Billboard Bits: MTV, American Recordings, Roger McGuinn
News on MTV, American, Rick Rubin, Def Jam, Roger McGuinnMTV is planning a concert to celebrate its 20th anniversary, sources tell Billboard Bulletin. The network will televise the event, which is set for Aug. 1 at New York's Hammerstein Ballroom. No acts have been confirmed. Last month, the network revived its dormant "Unplugged" series with tapings by R.E.M. and Staind. R.E.M.'s performance will air July 19; no date has yet been set for the Staind performance.
-- Carla Hay, N.Y.
Producer and label executive Rick Rubin is moving his famed American Recordings, complete with back catalog and current roster, from Columbia Records to Island Def Jam Music Group, sources say. According to insiders, Island Def Jam has purchased Columbia's 50% stake in American to secure the entire catalog and roster, which includes Johnny Cash, Slayer, Saul Williams, and the Jayhawks, among others. Only System of a Down will remain with Columbia.
The first releases under the Island Def Jam deal are likely to be from Williams and new act American Head Change, sources said. The move marks a return for Rubin to Def Jam -- the label he started during the early 1980s with Russell Simmons. During that period, Rubin signed such acts as LL Cool J, the Beastie Boys, and Public Enemy to the imprint.
-- Tamara Conniff, The Hollywood Reporter
Founding Byrds member and folk-rock pioneer Roger McGuinn will release "Treasures from the Folk Den" Sept. 4 via Appleseed Records. The 18-song album features new recordings of traditional folk numbers, with guest spots from the likes of Joan Baez, Judy Collins, Pete Seeger, Odetta, Tommy Makem, Josh White Jr., and Jean Ritchie, among others. McGuinn traveled to the homes of the guests to record the songs on portable digital audio equipment.
The album sprung out of McGuinn's "Folk Den" Web project. For more than six years, the artist has been posting a new folk song on his official Web site each month, and he has released four albums via online download retailer MP3.com.
-- Todd Martens, L.A.