritis Foundation. “I’ve been brushing up on my grade school skills to at least outsmart all of the 4th graders … just in case it turns out I’m NOT smarter than a 5th grader,” said Bucky. “But, if I bring Jeff Foxworthy an apple maybe I’ll get a few extra points.”

SouthComm buying “Scene,” “Nfocus”

southcomm-publishing-logoNashville, TN (8/19/09)– SouthComm Inc., the parent of MusicRow Magazine and other niche publications, has signed an agreement to buy the assets of Nashville Scene and Nfocus magazine from City Press LLC.

“The Scene is the strongest arts and entertainment brand in Nashville,” said SouthComm CEO Chris Ferrell. “Pairing it and Nfocus with our other niche publications made good strategic sense.”

Terms of the deal are not being disclosed. The acquisition is expected to close this week.scene

With the addition of the Scene and Nfocus, SouthComm will own eight Nashville-area publications, cementing its place as Middle Tennessee’s largest locally owned media company.

NFocus is a Nashville original that will continue to be the city’s premier outlet for coverage of the nfocussocial scene and philanthropy,” Ferrell said. “And, having been publisher of the Scene for three years, I’m also very familiar with the quality staff we’ll have the opportunity to bring on board.”

Founded in late 2007 after Ferrell left his post at the Scene, the company now employs more than 150 people, the majority of them in Middle Tennessee. It also operates an alternative newsweekly in Louisville as well as two custom publishing businesses that cater primarily to chambers of commerce.

“As the daily newspaper model struggles ever more, advertisers and readers are increasingly looking for next-generation sources of news, information and advertising,” Ferrell said, adding that the combined City Paper/Scene readership will be almost as large as that of The Tennessean.

“The key to our strategy is not the mass reach, however,” he explains. “It is being able to deliver specifically targeted audiences to our advertisers when they need to reach them. Few people read the whole daily paper; they read sections that appeal to them.

“We essentially are unbundling the daily. The City Paper is our brand for news and sports, the Nashville Post and BusinessTN are our business news brands, and the Scene gives us the strongest brand in the market for coverage of arts and culture. With this acquisition, we’ve built out our Nashville model. Over time, we will look to replicate our work here in other cities.”

Chesney To Debut Clothing Line

kenny-chesney-coronaKenny Chesney has inspired a clothing line called Blue Chair Bay which is set for an official launch Sept. 1 at the MAGIC Marketplace, a nationwide clothing event in Las Vegas. Reflecting his casual beach lifestyle, the clothing for men and women is described as classic, with an emphasis on all-natural fabrics.

During the fashion convention, Blue Chair Bay will showcase inside a tour bus, and Chesney will offer attendees an intimate performance at the Hard Rock Hotel to show who he is and what his music represents.

“We’ve had people approach us in the past [about a clothing line]” says the entertainer, “but it never seemed like something I’d wear… But the people from what became Blue Chair Bay got the things that are important to me…And they let me be involved with the design.” Included are items such as woven shirts, khakis, shorts, T’s and jeans. Well over two years in the works with the American design team, the clothing colors are said to look like they’ve been baked by the sun and sea water.

Blue Chair Bay has soft launched in select retailers including Fast Buck Freddy’s in Key West; Ocean Eddie’s in Gulf Coast, AL; and Levy’s in Nashville.

Dolly Box Set Coming This Fall

DollyPartonA four-CD box set simply-titled Dolly, will debut Oct. 27. Comprising 99 songs, it is the first multi-CD, multi-label deluxe box set compilation ever to represent her life’s work and will be released through RCA Nashville/Legacy, a division of Sony Music Entertainment.

Dolly Parton is distinguished for having charted at least one Top 5 country hit in each decade since the ’60s. She has also charted at least one #1 country hit (if not a dozen) in each decade from the ’70s to the 2000’s: “Joshua,” “Jolene,” “I Will Always Love You,” “Here You Come Again,”  “Starting Over Again,” the Grammy Award-winning “9 To 5,” “Islands In The Stream” (with Kenny Rogers), “Tennessee Homesick Blues,” “Why’d You Come In Here Lookin’ Like That,” “Rockin’ Years” (with Ricky Van Shelton) and “When I Get Where I’m Going” (with Brad Paisley).

The elegant package designed for Dolly houses a full-color 60-page booklet with never-before-seen photographs and rare memorabilia. A brief and loving introduction has been written by Nashville-bred singer-songwriter Laura Cantrell. An extensive 5,000-word biographical essay follows, by ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award-winning writer-editor-producer-lecturer Holly George-Warren.

Dolly continues to explore the broad range and depth of her recording career – from the rarely-heard sides cut at age 11 for the Louisiana-based Goldband indie label, and at age 16 for Mercury in Nashville, through her whirlwind two years (and first chart records) with Monument (1965-67), her record-setting near two-decade stay with RCA Records (1967-85, underpinning her long hitmaking association with Porter Wagoner), and another near-decade at Columbia into the ’90s. In addition, seven previously unreleased tracks make their historic debuts on this box set, as well as 11 of Porter and Dolly’s hit duets. The set is also available for pre-order at www.shopdolly.com.

Leadership Music, CMA Industry InSite, and the “Just Plain Folks” Awards

Steve Wariner pictured during a recent visit to Rose Barracks Army Post in Vilseck, Germany, where he performed for American troops.

Steve Wariner pictured during a recent visit to Rose Barracks Army Post in Vilseck, Germany, where he performed for American troops.

Grammy winner Steve Wariner and noted studio owner John McBride have been added to the Leadership Music Dale Franklin Award salute to Jim Foglesong, Allen Reynolds and Garth Brooks, set for Sunday, Aug. 23 at the Renaissance Hotel. Wariner (co-writer of Brooks’ hit “Longneck Bottle”) joins in the tribute to Brooks with his wife Trisha Yearwood, and longtime friends Martina and John McBride, who once worked as Brooks’ tour production manager.

Reynolds-produced artists Kathy Mattea, Hal Ketchum and Crystal Gayle, songwriter Bob McDill and Cowboy Jack Clement will lead the salute to Reynolds. Colleagues celebrating Foglesong include Roy Clark, John Conlee and Lee Greenwood.

Many more luminaries are set to send video messages. Tickets to the invitation only fundraising event are nearly sold out. For more information, contact [email protected]

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Understanding the benefits of legal representation in the entertainment industry is the focus of the latest installment of CMA Industry InSite, an online educational series, which is posted exclusively for CMA members at My.CMAworld.com.

The fourth episode on Entertainment Law features interviews with Duff Berschback, VP, Business Affairs, Sony/ATV Publishing; Rusty Jones, Attorney, Harris, Martin, Jones, Shrum, Bradford & Wommack P.A.; and Tyler Middleton of Baker & Kelley, PLLC.

Future episodes include topics from Social Networking to Country Radio and Touring. Episodes are posted on the third Monday of the month. With each new episode, CMA members are able to submit questions to the panel of experts. Each segment, which is roughly 10 minutes long, is archived for easy access at any time.

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The Just Plain Folks Music Awards will be held at the Wildhorse Saloon Saturday night. Among the Country nominees in the Album category are Gretchen Peters, Rick Huckaby, Ray Stephenson, Rebecca Lindsey, Jerry Kilgore, The Amazing Rhythm Aces, Jerry Salley, Aaron Tippin, Big Al Anderson and The Balls, and Thom Shepherd & Steve Williams. See all the nominees, including those for Song, Lyrics and Video here.

Wanna Dunk An Exec, Critic, or Charlie Monk?

Well, now’s your chance. Because several good sports—many of them from MusicRow’s In Charge list—will be sitting in the dunking booth at the Country Cares party on Thurs., Aug. 20. St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital® will host a street party from 5-8 PM at Roy Acuff Place as a thank-you to the music industry for twenty years of support of its very successful Country Cares for St. Jude Kids program. Festivities will include burgers, beverages, music and games. The party, hosted by the St. Jude Country Cares Advisory Board, is open to the music industry. Country Cares program founder Randy Owen and ALSAC/St. Jude COO Dave McKee will be on hand to greet guests.

Here’s the official “dunking” schedule (subject to change):

5:30 p.m. Bart Allmand, songwriter, Disney Music Publishing
5:45 p.m. Suzanne Alexander, GAC host
6:00 p.m. Robert K. Oermann, longtime columnist for MusicRow magazine and owner of R.K.O. Media Products
6:15 p.m. Adrian Michaels, VP of country promotion, Curb Records
6:30 p.m. Blair Garner, host of radio show “After MidNite With Blair Garner”
6:45 p.m. Charlie Monk, Pres. of Monk Family Music Group and unofficial “Mayor of Music Row”
7:00 p.m. Jimmy Harnen, president, Republic Nashville records
7:15 p.m. Wade Jessen, senior chart manager, Billboard magazine
7:45 p.m. Jimmy Rector, VP of national promotion, Columbia Records Nashville

TV Shuffle: Reba, Billy, Shania, Brad, Love & Theft

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Photo credit: Kristi Boyd

Reba McEntire will be on this week’s CMT Top 20 Countdown, chatting with host Lance Smith about her new album, and her installment of CMT’s Invitation Only which premieres this Friday, August 21 at 8:00 PM/CT.

Tomorrow, (8/19) from 2:45-3:15 PM/CT, Reba will conduct a live Web chat from New York City in partnership with USTREAM and Facebook. Click here or go to www.facebook.com/reba for more information.

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Billy Currington will perform tonight, Tues., Aug. 18 on CBS’s The Late Show With David Letterman.

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Shania Twain will be a guest judge when the American Idol auditions hit Chicago Aug. 30-31, according to People.com. Among the other guests on the panel this season will be Victoria Beckham and Mary J. Blige. They are filling in for Paula Abdul who will not return this season.

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paisleyBrad Paisley’s new video for his current single, “Welcome to the Future,” is available online at bradpaisley.com, youtube.com/bradpaisley and cmt.com, as well as on CMT and GAC. The video is directed by Jim Shea, who also worked on Paisley’s award winning videos “Waitin’ On A Woman,” “Start A Band,” “Online” and “When I Get Where I’m Going.” It was filmed in New York City; Washington, DC; Los Angeles; Tokyo and Kumamoto Japan.

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Carolwood Records trio Love And Theft will make their first-ever national TV appearance this Friday, August 21 when they perform on NBC’s Today Show. Love And Theft will chat with the Today Show’s Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb and play their hit single “Runaway” during the 10 AM broadcast.

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Miley Cyrus will close out the Today show’s summer concert on Aug. 28 at Rockefeller Center. She is replacing Mariah Carey who was originally scheduled for that date.

Paid Downloads On The Rise, But CD Still Rules

itunes-logoAccording to The NPD Group, a leading market research company, while CDs remain the most popular format for paid music purchases, digital music sales are making up an ever-greater share of U.S. music sales. CDs comprised 65 percent of all music sold in the first half of 2009 compared to paid digital downloads, which comprised 35 percent. By comparison, paid digital music downloads comprised just 20 percent of sales in 2007 – growing to 30 percent of the music market last year.

Russ Crupnick, NPD VP of entertainment industry analysis says, “With digital music sales growing at 15 to 20 percent, and CDs falling by an equal proportion, digital music sales will nearly equal CD sales by the end of 2010.”

According to NPD MusicWatch, when it comes to the unit-sales volume of music sold at retail – including paid digital music downloads and CDs – Apple iTunes leads in the U.S. with 25 percent of music units sold, which is up from 21 percent in 2008 and 14 percent in 2007. Walmart (including Walmart.com) remains in second position with 14 percent of music volume sold. Best Buy ranked third.

iTunes also continued to solidify its lead in the digital music arena, as consumer downloads from iTunes comprised 69 percent of the digital music market in the first half of 2009, followed by AmazonMP3 at 8 percent.

Walmart leads all sellers of CDs with a 20 percent share of the physical music market, followed by Best Buy at 16 percent, and Target and Amazon tied at 10 percent each.

Sneak Preview of CRS 41

crs-41Organizers of this year’s Country Radio Seminar have tweeked the format of the educational panels for the coming event, to be held Feb. 24-26, 2010, at the Nashville Convention Center. Panels which were previously tailored to radio station market size, will offer information that can be applied to all  markets, as well as the music industry as a whole.

In response to comments from attendees, the Agenda Committee is making sure that no more than three panels will be held simultaneously. Also, the Sales panels which previously took place the same day have been redistributed throughout the three days of the seminar.

Here’s a sneak peek at this year’s agenda highlights:

Wednesday, Feb. 24: The as-yet-unannounced Keynote Speaker, followed by the Universal Music Group luncheon and showcase, the songwriter event KCRS Live!, the Music City Jam hosted by Taylor Swift, and panels such as Bob Rosner’s “Workplace 911” and “The Taylor Effect,” about the marketing strategies that have been successful for the superstar.

Thursday, Feb. 25: Examples of panels might include: “So You Think You Know How to Do An Artist Interview? You’re Wrong!” “The Great Playlist Debate: Can Passive Be Passionate?” and a special research project. Other events include Sony Music Entertainment’s luncheon and showcase, and BMI/Country Aircheck’s WCRS Live!

Friday, Feb. 26: Friday kicks off with the newly renamed Power Breakfast (formerly Manager’s Breakfast), followed by the Capitol luncheon and showcase. Panels on Friday cover the already confirmed: “PPM Affects Every Facet of Our Industry, and This Means You!” “Arbitron vs. Nielsen” and “51 Great Promotional Ideas in 50 Minutes.” CRS 41 closes with the New Faces of Country Music® Show and Dinner. Performers have yet to be announced.

Registration, a detailed agenda and confirmed panelists can be viewed at the Country Radio Broadcasters Web site: www.CRB.org.