What Else? The Stones Go Clubbing, iTunes Worship, Ticketless Ticketing, AEG vs. Jackson, Ditching Facebook, Breaking the Beatles, Nettwerk Mu$ic Group…

What’s better than packing a club?  Packing a club because you’re getting slightly bored of packing arenas.  Which brings us to the Echoplex in LA, where the Rolling Stones just invited a few hundred celebrities and friends to enjoy a surprise, ‘warm up’ gig.  The A-listers included Skrillex, Bruce Willis, and Gwen Stefani, while lucky lottery ticket winners filled the rest of the joint.  LA Times pop critic Randall Robertson was one journalist who found himself inside the candy store.

And the iTunes 10th birthday party continues to roll this week, but is all the drooling coverage merely covering the warts?  For years, big labels bristled against price inflexibility (tracks were once 99-cents across-the-board) and Apple’s refusal to sell album-only bundles.  And, the dark underbelly is that iTunes, for all its great accomplishments, has been a fantastic piracy enabler — and profit machine for Apple’s hardware.

And the highly-special interest battle over paperless ticketing took another twist last week, this time in California.  Specifically, legislators voted to allow ticketless ticketing, a blow to Ticketmaster arch-nemesis StubHub.  The latest legislative language would also create penalties for circumventing online systems designed to prevent immediate ticket purchases by automated bots.  The Wall Street Journal estimates that just 0.1 percent of tickets are currently paperless.

Which brings us to AEG, which is now battling a $40 billion lawsuit from the Jackson Estate.  Opening statements are happening this week, and onlookers can expect the most detailed accounts of Michael Jackson’s final days to date.  Throughout, attorneys for the Jacksons will attempt to prove that AEG pushed MJ towards his premature death, particularly through aggressive scheduling and a direct relationship with Conrad Murray.

Here’s a question: when’s the last time you had a conversation that was generally positive on Facebook?  These days, everyone’s complaining: a piece about going cold turkey just trended on Reddit, and data from SocialBakers shows that millions are tuning out in the US and UK.  That suggests another Myspace-style implosion, though the counter-argument is that Facebook has largely cemented itself as the ‘social OS,’ much like that other OS we’ve loved over the decades.

Because (almost) every record gets broken eventually.  Which brings us to Emeli Sandé, who just broke the long-held Beatles record for the most consecutive chart-topping weeks for an album debut (in the UK).  Our Version of Events has now been plopped on Britain’s top 10 for 63 straight weeks.

And Nettwerk Music Group has lost some substantial artist clients (and sizzle) over the years, though there are still big, moneyed believers.  According to Billboard, that includes HBC Investments and Beedie Capital, who powered a recent, $10.25 million expansion round.



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