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Live Nation Buys Musictoday

Live Nation has agreed to acquire a majority stake in Musictoday for an undisclosed sum, a leader in connecting artists directly to their fans through online fan clubs, artist e-commerce and fulfillment, VIP packaging and artist fan club and secondary market ticketing.

Livenation221205_9Founded in 2000 by Coran Capshaw, Musictoday was created to direct artist-to-fan e-commerce tools for artists he managed. In a very short time, Musictoday’s roster has grown to over 500 clients, including Dave Matthews Band, the Rolling Stones, John Mayer, Kenny Chesney, Bonnaroo, Christina Aguilera, AC/DC and the Grateful Dead.

The company employs more than 200 personnel at its Charlottesville, Virginia, headquarters. In 2005, the company’s gross sales exceeded $100 million.

“Our mission is to build larger and more passionate communities of fans around our artist clients,” said Capshaw in a statement. “Partnering with Live Nation will allow us to provide the artist with a full suite of services related to the live experience. We are now in the unique position to create opportunities for artist-fan interaction both online through our platforms and offline at venues, taking fan communities beyond the virtual world to the places where artists and fans converge. Together we will offer artists unparalleled marketing reach while championing new and innovative products for their fans.”

“Coran and his team at Musictoday have pioneered a new business that has empowered artists by enabling them to build direct sales relationships with the music fan,” said Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino. “As the global leader in concert ticket sales, our investment in Musictoday will enable us to access additional revenue streams centered around the live concert experience including artist merchandise web stores, fan clubs and ticketing. This further adds complementary product lines to our core live music and venue divisions.” --by CelebrityAccess Staff Writers


Is Bebo The MySpace Music Killer?

Social networking site Bebo has added music community features and the initial response has been impressive with more that 25,000 bands and tens of thousands of fans jumping Bebo on the bandwagon.

Bebo is using fan generated playlists and music recommendation features to cut th\rough the clutter that has become annoying to some MySpace users. "The big differential from sites like MySpace is in the way we introduce the concept of playlists and will introduce the Bebo DJ," Bebo founder Michael Birch told cNet. "Everyone has a friend who's great at finding and recommending music. Other users can copy their playlists to their own home page, instead of having to look through thousands of bands if they don't want to."Myspace_31

Some cool kids will always want to avoid the crowds, but MySpace has tremendous momentum (key in any community site) and very deep pockets to keep it  moving forward. Bebo does however seem to have found a niche that music marketers should be paying attention to.  Others sites to watch: MOG, Buzznet, and the rapidly growing but less music focused Facebook.


Hypebot's New Music Industry Briefing For Monday July 31th, 2006

Rollingstones - The Rolling Stones are offering short segments of sound board feeds via phone (cell or otherwise) live as the concert happens via Listen Live Now. Can $1.99 for seven minutes be satisfying? (press release)

- Verizon Wireless is eliminating the monthly $15 fee for its music download Cobymp3service and launching an LG made cell that can hold 1,000 songs.  (AP)

- Coby delivers a 128 meg mp3 player that sells for $20. (cNet)

- Pandora founder Tim Westergren is touring the country meeting with fans of his service. (News.com)

- iTunes users are getting vocal about delayed digital releases. (Reuters)


Packaging Music As A Product

Music_note "Music itself is not a product. A thing of beauty, a universal language, an outpouring essential to life and expression, yes - but not a product...More and more it attempts to package itself as a consumer item, with all the fatuous and artfully deceptive gloss to match; it sacrifices ideas of integrity and transmitting the benefits of artistic endeavor for the ideologies of market competitiveness and maximized returns." (Guardian)

They were writing about attempts to market classical music, but isn't it true of our entire industry?


EMI Links With Mashboxx P2P

MashboxxEMI has signed a deal with Mashboxx to distribute it's entire US catalog via legal P2P. Sony BMG also cut a deal with the service in late June.

Mashboxx searches existing P2P networks looking for tracks and then allows the downloader to listen Emi_34 up to five times free before paying to download it.  After that the track becomes a 30 second sampler.  If purchased a track can be burned onto CD up to seven times, played on five PCs, and transferred to Windows Media-compatible portable players an unlimited number of times.

Mashboxx says their software will begin beta testing soon. Sign up here.


Festivals Prove Audiences Love Diversity

Virgin_3The line-up for the Virgin Festival in Baltimore was announced last week and it ranges from The Who to The Flaming Lips and from the Scissors Sisters to The Red Hot Chili Bonnaroo_2Peppers.  This follows a widening trend towards much musical diversity at the countries most widely successful festivals like Bonnaroo (Tom Petty, Radiohead, Blackalicious), Coachella (Madonna, Tool, My Morning Jacket), The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (Bruce Springsteen, Herbie Hancock, Galactic), and many others.

The audiences love it; so why can't this trend extend to theater and club shows?

Why can't creatively packaged diversity extend to radio?


Hypebot's New Music Industry Briefing For Friday July 28th, 2006

Zune_logo_4-  Microsoft's Zune could take three to five years of investment before paying off a company executive said today.  But the spending is worth it because it will help Microsoft's broader entertainment agenda.

- Left Behind Games is betting that people will like the music in their games soXm_10 much that they will want to own it and provides links to iTunes. (MobileMag)

- XM Satellite Radio predicts slower growth in latest earnings report. (XM)

- Clear Channel Radio continues HD push.  Promises 95% major market saturation by end of next Mouse_5year. (CC HD)

Worthy Click: Blog + Critics = BlogCritics.


EMI Pulls WMG Bid

From a morning press release:

Emi_33The Board of EMI Group plc (EMI) provides an update on its position regarding its proposal to acquire Warner Music Group Corp. (Warner Music) following the decision of the European Court of First Instance to annul the European Commission’s authorisation of the SonyBMG joint venture.

As previously announced, since 1 May 2006, EMI has made two proposals to acquire Warner Music and Warner Music has made two alternative proposals to acquire EMI.  When the Board of EMI put forward its proposals to acquire Warner Music it believed, and continues to believe, that there are good arguments for regulatory approval of a combination.

EMI's most recent proposal, dated 23 June 2006, was to acquire all of the outstanding shares of Warner Music for US$31 per share in cash. Whilst the Board of EMI believed that an offer at this level represented full and fair value for Warner Music, the Board of Warner Music rejected it.

Against this background, the Board of EMI has decided not to pursue a combination with Warner Music for the time being.  The Board will review this position in the light of future developments.

EMI’s focus remains on driving its recorded music and music publishing businesses forward.  EMI remains confident that the global music industry has excellent long-term prospects driven by the rapidly expanding demand for digital music. EMI is enjoying impressive creative momentum and has exciting release schedules for both divisions for the financial year.  It is generating very high growth in digital sales and is on track to deliver the expected cost savings from its latest restructuring plan.  EMI believes that it will, in this financial year, again deliver a strong operating performance, achieve its financial objectives and make good progress.


KaZaa Settles For $100M. Industry Reacts.

Kazaa_5The music industry has reached a legal settlement with KaZaa. The P2P will pay Universal Sony BMG, EMI and Warner Music more than $100 million and immediately stop illegal activity.

According to KaZaa's web site the popular application has been downloaded almost 390 million times including 821,851 last week alone.  The long term impact of the settlement is not clear however as Generic_headphone_computer_11 as file sharers have simply migrated to other services in the past.

But major label reaction was upbeat. In a statement releases this morning EMI Music Vice Chairman David Munns said, "This is a victory for anyone in a creative industry that has had their works stolen and distributed through an illegitimate P2P network. While the award may seem like a vast pot of money, it will merely offset the millions we have invested and will continue to invest in fighting illegal pirate operations Emi_32around the world and protecting the works that our artists create."

"Today’s agreement is big step forward in the development of a vibrant, legitimate digital music marketplace." Munns continued. "We hope this settlement against KaZaA will drive the creation of even more consumer-friendly ways to bring music to fans and generate new revenues for our artists and our business.".


More Astroturphing Sightings

AntiastroturfingA piece we wrote last week on Paul Young's Anti-Astroturphing  Campaign - the practice of creating buzz by creating the appearance of buzz - led to some interesting connections (as blogging often does) and some examples of abuse of PR in the music industry.  (What a surprise !)

Sandi_thom203_2Hypebot has written about UK musician Sandi Thom before and at times we've even supported her.  Last month the Independent UK took a n in depth look at Thom and the "new PR" techniques of the music industry.  Conclusions: 1) the internet provides a plethora of new opportunities for hype-abuse 2) if the music isn't good phony buzz won't save it. 

Blogger John Cass also pointed us to a story in the Tennessean about how the fan club of country singer Cheryl Wright used volunteers to call radio stations requesting airtime her “The Bumper of My SUV”. Some even lied about their family’s involvement in the military to "help" the patriotic song gain attention. Industry insiders know these practices are all too common.

Perhaps we should start handing out awards for the most flagrant astroturphing violations. Got any nominations?


Hypebot's New Music Industry Briefing For Thursday July 27th, 2006

UPDATED -Cds_color_14

- At least for now, EMI is reportedly ending any efforts to aquire WMG.

- Music sales including CD's and downloads are down 5% over this week last year. (DMN)

- EARNINGS CALLS: Real Networks does their next earnings call at 5PM EST today.  CEO Rob Glaser will lead the call, which can be accessed at investor.realnetworks.com or dial 800-857-5305 within the United States and 773-681-5857 internationally. WMG's call is August 4 at 11 am EST. Call into the 800-857-2625 or (210) 234-6601.Orchard_14

- Digital distributor The Orchard now has more than 1 million tracks in its catalog.

- A never-released song that legendary U.S. rock guitarist Jimi Hendrix recorded 40 years ago is being sold at auction in October.


SayNow Helps Bands Call Fans

Saynow

SayNow, still in beta, is targeting musicians on MySpace who want to exchange voice messages with their fans. They can record voice messages, SMS alerts are sent when new messages are available and fans can leave messages in response after listening to a recording from the musician.

Introducing ShoutOuts!

number1

Artists can now send voice messages to their mobile fan club anytime they want by calling their ShoutOut number!

number2

Fans can listen to their favorite artists on their cell phone and even send a reply!

number3

Everyone's number is kept totally private...and it's free!

Via BlackRimGlasses


Surprise! Legal Downloads Killing CD Sales

Cd_many_25Even legal single download sales hurt CD's sales.  If you can buy a favorite track; why buy the whole CD?  Just ask Daniel Powter whose single "Dad Day" went  #1 at radio and is the top digital download so far this year. But the CD has yet to go Gold and languishes at #94 on the Billboard Top 2200 after 14 weeks.

Record labels can not survive on 99 cents vs. $18.98.

What can labels do?  Make CD purchases more attractive with lower prices and bonus content.  Bundle downloads in three song $3 packages or add additional content.  Concentrate more on promoting artists rather than just songs.

Most of all: EXPERIMENT. Take risks.  Fail.  Somewhere out there are solutions.

Additional reading on Daniel Powter @ New York Daily News.


MySpace - The Next Generation

"Fox Interactive Media is in the midst of a massive push to harness the power of MySpace and its other Web-based businesses to redefine online advertising and marketing, e-commerce, digital video-on-demand, blogging, instant messaging, classified advertising and other interactive services in a user-friendly way that is poised to add hundreds of millions of dollars to News Corp.'s revenue Myspace_29 base...'It's so not about social networking anymore. It's about what is next'...".  User generated video will also get heavy play, but interestingly music, which has long been at the core of MySpace's growth is not mentioned in the new plans. (Hollywood Reporter)

Meanwhile #2 social networking site Facebook is getting more aggressive with music and its own promotion by giving away 10 millions iTunes song samplers (Reuters). Several dozen serious upstarts are also aiming straight at the leaders and other successful sites like live music community Jambase are adding attractive social networking features.

For more on MySpace check out Hypebot' recent special series of articles.


Hypebot's New Music Industry Briefing For Wednesday July 26th, 2006

Clearchannel_4- Clear Channel radio and Coca Cola have partnered for a new live concert streaming series. (DMN)

- Facebook, the No. 2 online social networking site (13 million visitors to MySpace's 52 million), will give away 10 million iTunes music samplers from the iTunes Music Store in a back to school promo. (Reuters)

- A whole industry is growing around viral video production. (Business Week)Zune_logo_3

- More analysts weigh in on Microsoft Zune as potential iPod killer. (eWeek)

- OMouse_4ne of the last digital holdouts Metallica has added is catalog to iTunes. (Playlist)

Worthy Click:  ZuneInsider provides occassional reports from the belly of the beast.


Victory Record's Outspoken Tony Brummel Pummels A2IM

Tony Brummel, the outspoken head of successful indie Victory Records wrote an open letter to the American Association Of Independent Music on their fight to make the airwaves more open to new music:

Brumell_tony_1"Message to A2IM: You are wasting your time.

A more successful campaign would be one that has a theme of “Programming that is reflective of what is happening in the marketplace.” For example: If 22% of the U.S.music business is Independent, than the stations should have to program 22% Independent content. That would make a difference as far as your airplay goal is concerned. Focusing on the practices and guidelines is like starting your bin Laden search at the Fort Bragg mess hall after three days of fasting and Islamic poetry readings....The programming has not changed post-Spitzer’s investigation. Why is the AG’s office Fcc_5 or the FCC not looking at that very simple reality?

...Why not lobby for subsidies for independent record labels? If you look at the machinations of the music industry, what makes independent record labels any less deserving of government support than our farmers?.. Independents support the arts at a very grassroots level, which in turn, helps foster culture. More importantly, future musical trends almost always start at our level...

...A2IM, to make a difference, I am starting a group called A2DM- “The American Association for Dependent Music." I am DEPENDENT on passionate music fans to support my Artists and Company. They can help me more than the FCC. Plus, I won’t have to sit in any drawn-out meetings or read guidelines that no one cares about!"

Read the full letter after the jump (via HITS)

Continue reading "Victory Record's Outspoken Tony Brummel Pummels A2IM" »


Hypebot's New Music Industry Briefing For Tuesday July 25th, 2006

- U.K. music company Mama Group has confirmed it's made an offer for larger rival Sanctuary Group and said it was prepared to go hostile if necessary.Radio_28 (MarketWatch)

As if broadcasters needed more bad news, a new Nielson study shows that podcast fans listen to less radio. (FMQB)

- Mouse_3DJ Mix label Ultra is leaving Caroline for ADA distribution. (press release)

Worthy Click: Bassist Wanted - a fun and clever comic strip about music.


"Best Of Blue Tones" Aims At Adult Ring Tune Market

Ringtones and ring tunes have become strong new revenue streams for labels and publishers. But until now most of the action has been with the under 30 set. Now Blue Note Records is testing the adult market by releasing ring tunes featuring riffs from some classic recordings by legendary jazz artists including Thelonious Monk, Herbie Hancock, Art Blakey and Chet Baker. Part of a new program called “The Best of Blue Tones”, this marks the first time these tracks have been made available for the mobile platform.  The company is working with a wide-variety of carriers worldwide.


The Lefsetz Letter's Music Industry Power Top 10

  1. Steve Jobs - Apple
  2. Michael Rapino - Live Nation
  3. The Manager (i.e. - Kwatinetz, Azoff, Burnstein & Mensch and Terry McBride)
  4. John Hogan - CEO of Clear Channel Radio
  5. The Net
  6. Marty Bandier - EMI Publishing
  7. Terry McBride - Nettwerk  (management.label amd more)
  8. Eric Garland - Head of P2P tracker Big Champagne
  9. Jay-Z
  10. The Bonnaroo Festival Team

Lefesetz's "Not On The List"

  1. Jimmy Iovine - Interscope
  2. Mitch Bainwol - RIAA
  3. "Rolling Stone" and the Print Press
  4. Clive Davis
  5. The Rolling Stones
  6. Eminem
  7. Amoeba
  8. Best Buy
  9. Impala - European Indie Music Trade Group
  10. Andy Lack - WMG

More Power Top 10 Commentary @ The Lefsetz Letter


Is Microsoft Killing PlayForSure?

Hidden is Microsoft's announcement about the Zune family of digital music and entertainment products was an implied downplay of Microsoft PlayForSure technology which is the basis for an array Zune_logo_2 of products from Napster to iRiver players.

While they certainly won't just discontinue the product; how much incentive do others have to promote a last generation product? And how much faith will the industry loose in Microsoft for changing the rulebook in mid-game and seemingly taking a larger chunk of the business in-house?  Stay Zuned for the fallout.

Read the full Hypebot Zune story here.


NPR May Add Digital Music Store

Npr_4NPR appears to be following the BBC's lead with an aggressive "Blueprint For Growth" which is loaded with digital initiatives including a probable digital music store.  The branded store would share profits with local affiliates and showcase a variety of new and world music.

With NPR fast becoming a major point of music discovery for adults this could be welcome news for music marketers. Read the 12 page PDF here.


New Music Industry Briefing For Monday July 24, 2006

- European and US regulators and weak markets have not been nice to record industry stocks in recent weeks:

  • Warner Music closed the week at $25.46 off a 52 week high of $32
  • EMI closed at 260 pounds off a 52 week high around 320 on the London Exchange
  • Sony ended the week at $41.00 after a 52 week high of $52.29
  • The more diverse Vivendi Universal close at $32.88 off from a 52 week high of $37.20

- Analysts react to the announcement that Microsoft will challenge Apples iPod/iTunes under the Zune_logoZune moniker. "This is the only run at Apple that has a chance." (AFP) (original Zune announcement)

Madonna- A look at why Madonna gets no love from radio. (Kings Of A&R)

- How the unofficial mix tape market helps drive hip hop sales and marketing. (NY Times)

- Music blog Stereogum gets hacked...sort of... (Stereogum)


Worldwide Touring Income Jumps 24%

The Rolling Stones were the top grossing tour for the first half of 2006 followed by U2 and Bon Jovi.  The Stones grossed $147.3 million from 45 shows worldwide according to figures reported to Festival_10Billboard Boxscore. U2 grossed $73 million for the period  despite postponed Pacific Rim dates. Bon Jovi was the third-highest-grossing act reporting more than $65 million. Rounding out the top 10 were Billy Joel ($47.4 million), Cirque du Soleil's Delirium ($38.7 million), Aerosmith ($35 million), Coldplay ($29 million), Luis Miguel ($25 million), The Trans Siberian Orchestra ($24 million) and Paul McCartney ($17.6 million

Total reported gross dollars for January-June 2006 from touring were up 24.6% from the same period last year. Higher ticket prices were behind the increase with attendance is up only 5.4%. 


Robert Hilburn's Intimate View Of Rock History

In an extensive article published Saturday LA Times' Robert Hilburn chronicled his most memorable moments in 30 years as the entertainment capital daily's pop critic. 

LennonBackstage Pass to Intimate Moments in Rock's Odyssey - Meeting Joplin and her demons, having cornflakes with Lennon and coffee with Bono, going to Folsom with Cash and outraging Elvis

Worthy reading, great photos and bonus content online.


Microsoft Confirms Zune Music Player & Store In '06

UPDATED: In a Billboard interview released Friday followed by a statement from the company Microsoft has confirmed that under the Zune brand name they "will build a community for connecting with others to discover new music and entertainment and will deliver a family of hardware and software products - with the first products shipping in this year."  Zune will include both a player and a download store and be "one part MySpace, one part iTunes and one part Xbox Live".

Zune_logo_1"Today we confirmed a new music and entertainment project called Zune. Under the Zune brand, we will deliver a family of hardware and software products, the first of which will be available this year. We see a great opportunity to bring together technology and community to allow consumers to explore and discover music together." - Chris Stephenson, GM of marketing, Microsoft

Stephenson confirmed that the player will offer WiFi capabilities with sharing limited to ten users within a hotspot. Zune may also include wireless access to a paid content or a digital locker. The interview also reaffirmed that Zune will include a variable-priced digital music store (something the music industry has long wanted) and be backed by a massive marketing campaign. Stephenson also said that future Zune players will include more video and gaming features. MSN Music will not be integrated into the project leaving it a strange step-child in the Microsoft family.

Richard_winn_1As part of Microsoft's viral marketing campaign several blogs have been created including Zune Insider and Madison and Pine by Microsoft employees working on the Zune project. Zune_wallpaper_2Madison and Pine is written by Richard Winn who is head of Artist Development and Music Marketing for the project. So far neither site provides much Zune info. Another site Coming Zune offers an animated teaser for Zune followed by a place to sign-up for updates. A follow-up email offers Zune wallpaper.

Stayed Zuned...