The most entertaining part of the 44th Annual Grammy Awards wasn't the "Lady Marmalade" production number that opened the show or Alicia Keys' awkward tango later. It was Recording Academy President Michael Greene's rant about the criminal enterprise of electronic music swapping, a phenomenon that, he warned, threatens the music industry's very existence.
Purported financial difficulties haven't prevented Tower Records from developing a massive new flagship store in Los Angeles. Occupying more than 33,000 square feet, the new store in the renovated Sherman Oaks Galleria features a "state-of-the-art" performance stage and a Super Audio CD demonstration room.
Author and television producer Howard J. Blumenthal has completed his Jazz and World Music CD Listener's Guides, the first two volumes in a four-volume series. The publications include brief biographies of the top artists in each genre, arranged alphabetically, and hundreds of short reviews of the discs the author considers essential.
In a move that is likely to push record labels into the uncharted territory of direct sales, BMG has announced its intention to add in-house sales to its network of music sites. "BMG will be moving in the fall to its own fulfillment capability because of the demands of consumers," said senior vice president Scott Dinsdale at the Business Online 98 conference in San Francisco last week.
On January 19, Bertelsmann Music Group Entertainment announced changes in senior management that include a new chief financial officer and new directors for its American and European divisions. A major division of the German media conglomerate Bertelsmann AG, BMG suffered the loss of music industry veteran Rudi Gassner shortly before Christmas. Gassner, who had been slated to become CEO of BMG, died of a heart attack while vacationing in Bavaria.
The age of downloadable digital music is showing signs of maturing. Territory that was explored by hobbyists, pirates, and startup companies eager to stake their claims will soon yield to the irresistible force of multinational conglomerates.
The "Big Five" of the recorded music industry is one step closer to becoming the "Big Four," according to late-January reports from Frankfurt, Germany, home of Bertelsmann AG. Bertelsmann is the parent company of Bertelsmann Music Group, which has been in merger discussions for several months with the United Kingdom's EMI Group PLC. Discussions are near completion, according to a BMG official.