Controversial online song-swapping service Napster is looking for music publishers to support its pay service.
Hank Barry, Napster chief executive officer, has talked with MusicNet to work out a licensing deal and wants to talk with Sony and Universal's Duet, Reuters reported Tuesday.
Napster's usage has dropped from 250,000 in February to 150,000 in recent days because of a court order banning the downloading of copyrighted songs. Napster's attempt to break ground in music technology-by allowing users access to songs via the Internet-resulted in copyright infringement lawsuits. Users will soon have to pay a monthly fee to access music files through Napster.
Barry sees big opportunity in subscription services even without a big label's consent. Napster will need a license from the copyright owners of the songs in order to launch its new service, which will enable all artists and songwriters to receive payments regardless of whether they are on a major label.
Barry told Reuters the pay service would launch in the summer.
Also Tuesday, BMG said it would share its $20 million in damages with its artists whose songs were copyright infringed upon by another online song-swapping service, MP3.com. BMG's artists include Carlos Santana, Christina Aguilera and the Dave Matthews Band.
"We value our relationships with our artists and we feel this is the best course to take to foster those relationships," Bob Jamieson, BMG North America's president and chief executive officer, told Reuters.
BMG also will allocate a portion of the damages to its music-publishing arm, which will distribute some money to songwriters.
Legal action against MP3.com soon began after it launched a service called My.MP3.com in January 2000. The service allowed users to store music from their favorite artists on a folder, which they could access via the Internet.
According to Reuters, the service included a database of over 80,000 albums copied by MP3.com, which the record labels and publishers argued violated copyright law.
As a result, the service was shut down in April 2000 after a federal judge ruled against MP3.com, which paid over $160 million in damages to the five major record labels (Universal, Sony, Bertelsmann AG's BMG Entertainment, AOL Time Warner Inc.'s Warner Music Group, and EMI Group) in copyright infringement.
Universal refused to settle with MP3.com and was rewarded more than the $20 million the labels received. All the other labels agreed to split the money with artists, regardless of contract wording.
Everybody knows that Tina Turner has fabulous legs, but she proved in Y2K that she really has legs - on the road.
Turner sold more than $80.2 million in concert tickets in North America this year, making her the year's top act.
According to Pollstar data released Thursday, Turner, 61, outpaced boy band 'N Sync, who grossed $76.4 million, and rockers the Dave Matthews Band with $68.2 million.
Glam rockers KISS and country supercouple Tim McGraw and Faith Hill rounded out the Top Five with $62.7 million and $48.8 million, respectively.
Although Turner was tops in ticket receipts, 'N Sync sold more single tickets than anyone else for the second consecutive year -1.65 million.
HE WANTS IT THAT WAY: Backstreet Boys hottie Kevin Richardson is forming a foundation to raise awareness of environmental issues, the Associated Press reports. Just Within Reach: An Earth Foundation will begin in Richardson's home state of Kentucky and expand globally, announced the 29-year-old performer Wednesday.
Richardson said the organization's abbreviation -- JWR -- is taken from the initials of his late father, Jerald Wayne Richardson, who died of cancer in 1991.
``I feel like our environment ties in to a lot of problems we have with our health today,'' Richardson said. He added that information about JWR will be posted on BSB's Web site, www.backstreetboys.com.
For more music stories and the latest music releases, check out MusicSite.com.
Ben Affleck ("Dogma") wasn't cruisin' in a Batmobile, but the rumored Caped Crusader contender got cozy anyway with the Massachusetts justice system.
On Christmas Eve, Affleck, with ex-girlfriend-turned-just-friend Gwyneth Paltrow ("The Talented Mr. Ripley") in tow, showed up at Southern Berkshire District Court in Great Barrington, Mass., to pay a $135 fine for driving with a suspended license. Affleck was ticketed for speeding in Lee, Mass., on Aug. 11. The 27-year-old actor was reportedly on his way to visit Paltrow, who was acting in a play at the nearby Williamstown Theater Festival.
In their joint courthouse appearance, Affleck and Paltrow posed for pictures and signed autographs, according to the New York Daily News. Affleck's lawyer, David Hoose, said yesterday that the actor had a valid California license but was unaware his license was suspended in Massachusetts, apparently because of unpaid traffic violations.
GONE A' COURTING - Rap mogul Sean "Puffy" Combs is free on $10,000 bail after being formally charged Monday with criminal possession of a weapon and possession of stolen property in the wake of a New York nightclub shooting that left three injured.
All potential charges, meanwhile, against Combs' girlfriend, actress/singer Jennifer Lopez ("Out of Sight"), also in hot water after the shooting, have been dropped.
A court hearing for Combs is set for Feb. 14.
Combs declared his innocence to reporters outside Manhattan Criminal Court. "I do not own a gun," he said. "I do not carry a gun. The charges and allegations against me are 100 percent false, I feel confident that in the next couple of days, I will be vindicated and everything will be all right."
Prosecutors said Combs, 30, got into an argument with other patrons at Club New York in Manhattan shortly before 3 a.m. (EST) Monday. After one patron threw money at him, Combs and Jamal Barrow, a member of his entourage, reportedly pulled out weapons, with Barrow allegedly firing. A woman was shot in the face and two men were wounded in the shoulder; all three were listed in stable condition.
Authorities say Combs sped away from the club with Lopez ("Out of Sight") -- their Jeep chased by police until it was forced off the street. The celebrity couple, Barrow and one other person were taken in for questioning.
Barrow, 21, faces charges of attempted murder and reckless endangerment.
GONE A' PLANTIN' - Sylvester Stallone has a new hobby while waiting for those "Rambo" sequels to take form: gardening.
Stallone has agreed to replant the hundreds of trees and bushes unlawfully cut down on his Miami property by staff members. (Apparently city officials there need to pre-approve trimming plans.)
The action-star's lawyer said Stallone "had no knowledge that the trees had been taken down," according to the Hollywood Reporter. The cost to replace the scrubbed shrubbery has been estimated at between $200,000-$500,000 by nursery owners.
JUST GONE - Singer Dave Matthews ("Crash") will have to wait a while longer to make his feature film debut. Production on a remake of the nature drama "Where the Red Fern Grows," featuring the rocker, has been halted until next month due to financial difficulties.
The $3-$3.5 million film, co-starring Ned Beatty, Dabney Coleman and Mac Davis, ran up debts of almost $700,000, according to the Hollywood Reporter, leaving producers unable to finish the project.
Matthews, who fronts the Dave Matthews Band, recently released "Listener Supported," a double-CD live album.
Alpine University film student Amy Mayfield (Jennifer Morrison) needs to start her senior project but she's stymied by a case of screenwriter's block. Then a chance encounter with the new campus cop (Loretta Devine the only link to the original "Urban Legend") gives her an idea: She'll make a film about a serial killer who slays college students in ways related to urban legends. Needless to say her cast and crew members (Joseph Lawrence Eva Mendez Jessica Cauffiel) start to disappear in a series of bizarre and mysterious incidents. And yes the killer is the person you would least suspect but only because he/she lacks a plausible motive.
Morrison ("Stir of Echoes") never finds the right mix of vulnerability naïveté and attitude to play the slasher flick damsel-in-distress-turned-heroine. (And she's never in any real peril.) Sorely missing are the outrageous performances that Rebecca Gayheart Danielle Harris and Julian Richings provided in the original "Urban Legend" -- the supporting players shackled to tired Hollywood clichés and a lackluster story never get to exercise their dramatic talents.
Freshman director John Ottman struggles with an already sputtering script by Paul Harris Boardman and Scott Derrickson. Apparently the muse of over-the-top schlock horror blessed the first 15 minutes of the film then succumbed to spontaneous human combustion. With the exception of a mildly amusing "Blair Witch" cinéma-vérité parody the balance of the film generates neither thrill nor swill.
Score one for the mp3. BMG parent Bertelsmann AG, one of the biggest record companies embroiled in the copyright-infringement lawsuit against Napster, has switched sides and formed an alliance with the song-swapping service.
The label is dropping its suit and plans to become part owner of Napster, creating a copyright-friendly version that will reportedly charge a monthly membership fee of around $4.95 to pay royalties. The Internet service is currently free and attracts some 38 million users.
``Napster has pointed the way for a new direction for music distribution, and we believe it will form the basis of important and exciting new business models for the future of the music industry,'' said Bertelsmann Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Thomas Middelhoff in a statement.
Middelhoff says he has urged other labels to join the service. The BMG company's many labels feature artists such as Christina Aguilera, TLC, Pink, Dave Matthews Band, Santana and Puff Daddy.
Company officials at a press conference say BMG will not drop its lawsuit against Napster until the new version of the service is implemented. Napster will put the new system in place as soon as possible, according to Napster CEO Hank Barry.
Barry also emphasized that Napster will continue to allow users to trade music files that they created on their own from CDs.
Meanwhile, Napster enemies Metallica and Dr. Dre plan to continue pursuing their own lawsuits, according to the artists' lawyer Howard King.
"[A new subscription service] doesn't mean we forgive and forget the past infringements," King said. According to MTV News, King and other labels said they were cautiously optimistic about plans by Napster and Bertelsmann, while others questioned whether the plan will properly compensate musicians.