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LABEL NEWS (Click on More to view all articles): MusicNet and Fantasy Reach Licensing Agreement & Universal Music Cancels Post-Grammy Awards Bash in NYC

MusicNet, a leading digital music company, and Fantasy, the leading independent record label group, have reached an agreement in which Fantasy has licensed its digital music catalog of over 2,500 classic jazz, blues, R&B and rock albums to MusicNet. MusicNet provides digital music services to distribution partners including RealNetworks and AOL. The agreement includes the rights to stream, download, burn and transfer music to secure devices, among other features.

Fantasy is home to the "world’s mightiest jazz catalog" including albums from preeminent jazz labels such as Contemporary, Milestone, Pablo, Prestige and Riverside representing signature works from Chet Baker, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Bill Evans, Ella Fitzgerald, Thelonious Monk, Art Pepper, Sonny Rollins and Sarah Vaughan. Fantasy is also home to the legendary Memphis label Stax/Volt Records, including many of the most influential soul releases from artists such as Booker T. &The MGs, the Dramatics, Isaac Hayes and the Staple Singers and Specialty Records with albums by Little Richard, Sam Cooke and the Soul Stirrers.

Alan McGlade, CEO of MusicNet, stated: "This important independent music catalog significantly rounds out MusicNet’s vast offering of music, especially in the jazz, blues and R&B genres. This agreement enables us to provide consumers with access to Fantasy’s large catalog of classic recordings in a secure, comfortable and convenient environment through our distributors."

"We believe that digital music services will play a key role in the music industry's future and are pleased to have partnered with one of the leading players in this emerging music market," said Pamela Bendich, director Music Licensing at Fantasy, Inc. "We are impressed with MusicNet’s proven ability to pull together the elements of a successful music service: a large base of excellent content, high quality distribution partners and great technology."

Universal Music Cancels Post-Grammy Awards Bash in NYC

Post-Grammy Awards parties are huge, costly affairs as well as the prime social events for the five major record labels. But, this year Universal Music Group has cancelled its February 23 bash scheduled for Capitale in Soho after the Madison Square Garden awards show.

The New York Post alleged that the reason was that the label feared a "shootout between rival rappers." "Recent violence triggered by rap star 50 Cent’s shunning of a record deal with Universal’s Murder Inc. label has execs on edge, sources close to the situation say," reported the Post. 50 Cent eventually signed with Eminem's Shady Records. In mid-January, the midtown office of 50 Cent’s manager was shot up in a hail of gunfire.

The Grammy party was going to cost the label about $3 million. A Universal spokesperson told the Post "
that the cancellation has nothing to do with fears about a gangsta-style shootout, but that it was called off over economic reasons. With the economy the way it is, it would seem insensitive to be hosting such a lavish affair, where there is an opportunity to do some good."

Even though Universal says the party was canceled due to economic reasons, the label, which has 157 nominations, the most at the Grammy Awards, plans to donate the $3 million to several New York charities. "Helping those in need during these difficult economic times is a fitting way to pay tribute to our talented artists who have garnered a record-breaking number of Grammy nominations," said the label in a statement.

BMG, Sony, Warner and EMI still have plans for post-Grammy parties.

Gene Simmons Relaunches Record Label

NEW YORK (AP) — Gene Simmons of Kiss says that he is starting up his record company again. Simmons has relaunched Simmons Records, which had some modest success in the 1980s.

Simmons writes on his website that he's actively looking for talent, and stresses the word "talent." Simmons says that pop acts don't have to write their own songs but he'll be pickier about rock acts. They must be different and they must write their own songs.

Simmons says that he's also open to rock acts, but again, they need to have an edge. Country acts are not a top priority with him, unless "you're Shania in her teens."

He says anyone who sends a demo should not expect it back and should not ask for his opinion. He says it's like the way "a farmer plants his seed. If the fruit grows and ripens, you'll win." He says if you're talented, he'll be all over you anyway.

Interested parties should send their materials to Simmons Records, P.O. Box 15097, Beverly Hills, Calif. 90210.

Rapper 50 Cent's Album Release Pushed Up

SANTA MONICA, CA(AP) — Rapper 50 Cent's record label is the latest to try to do an end-around to avoid bootleggers.

Interscope Records said it will release the album "Get Rich Or Die Tryin'" on Thursday, instead Feb. 11. The label said the release date for the Eminem protege's album is being moved up because of bootlegging, piracy and overall demand for the album.

50 Cent said he's "excited that the streets are anxious" to get his album, adding that if he catches any bootleggers, "they gonna have to deal with me."