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LABEL NEWS: Kalodner to Join Sanctuary Music & CDs and DVDs to Go the Way of the LP (Click on More to view all articles)

(CelebrityAccess News Service) — After nine years as senior VP A&R at Columbia Records, John Kalodner is joining Sanctuary Music in a similar capacity. He will join Sanctuary on September 15 and be based out of the West Coast office. Kalodner, who previously worked at Geffen and Atlantic, will still work on some outside projects, including Cher and Journey's reissues, with Sanctuary receivng a percentage of the outside projects.

Kaldoder normally receives the unique liner note credit: "John Kalodner: John Kalodner." –by Bob Grossweiner and Jane Cohen

CDs and DVDs to Go the Way of the LP

(CelebrityAccess News Service) – The end of physical media is nearing. In an effort to fight file-sharing piracy, music and movie companies will embrace legitimate downloading and streaming services, creating a new era of media distribution. According to "From Discs To Downloads," a new report from Forrester Research, Inc., 20 percent of Americans engage in music downloading; half of those admit to buying fewer CDs. In five years, 33 percent of music sales will come from downloads. By extension, video file sharing has become more prevalent. One in five young file sharers has downloaded a feature film. Cable video on-demand and other on-demand movie distribution channels will account for close to 15 percent of the movie rental business by 2005. The implications of the shift from hard media will mean change throughout the entertainment industry — the report defines clear winner and losers.

"The shift from physical media will halt the music industry's slide and create new revenues for movie companies, but it will wreak havoc with retailers like Tower Records and Blockbuster. As a result, we're about to see a massive power shift in the entertainment industry," said Josh Bernoff, principal analyst at Forrester. "Entertainment executives focused on the short term — fighting piracy — are losing track of the long-term consequences. On-demand services are the future of entertainment delivery. CDs, DVDs, and any other forms of physical media will become obsolete."

"The music industry will rebound as the combination of lawsuits and legitimate on-demand music services reverses its losses" says the report. "In the next nine months, at least 10 Windows-based music services, such as Apple iTunes Music Store and MusicMatch, will emerge, creating convenient alternatives to illegal file sharing. Music sales will increase by more than half a billion dollars in 2004 thanks to online revenues. As consumers become more comfortable with online alternatives, subscription services will take off."

Movie industry executives have an opportunity to learn from their music counterparts. Although Forrester's data shows that movie piracy is on the rise, the film industry's problems lag the music industry by three years. Studio executives are embracing many forms of on-demand delivery, including cable video on-demand and Internet distribution. Forrester forecasts that on-demand movie distribution will generate $1.4 billion by 2005, while revenue from DVDs and tapes will decline 8 percent.

"Music and studio executives are finally beginning to understand that they must create new media services through channels that consumers will pay for. Consumers have spoken — they are tired of paying the high cost of CDs and DVDs and prefer more flexible forms of on-demand media delivery," added Bernoff. "Additionally, technology trends like increased broadband adoption and cheap, widespread storage have made it possible for consumers to easily manage their digital entertainment at home."

"From Discs To Downloads" draws on survey results of 4,782 adults and 1,170 young people between the ages of 12 and 22, the most active users of file-sharing software. The report looks at how several groups are affected by the shift from hard media, including Internet portals, cable companies, device makers, media conglomerates, retailers, artists, and consumers. The research includes forecasts for US music and video revenues through 2008, as well a competitive landscape of on-demand music and movie services. –by Bob Grossweiner and Jane Cohen

Report: Xmas Albums May Be Grammy Ploy

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Some recent recordings of holiday music may be more about stuffing Grammy ballot boxes than stuffing Christmas stockings, according to a report Thursday in the Los Angeles Times. Earlier this summer, Warner Bros. Records recruited more than 100 employees to croon about a dozen Christmas carols for a planned commercial album, the newspaper reported, citing unnamed sources.

The article said that rival labels have characterized it as an effort to boost the company's Grammy chances by qualifying scores of insiders to vote for the coveted music prizes.

Warner Bros. declined to comment for the Times report and did not immediately respond to a call from The Associated Press.

Under the rules of the Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, members of the group with technical or creative credit on six commercially released songs — including liner-note writers — can be eligible to cast a ballot in the competition.

The recording academy has about 14,000 voting members.

Warner Bros. would not be the first to record an employee Christmas album. In the last few years, employees of Universal Records and Zomba Music have recorded holiday albums of their own, the Times said.

Universal President Monte Lipman estimated that of the 100 or so staff members who chose to sing on his employee album, about 50 ultimately registered to cast ballots. He likened the labels' efforts to a political party's move to bus voters to the polls.

Asked whether employees are likely to vote for their labels' own artists, Lipman responded: "That's like asking Bill Clinton or any other politician whether they voted for themselves."

Victory on the nationally televised Grammy Awards show can lead to enormous exposure and a dramatic rise in sales.

A spokeswoman for New York-based Zomba, home to such acts as Britney Spears and R. Kelly, told the newspaper that its holiday album "Miracle on West 25th Street" was "something fun to lift people's spirits" and not aimed at creating more in-house Grammy voters. The album had only six songs on it.

Grammy chief Neil Portnow, named to lead the academy last year, spent 14 years at Zomba and served as the label's senior West Coast executive at the time its "Miracle" album was released. He said he didn't know whether the recording was intended to bolster the company's Grammy votes.

Portnow said six song credits alone are not necessarily enough to get an individual voting rights and that some music company employees with such credits have been rejected in the past because they were "otherwise unqualified."

He also promised extra vigilance to maintain voter integrity.

Higher Octave Music Expands Beyond New Age Music

(CelebrityAccess News Service) — Since Higher Octave Music was founded 17 years ago, the following words have graced the outer packaging of the label's releases: "
We believe there is a place that lives within us all. It is a place of vision and clarity where the rhythm of life moves in harmony with a higher consciousness. The purpose of our music is to take you there." Coupled with the official company credo, 'As in music, so in life,' the mission imbues Higher Octave's day in and day out operations.

That's exactly what president/CEO Matt Marshall had in mind when he set out to launch a business that would provide both a sustainable livelihood and a platform for ongoing inner work and personal growth. Today, that business is five years into a partnership with EMI Music, an affiliation that has proved to be an ideal fit. It has offered Higher Octave the distribution muscle and access to artists that come hand in hand with the majors, while allowing them to continue to operate independently, and remain true to their enlightened ethos.

Higher Octave Music is evolving to play to its own unique strengths. New areas of emphasis include a more mainstream focus on select titles, an experimental bent with CyberOctave's agenda, and more releases featuring vocals on the OmTown imprint.

"I see my life as an art form, and the company as a by-product of living my life," says Marshall. "Music is the area that we at Higher Octave have chosen to do that, and it's inherently very spiritual on a deep level. Holding on to our core values, and creating a healthy eco-system for our artists and employees, is as important a measure of success as anything. All of this, making a difference, helps our being."

With an initial focus on instrumental, New Age titles, Higher Octave Music was named Billboard's #1 Independent New Age Record Label five times in the '90s, and had the publication's #1 New Age Album for Independent Distributors for six years. Its catalogue has since expanded to encompass smooth jazz, world music, flamenco/Latin, contemporary, and other instrumental niches. Early success also included flamenco icon Ottmar Liebert's #1, platinum-plus, Nouveau Flamenco; his Grammy-nominated follow-up, Borrasca, and four other albums.

To allow for a growing spectrum of genres to flourish and be distinguished in the marketplace, Higher Octave Music has developed a core group of individualized sub-labels. The OmTown imprint features vocal-driven releases, a marked shift from the company's purely instrumental roots. Current OmTown offerings include singer-songwriter Siedah Garrett's (Michael Jackson, Brand New Heavies) new album Siedah; and French, cross-cultural neo-soul/R&B Les Nubians' second CD, One Step Forward, which has sold 100,000+ copies since late March '03. Their label debut, '99's Princesses Nubiennes, is approaching gold status and earned the duo Soul Train's Best New R&B Artist award that year.

Other sub-labels include Higher Octave Jazz, with two new releases currently garnering critical acclaim — smooth jazz icons Acoustic Alchemy's Radio Contact, and saxophonist Jimmy Sommers' second album, Lovelife. Higher Octave World's titles include Estoy Como Nunca by Eliades Ochoa from Buena Vista Social Club fame which received a Latin Grammy nomination. Higher Octave Soundtracks' current roster features music from the Oscar-nominated film Winged Migration, and the '02 Academy Award winner for Best Foreign Film, Nowhere In Africa. The recently re-launched CyberOctave, the most experimental imprint, is focused on developing "intelligent" dance titles, underground, electronica, and what Higher Octave likes to call "new edge" music, riffing on their New Age heritage. Recent signings include Foxgluv and Lost At Last, with albums due out early 2004.

Amongst the latest projects on Higher Octave Music itself are two projects. Playing For Change: The Ultimate Street Music Experience and Where We Live, an all-star compilation album of artists "Raising our voices for clean air, clean water and healthy communities." Among the performers lending their talents to this benefit CD for Earthjustice, the environmental justice/legal defense non-profit organization, are Norah Jones, Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, The Neville Brothers, Bonnie Raitt, and Los Lobos. –by Bob Grossweiner and Jane Cohen