When the gods dance...

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Google Music Store Set To Launch On Social Media Platform


Google is expected to launch its much-anticipated digital music store within the next two weeks, taking on established rivals Apple and Amazon by introducing song recommendations that leverage the Google+ social media platform. In fact, Google confirmed last week it is set to open its own music retail platform, with SVP Andy Rubin telling an audience at the AsiaD conference in Hong Kong "we're close" to rolling out the store. While declining to mention any specifics, he insisted the store will not simply mirror Apple's iTunes and the Amazon MP3 Store. "It will have a little twist - it will have a little Google in it," he teased. "It won't just be selling 99-cent tracks." The "little twist," Daily Finance says, appears to be leveraging the Google+ social graph. The store, tentatively named Google Music, will allow the 40 million Google+ users to recommend songs in their digital library to their contacts, who then will be able to listen to the track once for free, and then purchase the song in the MP3 format. Of course, Google still must secure licensing rights to all songs sold as MP3s and recommended by users, and The Wall Street Journal reports that only EMI is close to finalizing terms, with Universal Music Group also in serious talks. Sony Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group are still in negotiations but far from reaching an agreement. [Full story: Daily Finance]
SNL Kagan: Number Of Ads, CPMs
Must Increase For Streaming To Survive


A new report from SNL Kagan indicates that more people than ever before are listening to Internet radio, both through streams of local AM/FM stations and through online-only channels. In fact, the weekly online radio audience has grown from 5% of U.S. total radio listeners in 2001 to 22% in 2011, presenting a double-edged sword for webcasters because, for every person who tunes into a music stream, the costs of that stream increases accordingly. However, SNL Kagan says that ad revenue isn't increasing fast enough to keep up with the cost of licensing the music being played; for instance, every time Pandora adds another user, its costs go up because it has to pay higher royalty fees every time a song is heard by an additional listener. And those fees also keep increasing: In 2011 it cost .00180 cents for each play per listener, but that price is expected to climb to .00240 cents by 2015. As a result, with Internet radio services migrating to mobile devices and in-car systems, companies soon will start pushing local and targeted ads. SNL analyst Justin Nielson says those ads should help push up the cost of advertising from current CPM levels of $5 to $7 to the $10 to $20 range, but they still may not be enough for Internet-only radio stations to survive. [Full story: Forbes]
SoundExchange Paid $88 Million To Labels, Artists In Q3

SoundExchange announced this week it paid a record $88 million to record labels and artists in the third quarter of 2011, covering royalties collected from Internet radio, satellite radio, and cable TV music-only channels. As noted by Billboard,biz, a quarterly payout of $88 million implies an annual amount in the area of $350 million; SoundExchange paid out $249 million in all of 2010 and $156 million in 2009. Still, some royalties remain uncollected because SoundExchange can't pay out money that has not been claimed, which is why the organization  recently partnered with CD Baby to match its list of unclaimed royalties to the digital distributor's membership. The two parties have identified 12,806 recording artists and 1,574 labels affiliated with CD Baby that collectively are owed more than $1 million. This week, CD Baby began sending emails to all matched artists and labels that explain how to register with SoundExchange to get paid. The CD Baby partnership is just one of similar attempts to pay out unclaimed royalties; earlier SoundExchange partnered with The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists [AFTRA] to identify over 6,000 member artists who were owed a cumulative $3.6 million in back royalties. It also teamed up with Facebook marketing startup RootMusic to reach the nearly 7,500 RootMusic artists who were owed $5.3 million in back royalties. [Full story: Billboard.biz]
ReDigi's "Used" Digital Music Store Opens...But Legal Questions Remain


As reported here in Digital Music Digest over the past few weeks, ReDigi is a new web-based company that sells "used" digital music tracks and already has over 42,000 Facebook fans and over 92,000 followers on Twitter. With single "used" tracks being sold as low as 69 cents, the ReDigi store may seem like a bargain compared with iTunes and Amazon.com, especially since digital tracks - unlike physical CDs - do not depreciate. But the ultimate question here is: is it legal to sell "used" digital tracks. The U.S. "first sale doctrine" provides that "owners of a particular copy or phonorecord lawfully ... [obtained are] entitled, without the authority of the copyright owners, to sell or otherwise dispose of the possession of that copy or phonorecord." But digital music is not necessarily covered by the "first sale doctrine," because a copy of the digital track can be made and stored elsewhere, meaning there likely can be moret han one copy of a copyrighted work - the lawfully purchased one, and any illegal infringing copies. While ReDigi CEO John Oseenmacher insists the company's software ensures that all copes are deleted from a user's computer and external machines, the recorded music industry may question whether that also extends to flash drives and users' friends' computers that also might contain a copy. [Full story: Intellectual Law Brief]
Steve Jobs' iPod: Digital Music Innovator
Was Most Comfortable With The '60s


Without question the late Apple co-founder and chairman Steve Jobs [right] changed the course of global digital music - but being an agent of music change doesn't mean his personal taste in music changed accordingly. Fact is, Jobs - who died earlier this month at age 56 after a prolonged battle with pancreatic cancer - loaded his own iPod with music that would have felt just as much at home in a 1970s-era 8-track tape player. "His iPod selections were those of a kid from the '70s, with his heart in the '60s," Walter Isaacson writes in his new book, simply titled "Steve Jobs." While Jobs did enjoy listening to such contemporary artists as Alicia Keys, Black Eyed Peas, Coldplay, Green Day, and John Mayer, those "contemporary artists" made up only about a quarter of the songs on Jobs's iPod. The artists appearing most frequently were Bob Dylan, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Aretha Franklin, B.B. King, Buddy Holly, Buffalo Springfield, Don McLean, Donovan, the Doors, Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane, Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Cash, John Mellencamp, and Simon and Garfunkel, plus the Monkees' "I'm a Believer" and Sam the Sham and the Pharoahs' "Wooly Bully." Interestingly, while Jobs admitted an early fascination with Eminem, none of Slim Shady's tracks were loaded onto Jobs' iPod. "I respect Eminem as an artist, but I just don't want to listen to his music, and I can't relate to his values the way I can to Dylan's," he's quoted in Isaacson's book. [Full story: Spin]
Nokia Unveils New Windows Phones With Streaming Music


Nokia unveiled its first two Windows Phone smartphones yesterday [Oct. 26], with both devices - the Lumia 800 and Lumia 710 - featuring an app called Nokia Music that company execs say represent their latest digital music initiative. Borrowing from Apple to describe the simplicity of Nokia Music, company SVP Kevin Shields said, "No signup. No subscription. No login. No password. No nothing. It just works! I think we have finally solved the mobile music problem. I don't know how to make it any easier." But, asMusic Ally asks somewhat rhetorically, "what exactly is 'it'?" Apparently, the key feature of the Nokia Music app is called Mix Radio, which provides a number of streaming playlists that can be cached locally on the device. Sorted by genre, the playlists will be updated every week or so by Nokia's music team with new tracks. Nokia says it is building on its existing relationships with music rightsholders for its a la carte store and other music services, but specific deals for Mix Radio are still being negotiated and are expected to be in place for the launch of the new phones in November. [Full story: Music Ally]
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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