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Sony Onboard With eMusic

Back catalog from Sony Music Entertainment will soon be available on popular download site eMusic. This is the first major label to partner with the retailer known largely for indie music. eMusic boasts about 400,000 subscribers who can download a set number of MP3s each month in exchange for a monthly fee.

Following the agreement with Sony, eMusic has raised its monthly prices and cut the number of downloads for some plans. eMusic says that many of the independent labels it works with had also been asking it to increase prices.

Sony considers songs more than two years old “back catalog.”

Musicrow.com reformatted 4 iPhone

iphone

MusicRow.com has been reformatted for speed and ease of design for iPhone, iPod touch, Google Android and Blackberry Storm mobile surfers. iphonemenu When visiting  MusicRow.com using one of the aforementioned mobile devices the information will automatically display in the fast loading, quick read mobile format. At the top of the new page is a menu link which offers access to special sections on the site including the Country Breakout radio chart, CD/single/events release calendar, advertising information and  subscription link.

In recent weeks Apple was rated highest among smartphone manufacturers by J.D. Power. According to Cnet the iPhone owns a 66.61% share of web browsing in the mobile space. The next closest share is by the RIM Java2ME browser which gets 9%.

Nashville TV Ties

Four singers with Nashville connections are among American Idol‘s 36 remaining contestants this season. The Tennessean reports Ann Marie Boskovich, Kristen McNamara, Brent Keith and Ricky Braddy are either mid-state natives or currently reside here. The show airs Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 7 PM/CT on Fox.

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Also at Fox: Nashville’s Fox 17 WZTV is going ahead with tonight’s digital TV transition, and will end its analog signal at midnight. Today was the transition date scheduled more than a year ago. Broadcasters can choose whether or not to ditch the signal now, or turn it off before the mandatory deadline of June 12. According to the latest Nielsen research, about 30,000 people in the Nashville area (3.5 percent of the media market) will be affected by the change.

Rates Set For Radio Station Streaming

The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) and SoundExchange have reached an agreement on streaming rates for local radio stations that simulcast online or that have other Internet stations. For 2009-10 these rates will be reduced by about 16%, then they will gradually increase through 2015. In 2009 the rate will be $0.0015 per streamed sound recording, and by 2015 it will be $0.0025 per stream.

Sirius XM Creditors Consider Ejecting Chief

Mel Karmazin

Mel Karmazin

Sirius XM Radio chief executive Mel Karmazin may be removed from his post by creditors if the company files for bankruptcy instead of making a deal to remain operational, the Wall Street Journal reports. Among the satcaster’s options to stay afloat are making deals with either EchoStar or Liberty Media Corp. The New York-based Sirius XM is supposed to repay $175 million in bonds held by EchoStar Corp. by tomorrow’s (2/17) deadline, or bankruptcy could be imminent. Some reports say word on the outcome could come as early as today (2/16).

Spotify Offers Free Streaming

A new online listening service is getting rave reviews from users in Europe. Originally from Sweden and now available in the UK, Spotify allows free ad-supported streaming of personalized playlists. Because the streaming is unlimited, proponents of the system say it provides an incentive not to download illegally. Spotify reportedly has an exceptional catalog through deals with many labels, but has also had its share of legal trouble and was forced to remove thousands of tracks over licensing issues. It claims its catalog is doubling in size every few weeks. Listeners also have the option of paying 99 pence for a single day of ad-free access, or £10 a month for no ads at all.

Urban Fans Get “Sweet” Online Experience

Urban on the video set.

Keith Urban is promoting his latest hit “Sweet Thing” by letting fans personalize the video and send it to others as a Valentine’s Day greeting. At www.sweetthing.tv users can customize the interactive video in twelve different ways, and then forward it around or add it to their own web pages.

The customizable “Sweet Thing” video was created by interactive marketing firm Hi-Fi Fusion, in cooperation with Capitol Records and Borman Entertainment. “We’ve never been more proud of a project and are honored to work with such a forward-thinking artist like Keith,” says Hi-Fi Pres. Todd Cassetty. “In our eight years of operation, this viral marketing piece combines the reach of the Internet with the popularity of music video like nothing we’ve seen before.”

Urban’s sixth studio album Defying Gravity is set for a March 31 release, and his Escape Together World Tour Together with KC Masterpiece® and Kingsford® launches this May.

Digital Summit Reveals Speakers

The Leadership Music Digital Summit will host top-notch speakers including Ted Cohen, TAG Strategic; Dorrian Porter, Mozes; Greg Scholl, The Orchard; Jim Lucchese, The Echo Nest; Ali Partovi, iLike; Jim Cicconi, AT&T; and Dave Ulmer, Motorola. These and other yet-to-be announced experts will discuss how cutting edge technology relates to mobile communication, ISPs, social networking, intellectual property, money and more.

To be held at Belmont University’s Curb Event Center, sessions include Reforming the Digital Copyright System; Supply and Accessibility of Capital for Music Industry Innovation; and Creating, Cultivating and Monetizing the Artist-Fan Relationship. 

This year’s expanded two-day event runs Mon., March 23-Wed., March 25, with added networking opportunities and more live music. All registration fees are currently at or below 2008 prices, starting as low as $129. More than 600 attendees are expected.

Grammys Add Country Performers, Online Coverage

Multiple nominees Sugarland have been added to the performance schedule for this Sunday’s (2/8) 51st Annual Grammy Awards. Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus have also joined the line-up for a special performance together. At the Awards airing live from the LA Staples Center, Sugarland is up for Best Country Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals (“Stay”) and Best Country Collaboration With Vocals (“Life In A Northern Town” with Jake Owen and Little Big Town). Previously announced performers include Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, Kenny Chesney, Carrie Underwood, Kid Rock, Paul McCartney, Justin Timberlake, U2, and Jay-Z.

As in years past, the Awards will be broadcast on television and radio, airing in HD on CBS from 7–10:30 PM/CT and Westwood One, respectively. For 2009, the Recording Academy has broadened online coverage to include social networking sites such as Twitter (“theGRAMMYs”), Facebook (“The Recording Academy”), YouTube (“51stGRAMMYs”) and Last.fm (“the51stgrammys”), in addition to coverage on Grammy.com and CBS.com.

The Pre-Telecast Ceremony, where a majority of Grammy categories are awarded, will also be available online at www.grammy.com on the afternoon of the show. Taking place from 1–3:45 PM/PT at the Los Angeles Convention Center, the non-televised event has grown into its own celebrated affair with guest presenters and live performances.

Other Nashville artists heading to Los Angeles for performances surrounding the Grammys include Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, and Brenda Lee. McGraw and Hill will sing at the Feb. 6 tribute to 2009 MusiCares® Person of the Year Neil Diamond. The event celebrating his artistic achievements and philanthropic work, will also feature Kid Rock and Raul Malo. Lee will receive The Recording Academy’s Lifetime Achievement Award on Sat., Feb. 7 at the Los Angeles Wilshire Ebell Theater. Also being honored are Gene Autry, The Blind Boys of Alabama, The Four Tops, Hank Jones, Dean Martin, and Tom Paxton.

iTunes Drops DRM

CNET.com reports Apple has finally cut deals with Universal, Warner Music and Sony that would allow iTunes to sell DRM-free music files. EMI has been offering DRM-free files on iTunes for over a year. In return, iTunes will compromise on single song pricing. The tech giant had steadfastly refused to accept the idea of variable pricing in the past. Under the new agreement, there would be increased prices on certain hit songs, some tracks would remain at the current 99¢ rate, and a new catalog category would sell for 79¢. There are also expectations that when the deal is announced officially, possibly at MacWorld next week, it will also include over-the-air iPhone downloads without the aid of Wi-Fi.