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LABEL UPDATES (Click on More to view all articles): Universal Music Group To Amend Its Ways Of Reporting Royalty Payments

According to a person who has seen a copy of an internal memorandum distributed to Universal Music Group executives,
Universal is amending the way it reports royalty payments to artists, reports the New York Times.

According to the memo, Universal plans to increase the size of its audit staff to ensure faster audits, hold workshops for artists and their representatives to help them understand how royalties are paid and allow for greater access to manufacturing records. Auditors would have more flexibility when it came to auditing Universal's books and records given that some recording contracts were either old or outdated or unduly restrictive.

Universal Music Group Boasts Unprecedented Chart, Market Share Success

Universal Music Group continues to lead the industry, closing in on the end of the year with unprecedented chart success and market share dominance. UMG has an impressive year-to-date current album market share this week of 30.88%, according to SoundScan and has also achieved a single-week current album market share of 39.79%, further indication of its leadership position. UMG holds the #1 spot on more than 30 charts, including SoundScan Top Current Albums, R&B Current Album, Top Catalog Albums, Top Soundtrack and YTD Top Rap Album, among others.

UMG dominated the top 5 positions in the Current Albums chart for week- ending November 24, 2002. The company leads the industry with the country's best-selling album, Shania Twain "UP!" (Mercury Nashville) which debuted in the top position. Rounding out the top 5 are "NOW That's What I Call Music 11" (Universal Music Enterprises)[No. 2]; "8 Mile" Soundtrack (Shady/Interscope/UMG Soundtracks) [No.
3]; Ja Rule "The Last Temptation" (Murder Inc./Island Def Jam Music Group) [No. 4]; and Jay-Z "The Blueprint 2: The Gift &The Curse" (Roc-A-Fella) [No. 5]. Other top position holders include Audioslave "Audioslave" (Epic/Interscope) [No. 7] and Eminem "The Eminem Show" (Aftermath/Interscope) [No. 11], following an impressive run in the top 10 for 25 consecutive weeks.

Interscope Geffen A&M Records and Island Def Jam Music Group continue to contribute impressively to UMG's success. The two labels once again led the industry in year-to-date current album market share with 9.77% for Interscope Geffen A&M Records and 8.29% for Island Def Jam Music Group.

"This year has been a remarkable year for us and I am very proud of our label executives," commented UMG chairman and chief executive officer Doug Morris. "The dedication and creativity of our label heads as well as our extraordinarily talented artist roster is the key to UMG's success."

UMG also has the top 3 selling albums year-to-date in the U.S. according to SoundScan. Eminem "The Eminem Show" remains the year's leader with nearly 7 million in sales. Nelly "Nellyville" (Universal) and Ashanti "Ashanti" (Murder
Inc./Island Def Jam Music Group) round out the top 3 with sales of 4.1 million and 2.8 million respectively. Moreover, UMVD represents 59% of this year's top 10 Albums and has held either the No. 1 or No. 2 positions on the Top Current Albums chart for 33 of the past 47 weeks (70%).

UMG has two top albums in the top 10 of the Latin Albums chart, Enrique Iglesias "Quizas" (Universal Latin)and "Juanes Un Dia Normal" (Universal Latin). UMVD is currently the #2 Latin music distributor in the U.S. with a market share of 22.87% (week-ending 11/24), rising from 5th place just 18 months ago.

"We are thrilled to see our market share continue to grow, and we remain committed to our labels and artists," added Jim Urie, president, Universal Music & Video Distribution. "We are extremely optimistic about our success for the remainder of the year."

This week's record-breaking achievement builds upon the ongoing success of UMG in 2002. UMG had an impressive 7 of the top 10 albums in the Top Current Album chart for week-ending April 7, 2002. On June 5, 2002, UMG achieved a record-setting weekly market share of 41.53% that was led by Eminem's "The Eminem Show." On July 3, UMG's year-to-date current album market share exceeded 30%. Universal Music and Video Distribution was also named Distributor of the Year by the National Association of Recording Merchandisers (NARM) for the second year in a row.

Backstreet Boys Sue Label Over Promotions

NEW YORK (AP) — The Backstreet Boys have sued their record label for $75 million, saying the label has been courting their youngest star, snubbing the rest of them and delaying their chance to further cash in on their fame.

The five-member boy band says Zomba Recording Corp. should release their fourth album so they can start a promotional world tour on which they can make tens of millions of dollars.

Instead, the lawsuit says, Zomba has been promoting 22-year-old Nick Carter's solo release, "Now or Never."

According to the lawsuit, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, Zomba induced Carter to produce, release and promote an album that debuted last month at the expense of his involvement with the band.

The lawsuit said Zomba added further insult by posting an advertisement for Carter's album on the main page of the Backstreet Boys Web site. Tens of thousands of people have followed the link, it said.

The link gives Internet visitors the mistaken impression that the group supports the solo effort, the lawsuit said.

Maria Ho, a Zomba spokeswoman, said the company had a policy not to comment on litigation.

The last album from the multiplatinum-selling group, "Black and Blue" came out in November 2000.

Carter's album dropped from No. 96 to No. 128 on the album chart this week, and has sold only about 118,000 copies.

MusicNet Acquires Digital Music Rights From BMG

MusicNet, a leading digital music company, has acquired digital music rights and features from BMG including rights related to permanent downloads, CD burning, transfers to portable devices, free trials, and access from multiple computers, among other features.

Alan McGlade, CEO of MusicNet stated: "This announcement is yet another critical step in the advancement of MusicNet's business. It provides us with a wider scope of rights for BMG's quality music catalog and is yet another step forward as we lay the foundation for a great music offering for consumers."

"BMG is pleased to participate in MusicNet's growth and the development of a meaningful digital music market," said Michael Smellie, chief operating officer, BMG. "Today's announcement is an important step that will improve the consumer experience and provide fans with flexibility and easy access to a wide offering of their favorite music."

Shania Twain's New Album Debuts at No. 1

NEW YORK (AP) — It didn't take long for Shania Twain to climb up the album chart — her new disc, "Up!" debuted at #1.

The country star's first release in five years sold a whopping 874,000 copies in its first week in stores, according to industry figures released Wednesday.

That nearly doubles the first-week sales of another country star who's enjoyed major crossover success, Faith Hill, whose "Cry" debuted at No. 1 a month ago with about 472,000 copies sold.

"Up!" is composed of two discs, with the same songs in the same order on both; the "red" disc contains the pop-rock versions, while the "green" disc holds the country-tinged versions.

Debuting at No. 2 was the 11th volume of the "Now That's What I Call Music!" series. The latest compilation, which includes Nelly's ubiquitous "Hot in Herre" and songs from Coldplay, Norah Jones, Eve and Creed, sold about 316,000 copies.

And Audioslave's self-titled debut entered the chart at No. 7, selling 162,000 copies. The band features members of Rage Against the Machine and former Soundgarden lead singer Chris Cornell, who stepped in when Rage frontman Zack de la Rocha left the band two years ago.

AC/DC Sign Multifaceted Deal with Sony

AC/DC have signed a multifaceted agreement with Sony Music Entertainment. As part of the newly formed creative partnership, SME has entered into a long-term, multi-album deal for new recordings from the band, which will be released through Epic Records. In addition, SME has acquired the rights to AC/DC's entire catalog of recordings, including such classic albums as Back In Black; Live '92; High Voltage; Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap; and Highway To Hell, all of which will be re-released on Epic Records in early 2003. Additional AC/DC titles are slated for release later in the year.

All re-issues of the AC/DC catalog titles will feature restored album art, as well as enhanced packaging including additional rare and historic photos, new liner notes and comprehensive track information. In addition to premium packaging, each AC/DC title will include Sony's proprietary ConnecteD technology, which allows fans who purchase the disc to unlock exclusive content on a special web site created specifically for each release.

AC/DC, Australia's preeminent rock band, was formed in 1973 by brothers Malcolm and Angus Young, and has gone on to earn numerous platinum and multi-platinum awards in territories around the world. On a cumulative basis AC/DC has sold a career total of over 140 million albums worldwide. In recognition of the band's stature as a major force in music history, AC/DC will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in March, 2003.

"Over the course of their long and enormously successful career the members of AC/DC have created an extremely powerful body of work, with classics ranging from 'You Shook Me All Night Long' to 'Highway To Hell' and 'Thunderstruck,' helping to establish them as one of the best-loved bands in the history of Rock," commented Thomas D. Mottola, chairman and CEO, Sony Music Entertainment. "Today AC/DC is going stronger than ever, making it a true pleasure to welcome the band into the Sony Music family, and an honor to have the opportunity to bring both their classic repertoire and new releases to fans across the country and around the world."

"AC/DC is one of the greatest bands in the history of music," commented Polly Anthony, president, Epic Records. "I know I speak for everyone on the Epic team when I say we're honored to welcome these history-making artists to the label, and fully committed to doing whatever it takes to further expand the audience for their music."

AC/DC's move to Sony Music Entertainment reunites the band with two executives who played a major role in their early success — Epic Records chairman David R. Glew, who helped guide AC/DC's career during his tenure as executive vice president/general manager of Atlantic Records, and Epic's executive vice president and general manager, Steve Barnett, who previously served as the band's manager.

In the U.S., AC/DC has earned the 5th highest ranking in terms of album certifications, according to the RIAA. The band's 1980 release, Back In Black, has sold an impressive 41 million copies worldwide, making it the 6th highest- selling album in history. Classic AC/DC releases include High Voltage (1976); Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap (1976); Let There Be Rock (1977); Powerage (1978); If You Want Blood, You've Got It (Live) (1978); Highway to Hell (1979); Back In Black (1980); For Those About to Rock (We Salute You) (1981); Flick of the Switch (1983); '74 Jailbreak (1984); Fly on the Wall (1985); Who Made Who (soundtrack from the film Maximum Overdrive) (1986); Blow Up Your Video (1988); The Razor's Edge (1990); AC/DC Live {single and two-disc versions} (1992); Bonfire (boxset) (1997).