When the gods dance...

Friday, February 22, 2013


Record Business Is Shifting From Sales To Subscription Model

The recorded music industry subtly is moving from a business  paradigm focused on unit sales to one that relies more on licensing and syndication. That's the thrust of an editorial recently penned by industry icon Tom Silverman (Digital Music Digest, Jan. 31), and reiterated this week by Softonic content editor Louis Leong. "We're in an age where we can pay $9.99 a month for access to access an entire music library," Lrong says. "Does purchasing digital music make sense any more when you can access an entire library for the cost of one album? I don't think so." Whereas buying and downloading music from iTunes or Amazon at one time seemed logical, "services like Spotify and Rdio offer a great enough music experience that buying digital music doesn't make sense any more. A subscription to Spotify gives you access to over 20 million songs, commercial-free high quality, streaming at 320 kbps, and the ability to download songs locally to your mobile phone or tablet." And as Silverman wrote in his original Billboard editorial, which predicted the record business would be a $100 billion industry in ten years, "Subscription revenues are the [industry's] biggest growth area. Spotify recently announced U.S. paid subscription over 1 million. Cricket/Muve announced over 1.1 million subscribers. Rhapsody with PCS/Metro has well over a million subscribers and Xbox music is also in that ballpark. Rdio, Samsung Music Hub, Slacker, and Beats Electronics' Project Daisy launching now will also garner millions of subscribers." [Full story: Softonic Billboard]

Library Of Congress: Millions Of Recordings Are Destroyed Or Lost

The U.S. Library of Congress recently reported that over 6 million archived recordings from America's music history either have been destroyed, lost, or are deteriorating in vaults, attics, and basements. The Library has conducted more than ten years of research and estimates that half of all titles issued on wax cylinder are simply gone, as are "major chunks" of radio and recording industry history. As reported by Digital Music News [no relation to this publication], about 6 million works were deemed to be "in need" or "in urgent need" of restoration. Additionally, another 20 million are in an "unknown" state, suggesting a possible multiple of the 6 million figure. Librarian James H. Billington says that "radio broadcasts, music, interviews, historic speeches, field recordings, comedy records, author readings and other recordings have already been forever lost to the American people." For instance, Billington continues, "The whereabouts of a wire recording made by the crew members of the Enola Gay from inside the plane as the atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima are unknown. Many key recordings made by George Gershwin no longer survive. Recordings by Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, and other top artists have been lost." [Full story: Digital Music News]
Can Slacker's Re-Launch Make It A Major Streaming Player?

As reported last week, Slacker has re-launched its overall platform in an effort designed to go up against such major players as Pandora and Spotify. Slacker's strategy is to provide three tiers of service: Free streaming, which makes millions of songs and hundreds of so-called expert-programmed stations accessible from any device; Slacker Plus, which offers a commercial-free experience with unlimited song-skipping for $3.99 a month; and Slacker Premium, a $9.99 monthly service that offers on-demand access to Slacker's library of millions of songs. "Slacker is pursuing the sort of upstart strategy common among lower-tier companies trying to move up the food chain," said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT. "That involves a combination of investing in improvements to your own products in hopes of attracting more paying customers, and contrasting your offerings in ways that put what competitors are doing in a negative light. In Slacker's case, that means building up a playlist that's significantly larger than Pandora and Spotify, hiring a new CMO, and committing $5 million in venture funding to getting the word out via a new advertising campaign." Will this change of focus work? "It's difficult to see the upside to internet radio," said Billy Pidgeon, senior analyst at Inside Network. "Internet radio is a commodity play with fractions of pennies allocated to various parties depending on multiple factors such as usage, delivery method and region." eCommerce Times]

Marantz' New NA-11S1: "PEDs For Your Digital Music"

Electronics manufacturer Marantz this week announced the launch of its Reference Class NA-11S1 Network Audio Player and DAC. According to review specs, the unit is engineered to reproduce a full spectrum of sound from all modern music sources, and is outfitted with an RJ-45 LAN port, allowing users to connect it to a home network and access a multitude of internet radio stations and streaming options. The device also is equipped with Apple's AirPlay so users can stream tunes directly from their Apple devices. USB inputs on both the front and rear panels of the NA-11S1 provide even more options, and a dedicated headphone amplifier provides for a "new level of richness." Other sonic refinements are designed to enhance the quality of a range of types, including WAV, WMA, MP3, MPEG-4 AAC, FLAC, ALAC, and DSD. One Digital Trends writer called the unit "a dose of PEDs (performance enhancing drugs) for your wimpy digital music." The only real drawback is the $3500 price tag. [Full story: Digital Trends]

Yamaha's CD-N500 Network CD Player Is Portal To All Music Formats

If the new Marantz home audio unit is a little pricey for your digital music needs (see story, above), consider Yamaha's new CD-N500 network CD player that offers music fans a flexible portal to their favorite content from practically any source. At $799.95 the unit accommodates virtually all CDs, downloaded files such as those from iTunes and Amazon, and streamed music from PCs, NAS systems, smartphones, tablets, and internet radio. Additionally, the free Yamaha Network Player Controller app for smartphones and tablets enables the user to select entertainment choices and stream content to the player. Gapless playback enhances streaming audio experiences by eliminating the annoying pauses often heard when music is transmitted from a network source. The CD-N500 offers a front panel USB digital connection for iPod, iPhone, iPad and USB devices that enable music stored on them to be heard. The unit also features left-right symmetrical audio circuitry to provide the shortest circuit path for audio signal travel reportedly without loss of audio signal purity. The CD-N500 is compatible with the FLAC 192 kHz/24-bit and Apple Lossless formats. Pure Direct mode can also be selected for higher quality audio output. [Full story: Home Theater Review]

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!

And now...join us for Al Bell Presents American Soul TV here.

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