Thursday, August 14, 2008

snapshot 8/14/08

Universal Music Group Debuts Hybrid Music Package
Universal Music Enterprises announced today the "Playlist Your Way," a digital-physical hybrid package with a greatest hits CD and a download card that can be redeemed for a podcast on the artist as well as the choice of six additional tracks and/or a full-length original studio album. Looks like the main point is to get CD buyers to test drive digital downloading. Another stated benefit is the podcast as a replacement for the more limited information that can be offered in a CD booklet. (More information, less practical.)

The press release does not give pricing information, but lists 16 "Playlist Your Way" CDs with an August 5 street date and a $10.99 list price. All 16 titles are already being sold as used items by third parties. They're going for less on eBay.

Handleman Reports $65 Million Loss In Quarter
The Handleman Co., in a continuation of its management-led liquidation, reported that the company lost $65.6 million, or $3.22 per diluted share on sales $91.5 million, for the fiscal quarter ended May 3. The company's loss is largely attributed to its decision to liquidate, as it booked a $30 million goodwill impairment charge and a $17.2 million impairment of subsidiary assets and a $20.5 million loss from discontinued operations, which including its North American rackjobbing operation; its Artist To Market unit; and its UK operation, all of which have been sold or in the process of being sold.

FCC leaks second-gen Slacker media player
Slacker is developing a smaller, upgraded version of its unique Wi-Fi media player, according to an FCC filing. Dubbed the G2 Personal Portable Radio, the device is visibly smaller and more rounded than the original but also adds wireless links that aren't present in the original, including 802.11a Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1 for short-range peripherals, and an FM radio to complement Slacker's existing technique of automatically downloading songs from the Internet.

Disc Makers Starts Courting the Elite...
Established artists are increasingly leaving the major label nest and flying solo. Perhaps the biggest example comes from Radiohead, though a growing number of artists - including Nine Inch Nails and Tori Amos - are making big moves without the help of a big company.

The financial argument is compelling, though the amount of heavy-lifting is daunting. That opens the door for new entrants, a slot that New York-based Disc Makers plans to fill. According to confidential sources familiar with the initiative, Disc Makers is now planning to launch a sister company called Elite Artist Services, an outfit geared towards upper-level, post-label acts. Elite Artist Services will offer a range of physical and digital services, including disc manufacturing, merchandising, ecommerce infrastructure, and asset distribution. Those services would be offered within a no-strings contract, though ahead of a formal announcement, exact terms of the planned agreements remain unclear. The move is part of a broader expansion for Disc Makers, a company that recently acquired CD Baby.

The Jamendo Free Music Story
On Jamendo artists allow anyone to download and share their music. It's free, legal and unlimited. Patrick Haour, the site's chief of music shares how the wonderfully simple concept was born and where they are taking it.

Simplify Media for iPhone
The Simplify Media iPhone application (iTunes link) v1.1 has hit the App Store. As you can see from the video, with Simplify Media installed on your Mac and on your iPhone or iPod touch, you can stream your home iTunes library to your mobile device wherever you may be. It will supposedly work over EDGE, 3G, or WiFi and promises what might be the holy grail for mobile audio devices -- practically unlimited storage.

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