The World's Actual Highest-Paid Musician Is... Deceased Michael Jackson

Remember this as you sort through Forbes' ever-fascinating list of Musicians Who Still Make Lots of Money: It's limited to living artists only. Quite sensibly, sure, but the scrilla scared up by your Madges and Gagas and Bruces and Jovis, Bon does still pale -- well, not quite pale, but doesn't nearly match -- that earned by the True King of Pop, His Immortal Greatness, Michael Jackson.

Madonna topped out at $125 million. Next on the list, Gaga raked in $80 mill. Hell, Diddy (No. 12) scraped together $50 million shilling shitty clear liquor. But MJ? Whoo-boy...

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The Greatest Band Press Release in the Long and Mediocre History of Band Press Releases

Everything you need to know about BrokeNCYDE is contained in the above photo.
Even awful bands do things right sometimes. We're wholly disinclined to say anything nice about the "crunk-core" cartoon outfit BrokeNCYDE, because, well, BrokeNCYDE is terrible. They're so terrible that after receiving a CD in the mail boldly entitled The Best of BrokeNCYDE, we actually rolled around on the floor laughing, showed it to everyone in our office, watched them roll on the floor laughing, giggled some more, then Tweeted about it.

But! Said CD came accompanied with a press release, as CDs mailed to newspapers often do. Most CD press releases are as mediocre as room-temp turkey on Dec. 2. This was a very un-mediocre CD press release, however. In fact it may be the single greatest CD press release we have ever received -- an honor we are extremely hesitant to bestow upon anyone, much less the patron saints of late-adolescent binge-drinking idiocy. But this press release was short, well-written, and funny. It got our attention, and prompted us to consider writing about the band. Unfortunately, there isn't much of a lesson here for you music PR folks, because this kind of thing can only be done once:

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SPIN Is Big Again: Five Things We Like About the New Magazine

SPIN: Now measuring 9.5 by 12 inches.
In an effort to stay alive in an age where print mags, especially music-focused ones, are suffering, the venerable rag SPIN recently conducted a near-total redesign. Along with the company's new website -- which has been reconceived with a focus on timely news, reviews, and those controversial album-reviews-as-Tweets -- the mag's editors made substantial changes to the print edition. First, it's going to come out every other month, instead of monthly; the focus will be on stories and features with a longer shelf life than right now; most of the pages are rough instead of glossy; and the scope of coverage has expanded. Along with the new indie mainstream, SPIN is covering hip-hop acts like Black Hippy and going in depth on R&B-God-in-waiting Frank Ocean. There's even a feature about Korean pop, along with shorter pieces on comic books and film. Since subscribers have received their copies and newsstands should get them soon, check out five things we dig about the new SPIN, below, and afterward, a few things we don't.

1. The size
Obviously. This thing is much larger -- 112 slab-like pages measuring 9 1/2 by 12 inches -- and it feels meaty. (Also, expensive.) As the issue's intro brags, you drop this bound hunk of paper on a table and it makes a satisfying thud. That's a rare and wonderful feeling for a music magazine (or, hell, any mag that isn't Robb Report or the September Vogue) to make.

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How to Get Your Band a Record Deal (Without Being on TV)

So you're in a band, you're just starting out, and, yes, you want a record deal so the world can hear your musical genius. We all know the big boys only sign people from reality television competitions now, so what do you do? You do some research about some indies and you harass the bejesus out of them until they realize how brilliant you are. Foolproof, right? Well ... not so much. Casey Shafer owns and runs San Francisco's Burning House Records. Here are his tips on how to get a record deal (without being on television).


Remember: Unsolicited Demos Suck
"When I was in a band, I sent my demo tape to Fat Wreck Chords a half dozen times. The anticipation drove me nuts, and I went to sleep every night dreaming of the day that I could do blow off the back of a dirty toilet tank with Fat Mike. (Offer still stands, Mike.) I wish someone had told me then what is painfully obvious to me now: Sending a label an unsolicited demo, you basically have the same odds of getting signed as that middle-aged woman from human resources does by doing karaoke every Wednesday. Sure, I listen to every demo that gets sent to Burning House, but most of them just end up signed to Roadhouse Records (that's where it ends up after we've thrown it out the window)."

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Wallpaper to Drop New EP, Premiere Music on Jersey Shore's Next Season

We can't not love you, Ricky.

Ah, that bittersweet taste of success.

Wallpaper, the Oakland dance-pop project of marvelous partyboy Ricky Reed, has a new partnership with MTV, Boardwalk records, and Hype Music, a music licensing partnership sporting the talents of former KCRW DJ and Morning Becomes Eclectic host Nic Harcourt.

That amalgamation will see the release of Wallpaper's #STUPiDFACEDD EP next month and a whole new album later this year. Along with the releases, Wallpaper is playing a string of live dates, including a headlining show at the Great American Music Hall on July 23.

But the real shocker: You're going to be hearing new Wallpaper music on the next season of Jersey Shore.

Assuming you, uh, watch it.

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Should Up-and-Coming Bands Sell CDs on a Pay-What-You-Want Basis?

Sioux City Kid at Great American Music Hall last night.

Great American Music Hall was about 90 people short of selling out last night for the CD release show of local roots-rock outfit Sioux City Kid. It was a big showing -- and for a lineup that consisted of three local bands, none of which have toured very far.

The music was good, too. Sioux City Kid sounds like a slightly less scary Tom Waits, but with the old-timey influences floating closer to the top. Singer Jared Griffin has a distinctly deep, gravelly voice, and the band -- which had seven members with the horn section onstage -- issued a tight, fluid take on the classic blues-rock sound that had those at front dancing through most of its set.

One thing that caught our attention at the show was the merch table. There, Sioux City Kid was offering its new album on CD. The price? Whatever anyone wanted to pay.

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Posting Copyrighted Music to YouTube Might Soon Earn You Jail Time

You might want to think twice before posting that video of your cat "dancing" to a Lady Gaga song. Not just because nobody wants to see it, but because it might earn you a few years in the Federal pen.

Yesterday the Senate Judiciary Committee recommended a bill for the Senate that would make it a felony to "make a public performance by electronic means" of a copyrighted work, i.e. illegal streaming of copyrighted material. This offense would carry the same penalty of illegal reproduction and distribution of copyrighted works: up to five years in prison, a fine, or both.

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The 5 Most Ridiculous Things Katy Perry Needs to Play Live


The Smoking Gun yesterday leaked excerpts from Katy Perry's 45-page 2011 tour rider -- the legal document that spells out all the things promoters need to provide in order for her to play live. The document includes dressing room decor requests, organic, dried, and frozen fruits (she is a "California Gurl," after all), a 23-item list of chauffeur instructions, and a highly questionable ticket reselling policy. Here are her five most ridiculous requests.

1. Her Dressing Room

Perry's dressing room must be draped in cream or soft pink, and include two egg chairs, one with footstool, in cream. We assume that she brings along her own bubblegum-scented air freshener.


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The Grammys Remove 31 Award Categories, Remain Utterly Irrational

A totem of absurdity

​You might think it irrational, pointless, and shallow to waste one's energy getting upset about music awards shows, but last February's Grammy Awards filled us with such bubbling rage, we almost threw the cat at the TV.

It wasn't Cee-Lo's chicken outfit that did it. It wasn't even Katy Perry on that goddamn swing or Barbara Streisand doing her best to bore us out of remembering what a valuable artist she once was.

No, our main beef initially lay with the fact that the Grammys were persisting with having both Song Of The Year and Record Of The Year awards. Which -- unless you are a crack-smoker -- are clearly the same thing. Was this some kind of elaborate hoax? An in-joke? Or just an evil plot to make the world feel like it was taking crazy pills? We didn't know, either.

Then, when both awards went to the same artist -- Lady-bastard-Antebellum, to add insult to injury -- it felt as if the Recording Academy was leaning down into our tiny, confused faces, cackling like a gigantic super-villain and just plain mocking us. We pledged, henceforth, to never pay attention to this silly awards ceremony ever again.

But, as we all know, "ever again" in music-blogger years is about seven weeks, so when the Grammy's announced yesterday that it's they were cutting 31 categories for next year's awards, we couldn't help but sit up and ask "Doesn't that only leave about nine?"

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Welcome to the Music Industry, 2011: Records Don't Sell, Touring Can Make Bank, and Major Labels Are (Mostly) Useless

For whatever reason, today seems to be the day that the music industry reminds us that it's still in total upheaval. Soundscan tells us that relatively few people actually bought music in 2010, unless they were fans of Eminem and Katy Perry. Dave Matthews spent the last 10 years collecting $500 million dollars from non-stop touring. And The Beatles get their iTunes royalties paid directly to them from Apple, which is unprecedented. Doom and gloom forecasts aren't new, but today's onslaught of news is proof that any effort to salvage the existing business model might ultimately be futile.

Sure, major record labels have been in decline for awhile, due to their inability to anticipate future industry trends. And independent artists have been finding new ways to subvert the majors every day. But this onslaught of news about the world's biggest musicians is a hefty reminder that major labels are only becoming more irrelevant by the day. Here's why:

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