March 22, 2010
Posted: 12:51 PM ET
Throughout the 1990s, as CDs flew off the shelves, record labels routinely signed big artists to multimillion-dollar recording contracts. Some of it was vanity: labels paid a premium to keep a big-name artist rather than risk a few wisecracks in the press for letting a star go to a rival.
And despite the precipitous drop in album sales in the last decade — about 50 percent fewer albums were sold in 2009 than in 2000 — major deals continued apace, often with bad endings. Mariah Carey’s five-record, $80 million deal with EMI in 2001 lasted one record before the label paid the singer $28 million to get out of the contract.
“If you went back 10 or 20 years ago, you could afford to do a deal that was a little outrageous,” said Russ H. Crupnick, a senior entertainment analyst at the NPD Group, a market research firm. A label’s midlevel acts could sell enough albums to cushion the financial blow. But as the number of platinum-selling albums has dwindled, from 179 in 2000 to 45 in 2009, the labels have little padding left.
“These days, it’s hard,” Mr. Crupnick said. “You can’t afford to be as generous as you might have just to have a name on the roster.”
Nevertheless, early last week Sony’s Columbia Epic Label Group, which worked with Michael Jackson for more than 30 years, announced a deal with the pop star’s estate worth up to $250 million, perhaps the largest in history.
December 23, 2009
Posted: 10:24 AM ET
Sting took some time out of his concert stop at New York's Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine to talk to us about his Christmas memories, and the mystique of winter. His new album, "If On A Winter's Night," is available now. Sting will also be performing on the LKL Christmas music show, airing Dec. 23rd. We taped the performance earlier this week and it's incredible.
LKL Blog: What are your fondest childhood holiday memories?
Sting: I think when it snowed it made my little gray industrial town into this magical landscape. And I used to work with my daddy on the milk grounds, so we were the first people at 5 in the morning to disturb the snow. So that memory for me was magical, even though it was cold, and after a few hours I was pretty miserable. When we first went out there it was great. I still love the snow.
LKL Blog: What do you like to do to celebrate the holidays now?
Sting: My greatest Christmas gift is for my six children to come home, and we sit around the fire, and we talk about what's happened to us in the year, and what we've done, and what we hope to achieve next year. Just sitting with them, with the fire on, and a few dogs around, that's the greatest gift I could ever have.
LKL Blog: Why did you decide to do an album centered on the winter season?
Sting: The record company said to me, "Why don't you do a Christmas record," and I said, "I'm not really into Frosty the Snowman, I don't really like Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer, and I'm not that into Santa Clause." So I said why don't we consider doing an album about the winter, because it's a very rich season. It's full of imagery, ghosts and spirits, and magical stories. So I said let me do that. So I spent 6 months doing research, looking at songs from many centuries, many different kind of genres - folk songs, classical songs, sacred songs. We ended up with "If On A Winter's Night" and it's doing incredibly well, much better than anyone expected. I'm thrilled.
LKL Blog: What do you like to do in winter?
Sting: Well, I ski, I snowboard, I love to walk. I like to walk with my dogs in the snow. I like the winter. It's a season that's important for reflection. Animals hibernate, humans reflect.
LKL Blog: And are you now sporting the beard for winter warmth?
Sting: Last year I was in an opera in Paris, and I was the star, and I played Dionysis, the Greek God, so they made me get this beard, and I kind of liked it. My wife breeds Irish wolfhounds, so it's not so far removed from the dogs, so it gets me more affection.
December 14, 2009
Posted: 01:11 PM ET
December 3, 2009
Posted: 01:35 PM ET
Los Angeles, California (CNN) - The Grammy stage is set for a redux of one of the most infamous moments in music award show history when Kanye West interrupted Taylor Swift's acceptance speech after a win over Beyonce at September's MTV awards show.
"Don't worry, Taylor. Kanye West is not here," Smokey Robinson joked as he announced one category during the live Grammy nomination telecast from Los Angeles, California, Wednesday night.
Just seven of the 109 Grammy categories were announced during the CBS telecast, while the rest of the nominations filled 66 pages handed out to reporters.
Beyonce gathered 10 nominations, while Swift, a country-pop crossover sensation, was nominated in eight categories. West got six Grammy nominations, but all were for his collaborations with other artists. His solo performances were snubbed, suggesting there may have been fallout for his antics.
It was when Swift beat out Beyonce for best female video at September's MTV awards that West jumped on stage to declare Beyonce's work superior.
West may have three chances to repeat his stunt, since Beyonce and Swift go head-to-head for record, song and album of the year. Lady Gaga was also nominated in those three categories.
Lady Gaga's single "Poker Face" and album "The Fame" helped her to five nominations.
Taylor Swift, just days away from her 20th birthday, crossed genre lines to take top honors at the MTV Music Video Awards, the American Music Awards and the Country Music Awards in recent months.
June 11, 2009
Posted: 05:25 PM ET
Tonight, country music's best and brightest join us for an hour to salute their art, and the fans that follow it from the biggest fan event in all of music: The CMA Festival in Nashville. Plus, a live look at some of the performances in Nashville.
And we want to hear from you:
Who is your favorite country music artist and why?
Go Behind The Scenes
LARRY KING LIVE'S Emmy-winning Senior Executive Producer Wendy Walker knows what it takes to make a great story.
With anecdotes, provocative emails, scandals, show transcripts and insights into Walker's long working relationship with Larry King, her new book PRODUCER issues readers an invitation to listen in on the most intriguing conversations on the planet.