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Relaunch Monday 3/30: Jay-Z's Tidal gets the thumbs-up from Taylor Swift, T-Mobile

Earlier this month, Shawn Carter (a.k.a. Jay Z) bought lossless music-streaming service Tidal—as part of a $56 million acquisition of Swedish company Aspiro—and the platform already finds itself in a sea of activity. Taylor Swift has made her back catalog available to Tidal subscribers, each of whom currently pays $20 per month to access more than 25 million tracks in the 16-bit FLAC format at a bit rate of 1,411Kbps.

Swift giving Tidal access to her catalog is definitely a big deal, but not surprising in the least. Her gripe with streaming is limited to ad-supported freemium services like Spotify, and her work continues to be available through a number of paid on-demand streaming platforms, including Rdio, Rhapsody, and Beats Music.

Kanye West and Damon Dash Confirm Purchase of Online Streetwear Retailer Karmaloop

On Monday, news broke that 15-year-old streetwear retailer Karmaloop was forced to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after falling into millions of dollars worth of debt. The online destination stocked hundreds of brands, including Billionaire Boys Club, New Balance and Dimepiece LA, and gave up-and-coming labels in the streetwear space a platform to sell their wares inside its Kazbah marketplace.

As soon as word started to spread about Karmaloop's dire straits, rumors began to swirl that fashion enthusiast Kanye West and entrepreneur Damon (aka Dame) Dash (Jay Z's former manager and partner at Roc-a-Fella Records) were interested in purchasing the site. Turns out, they were true. Through a series of Instagram videos posted on Dash's account on Thursday, the newly minted business partners announced that the Karmaloop deal is done. In the caption, Dash shouted out publications like WWD, Vogue, The New York Times and Vanity Fair, which suggests that the duo is looking to take the site in a more fashion-forward direction.

Willie Nelson plans to open marijuana dispensaries across the United States

Ask Willie Nelson about his love of marijuana and he will likely direct you to his memoir, the awesomely titled Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die: Musings From the Road. That, or he'll delightfully tell you about that one time he smoked pot on the roof of the White House. Soon enough, the legendary singer-songwriter will have something new to boast about: his very own brand of weed.

Yes, after being a longtime proponent and enthusiast of marijuana, Nelson is looking to get into the business of actually selling it. The product is called Willie's Reserve, and it could be available to the public as early as 2016. It will also be distributed through physical stores, which Nelson and his family hope to open up across the US in states that've legalized marijuana. (For reference, Colorado's estimated legal weed market is expected to reach $1 billion next year. Whew.)

Taylor Swift outguns PewDiePie for YouTube subscriber growth

Taylor Swift's withdrawal from Spotify last year hogged plenty of headlines, but her rapidly-growing subscriber totals on YouTube has been more under the radar. Yet it's well worth following, because Swift isn't just signing up more new subscribers than her musical peers – she's now outgrowing the biggest star of all on YouTube: gamer PewDiePie.

According to the latest monthly 100 Most Subscribed YouTube Channels chart published by industry site Tubefilter based on data from analytics firm OpenSlate, Swift's Vevo channel added just under 725k new subscribers in February this year, ahead of PewDiePie's 705k and The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon's 623k.

ASCAP Elects Board of Directors

ASCAP, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, the world leader in performing rights and advocacy for music creators, today released the results of its biennial election for the Board of Directors. ASCAP President and Chairman of the Board Paul Williamsannounced the twelve writer and twelve publisher members elected to serve on the Board for a two-year term beginning April 1st, 2015.

Selling Songs for a Song? Scrutinizing the Streaming Model

How much is one play of a song really worth?

Ever since streaming service Spotify AB put a number on that—around seven-tenths of a penny—the music industry has debated whether the figure is fair.

A look at royalties in the digital age shows that, while Spotify's compensation falls short when compared with income from compact-disc spins, the company outperforms when it comes to passing along revenue more broadly. Perhaps more importantly, an inspection of the numbers highlights how streaming's impact on piracy could eventually steer more cash to everyone.

Sacha Baron Cohen to star, write, produce and direct Freddie Mercury biopic

It has been confirmed that Sacha Baron Cohen will play Freddie Mercury in a Queen biopic.

The British actor - famous for his controversial roles as Ali G, Borat and Bruno - will also produce, write and direct the film, according to the band's manager Jim Beach.

Beach announced the news on Thursday night at the Artist & Management Awards at London's Troxy.

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SoundCloud for Desktop Goes Flat: New Design is Live

Out with the old and in with the new. Ever since SoundCloud redesigned its iOS and Android app last year, with the fresh, modern, flat design, it seemed the desktop site had been left in the dirt and forgotten.

With a new update, the site gets some welcome flat design tweaks, with some nice additions adding to the functionality.

Rebel Heart a commercial flop? Madonna’s new album is her worst-selling release in 20 years

Madonna's latest album Rebel Heart opened to the singer's worst sales week in more than two decades, and the results were even worse for week two.

Rebel Heart, the pop star's thirteenth studio album, sold 116,000 copies in its first week of release. For comparison, her previous album, 2012's MDNA, debuted with 359,00 copies sold. In fact, you have to go all the way back to 1994's Bedtime Stories to find a Madonna album that sold less albums in its first week of release. Rebel Heart is also the first of her albums not to debut at No. 1 since — yes, Bedtime Stories.

This week's sales numbers were even worse. Only 22,800 copies of Rebel Heart were sold over the last seven days — a drop in sales of 80% — plummeting the album's chart position from No. 2 to No. 22.

Vine Courts The Embed With High Res Video

Vines just got bigger with a higher quality video upgrade today. A new post on the company blog announced a technical change that allows Vine users to upload the higher-resolution 720p HD video to the app. That's a significant improvement from the 480p resolution.

Video is increasingly viewed on mobile devices and across the web. Facebook rolled out the ability to embed video on other sites this week. As this Pricenomics survey clearly shows, BuzzFeed and other online media sites heavily rely on content from Instagram videos — and Vine wants (more of) that action. Instagram video, by comparison, plays in 640×640 standard definition resolution.

Dance music service Beatport finally launches an app

Beatport has served as one of the major destinations for DJs to stock up on tracks for years, but it's watched the smartphone revolution come and go without a single interesting move — until now. The site, owned by EDM event heavyweight SFX Entertainment, is launching an app for iOS and Android that offers access to Beatport's recently launched free streaming service. Additionally, the app has Beatport Shows — basically a calendar of EDM events that has integrated ticket purchasing, linking the app into SFX's bread-and-butter-business — and Beatport Live, a livestreaming service for DJs that also aggregates social activity from the genre's stars.

Beatport Launches Free Streaming Music App for Mobile

Beatport, the one-stop music store and streaming service for DJs and EDM junkies, has released the company's first-ever mobile app for iOS and Android devices. The app gives users access to Beatport's free streaming service, with its millions of songs, plus charts, playlists and other new features including a souped-up events calendar.

JEFF the Brotherhood on How to Get Dropped From a Major Label and Still Succeed Without Really Trying

In January, I received an email from Warner Bros. Records announcing the release of Wasted on the Dream, the new LP by Nashville fuzz-rock duo JEFF the Brotherhood. I was psyched. Composed of brothers Jake and Jamin Orrall, JEFF the Brotherhood specializes in hooky parking-lot jams that cut booming power chords with sweetly cooed whoa-oh-ohs in the choruses. The band's best albums — 2009's Heavy Days and 2011'sWe Are the Champions — are basically an even split between Black Sabbath and "Blue Album"–era Weezer. Music that feels like washing your car in the driveway on the first warm day of spring seemed awfully appealing when that press release arrived in the dead of winter. I immediately contacted the publicist and asked for a promotional copy.

Universal loses digital artist rights case in Finland - more major lawsuits to follow?

A court in Finland has ordered Universal Music Group to remove two 1970s albums from local rock band Hurriganes from online services, ruling that the artist's historical contract does not cover modern digital usage.

Two sons of late Albert Järvinen, the guitarist in Hurriganes (pictured), won the case in Helsinki Market Court, which ruled that Universal was not entitled to make the recordings available to the public through the internet, as the rights were only granted with regard to physical phonograms.

Diddy Invests In Picture Messaging App Pleek, Built For Generation Selfie

As social media continues to come up with new and weird ways to give us dopamine hits — the latest is the resurgence of live streaming apps — a new startup has come up with yet another take on it all.

Pleek, is a new picture messaging app that allows users to communicate via images, and has launched on Android and iOS.

The France-based startup has somehow managed to attract some celebs including Nicki Minaj, Karim Benzema, and Vine sensation, Jerome Jarre.

Earth to the US Music Industry: 99.9% of your revenues now come from Digital sources

Let's just be honest. If there were any industry that prefers to deny reality it is the music industry.

There may be no greater evidence of the claim above than the following statement from Cary Sherman, Chairman and CEO of the RIAA:

"The music business continues to undergo a staggering transformation, one embraced by the music labels we represent. Record companies are now digital music firms, earning more than 2/3rds of their revenues from a variety of digital formats." (the link in the press release heads to Why Music Matters, for no apparent reason).

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