When the gods dance...

Thursday, October 18, 2012


Microsoft Launches Xbox Music To Create Global Entertainment Service


With the launch of Windows 8 operating system next week (Oct. 26), Microsoft also is releasing its new Xbox Music service that will offer users free streaming services, subscription music offerings, and download-to-own services. The launch will include approximately 30 million songs globally (18 million in the U.S.) as well as 70,000 music videos, and is timed to coincide with new Microsoft mobile devices set to ship later this month as part of a push to offer a much-improved entertainment experience. Microsoft's earlier attempt at creating a music environment for its users through the Zune digital player failed to become a serious competitor to iTunes, and recently pulled the plug on that system. The Xbox service is an attempt to redouble its push into music by positioning the device as an entertainment offering with extensive movies, television, and music content, rather than simply a gaming console. "You can't be an entertainment company without music," Jerry Johnson, general manager of Xbox Music, said in a statement. "Zune was all about the device, [but] this is more about a service that connects all the devices together." The new Xbox Music offering will allow consumers to access music on multiple devices and will include three types of services: free streaming on all Windows 8 and Windows RT tablets and PCs; the subscription Xbox Music Pass that will cost $9.99 in the U.S.; and the Xbox Music store. [Full story: Broadcasting & Cable]
Study: P2P Users "Pirate" More Music...But Buy More, Too

An upcoming study by the American Assembly at Columbia University is receiving considerable advance attention because it highlights a generational divide in attitudes toward sharing music. Specifically, the study notes that the average person in the 18-to-29-year-old age group owns 813 music files that were downloaded for free and copied from friends or family, more than twice the 298 copied or traded files of the average 30 to 49-year-old. Interestingly, U.S. peer-to-peer (P2P) users have a music collection roughly 37% larger than those of non-P2P users, and some (but not all) of that larger collection is the result of 30% more legal purchases than non-P2P users. What this means - and this also is not a new development - is that people who are prone to "pirate" music also more prone to buy music. The American Assembly study also reveals 29% of U.S. respondents under 30 listen to "most or all" music on streaming services and 11% of them have paid subscriptions, up from 7% in August 2011. Translation: a large number of young music consumers are getting their music only through legal streaming sources - and a good number of them are paying for it. [Full story: Billboard.biz]
NPD Group: Report That Illegal File Sharers Also
Purchase More Music "Makes No Sense"

"Our data is quite clear on this point and lines up with numerous other studies: The biggest music pirates are also the biggest spenders on recorded music." That's the word from Joe Karaganis of the Social Science Research Council, one of the authors of the report recently released by the Columbia University's American Assembly (see story, above), who noted that file sharers have "significantly higher legal purchases of digital music than their non-P2P using peers." The Recording Industry Association of America [RIAA] - which has sued many individual P2P file-sharers for copyright infringement - has yet to make a statement about the study, but the NPD Group, which has done its own research on the issue, voiced some skepticism about the findings. "We hear this argument all the time and it makes no sense," Russ Crupnick, NPD's SVP/industry analysis, said in an interview with NBC News. "Peer-to-peer users tend to be younger and more Internet-savvy, so the likelihood that they would be buying digital files makes perfect sense. But you can't compare that to the entire population. Sixty percent of the population is over the age of 35, so you're kind of comparing peer-to-peer users with Baby Boomers who buy much, much less music." [Full story: NBC News]
New Buzzam App Offers Social Feeds To Digital Radio


In a world where consumers can create internet radio stations tailored to their own music tastes, a new digital service known as Buzzam this week launched a personalized activity- and location-aware radio app that adds additional textual content (think Facebook and Twitter) to the user experience. The new app, available for all iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touches, uses LTE technologies, cloud-based delivery systems, and GPS-enabled smart phones. It also allows listeners to design their own radio stations and add social feeds, commentaries, and other entertainment to their personalized selection of music. Buzzam pulls user-defined information into a listener's music of choice and delivers it on the user's schedule, mixing in the latest feeds from Facebook and Twitter, as well as headline news, sports, and weather. 
Buzzam Radio's key features include a text-based reader for social feeds, music aggregation from sources like Spotify and personal music libraries, and GPS technology that offers opt-in location-based and activity-aware traffic and weather advice. Additionally, advertisers are capable of targeting specific demographics - e.g., a 21-year-old driving in a particular direction, within a specific distance from a business. [Full story: Daily Deal Media]
Harry Fox Agency Makes Key Shift In Move To Digital Music


The Harry Fox Agency [HFA] - one of the primary music licensing clearinghouses in the U.S. - has appointed Michael Simon its new chief executive in a move the New York Times says may signal a push into new forms of digital business as traditional revenue sources diminish. Simon, who had been SVP for business affairs at HFA, replaces Gary Churgin, who is leaving the organization. The Harry Fox Agency acts as a middleman between publishers and record companies and is a subsidiary of the National Music Publishers' Association; its main function has been to process the licenses that record labels need in order to pay "mechanical" royalties whenever music is sold or downloaded. As noted by the Times, that model has been disrupted by the internet, as mechanical royalties have shifted to digital licenses. Groups like HFA, which represents about 46,000 publishers, also have been challenged by more nimble technology companies that say they can handle its licensing and royalty-reporting services more efficiently and transparently. HFA began its transition to a more digital-focused company under Churgin, but Simon is widely perceived as being the strongest force behind this transformation. The agency has negotiated deals with Spotify and YouTube that have expanded its traditional role, and developed services that it pitches to new clients as "information management and technology solutions." [Full story: New York Times]
U.K. Radio Sales Decline As Listeners Move To Digital And Online


Okay, this is a story out of the U.K., but it is significant because digital radio got a head start "across the pond": The number of radios sold in that country fell by 18.3% in the past year as listeners moved to listen via apps and online systems, according to communications regulator Ofcom. Sales of analog radios fell by 1.5 million in the 12-month period through the end of June, while Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) radio sales remained steady despite declining prices. A total of 6.7 million radios were sold during the periods, down from a peak of 10.4 million units in 2008. Overall, 29.5% of all radio is now listened to digitally, compared to 25.8% a year ago and just 19.6% in 2009. Additionally, almost 5% of all radio listening is now done online or via apps, and new apps such as the iPlayer and Radioplayer have encouraged more users to listen via their mobiles. While this report is significant to the U.K., digital radio (HD Radio) deployment in the U.S. has been far slower, and most "traditional" radio listening is done through AM/FM radio devices. U.S. online listening, however, has increased dramatically with the growing popularity of Pandora and, to a lesser extent, iHeartRadio. [Full story: Telegraph.co.uk]
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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