When the gods dance...

Saturday, December 17, 2011


Megaupload Sues Universal For Improper YouTube "Takedown Notice"


File hosting site Megaupload this week filed a lawsuit against Universal Music Group alleging the label issued a "sham" take-down notice requiring YouTube to remove a video clip titled "Mega Song." The video features a number of celebrities, including Sean Combs, Kim Kardashian, Chris Brown, and Will.i.am endorsing Megaupload, a cyberlocker company that the Recording Industry Association of America [RIAA] claims is responsible for online piracy. "Mega Song" appeared on YouTube last Friday and quickly got more than 300,000 views, but several hours later the Google-owned video site replaced the clip with a notice stating that it was taken down due to a copyright infringement allegation. 
Megaupload disputes that claim and Chief Innovation Officer Kim Dotcom [a.k.a. Kimble, a.a.k.a. Kim Schmitz] says in papers filed with the federal court in San Jose that the takedown notice simply was aimed at suppressing the endorsements. UMG has yet to clarify whether its complaint centered on copyright infringement or unauthorized use of a celebrity's name and likeness. [Full story: MediaPost]
MP3Tunes' Robertson Compares Music Biz To Hot Dog Sales
In Not-So-Subtle Hint At Labels' Antitrust Practices


MP3Tunes CEO Michael Robertson this week compared the recording industry's "strangehold" over digital music companies to an imaginary monopoly governing the hot dog industry. In a commentary published inGigaOm, he writes, "Imagine a new hot-dog selling venture. Let's also say there's only one supplier to purchase hot dogs from. Instead of simply charging a fixed price for hot dogs, that supplier demands the higher of the following: $1 per hot dog sold, $2 for every customer served, or 50% of all revenues for anything sold in the store. In addition, the supplier requires a two-year minimum order of 300 hot dogs per day, payable all in advance. If fewer hot dogs are sold, there is no refund. If more than 300 hot dogs are sold each day, payments to the supplier are generated by calculating $2 per customer or 50% of total revenues, so an additional payment is due to the supplier. After the first two years, the supplier can unilaterally adjust any of the pricing terms and the shop can never switch suppliers ... [While] such economic demands may be imaginary for the hot dog business, they are the stark reality that every digital-music subscription service such as Spotify, Rhapsody, MOG, Rdio, and others must confront." [Full commentary: GigaOm]
While Admitting Previous "Digital Music Carnage,"
Sony's Tim Schaff Gives 8 Reasons For Optimism


Sony's history in the digital music space is "littered with abject failure and spectacular catastrophe - everything from MP3 players that didn't play MP3s, to a music store where nobody shopped." That bold assessment was offered this week by Billboard.biz's Elliot Van Buskirk, commenting on an interview Evolver.com conducted with Sony Entertainment Network president Tim Schaaff, who remains optimistic that Sony's latest music effort now known as Sony Music Unlimited can become a popular music service, despite much-hyped competition from Spotify and others. "Although the last ten years have been nothing but carnage, we're in a place today where there is going to be a rebirth in the music industry," Schaaff says in the interview. "What we definitely saw in the past year is the balance point where the digital sales account for a significant enough proportion of the overall sales that you can imagine that taking over. The mood that I see in the music industry is that digital isn't a problem - it is a tremendous opportunity now. It's not about stopping things anymore, it's about starting things." [Full interview: Billboard.biz]
CNET: iTunes Set To Lose Share To Sub Services In 2012


Call it heresy, but Apple's iTunes will give up some market share in 2012. That's the prediction from CNET's Greg Sandoval, who this week said that, while iTunes' market slip won't be dramatic, "song downloads are a tired concept, the iTunes software is bloated, and users are sick of how it hogs computer power." Additionally, Apple has yet to jump on the subscription bandwagon, which is where the major record labels are trying to steer consumers. "The labels want music fans to pay for access," Sandoval writes. "Whether those fans will cooperate is a whole other question, but Spotify seems to have made a pretty good sales pitch. The company's new app platform didn't inspire much awe at its debut in late November, but the honchos at the streaming service say it's just the beginning, and none of Spotify's top competitors, such as Apple, Google, or Amazon, are as well situated to tap into developer creativity." Plus, Rhapsody announced earlier this year that it had an agreement with MetroPCS Communications to enable subscribers of the company's $60-per-month Android phone rate plan to receive access to the Rhapsody Unlimited Music service. "However it goes, there are too many players in subscription music and a shakeout is coming," Sandoval predicts. [Full story: CNET]
AudioGraphics: Despite Billion-Dollar Valuations,
Major Labels Are Losing Artist Relevance 


Despite the billion-dollar price tags paid this year for several major record labels, there's mounting evidence that artists no longer require a label relationship in order to generate visibility and music sales. As the websiteAudioGraphics.com notes, online services increasingly offer artists and independent online radio station owners "a process of moving music to consumers in ways never possible before." Further, company President Ken Dardis writes, "'Buy now' buttons make it easy for indie artists to sell songs through iTunes, Amazon, or a music listing service, without the aid of a middleman like the record labels. 
Today, all an indie act really needs for exposure is Internet radio. Is this the new normal? Maybe not yet, because many artists and stations need more practice on how this new system works. Eventually, though, independent artists will be able to bypass broadcast radio, head directly to online radio stations, and sell their music online." [Full commentary: Audio Graphics]
New Digital Streaming Service Rara.com Targets Digital Novices


Omnifone this week announced the launch of a new streaming service designed to target consumers who tend to spend less time with digital music and online music services. The company, which powers various digital music platforms, including the music elements of the Sony Entertainment Network, created Rara.com to focus on those people whom a recent survey showed primarily purchase CDs, and thus are not users of existing digital platforms. So...just what does Rara.com offer that other, more digitally savvy websites don't? According to Omniphone's Tim Hadley, "Uniquely, you can experience access to all the music you want, ad-free, for less than the price of a single track. Whether you're into Gaga or Elgar, Rara.com is a new kind of streaming music service which makes accessing the music you love online easier and more delightful than ever." While the service has all four major labels as well as some unidentified "leading independents" on board, one notably absent "indie" is Merlin, whose chief executive - Charles Caldas - told Music Week, "I am truly astounded that any company could still be so absurdly arrogant and short sighted as to ask consumers to spend good money on what is an incomplete and inherently inferior product to many that are already in the market." [Full story: The CMU Website]
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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