Right Now: RIP Ray Manzarek, Poor Man’s Pandora, Eminem vs. Facebook, Streaming Holdouts Await, Kobalt+Prince, Miguel’s ‘Fan Connection,’ Crusty ol’ Billboard, Tumblr Post-Game…

He tickled the carnivalesque, haunting keys that gave the Doors their signature sound.  At 74, ‘instrumental’ Doors founding member and keyboardist Ray Manzarek has now passed away.   Manzarek met Jim Morrison studying film in the 60s at UCLA; the rest, as they say…

And how to make streaming radio profitable?  Pandora executives figured out one part of puzzle – ie, making themselves rich – but creating a profitable, long-lasting business is not (yet) on their resumes.  Enter ZenoRadio, a hair-brained scheme of a business model that may actually be making money (for now).  CNBC calls it the ‘Poor Man’s Pandora,’ and the radio service actually ‘streams’ stations over the phone.  The concept is geared towards freshly-arrived American immigrants (from far-flung countries spanning Mali to Guatemala), and delivers faraway stations from home while exploiting unlimited calling plans and decades-old rural carrier subsidies.

Elsewhere, lawyers for Eminem and Eight Mile Style are suing Facebook for allegedly ripping off one of their tracks during the ‘Facebook Home’ launch.  The song, ‘Under the Influence,’ was used during a webcast and on subsequent promotional videos online; a number of observers noticed the similarities.

And there’s more simmering on the streaming holdout debate.  Question: which indie(s) are also windowing their releases on Spotify and other streaming platforms, despite Spotify’s insistence that streaming (free or paid) doesn’t impact downloads (or other) sales?  Stay tuned.

“So I’m at the Soho House on Sunset talking to Willard Ahdritz, the guy who started Kobalt Music Group…”  No, that’s not the opening of the latest Lefsetz Letter, but Kobalt did host a presentation at the swanky Soho digs last week.  At said event, Ahdritz told Digital Music News that the real royalty debate isn’t necessarily about low payouts, but missing payments entirely.  It’s all a complicated labyrinth of publishers and collection societies, a beast that Ahdritz wants to domesticate into a revenue-producing pussycat.

Which brings us to Prince, who just inked a massive, worldwide licensing deal with Kobalt.  Specifically, the deal will employ Kobalt’s label services suite of marketing and distribution services.

And you won’t see this in the Rolling Stone Tongue Pit.  Why it’s Miguel, drop-kicking two fans in the pit at the Billboard Music Awards (with some commentary and instant replay…)

Which brings us to the discussion of Billboard itself, whose annual Music Awards seems to be gaining some steam.  This ain’t the Grammys, but ratings are up and plenty of superstars (from Madonna to Prince to Justin Bieber) adorned (ie, showed up to) Sunday’s event in Las Vegas.  And, helped to burnish the age-old Billboard charts, a venerable institution that continues to cast a long, deep shadow on struggling upstarts like the Ultimate Chart.  Indeed, people care about brands (whether they realize it or not), which is why the century-plus Billboard name could be harder to dislodge than many think…

And, what to make of Yahoo’s $1.1 billion mega-acquisition of Tumblr?  One problem is that Yahoo has a penchant for dumping billions on companies that quickly fade while adding essentially zero value (Geocities, Broadcast.com, Overture, Flickr), though Yahoo chief Marissa Mayer promised to leave Tumblr alone and emulate successful acquisitions like Google+YouTube and eBay+PayPal.   Others are simply wondering why a mega-million dollar CEO and a billion-dollar acquisition aren’t making the site work better.