Peter Frampton, Knack Heir File Digital Royalty Lawsuits
In yet another in what is expected to be a long string of lawsuits, Peter Frampton last Friday [Dec. 23] filed suit against Universal Music Group for a half million dollars in unpaid digital music royalties and for unspecified damages. Just one day earlier Felice Catena, the sister and heir to The Knack drummer Bruce Gary, who died in 2006, filed a similar suit, claiming Capitol Records withheld digital music royalties. Both plaintiffs are represented by Nashville attorney Richard Busch, who commented, "The issues in these cases go beyond simply breach of contract. The plaintiffs allege the wrongdoing here is a part of a deliberate effort to deprive the parties of their royalties." According to theNashville Tennessean, Busch said he is evaluating claims brought to his attention by other artists with similar disputes, all of which center on the question of how revenue should be shared between artists and record labels in sales of digital music. A federal appeals court earlier this year agreed with Eminem's former production company that music sold online is "licensed" and therefore entitled to a larger cut of proceeds than single unit sales are. That decision has opened the door for other artists with similar contract language to stake their own claims in court. [Full story: The Tennessean]
Steve Jobs To Receive Posthumous Grammy "Trustees Award"
The Recording Academy has announced it will award a posthumous "Trustees Award" Grammy to Apple founder Steve Jobs for his role in "revolutionizing" the music industry. "A creative visionary, Jobs' innovations such as the iPod and its counterpart, the online iTunes store, revolutionized the industry and how music was distributed and purchased," the Recording Academy said in a statement. Apple was one of the first companies to become involved in the legal digital music retail business, launching the iTunes store in 2003 with the support of all major record labels. At the time iTunes was greeted with considerable skepticism, but a series of digital music devices - the iPod, iTouch, iPhone, and iPad - led to Apple's dominance in online music sales, leaving the likes of Walmart and Amazon in its dust. Apple received a technical Grammy in 2002 for its then-nascent iTunes and iPod business, as well as for recognizing the Mac as the first computer with built-in audio capabilities. [Full story: Digital Trends]
With Android, Google Is Set To Dominate Music Scene
Forget iTunes, Pandora, and Spotify - this year's big news in digital music came from Google, whose new music store and plethora of Android-based apps look to dominate the digital music environment for years to come. That's the word from New York Times writer Bob Tedeschi, who this week wrote that, "with devices using the Android operating system reaching a dominant position in the world's smartphone market, deeper-pocketed developers turned their full attention to them. The result was a slate of new apps that can more seriously challenge Apple's best." Indeed, Google Music's recent offer of over 10 million songs for 49 cents apiece [very clearly a loss leader move] not only served to draw millions of new customers to the online store, but also to promote the fact that it lets users store up to 20,000 tracks in its cloud-based locker. Then there are all the cool music-oriented apps, including 8Tracks which, Tedeschi observes, "delivers related playlists from other listeners. You can fast-forward only through two songs per hour, but it is nice to hear playlists built by real people, not algorithms, and to keep those people on a list of favorites."
Online music service Rhapsody, which has gone through several incarnations since its founding in 2001, has announced it finally crossed the 1 million subscriber threshold. While this number pales in comparison to Pandora's 100 million registered users, it does illustrate the resiliency of a company [and concept] that, along with Napster [which Rhapsody now owns], was considered one of the pioneers in the digital music business. As one would expect, Rhapsody President Jon Irwin insists that the new total is a real milestone, since the 1 million subscribers are "real users," not people who signed up only for low-cost premium radio services. Plus, Irwin points out, the way subscribers use Rhapsody has crossed a significant threshold as well, as more than half of the playback is on mobile phones, stereos, TV set-tops, and other consumer electronics, with smartphones accounting for 40%. Despite stiff competition from other music services, Irwin predicts the next subscriber milestones "are going to come much faster" for Rhapsody. [Full story: Los Angeles Times]
Opinion: Sirius XM Faces Infrastructure And
Content Challenges As Online Radio Grows
Sirius XM CEO Mel Karmazin likes to tell investors and analysts that all is well in the world of satellite radio, and the company's rate hike to $14.49 won't affect its need to sign up 442,000 new subscribers in the 4th quarter [which ends in two days]. In fact, the surge in new car sales should boost the company's chances of hitting that mark, and then some. But, as Seeking Alpha's Robert Weinstein points out, "the problem Sirius faces with all the other listening options available is similar to what the railroads faced when the interstate system was built. Sirius is burdened with paying the whole freight of building and maintaining the content delivery system." Add to that the growing comfort many Internet users have with online audio services and, "as time goes on [and] without having commercial-free radio as a competitive advantage over others, Sirius will be left to premium content as the primary means to separate itself from the rest. But what happens when Internet radio moves into this arena?" [Full story: Seeking Alpha]
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 Records Group 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