When the gods dance...

Thursday, February 23, 2012


Universal Officially Files To Acquire EMI; Antitrust Battle Expected


Last Friday [Feb. 17] Universal Music officially delivered to European competition authorities its submission to acquire EMI's record labels for $1.9 billion, a move that many analysts believe will spark a bitter and bruising regulatory fight both on that continent and in the U.S. Expectations of a tough antitrust review have been heightened by authorities' past roles in shaping the music industry, most notably EMI's attempt to merge with Warner Music in 2000, a move that eventually was abandoned in the face of European Commission opposition. Additionally, the Sony-BMG merger in 2004 was nearly undone when a European court challenged the initial clearance, keeping the deal in limbo for three years. Meanwhile Universal's acquisition of Bertelsmann's former BMG music publishing business was approved only after it divested large catalogs. "In such a highly consolidated and oligopolistic industry, we think that even the combination of the number one player with its number four rival might run into serious antitrust scrutiny," Bernstein Research analysts told the Financial Times. [Full story: Financial Times]
Microsoft Reportedly Is Developing New Digital Music Service

According to an exclusive report from CNET, Microsoft has been speaking with the major record companies about creating a music system to serve the company's Xbox game system as well as an upcoming Windows-based phone. The software maker, which has had a less-than-stellar record in digital music [e.g., Zune], apparently has outlined a service that it hopes could launch sometime this year and include streaming music as well as downloads, sources told CNET's Greg Sandoval. These sources added that the company also has mentioned the possibility of teaming with HTC and Nokia to develop the proposed phones. Label negotiations still are in a preliminary stage and the two sides have yet to identify any specifics of a deal, but Microsoft believes the record companies are eager to have a higher profile on the Xbox, with its 40 million worldwide  subscribers, as well as on any new Windows mobile devices. Since Microsoft already operates the Zune Music Pass, the company possesses current music licenses - but whether or not those licenses will extend to the new service depends on what Microsoft plans to do with the music. [Full story: CNET]
FBI Reports 90% Of MegaUpload Users Never Uploaded One File


The Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation this week reported that 90% of all MegaUpload users downloaded content from the site without ever uploading a single file. "Although the [MegaUpload] defendants have claimed more than 180 million registered users, the records on their internal computer systems suggest that they had only 66.6 million registered users as of Jan. 19, 2012," DOJ prosecutors stated. "The records also indicate that only 5.86 million of these users ever uploaded a single file to either Megaupload.com or Megavideo.com, demonstrating that more than 90% of their registered users only used the defendants' systems to download." Additionally, some of the remaining 10% uploaded content exclusively, which means that the percentage of users who actively uploaded and downloaded files was exceptionally low. The upshot of all this: as Digital Music News [no relation to this publication] suggests, if the FBI stats are accurate, MegaUpload functioned more like a candy store than locker service it claimed to be. [Full story: Digital Music News]
U.K. Digital Music Sales Grew Almost 25% In 2011


BPI - formerly known as the British Phonographic Industry - this week reported that the digital income of U.K. record companies grew much faster in 2011 than it did in 2010. Trade income from digital music increased 24.7% to £281.6 million during 2011, with digital growth now offsetting two-thirds of the decline in income from sales of physical music product. Total digital music income - earnings from online downloads, subscriptions, ad-supported services, and mobile - accounted for more than a third [35.4%] of U.K. recorded music turnover last year, up from 27.4% in 2010. Revenue from digital albums grew strongly in 2011 and is now almost at the same level as digital single tracks. Digital albums generated £117.8 million, up 43.2% vs. the £82.2 million recorded in 2010. Earnings from digital single tracks rose 11.3% to £120.5 million in 2011, compared to £108.3 million in 2010. "It is highly encouraging for the long-term prospects of the industry that the pace of digital growth continues to accelerate. British labels are supporting a wide range of innovative music services and music fans are embracing digital like never before," BPI Chief Executive Geoff Taylor commented in a statement. [Full story: M2N]
OK Go: YouTube Money Is Like "Change In The Street"


"Making money from YouTube is like finding change in the street." That's the assessment from alternative rock band OK Go, whose manager Jamie Kitman told attendees at a recent San Francisco Music Tech Summit that generating revenue from the site does not equate to a business model. "I would say that 'trickle' is the operative word, in terms of revenue we receive from places like YouTube and VEVO," he said, adding that nurturing relationships with major advertisers wasn't an option for "developing bands" that don't already have 175 million downloads. "Our old label [EMI] has a deal with VEVO, and perhaps they get paid and then don't pay us," Kitman said. OK Go has received widespread plaudits for the use of music videos, including their 2010 promo for "White Knuckles," which featured the band and a collection of well-trained dogs, and garnered over one million YouTube views in its first 24 hours of being posted online. [Full story: NME]
Grace Digital Finally Releases Mondo WiFi Media Player


It took a little more than a year, but Grace Digital finally has released the Mondo WiFi music player and Internet radio, which was unveiled at CES 2011 in Las Vegas. As reported by Gadget Wiki, the Mondo can access thousands of online radio stations over an 802.11n Wi-Fi connection, and also can stream music stored on a computer or storage device connected to the network. Equipped with a 3.5" LCD screen, the Mondo has 30 settings for backlight brightness, and can display radio station logos as well as Pandora album network images, when available. In addition to pre-set buttons that can access up to ten favorite online stations, users can store up to 100 additional stations in a special folder. The device has a built-in clock that adjusts to the correct time once it knows what time zone it is in, and has five alarm settings and even a dedicated snooze button. Capable of delivering an audio output of 12 watts via the 3" woofer and 1" tweeter, the Mondo is priced at $180 and is available in any color, as long as it's black or white. [Full story: Gadget Wiki]
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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