When the gods dance...

Thursday, July 28, 2011


Label Sources: Spotify Signed Up 70,000 Users In Its First Week


 reports that Spotify - unquestionably the most-hyped digital music platform of the year - hit the 70,000-user mark in its first week in the U.S. Citing three separate label/publisher "sources," writer Bill Werde said this was "just the first data point for Spotify ... but in the early going, at least, it seems like a pretty good start for the much-discussed service." And while Spotify VP/Marketing Angela Watts said she couldn't comment on the exact subscriber numbers, she did observe that "the launch of Spotify in the U.S. has exceeded our expectations in both the response to invitations for the free service as well as subscriptions. We aren't going to discuss numbers at this stage but we are excited to be here and confident that Americans will love Spotify as much as they already do in Europe." Much of the initial attraction is Spotify's free service, which allows new users to play as many songs as they like from the site's 15 million-track library for six months. After that they either have to settle for 10 hours of free streaming per month, or upgrade to one of the paid tiers, which cost either $5 or $10 a month. [Full story: Billboard.biz  Los Angeles Times]
Unsafe Digital Waters: Songwriters, Publishers Sue Grooveshark


A group of songwriters and music publishers have filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee against Grooveshark, alleging the company 
enables users to obtain music illegally and therefore is liable for copyright infringement, contributory infringement, and vicarious infringement. In their complaint, the plaintiffs claim that Grooveshark's users and subscribers are "actively infringing plaintiffs' copyrighted musical compositions...[and] defendant neither sought nor obtained a license, permission, or authorization from plaintiffs." A Grooveshark representative didn't immediately respond when contacted by CNET, which reports that the company has said in the past that it obeys the rules of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and maintains that, as a service provider, it is protected against any copyright violations committed by its users. [Full story: CNET]
Bob Pittman: Digital Services Are Not "Disruptive" To Radio

Despite all the hype about such digital music services as Spotify, Pandora, and Turntable.fm, these platforms are nowhere close to being as disruptive to the radio or recording industries as some critics might think. That's the thinking of Clear Channel's Bob Pittman [right], who told an audience at Brainstorm Tech that 93% of all Americans listen to traditional AM/FM radio - a slight 1% uptick compared to 1970 - while just 3% consume their music via digital streaming or satellite radio. "Some things never change," he said. "People have a music collection, and they have radio stations." Pittman actually did praise Spotify, which just launched in the U.S. last week, for its speed, music library, and user experience - but said he remained dubious about Pandora's long-term outlook. "Pandora is a great 'feature,'" he observed. "People love it, but it's still very small in the grand scheme of radio. The question is whether it's a real business. I look at AOL Instant Messenger as a cautionary tale. Great feature - never made a good business." [Full story:Fortune]
Microsoft Apologizes For "Profiteering" After Death Of Amy Winehouse


Two years ago when pop superstar Michael Jackson unexpectedly passed away, sales of his singles and albums skyrocketed. It's no wonder, then, that Microsoft - in what might be considered a poor attempt at marketing - urged grieving fans of Amy Winehouse [left] to buy her "Back To Black" single at the company's download site. In a Twitter message, Microsoft's official U.K. PR account for Xbox tweeted the message, "Remember Amy Winehouse by downloading the ground-breaking 'Back to Black' over at Zune,' with a link to the album." The immediate accusations of profiteering induced Microsoft to issue a mea culpa of sorts from the same Twitter account, saying, "Apologies to everyone if our earlier Amy Winehouse 'download' tweet seemed purely commercially motivated. Far from the case, we assure you." For the record, Apple observed Winehouse's passing with a "Remembering Amy Winehouse" spot on its iTunes homepage, while Amazon featured an obituary highlighted on the front page of its MP3 Store. [Full story: Music Ally]
Ford To Toss Disc Player From New Focus Vehicles


In a blatant sign of the digital times, Ford Motor Co. this week announced it no longer will be including a CD player in its new Ford Focus vehicles, replacing that feature with a USB port for portable music players. The USB digital music access will be included as part of Ford's Sync in-car entertainment system, which includes Wi-Fi and the use of personal digital music devices. The Wi-Fi access lets drivers listen to music online, either via Internet radio, services like Pandora and Spotify, or music stored on a "cloud" service. "In-car entertainment technology is moving digital more rapidly than almost any other element of the vehicle experience," observes Sheryl Connelly, who serves as manager of Ford's Global Trends and Futuring division. "The in-car CD player - much like pay telephones - is destined to fade away in the face of exciting new technology." CD players will not vanish from the company's cars overnight, says Ford multimedia manager Ralf Brosig. "Ford will obviously continue to offer CD players while there is demand," he explains. "However, over time we expect customer preferences will lead us quickly into an all-digital approach to in-car audio entertainment." [Full story: FMQB]
Apple Approves Radio Pura Tequila iPhone Radio Application


In perhaps the latest example of corporate branding through a digital music extension, Pura Vida Tequila has developed an app that makes its Radio Pura Vida - "the first station fueled by tequila" -available as a free iPhone/iPad/iPod application download. Radio Pura Vida can be heard through a free pop-up media player at www.puravida.mx as well as streamed live through the new custom Apple app, with Android and BlackBerry versions to be released soon. The app also features links to cocktail recipes, Pura Vida social media sites and website, and an alarm clock feature so listeners can wake to the "perfect mix of music." Radio Pura Vida is a joint venture between Stewart Skloss, the founder of Pura Vida Tequila, and Rock-N-Roll Hall of Fame musician Billy Gibbons, of ZZ Top. "Since the launch of the online streaming media player on Cinco de Mayo 2011, Radio Pura Vida has had almost 150,000 hits and this number is growing daily," says Skloss. "With the launch of the new smart phone applications, listeners can now take the party with them wherever they go." [Full story: MarketWire]
Former EMI Prez: File-Sharing Actually Is Good For Artists


"There's a set of data that shows that file sharing is actually good for artists, not bad for artists - so maybe we shouldn't be stopping it all the time." That's just one of the surprising comments made by former EMI Digital Music President and COO Doug Merrill [right], who told attendees at CA Expo in Sydney, Australia that "obviously, there is piracy that is quite destructive, but again I think the data shows that in some cases file sharing might be okay. Going to sue customers for file-sharing is like trying to sell soap by throwing dirt on your customers...It's not theft; it's try-before-you-buy marketing." Merrill also observed that corporate executives should hire a diverse group of employees to get a wide range of experiences and insights and be aware of innovation regardless of its source. To back up his observations, he noted that 66% of the Fortune 100 companies in 1990 have either disappeared or have dropped off that list. He also warned against reliance on research and focus groups, particularly when it comes to disruptive or innovative products outside of their experience. Google's popular "spell correction" feature came from observing what users did with the service, Merrill said, noting that customers wouldn't have said they wanted it until after they actually tried it. [Full story: Digital Media Wire]
Al Bell Presents American Soul Music
 ... And American Soul TV

If you're into classic and contemporary Soul, R&B, Blues, Gospel, Jazz, Hip-Hop Soul, Rap Soul, and Neo-Soul, we invite you to listen to Al Bell Presents American Soul Music. Former Stax Records owner and Motown President Al Bell personally has programmed this awesome radio station online, presenting your favorites from the 1960s and '70s [and some '80s], a lot of the best new music that's being released today, and some real gems you haven't heard in a long, long time. Come to www.AlBellPresents.Com and hear it for yourself!

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