When the gods dance...

Saturday, March 30, 2013


Total U.S. Music Sales Slipped 0.9% In 2012, But Digital Was Up 14%

Digital DollarsThe Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) this week announced that recorded music revenues in 2012 slipped 0.9% to $7.1 billion. While it's not the kind of decline experienced by the recorded music business over the last decade, the news is somewhat troubling considering that sales actually improved 0.2% in 2011. The $7.1 billion is still above 2010's low point of $7 billion, but the industry clearly did not sustain the bounce-back analysts were hoping for. The bright spot in the RIAA report was the news that U.S. digital music revenues rose 14% to top $4 billion for the first time ever, with digital now accounting for 59% of the U.S. recorded music market's dollar value. Digital download revenues rose 8.6% in 2012 to $2.9 billion, with albums accounting for $1.2 billion of that - and 35% of all album sales by volume. Additionally, "access" models - free and subscription-based streaming services as well as digital radio services like Pandora and Sirius XM - accounted for just over $1 billion (15%) of total recorded music revenues in 2012, up from 9% in 2011. Approximately $462 million of that sub-total came from SoundExchange distributions, while $571 million was generated from streaming/subscription services not covered by a statutory license. By the end of 2012, 3.4 million Americans were paying for on-demand music services. [Full story: Music Ally]

Sub Services Suggest Consumers Want To Rent Music, Not Own It

Digital Music Despite the small slip in overall music sales reported by the Recording Industry Association of America (see story, above), many analysts believe music consumption is stronger than ever - with an increasing amount of it coming in the form of streaming. In an article in this week's issue of Forbes, former MusicNet CEO Alan McGlade says this huge surge in such subscription services as Pandora, Spotify, Pandora, and Rdio suggests that - contrary to the vision of late Apple CEO Steve Jobs - consumers may actually prefer to rent their music rather than own it. "The industry has come full circle and subscriptions delivered by various providers are becoming the dominant model," McGlade writes. "The buzz is that Apple will soon introduce an on-demand music streaming service, as will Google and other major media and electronics companies. Consumers will have a rich variety of options for instant access to music, and discussion of ownership will become irrelevant. And with a little bit of luck, this trend will ignite a new era of growth for the music business." Noting that Steve Jobs was contemptuous of subscription services, McGlade points out that ownership has always been an abstract concept in the digital realm, particularly before cloud computing. "[Jobs] was firm in his stance," he observes. "He said that people weren't willing to have their music disappear if they stopped paying fees." [Full story: Forbes]

Online Ads Help Push Radio's Revenues Slightly Higher In 2012

Online dollarsRadio industry over-the-air revenues improved 1.5% last year to $14.3 billion, with much of that growth coming through online radio ad revenues, which reached $491 million, or 3.3% of the total. That's the word from BIA/Kelsey's "Investing In Radio® Market Report," which predicts radio's online revenue growth will hit $818 million by 2017, while the industry's combined total revenue will reach $17 billion that year. The company also notes that station revenue mix will continue to shift somewhat, and income from online advertising will rise at a rate of about 10.8% annually over the next five years, vs. 2.5% from over-the-air. "As the digital marketplace continues to rise in all sectors of advertising, radio is improving its listener engagement online and benefitting from the value of its web and mobile assets," BIA/Kelsey VP/chief economist Mark Fratrik said. "Overall, the industry is still recognized as an important part of the media mix as it continues to meander around, rising slightly with the rate of inflation but not keeping up with the economy." [Full story: BIA Kelsey]

Broadcasters Foundation

BlackBerry, Zimbalam Partner For Independent Music Service

BlackBerry 10 Trying to boost its sagging fortunes in the smartphone universe, BlackBerry this week announced an alliance with Zimbalam that's designed to bring a digital music distribution service for independent artists and labels to the new BlackBerry 10 device. The two companies reportedly are working together to provide artists an interface that allows them to create an account, choose their release dates and the territories they want to sell their music in, pay a small distribution fee, and begin selling their music. Artists remain free and independent and earn 90% of their royalties from sales. "Zimbalam exists in order to allow unsigned artists to get their music on digital music stores and to find their audience," said Denis Ladegaillerie, CEO of Zimbalam. "We are excited to be working with BlackBerry as it will give artists access to a different fan base and help with the discovery of their music." BlackBerry VP Martyn Mallick added that "Whether you're an independent artist, label, or simply a customer who loves to create music, Zimbalam through BlackBerry World will be a fantastic vehicle to share your music with the world." [Full story: Broadway World]

iHeartRadio, Macy's Team Up For Rising Star Competition

Rising Star Clear Channel Media/Entertainment announced this morning (March 28) that its iHeartRadio Music Festival is returning to the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on September 20-21, and once again is featuring Macy's iHeartRadio Rising Star - a campaign designed to spotlight emerging musicians and find one lucky artist or group to perform at the festival. Clear Channel and Macy's have selected 25 up-and-coming musicians to present to fans, who will then vote online for their favorite emerging artist. Voting begins April 1 and will run through May 12. "We are excited to once again partner with Clear Channel for the Macy's iHeartRadio Rising Star campaign," Macy's CMO Martine Reardon said in a statement. "From up-and-coming fashion trendsetters to rising music talent, Macy's has a long history of providing major platforms for the next generation of stars to shine. [Rising Star] is a fantastic way to engage our fans in that star-making process, adding an exciting layer of entertainment for customers to enjoy." Last year's winners of the competition, Megan & Liz (above right), received nearly 3 million votes from fans across the U.S. [Full story: All Access]

BMW Introduces Internet Radio Apps For New, Pre-Owned Cars

BMW iDrive More and more automakers are expanding their in-dash entertainment systems beyond traditional AM/FM radio, with BMW the latest to announce a new suite of apps that are compatible with the company's iDrive system, bringing internet radio to new and recent models. At this week's New York Auto Show the German carmaker introduced a system that lets drivers use an iPhone 3GS through iPhone 5 to access content from Audible, Pandora, MOG radio, Stitcher, Rhapsody, TuneIn, and Glympse by plugging the device into a dock connector (available for all new BMW models) or by plugging the it into the car via USB. Users select the individual app within the phone before plugging it into the car so it shows up on the iDrive screen, through which they can select content, skip forward or back 30 seconds, and speed up or slow down playback. The system is "backwards compatible," meaning that owners of older BMWs with iDrive can upgrade their system to work with the new apps. The apps connect to the internet using the owner's cell-phone service, so it would be wise to check on data capacity before using them. Access to BMW apps comes standard on the 5, 6, and 7 Series, as well as on the X5 and X6. It's a $650 option available on most other BMWs. [Full story: Consumer Reports]

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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