When the gods dance...

Thursday, January 24, 2013


Music Industry Attracted 1 Out Of 43 VC Dollars In 2012

Several weeks ago Digital Music News (no connection to this newsletter) reported that roughly $621 million had been invested in the music industry  by venture capital groups 

in 2012. Now it appears that, based on figures just released by PricewaterhouseCoopers, Thomson Reuters, and National Venture Capital Association (NVCA), total financing across all sectors topped $26.5 billion in 2012. That was a drop of 10% vs. 2011, the first fall in three years, but investments in music jumped a healthy 34%. While biotech and medical attracted more than $1.2 billion in the fourth quarter alone, the amount attracted by the music business works out to one out of every 43 dollars - not bad for an industry that many analysts just a few years ago said was moribund. Of course, the question is whether 2013 will be as kind, since Spotify and Deezer last year attracted nearly $250 million alone, and now they have to spend it. But early signs look good: Google has already dropped an estimated $50 million in VEVO, which could portend a healthy start. [Full story: Digital Music News]

Bloom.fm Launches Streaming Service With 16 Million Tracks


Since there are so few digital music streaming services available to music lovers today (sarcasm!) it would only be natural for a new service to come along, offering 16 million tracks in a mobile app designed for Apple's IOS devices. Bloom.fm is that new service, offering three levels of subscription for people who want full mobile functionality. As with Spotify et al, approximately $13 a month will provide users full access to "Full Bloom," the streaming service's cutely titled full catalog, with all played tracks downloading to the mobile device to allow offline listening. But consumers will also be able to choose a $7 monthly option that gives them up to 200 tracks stored on device, or they can pay $1.50 a month to store just 20 tracks. All music is legally licensed from lmajor and independent record labels, and if users can't decide which track to listen to next, they can tune to genre stations that cover everything from Folk Rock to Techno. The app also automatically imports the users' entire iTunes library, so all their music can be kept in one place. "From the very beginning we wanted to design Bloom specifically for mobile; to take advantage of the touchscreen with a unique interface that contributes to the user experience rather than take away from it," Bloom.fm CTO Thong Nguyen told Complete Music Update. "Music excites people and we think software should, too!" [Full story: Complete Music Update   The Next Web]

ReDigi To Launch Second-Hand Digital Store In Europe


Despite (or maybe because of) ReDigi's copyright infringement lawsuit in the U.S., the company recently announced it would be launching a second-hand "store" in Europe this quarter, first offering music and books before expanding to video games, software, and films. ReDigi founder John Ossenmacher insists that the company operates legally, stressing that "property laws the world over have always been that if you buy something, you have the right to resell it." He maintains that such companies as EMI [whose Capitol Records is suing ReDigi for violation of digital copyright law] are trying to change the status quo by trying to take away people's property rights and their rights to resell their goods just because they happen to be digital." However the company's legal U.S. issues are resolved, many copyright experts believe its business model is legal under European law. Last July, the highest court in the EU ruled that UsedSoft, a German company, was entitled to resell software it had licensed from Oracle - even though the terms and conditions of the license prohibited a resale. The implication of that ruling, says Tony Ballard, a partner at law firm Harbottle & Lewis, is that, "Where eBooks, music, films, and other content are distributed online on a download-to-own basis, the copyright owner's rights...
could not be used to prevent onward sales of the content by its customers." [Full story: Financial Times]

Kim Dotcom's New Mega Service Draws Huge Traffic, Legal Concerns


In what has been characterized as an "in your face" move, internet mogul Kim Dotcom (left) this week launched Mega, a new cloud service that offers upwards of 50 GB of free cloud storage for new members. The launch was celebrated at a party that included a reenactment of last year's police raid at his New Zealand estate, and within 24 hours the site - which had reached 1 million registered members - overloaded the cloud servers and forced them to crash. Mega's legality remains somewhat questionable because of Dotcom's now-defunct file-sharing site Megaupload, although Jonathan Bailey at Plagiarism Today says that committing piracy using the service is more difficult due to client-side encryption, which means that downloaders will need both a link and an encryption key to access files from the uploader. The FBI shut down Megaupload in January 2012, a move that ZDNet's Jack Schofeld says helped inflate Dotcom's status as internet folk hero and renegade, since the agency's investigation gave Dotcom an "endless supply of free publicity." In any event, Mega quickly became the top website in New Zealand and shot up to the 141st most-visited site in the world on Sunday (Jan. 21). [Full story: Huffington Post]

Sweden Shifts From Digital Music Piracy To Legal Online Streaming


Music sales in Sweden account for just a fraction of the world's total, but  it's interesting to note that, in a country known for its lax regulations controlling online piracy, the legal "consumption" of music is showing solid double-digit growth. However, instead of coming from iTunes and other download sites, much of this growth is driven by online streaming services, rather than buying individual songs. The Swedish Recording Industry Association last week reported a 14% increase in music sales in Sweden in 2012, with total sales hitting 943 million Swedish kronor ($145 million), up from 829 million kronor in 2011. The SRIA said digital music sales overtook physical sales in Sweden two years ago, and last year accounted for more than 60% of music sales in Sweden - with 90% of that total coming from streaming. Sweden has long been known as an online piracy outpost but, as noted by the Wall Street Journal, the recent proliferation of companies providing legal on-demand streaming services has begun to change the country's reputation as a safe haven for illegal file sharing. [Full story: Wall Street Journal]

Harry Fox Agency Launches Music Rights Service Via Google Play

The Harry Fox Agency, which manages performance rights for much of the recorded music industry, this week announced it is working with Google Play to deliver rights management services for Android devices and the web. According to a company statement, HFA's rights management service, Slingshot, will support Google Play as it taps into the organization's database and publisher relationships to facilitate the licensing of music for use in its music locker and music store. HFA will also provide license administration and process royalty distributions to publishers. "HFA continues to forge relationships that join content creators and digital music distributors in win-win opportunities," HFA CEO Michael Simon said. "We are thrilled that Google is developing new music publishing revenue streams and are delighted to streamline their content clearance process so that they can focus on providing their customers with the best service possible." Google Play offers digital music, movies, books, magazines, apps and games for Android devices and on the web. [Full story: Digital Media Wire]

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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