A new round of shipping rate increases from the United States Postal Service— which now charges on a sliding, weight-based scale— is putting palpable pressure on indie labels that rely on direct-to-fan distribution. For small independent labels and distributors, the kind of businesses who rely on the USPS as a low-cost shipper, the price hike is more bad news for an already stressed business model.
Legitimate MP3 links are becoming harder to find even as the RIAA has sent more than 3,400 removal requests to Google relating to approximately 10 million specific URLs from its search results. Legal stores, legal streaming sites, and legal streams and downloads at music blogs are buried under more illegal MP3 links than when Billboard.biz examined 30 artists in November.
BEYONCE'S SUPER BOWL SHOW DRAWS 104 MIL., MUSIC SALES SKYROCKET
The half-hour that included Beyonce’s performance at Super Bowl XLVII was one of the most watched segments of the NFL championship on Sunday, hitting an average of about 104 million viewers, Billboard estimates, based on Nielsen data. Meanwhile, her appearance sent her sales skyrocketing. 
Charlie Walk, a Epic Records executive who was part of the team that broke Sean Kingston, the Fray and Sara Bareilles, is returning to the music business after spending the last four years at his own advertising and marketing company JWalk that, ironically, had offices across the street from the Sony building in New York. Here, Walk explains his strategies, the appeal of Republic Records and why NBC's "The Voice" is finally in a position to create a star.
In the run up to this Sunday’s 55th annual Grammy awards, Billboard.biz is looking to you, our well-informed readers, to pick the winners of this year’s major music award categories. Results -- along with the best comments -- will be published on Billboard.biz Friday, Feb. 8.
Universal Music Group has signed new long-term agreements with Republic Records founders Monte Lipman and Avery Lipman as they become Chairman & Chief Executive Officer and President & Chief Operating Officer, respectively, of the company they started as an independent label in 1995.
MUSE'S 'MADNESS' TIES FOR LONGEST-REIGNING ALTERNATIVE NO. 1
With an 18th week atop Billboard's Nielsen BDS-based Alternative radio airplay chart, Muse's "Madness" ties for the longest stay at No. 1 in the survey's 24-year history.
STREAMING SERVICES' ARTIST HOLDOUTS PROBLEM
As if the subscription service's business model wasn't already difficult enough, a small group of artists holding out from streaming services could expect an advance to join one of them. For companies like Spotify, Rhapsody, Rdio, Deezer and others it's a classic prisoner's dilemma.
Heineken is enhancing its onsite and out-of-home sponsorship of Ultra Music Festival, which includes a contest app leading up to the two-weekend Miami music festival. Using a custom app developed by Heineken and partner agencies, consumers can create a remix using stems developed by Ultra performer DJ Whitenoize.
SIRIUSXM REPORTS 2012 RESULTS
Sirius XM Radio today announced fourth quarter and full year 2012 financial and operating results, including 2012 revenue of $3.4 billion, up 13% from 2011 revenue of $3.0 billion. Net income for 2012 and 2011 was $3.5 billion and $427 million, respectively. Net income for 2012 included a $3.0 billion income tax benefit and $133 million loss on extinguishment of debt. Adjusted EBITDA in 2012 was $920 million, up 26% from 2011.
PR Newswire 
ADIOS, SONY MINIDISC PLAYER
Twenty years ago, the MiniDisc player was being hailed as the device that would replace audio cassette players, and revolutionize the way we share and listen to music. Now Sony, the company which pioneered the technology, has stopped producing the device.
CRACKING THE ORPHAN WORKS RIDDLE
The price of a first-class stamp in the US has risen by a penny to 46 cents – but much more significant costs for overseas shipping could hurt independent record labels. Speaking to Nantucket public radio network WCAI, Dischord Records’ Brian Lowit said that, while postage rate increases were common, he’d “never seen one this drastic.” While the postage hike might not be too significant domestically, Dischord – which sells CD albums for around $10 and vinyl LPS for $11 – will now see shipping costs to the UK for $18.60 where it would have previously cost $13.17.
Music Week 
LIBERTY SET TO BID ON VIRGIN MEDIA
John Malone’s Liberty Global is preparing to make a bid for Virgin Media, the UK cable operator with an enterprise value of more than $20bn, in a deal that would mark the US billionaire’s biggest move yet into the UK and could set up a fresh clash with his former partner and rival Rupert Murdoch. Last December  Liberty took over a majority share of SiriusXM
Financial Times 
REG PRESLEY, TROGGS SINGER, DIES OF CANCER AT 71
The structure is simple, the guitar riffs basic, the lyrics at best inane, but the Troggs' "Wild Thing" remains a garage rock classic more than 45 years after its release made The Troggs and lead singer Reg Presley international stars. Presley, whose raunchy, suggestive voice powers this paean to teenage lust, died Monday after a year-long struggle with lung cancer that had forced him and the band into reluctant retirement, his agent Keith Altham announced on Facebook late Monday night. He was 71.
Associated Press 
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