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Music Retailers Face Tough Holiday Season

From HollywoodReporter.com: "The manager at the front door of the Apple Store in the Grove shopping center in Los Angeles was smiling broadly late Friday afternoon. It was the day after Thanksgiving, the store was swarming with customers and, he said, sales of iPod digital music players were doing very well. "It's been a very good day," said the manager, who declined to identify himself, citing a company prohibition against speaking to the press. "It's probably a good day for all retailers." Not necessarily. While Apple shoppers were banking on music's digital future...things weren't looking merry and bright for conventional music retailers on "Black Friday" - the traditional opening shot of the Christmas shopping season. This holiday season will be critical for the music business. After experiencing some gains beginning in late 2003, the industry has sagged again recently. Album sales for the year to date have increased just 3.2% over last year, according to the most recent figures from Nielsen SoundScan."


Major Labels Warm To Legal P2P

Warner Music, Sony/BMG and Universal have all signed up to be a part of Peer Impact, a legal peer-to-peer file-sharing network which launches early next year.  The company ensures that artists and copyright holders receive payment for each file shared on the network.  Users will have access to most or all of the catalog of music on those labels with songs wrapped in copy protection technology costing 99 cents.

"Our goal is to populate Peer Impact with the greatest, and most diverse, collection of digital content anywhere," according to Greg Kerber, CEO of Peer Impact's parent company Wurld Media. "We're excited and proud to gain the cooperation of leading record labels and we look forward to concluding even more agreements in the coming weeks." Several news sources have reported that Peer Impact is also currently in negotiations with EMI Music.

CNet News recently reported that Grokster's Wayne Rosso is working on another legal file-swapping service called Mashboxx that will also launch next year; and in Britain, Wippit is already running a peer-to-peer service with music from BMG and EMI.


CES Awards Provide Glimpse Into Entertainment's Future

Innovations_slaving_pc_1  The Consumer Electronic Show Innovations Awards have become one of the best indicators of future trends in entertainment and entertainment delivery.  If the 800 or so products just nominated in 29 categories are any indication of the future then portability, the convergence of multiple technologies in a single convenient device, utilizing the potential of broadband to deliver content, and home networking are all current trends that manufactures and the judges see expanding.

Some nominated examples include the Trio a high-end, networked tuner that combines an AM/FM, and XM satellite radio tuner and the ability to stream Internet radio over a wireless home network and the TAVI 020, a small portable device that lets you enjoy music, HD movies, photos and other digital content almost anywhere and can download content directly from internet. 

The awards are a joint project of CES and The Industrial Designers Society Of America an they assemble a panel of 27 judges including journalists, consumer electronic design experts, and other industry figures.  The winners will be announced at the CES show in Las Vegas in early January. 

A complete list of nominees is available here.


U2 Plays Free Unannouced Shows In NYC

U2_3Ever the smart marketers, U2 promoted their new CD release on the streets of NYC yesterday according to The Hollywood Reporter. "Irish rock star Bono brought traffic to a standstill at the heart of New York on Monday, blasting out songs from U2's latest album as the band cruised down Broadway on a flatbed truck. Office workers on their lunch-breaks whipped out their camera phones to catch the surprise appearance by the band whose album "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb" is released in Britain on Monday and in the United States on Tuesday. "I can't believe it. I have to call my mom right now," said one tourist in a crowd of hundreds as Bono sang Christmas favorite "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" in Times Square."

The stunt was filmed for a video of the single "All Because of You" and the band made another free 45 minute concert appearance near the Brooklyn Bridge later in the day. 


WEED Says Listen Before You Buy

Wired_4 Wired.com writes that "while the music industry attempts to shutter peer-to-peer services in court and in Congress, one company is using P2P networks to promote and pay artists."

"Shared Media Licensing, based in Seattle, offers Weed, a software program that allows interested music fans to download a song and play it three times for free. They are prompted to pay for the "Weed file" the fourth time. Songs cost about a dollar and can be burned to an unlimited number of CDs, passed around on file-sharing networks and posted to web pages."

Weed_top_banner_2 "We're trying to take the problem of unauthorized music sharing and turn it into an opportunity for everyone to participate in the music business," said John Beezer, president of Shared Media Licensing. In addition to launching its home website, the company recently joined eBay's digital music distribution program with its own store."

"Each time the song is downloaded by a new listener, the Weed file resets itself so the same rules apply: three free plays, then pay. The music can also be transferred to Windows portable media devices."

"Shared Media Licensing makes the Weed purchasing software and channels the money to the artists and distributors. Over 100 independent content providers find the music, clear the rights, manage the files and promote the distribution and sales on their own websites."

"Weed also encourages sharing by awarding a commission to people who pass the songs on to friends who then buy it. The copyright owner always gets 50 percent of each sale. Weed gets 15 percent for service and software costs. The fan who passes the music along gets 20 percent of the sale if a friend buys the track."

Babyhead_250_white_1 "CD Baby is the largest Weed content provider with over 60,000 titles, according to Beezer. About 80,000 Weed tracks are available. Well-known artists who have signed on to distribute some of their music this way include Chuck D, Heart, Sir Mix-A-Lot, Built to Spill and Kristin Hersh...."

"Basically the fans are promoting the music that they love," said Jeff Leisawitz, president of Weedfiles, a content provider that has signed about 75 artists, including Heart. "Love Hurts," the band's exclusive track, debuted over the summer on Weedfiles at the same time the record was released."

"...Weed is also participating in the P2P Revenue Engine project organized by the Distributed Computing Industry Association, which seeks to demonstrate to entertainment companies how they can use peer-to-peer services to make money."

"One analyst said the Weed service is an admirable idea and is important for the growth of digital music. The challenge is building the traffic for Weed services..."

Read the entire article here.


Universal Experiments With Digital Only Releases

The New York Times today reported that Universal is starting a "digital only" release program for select indy bands.

Newyorktimes215x35_1 "...this week, the Shazam and seven other relatively unknown acts will get a shot at the kind of exposure that only the major record labels can provide, after being recruited for an experiment by Universal Music Group. Universal, which like other record companies has heavily relied on profits from sales of CD's, has signed the artists to a digital-only label. Starting Tuesday, it will release songs through services like iTunes from Apple Computer, Rhapsody from RealNetworks and MSN Music from Microsoft."

Universal_1 "The move says a great deal about how record companies are grappling with the Internet, which has toppled established techniques for promoting talent and threatened the industry's economic structure. After years of dithering over how to sell music online, the major labels are eyeing digital sales in some cases as a first step on the road to the larger marketplace."

"It is partly a matter of necessity. Since sales of CD's began to fall almost four years ago, hundreds of record stores have shuttered, while the remainder have devoted more shelf space to DVD's and video games, leaving less space to stock CD's."

"But music industry executives say they can also use the Internet to measure fan interest or start a buzz for a new act before releasing an album. Universal's new label represents another leap - the belief that by signing enough acts with small, established audiences, the company can earn a profit on digital sales alone. The new unit, Universal Music Enterprises Digital, could become a model for labels that are seeking a low-risk way to market an act without producing a physical album or underwriting a band's tour or music videos."

"It's just so expensive these days to record an artist and make a video and put them out on the road to properly develop them," said the executive responsible for the digital label, Jay Gilbert, a senior director at Universal's Music Enterprises unit. "This is an alternative to that that's not very expensive but can be highly effective."

"But for the companies, shifting to a digital world means treading on unstable financial ground. Instead of plunking down $16 for an album, fans can now visit free file-sharing networks to grab songs. Even when fans pay for the music, they buy singles over albums at a ratio of more than 25 to 1, according to Nielsen SoundScan data."

"To keep up with the shifts in where and how fans shop, the record companies are grasping for new approaches. As they move toward licensing their music catalogs to companies that plan to filter unauthorized material out of the free file-sharing systems, Universal has made a deal with one such company, Snocap, started by Shawn Fanning, the creator of Napster, the former file-sharing Web site."

"Warner Music Group is developing a unit similar to Universal's, initially to sign artists and finance recordings for online sales, with the potential for later CD releases..."

Theshazam_supertuesday "For the artists, the deals do have a downside. The company does not pay them an advance or cover the cost of producing an album. That part is up to the musicians, who finance their own recordings and in most cases have been selling their music - in the form of regular plastic CD's - through their own Web sites or outlets like Amazon."

"The artists retain ownership of their master recordings but license them to Universal for a limited time; if online sales of an artist's music reach a certain point - around 5,000 copies of a particular song - the company has an option to pick up distribution of the CD to record stores."

"Universal is paying the musicians an estimated 25 percent royalty on the retail price of the downloads, without taking the industry's standard deductions for CD packaging and promotional giveaways, according to people with knowledge of its contracts."

"In exchange for the music, Universal is throwing its considerable muscle behind promoting the artists, including them in its own advertising and seeking to license their music to films and television shows. The company will also handle online marketing."

"Other labels have been using the Internet to promote artists whose physical CD's are to be released later. Warner Brothers Records released the major-label debut of the band the Secret Machines to online services like iTunes in February, three months before it was available in stores. "

"What I think the physical world has told us is that there isn't a lot of room or patience for putting out an album that people don't want to buy right away," said Tom Whalley, the label's chairman. "You can't let it sit in the store 6 months, 12 months, while you build up the demand..."

HYPEBOT: This sounds great in theory, but without details on exactly what Universal is (and is not) doing to promote these releases; it is impossible to know whether or not this will be of any value to the artist.  Any act selling on CD Baby or working with The Orchard can get digital distriubiton via the major services for a similar or smaller fee.  Digital distribution is essential, but it's the marketing of the music - creative efforts made to get the music heard - that is what the labels need to be worrying about.

Read the full NY Times article here.  Free sign up required.


Fox Launches Digital Music Store

Fox has made the move to digital music sales by launching its own online music store. Like Apple's iTunes, FoxMusic.com will sell downloads from its catalog of songs and TV and film scores for 99 cents per track. The site also offers ringtones of its music that cell phone users can order and download directly to their phones.

"This is an opportunity to see if for a little investment we can start a viable digital business and not simply cede all of our distribution," Fox Music's Robert Kraft told Variety.

The studio will make available nearly all of its themes and original songs for which it has been able to maintain the rights. The catalog currently consists of roughly 10,000 tracks.

The new online store, built and managed by Navio Systems, also allows Fox to cross-promote its other products, such as DVDs and books, via an accrued point system.


COMMENTARY: Election 2004 - The Day The Music Died

HYPEBOT COMMENTARY:  Why did the incredible efforts made by the music community to get out the vote and influence the 2004 election have so little effect?  Despite an unprecedented number of concerts, campaign appearances and fund raising, less than 20% of all eligible voters ages 18-30 went to the polls - the same pitiful percentage as in 2000.

But weren't we all incredibly naive to expect that musicians could influence voters when the vast majority of today's music does not communicate on any kind of meaningful level?  The rush for the lowest common denominator by labels, radio, MTV and greedy musicians all encourages and rewards music that connects with people on only the most superfluous levels. It has become all about bling and booty.

While we should applaud efforts to get out the vote and influence elections, why would a fan head to the polls when we've taught them that chasing sex, riches, and fame are what really matters?  Many of us joke that Republicans just aren’t as sexy as Democrats; but isn't the Republican party the home of the kind of wealth and power that much of today's music celebrates?

The music community needs to remember that the deepest and most lasting relationships between art and the public are based on connecting on a far deeper level. Only then will artists begin to influence their audience on issues that really matter. And then perhaps artists can also expect their fans to support them by buying CD's and tickets because the art that they are sharing actually matters.


Elvis Costello Spoofs FBI Piracy Warnings

Fbi_1Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to five years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000.

Bob Lefsetz turned us on to this one:  Check out the back cover of the latest Elvis Costello album, "The Delivery Man." Over the FBI warning, it says: "The artist does not endorse the following warning. The F.B.I. doesn't have his home phone number and he hopes that they don't have yours."


Copywright Royalty Distribution Law Moves Forward

Rain_logo From Paul Mahoney and RAIN: The Radio Internet Newsletter: "Now all that's required to finally change the expensive and ineffective method by which copyright royalties are determined is the President's signature.

"The U.S. House of Representatives yesterday accepted Senate amendments and unanimously passed H.R. 1417, the Copyright Royalty and Distribution Reform Act.

The Act eliminates the much-maligned Copyright Arbitration Royalty Panel system, known as CARP, in which matters of statutory royalty rates would be determined
if a "marketplace" rate couldn't be reached — such as those for webcasting in 2001.

Webcasters, broadcasters, and copyright owners alike complained that the CARP system's costs prohibited participation by many affected parties; and that panelists didn't understand the landscape of the market, which led to arbitrary, inconsistent and unreasonable determinations."

Read the full article and Kurt Hansen's informative RAIN Newsletter here.


SBC & Micorsoft To Deliver TV Via Broadband

From The New York Times: "SBC Communications, as part of its effort to compete head-on with the cable industry for television subscribers, plans to announce today that it will pay $400 million to Microsoft for software used to deliver TV programming over high-speed data lines.

Sbc "It would be a crucial move into unproven territory for SBC, which like the other regional telephone giants wants to grow by expanding beyond phone and Internet services and into entertainment...

Ms_masthead_ltr_2 "The deal is also a milestone for Microsoft. The company has spent roughly $20 billion in the last decade trying to break into the television business, but has little to show for that investment, industry analysts said...

"Consumers will potentially have hundreds of channels to choose from, although the delivery of that programming will be different from cable's. All IP-TV programs will be delivered as video-on-demand -- consumers request a program from a central server and it is delivered immediately...

"Microsoft's technology will also make it easier for SBC to offer TV programming to its customers on
a variety of devices that might eventually include cellphones and personal digital assistants, when wireless speeds become fast enough.

Read this entire New York Times article here(Free log-in required.)


Eminem Offers Free Ringtone Incentive

Mobile entertainment publisher Mobilss said on Tuesday that the double-disc collector's edition of rapper Eminem's album "Encore" will include a link to a free downloadable cell phone ringtone of the single "Just Lose It." The CD will employ Infotects' CDKey technology to unlock the bonus material.

http://www.infotects.com/cdkey_index.htm 

http://www.mobliss.com 

http://www.eminem.com/shadychristmas


BMG In Talks With Grokster

According to a report by Rueters news srvice "Los Angeles-based Grokster is in early talks with major record label Sony BMG to create a legal music service, according to a Reuters report. "I'm not negotiating myself, as Sony BMG chairman, but I know that some staff members are at the very beginning of talks with Grokster," Sony BMG chairman Rolf Schmidt-Holtz told Reuters. "We are noticing that there is huge demand for services like that, and our intention is to transfer this demand into legal channels. Only then it would make sense for us." Schmidt-Holtz, who oversaw BMG's merger with Sony earlier this year, added that he knew of only one meeting so far between the two companies, and was not sure which side initiated the negotiations."


Mercora and Grokster Enable Free & Legal Internet Broadcasting

In another creative and potentially revolutionary way that the internet enables music discovery, start-up Mercora is offering peer to peer network users a free download that enables users to legally play (rather than download) music from other hard drives on the network.  Mercora tracks these internet broadcasts and pays all applicable royalties.  Yesterday P2P giant Grokster announced a co-branded version of the software.

Mecora_header_logo_4 Here is how the company describes itself on it's web site,  "Mercora is the largest music radio network in the world! We have combined peer-to-peer and internet streaming technologies to create the ultimate and legal music search and discovery service for you. With Mercora P2P Radio, you can search, find and legally listen to hundreds of genres and thousands of artists in near-CD quality sound."  On a sample morning this week 7555 stations were online utilizing the company's software. 

While Mercora should excite the music industry by creating an infinite number of opportunities for new music exposure, the idea that anyone with a broadband connection can arrange their music collection broadcast style and stream it to the world easily, legally, and free can not be good news for a broadcast industry already battered by satellite and internet radio.


Fox Launches Digital Music Store

FROM FMQB: Fox has made the move to digital music sales by launching its own online music store. Like Apple's iTunes, FoxMusic.com will sell downloads from its catalog of songs and TV and film scores for 99 cents per track. The site also offers ringtones of its music that cell phone users can order and download directly to their phones.

"This is an opportunity to see if for a little investment we can start a viable digital business and not simply cede all of our distribution," Fox Music's Robert Kraft told Variety.

The studio will make available nearly all of its themes and original songs for which it has been able to maintain the rights. The catalog currently consists of roughly 10,000 tracks.

The new online store, built and managed by Navio Systems, also allows Fox to cross-promote its other products, such as DVDs and books, via an accrued point system.


Live 365 Allows Easy Access To Web Broadcasting

From the L.A. Times' CalendarLive.com: "Classical radio didn't satisfy Robin Cox and Kyle Gann, so they carved out a niche for new American composers at their Web stations.

"One station plays nothing but recordings of Schubert's 'Ave Maria'
. There are about 300 of them. Another plays only flute music. A third is devoted to 'demented' opera scenes — 'the sort of musical and dramatic experience that sends you out of the theater reeling and dazed,' announces the producer of La Cieca's Opera House. He promises 'opera as blood sport.' Welcome to Internet radio...

"For Cox, the reason to start a station was simple: He couldn't find the music he wanted to hear on the radio.

"'For all the possibilities that the Internet may provide, what was actually out there was still very much what you would hear over the airwaves much of the time,' he said. 'The best you could hope for was a John Adams piece squashed between early 20th century works.'..

"For Gann, the issue is more serious. 'When I was younger, classical radio was the way I discovered a lot of new music,' he said. 'It was extremely important. Today, you can't turn on the radio and hear any of this stuff.'

"What he and Cox do, he said, 'points out the utter emptiness of most radio and most classical radio. Certainly, it points out how much better a job can be done on anything when commercial
considerations are taken out of the picture.'..

"And as it turns out, almost anyone can follow the pair's lead. All you need is a personal computer and a streaming-radio-station service provider such as
Live365, which carries Cox's and Gann's stations as well as thousands of others...

"'We're a platform for people to do what they want to do,' (Raghav Gupta, chief operating officer of Live365) said. 'We let the listeners and the system work out who gets an audience and who doesn't. It depends on how they program and how they market it. We provide the tools and advice on how to do it, but we don't do it. We try to exert little editorial control.'"

Listen to Hypebot's sister project - eclectic adult alternative music stream Audioskyline - by clicking here.


Cell Phones As Portable Music Players

FMQB Reports: "This week in Europe, mobile phone company Vodafone launched a new mobile phone music download service that is powered by Musicwave. The company is confident that droves of people across Europe will soon find it natural to use their cell phone as a music store and portable music player, but they're not so sure it will catch on in the U.S..."

Musicwave "Obviously, a lot more people use cell phones than use iPods or other portable digital music players. But the U.S. market for digital music remains dominated by computer-based programs. A handful of music services for cell phones have been launched, notes CNet, but these largely involve downloading music to a PC and then transferring it to a phone. But in Europe and Asia, cellular carriers and record labels see Internet-connected, multimedia phones as a more advanced Walkman that will make it easy for people to impulse-buy music at any time."

"...Some of the problems that are holding up the cell phone music market in the U.S. are network capacity, digital rights management and the lack of phones that can handle storing the music."

Read the entire story here.


UMG Finally Enters P2P Market With Snocap Pact

Snocap_logo_lrBillboard.biz has just reported that the Universal Music Group has become the first major record company to ink a licensing deal with Napter creator Shawn Fanning's new peer-to-peer software company Snocap.  We've also seen reliable reports that Sony/BMG will soon begin offering free legal low quality or "demo" downloads of some songs via P2P with links to purchase a higher quality version and other related products. 
It will take time to know if these initiatives are sincere or just paying lip service to the the labels P2P problems.  But any steps that they take towards embracing P2P are positive even if absurdly overdue.


MSN Music vs. iTunes

Msn_music_1 FMQB Reports: "In order to compete with Apple's stronghold on the digital music market, Microsoft's MSN music service began a free song promotion this week sponsored by American Express. The deal offers free songs to users who buy music downloads with their American Express card, and those who apply for an Amex Blue card through a link on the MSN site will get credits to download free music."

"Meanwhile, Apple has stepped up its marketing efforts with the recent announcement of the new U2 custom iPod, just in time for the holidays. And Apple's iTunes music store still accounts for 70 percent of the music sold online. However, a New York Post article notes that Microsoft may have the ability to cut into Apple's share since its Windows Media format is supported by multiple portable music players. Conversely, Apple's iTunes service is only compatible with the iPod. A number of iPod alternatives are now on the market, including portable music players made by Royal Philips Electronics, Samsung Electronics, iRiver and Creative Technology."

Click on COMMENTS below and join the dicsussion.


Internet Radio Listenership Report

Kurt Hanson's RAIN Newletter reports on the release of the first Webcast Metrics measuring internet radio listenership.  Read the full article here.


Top 20 Stations (October 2004)
Rank Station Name
(Format)
Cume
(M-Su 12M-12M)
AQH
6a-12M
1 DigitallyImported Radio
(Electronic/Dance)
n/a 15,506
2 AccuRadio
(Multiple formats)
424,438 5,927
3 RadioIO
(Multiple formats)
280,967 5,019
4 EnergyRadio.fm
(Multiple formats)
281,976 2,758
5 BoomerRadio
(Multiple formats)
56,702 2,030
6 Beethoven.com
(Classical)
93,751 1,501
7 3WK Underground
(Alternative rock)
130,340 1,430
8 Wolf FM
(Hits radio)
42,337 1,263
9 80sFM.com
(1980s Pop)
87,865 1,053
10 ClubFM Radio
(Dance)
74,603 694
11 Howlin' Oldies
(Classic Rock/Soul)
15,588 669
12 Super70s.us
(70s Hits)
14,863 580
13 GotRadio
(Multiple formats)
50,824 580
14 90s FM
(90s Hits)
80,450 555
15 Country Gold 56k
(Classic Country)
35,726 454
16 MVYRadio.com
(Adult Alternative)
13,184 339
17 80s.fm
(80s Hits)
18,569 183
18 Music One
(Dance)
25,298 179
19 Ultimate 80s
(80s Pop)
11,570 168
20 The Edge FM
(Alternative rock)
11,485 126


MARK CUBAN ASKS: WHEN WILL THE MUSIC INDUSTRY GET IT RIGHT?

From his own blog Billionaire Mark Cuban writes: "Can the music industry cry wolf any longer?"

Maverick "This is the only industry in the world that can see thousands of its retailers close, reduce the number of products it sells via cutbacks in artist rosters and albums released, cut back marketing and promotional dollars and then blame a reduction in sales on someone or something other than themselves.

That big bad boogieman of piracy is blowing down everyone’s house. The poor music industry. Except of course that there is nothing more than anecdotal proof that Peer to Peer networks hurt music sales, and to counter those, there are studies and anecdotal evidence that the sampling opportunity that P2P networks create actually help sales.

Of course, the other digital entertainment mediums have seen booming sales over the same period. Games. DVDs. VHS. Even books on tape have grown. I’m not saying anything new here, nor I am saying anything I haven’t said before. Which leads to my points:

1. The amount of money the RIAA is spending, along with other lobbying efforts in the industry, could go to artists, and probably be better spent on marketing the industry and getting consumers excited, rather building a wall around your industry that only slows it down.

2. It’s a crime that our politicians have fallen prey to your “please protect us please.” Our country is in enough debt. We don’t need to spend more to put legal walls around your industry. How long before we have tort reform for the music industry?

3. There are solutions that are simple. Learn a lesson from the cable and phone industry. Go to where people already are paying for digital access to your product, and for a little bit more money, give them a more product, legally and easily."

Continue reading "MARK CUBAN ASKS: WHEN WILL THE MUSIC INDUSTRY GET IT RIGHT?" »


The Marketing Of Another New Edition Comeback

AP and The Hollywood Reporter write this about another comeback by New Edition: "Over the past two decades, New Edition has managed to overcome the kind of obstacles that have sent other groups hurtling into "Whatever Happened To ..." territory. TheNewedition y aced their transition from preteen bubblegum pop to adult R&B, survived the loss (and subsequent reappearance) of the dynamic Bobby Brown, endured lackluster sales and flourished despite divergent career paths and stretches of inactivity. Yet their latest comeback attempt may prove the most difficult one yet. On Tuesday, Ralph Tresvant, Johnny Gill, Michael Bivins, Ricky Bell and Ronnie DeVoe released "One Love," their eighth album, after an eight-year layoff. Although signed to P. Diddy's youth-oriented Bad Boy label, they've still got "old-school" stamped all over them. And that's part of the problem, especially in an R&B market dominated by young stars with a hip-hop bent. Already they've struggled -- the album's first single, "Hot 2Nite," peaked at just No. 35 on Billboard's Top 100 R&B and Hip-Hop chart. The Boston-bred group -- once again without Bobby Brown -- is well aware of the challenges. Sitting together in a Washington hotel conference room after a planned concert was scrapped due to technical issues, the men nod their heads in agreement when talking about the ruthlessness of today's market."


Best Busy And MX Partner For Exclusive DVD's

In a move that is sure to anger independent music retailers, The Hollywood Reporter's Chris Marlowe reports that' "Best Buy and MX Entertainment were set to announce today that they will work together to promote innovative music DVDs in a strategic alliance that will kick off with a new Eric Clapton release. For its part, the consumer electronics giant will offer music DVD publishersBestbuy  incentives to use MX DVD technology in their music DVD products. Best Buy also will market and promote MX enhanced music DVD products with in-store marketing as well as print and online advertising. MX Entertainment will be producing exclusive music DVD titles for Best Buy using the company's MX DVD Multi-Channel Video and other MX technologies. Among other things, these features let viewers be their own director by choosing between multiple and simultaneous video tracks in any way they wish, or they can opt to let the show unfold in the traditional manner. MX DVD technology is compatible with all existing DVD players on the market today."


TiVio For Radio

Freedom of control in how, when, and where we enjoy our entertainment is a common thread found in those technologies and devices that are successful.  (The fact that major labels seem to never GET IT is costing them millions.) A new affordable device brings this technology to radio.

From an AP story in the Detroit News: "Call it TiVo for the radio. A new $70 device called RadioShark  lets

you record your favorite AM and FM radio shows to your home computer and enjoy them later either from the desktop or a portable device.

Radioshark "Aside from the appealing shark-fin shape of RadioShark, the real beauty in this product from Griffin Technology is

its operational simplicity. I can't remember the last time I installed the software, plugged in the gadget and intuitively learned nearly all the controls in less than five minutes...

"When I clicked 'record,' three backlit blue 'gills' on the RadioShark unit began to glow red, an indication I had begun capturing the broadcast to a WMA file. It will also record to WAV files if you choose, and Apple users have the option of capturing the audio files to the AAC audio file format...

"IPod users will appreciate that RadioShark can create a folder in the iTunes application. The next time they synchronize

to the desktop, they'll have their RadioShark recording for the road.

"The time-shifting panel can be toggled from the main screen and, similar to TiVo for television, RadioShark records a rolling timeframe of audio. You can specify the length of that timeframe (30, 60, or 90 minutes, etc.) and you're only limited by the size of your hard drive...

"Like the song you just heard on an FM station? Rewind it and listen to it again with RadioShark... When I wanted to record

something to keep, I just clicked the instant-record button. RadioShark created a permanent file and stored it in the folder of my choice...

"If you're a fan of late-night radio talk shows, or odd-hours disc jockey music programs that air while you're at work or asleep, RadioShark may be the answer for you."

Read this review online here.


LIVE FROM NYC: GLOBAL ENTERTAINMENT AND MEDIA SUMMIT AND BILLBOARD BACKSTAGE PASS TOURING CONFERENCE

Hypebot's Bruce Houghton will provide updates from today's GEMS: Global Entertainment Media Summit and Monday and Tuesday's Billboard's Backstage Pass Touring Conference. 

SATURDAY - Stopped by GEMS in the afternoon and saw a good crowd who were networking up a storm.  Ran into old friend Ravi, music author Hank B. and Gems many others. Shine is a beautiful multi-level and multi-room nightclub on 27th.  Interesting place for the convention although some of the meeting rooms could have been more isolated for noise purposes.  GEMS Off to a strong start.

SUNDAY - Will be there all day. Am on an interesting panel late in the day.

Artist Development And Touring: A New Approach
Find the soul within you! They're some of the leaders from the world of entertainment--and they understand the connection between the soul of the artist and the artists true expression.  But in an ever changing environment---with a lack of artist development these days---exactly how are artists being developed? What is the future of artistic sustainability?  Is there a new way of developing talent to insure longer shelf life?  Some of the brightest minds from the world of entertainment will offer their take on it---and field questions and ideas from GEMS participants.  Featuring: Howard Bloom; Steve Leeds, Wayne Forte, Entourage Entertainment;  Steve Martin, Nasty Little Man; Bruce Houghton, Skyline Music and special guests.

BILLBOARD'S BACKSTAGE PASS -

The gathering is in NYC on Monday and Tuesday.  On a panel Tuesday morning.

HOW DO YOU LIKE ME NOW ?
Promoter consolidation and the increase in nationally promoted tours have caused agents to redefine their position in the touring marketplace. Agents now offer more services to clients, including coordinating sponsorships and cutting more individual deals with promoters and venues. Agents also are involved in such ancillaries as merchandising.

Alex Hodges, Executive VP, House of Blues Concerts (Moderator)
Arny Granat, Co-President, Jam Productions
Peter Grosslight, Head of Music Worldwide, William Morris Agency
Bruce Houghton, President, Skyline Music
Rob Light, Managing Partner and Head of Music, Creative Artists Agency
Steve Martin, Sr. VP, The Agency Group
Marsha Vlassic, President/Owner, MVO Ltd.


MORE ON STARBUCKS' HEAR MUSIC

From the New York Times: "Starbucks is growing increasingly aggressive about marketing music alongside its macchiatos and madeleines.

Starbucks "'Genius Loves Company,' an album of Ray Charles duets that Starbucks' Hear Music division released in late summer as a joint venture with the independent label Concord Records, remained in the Billboard Top 10 for more than a month and recently went platinum. More than a quarter of the CD's sales were made in Starbucks coffee shops.

Hearmusic "Hear, a retailer and label that Starbucks bought five years ago, introduced a satellite radio channel in October that focuses on the kind of adult-oriented pop that Starbucks features. And last month Starbucks announced a plan to install a computer system in some of its United States locations that would let customers make a customized CD that could be assembled, packaged and purchased while they wait for drinks.

"Like all that chain's music ventures, the 'Genius Loves Company' album and the decision to sell customized CD's grew out of the belief that Starbucks regulars -- mostly 25-to-49-year-olds with the kind of disposable income that allows them to spend up to several dollars for coffee or tea a few times a week -- are poorly served by radio stations and record stores attuned to teenage tastes...

"Major labels are sufficiently intrigued with Starbucks' custom CD venture to allow it to sell some of the music from their catalogs on a song-by-song basis, much as iTunes does. 'I would think it's going to give us an opportunity with adult buyers,' said Phil Quartararo, president of EMI Music Marketing. At least partly because many adults have not embraced downloading en masse, they represent a group that record companies have become more interested in, as well as one that some industry executives believe is not enamored with many CD stores."

COMING SOON: Hypebot's afternoon at Hear Music...
Read this entire story in the New York Times here.


Universal Launches 2 Year "I Love The Song" Campaign

Universal
FMQB reports that Univeral distribution arm UME is launching a two year ad campaign called "I Love That Song."

"Beginning with an 11-page spread in Rolling Stone's "Best 500 Songs" issue on December 9, UME will run a multi-million dollar initiative running through 2006 that will include TV, print, outdoor and online advertising, as well as retail promotions with Best Buy and others. The ads will incorporate some of the best known lyrics of the 20th Century, culled from songs like The Temptations' "My Girl," Martha Reeves & The Vandellas' "Dancing In The Streets" and Bing Crosby's "White Christmas."

"Our philosophy is to not treat our artists like 'catalog,'" says UME President Bruce Resnikoff. "We're interested in marketing and selling these artists in a way that continues their popularity today and for future generations."

The 20th Century Masters Series - which also includes works from Lynyrd Skynyrd, ABBA, Neil Diamond, Toby Keith, Louis Armstrong, The Who and others - has already garnered one platinum award and thirteen gold albums."


Napster To Go: Music For Your Phone

The Hollywood Repoter writes: "For the first time ever, music fans can put music from a subscription on their mobile phone following Napster's announcement Wednesday that its Napster to Go service is available for those who use the new AT&T Wireless-based Audiovox SMT5600 Smartphone. Napster to Go Napsterlogo
subscribers will be able to transfer and play an unlimited number of full-length songs to their Smartphone at the standard monthly price of $14.95. "Napster was the first service to make the promise of the portable subscription model a reality, and today we are taking that innovation to the wireless marketplace," Napster chairman and CEO Chris Gorog said, adding that the new capability "furthers Napster's mission to provide music lovers with the ability to conveniently enjoy the most comprehensive digital music experience available."