This post is part of the How To Launch a Music Startup series by Brenden Mulligan, which focuses on building a company that creates online products for musicians. Mulligan founded ArtistData, which was recently acquired by Sonicbids, and can be found on Twitter at @bmull.
Before starting this series off, I thought it'd be useful to lay out some fundamental truths I believe exist which have an enormous effect on the potential success of building a product to sell to artists. I wanted to bring this up immediately because I thought getting the conversation going in the comments now would influence how the rest of the series is laid out.
Social networks are hugley popular in the US, but they are rapidly becoming even more so in other markets. According to Nielsen, the social network and blog category reached 74% of active internet users in the US but in Italy the number was 74% and Brazil 86% of active internet users in Brazil spent significant time on social networks. Then there's China...
Let's review: Last week, famed Fleetwood Mac front-woman Stevie Nicks said a few provocative statements about the impact of the Internet on rock music and expressed her concern about how the proliferation of digital technologies has robbed our children of their social graces and driven them to no longer hang out. As we found out, even under minor scrutiny, her statements failed to hold any validly and, for the most part, proved to be quite ill-founded.
DRM technology provider Intertrust Technologies Corporatiohas has acquired all the software and patents developed by SeeqPod. via a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy proceeding. Intertrust has not acquired the Seeqpod domain name. Seeqpod shut down its then popular music search and play site in 2009 after several major labels and rightsholders filed lawsuits alledging copyright infringement.
For the week ending Aug. 30, 2010
Top 10 Singles
1. “Teenage Dream,” Katy Perry
2. “Dynamite,” Taio Cruz
3. “Just the Way You Are,” Bruno Mars
4. “Love the Way You Lie,” Eminem
5. “I Like It,” Enrique Iglesias
6. “DJ Got Us Fallin’ In Love,” Usher
7. “Just a Dream,” Nelly
8. “Magic (w/Rivers Cuomo),” B.o.B
9. “Take It Off,” Ke$ha
10. “Erase Me (w/Kanye West),” Kid Cudi
Top 10 Albums
Universal Music spent $840,000 in Q2 to lobby the US federal government, according to documents filed on July 20th. UMG lobbyists focuced their efforts on Congress, the Office of Management and Budget, the FCC and other government agencies to fight piracy and a push to require broadcast radio to pay performance royalties. In the same quarter last year, UMG spent $700,00 on lobbying.
While it's quite nice of MySpace to extend users the ability to sync their pages with their Facebook profiles I'm not sure if Facebook will be extending them the same gratitude anytime soon. In a series of moves to ease the use and relevance of their social network, MySpace is now letting users update their Facebook and Twitter accounts at the same time as they change their status on MySpace.
Early bird registration discounts for the CMJ Music Marathon & Film Festival 2010 end at midnight tonight August 31st. You can register here. And while more bands will be announced in the coming weeks, here's the initial lineup of showcases:
Apple's music event is tomorrow. We'll skip most of the rumors and deliver the facts as they become available. Don't forget that there's one week left to enter our Data Driven Song Contest. It's free to enter and there are more than $5000 in prizes. Details here.
Music Industry News & Commentary Continued:
Known more notably for his role as frontman of the viral video and YouTube sensations OK Go and his perspective on being that very thing on a record label that willfully disables the sharing functionality that made his group famous, Damian Kulash is now weighing in on an issue even more near and dear to his heart: net neutrality and the future of the web.
Free For The Next 30 Days
San Francisco based Zaptunes has launched offering unlimited DRM free mp3 downloads for $25 per month. They say they're adding songs constantly, but have started with 8 million tracks from all four major labels and many indies. To kick things off, the $25 is waived for the next 30 days.
How Are Beatles Downloads Available?
Two words: Almost Famous. It may be cliché but this was the movie that spurned my foray into music. The fact that you could travel around the country with a rock band fascinated me. The ability to be able to capture the process of a band connecting with their audience and the unspeakable and indescribable quality with which they win over millions of people. The idealistic notions in the movie inspired me to become a music reviewer. In late 2007, as I was rereading my first review of Tegan and Sara’s The Con, I realized my perspective was just like the movie—written by a fan and not a journalist.
This AM on Music Think Tank, The Musician’s Guide founder Marcus Taylor opens up on the importance of learning how to build fans by being a fan. In retracing the steps he took to becoming a loyal fan of Jason Mraz, Taylor demonstrates the long path that it sometimes takes to become a devoted to an artist. As well, he notes that a major factor that played into the gradual evolution of his fandom had to do with the many digital footprints that Mraz left across the web for him to follow.
Piled on top of all of the money that EMI owes to investors and CitiGroup are the needs of 269 former employees owed pensions by the company. The shortfall in EMI's fund is estimated to between £115m (178 million US) and £217m ($336 million US). In its recent annual report, EMI admitted that the deficit was one if the major factors that cast "fundamental uncertainty" over the company's future.
Recently, I spoke with Rob MacArthur, who describes himself as a music fanatic and entrepreneur; he is currently overseeing operations at the online crowd-funding site IOU Music and Rock Garden Jam Spaces. In this interview, Rob talks about the willingness of the record indusry to emabrace new technology and chaos in general and the disruptive nature of these times.
While no one is calling for the death of the iPod just yet; it has been reported that "the latest sales figures for the quarter to June showed 9 million sold—the lowest quarterly number since 2006." Once deemed the silver-bullet savior for a record industry in terminal decline—that re-engendered enthusiasm for music across all generations and demographics—it's downward trajectory is mirroring that of the very business it was supposed to rescue.
click on image to enlarge
Summer is winding down, which means that the pr machines are cranking up. Some of the action is about the Christmas sales season, some is about trying to improve yearly numbers before its too late and some are announcments that were being held since the summer months just aren't great for trying to make a pr splash. As usual, first up is Apple on Wednesday. I expect some new iPods and an improved iTunes; maybe even a web-based version. I do not expect an iTunes subscription announcement, but what do I know? Something I have even less insider info on is Google's search for someone to head its expanding music initiative. But that's not going to keep me from weighing in later this week with a list of people that I believe should get the job.
More Music Industry News From Across The Web:
Before I continue my deconstruction of the viewpoints expressed by Steve Nicks in a recent interview with the NY Daily News, I wanted to take a moment and point you to a fantastic essay that crossed by desktop yesterday. A regular reader here and commenter over at Music Think Tank, T. D. Ruth—who is an entertainment attorney in Nashville—sent in this great piece; it adds an alternative perspective in regards to the one I’ve expressed here the day before and recontextualizes the arguments in a new light.
Or Does It? The Biggest Crisis In Music Fandom.
Remember the days when you could judge a music fan by the size of their collection? When I started out, it was the matter of filling that 20 disc case. That’s like between $250-300 worth of music; a rather sizeable sum for a teenager to come up with. But, it didn’t take long before I started eyeing the 100 and then 250 disc cases.
Google is making it easier to track a topic in real-time across a myriad of web sources with a single search.On the newly launched Google Realtime homepage are a continually updates stream of results and some basic tools to help refine and understand them. One option offers geographic refinements to find updates by location. Try the beta search engine here.
Watch A Google Realtime Intro Video
A Federal Trade Commission settlement with California based music marketer Reverb Communications (not to be confused with ReverbNation) confirms that unlabeled paid reviews violate truth in advertising regulations. The guidelines were updated last year to include blog and the web reviews as well as Facebook and Twitter. These bogus reviews appeared on iTunes.