When the gods dance...

Thursday, March 7, 2013


Warner Music Group's Blavatnik Invests In Daisy, Deezer

Russian-born billionaire Len Blavatnik (right), who acquired Warner Music Group in 2011, reportedly is one of the parties who recently invested a total of $60 million in Daisy, a planned service by high-end headphone company Beats Electronics. The NewYork Times reported his week that Access Industries, Blavatnik's holding company, has joined with Marc Rowan of Apollo Global Management, Australian James Packer, and Texas oil heir Lee M. Bass to assemble the funding. Daisy, which is only a code name and may not be the eventual name of the planned music service, is designed to compete with such firms as Spotify, Rhapsody, Rdio, and others by letting users stream millions of songs via subscription - except it likely will have high audio quality. Beats has said that Daisy, which is based on the technology of recently acquired Mog, will be spun off as a separate company and introduced by the end of 2013. Interestingly, Access last year invested $130 million in Deezer, a French company that plans to expand digital music services to over 100 countries worldwide, including the U.S. Meanwhile, Reuters reports that Jimmy Iovine, one of the founders of Beats, has met with top Apple executives over a "potential partnership" involving the headphone company. [Full story: New York Times]
Google's Android, YouTube Divisions Both Are Planning Sub Services

While no one other than a few inside executives really knows what Google is planning for the digital music space, All Things Digital this week revealed that part of the plan includes the launch of a subscription service through the company's Android unit. But wait...there's more: Google's TouTube division also is negotiating with the major record labels for the rights to sell music, in both audio and video form, via subscriptions. YouTube execs haven't told the labels exactly what they intend to do with those rights, and reportedly haven't shown outsiders a prototype of what they're working on, either. Whether Google is planning one services or two, Billboard says Warner Music Group has signed on to both ideas, and Universal Music Group is said to be interested, although still a long way from inking a deal. By contrast, Sony Music appears resistant to Google's plans, at least for now. As ATD's Peter Kafka says, the Android scenario is relatively easy to map out, noting that "Google has yet to show a competence for selling content, but its huge installed base will still make it a serious contender. And that will be an issue not just for Spotify, but Pandora and Apple and anyone else with a vested interest in digital music...The YouTube version is harder to nail down. [It] already functions as the world's biggest digital music service in part because of the official music videos it serves up in conjunction with Vevo, but mostly because of all the music that its users upload to the service, with homemade visuals and without permission, which ends up staying there with the blessing of the music owners." [Full story: All Things Digital]
Report: YouTube's Streaming Service To Be Free, Ad-Supported

While Google is keeping somewhat mum about a possible YouTube streaming service (see story, above), Fortune magazine claims that it was briefed on the music plans by sources in the record industry and insiders at Google. According to this briefing, the YouTube music service would have some overlap with new features also rumored to be coming to Google's Android music platform, Google Play, which sources say would offer a "digital music locker" on Android devices, enabling people to buy, store and manage their collection of tracks. The YouTube service, however, would enable anyone to stream music for free, with support from advertising. In a statement, a YouTube spokesperson declined to address any specific rumors or reports, but did confirm that the video site was reviewing a subscription model for its channels service. "While we don't comment on rumor or speculation, there are some content creators that think they would benefit from a subscription revenue stream in addition to ads, so we're looking at that," the spokesperson said. [Full story: Digital Spy]

Bloomberg: Bertelsmann Acquires KKR's 51% Stake In BMG Rights

Bertelsmann SE, widely considered Europe's largest media company, is acquiring full ownership of BMG Rights from partner KKR & Co. in an attempt to boost income from music and other non-print assets. According to Bloomberg, Bertelsmann is paying an amount in the "low- to mid-three-digit million euro" range and will assume some BMG debt in the takeover of KKR's 51% stake in BMG Rights, which is expected to be completed in the first half of this year (pending antitrust approval). "Bertelsmann has managed to basically get themselves back into the music business in a very major way," Mark Mulligan, founder of U.K.-based Midia Consulting, told Bloomberg. "We talk about a very substantial share of the market, but they still need to be doing a lot more growing." Bertelsmann CEO Thomas Rabe has been looking for acquisitions to reduce the company's dependence on Europe and the shrinking advertising market for newspapers and magazines, and this week forecast that BMG Rights's revenue will grow to 500 million euros ($649 million) over the next four to five years, compared with about 300 million euros in 2012. [Full story: Bloomberg]
P2P Infringers To Get Copyright Alert Notices Starting This Week

If you're downloading content illegally from peer-to-peer sites, don't be surprised to receive unexpected - and likely unwelcome - notices from your Internet service provider. In a program launched Monday by the Center for Copyright Information and its record label partners, the long-awaited Copyright Alert System plans to send notices to alleged P2P peer infringers via their ISPs. Record labels will begin sending out notices generated to ISPs over "the next several days," and ISPs will forward those notices to its customers, wrote CCI executive director Jill Lesser in a blog post that announced the Copyright Alert System launch. As reported by Billboard, the new system allows content owners to send infringement notices to subscribers via the ISP, although the way each ISP deals with infringement will vary. Alleged infringers will first receive educational alerts, which will be followed by alerts that require the infringer to acknowledge receipt of the notices. Continued infringement may result in such "mitigation measures" as temporarily slowed internet service. The CCI says the Copyright Alert System is not a "three strikes" program, in that infringers will not face termination of their Internet service. And, because it is a market-led solution, there are no criminal penalties or fines for the most serious offenders. [Full story: Billboard]
U.K.'s Tesco To Launch Digital Music Service

Most Americans have never heard of Tesco, but it's one of the largest supermarket brands in the U.K.-and Music Week says the company plans to launch specialized digital music and eBook services later this year under the Blinkbox brand. Touted as a potential rival for the likes of Amazon and Apple, the "Blinkboxmusic" and "Blinkboxbooks" sites will be run separately from the Tesco website, but will carry its branding. "Tesco is one of the U.K.'s leading retailers of movies, TV, music, and books," Tesco Digital Entertainment CEO Michael Comish said in a statement. "How customers choose to enjoy those products is changing rapidly as technology changes the way we shop. The development of these new services demonstrates our total commitment to providing the very best entertainment as easily as possible for our customers. They allow us to provide even more choice in how customers buy and enjoy their entertainment." Tesco previously acquired digital music service We7 and folded it into the "Blinkbox" brand in 2012 after closing its own MP3 store. [Full story: MusicWeek]
Live365 Launches App To Control Stations From Mobile Devices

Live365 this week announced the launch of its new Studio365 mobile application, designed to empower broadcasters to manage their radio stations from their mobile device. The Studio365 mobile app includes many advanced features, including a new "Shout Out" feature that lets broadcasters interact with their listeners wherever and whenever they choose. Broadcasters can record multiple "Shout Outs" directly from their phones, and set them to play in their station with just a couple of taps on a mobile screen. This gives archived and pre-recorded broadcasters the ability to dynamically engage their listeners, without having to update their tracks or playlists. Additionally, the Studio365 app provides broadcasters with both the ability to have their audio hosted on Live365's world class platform, along with the capability to go "live" on the microphone whenever and wherever a broadcaster may choose. According to a company statement, the Studio365 app also gives users the ability to create, preview, and manage voice messages; set and update station ID and pre-roll messages; update station profiles including title, image, and description; review current and historical station listening stats; and simply monitor their station. [Full story: news release]
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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