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Google Reportedly In Acquisition Talks With Napster

The New York Post is reporting that Google is aggressively seeking a strategic alliance with or even the outright purchase of Napster. Rumors have been rampant in recent days both about Google's desire to get into digital music and troubles within Napster who let go of 10 % of its workforce last week.

Napsterbunny_18Napster could be an interesting play for Google who have already entered the video download marketplace, but lag behind in music. One has to wonder , however, why the net giant needs Napster and it's comparatively small half million subscribers to leap into a real position in digital downloads. The Post suggests  that it is a sign that Google "sees subscription services, rather than the individual download model that Apple's iTunes is built on, as the future of digital music".  Perhaps the might Google sees something that others have not seen in recent earnings reports that seem to indicate continued consumer resistance to music subscriptions. 

For Napster, a Google alliance or acquisition would provide a significant boost for Google_3a company struggling to find it's place in a competitive and shifting marketplace.  The Google name alone is consumer magic; much like Napster's name once was.

Industry observers had speculated about a more aggressive or creative move into music by Google including perhaps variable pricing, iTunes style ease of use, and more open access for independent music than other services like Napster currently provides. But perhaps Google has something much grander in mind...Could a Google/Napster hybrid provide free ad supported subscriptions? Or dare we dream about even free downloads like the Napster of yore...only legal?  It's had to imagine what Google is thinking, but they've surprised us before.

Read the full New York Post story here.  Free registration may be required.

Will Cell Phones Be The Real Radio/iPod Killer?

Fmqblogo_fp_7Since a lot of us don't have a print subscription to FMQB (and aren't really sure we need one anymore), you may have missed an interesting analysis on the future of radio by consultant John Silliman Dodge.  So we appreciated it when those nice folk at RAIN (The Radio Internet Newsletter) excerpted potions of  it in their newsletter Monday.

"If you thought iPods or Sirius or XM was a threat to radio, watch out for the cell phone. Last summer  the Wall Street Journal reported that despite the success of the iPod/iTunes industry, '... mobile-phone makers will sell more than 750 million handsets. With the rollout of full-track music download services…the wireless phone could become the music industry’s biggest and most profitable distribution channel....Sprint_2"Sprint Nextel is now in the radio business, working with Sirius. Cingular is in. Virgin is in..., Motorola has iRadio with 435 channels from Clear Channel; Nokia is getting in, CBS Radio is working with Hewlett-Packard on a "visual radio” concept..." music/talk /personality/ relationship/package that makes Radio_16

"...The radio business needs to focus on the total package, to craft the completely branded us more compelling than any program-it yourself entertainment option. And now would be a particularly good time to do this work, now that the music, telecom, software and banking industries all plan to make cell phones their new one-stop delivery and payment channel."

Read more in RAIN here.

Cumulus Radio Group Stops Reporting To Trades

According to AllAccess.com the Cumulus radio group will no longer report it's music adds to the trades.   "As of next week we are no longer reporting adds....charts do nothing for us as a Cumuluslogo business," said Exec VP John Dickey. "Our job is to program to serve the listener and advertisers. It's no longer a broad enough of a horizon to look just at adds and charts...It should be retail sales, clubs, and other points of national and regional media influence...The 'Tuesday Add Mentality' causes folks to run songs up and down more than they should be doing...If they want to know specifics, they can look at Mediabase. We should think about adding records at any point during the week, not just on a Tuesday..." Radio_and_records_1

Trade magazine Radio & Records has just announced that they are suspending reporting status  Cumulus stations pending a review.

Particularly if other station groups follow suit, Cumulus has dealt another blow to already weakened old school radio promotion; and it underscores just how little influence record labels have over broadcasters.  Although in theory music decisions could become more localized and proactive, Cumulus' new policy  does not signify a shift towards more open and adventurous music programming.

Hypebot's Digital Music QuickNews: Yahoo Grabs Grammys & Google May Open Music Store

  • Trumping rival AOL, Yahoo Music will provide the official Grammy web presence with Yahoomusiclogos_14 previews, exclusives and behind the scenes action.  But that won't stop Billboard and others from trying to grab a piece of the Grammy action.
  • There is increasing chatter that Google is planning to open a music download store.  Web Google_2watchers hope that any site would offer the same democratic access and variable pricing that Google's video store does.  If so it would offer stiff competition to iTunes and others.  Read more about the rumors at SearchEngineWatch.
  • According to Digital Music News, "Satellite radio provider WorldSpace, which covers several global regions outside of the US, recently posted a subscriber count of 115,000....a 50 percent jump over third quarter totals. The company credited heavy uptake in India for the recent growth surge."
  • Rumors persist that Microsoft may manufacture it's own portable player to compete more effectively with Apple's iPod.  Read Hypebot's full coverage here. Riaa_6
  • And reportedly other managers and acts may soon be joining Nettwork Management's McBride To Fight RIAA Lawsuits/  Read that story here.

Microsoft To Manufacture The iPod Killer?

Ipod2_10Several sources are reporting that Microsoft is considering manufacturing their own competitor to Apple's iPod which currently controls 75% of the portable player market.

Microsoft has always taken a hands-off approach to manufacturing allowing others to build players and only offering software. This strategy, however, has led to a Microsoft_7disjointed consumer experiences in portable players with various conflicts between hardware and Microsoft's software emerging. Synchronization was often unreliable, and many players had problems with PlaysForSure technology. Apple on the other hand offers a virtually flawless experience with total compatibility between the iPod and iTunes.

Businessweek_online236x40_2BusinessWeek reported that any Microsoft-branded player would do more than just play music. In an interview, Xbox head Peter More suggested the company would leverage its successes in gaming. Calling the brand an "opportunity," Moore suggested such a device might carry the Xbox logo.

It's certainly too early to know if the mighty Microsoft can dethrone the craftier Apple, but it is exciting to see that the race to create a worthy alternative to the iPod may have finally begun.

Nettwork Management's McBride To Fight RIAA Lawsuits

Riaa_3Canada's Nettwerk Management head Terry McBride is doing what somebody representing artists should have done long ago - take on the RIAA.  The company who manages Avril Lavigne, The Bare Naked Ladies, Dido, Sarah McLachlan and others has decided that enough is enough.

"Suing music fans is not the solution, it's the problem," stated Terry McBride,  C.E.O of Nettwerk Music Group.  He's fighting back with his wallet and a lawyer who will fight on behalf of at least one 15 year old and her family sued by the industry trade group for downloading. Nettwerk Music has agreed to pay the total expense of all legal fees as well as any fines should theCourthouse_7 family lose the case against the RIAA.

"Litigation is not 'artist development.' Litigation is a deterrent to creativity and passion and it is hurting the business I love," insists McBride. "The current actions of the RIAA are not in my artists' best interests."

Kudos to Teri McBride and the artists that he represents.  Alienating fans had never been the solution to the music industry's woes. Read the full press release here.

Wal-Mart Could Transform The Record Industry

FROM THE SCARY BUT TRUE DEPARTMENT: There is an interesting piece in today's LA Times Wal-Mart's deal with Garth Brook, their new Soundcheck series of exclusive in-store and net broadcasts and how the retail giant has the power to transform the record business:

Walmart_1"It's analogous to the way they want to deal with their vendors — they want to deal directly and cut out the middleman, whether it's widgets or Rubbermaid, and now they're doing it with stars...Whatever they touch they transform, because they're so big and they have such tremendous market clout...The Brooks deal reflects the retailer's power within the recording industry, particularly in country music. Some label executives estimate that Wal-Mart is responsible for 50% of the genre's sales..."

Read the full story here.  Free registration may be required.

How The Pixar Deal May Hurt The Music Industry & Why Isn't Anyone Doing Anything About It?

What does selling an animation studio have to do with the future of the music industry? And what Pixarcan Apple's competitors do about it?  The murmur on the street is that Steve Job's Pixar deal with Disney not only increases his power base, but also makes it more unlikely that a hoped for iPod killer will emerge soon. 

Record labels have been concerned for some time about Apple's dominance in the growing digital download market. This dominance is even more stifling because of Job's Applelogo_4unwillingness to license his proprietary applications to others.  The iPod/iTunes combo is such a user friendly combination of form and function that no other platform, device, or download site has been able to get much traction. 

Now that Jobs is has jumped a number of rungs up the Hollywood ladder,  his ability to steer content towards iTunes - including popular video content - has increased exponentially.  Everyone wants to be part of the in crowd and Jobs is now certainly the leader of the pack.

Sony would seem the most like to create a competing device and accompanying service.  They are Sony_logo_11 the only music and film company attached directly to a device manufacturer. But Sony's recent attempts have faltered due to mediocre design, faulty software and a reputation for draconian copy protection.

And in the long run, would other music and video companies trust that they were getting fair treatment from a competitor?  One of Apple's advantages was and is that as an outsider - a tech company not an entertainment company - they could communicate and deal with everyone.  Plus Apple was both an established tech/software company and a manufacturer/distributor already.

Yahoomusiclogos_13Companies like Yahoo, Napster, AOL, and Real provide distribution, some exposure and little else.  Creative has come closest on the device side, but seems to lack the resources for a greater battle. Dell who might have the resources has always been a follower rather than an innovator.

With no iPod killer anywhere in sight, the Jobs juggernaut moves forward.

But in the interim, why aren't Real and the others doing more to sell compatible devices and even Dell_3 offering rebates like XM and Sirius? Why hasn't Creative or Dell partnered with MusicNet on their own seamless download site like iTunes?  Why aren't the record labels, who are finally learning the power of digital promotion and starting to reap some benefits from digital distribution, working more aggressively to bolster Apple's competitors?

From the basements Burbank and the heights of the Capital Tower all the way to the boardrooms of the Tokyo, the dream off the iPod killer lives on...

Madonna Uses Ringtones To Hit #1 Despite Diminishing Radio Play

According to the Wall Street Journal online, "...The mobile-phone ring tone was more important in propelling Madonna's hit single 'Hung Up' to the top of the charts than radio airplay..."

"The song achieved the No. 1 spot in 29 countries simultaneously in 2005 with 40% less radio airplay in the U.S.than the average No. 1 hit..."

"Michael Nash, a senior vice president at Warner Music... speaking at the MidemNet music technology forum earlier this week... said Warner had compared the airplay the single received in the U.S. with the previous 18 or 19 records to achieveWarner_music_group_logo_8  the No. 1 chart position."

"The growing importance of ring tones, along with other digital music products, is prompting changes in the way music companies identify new artists and bands and market music..."

"...Warner Music has charged its staff responsible for signing and managing artists with creating content in the studio that works as part of a whole digital package...."

Congrats to Madonna for smart song choices (They don;t call you the material girl for nothin'.) and kudos to Warner Music for realizing that something other than their radio promo department can drive sales. But we're afraid to think about how many songs will be released with hooks that include the words "phone", "cell" or "ringtone". 


Universal Backs New Multi-Platform Club/DJ Label Apollo In Europe

Reports are the Universal is backing a new mostly digital label in Europe aimed smartly at the Universallogo_13singles oriented club/DJ market.  Dubbed Apollo, the label believes that hit tracks in the genre can  sell sufficiently across a combination physical, digital, mobile and video platforms. In an era when the "album" seems near extinction and single track sales are rising this bet - which in many ways is just a intelligent reaction to the marketplace - at this time and with this kind of music could prove to be a profitable experiment for Universal

Rumors Swirl As Napster Lays Off 10% Of Staff

GrimreaperAccording to Digital Music News, Napster has layed off about 10 percent of it's Napsterbunny_17workforce mostly in the programming and marketing divisions. This confirms rumors of downsizing reported here last week.  Morale inside Napster is reportedly extremely low, but how far the cuts will go may not be revealed until an earnings report on February 8th.  Thus far Napster executives are denying that deep cuts are imminent pointing to a subscriber base that has recently reached 500,000.

With Apple's continuing dominance of the player market and the iPod's incompatibility with Napster, coupled with lower than expected acceptance of the music subscription model, these lay-offs are almost certainly just the beginning of an industry-wide shakeout.

AOL Music Launches Gay Channel

GaymenIn amove that shows again the potential of the internet to serve specific demographics and niches small and large, AOL has announced a new music site aimed at the Gay community.   "G-Sides, Music for the GLBT Community "features "...what we're listening to. The gay and lesbian artists we love. The icons we can't live without. The newest releases you need to know about. And a place to talk about it -- amongst ourselves."

But M. Tye Comer, senior programming manager for AOL Music, told Billboard that G-Sides isn‘t  Aolmusic_6necessarily a "gay music" site. "This site will talk about all different facets: gay artists, music that has a strong LGB fan base, and even videos that you might not think have relevance to the gay and lesbian community -- but do." 

The first days of the site have included an interview with Cindy Lauper and a duet between Boy George and Antony & The Johnsons as well as a chart of "This Week's Essential Music" with club fav Andy Bell of Erasure at #1 and Madonna at #2.

Fall Out Boy Creates Successful Viral Campaign With MyLocalBands.com

Fall_out_boy_mainEMO faves Fall Out Boy are partnering with both Google Maps and MyLocalBands.com in a novel approach to creating viral buzz for their first ever leap to arenas with openers All American Rejects and indie mySpace favs Hawthorne Heights.

Fans generate points by purchasing tickets, emailing friends and posting pictures on the site. The city whose fans get the most total points get a Mylocalbandsfree show by the band. Daniel Kruchkow, vice president of Digital Media & Commerce at Island Def Jam told Digital Music News that after only two weeks "pre-sale tickets have been sold out clean as a result of the page, and 20,000 users have already signed up for the roadmap...Almost 50,000 emails have been sent to friends..."

Expeerience it yourself here.

Beastie Boys Pave A New D.I.Y. Path With Fan Shot "Awesome" Concert Film

Beastiesfilm_1The Beastie Boys lent 55 fans quality digital cameras at a 2004 Madison Square Garden Show with some simple instructions: do whatever you want, rock out, act like a filmmaker, act like fan - but always keep rolling tape.  This creative use of new affordable technologies is titled "Awesome; I Fuckin' Shot That" and is debuting this week at Sundance.

The may be the first concert film ever shot by amateurs. But the final $1.2 million product, is apparently anything but amateurish. Three teams of editors working on Macs with Final Cut Pro did three initial cuts, which band member Adam Yauch (aka MCA, aka Nathanial Hörnblowér) and editor Neal Usatin then molded them into one final cut.

Affordable high quality digital cameras and editing software have been available for several years as has the option of direct to DVD release.  But with the advent of video iPods and paid video downloads as well as the coming digitization of movie theater projection formerly niche content can become a source of real income. 

Every artist should be investing today in a good camera and shooting everything from rehearsals to recording sessions to backstage.  With a little editing it all can be offered - free or paid - and serve as another way to sustain fan interest in this area of increasing media fragmentation.

New Player Software Glitch Continues Sony's Ongoing Consumer Confidence Campaign

Sony_logo_10According to TimesOnline.co.uk,  "Sony is advising consumers not to use software supplied with its new range of digital music players after hundreds of users complained that it caused their computers to crash."

"...Sony admitted that the software sold with the player has “major problems”, which has left many owners unable to use the players...".  Read the full story here.

EMI CharimanTalks About The Future Of The Industry

EmilogoReuters News Service is running an interview with EMI Chairman Eric Nicoli that focuses heavily on digital music.  Nothing earth shattering here at all, but it's always interesting to hear an old school industry heavyweight try to talk about the future:

"...We've moved on from the days when the main impact of digital technology was to harm Cd_18 our industry by facilitating rampant online and physical theft," he said. "The day is surely within our sights when digital growth outstrips physical decline and we can all compete for share of a growing pie...."

"The pessimists will say (the death of the "album" now that individual tracks can be downloaded)...is a problem, but our research suggest that the net effect of unbundling is a positive..."

"...We thought subscriptions (services such as Napster and Rhapsody that offer unlimited music for a monthly fee) would be huge -- it hasn't been," he said.

Mobile music, apart from phone ringtunes, has also developed more slowly than many had hoped."We're at year zero -- if that -- with mobile," Nicoli said...

Read the full Reuters story here via Yahoo.

Indie Music Sales Get Boost As eMusic Starts Reporting To Soundscan

Emusic has announced that, effective today, its sales figures are being reported to Nielsen Nielsonsoundcan SoundScan. By reporting sales data eMusic will help reveal a more precise picture of digital music market sales to SoundScan which some believe has been severely undercounting the burgeoning independent music sector.

“The independent music sector is enjoying spectacular growth while overall recorded music sales from major labels continue to decline, and yet many in the music industry treat the independent music market as an afterthought.  We're certain that independent music market share has been inaccurately reported,” said David Pakman, CEO of eMusic.“

Emusicnewlogo_4eMusic claims that it is now second only to iTunes in monthly download sales.  Over the past 24 months, eMusic has sold more than 45 million tracks. This represents more music sold by other major music services like Rhapsody, Microsoft's MSN, Yahoo!, and Napster combined.  eMusic has no major label content;  only tracks from 3800 independent record labels including Rykodisc, TVT, Concord, Naxos, Beggars Banquet, KOCH, Epitaph, Comedy Central, Smithsonian Folkways, Dischord, Merge, Razor and Tie and Sun.

Unlike other download portals who sell tracks using the WMA format or iTunes which has it's own proprietary system, eMusic downloads are mp3's compatible with almost all music players including the popular iPod.

iTunes Users Same Demographic That Loves P2P

Itunes_logo_1Who is downloading all those millions of tracks at iTunes?  A new Nielsen study says that they are more likely to be younger males who own or want to own a Volkswagen, Audi, or Subaru. They are also likely to read Wired, Rolling Stone, and FHM and tune into television networks like the Cartoon Network, HBO and BBC America. 

Interestingly, young males just a couple of years younger are often named as the computer savvy group that uses "illegal" P2P the  most. There is a messages here about P2P leading to real sales and about buying preferences of this key demographic.  But is anyone other than Apple listening?

UK Acts Lead The Way In Net Promo

Interesting article from the UK via Rueters news service on bands breaking via the net:

"...It's very tempting to say we don't need the music industry," said "Dobs" Vye of London-based band Public Symphony, which is using its Web site (www.publicsymphony.com) and a ton of goodwill to get off the ground. "But the reality is that in order to really break out, we need the printed press, newspapers, magazines, radio and ultimately TV," he said, adding he had "begged" people to help with an album and "blagged" the making of a video."

"...Domino's (Records) Bell and Universal's Wells agree that traditional "A&R"...are spending more time behind computer screens and less time in the smoky pubs and clubs where bands have tended to get noticed." "There will be a mass of bands like the Arctic Monkeys," said Wells. "There will be more acts coming from left field, appearing in the charts without traditional support."

Some cyber groups have so far resisted the temptation to join a record company, even when the offer is there, using a distributor to ship records and maintaining rights to the music..."

Read the full article here.

Continue reading "UK Acts Lead The Way In Net Promo" »


  • Global music industry trade group IFPI issued a report showing sales of 420 million paid downloads in 2005. That is more than double the level of downloads in 2004, and twenty times the volume in starter-year 2003. The sale of digital music was a $1.1 billion business worldwide or 6 percent of label revenues. Mobile music sales hit $400 million and  subscription services grew from 1.5 million to 2.8 million subscribers last year.Napsterbunny_15
  • Rumors of trouble and possible downsizing at Napster surfaced and were denied.  Little more may be known prior to a Feb 8 earnings report.
  • Concert giant Live Nation (formerly Clear Channel) continues its post spin-off consolidation shuttering offices in Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, Virginia Beach, Kansas City, Cincinnati, Birmingham and Minneapolis and laying off a few more key staffers including former agent Joel Peresman in NYC.  Calls to local offices are now answered with "Live Nation" confirming the rumor that they are again dropping the use of their famous local promoter names (like Bill Graham Presents and Electric Factory) that were reinstated just months ago.
  • Direct TV announced the launch of a new weekly live music spotlight show "CD USA".
  • Sony BMG signed Chaka Kahn Sonybmg_12and Aaron Neville to a newly formed adult oriented label Burgundy based the the company's special marketing division.
  • Universal announced the addition of 100,000 rarer tracks to it's digital downloads offerings aApplelogo_3s the number of tracks on some top download sites topped a dizzying 2 million choices.
  • Apple had another record quarter including the sale of 14 million new iPods; and iTunes corrected a controversial feature that now allows users to opt-out of company monitoring of music sampling.

Sony BMG Launches Burgundy Label To Service Adult Acts And Consumers

(Excerpted From CelebrityAccess MediaWire) - The Sony BMG Strategic Marketing Group (SMG) is Sonybmg_11 launching a new record label, Burgundy Records with signings of Chaka Khan and Aaron Neville. The label, which is spearheaded by Executive Vice President Joe DiMuro, is will sign legendary artists and release new titles in conjunction with marketing campaigns that promote through traditional and non-traditional channels.

Burgundy Records will sign additional artists who have retained strong consumer affinity and produced a catalog of music that is still relevant and appreciated today. The label's primary target audience will be adult consumers who may consider themselves fans of the artists' earlier work and are eager to hear new material. The label will also bring widespread exposure for these iconic artists and their new music to a contemporary audience.

"Central to every project executed by SMG is the concept of a "360-Degree Approach." By operating much like an agency, the Group analyzes artists from every angle and promotes them through a variety of channels, including licensing, strategic partnerships, mobile applications, DRTV, tour marketing and publicity.

"Artists and their labels can no longer rely on exposure through radio and video to get their new music into the hands of existing or potentially new fans," said DiMuro. "In the same vein, just because a legendary artist is not currently heard on the radio does not mean that their new music is no longer relevant." 

Original Article By Bob Grossweiner and Jane Cohen

Fox Sports Takes On MTV?

Add another TV outlet to your media lists because Fox Sports honcho David Hill is bringing "CD USA", a music magazine show, to company owned Direct TV's 15 million subscribers, according today's LA Times.

"..."CD USA" will feature interviews, behind-the-scenes reports and performances by as many as Directtv_logo1bseven bands per episode, including big-name acts such as the Goo Goo Dolls, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Linkin Park," writes the LA Times.

Mtv_15"MTV has moved away from music. The only time you see live performances nowadays is in the Grammys," said Hill, who last year was dispatched to shake things up at DirecTV by his boss, News Corp. chief Rupert Murdoch. With the new Saturday show, Hill said, he seeks to do more than fill "a glaring hole in our lineup."

"The hope is that it sparks a schoolyard conversation on Monday morning," he said, "and that little Suzy comes home and tells her mom that unless she has it, she'll be a social pariah..."

It's great to see more live music on TV, but isn't this attitude of music fan as idiot consumer that got us into this mess in the first place?  In the age of fragmented media can this lower common denominator approach really work? The jury is  out, but kudos to Hill and Fox for trying.

Hypebot's Digital Music QuickNews:

iTunes Corrects Controversial Feature - "A controversial feature in Apple’s recently updated iTunes v6.0.2 is the iTunes MiniStore, which tries to make suggestions for what to buy from the iTunes Music Store based on you’re listening to. Now the MiniStore will only operate if you give it permission first," Peter Cohen reports for Playlist. "The iTunes MiniStore appears below the song list Applelogo_2 area in the main iTunes window."

Apple Shows Record Growth & Earnings - Apple announced its quarterly earnings results on Wednesday showing revenues of $5.75 billion for its fiscal Q1 including impressive iPod sales of 14 million units. Profits were pegged at $565 million. Compared to the same quarter last year, revenues jumped 64.8 percent and profits increased an amazing 91.5 percent.Napsterbunny_14

Napster hits 500,000 subscribers - Amid rumors of layoffs and downsizing, the increase represents a 100 percent jump over last year. "Doubling our subscribers over the last twelve months demonstrates the mass market potential of our music subscription model and the powerful appeal of Napster to music fans who want it all," Chris Gorog, chairman and CEO of Napster told Digital Music News.  Stay tuned for more on this story and their Feb. 8th earnings report.

Universal announced it is adding more than 100,000 older and rare tracks to it's digital download offerings. Artists include Marianne Faithfull, Fairport Convention, Brian Auger, Nirvana, Chris DeBurgh, Big Country, Jacques Brel, Nana Mouskouri, Brigitte Bardot and many others.  Expect more of this mining of catalog from other labels soon.

Orchard_2 GroupieTunes, Mobiletoolbox, Summus, and Xingtone join Orchard's netowrk of almost 200 mobile music and ringtone providers including Sprint, Vodafone, T-Mobile, and Zingy. "Coming on the heels of our full-song-download-over-mobile deals with Verizon Wireless and Groove Mobile, which we announced earlier this month, we are committed to maintaining our leadership position with respect to mobile music distribution and marketing," said Greg Scholl, chief executive of The Orchard.

New Digital Radio Sidechannels Serve Niche Genres

Niche programming on satellite and Internet radio may get a little competition as the HUD Digital Radio Alliance announces 28 markets that will begin multicasting HD2 (aka digital) sidechannels.

MediaweekMediaWeek writes that the initial channels to be introduced  included "Viva La Voce (Opera), Classical Alternative, Traditional Jazz & Blues, Coffee House, Female Talk, Future Country, Extreme Hip Hop, and in-depth News. Other channels in development include Deep Cuts Classic Rock, Live Rock, New Alternative, Fusion Hispanic-Anglo Rock, Chick Rock, Indie & New Rock."

Radio_14 "The 28 markets include all top 13 radio markets, plus markets such as Seattle (No. 14), Baltimore (No. 20), Cincinnati (No. 27), Indianapolis (No. 41), Dayton (No. 58), Albuquerque (No. 70) and Wichita (No. 94). In total, some 264 new commercial-free radio channels will begin to hit the market in the next few days, in addition to the 70 existing digital sidechannels...."

"...So far, more than 600 radio stations are broadcasting in HD Radio, a number that is expected to double this year. But the number of consumers with HD Radios is in the tens of thousands. With 15 manufacturers offering HD Radio receivers, the industry hopes the number of consumers that can receive their digital signals will grow to the hundreds of thousands in 2006 and millions in 2007," reports MediaWeek.

Blog Trackers Measure Band Buzz

Icerocketchart_1So you read the Mediabase, Soundscan and even Big Champagne's P2P numbers and think you know what's going on the street?  Recently you've even added checking how many new friends your Coolfer_header_030604_clearcacts have on MySpace and read your Google alerts daily.  You're certainly clued in now! Well, guess again. 

The blogosphere is increasingly where band buzz is starting and NYC music blog Coolfer has taken Icerocketlogoan  interesting approach to tracking new music activity on hundreds of thousands of blogs.  Using blog trend tool IceRocket, Coolfer is following the progress of two buzz bands Morningwood and the California based We Are Scientists as both acts get praised and criticized across a broad spectrum of blogs.  Coolfer than offers some analysis and hypothesizes on the reasons for increases in activity (like touring), etc.  In an age of fractured media and particularly if you are a believer that any press is good press, blog tracking may become more important than MediaBase. 

Remember tearsheets?

Bad Music Retail News From Napster, Musicland And HMV

The week has begun with a plethora of bad news from across the music retail sector. Digital Music Napsterbunny_13 News is reporting that download pioneer Napster is in such dire straights that massive layoffs and even a fire sale of assets are being considered.  More should be reveled at an investor conference call on February 8th (Stay tuned for details on how to listen in.) Napster shares presently stand at $3.27, down $6.57 from its 52-week high.

Hypebot will be digging deeper for the story behind the Napster slide from grace. but three things seem apparent. First as a stand alone company without the backing of  for example Yahoo! (Yahoo! Music) or AOL or being a more established and diverse company like Real (Rhapsody), Napster may not have the resources to wait out the slower than predicted growth in downloading caused by the current dominance of iTunes and it's proprietary system.  Secondly, Napster has done little to set itself apart form other competitors. Lastly, a shake-out of weaker or less innovative players is inevitable in an new business sector and should not be viewed as a sign of overall weakness.

Cd_many_8In the physical retail space, the 800 store Musicland chain has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection while it undergoes a restructuring.  And the head of large UK based music chain HMV has resigned in part blaming lower than projected Christmas sales and admitting that he had misjudged the impact of downloading on CD sales.  Less sited but just as important as the move to digital is the increasing competition on music retailers form big box stores like Walmart and Best Buy. 


Applelogo_1MacWorld took center stage from CES as Apple announced 4th quarter iPod sales of 14 million with a running total of an impressive 42 million and a new FM tuner/remote control iPod accessory.

Stern_2Howard Stern finally hit the satellite radio airwaves as Sirius hit 3 million subscribers.  XM still leads with almost twice that.

Clear Channel Radio announced that they will  be offering free ad supported music videos on stationClearchannel300_18  websites. Rumors have a music download store not far behind.

A NYC judge gave preliminary approval of a Sony BMG settlement proposal to settle a rookit related class action suit, but other lawsuits continue.

Paid downloads had a record month in December boosted by Christmas player sales.

Webcasting rates would get a major increase according to a new proposal from SoundExchange. Final approval remains with the copywrite tribunal.

Korn Sells Anothers Piece Of Their Soul

We've tried to be open minded but Korn and managers The Firm have gone too far. Creative thinking and dealing making usually excites us. After all ,the music industry is in the middle of a total paradigm shift. But selling off of pieces of rockers KORN is making our skin crawl.

KornlogoIt almost made sense a few months ago when Korn sold 30% of themselves to EMI for $30 million.  Isn't the traditional artist label relationship supposed to be (in our dreams) a long term partnership?  So if Korn could guarantee a long-term commitment from the label - if the label even exists in a few years - for some big cash...well maybe more power to them.  But now comes the news that Live Nation (aka Clear Channel Concerts who should have a line item on their annual report for "cost of changing our name so many times") has bought another 6% of Korn for $3 million dollars. This fee doesn't just guarantee Live Nation concert promotion rights, but actually involves the concert giant in profits from publishing, recording, and other areas that the concert promoter knows nothing about.

"This is about shifting power back to artists by finding strategic partners who are the best in their Moneypile respective businesses," Jeff Kwatinetz of Korn management company The Firm told the New York Times. "This deal allows (Live Nation) to focus not just on selling concert tickets, but on fully investing in the Korn brand."

Yeah, right.  Is the band going to hold a board meeting to decide what songs to write?  Monetizing art is important to keep artists afloat.  But selling stakes in future output can not help but effect the content and purity of the art itself.  How can that be a good thing?  This deal reduces Korn's fans to mere consumers.

What's next?

  • 3.7%  sold to Budweiser for mentions in 3.7% of the artists songs?  ("No bring "I love Bud up in the mix. We paid big money for this!")
  • An investment from The American Chiropractors Association to encourage stage diving? 
  • How about selling futures in the band member's children?