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-- Don't look now, but a few people are recognizing the album format is not dead. Newsday's Glenn Gamboa writes that the presumed-dead format might be getting a wake-up call. The article has mixed messages, though, because Gamboa mixes anecdotes on the rise in super-niche vinyl sales - which are truly puny compared CD and digital album sales - with comments from Spoon's Britt Daniel and eMusic editor-in-chief J. Edward Keyes about the album's continued ability to impart a lasting artistic statement. The vinyl resurgence and the album's place in music are separate issues. Regardless, the album is still being recognized as a meaningful format. "It's certainly the test of a band's mettle," says Daniel. "It's hard to make an album's worth of songs and do it well. The ones that do occupy a higher place in mind and in psyche."

The definition of an album has to be flexible. It encompasses traditional ten- or 12-song releases, soundtracks, greatest hits collections, double-gatefold live releases and even shorter releases than could be called EPs if that wouldn't throw off the consumer too much. As Billboard has reported, country singer Blake Shelton is releasing two, six-song mini-albums on Warner Nashville spaced about five months apart. They're cheaper and different than traditional albums, but they have titles, artwork, bar codes and more than one track. In other words, they're albums. (Newsday)

-- Neither party has confirmed rumors posted at TechCrunch that Spotify has received venture funding from Founders Fund, a U.S. venture capital firm. Managing partner Sean Parker, co-founder of Napster and president of Facebook, is said to have led the round. GigaOm's sources tell it the round of funding was "actually substantial." Additional funding would most likely help Spotify with a costly U.S. launch. The company is optimistic it will launch stateside soon although no licensing deals have yet been announced. An obvious and popular timing for a major announcement is mid-March during either the interactive or music portions of the SXSW conference and festival in Austin. Announcement of plans in the U.S. may come well after SXSW, and it will be interesting to see if other streaming services, such as MOG and MySpace Music, do anything to capitalize on Spotify's absence and endear themselves to the tens of thousands of music-loving SXSW attendees. (TechCrunch and GigaOm)

-- "American Idol" winners can expect a big payday, but even finalists are likely to earn $100,000 from the show, according to The New York Times. Participation in the "American Idol" summer tour results in more money. Kris Allen, last year's winner, made at least $650,000 from the show. Add in performance fees and merchandise royalties and the winner can usually expect to reap at least $1 million. The information was acquired from contracts filed in California state court due to laws that require court approval of entertainment contracts involving minors. (New York Times)

-- EMI Christian Music Group has inked a licensing deal with Christian social networking site Tangle.com for audio and video streaming. The deal includes user-generated content as well as authorized videos and recordings. EMI CMG will get aggregation, syndication and ongoing promotions, such as full-length album stream parties, at Tangle.com. (Press release)

-- INgrooves has licensed its entire catalog to streaming music services MOG and Deezer as well as ad-supported download site Guvera. (Press release)

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