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The New Music Industry's Week In Review

I'm headed to LA for the New Music Seminar on Tuesday. Tickets will be available at the door and I hope to see you there. Please grab me in the halls for an intro.

image from www.hypebot.com Much of the action in the music industry this week took place in Cannes, France at the MIDEM international music conference. Hypebot was there:
Other industry news from last week:

Is What's Good For Blink-182, Good For The Rest Of The Music Industry?

"We're redefining the music business."image from www.harmony-central.com

Blink 182's Tom DeLonge says that with the self-release of the new album  by his side project Angels & Airwaves, he can redefine the music business. His plan is to:

  1. Release the new album free online.
  2. Use corporate sponsorships with Live Nation and Hurley to get 20 million downloads.
  3. Watch the fans flock to Modlife, where they'll all sign up for $6.95 monthly memberships

“If only 5% of that 20 million came back and interacted with the Modlife platform that powers our Web site, the revenue would far exceed anything we'd make from a major label, in any way, shape or form,”  Delonge told Billboard.  “We're redefining the music business. And I honestly think we're going to be 10 times bigger because of it."

While DeLonge may be redefining his own business, can this be a cure for the music industry as a whole? For most artists and labels, the struggle is getting the attention of enough fans so that monetizing 5% of them yields significant revenue. 

And do 20 million people still care about Blink 182 much less Angles & Airwaves?

Watch the official teaser:

Continue reading "Is What's Good For Blink-182, Good For The Rest Of The Music Industry?" »

Universal's Doug Morris Buys His Way Onto Hollywood Walk Of Fame

image from www.hollywoodchamber.net This week Universal Music Group Chairman Doug Morris was honored with the 2399th star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame. Morris has had a long and illustrious career. But in becoming a part of this iconic symbol of old school Hollywood,  he reminds the world of how stuck in the past he and the other leaders of the recorded music industry are.

And Morris was likely an active participant in having this honor bestowed.  After all, to get a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame requires an up front payment of $25,000. You don't just get a star because you deserve one. You have to buy it.

How long will it be before a major label head is asked to speak at TED instead of honored by those who long for the return of the glory days of excessive spending and artistic slavery?

MediaNet's Downloads And Streaming Soar

(Updated) MediaNet's content network delivered a record 200 million music downloads and 150 million on demand plays in December, the company's CEO Alan McGlade shared in a Thursday  afternoon call. That's a 124% increase in downloads from December 2008. image from blogs.pcworld.com

MediaNet powers music and media delivery via an API and web components to iLike, HMV, Tesco, MOG, Fox News, Ultimate Guitar, Intertech Media and a growing number of others. These sites use  the company's services including streaming, downloads, music search, contextual matching and other discovery tools to engage their users without having to send them off site.

"We see the growth coming from our partners and their users," McGlade told Hypebot. "But we also see more extensive activity from existing users. Digital music has become a mainstream part of more people's lives."  He sees growth continuing in 2010, "The labels are more open and new investments are being  made." Music streaming and add-on services from ISP's will be particular areas of growth according to McGlade.

MediaNet's 2009 Top Albums & Tracks:

Continue reading "MediaNet's Downloads And Streaming Soar " »

CIMS Indie Store Debut Chart Week Of 1.24.10

image from www.thetop22.comTop 15 Debuts


More Music Industry News: Vringo's $64M IPO, Nokia Music, Windish, SXSW Coverage & More

  • image from weblogs.cltv.com Video Ringtone Company Vringo Files For $64.3 Million IPO. (TechCrunch)
  • Nokia's Music Store to get rebranded as Ovi Music. (Music Ally)
  • Behind the music: My solution to the digital licensing mess. - The current state of digital licensing is a shambles. My proposal is that collection societies should 'audition' to become the one-stop licensing shop for Europe. (Guardian)
  • Ticketmaster ceases to exist (in name only). A critical op ed in the LA Times.
  • A Q&A with the top agent in indie music, Tom Windish, the founder of The Windish Agency. (Billboard)
  • AOL Tries To Seed SXSW With Coverage Of 2,000 Bands. (paidContent)
  • iPhone Loses Market Share As Smartphone Wars Heat Up. (Epicenter) If you think you can get away with only creating an iPhone app...think again.

Universal Music Expands Direct To Fan Mobile Efforts With Netbiscuits

image from www.mobilemarketingforum.comUniversal Music Group is expanding its direct-to-consumer efforts via a deal with mobile publishing platform Netbiscuits.

UMG will leverage Netbiscuits' B2B web software platform to launch mobile websites and services. Through artist-branded mobile websites, UMG will offer fan to fan interaction and the ability to make purchases directly from smartphones across the iPhone, Android, and Windows Mobile platforms. UMG also plans to  utilize the text messaging service integrated within the Netbiscuits platform.

Continue reading "Universal Music Expands Direct To Fan Mobile Efforts With Netbiscuits" »

Apps Are Like Babies

My favorite line from Midem came in a tweet from @amandapalmer:

"apps are like babies.

easy to conceive and hard to deliver".

Apps were the talk of MidemNet and Midem. Music discovery and delivery apps, streaming apps, artist apps and more. But Palmer is right, apps are easy to conceive and hard to deliver - particularly artist apps.  Good app programmers are in short supply and overworked.  But more than that, do you have the ability to consistently deliver great content; or will your new app just turn into a rss feed of content they can find on Twitter of Facebook?

Staying close to the fans is essential. But their attention is a gift that can be taken away. So it's also imperative that you also not waste their time.

3 More Rumors From Midem

  • image from www.orbitcast.comSeveral strong sources point to the release of a Zune phone. This article from ars has evidence seems to confirm it. 
  • Subscription music service MOG's goal of licensing via ISP's and mobile company's is getting closer to reality.  Nothing is firm yet, but both sides see promise. Then again, a growing number of competitors are fighting MOG in the same space...
  • Will Spotify ever come to the U.S.? The major labels are increasingly skeptical that as supported Spotify will ever deliver real revenue and may even hurt sales. Some are willing to give it a try, but at least one seems far less interested.

New Radio Ad Kills Lady Gaga

Britney Spears Lady Gaga

image from adsoftheworld.com
A new ad from an Irish radio station shows a dead  body under the headline "Britney Spears Lady Gaga". the the word "spears" is intended as an action.  Though I'm not at all a Lady Gaga fan, the trouble with this kind of marketing is that, while it gets your attention, it tells you what the station is not, rather than what it is. In this instant information age not being something is no longer enough. (via Ads of the World)

More Music Industry News: Mottola To American Idol?, RIAA Wants To Settle, 24-7, Baidu & More

  • image from 2.bp.blogspot.com Is industry vet Tommy Mottola set to replace Simon Crowell on American Idol? (CNN) He certainly has the personality to be a....I'll stop now.
  • The RIAA offers to settle Thomas-Rasset case for $25,000. (ars)  Thomas has rejected the offer.
  • 24-7 Entertainment, a leading B2B digital distribution provider announced a jump in download volume in 2009 to 150 million music tracks; an increase of 32% up from 2008, across 45 music download shops which they power on behalf of clients in 16 countries. The highest monthly volume was generated in December with a total of 22 million tracks and at peak times, up to 200K downloads were delivered per hour. (press release)
  • The Music Industry’s Cautionary iTunes Tale Resonates with Publishers - And Apple. (Media Memo)
  • Baidu (again) cleared of piracy in deep-linking case. (Music Ally)
  • Pirates Are The Music Industry’s Most Valuable Customers - Once again the music industry has come out with disappointing results for physical music sales, which they blame entirely on file-sharing. What they failed to mention though, is that their findings show that music pirates are buying more digital music than the average music consumer. Since digital music is the future, pirates are the industry’s most valuable customers. (TorrentFreak)

"Hope For Haiti Now" Becomes First Digital Only Release To Reach U.S. #1

The benefit recording of the recent "Hope For Haiti Now" telethon will enter the U.S. album charts at #1 this week with about 175,000 units sold. The fact that this represents less that three days of only digital sales makes the achievement all the more impressive and a first for a download only release. Sources tell Hypebot that the recording is also on track to debut at #1 in some 20 countries, as well as, be one of the top full weekly sellers in iTunes history.

image from ecx.images-amazon.com

Insiders have actor George Clooney driving the project and cajoling both artists and rightsholders to give 100% of  their earnings to the charity.  MTV Networks did most of the behind the scenes work,  distributor INgrooves waived all fees and delivered the tracks in record time to iTunes, Amazon, Napster and Rhapsody who are all also donating 100% of all revenue generated.

While the tragic events unfolding in Haiti clearly created a perfect storm of  fan interest and industry cooperation, having a #1 all digital only release is a also milestone for the U.S. music industry; and may indicate that music's digital tipping point has arrived far earlier than many predicted.

Interview: Jeff Gomez of Print Is Dead: Books in Our Digital Age (Pt. 2)

Kyle Bylin, Associate Editor, Read Part One

Has the digital age made possible and brought forth the circumstances and tools necessarily to allow for the emergence of a middle class of authors, who can support themselves on a humble income, as opposed to the ‘star system’ that revolves around 9780230614468ones capacity to become a New York Times Bestseller?

Jeff Gomez: Yes, I think so, although not necessarily outside of the regular publishing system. Instead, the Internet is the biggest asset to come along for the midlist author since the introduction of the paperback. Authors no longer need to rely on their publisher to get the word out about their book. However, they still need their publishers in order to get revenue. This may change in the future if a viable alternative to the current publishing model exists—and it does, in some genres; Elora’s Cave is a good example—but the numbers involved, in terms of both royalties and copies sold, are still small compared to traditional publishing.

Continue reading "Interview: Jeff Gomez of Print Is Dead: Books in Our Digital Age (Pt. 2)" »

Quincy Jones, Bill Withers & John Mayer Top ASCAP's 5th Expo

image from radio2020.files.wordpress.com Quincy Jones, Bill Withers and John Mayer will lead the list of speakers at the 5th annual ASCAP "I Create Music" Expo. The three-day event will take place at the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel, April 22-24, 2010 in Los Angeles.

Also confirmed to participate in the EXPO are Louis Biancaniello, Kenny Burrell, Desmond Child, Dre & Vidal, Steve Diamond, John Forté, Ashley Gorley, Lukasz "Dr. Luke" Gottwald, Ron Jones, Just Blaze, Bear McCreary, Bob Mintzer, Robert Ellis Orrall, Don Schlitz, Brian Tyler, Sam Watters, Greg Wells, Wendy & Lisa, Phil Vassar, and Paul Williams.  Additional panelists and performers will be announced in the coming weeks. 

Continue reading "Quincy Jones, Bill Withers & John Mayer Top ASCAP's 5th Expo" »

More Music Industry News: HP Launches Music Service, Vodafone Soars & More

#Midem Wednesday
  • Tunecore has added Zune to its digital distribution offerings and will add other outlets in the coming months.
  • PC maker Hewlett-Packard will launch a digital music service across key European markets on Monday. The MusicStation service will be preloaded on 16 of HP's personal computer models in Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Netherlands, Belgium and Austria. The service has been developed and is managed by British digital music firm Omnifone. HP runs a similar service in United States with RealNetworks' Rhapsody. (Reuters)
  • An overview of the 15 music tech startups chosen to showcase at MidemNet Labs. (Music Ally)
  • Vodafone announced at MIDEM that it had 450,000 paid subscribers to its Mobile Music unlimited download offering.
  • Music discovery site thesixtyone.com is live with a new design. I think its both elegant and intelligent. Brilliant.
  • Facebook grew 600% in 2009 but the really explosive story is Twitter according to Opera's State Of The Mobile Web.
  • Pardon the lack of graphics and weirdness in the site today.  Lots of net connection issues last night in Cannes.

Spotify Starts To Look Serious

(Cannes) #Midem

We7 To Launch Paid Premium Service Feb 1st

For more than a year streaming music service Spotify has been the darling of the music press and it appears that fans agree.  Some tidbits dropped from various company sources at Cannes point to a good year for the company:

  • image from davidreport.com 250,000 paid subscribers
  • At very roughly 10 euros each that $40-50,000 million
  • That's before revenue from ads, downloads, etc.
  • 6 million free subscribers - a drain on the balance sheets for sure
  • Ratio of paid to free subscribes 3.5 to 100
  • Ration needed to pay the labels? 10 - 12 to 100

When will Spotify launch in the US? Founder Daniel Ek refused to comment yesterday, but sources tell Hypebot that the two biggest roadblocks are Universal in the U.S. and music publishers in general.

Meanwhile, Steve Purdham, who co-founded UK based We7 with Peter Gabriel, shared during a dinner on Friday night that they'll launch a paid service on February 1st. We7 has 2.5 million free subscribers.

Interview: Jeff Gomez of Print Is Dead: Books in Our Digital Age (Pt. 1)


Kyle Bylin, Associate Editor, Read Part 2

Recently, I spoke with Jeff Gomez, who is the author of Print Is Dead: Books in Our Digital Age and currently the director of online consumer sales and marketing for Penguin Group USA.  In this interview, Jeff shares his thoughts on the role of publishers in the digital age, the emergence of a middle class of authors, and the future of print.

In what ways has the digital age forced us to confront many of our ‘romantic notions’ about what it means to be an artist or author – both in terms of being aloof in the nature, solely involved in the creative processes, and typically dethatched from their audiences and businesses in general?

jeff_union_squareJeff Gomez: Yes, it definitely forces us to confront the notion of the unconcerned or aloof artist, someone who writes in their garret and wonders about their relevance in the world. These days, the garret would have a webcam and the writer would have a blog; there’s instant feedback and, sometimes, instant recognition.

Continue reading "Interview: Jeff Gomez of Print Is Dead: Books in Our Digital Age (Pt. 1)" »

Godin: "Great music, like a great idea, spreads."

image from kmstyling.files.wordpress.com" Great means unsettling. Great means open to criticism. Great means booed off stage.

And great music, like a great idea, spreads. Ideas that spread, win, and so the goal today is not to make great music for 1970 or 1990, but great music for today, for a market that's super picky and selfish and has ADD.

Great is in the ear of the listener, of course, and the definition is simple: if it spreads, then for this market, it's great."

- Seth Godin in an interview with Derek Sivers on Sivers.org on his great new book Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?

Topspin Ups Game With Partnerships, UK Expansion

(Cannes) #Midem #Topspin

image from www.hypebot.comAt MIDEM this week, direct artist to fan platform Topspin announced a major expansion to its growing list of content partners. Topspin will showcase its first annual Topspin Content Partner Day on February 25th in Santa Monica. The company has also opened an office in the United Kingdom which will be led by Topspin co-founder Shamal Ranasinghe.

Topspin has recently partnered with labels ranging from Universal, EMI, Atlantic, ATO, Real World, Dangerbird, Nacional, Thirty Tigers, and Eleven Seven.

Continue reading "Topspin Ups Game With Partnerships, UK Expansion" »

Midem 2010 - Tuesday AM Update

image from www.hypebot.com (Cannes) #Midem
  • The full MIDEM trade show was in full swing yesterday and it's now official: aattendance is down 13%. Many companies sent fewer delegates and Universal has no presence at all.  But combining MidemNet with the Midem ticket was a big hit with higher attendance and more excitement from a broader cross section of attendees. Many are calling this year's program the best yet.
  • Two additional MidemNet related initiatives are also very popular . Standing room only crowds have been regular occurrences at both MidemNet Lab, a showcase of 15 music tech startups and MidemNet Academy, a smaller seminar area offering practical digital advice. People are now looking for answers ar MIDEM in addition to making deals.
  • There has been lots of deal making going on at The A2IM Midem Pavilion. This hub of activity showcases over 100 U.S. based independent music companies in a single area. And those end of the day cocktail parties don't hurt popularity...
  • Lots of great response to our Topspin NARM Hello Music Hypebot Meetup tonight.  Get there early.

More Midem 2010 Deals & Announcements

image from richardwiseman.files.wordpress.com (Cannes) #Midem Tuesday AM
  • MusicDNA is being touted as the successor to the MP3. It is based on an MP3 file, but also displays everything from lyrics, artwork and tour dates to blog posts, videos and tweets within a custom player. If it is a legitimately purchased file, the added content automatically updates whenever the player is connected to the net. 

The company behind MusicDNA, Bach Technology, worked on the development of the MP3 and Karlheinz Brandenburg, the inventor of the MP3 and Bach investor joined them at MIDEM for the launch.

  • EU digital distributor [PIAS] Entertainment Group have partnered with Digital Animal (direct sales), MAM Logistic (physical goods fulfillment) and direct to fan marketing platform Topspin Media to launch [PIAS] D2C, a range of services that provide [PIAS] related repertoire owners with integrated e-commerce capabilities.
  • RightsFlow, a provider of bulk mechanical licensing and royalty services, announced an agreement with UK copyright organization PRS for Music to allow RightsFlow to identify and license PRS for Music works for mechanical uses in the United States.  The project allows UK artists to receive royalties from digital transactions in the United States even when the content does not have North American representation.
  • Industry vets Seymour Stein (Sire Records) and Richard Gottehrer (The Orchard) announced they are relaunching the old Blue Horizon label at a press conference Monday.

IODA Adds Partners In Classical, China & Digital Marketing

image from www.allegromediagroup.com (Cannes) #Midem

Digital distributor IODA announced has strengthened its already strong classical roster with the Philadelphia Orchestra. IODA's classical catalog, represents 4.5% of the United States classical digital market.

IODA has also partnered with R2G, to deliver IODA labels to China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom.

Another IODA deal with InstantEncore.com will give its labels access to a digital asset management system to customize and publish music, video, event listings, and buzz to websites, iPhone apps, Facebook, Twitter, and fan email alerts

More Music Industry News:

  • The merger of Live Nation and Ticketmaster has been approved by U.S. and Canadian authorities with surprisingly few concessions required. (WSJ)
  • SoundCloud teams up with The Hype Machine to transform music distribution to blogs. - Domino, Massive Attack, Marina and the Diamonds, and Delphic among first to take advantage of new partnership. (press release
  • Deezer CEO is ousted by investors. (TechCrunch)
  • The Spotify Effect: Swedish Music Fans Start to Steer Clear of Pirates (Telegraph)  and Spotify now offers the music industry a sustainable revenue model according to a UK Universal executive.(NY Times)
  • WORTHY CLICK: GetPlaylists.com focuses on making playlists work across applications (i.e. iTunes, Windows Media Player, etc) and devices (iPhone, Zune, etc). The site is our central place for people to find, share, and get playlists.

D.I.Y. Making You Crazy? Try Outsourcing.

Outsourcing - using an outside contractor to do some of your daily or weekly tasks in order to free up time to do more important things like run your business.  Tim Ferriss, whose bestselling The 4-Hour Workweek has just been updated and expanded, suggests hiring offshore help to save money. In this short video Greg Rollett of Gen-Y Rock Stars translates outsourcing to the music industry.

Music Outsourcing from Greg Rollett on Vimeo.

Band Metrics Retools

Music analytic site Band Metrics has totally redesigned its service bringing it into the cloud and revamping its interface. "Essentially, this allows artists, managers, labels and the like to see a breakdown of fans based initially on Twitter comments, and a fan's influence among their friends." says Band Metrics founder Duncan Freeman.

The company got this initial release out just in time for the MidemNet Lab tech showcase and more sources of data and other improvements are being added almost daily. "We still have lots of work to do, including design enhancements and new features, as well as incorporate our existing analytical tools into the new site.

MIDEM Continues

image from www.globalcollect.com Monday #MIDEM

  • I hosted the afternoon of MidemNet yesterday and lead a great panel on Monetization and Live Music.  You can check out videos of it and all the other panels here.
  • Some companies to pay attention to: MusicDNA (think mp3 on steroids) MOG (this real comer hosted well attended party last night with DJ Rapture), Fanatic.fm (fan or brand sponsored music sponsorship platform), Silva Screen Music (exlporing some interesting projects in the soundtrack space), Slow Joe (Indian Street musician meets a modern French blues band), Artist Garage, TracksandFields.com (popular music liscenging site going global).
  • We've added partners Hello Music and NARM for the Topspin Hypebot Hello NARM Meetup on Tuesday night. It's at 7:30pm - 11:00pm at Morrison's Lounge Cannes 10 Rue Teissere in Cannes.  RSVP on Facebook

MIDEM 2010 So Far

( #MIDEM ) They say they numbers are down about 10% over last year to closer to 7000 attendees, but on the streets and cafes it seems as busy as always. They included admission to MidemNet in the MIDEM badge this year, so numbers their appeared to be up. A few highlights and impressions:

  • image from www.hypebot.com MySpace really appears to get that they have problems and are working hard to turn them around. It's easy to be skeptical that it won't work, but wouldn't it be better for the music industry if we have choices beyond the less music friendly Facebook?
  • I wrote briefly about Follow Out Boy bassist Peter Wentz and Gina Bianchini of NING's Midem chat. I wish that they'd gotten more into their Friends Or Enemies project - a collective social network for Fall Out Boy, Panic at the Disco, Cobra Starship. The concept of sharing fans has a lot of potential.
  • I did not write about the MIDEM chat with Pharrell Williams because its best watched. He's very bright, driven and quite humble. Inspirational, I think, particularly if your on the creative end. Midem has it and lots of video from yesterday here.
  • Fortunately they don't have video of my 5 minute presentation on music monetization. I like what I wrote but not how I delivered it.  I'll try to get the text up here or on MidemNet soon.
  • The trade show opens today and I'm excited to see what's up. The MidemNet Labs startup area has real potential as does Midem+.
  • I'll have some coverage throughout the day (Sunday), but am playing MC to the gathering in the afternoon. Stuart Dredge from Music Ally is live blogging here and providing great coverage
  • Don't forget the Topspin Hypebot and Hello Music Meetup on Tuesday evening.

Fall Out Boy Wentz & Ning's Bianchini At MIDEM

Ning More #MIdem

Follow Out Boy bassist Peter Wentz and Gina Bianchini, The CEO of social networking platform NING are at MIDEM to talk about Friends Or Enemies.  The site is a collective social network for Fall Out Boy, Panic at the Disco, Cobra Starship and a number of other artists.

Other artists using Ning include Good Charlotte, Hollywood Undead, All American Rejects and 50 Cent.

Wentz: "We always wanted to have a cohesive community." "It's a great time to be in music and a horrible time to be in music." "

MySpace CEO VanNatta At MIDEM

Follow all the action #MIDEM.

This afternoon's MidemNet conversation is with MySpace CEO Owen VanNatta. The highlights:

  • image from www.iochatto.comMySpace is following the lead of Sonicbids and ReverbNation and linking with SoundExcange. They have already identified 25,000 artists that are owed $15 million 
  • Site has 180,000 playlists
  • 7% page view growth
  • 92% growth in unique users year over year
  • 30% growth just this past month
  • MySpace Music just launched in Australia and New Zealand
  • Now the #1 music site in Australia
  • Recently launched in UK and users are responding well
  • On the iLike purchase:  MySpace acquired great talent and the largest music app across other social networks. MySpace want to do more of that.
  • On imeem, VanNatta saying they picked the pieces after the company shut down primarily to take try to migrate their users.