Friday, June 29, 2007

snapshot 6/29/07

Prince's free album causes storm with retailers
U.S. rock star Prince is to give away his new album for free with a U.K. tabloid newspaper, weeks before its official launch, in a move that has caused dismay among music retailers. The Artist formerly known as Prince should know that with behaviour like this he will soon be the Artist Formerly Available in Record Stores," he said, referring to a period in the 1990s when the funk star, born Prince Rogers Nelson, famously stopped using his name.

Netflix prepping cheap set-top boxes for your living room?
We've heard talk of a Netflix set-top box before, and while those "end of the year" rumors (as in 2006) didn't exactly pan out, it looks like the company is still keen on the idea, at least according to an individual who claims to have participated in a recent focus group on the subject. Supposedly, Netflix demoed two different boxes that stream content from the company's "Watch Now" service via an Ethernet or wireless connection, each of which were apparently still in rough prototype form. The only difference between the boxes, it seems, is added Component and HDMI connections on the $100 "Enhanced" model, as opposed to just Composite and S-Video on the standard $50 model, although there isn't any actual HD content (at the moment) to stream to either of 'em.

Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of iTunes 7.3

  • As expected with the addition of iPhone support, an “iPhone” tab now appears in the iTunes Preferences pane:
  • Another subtle difference that can be observed when downloading podcasts or iTunes Store purchases is that a setting to “Allow Simultaneous Downloads” has now been added to the bottom of the Download screen:
  • Perhaps one of the biggest new features is that as of iTunes 7.3, you can now stream photos to your Apple TV from any iTunes library in your house. When connected to an Apple TV in streaming mode, it will now appear in the iTunes source list in much the same way as it does in synchronization mode, except that only a Summary and Photos tab will appear:

'F*cked' record companies in 'cataclysmic' meltdown – manager
If Ford's revenues were down 40 per cent, the shareholders would be revolting," said Tim Clark, former Island Records MD and co-founder of management company IE Music, whose roster includes Robbie Williams.

Said Kennedy: "At one time, artists would work and perform live for a low price to drive records sales. Now that records sales are damaged they are trying to drive ticket prices higher - and there's a kickback. This shows the overall ecosystem is severely damaged. Damage to one part of the industry has an impact on another.", Capitol Enter Virtual Pact
Starting July 10,, a video-game-like, avatar-filled fantasy domain that has been described as a PG-13 version of the popular Second Life, will launch The Tower, a new nightclub that will host musical performances. The first performance by a Capitol artist is scheduled for that launch, as the rapper MIMS - or a virtual version of him - will perform and interact with fans. At least five such appearances are planned over the next several months, according to There creators Makena Technologies.During each live virtual show, fans can also purchase both virtual and real world band-related items, ranging from virtual band t-shirts to actual CDs. There will also place a variety of interactive kiosks throughout the world where users can also purchase such products.

On the Web, EMI to Offer More Choices
EMI Music and Snocap are to announce today that Snocap will sell the label’s music in its MyStores, online shops that can be added to various sites on the Internet. Snocap’s MyStores would be placed on the Web sites of EMI artists like Korn, Suzanne Vega and Yellowcard, as well as on artists’ MySpace pages. Fans would also be able to place MyStores “widgets” on their own sites and MySpace pages, although Snocap would still control sales.

Jobs hints at wireless music downloads on the iPhone
That changed today when Apple CEO Steve Jobs dropped ever-so subtle hints that the iPhone may download music wirelessly and accommodate work-friendly applications in the near future. "There are a lot of things you can imagine down the road," Jobs said when asked if over-the-air music will ever be a reality. Granted, that not an admission, but it's not a denial either.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

snapshot 6/28/07

Hollywood tries to get a grip on iPhone's impact;_ylt=AqsJ1pu5b3q9ABhx_UUQKVBkM3wV
But Hollywood and other entertainment providers will be looking for more than sales: They'll be watching for signs of the next mobile revolution. "It is a paradigm shifter," says John Latona of Nielsen BuzzMetrics, which has monitored online chatter about the iPhone. "The launch itself has transcended whether this is a business or entertainment device."

That could mean new customers for the iTunes store, which stocks more than 5 million songs, 350 TV shows and 500 movies. IPhone users interested solely in music can load 800 or more songs onto the device.

Hanging up on ringtones,,2112665,00.html
With the market for downloadable over-the-air content flat, operators and music companies are looking to other ways of making money from mobiles, says Adam Webb. "I think the ringtone business is in peril now because the operators have allowed into the market mobile phones which can sideload MP3s and use them as ringtones," says Andrew Bud, executive chairman of mBlox and vice-chairman of the Mobile Entertainment Forum.

Internal Apple Stevenote: iPhone, iPods with OS X, and "off the charts" Macs in the pipeline
He then expanded upon OS X, and what it means for the business. There is one OS group that does Mac OS X for the Mac and the iPhone, as well as "some iPods we're working on." Could it be that the next major revision to the iPod video will, in fact, be a widescreen iPod similar to that of the iPhone?

A Longer Look at the Long Tail
• TAIL WAGS THE DOG? Our “Long Tail” thesis argues that digital technology and economics are loosening barriers to entry in video production. This augurs a material increase in video content supply from many sources, which could lead to slowing growth for incumbents and a shift in value from content creators to aggregators/packagers.
• USER-GENERATED CONTENT (UGC) NOT LIKELY A FAD. Text-based UGC (e.g., blogs/social networks) already accounts for at least 13% of Internet traffic and continues to grow unabated. Also, our online video survey finds that UGC is the No. 1 and No. 2 most popular content category among men aged 18-34 and all respondents, respectively.
• “PARADOX OF CHOICE” SHIFTS VALUE TO MIDDLE OF SUPPLY CHAIN. Increased video content supply could lead to lower user satisfaction, given cognitive dissonance due to regret, confusion, etc. Therefore, we submit that new aggregation vehicles will emerge to solve this conundrum, as search engines did in the text-based Web, which is where the vast majority of value accrued.
• CONTENT ISN’T KING, GREAT CONTENT IS. The problem with the “content is king” axiom is that no one company has proven capable of consistently creating only great content, as evidenced by fluctuations in TV ratings, box office per film, etc. In addition, while entertainment firms are focused on “digital,” this revenue stream will likely remain small relative to overall sales for the foreseeable future. The risk is that, as with newspaper companies, strong digital revenues do not offset decelerating growth in core revenue streams.

DVD-CCA to allow CSS in DVD burning
fter a series of false starts, DVD burning has cleared its last technical hurdle, smoothing the way for movie download services and DVD kiosk companies to offer on-demand disc burning using CSS copy-protection technology.
The DVD Copy Control Assn., the administrator of CSS, approved a final amendment last week clearing the way for burning. The group is expected to finalize the language of the amendment next week, making the change effective immediately. Movie download services will then be able to offer downloads that can be burned to DVD and played in set-top DVD players, a move that is expected to make downloads more appealing to consumers.

Meebo introduces “partner” rooms, featuring music industry
Meebo, a web service that lets you use different instant messaging services from a single page, has been busy working to monetize their month-old IM chat room feature. The service is intended for general use, although Meebo has announced an impressive list of musicians and labels that have jumped on the bandwagon (see the lengthy list below). But for these partners, there’s one big obstacle to making money from the Meebo service: Many of these artists carry their chats on musician-popular MySpace, and that site doesn’t allow advertising.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

snapshot 6/27/07

iPhone may not rock music industry;_ylt=AvcMZ.p76LYYVsmf5FISJQFkM3wV
But Gomez says he won't buy the handset because users can't use it to buy and download music over a wireless network. Instead, iPhone owners will have to buy music via their computers and then download it to their phones, a process called side-loading.

About 4 percent of all mobile phone users in the U.S. and 27 percent of those with MP3-capable handsets side-loaded music onto their phones in the first quarter of this year, according to a survey by research firm The NPD Group. In contrast, just under 1 percent of all wireless subscribers and nearly 6 percent of those with music-player phones downloaded music over-the-air in the same period, the firm said.

Sales of Digital Music Players Fall
As financial reports this week from two major U.S. electronics retailers made clear, there has been an across-the-board slowdown in sales of digital music players. After a period of phenomenal sales growth, nearly one in four U.S. households now own one of these devices. The relatively high percentage means digital music players are nearing a saturation point.

Music player sales are also being cannibalized by surging interest in cell phones with music players, says Ross Rubin, director of consumer technology industry analysis at the NPD Group. "We're still seeing sales growth of about 20 percent this year," said James McQuivey, an analyst with Forrester Research "But it won't be what it once was."

Wednesday Business Links
Album sales were down 7% last week and were 5% lower than the same week last year. For the year, album sales are down 15%. That's a two-point improvement in just two months. Sales of digital tracks rose 2% for the week and were 44% higher than the same week last year. For the year, digital track sales are up 49%. Two months ago, digital tracks were up 52% for the year. Three months ago the number was 53%. One might find it odd that album sales are improving against last year's pace while digital track sales are worsening against last year's pace.

Imagine selling music through digital radio
SoC designer, Imagination Technologies has announced a collaboration with UBC media to develop a system to provide DAB listeners with the ability to purchase music direct from their digital radios.

Report: one-third of all home networks used for entertainment
Consumers are starting to use home networks for more than sharing an Internet connection and sending files between PCs on the network, according to a new study by Forrester Research. One-third of all home networks are now used to stream music, movies, TV shows, and other media throughout the home. Although some of those surveyed said that wanted to stream photos and video across the network, the biggest reason for creating the network (aside from sharing a broadband connection) is to stream music or connect a console. PC To Mobile Content Sharing
Cellfish Media, a spin-off company from media company Lagardère (publisher of Elle magazine) has launched , a social network and destination portal centered on users sharing music, videos and art between their PCs and mobile devices. aims to tackle the issue of being able to share mobile entertainment while retaining the use of such content regardless of handset upgrades or changing service providers. Users are able upload content and display it on their personal Cellfish pages and their cell phones, then share that content with friends from a mobile device or PC. The portal provides multiple content options including free for download and premium paid offerings on top of user generated content.

Next-generation Zune "Scorpio" set for July production?
According to a super-secret, top level official inside Microsoft's megaplexing-hyper-bunker in Redmond, the Zuneinites are readying an 80GB Zune 2.0 called the "Scorpio", which will be a companion to the also-rumored 4GB or 8GB flash-based "Draco". The rumor additionally proffers that production on the Scorpio will begin towards the end of July, although we can't recommend any fancy breath holding. The diabolical naming convention apparently stems from the original Zune codename "Argo" and its WiFi component, called "Pyxis."

iPhone facts from the first reviews
  • The mobile version of OS X or whatever it is the iPhone runs takes up 700MB of the device's capacity.
  • There's no way to cut, copy, or paste text!
  • No A2DP support (Advanced Audio Distribution Profile), which defines how high quality audio (stereo or mono) can be streamed from one device to another over a Bluetooth connection - for example, music streamed from a mobile phone to a wireless headset.
  • Sorry, music can't be used as a ringtone -- even if it's just a raw MP3. No additional ringtones will be sold at launch.
  • On a PC the iPhone syncs with Outlook for calendars AND addresses!
  • It supports MS Exchange in some capacity, according to Walt, but he doesn't exactly say how.
  • Pogue again confirms document file reading -- but not editing -- for PDF, Word, and Excel (only).
  • Adobe Flash support is officially out. It's just not in the browser. Neither is there any other kind of embedded video support.
  • It will take snaps, but won't record video.
  • Oh, and no MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service). And sorry, no voice dialing, either.
  • Contact groups can't be emailed as contact lists.
  • Apple sez between 300-400 charges the iPhone will lose battery capacity -- you'll send it in and get the cell replaced for a fee.
  • Apple can (and supposedly will) be rolling out periodic updates -- no surprise there.
  • Battery life is, somehow, almost as mind-blowingly good as Apple claims for calls, music, and movies.
  • As we suspected, users are prompted with lists of WiFi networks if you're not nearby a trusted hotspot. We've seen this on other phones, and we're afraid this would get friggin annoying.
  • For secure Internet access, iPhone supports industry-standard Wi-Fi security and virtual private networking (VPN).
  • Windows 2000 (SP4), Windows XP Home or Professional (SP2), and Windows Vista.
  • Audio formats supported: AAC, Protected AAC, MP3, MP3 VBR, Audible (formats 1, 2, and 3), Apple Lossless, AIFF, and WAV
  • Video formats supported: H.264 video, up to 1.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pixels, 30 frames per second, Low-Complexity version of the H.264 Baseline Profile with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats; H.264 video, up to 768 Kbps, 320 by 240 pixels, 30 frames per second, Baseline Profile up to Level 1.3 with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats; MPEG-4 video, up to 2.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pixels, 30 frames per second, Simple Profile with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats
  • Well, MacRumors is speculating Ringtones on one of them, and we think they're right. After all, we photographed a Ringtones tab during the iPhone's MacWorld debut. They're reporting that the unreleased iTunes version 7.3 -- listed as a requirement on the iPhone specs page -- will introduce a steep, $0.99 ringtones service to create your own 30 second ringtone from available iTunes (store) tracks. No word on whether it will work with tracks you already own.

    Netflix turns on star power in DVD rental war;_ylt=Ai5XnD4zAmsJCJufH5y4Ib9kM3wV
    Netflix Inc has become a Hollywood player, turning to star-studded promotions and teaming with A-list actors on movie projects to raise itself above a cluttered market for online movie delivery. Netflix, best known for pioneering DVD rentals by mail, also owns a content acquisition arm called Red Envelope Entertainment. The unit, formed in 2006, has been buying up small films to bolster an 80,000 title DVD library and expects to own rights to nearly 200 movies by year's end.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

snapshot 6/26/07

Study: iPhone for Apple, not music lovers
A new study released Monday suggests that very few consumers use mobile phones to play musical tracks, and that Apple's iPhone is unlikely to fuel a resurgence in mobile music. "While the iPhone could raise consumer awareness of, and interest in, music phones from other manufacturers and mobile operators, it is more likely to attract a unique market segment, hard for competitors to emulate," research director Joe Laszlo said. "Apple fans and status seekers will rush out for a first generation iPhone; music fans will probably wait a while."

National Day of Silence for Internet radio
If you try to “tune in” to many Internet radio stations and online music services today, and hear nothing, here’s why: protesting against an impending royalty rate increase that, if implemented, would lead to many services having to shut down, webcasters across the US are holding a national Day of Silence.

As well as smaller webcasters, many big name stations and music services have joined the protest, including Yahoo!, Live365, Rhapsody, MTV Online, and Pandora.

Does a move to online singles liberate bands or just tie them to a new, barren orthodoxy?,,2111516,00.html
According to the press release, it's all about blazing a trail for a "radical new music industry business model". Stripping back the corporate-speak, the story becomes clear enough. The Northern Irish rock trio Ash have vowed to never release another album, and to devote their lives instead to a succession of downloadable singles. "When you're tied to the album format," said their singer and songwriter Tim Wheeler, "you find yourself waiting six months between finishing a record and releasing it. By leaving this behind, we can enter a new phase of spontaneity and creativity."

Jump-Starting Mobile Music in the US
JupiterResearch estimates that nearly 28 million music phones will be in US consumers' hands at the end of 2007. However, if use follows the precedent set by ring tones, only a modest percentage of consumers will actually listen to music on their phones.

Approximately 20 percent of online consumers are impulse music purchasers. This segment, already reasonably engaged in mobile music activities, represents the best target for becoming regular users of OTA music stores or services. Tying into key purchase motivators, such as radio play and friends' recommendations, can help drive OTA impulse music purchases more broadly.

Listen to the Music; Today's "MP3 players" recognize a variety of music file formats. In fact, it is more appropriate to call them portable media players, or PMPs.
The popular "MP3 player" moniker has been around for a decade now, but it describes an Apple iPod about as completely as "patent office clerk" describes Albert Einstein. Today's "MP3 players" recognize a variety of music file formats. In fact, it is more appropriate to call them portable media players, or PMPs. They store and display photos and documents, play videos, and come equipped (many of them) with FM tuners and voice and radio recorders. And now Wi-Fi is making its way into several PMPs (and being utilized in several different manners).

Is the CD Becoming Obsolete?
Glancing at a report on this morning, there was an article showing that CD sales are expected to be down 20% 2008 (slightly higher than the 15% drop initially predicted). Why such a drop? Well, there has been a recorded drop of 18% so far in 2007 and the trend seems to be steady and indicative of future trending.

While overall music sales is expected to drop by about 9% in both 2007 and 2008, what's truly happening (according to this report) is a gradual shift away from physical media to downloadable formats. What this indicates, so far, is that US sales of digital music will be growing at an estimated rate of 28% in 2008, however physical sales will drop even further, resulting in a net overall decline.

Toshiba to Bundle Vongo with Laptops
Computer manufacturer Toshiba said Tuesday that it will begin bundling a free 30-day trial of Starz Vongo movie service with its Satellite or Qosmio laptop computers in the US beginning in July. The company will place an icon on the desktop of its computers as part of the agreement to allow consumers to register for their trials of the service. Starz typically charges $9.99 USD per month for access to Vongo.

Old Stars, New Music, New Money
As sales of recorded music continue to their alarming decline, record labels are searching for underserved market niches. Sony BMG and Universal Music Group think they've found one: They believe there's new money in new music from old stars. Forbes online takes a interesting look at how several major labels are creating new imprints to release new CD's by classic artists.

Fairtilizer - New Online Music Service
which is an online music community aspiring to define a new generation of music media. The premise behind this startup is that user generated music media is a threshold where online recommendations, distribution, artists and labels will pass the traditional TV, radio and print vehicles. In a not-so-new venue Fairtilizer, early on, has the key element for a successful music startup – some killer artists.

Monday, June 25, 2007

snapshot 6/25/07

Digital riches await savvy indie bands;_ylt=AlxZVlve2UJWUMLrcJWy309kM3wV
Unsigned and indie artists for years have sold CDs and tapes from their merchandise table at live gigs to earn a little extra scratch while on the road. There is perhaps no more important moment for an unknown act to make an impact than at the point of initial discovery -- which almost always means at a live gig. Until recently, the only way to capitalize on this digitally was for bands to announce their MySpace profile and hope fans would visit later.

A handful of new companies now offer digital DIY resources to savvy artists interested in converting the live experience into an opportunity for profit and promotion. One that's been commanding a decent degree of attention lately is DiscRevolt. The company provides artists with customized prepaid cards that fans can redeem for MP3 downloads on its Web site. Here's how it works: Artists buy in bulk a set of cards that they can design with their own custom artwork and text. Each card has a unique redemption code and holds 15 credits. Participating artists then upload their music in MP3 format to their profile on the DiscRevolt site, which can also accommodate a bio, contact info and artwork. Bands can either sell or give away these cards to fans, who use the redemption code to download individual tracks -- one credit per track.

Microsoft's anti-virtualization stance: forget DRM, think Apple
The time is ripe for more speculation as to just why Microsoft says "no" to the virtualization of those two OSes, yet allows virtualization of other editions of Vista. I think Lai's contribution to the discussion is interesting, but I'm not convinced that DRM has much to do with the issue. In fact, I'm fairly certain there's a bigger concern at Redmond, and it has nothing to do with DRM, and everything to do with the long-term fate of Windows.

All of this paints a picture in which Apple could use OEM pricing to offer Windows for its Macs at greatly reduced prices and running in a VM.

Starbucks Idol
Looks like Starbucks is going to enter the American Idol fray. The Starbucks Music Makers Competition is set to kick off with several partners in the near future and will focus on a search for unsigned, emerging artists who are well-suited for intimate cafe performances. The competition will follow the American Idol format with preliminary judging by industry veterans, and final judging by the public.

Could this be the test bed for Starbucks’ next-generation A&R efforts? With the locality of each Starbucks store, the concern has the ability to release albums by emerging artists by geographical area, and then break them nationally. The company could even develop a Music Maker’s “tour” for further promotion.

Report: Video game spending to surpass music spending this year
The video gaming industry is poised to overtake the music industry in the US, with global spending on video games surpassing music spending as soon as this year, according to consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.'s 'big gamble' versus iTunes
Last week, the online music site launched an ambitious free music streaming service. Within two days, the website was temporarily down as it was barraged with millions of interested customers. Lala may be just another in a long line of online music sites to have come along since Napster, but it has been able to generate a critical buzz that even heavyweights like Microsoft, with all its marketing muscle, haven't been able to attract.

The appeal of Lala's plan is that it not only allows users to listen to entire albums for free over the Web (rather than just 30 second samples), but it gives them the option to buy the music and download it directly to an iPod, bypassing their computer's hard drive, as well as Apple's software, iTunes.

Rock On: 12 of the Best Music Social Networks
Internet radio may be facing uncertain times, but many musical social networks continue to thrive. If you’re in a band, these sites are essential for promoting your music: take note, and sign up for as many as possible to maximize your reach. For fans, meanwhile, we’ve included some great places to just listen to music.

We Need Wall Street Out Of The Music Business
"...We need Wall Street out of the music business and return to the days of pioneers and believers, people who take measured, calculated risks to support real artists over long periods of time – not a bunch of bean-counters who pressure and bribe artists to put out crappy records to meet goals for the fiscal year."

"These people are already out there – they’re called MANAGERS, and they are the future of our business. It’s no coincidence that the White Stripes and Shins are managed by the same team. It’s no coincidence that the Chili Peppers and Metallica are managed by the same team...even Kobe Bryant needs a Phil Jackson."

eMusic gives Steve free subscription, tries to cash in on iPhone-mania
They are trying to make news by offering Steve Jobs a free lifetime eMusic subscription as a thanks for DRMless music in iTunes (though I have a feeling Steve gets his music from iTunes). They are offering 35 free songs for the 'iPhone.' I won't point out that this is eMusic's standard free trail membership offer, since that would make me something of a wet blanket.

Music file-sharing service Qtrax is about to hit the markets with the blessing - not to mention the catalogs - of all four major record labels, The Post has learned. In a deal expected to be announced today, parent company Brilliant Technologies plans to spin out Qtrax and merge it with an entity called Flooring Zone which will serve as a shell company so that the file-sharing service can be traded publicly.

With a full complement of songs from the major labels as well as the esoteric live recordings and personal tracks stemming from users' own collections, Klepfisz estimates Qtrax will have access to between 20 million and 30 million copyrighted songs at launch in October. "Young consumers are increasingly shunning music buying in favor of file-sharing, which is four times more popular than digital-music buying among ages 15 to 24," the report notes

Consumers Increasingly Tap PCs for Home-Based Music Listening
An increasingly large number of US-based consumers are listening to music on their PCs, according to information recently released by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA). The home-focused study, which first surfaced late last week, noted that nearly three-fourths of online adults are listening to music on their computers, a figure that easily trumps percentages associated with TVs, DVD players and CD players. "In the span of a few years, the PC has risen from an enigmatic beige box to what some consumers today might call the epicenter of infotainment in the home," said Steve Koenig, senior manager of industry analysis at the CEA.

The number of computer listeners, specifically 72 percent, includes a heavy percentage of satisfied users. According to the data, 86 percent are largely happy with their PC-based experience, and 77 percent listen to music an average of nine hours per week. CEA reported that a substantial number of PC-based listeners would like to improve the sound quality of their computer speakers, though few have linked their computers to stereo systems. The PC has claimed its place as a hub of audio content procurement and playback in the home," said Koenig. "The next step is to allow consumers to see the benefits of connecting their PC to their existing home audio system for a more enjoyable home audio experience."

Friday, June 22, 2007

snapshot 6/22/07

The Fall of the Record Business: What Next?
Rolling Stone continues its series on the new music industry, this time laying out five possible outcomes in the future of the business: ad-supported music, legal P2P, endless access points, different revenue streams, and consumers as retailers.

Burnlounge Shifts To Affiliate Model, But Once Again The Fan Feels Scorched
The FTC called Burnlounge's network marketing system a "pyramid scheme" and went to court to demand a shutdown. After gaining time to respond, the site first replaced it's CEO and now announced "a simplification of its business model that will eliminate the network marketing element...while providing greater business benefit for entrepreneurial members...".

The new service functions more like affiliate marketing systems already in place at Amazon and other online retailers and includes free software that enables download store and BurnPages with customizable widgets for promotion. Other higher margin entertainment products will also be added for sale including movies, videos, portable devices, and accessories.

Pumping up promotions,1,5446494.story?coll=chi-bizfront-hed&ctrack=1&cset=true
Record companies are turning to aggressive marketing -- adding bonus tracks, free downloads and new delivery formats -- in an attempt to reverse a stubborn slide in CD shipments.

Apple now third-largest U.S. music retailer: survey;_ylt=AocwwZLCIa1rGcdNJhvDgHdkM3wV
Apple Inc.'s digital music store iTunes is now the third-largest music retailer in the United States with 10 percent market share, overtaking in the first quarter, according to a survey released on Friday.

MusicGiants Joins DRM-free Bandwagon
Hoping to one-up Apple with its recent move away from digital rights management, high-quality music site MusicGiants began offering DRM-free music recently with the release of Paul McCartney's newest album, Memory Almost Full. In a recent interview with audio magazine Stereophile, MusicGiants CEO Scott Bahneman said the service plans to release more DRM-free albums later this year. Partners in the offering have not been announced.

Publishers move to split ebooks into pieces
Ever wondered what happened to the promise of the ebook? The efforts generally failed, due to poor reading devices, customer reluctance to pay full retail prices for digital versions, and overly cumbersome DRM and competing document standards that restricted ebook portability from one reading device to another.

Some of the barriers to ebook adoption are slowly falling by the wayside, but improvements are still necessary for ebooks to go primetime. Onerous copyright issues continues to hamper ebook growth. While there are signs that the music industry is beginning to relax their stance on strict digital rights management (DRM), the publishing industry has been slower.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

snapshot 6/21/07

Could RealPlayer 11 encourage more DRM?
The most useful, and controversial, feature of the upcoming version of Real’s media player, RealPlayer 11 (see our review), is the ability to download almost any online video to a user’s hard drive. In fact, the only content that RealPlayer 11 won’t enable users to save a copy of are those videos that explicitly use Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology. Though, for now, in terms of free-to-watch online video, these are in the minority.

Therefore, if products like RealPlayer 11 become popular with users, might this lead to more online video sites employing the use of DRM? Mike Wolf of ABI Research, writes:
…DRM vendors will likely see a boost in business, whether its turning on Windows Media DRM, Adobe’s forthcoming Flash DRM or using a solution from a vendor like Widevine.

Artist Development Co-Op Looks To Future
The Artist Development Co-Op (ADC), a new company created by record industry veterans Bill Hurley and Fred Boenig, among others, hopes to break down the monetary barriers between independent artists and mainstream success by offering a comprehensive and inexpensive promotional package to developing musicians. For a flat rate of $1,600, ADC provides underground acts with radio, press and Internet support, professional graphic design and established label contacts, and placement on ADC's music and merch store, traditionally services that could cost an independent artist thousands in what Hurley argues are mostly wasted fees.

All the Films You Want to See, but When?
Promise is the operative word for this new method. There still aren’t a lot of titles available. Often the movies aren’t the latest releases. You may have to watch them on your computer monitor, not the 46-inch widescreen TV you just bought. Steve Swasey, a Netflix spokesman, said: “Whether it’s Netflix or Apple or Amazon or, we’re all facing the same constraint: title availability.” Netflix, for example, has 80,000 titles on DVD, but only 2,000 for electronic delivery. Mr. Swasey said, “We believe DVDs will have a long life because the studios are not licensing vast amounts of content to anyone.”

PwC: Online, high-def DVD sales to boost movie business
· Download-to-own services are expected to provide a relatively small but rapidly growing revenue stream in the United States, Europe, Africa and the Middle East, while piracy will take a bite off revenue in Asia and Latin America, the report said.
· The growth of the U.S. online rental subscription business, dominated by Blockbuster and Netflix, is expected to more than compensate for in-store losses. Online-rental revenue is expected to rise, on average, by 23.1 percent a year, to $3.4 billion by 2011, with subscribers reaching 20 million.
· The prices for download-to-own movies are expected to start falling in 2009, while sales expand rapidly to 80 million movies at an average price of $7 per film by 2011.
· Total spending on download-to-own movies will grow to an estimated $560 million from $32 million in 2006, while sales of download-to-own TV shows are expected to rise to $600 million, the report said.

Music sales shifting to digital globally
  • In three years, digital distribution of music will surpass physical distribution globally as mobile phone services become a bigger part of the music-selling formula.
  • Report predicts that digital sales in the U.S. will hit $6.6 billion in 2011, up 28.7% from last year.
  • Spending in the U.S. will be dropping about 0.4% a year for the next five years, reaching an expected $11.3 billion in 2011, down from the $11.5 billion spent in 2006.
  • Report predicts that sales will drop again this year, to $10.48 billion, and next, to $10.43 billion, but will start to recover in 2009.
  • Migration to digital distribution is listed as the primary cause of the decline. The effect will be felt significantly at retail. Last year's $9.65 billion marketplace for CDs and LPs will be reduced to $4.5 billion in 2011.
  • Conversely, digital will rise to $6.56 billion in 2011 from $1.86 billion last year.
    Album downloads, in the U.S. in 2011, will hit 135 million units while 2 billion single tracks will be purchased on the Internet that year, the report noted.
  • That's a 37.9% increase for albums and a 32.8% increase for singles from 2006.
  • Musicvideo spending will also rise significantly -- 57% is the estimate -- to $191 million in 2011.

    Zune tops 11 percent player share in May
    Microsoft's share of the music player market is continuing to climb, according to preliminary details of a new study published by market researchers NPD. The group notes that the lone 30GB Zune held 11.3 percent of the US market for hard disk-based players in May, a modest but significant increase from the 9.9 percent seen in January. Reasons were not given but the increase in sales is widely believed to be the result of both special edition pink, red, and Halo 3 Zunes as well as store discounts over the course of the spring, which dropped prices to as low as $199 at some large retailers.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

snapshot 6/20/07

Getty Images extends empire into music, buys Pump for $42M
Getty Images has acquired Pump Audio, of company that has built up a catalog of 100,000 songs from musicians not signed with traditional labels, for $42 million, according to the Wall Street Journal. Getty, of Seattle, Wa., says it is the largest provider of still and moving images. Earlier this year, it bought MediaVast for $200 million, which added more images to Getty’s huge archive. Its acquisition of Pump, based in New York’s Hudson Valley, extends its reach into other forms of digital media at a time when the industry is in midst of massive change caused by Internet distribution.

The deal also shows how licensed music continues to hold considerable value. The digital media industry is hot for investors. Just last year, three investors — Greycroft Partners LP, Village Ventures and High Peaks Venture Partners — invested an undisclosed amount of cash into Pump, and presumably the rapid sale gives them a quick profit, though this hasn’t been confirmed.

Fuzz Does The Right Thing
a new online music startup combining label, promotion, online distribution and interaction features—has popped up to try and implement some changes. With a manifesto that boasts "doing right by people who create and who love music," the new venture's site offers an artist-friendly online community where bands can promote and sell their music and interact with fans, while fans in turn can submit reviews and blogs about the artists they discover. Also announced are future plans to feature the sale of artist merchandise and concert tickets.

The Record Industry's Decline
Despite the industry's woes, people are listening to at least as much music as ever. Consumers have bought more than 100 million iPods since their November 2001 introduction, and the touring business is thriving, earning a record $437 million last year. And according to research organization NPD Group, listenership to recorded music -- whether from CDs, downloads, video games, satellite radio, terrestrial radio, online streams or other sources -- has increased since 2002. The problem the business faces is how to turn that interest into money. "How is it that the people that make the product of music are going bankrupt, while the use of the product is skyrocketing?" asks the Firm's Kwatinetz. "The model is wrong."

Huge Growth Occurs In Online Video Use And It's Not All User-Generated Videos
The results of a national online Magid Media Futures(TM) survey conducted the last week in March of 2007 have just been released, documenting the huge growth in popularity for Americans to view video online over the Internet. Daily usage of online video rose by 56 percent over the last year. In 2006, 9 percent of 12- to 64-year-old Americans who used the Internet reported using online video daily -- every day. Today, in 2007, this number has risen to 14 percent of Americans 12 to 64 years old.

Weekly usage of online video has also risen over the last year. Now, a majority of online Americans 12 to 64 are using online video once a week or more. In 2006 this number was 44 percent, and now it is 52 percent -- for a growth rate of 18 percent. Even more remarkable is the amount of online video use among young Americans. Among young adult males 18 to 24, 35 percent report using online video at least once a day, and 80 percent report watching online video at least once a week.

SnoCap Powers Ad Supported Streaming On imeem Social Network
Social networking site imeem today launched an initiative powered by SNOCAP to compensate artists through an ad-supported revenue share when their music is streamed on the service. Imeem’s active user base is 16 million and the new program is open to any artist or content owner who would like to join.

Sony not killing Connect after all, just Connect jobs
Those rumors of Connect's demise were apparently greatly exaggerated -- Sony today confirmed that while the company is in fact trimming some 20 jobs at the fledging download service, it intends to keep the servers running. The company is still planning on shifting resources and attention to the Playstation Network, however, so we'll see how long this stay of execution lasts for Connect -- Sony Reader downloads alone aren't going to keep it alive, after all.

Get rid of iTunes Plus "watermarking"
If you want to remove that "watermarking," Playlist Magazine has a solution: TUAW favorite audio editor Fission ($32) from Rogue Amoeba "can strip out the identifying information in an iTunes Plus track without changing the file's audio." Basically, you just open the file then resave it as AAC (Original Format, Lossless) and the non-original format identifying information is not saved.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

snapshot 6/19/07

Digital music no environmental cure;_ylt=AvyG1ZAdyn0eIbafDbBgrq9kM3wV
After all, replacing physical CDs with digital files must help the environment right? Wrong. Environmental groups claim the music industry's transition from physical to digital has no discernible benefit to the environment and, in the short term, is actually causing more harm than good.

For starters, there's no noticeable decline in the number of physical CDs found in landfills. While music fans are buying fewer CDs at record stores, they are buying more blank recordable CDs to burn their own discs from music acquired digitally.

Swarmcast offers faster way to download iTunes;_ylt=AsNueFoN8h1mVfk47grakrtkM3wV
Privately held Swarmcast, which specializes in streaming video over Web connections, on Tuesday unveiled a new application to accelerate video downloads from Apple Inc.'s popular iTunes store. Swarmcast said its technology can help a viewer download movies, music or television episodes to their computers up to 10 times faster than usual.

Swarmcast's technology, called the Autobahn Accelerator for iTunes, uses what it calls multi-source streaming. Many downloads rely on a single computer server to deliver information over a network, raising the likelihood of delays, while this application pulls video from several servers simultaneously.

"Draco" to Store 4GB or 8GB of Flash Memory
. The codename for the flash Zune player is Draco. Keep in mind this is not the marketing name, that name is still unknown to us. Draco will be available in two sizes, specifically 4GB and 8GB models. These numbers are eerily analogous to the iPhone storage options. As we stated in our previous story, this unit will be available for the 2007 holiday and sport unique features such as video playback and WiFi.

Response to Rafat Ali’s Open Questions to Rob Glaser
Rafat Ali: In the end, RealNetworks has more fundamental issues to address than a software update here and there. Yes there’s the games part, yes there’s Rhapsody, but the format war was lost by Real a few years ago. Microsoft money can only carry them so far.

Rob Glaser: With all due respect Rafat, I don’t understand what you’re talking about. Our first quarter revenue was $129.5 million, an increase of 50% from last year. We’re very focused on continuing to develop new products and services that deliver great digital entertainment experiences to consumers. Based on the initial reaction to the new RealPlayer as well as the continuing success of our other products (including the ones you mention), we think we’re on the right track.

Flash drives the new vinyl?
doubt it will replace the CD anytime soon, but some record labels are experimenting with distributing music on portable USB flash drives. The latest in this occasional trend is The White Stripes, whose Icky Thump album is available in both traditional CD form as well as in a limited edition USB thumb drive format. Now, the flash drive version sells for $57, well more than the $15 price tag of the CD.

Monday, June 18, 2007

snapshot 6/18/07

Steve Jobs in a Box
It’s a stunning box, a wizard object with a passel of amazing features (It’s a phone! An iPod! A Web browser!). But for all its marvels, the iPhone inaugurates a dangerous new era for Jobs. Has he peaked? Universal, for one, is already experimenting with unprotected files in Europe. And the company is reportedly talking with Google about a deal to sell MP3s.

EMI cashes in on unprotected music sales
"The initial results of DRM-free music are good," Lauren Berkowitz, a senior vice president of London-based EMI, said Wednesday at a music industry conference in New York. Berkowitz said the early results from iTunes indicate that DRM-free offerings may boost revenue from digital albums as well as individual songs. She said that sales of Pink Floyd's classic rock album Dark Side of the Moon had risen since the DRM-free digital versions became legally available.

EMI Says Dropping DRM Showing Good Initial Results, But Questions Emerge
Increased sales of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon were singled out. That's true. Digital sales of Dark Side of the Moon have averaged over 3,600 units since the launch of iTunes Plus and the availability of unprotected AAC files. In the 11 prior weeks, average sales were 830 units per week. That's an increase of 272%. In the week iTunes Plus was released, digital sales of Dark Side of the Moon jumped 350% that week alone.

Here's the main question: Does an upgrade using iTunes Plus count as a scan? I can't find out. If that's the case, the increase in sales will actually a temporary thing. Once people who want to upgrade their tracks have done so, sales should drop and level off at pre-iTunes Plus levels (or, as EMI is hoping, above pre-launch numbers). My gut tells me SoundScan counts an upgrade as a sale. Those Pink Floyd numbers look to be more indicative of a technology-enabled sales jump than they are a sign of support for DRM-free downloads.

What about other albums? Digital sales in the last two weeks for Smashing Pumpkins' Siamese Dream rose 17% versus the 11 prior weeks' average. Norah Jones' Come Away With Me jumped nearly 24%. OK Go's Oh No increased 77%. Coldplay's A Rush Of Blood To The Head jumped 115%. Those are just digital album sales I'm talking about. But here's something very interesting: CD sales of four of those five titles dropped sharply over the same period.

Sony To Disconnect Connect
According to recent reports, Sony will pull the plug on its penurious Connect download store in short order. The service, which was meant to complement its digital music player hardware, never gained any grip with users and has been a money pit since its inception. Several staffers have already been sent packing, and a few executives have received buyout packages. Although, an official conclusion has not been announced, Sony Connect should be disconnected some time this summer.

Can rap regain its crown?
Not long ago, rap dominated album sales charts. Now, the music that has been a driving creative and commercial force in American culture is struggling to get its swagger back. The music industry is suffering across-the-board drops in CD sales, but rap is in a steeper slide: This year, rap sales are down 33% from 2006, twice the decline for the industry overall, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Five years ago, Eminem's album The Eminem Show was atop the Billboard chart, on its way to becoming the runaway best-selling album that year, with 7.6 million copies. Since then, no rap album has sold as well.

"Rap has gradually degenerated from an art form into a ring tone. It's a hip catchphrase or a musical riff with a short shelf life. It has a novelty element that captures the listener's imagination, but it's not a song. It won't build a career. That's why we're seeing this backlash."

Zune Marketplace to get MTV, VH1, and CMT content?
It seems that embedded in an innocent looking ZuneMarketPlace.dll file is some internal code that suggests a new content partnership with MTV, VH1, and CMT the Zune Marketplace. We know that Zune software has its roots in Windows Media Player, and Microsoft and MTV are pretty tight with their Urge integration in WMP11 -- but that doesn't necessarily mean this is holdover code. The found strings are very specific about mentioning "VH1 on Zune" and the like, so that's clearly cause for speculation.

E-tailers try brick-and-mortar on for size
To try to win their business, a new mall store is in the works that will showcase products from various e-tailers and catalog companies in a shared space for people with hang-ups about shopping from a distance. Customers at the first Epicenter Collection store to open next year in a Newark, Del., mall will use handheld devices to learn about products, order them and have them sent to their home without shipping fees. Some items can be bought through a conventional checkout line.

Crazy love when startup iLike hits pay dirt
That's happening now with iLike, a fledgling Seattle startup that suddenly, over the past three weeks, became one of the biggest online music services. Piqued by co-founder Hadi Partovi's blog describing the surge, I asked what it's like to experience the breakout moment that every Web entrepreneur dreams about.
"Our goals are first to become the dominant music player on Facebook and, second, to become profitable," he said. "I think both of those are well within reach."

Friday, June 15, 2007

snapshot 6/15/07

Steve Jobs: struggling to redefine the TV paradigm
Getting into the mind of Steve Jobs isn't all that simple, and sometimes you just have to wait until he tells you what went through his mind in order to explain the latest Apple phenomena. But the picture around Apple TV is starting to clear with some rumors and snippets revealed this week. By the end of the summer it will be pretty clear what was in the mind of Steve Jobs all those months ago when the collision with the studios made him rethink his vision for an Apple digital video future, but already it is starting to take shape, and the image is both ominous for operators and rival TV technologies and threatens to be more far reaching than outsiders ever imagined.

Rock star says piracy battle is lost
Major record labels are still fighting the piracy battles of 1997 according to a leading rock musician and digital rights activist. Blur drummer Dave Rowntree told OUT-LAW that they should have realised in 1997 that their battle was already lost.

"But the people who were caught in the trap of DRM were the ordinary people who wanted to play their CDs on their computer as well as their CD recorder or who wanted to make a tape of it to put on in the car who were doing things that most people regardless of the law would regard as legitimate activities. "

Music Widget Creator Sonific Adds Indie & D.I.Y.
Sonific, the cool widget creator that enables fans to easily post song streams that link back to sales sites on blogs, web sites, etc has added a syndication program. The Sonific Music Network enables any content owner to upload and join the viral program for free.

Trans World Files Quarterly Report. Music Way Down
Entertainment retailer Trans World filed its 10-Q yesterday, which show its 2007 Q1 earnings. (Download PDF.) Those figures were released last month, and the new filing offers some information that was in the Q1 earnings conference call. The company operates over 800 stores under the brands f.y.e., Coconuts and Wherehouse Music.

On page 18 we see that music represented 44% of sales in 2007 Q1, as opposed to 52% in 2006 Q1. Music sales dropped 16.7% and sales of the CD format dropped 20.8%. (In the conference call, the COO said comp music sales were down 21%.) Comparable store sales (total) were down a whopping 10.1%. Any way you slice it, Trans World's music story is a bad one.

The AudioFile: Keep It Simple, Stupid
Einstein said, “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.” Few companies in the MP3 player business grasp this important principle, and it continues to bite them in the assets. iRiver and SanDisk are feverishly trying to keep up the pace of feature bloat, while Archos and Creative are increasingly focusing on video players. Meanwhile, Sony is getting ready to throw in the towel, and still others (okay, Microsoft) should probably start thinking along the same lines.

MPA study: Brighter picture for movie industry
After a disappointing 2005, the six major companies have received official confirmation from the MPA that their all-media revenue from filmed entertainment – comprising money from home video, television, theatrical and pay TV – expanded by 8% in 2006 to reach $42.6 billion. Of the $42.6 billion, the U.S. contributed $24.3 billion. DVDs continued to capture the most market share in 2006 with 44%.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

snapshot 6/14

Loved the video? Then read the book;_ylt=AmmHTOU6fJ18VHK97ThHLldkM3wV
Once a novelty, book videos are increasingly common and, publishers say, essential. Hyperion Books, HarperCollins and Penguin Group (USA) are among those using them. Powell's Books, a leading independent store based in Portland, Ore., plans its own series of films, starting with a video for Ian McEwan's new novel, "On Chesil Beach."

PassAlong's New EMI Offering Not Using freedomMP3 Protection
CORRECTION - We've learned from PassAlong CEO David Jaworski that the company will be not be wrapping tracks in its expanded mp3 offering with its freedomMP3 protection as we reported yesterday. While freedomMP3 is a proprietary product that PassAlong offers others, these downloads including the new tracks from EMI will be normal MP3 files.

European music service wants to rob iPhone thunder
A music service that lets consumers directly download an unlimited number of songs to their cell phones for a weekly fee is launching Thursday in Europe. Britain's Omnifone said it had signed content deals with the four biggest music groups in the industry and had agreements with 30 mobile operators in a bid to steal the thunder of the much-hyped iPhone from Apple.

The service called MusicStation will be suitable for 75 percent of mobile handsets already available in the market and will launch first in Sweden on Thursday. It will then launch across Europe, the Asia-Pacific and Africa in the coming days and weeks. Omnifone is targeting 100 million phones in a year and can offer over 1 million songs.

Bonnaroo Festival: Music to a Techie's Ear,132824-c,techindustrytrends/article.html
The Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival bills itself as the "most tech-savvy festival in the land." The festival does temporarily turn about 700 rural acres of Manchester, Tenn., into the sixth-largest city in the state, according to D-Link, which is setting up a wireless LAN to cover at least part of the acreage. Bonnaroo also has a deal with Apple iTunes, including a 2007 play list on the iTunes site. Attendees are getting an iTunes card with as many aso 20 free songs from festival artists.

Sony’s Integrating Online Content Streaming Device Into HD TVs
Sony Electronics is gearing up to include its Bravia online-content streaming device as an option in all of its new HD TV models this year, reports WSJ....the Bravia Internet Video Link, a small device hooked up to the back of TVs, was launched at CES earlier this year, and now Sony is making the push for it, probably picking up cues from Apple TV and others. Using a remote control, viewers can access video content from the likes of AOL, Yahoo, Grouper (owned by Sony), Sony Pictures Entertainment and Sony BMG...this is without any link to the PC, unlike Apple’s strategy. The company also is in discussions with other content producers, the company said. In its first iteration, Sony will offer a Sony channel that could include movie trailers, back-lot interviews and behind-the-scenes content.

Sony Ericsson and Gracenote Unleash Mobile Music 2.0
Sony Ericsson's partnering up with Gracenote to provide an even better TrackID-like service called Mobile Music 2.0. Available on the Sony Ericsson W910 and K850 (both shipping Q4 2007), Mobile Music can use Gracenote's DB to search for artist name, track, album, or lyrics, and download songs from Sony Ericsson's PlayNow service or your provider's music store.

Other cool features are the continuation of TrackID, mood analysis on the tracks (SensMe), image transfering, podcast loading, and Shake Control, which lets you shake your phone when you want to randomly play a track.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

snapshot 6/13/07

iTunes presses button on London music fest
LONDON -- iTunes is entering the live music business. Apple Computer's market-leading digital music store said today it is throwing its considerable clout behind the free iTunes Festival concept, which will take place in London throughout July.

Tickets will be distributed through competitions on the official iTunes Festival Web site. Throughout the 31-day program, organizers will update the site through a mixture of photographs, festival blogs, videos, podcasts and artist interviews. Each concert will be taped and made available for purchase on iTunes.

PassAlong Networks to Feature EMI Music's DRM-Free, Higher-Quality Catalog in MP3 Format
PassAlong Networks™, developer of digital media innovations and services, today announced that the network of online music stores powered by its StoreBlocks technology will feature EMI Music's entire digital catalog in EMI's premium download offering that is free of digital rights management (DRM) technology and available in a higher-quality bit rate. Music purchased from StoreBlocks stores, including Trans World Entertainment's (NASDAQ: TWMC) f.y.e. -- for your entertainment -- online music store will play on all digital music players, including iPods, mobile phones and home stereo systems.

But just as iTunes adds consumer info to every download purchase PassAlong adds its own FreedomMp3 protection to each purchase. FreedomMP3 which promises to honor "both creator and consumer rights by allowing the use of any file format and providing a secure environment on all devices" was enhanced by a new deal this week with content protection provider Phoenix Technologies.

Recorded Music: Can It Be Packaged & Sold?
As the recorded music industry faces a difficult sales slide, bleak questions continue to surround the long-term fate of the sector. Major labels, among others, are struggling against a continuing tide of free content, and an increasingly facile digital music consumer. During a Tuesday morning roundtable at Digital Hollywood in Santa Monica, a central theme was the saleability of recorded music over the next few years. Ken Hertz, an entertainment attorney and senior partner at Goldring, Hertz, & Lichtenstein, LLP, pointed to the "impossibility of the packaged product," while others identified shifting budget priorities among the younger demographic. "They're now saving their money to buy a Playstation," remarked David Thompson, content acquisition manager for music and video at Sony Ericsson, referencing increased demand for big-ticket consumer electronics items.

Apple bringing iTunes to Bebo?
Apple is ready to announce a deal to embed a version of the iTunes Store into the Bebo social networking site, according to a Financial Times report. The report claims that beginning today, the service’s 8.8 million users in the UK and Ireland will be able to buy music from the profile of any musician who has both a Bebo profile and music on iTunes. Bebo has 500,000 musicians registered on the site, a number that includes both established acts and unknown bands. The deal would mark the first time Apple has offered an embedded version of iTunes on a social networking site.

New Linkin Park CD Has Hidden Copy-Protection
Ibuy most of my music on iTunes, because the albums are only $9.99. When the new Linkin Park “Minutes To Midnight” CD came out, I went to iTunes and to my surprise, the album cost was $11.99. No extra tracks, no videos, nothing extra. So I decided to buy the physical CD instead.

I bought the CD for $16.99, and when I went to pop it into my Macbook Pro, the CD never showed up in iTunes. And it never displayed in the Finder. I thought maybe my mac goofed, so I ejected it and inserted it again. No dice. So I popped it in my work PC, and it opened Windows Media Player and allowed the CD to play, but, when I tried to view the CD’s contents in Windows Explorer, it showed the tracks as 1kb files, which is obviously wrong. The true files are hidden. They secretly employed some type of copy protection to prevent my fair use. I have the right to copy or listen to my music on my computer.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

snapshot 6/12/07

YouTube to test video ID with Time Warner, Disney;_ylt=ApPg2X3Ljhr8azVRDNz295pkM3wV
Top online video service YouTube will soon test a new video identification technology with two of the world's largest media companies, Time Warner Inc. and Walt Disney Co.

The technology, developed by engineers at YouTube-owner Google Inc, will help content owners such as movie and TV studios identify videos uploaded to the site without the copyright owner's permission, legal, marketing and strategy executives at YouTube told Reuters in an interview on Monday.

Blockbuster lowers prices for online subscription plan*http:/
No. 1 U.S. video rental chain Blockbuster Inc. said it lowered prices for its online movie subscription plans. The company said new and existing mail subscription plans will now start from $4.99 per month. Blockbuster added that the new subscription plans will include the three-out unlimited movie plan, which will now be offered at $16.99 for subscribers.

CinemaNow to relaunch music video site;_ylt=Avg87mGt6YtZf7Xz_uYQyidkM3wV
Online movie download site CinemaNow Inc. will revive its 2-year-old effort to sell music videos, hoping to fill a demand for content to be viewed on portable devices by increasing its inventory. With Apple Inc.'s iTunes music store finding some success in selling music videos and the increased number of portable media players, CinemaNow has decided to beef up its offerings and will relaunch by featuring videos from the Warner Music Group.

The new site will offer videos for $1.99. The files are just below DVD quality. Only one file needs to be downloaded. It can be transferred to a total of three devices, such as a desktop computer, a laptop and a portable device running Windows Media software. The videos will not play on the popular iPod video players or the upcoming iPhone from Apple.

Who in Their Right Mind Would Run Safari on Windows?;_ylt=AinzuS0xVQbuuutHS.ruLcZkM3wV
It makes perfect sense for Apple to release its Safari web browser for Windows, but the question is: What right-thinking Windows user would want it? But the initiative seems to rely on a domino theory fueled by infatuation. Apple is hoping there are Windows users so in love with their iPods and iTunes that they will also download Safari. Then they'll fall in love with that, and the next thing you know they'll be down at the Apple Store fishing for their credit cards.

There's only one problem with that scenario -- Safari sucks. A lot of Mac users won't run the browser (I'm one of them), so why would anyone run it on Windows?

BitTorrent To Unveil Self-Publishing Platform For Video And Music
It’s being reported that BitTorrent will be taking the wraps off a new self-publishing platform sometime in July. The feature will be unveiled on and allow any artist to present their content to the BitTorrent community and then have the opportunity to sell that content via their distribution and ecommerce platform.

The Self-Publishing platform is just one facet of BitTorrent’s new revenue strategy and pulls the curtain back on yet another distribution avenue for unsigned and independent artists.

Free Whitepaper: 20 Things You Must Know About Music Online
Andrew Dubber is a UK college professor, author and blogger at He's also just published a 96 page how to eBook "20 Things You Must Know About Music Online" that we're offering to Hypebot readers free here.
  • Don’t believe the hype: Sandi Thom, the Arctic Monkeys and Lily Allen are not super famous, rich and successful because of MySpace, and nor because they miraculously drew a crowd of thousands to their homegrown webcast. PR, traditional media, record labels and money were all involved.
  • Web 2.0: Forget being a destination — become an environment. Let your customers tag and sort your catalogue. Open up for user-generated content. Your website is not a brochure — it’s a place where people gather and connect with you and with each other.
  • Cross-promote: Your online stuff is not a replacement for your offline stuff, and nor does it exist independently of it. Figure out how to make the two genuinely intersect.
  • Forget product — sell relationship: The old model of music business is dominated by the sale of an individual artefact for a set sum of money. iTunes is still completely old school. The new model is about starting an ongoing economic relationship with a community of fans.

With country sales down, labels explore new roads
But even as Music City bustles in the heat, country sales are sluggish and chilly. Forthcoming releases from superstar acts Rascal Flatts, Carrie Underwood, Faith Hill, Brooks & Dunn and Toby Keith have label executives hoping for a strong second half to 2007, a year that — according to Nielsen SoundScan — has experienced a sales dip of more than 30 percent, as of June 3.

Taylor Swift is something of a Prius. The 17-year-old Hendersonville-based singer-songwriter is signed to independent Big Machine Records and is 2007's breakout act. Swift is the year's fourth-best-selling country artist, outpacing everyone except Carrie Underwood, Tim McGraw and Rascal Flatts and besting Keith Urban's latest album (the albums were released within two weeks of each other in 2006) by more than 140,000 units so far this year. A child of the Internet who appeals to other computer-savvy youths, Swift personally interacts with fans on the Web. She shouted out to her MySpace friends in accepting a CMT Music Award in April.

Hollywood balks at Apple online movie rentals
Sources inside and outside the major movie studios confirmed news reports the maker of computers and iPods is considering online film rentals to complement digital movie downloads that are already sold at Apple's iTunes web site.But the sources, who declined to be named because film licensing talks are preliminary, questioned Apple's desire to fight copy piracy and the reported $2.99 price per rental.

White Stripes album sold on thumb drive
For just $99, you can get the new White Stripes album on a cute anthropomorphic thumb drive. Limited edition USB flash drives containing The White Stripes new album, Icky Thump.
These figures have removable hats that reveal a USB port. Each USB 2.0 flash drive has a 512-megabyte capacity and are Windows and Mac compatible. The Jack and Meg figures are available separately, or you can purchase the set at a discount. They are produced in a limited edition of 3,333 Meg drives and 3,333 Jack drives. Each drive contains the complete Icky Thump album in the Apple Lossless format.

iTunes account will be required for iPhone use
Apple today revealed a little bit more of its iPhone business strategy in an e-mail sent from its public relations department. The main revelation: "To set up your iPhone, you'll need an account with Apple's iTunes Store." In other words, Apple will require a separate billing relationship (probably a credit card) from every iPhone user, and will not have to rely on AT&T to play go-between.

Apple serving up 1 million copies of iTunes each day
Apple Inc.'s iTunes digital jukebox software is downloaded 1 million times per day and has an active user base of 500 million users, the company said during annual developers conference on Monday.