Sony Finally Realizes That No One Is Buying Music Anymore, Begins Layoffs

According to several reports, Sony Music Entertainment began layoffs last week, cutting at least 30 people from its two distribution companies: Red and Sony Global Digital Business And U.S. Sales. Although the recession has been going on for quite some time now, apparently the folks at Sony still thought that someone out there was spending money on CDs. Haven’t you been paying attention, Sony? Even Best Buy is selling vinyl now (TMT News).

Sony’s Columbia Records has also hopped aboard the layoff train, cutting people like urban marketing executive Al Branch and the president of urban music, Kyambo “Hip Hop” Joshua. Damn, his nickname is really “Hip Hop,” and he worked in urban music? Originality at its finest.

Mango Starr’s Tour Roundup: Deerhunter, Emeralds/Pain Jerk, Max Tundra

Who says I can't copy Mario Speedwagon's "Under the Radar News Roundup"?

- I'm going to start this tour roundup with a tour cancellation: Deerhunter, whose 2008 album Microcastle/Weird Era Cont. (TMT Review) landed at our not-so-coveted #1 spot on our Favorite Albums of 2008 list, have canceled their upcoming European tour. Originally slated to begin in Prague February 11 and last until mid-March, the tour was canceled due to "unspecified health reasons." Deerhunter are still scheduled to play the ATP Fest May 15-17 and plan to reschedule the European dates shortly, so don't you cry-ee-eye t'night.

- And how about some more European tour news?? Drone trio Emeralds and Japanese noise legend Paink Jerk are touring Europe as you read this. They've brought with them a limited-to-500-edition CD, inappropriately titled European Tour 2009, which features one track from each act. You can also get it from Second Layer Records. Meanwhile, Emeralds have a new album, What Happened, coming out on No Fun Productions, which follows their Hanson release from last year, Solar Bridge (TMT Review).

- Last week, Max Tundra played his first two New York shows EVER (review forthcoming). This week -- actually, today -- he kicks off a UK/Ireland tour in support of last year's Parallax Error Beheads You (TMT Review). I think Tippex put it best: "All the teenage girls of the country should have a poster of him in their bedrooms."

Virgin Megastore in Times Square To Close Because of No Good Illegal Music Downloading Scum Like You – Wait, Actually It’s Not Our Fault This Time, Their Landlord/Parent Company Is Just an Asshole

I’ve never been to New York City, but I have unfortunately watched a lot of TRL. Apart from Carson Daly’s just-do-it-for-the-paycheck insight or every guest’s just-do-it-for-the-publicity pandering, my most vivid mental image of the show is that colossal gleaming red tampon of a Virgin Megastore. Always the backdrop for freak-out heavy hordes of Fred Durstites or Christina Aguileriacs shouting their lungs out on the neon streets of Time Square, I can’t imagine how anybody in the studio could look down on that swelling crowd of shit-losing scream-sacks in front of America’s most garishly insipid music Mecca without launching into some treatment-bound tirade that no commercial break or flippant Daly-esque remark could ever segue out of memory. But those bad times are over. The hatred is no more, and calm reigns in its place. Tranquility rushes over me like a waterfall of Eskimo kisses, because not only has TRL vanished into the cold, fetid air of unpleasant recollection, so too shall the Virgin Megastore in April.

I’m probably so contented with Virgin’s closing because I know that neither you, me, nor any other human being with a BitTorrent client caused the highest-volume music store in the United States to shut its doors for good. Instead, the haft of the executioner’s axe lies in the hands of two real estate companies, Related Cos. and Vornado, who took over the Virgin Entertainment Group of North America in August 2007. According to a Vornado executive, Virgin only pays $54 per square foot in rent while the market rent in the area is $700 per square foot. Despite the store’s $55 million in annual sales, which amounts to $6 million in annual profit, tapping into a potential real estate goldmine is apparently too sweet to pass up. Yep, great idea guys, close down one of the few profitable record stores in the country so you can pool all your resources in the most reliable, risk-free business venture possible: real estate.

Well, at least we weren’t responsible for this one, ye proud illegal downloaders of the world. Although it can be kind of fun to pseudo-anarchically claim responsibility for dismantling a significant piece of a major corporate entity, it is nice for once not to be blamed for the music industry’s swirling voyage down the capitalist toilet.

2009 Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame Inductees Announced!!!?!

Hey, there. Long time no see. Have you really been waiting here for that long? Wow. I can’t believe that you’d actually sit here and wait for four months just to see who got inducted into the Hall of Fame. I mean, I know that the reporting we did on the announcement of the nominees was top notch (TMT News), but... four months? Again, wow. Well, good thing we have an interview with James Hetfield of Metallica or you might be disappointed. Let’s get on with it!

Last week, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced the 2009 inductees into, yep, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Those to be inducted, on April 4, include Metallica, Run-D.M.C., Bobby Womack, Little Anthony and the Imperials, and Jeff Beck. Meanwhile, Wanda Jackson will be inducted into the “Early Influence Category,” and DJ Fontana, Bill Black, and Spooner Oldham will enter the hallowed hall of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's “Sidemen” category. That sounds great!

The organization had this to say:

In addition to being honored at the April ceremony, each inducted artist is commemorated at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland Ohio, which serves as a monument to rock and roll’s impact on our culture. These inductees will be honored – along with previous year’s inductees and hundreds of other artists – with an exhibit and film that serve to tell the story of modern music. Then I’ll eat them.

If you go, make sure you don't get eaten too. And what about that interview with James Hetfield? Fuck that.

Goodnight Moon, Goodnight Bush, Goodnight Arthur Magazine? The Music Mag Bids Adieu to Print Media, Promises to Expand Online Offerings

Goodbye, print version of Arthur magazine. Your insightful music coverage and effortless ability to help us look cool by reading you at late-night vegan greasy spoon hangouts will be sorely missed. Computer screens are much more difficult to help broadcast one's innate coolness and "cred." As a new day dawns, the "transgenerational global counterculture" music rag is saddling up the horse of financial difficulty and riding off into the sunset of online publication.

Earlier this week, Arthur editor/publisher Jay Babcock announced via an online memo that the print edition of the magazine will be taking a breather until someone special steps in to help run and finance publication. The one-man publishing machine had been editing, publishing, and managing the daily affairs of the magazine since 2007. (The free bi-monthly was launched in 2002.) Then summer 2008 happened. Babcock told readers that Arthur needed a serious cash infusion of $20,000 or the magazine would be unable to continue. Donations poured in, but well, you're reading this article, so I'm assuming you get the gist. On the upside, Babcock promises to "upgrade and expand greatly" Arthur's online content.

RIAA and Harvard Law Team Quibble Over Live Net Feed

As the RIAA winds down its nearly decade-long campaign of lawsuits against file-sharers (read: youth and students), it still has a few unresolved suits to clear up. One of these, a $1 million action against Joel Tenenbaum, will be broadcast live on the internet thanks to the efforts of the law students of Tenenbaum's lawyer. According to hypebot, Professor Charles Musser and his students at Harvard Law School filed a motion with Massachusetts District Court Judge Nancy Gernter to make a live internet feed of the trial available. Gertner approved the motion, opining that since the case primarily concerns "a generation that does not read newspapers or watch the evening news, but gets its information largely, if not almost exclusively, over the internet," it would be beneficial to those following the case to have it streamed live.

The RIAA, none too happy that the world will be able to watch it and its lawyers sue the shit out of Tenenbaum for downloading a mere seven songs, moved to appeal the motion over the weekend. In a PDF response linked on the JoelFightsBack Twitter, Musser and his team said, "If the RIAA's position is to educate people about the business and legal climate of the music industry, it is unclear to us why they are appealing this decision."

While it seems uncertain at the moment how the stream will be made available, we know that the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School will be undertaking the finances and logistics of the project under a Creative Commons license so that the feed will be free to whoever chooses to watch. Musser and company have said that they "are working hard to ensure that the Berkman Center is not the exclusive distributor of the content," so presumably there will be multiple sources for viewing the legal proceedings when they began with a hearing this Thursday. Check JoelFightsBack for updates.

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