Overheard – April, 2008

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DeVotchKa crushing — It’s very typical to see a Colorado band selling well at Denver’s famed Twist & Shout. But in the last week of March it was announced that Denver-based DeVotchKa is racking up serious numbers at the music outlet. What’s really unique is that while the band’s new album Mad & Faithful Telling is selling best, (grabbing the number one spot for the week ending March 23) DeVotchKa is on Twist & Shout’s Top 30 CD list, not once, but twice more. The band racked up three spots in total on the Top 30 list. The band’s release How it Ends took home the number nine spot, while Una Volta notched the 21 spot.


Satellite Radio merger — In late March the Justice Department approved Sirius Satellite Radio’s $5 billion buyout of rival XM. The transaction was approved without conditions despite opposition from consumer groups and (get this) an “intense lobbying campaign” by the land-based radio industry (because that industry never formed monopolies of its own). The merger still requires approval from the Federal Communications Commission, which prohibited a merger when it first granted satellite radio operating licenses in 1997.

NME comes stateside with MySpace — NME, the famous music weekly, has announced a partnership with MySpace that will not only bring the NME Awards to the U.S., but also will allow those awards to be streamed over the net. The NME Awards, renowned as the event for cutting-edge British music fans, will be held in Los Angeles on April 23, just two days before the Coachella Music and Arts Festival begins.
New file sharing regulations — In a move that could end up doing absolutely nothing to reduce illegal file sharing, a new proposed bill would “call upon colleges and universities to turn up the heat on students who steal music.” The bill calls on schools to “reasonably implement” a policy that prohibits copyright infringement. The legislation is aimed at P2P sites, but says nothing about private exchange of music (i.e. swapping hard drives, ftp portals, and even simple e-mailing of tracks).
Gibson sues over Guitar Hero and Rock Band — In a “Hey, we thought of that first” move, The Gibson Guitar Company announced last month that it is suing major retailers that sell Guitar Hero games. The suit is part of an ongoing battle between the guitar giant and the game makers. Gibson claims that the games violate a 1999 Gibson patent for virtual music performances, a patent which describes a setup that connects a guitar to a television and “system interface” with the ability to create a virtual-reality concert experience.

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