Andrew Flanagan

The country-pop record company Big Machine Label Group, one of the most successful independent labels in the country — and the longtime label home of megastar Taylor Swift — has been sold. It was purchased by Ithaca Holdings, an umbrella company owned by Scooter Braun, the manager of Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande, among others. According to anonymous sources quoted by The Wall Street Journal, the deal is valued at more than $300 million.

After 18 years, Apple is killing iTunes — well, sort of. The media management software for most Mac users (and many Windows users) is being broken into separate pieces for separate uses: Music, podcasts and television will soon have their own apps on the new Catalina Mac operating system.

Apple announced the move on Monday along with new hardware, including a new Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR, and entertainment and lifestyle features.

Roger Charlery, best known as Ranking Roger, singer of the widely influential U.K. group The Beat — known as The English Beat in the U.S. — died Tuesday afternoon, at 56. The singer was diagnosed with brain tumors and lung cancer last year. His death was announced on the website of The Beat, and confirmed to NPR by the group's manager, Tarquin Gotch.

On Sunday night, the 61st Grammy Awards telecast did its best to balance several requirements — making amends to an entire gender, widening its palette of winners and honorees, and doing its best to award those who are affecting the mainstream now, not five years ago. Within the narrow lens of prime-time awards shows, it seemed to make some progress on each count, without drifting too far from its comfort zone.

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame announced its newest class of inductees Thursday, one year to the day after the 2018 class was announced. From 15 nominees, seven remain. Here they are, in alphabetical order:

  • The Cure
  • Def Leppard
  • Janet Jackson
  • Stevie Nicks
  • Radiohead
  • Roxy Music
  • The Zombies

Pete Shelley, the Manchester-born co-founder, singer and guitarist of the influential British punk band Buzzcocks, died Thursday in Tallinn, Estonia, at the age of 63.

The news was confirmed, "with great sadness," by the band's publicist. A cause of death was not provided.

A preview screening and discussion of the upcoming Lifetime documentary series Surviving R. Kelly — in which accusers "and people from R. Kelly's inner circle," according to a description of the project, make new allegations against the singer — was evacuated on Tuesday evening, after multiple anonymous threats were called in to NeueHouse, the Manhattan venue hosting the event.

In the afterword to Absolutely on Music, a book of conversations between novelist Haruki Murakami and the conductor Seiji Ozawa — who has won practically every major award there is for his work — Ozawa observed of the writer: "I have lots of friends who love music, but Haruki takes it way beyond the bounds of sanity."

"Society, have mercy on me / I hope you're not angry if I disagree," go the closing lines of "Society" — a three-chord folk song written by Jerry Hannan. Last week, amidst a contentious midterm election season, two aspiring politicians in Vermont performed the song as an elegant aisle-crossing and a rare cross-party collaboration.

Earlier this month, British pianist James Rhodes received a notification from Facebook. A short video he had recorded and uploaded of himself playing a passage of Bach's Partita No. 1 had been flagged by Facebook's copyright identification system as belonging to Sony Music, resulting in 47 of the video's 71 seconds being muted.

"Stop being a**holes," Rhodes tweeted in response.

Satellite radio giant SiriusXM is buying the Oakland, Calif.-based digital radio company Pandora in an all-stock deal valued at $3.5 billion, the companies announced Monday. The deal is expected to close in early 2019.

The merger would create "the world's largest audio entertainment company," SiriusXM CEO James Meyer said in a conference call. The deal would still need to be reviewed by antitrust regulators and shareholders, he added.

Pyotr Verzilov, a prominent member of the Russian art and activist collective Pussy Riot, is suspected to have been poisoned in Moscow on Tuesday, according to the group and local media.

Two days ago, on Monday, police in Uganda fired upon protesters who were demonstrating against the detention of Robert Kyagulanyi — a lawmaker better known as the musician Bobi Wine — and others.

This week, two individuals became the focus of global celebration following an unlikely and joyous confluence of circumstances.

The viral story went that two elderly men escaped their care facility to attend a metal festival in northern Germany (or, as one headline put it: "Elderly Men Escape Retirement Home to Go RAGE!!").

Except they weren't, and they didn't.

Vivendi, a French media conglomerate that is the parent company of the world's largest record label, Universal Music Group, announced during its half-year financial review that it plans to sell up to half of the share capital of the label group. UMG is the parent company is several noteworthy labels, including Capitol Music Group (and its landmark Los Angeles tower), classical label Deutsche Grammophon and the pop powerhouse Republic Records.

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