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.

It's been a crazy-packed week of surprise singles, with new tracks dropping from Charli XCX, Mac Miller's first posthumous verse (with Anderson .Paak's Free Nationals) and country singer Sturgill Simpson's "The Dead Don't Die," a song he wrote

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.

As it has annually for 17 years, the Library of Congress picked out a wide-ranging set of recordings — songs, albums, speeches, monologues, field recordings and some very old phonograph cylinders — to add to the National Recording Registry, bringing the total number of works within it to 525.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify and Apple Music playlists at the bottom of the page.

Ryan Adams, a prolific singer-songwriter and producer who first rose to prominence in the early 2000s, has been accused by seven women of using his professional influence to lure them into sexual relationships, including one when the woman was a minor. The women's stories were first reported by the New York Times in an article published Wednesday evening; each claims that Adams, as a well-known musician, would suggest artistic collaborations as a way to pursue or preserve the relationships.

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.

This is NPR Music's live blog of the 2019 Grammy Awards. The telecast of the awards show is scheduled to run from 8:00 until 11:30 p.m. ET. We'll be here the whole time, updating this post with every award or performance.

21 Savage, the Atlanta-based rapper detained on Sunday by U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, has released a statement with details on his immigration status, characterizing his detention as baseless.

The statement, issued through five law firms and a management company, says 21 Savage, born She'yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, is from the United Kingdom, moved to the U.S. at the age of 7, and that he lost his legal immigration status in 2006, when he was barely a teenager.

Tekashi 6ix9ine, the colorful and controversial Brooklyn rapper who quickly rose to fame after the release of his song "Gummo" in October 2017, has pleaded guilty to nine criminal charges stemming from an indictment brought against him and four others — including his former manager, Kifano Jordan — last November.

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.

Updated at 5:00 p.m. ET on Wednesday

Quentin Tarantino is "a cretin," his films are "garbage" and the Oscars are "boring," the famed film composer Ennio Morricone ostensibly told the German edition of Playboy in an interview published online on Sunday. Except that Morricone — who won an Oscar for scoring Tarantino's film The Hateful Eight and whose early work Tarantino incorporated into previous films — didn't say any such things, according to the magazine.

Next year, Missy Elliott may become the first female rapper to be admitted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. She'd become only the third rapper to join the Hall's ranks — which number around 400 — following the induction of Jay-Z in 2017 and Jermaine Dupri last year. The Hall announced this year's nominees yesterday through the Associated Press.

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.

"Dear Mr. Trump: We write you on behalf of our client, Pharrell Williams, composer and performer of the hit song 'Happy.' On the day of the mass murder of 11 human beings at the hands of a deranged 'nationalist,' you played his song 'Happy' to a crowd at a political event in Indiana.

"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.

When T Magazine profiled the French artist Sophie Calle in April 2017, she appeared to be pregnant. Calle was 63 then, and the writer, Mary Kaye Schilling, admitted to being surprised at the sight of the artist's swollen belly. A pregnancy would have been more than possible, as an Indian woman proved a year before Schilling showed up on Calle's doorstep.

In 2014, Cohen surprised the Manhattan audience of a closed listening session of Popular Problems, his newest album at the time, by popping in not to sing, but simply say hello and look at everyone like they were aliens. At the time, I remember thinking that everything seemed to be a Very Serious Lark to Leonard.

Two years later, Cohen died. But just before that, he had put the finishing touches on a final book, The Flame, which was released on Oct. 2. It comes with an audio version of the works inside it, read by stars of film and literature.

Billy McFarland, a co-founder of the schadenfreude-rich, hospitality-poor debacle known as the Fyre Festival, has been sentenced to six years in prison and three years on probation; he also will have to pay restitution of just more than $26 million. Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald presided over McFarland's sentencing in the U.S. Southern District Court in Manhattan on Thursday.

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame announced its 2019 nominees on Tuesday, and in what has become an annual tradition, the list came with the Hall's usual heap of opacity and a dash of acrimony.

One nominee has already been inducted, two are receiving their fifth nominations, and one previously said it would decline the honor before changing its, ahem, tune on Tuesday morning.

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