Bertelsmann Intensifies Talks to Sell Its Half of the Sony BMG Venture

Back in 2004, when the record industry was already having a few "issues," Sony and BMG decided to merge and become even more top-heavy in an effort to boost profits in an era when technology and nimble business models have proved to be the most successful.

Hang on. Something's not quite clicking there.

Bertelsmann CEO Hartmut Ostrowski, whose company heads up the "BMG" in "Sony BMG," hit the nail right on the head: "The good thing is, more people are listening to music than ever before. The bad thing is, it is not easy to monetize it."

People on the proverbial "inside" say that Bertelsmann has upped its talks with Sony about selling its half of the joint partnership and returning to more ho-hum investments like offset printing. Don't look now, but the two-headed monster could become significantly less threatening in a very short time, though it will still wear ugly three-piece suits and insist we listen to the new Evanescence album.

Mogwai Announce Tiny EP, Tiny UK Tour, Tiny Expectations for Fan Base Expansion

If there's one thing that UK [ost-rock devotees Mogwai are good at, it's doing the same thing... over and over again... for an extended period of time... at varying dynamic levels.

As such, the boys of Mogwai announced last week that they will, you know, continue to do the same thing that they always do (and the same thing that most bands always do, by Jove) and -- wait for it, wait for it -- release some new instrumental post-rock material and then tour on it!!! Ahhhhhhhhh!

And the dynamic level this time around? Well, it takes the form of a new EP, titled Batcat, which is slated for release September 8 in the UK via the band's Rock Action label as a CD, 12-inch, and digital download. Same deal across the pond on September 9 via Matador. The EP's title track is taken from the forthcoming album, The Hawk Is Howling, which will see release September 22, while B-sides include two exclusive songs: the hopefully Nick Cage-inspired "Devil Rides" (featuring a guest vocal from Roky Erickson of 13th Floor Elevators) and the hopefully not-awful "Stupid Prick Gets Chased By The Police And Loses His Slut Girlfriend."

"So what's this shit gonna sound like?" you ask? Brace yourselves here: probably just like Mogwai.

And if all of this news isn't exciting enough for you Mogwai fans (and, incidentally enough, for you non-Mogwai fans too), guess what else the band is doing this summer and fall? I'll give you a hint: it involves a TOUR-van, TOUR-dates, and a TOUR-manager. Hmmmm...

Batcat EP tracklist:

1. Batcat
2. Stupid Prick Gets Chased By The Police And Loses His Slut Girlfriend
3. Devil Rides


Clang. Thud. Screech. Perhaps you would imagine a written interpretation of Einstürzende Neubauten's music to be characterized largely by onomatopoeia and repeated usage of that little stick man symbol that's on all of their merchandise. Perhaps you have better things to do and have never really thought about this. In any case, you would be wrong. Because, in reference to the latter statement, they are awesome and you should care. And in reference to the former statement, if you are in the business of reading music-related press releases and had just read the one for the latest Neubauten release, JEWELS, you would suddenly be very keyed in to the fact that EVERYTHING about Blixa Bargeld and company is totally, completely indecipherable.

From what I can glean, the German industrial music pioneers have a new album, entitled JEWELS, which will be released in the United States sometime this summer on the band's Potomak label. According to the press release, the band came up with the album's brief, concept-driven songs by drawing cards related to past Neubauten experiments in a game the band called DAVE, which was "like Tarot without rules." The JEWELS album was envisioned around the same time as 2007's Alles wieder offen. The only other thing I can tell you about their latest offering is that the press release is pretty much the promotional media equivalent of James Joyce's Ulysses. Ouch.

JEWELS tracklisting (with song lengths!):

Deerhoof to Release New LP, Offend Maggie, in October; Offer Fans Chance to Interpret a Downl

Listen to TMT correspondents Emily Christensen and Jim Harvay discuss the new Deerhoof album, Offend Maggie, due October 7 on Kill Rock Stars:


Offend Maggie tracklisting:

* KCRW's World Festival

@ Xiu Xiu, Tenniscoats, Shugo Tokumaru

$ The Roots, Gnarls Barkley, Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings

Tiny Mix Tapes: Giving You More RIAA News Than You Can Shake Your “I Don’t Give a Shit!” Stick At!

Here’s TMT’s irreverent recap of recent Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) activity:

1. RIAA Ordered to Pay Fees of Accused Pirate

Not long ago we could have reported that the saga between the RIAA and Tanya Andersen and Tanya Andersen and the RIAA was continuing with no end or excitement in sight, but now we have word that this sorry mess may indeed be coming to a long-overdue close. A recommendation for the RIAA to pay Anderson's lawyer fees and Bill of Cost was approved last October, but in mid-May a U.S. Magistrate Judge recommended the sum to be paid be $107,834. It is not exactly a stiff penalty to the fat cat labels, but the finding is important for future decisions between the RIAA and those accused of illegally downloading its music.

While many accused have settled their file-sharing cases out-of-court, Andersen decided to stand up to legal threats by the RIAA and its questionable bullying collection tactics by countersuing the association under conspiracy laws. While the RIAA claims it is merely trying to take vigorous but appropriate measures in an attempt to curb music piracy (which supposedly costs the U.S. record industry $3.7 billion annually), Andersen's lawyer, Lionel Hutz, I mean Lory R. Lybeck, says that there are flaws in RIAA's identification of suspects through their IP addresses and that the cases against those accused are not about money lost but rather "it's about an extortion campaign" (BusinessWeek, May 5, 2008).

We believe that Andersen has been unfairly targeted by the RIAA, but then again, you never know: the same article in BusinessWeek mentions that Andersen lives with her Maltese-terrier mix, "Tazz." Surely everyone knows that Maltese-terriers are the sneakiest and stealthiest breed of dog. There's a reason canine circles refer to them as "the illegal file-sharing pirates" of the dog world. And yes, there are canine circles.


2. RIAA Drops Suit Against AllofMP3

The RIAA is trumpeting its victory against AllofMP3, despite dropping its rather large lawsuit against the Russian-based company. Papers were filed in a Manhattan federal court on May 20 voluntarily withdrawing the suit which was originally sought by the RIAA, Warner Music Group Corp., Vivendi SA, and EMI Group Plc.

Jonathan Lamy, a spokesman for the trade group, says "The site is now defunct and out of business, the result of a successful anti-piracy initiative." According to John Crossman, who represented AllofMP3’s owner MediaServicesLLC said of the dismissal, "The RIAA, et al] never correctly commenced the proceeding in the first place" before adding, "Maybe [dropping the lawsuit] was a rare triumph of good sense." He then placed his index finger delicately to his lips and looked slyly at the camera like [Mr. Roper used to do in Three's Company. Regardless of legal technicalities and producing proof, I'm not sure the RIAA would have won the damages it was seeking in the case originally filed in December 2006: $150,000 for each of the 11 million songs illegally downloaded from AllofMp3 from June to October 2006!. A bit steep, but when it caught wind that the site was not forwarding any profits to artists and was providing songs for much, much less than every other retail music website, it had to put its foot down.

What it either doesn’t realize or is conveniently neglecting is that the folks who created AllofMP3 have a new site up called Mp3Sparks, which is based on the very same business practices that the RIAA frowned upon when the site was known as AllofMP3.

AllofMP3 had approximately 5.5 million subscribers who paid an average of 10-20¢per song, bringing in $30 million annually to the site. The 411 on the mysterious Mp3Sparks is unknown (hey, if the RIAA doesn't know about them, how is TMT supposed to?). I'm sure it's all an oversight by the RIAA, who are probably devising a plan to terminate the site's operation as you read this. Whether it will be successful in quashing other illegal music sites in Russia, where this kind of activity is more popular than potato vodka, will remain to be seen. "Cpaciba!"


3. RIAA Doing Other Stuff

- According to TMT’s freelance snitches (our most reliable avenues for news), we have found out that RIAA officials are increasingly taking part in such shady activities as desecrating war heroes graves, milking seniors out of their pensions with social security scams over the telephone, and charging around schoolyards kicking kids in their stomachs right after they have eaten lunch. A spokesman for the RIAA denies the claims, saying "The RIAA has done nothing wrong..." or something like that. Yeah, yeah, we know! You never do anything wrong, do you?

- Danity Kane’s Welcome to the Dollhouse album has hit the "Gold" certification for sales... ALL LEGAL!

Jason Anderson Tours With Harry And The Potters, Sharpens #2 Pencil For Harry Potter Quiz

New Hampshire singer/songwriter Jason Anderson may be in for a shock when he meets up with Harry and the Potters this summer for a West Coast tour (with one date in Vancouver): there will be quizzes!

In order to help out Anderson, I decided to give him a little test quiz based on the Harry Potter books. Maybe now he’ll feel more at home out on the road with the Potter brothers.


1. How many goal posts are there on a Quidditch post?

a. 12

b. 2

c. 6

d. 8

2. What birthday does Harry celebrate in the first book?

a. 10

b. 11

c. 12

d. 13

3. How many points is the Golden Snitch worth?

a. 50

b. 500

c. 100

d. 150

Answer Key: c, b, d

Tourdates Key:

Tori Amos Gives Epic the Two-Finger Salute, Complete with Fairy Dust

Tori Amos has officially ended her stint with Epic Records after seven years. (madonna.) She was signed with Atlantic Records from 1992 to 2001, but apparently turned into some kinda masochist and signed another contract with Epic, which bites the dust this week. (radiohead.) "As with many of her contemporaries, Tori is devising new and exciting ways of getting her music to the masses without the boundaries and limitations of the major music companies," tells her manager John Witherspoon to Billboard. (nine inch nails.)

Amos has a new album hitting the shelves, virtual and otherwise in 2009, and she is also writing a musical for the British National Theater called The Light Princess. (paul mccartney.) Her album catalog will also be immortalized in a new graphic novel called Comic Book Tattoo. (the love symbol. I mean, prince.)

(these parenthetical artists get to be in lowercase because they jumped ship back when it was just starting to get embarrassing to stick with your major label, and everyone knows people who write in lowercase are way hip. Tori's gotta earn them stripes. next time, Tori. maybe next news story.)

Dan Deacon Cancels Upcoming Shows

As reported on Pitchfork, Dan Deacon has canceled seven upcoming shows in France and Portugal due to “matters in [his] personal life beyond [his] control.”

Pitchfork courteously took on the hard part of my job and asked Dan to comment: “In addition to working out the matters in my personal life,” he said, “I will be using the time to finish work on the record, work out the plans for possible build out of the new Wham City arts center, and finalize the remaining aspects of the Whartscape Festival.”

As we reported about a month ago (TMT News), Deacon’s new album, Bromst, is tentatively set for release in the fall. The Whartscape Festival will take place July 17-20 in Baltimore. I’m thinking about going. As far as the Wham City arts center, that’s the first I’ve heard of it. Awesome.

Take your time, Dan. Hope everything works out.

The Canceled Dates:

$ Ultimate Reality show

OiNK Users Arrested; We Ex-OiNK Users Should Probably Start Going Through The Name-Changing Paperwork Now

File-sharing utopia and invite-only torrent site was shutdown by the Cleveland and Dutch police back in 2007. Since then, no users, not even the site's owner, have been charged.

Until now, that is.

The go-to torrent news blog TorrentFreak reports that Cleveland, UK police recently arrested six OiNK users for, according to their sources, “Conspiracy to Defraud the Music Industry.” This essentially means the accused OiNK members were apparently arrested for sharing advance/pre-release albums with ties to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), an affiliate of the RIAA. (The IFPI mostly parties with the major labels, but judging by its extensive list of member sites, the group also expands its protection to indies.)

The British Phonographic Industry provided the following statement (via The Register):

The BPI and IFPI worked with the police in order to close down the OiNK tracker site last October. The illegal online distribution of music, particularly pre-release, is hugely damaging, and as OiNK was the biggest source for pre-releases at the time we moved to shut it down. We provided the information to assist this investigation, but this is now a police matter and we are unable to comment further at this stage.

At this point, it's unclear if more arrests are expected and why British police are involved in this particular investigation but not other file-sharing incidents.

Anyway, if you don't see any news stories from me for more than two weeks from today, then you can safely assume that I've either (a) gotten fed up with Mr P's bullshit or (b) have been caught and incarcerated.

I'm all for option A.

RIP: Bo Diddley Dies at 79 Due to Heart Failure

“I thank you in advance for the great round of applause I'm about to get.”

- Bo Diddley Official Website
- Bo Diddley Wikipedia entry
- NPR story: "Rock Pioneer Bo Diddley Dies at 79"

[Photo: Aconcagua]