Photos of the Year 2011
March 19: Jay-Z and Kanye West take to the stage to close out SXSW.

Billboard Bits serves up the best bite-sized nuggets of music news and gossip.

Jay-Z and Kanye West's 'Watch the Throne' Exclusives Have Retailers Up in Arms
Jay-Z and Kanye West may be kings of hip-hop sales, but their decision to give iTunes and Best Buy exclusive windows to sell different editions of their "Watch the Throne" album has other music retailers in open revolt. Brick-and-mortar retailers are hopping mad that the Roc A Fella/ Roc Nation/ Live Nation/ Island Def Jam/ Universal Music Group release is giving preferential treatment to iTunes and Best Buy with separate exclusive windows to sell the upcoming blockbuster "Watch the Throne" album, which is due out everywhere on August 12. Read the full story at Billboard.biz.

Morrisey Compared Norway Massacre To Fast-Food Restaurant Practices
52-year-old animal rights activist and former Smiths frontman Morrissey shocked fans in Poland during a concert Sunday (July 24), when he reportedly said, "We all live in a murderous world, as the events in Norway have shown, with 97 (sic) dead. Though that is nothing compared to what happens in McDonald's and Kentucky Fried shit every day." The statement came two days after 76 people were killed in a Norwegian bombing. (The Guardian)

Piers Morgan Listened to Voicemails Left By Paul McCartney
Former "Daily Mirror" editor and current CNN talk show host Piers Morgan allegedly admitted listening to voicemails left by Paul McCartney on ex-wife Heather Mills' phone. Morgan wrote about the voicemails in the "Daily Mail" in 2006, "At one stage I was played a tape of a message Paul had left for Heather on her mobile phone. It was heartbreaking. The couple had clearly had a tiff, Heather had fled to India, and Paul was pleading with her to come back. He sounded lonely, miserable and desperate, and even sang 'We Can Work It Out' into the answerphone." (NME)

Shyne Teaming Up with Matisyahu on New Material
Rapper Shyne, who served eight years in prison for the infamous club shootout involving Sean "Diddy" Combs and Jennifer Lopez in 1999, is collaborating with Jewish reggae star Matisyahu on music for their upcoming albums. Shyne recently converted to Judaism and has been living in Jerusalem for the past nine months. He says of his fellow Orthodox Jew, Matisyahu, "I'd say he was someone that I'd be there for anything he needs, and he has expressed the same for me." Shyne is planning two lyrically-clean albums, "Messiah" and "Gangland," and a world tour for 2012. (The Jewish Chronicle)

Sia Debuts New Material at Sold Out N.Y. Show in Possible Final Show
Australian singer-songwriter Sia hit New York's Webster Hall Tuesday (July 26) and Wednesday (July 27) for two sold-out stops in her We Are Born tour. The singer, who brought along opening acts Oh Land and Ximena Sarinana, performed material from her latest albums (2008's "Some People Have Real Problems," 2010's "We Are Born"), as well the crowd favorites like "Breathe Me." Sia also "tested" a new piano-driven song "Hostage," that she revealed she created with Strokes guitarist, Nick Valensi. The show comes as a bittersweet one for Sia fans, as she revealed on Twitter that this would be her last tour indefinitely. She is "slowly retiring from touring" as well citing that she has "a responsibility to my label to tour or [she] wouldn't even be doing this tour. [I]t's just personal." She has yet to make an official statement regarding her touring, but in 2010 she cancelled all promotional activity per doctor's orders. The We Are Born Tour extends through mid August. (@siamusic)

The Smiths Collectors Box Set On the Way
Music retailer Rhino will soon be releasing "The Smiths Complete -- Deluxe Collectors Box Set," including remastered versions of eight albums, reproduced versions of 25 7" singles, posters, vinyl copies of the albums, and more. Only 3000 copies will be distributed worldwide, starting Oct. 3. The exclusive set retails at £249.99 ($409). The albums, remastered by Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr and Frank Arkwright, will also be available as CD and vinyl box sets. (Morrissey-solo via Pitchfork)

The Mars Volta Debut Three New Songs
While touring in Europe, the Mars Volta began to perform new music, originally as the "Omar Rodriguez-Lopez Group" and now as the Mars Volta again. The band has debuted three tracks, "I'm Not Running Away," "Trinkets Pale The Room" and "Walk The Plank," all expected to appear on their upcoming album, the untitled follow-up to 2009's "Octahedron," anticipated for release in 2012. Listen below to the new songs, performed in Helsinki, Finland on July 3. (Antiquiet via Spin)

Video: The Mars Volta's "I'm Not Running Away," July 3


Video:
The Mars Volta's "Trinkets Pale The Room," July 3


Video: The
Mars Volta's "Walk The Plank," July 3

(Reporting by Ed Christman, Sarah Maloy, Jeff Benjamin and Erica Thompson)