Yahoo Layoffs Lead To Dismantling Of Music Division
Last week it was widely reported that Yahoo laid off upwards of 2,000 employees, and now it appears many of those who received pink slips were part of the company's music division. As reported by Digital Music News (no relation to this publication), the downsizing included John Lenac (head of Programming & Artist/Label Relations) and Gina Juliano (Director of Programming), as well as other members of the staff who are said to be clearing out. One unnamed source described the scene as an "evisceration" and total dismantling of the music group - a move that, some critics say, was long overdue. "Yahoo Music suffers from paralysis caused by an inability to find an identity," one source observed. "The generalist music strategy was never a good strategy. Yahoo Music, like AOL Music and other attempts to be a media portal destination, are failed strategies. The difference with MTV.com is that they've been serving their television shows, instead of developing a stand-alone music fan site." (Full story: Digital Music News)
Spotify Follows YouTube's Playbook, Embeds Play Button In Websites
Spotify this week announced it has embedded a play button on other websites in order to widen its reach and attract more online listeners. The strategy was designed to attract new users through such external websites as The Guardian, Vogue, Huffington Post, and Tumblr, by offering an app that runs in the background so visitors do not have to leave the publisher's site. "It's a really smart tactic for Spotify to get new users," music analyst Mark Mulligan told Reuters. "YouTube got to where it is today because people are able to embed YouTube videos easily in any website." And Giles Cottle, principal analyst at research firm Informa Telecoms & Media, wrote in a research note: "It's part of their strategy of becoming the de facto standard for music on the web. Any web developer will tell you that, in an online world, you have to offer and bring content to people where they want to be, not make them come to where you are." Spotify has more than 10 million active users and over 3 million paying subscribers for its on-demand service, which offers unlimited streaming for free to those prepared to tolerate ads, or a premium subscription rate of $10 a month. (Full story: Reuters)
Music, Digital, Cellular Groups Reach Digital Royalty Deal
The Recording Industry Association of America [RIAA], National Music Publishers' Association [NMPA], and the Digital Media Association [DiMA] this week agreed to what they jointly called a "historic" royalty deal with digital music services and cellular phone companies, setting mechanical royalty rates and standards." Specifically, the arrangement - which fully resolves the Copyright Royalty Board [CRB] Rate Proceeding under Section 115 of the Copyright Act - keeps the current song rate of 9.1 cents for downloads, CDs and other physical formats; 24 cents for ringtones; and the same formulas, with limited changes, used to determine the mechanical rate for different kinds of subscription and free interactive-streaming services. Rate formulas for five new digital business models also have been established:
1) For paid locker services such as iTunes, music publishers will receive a mechanical rate of 12% of revenue or 20.65% of total content cost or 17 cents per subscriber, whichever is greater.
2) For digital lockers that provide free cloud storage with a download purchase, music publishers will receive 12% of revenue or 22% of the total cost of content, whichever is greater.
3) For mixed bundles that incorporate a music service into a cell phone subscription, music publishers receive 11.35% of revenue or 21% of total content cost, whichever is greater.
4) For a limited interactive service that offers limited amounts of music to certain genres or playlists that can be accessed at a lower price, music publishers will get 10.5% of revenue or 21% of total cost or 18 cents per subscriber, whichever is greater.
5) For music bundles that offer a download with the sale of a CD album, music publishers will get 11.35% of revenue or 21% of total content cost.
(Full story: All Access Music Group)
Spotify Taps Facebook "Timeline" For Music History Archive
A lot of Facebookusers have been critical of the social media site's latest attempt to change users' pages by initiating a new "Timeline" feature. But digital music service Spotify has taken advantage of the new feature by using "Timeline" to introduce a "chronological archive" that allows users to track the evolution of music. For instance, as Culture Map points out, users who click on the year 1403 find an entry for the birth of French composer Solage, or a click on 1800 will find that Beethoven's Symphony No. 1 premiered that year in Vienna. An 1899 post announces the birth of Duke Ellington and gospel legend Thomas Dorsey, while a similar post for 1962 says that was the year the Beatles released "Love Me Do." Apparently, as soon as Spotify announced it would track "memorable posts," fans started hitting the site with suggestions to add such events as the riots at the premiere of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring in 1913, the birth of Ella Fitzgerald in 1917, and the death of Jimi Hendrix in 1970. While some preliminary studies indicate the new design doesn't improve engagement, Spotify's innovative use of Facebook has huge potential - if administered properly - both for revenue generation and for music education. (Full story: Culture Map)
Research: Number Of Online Radio Listeners Doubled Since Last Year
A new study from Edison Research and Arbitron shows that 17% of mobile phone owners have streamed online radio in their automobiles by connecting a mobile device to their in-dash car radio receiver. That amounts to a 50% increase over the same time last year, when 11% of respondents reported doing the same thing. According to a report titled "The Infinite Dial 2012: Navigating Digital Platforms," weekly usage of online terrestrial radio streams and Pandora "pure play" has jumped from 22% of Americans twelve years and older in 2011 to 29% today, a 30% increase year-over-year. "We've been tracking the usage of online radio since 1998, and this year's increase in weekly usage is the largest year-over-year jump we've ever recorded," observes Arbitron's Bill Rose. Other significant findings in the report: 1) Americans age 45 and older represent the largest percentage increase in social media usage in the past year, now up to 38% (vs. 31% in 2011); 2) 87% of online radio listeners also listen to AM/FM radio in a given week; and 3) 68% of at-work radio listeners do so on a computer or mobile device. The researchers interviewed 2,020 individuals on their digital platform use from January 20 to February 19, 2012. (Full story: Radio Survivor)
Digital Music Services Need To Differentiate Their Features
There was a little buzz this week when online radio service Raditaz said Pandora suffered from "repetition and a lack of diversity," and then announced it would be using Echo Nest's music intelligence platform to "improve the way it delivers personalized listening experiences." While Billboard.biz called that a good move, it also pointed out that Echo Nest also powers Spotify, iHeartRadio, and other Internet music companies. "Already there is very little noticeable difference between the music most services play," Billboard said. "From a listener's perspective they're all pretty similar [and] over time, recommendation algorithms that generate playlists will advance to the point where one service's radio feature will be, more or less, indistinguishable from another." Therefore, services that want to grab market share or grow the overall market need to find elements that separate them from the competition, which always is closer than it appears. Some suggestions: 1) Create the best product that sets the standard for all other Internet radio services; 2) Offer additional or exclusive content...a catalog of 14 million songs doesn't mean much when competitors offer a similar listening experience; 3) Find a hook that allows you to be more than what everyone else is trying to be; and 4) Add features that are attractive to certain listeners who don't mind investing the additional time and effort required to utilize them. (Full story: Billboard.biz)
Al Bell Presents American Soul Music ... And American Soul TV
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