Andrew Flanagan

The country-pop record company Big Machine Label Group, one of the most successful independent labels in the country — and the longtime label home of megastar Taylor Swift — has been sold. It was purchased by Ithaca Holdings, an umbrella company owned by Scooter Braun, the manager of Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande, among others. According to anonymous sources quoted by the Wall Street Journal, the deal is valued at more than $300 million.

After 18 years, Apple is killing iTunes — well, sort of. The media management software for most Mac users (and many Windows users) is being broken into separate pieces for separate uses: Music, podcasts and television will soon have their own apps on the new Catalina Mac operating system.

Apple announced the move on Monday along with new hardware, including a new Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR, and entertainment and lifestyle features.

Roger Charlery, best known as Ranking Roger, singer of the widely influential U.K. group The Beat — known as The English Beat in the U.S. — died Tuesday afternoon, at 56. The singer was diagnosed with brain tumors and lung cancer last year. His death was announced on the website of The Beat, and confirmed to NPR by the group's manager, Tarquin Gotch.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify and Apple Music playlists at the bottom of the page.

On Sunday night, the 61st Grammy Awards telecast did its best to balance several requirements — making amends to an entire gender, widening its palette of winners and honorees, and doing its best to award those who are affecting the mainstream now, not five years ago. Within the narrow lens of prime-time awards shows, it seemed to make some progress on each count, without drifting too far from its comfort zone.

Pete Shelley, the Manchester-born co-founder, singer and guitarist of the influential British punk band Buzzcocks, died Thursday in Tallinn, Estonia, at the age of 63.

The news was confirmed, "with great sadness," by the band's publicist. A cause of death was not provided.

A preview screening and discussion of the upcoming Lifetime documentary series Surviving R. Kelly — in which accusers "and people from R. Kelly's inner circle," according to a description of the project, make new allegations against the singer — was evacuated on Tuesday evening, after multiple anonymous threats were called in to NeueHouse, the Manhattan venue hosting the event.

In the afterword to Absolutely on Music, a book of conversations between novelist Haruki Murakami and the conductor Seiji Ozawa — who has won practically every major award there is for his work — Ozawa observed of the writer: "I have lots of friends who love music, but Haruki takes it way beyond the bounds of sanity."

"Society, have mercy on me / I hope you're not angry if I disagree," go the closing lines of "Society" — a three-chord folk song written by Jerry Hannan. Last week, amidst a contentious midterm election season, two aspiring politicians in Vermont performed the song as an elegant aisle-crossing and a rare cross-party collaboration.

Earlier this month, British pianist James Rhodes received a notification from Facebook. A short video he had recorded and uploaded of himself playing a passage of Bach's Partita No. 1 had been flagged by Facebook's copyright identification system as belonging to Sony Music, resulting in 47 of the video's 71 seconds being muted.

"Stop being a**holes," Rhodes tweeted in response.

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