Billboard Bits: Harris/Matthews, Outkast, McDonalds

News on Harris/Matthews, Outkast, McDonalds

EmmyThe latest episode of CMT's "Crossroads" was taped Friday in New York, pairing upcoming tourmates Emmylou Harris and Dave Matthews. Those in the audience also got a sneak peek at the all-star band for the outing: Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio, longtime Matthews guitarist Tim Reynolds, bassist Tony Hall, drummer Brady Blade and keyboardist Ray Paczkowski.

Matthews was under the weather, and his constricted vocals didn't allow him to make it all the way through "Some Devil," the title track of his recent RCA solo debut. But he harmonized effectively with Harris on covers of Johnny Cash's "Long Black Veil" and Daniel Lanois' "The Maker," frequently saluting Harris as one of his musical heroes. Harris closed the taping with a solo acoustic cover of John Lennon's "Imagine."

The episode will air Jan. 9; the Dave Matthews & Friends tour kicks off Dec. 12 in University Park, Pa., and will run through Jan. 16 in Oakland, Calif.

-- Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.

OutWith the first two singles from OutKast's double album "Speakerboxxx/The Love Below" tearing up the charts, the groundbreaking rap duo is asking for help from fans in selecting the next singles from the package, which features separate albums by group principals Big Boi and Andre 3000.

A poll on the duo's
official Web site lists four songs from each album and asks fans to pick their favorites in order. "Church," "Unhappy," "Bowtie" and "Reset" are listed from Big Boi's "Speakerboxxx"; the selections from Andre 3000's "The Love Below" are "Behold a Lady," "Roses," "Prototype" and "Spread."

"Speakerboxxx/The Love Below" is No. 1 in its sixth week on The Billboard 200, and has sold 1.4 million copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan. "The Way You Move" featuring Sleepy Brown" is No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100, while "Hey Ya!" is at No. 13.

-- Troy Carpenter, N.Y.

RonFast food giant McDonald's confirms it is exploring opportunities for digital music-related promotions. A company representative tells
Billboard Bulletin that the Oak Brook, Ill.-based chain has had discussions with a number of online music distributors about marketing possibilities involving their services.

"We want to be involved in that space," says marketing director Joe Talcott.

Apple Computer's iTunes Music Store appears to be the most likely partner for McDonald's; published reports last week suggested that a deal between the two companies is in the works. However, McDonald's says there is no deal in place at this point. The company declined to characterize the nature of its discussions with Apple.

Corporate interest in marketing campaigns involving digital music offers is said to be on the rise in the wake of an alliance between Apple and Pepsi-Cola announced last month. Under terms of that deal, Pepsi will give away 100 million iTunes downloads next year.

-- Brian Garrity, N.Y.