The Economy of Mixtapes: How Drake, Wiz Khalifa, Big K.R.I.T. Figured It Out (Listen)

The Heretic’s Comment: Aligned with Lil Wayne, the then-unsigned Drake, who’d spent the few years before releasing buzzy mixtapes (rapping over hits), unleashed his almost entirely original mixtape “So Far Gone.” He did so on his website, October’s Very Own, which quickly went into bandwidth overdrive. Reportedly, to date, there have been millions of downloads.

Drake — whose platinum debut, “Thank Me Later” (Young Money/Cash Money/Universal Republic), bowed atop the Billboard 200 the following year (July 3, 2010) — had redefined the mixtape model for the digital era. (He released three free songs through October’s Very Own as recently as last week, with second album “Take Care” due Oct. 24.) Far from its adolescent iteration, the mixtape-a compilation of music generally distributed outside of label purview-had evolved from a mere display of DJ skills to a promotional tool packed with exclusive freestyles to an actual album-before-the-album, one that could spawn chart-topping singles like “Best I Ever Had,” without labels at the helm.

In hip-hop today, free, original mixtapes have become standard. They’re offered on websites like DatPiff.com and LiveMixtapes.com, which have erased CD-peddling bootleggers from city street corners. DJs — like Doo Wop and DJ Clue — who once shouted over tracks on popular tapes like ’95 Live and Springtime Stickup, have been almost entirely weeded from the equation. And where MCs once hijacked beats from others to serve as the sonic quilt for their release, mixtapes have become a creative survival of the fittest. Rappers who dropped freestyle mixtapes can no longer show-and-prove through lyrics alone-original beat selection, artwork and overall artistry determine worthiness.

The original mixtape approach has also crossed genre lines. Artists in the R&B realm have likewise adopted the format, most recently The Weeknd and The-Dream with “Thursday” and “1977,” presented as a “free album.” Pop singers have even dabbled in mixtape releases. JoJo, whose label disputes have been made public over the past few years, dropped her debut mixtape “Can’t Take That Away From Me” in September 2010, while dance diva La Roux teamed with Major Lazer for May 2010′s “Lazerproof,” a collection of artist-approved original remixes.

http://www.billboard.biz/bbbiz/genre/randb-hip-hop/the-economy-of-mixtapes-how-drake-wiz-khalifa-1005361172.story

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The Official Release of the  “Before You Sign That” a is August 1, 2011. An indie artist inspired book Authored by The Heretic’s very own Leslie W. Cross Jr. and co-authored by platinum recording artist Paul Wall.  On May 1, 2011 pre-order your copy. More details coming soon. We are very excited about this Project!!!!

 

 

 

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Canadian Music Television Stations Denied Request To Play Less Music

The Heretic’s Comment: Canada‘s leading music television stations have been denied their request to broadcast less music programming, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), the public organization that regulates Canada’s broadcasting and telecommunications, has ruled.

Canada’s longest-running national music video station MuchMusic, which launched in 1984, and its older skewed companion MuchMoreMusic, won’t be able to decrease the amount of music or music-related programming it schedules, nor will the channels be able to cut the percentage of gross annual revenues they’re required to contribute to MuchFACT, the much relied upon organization that provides grants to eligible Canadian artists to produce music videos.

More than a dozen requests were filed by BellMedia on behalf of MuchMusic, MuchMoreMusic and MTV Canada. Most were denied – six for MuchMoreMusic (one granted); four for MuchMusic (one granted); one for MTV Group (three granted).

In recent years, criticism has been levelled at MuchMusic for increasingly broadcasting non-music, teen-directed TV shows. Current programming includes Gossip Girl, The Vampire Diaries, Degrassi, Pretty Little Liars, So You Think You Can Dance Canada, Secret Life, Silent Library, South of Nowhere, Teen Wolf, When I Was 17 and America’s Best Dance Crew.

 

http://www.billboard.biz/bbbiz/industry/tv-film/canadian-music-television-stations-denied-1005312522.story

 

 

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The Official Release of the  “Before You Sign That” a is August 1, 2011. An indie artist inspired book Authored by The Heretic’s very own Leslie W. Cross Jr. and co-authored by platinum recording artist Paul Wall.  On May 1, 2011 pre-order your copy. More details coming soon. We are very excited about this Project!!!!

 

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Indie Labels Calculate the Damage From Sony’s London Warehouse Fire

The Heretic’s Comment: As the United Kingdom endured another night of civil unrest and rioting yesterday, the country’s music industry begins to access the cost of the fire that destroyed Sony’s London warehouse on Monday night.

As previously reported, the three-story London warehouse, owned by Sony DADC, was destroyed during the riots that have enflamed multiple cities in the U.K. The building was the main warehouse for indie distributor PIAS and contained 3.2 million of its CDs and vinyl units, according to the Brussels-based company. XL Recordings, 4AD, Beggars, Domino and Rough Trade, were among the 150-plus indie labels whose stock went up in flames.

Although London was relatively trouble free last night, rioters ran amok in Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham and Nottingham, among other U.K. cities — causing millions of pounds worth of damage.

Sony DADC today issued a business continuity plan following the blaze, which has left hundreds of indie labels devastated. According to a statement released by PIAS, the company is “back up and running from a new control room in Enfield” – the London borough where the original warehouse was located.

“Sony DADC have identified a temporary distribution partner [yet-to-be-announced] and it is envisaged that they will be in a position to pick, pack and ship orders in the course of next week,” the statement continues.

 

http://www.billboard.biz/bbbiz/industry/indies/indie-labels-calculate-the-damage-from-sony-1005312342.story

 

 

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How Did Eric Church Get a No. 1 Album Without Any Hit Singles?

The Heretic’s Comment: It’s fair to say that Eric Church’s debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart with “Chief” this week was a little surprising, based on his good-but-not great chart history.

The self-defined “bad boy” earned his first No. 1 album with his third set, which launched with a career-high sales week of 145,000, according to Nielsen SoundScan. In doing so, he became the first core country artist to have a No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 without having had a No. 1 on the radio airplay-powered Hot Country Songs chart since back in 1994. That’s when Tim McGraw‘s “Not a Moment Too Soon” album hit No. 1 a week before his single “Don’t Take the Girl” reached the top of the country songs chart.

The achievement isn’t lost on Church. “The numbers are unreal,” he says. “People were looking at Kelly Rowland’s [new album's] numbers. All of a sudden, we blow by everybody and people were asking, ‘Who the hell is Eric Church and how did he sell this many records without No. 1 songs?’ ”

His having a No. 1 album without a No. 1 Country single is notable because radio airplay is the usual path to success for country acts. That’s not to say that Church hasn’t had radio hits, of course, but he hasn’t had a blockbuster No. 1 single yet — or even a top five hit — which makes his No. 1 achievement all the more remarkable.

However, Capitol/EMI Nashville president Mike Dungan thinks too much is being made about the disparity between Church’s radio track record and the big first-week album sales. He notes how his “spin-to-sale ratio is extremely high” — meaning that when his songs are played, consumers react with their wallets.

“When people hear him, they are immediately interested,” Dungan says. “There are a lot of No. 1 radio hits that are passive from a sales standpoint, but no one has ever accused Eric of making passive music. Listen to all three of his albums back-to-back and I think you’ll agree that there isn’t one artist working in this town who has made three records in a row that are this great.”

Church admits “Chief” has exceeded his expectations. “We played a lot of shows and we’ve made other records that people regarded well enough that they were going to buy this record,” he says. “There was excitement. I didn’t know there was this kind of excitement. I don’t tweet. I’m not a Facebook guy. I don’t do any of those things. To have this kind of success the first week, it’s about the music. [It is] really restoring my faith.”

The North Carolina native has gone as high as No. 10 on the Country Songs chart twice, with “Love Your Love the Most” in 2009 and last year’s “Hell on the Heart.” The 34-year-old’s latest single, “Homeboy,” the lead track from “Chief,” is backwards-bulleted (thus still gaining in airplay) at No. 15 on Hot Country Songs this week after earlier peaking at No. 13.

More incredibly, Church is the only core country artist to have a Billboard 200 No. 1 without having previously earned a top five single on Country Songs since way back in 1967. That’s when Bobbie Gentry’s “Ode to Billie Joe” topped the albums list on Oct. 14, 1967. Gentry’s only top 10 single came later in 1970, when “All I Have to Do Is Dream” reached No. 6.

While Church doesn’t have universal support across all of country radio, he does have vocal fans in the industry. “The [album's] sales just reflect what the fans already know,” says Nate Deaton, general manager at Empire Broadcasting’s KRTY in San Jose, Calif. “Since day one … we have believed in Eric Church. ‘Chief’ is a great project. [It's] not a record of three singles and some filler, it is a great album with a start, middle and end.”

“I think by and large country radio as a group has missed Eric Church,” Deaton continues. “Whether it be bias against different-sounding material or just that programmers don’t get the connection he has with fans, they are simply wrong.”

 

http://www.billboard.biz/bbbiz/genre/country/how-did-eric-church-get-a-no-1-album-without-1005305432.story

 

 

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Why Reggae Sumfest Is Jamaica‘s Most Commercially Successful Music Event

The Heretic’s Comment: With an impresseive lineup of nearly 50 reggae acts complemented by a few international guest artists, Reggae Sumfest reigns as Jamaica’s largest, most commercially successful music event.

Sumfest recently celebrated its 19th anniversary, July 21-23, at Montego Bay‘s Catherine Hall, with dancehall superstars Vybz Kartel and Mavado, original Wailer Bunny Wailer, and the iconic Beres Hammond who was honored for his 35 years of outstanding contributions to Jamaica’s music business

Sumfest’s special guest artist was Nicki Minaj (R. Kelly was scheduled to perform but canceled due to emergency tonsil surgery).  The event also had its biggest year in terms of sponsorship.

Sumfest’s best-attended night is consistently its Thursday Dancehall Night featuring almost 30 local dancehall deejays and drawing 12,000-15,000 patrons. Yet it’s the international acts, which have included Rihanna, Usher, Ne-Yo and Chris Brown that attract the vast corporate support, which is essential to Sumfest’s success.

“When we started in 1993 we hired vintage guest artists like the Temptations but we were struggling to survive so we changed course,” explains Johnny Gourzong, the Executive Director of Reggae Sumfest. “In 1998 we brought in Boys II Men who were very popular then; ever since we have featured young hip hop and R&B acts. Our sponsors wouldn’t support us like they do if it was only reggae acts because our artists perform too regularly down here.”

Created as a vehicle for stimulating tourism during the slow summer months, Sumfest pumps approximately $9 million into the greater Montego Bay economy, says Chairman Robert Russell. “Sumfest annually attracts 6,000 visitors to Montego Bay; hotels are filled, restaurants, bars and car rental companies do great business,” acknowledges Russell.

Sumfest 2011 drew approximately 30,000 patrons over three nights, notes Gourzong; 50,000 viewers logged on for Sumfest’s free live stream “Backstage Behind The Scenes” on ReggaeSumfest.tv and 3,000 have preregistered for the PPV On Demand Reggae Sumfest concert, available on August 5, says Sherra Pierre-March of Cbeanmedia.tv, Sumfest’s live stream partner.

This year Sumfest secured four Platinum sponsors each contributing services or cash equaling $150,000: Digicel telecommunications company, The Jamaica Tourist Board, Montego Bay’s Secrets Resort and Pepsi Jamaica. Sumfest’s Director of Marketing and Sponsorship, Marcia McDonnough successfully courted a younger demographic through a ten week marketing campaign on Facebook and Twitter, which appealed to their sponsors.

“Since we began targeting a younger market, Pepsi, for example, became more interested in Sumfest and they now spend more with us,” says McDonnough. Indeed, many young people, tweens as well as teens, turned out on Saturday July 23 to see Nicki Minaj who was later fined JA $1,000 (US $11.00) for using expletives during her short, partially lip-synched performance; Minaj had violated Jamaica’s Towns and Communities Act, which dates back to the British colonial era and penalizes “obscenity in a public place”.

For the first time Sumfest also recruited two Diamond sponsors whose individual contributions surpass the Platinum level: Iberostar Hotel, located just outside of Montego Bay, owned by the Mallorca, Spain based Grupo Iberostar, and Jamaica’s Red Stripe Beer. “There isn’t a set Diamond sponsor value, they contribute money but give much more in terms of support,” offers McDonnough. “Iberostar contributed about 150 complimentary rooms and Red Stripe provided much of the grounds’ infrastructure, with bars, skyboxes and an elevated air-bridge that wrapped around the stage from which select patrons could watch the show.”

Digicel, a Sumfest supporter for the past 11 years, sponsored the Sumfest side stage where lesser-known artists performed during the main stage’s intermissions. “Our sponsorship is based on the fact that reggae is so important to our customers,” explains Paula Pinnock Macleod, Digicel’s Sponsorship Manager. “Without sponsorship Sumfest couldn’t run so we are happy to play a part in it.”

Popular dancehall artist I-Octane’s association with Digicel secured the 2010 prime time Sumfest slot that propelled him into dancehall’s major league. Last summer he was the face of Digicel’s Next Generation campaign, their pre-Sumfest promotion; in October he signed on as the company’s brand ambassador.

“Before Digicel, I didn’t have the support to command a solid performance time and bring across my craft in the way I would like to. 2010 was like my first year at Sumfest, even though it was really my third,” said I-Octane. Greeted by a cacophony of vuvuzelas and bullhorns, I-Octane set Sumfest 2011 ablaze, literally; his fans approvingly held butane-fueled torches aloft and lit a massive, crackling bonfire in the center of Catherine Hall, its carrot-colored flames shooting some thirty feet into the air.

 

http://www.billboard.biz/bbbiz/industry/touring/why-reggae-sumfest-is-jamaica-s-most-commercially-1005305232.story

 

 

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The Official Release of the  “Before You Sign That” a is August 1, 2011. An indie artist inspired book Authored by The Heretic’s very own Leslie W. Cross Jr. and co-authored by platinum recording artist Paul Wall.  On May 1, 2011 pre-order your copy. More details coming soon. We are very excited about this Project!!!!

 

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Spotify U.S.: After the Honeymoon, Some Common Complaints

The Heretic’s Comment: After launching in the U.S. to great fanfare just over a week ago, Spotify’s honeymoon with the press may be fading.

While the initial reviews of Spotify from both tech and mainstream press outlets were overwhelmingly positive, almost fawning (the latter from those who seem to have missed the fact that subscription music services have been around in this country for years), several negative viewpoints have been rising to the surface, samples of which follow.

Perhaps the loudest is a scathing indictment from the Harvard Business Review, titled “Why I’m Not Going Near Spotify,” which mostly focuses on the subscription music model (rehashing the tired complaint about not wanting to “rent” music) that all subscription services share rather than focusing on any fault of Spotify’s specifically.  (The post seems to be part of a “he said-she said” package of opposing opinions, with the other, more positive write-up in the same publication titled “Why Spotify Will Kill iTunes.”

Another negative turn on the Spotify news is exemplified by an independent blogger out of China, who is a premium Spotify user complaining that only 30% of the service’s catalog is available in the higher quality 320 kbps. This guy really wants his higher quality streams, because in addition to the long and detailed blog post, he’s also directly sent inquiries to Spotify executives (including founder and CEO Daniel Ek himself) via Twitter and still hasn’t received an answer that satisfies him.

Finally, Slate (which in 2009 posted a story calling Spotify “The World’s Greatest Music Service”) now has problems with Spotify’s catalog of 15 million songs. The online magazine tried to find every artists included in a recent mix by remix artist Girl Talk. The results: 88% were available, 2% were available only as live versions, and 8% were not available at all.

“Perhaps tellingly, almost all of the missing songs are from established artists whose back catalogues are very valuable,” the review reads. “Spotify appears to be doing fine on the long tail; it’s the seminal albums by retired acts that you can’t count on.”

Are these negative reviews a sign of things to come, or just nitpicking efforts to post an against-the-grain story as linkbait for Web traffic? It’s too soon to tell …

 

http://www.billboard.biz/bbbiz/industry/digital-and-mobile/spotify-u-s-after-the-honeymoon-some-common-1005292102.story

 

 

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The Official Release of the  “Before You Sign That” a is August 1, 2011. An indie artist inspired book Authored by The Heretic’s very own Leslie W. Cross Jr. and co-authored by platinum recording artist Paul Wall.  On May 1, 2011 pre-order your copy. More details coming soon. We are very excited about this Project!!!!

 

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Boyz II Men Toast 20th Anniversary with New Album
The Heretic’s Comment: After 20 years, Boyz II Men haven’t reached the end of the road in their music career. In fact, the group is preparing to celebrate their milestone anniversary this fall with a new album, including reworked versions of their classic hits.
“Nothing too extreme or dramatic, but we’ve added a few things here and there,” says Shawn Stockman of their upcoming project.
Boyz II Men brought their Motown-Philly harmonies to the masses when they made their debut with “Cooleyhighharmony” in 1991; propelled by hits like “End of the Road” and “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday,” the Philadelphia-based group’s first album sold more than 9 million copies. Their sophomore CD, “II,” sold 12 million copies.
Stockman says the group – which originally included Wanya Morris, Nathan Morris and Michael McCary – had no idea how huge their achievements were.
“We were so busy just working … we didn’t think too much about how it would impact the world, which is probably a good thing, because it kept us sharp and kept us focused, even to this present day,” he said. “Looking back, it’s a great thing. It’s hard to talk about it because it’s something that we think it’s a great milestone in our careers, but we’re still hungry, and we still feel like we have so much more to contribute, musically and otherwise.”

http://www.billboard.com/#/news/boyz-ii-men-toast-20th-anniversary-with-1005283572.story

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The Official Release of the “Before You Sign That” a is August 1, 2011. An indie artist inspired book Authored by The Heretic’s very own Leslie W. Cross Jr. and co-authored by platinum recording artist Paul Wall. On May 1, 2011 pre-order your copy. More details coming soon. We are very excited about this Project!!!!

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Lady Gaga’s Website Hacked, Fan Info Stolen

The Heretic’s Comment: The official website of Lady Gaga has been hacked into and information on some of the pop singer’s fans has been stolen. The hacking incident occurred back on June 27, but it was only this week that the hackers, US cyber attacker SwagSec, made the incident public. SwagSec has actually given warning that they would hack into Gaga’s account, among others, when it successfully hacked into the the official website of Amy Winehouse just a few weeks ago.

Ugh, hackers are so annoying! Why is it that they are unable to get their voices heard except by doing something illegal, like hacking into people’s accounts? According to The Guardian, the main objective of SwagSec, a self-declared group of gay, black hackers, is to “take back the internet from the white devil.” Their main target seems to be the musicians of Universal Music.

According to a source, Lady Gaga is “upset and hopes police get to the bottom of how this was allowed to happen.” Of course she’s upset–who wouldn’t be?

Thankfully, although SwagSec did get ahold of some of Gaga’s fans’ info, the info was limited to names and email. While that’s bad enough–and certainly annoying for a lot of people–it could have been a lot worse. SwagSec could have taken confidential info, like financial info and passwords, but, thank goodness, none of that was compromised.

Lady Gaga’s record label, Universal Music, said “We take this very seriously and have put in place additional measures to protect personally identifiable information. All those affected have been advised.” The label contacted police yesterday.

Hacking is a very serious issue, and internet security is a very real concern for many. Everyone should take caution when releasing their personal info online. Once a person puts something out there, it’s really out there, and can be found by people who might not have the best intentions. It’s a good idea to limit the info you make available and to use strong passwords–and change them frequently. Unfortunately, even when a person does take every precaution, things happen. Even Lady Gaga and her fans have become victims to hacking

http://celebs.gather.com/viewArticle.action?articleId=281474979651606

 

 

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The Official Release of the  “Before You Sign That” a is August 1, 2011. An indie artist inspired book Authored by The Heretic’s very own Leslie W. Cross Jr. and co-authored by platinum recording artist Paul Wall.  On May 1, 2011 pre-order your copy. More details coming soon. We are very excited about this Project!!!!

 

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2012 NAMM Show‘s Hands-On Training Zone to Add Valuable Mini-Conference Presentations Examining Music and Media Technologies/Operations

The Heretic’s Comment: CARLSBAD, Calif., July 12, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — The National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) today announced that its Hands-On Training (HOT) Zone, which serves as an education center for pro audio, entertainment technologies and music business operations, will feature new mini-conference-style presentations that will run during all four days of the 2012 NAMM Show.

These compact events will offer keynotes, master classes and panel discussions, providing a concentrated look at basic and state-of-the-art technology and business niches such as audio recording technology and studio engineering that make up an increasingly important part of the music products industry. In addition, these mini-conferences likely will also include hands-on product displays and networking receptions.

“Most people attending the NAMM Show have a long list of things to do, manufacturers to see, or meetings to attend,” said David Schwartz, producer, NAMM Show HOT Zone. “We wanted to evolve this area in a way that values the time constraints of the attendees and allows for a deep understanding of the topics they want to master through a very concentrated and effective format.”

Some of the topics being developed into mini-conferences, as well as panels and master classes, include: Live Sound Engineering, Audio Recording Technologies, Studio Engineering, Social Media Marketing, Media Technology for Worship, DJ Operations, Audio Mastering, and Future Trends in the Business and Technology of Music Making.

Organizations that have already signed on to present sessions and mini-conferences include: Berkleemusic.com, SAE Institute, Ex’pression College for Digital Arts, USC Thornton School, MIDI Manufacturers’ Association, Scratch DJ Academy, The Music Player Network (Mix, Pro Sound News and Electronic Musician magazines), SPARS, Worship Musician magazine, Glow Marketing, Studioexpresso.com, TEC Foundation and the Moses Avalon Company.

“Providing relevant and high-value education programs to the thousands of pro-audio and live sound members of NAMM is one of our key objectives,” said Joe Lamond, president and CEO, NAMM. “The role of technology continues to expand and we believe that this unique educational opportunity at the 2012 NAMM Show makes attendance a must for anyone working in this important segment.”

The HOT Zone is a feature of the 2012 NAMM Show, which will be held at the Anaheim Convention Center, Jan. 19-22, 2012.

http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/2012-namm-shows-hands-on-training-zone-to-add-valuable-mini-conference-presentations-examining-music-and-media-technologiesoperations-125400653.html

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The Official Release of the  “Before You Sign That” a is August 1, 2011. An indie artist inspired book Authored by The Heretic’s very own Leslie W. Cross Jr. and co-authored by platinum recording artist Paul Wall.  On May 1, 2011 pre-order your copy. More details coming soon. We are very excited about this Project!!!!

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Rebecca Black to Self-Release New Single ‘My Moment,’ EP

The Heretic’s Comment: Rebecca Black is releasing a new single — her first since “Friday” became a viral sensation.

“My Moment” will debut on Black’s YouTube channel at 8:00 p.m. on July 18, as well as on the singer’s official website. The following day, the song will be available for purchase on iTunes and other online retailers.

Written by Brandon “Blue” Hamilton (whose credits included a track on Justin Bieber’s “Never Say Never: The Remixes”) and Quinton Tolbert and produced by Charlton Pettus (Tears for Fears, Hilary Duff), its accompanying video features footage of Black receiving an award at her junior high school and attending red carpet premieres to “tell the story of her sudden rise to fame,” according to a statement. “It’s a fairytale story, but it happened in real life.”

Black is also putting the finishing touches on a five-track EP, which she will self-release in August, foregoing the traditional route of signing with a label.

The release will cap off a tremendous year for the 14-year-old, who most recently scored a co-starring role in Katy Perry’s “Last Friday Night” music video. Black’s video for “Friday” surpassed Bieber’s “Baby” to become the most played YouTube clip of all time, with 167 million views and counting. YouTube removed the “Friday” video last month, “due to a copyright by Rebecca Black.”

http://www.billboard.com/#/news/rebecca-black-to-self-release-new-single-1005270572.story

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The Official Release of the  “Before You Sign That” a is August 1, 2011. An indie artist inspired book Authored by The Heretic’s very own Leslie W. Cross Jr. and co-authored by platinum recording artist Paul Wall.  On May 1, 2011 pre-order your copy. More details coming soon. We are very excited about this Project!!!!

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