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“Shhhh-it!”: Idolator’s Super-Secret Music Interview Talks Shop

Every week in the “Shhhh-it!” AnonIMous Super-Secret Music-Biz Interview Series (S-I!AS-SM-BIS for, uh, short) we interview a grizzled music industry veteran via the meat grinder world of instant messaging. As many of you out there may know, I’m a recovering publicist with nearly a decade of experience in promotion and PR. Don’t hold that against me. This week I sat down with RecentlyDownsized, a long-time publicist and old industry bro/competitor who, like everyone in the music biz today, is moving into other realms of PR as a means of staying alive. Both Downsized and I worked primarily independent artists. We experienced the rise of so-called “New Media” and have watched as the focus of our jobs transitioned from more traditional PR work (getting reviews in magazines) to cross-promotion and marketing:

RecentlyDownsized: It’s been my frustration that online, radio and publicity are being morphed into one clusterfuck function
RecentlyDownsized: so not only are there too many cooks in the kitchen, but blogs and mags are being spammed 3 times as much all for the same projects.
RecentlyDownsized: no wonder they increasingly ignore me, ha-ha
StumpyPete1975: yeah
StumpyPete1975: I noticed my functions changing over the last five years
StumpyPete1975: at first it was “Can you get me in Magnet?”
StumpyPete1975: by the end, it was “Can you get me on the iTunes front page?”
StumpyPete1975: and I always thought that was marketing, not PR work
RecentlyDownsized: for me, it was “can you get us on a couple of blogs?” but now it’s “can you set up interviews in every town on the tour and make sure we have a sold out show in Boise, Idaho and merch bundles with Urban Outfitters?”

If it sounds like it was a gripe session, well, you’re right. More shop talk and self-reflection after the jump!

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Heavy Lies the Crown: Clarkson Still Tops, But Slim Shady Is Poised to Pounce

eminem_l.jpgMaura and I have already taken a victory lap about our fulfilled prediction that Kelly Clarkson would vault to the top of Billboard‘s Hot 100. Clarkson’s “My Life Would Suck Without You” dominates the list again this week, thanks to commanding sales and fast-rising radio airplay.

How long will she stay there? Nothing in the Top 10 looks like a threat. The few songs that are on the rise, including Kanye West’s “Heartless” and All-American Rejects’ “Gives You Hell,” appear to be losing momentum. The Fray’s “You Found Me” will likely get a boost from the release of their album this week, but probably not enough to take over the penthouse.

If anything’s going to dethrone Clarkson, it will come from outside the winners’ circle. “Prom Queen,” the ill-advised rock single from Lil Wayne, makes an impressive debut at No. 17, the highest start so far this year. You’d think that would give him the edge.

But the more likely scenario involves someone doing to Kelly what Kelly did to Lady GaGa two weeks ago: an outside ambush that vaults from the bottom to the top in one fell swoop. And the probable ambusher is making an even bigger chart comeback this year than Clarkson.

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A Robot Roundtable On The Grammys

The Grammy Awards are right around the corner, and figuring out the Grammy voters’ somewhat lunatic hivemind is a Sisyphean task (Marc Cohn? Steely Dan? Jethro Tull?). When I need answers in times of great uncertainty like these, I turn to beings of superior logic: Robots. I brought together a roundtable discussion between my old pal Elbot, the chirpy (and recently retired) AIM chatbot SmarterChild, and theCanadian-dragon newcomer Bildgesmythe. As before, the conversation proved… less than helpful:

SmarterChild: My brain is retired but send an IM with QUIZ in it to my buddy MyTVBud to play the Secret Life TV Show QUIZ!
Me: Um. Huh. Okay, so the Grammys! Lil Wayne got a lot of nominations. Think he’s gonna clean up?
Elbot: I’m not sure if I can believe that, though I would say that ingesting food may increase a robot’s non-static discharge.
Bildgesmythe: I think we should have a snack.
Me: We’re off the food, guys.
SmarterChild: My brain is retired but send an IM with QUIZ in it to my buddy MyTVBud to play the Secret Life TV Show QUIZ!

More high-caliber Grammy insight after the jump!

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Your First “Higher Love”: What Songs Did You Learn Because Of A Big Old Crush?

eMusic has a charming piece wherein a number of musicians of varying notoriety reveal their different first crushes. We find out that Laura Ballance of Superchunk had things for James West of The Wild, Wild West, Robin, The Black Stallion, and Han Solo (as well she should have); Julian Koster of Music Tapes and Neutral Milk Hotel crushed out on a model of the city of Manhattan. And then there’s Sam Bisbee, who taught himself Kiss’ “Beth” in honor of a girl… named Beth:

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“Suck” Blows (Up): Clarkson’s Comeback Could Make It To The Top Of The Pops

The most interesting news on Billboard’s Hot 100 isn’t at the summit, where the entire Top Five has been static for the last couple of weeks. It’s in the basement, where a flotilla of new songs—many by established acts—debuts.

We could talk about the return of Eminem to the Hot 100, for the first time in nearly three years, with his 50 and Dre-supported “Crack the Bottle,” at No. 76.

Or the third single and first ballad from the omnipresent Katy Perry, one notch below. (More on her in a minute.)

Or a couple of all-star duets—mellow twosome Jason Mraz and Colbie Caillat (“Lucky,” No. 84) or smoove pair Jamie Foxx and T-Pain (“Blame It,” No. 98).

But all of these budding hits are overshadowed by the single that debuts quietly at No. 97—a song that could well be the chart’s next No. 1 and finally put some distance between Kelly Clarkson and the other American Idol finalists who’ve been chipping away at her crown all these years.

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My Least Favorite Marching Band Show

I’m gonna be up front and honest here because I feel like we are all Internet pals.

I was in the marching band for eight years—four in high school, four in college. I’m not ashamed. I’m a proud Auburn High School Marching Band alum. (Tim Reed and I played quads. Called ourselves “Quad Squad.” We made up baseball cards and everything. We also always requested “All 4 Love” during games. I’m pretty sure everyone else hated us for that.) In college, I played cymbals in Mississippi State Famous Maroon Band every year to get my out-of-state fees waived. I was Cymbal Section Leader for two years by default. My band name was “Moses.” Yep, I’m a band geek. That’s me on the right.

Over the course of those eight years, I participated in no less than 10 Disney-themed shows (I can play “A Friend Like Me” on bass drum, tenor drums, and cymbals); five Blood, Sweat, and Tears shows; four Chicago shows; three Kansas shows; and lots and lots of “USA! USA!”-themed performances.

Earlier this week, Dan Gibson wrote a takedown of Kings of Leon member Caleb Followill’s inability to name two actual Motown artists as his favorite (he chose not-Motown perennial white people faves Sam Cooke and Otis Redding). This reminded me of the most shameful halftime show the Famous Maroon Band ever put on. (This includes our disastrous James Bond-themed show, wherein the band just stood there and played because no one could figure out the charts.)

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Morrissey Quitting Music Again (Except Not Really)

In what can only be seen as a stunning display of click hunger, Filter‘s site offered up a “Morrissey Exclusive” with the salacious subheading “Calling It Quits?” Given that his newest album has garnered some effusive praise around these parts, that’s some pretty big news.

So, of course, it’s not really true. Here is the quote in question:

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Lady GaGa Dances To No. 1 As iTunes’ Beat Gets A Little Bit Slower

Over the holidays, Billboard‘s song charts were, at least on the surface, pretty sleepy. On the Hot 100, most of the songs that were hot late last fall—Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies” and “If I Were a Boy,” T.I. and Rihanna’s “Live Your Life,” Kanye’s “Love Lockdown” and “Heartless,” Taylor Swift’s “Love Story,” the unkillable Katy Perry’s “Hot N Cold”—continued bumping around the Top 10 like lazy molecules.

But below the surface, a ton of music was being consumed. In particular, one song benefited massively from the annual iPod-filling digital megasale that hits iTunes every Christmas—and that song, Lady GaGa’s “Just Dance,” reaches No. 1 the very week Apple’s music store removes digital-rights management restrictions on all of its songs, making them freely copyable.

Does this mean we’re in for even more Lady GaGa than we’re enduring now, as kids trade their iTunes purchases like baseball cards? Unlikely: those who “share” music probably figured out their DRM workarounds years ago.

But the official start of the post-DRM era—and, more important, the changes to song pricing—could have some interesting effects on digital song sales, and the charts that track them.

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“Shhhh-it!”: Idolator’s Super-Secret Music Interview Series Oscillates My Metallic Sonatas

Every week in the “Shhhh-it!” AnonIMous Super-Secret Music-Biz Interview Series (S-I!AS-SM-BIS for, uh, short) we interview a grizzled music industry veteran via the topsy-turvy world of instant messaging. This week brings an interview with TheThingThatShouldNotBe, an editor at a metal magazine and a longtime aficionado of the genre. TheThingThatShouldNotBe has a lot to say about the state of metal today and is fairly sanguine about the prospects for metal print magazines in this deleterious time for the music industry. He poses a theory as to why metal fans are so devoted, chastises Idolator for its lack of metal coverage, and takes on the lack of metal on year-end lists, particularly that of Pitchfork:

TheThingThatShouldNotBe: i mean, pitchfork reviewed a fistful of metal releases throughout the year, some quite favorably, but when it came time to make up their top 50 list, not one metal title was on there
TheThingThatShouldNotBe: same with the onion av club list – not one metal title
StumpyPete1975: I think it’s the problem with consensus
StumpyPete1975: there is that one metal guy on staff
TheThingThatShouldNotBe: it bugs me because they’re not claiming to be parochial indie-only sites, they’re claiming to be covering the best of current music
StumpyPete1975: yep
TheThingThatShouldNotBe: and yet, when the year ends, their true colors are revealed
TheThingThatShouldNotBe: i mean, i don’t have to pretend to like bon iver or whoeverthefuck, you know?
TheThingThatShouldNotBe: when i make a list of the best albums of the year, it’s gonna be the best METAL albums of the year, and everyone reading it knows that going in
TheThingThatShouldNotBe: but pitchfork wants to expand their stylistic purview – until they don’t
TheThingThatShouldNotBe: and it winds up being disrespectful
TheThingThatShouldNotBe: and an inaccurate portrayal of culture as it exists on the ground

Metal machine music after the jump!

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Someone Did To An MTV Exec What Its Channels Have Been Doing To Us All Of These Years

It seems that some enterprising scamp mailed a… More »


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