Billboard Bits: 98 Degrees, Kevin Hearn, Napster
News on 98 Degrees, Kevin Hearn, NapsterBoy band 98 Degrees, currently on a self-imposed hiatus, will release a career retrospective compilation May 7 on CD and DVD. "98 Degrees: The Collection" will draw tracks from each of the band's four studio albums, while the DVD adds "behind-the-scenes" footage and live performances to a collection of promotional videos.
The compilation features the group's three top-5 hits on the Hot 100 -- "The Hardest Thing," "Because of You," and "Give Me One More Night (Una Noche)" -- alongside "Thank God I Found You," 98 Degrees' collaboration with Mariah Carey and Joe, and a new song, "Why (Are We Still Friends)."
98 Degrees notified its fans in February via a note on its official Web site that its "future [is] unclear at this point" and that there are "no immediate plans to record or tour." Group member Nick Lachey is engaged to pop singer Jessica Simpson.
-- Troy Carpenter, N.Y.
Kevin Hearn, keyboardist/guitarist for popular Canadian pop act Barenaked Ladies, will kick off a U.S. tour next month in support of his 2001 Nettwerk solo album, "H-Wing." Following a May 5 show in Montreal, the tour heads two days later in New York and lasts through a May 18 show in Ferndale, Mich.
Released under the name Kevin Hearn & Thin Buckle, "H-Wing" takes its title from the area of the Toronto hospital where two years ago Hearn received bone marrow transplant treatment. Prior to the Ladies' tour in support of the 1998 Reprise album "Stunt," Hearn was diagnosed with Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia, and worked on his recovery while the band was on the road.
Following the treatment and with the disease in remission, Hearn took to the road again for the seemingly unending tour in support of the band's 2000 album, "Maroon." Along with working on new Barenaked Ladies material, Hearn recently composed the music for the children's television show "Seven Little Monsters."
-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.
Bertelsmann, the parent company of BMG Music, has made a bid to acquire Napster outright, sources confirm to Billboard Bulletin. The file-sharing service -- shuttered by court order since last year -- has already received more than $60 million in funding from Bertelsmann for the development of a subscription service.
Representatives of Napster and Bertelsmann declined to comment, but Bertelsmann CEO Thomas Middelhoff confirmed Friday in the German press that an offer had been made. However, the talks have stalled due to ongoing litigation between John Fanning, uncle of Napster founder Shawn Fanning, and venture-capital firm Hummer Winblad regarding membership on the online company's board and the allocation of funds.
As previously reported, Napster recently won the right to examine major record label documents that reveal the underpinnings of their business agreements in forming the online music ventures MusicNet and Pressplay. Napster is looking for evidence of copyright misuse to bolster its legal defense and limit damages in the record labels' copyright-infringement suit against it.
-- Erik Gruenwedel, L.A.