Will The Writer’s Strike Drain The Grammys’ Talent Pool?

AP071206016082.jpgThe People’s Choice Awards were reduced to a clip show. The Golden Globes are going to be held in press conference form. Will the writer’s strike have a detrimental effect on the Grammys, which are scheduled to take place on Feb. 10? According to Phil Gallo at Variety, it might, because the producers “would have to do a show with no WGA writing, no actors as presenters and none of musicians with union or Hollywood connections.” While the Grammys have only officially announced one performer at the show–the Foo Fighters, who are doing that YouTube talent show thing–Gallo has helpfully compiled a list of people who you likely wouldn’t see on the telecast, given their assorted union connections. And guess whose name is right up top?

Dave Grohl
Bruce Springsteen
Beastie Boys
Joni Mitchell
John Fogerty
Lucinda Williams
Jack White
Steve Earle
Herbie Hancock
Chaka Khan
Fantasia
George Lopez
Jay-Z
Justin Timberlake
Tim McGraw
Beyonce

Eep! And isn’t Whitney Houston in the Screen Actors Guild, too? Maybe Mike Huckabee can learn how to play the triangle sometime in the next month, because from the lineups I’ve seen for the late-night talk shows, dude is all about crossing picket lines.

Glare From Golden Globes Starting To Heat The Grammys? [The Set List]
[Photo: AP]

Grammy Poll Wants To Know: Which Segment Of The Music Biz Is Going To Kick First?

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From Grammy.com. “Retail” is currently in the lead, but that’s probably only because there’s no “all of the above” option.

drdre.gifIf you ever wanted to know what Dr. Dre was really digging in 1986, this vintage mixtape is the definitive (at over 300 records chopped up in 60 minutes) answer, but in short: tons of vintage rap, electro tunes heavy on the Linn rhythms and st-st-stuttering vocals, the timeless drums from Billy Squier’s “Big Beat,” Jheri-curled R&B choruses, and scratching, scratching, scratching. Unsurprisingly, it is the shit. [Sucker Free]

Dr. Dre’s Vintage Mixtape

drdre.gifIf you ever wanted to know what Dr. Dre was really digging in 1986, this vintage mixtape is the definitive (at over 300 records chopped up in 60 minutes) answer, but in short: tons of vintage rap, electro tunes heavy on the Linn rhythms and st-st-stuttering vocals, the timeless drums from Billy Squier’s “Big Beat,” Jheri-curled R&B choruses, and scratching, scratching, scratching. Unsurprisingly, it is the shit. [Sucker Free]

With only six days to go before the show’s seventh-season premiere, the mass exodus of American Idol alums from major labels continues: Katharine McPhee, season five’s runner-up, has parted ways with RCA after only one album, her self-titled effort from last year that debuted at No. 2 and had a couple of decent tracks alongside that absolutely horrific ode to strappy sandals. The album sold 366,000 copies. [Billboard]

Katharine McPhee Splits from RCA

With only six days to go before the show’s seventh-season premiere, the mass exodus of American Idol alums from major labels continues: Katharine McPhee, season five’s runner-up, has parted ways with RCA after only one album, her self-titled effort from last year that debuted at No. 2 and had a couple of decent tracks alongside that absolutely horrific ode to strappy sandals. The album sold 366,000 copies. [Billboard]

In the US, we get CGI chipmunks covering formerly ubiquitous Daniel Powter songs on movie tie-in soundtracks. In the UK? They get Hot Topiced-out boarding-school chicks redoing Shampoo songs. (Yes, that Shampoo.) Alongside tracks by Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Girls Aloud! I think it’s obvious who’s getting the raw end of the deal here. [YouTube]

UK Boarding School Girls Cover Shampoo

In the US, we get CGI chipmunks covering formerly ubiquitous Daniel Powter songs on movie tie-in soundtracks. In the UK? They get Hot Topiced-out boarding-school chicks redoing Shampoo songs. (Yes, that Shampoo.) Alongside tracks by Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Girls Aloud! I think it’s obvious who’s getting the raw end of the deal here. [YouTube]

BitTerrorists In “Taking Their God-Given Right To Free Music A Bit Too Seriously” Shocker

otc.jpgI pose this question to myself a lot, but readers, today I open the floor to you: What the fuck is wrong with people? Here is why I am asking (right now, at least): Today the Overdub Tampering Committee–those guys who claimed to have added instrumentation to leaked albums and re-leaked the altered versions for the purpose of messing with listeners’ heads–posted anew to their blog about the reactions garnered by their announcement earlier this week. They’re remaining mum on what records they did this to and even whether or not this thing is just a big ol’ culturejamming hoax, but they did take the time to let us know that some people were really upset by their antics. Like, murderously so!

If you want to call bullshit on the project (as many, many of you have) feel free to do so. We enjoy how many of you think that causes us to be upset. You bring us joy bullshit-callers! Keep up the good yelling.

Also, as many of you have suggested to us, by providing examples of our work we’re likely placing ourselves in the open for a lawsuit from…someone. We feel that complying with the “Evidence Requests” would only put us in a spot where we’d be poised for a large amount of legal trouble. We love the project but don’t want to ruin our lives because of it.

Which brings us to the least enjoyable aspect of all this: the death threats. Our inbox has been flooded with messages from people all across the globe and while we certainly don’t mind negative messages we’ve been disturbed by the ones threatening violence or murder. Is this really necessary? (I know, the same question can be asked of us as well) What a boring, unoriginal, uninspired response. Is that really the cost of admission for jump starting a conversation with unusual methods these days?

The short answer: Yes. The not-as-short answer: Dude, you’re trying to reason with people who still think Michael Winslow is worth a LOL. It’s best to just assume that they’re not even one step above mouth-breathers.

You Will Not Die, It’s Not Poison [The Overdub Tampering Committee]

Amazon’s MP3 Store Has Major Labels (Mostly) Looking On The Bright Side

So BusinessWeek thinks Amazon’s new MP3 wing is doing pretty well for itself, a little more than three months after its launch, thanks to its client list of DRM-free big names, despite there being no firm sales figures available to the public as of yet and most everything in this article being off-the-record speculation and guestimates. (Even with Amazon itself being beyond tight-lipped about its financial arrangements with the major labels that are providing it with the ability to take a nibble at iTunes, the general idea behind its big draw remains that those labels will soon be able to vary the cost-per-download from the now-standard .99.) There is, however, one aspect of Amazon’s music retail department that’s giving the usual anonymous label insiders some pause about whether or not the online behemoth has their best interests at heart.

To see the awkward position music labels are in, look no further than Amazon’s own CD listings. Amazon’s customers are increasingly turning to used CDs. Third-party sales by merchants across all Amazon products, much of those for used goods, now account for 32% of all the site’s transactions. That’s up from 19% in 2003. Just one example: On the Amazon page for Mary J. Blige’s album Growing Pains, released Dec. 18, a new version sells for $7.99, but directly below it is a used version going for $6.45.
That steams the record labels, which don’t make any money on sales of used CDs. The music industry can ill afford to have anything else pinch its faltering CD business. Album sales dropped another 15% last year, according to the most recent sales figures released by Nielsen SoundScan. That follows years of CD sales declines, which forced big retailers like Tower Records into bankruptcy and prompted other large chain stores to reduce the shelf space devoted to CDs.
Record executives decline to comment publicly about Amazon’s new- and used-CD sales practices for fear of alienating their new partner for online sales. They say in private that Amazon should be extending a good-faith effort to the record labels by altering their policy to sell used and new together. “Nobody is happy about this but it’s a little touchy right now with the new download store,” says one executive. “You will begin to see a lot of pressure exerted on Amazon going forward,” says another executive.

Amazon, on the other hand, sez it’s totally lovey-dovey with the majors and that they shouldn’t be getting salty over any ports in a sales storm at this point, especially a retailer where “sales of new CDs increased after the used business began to take off a few years ago.” It does make you wonder what kind of “pressure” could even be exerted on Amazon at this point given the lack of other outlets Amazon’s size and Steve Jobs’ general intractability on pricing, which Amazon has knowingly played on to make it seem (not entirely incorrectly) like a haven for the beleagured big boys, a “grand experiment” (as BusinessWeek puts it) that at least provides labels an Apple alternative without doing the work of setting up their own online retail environments.

Slouching Towards Digital [BusinessWeek]