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As Linkin Park released their new album, Minutes To Midnight, a debate about re-invention arose in the KOAR camp. LP first hit in 2000 with the groundbreaking album Hybrid Theory. Although rap-rock was nothing new, they did it with a level of technical proficiency and originality the genre had never seen. By the time they released Meteora, they were established as a revolutionary band; one of the most creative and talented groups in mainstream rock. That was 4 years ago. Now, after going into the studio with Rick Rubin to ‘re-invent themselves,’ one can’t help but wonder why they’re fixing something that wasn’t broken.

The trouble that artists run into, especially those with a massive impact on pop culture, is that their sound is so closely associated with a time and place, staying true to what worked in the past may not work in the present or future. Artists in this position have 3 options: evolve, re-invent or call it a day. Of course, evolution is ideal. Fans who truly believe in an act want to know how much better the music can be when artists elaborate on what made them great and explore new corners of their potential previously unknown. Green Day, for example, surprised Dookie fans who thought they had a pop-punk formula by exploring anything and everything that tickled their musical fancy, even landing success with an acoustic ballad. Though their popularity waned temporarily over the years, they stuck to their guns and continued their evolution. The fans returned, bringing even more people with them, resulting in Green Day’s first #1 record in 2004. Green Day had the balls to redefine ’3 chord punk’ and it paid off for them.

Linkin Park could have gone the way of Green Day, exploring what they’re really capable of and letting their musical curiosity lead them down a path of ingenuity, but they instead opted for re-invention. Madonna-style. Madonna has made her entire career on re-invention. The reason she is successful at it is because she operates in the pop world, where it’s here today and gone tomorrow. Constant change and endless marketing is crucial to achieving longevity for solo performers in the flash-in-the-pan world of Top 40.  For most bands at that level, however, re-invention isn’t a realistic option. It can cheapen your past success and force you to lose relevance (e.g. Metallica). 

The highly contested third option of ‘quitting‘ is not necessarily a bad thing. What’s wrong with stopping? It would be like if Clapton stuck with the Yardbirds or Peter Gabriel stayed in Genesis. Their individual legacy as musicians didn’t hinge on the success of one project, and it’s their collaborations with other great artists and involvment in a variety of projects that make their stories so rich and interesting. If Linkin Park never made another album after Meteora, would it have lessened their impact on rock music, or would it have been seen as going out on a high note? Would the individual members go on to create music with others that is just as important or even more so than what they made in Linkin Park? It’s never too late for that to happen, but is damage being done to the Linkin Park legacy by changing what the band is all about?

Evolution happens when natural musical instincts are followed down an unknown path. Re-invention is the conscious decision to change with a desired outcome in mind. Across the entirety of music, successful examples of both are plentiful, but the third option is not one to be overlooked. Ending one chapter allows a new one to begin. It’s evolution, but on the individual level rather than as a group. A group of creative people cannot be expected to travel down the same linear musical path indefinitely. There are twists and turns for every musician where numerous intersections and parallels should be allowed. Fear only stifles progress, so artists shouldn’t be afraid of where the unknown can take them.

AJ, KOAR

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American Idol needs another Shining Star…

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FADING FINISH: ‘IDOL’ RATINGS DROP 8% IN WEEK… 14.7 RATING/23 SHARE FOR FOX SHOW, DOWN FROM LAST TUESDAY’S 15.5/25… SHOW HAS LOST RATINGS FROM WEEK-TO-WEEK FOR LAST 3 OUTINGS…

For the first time, a series following “American Idol” has posted a higher initial rating than the reality titan.

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Big Amazon News…

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Amazon the Internet’s Largest Retailer Will Launch Its Digital Music Store with 12,000 Record Labels, Including EMI and in the DRM-free MP3 format. Again, no copyright protection and the music will play in any device.

To many Chefs in the Kitchen and to many directions for Kelly Clarkson….

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Kelly Clarkson has been in the news of late. It seems a creative dilemma divided the label and the Clarkson camp. Kelly Clarkson is at a pivotal point, this is her chance to become the NEXT true Diva and Clive and his camp are scared as hell.

Clarkson talks:

“Everybody always wants me to go in different directions. Obviously they’re a record label so they need to sell records.They want the formula writers and the formula producers that do everybody else’s stuff, and while I love some of those people… and I don’t mind working with that…I just don’t like working with someone that gives you a song and is like, ‘Oh, I wrote this for you.’ But you find out that they’ve given it to every other artist and they turned it down, you know?”

“My label literally sent me a Lindsay Lohan track from her last album and wanted me to record it for my new album. And while I like Lindsay Lohan, like I’m cool with her and I think she sings the song well… it’s already been on an album. I don’t care what pop star it is.” Clarkson was kind of offended by the whole situation. “They were just sending me stuff that was like almost insulting. I’m like, ‘You can’t even find new songs?”

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He was worried that he could somehow be terminated from his position as CEO. He also feared that EMI’s Alain Levy, as number 2 in the company, could unseat him……

According to Fox News’ Roger Friedman it turns out that Edgar Bronfman Jr. (pictured) had the opportunity in February 2004 to merge the two companies, remain CEO and regroup into a powerhouse. He could have combined the Beatles with Atlantic Records’ catalog, streamlined into a mega giant and been awarded kudos from all corners.

What Went Wrong?

Papers filed as exhibits in a lawsuit brought against Bronfman outlined the whole mess as it went down. The papers come from a suit brought by former Simon & Schuster publisher Richard Snyder, whom Bronfman met over Christmas 2001 while on a family vacation in Anguilla. In 2002, Bronfman invited Snyder to help create deals for investment after the former had botched involvements with Vivendi Universal and elsewhere.

A Riff Between Bronfman and Snyder. The Drama Begins:

Snyder says that he was the architect of the Warner Music deal, and that once it was completed, Bronfman unceremoniously dumped him and refused to give him his cut. Snyder is suing for $100 million.

The proposed evidence:

The most glaring of the documents attached to the Snyder lawsuit: a letter from EMI chairman Eric Nicoli dated Feb. 9, 2004, to Bronfman and Scott Sperling of Thomas H. Lee Partners, the firm that financed Bronfman’s WMG deal and now has a controlling stake in the company. It’s titled “Proposal for Acquisition of Warner Recorded Music and Part of Warner-Chappell Music Publishing.”

The Kings Are Appointed:

In the letter, Nicoli outlines an offer to merge with Bronfman’s new WMG for $1.6 billion in cash, and reiterates a plan by which Bronfman would become CEO of the “enlarged EMI Group.” Nicoli recommends that Alain Levy, then head of EMI Music, become CEO of the Music Group and Martin Bandier become CEO of EMI Music Publishing. It’s that simple. All Nicoli asks is that his EMI executives remain in place through the new company. He reminds Bronfman that the offer, which would have solved numerous problems for both companies, expires two days hence.

Bronfman Says NO to DEAL.

Bronfman didn’t want the deal. On Feb. 11, Nicoli e-mailed Bronfman: “We understand you do not wish to pursue our offer.” He copied Sperling. Bronfman circulated the e-mail to Snyder and to his brother-in-law Alejandro Zubillaga.

He was worried that he could somehow be terminated from his position as CEO. He also feared that EMI’s Alain Levy, as number 2 in the company, could unseat him.

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KOAR’s favorite My Favorite Highway who has embraced the ‘Alternate Industry’ just passed 1,000,000 plays on myspace and just sold out 2 nights in a row at Jammin’ Java. Check out these pop infectious tracks including Murder On The Radio and They Tried to Kill Chivalry….

New tour dates:

May 15 – The Brewery Raleigh, North Carolina
May 18 – 1982 Bar Gainesville, Florida
May 19 – Ray’s Downtown Blues West Palm Beach, Florida
May 20 – The Hinge Cape Coral, Florida
May 21 – First Friday Overflow Tampa, Florida
May 22 – High Note Birmingham, Alabama
May 24 – Club Dash Port Huron, Michigan
May 25 – Mac’s Bar Lansing, Michigan

Contact information here.

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Live Nation reported significant losses during its first quarter. The decline is the result of lackluster tours and increased operational expenses.

Live Nation CFO Alan Ridgeway noted during a conference call that first-quarter (ended March 31, 2007) treks from the Who, Josh Groban, Bob Seger and Dolly Parton “did not perform as strongly” as 2006′s first-quarter lineup of U2, Coldplay, Billy Joel, Aerosmith, Depeche Mode and others.

The concert business is a seasonal and cyclical business with a cycle of generally 1 to 3 years,” Live Nation president/CEO Michael Rapino said in a statement.

The concert business is cyclical to an extent. But, generally speaking the concert business won’t be as  healthy as it was since record sales continue to decline and the ageing stars continue to die off. This problem isnt going away. Hence, another solution needed.

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Hip Hop is under fire and the music execs don’t like it. Hip Hop CD sales continue to tank as it faces sever criticism of sexicism and depraved lyrics. Top music executives planned a private meeting on the future of hip hop but the meeting was canceled and the music gatekeepers have been silent.

Execs are scared to death of censorship as it could severely damage sales in the already plummeting hip hop world that is facing a backlash from consumers. Plus, CD sales are being gobbled up by digital downloads. This is the PERFECT STORM.

“They want this whole thing to go away and keep doing what they’ve been doing, which is selling records,” said Don Gorder, chair of the Music Business/Management Department at the Berklee College of Music.

Although many music execs are silent others are listening to consumers and taking action:
Ebony magazine pulled the rapper Ludacris from its June cover. Verizon dropped Akon after the underage sex scandal. Hip hop magazine ‘The Source’ has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and Warner Music Group vice president Kevin Lilies appeared on Oprah Winfrey’s show and acknowledged “there’s a problem.”

Still, most music executives have turned down requests to openly discuss the future of hip hop and its depraved content. Sony, chairman Andrew Lack and chief executive Rolph Schmidt-Holtz have turned down all requests for interviews. Eric Nicoli, head of EMI declined to talk about the matter.

The absolute truth is that ‘Executives’ bonuses are tied to sales and they don’t want to destroy this market. Unfortunately denial doesn’t change reality.

The bottom line is that the population got bored with hip hop/rap and have moved onto something else.

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American Idol is on the search for the next great american band (working title) and will scour the country, seeking musical groups of all ages, styles and genres, with hundreds of bands auditioning for a shot at stardom.

Shock Jocks Opie and Anthony Put XM/Sirius Merger In Jeopardy

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MTV is back with its old tricks ‘Rapping with the pros, celebs’. Its a competition that pairs up rappers and celebrities. MTV is drawing from the idea of “Dancing with the Stars.” This doesn’t always work, as Fox found out last year with its ill-fated “Singing With Celebrities.” Do you really want to see out of touch celebs rapping? I think someone is out of ideas.  The President of MTV Christina Norman (pictured) was hired to over see MTV’s creative vision.  Christina Norman also drew criticism last year after defending MTV cartoons that depicted black women squatting on all fours tethered to leashes and defecating on the floor.

Its time for a change……………

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