Music: Sleeve Notes

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The Independent Culture
WILL THE Spice Girls continue to rule the airwaves? Only in divided form, it would seem... The quasi-chanteuse Mel B is preparing for a solo album, with Mary J Blige and the Artist (formerly known as blah blah blah) rumoured to be on the recording docket. Ashley Newton, president of Virgin Records, could not confirm any collaborations, but said that everyone who had been approached had replied with a resounding "yes".

DISTRIBUTION VIA cyberspace is the preferred choice of the rappers Public Enemy. The group, long-standing supporters of Web distribution, have split from Def Jam and announced that they will release their next album on the Internet. The Public Enemy website is using the successor to the MP3 digital delivery format, MP4, and includes Chuck D comparing the music industry's Secure Digital Music Initiative with slavery.

NOT THAT the Internet will long be an idyllic place. Starting this month, "street teams" will be blasting off into cyberspace. In other words, Loud Records' marketing people will be breaking into chat rooms and websites and promoting their artists. "Now [we] can bomb the Internet," said Randy Weiner, Loud Records' executive producer for new media. Street teams have helped turn Loud artists such as the Wu-Tang Clan and Big Punisher into some of hip hop's biggest stars.

AS IN film, so in music. Not. The music label DreamWorks, a spin-off from the Spielberg company, is fast getting a reputation as the label that encourages creative spark over commercial success, with its label poster artists such as Elliott Smith and the Eels topping best-of lists without any sales-related headlines.

THE LONDON dance station Kiss 100FM is rumoured to be following the loss of 18 employees, including its best-known presenter, Steve Jackson, with changes to its specialist slant. Will it go the same way as Xfm? No, says Simon Sadler, head of music, who is eager to counter claims of a move to make Kiss pop-oriented. The changes have seen classics reintroduced, underground dance music removed and more computer-selected music in late night/ early morning slots.