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Music Notes

Perspective, pings and other things relevant to our world

Music On The TV

April 29, 2011

It was another ratings boon for a music-themed television show: new NBC musical reality show ‘The Voice’ surpassed the competition to take the top slot in the valuable 18-49 age demographic during its recent premiere, with many observers falling for the talent-show-with-a-unique-twist featuring Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green, Adam Levine and Blake Shelton as the four coaches competing with each other to field the best ‘team.’  Also notable?  The other two shows that night rounding out the top three during this prime time position were ‘Dancing With the Stars,’ an episode which showcased live performances from New Kids On the Block and the Backstreet Boys (now touring together under the name NKOTBSB) and recent Idol star Pia Toscano, and a 90-minute ‘Glee’ episode featuring a special Lady Gaga theme.


That’s not just a random night either.  Entertainment Weekly recently dug into Nielsen’s TV ratings and found that between September 2010 and March 2011, four out of the five TV shows with the highest viewership were about music. 


It doesn’t end there.  This year’s Grammys hold the distinct honor as the most-watched Grammy show in a decade and the recent Academy of Country Music Awards also enjoyed a boost in ratings.


So what gives?  Perhaps this speaks to the enduring -- or resurgent -- popularity of music and the fact that few other forms of entertainment are as prevalently and prominently appealing, and TV executives are wise to capitalize on that.  We’ve noted in the past the economic and cultural centrality of music to so many industries and consumer experiences.


There’s always the chance that these are just seasonal or random anomalies.  But this a useful reminder that music’s sway reaches far and wide, and this is an interesting trend that bears further watching (along with ‘The Voice’, ‘DWTS’, ‘Glee’, etc, etc, etc.).


Cara Duckworth Weiblinger, Vice President, Communications, RIAA

Welcome to the RIAA's New Website

April 25, 2011

If you’re reading this post then you’ve likely noticed that something is different about RIAA.com.  No need to clean your glasses, you’re where you intended to be and we’re happy you’ve stopped by.  For those interested, we’ve outlined a few details about our recently refreshed website.  All the basics are still here, while we’ve also added a few bells and whistles.  Highlights include:

•    Featured homepage album art to help fans find new music releases, artist’s websites and recent Gold & Platinum (G&P) program certifications
•    A click-to-buy music tool to make music discovery and purchasing easy from the RIAA’s homepage and G&P program searchable database
•    Easy access to legal music services licensed by the major music companies
•    New music resources that offer fans a sampling of websites where they can learn about new releases and where to get them
•    An improved Gold & Platinum searchable database to help users narrow their searches and find certifications faster
•    A Gold & Platinum News section exclusively for the RIAA’s G&P program news
•    Featured shipment statistics data from the RIAA’s database of year-end statistics where users can view, compare and export US music shipment data from 1973 to 2010
•    Links to music industry research on music theft’s impact, the industry’s economic contributions and more
•    Organized resources for parents, educators and copyright notice recipients including pamphlets, computer protection tips, curriculum for teachers and college administrators and information for digital music consumers
•    Of course more … but we’ll leave it to you to discover on your own.  Enjoy!

Get Out! Saturday Is Record Store Day

April 15, 2011

Music fans looking for a Saturday plan, tune in.  Tomorrow, April 16, is the fourth annual Record Store Day, where fans visiting neighborhood music stores can expect to find limited-edition vinyl and CD releases, promotional giveaways and even live performances.  Last year 800 stores participated and this year boasts exclusive RSD releases from AC/DC, Adele, The Cars, Death Cab for Cutie, The Decemberists, Duran Duran, Foo Fighters, Jimi Hendrix, Kings of Leon, Lady Gaga, Matt & Kim, Michael Jackson, My Chemical Romance, Ozzy Osbourne, Pearl Jam, Ray Lamontagne, R.E.M., The Rolling Stones and others!  Special performances will be given by popular acts including Regina Spektor, Drive-By Truckers, Duran Duran, My Morning Jacket, the DBs and more.  Don’t miss the good RSD roundups that Billboard and the Chicago Sun-Times posted today here and here and learn which record shops near you are participating here.

More Opportunities to Give to Japan

April 06, 2011

With the good news that star-studded, all for charity album “Songs For Japan” has boomed to the top of Billboard’s US digital album sales chart, claimed  iTunes #1 rank in 18 countries and already sold more than 250,000 downloads worldwide to raise an early $2 million donation for the Japanese Red Cross Society, we wanted to continue to remind music fans about excellent options for donating to Japan earthquake and tsunami relief efforts.

For starters, the “Songs For Japan” 37 SONG super charity album is on sale for only $9.99 at iTunes and it arrived at physical retailers this week as a double CD.

Additionally, EMI Music has just launched an amazing online fundraising auction featuring 200 exclusive items from EMI artists and songwriters like the Beatles, Corinne Bailey Rae, Kylie Minogue, Gorillaz, the Beach Boys, Jonas Brothers, Sick Puppies, Duffy, David Guetta, Michael Franti, Depeche Mode, Celtic Woman, Rosanne Cash, Daft Punk and many others.


Check out the incredible memorabilia at ebay.com/EMIfamily4Japan.  They include four VIP Arcade Fire tickets to its June 30th Hyde Park show, Coldplay’s Chris Martin’s 2010 Viva la Vida world tour jacket, Katy Perry’s California Dreams tour cupcake trampoline, the last  of a very limited edition Beatles’ Yellow Submarine Schwinn bicycle, a private meet and greet with Keith Urban during his Closer tour, a painting by Duran Duran, plus signed guitars from Norah Jones, Willie Nelson, Darius Rucker, Eric Church, Good Charlotte, Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town, Luke Bryan, the B-52s and much, much more. 


The first of the two phase charity auction began yesterday and lasts until April 15, while the second stage will run April 11-21.  Billboard.biz posted a by-artist description of all the memorabilia up for grabs in both phases here.  EMI has generously offered to match funds raised up to one million Euros, which will be used towards the Japanese Red Cross disaster relief efforts to help those affected by the earthquake and tsunami.  Get to eBay now to bid for these HOT items and give to Japan!

Liz Kennedy, Director, Communications, RIAA

Google's Efforts to Disable Parasites

April 06, 2011

As a community constantly plagued by online theft of our music, we’re very encouraged to see another Congressional hearing focused on illegal rogue sites based overseas that sell counterfeit and pirated products.  Today the House Judiciary Intellectual Property Subcommittee held the second part of a two-part hearing entitled “Promoting Investment and Protecting Commerce Online: Legitimate Sites v. Parasites, Part II,” with witnesses from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE), Google, GoDaddy.com and a notable First Amendment expert.

The goal of the hearing was to examine ways to root out these foreign websites that traffic in counterfeit goods.  A special focus was given to Google’s search index that lists links to illegal content before sites that offer lawful content. This is an issue of particular concern to us, because it directs Google’s users to illegal content, makes it seem acceptable to patronize sites that offer illegal content, and makes it difficult for legal sites to succeed.  We continue to urge Google to give priority to the more than 400 authorized music websites licensed by the music labels whenever a music search is made.

We’re also heartened by the announcement of House Judiciary IP Subcommittee Chairman Goodlatte that he will investigate Google’s search index and undertake further scrutiny of its notice and takedown program.

Let us be clear: there is no doubt that Google has taken productive steps to combat content theft online and we are one of many that have commended these improvements.  These efforts are encouraging and give us hope that Google is truly committed to working with those of us that produce the content that Google users want to see and hear.

But let us also be clear that there is much more that needs to be done.  As GoDaddy.com witness Christine Jones noted at the hearing, “Although some of us have done a lot, there is still a lot more that some can do.”  We couldn’t agree more.  For example, Google’s AdSense program continues to service to illegal sites that offer unauthorized music.  Mobile apps on Google’s Android platform provide instantaneous access to illegal music files, yet Google frequently chooses not to remove them.  And while Google states that it relies upon the content community to let them know what’s legal and what’s not, it’s Google’s level of responsiveness after being contacted that causes us continued concerns. In fairness, Google has improved its takedown speeds, but the improvements are more episodic than consistent.  We are hopeful that Chairman Goodlatte’s proposed investigation into Google’s notice and takedown procedures will help to iron out these wrinkles. 

There are many other ways in which Google can make improvements that will substantiate Google’s commitment to content protection, as its General Counsel vociferously testified to today.  We have appreciated the dialogue we have had with Google, and the progress we have made to date.  But as today’s hearing demonstrated, there is much, much more that Google must do.  As First Amendment expert Floyd Abrams testified, “It is one thing to say that the Internet must be free; it is quite another to say that it must be lawless.  Even the Wild West had sheriffs, and even those who use the Internet must obey the law.”

Cary Sherman, President, Recording Industry Association of America