Billboard has published portions of it's year end wrap up and charts online here.
"This special section will give you a peek at where your favorite artists landed on some of Billboard's definitive year-end charts. While some of the chart-toppers were revealed Dec. 8 during the 2004 Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas and broadcast live on Fox, the show only scratched the surface of the year in charts.
Also featured here is a look back at the big news stories and top tours of 2004 as well as a remembrance of those who have passed away. You'll also find weekly polls on the site seeking your opinion of the top albums and tracks on a host of Billboard's definitive year-end charts.
The "Top 10 Lists" pages lay out the personal picks for year's best releases in the opinion of the staff of Billboard magazine and Billboard.com. Those are augmented with lists from a diverse group of recording artists, including Sheryl Crow and members of Duran Duran, Green Day, Incubus, the Roots, the Killers and Sparta."
From HollywoodReporter.com: "BMI, the U.S. performing rights organization representing more than 300,000 songwriters, composers and music publishers, will host its third annual Songwriters Snowball and Composer/Director round-table at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival. Titled "Music & Film: The Creative Process," the round-table will be held Jan. 26 and be moderated by BMI vp film/TV relations Doreen Ringer Ross. The panel will feature various composers and directors, including Kevin Bacon, director "Loverboy" and "Losing Chase," and Michael Bacon, composer on the same two films; George S. Clinton, composer for "A Dirty Shame" and "Austin Powers"; Rodrigo Garcia, director of "Nine Lives" and "Things You Can Tell Just by Looking at Her"; and Peter Golub, composer for "The Laramie Project" and director of Sundance Composers Lab."
Across the music industry we almost seem to enjoy talking about the inevitble demise of music retail. But while it's true that digitial distribution may make music retaiL obsolete and too many music stores are so out of touch with their customers they don't deserve to stay in business, you have to admit it would be sad if you could never look forward to a rainy Sunday shifting through the CD bins at a cool store around the corner from your apartment. Well fortunately there is still hope thanks to a few indy retailers that work at being in touch with their customers. The Coalition Of Independent Music Stores is one of several groups of retailers banding together to share info and build collective clout. CIMS founder Don VanCleave publishes a weekly chart from the stores and often offers unique insights into the changing world of indy music retail. In his last newsleetr of the hear Don offers a surprisingly optimnistic view of the futrue and answers a pesimistic assemement in this week's Rolling Stone: "In the current Rolling Stone (12-30), there is an article by Steve Knopper entitled "CD Sales Collapse" in huge letters. I talked to Steve for this article but my news was not reported. Our stores are killing it this Christmas. When I reported that a few weeks ago, one major distribution President asked me how that is happening when Soundscan is telling him that the indie sector is way down. Well, first of all, we have been ultra aggressive this year about finding things that bands own themselves and sell on the road. We bring in big quantity on those titles and do enough marketing so that the customer thinks it is a giant new release. For us, it IS a giant new release. And, we don't bother getting these titles Soundscanned because who cares? We are not playing radio games or getting people paid by the scans so why bother. Some recent pieces we bought directly from bands that are selling like hotcakes are Daniel Lanois' release "Rockets" and the Radiohead DVD "The Most Gigantic Lying Mouth of All Time". We are also recording and releasing instore performances with great success. Our most recent, "Rilo Kiley Live at Fingerprints" is doing amazing business. Stores feature titles like these (non-distributed and out of the mainstream) in all of their email marketing and in the stores. Our thinking is that it sure helps to have something cool and generally unavailable to compete with $7.99 U2 CDs at the Beast. Secondly, Mike Dreese at Newbury Comics caused wide panic in the indie store community over five years ago by telling us we would be out of business by now if we didn't diversify our offerings. Most good indie stores took that advice to heart. Many of our members spend as much time at lifestyle trade shows buying cool things that music fans want as they do at SXSW or NARM. Many indies also share success trends with each other on a regular basis. The biggest diversification item is obviously the DVD, musical and theatrical. Many of our owners are aggressively buying DVDs that are not in the mainstream in addition to the big releases that are everywhere."
Across the music industry we almost seem to enjoy talking about the inevitble demise of music retail. But while it's true that digitial distribution may make music retaiL obsolete and too many music stores are so out of touch with their customers they don't deserve to stay in business, you have to admit it would be sad if you could never look forward to a rainy Sunday shifting through the CD bins at a cool store around the corner from your apartment.
Well fortunately there is still hope thanks to a few indy retailers that work at being in touch with their customers. The Coalition Of Independent Music Stores is one of several groups of retailers banding together to share info and build collective clout. CIMS founder Don VanCleave publishes a weekly chart from the stores and often offers unique insights into the changing world of indy music retail. In his last newsleetr of the hear Don offers a surprisingly optimnistic view of the futrue and answers a pesimistic assemement in this week's Rolling Stone:
"In the current Rolling Stone (12-30), there is an article by Steve Knopper entitled "CD Sales Collapse" in huge letters. I talked to Steve for this article but my news was not reported. Our stores are killing it this Christmas. When I reported that a few weeks ago, one major distribution President asked me how that is happening when Soundscan is telling him that the indie sector is way down.
Well, first of all, we have been ultra aggressive this year about finding things that bands own themselves and sell on the road. We bring in big quantity on those titles and do enough marketing so that the customer thinks it is a giant new release. For us, it IS a giant new release. And, we don't bother getting these titles Soundscanned because who cares? We are not playing radio games or getting people paid by the scans so why bother. Some recent pieces we bought directly from bands that are selling like hotcakes are Daniel Lanois' release "Rockets" and the Radiohead DVD "The Most Gigantic Lying Mouth of All Time". We are also recording and releasing instore performances with great success. Our most recent, "Rilo Kiley Live at Fingerprints" is doing amazing business. Stores feature titles like these (non-distributed and out of the mainstream) in all of their email marketing and in the stores. Our thinking is that it sure helps to have something cool and generally unavailable to compete with $7.99 U2 CDs at the Beast.
Secondly, Mike Dreese at Newbury Comics caused wide panic in the indie store community over five years ago by telling us we would be out of business by now if we didn't diversify our offerings. Most good indie stores took that advice to heart. Many of our members spend as much time at lifestyle trade shows buying cool things that music fans want as they do at SXSW or NARM. Many indies also share success trends with each other on a regular basis. The biggest diversification item is obviously the DVD, musical and theatrical. Many of our owners are aggressively buying DVDs that are not in the mainstream in addition to the big releases that are everywhere."
From HollywoodReporter.com: "Confirming predictions of a huge Christmas for e-commerce, Amazon.com said Monday that it enjoyed its biggest holiday season ever, and that for the first time in its history it sold more consumer electronics products than any other category during the important Thanksgiving weekend. The company said it also set a single-day record this holiday season, selling 2.8 million items, or 32 units every second, though it wouldn't identify the specific day."
As the year draws to a close we're seeking nominations for a list of the top campaigns, trends and products shaping the music industry in 2004-2005.
Nominations are being accepted in two categories: Big Budget Campaign, Trend Or Product and Small Budget/No Budget Campaign, Trend Or Product. “We know that big money and major labels are often not the driving force behind new and powerful trends and it’s time that the underground and independent innovators get honored too,” say Hypebot.com founder Bruce Houghton of Skyline Music.
Up to ten nominations per category should be emailed to email@example.com prior to January 10th. Ten winners in each of the two categories will be chosen by Hypebot and panel of industry professionals and will be announced before the end of January.
According to a report from the Asscoiated Press Apple has begun blocking the Harmony technology created by RealNetworks Inc. that was designed to get around the iPod music player's copy-protection armor...
RealNetworks had introduced in the iPod-breaking technology hoping to break the stranglehold of Apples incompatible proprietary digital music standards. Without Real's Harmony Apple limits the iPod to songs downloaded from Apple's iTunes Music Store or songs in the generic MP3 music format.
It's not clear how many people are now have songs they can no longer play on their iPods. RealNetworks told the Asscociated Press that they had "not yet received any customer complaints, but the company will 'look at the Apple upgrade and see how it'll make Harmony work once again with the iPod,' said RealNetworks' spokesman Matt Graves."
If any hypebot readers are effected by Apples actions we would love to here from you.
Reporting on what may prove to be another nail in the coffin of brick and mortar music stores, The Hollywood Reporter writes: "Warner Music Group and Mediaport Entertainment Inc. have announced an agreement to offer music from all WMG labels via Mediaport's kiosks and Web site. WMG is the first major label to distribute via Mediaport...
"Mediaport is known for MusicATM, its free-standing units at which people can create their own compilations, then either burn them to a CD or download them onto portable players and USB flash memory devices...The company is on schedule to have 1,200 of its MusicATMs placed in retail outlets, colleges, military bases and travelers' waiting areas before the end of next year."
For an independent review of MusicATM check out The Rose Review.
It was time to buy a full featured portable music device. I'd toyed with small devices that holds a few CD's worth of music. I had waited for a manufacturer to give me one to test ( I do edit hypebot.com after all! ) or for one to arrive as a gift from a rich friend. No such luck.
I was tired of waiting. I love music. I love the idea of carrying a lot of music with me everywhere and I travel a lot. But which one should I buy?
Apple is the obvious choice. It's cool. It looks and feels sexy. Let's face it - iPod and the accompanying iTunes are the gold standard. But it bothers me that I could only buy music for your iPod from iTunes (or by rip existing CD's as mp3's not WMA's) and that the music purchased at iTunes could only be played on an iTunes enabled device. In other words, if I ever wanted to buy a new cool payer from a manufacturer not licensed by Apple any music purchased on iTunes would probably be unusable. Things could change, but lets face it Apple does not have a history of open sourcing or even of playing nice. So an iPod - even though very alluring - was out for me.
I looked at Dell. I'm a huge Dell fan. Our businesses only buy Dell. Very solid products at competitive prices with unsurpassed customer service, support and repair. I could go on and on about how great Dell is, but that's another story. I even visited a Dell kiosk at the Mall. Played with the 5 and 20 gig Pocket DJ's. Compact. A bit utilitarian looking, but it might do the trick. Then I went online to buy and and the estimated delivery date was in February. No way was I waiting two months to achieve musical nirvana.
A co-worker had just bought a Creative Nomad player. He loves it and enjoyed that it was a lot cheaper than the comparable iPod. Then I learned Napster's plan to sell $180 yearly subscriptions that would allow you to keep 10,000 tracks on your portable as long as you stayed subscribed. An ever changing 1000 CD collection for the price of a dozen CD's a year. How cool is that? And Creative was going to be one of the first players to provide an upgrade that enabled this new service. Dell and Apple weren't even on the list. (Although I'll bet Dell is too smart not to join in.)
A co-worker had recently purchased at Creative Nomad Zen player. He loved it
So I went online and found the Creative Nomad Jukebox Xtra 40GB MP3 Player at Amazon for just over $200 after a rebate - almost half the price of the similar sized iPod. The stars had aligned and I clicked the purchase icon.
A couple of days later, I've charged the (easily replaceable) battery for the requisite 4 hours, listened to the demo, installed the software and am downloading most of the 1800 tracks from my laptop into the device as I write this. So far it's been flawless.
The device itself isn't nearly as sexy as an iPod, but it is a bit more elegant than the Dell and some other devices that I've seen. It's a bit too thick around the middle (.86 inches), but then again so am I.
How will it perform? Will the allure of a trimmer unit ultimately trump price and a more open platform? (It feels like I'm looking across the dance floor in high school trying to make myself pick the girl who I know would make me laugh over the hottie.) Will after Christmas sales reveal even more choices? Stay tuned...
From USA Today "Chris Gorog is convinced people won't continue to pay $1 a song for online music. That is despite Apple's record string of recent achievements, including 200 million songs sold at its iTunes Music Store, and nearly 4 million iPod digital music players moved into consumers' homes this year.
The hitch is that to move songs onto a portable digital device or to a CD costs extra: $1 a song. That's one of the reasons digital music fans have not taken to the subscription model — also offered by Real Networks' Rhapsody — in a big way.
But Gorog thinks that will change next year. And he has other heavyweights such as Yahoo and Microsoft in his corner.
Microsoft earlier this year developed a new copyright protection plan that allows for the transfer of subscription songs to portable players. For $5 more a month, consumers can transfer Napster's entire catalog to their device — and listen as often as they'd like — as long as they subscribe.
With the top-of-the-line iPod, "You can fit 10,000 songs on it," Gorog says. But "to do that would cost you $10,000 if you bought the songs from Apple. With our plan, customers can get 10,000 songs on their device for $180 a year. It's an enormous value."
The caveat is that Microsoft's copyright plan doesn't work with iPods, or virtually any player now on the market.
Only a handful of devices, including MP3 players from iRiver and Gateway, work with the subscription plan offered by Napster and by FYE.com. But in January, devices from Virgin, Creative Technology and Rio will offer software upgrades to make their most recent models compatible with Microsoft's technology. Many more devices also are expected to follow next year."
Read the full USA Today article here.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, "House of Blues Entertainment has retained financial services firm UBS to evaluate the possible sale of HOB's concert booking operation, House of Blues Concerts. The firm said it has recently attracted attention from parties interested in purchasing the concert division, which was known as Universal Concerts and was acquired from the Seagram Co. in 1999. HOB also operates eight House of Blues clubs in the United States. A San Diego venue is under construction, and HOB plans to open at least three additional clubs next year."
Music Choice and Sprint have luanched a music subscription service designed for mobile phone users complete with video and programmed channels. This is the first music streaming service available to U.S. mobile consumers. Music Choice president and CEO David Del Beccaro said that the service was designed so that people who might only have a few minutes at a time can enjoy it. Subscribers choose from a variety of music genres plus news, gossip, live performances and other content produced by Music Choice. Music Choice joins streaming audio and video from such sources as NBC, CNN, ABC, Fox Sports, the Weather Channel, Discovery, E! Entertainment, mFlix, 20th Century Fox, and the Cartoon Network.
FROM MEDIAPOSTS ONLINE SPIN: "BURST! Media just released a survey that hones in on 10,000 Internet users at work. I was surprised to see that most employees do not use it for even three hours of their workday. The percentage of U.S. employees using the Net for three or more hours while at work is 27.4 percent for males and females ages 18 to 24. For workers ages 25 to 34, 32.2 percent of males use the Web three or more hours per day, compared to 24.9 percent of females. Additionally, about one-fifth of all workers ages 45 and over use the Internet to this extent."
"Reasons employees say they use the 'Net at work: To stay informed: 56%; Work hours are the best time to conduct their personal business online: 25.5%; Faster Internet connection at work than at home: 23.2%."
"Activities: Sending e-mail or IMing a friend or family member 59.9%; Checking news 53.9%; Looking up the weather 41%; Product research 35.1%; Checked entertainment schedules 32.4%; Purchased a product 31.4%; Conducted online banking 30.9%; Looked up travel information 30.5%; Checked sports news/scores 26.6%; Looked up health information 26.3%; Made travel arrangements 21.2%; Sent online greeting cards 20.4%."
The online buzz in the last few days regarding the survey has been the absence of on-line radio in the survey. Could it be that those surveyed consider listening to net radio a passive activity not worth mentioning? If one did a survey a decade ago would listening to broadcast radio have registered?
Billboard.com reports that in what some are calling a "rebound year for the music business, emerging digital formats are providing a much-needed financial boost. Music-related products for PCs and mobile phones are on pace to deliver as much as $500 million in combined revenue in the United States for 2004, according to Nielsen SoundScan figures and analysts' projections. That's three times better than 2003 and perhaps the strongest evidence yet of digital distribution's growing role in the fortunes of the music business. Six years after Napster made peer-to-peer piracy a mainstream activity, file swappers were reined in during the last 12 months, and sales of a la carte downloads, subscription services and ringtones bloomed..."
"For the piracy-ravaged recording industry -- whose success has been hitched to the health of the CD since cassette sales began their dramatic decline in 1997 -- the emergence of digital music as a viable second format is a welcome shot in the arm. In what amounted to year two of the mainstream digital music business, big brands, big phone companies, big anti-piracy efforts and portable players with big storage capacities drove consumer's adoption of products and services, technology executives and analysts say."
Perhaps now the final music industry executives not fulling embracing the digital frontier will change their tune; but it sill remains to be seen whether or not the film industry learn from music's mistakes.
In an anti-competitive move that finally tipped this reporter's scales towards buying a Dell portable player instead of an iPod , "Apple has made changes to the firmware installed on its iPod digital music players to make them incompatible with songs purchased from rival RealNetworks' Rhapsody online music service. The move trumps Real's release of software called Harmony, which it said reverse-engineered Apple's FairPlay digital rights management scheme so that its songs could play on iPods -- causing Apple to claim it was "stunned" that its technology had been "hacked." Apple also said it would examine a legal case against Seattle-based RealNetworks over Harmony, but has so far not taken any action. RealNetworks spokesman Matt Graves told MacCentral the company is working to restore compatibility between Harmony and the iPod," according to Digitial Media Wire.
(From CelebrityAccess Media Wire) JupiterResearch's latest survey on digital and online music, Consumer Survey Report: Music, 2004, which is based on a survey of over 2,300 online adults and also compares results with a survey of over 2,100 online teens, ages 13-17, strongly supports two critical JupiterResearch forecasts: subscription services will eventually outpace à la carte downloads and CDs will not be replaced by digital music any time soon in the next five years, and subscription services will eventually outpace à la carte downloads. Indeed, even in 2009, digital music sales will represent just 12% of consumer music spending.
The majority (51%) of online adults, 51%, think physical music is more valuable than digital. "They should," said JupiterResearch VP and Senior Analyst David Card "CDs offer higher sound fidelity, aren't burdened with awkward copy protection and are compatible with pretty much every way people listen to music. MP3 players and portable rentals could turn around that value perception, but it will take time.
While 16% of online adults are interested in downloading a 99-cent single, 17% are tempted by subscription services. Interest in subscription services increases for teens ages 13-17 (19%), nearly doubles for young adults ages 18-24 (31%), and hits 37% for the music aficionados, those who have spent more than $45 on music in the past three months and engage in digital music activities on a regular basis, who are the best customers for digital music.
"Digital music is a young person's game," said Josh Green, analyst at JupiterResearch. "Forty one percent of 18-24 year-olds rip burn CDs and 321% use file-sharing. For the over 25 crowd, those numbers are only 14% and 4%."
In its "Market Forecast Report: Music, 2004 to 2009," JupiterResearch forecast that digital music sales will more than double compared to last year, reaching more than $270 million in 2004, and will grow rapidly to $1.7 billion in 2009, totaling 12% of consumer music spending. While digital music will return the U.S. music industry to growth after four years of steeply declining sales, digital music still will not replace CDs or bring music sales back to its 1999 peak. --Bob Grossweiner and Jane Cohen
Apple announced on Thursday that its iTunes Music Stores have now sold a combined 200 million songs since launching in April 2003. In addition to the U.S., Apple now operates online digital music stores in Canada, the U.K., France, Germany and nine other European countries.
Subscription satellite radio services like D.C.-based XM Satellite Radio and New York-based rival Sirius do not have to abide by the same on-air decency standards as traditional broadcast stations, the Federal Communications Commission said. The FCC denied a request from Los Angeles-based radio broadcaster Mt. Wilson FM Broadcasters, which had sought to prohibit satellite stations from airing profanity and other graphic content. The ruling is important, since Sirius recently signed a pact with radio shock jock Howard Stern, who will join the service in 2006.
Here's a fun spoof on the new Apple Signature Ipods from liebiography.com.
From yesterday's Wall Street Journal: "With all the talk about satellite radio services Sirius and XM, it's easy to forget a much bigger competitor to regular radio: the Internet.
"While just 3.4 million Americans subscribe to satellite radio, about 19 million listen to Internet radio each week, according to research firms Arbitron Inc. and Edison Media Research. That's still tiny compared with the 277 million who listen to regular radio each week, but the number of Internet listeners has grown fast. Just three years ago, only 11 million listened to Internet radio each week.
"That growth has caught the attention of the big radio broadcasting companies, both for the threat it implies and the promise it offers...
"Perhaps the clearest signal yet of how serious broadcast companies are getting about Internet radio came in the middle of last month. Clear Channel Communications Inc. -- the nation's biggest radio broadcaster, with 1,200 stations -- hired Evan Harrison [pictured right] away from his position as general manager of the Internet's top-ranked AOL Radio Network, to lead Clear Channel's online radio efforts.
"The real boom in Internet radio should unfold over the next few years with the development of technology that would allow Internet users to travel around large areas and keep their connections, much like cellphone users can. Various companies are working on different versions of such technology. Widespread mobile Internet access eventually could even allow consumers to get online right from their moving cars. Internet radio receivers could wind up on the dashboard right alongside regular radio tuners, much as satellite radio receivers are becoming standard in-car options today."
From The Hollywood Reporter: "...At the beginning of this year, industry observers were saying that U.S. album sales appeared to have bottomed out. Indeed, 2004 started auspiciously, and sales for the year to date remain ahead of 2003. But the margin is narrowing. For the year to Sept. 12, album sales by volume were up 7.2% from the same period in 2003, according to Nielsen SoundScan. As of Dec. 5, year-to-date sales were just 2.6% ahead. In fact, as widely reported, weekly unit sales have been below those of the comparable 2003 period for the last 12 weeks in a row -- and this during the crucial fourth quarter. Sales for the last 12 weeks totaled 151.7 million units, vs. 165.9 million in the same period last year, a difference of 8.6%."
"...Harold Vogel, head of Vogel Capital Management and author of "Entertainment Industry Economics," says the music industry became "too optimistic, too soon." "The first-quarter comparisons were very easy against the year prior," he says. "Progressively, they become more difficult over the year. That's an indication that we are not in a strong, sustained up-trend. We may be moving sideways."
From the New Orleans Times Picayune: "When Jimmy Buffett performed at the Mahalia Jackson Theatre of the Performing Arts on Wednesday night, the New Orleans audience wasn't the only one enjoying the show: The event was transmitted live by satellite into movie theaters across the nation, thanks to the miracle of technology and the marketing might of AEG-TV, the national firm that produced the event."
"If AEG has its way, Buffett's Parrotheads won't be the only ones flocking to movie theaters and TVs to check out music live from New Orleans. AEG, which has been tapped to co-produce next year's New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, is working to take Jazzfest to new audiences through TV, DVDs and live broadcast into movie theaters..."
"...Part of our association with AEG is to look at everything they can bring to the table," said Quint Davis, president of the local office of Festival Productions and producer-director of Jazzfest. "We'd like to do all of these things. AEG is really very innovative and a leader in this field, and this is good for New Orleans and Louisiana in so many ways."
"The festival is also looking into the possibility of broadcasting the festival on satellite radio, another field in which AEG has expertise," Davis said."
For a good non-technical overview of all of the technologies competing with traditional broadcast radio; check out this article in the Greensboro, NC News-Record . The article takes a look at how satellite radio, digital radio, iPods and podcasting, Internet radio, and more are changing broadcasting.
Wired.com reports that "School teacher George Masters has the marketing world abuzz with a homemade ad for Apple Computer's iPod that is rapidly "going viral." To some experts, Masters' ad heralds the future of advertising. Homemade ads will play a big part in marketing, just like blogging is shaking up the news. Masters' 60-second animated ad features flying iPods, pulsing hearts and swirling '70s psychedelia. It's set to the beat of "Tiny Machine" by '80s pop band the Darling Buds."
To read the full article and view the ad click here.
Launch and The Asosciated Press are reporting that, "Irish rockers U2, R&B singers The O'Jays and soul balladeer Percy Sledge are among five musical legends to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame during the foundation's 20th annual induction ceremony next year, the organization announced Monday."
"The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation will hold its induction ceremony March 14 at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Manhattan..."
"...The Pretenders and blues guitarist Buddy Guy will also join the organization's Class of 2005."
"...Frank Barsalona and Seymour Stein will be inducted in the non-performer category."
"Barsalona is credited with creating the first legitimate rock and roll booking agency. His roster included acts like Led Zepplin, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band and The Who."
"Stein, who is chairman and co-founder of Sire Records, is noted as one of the most successful executives in the recording industry. He is known for signing artists like Madonna , The Ramones and The Talking Heads."
In a world there is an abundance of free media Internet, radio, broadcast TV, we've often wondered if subscription based consumer services can survive. Can is be a good business model to ask people to put another $5, $10, or $15 on their credit cards every month?
AOL for example is feeling the erosion of customers to other broadband services usually bundled with an existing cable or telephone service. So they've decided to fight back.
The Hollywood Reports writes this morning that, "in a move both risky and essential, AOL is abandoning its strategy of exclusivity and will free much of its music, sports and other programming to non-subscribers in hopes of boosting ad sales. The decision could help the company counter declining subscriptions as Internet users move to high-speed connections. At least that's the plan. The danger is that the bold new strategy will instead accelerate the erosion of AOL's core revenue source. To begin with, the change pits AOL against big guns Yahoo Inc. and Microsoft Corp., which in turn are looking over their shoulder wondering what search leader Google Inc. will do next."
"AOL is left looking like the race car in a race that nobody wants to run in anymore," said Rob Enderle, an industry analyst in San Jose, Calif. "AOL's dead as it exists. It has to find a way to become relevant again."
SoundExchange, the recording industry entity set up to collect royalties paid by webcasters to stream music online and distribute them to artists and record labels, has launched a new search engine that allows users to find out if there have been performances by an artist or of a specific song reported for payment of royalties. The PLAYS (Performance Log Archive of Your Songs) searchable database will include performances on satellite radio, digital cable and satellite TV services, and Internet broadcasts. Since 1988, SoundExchange has processed over 250 million performances and allocated over $22.5 million in royalties.
The Supreme Court said on Friday that it will hear a case deciding whether file sharing services like Grokster and StreamCast Networks can be held liable for the copyright infringement of their users, Dow Jones Newswires reported. The recording industry said that it is losing up to $1 billion a year in sales to illegal downloaders. "The infringement Grokster and StreamCast foster is inflicting catastrophic, multibillion dollar harm," the entertainment industry said in its high court appeal. Grokster and StreamCast, however, argue that current copyright laws don't cover new computer technologies, such as file-sharing, and urged that Congress be allowed to decide the issue. The case stems back to 2001, when the entertainment industry sued the two services. That case was dismissed, and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals subsequently ruled in favor of the peer-to-peer networks. The Supreme Court is expected to hear oral arguments in March, with a ruling following by June 2005.
Many Music 2.0 convention attendees recently attended a live concert performance by Geoff Byrd, an indie artist sponsored by MSN, Garageband, and Live365. The three net companies have joined together to develop Byrd into what they hope to be the first pop star "born from the internet". Uber agency CAA has also signed the act.
These net music companies efforts mirror the successful buzs building campaigns that major labels have been running on AOL Music. MSN, Garageband, and Live365 essentially are saying "we can do for indy acts what AOL has been doing for some of the majors". Whether or not there is a business model here remains to be seen.
According to FMQB "Universal Music's Island Def Jam label has officially bought out Jay-Z's successful Roc-A-Fella Records, purchasing the 50% it did not already own from Jay, Damon Dash, and Kareem "Biggs" Burke. The New York Post reports that Universal paid just under $10 million for the rap label, whose roster includes yesterday's leading Grammy nominee Kanye West. Roc-A-Fella will live on as an imprint label within IDJMG, which had purchased the first 50% of its stake in the label back in 1997 for $1.5 million."
"Additionally, after rumors circulated for months, Jay-Z (real name: Shawn Carter) has been named President and CEO of Def Jam Records. He will report to IDJMG Chairman Antonio "LA" Reid and start at his new position on January 3. Jay-Z had also been pursued by Warner Music's Lyor Cohen for a position within WMG. Cohen had been at Def Jam when the label originally bought into Roc-A-Fella."
Read the full article here.