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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.

Leon Redbone, the perpetually anachronistic, famously mysterious artist who rose to prominence as a performer on Toronto's folk circuit in the early '70s, died Thursday while in hospice care in Bucks County, Pa.

Redbone's family confirmed his death through a publicist. No cause was given, and Redbone's age was a subject of speculation for decades.

Earlier this week, a large group of successful songwriters sent Daniel Ek, the co-founder and chief executive of Spotify, a short and pointed letter in which they wrote of being "hurt and disappointed" and accusing Spotify of having "used us and tried to divide us."

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.

Updated 4:31 p.m. ET: An initial statement by 21 Savage's legal team mischaracterized the rapper as having been released from ICE detention. His representatives clarified to NPR that he was granted bond ahead of release.

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.

Chris Brown, who was arrested along with two other individuals earlier this week in Paris following an accusation of rape, is said to be countersuing his accuser for defamation. All three were released on Tuesday, and appear to have stayed in the city since the accusations became public.

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

On Friday, the Recording Academy announced its nominees for the Grammy Awards, which will be held on Feb. 10.

Kendrick Lamar, who helmed the Black Panther soundtrack, leads this year's field with eight nominations; Americana artist Brandi Carlile surprised with six nominations, including in the categories of album and record of the year. Country artist Kacey Musgraves earned four nominations, for album and country album of the year. Previous Grammy favorite Taylor Swift was shut out from all categories except best pop vocal Album for reputation.

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."

Malcolm James McCormick, the chart-topping rapper known as Mac Miller, had fentanyl, cocaine and ethanol in his system at the time of death on Sept. 7, according to Los Angeles County's Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner.

"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.

The "whistling" of the Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctica's largest, is beautifully eerie. It's also potentially a divining rod for changes to shelves' composition that can be monitored in real time.

Geoff Emerick, an audio engineer best known for his work with The Beatles, died Tuesday at his home near Laurel Canyon, Calif., due to complications related to his pacemaker. Emerick's manager, William Zabaleta, confirmed his death to NPR. He was 72.

Emerick had been in the hospital two weeks prior after experiencing trouble walking, but was ruled to have been dehydrated.

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.

On Tuesday evening, the Music Modernization Act (renamed the Orrin G. Hatch Music Modernization Act at the 23rd hour — in honor of the retiring Utah politician who also happens himself to own a platinum record), was passed unanimously in the Senate, as it was earlier this year by the House. In an age where political and artistic consensus is increasingly found only in cultural warrens populated by the like-minded, the bipartisan support of the bill is perhaps a small beacon of unity. (But still.)

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.

Walking through the warm, vanilla hallway of Grand Central Terminal, I tried to enter a barricade when an army sentry — helmet, muted green-and-sand uniform, a pistol and a big machine gun — said it was the wrong entrance. "This is for the artist — go down, take a left and stick to the wall."

The cause of the surprising January death of Dolores O'Riordan, singer of Irish band The Cranberries who rose to fame in the '90s with a string of radio hits including "Zombie" and "Linger," has been determined. London Inner West coroner Dr. Shirley Radcliffe found O'Riordan's death to have been an accident, caused by alcohol intoxication and drowning.

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.

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.

"Today is the day you've been waiting for," R. Kelly claims in an Instagram post Monday morning in which he directs his followers to listen to a new, 19-minute song titled "I Admit," in which the singer obliquely or directly addresses allegations levied against him over the past year.

For some years now, citizens of the U.K. have turned music chart manipulation into a cheeky tradition, the idea being to select a song and, largely through grassroots online campaigning (helped along by media coverage, like this very article), to make it the most popular song in the country. Past attempts include driving "Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead" to the top spot on the singles chart following Margaret Thatcher's death — it reached No. 2.

Richard Swift, a highly regarded producer and solo artist, died early Tuesday morning in Washington state. His death was confirmed by a manager, Adam Katz, but no cause of death was given. He was 41 years old.

A crowdfunding campaign was created last month on Swift's behalf to help pay for treatment of a "life-threatening condition," the details of which were not shared.

Moog, the legendary synthesizer designer and manufacturer based in North Carolina, is the latest American company to sound an alarm over increased operation costs.

Joe Strummer's barn has been raided.

The enfant raisonnable of U.K. punk's first wave — who with The Clash (like many lumped into it) broke from a retroactively applied punk orthodoxy to explore sounds from any and everywhere — is getting an everything-and-the-kitchen-sink treatment for the many reels of unreleased tape he had archived in his barn.

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