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The Rolling Stones made headlines this week after inking an exclusive recording deal with Universal Music. This has prompted speculation that the Stones are planning to leave longtime label EMI, which is restructuring under new ownership. This would be one of many big name acts rumored to be headed for the hills, including Coldplay and Robbie Williams. Paul McCartney and Radiohead have already fled, and the potential loss of the Stones catalog could cost EMI over $6 million. New CEO Guy Hands refuses to express concern, but Jim and Greg predict that the music industry may come down from the six major labels it had at the turn of the century, to only three.

Singer/songwriter John Stewart passed away earlier this week at the age of 68. Stewart penned The Monkees' classic tune "Daydream Believer," but many listeners may not know about the huge song catalog he left behind. He recorded nearly four dozen solo albums and helped to create what we now know as "Americana." In addition to influencing artists like Lucinda Williams, Steve Earle and Roseanne Cash, he was idolized by Lindsey Buckingham, the Fleetwood Mac member who teamed up with him and Stevie Nicks for Stewart's hit single "Gold."

Go to episode 113

Music News

First up in the news is the report that both the House and Senate have reauthorized the Higher Education Act with new provisions that essentially make colleges akin to cops. The bill requires universities to implement tougher traffic filtering technologies in order to deter p2p filesharing. Jim and Greg think any attempts to deter filesharing will be as effective as attempts to curb cheating, binge-drinking and plagiarizing.

Jim and Greg recently spoke with Big Champagne's Eric Garland about artists benefiting from filesharing and album-leaking. Labels have now caught on, but they don't want you to know it. When a track from the forthcoming Buckcherry album was leaked on the internet, the band and its label were quick to complain. But, according to a Wall Street Journal article, they were the source of the leak. It's an old PR stunt for the hip hop world, but now mainstream, albeit“boneheaded”acts like Buckcherry have caught on. Get ready for more faux file-leaking sob stories.

In other music news, music retailing giant iTunes may be getting some competition soon. Amazon launched a digital music service less than a year ago and has yet to make a dent in that market. Now the website has teamed up with MySpace to offer music fans a way to sample and then purchase individual songs and albums. The tracks will be DRM-free, and users won't have to launch a separate application to purchase music. Jim is quickly running to add the Amazon CEO as his MySpace friend.

There's never enough Abba on Sound Opinions, so we were excited when the Swedish pop quartet appeared in the headlines. The band's greatest hits album Gold recently went to #1 in the U.K., breaking the record for the oldest band to ever hit the top of the charts. The reason for the resurgence is the release of the movie Mamma Mia, but hopefully the legacy of the band will not be tarnished by the film.

Frequent chart-topper Chris Brown is also making news this week. His hit single "Forever" has made it to the Top 10 , but little did fans know it was written as a Wrigley gum jingle. For a long time artists have lent their music to advertising companies, but as far as Jim and Greg can tell, this is the first time a song was developed initially as an ad campaign. Is it just a chicken/egg argument? Or does the commercial intention matter to a song's integrity? Let us know what you think.

The final discussion in the news is about the proliferation of '90s nostalgia in the music industry these days. Alternative-era artists like Smashing Pumpkins, Liz Phair and Sonic Youth are all drawing from their former glory days and cashing in. Jim believes such nostalgia is anathema to the alternative philosophy, and doesn't think touring behind one singular album is much better than a greatest hits concert. Greg is surprised that Jim is surprised, citing the Sex Pistols' 1996 tour as the day he gave up on any notion of rock-era integrity.

Go to episode 141