-- Country album sales are down only 3.9% through May 17, compared to the overall decline of 13%. Just as country's numbers benefitted from the Eagles a few years ago, they look good this year because the "Hannah Montana" soundtrack is on the country chart. That album alone accounts for 5.6% of country album sales. (Music Row)

-- A profile of New England concert promoter Don Law describes his new venture, Opera House Ventures LLC. Along with a business partner, Law acquired this month the restored Opera House, the operating contract for the Orpheum and half of the Paradise Rock Club - all purchased from Live Nation for a reported $22.5 million. (Boston.com)

-- A worthwhile quote on record labels from last week's Great Escape conference: "...Korda Marshall, the former MD of Warner and now the head of indie label Infectious, pointed out that 'sometimes the blind stupidity of youth' is important to innovation. 'We need to take risks, and it's easier for a major to take risks while, as an independent, you might lose your house.'" (The Guardian)

-- A survey of youths by a Dutch TV program found that 93% of respondents download music, videos or games while only 5% of these downloaders use paid services. Over 45% of respondents said they use sites like the Pirate Bay and Mininova - which will be in court in a few weeks - and 15% said they use Usenet. One very important note is the bias of the sample. Three-quarters said they do not believe illegal downloading is theft. The youths were found through tech-oriented online forums and communities. The resulting sample is all but certainly not representative of the overall population. (TorrentFreak)

-- Twenty-two-ounce beers cost $11 at the Gorge Amphitheatre (a Live Nation venue) last year. This year, the same price gets you a 16-ounce beer - not an increase in per-head spending, but still a gain for Live Nation. (Ear Candy)

-- Allegro Media Group has acquired Music Design from Virgin Records. Music Design is a distributor of self-help and music for non-traditional retailers and was a sister company to Narada Productions. (Business Journal of Milwaukee)

-- At his Berklee Music blog, Eric Beall, author and publishing veteran, posted a call to arms relating to negotiations with YouTube. "Perhaps its time that the chief segments of the music industry- record labels, artists, songwriters and publishers AROUND THE WORLD - quit acting out of mutual antipathy toward each other and start facing up to our common cause. Maybe it's time for all the labels to pull their videos off of YouTube. Maybe it's time for all the publishers to shut down every video that offers a bad karaoke version of a song from their catalogs. Maybe it's time for music executives to quit watching YouTube (this has become one of the primary spots for quickly finding new music, and I'm as guilty as everyone else), and for artists to start encouraging their fans to do the same." (Music Publishing and Songwriter)

-- Yahoo Music head Michael Spiegelman says unique visitors have doubled and page views tripled since it launched its artist pages format with content from third party services like Pandora and Last.fm. Search-originated traffic jumped 108%, page views per user went up 40% and the music division now represents 37% of all Yahoo page views. (PaidContent)

Additional item by Antony Bruno.