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REWIND: Live Faces Congress, RIAA Cuts, Universal Combines, iTunes Goes Indie & More

THE MUSIC INDUSTRY'S WEEK IN REVIEW 


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New Mufin Player Sorts Music By Sound

Now in public beta, the new Mufin player sorts music libraries by sound and recommends songs using audio fingerprinting technology originated at the Fraunhofer Institute, the inventor of the MP3. Mufin creates a fingerprint for each song based on 40 characteristics including tempo, instruments, sound density, and rhythm.


mufin player from mufin on Vimeo

Mufin’s "soundsort" leverages these audio fingerprints to organize music by sound rather than the typical  sorts by artist or title. Playlists are quickly created to match any mood. Users select a track and Mufin automatically builds a playlist with songs that match musically; often uncovering forgotten tracks in the music collection.

Continue reading "New Mufin Player Sorts Music By Sound" »


UMG Combines Digital & Physical Sales

UniversalUPDATED: The distribution arm of Universal Music Group has expanded its executive team and eliminated any division between physical and digital sales and marketing services. 

Promotions include Amanda Marks to EVP and GM, Laura Saez to SVP of Sales and the appointment of Mitch Rotter to VP of Marketing for Universal Music Distribution. All report to Jim Urie, President & CEO of UMD.  Both Marks and Saez come from the digital division and Rotter joins Universal from Tumbplay. Their appointments reflect the shift in importance of digital over physical formats across the music industry.

From The Press Release:

Continue reading "UMG Combines Digital & Physical Sales " »


RIAA Staff Cuts May Be Far Deeper Than Reported

RUMORS There is no doubt that major staff reductions and changes are underway at the RIAA. But one seemingly knowledgeable but unconfirmed source tells Hypebot that the cuts run much deeper than previously reported.

RIAA "It is about 90-100+ people across the US and global offices - anti-piracy, coordinated IFPI/BPI etc - trust me it's a bloodbath...

(Major label heads) Hands, Morris are squeezing the ____ out of these guys after the ISP failure and a major budget cut. (The) RIAA as you know it is probably history by Tuesday of next week, a formal announcement is being drafted for drop next week.

The new group is a aggregate of IFPI + remaining pieces of BPI + RIAA - (a) new leaner, coordinated group...DC offices are getting closed except for one part of one floor on Conn. Ave., just for the address."

Hypebot has asked the RIAA to comment. Readers please send info on the layoffs privately to hypebot(at)skylineonline(dot)com.


Songbeat Down But Not Out After WMG Lawsuit

Songbeat
Major Label Assault On Music Tech Continues

German based music discovery application Songbeat has gone offline after local courts ruled in favor of Warner Music Group in a suit filed against the company claiming copyright infringement.

Songbeat essentially offered aggregated mp3 search bringing together results from Seeqpod, Project Playlist, SpoolFM, iASK and others. You could stream unlimited tracks and download up to 25 of them. An upgrade for 19.99 Euros offered unlimited downloads.

The Songbeat team has been in NYC at Digital Music Forum East where they defiantly promised a quick appeal and even a move to another country if needed to reboot the service.

More:EMI Sues Seeqpod & Favtape Opening New Fronts In Battle With Music Tech


Choruss' Griffin: "...this business won't survive."


"We’ve spent over a decade
with the lawyers nitpicking

over what we call the
transfer of money for music

and I’m tired of it.

What we're trying to do
is to make sure
we don't have
another decade of nitpicking

because this business
won't survive."


- Jim Griffin of Choruss
after a keynote at Digital Music Forum East

UPDATE: FULL TRANSCRIPT OF GRIFFIN'S KEYNOTE

Stringer Consolidates Hold Over Sony Corp.

Is Knighthood Next?

Sony These have been tough times for Sony - major losses, a down global economy, less than stellar new product launches and an expensive purchase of the BMG half of the former Sony BMG.

But rather than bring in new blood to revamp the ailing electronic and entertainment giant, the Sony Board Of Directors has consolidated a few divisions and added President to the list of titles that CEO and Chairman Howard Stringer already holds.

Just why this makes sense and how it might impact Sony's family of record labels is unclear.  Read a pdf of the official statement and maybe you can figure out if this all really means... if anything


How iTunes Chooses Feature Artists

Itunes logo With the announcement that iTunes has added an Indie Spotlight landing page for independent music, Hypebot readers wanted to know how Apple chose which artists to feature. To got the inside scoop, I talked to the former digital chief of an established indie who describes a process refreshingly different from the "pay for placement" that dominates brick and mortar retail.

Itunes indie "The process is nearly entirely editorial and curated by country by true music lovers," said the former indie executive who prefers to remain anonymous.

"As a 'major indie' I was given an indie-specific contacts for the USA, Canada, Europe, Asia and Oceana. I then promoted my releases to them, often times highlighting special content and exclusives. Generally this “tit” produced a “tat” where my releases were considered for genre page, SOTW, or spotlight treatment. Sometimes their picks of my content were my priorities, sometimes they were just good music," he continued.

Continue reading "How iTunes Chooses Feature Artists" »


Daily D.I.Y. - On Being Wrong

WrongWay DailyDIY Being wrong has a standard protocol to follow and a path to go down. Better to be wrong than right because at least the answer is clear. "What do I do?" you ask Bow your head and walk away.

Maybe, you were wrong about your band, music, and passion.  If you are wrong, which I doubt you are, failure has no particular direction. Just walk, I'm sure the rest will be easy.

If you are right, "Only you know what to do." is what they'll tell you.  Instructions aren't what you need, because there's only one bridge to build and it's up to you to find the right people to help.

After all, it takes a hardworking and smart group of people to build a bridge, but it usually only takes one idiot to burn it down. However, the only way that you'll live what you learn is through the bridges that you've burned. - Kyle Bylin, Associate Editor


Friday's Music Brief: RIAA Cuts, WMG vs. MTV, Pirate Bay's Nazi, Ustream At SXSW & More

Hypebot Favicon HYPEBOT FEATURES:

MORE NEWS:

  • Rock Band MTV is supposedly boycotting Warner Music artists in its Rock Band game. (Techdirt)
  • The Pirate Bay's neo-Nazi sugar daddy. (Register)
  • Live online video enabler Ustream will broadcast from SXSW from the special Ustream Studio “Live from The Belmont” offering performances, panels and online interaction.
  • A look inside the Tenenbaum file sharing lawsuit and the unorthodox Harvard Law team that is helping to fight it.(ars)
  • "Hey, Warner, Leave those Kids Alone" (EFF.org)
  • IPhone The iPhone is apparently not selling well in Japan so one carrier will begin giving it away. (CrunchGear)
  • How To Kill The Music Industry. (Torrent Freak)
  • KIOSK Information Systems and Mix & Burn release new MP3 music download service for kiosks.
  • BridgeCo raised $6M in new financing for networked entertainment technologies.
  • Getting Back On Track: Some Tips For The Music Business. (paidContent)

Lessons From Digital Music Forum East - Understanding Fan Interaction

Guest Post By Eric Hebert of Evolvor.com

Digital music forum east A number of wonderful discussions are taking place at the DMF, especially during Wednesday's "State of the Digital Union" panel. Much of the conversation dealt with how to combat failing CD sales in a world where file sharing exists and digital continues to gain momentum. The answer? Learn how to tap into the fan base and present creative and new products (i.e. develop new business modes outside of the CD) for them to consume.

Jeremy Welt, SVP of new media at Warner Bros, discussed how his large number of unique artists now provides a large number of opportunities in the digital age. One example he provided was understanding

Continue reading "Lessons From Digital Music Forum East - Understanding Fan Interaction" »


Major Layoffs At The RIAA

RIAASTORY UPDATE HERE.

Several sources confirm major layoffs at record industry trade group the RIAA.  Late last year EMI said it would drastically scale back its contribution to the RIAA and other labels are certain to have considered following suit as industry declines shrink overall budgets. Rumors have the at around 30 let go. 

Hypebot readers please send an info or specifics to hypebot(at)skylineonline(dot)com.


iTunes Adds Indie Spotlight

Itunes indie 

iTunes has added an Indie Spotlight page that provides a home for bands and fans who prefer music created outside of the major label machine.  The unofficial soft launch includes an indie podcast, playlists and label samplers alongside featured artists, though more features may be in the pipeline.

Indie trade group A2IM applauded the move. "With independent music making major strides in the digital market place, on the charts, and winning over 50% of this year's Grammy Awards it's great to see iTunes recognizing the opportunities that independent music offers," says A2IM VP Jim Mahoney.

More: How iTunes Chooses Feature Artists


EMI Sues Seeqpod & Favtape Opening New Fronts In Battle With Music Tech

EMI    v.  Seeqpod

MUSIC TECH UNDER ATTACK

As part of an increasingly aggressive stance against music technology companies, EMI has joined Warner Music in suing playable search provider Seeqpod and added a lawsuit against Favtape to the mix. The suit seeks billions of dollars in damages for copyright infringement from the two mp3 search engines and EMI upped the anty by adding Seeqpod's officers and investors directly to the lawsuit.

EMI also opened a new front in its attack on music tech with a lawsuit against Favtape.  The site, which is now offline, was a mash-up using the publicly available API's of Seeqpod, Last.fm and Pandora. Favtape acted like a music search engine, but relied on Seeqpod to perform the function.. Favtape didn't track what music was played or downloaded - all that happened on Seeqpod.

"If API users can be held liable
it threatens how the internet works."
- Michael Robertson

Serial music tech entrepreneur Michael Robertson (MP3.com, MP3Tunes) points out that "many technology companies encourage others to connect (via API's) to their service and use them in innovative ways. Google is one of the largest examples of this with many connecting to Google's search, video, advertising and ecommerce services for their own business."  Almost 50 digital music companies openly offer API's.

Continue reading "EMI Sues Seeqpod & Favtape Opening New Fronts In Battle With Music Tech" »


The Digital Native Series

Kyle Bylin, Associate Editor

Are the Digital Natives a myth?  Should we be concerned?  In no other time in history has it been more possible that a section of a generation could rewrite the rules and restructure our beliefs about the world.  Their lifetime access to the Internet changes everything.  One website or program could radically force the music industry to rethink what we thought wasn't possible.

Were you Born Digital?

IPod_5G-4G-mini-nano_2G-shuffle_2G-2006-12-29


Taylor Swift Proves A Hit Ain't What It Used To Be

#1 Last week, country music's Taylor Swift topped the Billboard 200 with just 62,000 in sales according to Nielson Soundscan - a 32% drop over the previous week. Charlie Wilson sold  58,000 in his second week and The Fray was third at 53,000. All the rest of the Top 10 sold less than 50,000 units.

The number of copies that an album needs to move to hit #1 varies according to competition each week and there are still weeks where sales must be in the 200,000 range. But gone it's clear, a hit ain't what it used to be.


Daily D.I.Y. - Borrow Someone Else's Fans

Fans 2 DailyDIY When first starting out, growing a fan base is one of the most difficult tasks any artist faces. At some point, the buzz grows and the momentum kicks in with fans telling their friends and talking about you online. But after your friends and family, where do find those first fans?

Borrow someone else's fans.

The most obvious form of fan borrowing is getting a opening act slot with a band whose fans might like you.  Trading gigs with a similar artist in another city works much the same way, but there are other ways to borrow someone else's fans"

  • Flyer outside a another band's show
  • Park a van with a banner on it outside a major concert
  • Buy a local Facebook ad campaign using the names of several similar artists as key words

Continue reading "Daily D.I.Y. - Borrow Someone Else's Fans" »


Thursday's Music Brief: Music Tech Under Attack, Pirate Bay Day 8, Performance Rights, Isle Of Man & More

Hypebot Favicon HYPEBOT FEATURES:

MORE INDUSTRY NEWS:

  • Pirate bay Pirate Bay Trial Day #8 - John Kennedy, Chairman and CEO of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) took the stand. (ZeroPaid, TorrentFreak) As expected, he said Pirate Bay was was killing the music industry and then was forced to admit he didn't really understand how Pirate Bay or torrents worked. Just sad. 
  • Artists and musicFIRST are pushing for The Performance Rights Act which would force briadcast radio stations to pay performance royalties. More key lawmakers are signing on in support. (FMQB)
  • Generic_headphone_computer Inside the Isle of Man's £1/month unlimited music plan. (ars) The Isle is going to try "an audacious plan that would charge its citizens a small, flat fee for each connection in return for granting them legitimate access to music files, wherever they may be found. The plan would also see ISPs become the gateway to value-added music services".  They had to re-write copywirght law to do it. Should be fun to watch.
  • Buzz artist Frankmusik is travelling around the UK on an interactive tour using GPS to track his position on a Google Map with daily video updates on MySpace. Or as UMG describes it to Music Ally, it’s “part Logans Run, part reality TV, part human geocaching and part digital hall of mirrors”.
  • Nokia will launch in Australia next month.
  • Warner/Chappell Music has named Tracy Gershon SVP and Head of A&R, Nashville.
  • Two thirds of music consumers are still CD only. (AppScout)
  • Tunecore Tunecore  will give out 26 sales awards to artists who have topped 100,00 to 500,000 tracks sold. The digital distributor says it has paid out over $22 million in two years. Here's a list of the almost 30 artists receiving the sales award.
  • PaidContent: MySpace Tries To Move In On Twitter, Facebook With New Mood Settings

UK Consumers Prefer Amazon to iTunes

UK flag Despite only recently entering the market, Amazon UK has established a lead in user preference for digital media delivery. Strategy Analytics'  “Digital Media Survey: United Kingdom Country Profile,” asked broadband users in the UK from which sites they would prefer to buy downloaded music, video and games. Amazon beat the competition across all three categories.  

            Preferred UK Websites For Buying Downloaded Media

% of respondents Video Music Games
Amazon 16% 26% 16%
Apple iTunes 11% 23% 5%


Eminem Lawsuit Could Cost Labels Millions And Mean Higher Artist Royalties

Eminem the finger

Eminem's publishing company, FBT Productions, is suing Universal Music Group for $1.6 million in unpaid royalties from digital sales. At stake are tens of millions of dollars and the very definition of royalties.

Like all music sales, the royalty rate paid is determined by a contract between labels and artists. But in the majority of recording contracts - particularly those first executed before the debut of iTunes - digital royalty rates are not stated explicitly stated.

Continue reading "Eminem Lawsuit Could Cost Labels Millions And Mean Higher Artist Royalties" »


Live Nation & Ticketmaster Face Congress

Ticketmaster's Irving Azoff and Live Nation's Michael Rapino sat as witnessed before Senate judiciary committee hearing yesterday defending the merger of the two live music titans as neccessary to stay competitive.  Countering the calim were two veteran indie promoters from Baltimore and Chicago whose competitiveness seemed to move lawmakers skeptical of the deal.

With US House hearing scheduled for Thursday and Justice Department and other probes promised, the  Live Nation Ticketmaster merger process is just getting started.Live nation ticketmaster large

Viewpoints from around the net:


eMusic Connects Fans To Facebook, Launches New "Free Music" Toolbar

Emusic eMusic has launched a new marketing campaign rebranding itself as the "internet's corner music store" where music discovery is enhanced by community and word of mouth. Integration with Facebook Connect and a  free download widget help power the intiative.

Facebook With links added to its site, eMusic subscribers using Facebook Connect can publish their eMusic activities onto the popular social networker.  With a single click users can post album ratings, reviews, and artist links to their Facebook profile and friends' Facebook news feeds.

Free has always been a key component of eMusic's marketing campaigns: 25 free downloads for just trying the service, 50 for joining now and 75 free treacks to lure back those that have left are all ongoing  promotions. A free eMusic music discovery tool bar powered by Google takes the camEMusic25Freepaign further offering a free mp3 daily to those that install it. In addition to the free daily download, users can access online radio with tracks linked to purchase on eMusic as well as other features direct from the toolbar.

In an era where free dominates, eMusic's "give it away" strategy and Facebook initiatives may be music to the ears of its cadre of independent labels struggling to bring attention to their releases amidst a fractured media landscape.


The Digital Natives: Conclusions (Part Five)

Kyle Bylin, Associate Editor

What's The Difference?

In The Personalized Music Experience, the iPod was described as, “A personalized, maximized, and fully controlled experience that could be taken with you wherever you go and be plugged into docking 427px-3G_ipod_in_dock stations that created a home like listening venue where you choose to set up.”  The subtle difference revealed between previous generations and Digital Natives is that for the natives, more and more, it wouldn't have occurred to them that music should be experienced any other way.  Through further examination of my own digital youth...

Continue reading "The Digital Natives: Conclusions (Part Five)" »


Chris Cornell Gets Web Site Right

GUEST POST: This article by Scott Perry of Sperry Media was first published in the newsletter of his New Music Tipsheet.

Chris Cornell I really like the Chris Cornell website. Not only is it clean and easy to navigate, but I think it's a strong reflection of the work that goes into fleshing out an artist's image these days. Of course you have an audio player, embedded videos, pix, discography, tour dates, news, and wallpapers, but then you also have the blog plus the links to Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and MySpace.

And all this is just for his own site, before any marketing efforts are done outside of his own sphere - you multiply the options for touch points at every partner's website (MTV, Verizon, the tour promoters, press, blogs, and other media outlets), and you start to realize just how much more complex it is be (or manage) an artist these days.

Used to be, radio was the napalm that got you a village of listeners/fans in one fell swoop. These days, you gotta send the hounds into rabbit holes to find your fans. And even when you do find your fans, you have to keep them happy and maintain that relationship over a long period of time.

Continue reading "Chris Cornell Gets Web Site Right" »


Daily D.I.Y. - More Old School Promo

DailyDIYWith so many things pulling at people's attention, sometimes adding long forgotten old school promotional tactics to your marketing mix can help get above the clutter.  Using regular mail and faxes are the two most obvious examples, but other ideas include:

  • Old school A call-in phone line for gigs and news
  • Fly a banner from a plane
  • Buy a print ad
  • Collect emails by passing around an clipboard at shows
  • Send a handwritten thank-you note
  • Print vinyl banners
  • Create and sell an old fashion flip book
  • Billboards are more affordable than you think

Old can be new again.  Try it.


Wednesday's Music Brief: Eminem, Live Nation, Republic Project, Tunecore Widgets & More

Hypebot Favicon HYPEBOT FEATURES:

MORE INDUSTRY NEWS:

  • Republic Project screen shot. The new Republic Project's goal is to put musicians in control of their content. I'll have a deeper review of the site when it launches, but it looks promising. Until then here is Mashable's take.
  • imeem has launched the latest version of imeem Mobile social music application for the Android platform.
  • Flat rate d.i.y. digital distributor Tunecore has launched a streaming music player widget that links to iTunes.  Here's an example. Given their strong history of service to indie atists perhaps Tunecore will retool their widgets to also link to true all mp3 seller like Amazon or a band's own direct micro-payment system.
  • Digital Music Forum East starts today in NYC. Hypebot will have coverage and you can follow some of the action live on Twitter @ twitter.com/rockcandytv
  • NJ Attorney General announces settlement with Ticketmaster on sale of Springsteen tickets. Fans get a $100 gift certificate.
  • Congratulations Warner Music Group for being named the onlu music company on Fast Company magazine's annual list of the 50 Most Innovative Companies.”  Too bad the award didn't help keep WMG's stock from closing Tuesday at an all time low of $1.78 per share.

iTunes Taps Depeche Mode For iTunes Pass Subscription Launch

Depeche Mode

iTunes has launched a new artist subscription-like product called iTunes Pass. Depeche Mode is the first to utilize the new platform for the pre-sale and release of  “Sounds of the Universe”. For $18.95 fans get the band's new single, a dub remix of another new track, the new album on street date, as well as, music and video exclusives over 15 weeks before and after the album’s April 21 release.

Other artists are also experimenting with their own variations of the subscription model. Utilizing technology from Topsin Media, singer songwriter Josh Rouse sells access to his Bedroom Classics Closet Archives for $29.95 and throws in a subscription to Paste Magazine. Ronn Werre, president of Music Services for Depeche Mode's record label EMI believes in the new format, "We think it's a great new platform that will change the way artists engage with their audiences and also a powerful new way for us to build value for our artists’ music."

From the press release:

Continue reading "iTunes Taps Depeche Mode For iTunes Pass Subscription Launch" »


iPhone Apps Gain Steam As Music Promo And Delivery Platform

 A growing number of artists and labels are using custom applications created for the iPhone and iPod Touch as both a promotional tool and an extension of the traditional album release.Iphonone on angel

Most recently, Universal released five similar yet customized apps for The Pussycat Dolls, Lady Gaga, Soulja Boy, The All American Rejects, and Keri Hilson. All five were created by popular mobile video service Kyte and offer behind the scenes video, news, live chat and other functions including music and merchandise purchase.

Other artists have built their own applications from scratch which add new life to traditional album offerings. Late last year Snow Patrol released an iPhone interactive album app with lyrics, artwork, photos and video as part of an Apple experiment of what could become a new format for releasing music.  For $3, fans can stream the entire catalog of indie rockers President's Of The United States via their custom iPhone/iPod touch application

More: Kyte Offers Turnkey Framework For iPhone Music Apps Creation


Kyte Offers Turnkey Framework For iPhone Music Apps Creation

Kyte Mobile video service Kyte is now offering a turnkey framework that streamlines the creation of custom music applications for the iPhone and iPod touch. Similar apps are gaining popularity both with artists and fans.  Using built in RSS feeds and links the apps deliver video, music, news, tweets, chat and links to purchase.

Interscope Geffen A&M is amoung the first labels to utilize the app creation system.   "Kyte allows us to easily deliver iPhone and iPod touch apps that connect our artists with their fans in a fully immersive, interactive experience," says Ted Mico, EVP of Digital at IGA.

More:iPhone Apps Gain Steam As Music Promo And Delivery Platform