When the gods dance...

Friday, February 1, 2013


January Digital Music Sales Posted 10% Increase Vs. Last Year


U.S. digital sales appear to be maintaining strength even after the redemption of gift cards consumers received in their Christmas stockings last month. Nielsen SoundScan reported this week that, boosted primarily by strong digital album sales, track equivalent album (TEA) sales are up 14% in January vs. the same month in 2012. As reported by Billboard, track sales were up 5.4% the first week of the year but were up only 0.9% the following week. It appears gift card balances had run out by the third week as sales were down 0.9% over the same week in 2012. But music buyers returned to the virtual store last week, as sales increased 2.7% vs. January '11, bringing the four-week sales increase to 3.3%. 
Sales of digital albums showed a somewhat different trend: following a robust 25.6% year-over-year increase in the first week of January, digital album sales cooled a bit, with sales gains of 12.2%, 15.5%, and 10.1% in the following three weeks. Digital album sales were up 19.3% in the first four weeks of the year but, if the first week of the month is subtracted, sales increased 12.6% - less than two percentage points below the 14.2% gain digital albums posted in all of 2012. [Full story: Billboard]
MIDEM Report: Digital Is Driving Music Industry On Road To Recovery


Remember all that gloom and doom you heard over the past decade about the demise of the recorded music industry? Well, you can file it away with Mayan calendar predictions, according to Frances Moore, CEO of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), the group that represents the interests of the international recording industry. "We can now say that the music industry globally is on the road to recovery and heading for growth for the first time since 1999," Moore told the audience at MIDEM in Cannes last week. "We may not get there this year, but the direction of travel is clear." Noting that all digital revenue streams, including music downloads, subscriptions, and other channels are growing, he urged further protection of all copyright laws worldwide. "Download and subscription services are growing fast, driven by smartphones and tablets," added Edgar Berger, president/CEO International of Sony Music entertainment. "I'm extremely confident about the future development of the recorded music industry going into 2013." And MIDEM Director Bruno Crolot explained that digital music is growing in a way that it's now starting to cover the losses and decline in physical sales. "Even if it's a bit slow and a bit fragile, it's a real trend in the U.S. and we hope this will also come to other countries in Europe and the rest of the world," he said. [Full story: GMA News]
Indies Claim MySpace Won't Negotiate, Could Force "Take-Downs"


As the new MySpace attempts to re-brand itself as the online source for digital music, many independent record labels reportedly are fuming that the company appears to be interested in negotiating licenses only with the major labels. According to Digital Music News (no connection with this newsletter), a number of indies met with the media at MIDEM last week to protest the fact that the MySpace website is loaded with music from independent artists and producers, but the company has made no good-faith effort to license it. Of course, MySpace has the right to feature whatever music, labels, and artists it wants, but the indies are irritated because, instead of pursuing licensing for independent content, the company appears to have decided to force labels to pursue Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown notices to remove their content. "I was just in shock over this," said Daniel Glass, owner of Glassnote Records (Mumford & Sons, Phoenix, Childish Gambino, etc.) "This is a bad one. [And] we're going to start issuing takedowns." While Association of Independent Music (AIM) President Alison Wenham told DMN that indies aren't interested in drowning MySpace in a deluge of takedowns, she did indicate that it's a tactic that might become necessary in order for indies to gain some respect - and space at the bargaining table. [Full story: Digital Music News]
Megaupload Shutdown Led To Increase In Legal Digital Sales


"The shutdown of Megaupload caused a statistically significant increase in digital sales." That's the claim made last week by Michael Smith, professor of information technology and marketing at Carnegie Mellon University, who told an audience at the annual Digital Book World Conference in New York that every 1% reduction in Megaupload usage translated to a 2.6%-4.1% increase in digital sales. While Smith did acknowledge that Megaupload had higher usage than other digital content sales sites, he pointed out that, "It does suggest that when you look at competing with free, using anti-piracy measures to make piracy less attractive does work." Using NBC-TV as an example, Smith observed that in 2007 the network removed its content from iTunes after a fight with Apple. After doing do, piracy of NBC shows increased. In fact, piracy increased 11% for NBC titles, while ABC, CBS, and FOX also saw increases in their content being pirated. "When people couldn't find it in iTunes anymore they went to piracy," he concluded. "There was also a negative spillover effect for the industry because people learned how to pirate." [Full story: Media Bistro]
Samsung Planning To Expand Music Hub Across All Platforms, Devices


According to Nielsen's "2012 Music Industry Report," digital track sales increased 5% in 2012 vs. the prior year, while the sales of digital albums jumped 14.1% during the same period - a fact that is not going unnoticed at Samsung's headquarters in South Korea. In a recent interview with The Next Web, Samsung's SVP TJ Kang said the company is expanding its Music Hub service, which currently is available on Galaxy S III and Galaxy Note II, across its entire portfolio of devices, including mobile devices, computers, televisions, and appliances. The cloud-based Music Hub offers online traditional music store purchases, as well as radio streaming and other streaming services, and cloud-locker services, making it much more accessible than Apple's closed iTunes platform. Samsung's end goal is to offer it as a service similar to Amazon MP3 and Amazon Cloud Player, although acquiring licenses from record labels will be no easy feat and will no doubt require significant patience. The bottom line, according to analysts close to the company, is that as Samsung overtakes Apple in smartphone shipments, the Korean giant has all the momentum to make Music Hub a dominant player in the digital music space. [Full story: Phone Dog]
Tom Silverman: Music Industry Can Hit $100 B Annually In 10 Years


Despite a decade of declining sales and revenues, and the shrinkage of labels' artist rosters, the global music industry - if guided properly - can hit $100 billion in annual retail revenue in ten years. That's the optimistic prediction of Tommy Boy Entertainment founder Tom Silverman (left), who last week predicted in a Billboard guest editorial that the only way to attract more investment into more artists and create more music jobs is to increase the revenues of the music business. "We used to think the only way to do that was to sell more albums and sell them at a higher price," Silverman wrote. "Digital albums will continue to grow and will pass physical CDs in 2015 in unit sales, but gains in digital sales will continue to be erased by declines in physical sales." The solution: maximize virtually every revenue conduit available to the music industry by embracing non-sales revenue opportunities. "It will take an organized effort by the music industry and our technology, device and mobile service providers to make this dream a reality, but we made just such an effort in the early '80s when we launched the CD," he said. "There are only an estimated 300 million music buyers in a world of 7 billion people. There are 6 billion active cell phones and 1.2 billion smartphones. Fifty million new cars hit the roads every year...The music industry must focus its efforts on developing a new paradigm for music revenue creation." [Full story: Billboard]
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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