Man Killed for Jeering 'My Way' Karaoke Tue Feb 19, 7:40 AM ET
MANILA (Reuters) - A Filipino man was killed and his friend seriously wounded after they sarcastically applauded a student for singing Frank Sinatra's classic "My Way" off-key, according to a newspaper report.
The 21-year-old student felt insulted when the victims clapped after he sang the song at a karaoke parlor in downtown Manila, the reports said Monday.
After getting into a fight with the student's friends, the victims left the parlor to avoid trouble but were ambushed outside and shot by the student who was later arrested. Newspapers have said Philippine karaoke parlors have been removing "My Way" from play lists because fights frequently broke out -- for unfathomable reasons -- when the song was sung.
The song seems to drive many drunken men to commit anything from slight physical injuries to homicide, reports said.
In a remarkably similar incident last November, one man was killed and another wounded when a brawl broke out in a karaoke bar in northern Manila, once again apparently sparked by the quality of singing.
Folks... all is explained... The eternal puzzle - why some people freak out - and some people chill...
Karaoke Therapy in the Rehabilitation of Mental Patients C M Leung, G Lee, B Cheung, E Kwong, Y K Wing, C S Kan, J Lau
Objectives: To study the efficacy of karaoke singing and its implications in the rehabilitation of mental patients in Hong Kong Chinese.
Method: A double blind controlled trial was conducted over six weeks in a small sample of chronic schizophrenic patients matched in age, sex and duration of illness. The index group practised karaoke and the controlled group practised simple singing. Subjects were assessed in changes in mood and social interaction.
Results: No significant difference was detectable within the 2 groups. However, significant differences of anxiety and social interaction at the end of the third and sixth weeks respectively, were detectable between the 2 groups.
Conclusion: Karaoke therapy may be more effective than simple singing in improving social interaction. There is preliminary evidence that it may be anxiety-provoking for unstable schizophrenic patients. More research is required for further elucidation of the characteristics of favourable candidates, optimal schedule and active components of the therapy.
Okay, if this had happened to you, which one of you would have kept the money, and which one of you would have returned the money?
Posts: 1025 | From: San Francisco, CA, USA | Registered: Jul 1999
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Without a doubt, I would have kept the money in this situation. The banks, with their record multi-billion dollar profits, while they increase service fees and cut service, wouldn't miss this 10 grand. Now, had it been somebody's purse with a bunch of money in it, I would be more inclined to give that back.
Posts: 2367 | From: London, Canada | Registered: Apr 1999
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I agree with the statements about the banks ripping people off, and maybe you're not hurting any one individual by keeping it, but I still think I would feel too guilty to keep it. I'd think about it, but I'd return the money. Posts: 1153 | From: Buffalo NY | Registered: Sep 2001
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As a former Eagle Scout, I can assure you I would have handed the money back to the proper people.
We tend to think in terms of "the big boys" when it comes to a corporate office, organization, or outfit. Rarely do we see those that might get blamed for a discretion such as misplaced funds... or an accounting error.
I've always had a personal problem with people that don't see the small people that would get hurt when you "justify" theft. Insurance might cover something, but what about the poor teller or cashier, and the job they might lose because they were careless? What about their family? If this person gets a rep for being irresponsible and can't get a job... the after-effects of such a thing just go on and on.
Bottom line, finder's keepers is fine for a dollar. But when you get in touch with the realms that people will be held personally accountable for, how could anyone of good conscience take something that just flat out isn't theirs to begin with???
That's all well and good, and I respect people that feel that way. However, the person responsible for this happenning will in all likelihood be looking for another job, regradless of whether the money got returned or not. In my courier job, my job is gone if I'm caught with the truck insecure. I don't get my job back if somehow, somebody stole something out of that truck, then returned it. The only way that person keeps their job is if they dropped the bag of money, and the person walking behind them picks it up, gives it back and agrees not to say anything. This story made into Canadian Press, and was picked up across the country. Somebody's job is toast for that kind of publicity.
Posts: 2367 | From: London, Canada | Registered: Apr 1999
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actually this is what should have been in the news..
Dee Snider was going to talk about his comedy on VH1 about the PMRC in the 80's on usatoday.com but he was not too be found. I'm going "damn" because I wanted to know how he felt about jon bon jovi & tom petty partying withe gores even though both of them were also victims of the PMRC (i.e. slippery when wet album covered HAD to be changed)
SEATTLE (AP) - A body was found at the home of Layne Staley, lead singer and guitarist for the Seattle grunge band Alice in Chains.
The King County medical examiner's office scheduled an autopsy Saturday but investigator Jim Sosik could not immediately confirm the identity of the deceased late Friday night.
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer quoted unidentified law enforcement sources as saying the body was Staley's.
The person appeared to have been dead for several days, the P-I reported in Saturday editions.
Seattle Fire Department spokeswoman Sue Stangl told The Associated Press she could not confirm the identity of the deceased.
A Seattle police dispatch officer referred inquiries to the police media officer, who did not return repeated pages.
Like Nirvana and Soundgarden, Alice in Chains was a band prominent in the early '90s Seattle heyday of grunge rock.
The group's first album, "Facelift," was released in 1990 and the band quickly rose to prominence, following with albums including "Dirt" and "Alice in Chains".
In a 1996 interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Staley spoke of how his drug use influenced his lyrics.
"I wrote about drugs, and I didn't think I was being unsafe or careless by writing about them," he told the magazine. "Here's how my thinking pattern went: When I tried drugs, they were (expletive) great, and they worked for me for years, and now they're turning against me - and now I'm walking through hell, and this sucks."
Wow can anybody actually say they saw this comming. What a sad day, another rock star with everything to give takes it all away. What a shame.
Kazaa steps out of the shadows Wed Apr 24, 8:40 AM ET John Borland CNET News.com
A new candidate to become center of the file-swapping universe has been unveiled: Vanuatu, a small group of Islands in the South Pacific.
That's where Sharman Networks, the parent company of the hugely popular Kazaa software, is registered to do business, according to Chief Executive Nikki Hemming. After months of speculation about the mysterious file-trading company, Hemming went public with this and other details of her business in a conference call late Tuesday.
Hemming and Sharman control software that has been downloaded more than 60 million times, with more than 1.5 million people using the software on any given day, the company says. Now, with ambitious commercial plans and a lobbying presence in Washington, D.C., Hemming is poised to make a bigger mark on the business of file swapping and digital entertainment than any figure since Napster (news - web sites)'s Shawn Fanning.
But to get there, the company will have to wend its way through legal threats from movie studios and record labels, as well as concerns of consumers angry about Kazaa's policy of bundling software that will use individuals' computers for other companies' purposes. On Tuesday, Hemming defended company policies that have drawn criticism from both sides.
"Our primary goal is to deliver quality software to users," she said. "I'm very comfortable that we've kept our word to users so far."
Months of silence The 35-year-old Hemming, a former Virgin Interactive executive who lives in Sydney, Australia, is something of an anomaly in the nearly all-male file-swapping software world. She brings a decade of experience and contacts in the traditional entertainment world to her new company, as well as familiarity with running a fragmented international business.
Hemming was introduced to Kazaa and the world of file swapping by a former business associate, Brilliant Digital Entertainment CEO Kevin Bermeister. Brilliant had been working closely with the group of Netherlands-based programmers that had originally written Kazaa and its underlying peer-to-peer technology and was trying to sell the software.
When a Dutch court ruled in late 2001 that the programmers had to take Kazaa offline, most bidders disappeared. Hemming stayed put, said Niklas Zennstrom, one of Kazaa's original creators.
"We had some other offers and discussions during the year," Zennstrom wrote in an e-mail interview. "(After the court ruling) the other potential buyers had withdrawn, but Sharman was still interested, so we sold it to them."
As the new owners of a piece of software that had been downloaded over 30 million times by the beginning of March, Sharman was instantly a name to be reckoned with online. But Hemming declined to give interviews. Reporters and copyright authorities couldn't even find a record of the company registered in Australia, Hemming's home.
Hemming finally answered some-- if not all--of those questions on Tuesday. Sharman itself is registered for tax reasons in Vanuatu, an island nation that advertises itself on its Web site as "The South Pacific's premiere tax haven." Day-to-day operations are conducted in Sydney by an affiliated management company, she said.
According to the company's terms of service, it can be sued in Australia, which has copyright laws similar to those in the United States.
Sharman is funded by a group of private individual investors who wish to remain anonymous, Hemming said.
Rumors have floated for months, spurred by a note in the company's terms of service, that Kazaa would soon start charging for its service. Hemming said that she intended to keep the basic Kazaa service free, but would later introduce a premium service with new features. The company already has a deal with DoubleClick to serve ads through the Kazaa software, she noted.
Beset from both sides Sharman is the largest peer-to-peer company that hasn't been sued by recording companies or movie studios. Kazaa BV, the Dutch company that sold Sharman its software, is still being sued. StreamCast Networks and Grokster, two companies that initially shared the Dutch file-swapping technology, also are being sued.
A Dutch appeals court ruled last month that the owners of the Kazaa software weren't liable for the actions of people using the software to trade copyrighted works illegally. That ruling doesn't hold immediate value as precedent in United States courts, however.
Australian copyright authorities have previously said they were investigating Sharman, but were not able to find records of the company's existence. Now they're mum on their plans, but say they're still looking.
"They are still a matter of interest to the anti-piracy unit," said Michael Speck, head of the Australian Record Industry Association's (ARIA) anti-piracy division, in an e-mail to News.com. "The unit down here has...zero tolerance (toward) piracy, and any piracy identified in this territory is dealt with according to the available resources."
The Recording Industry Association of America (news - web sites) (RIAA) declined to comment directly on Sharman for this article.
Even while scrutiny from copyright holders has tightened, Hemming has tapped into some deep consumer fears about privacy and loss of control of their own computers. For the last two weeks, Sharman has been trying to assuage consumers' concerns about Brilliant Digital Entertainment's Altnet, which will use consumers' PCs in a new commercial peer-to-peer network. Altnet is installed with every copy of Kazaa.
Hemming said that Kazaa has changed its policies to ensure that no personally identifiable information is collected by any of the company's partners, and that all companies--including Brilliant and Altnet--communicate directly with consumers about what will happen to individuals' computers.
"Look, I've got the most powerful brand in the market right now," Hemming said. "I'm not about to put this brand into any risk whatsoever by making a hasty discussion on partnerships."
Some online file swappers are taking matters into their own hands. A hacked version of Kazaa stripped of Brilliant and other companies' advertising software has begun circulating online. Sharman has persuaded Download.com, a popular software aggregation site operated by News.com publisher CNET Networks, to remove that software program from its database, but it is still readily available elsewhere. She said the companies' attorneys are in the process of issuing cease-and-desist orders to the distributors and creators of that software.
Kazaa itself was removed from Download.com's directory after Altnet's software was revealed, but it had reappeared by Monday.
Hemming is moving ahead quickly despite the skirmishes on both flanks, however. Sharman's lobbyist in the United States has been speaking to musicians' groups and hardware companies about a new plan for paying content owners. The company also is hoping to win Internet service providers and telecommunications companies as allies, arguing that file swapping will help persuade people to sign up for broadband service.
"It's pretty clear that we have a way to play the part of being the driver in this market," Hemming told reporters Tuesday. "Why not be the visionary. Why not be the driver?"
Teens Prefer to Spend on Karaoke and Movies Mon Apr 29,10:43 AM ET
HONG KONG (Reuters) - Hong Kong teenagers prefer to spend their money on karaoke and movies while their counterparts in other Chinese cities spend more on books, according to a survey released by the local YMCA.
Sixty-nine percent of teenagers in Hong Kong go to the movies once a month compared to 43 percent in the nearby mainland boomtown of Guangzhou and 30 percent in Macau, the survey showed.
About 50 percent of Hong Kong teenagers go to karaoke parlors more than once a month, compared to 43 percent for Guangzhou and 34 percent in Macau.
In contrast, 69 percent of teenagers in Guangzhou prefer to spend their money on study materials and books, with 15 percent saying they buy a book every week.
In Hong Kong, 32 percent spent their money on books, and in Macau 27 percent. More than half of Hong Kong teens said they bought magazines or comics every month.
The survey also found that teenagers in prosperous Hong Kong get far more pocket money from their families than their peers in nearby Chinese cities.
Hong Kong teens receive $77 a month, while their counterparts in Macau and Guangzhou get $51 and $25, respectively.
The survey asked 1,500 teenagers aged 15-18 about their spending habits.
Former British colony Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997 while Portuguese enclave Macau was handed back to Beijing in 1999.
The Karaoke Congressman Has the Floor Singing Helped Mike Honda Break Out of His Shell
Rep. Mike Honda performs karaoke at Cafe Japone with backup singers Manny Cuan, left, and Jason Rodriguez. "It is a great leveler," Honda says. (Yoni Brook - The Washington Post)
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By Mark Leibovich Washington Post Staff Writer Wednesday, June 12, 2002; Page C01
Rep. Mike Honda sings karaoke for joy and relaxation and the fun of bringing people together. He also sings -- and this is very important, he says -- for self-esteem.
This is no small deal for the California Democrat who used to gag from nerves during his college speech classes. He has always been terrified to speak before large groups, despite a long career as an eighth-grade science teacher and principal, and as a member of the California Assembly. And it's double scary for a first-termer like him to speak before a Houseful of fancy-pants lawmakers.
Honda, 60, has even endured a few sessions with a public-speaking coach. But nothing makes him more comfortable with oration than the karaoke itch he acquired 10 years ago.
"Ever since I started singing, public speaking became less traumatic," says Honda, who performs regularly at Cafe Japone in Dupont Circle, at the Democratic Club on Capitol Hill and at various locales in his San Jose district. He also holds daily practice sessions -- in his shower and car -- that are not open to the public.
It's 9:30 on a Monday night. Portly and ever-smiling, Honda bounds into Cafe Japone wearing a Hawaiian shirt with orange flowers tucked into Wrangler jeans. He hugs his way up and down a table of 16 young Hill staffers, friends, lobbyists and administration types -- the so-called "Hondistas."
Honda is just off a cross-country flight and a late meeting with "this French guy who wrote a book on bin LAY-den." He is also nervous, as he always is before a performance -- especially since this audience includes a small media contingent.
He becomes patently less nervous after having three glasses of Sapporo beer in 25 minutes. The karaoke starts. Two Honda staffers, Eric Werwa and Daniel Shin, sing the "Gilligan's Island" theme song to the visible amusement of everyone, especially themselves. Honda is doing the one-armed "I love you, man" hug with Bruce Klein, a lobbyist for Hewlett-Packard who has come to watch Honda perform. Klein predicts that karaoke will soon become a potent power activity in Washington.
"It is a great leveler," Honda agrees. "Everyone makes themselves vulnerable." And really, if Reps. Tom DeLay and Henry Waxman were to croon together each week, would the spirit of bipartisanship be anything but served?
At 10:30, Honda is getting itchy. He has brought his own CDs, per his custom, but it's a long wait for the mike, as many other patrons are feeling courageous. He plans to sing in Spanish, which he prefers for reasons he can't explain. The wait has made Honda philosophical, or maybe it's the Sapporo.
"Being in Congress is a kick," Honda says. He is completely unburdened by the need to flaunt his intellect and influence, a rare congressman who lacks the pretense gene. In terms of stature, "I'm not exactly Martin Luther King or John Kennedy," he says, and when he is reminded that neither of them was exactly a karaoke king like he is, Honda shrugs.
"He's just a sweet, lovely guy," says Suhail Khan, a lawyer at the Department of Transportation who "parties with Mike all the time." Since Honda knew few people in Washington when he came to Congress last year, Khan says, karaoke has been a means for him to meet new friends and to stoke his name recognition around town. His karaoke fan club is small but growing.
"You've got to hear this guy sing, especially in Spanish," says Hondista and lobbyist Jason Rodriguez. Honda is really big in San Jose, Rodriguez adds, which smacks a bit of a backhanded compliment.
Still, the Hondistas make themselves loudly known as their man strides to the microphone in the middle of the restaurant. They whoop. Cafe Japone manager Kear Hanley stops briefly to watch. He is a fan, but not a Hondista. "I've heard better, heard worse," says Hanley, who is subjected to karaoke each night until closing time, 1:30 a.m.
There is a snag: Honda's CD is not compatible with the Cafe Japone karaoke machine. There is a small huddle. A woman steps to the mike instead and does a rendition of the Bangles' "Manic Monday." The technical problem is determined, and Honda will have to use the house CDs, like everyone else. He is accompanied by Rodriguez and Manny Cuan, of the Department of Transportation. They warm up with "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" and jump to a quick crescendo with a solemn Spanish tune, "En Mi Viejo San Juan."
Honda stands between his harmonists and throws his short arms around them. He squeezes his fists and closes his eyes on long notes. He sings with a perpetual grin that is both serene and mournful. His voice is low, even and confident, and the Hondistas are captivated. When Honda finishes, they scream in nonpartisan delight.
He walks back to the table, hugging, hugging. He raises his arms, radiating self-esteem.
Music Labels Urged to Move Fast on Home Networks Wed Jun 19, 1:15 PM ET By Sue Zeidler
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - With record labels suffering a downturn due largely to piracy by unauthorized file-swapping on the Internet, a new report on Wednesday urged the industry to move quickly on the next big digital thing -- transferring songs from PCs to stereos.
"With each new digital technology that comes along, the music industry seems to take a wait-and-see approach and as a result you end up with situations like Napster ( news - web sites) when the industry is forced to be reactionary and try to stuff the genie back in the bottle," said Joe Laszlo, senior analyst with Jupiter Media Metrix.
"Sharing broadband connections between multiple PCs will drive early adoption of home networks, but music will take it mainstream," he said.
In home networking, televisions, stereos and computers are connected, allowing for the transfer, for example, of movies or music from one place to another at high speeds, and also allowing Internet connections to be shared.
In the new report, Jupiter Media Metrix said it expects about 23 million U.S. households with online connections, or one-third of the total, will have a PC-based home network by 2006, up from 6 million last year.
About 17 million of those homes have broadband connections, according to the report, which will be presented at its Plug.In Forum July 8-9 in New York.
Jupiter sees two types of home networks emerging: one based on a PC and the other on a TV-set-top box that would control stereos and TVs as well as climate in the home.
Jupiter said it was advising equipment manufacturers, recording companies and broadband Internet service providers to plan products based on the emergence of these two home networks.
He said the music industry must try to shape consumer expectations by designing devices that make both consumers and record companies happy.
Laszlo said products from Hewlett-Packard ( news - web sites) Co. , SONICblue Inc. and Simple Devices in San Mateo, California already provide connectivity from a PC to a stereo.
"The recording industry needs to get its house in order and make a clear statement like it wants to see strong digital rights management built into these new devices," he said.
"Our companies support technology that offers the music consumer what they want, where they want in a format that protects copyright," said a spokeswoman for the Recording industry Association of America ( news - web sites) (RIAA).
While Jupiter sees a strong consumer desire for a PC-based home network, it cited several impediments, including high cost, complex set-up and maintenance.
The forecast was based in part on a March 2002 random survey of 2,097 individuals via e-mail, Jupiter said.
Singer Adam Ant Admits 'Cowboy' Incident Tue Aug 13, 9:30 AM ET
LONDON (Reuters) - Former British pop star Adam Ant Tuesday admitted threatening pub customers who laughed at his cowboy attire and mocked him by humming the theme tune to spaghetti Western "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly."
The musician pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey criminal court to the charge of affray. Sentencing was deferred until Oct. 2 to allow time for psychiatric reports to be prepared. Three other charges relating to the incident in January of this year -- criminal damage, assault and possession of an imitation firearm -- were dropped.
During a preliminary hearing, the court heard that the singer, whose real name is Stuart Goddard, strode into the Prince of Wales pub in north London dressed in a cowboy hat and combat jacket and with a starting gun in his pocket.
The court was told that Goddard was intent on "pistol whipping" the husband of a woman he had befriended. His composure evaporated when customers began giggling at his outfit and mocked him by humming the theme from the well-known Western.
Goddard left the pub and later flung a car alternator through the pub's window. He was chased by pub customers but scared them off by pulling the starting pistol from his pocket, the court heard.
During his 1980s heyday, his band Adam and the Ants sold more than 15 million records and enjoyed British No. 1 hits with the singles "Stand and Deliver" and "Prince Charming."
He styled himself as the "Dandy Highwayman," dressing in knee-length leather boots and frilly shirts, wearing Red Indian war paint across his cheeks.
After Tuesday's court appearance the singer, now balding and bespectacled, sped away without talking to reporters.
'Stone Cold' Austin Surrenders on Beating Charge Tue Aug 13, 7:55 PM ET
SAN ANTONIO (Reuters) - "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, one of the best known characters in American professional wrestling, surrendered to law enforcement officials in Texas on Tuesday on a charge of beating his wife.
He posted $5,000 bond and was released pending future legal action, said a spokesman for the Bexar County Sheriff's Department.
Austin, 36, a Texas native whose real name is Steve Williams, turned himself in after an arrest warrant was issued charging him with assault causing bodily injury on a spouse.
Police were called to Austin's upscale San Antonio home in June by wife Debra Williams who told police the World Wrestling Entertainment star beat her on the head, back and legs, then fled.
Williams, 42, is a former beauty queen also affiliated with WWE.
Will Congress tackle pay-for-play? Radio-station owners are shocked -- shocked! -- as the music industry's payola scandal widens. Record-label execs aren't buying it (and neither should you). http://www.salon.com/ent/feature/2002/06/25/pfp_congress/?x - - - - - - - - - - - June 25, 2002 |
Is pay-for-play here to stay?
Once a hush-hush topic rarely discussed even within the music industry, "pay-for-play," the costly system by which record companies pay independent promoters to get songs on the radio, has now become a hot-button political issue.
Some members of Congress are talking about holding hearings and offering legislation in hopes of tearing down the entrenched pay-for-play system. Not only does pay-for-play cost the music industry approximately $150 million each year, it virtually shuts off access to commercial FM radio for artists or record companies who can't or won't spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to promote a new single. Inside the industry, the veil has also been lifted; an entire panel discussion devoted to indie promotion is being put together for the radio industry's largest annual convention this fall. Meanwhile, ABC's "20/20" ran a prime-time segment on pay-for-play, and even the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal have introduced the topic to their readers.
"It's become part of pop culture," says the head of radio promotion at a major label. "People are intrigued by it and they want to read about it."
It seems that most outsiders don't like what they see.
"It's an outrageous thing and it's a sad thing," says Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., who is preparing to introduce legislation that would, among other things, close loopholes in the Federal Communications Commission's outdated payola laws. "It really does affect the quality of what you hear on the radio. It's very disturbing for me, and not just for entertainment but even for democracy."
According to a poll recently conducted by the Future of Music Coalition, a Washington think tank, 68 percent of radio listeners want the government to consider laws ensuring that all musical artists have a "more reasonable chance" of getting their songs heard.
Inside the music industry, accusations over who is to blame for the broadening scandal have become fierce. As Salon reported in March, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), acting on behalf of the major record labels tired of paying escalating fees to "indie" promoters, was preparing to ask the FCC to revamp its payola laws. It now seems Feingold's pending legislation will attempt to do just that.
Feeling the heat, radio operators, led by the nation's largest, Clear Channel Communications -- which owns approximately 1,225 stations -- insist that record companies created the dubious indie system and must fix it. Borrowing a page from the Nancy Reagan handbook, radio's advice to the labels seems to be "Just say no."
Appearing at a media conference held by Deutsche Bank, Clear Channel chairman and CEO Lowry Mays told investors that payola was "an aberration of the record companies" and had been "a problem within the radio industry for many years."
For Clear Channel, which has been perhaps the most aggressive of the radio networks in pumping up indie prices, pay-for-play has meant tens of millions of dollars each year to the corporate bottom line.
"Clear Channel would have a @#%$ heart attack if labels stopped paying indies," says one record company promotion executive. "Clear Channel looks at pay-for-play as an alternative source of income." In fact, until recently the upfront money indies paid out went to local stations to help defray promotional costs. Today, in the case of Clear Channel, those indie payments go directly to corporate headquarters, not the individual stations. Would Clear Channel simply go along if the labels decided to cut off those multimillion-dollar payments?
Clear Channel executives declined to be interviewed for this story.
If anything, says the label source, Clear Channel was instrumental in driving up the cost of radio promotion last year, when the company used its clout to sign exclusive deals with eight nationwide indies.
All Clear Channel station managers, says the source, were told not to renew any indie contracts. "Once all the contracts were up, the major indies had to bid for the stations," the source continues. "They offered multimillion-dollar contracts, which had to be paid upfront to Clear Channel. Then in order to make a profit for themselves, the indies had to turn around and charge the labels extraordinary fees for playlist adds."
The way pay-for-play works today is that independent promoters pay radio stations for the exclusive right to "represent" those stations, to act as a kind of middleman between the radio station and the record company. Generally, the indies pay between $100,000 and $400,000 per station, depending on the size of the market. Once that deal is signed, the indie sends out weekly invoices to record companies for every song added to that station's playlist. This is not technically considered payola under current laws, by the way, because indies don't pay station employees money to play a specific song.
Those invoices add up. Every song added to an FM radio playlist comes with a price: Roughly $800 per song in middle-size markets and $1,000 and more in larger markets, up to about $5,000 per song for the biggest stations in the biggest markets. Most stations add between 150 and 200 songs to their playlists every year.
It costs a record company about $250,000 just to launch a single on rock radio today. That doesn't guarantee success; it just gives the single access to the airwaves. If the song catches on and eventually crosses over to the mainstream Top-40 format, indie costs balloon to more than $1 million per song.
Critics complain that indies used to develop relationships with programmers and aggressively pitch new songs but that there's much less of that today and too much toll collecting. (That is, an indie gets paid regardless of what songs a particular station plays, as long as that indie has an exclusive contract with the station.)
There's little doubt that promotion costs have recently gone up. One veteran indie says he lost exclusivity to one medium- and one small-market station during last year's Clear Channel bidding process, after a rival promoter made an overly generous offer of $500,000.
"I know what those stations bill, and the only way to make a profit is to hold the labels hostage," says the indie.
According to this source, the math for the deal doesn't add up. He says he used to charge labels $800 for each playlist add at the two stations. Even if the new indie nearly doubles that rate to $1,500 per song, the two stations combined usually add only six new songs a week, which would result in $450,000 a year in invoices, or $50,000 less than what the new indie has agreed to pay the stations for exclusivity.
Of course, one way to generate more revenue is to persuade the stations to add more songs to their playlist. Record company officials say that's now common practice, especially for the pre-dawn hours, when stations will play new songs so that hard-pressed indies can collect money from the labels. But few listeners actually hear the songs played at 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning, so the airplay doesn't do the artist's career any good.
"Independent promotion is money that disappears from a band's pocket, that is charged to the band, and no one knows where it goes or what it actually does," complains Dirk Lance, bass player for the rock band Incubus, quoted in a recent Loyola Law School law review article examining payola. "It's gambling. Ultimately, it's gambling with my money. It's payola, but with unclear results. It's a smoke-and-mirrors game."
That's why labels are increasingly uncomfortable with the system. Yes, they created the monster, but they used to be able to control it to some degree. Now radio giants, like Clear Channel, thanks to their sheer size and leverage, are calling the shots. Suddenly caught in the middle of a severe economic downturn (music sales are down sharply for the first time in two decades), record company executives insist they can no longer afford to pay out millions of dollars to indie middlemen who may or may not create hit records. (Labels do try to recoup some of the indie costs from artists' earnings, but if an artist flops commercially there's no money to recoup.)
This isn't the first time labels have tried to clamp down on indies. In 1981, upset about the influence amassed by a group of powerful indies known as the Network, Warner Bros. and Columbia (in its pre-Sony days) launched a boycott against it. Then, as now, powerful indies were getting $3,000 or $4,000 for each song added to playlists. According to Fredric Dannen's 1990 book "Hit Men," a now legendary industry exposť, the boycott quickly collapsed when the labels' marquee artists, such as the Who, revolted after having trouble getting their songs on the radio.
Four years later, the labels suggested that the RIAA launch an investigation into indies. If the investigation uncovered any illegal activity, the reasoning went, the labels would have a reason to cut their ties to the indies and save millions of dollars.
That investigation was shelved, but the labels got the out they needed the next year when NBC journalist Brian Ross, aided by key record-company sources, aired a sensational report connecting heavyweight indies with organized crime. Soon, major labels announced they were no longer using indies, and a federal grand jury, under the supervision of Rudy Giuliani, then a U.S. attorney in New York, began investigating indie promotion.
Over time, however, the practice reemerged, with the humbled indies charging just $700 an add for a major-market station instead of $3,000. That's where the base rate stayed well into the '90s. Then rampant ownership consolidation swept through radio following the passage of the 1996 Telecommunications Act. As fewer and fewer corporate owners took control of more and more stations, promotion costs began to rise. Today, they're just about where they were during the peak period chronicled in "Hit Men."
Adding to the labels' frustration is that the antitrust law forbids them from agreeing, as an industry, either to dump the indies or slash the fees they pay them. Even if some sort of accord could be reached, the music industry remains a culture of short-term goals and inherent insecurity about where the next hit is coming from.
"Even if you got together [Sony Music CEO] Tommy Mattola and [RCA Music CEO] Bob Jamieson and the heads of all the major labels and said, 'OK, guys, don't pay for adds at stations,' and everybody agreed," says one record company executive, pay-for-play still wouldn't die. "The second a priority record came out and stalled at radio, the pocketbooks would open right up."
That's exactly what indies and station owners are banking on.
I was shocked and saddened to read this today. Of all the rappers, I had the most respect for Run DMC.
Matt * * * * * * * * * Thursday, October 31, 2002 Posted: 6:34 AM EST (1134 GMT) NEW YORK (CNN) -- Jam Master Jay, the DJ of the longtime rap group Run-DMC, was shot in the head and killed Wednesday night in a Queens recording studio, according to New York police.
Another man, Urieco Rinco, 25, was shot in the leg and taken to a local hospital, police said.
Police are investigating the shooting, which took place inside a studio on Merrick Boulevard about 7:30 p.m.
No arrests have been made in the case.
Jam Master Jay was born January 21,1965, as Jason Mizell in the middle-class Hollis neighborhood of Queens, New York, according to the group's Web site. He linked up with Run (Joseph Simmons) and D.M.C. (Darryl McDaniels) -- also from Hollis -- scratching turntables for the two rappers who had just graduated from high school.
A year later, in 1983, the group released its first single, "It's Like That" with a B-side, "Sucker MC's," which spawned a phrase used in rap songs decades later.
Known for their loose Adidas-brand shoes and thumping beats, the trio is credited with beginning the current trend of combining rap music and rock 'n' roll in their hit remake of Aerosmith's "Walk this Way" in 1986, teaming up with the band's lead singer Steven Tyler and guitarist Joe Perry.
The shooting death was met with shock by the group's fans who likened Run-DMC to the "Beatles" of rap music.
"May Jay remains an inspiration for us all -- a man with vision, creativity, generosity, and talent, one who condemned and spoke against violence, and was taken away from us, and his family, far too soon," one fan posted on the group's Web site.
News of Mizell's death evoked memories of the shooting deaths of rappers Tupac Shakur and Notorious B.I.G. in the late 1990s.
Unlike other rap artists whose lyrics glorified gangsters and "thug life," Run-DMC tried to distance itself from that image.
"They say we're putting out bad messages to the kids," Run told "Rolling Stone" in a 1986 interview, in response to violent outbursts at several of the group's concerts. "Our image is clean, man. Kids beat each other's heads every day. They are fighting because they were fighting before I was born ... we're role models."
Several of Run-DMC's songs boast about Jam Master Jay's DJ skills, including "Jam Master Jammin'" on the group's 1985 album, "King of Rock":