Weekly music agenda: MIDEM registration, The Met in HD, ABBAWORLD

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The Independent Culture

The latest broadcast in the Metropolitan Opera's Live in HD series, Offenbach's Les Contes d'Hoffmann, plays in theaters worldwide December 19. Coming in January: the MIDEM conference arrives in Cannes, France, and ABBAWORLD debuts in London.

The Beatles USB drive on sale
December 7

Beatles music label Apple Corp Ltd. and EMI Music will release thirty thousand apple-shaped USB drives, each loaded with the re-mastered audio of The Beatles' 14 stereo albums. Selling for $279.99, the drives will also come loaded with the remastered CDs' visual elements, including 13 mini-documentary films, replicated original UK album art, rare photos, and expanded liner notes. The drive will be available December 7 (December 8 in North America).

Vevo launch date
December 8
Vevo, the music video site developed by Universal and Sony in conjunction with Google, will launch its YouTube-powered service on December 8 in the US and Canada. An alternative to sites such as Hulu, YouTube, MySpace Music, and MTV, Vevo is intended to become an online destination for all videos owned by the labels involved. The high-quality video clips will be free to view, with revenue likely to come from high-priced advertising on the site. For international launch dates, stay tuned at the Vevo website.

Avatar: Music from the Motion Picture

December 14

The score album for Cameron's upcoming film Avatar comes out internationally December 14 (December 15 in the US). The album features music composed and conducted by Titanic composer James Horner, plus the film's title song, "I See You," performed by Leona Lewis. Avatar will be out in theaters worldwide the week of December 16. The soundtrack is available for pre-order at AvatarScore.com.

Alicia Keys: The Element of Freedom
December 15

Twelve-time Grammy Award-winner Alicia Keys will release The Element of Freedom (MBL/J Records), her fourth studio album, on December 15. The album includes the singles "Try Sleeping With A Broken Heart" and "Doesn't Mean Anything," a solo version of "Empire State of Mind," which Keys previously sang with Jay-Z, and "Put It In A Love Song," a duet with Beyoncé. Also collaborating on the album is the rapper Drake, for the track "Un-thinkable (I'm Ready)."

The Met's Les Contes d'Hoffmann in theaters worldwide
December 19

Now in its fourth season, The Met: Live in HD transmits live performances by the Metropolitan Opera in high definition to theaters around the world. On Saturday, December 19 at 1:00pm EST, the Met will transmit its fourth Live in HD broadcast of the season, Offenbach's Les Contes d'Hoffmann, to hundreds of movie theaters in more than 40 countries. A full list of participating theaters is on the Met Opera website.

Eminem's Relapse: Refill
December 21

Eminem will release Relapse: Refill on December 21 on Aftermath/Interscope Records (US) and Polydor (UK). The album is a re-release of his fifth studio album, Relapse, including seven bonus tracks. New songs on the album include the single "Forever," featuring Drake, Kanye West, and Lil Wayne, "Taking My Ball," and five never-before-heard tracks. Eminem has sold more than 75 million albums worldwide. The long-awaited Relapse was his first album to be released since 2004's Encore, which has sold more than 11 million copies.

MIDEM reduced registration
Through December 31
Cannes, France

The next MIDEM (Marché International du Disque et de l'Edition Musicale) is scheduled for January 24-27, 2010. Through the end of 2009, reduced registration is available for €825 rather than the full advance-purchase price of €1,025. The world's largest music industry trade fair, MIDEM has been held in the South of France each year since 1967. Musicians, administrators, recording engineers, policy makers, journalists, and other professionals from across the music industry gather at the event to discuss musical trends and products. MidemNet, a separate conference that opens a day before MIDEM, focuses on multimedia outlets and the online marketplace.

New Year's Eve
December 31

Musical events to ring in the New Year can be enjoyed from home or at venues around the world. An annual performance by the Vienna Philharmonic is broadcast in more than 50 countries, and Japan's Red and White Song Festival airs internationally by NHK and select cable channels. From New York, Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest airs on ABC-TV, and NBC's New Year's Eve with Carson Daly airs on NBC, CNBC, MSNBC, and Bravo. Among confirmed concerts worldwide: Mariah Carey at New York's Madison Square Garden, Lady Gaga at Miami's James L. Knight Center, and Ministry of Sound Presents at London's O2 Arena. To stay informed of concerts, keep an eye on artists' websites or on ticketing sites like ticketmaster.com and livenationinternational.com.

SXSW reduced registration
Through January 15
Austin, Texas, USA

The annual South by Southwest Music and Media Conference & Festival gathers members of the international music, film, and interactive media industries in Austin, Texas, for a weeklong convergence of ideas and talent. Founded in 1987, the music event attracts nearly 12,000 attendees; the film and interactive components, added in 1994, attract approximately 17,000 registrants. SXSW 2010 is scheduled for March 12-21. Through January 15, badges range from $475 to $675 for single festivals (music, film, or interactive). Gold and platinum badges, priced at $675 and $1050, allow entry into multiple events. After January, costs will rise by $25 to $75 per badge.

January 27
London, UK

An interactive exhibition devoted to the Swedish pop group ABBA and backed by the band opens at Earls Court in London on January 27. ABBAWORLD includes 25 rooms of music, footage, images, and memorabilia from the personal collections of the band members. Among interactive activities: fans can get up on stage with 3D holograms of the band, take an ABBA quiz, join a sing-and-dance-along, and see themselves in an ABBA video. ABBAWORLD organizers say the exhibit will visit other major cities following its London residency. Founded in 1970, ABBA has sold nearly 370 albums worldwide. Exhibit ends March 26.
For tickets: http://www.livenation.co.uk

Grammy Awards celebration
January 31
Los Angeles, USA

On January 31, the Recording Academy will award the best of music at the 52nd annual Grammy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles. Awards are given in 31 fields, including pop, rock, and classical, as well as in four "general" categories unrestricted by genre: Album of the Year, Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best New Artist. This year's nominees include Beyoncé, The Black Eyed Peas, Lady Gaga, Dave Matthews Band, ACDC, Taylor Swift, and newcomers MGMT and The Ting Tings. For updates and breaking news from the nominations concert and awards show, visit the Recording Academy's social networks on Twitter and Facebook.