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NPR To Launch Music & Download Site

Npr_5National Public Radio will create a major digital music service in the first half of 2007 to extend the significant role that their 815 public radio stations hold in music discovery. This is good news for producers, marketers and fans of AAA, Creativezenvplus_6jazz, opera, world and classical music.  They also promise exposure to electronica and alternative formats.

The centerpiece of service will be a supersite that enables users to learn and explore, creating communities and offering exposure for emerging and non-mainstream artists. In Fall 2005, NPR launched 5 music channels for HD radio multicasting which are already airing on an experimental basis across the country; their formats are classical, folk, jazz, electronica and AAA. (NPR)

Hypebot's New Music Industry Briefing For Thursday August 31th, 2006

"If someone wants to buy a million CDs from us and then give them away on a street corner, that's fine with us as long as we get paid." - UMG new media head Larry Kenswil, commenting in the LA Times on the SpiralFrog deal

Spiralfrog_2 - The Financial Times looks at SpiralFrog from all angles including a columnist that says the music industry needs to try every angle it can (here) and another who believes SprialFrog is bad news for iTunes at a time when Apple is getting a lot of good news(here).

- American Idol proved that reality TV has a huge impact on sales. Now P. Diddy's "Making The Band 3" on cable's MTV helps Danity Kane beat OutKast and debut at #1 on Billboard's Top 200. (Billboard)

- An updated scorecard keeping track of major RIAA lawsuits and actions (P2P Weblog)Microsoft_13

- Microsoft acknowledges that a hack stripping it's DRM of effectiveness exists and promises a patch pronto. (AFP)

- Garagespin interviews Louise Molloy-Harris, PR Manager at Quite Great Communications. (GarageSpin)

The Fastest Growing Entertainment Marketplace You've Never Heard Of: StubHub

Concert_ticketYou may have never heard of StubHub, but live music fans who aren't used to getting on the guest list certainly have.  Inc. Magazine has just named StubHub the 8th fastest growing private company in America.  Within the retail sector, StubHub finished as the top company overall, its three-year growth rate surpassing the second ranked retailer by more than 500 percent.

Dubbed "Where Fans Buy & Sell Tickets", StubHub is a fan ticket marketplace enabling people to  buy and sell tickets at market value to a sporting events, concerts, theater shows and other live Stubhub300806entertainment events, sometimes even those that are "sold out". 

Most in the music industry, perhaps more comfortable with the Ticketmaster/Live Nation axis, have not embraced StubHub.  But didn't P2P and the net teach the industry the need to go where the fans are?  Increasingly, live music fans are headed to StubHub.

Generating Buzz With Viral Campaigns

Generic_headphone_computer_13SearchEngineWatch takes techie look at the methods and the effectiveness of link baiting and ("...attracting anyone who can link to your site. The goal is to get the highest level of traffic that linkers can provide.") and viral campaigns to generate buzz.  Worthy reading for new all budding music industry pioneers in an era of marketing overload. Read it all here thanks to a tip from BlackRimGlasses.

Hypebot's New Music Industry Briefing For Wednesday August 30th, 2006

Spiralfrog_1SpiralFrog has signed a deal to make Universal's catalog available as free downloads via an ad supported network before the end of the year and claims other labels will follow suit. (Hypebot). It sounds revolutionary but HITS claims tracks will expire 6 months after downloading. (HITS)

- BMI shows record revenue growth in fiscal 2005-2006. (BMI)Itunes_20

- Programmers have cracked iTunes DRM and are sharing their software. (Engadget)

Zune_logo_12NEWS: More on what music is coming pre-loaded into the Zune player including some from Beggars (Madison & Pine) and write a Haiku and won a Zune sticker. (Zune Insider)

- Blogrebrity previews Gawker Media's upcoming music/celebrity blog Idolater. (Blogebrity)

- Influential bluegrass/newgrass artists Nickle Creek are going on an indefinite hiatus. (

Mouse_9 Worthy Click - Musicast lets you broadcast your iTunes playlists via your web page or podcast.

$.99 Too Much? SpiralFrog To Offer Free Legal Downloads

In a move that could shake up the entire download marketplace, SpiralFrog has signed a deal to make Universal's extensive audio and video catalog available for free downloads in the US and Canada via an ad supported service to be launched later Spiralfrogthis year.

"The US radio industry generates 20 billion dollars a year in revenue and they give the product away for free," Inside Digital Media analyst Phil Leigh told news service AFP. "Record labels generate 12 billion dollars a year and they sell their product."

SpiralFrog's research showed that consumers are willing to 'pay' for content by "watching non-intrusive, contextually-relevant, targeted advertising in an online entertainment environment where advertising is already part of the overall experience". SpiralFrog's target audience is the 13 and 34 year old demo most sought after by advertisers.  (press release)

AOL Revamps Music Offerings

Aol_13Starting today AOL has revamped it's Music Now offering adding 500,000 tracks to its now 2.5 million download library, and subscription services.  Unique to the new AOL service is that subscriptions also include unlimited video downloads.  200 AOL stations and some XM channels have  been integrated into the system along with playlist sharing and other community features.

Aol_music_nowThis AOL move comes as Microsoft's ZUNE player and download site are about to enter a crowded marketplace alongside MTV's URGE, Rhapsody, Yahoo!, Napster and more.  AOL will also continue to operate it's free AOL Music portal which offers many of the same features sans downloads and subscriptions.

Hypebot's New Music Industry Briefing For Tuesday August 29th, 2006

Wired_23- The current issue of WIRED takes a look at the future of the music industry from a number of angles including profiles of Pitchfork, eMusic, Nettwerk and much more. (WIRED)

- New Orleans musicians continue to struggle one year after Katrina. (Billboard)

Kcrwlogo_lores_7- KCRW's Nick Harcort, XM's Eric Logan and the importance of "new music tastemakers". (Baltimore Sun)

- The increasingly confusing maze of modern revenue streams and royalty payments. (Chicago Tribune)

Youtube_11Talk about viral...An anonymous and unknown guitarist uploads a video onto YouTube that gets viewed 7 million times and featured in the New York Times.

Coolfer Guest Blogs: Can McBride's Nettwerk Plan Break New Acts?

Last week under the headline "Terry McBride's New Music Industry." we quoted enthusiastically from a WIRED article about Nettwerk Management's plans to bring recording industry functions for established clients like The Barenaked Ladies in-house to artist owned labels.  But blogger Glenn from Coolfer rightfully asks, what about developing acts?

Nettwerk_1"This isn't a new paradigm, but McBride has done a good job being very vocal about his desire for some kind of change.

There have been a lot of artists who have taken their popularity and put out their records themselves. I think a good recent example is Collective Soul. And Tommy Lee did the same as well. There are enough freelance sales/marketing people and publicity companies for these folks to hire. Get a distributor to manufacture and distribute and then get the product out there.

What I'd like McBride to address is how his vision applies to new artists or artists without much Cd_many_30 popularity. It's a lot easier for an established artist to take ownership and assume all the risk (because there's far less risk than if they were unknown). But what about artists who don't have a fanbase that was won through the efforts of a major label?

Artist development is what separates the BNL from a group like the Pink Spiders, for example, who would still be on an indie and playing in Nashville if Suretone/Interscope didn't sign them. In the event they become big huge stars, they can eventualy go the McBride route, take ownership of their recordings, maybe start their own label and assume all the legal, marketing, sales and publicity duties. They can assume all the risk. The McBride Method won't work for them until they reach a certain level of success. In the meantime, Suretone is assuming all the risk.

It boils down to this: Is it better to own your masters and have less popularity, or give up ownership of your masters and have a better shot at becoming well known? The answer probably depends on the personality of the artist and the level to which he/she wants to or is able to handle his/her own business affairs. "  - Glenn

WMG's Lyor Cohen Goes On The Record

Today's LA Times profiles Warner Music chief executive Lyor Cohen; and as the Times often does with entertainment execs the interview gives Cohen the space to paint a bright picture of the Wmg_25 company.

Most of the evidence of positive motion is based on cost cutting and a stock price that is up 25% for the year. Without giving examples of what acts WMG is targeting for long term investments, Cohen states that, "the industry needs to develop artists who are profitable over the long term, even if they don't start out big. We wanted to give ourselves more time for artist development, but to do that, we had to lay off a lot of people so we could afford to move more slowly...".

What is his biggest challenge?  "The digital revolution is baked into the very capillaries of our organization now, and we have to push experimentation every day," says Cohen. "We have to be willing to try things that may fail, and partner with anyone we can...". Cohen sites their relationship with 20 something year old Panic At The Disco manager and label exec John Janick as a new partnership that is paying dividends. (full LA Times story here).

Hypebot's New Music Industry Briefing For Monday August 28th, 2006

- Joining a growing list of established artists going D.I.Y., former Phish Trey Anastasio moves off Columbia and onto his own label. (Reuters/Billboard)

Zune_logo_11- Toshiba is tapped to produce the new Microsoft Zune player. (AFP) Here's a link to the official FCC filings including photos of Zune. And cNet looks at Zune's social networking features including a feature that enables people to "send promotional copies of songs, albums and playlists" to other Zuners. (cNet)Applelogo_39

-Several Nordic government consumer agencies may join forces to battle Apple for iTunes DRM. (InfoWorld)

- A post-settlement Creative is getting into the lucrative iPod accessory business. (AFP)

- A look at how modern troubadour Peter Mulvey takes to the road to promote his music. (audio @ NPR)

Terry McBride's New Music Industry

Wired_22A WIRED Magazine article on music manager Terry McBride's plans to reinvent the way his artists (including Bare Naked Ladies, Sarah McLachlan, Avril Lavigne and more) sell and promote their music is well worth reading:
"...McBride's success will depend on what he calls "collapsed copyright" Nettwerk will represent artists like BNL, but the bands will record under their own labels and retain ownership of all their intellectual property, an anomaly in the industry. The bands, in turn, can expect to earn Nettwerkconsiderably more money – say, $5 to $6 from the sale of each CD instead of the standard dollar or two."

"Nettwerk is also poised to take advantage of the significant changes in music marketing wrought by social networking sites like MySpace. Radio, and the labels that provide tunes for radio playlists, are no longer the gatekeepers to stardom...Nettwerk has tapped this phenomenon to the fullest, offering prizes to people who sell a certain number of CDs to friends and using software to keep close tabs on its extensive network of volunteer marketers, formerly known as fans."  (more here)

It's easy to dismiss McBride as the latest media darling using the major labels as a whipping post, but he and his artists are acutally out in the trenches, taking risks and trying to create a new paradigm.

7 Digital Launches Innovative IndieStore

7digital_logo_1UK download site 7 Digital may be best known for it's custom download stores for artists like Coldplay and Oasis. But what caught our eye a few months back was that they made downloads available in a variety of formats including WMA, iTunes compatible AAC and if the artist chooses even DRM free MP3. Payment can be made in UK pounds, Euros or US $'s making transactions possible worldwide.

Earphones_5Now 7 Digital is making many of these same tools available at affordable prices to independent artists and labels via new site  A limited store is available for free but for a just under a $150 set-up fee a more robust storefront allows artists to retain 80% of revenue and create track bundles.  Other community features include calendars, blogs, and playlists. IndieStore is a major addition to the indie/D.I.Y. toolkit.

Read much more about IndieStore including terms and conditions from a company press release posted after the jump.

Continue reading "7 Digital Launches Innovative IndieStore" »

New Music Industry Briefing For Friday August 25th, 2006

Creativezenvplus_5- Despite rising digital sales a new study predicts that overall music sales will continue to decline through 2010. (BBC)

- New Bridge Street ratings show that "the average MP3 player owner has 349 songs...Also notable from this study was that 67% of radio listeners ages 12+ said they are not interested in being able to listen to music on their cell phones". (FMQB)

- Did you know Cracker Barrel has sold 2.5 million CD's?  And now they're releasing a special Solomonburke_4
"Song Of The Year" package with major country stars. (Celebrity Access)

- Soul legend Solomon Burke has a country CD set for September release. (Hollywood Reporter)

- Beck talks to WIRED about releasing new music in a post album world. (WIRED)

- Guitar sales in the UK are at an all time high. "It's probably got a lot to do with guitar bands and kids being inspired by young singer-songwriters." (Guardian)

R.I.P. - Jazz Trumpeter Maynard Ferguson.

MP3Tunes Offers Free Music Locker

Who needs to copy and burn your DRM protected collection when you can stream it from almost anywhere?  MP3tunes today announced Oboe Free, a music locker with free online music storage. Mp3tunes_logo_3Oboe Free holds 1000 songs plus stored playlists accessible through a number of Internet-capable devices including cells, DVRs and computers. The locker also comes with software enabling syncing of music from a computer to the locker. Laptop_1

The Oboe Locker is compatible with most music file formats including .mp3, .wma, .aac (iTunes) and .ogg. An interface displays artists, albums, tracks and playlists that can be streamed at 192 kbps. A music manager built using Ajax makes it possible to pause, skip, repeat, shuffle, create playlists, label music and control volume all within a Web page.

Marketing Guru Seth Godin On The Uncertain Future Of Radio

Radio_30Author and marketing guru Seth Godin recently gave his opinions on the future of radio which he defines as "audio determined by an external editor".  In short, Godin doesn't see it going away any time soon and offers these four interesting scenarios:

  • Scenario A: Everyone has Wi-Fi or WiMAX in their car. Once that happens, we're not talking Radio_tower_2about 200 XM radio stations, we're talking about 2 million, and all bets are off.
  • Scenario B: The aftermarket people get very focused on putting hard drives and iPod docks in cars. If that happens, again, radio is in trouble, because people are gonna bring their own pre- recorded content with them.
  • Scenario C: We end up in the satellite world, they figure out how to get a little bit more content through those pipes and we end up with 300 or 400 channels in the car. I had XM radio for a year to check it out. What's interesting is it doesn't matter how many stations there are, sooner or later you end up with four. And so the thing is, what do you have to do to be one of the four, and how do you live in a world where you've got hundreds of competitors a click away, but if you spend all your time not offending anybody, you'll never get anybody. A hybrid of what we've got now: Traditional analog radio Sethgodin_2 combined with HD combined with satellite. This scenario will, I think, not make anybody particularly happy, because the advertisers are going to be faced with an increasingly splintered audience that's hard to address, and as a result, it will be hard for that local car dealership or that politician to do a sensible radio buy.
  • Scenario D: A hybrid of what we've got now: Traditional analog radio combined with HD combined with satellite. This scenario will, I think, not make anybody particularly happy, because the advertisers are going to be faced with an increasingly splintered audience that's hard to address, and as a result, it will be hard for that local car dealership or that politician to do a sensible radio buy.

Listen to and read the full interview at Hear2.0.

Hypebot's New Music Industry Briefing For Thursday August 24th, 2006

- Strict security measures at UK airports are having a "devastating impact" on musicians, says the Musicians' Union. (BBC)Tower_9

- The Motley Fool on the Tower bankruptcy with a touch of humor. (Motley Fool)

- Dell has exited the volatile and Apple dominated portable mp3 player market. (MarketWatch)

- Apple agreed to pay Creative $100 million for the use of a key piece of iPod technology settling a lawsuit. (San Jose Mercury News)

Sellaband - German start-up SellABand has a unique take on artists development with financing to record and promote a new act's product coming in $10 per fan financing. (SellABand)

- Russ Solomon the founder of Tower is considering a bid to buy the stores back out of bankruptcy. (Sacramento Biz Journal)

- Check out our exclusive interview with Future of Music co-author and Songspot founder Gerd Leonhard. (Hypebot)

Coalition of Independent Music Stores Top 200 for Week Ending 8-20-06

  • Cims_55Pos.   ARTIST  |  TITLE

Read the entire Indie Music Top 200 and CIMS commentary after the jump.

Continue reading "Coalition of Independent Music Stores Top 200 for Week Ending 8-20-06" »

Yo La Tengo Offers "Beat Your Ass Seasons Pass" Pre-Order

Indie rockers Yo La Tengo are offering  a "Beat Your Ass Season's Pass" to encourage pre-orders of their new Matador album "I'm not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass".  The reward for pre-ordering is:

Ylt_assets_comp_1"an interactive booklet with a full compliment of album art, photos, liner notes and extras interactive doo-dads."

"Even more ass-beatin' than that, you will also get exclusive, Season Pass holder-only, bonus mp3s."

"And, we will probably throw in a couple more surprises and let you all know way advance ticket sales and special appearances."

This is the kind of bundling that makes buying a CD (rather than grabbing it on a P2P) worthwhile; and smartly Matador is spreading the love even further by tieing the pre-sale to various indie retail web sites.  (Seasons Pass via Coolfer)

Weird Al Promotes "Don't Download This Song"...With Free Downloads

Weird Al Yankovic has just released an amusing new single "Don't Download This Song" via his web page, MySpace, and even an ecard which just as amusingly allows you this song.

"Weird_al_1Oh, you don't wanna mess with the RIAA
They'll sue you if you burn that CD-R
It doesn't matter if you're a grandma or a 7-year-old girl
They'll treat you like the evil, hard-bitten criminal scum you are"

"So don't download this song
Don't go pirating music all day long
Go and buy the CD like you know that you should
Oh, don't download this song"
Read the full lyrics after the jump.
Weird Al songs ain't high art, but in his usual "no one is spared" style this one nails it. (MySpace)

Continue reading "Weird Al Promotes "Don't Download This Song"...With Free Downloads" »

Hypebot's New Music Industry Briefing For Wednesday August 23rd, 2006

- Why isn't there more jazz at jazz festivals? (San Jose Mercury News)

- A look inside the new Irv Gotti label deal with Universal. (NY Times)

Bobdylan_1 - Bob Dylan tells Rolling Stone that the quality of modern sound recordings are "atrocious". "I don't know anybody who's made a record that sounds decent in the past 20 years, really." (Reuters)

- The RIAA is pioneering almost automated lawsuits dubbed "spamigation" that according to one source could lead to for example lawsuits against almost everyone who every used Kaaza. (Boing Boing)

R.II.P. - Dave Nives Koch VP of Production and Catalog

EXCLUSIVE: Interview With "Future Of Music" and SongSpot's Gerd Leonhard

Furute_of_musicGerd Leonhard may be best known as the co-author of The Future Of Music: A Manifesto For Digital Music, consultant and frequent speaker at industry conferences. But he's also the CEO of Sonific, a start-up that has created SongSpots - incredibly easy to create and use widgets that enable single song players on blogs, social networking sites, web sites and more.

Buzz is increasingly generated virally and online.  But music needs to be heard to be appreciated and SongSpots solves that problem. Now when journalists or fans are writing about music, they can drop a full song right into their post with ease and at no cost. 

HYPEBOT: Your new product at Sonific is SongSpots which is currently in beta. Am I correct that you are currently testing primarily with CDBaby acts? GL: Yes, but we are adding another 25000 tracks in a few days, from various indie labels including Cooking Vinyl (UK). We expect to have Gerd_leonhard_1 a lot more well-known tracks shortly, too!

HYPEBOT: When and how can other acts become involved? GL: We will be announcing a new program for acts and labels shortly!

HYPEBOT: How are licensing issue handled? Sonific_1GL: Sonific covers public performance where / when applicable, the label / artist provides the master recording for free - they make $ from the click-thru sales (like us).

HYPEBOT: What is the revenue model to support this free service?  GL: We promote all kinds of services around the music: downloads, CD sales, ringtones etc, and get commissions from that. We will also have targeted ads on the gateway pages (i.e after you click on the songspot), plus we will offer 'preferred search result' placements -- but all this will be announced later this year ;)

HYPEBOT: Do you or Sonfic have anything else in the works that you can share? GL: Not quite yet, but soon -- and it will have some serious impact.

Continue reading "EXCLUSIVE: Interview With "Future Of Music" and SongSpot's Gerd Leonhard" »

Music Retailers Complain Of Too Many Hit 4th Quarter Releases

With a glut of 4th quarter releases slated by big sellers like Beyonce, Justin Timberlake, Janet Jackson, Alan Jackson, Beck, Bob Dylan, Bob Segar and many others, you would think that embattled music retailers would be rejoicing. Instead they're worried about an "embarrassment of poorly strategized riches".

Cds_color_17"The release schedule is great, but where are we going to put it all?" asks Ron Lund, senior VP of product management and logistics at Handleman Co. "With all the competition from other forms of entertainment, I don't want any records to get left behind, but people only have so much money." (more from Reuters)

Continue reading "Music Retailers Complain Of Too Many Hit 4th Quarter Releases" »

Hypebot's New Music Industry Briefing For Tuesday August 22nd, 2006

- Tower_8A look at this week's new releases in the US via the New Music Tipsheet and in UK via Torr.

- A copy of the court documents filed in the Tower bankruptcy. An interesting list of who is owed what starts on Page 10. (PDF)

- Indie label Fundamental (home of Love Tractor, Vic Chestnutt, and more) draws attention to its new web site with a $5 sale on all catalog and new releases. (Fundamental)

- Jazz labels like Impulse! and Blue Note are effectively using cover artwork to build their brands.  (Telegraph UK)Sandisk_sansa

- SanDisk unveils a new 8G Sansa player aimed straight at iPod's Nano for the same price and with twice the memory. (Reuters)

- New book "This Is Your Brain On Music" explores how the brain processes music. (Boston Globe)

ZUNE Is Bad News For Napster & Others

Wired_21Wired News looks at why the Microsoft's ZUNE launch is very bad news for Napster and other "Play For Sure" download partners:

Zune_logo_10 "...I don't think Microsoft stands a chance against Apple's iTunes/iPod combo, in the short term, anyway. But the Zune ecosystem will blow away Microsoft's own PlaysForSure partners, mainly due to seamless device compatibility and branding dollars."

Napster_5"Given how little traction PlaysForSure products have in the marketplace, this won't be a disaster for consumers. But these PlaysForSure partners, soon to be competing with the mothership, will scramble to survive. Among other things, look for an ownership change at Napster, probably sooner rather than later." (WIRED NEWS)

Little Big Man Agency Bought By Paradigm

Little_big_man_logo(CelebrityAccess MediaWire) Paradigm has acquired New York-based boutique agency Little Big Man, who will be redubbed Little Big Man/Paradigm as of September 1st. Founder Marty Diamond, VP Larry Webman, agents Steve Ferguson and Jonathan Adelman, and the company’s entire staff will continue to operate in their current capacities.

Little Big Man represents a significant list of music acts, including Arctic Monkeys, Coldplay, Gorillaz, Sarah McLachlan, Parrell Williams, KT Tunstall, Doves, Supergrass, the Polyphonic Spree, and Frank Black.

Two years ago, Paradigm purchased Monterey Peninsula Artists and their entire music-based client list. As with the Monterey/Peninsula deal, it is expected that agents will be asked to leverage crossover opportunities for clients in all areas of motion picture, television and live performance, as well as new media, publishing and endorsements.

Tower To Sell In Chapter 11 Bankruptcy. Trans World Losses Also Widen.

Tower Records with 89 music and video stores in 20 states last night announced that it will sell the company under Chapter 11 of the bankruptcy code. This process, which is subject to court approval,   sets in motion a events that will insure a sale within 60 days.

Tower_7According to Joseph D'Amico, Tower's recently named CEO, the filing is necessary to sell the debt ridden company. "Tower Records has conducted an extensive sale process and this step will allow buyers to complete a sale in time for the holiday season while maximizing the value for stakeholders." Tower is apparently evaluating letters of  intent to buy the company.

Founded in 1960, Tower led an era of deep catalog mega-stores who not only sold the hits but offered obscure titles as well. Now with competition from file sharing and even deeper catalog available via download and online retailers like Amazon, Tower with it's big expensive stores could not compete. It is hard to imagine how new owners could change that landscape enough to reach profit without gutting the chain.

Two weeks ago just as Tower was names "Large Retailer Of The Year" by NARM, all for majoCd_many_29r labels stopped selling to the chain amidst a mountain of past due invoices. But the industry is unlikely to want to have such a visible failure and will take advantage of $85 million in "Debtor in Possession" financing to sell product to the retailer.

TRANS WORLD TROUBLES: Meanwhile retail and wholesale giant Trans World who operates Sam Goody, Wherehouse, Strawberries Music, Second Spin and the recently acquired Musicland reported strong revenue increases alongside widening losses. Overall sales hit $298.3 million, 18% increase more than last year thanks to the acquisition of Musicland. But comparable store sales dropped 7%  and net losses reached $7.7 million or 10% more than last years loss. (SEC Filings)

MORE: Read the Tower press release here and official bankruptcy updates here. A pdf of the court filing is here.