1. In the Face of Giants, Indie Concert Promoters Outpaced the Industry at Large This Year

    December 15, 2014 5:37 PM EST The grosses of the top six independent promoters in the U.S. combined increased by more than 15 percent, compared to a 7.7 percent increase for overall. Some 20 years after industry consolidation was supposed to wipe independent promoters off the map, these stubborn, savvy and fiercely…

  2. D'Angelo's 'Black Messiah' Album Finally Drops: First Listen

    December 14, 2014 11:37 PM EST After 14 years without a full-length album, D’Angelo ’s Black Messiah was released Sunday (Dec. 14) just before midnight. The 12-track set is available here via iTunes.   How can you possibly encounter an album like this? The weight of expectations looms large, and it cuts two ways.…

  3. BSBB Round 1: Iggy Azalea feat. Rita Ora, "Black Widow" vs. Bobby Shmurda, "Hot Boy"

    December 14, 2014 10:00 AM EST Best Song Bracket Battle: View the Matchups | Critics and Rules Black Widow Iggy Azalea feat. Rita Ora Hot Boy Bobby Shmurda CRAIG JENKINS: “Black Widow” began life as a Katy Perry song and, as such, is designed almost entirely to buttress its titanic hook. Iggy Azalea’s just treading water…

  4. BSBB Round 1: Calvin Harris, "Summer" vs. Sia, "Chandelier"

    December 14, 2014 10:00 AM EST Best Song Bracket Battle: View the Matchups | Critics and Rules Summer Calvin Harris Chandelier Sia CHRIS PAYNE: One lead artist goes on magazine covers wearing a paper bag; the other just does the instrumentals and has unnamed collaborators sing the lyrics. What strange/wonderful/bloggable…

  5. BSBB Round 1: 5 Seconds of Summer, "Amnesia" vs. Ariana Grande feat. Zedd, "Break Free"

    December 14, 2014 10:00 AM EST Best Song Bracket Battle: View the Matchups | Critics and Rules Amensia 5 Seconds of Summer Break Free Ariana Grande feat. Zedd CHRIS PAYNE: “This is the part when…” I try to figure out what the hell Ariana Grande is singing, knowing my effort will be ultimately futile. This song still…

  6. CMA CEO Sarah Trahern on Being 'Blown Away' During Her First Year on the Job

    December 12, 2014 1:06 PM EST It's been nearly a year since veteran television executive Sarah Trahern took over the role of chief executive officer at the Country Music Assn., joining the trade group from Great American Country (GAC), where she had served as senior vp/GM. While she was well qualified for the job -…

  7. Billboard Cover: Jason Derulo on the Success of 'Talk Dirty' (Despite His Mom's Disapproval)

    December 12, 2014 9:00 AM EST The Loverboy "Talk Dirty" 1 week on Mainstream Top 40 ; 3 weeks on Rhythmic ; 4 weeks on R&B Digital Songs The year 2014, Jason Derulo 's annus mirabilis, started in a sweaty nightclub in Tel Aviv, Israel, in January 2013. There, embedded in a 2007 song called "…

  8. Billboard Cover: Meghan Trainor on Frank Sinatra, Her Rap Skills and the Rise of 'All About That Bass'

    December 12, 2014 9:00 AM EST The Upstarts Meghan Trainor: “All About That Bass” 8 weeks on Billboard Hot 100 ; 3 weeks on Mainstream Top 40 Nico & Vinz: “Am I Wrong” 4 weeks on Radio Songs A little more than a year ago, Culver City-based music management firm Atom Factory was synonymous with two people: Troy Carter…

  9. Billy Joel Leads Latest Hot Tours List

    December 11, 2014 3:29 PM EST Billy Joel leads the weekly slate of Hot Tours (see list, below) with ticket sales reported from a show at Bryce Jordan Center in University Park, Pa., his first concert at the Penn State arena in 12 years. The rock legend played the venue on Dec. 5 with a crowd of 12,077 in attendance.…

  10. Taylor Swift & Christmas Crooners Rule Artist 100

    December 11, 2014 2:44 PM EST Swift reigns for an eighth week while a sleighful of artists with holiday hits soar. Taylor Swift and Christmas have long been a perfect fit (as the yuletide devotee grew up on a Christmas tree farm). On this week's Billboard Artist 100 chart, Swift and the season also pair up, as she…

  11. Sony/ATV Chairman Blasts Payouts from Internet Radio

    December 11, 2014 1:41 PM EST Pandora is coming under fire again for its payouts to songwriters and publishers. In a letter to his staff, Sony/ATV Music Publishing chairman/CEO Marty Bandier notes that despite the success of two of the company's biggest songwriters -- John Legend and Pharrell Williams -- their…

  12. Christmas Music for People Who Hate Christmas Music

    December 11, 2014 12:00 PM EST Even if you don't like 'Jingle Bells' -- just like Sam Smith -- there's still seasonally appropriate music for you. The Christmas Spirit isn't inside everyone. In fact, there are plenty of people who would prefer to fall asleep now and wake up when December ends.…

  13. Sinead O'Connor's New Managers Have No Plans to Silence the Singer

    December 11, 2014 11:17 AM EST After an affair with her last manager, new rep Simon Napier-Bell assures, "I'm rather old & gay; she's on safe ground." No one uses her blog as a substitute for placing classified ads quite like Sinead O’Connor . Three years ago, she famously blogged in search of a…

  14. Watch Steven Van Zandt & Jimmy Fallon Perform Sinatra's 'My Kind of Town'

    December 10, 2014 11:03 AM EST Steven Van Zandt knew just how to honor Frank Sinatra when the musician stopped by The Tonight Show  on Tuesday night. Promoting his show Lilyhammer , Van Zandt explained to Fallon that his character on the show sings "My Kind of Town." So obviously, Van Zandt and Fallon did their…

  15. Meet Lion Babe, the Soul and R&B Duo Poised to Take Over in 2015

    December 09, 2014 5:57 PM EST Lion Babe, an experimental soul duo from New York’s Lower East Side, is gearing up for an R&B takeover in 2015. The group is made up of producer and multi-instrumentalist Lucas Goodman, 26, and singer-songwriter Jillian Hervey, 25, who also happens to be Vanessa Williams ’ daughter and…

  16. Metal Band Five Finger Death Punch’s Master Plan to Catapult From Club Gigs to Arena Tours

    December 09, 2014 1:30 PM EST How Five Finger Death Punch graduated from clubs to arenas and doubled its gross. Five Finger Death Punch (FFDP) doesn’t have the name recognition of a band like Foo Fighters , but that may be about to change. An unusual united strategic marketing effort by the group’s management, label,…

  17. Inside U2’s Ambitious Upcoming Tour Strategy

    December 08, 2014 1:30 PM EST Despite album backlash and a battered Bono, the band preps its first road run since 2011. The announcement on Dec. 3 of U2 ’s Innocence + Experience Tour was a blast of confidence for a band that has experienced a bumpy past few months. Setting aside mixed consumer reaction to its Apple…

  18. Clive Davis on Billboard Women in Music Honoree Aretha Franklin: ‘There Are No Pretenders to the Throne’

    December 08, 2014 11:00 AM EST The chief creative officer of Sony Music Entertainment writes about the enduring appeal of the Billboard Women in Music Icon honoree. Aretha Franklin is the Queen of Soul. It’s not the totality of who she is -- beneath her cool exterior is a remarkably warm-hearted person -- but it is a…

  19. Former Manager Paul Bassman Remembers 'Dimebag' Darrell: 'There Was Nobody on Planet Earth Like Him'

    December 08, 2014 9:00 AM EST Today, Paul Bassman is president of Ascend Insurance Brokerage, one of the premier entertainment insurance firms in the business. Ten years ago, Bassman was the manager of Damageplan , the metal powerhouse led by "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott and his brother Vinnie Paul, both formerly…

  20. Black Label Society Leader Zakk Wylde on 'Dimebag' Darrell: 'He Was Like the Rat Pack All in One Guy'

    December 08, 2014 9:00 AM EST Ten years after the onstage shooting of Pantera legend “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott , Billboard spoke with the guitar god’s friends, family, and fellow rock icons about the hole the 38-year-old shredder’s death left in metal and in their lives. Here, Black Label Society leader and former Ozzy…

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