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Coalition Of Indie Music Stores Chart for 5-31-06







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The full indie chart and a commentary on the Dixie Chicks after the jump.

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Tripwire Adds Weekly Indie/Alternative Music Blog Chart

TripwireThe Tripwire which covers the indie/alternative music scene and lifestyle has added of a "Music Blog Chart" to its weekly online Charts section. Highlighting what top music bloggers are featuring each week, the chart attempts to encapsulate what's hot in the online music space.

The most recent chart of songs and albums, as determined by more than thirty reporting bloggers, ranked Phoenix's "It's Never Been Like That" as the top pick. Tied for second was "The Dust of Retreat" by Margot and The Nuclear So & So's, "Citrus" by Asobi Seksu and "Carnavas" by Silversun Pickups.

5 Hypebot Questions With MyBlogTunes

MyBlogTunes is a nifty application that adds free customized music streams to a blog or web site with amazing ease.  Currently in beta we asked co-founder Jesse Harding to Myblogtunes_2answer a few questions:

1) Tell us a bit about yourself and the company: I've been a web designer for about 10 years, and I pretend to specialize in Flash and multimedia design.

My buddy, Dan Smith (aka Dmode) and I used to share new music with each other by emailing it back and forth. One day we came up with the idea of uploading our songs and creating streaming playlists through a Flash app. The very next day Dmode messaged me with a link to his working prototype of what we had been talking about. 2 years (and 200+ cases of Mtn Dew AMP) later, we fMyblogtunesmainimageinally have our player.

2) When do you expect to have MyBlogTunes out of beta and available with a full song selection?  Our time-line shows us launching the full version this July, but we have gotten a really good response since our beta launch last week and are hoping to launch earlier than that.

More after the jump including how to get your music on MyBlogTunes.

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EMI's Digital Guru Ted Cohen Exits

One of the few guys in power at the majors who understood the realities of the new music industry is exiting the executive suite. EMI's VP of New Media Ted Cohen is hanging out his own shingle as a Emi_12consultant.Ted_cohen

During his time there Cohen urged EMI to become the first major music company to make its repertoire available to the early digital music services as well as allow downloaders to "own" permanent copies of songs, transfer songs to portable players and make copies to blank CDs.

An fixture at music industry and tech conferences worldwide, Cohen was never afraid to offer an educated opinion as to where he thought the industry and related technologies were headed. As a founding partner of TAG Strategic, Cohen will help companies like Gibson Musical Instruments thrive in the new online environment.

Sources:  LA Times, EMI

Bonnaroo Fest Goes Green

This year’s massive Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, set to take place June 16-18 in Tennessee, will take some serious steps toward making the event environentally friendly while aso raising Bonnaroo_1 awareness of green products,technologies and issues.

Bonnaroo’s greening plan includes the use of organic cotton and hemp t-shirts, post-consumer recycled paper, biodegradable concession service items, special waste management strategies, and cleaner fuel options. The festival will also turn 250 tons of festival garbage into construction material and park benches to be used at future events plus continue an extensive recycling and composting program. This year, Bonnaroo organizers expect to divert over 60 percent of the event's waste from landfills.

Continue reading "Bonnaroo Fest Goes Green" »

New Music Industry Briefing For Wednesday May 31, 2006



- Concert giant Live Nation has acquired a controlling interest in Michael Cohl's CPI global touring firm responsible for recent Rolling Stones and U2 tours. (Hypebot)

- XM troubles continue as they suspend the sale of Delphi XM SKYFi2 and  Audiovox Xpress receivers to make modifications aimed at fending off a widening FCC probe into legality of these devices. (SEC Filing)

- Japanese download sales jumped 71% to 89 million tracks in 1st Q '06 with mobile downloads accounting for a whopping 93% of the total. Overall digital sales are now 10% of the Japanese market; twice the percentage that they were a year ago. (Digital Music News)

- P2P users take note: Salesforce.com announces goal to become the iTunes of business software complete with software mash-ups. (InfoWorld)

- Zero 7 will be bringing two laptops on stage for new tour rather than more musicians. (Reuters)

- The China Audio-Video Association predicts that despite piracy the market for digital music in China will grow from $450 million US in 2005 to $1.6 billion US by 2010. (People's Daily)

Concert Giant Live Nation Buys Control Of Michael Cohl's CPI

Livenation221205_5Concert giant Live Nation has purchased a controlling interest in CPI, Michael Cohl's global touring company. CPI is a world leader and innovator in full service global touring, having produced some of the largest grossing tours in history, including the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd and U2. CPI has also successfully created new revenue streams around the tours that it produces, such as VIP ticketing,
fan clubs, merchandising and DVDs.

Because of CPI's long term relationships with the meg-acts the purchase virtually guarantees Live Nation first pick of dates on these money acts and is a reminder of how important heritage rock still is to the concert industry's bottom line. Cohl will also become the 10th member of the Clear Channel Board of Directors.

source: company release

Mp3Sugar Joins AllOfmp3 On The Dubious Russian Download Front

Mp3sugarBudget Russian download site allofmp3.com has competition.  Mp3sugar.com is now joining them in using a loophole in Russian law to sell full album downloads in the portable mp3 format for as little as 89 to 99 cents via a sleek an easy to use web site.

Allofmp3_3Russian law focuses on piracy of physical CD's and tapes rather than digital and Allofmp3.com has exploited that tenuous legal position to capture as much as 15% of the UK download market.  Allofmp3 is even beta-testing it's own free iTunes-like software that combines a player and seamless download purchases called allTunes.

Sales Figures Provide Reality Check

In a world of hype, music sales figures provide a welcome reality check. Which acts sold more or less of their last record or even total career sales provide a glimpse at the power of perception when Cds_color_8hype is in overdrive as well as some surprisingly substantial careers that fly under the radar.  Here is a look at three established artists who have new CD's debuting today:

Siverstein - New: 18 Candles. Last: Discovering the Waterfront" ('05) 174,000 sold. Biggest Seller: "Dis covering The Waterfront".

Dave Alvin of Blasters, X, and solo fame - New: "West Of The West". Last: "Ashgrove" ('04) 27,000 sold. Biggest Seller: "King Of California" ('94) 41,000 sold.

Bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley - New: "A Distant Land To Roam: Songs Of The Carter Family". Last: "Shine On" ('05) 10,000 sold.  Biggest Seller: "A Man Of Constant Sorrow" ('00) 63,000 sold.

Source: La Times/Nielson Sounscan. Note: Accurate Sales figures before 1990 are not available.

Last Week's Music Industry Hits & Misses



- Struggling indie label Sanctuary sacks head Andy Taylor.  Sanctuary = Great idea + lousy old school execution. PS: What took so long? (more)

- Joan Baez, Ben Harper and others literally climb a tree to save an LA community garden and urban farm. (more)

Misses_3 MISSES

- Bertelsmann cuts off it's own (publishing) arm to save the company's independence.  Was it worth saving? (more)

- The National Review co-opts some of rock's greatest songs claiming they belong in The Top 50 Greatest Conservative Songs of all time (more)

New Music Industry Briefing For Tuesday May 30, 2006

Wmg_12- Edgar Bronfman and Warner Music are trying to raise the money to make counter-bid to buy EMI. (Times UK)

- Bruce Springsteen shows his political side on new tour. (Reuters)

Fnx- WFNX/Boston and Snapple have announced a partnership that will mean the modern rocker broadcasts commercial-free for 40 days. (FMQB)

- cNet interviews the heads of the RIAA. (here)

- A look at the latest crop of iPod killer wannabes (Mp3newswire)

National Review Publishes Top 50 Conservative Songs

Partially in response to Neil Young's new CD which sharply criticizes the Bush administration, Conservative magazine The National Review has published a "The Top 50 Greatest Conservative Songs" of all time. Clever idea until you take a look at the top 10 and ask if you believe that the artist who wrote and sang these songs intended to send a Conservative message:

  1. "Won’t Get Fooled Again" - The Who **
  2. "Taxman" - The Beatles
  3. "Sympathy for the Devil" - The Rolling Stones
  4. "Sweet Home Alabama" - Lynyrd Skynyrd
  5. "Wouldn’t It Be Nice" - The Beach Boys
  6. "Gloria" - U2
  7. "Revolution" - The Beatles
  8. "Bodies" - The Sex Pistols
  9. "Don’t Tread on Me" - Metallica
  10. "20th Century Man" - The Kinks

** The Who's Pete Townshend responds on his blog.

Next week Hypebot will be publishing a Top 50,000 Liberal Songs with a surprisingly similar Top 10.

Forget About The Net. It's Still Old Fashioned PR That Breaks A Band

How much credit can the internet really be given when it comes to breaking a new band; and how much is just good old fashioned PR?

Arcticphoto_1"Don't believe all you read about web-driven musical phenomenons. Old-fashioned PR and marketing still have a big part to play in their success..." according to the UK's Guardian Unlimited."...there's Sandi Thom, whom newspapers have hailed as a webcasting phenomenon, broadcasting to the world - and signing a record deal - from her basement in Tooting, south London..."

"What all these stories actually demonstrate is that the labels have adapted much more quickly to the new technology of the internet as a means for boosting artists than the media. For when you examine each in detail, you find the music business letting the media believe what it wants to about the "bottom-up" internet - and hiding the top-down PR at which record companies have excelled for decades."

Future_of_music_1The article goes on to talk a critical look at the success of MySpace, The Arctic Monkeys and others concluding that while the net is a great tool to spread the word; it's old fashioned press and PR that still drives traffic online and into record stores.  It's a convincing argument and in some cases like Sandi Thom the net has been used as the latest promotional scheme to be smartly exploited.   In all instances the internet like any media needed to be "worked" by some combination of the label, pr staff, fans and even as with Hawthorne Height by the band itself. 

Whatever the source the net has created a more level playing field; one usually less under the thumbs of giant corporations or the highest bidder as radio has been. The line between good PR and organic buzz will always be blurred, but a more democratized net with endless blogs and comments at least gives us many more choices as to who we want to trust.

Struggling Sanctuary Sacks Taylor

Sanctuary_1Struggling independent label Sanctuary has fired head Andy Taylor.

"The board's decision to remove Mr Taylor followed their conclusion that certain of the prior year adjustments made in the 2005 accounts should have been presented as a correction of fundamental errors and not as changes in accounting policy," a Sanctuary statement said.

Sanctuary is the home to Morrissey, Widespread Panic, Robert Plant and the latest records by a number of major classic rock artists.

Is American Idol An Omen Of Music's Future?

We've written as little as possible about "American Idol" and have never watched more than a few minutes in all these seasons.  But its hard not to wonder what it says about the future of music when bland pop singers capture top TV ratings and sell millions of CD's and concert tickets.  The LA Times' Ann Powers took an able stab at answering the question of what "Idol" means. If she's right we should all be nervous.

Americanidollogo "...Call it a new paradigm or a mishmash, but "Idol" is telling us something about pop's future beyond classic rock. Its structure is designed to help people learn how to assess music within that future's rules....Old standards — the ones that made icons of the Beatles, Dylan, even Pearl Jam — don't apply...(Idol teaches) us to appreciate polish, charm and, yes, corniness, as much as originality and emotional honesty."  

Wake me when it's over. Read the full aticle here.

DIGITAL DIY: Six Download Services That Empower The Artist

At least six services offer indie musicians the opportunity to sell downloads without long term contracts or going through expensive middle men; and sometimes they even empower them to sell Generic_headphone_computer_3music from their own web sites.

Musicane has a few marquee clients like Ministry and allows and indie band or labels to to upload songs for sale and create a custom e-commerce page that links straight from the band's own site.  Musicane allows variable pricing and takes 30-40% of each sale plus some monthly fees for acts selling multiple albums.

Broadjam sells a suite of useful services including D.I.Y. web sites and a similar download service to Musicane. Broadjam takes just 19 cents out on a fixed 99 cents price per track with no fees.

7digital_logoUK's 7 Digital seems to offer the most sophisticated solution with variable pricing and the ability to sell in WMA, MP3, or even iPod compatible AAC formats at a superior 192 kps (vs. 128kps).  Their innovations have attracted high profile clients like Queen and Gnarls Barkley.  Fees we're not apparent on 7's site and they sell only in UK currency. All and all 7 Digital seems to be a model that other D.I.Y. download services should emulate.

Payloadz enables the sale of any digital file (music, book, software). Set up may be a bit more difficult, also offers the flexibility to create unusual digital bundles (i.e. songs + video + lyrics) and experiment with variable pricing. Virgil @ Indie HQ has a nice overview of the service. Fee options range from free to 15% to fee based.

Tunecore takes a complimentary approach enabling musicians to get their songs on iTunes, Rhapsody, Napster, Yahoo! and others for a low flat fee of 99 cents per track for the first download service and 99 cents per album for each additional.  There is also an additional storage fee of $7.98 per album per year.  Each service like iTunes also takes it's cut of each sale; usually 40% .

Cdbaby_2Online indie retailer CDBaby offers a similar service in addition to it's core business that make indie CD's available online and by special order to retail. CD Baby members ($35) can get on most major downloads service by paying a 9% commission plus the download service's cut.   Most companies who place songs on download sites like iTunes charge 20-30% if they will even talk to an individual artist or micro-label.

Each service has its own strengths and weaknesses. If you want sell both via your own site and the major download storefronts you will have to use more than one.  And of course being available for sale is only the start.  Helping people discover he music and want to buy it is the toughest part. (In fact we'd like to print a follow up article on promoting your music online; so please email your ideas.)

New Music Industry Briefing For Friday May 26, 2006


-Cingular Wireless logged an amazIng 64.5 million American Idol-related text messages which breaks the previous-year record of 41.5 million. The massive total comes from a range of Idol related votes, trivia contests, and chats with contestants. (Press Release)

Fusic - Sprint is releasing the Fusic line of mobile phones designed for the music enthusiast.  Users can access the Sprint Music Store and stream music from Sprint Radio, Music Choice, Rhapsody Radio, MTV Mobile, and VH1 Mobile. Features include a miniSD memory slot, an FM transmitter to beam tunes to your car stereo, bluetooth, stereo headphones, a 1.3 mp camera and more. (press release)

- Shares of XM ave been battered after the company cut its 2006 subscriber forecast to 8.5 million from 9 million citing "overall softness" of sales of XM receivers. Sirius once considred an also-ran promised aggressive subscriber growth for the rest of the year. (WebProNews)

- NBC joined the Apple parade Thursday when it announced that it will become the first broadcast news organization to offer programming for sale through iTunes. (AP

- UK musicians are losing work under a new licensing act because owners of clubs . find the application process too complicated. Many venues have stopped using live performers and reverted to recorded music. (The Stage)

Canadian students send open letter to government protesting potential new digital rights restrictions. (Full text of letter)

Continue reading "New Music Industry Briefing For Friday May 26, 2006" »

BMG Publishing For Sale To Keep Bertelsmann Private

Bertelsmann_logo_01_6Bertelsmann, the parent company of the BMG half of Sony BMG, will take out a $5.74 billion bridge load to pay off a key investor rather than take the company public.

The 12-18 month loan will be paid off in part by the sale of the company's BMG Publishing unit.  Song catalogs are in favor with investors and have been fetching high purchase prices in recent years.  The move not only keeps Bertelsmann private it avoids potential turmoil in a the company's label partnership with Sony. Read the company press release here.

Don Rose & A2IM Fight Corrupt Radio. Should Indie Community Care?

In a piece on Tripwire, long-time indie entrepreneur and head of the label trade group A2IM Don Rose describes how radio fueled his lifelong love affair with music, how far broadcasters have strayed from their audience and offers some possible solutions.

Radio_23"...Radio is dominated by large chains and overall listenership is under pressure. Many stations have been caught with their hands in the cookie jar, selling playlist adds and spins in return for "promotional consideration," writes Rose. "Commercial playlists have become subjugated to the major-label "priorities,"...some even sold the rights to "exclusive access" to their programming departments to individual gatekeepers who became funnels for these unholy practices. Real damage has come at the expense of independent record companies, local artists, and saddest of all, music fans."

"...The key components to enlightening the Radio landscape are broader access to the programming process, and relationships between labels and Radio which are transparent to the parties involved, including the public,"according to Rose and A2IM.

A2imThere is no question that the FCC must return more control of the airwaves to the people and level the playing field for indie music.  But is A2IM and Rose's aggressive focus on radio short-sighted in an era of increased media fragmentation and endless opportunities for direct contact with music lovers via the net, cell phones, etc. ?

Rose himself acknowledges that "many independents have given up on commercial radio altogether, and limit their activities to the niche music genres generally left behind by the majors...".  Is Ryko_2concentrating on limitless and shifting niches of fan interest rather than chasing short term mega-prof ts such a bad thing?  Most indie labels we're founded by entrepreneurs like Rose who live and breath great music.  Their singular goal is to help that music find an audience and perhaps to make a decent living doing it.  Would indie lalbels like Rykodisc which Rose founded have survived much less thrived as it did if it had relied on commercial radio?

The internet and new technologies are changing the way that people create, promote, discover and distribute music.  The new music industry agrees that radio needs an overhaul, but for the most part it doesn't really care.

New Music Industry Briefing For Thursday May 25, 2006

- As portable player use grows, Starbucks is downsizing it's commitment to CD burning stations in it's stores. (Statesman)

Fcc_2- Silicon Valley company M2Z has asked the FCC to allow it to use a band of radio spectrum for a free high-speed wireless Internet network that would cover most of the country and be supported by advertising.  If successful it would make net broadcasts available virtually anywhere providing real competition to sattelite and broadacast radio. (Billboard Radio Monitor)

- Despite being dissed by country radio for dissing President Bush, The Dixie Chicks are on track to top 400,000 in first week sales of their new CD. (Hits)

R.I.P. - Ian Copeland, new wave music business pioneer.

A Rare Job Posting At A Major Label

Wmg_11Reply to: job-164315261@craigslist.org
Date: 2006-05-24, 2:15PM PDT
Manager of Web Services and Development @ Warner Bros. Records
Before submitting anything to us, keep this in mind:
- This is a management level position
- We are looking for someone deeply invested in the web-culture (if you don’t know what del.icio.us, folksonomies, AJAX, semantic HTML or digg are, we'll consider you, but you'd better check those out)
- We are an extremely fast paced, intense environment
- It is fun to work here, especially for music fans

More after the jump.

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Singer Joan Baez Moves Into Tree To Save LA Community Garden

Baeztree_1Folk legend Joan Baez and environmental activist Julia Butterfly Hill have taken up residence in a tree in downtown LA to stop the destruction of a large community garden in one of the poorest sections of the city. Singer Ben Harper, Daryl Hannah, John Quigley, Tom Morello, Leonardo DiCaprio and others are also supporting the effort,

Baez For the past three years, hundreds of families and supporters have been fighting to preserve the South Central Farm, thought to be the largest community farm in the United States. This poor community has also benefited by having access to fresh, healthy produce and the farm also provides access to many meso-american traditional plants that are used for medicinal purposes.

Ditty Bops Bike Across America In Support Of New CD "Moon Over The Freeway"

Talk about suffering for your art...The Ditty Bops are embarking on a bicycle tour of America in support of cycling, clean air, and their new WB album "Moon Over the Freeway". It starts in LA this week and runs up the cost and then straight across the country.  Along the way they'll play a mix of Dittybopsridepage traditional club and festival shows as well as house concerts, record stores and impromptu events.

Those old enough to remember when George Thorogood & The Destroyers hopped into a Checker cab with all of the gear (OK are you old enough to at least remember Checkers?) and played 50 states in 50 days (They flew to Hawaii and Alaska), saw the concentrated combination of shows plus both local and national Dditybops media attention around the stunt helped break the band (then on folk indie Rounder) wide open.

The quirky and fun Ditty Bops don't fit anywhere in today's radio landscape and almost have to be seen to be appreciated.  This is the kind of promotion just may turn enough heads to garner them a larger audience. Kudos to the band's team including new agent Brian Swanson at MPA and most of all The Ditty Bops for being willing to risk bunions and sore butts to take their music to the streets...or at least the bike paths.

Major Label CEO's & Wall Street Offer Varied Views Of Industry's Future

"In the long term, this is going to be a very strong industry. The short term will have mixed results, and there have been some tough years, but as long as there are hits, people will want to buy music." - Universal CEO Doug Morris (1)

Cd_many_18"In the next five years, digital downloads will increase sevenfold. Downloads have higher margins than physical CDs, they're easier to sell and distribute — the industry is going to become more and more profitable." - Larry Haverty of Gabelli Asset Management (1)

"The numbers show reasonable growth in a global music market that is showing overall signs of stability, with an underlying migration of content through digital distribution channels," - Bridgewell Securities analyst Patrick Yau (2)

"We won't know if we've turned a corner until this year's fourth quarter."That's when the bulk of sales occur. This is a pivotal year in determining if downloads will offset physical declines." - Andrew Lack Sony BMG (1)

Cd_many_19"Sales of iPods and MP3 players are growing, but downloads are slowing. It's proof there's going to be a lot of volatility getting to a point where 100% of sales are downloads." - Pali Capital analyst Richard Greenfield (1)

On the 5000 music industry job cuts in recent years:"If you cut too deeply, you don't have any business left," - Morgan Stanley analyst Patrick Wellington (1)

"The numbers show reasonable growth in a global music market that is showing overall signs of stability, with an underlying migration of content through digital distribution channels". - Bridgewell Securities analyst Patrick Yau (3)

Sources: (1) LA Times, (2)Reuters, (3) Register UK

Navio's New Portable Rights Management May Set Your Music And Your iPod Free

Ipod_30All we ever wanted was to buy music and and once owning it be able to enjoy it wherever we wanted to But iPod users who can only buy content at iTunes and those who buy music on Rhapsody, Urge, Yahoo! or Napster can't play it on an iPod. Navio is promising to change all that by letting almost anyone sell music, videos, games, and other content that stays protected wherever it goes.

The company's transaction model dubbed "Rights Over IP"  (RoIP) stores the rights associated with a song (really any digital file) inside the file itself, and unlike iTunes or Windows Media, Navio doesn't care where you get the content.

Navio_1Navio promises iPod compatibly by the end of June.  With that final piece Navio could create a paradigm shift taking power away from the distributor (i.e. iTunes) and giving it back to the rights holder (label or artist) since their software allows the sale of the product through virtually any e-commerce platform. So far BMG is the only major label signed on, but as usual Hollywood is out front with Disney and Fox already on board.

Navio provides the opportunity to sell via a wide variety of online outlets and to experiment with variable pricing and bundling content in a ways that aren't restricted by the rules of a particular store.  The labels or an indie artist can decide on the content, pricing and rules attached with any purchase. And the fan, who ultimately says this is worth buying or not, may once again become king.

New Music Industry Briefing For Wednesday May 24, 2006

Beatles_logo_7- Apple (The Beatles) plans to appeal the UK courst decision that it's OK for Apple (The Computer Co.) to us the name Apple in music related ventures.

- Smithsonian Folkways Recordings announced that it has selected The Orchard as the exclusive marketing and digital distribution partner for its deep and diverse catalgue.

Emi_11- EMI Publishing took top publisher honors at the recent ASCAP and BMI awards.  Click after the jump for a listing of EMI's individual winners. EMI also recently posted a 13% earnings increase for the year ending March 31.  The jump included a doubling of digital download revenues in the fourth quater to $77.6 million  Click here for a webcat earning presentaion.

- More and more major orchestras are going D.I.Y. with their recordings. (Ind. UK)

Continue reading "New Music Industry Briefing For Wednesday May 24, 2006" »

Pitchfork Looks At Music Recomendation Sites. How Can They Tell Us What We Want To Hear?

Pitchfork's Chris Dahlen takes a long and thorough look at the promise and pitfalls and differences between the growing number of music recommendation schemes like Last.fm and Pandora:

Searchinsidethemsuic"Music discovery tools such as Last.fm, Pandora, and the yet-to-be-launched Echo Nest are getting smarter and brasher every month, growing from studying people's shopping carts to digging into the music itself and analyzing what makes it tick. Such tools could boost sales industry-wide, but can they eventually create maps of our sensibilities and tell us exactly what we want to hear?" (more here)

MyBlogTunes Adds Free Custom Music Streams To Blogs

Myblogtunes_1MyBlogTunes provides a free and easy way for bloggers to add a self-programmed net broadcast to their sites.  In a brief test it was incredibly easy to sign up and set-up a stream and post it our blog.  In fact the "station" below was set up in less than 20 mins.

MyBlgTunes is not quite ready for prime time with only 200 songs available for play during the bet-test phase; and we're not quite sure of what the revenue model is that will keep it going.  But if those problems are solved, MyBlogTunes is an amazingly simple and effective way to add a custom music stream to your blog or site.