What the f_ _ _ is up with the music biz?

Trying to thwart illegal downloads of her new album “American Life,” Madonna released decoy mp3s on file-sharing network KaZaA that, while the full length of a single, carried only the queen of pop’s voice, sneering, “What the fuck do you think you’re doing?” An annoyed hacker community told Madonna what they thought: one broke into her website and posted three mp3s of “American Life” songs and quipped “This is what the fuck I think I’m doing...” And dozens of remixes called cutups and mashups (set to trance, house, and techno beats) of Madonna’s tsk-tsking have been collected on various sites. Dmusic is holding a contest for best remix, offering “Boycott RIAA” t-shirts and stickers for prizes. The New York Times says that the publicity caused by these remixes can only boost sales of an album filled with such “joyless narcissism”: “Planned or not, it's the kind of free-range collaboration the Internet was made for.”

In other music news, a Spanish artificial intelligence company has stumbled onto a computerized hitmaking formula, they say. Polyphonic HMI’s “Hit Song Science” analyzed every song from the last five year’s Billboard top 30 for factors including melody, beat, harmony, pitch, octave, and timbre. Studying the data clusters, they realized they could compare unreleased songs to past chart-toppers and predict its popular success. Sound silly? Sony, RCA, and Universal (UK) have already signed on, and Hit Song Science accurately predicted the success of 8-Grammy winner Norah Jones.

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