Starting April 7, downloads range from $1.29 to 69 cents
Get those 99-cent tracks from iTunes while you can. According to stories in both the LA Times and Digital Music News , when iTunes switches to variable pricing on April 7, a lot of tracks will go at the higher price of $1.29.
The idea-which the labels have been clamoring for-- was instead of selling every song at 99 cents, to price them more accordingly. Maybe obscure cuts go for 69 cents to encourage people to take a chance. Or hot singles are at 69 cents for a day before going up to 99 cents as stunt pricing. Now it looks like that 69 cent price point may be a little lonely. While the majority of the 10million tracks offered on iTunes are expected to stay at 99 cents, many tracks-the ones you probably want to buy-will go to $1.29.
It will be an interesting experiment to see if folks who always felt like 99 cents was fair and, therefore, didn't steal music, will now feel that crossing the dollar threshold for a track is too much. The price of the download will be determined by the wholesale cost that the label charges Apple for the track. ]
The LA Times piece suggests that hit songs (I'm thinking like Flo-Rida's "Right Round") will be boosted to $1.29, as will classic cuts that people want to cherry pick. The labels hope this is a small way to offset the decrease in CD sales.
Apple resisted changing pricing from 99 cents for a long time because it felt it was too confusing to the customer to offer different price points when the whole concept of downloading music was still in its infancy. Now the debate is is it too late to make this switch when people are accustomed to paying 99 cents (if anything at all) and why ask people to pay more during a recession. On the other hand, shouldn't there be a "supply-and-demand" sensibility attached to downloads instead of a one-size-fits-all approach.
What do you think? I think iTunes will take a hit at first, but then, soon, like almost anything else, people will shrug and pay it anyway.
Coldplay, Tool, Beasies, My Bloody Valentine and more
Like Coachella and Stagecoach, concert attendees can purchase their three-day tickets on layaway.
The line-up for the festival is:
Friday, July 31: Beastie Boys, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Vampire Weekend, The National, Fleet Foxes, MSTRKRFT, Q-Tip, The Pharcyde, Organized Konfusion, The Knux, Ra Ra Riot, Seasick Steve, Telepathe, Shearwater, Heartless Bastards, Flying Lotus, College Humor Live, Arj Barker, Eugene Mirman and Bo Burnham.
Saturday, August 1: Tool, My Bloody Valentine, Gogol Bordello, Arctic Monkeys, Neko Case, The Ting Tings, Yelle, Crystal Castles, St. Vincent, Tokyo Police Club, The Cool Kids, Kool Keith, Cage the Elephant, Chairlift, White Rabbits, Electric Touch, The Postelles, Black Gold, College Humor Live, Tim & Eric, Judah Friedlander and Jim Jeffries.
Sunday, August 2: Coldplay, Echo & The Bunnymen, MGMT, The Black Keys, Elbow, Silversun Pickups, Mogwai, We Are Scientists, Ghostland Observatory, The Gaslight Anthem, Etienne De Crecy, Lykke Li, Akron/Family, Steel Train, Kitty, Daisy & Lewis, College Humor Live, Janeane Garofalo, Michael Showalter and Todd Barry.
Musical based on Green Day album premieres in Berkeley
Green Day is bringing "American Idiot" to the stage. The album, a political song cycle that won Grammy Awards for best rock album and record of the year, will open as a stage play Sept. 4 at the Berkeley (Calif.) Repertory Theatre. No doubt a Broadway run is the ultimate thought here.
In addition to the great music, the production is surrounded with top names: Green Day is collaborating with "Spring Awakening" director Michael Mayer on the play. "Spring Awakening," also written by a rock musician- Duncan Sheik- won eight Tony Awards. Additionally, two producers from "Spring Awakening," Tom Hulce (of "Animal House" and "Amadeus" fame) and Ira Pittleman.
The play includes all the songs from "American Idiot" and several from the band's new album, "21st Century Breakdown" (out May 15) The story follows the album's characters in a post-9/11 world as they journey from home to the Middle East and their trials and tribulations.
Tickets are priced as low as $32.
Latest CD from country star seems weighed down
There's a moment at the end of "If Ever I Could Love," a fairly pedestrian, mid-tempo ballad on Keith Urban's new album, "Defying Gravity ," when Urban layers his vocals and the syncopated percussion that has been driving the song kicks in. It all combines for a glorious interlude that sends the song soaring. Sadly, those times on "Defying Gravity" are rare.
It's not a bad album-far from it. It just feels safe and far too restrained for someone with Urban's talents. The simple fact is that Urban has set such a high standard for himself that he falls short by his own yardstick when measured against such past albums as "Love, Pain & the Whole Crazy Thing" and "Be Here." Hits like "Stupid Boy," "Days Go By," "You'll Think of Me" and "Making Memories of Us" didn't sound like anything else on the radio at the time.
Urban has few weak spots: he's a blazing guitarist, a strong songwriter and an expressive vocalist. But on "Defying Gravity," he hides his light under a bushel; he never really lets loose with the explosive guitar playing that makes his live show such an adventure. The whole album is a pretty slick affair with few rough edges and it sounds polished within an inch of its life.
Opening track (and new single), "Kiss a Girl," has nothing on Katy Perry and her lip-locking fantasy of the closely similar name. Urban's tune is surely meant to be sweetly innocent, but he's 41 so it just seems a little strange when he's singing "don't want to go that far" or clumsy when he says "Are you ready to cross that line/put your lips on mine."
First single (and his 10th No. 1) "Sweet Thing" is sprightly and upbeat. It's the kind of song that Urban can do in his sleep at this point. Most of the songs, such as these two, are about love and being in it, not running from it or hiding from it and, in some cases, falling out of it. He's downright treacly on "Only You Can Love Me This Way," but the lyrics hint at his tough times in rehab. He sings "I could have turned another corner/I could have gone another place," but love pulls him through.
The best song on the album is the beautiful, wistful "'Til Summer Comes Around," which is marked by subtle guitar lines and an almost "Boys of Summer" mood.
"Defying Gravity" is a worthy entry in Urban's canon, but I can't help but wish he'd followed the album title a little bit more closely and attempted to take flight a few more times.
Oscar-winner scored "Witness," "Dr. Zhivago," "Ghost" and 100 others
Composer Maurice Jarre died Sunday in Los Angeles. The name might not ring a bell, but his scores certainly do. The triple-Oscar winner wrote the music to many classic movies including "Dr. Zhivago," "A Passage to India," "Ghost," "Dead Poets Society" and "The Man Who Would Be King." His most recognizable work is "Somewhere My Love (Lara's Theme)" from Dr. Zhivago, which also became a pop hit, as recorded by Ray Conniff, in 1966.
Like many composers, Jarre , 84, just liked to work. Sure he did the classics, but he also did comedy-- downright silly fare like "Top Secret!" and "Young Doctors in Love." He even did an "ABC Afternoon Special."
I can't pretend to be an expert on Jarre or his music. I just know that the films that he scored were usually the better for his involvement. His ability to use his scoring to enhance the mood without ever overpowering a scene was magisterial.
My favorite Jarre work-in fact, my second favorite score of all time behind Elmer Bernstein's music for "To Kill a Mockingbird," is Jarre's score to 1985's "Witness." The Peter Weir-directed movie is a masterpiece, but it wouldn't have had the same resonance without Jarre's score. I have no idea what kind of music Amish listen to other than I'm pretty sure it's all acoustic, but Jarre relies largely on electronic instrumentation for the movie.
The score doesn't necessarily hold up throughout, but two of the pieces I can conjure up instantly: the opening theme, "Witness (Main Title)/Journey to Baltimore)," and the movie's centerpiece, "Building the Barn." The former is a beauty that combines the wonder, fear , trepidation and excitement that the young Amish boy, Samuel (played by Lukas Haas) and his mother, Rachel (was Kelly McGillis ever better or more beautiful?) feel as they leave the serenity and sanctity of their Amish farm for the harshness of Philadelphia to cooperate with police on a murder investigation.
"Building the Barn" is one of the best film pieces ever written. In the scene, the Amish community has come together to build a home for a newlywed couple. By now, Harrison Ford's character, Philly cop John Book, is taking shelter in Amish country, and is competing for Rachel's attention with Daniel Hochleitner (played to perfection by ballet dancer Alexander Godunov). Their rivalry plays out on the beams of the house as they both vie for Rachel's attention through their carpentry skills. The music spans several minutes of the building process and matches music to picture with a grace and magic that few films master. The music swells as the day builds and we see neighbors helping neighbors-no hardhats, no jackhammers- just hammers, wood and nails-creating something out of nothing. There's no dialogue, yet the music moves the story forward.
Jarre's music, in this movie and several others, became an extra character, adding poignancy and emotion. He never used five instruments when one would do. There was often (not always) a sparseness to his score.
I'm also partial to the score to "The Year of Living Dangerously" -another film directed by Peter Weir (even though I saw the film again recently and it really didn't hold up well). Jarre's music expresses the loneliness that Linda Hunt's character, Billy Kwan, can never emote, and the passion and fear that Sigourney Weaver and Mel Gibson feel as Indonesian President Sukarno is overthrown and Jakarta descends into chaos .
Jarre scored more than 150 movies; the last was 2001 TV movie "Uprising." A collection of his works is available on "The Essential Maurice Jarre Film Collection."
15th edition takes place July 3-5 in New Orleans
Beyonce, John Legend, Maxwell, Lionel Richie and Ne-Yo are among the headliners for the 15th annual Essence Music Festival. The three-day event takes play in New Orleans over the Fourth of July weekend (okay, the music won't be the only thing that's hot)
Tickets go on sale today and are as low as $51 for a single-day ticket up to $545 for all three days.
The 2009 ESSENCE MUSIC FESTIVAL day-by-day line-up (as of 3/26) is as follows:
Friday, July 3: Main stage: Beyoncé, John Legend, Ne-Yo, Salt N Pepa, DJ Soul Sister, Superlounges: Eric Benet, Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings, Solange, Sierra Leone Refugee All Stars, Keri Hilson, Marva Wright, Big Sam's Funky Nation, Preservation Hall Jazz Band Revue, Dwele DJ Captain Charles, DJ Jubilee, DJ Dynamite Dave Soul and DJ EF Cuttin.
Saturday, July 4: Main stage: Maxwell, Anita Baker, Robin Thicke, Charlie Wilson, Jazmine Sullivan, DJ Soul Sister, Superlounges: Ledisi, Janelle Monae, Zap Mama, Irvin Mayfield, Dan Dyer, Little Freddie King, DJ Captain Charles, DJ Jubilee, DJ Dynamite Dave Soul and DJ EF Cuttin.
Sunday, July 5: Main stage: Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, Lionel Richie, Al Green, Teena Marie, En Vogue, DJ Soul Sister, Superlounges: Raphael Saadiq, Lalah Hathaway, Melanie Fiona, Ryan Leslie, Blind Boys of Alabama, The Knux, Trombone Shorty and Orleans Ave All Stars, Rebirth Brass Band, DJ Captain Charles, DJ Jubilee, DJ Dynamite Dave Soul and DJ EF Cuttin.
He will begin his prison term within 60 days
T.I. has been sentenced to 366 days in jail today, March 27. He must report to jail within 60 days.
The rapper entered a guilty plea last March on charges of trying to buy unregistered weapons, including machine guns, according to Billboard. He has served 1,000 hours of community service and must complete another 470 hours.
T.I., whose real name is Clifford Harris, was initially arrested in October 2007 in Atlanta.
He had friends in high places speaking on his behalf at his hearing today : former UN Ambassador/Atlanta mayor Andrew Young . T.I. could have received up to 10 years. No word yet on where he will serve his sentence.
But first comes 'Guitar Hero Metallica' and Hall of Fame
After they spend the summer in Europe, Metallica will hit the U.S. for the second leg of its World Magnetic tour on Sept. 14.
The stint comes almost a year after the first portion of the U.S. tour started last October. The arena tour starts in Nashville and concludes three-months later, Dec. 12, in San Jose, Calif.
Before fans see them live, they can create a little concert of their own: On Sunday, Activision will release "Guitar Hero Metallica," which features 28 of the hard rock band's most popular songs. In other Metallica news, the band will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on April 4. Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers will induct Metallica. The ceremony will air on Fuse.
Headliners include Bad Religion, Fishbone, NOFX and Saosin
The 2009 Vans Warped Tour kicks off its 15th edition on June 26 in Pomona, Calif. Tickets go on sales for the 46-date outing April 1 through www.warpedtour.com. Presale prices are $25, which includes a CD compilation of artists on the 2009 tour and all service fees.
The tour will feature one main stage instead of the usual two main stages this year. Ten bands will play the main stage at each city with 40-minute sets. There will still be all the other side attractions affiliated with Warped. In a statement, tour founder and producer Kevin Lyman said "We went to one main stage for a couple reasons. Many of these bands have been around for a long time and have lots of songs to choose from, so this year, instead of limiting them to five or six songs, they will have 40 minutes to play all your favorite songs from the past and a couple of new ones. This year's lineup is a great mix of the old and the new and continues our attempt to keep the lineup as diverse as possible. Since times are tough, it was also important to me to figure out how to keep the ticket price low this year. This way we can accomplish that AND still put on an awesome show."
Band set to preview new material on the road with No Doubt
Rock band Paramore is in a Los Angeles studio working on the follow-up to its 2007 platinum-certified sophomore album, "Riot," Hitfix has learned.
The Nashville-based group is working with Rob Cavallo, one of rock's hottest producers. He's the man behind the latest Green Day, Kid Rock and My Chemical Romance albums.
The new album will come out later this year, but fans will get a taste of new songs when Paramore debuts new material on the road as the opening act for No Doubt. That tour starts May 16.
In the meantime, fans can also turn to the "Twilight" soundtrack (the original and newly-issued deluxe version) which contains two new Paramore songs.