When the gods dance...

Thursday, January 26, 2012


IFPI: Digital Music Dollars Grew 8% In 2011

The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry [IFPI] this week reported digital music revenue grew by 8% to $5.2 billion in 2011 vs. 2010, as the number of countries in which digital music services are now present grew from 23 at the start of 2011 to 58 at the end of December. Further, the IFPI said consumer demand for both single track downloads and digital albums increased significantly, with 11% and 24% year-over-year growth, respectively. Additionally, the number of users paying to subscribe to a music service jumped 65% in 2011 to 13.4 million worldwide, and digital channels in the U.S. have overtaken physical formats to become the primary source of revenues for record companies. "As we enter 2012, there are good reasons for optimism in the world of digital music," commented IFPI CEO Frances Moore. "Legal services with expanding audiences have reached across the globe and consumer choice has been revolutionized. Meanwhile momentum is building in the fight against piracy as governments and a growing circle of intermediaries engage with our industry." [Full story: FMQB]
Arbitron Shows AM/FM Listening Outpaces Pandora 20:1...
But Automakers Continue To Focus On In-Dash Web Devices

Arbitron this week reported that terrestrial radio draws 14.6 billion listening hours per month - 43.8 billion per quarter - compared with Pandora's 2.1 billion hours in Q3 2011. Interestingly, this comparison 1] comes after the ratings giant last month warned about comparing AM/FM apples with online oranges, and 2] the fact that Pandora is a single company and radio is, well, and entire industry. All that said, the folks at Pandora again this week touted the fact that are accelerating the installation of new entertainment systems that allow people to listen to the service - and other online channels - in new vehicles. "We expect Pandora to be available in any car," Jessica Steel, the company's EVP/business development, told the Wall Street Journal this week. "We've been planting seeds for three years. We're about to reap the fruits." In fact, a recent Deloitte survey reports 59% of car buyers aged 19 to 31 viewed in-car connectivity as the most important aspect of a car's interior, and 72% wanted to use smartphone apps in their cars. Bottom line: Terrestrial radio broadcasters continue to maintain a strong listening edge over Internet webcasters, but it should be noted that at one time radio's audience was 20 times greater than that of television. [Full story: Wall Street Journal]
Beyond Oblivion Files For Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

Beyond Oblivion, the digital music startup that raised $87 million from News Corp. and other investors before shutting down abruptly, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Tuesday [Jan. 24]. The board of directors said in court papers that the company intends to sell its intellectual property and related infrastructure through a competitive auction process overseen by the bankruptcy court, and existing lenders, including Allen & Co., have agreed to provide a $750,000 loan to fund the sale and the company's wind-down, subject to bankruptcy-court approval. Rather than charge users for each downloaded song, Beyond Oblivion planned to license music to the manufacturers of such devices as computers, phones, and tablets. Customers who purchased those licensed devices would then purchase a license to download music for the life of the unit, allowing unlimited downloads of music available via a cloud server. The company had planned to get record labels on board with its service by promising them royalties - anywhere from 70% to 90% of its revenue - each time their songs were played. [Full story: Total Telecom]
Digital Music News To Grooveshark: "We Refuse To Be Intimidated"

This week Digital Music News [no relation to this publication] fired back at Grooveshark, which recently slapped it with a subpoena demanding the identity of an online commenter who claimed that, as a Grooveshark employee, he or she routinely was rewarded for uploading music tracks to the company's serves - a direct violation of provisions in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act [DMCA]. DMN responded to the subpoena by stating, in part: "We may be a small publication, but we refuse to be intimidated. In turn, we expect people who support journalistic freedoms to stand with us, and we also expect to successfully defend our rights in this situation...We ask that you promptly withdraw this subpoena for the reasons below, and promptly inform us. On a very practical level, there are a few points about the subpoena that you should already be aware of, or might have ascertained had you communicated even briefly with me prior to drafting this extensive paperwork: Digital Music News does not retain records related to anonymous comments for more than 24-48 hours after the comment was published, [and] our privacy policy is a public one, and a consistent policy. If you read our statement...you would understand that the discovery request you are making goes beyond [our] regularly maintained records." [Full story: Digital Music News].
Research Suggests Online Music Services Cut Music Piracy In Half

Since the beginning of the digital age, copyright holders - primarily the major record labels - have said one of their primary concerns with online distribution of music is stopping - or at least severely punishing - the act of "piracy." The most recent attempt to deal with this issue was the effort to push SOPA [Stop Online Piracy Act] and PIPA [Protect Intellectual Property Act] through Congress, while negotiating licensing deals with online music services despite previous claims that digital streaming leads to piracy. Interestingly, evidence is beginning to show that, as more and more of these streaming services take root, they have a direct impact on the illegal downloading of music. In other words, as more people subscribe [or listen] to online music services, the amount of pirated music drops noticeably. Interestingly, the most recent evidence of this comes from Scandinavia, largely considered the world's hotbed of music piracy [outside of China, that is]. TechDirt this week reported that the proportion of Norwegians who have access to a music streaming service has increased from 37% to 56% over the last six months, and in Sweden during the same period the corresponding figure increased from 48% to 54% The survey also shows that over half the people who previously downloaded music illegally no longer do so after they have been given access to a streaming service. [Full story: Tech Dirt]
IFPI: Despite Legal Online Services,
28% Of Web Users Still Visit Pirate Sites

Despite the growth in popularity and availability of legal digital music services in 2011, piracy is still rife, with 28% of global Internet users using music pirate sites every month. That's the word from the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry [IFPI], which this week claimed the abundance of people still accessing music illegally, was "jeopardizing investment in music" and "rigging the market for legitimate music services." The IFPI report cites the French government's anti-piracy "Hadopi" law [essentially, a "three strikes and out" law that temporarily disconnects repeat file-sharers' Internet connections] as successfully contributing to a boost in the sale of music via such legal services as Apple's iTunes. Addressing the issue of music piracy, IFPI CEO Frances Moore commented, "Any complacency now...would be a great mistake. Our digital business is progressing in spite of the environment in which it operates, not because of it. In 2012 the momentum needs to build further. We need legislation from governments with coordinated measures that deal with piracy effectively and in all its forms. We also need more cooperation from online intermediaries such as search engines and advertisers to support the legal digital music business." [Full story: The Telegraph]

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
 and hear it for yourself!

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