Lady Gaga (@ladygaga) Is The New Face of Versace

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Lady Gaga will be the new face for Versace‘s 2014 spring campaign, the Italian label took to Twitter earlier today to confirm the news via a preview photo. The fashion house creating all of Gaga’s outfits for her Born This Way’ tour, in addition to a recent dedication to Donatella Versace in the artist’s latest album Artpop, this news only reinforce both parties’ admiration for one another.

Randy Phillips Out At AEG Live, Jay Marciano Named Chairman

By Ray Waddell, Nashville | November 25, 2013 1:19 PM EST

 

Randy Phillips is out as president/CEO of AEG Live, the live entertainment arm of Anschutz Entertainment Group.

 

The company said in a statement that it is “restructuring the management of that live entertainment subsidiary” and that Jay Marciano, Chief Operating Officer of AEG, has been appointed Chairman of AEG Live and will assume a more active role in the management of that division. In his new role, Marciano will oversee an LA-based executive team led by Paul Tollett, John Meglen, Shawn Trell and Rick Mueller.

 

Tollett was named CEO and President of Goldenvoice; Meglen as named President of Global Touring for AEG Live; and Trell has been promoted to the role of Chief Operating Officer, AEG Live, taking over for Tom Miserendino who recently relocated to London to assume the role of President and CEO, AEG Europe.

 

In February of 2012, Phillips signed a new five-year contract to remain at the helm of AEG Live, the position he has held with the live entertainment division of Los Angeles-based AEG since joining the company in 10 years ago.

 

The company is now the second-biggest concert promoter in the world, reporting grosses totaling $1.1 billion in 2013 according to Boxscore. With tours by Bon Jovi, the Rolling Stones, Justin Bieber, Carrie Underwood, Taylor Swift and Kenny Chesney (the latter two with The Messina Group) this year, along with a thriving one-off business, AEG Live put up record gross revenues this year, second only to Live Nation Entertainment.

 

Under Phillips’ direction, AEG Live has become a force in touring and concert promotion. Among achievements on his watch were Celine Dion’s residency at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Vegas (spearheaded by AEG Live division Concerts West president John Meglen), arena residencies for artists ranging from Garth Brooks to Prince. On the other hand, Phillips has been a polarizing figure in the industry, and was at the center of the storm in AEG’s recent wrongful death trial relating to the death of Michael Jackson, of which AEG was found not guilty by a jury and Phillips was dismissed from.

 

Still, on Phillips’ watch AEG Live became a viable global touring deal option with creative marketing and promotion for a wide range of touring artists.  When Jackson’s 50-date This Is It run at the O2 in London didn’t happen, Phillips was a key player in saving the company from a huge financial loss as a producer of the “This Is It” documentary. AEG Live now includes 15 regional and international offices as well as stand-alone divisions devoted to touring, festivals (division Goldenvoice produces Coachella, for one), exhibitions, broadcast, merchandise, ticketing and special events. Additionally, AEG Live and its parent AEG own, operate or exclusively book more than 40 venues from the club to stadium level.

 

Phillips also built a formidable team of savvy touring executives that span the globe, keeping with his early strategy of bringing in key personnel as opposed to acquiring companies or venues. “I decided early on to invest in great people and not pay ridiculous multiples for what ostensibly is a personal service business,” he told Billboard in a 2012 Q&A, ostensibly referring to the promoter consolidation that led to what is now Live Nation. “To me, cash will always be king, but if cash is equal, it’s about relationships. The one thing about AEG, and it’s been my mantra: We invest in people.”

 

Many felt Phillips’ future might be in doubt when Tim Lieweke, the man who hired Phillips and was one of his staunchest supporters, resigned as CEO of AEG in March when the company came off the block. But at that time insiders at the company told Billboard Phillips status at the company was solid.

 

Phillips, a former artist manager for such acts as Usher and Lionel Richie, was a creative dealmaker and clearly loved the game. ‘It’s not all altruistic,” he told Billboard. “I like making money. Like anyone else, I like being rewarded when I do good work. But the other side of it is, I love music, and I love working with new talent, watching people break, helping established artists extend their run. I love being part of a team that surrounds artists. There isn’t a day I walk into the office that I don’t enjoy

How Soundrop Turns Music Discovery into a Social Experience Among Fans and Artists By David Deal (@davidjdeal)

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Imagine yourself discovering a hip new band on Spotify while you chat live with other fans — or even with the band itself. Thanks to Oslo-based music start-up Soundrop, you can do just that. The two-year-old music service provides a social platform through which you can listen to music, share your opinions about it, and occasionally hang out with the artists who create the songs that you’re hearing.

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The service is available on Spotify, as a standalone Web player, and, starting November 25, via French streaming company Deezer. Soundrop is among the latest generation of technology firms changing the way people discover music. To better understand Soundrop and its influence on the music listening experience, I talked with its head of partnerships Cortney Harding. In her exclusive interview, she shares some advice for artists, too: work harder to connect with your fans and share engaging content or die.

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Harding knows whereof she speaks. Music and technology define her professional life. Throughout her career, she has been editor of Billboard, writer for YPulse, and founder of her own consulting firm that connects startups with the music industry. In many ways, she and Soundrop represent the kind of influencers who are re-defining the music industry by applying content, technology, and brand savvy.

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Cortney Harding

I recently used Soundrop to interact with artists AM & Shawn Lee as they played their new album La Musique Numerique, which was akin to having a listening party with other fans and the artists. And yeah, the experience was pretty cool. Fans took turns asking AM & Shawn Lee about their music via an online Q&A moderated by Harding, and we learned interesting little details such as the fact that Lee learned how to play the Mattel Synsonics drum machine for La Musique Numerique.

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Nearly 200 artists, including Imagine Dragons and Robin Thicke, have hung out with fans in Soundrop listening rooms. The company relies heavily on its Facebook page to announce new appearances, befitting its social nature. And if Soundrop has its way, hanging out with fans will be the norm, not the exception.

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As Harding says in the following interview, “Artists . . . need to be engaged on a social level in an authentic way. Because fans have so much more choice, an artist that doesn’t work to connect with them will quickly be forgotten.”

How would you describe Soundrop to the uninitiated?

Soundrop is a way to discover, share, and socialize around music. Users can either create rooms where they upload music and chat, or join existing rooms to discover music and hang out with other people who love the same music. We have rooms for almost every genre and even rooms based on times of the day or certain themes (waking up, working out, relaxing, etc).

Additionally, we bring artists in to chat with fans. Every week more artists come into Soundrop. More than 200 already have. It’s a great experience for the fans and the artist can use their reach to drive streaming revenue.

Soundrop currently exists as an app on Spotify, Deezer and as a standalone web player, play.soundrop.fm. Each of those apps acts as a different door in to the same virtual room. So you can join one of our rooms in Spotify, while I can join on the Web and we’re listening to same song and chatting together in real-time.

How have you made Soundrop a social experience?

Users can chat with one another in all the rooms, which makes the experience of discovery so much richer. You have the opportunity to ask an artist a specific question about a song while you are both listening to the track, or talk to someone halfway around the world about a song you both love.

What am I missing out if I use Spotify to discover new music without Soundrop?

You’re missing out on a lot of social engagement and the wisdom of the crowd. I love Spotify playlists as much as anyone else, but you can’t interact with the creator of the list or other fans, and that limits the experience. Plus, Soundrop is the fastest way to discover a lot of great music.

Many early adopters of Soundrop associate it with the Spotify app. But you’ve recently launched a web player. Tell me about the web player and other plans you have to expand the Soundrop experience beyond the Spotify app?

The web player is powered by YouTube and that made our platform available to people who live in markets where Spotify is not yet available. We also have a Facebook app that’s powered by YouTube, so artists can embed their Soundrop room directly on their Facebook page

You just announced Soundrop’s availability on the French-based Deezer music streaming service. What is the strategy behind being available on Deezer?

This is really our vision being fully realized. We want to connect music fans wherever they are and ultimately see more people embrace streaming music.

We never built just an app. We’ve actually built a platform that runs across any platform that can offer streaming music. If you join our Indie Wok room, for example, you can listen with Spotify, I can listen on Deezer and someone else can use our web player. It’s all in a real-time sync.

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This also means we can help artists drive more revenue from these different platforms, so everyone wins.

What are some of your favorite listening rooms and playlists?

I’m partial to the Chill Out and Classical rooms for listening while I work and the Indie Wok room for listening at home.

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You recently launched Best Of playlists. How are those working out for you?

Great — we are starting to get some real traction and I think they will be very influential. I’d love to have bands ask their fans to favorite tracks and it’s a dream to be able to break an act on our charts.

Where is your growth coming from? What global markets?

We actually follow the global music market quite closely. So our top markets are the U.S., UK and Germany.

How do you collaborate with artists on Soundrop?

For an artist, Soundrop is their best tool to drive streams and video views. Every artist in Spotify now has a Soundrop room. They can share take control of their rooms and share them with fans. Of course, our most high-profile events have been live chats with artists like Zedd, where more than 6,000 simultaneous listeners were chatting with him. It’s a pretty amazing experience for a fan to be able to engage with an artist about the music they love and create.

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You’ve been involved in music as a journalist and now with Soundrop. How do you see the music industry evolving?

I think we’re slowly moving from a transaction model to an engagement model — whereas traditional retail was very 1:1 (1 CD purchased equaled x profit for an artist) now with streaming you see a more shared pie. It’s in everyone’s interest to grow the pie and work with streaming services — I’m always bummed when otherwise forward thinking artists don’t understand this.

Artists also need to be engaged on a social level in an authentic way. Because fans have so much more choice, an artist that doesn’t work to connect with them will quickly be forgotten. They need to think of themselves as content creators and curators — I’d follow an artist on Pinterest that pinned interesting stuff but would never follow one that just promoted themselves.

How do you personally discover new music? Who are some of your favorite finds lately?

I love the Indie Wok room and best-of playlists in Soundrop, and I’m lucky to have friends who still work as music journalists and share a lot of great music — Maura Johnston and Jason Lipshutz are two particular favorites. I also scan the usual suspect blogs (Pitchfork, Brooklyn Vegan) on a daily basis.

Childish Gambino (@DonaldGlover) Feat Problem (@ItsaPROBLEM) – Sweatpants

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Childish Gambino links up with Problem for his new single called Sweatpants. This will appear on Gambino forthcoming album Because The Internet, which will be released on December 10th.

Justin Bieber (@justinbieber) – Roller Coaster

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Justin Bieber keeps the new music coming by releasing his new joint called Roller Coaster. This is another joint that is part of Justin #MusicMondays series. His new movie ‘Believe’ is set to be released on December 25th.

Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) Signs 2-Year Extension

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Kobe Bryant signed a two-year contract extension with the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday.

The Lakers did not announce financial terms, but a source told ESPNLosAngeles.com’s Ramona Shelburne that the deal is worth $48.5 million.

Bryant, 35, will maintain his status as the NBA’s highest-paid player over the course of the extension, the source told Shelburne. The 2007-08 league MVP will receive $23.5 million in the first year and $25 million in the second year of the extension, according to the source.

The Lakers and Bryant arrived at the salaries so that the team will have the financial flexibility to pursue one top free agent on the market next summer, the source told Shelburne.

The 2014 free-agent class could include four-time MVP LeBron James and reigning league scoring champion Carmelo Anthony, who both can opt out of their contracts after this season.

Bryant, who has not played since suffering a torn Achilles tendon last April, will make over $30.4 million this season, the final year of his current contract.

The source also said the Buss family was unified in wanting to see Bryant continue to be the league’s highest-paid player, and that the owners wanted the extension finalized before Bryant’s return to the court as a way of demonstrating his importance to the franchise.

The team announced the deal in a news release, saying the signing “should ensure” that Bryant finishes his storied career with the Lakers.

“This is a very happy day for Lakers fans and for the Lakers organization,” general manager Mitch Kupchak said in the release. “We’ve said all along that our priority and hope was to have Kobe finish his career as a Laker, and this should ensure that that happens.

“To play 20 years in the NBA, and to do so with the same team, is unprecedented, and quite an accomplishment. Most importantly, however, it assures us that one of the best players in the world will remain a Laker, bringing us excellent play and excitement for years to come.”

Bryant, who has helped the Lakers win five NBA championships, took to Twitter on Monday morning, posting a photo of his signature on the contract.