Dr. Dre Wins Lawsuit Against Death Row Records, Digital Rights to ‘The Chronic’

The new incarnation of Death Row Records does not have the rights to sell Dr. Dre’s iconic rap album “The Chronic” digitally, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Christina Snyder ruling states that the rapper and producer has received far less money than he is due from online sales of the 1992 album, which also helped launch the career of Snoop Dogg.

The ruling does not call for a halt of digital sales of Dre’s music, but entitles him to receive 100 percent of the proceeds of online sales, his attorney, Howard King, told The Associated Press.

The rapper, whose real name is Andre Young, sued WIDEawke Death Row Records last year, claiming it was improperly selling “The Chronic” digitally and using some of his music on compilation albums without his permission.

Snyder’s ruling states the label, which bought the original Death Row Records’ holdings out of bankruptcy, does not have the right to put Dr. Dre’s music on compilation or any other albums.

“For years, Death Row Records forgot about Dre when they continued to distribute his music digitally and combined his hits with weaker Death Row tracks in an attempt to elevate the stature of their other artists,” King wrote in a statement. “We are gratified that the federal court has unambiguously declared that Death Row has no right to engage in such tactics, and must hold all proceeds from these illicit distributions in trust for our client.”

Phone and email messages for WIDEawake’s attorney, Michael Holtz, was not immediately returned Tuesday evening.

The rapper has a long history of battling Death Row Records, a label he co-founded but later left.

The most recent case he filed centered on his 1996 exit agreement with the label, which called for him to receive 18 percent royalties on his music created while at Death Row and gave him substantial authority over how the songs were used.

The agreement states that WIDEawake can only sell Dre’s music in the format it appeared in before the deal. Another of Dre’s attorneys, Stephen Rothschild, told Snyder during arguments in court on Monday that meant it could only appear in four formats: CD, cassette, vinyl and 8-Track.

Source: Billboard


Wolfgang’s Vault Buys Paste Magazine

Wolfgang’s Vault announced today it acquired Paste Magazine, which is planning to relaunch a new digital subscription version of the magazine this March to coincide with the SXSW music conference.

CEO of Wolfgang’s Vault, Bill Sagan, said: “We have been fans of Paste for a long time and are thrilled to bring their leadership, brand and valuable content and audience into our family. We believe that Paste’s editorial and sales strength will be a wonderful complement to our broad array of music content. We are now able to provide a comprehensive entertainment experience combining live music audio and video with classic merchandise, all wrapped with great editorial.”

Paste Magazine, came out of Pastemusic.com, an editorial and CD sales website launched in 1998. The magazine was born from the site in 2002 as quarterly music and entertainment magazine with an emphasis on Americana, indie rock and adult alternative. It absorbed the subscription base of Tracks, a competing magazine that went out of business, in 2005 (a few years later it also absorbed the subscription base of No Depression magazine).  In 2007 the magazine tried a Radiohead-like “pay what you will” subscription model. Facing contracting music and print media markets, Paste suspended print publication this past August becoming a web-only publication.

Wolfgang’s Vault is known for having the world’s largest collection of live concert recordings and vintage music memorabilia. The business began with the collection of the late promoter Bill Graham. Its group of websites also include Daytrotter and Crawdaddy!.  The business name is a tribute to Bill Graham, born Wolodia “Wolfgang” Grajonca.

Source: Billboard Magazine

Ludacris Expands Brand Into Headphone Market

If high quality audio is your thing, then this is your month. Several high profile celebrities announced new headphone lines at the 2011 International Consumer Electronics Show last week.

Entertainer Chris “Ludacris” Bridges was not to be undone by the competition. Soul, his line of in-ear and on-ear HD headphones with Signeo USA, come in five different models, as well as in varying colors and includes noise cancelation technology. Like his contemporaries, which includes Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson [3], Bridges, didn’t want to slap his name on a product and leave the hard work to the professionals. The Atlanta entrepreneur spent a lot of time with audio engineers and designers at Signeo dictating what he wanted the product to look like and how he wanted it to perform.

Bridges, who also collaborated with Norwegian cognac house Birkedal Hartmann to create Conjure cognac, is no stranger to building brands. BlackEnterprise.com sat with him in Las Vegas to discuss his partnership with Signeo USA and find out his strategy for building equity in his name and businesses.

BlackEnterprise.com: What type of input did you provide towards the engineering of the Soul headphones?

Bridges: We went through a lot of stages. It’s been a process and we were extremely specific about every detail. After two years we’ve gotten exactly what we wanted. It’s the closest thing to perfection. There is a lot of competition out there, but me personally, I feel like there is no competition when it comes to the overall sound quality and the design of the headphones.

Why did you decide to partner with Signeo USA?

I wanted a headphone manufacturer that was just as detailed about every single thing as I was in trying to offer the best product on the market. In terms of me building my brand, I always strive for perfection and I wanted to partner with a company that does the same thing.

As someone with several businesses, what advice would you give in regards to growing different streams of revenue?

It’s all about finding the best individuals that know what they are doing. I might have a passion for something. That doesn’t mean I know every technical aspect of it. So it’s about growing a strong team around you of individuals that are experienced and just as passionate as you are.

Posted By Marcia Wade Talbert (Black Enterprise)

Jay-Z Speaks Financial Truth in New Song With Kanye West

Jay-Z and Kanye WestJay-Z and Kanye West: Richer than you and Lil Wayne. 

In a shocking turn of events, Jay-Z has used the microphone to proclaim his financial superiority over the rest of his hip-hop peers. The assertion comes in a new song with Kanye West entitled “H.A.M.,” which stands for “Hard As a (Mofo)” and is the first single from the duo’s upcoming collaboration album, Watch the Throne.

On the track, released on Kanye’s Facebook page early Tuesday morning, Jay-Z complains that his competitors merely fantasize about what he does on a daily basis — including, but not limited to, schmoozing with Warren Buffet and Steve Forbes. He also cites this writer’s $450 million valuation of his personal net worth, rounding up slightly to “half a billie,” before taking a shot at a fellow Hip-Hop Cash King or two: “Really, you got baby money.”

The line is a double entendre meant both as a general reference to the small amount of money that other rappers have in comparison to Jay-Z, and as a specific reference to the wealth of rapper Dwayne “Lil Wayne” Carter, also known as “Weezy Baby,” and fellow New Orleans rapper and record executive Brian “Birdman” Williams, also known as “Baby.”

The latter recently claimed the former had more money than Jay-Z, which is, well, simply not true. Jay-Z earned $63 million dollars last year, tops on our list of hip-hop’s top earners, while Lil Wayne banked $20 million. Birdman did not make the list.

Perhaps the best line on Jay-Z’s new track is a verifiable and, one might say progressive, boast: “(You) ain’t got my lady’s money!”

Indeed, Beyoncé took in a whopping $87 million by our last annual count, more than any rapper — and more than Jay-Z and Lil Wayne combined.


Business Matters: The Pandora Pandemic: The Personalized Internet Radio Service Reaches 75 Million Users

The Pandora Pandemic
— Personalized Internet radio service Pandora surpassed 75 million registered users last year and now has 850,000 songs in its catalog, founder Tim Westergren revealed in a blog post. He also shared some metrics that show engaged users: over 3 billion songs were rated in 2010, and the company receives over 25,000 emails each month.

Back in the summer of 2008, Pandora had 10 million users on the web. After the launch of its iPhone app in July 2008, daily listeners jumped to 40,000 from 20,000. Registered users stood at 20 million in December 2008; but by March 2010, Pandora had over 50 million listeners and mobile accounted for more than 40% of hours steamed. Now it has over 75 million registered users who listen through web browsers, mobile apps, connected TVs and home and car audio systems.

Here are some more numbers to help put Pandora’s scale into perspective. Pandora has 7.5 times the number of users Spotify has of both its free and paid versions. Its users rated more songs in 2010 (3 billion) than were purchased at digital download stores in the U.S. in 2010 (2.1 billion). And it has 42% as many U.S. users (75 million) as Facebook (about 180 million – 30% of an estimated 600 million global users).

By Glenn Peoples (Billboard)

Why Lady Gaga Will Earn $100 Million in 2011

Whether it’s showing up to an awards ceremony clad entirely in raw meat or nearly suffering a deep-vein thrombosis while wearing a dress made of caution tape on an airplane, Lady Gaga has a knack for making headlines.

She also has a talent for moneymaking. Gaga raked in $64 million last year by our estimate, making her the seventh highest-paid musician in the world, just $1 million behind sixth-ranked Jay-Z. Only U2 ($130 million) and AC/DC ($114 million) crested the $100 million earnings mark.

It’s quite likely that the financially shrewd Gaga will join the elite group by topping $100 million in 2011 — here’s why.

First of all, there’s touring, which should provide the largest chunk of Gaga’s earnings this year. In 2010, her 138-show Monster’s Ball tour grossed $133 million, second to only Bon Jovi on the list of year’s most lucrative tours. Gaga already commands a higher average ticket price ($102) than her New Jersey counterpart ($92), but she’s been playing to crowds of 14,000 on average (compared to Bon Jovi’s 33,000).

Over the next six months, Gaga is scheduled to play 41 shows at 20,000-seat venues like Madison Square Garden in New York and the Staples Center in Los Angeles. If she maintains her average ticket price, that works out to $2 million gross per show, of which she’d likely keep about $800,000 a night after concert promoter fees, security, and other costs. Multiply that by 41 and you get roughly $33 million.

The second half of the year could prove to be even more remunerative as Gaga’s new album, Born This Way, hits stores in June. If sales approach those of her debut The Fame, which moved 12 million copies worldwide, Gaga could easily see $10-$15 million from the album alone. Because she’s both an artist and a songwriter, she’ll also stands to receive an extra-large chunk of money from radio play– a fat publishing check in the U.S. as well as songwriting and performance royalties for spins abroad could add up to another $10-$15 million.

An ultra-successful album would have an even more profound financial impact beyond simple record sales and radio play. ”If the album is a success, she’ll be beyond an arena act by the end of the year,” says entertainment attorney Bernie Resnick, who represents Gaga’s manager, Troy Carter. “She could be a stadium act.”

That means if she goes on the road for the last six months of the year, she could be filling 30,000- and 35,000-seat venues. Perhaps average ticket prices would dip down to a Bon Jovi-esque $90 with more seats available, but even so, that’s means a stratospheric nightly gross in the $3,000,000 range and take-home pay of somewhere around $1,000,000 a day. That’s $45 million for a half-year of touring, bringing the full-year total to nearly $80 million, not counting merchandise, which could easily add another $6-$10 million in profits for an 80-date tour.

Gaga also shills a range of products: video sunglasses for Polaroid, headphones for Beats by Dre, phones for VirginMobile, and a host of items and services via product placement in her videos (a Russian billionaire reportedly paid $1 million to place himself in one of her videos). All these commercial ventures should add at least another $5-$10 million to her coffers.

To be sure, these projections are on the rosy side, as they assume her new album will be a smash success and global macroeconomic conditions will be strong enough that people will continue to dish out $90-$100 a pop for concert tickets. But add it all up: $80-$90 million for touring and merchandise, $20-$30 million for album and radio play, and $5-$10 million for endorsements, meaning Gaga could cross the $100 million threshold with relative ease — and earn as much as $130 million in an absolute best-case scenario. That’s before taxes, management fees, attorney costs, etc, but likely enough to make her the top-earning musician in the coming year.

“She’s just hitting her stride artistically and commercially now,” says Resnick. “We’re only seeing the beginning.”


Business Matters: Is EMI Going To Citigroup Sooner Than Later?

Is Terra Firma Handing Over EMI to Citigroup Sooner Than Later?

Terra Firma may hand over EMI to Citigroup within weeks and buyers have been lined up for its recorded music and publishing divisions, according to a weekend report in The Guardian.
A source at Citi says Terra Firma’s investors do not want to invest any more funds in EMI. Without additional funds Terra Firma would likely be unable to meet its debt requirements. While Citi would normally not take over EMI until March, The Guardian says Terra Firma is considering a quick exit strategy.
One should note that The Guardian was the only paper over the weekend reporting this news. As such, the best way to interpret this news is to consider it possible at best that Citi could take over EMI in a few weeks.
Media reports have offered clues about possible suitors for EMI’s two divisions. Conventional wisdom has long said that Warner Music Group is the most likely acquirer of its recorded music division. However, a recent comment by BMG Rights Management’s CEO, Hartwig Masuch, indicates the company known best for music publishing is also interested in the recorded music division. “We are increasingly moving into representing master catalogues and EMI is the iconic catalogue,” he told MusicWeek last month.

By Glenn Peoples (The Guardian)

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