Bob Dylan, Billy Joel and James Taylor filed a lawsuit against Vivendi Universal's MP3-dot-com music Web site for allegedly distributing their songs without authorization, according to sources familiar with the suit. The musicians' suit, filed in Manhattan federal court, claims MP3.com digitally copied their tracks from commercial CDs and then offered the music files to users.
pressplay Enters Into An Agreement With BMG
pressplay, the leading music service, has entered into an agreement with BMG that brings that company's prestigious music catalog to the pressplay service. BMG becomes the fourth major music company to add its songs to pressplay's catalog of more than 120,000 songs from thousands of artists across all genres.
The agreement will add tens of thousands of tracks into pressplay from both frontline and catalog BMG artists including Christina Aguilera, Alabama, Brooks and Dunn, John Denver, Placido Domingo, Vince Gill, Whitney Houston, Kenny G., Barry Manilow, Monica, Lorrie Morgan, Sarah McLachlan, OutKast, Iggy Pop, Elvis Presley, Lou Reed, Run DMC, Frank Sinatra, The Strokes, TLC, Tyrese, Usher, Wu Tang Clan, Yanni, Yes and ZZ Top. Pressplay members will be able to burn these artists' songs to CDs, transfer them to portable devices or keep their tracks permanently on their computers, as well as enjoy unlimited streams and downloads.
"From Elvis Presley to Whitney Houston and Sinatra to The Strokes, the addition of BMG's great artists and music will add tens of thousands of songs for our members to enjoy online or offline, on their PCs or on the go," said Michael Bebel, president and chief executive officer of pressplay. "The addition of this fourth major music company is another important step forward for pressplay. Following the successful launch of our latest version, which includes commercial-free radio, pressplay continues to deliver to our members the features and music they want."
"We are pleased to make our music available through pressplay," said Michael Smellie, chief operating officer, BMG. "This license agreement further demonstrates BMG's commitment to bringing music to consumers online in a way that is dynamic and respects our artists' rights."
Launched in the U.S. in December 2001, pressplay remains the only online music subscription service to offer subscribers broad portability options along with an unlimited number of streams and downloads. Pressplay also offers more than 25 professionally programmed stations on Radio pressplay. Pressplay is available through MSN, Yahoo, MP3.com, Roxio and Sony Musiclub. Last month pressplay also became accessible on the "services" tab of Microsoft's new Windows Media Player 9 Series, exposing tens of millions of Windows Media users to the pressplay service.
pressplay is an equally held joint venture between Sony Music Entertainment and Universal Music Group (a unit of Vivendi Universal), and has offices in Los Angeles and New York City. Music companies, including BMG, EMI Recorded Music, Madacy, Matador, Navarre, OWIE, Razor & Tie, Roadrunner, Rounder, Sanctuary, Sony Music Entertainment, TVT, Universal Music Group and Zomba separately provide their content to pressplay on a non-exclusive basis. Pressplay is marketed to consumers through relationships with MP3.com, MSN Music, pressplay Connect, Roxio, Sony Music Club and Yahoo!. An independent executive team with deep music, programming, technology and business experience leads the company.
Entertainment Weekly's Power List 2002–Executives & Entertainers
Entertainment Weekly's Power List 2002–Executives
1. Jeff Bewkes & Chris Albrecht, AOL Time Warner
2. John Calley & Amy Pascal, Sony
3. Leslie Moonves, CBS
4. Kaz Hirai, Sony
5. Barry M. Meyer & Alan Horn, Warner Bros.
6. Bob Wright, Andy Lack & Jeff Zucker, NBC
7. Doug Morris, Universal Music Group
8. Ron Meyer & Stacey Snider, Universal Pictures
9. Brian Becker, Clear Channel Entertainment
10. Sandy Grushow & Gail Berman, Fox Entertainment
11. Jamie Kellner, TBS
12. Richard Cook, Nina Jacobson & Thomas Schumacher, The Walt Disney Studios
13. Tom Freston & Judy McGrath, MTV Networks
14. Herb Scannell, Nickelodeon, TV Land, and TNN
15. Tom Rothman & Jim Gianopulos, Fox Filmed Entertainment
16. Michael Lynne & Bob Shaye, New Line
17. Bruce Rosenblum & Peter Roth, Warner Bros. Television
18. Jonathan L. Dolgen & Sherry Lansing, Viacom/Paramount
19. Nancy Tellem, CBS
20. Leonard Riggio & Steve Riggio, Barnes & Noble
21. Thomas D. Mottola, Sony Music Entertainment
22. Bob & Harvey Weinstein, Miramax
23. Joe Roth, Revolution Studios
24. Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg & David Geffen, DreamWorks SKG
25. Warren N. Lieberfarb, Warner Home Video
26. Jimmy Iovine, Interscope Geffen A&M Records
27. Bruce Berman, Roadshow Pictures
28. Steve Jobs & John Lasseter, Pixar Animation Studios
29. Lloyd Braun & Susan Lyne, ABC Entertainment
30. Creative Artists Agency
31. Lyor Cohen, The Island Def Jam Music Group
32. International Creative Management
33. Roger Ames & Tom Whalley, Warner Music Group
34. United Talent Agency
36. William Morris Agency
37. Brad Grey, Brillstein-Grey
38. Peter Olson, Random House
39. Don Ienner , Columbia Records Group
40. Antonio ''L.A.'' Reid, Arista Records
41. Jane Friedman, HarperCollins Publishers
42. Alex Yemenidjian & Chris McGurk, MGM
43. Jack Romanos, Carolyn Reidy, & David Rosenthal, Simon & Schuster
44. Alain Levy & David Munns, EMI Recorded Music North America
45. Clive Davis, J Records
46. Doug Herzog, USA Network
47. Irv Gotti, Murder Inc.
48. Avi Arad, Marvel Studios
49. Peter Rice, Fox Searchlight Pictures
50. Russell Simmons, Def Jam
50.5. The Firm
Entertainment Weekly's Power List 2002–Entertainers
1. Tom Hanks
2. Steven Spielberg
3. Mel Gibson
4. Tom Cruise
5. Julia Roberts
6. Denzel Washington
7. Ron Howard & Brian Grazer
8. Oprah Winfrey
9. M. Night Shyamalan
10. Adam Sandler
12. Steven Soderbergh & George Clooney
13. Russell Crowe
14. Ridley Scott
15. George Lucas
16. Nicole Kidman
17. David Letterman
18. Jerry Bruckheimer
19. Jennifer Lopez
20. Will Smith
21. John Wells
22. Reese Witherspoon
23. Dick Wolf
24. Peter Jackson
25. Mike Myers
26. David Chase
27. Joel Silver
28. Andy & Larry Wachowski
29. Scott Rudin
30. J.K. Rowling
31. Jay Leno
32. Jennifer Aniston
33. Ben Affleck & Matt Damon
34. Dave Matthews
35. Will Wright
36. Tom Clancy
37. Sharon & Ozzy Osbourne
38. Mark Burnett
40. John Madden
41. Vin Diesel
42. Tim LaHaye & Jerry B. Jenkins
43. Cameron Diaz
45. Tobey Maguire
46. Craig Zadan & Neil Meron
47. Bruce Springsteen
48. Baz Luhrmann
49. Phil Rosenthal & Ray Romano
50. Simon Fuller & Nigel Lythgoe
50.5 Kelly Ripa
Ex-3LW Member Makes Sex Accusation
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — There are more details coming out about the 3LW lawsuit — including allegations of pimping one of its members.
Naturi Naughton is suing the other two members of the R&B group, Kiely Williams and Adrienne Bailon, as well its management, which includes two of Williams' sisters, Michelle and Tse. Naughton says she was forced out of the group.
Naughton claims she was expected to do more than just sing and dance for the group; she says she was being urged to get into a romantic relationship with a member of the rap group St. Lunatics so the group would ask 3LW to tour with them.
Naughton says in her suit she went to a meeting with a member of the St. Lunatics. When she returned, she told the three Williams sisters and Bailon she did not get intimate with the group member. Michelle Williams berated her for not getting her "mack game up," according to the suit.
Naughton says she got the impression she needed to use sex or intimacy to get 3LW a place on the Nellyville tour with St. Lunatics, which didn't happen. Naughton says Michelle Williams harassed her more because she failed to "close the deal."
Williams and Bailon say Naughton walked out on them. There's been no immediate response to the lawsuit by the defendants in the case.
Singer Houston Faces $100M Lawsuit
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Whitney Houston is being sued for $100 million by her father's entertainment company for breach of contract.
According to the lawsuit, filed in state Superior Court in Newark on Sept. 12, the singer was in financial straits and facing marijuana possession charges in Hawaii until her father's company stepped in to help.
Newark-based John Houston Entertainment LLC, run by John Houston and business partner Kevin Skinner, helped get the marijuana charges dropped and hired lawyers to negotiate a $100 million contract with Arista Records, Skinner said.
When John Houston Entertainment asked to be paid for its services, the company was denied, the lawsuit claims.
"She was falling. She was failing. She was about to drown," Skinner told The Star-Ledger of Newark for Friday's editions. "You read the tabloids about the drug use charges. We cleared that all out. We saved her career."
Whitney Houston's Los Angeles-based spokeswoman said the singer's 81-year-old father told her he has nothing to do with the lawsuit, but Skinner and his attorney claim John Houston stands by it. Calls to John Houston's home were not answered Friday.
Whitney Houston, 39, has won six Grammy awards. Her hits include "Saving All My Love For You," "The Greatest Love of All" and "I Will Always Love You," from the soundtrack of her 1992 movie, "The Bodyguard."
In 2000, a security guard at a Hawaii airport seized the singer's handbag, and police reported it contained half an ounce of marijuana.
Lee Offers to Play at Military Bases
MALIBU, Calif. (AP) — Rock star Tommy Lee has proposed settling his punishment for spousal abuse by performing concerts at military bases around the world.
If Lee is allowed to follow through with the idea, proposed Thursday during a probation hearing, Superior Court Judge Lawrence Mira expressed optimism that the musician may be released from probation before its May 2003 expiration date and also satisfy his remaining 237 hours of community service.
The 40-year-old former Motley Crue drummer was charged in February 1998 with spousal abuse, child abuse and a firearms violation after then-wife Pamela Anderson called police from her Malibu home and reported she had been assaulted during an argument.
Lee pleaded no contest to felony corporal injury to a spouse and was sentenced to terms of 180 days in jail and three years in state prison, both of which were suspended.
Lee is set to return to court for another hearing April 10, at which point Mira could chose to release him from probation.
"He's done everything he's supposed to do except his community service," said prosecutor Kathryn Solorzano. "He has a great incentive to finish it by April 10th."
Lee's probation was extended in May 2000 to its current date after it was discovered he violated the court's order by drinking alcohol. The additional community service hours involve a Beverly Hills battery case.
Napster Negotiating Emergency Loan
WILMINGTON, Del. (AP)– Napster Inc. is in talks with prospective buyers on an emergency loan to keep the company afloat until it is sold.
The defunct online music-sharing service continued an emergency hearing to consider approval of the loan Thursday after it said it needed more time to work out the specifics of the proposed $200,000 interim and $350,000 final loans with Napco Lending LLC.
Napco Lending is the just-created lending arm of the prospective purchaser, whose name hasn't been revealed.
Napster is also in talks with other prospective purchasers for sale deals that would include a loan, said William E. Chipman Jr., an attorney with Greenberg Traurig LLC, the firm representing Napster's committee of unsecured creditors. The creditors' committee and a court-appointed Chapter 11 trustee are leading the sale effort.
Chipman said Napster hopes to submit a loan agreement next week. In the meantime, the company is considering selling some of its hard assets to generate cash flow for the Chapter 11 estate.
The trustee, the creditor panel, secured creditor Bertelsmann AG, several music publishers and recording companies will meet Friday to discuss the sale and loan deals, Chipman said.
Napster said it also hopes to reach an agreement to use Bertelsmann's roughly $400,000 in cash collateral. Napster needs the cash to pay some worker-related expenses, including a bonus for its lone employee, Chipman said.
To date, Bertelsmann has balked at allowing Napster to use its cash collateral.
On Sept. 3, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington barred the sale of Napster to Bertelsmann, a German media giant, after Napster failed to demonstrate the $92 million deal was made in good faith.
Days later, Trenwith Securities began soliciting bids for a sale while Napster's committee of unsecured creditors fought to keep the company in Chapter 11 bankruptcy instead of Chapter 7, which entails liquidation. A handful of unidentified bidders emerged at the Trenwith Securities auction. The bidding started at $6 million.
Redwood City, Calif.-based Napster attracted millions of fans and numerous copyright infringement lawsuits after its launch in 1999. It suspended operations in July 2001 and started work on a legitimate, fee-based subscription service that was never officially launched.
ARTISTdirect Makes Board Of Director Changes
ARTISTdirect, Inc. has made several changes to its Board of Directors resulting in a net reduction from ten to six members. The Board has accepted the resignations of Cliff Friedman, Dara Khosrowshahi, Lee Masters, Fred Roberts, and Allen Lenard. Each of the resignations was an individual action made for personal reasons. None of the resignations reflected any disagreement with management or the actions of the Board.
Jerry Rubinstein has joined the Board as an independent director and will also join existing directors Steve Krupa and Ben Moody on the Audit Committee. In addition, the Board has approved a reduction in the number of authorized directors from ten to eight and the company intends to recruit additional independent directors to fill one or both of the vacant positions.
Rubinstein is chairman and CEO of Music Imaging & Media Inc., a premium digital music programming service for commercial establishments. A pioneer in the programming, marketing and distribution of digital music, he founded DMX, Inc. (Digital Music Express) in 1986 and ultimately sold the company to cable television giant TCI. A lawyer and certified public accountant, his business career also includes co-founding a prominent entertainment business management firm, serving as chairman and CEO of the music division of the American Broadcasting Company, acquiring, developing and successfully selling United Artists Records, and co-founding and serving as chairman of Bel Air Savings & Loan Association.
Ted Field, ARTISTdirect chairman and CEO, commented, "In light of recent legislation and the existing legal environment regarding corporate governance, individual directors often feel they are exposed to greater potential liability in connection with serving as directors of a public company, whether large or small. We greatly appreciate the contributions of Cliff, Dara, Lee and Fred and wish the best for each of them. We're pleased that Allen Lenard will continue to provide legal counsel to the company, an invaluable role that he has played since our founding. I also want to thank Jerry Rubinstein for his vote of confidence in joining the Board. We look forward to his new perspective and active involvement."
SESAC Acquires Robert Johnson's Catalog
SESAC has acquired the catalog of legendary Mississippi Delta bluesman Robert Johnson for exclusive performing rights representation. Johnson's songs have been covered by Cream, the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin. His catalog includes such gems as "Crossroads" and "Love in Vain." Johnson died in 1938 at age 27.