Quick Hits: Jay-Z, Kanye West, Rihanna, Ne-Yo / Beyonce, Travis, The Voice, Slim Whitman
June 19, 2013

Does Jay-Z's deal with Samsung to give away a million digital, advance copies of his new album mean he will have an instantly platinum record? Not necessarily, as Billboard says it does not count "bulk sales" of albums towards the Nielsen SoundScan sales chart. Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the RIAA says that G&P certifications don't happen until 30 days after a release. Additionally, for albums to count towards RIAA certifications, they must be sold at at least one-third the suggested retail price. Jay-Z doesn't seem to be worried about the specifics, as he tweeted earlier this week, "If 1 Million records gets SOLD and billboard doesnt report it, did it happen? Ha. #newrules #magnacartaholygrail Platinum!!! VII IV XIII"

Kanye West is expected to tour behind his new album Yeezus, according to the album's co-producer Mike Dean. Dean took part in a Reddit AMA on Tuesday and said West would hit the road at some point for the new record and that he would be part of Ye's backing band. Dean also confirmed online reports that Yeezus has four, slightly different mixes, one for iTunes in the U.S., one for iTunes overseas, one for the physical release and another for Kanyewest.com.

Justin Bieber move over! Rihanna has taken the spotlight as YouTube's most-viewed artist. The shift happened in the early morning on June 18, reports Billboard. The 77 videos on Rihanna's official VEVO channel have a cumulative 3.784 billion views, surpassing Bieber's official VEVO channel by around two million views. The shift is due to Rihanna's higher channel subscriber base of 8.73 million, compared to Bieber's 4.9 million, which gives Rihanna a much farther reach to her audience.

Ne-Yo is up to quite a lot these days. Apart from supporting his last album R.E.D., his David Guetta/Akon single "Play Hard," signing new acts at Motown, guesting on Ciara's new "Body Party" remix, he's also been contributing material to new albums for Beyonce, Jay-Z and Celine Dion. "I'm still putting stuff together for Beyonce's album," he recently told Billboard. "They're still trying to figure out what they want that to be, which I'm not mad at. Beyonce's the kind of artist where you're not gonna see it till it's right. And her fans -- they love her so they'll be patient." Ne-Yo and Beyonce are best known for their work together with 2007's Hot 100 No. 1 track "Irreplaceable."

Scottish pop-rockers Travis return after a five year hiatus with a new album Where You Stand, due out August 20. The band also announced a 12 city U.S. tour, starting September 19 in Philadelphia. "It's a lovely life," reflects bassist Dougie Payne, "but when you do it relentlessly, there's a point when it snaps you. We decided to take a break to spend time with our families. You stay away as long as it takes" he said about the hiatus, "so you feel that hunger and desire to get back to it same as you did at the start." The video for the lead single and title track can be seen here.

Danielle Bradbery, age 16, won the fourth season of NBC's The Voice on Tuesday night. The Texas native stuck to what she knew best: singing Country songs. The approach worked in her favor, her vocal range was able to shine brightly from her song choices of the Buddy Holly-inspired "Timber, I’m Falling in Love," which she performed with her coach Blake Shelton, a reprise of her best-received number from earlier in the season, Pam Tillis' "Maybe It Was Memphis," and finished off with the upbeat "Born to Fly," a Sara Evans hit. Her version of "Born to Fly" hit #2 on iTunes after the show. Sales of iTunes tracks were counted as votes, and three of Bradbery's songs were in the top 11.

Country legend Slim Whitman has passed away at the age of 90 of heart failure in a Florida hospital today. The Tampa native performed his unique country style for 60 years. It wasn't until after World War II that he decided to make music his profession. Though he was well known in the U.S., Whitman was even more famous abroad; he was one of the most successful country performers in the UK, having earned several hits there. Whitman served as a source of inspiration for many performers that came after him, including Michael Jackson, Paul McCartney, and George Harrison having listed him as a favorite. Whitman's famous song "Indian Love Call" was comically featured in Tim Burton's film Mars Attacks!, in which the song was found to cause the invading Martins' heads to explode. Whitman's last album, Twilight On The Trail, was released in 2010. He is survived by a son and a daughter.

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Mark Adams
San Francisco

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