When the gods dance...

Thursday, March 14, 2013




Digital Music Digest


March 14, 2013

Happy Birthday, Al Bell!

Apple Reportedly Pushing For Royalty Fee That's Half Of Pandora's

Long Tail Money Apple reportedly has hit a snag with the major record labels in its attempt to start a music streaming service, primarily because the performance fees the company is willing to pay are about half of that currently paid by Pandora. The New York Post says Apple made an initial offer to the labels of about 6 cents per 100 songs streamed, compared with the 12 cents per 100 songs paid by Pandora and other major streaming services. While some label execs admit Apple's music service could tap an entirely new revenue stream for them, they would have difficulty agreeing to such terms as the industry is fighting on Capitol Hill to prevent Pandora from lowering its current rate, which it negotiated downward several years ago. Many music industry insiders suggest Apple - which is sitting on roughly $137 billion in cash - should pay at least the rate set by the Copyright Royalty Board, or about 21 cents per 100 songs streamed. Agreeing to a rate below that could affect the next round of rate-setting negotiations, since the current set of rates expire at the end of 2014. [Full story: New York Post]

CBS Radio Launches New Programs To Align Stations With Music Biz

Music CBS Radio is set to roll out several new programs under the umbrella name Amplify that are designed to more closely align its entire broadcast platform of stations with the music industry. Billboard reports the new program contains three elements: 1) Impact, which focuses on song or album releases from big-name artists; 2) Launch, which provides multi-platform exposure for newer artists the CBS programming "brain trust" believe have a strong future; and 3) Artist Hook-Ups, special promotions and events assembled exclusively for CBS Radio's listeners. Each of these programs is designed to help illustrate radio's ability to influence music purchasing, says CBS Radio President/CEO Dan Mason. "I'm really out to prove radio still sells product," he said in an interview. "The artists tell me that, the program directors tell me that, and that can't get lost anymore in the music industry. It's more competitive when it comes to products that play music out there, but we don't believe those type of services can sell music." Billboard says these new collaborations grew out of numerous rounds of meetings CBS had with record labels, where all parties discussed upcoming music releases, what promotions have previously been successful, and new ways to work together. [Full story: Billboard]

Patent Office Approves Apple's Application For Used Digital Store

Patent Office Think you're actually purchasing that eBook or MP3 when you hit the "Buy Now" button at your favorite online superstore? The fact is, you're actually only renting that song or novel, and statues set forth by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act significantly limit what you can do with it. However, a collective shudder went through the offices and board rooms of many publishers and media companies last week as the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published Apple's application for a patent to construct a digital marketplace, which includes a system that allows users to sell or give e-books, music, movies, and software to each other by transferring files rather than reproducing them. Not dissimilar to the used store established in 2011 by Boston-based ReDigi (and subsequently sued by Capitol Records), such a system would permit only one user to have a copy at any one time. "The technology to allow the resale of digital goods is now in place, and it will cause a dramatic upheaval," Bill Rosenblatt, president of technology consulting firm GiantSteps told the New York Times. "In the short term, it's great for consumers. Over the long term, however, it could seriously reduce creators' incentive to create." Meanwhile, best-selling author Scott Turow, president of the Authors Guild, says the resale of e-books would send the price of new books crashing. "Who would want to be the sucker who buys the book at full price when a week later everyone else can buy it for a penny?" he said. [Full story: New York Times]

Broadcasters Foundation

Vevo Launches Online Music And Video "Broadcast" Platform

Vevo Logo Vevo used the South By Southwest (SXSW) conference in Austin, TX this week to plug its new music video service. Vevo TV will feature high-definition music videos, concerts, and original shows, and will be available through such plugged-in devices as the xBox as well as smartphones from both Apple and Android. A company statement noted that "Vevo TV is your channel for live concert events, artist interviews, and video premieres from the biggest artists in the world. You will also find exclusive and original music shows we produce that you won't be able to find anywhere else. Just like a TV programming guide, our schedule will illustrate what is on right now and what is coming up later in the day, so you won't miss a thing." Vevo chief executive Rio Caraeff told the Financial Times the move towards the small screen showed the traditional music channel was still relevant to the digital generation. "It's really about a return to how it used to be," he explained. "What we've learned is that there's a time and a place for on-demand and there's also a time and a place for a programmed, linear experience." [Full story: Computer Business Review]

Jacobs Media: Get A Grip, Folks...The AM/FM Dashboard Is Not Falling

Car radio A controversial blog post written by Radio Ink Publisher Eric Rhoads last week sparked a "sky is falling" uproar when he stated that several panelists at the magazine's recent Convergence seminar indicated that several car makers had plans to eliminate AM/FM radios from the dashboard within two years. On monda (March 11) long-time radio consultant Fred Jacobs - whose company recently announced an app partnership with Ford Motor Company - suggesed that everyone "get a grip" and calm down. "Eric, you must have had a Venti Bold from Starbucks Friday morning," Jacobs responded in his own blog post. "Your 'take' on the extreme urgency of this situation...is overstated. I have personally interviewed many of these engineers, executives, and marketers from the major car companies. Yes, they are evaluating the content and options that are available to consumers via research - market research, speaking with dealers, and other information they gather. [However], based on all our involvement with the automotive industry on this issue, we don't see an agenda or conspiracy to eliminate AM/FM radios from the cars and trucks of the future. But the automakers will also tell you that they are on a quest to provide consumers with great infotainment options in a safe environment. That's where radio must play a role - ensuring that its content, its offerings, and its personalities are relevant, entertaining, and essential in today's ever-expanding infotainment offerings." [Full story: Jacobs Media]

Consumers Overwhelmingly Want AM/FM Radios In Cars

Dashboard Radio listeners want to keep their car radios. Last weekend Mark Ramsey Media conducted a random, balanced, national online survey of 1,000 consumers and found that 74.6% would be very upset if automakers removed the AM/FM radio from their dashboards. By contrast, only 7.7% said they wouldn't miss terrestrial radio at all. "The ability to access audio content via the internet from mobile devices is not viewed by consumers as a substitute for the easy, ubiquitous, dependable radios in their dashboard," MRM President Mark Ramsey observed in a statement. "It's viewed as a complement - a new platform for new choices - not an invitation to limit choice to the mobile device-only. And not an invitation to create more work for folks accustomed to the miraculously easy tool that is a radio." Noting that some disruption in radio's broadcast comfort zone is occurring and is likely to accelerate, Ramsey noted that "we will not wake up tomorrow and discover new cars with no radios. Indeed, the problem is that those new cars will be full to the brim with entertainment choices galore. Woe unto you [broadcasters] if you don't keep pace with consumers' choices. [Full story: Mark Ramsey Media]

Study: Megaupload Shutdown Helped Boost Legal Sales

Megaupload Many peer-to-peer (P2P) file downloaders insist that their piracy has little or no effect on legal sales of digital music, movies, and other content. But a study conducted by Carnegie Mellon's Initiative for Digital Entertainment Analytics suggests there actually is a direct relationship between availability of stolen goods and legitimate sales. Specifically, the study suggests that the shutdown of cyberlocker giant Megaupload early last year boosted sales of digital movies, indicating a "positive and statistically significant relationship between a country's sales growth and its pre-shutdown Megaupload penetration." The authors of the study, Brett Danaher and Michael D. Smith, say that of 12 countries studied, revenues from digital sales and rentals for two studios were 6% to 10% higher than they would have been had Megaupload not been shut down. "In this view a key part of competing with free pirated content is using the same tools that Amazon uses - reliability, ease-of-use, and convenience - to make content on legal distribution channels more valuable than competing content piracy channels," the authors wrote. As noted by Variety, the study did not look at the long-term impact of the shutdown, or whether consumers eventually reverted back to pirated sites. The full study is available here. [Full story: Variety]

Survey: Number Of Music Pirates About Equal To Those Who Pay

Music piracy One out of ten (exactly 10%) of all 12+ year-old internet users in the U.K. "consumed" at least some music illegally, while slightly more - 11% - paid for downloads and 6% paid for online music subscriptions. According to a new report released by U.K. communications regulator Ofcom, total spending on music subscriptions across this broad age group was almost double that of digital purchases, indicating that music industry executives might wish to focus on how to increase subscriptions - even though a vast majority of people say they still prefer to consume music for free online, either legally or illegally. Interestingly, 41% of respondents said they either are "not particularly confident" or "not at all confident" in terms of what is legal and what isn't online. As reported by Digital Music News (no relation to this publication), that's a slight drop of 3% from the previous quarter, when 44% agreed with either of those statements, and shows online education has almost stalled, at least on this issue. Another oddity: While a majority of respondents knew about YouTube (79%), only 60% said they were aware of iTunes. Of the streaming services, Spotify came out on top, with 40% of internet users recognizing what it was. [Full story: Digital Music News]

Al Bell Presents American Soul Music ... And American Soul TV

Al BellIf 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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