Billboard Bits: The Beatles, Morrison Hotel Gallery, Ding
As the music world continues to wait for the Beatles to bring their iconic catalog to iTunes for digital sale, talks reportedly are underway that may see the Fab Four's music included in videogames fiAs the music world continues to wait for the Beatles to bring their iconic catalog to iTunes for digital sale, talks reportedly are underway that may see the Fab Four's music included in videogames first.
According to an account in the Financial Times, representatives for the Beatles are in discussions with the creators of the "Rock Band" and "Guitar Hero" music videogames. Both games allow users to download and play new music on a regular basis, although tracks bought for the game can't be transferred to a portable MP3 player or computer.
The Beatles catalog at this point is considered the Holy Grail of digital licensing, given the group's unwillingness thus far to make the catalog available in any digital retail format.
Of the two, "Guitar Hero" has been more aggressive at releasing special expansion packs dedicated to specific bands. The "Guitar Hero: Aerosmith" game will hit retail shelves before the end of this month, and the company is reportedly working on a Metallica version for this holiday season. "Rock Band," meanwhile, has a more expansive downloadable sales effort, with new tracks released every week, and is the only game offering full album downloads as well.
Any Beatles deal with either game would have to pass muster with both EMI Music and Apple Corps.
-- Antony Bruno, Denver
Ultra-rare photos taken at the former Columbia Records studio in New York will be on display as part of "In Session at the Columbia Records 30th Street Studio," a new exhibit opening July 18 at New York's Morrison Hotel Gallery.
Among the stars captured in the photos, most of which were shot by Columbia staff photographer Don Huntstein in the 1950s and '60s, are Bob Dylan, Tony Bennett, Miles Davis, Charles Mingus, Billie Holiday and Muhammad Ali.
Prints signed by Huntstein will be available at the gallery and its Web site. An invite-only preview will take place on July 17.
-- Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.
Freeze Artist Management has launched a new merchandising product dubbed Ding, a custom-fitted, device-specific decal featuring a wide range of bands.
The decals can be applied and removed to more than 100 products -- including cell phones, gaming systems and controllers, MP3 players and laptops -- and are available from artists such as Linkin Park, No Doubt, Slipknot, Nine Inch Nails, Rise Against, H20, Blink 182, Underoath, Taking Back Sunday and many more.
Plans are to greatly expand the product's artist roster and to make the product available on the road as tour merchandise. Summer promotions include meet-n-greats, onstage and backstage access, and VIP treatment at concerts.
The price range for dings is $15.99 to $39.99 and artists are paid a licensing royalty for each unit sold. In explaining the pricing, John Reese, CEO of Freeze Artist Management, says, "Some pieces are small and some are large and intricate." He adds that the product line could expand. "We are working on deals with various bands and labels to expand the synergies."
-- Ray Waddell, Nashville