Brian on CNN

Screened: 9 January 2000

WorldBeat

Music and Internet Crossing Paths in New Millennium; Guitar Wizard Brian May Discusses Royal Sounds of Queen; Grammy Race Gets Underway

Aired January 9, 2000 - 0:00 a.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. For Brian May LINK HERE

BROOKE ALEXANDER, HOST: Hi, I'm Brooke Alexander with WORLD BEAT. Welcome to a new musical millennium.

Coming up, music technology, the future is here.

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SARAH MCLACHLAN, MUSICIAN: For album of the year, the nominees are...

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ALEXANDER: The Grammys, the nominations are here. The ax man cometh in the form of Queen's Brian May. And Algerian excellence from Cheb Mami. New technology is changing the way music is recorded, received and retailed. More and more music is becoming available over the Internet and more and more people are downloading it. From MP3 to DVD, the changes provide new opportunities for new artists and new challenges for record labels.

A special report now from our technology correspondent, Allison Tom.

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ALLISON TOM, WORLD BEAT (voice-over): 1999 was a record year for music and the Internet. MP3, the ever popular compression format for transmitting audio files over the Internet, became mainstream. British rock star David Bowie released his entire album, called "Ours," over the Internet weeks before it appeared in traditional retail stores.

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Brian Adams, "Summer of '69"

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TOM: Then there was Net Aid, the benefit concert for Third World countries sponsored by the United Nations. From the $12 million raised, an initial $1 million will be donated to people in need. And in the next millennium, even within the next few years, rapid growth in technology and the Internet will have an even greater impact on the music industry as a whole.

JASON OLIM, CDNOW: The Internet has really changed the way people learn about and discover and experience and buy music.

TOM: In 1999, music fans spent about $850 million on CDs bought over the Web. By the year 2003, that number is expected to grow to about $4 billion. Companies like Mp3.com and Emusic.com allow users from around the world to download songs to their personal computers, most of them for free. The MP3 revolution has given a tremendous amount of exposure to lesser known artists.

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Mike Oldfield, "Tubular Bells 3"

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TOM: But technology has also become a beneficial tool for well known global musicians like "Tubular Bells" rock star Mike Oldfield.

MIKE OLDFIELD, MUSICIAN: Now with the Internet it's total anarchy. I mean it's very bad news for record companies but it's great news for, you know, throwing caution to the wind, doing what the hell you feel like and seeing what's going to come out of it, you know? I'm, you know, I tend to do that every seven years. I'm like a snake, I shed my skin and I just reinvent myself, you know? And I think the music industry does need to reinvent itself.

TOM: Other composers like Peter Zizzo say they're more concerned about the quality over the quantity of music that's become available online.

PETER ZIZZO, MUSICIAN: There's good and bad things about technology. I'm glad that it's there. I just hope that there's always room for musical people, you know, people that have a true ability to create something melodically, chordally and lyrically that raises the bar rather than lowers it.

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The Artist, "The Greatest Romance Ever Sold"

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TOM: The artist former known as Prince says he uses the Internet as a way to promote his music and to connect directly with his fans.

THE ARTIST, MUSICIAN: What I use the Internet for is to communicate with people who dig my music and let them dictate what it is that I put in the albums. I've done albums the conventional way, con being the key word there. So I wanted to do something that was more interactive. TOM (on camera): One issue that still needs to be addressed, copyrights to music that's digitally downloaded online. The Recording Industry Association of America has come up with one idea to combat piracy. It's called the Secure Digital Music Initiative or SDMI.

HILARY ROSEN, CNN INTERACTIVE CORRESPONDENT: It's an effort by over 120 technology and music companies to try and work together to create the legitimate music marketplace for consumers.

TOM (voice-over): SDMI will focus on security issues as well as making sure consumers get the actual product they ordered online. But others in the music industry are skeptical, saying such a set of standards may not be effective.

MIKE GREBB, "BILLBOARD" MAGAZINE: You've just got a lot of people that have to get together and agree on something and that's always a challenge. I wouldn't say that it's definitely not going to work. There certainly are a lot of people out there that are fearful of it from the standpoint that they're worried the record companies are going to exert too much power over the flow of digital information.

TOM: Currently, major record labels are tapping into the Internet, primarily using it as a promotional device for artists.

ROSEN: Technology used to be really ancillary to music. It was always sort of the vehicle to amplify. But today it's the vehicle to distribute, the vehicle to play with it, to interact with it. Technology has had a whole host of sort of overriding changes for music itself.

TOM: Other changes could potentially give musicians from all parts of the world more control of their music and their fans.

GREBB: Artists are going to have a lot more power in the future over their own music and this goes not only for the big bands and the big acts but for the small ones that haven't been discovered yet.

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David Bowie, "Thursday's Child"

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TOM: But for artists like David Bowie, who have already experimented with technology and the Internet, there's no telling what the future will bring.

DAVID BOWIE, MUSICIAN: It's very hard to actually foresee accurately what's going to happen with the Internet because because it's growing exponentially you really have no idea how wide the parameters are going to get in any given time.

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ALEXANDER: We will take a short break, but we'll return with an extended version of "The Beat," looking at this week's Grammy nominations. And, we'll meet Brian May, whose distinctive guitar style is behind unforgettable hits like this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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Top Ten:

10. BRITNEY SPEARS, "Baby One More Time" 9. BRYAN ADAMS, "The Best of Me" 8. ALANIS MORISSETTE, "Unplugged" 7. GEORGE MICHAEL, "Songs From the Last Century" 6. QUEEN, "Greatest Hits III" 5. METALLICA, "S&M" 4. ANDREA BOCELLI, "Sacred Arias" 3. CHER, "Greatest Hits" 2. SHANIA TWAIN, "Come On Over" 1. CELINE DION, "All the Way--A Decade of Song"

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ALEXANDER: The third volume of "Queen's Greatest Hits" has recently followed its two predecessors to chart across the world. Freddie Mercury's charismatic vocal presence was accompanied by the ever present wizardry of Brian May's guitar. Our "Flip Side" team met with Brian at his home studio near London and talked about life after Freddie.

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Queen, "The Show Must Go On"

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BRIAN MAY, MUSICIAN: "The Show Must Go On" is written as a collection, which is a Queen song because we decided to credit everything to Queen after all. But that's kind of, that, I regard that as my baby because most of that I wrote with Freddie sitting right here and it was a great experience because Freddie at that time wasn't really able to or willing to expose himself in terms of lyrics except at certain particular instances. And he knew about this idea. He knew that it related to the way we felt about him.

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Queen, "The Show Must Go On"

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MAY: When I sang the guide vocal for Freddie -- and most of it I had to sing falsetto because I couldn't sing that high -- and I was going to Freddie, is this OK? And he downs a vodka and goes into the studio and just nails it. And I think it's one of his finest performances ever, the original version of "The Show Must Go On."

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Queen, "The Show Must Go On"

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MAY: We had the idea to remix "Under Pressure," which is the song we did with David Bowie.

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Queen and David Bowie, "Under Pressure (Rah Mix)"

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MAY: When we came to make the video, we had the opportunity to do something different and we were thinking what can we do here? And what it begs is to have something live and we suddenly realized we have live tapes of "Under Pressure." We have Freddie singing it. That's when he sang it, you know, one of the last times we ever did the song. We also had Bowie singing it at the tribute to Freddie. One was in the darkness and one's in the light, but with modern video technology, digital stuff, you can do that stuff.

So Freddie and Bowie are there next to each other, which is something which had been, would have been great to see on stage but you can only see it in this video.

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Queen and David Bowie, "Under Pressure (Rah Mix)"

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MAY: I don't really visualize Queen without Freddie, to be honest. No. I think I more visualize turning over a page and there he is again, like, oh, hi, Fred, you're back. Great. OK. Let's just get on with it. I think we all live in this kind of strange place because he seems very much alive.

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Queen and George Michael, "Somebody To Love"

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MAY: I think it's nice to do one offs and Elton and George Michael are both great singers and great personalities. And I think if you speak to them, they would feel the same, to try and recreate something which had a wonderful moment and is gone I think is a mistake.

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Queen, "Bohemian Rhapsody"

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MAY: I think "Bohemian Rhapsody" is a great piece of work and it's really all Freddie's thing. It's Freddie's baby more than anything else and whatever was in his mind at that point was something pretty bizarre. And I feel very proud of it as a piece of work and I was very happy to see it voted as the song of the millennium. We went and received our award for that, which is very nice. That was in a poll in England. I don't know if that happened elsewhere. And we were voted sort of the number two group to the Beatles, which is lovely, you know, over the last thousand years.

Roger and John and I are very good friends still and socially we're probably better friends than we ever were. But we like, we all like to do things in a different way now. You know, we were part of this great team for all those years but there's a certain benefit in not being in a team in that way anymore and I think we've all found our freedom to an extent since Queen was no longer a going concern.

The nice thing about Queen is that Queen never got old. I'm getting old, but Queen doesn't get old.

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Queen, "These Are the Days of Our Lives"

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ALEXANDER: Queen was nominated for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year, but surprisingly didn't make the cut.

This week the nominations for the Grammys were revealed and Serena Yang was in Los Angeles to cover the event for WORLD BEAT.

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SERENA YANG, WORLD BEAT (on camera): Thanks, Brooke.

Well, the 42nd annual Grammy race is officially underway with this week's announcement of the nominees for the award show's top categories.

(voice-over): A star-studded lineup of artists named the nominees for 13 of the award's most notable categories and it was a morning of surprise for many of the announcers themselves.

ROZONDA "CHILLI" THOMAS, TLC: For best new artist, the nominees are Christina Aguilera, Macy Gray.

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Macy Gray, "I Try"

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MACY GRAY, BEST NEW ARTIST NOMINEE: I'm having a ball. I'm really excited and just to have my first record nominated is amazing. I'm pretty blown away. CHRISTINA AGUILERA, BEST NEW ARTIST NOMINEE: I was thrilled. I was shocked, first of all, you know, because I'd only had one song out this year, "Genie In A Bottle," barely going on my second single, "What A Girl Wants" and I couldn't believe that that's all it took.

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Christina Aguilera, "Genie In A Bottle"

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MARTINA MCBRIDE, BEST FEMALE COUNTRY PERFORMANCE NOMINEE: For song of the year, the nominations are "I Want It That Way" by Backstreet Boys, songwriters Andreas Carlson (ph) and Max Martin, "Livin' La Vida Loca" by Ricky Martin, songwriters Desmond Child (ph) and Robbie Rosa (ph).

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Ricky Martin, "Livin' La Vida Loca"

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DESMOND CHILD, SONG OF THE YEAR NOMINEE: We tried to create a unique song, a new sound for the new millennium because it has elements of Latin music, of arena music, of swing, of bebop, of hip hop.

MCLACHLAN: For album of the year the nominees are The Backstreet Boys for "Millennium," Dixie Chicks for "Fly," Diana Crowe (ph) for "When I Look In Your Eyes," Santana for "Supernatural" and TLC for "Fan Mail."

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TLC, "No Scrubs"

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YANG: R&B trio TLC earned six nominations, but the highest scoring artist this year is Carlos Santana, who earned 10 nominations, including categories for album of the year and record of the year.

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Santana with Rob Thomas, "Smooth"

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MICHAEL GREENE, RECORDING ACADEMY PRESIDENT: Carlos Santana, of course, has been an inspiration for many, many years for so many musicians and for him to have 10 nominations this year, it really speaks volumes about the fact that there's a real diversity that exists in music these days.

YANG: WORLD BEAT will continue to follow the awards process and we'll bring you a special report from the Grammy awards ceremony here in Los Angeles in February.

I'm Serena Yang handing you back to Brooke in New York.

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ALEXANDER: The music of North Africa meets Western pop, when we return for an "Inside Track" with a mega star of Algerian rai, Cheb Mami.

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ALEXANDER: Rai has been called the blues of North Africa, a rhythmic blend of Arabic and Western music. French Algerian artist Cheb Mami is taking rai even further, fusing it with rap, Latin and even techno. He has topped the charts in Europe and he has recently completed a duet with Sting.

"Inside Track" presents Cheb Mami.

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Cheb Mami, "Meli Meli"

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CHEB MAMI, MUSIC: Rai music was born in Algeria in the 1920s. It was a music sung by women and later developed by the chebs (youth).

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Cheb Mami, "Meli Meli"

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MAMI: At first, it was a little difficult because the authorities said rai music was vulgar because we used simple words, words from the street.

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Cheb Mami, "Parisien Drug Nord"

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MAMI: It wasn't poetry or some beautiful life. Instead we sang about our daily life.

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Cheb Mami, "Parisien Drug Nord"

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MAMI: The music has succeeded in reaching even beyond the Arab world, and now they say it is part of our culture -- before they were saying just the opposite.

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Cheb Mami, "Azwaw 2"

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MAMI: As an Algerian I was very shocked to see my country plunged into horror, but as a singer it was a combat. Every time I did a concert and saw the youth carrying the Algerian flag. It was like a resistance. Algeria is fighting against its pain and unhappiness, against people who wanted to kill it.

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Cheb Mami, "Mama"

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MAMI: The concert drew 80,000 people. It was the return of rai to Algeria.

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Cheb Mami, "Mama"

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MAMI: It was more than a concert, it went beyond music. From a symbolic point of view it was Algeria that was waking up, living again.

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Sting with Cheb Mami, "Desert Rose"

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STING, MUSICIAN: Well, you know, he is one of the biggest stars in France. It's quite easy to discover him. He's all over the plate. But he's not very well known in America and he should be. He's an extraordinary singer, a very gifted singer.

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Sting with Cheb Mami, "Desert Rose"

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MAMI: I was very flattered by his proposition because for me, it's Sting.

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Cheb Mami, Unidentified Song MAMI: I know rai very well, but if I said I didn't want to mix it with other music, then I would be alone in my corner. I prefer to be open toward other musical styles.

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Cheb Mami, "Mama Rose"

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ALEXANDER: That's it for this edition of WORLD BEAT.

Next week we will introduce a new segment to our show called "Cyberbeat," reflecting some of the advances in music technology.

From me, Brooke Alexander in New York City, we leave you with an impromptu private performance from Cheb Mami and friends.

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