L.A. REID~StEps DoWn As PrEsiDent Of DEf JaM

L.A. Reid has officially stepped down from his post as President of Def Jam. In a letter to his staff sent out today, he boasted how proud he is of his roster of talent, and says he has decided to leave his position.

TheYBF.com was the first to break the story yesterday–clearly more than 4 hours before a certain mainstream site blatantly stole our exclusive virtually word-for-word and posted it as their exclusive with no credit–that Mr. Reid has been tapped to judge Simon Cowell’s new U.S. “X-Factor” show. And he would have to step down from his position at the conflicting label. Read on for deets…

An era is ending over at Def Jam as head honcho L.A. Reid is stepping down. We broke the story months ago, in addition to yesterday, that L.A. would be leaving his post. And now, he has made it official via a memo to his staff today:

“Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through
argument, debate and doubt, to offer a solution everybody can understand.”

“To my Island Def Jam family: After much consideration, I have decided to leave my position as Chairman of the Island Def Jam Music Group.

“I have always thrived on growth and the next great challenge, and I look forward with much enthusiasm to what the future holds.

“I am extremely proud of our beautiful roster and all we have accomplished in my seven years with IDJ. We continue to have incredible success together with today’s most phenomenal superstars – Rihanna, Justin Bieber, Mariah Carey (she reportedly will follow L.A.), Kanye West, Bon Jovi, Jennifer Lopez, Ne-Yo, Rick Ross, The Killers, The-Dream, Chrisette Michele, Jeezy and Ludacris to name a few.

“I want to thank all of you for your amazing contributions.

“With Warm Regards –
LA”

An announcement about L.A.’s new judging duties with the Sony affiliated show “X-Factor” should come very soon in the coming weeks. Congrats and good luck to Mr. Reid. Deuces.

[MUSIC SWAG & LIFE]

~TB

MUSIC BIZ~CHRIS HICKS EVP DEF JAM “INTERVIEW”

When did you know that you wanted to work in the music business?
My parents started to really expose me to music when I was a toddler. Deciphering early James Brown and Stevie Wonder records is how I learned to read. I had a “jones” for it early. By my late teens, I knew it was what I wanted to do; I just needed to figure out how. College led me into promoting, where I almost lost everything. Atlanta was simultaneously building a thriving music scene that I ultimately settled into as a manager, production company and publisher.

What was your first industry job?
I was hired as VP of Urban A&R of Warner/Chappell by Rick Shoemaker in June 2004. I had a successful venture (Noontime) with Warner at the time. Warner was at a crossroads with regards to their involvement in urban music, and I wanted to learn the business from a cooperate perspective. We struck a deal that allowed me to come into the company as well maintain the venture. He gave me autonomy to create a plan that ultimately reestablished Warner in urban music. Shani Gonzales, who started out as my assistant, and I were the urban music department at Warner. During my four years running Warner Urban, we signed The-Dream, Danja, T.I., Lil Wayne and Bryan Cox, among several others, and charted over 100 Top 10 records. And I was fortunate to have tremendous support. Richard Blackstone was a great boss, Dave Johnson was a great boss and Kevin Liles, who worked in corporate, was always supportive, especially during the Timbaland catalog acquisition.

If you knew then what you know now, would you have done anything differently, and what would you say to others coming up now?
LEARN THE BUSINESS!!!! Looking back at it, the initial joint venture deal I structured with Warner was probably the worst deal I have EVER done. My ignorance could have resulted in never actually controlling or owning the assets I worked so hard to build. My success at the company gave me an opportunty to later right that mistake, but it could have easily had a different result.

Was there one artist or experience that inspired you to follow this path?
There are many. Puff, L.A., Lyor, Mary J, Jay-Z, Jimmy, Azoff, Benny Medina… I could go on. While they all have different styles, different skill sets, they all have one common denominator. They don’t play “not to lose”; they play to “win.” They don’t follow a rulebook. They have already created the vision in their head and are simply relentless in pursuing it. If that doesn’t motivate someone…nothing will.

What motto or mantra do you live by, and what do you tell your artists when you start working with them?
The are two that I swear by. One, this is a marathon, not a sprint. The same people you see on the way up, you see on the way down. Be humble and be considerate. Two, set goals. This is an industry that can easily distract you with fame and money. Don’t put the cart before the horse. Set and meet your goals, and everything else will follow.

What’s next for urban music?
I think what’s next for music period is that the color lines are going away. Working with Justin [Bieber] is a perfect example of that. He was a 14-year-old kid from Stratford who would have been stereotyped as pure pop. Yet his albums are a blend of melodic and rhythmic R&B that affords him the ability to touch a melting pot of consumers who can appreciate what he offers musically.

Last question: black licorice or red?
Red!!!

[MUSIC SWAG & LIFE]

~TB

Apple CEO Steve Jobs is taking leave of absence

For the second time in two years, Apple CEO Steve Jobs is taking leave of absence from the company because of a medical condition, according to a letter Jobs sent to Apple employees.
“At my request, the board of directors has granted me a medical leave of absence so I can focus on my health. I will continue as CEO and be involved in major strategic decisions for the company,” Jobs says in the letter.
Tim Cook, Apple’s chief operating officer, will take control of the company in Jobs’ absence. Jobs says he has “great confidence that Tim and the rest of the executive management team will do a terrific job executing the exciting plans we have in place for 2011.”
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“I love Apple so much and hope to be back as soon as I can. In the meantime, my family and I would deeply appreciate respect for our privacy.”
Jobs’ health has been in the news since 2003, when he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He underwent surgery, tried alternative medicines and returned to work soon after the episode.
Speculation about Jobs’ health returned in 2008, when Jobs appeared at press conferences having lost considerable weight. In January 2009, Jobs provided an explanation, saying a “hormone imbalance” had caused the weight loss.
On January 14, he announced a leave of absence, which lasted 6 months.
During that time, Jobs had a liver transplant. He returned to work at Apple, which is headquartered in Cupertino, California, in June 2009.
What we know about Steve Jobs’ medical journey
Although Jobs’ January 2009 announcement said that he would return to Apple at the end of June of that year, his letter Monday did not specify how long he expects to be on leave.
Jobs had been expected to appear this week with News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch to introduce the Daily, a digital-only news publication for Apple’s iPad tablet device, until the event was postponed last week.
The tech luminary is revered by Apple fans as a design-minded leader.
His health has triggered all sorts of questions in the tech sector, such as whether Apple will be able to produce innovative products without him, and how his health will affect Apple’s stock.
Apple, the world’s largest tech company and maker of the popular iPhone and iPad, is set to release an earnings report on Tuesday.
Analysts predict the company will report financial results that are almost certain to shatter its past records, driven by more than $24 billion in sales during the last quarter.

[MUSIC SWAG & LIFE]

~TB

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SPOTIFY PLANS TO ROCK THE U.S. DIGITAL MUSIC LANDSCAPE EARLY NEXT YEAR.

WOW! The business of music is really changing at a rapid pace…

LOS ANGELAS TIMES REPORTS-

A tidal wave is washing over Europe, and it has already begun to transform the digital music landscape overseas. In the next few months, the company expects to make its way to the U.S.

Spotify is a program similar to iTunes that lets users listen to just about any song on demand. For free. The application takes a page from the Google model — give a fantastic product away and plan to make money from ads.

It also has a “freemium” component — that is a business model where the cow and milk are free, but the bells and hormones cost extra.

In order to play music on smart phones (including a spiffy iPhone app) or store songs to be played without an Internet connection, users must subscribe to Spotify Premium, a 10-euro-per-month plan. Each subscriber can sync three devices with up to 3,333 songs.

But Spotify has said in prior interviews that it expects the majority of users to stick with the free version. For that reason, U.S. record labels are skeptical, according to a recent story in the Financial Times. Subscription services such as Napster and Rhapsody have failed to attract significant followings.

The Financial Times also claims that Spotify delayed its launch in America due to roadblocks in talks with the labels here. Spotify spokesman Andres Sehr maintains that it’s still on track to make its way stateside early next year, as the Swedish company has told Pop & Hiss for weeks.

Because “the U.S. is the largest music market in the world,” Sehr said, “it’s a long process.”

Compared with the back-and-forth with European labels when Spotify was just starting out, this is nothing. “We negotiated with the record labels for two years before we launched,” Sehr said.

“We’ve shown that we’re really popular,” Sehr said in a phone interview from Stockholm. “There’s data, and we see how things work.”

“Really popular” might be an understatement. According to firsthand accounts from folks across the pond, Spotify is practically ubiquitous in some circles. Barely a year old, the service hit the ground running in the half-dozen countries it operates in.

We’ve been testing the software for about three weeks. It blows the doors off of anything on the market and poses a major threat to several music services fighting for attention.

The ones we mentioned earlier, Napster and Rhapsody, priced at $7 and $13 a month, respectively — done. Spotify can do just about everything those guys offer for free, supported by periodic ads that are fairly unobtrusive and can be tailored to the user’s mood (based on song choices).

Piracy? Why do it? Most new music is just a search away on Spotify. It’s even more convenient than piracy, and the price is right.

Apple’s iTunes could certainly lose some sales. Songs you don’t need to own can be streamed whenever you get the craving for some “Poker Face” (actually, that’s a song you need to own). Plus, Spotify sells downloads for certain tracks in its library. For users spending all of their time in Spotify, why switch over to iTunes to buy a song?

ITunes won’t be fizzling out any time soon. Its store has a stranglehold on the download market. It also has a richer interface, complete with artist info and reviews. Spotify’s presentation is very simple, with a major emphasis on search rather than discovery. You have to know what you want.

For that reason, Internet radio services such as Pandora and CBS’ Last.fm don’t have to worry. Spotify’s radio feature doesn’t come close.

But on-demand listening has been dominated by YouTube and, more recently, services such as Lala, which got a major boost from its deal with Google. Spotify has a huge market to steal and monetize. As Wired notes, its playlist feature, which lets you organize streaming music, is indeed the killer app.

Spotify came under fire recently in a report citing that Lady Gaga earned $167 from royalties in the last few months. This is a stupid argument. Artists, especially those signed with majors, make pennies or less per track sale and practically nothing for a stream. That’s nothing new to this service.

The industry that would probably suffer most from Spotify is piracy. Labels should note that earning something is better than nothing, and this app is the best shot we’ve seen at stomping out a black market that has flourished online for more than decade.

[MUSIC SWAG AND LIFE]

~TB

“P. DIDDY” WILL END HIS EXCLUSIVE DEAL WITH WARNER MUSIC GROUP/ATLANTIC RECORDS…

p-diddy

A spokeswoman for Diddy confirms that the hip-hop star has been hashing out a new recording deal, but won’t reveal the name of the label.

It’s official, P. Diddy will end his exclusive deal with Warner Music Group/Atlantic Records at the end of September. The music mogul confirms his exit from the record label to Billboard. “Now that the term of the Warner deal has ended, I have elected to accept an opportunity to move my recording career and future label venture to another company,” Diddy says in a statement.

A spokeswoman for Diddy, in the meantime, says a new deal has been hashing out. However, little is known about the new joint venture as the spokeswoman would not confirm which label Diddy will be partnering with though talks have been brewing that a deal is in place for his next album, “Last Train to Paris”, to be released by Interscope Records.

Notwithstanding his exit from Warner Music, the joint venture that Diddy has with the company for the current roster and catalog of his Bad Boy label will remain in place.

P. Diddy signed recording deal with Warner Music Group in 2005. The one album he has released through the label, 2006’s “Press Play”, has sold 703,000 units to date, according to Nie
2006’s “Press Play”, has sold 703,000 units to date, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

[MUSIC SWAG AND LIFE]

~TB