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Music's Week In Review: Facebooks Apps, Stocks, Muxtape, Layoffs, ISPs & Much More

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From Weekend Warrior To $4.2M By Giving His Music Away For Free

Coreysmith This guest post by Floor 64 CEO Mike Mesniak, an insightful fellow who I had the pleasure of spending a bit of time with at Midemnet, first appeared on TechDirt.

DailyDIY Here's yet another one for the books to respond to those who claim that music giveaways only work for "big" artists. Corey Smith was a high school teacher, doing weekend music gigs. Then, apparently, his manager had a revelation and started giving all of his music away for free: and last year Corey brought in $4.2 million. And the music industry is complaining that if the government doesn't step in creative content will cease to exist?

Corey's story is quite interesting. He mostly makes money from concerts, and the free music drives more people to those concerts, but there are a few other aspects that are worth exploring. First, even though the music is available for free, plenty of people still buy his music on iTunes. However, as an experiment, they took down the free tracks from Corey's website for a period of time last summer... and sales on iTunes went down. Once again, this proves how ridiculous the claim is that free songs somehow cannibalize sales.

Continue reading "From Weekend Warrior To $4.2M By Giving His Music Away For Free" »

Topspin Adds Two To Executive Team

Topspin_logo CEO Ian Rogers has added to senior executives to his high profile artist services and technology startup Topspin Media.

James Lamberti has been named VP of Marketing & Artist Services. A specialist in digital marketing,  Lambert was a SVP at Comscore and has held senior positions at and The Clorox Company.

James-lamberti "3 Axioms of 21st Century Music Biz: Data is my A&R agent, Viral Marketing is my radio promotion, Direct-to-fan is my retail store."
- James Lamberti

Kris-wehner Kris Wehner joins Topspin as VP of Engineering and will head a San Francisco based team focused on building “ProTools for digital marketing”.  (A TopSpin co-founder helped create the original ProTools which revoluionized the recording industry.) Wehner was previously CTO at Aggregate Knowledge and a software architect at

A Bad Day For Music On Wall Street

Down arrow red The sinking economy dragged U.S. stocks down 3.3% on Thursday, and some companies in the music sector took even deeper dives.

Warner Music Group fell 4.6% to just 10 cents above its all time low of $2.00. Live Nation dropped a whopping 13.8% despite naming a strong new international executive team. Real was down 4.8% and a recently reorganized Ticketmaster did not benefit from any of the famous Azoff magic falling 8.2%.  Alliance Distribution's parent Source Interlink fell another 15.3% to end the day at a mere 10 cents as bankruptcy rumors swirled.

Of the major music stocks, only The Orchard bucked the downward trend rising 7.95%. If early morning Asian markets are any indication, the downward spiral may continue today.

You'll find a quick snapshot of current music stock activity in a Forbes widget in Hypebot's upper right corner.  

Friday's Music Brief: A 3 Srtikes ISP, Spotify Hits Bump, Amazon & More



  • 3 Strikes @ ISP: "After spending eight days fighting the major record labels in court, Ireland’s largest ISP, Eircom has now agreed to start warning customers who download music illegally, and will disconnect them after three search notices - a so-called graduated response." (paidContent)
  • Spotify Record labels and publishers are pressuring Spotify to restrict service. (TechCrunch) I've spent time using Spotify and it's essentially an ad supported music player bcked by a deep catalog with an iTunes-like interface and surprisingly strong sound quality. Spotify has been working with the majors since before its launch and it would be a shame if they shut in any way crippled a service with so much potential before it gained traction. I'll write more on Spotify soon. (Read Spotify's letter to users after the jump.)
  • announced 4thQ sales were up 18% to $6.70 Billion.

Continue reading "Friday's Music Brief: A 3 Srtikes ISP, Spotify Hits Bump, Amazon & More" »

No Real Change Suggested In Digital Britain Report

An interim Digital Britain report issued today by the UK's Department Of Culture, Media & Sport promises tougher action to stop illegal file sharers, but stops short of wholesale change. ISPs will be required to notify offenders, but must wait for a court order before sharing the infringer's personal information with rights holders. According the official report:

UK flag "Our response to the consultation on peer-to-peer file sharing sets out our intention to legislate, requiring ISPs to notify alleged infringers of rights (subject to reasonable levels of proof from rights-holders) that their conduct is unlawful. We also intend to require ISPs to collect anonymised information on serious repeat infringers (derived from their notification activities), to be made available to rights-holders together with personal details on receipt of a court order. We intend to consult on this approach shortly, setting out our proposals in detail."

From Analog Dollars To Digital Dimes And Back

Change NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker recently lamented that the entertainment industry has exchanged “analog dollars for digital dimes”.  Five years ago we sold as many CD's as possible for $15.  Now the music industry hopes that a few consumers will give them 99 cents...or less.

But exceptions are beginning to emerge from a new musical middle class. Trent Reznor collected well over $1 million within days of a self-release by offering Nine Inch Nails fans everything from a $5 download to 2500 $300 limited edition sets that sold out in 48 hours. Radiohead topped the Amazon 2008 charts with the $5 version of an album they'd essentially first given away free. By listening to fans and earning their respect rather than demanding their attention (and sometimes suing them), some artists are finding new ways to encourage their fans to contribute.

Jukebox The possibilities are only limited by the imagination. Martin J. Thörnkvist of the innovative indie cooperative The Swedish Model has released a new record by Moto Boy for free on his Songs I Wish I Had Written label. To monetize the project, he's selling a wonderful music box for $25 that captures the artist's ethereal sound. (video after the break below)

The new model is even being applied successfully in the world of mainstream pop where the fan relationship often lasts only as long as the last hit single. Asian music entrepreneur J. Y. Park releases 3 song mini-albums of his artists as a "souvenir" twice a year, but relies more on endorsements, touring and merchandise for income. 

Capturing the dimes scattered across the digital landscape is still important.  Downloads and ringtones, as well as, earnings from YouTube and imeem can provide some of the the income to fuel the new music business.  But only by serving fans and adding value to that relationship can music begin to move from collecting dimes back to earning dollars again.

Continue reading "From Analog Dollars To Digital Dimes And Back" »

Orchard Joins DDEX Effort To Set Digital Standards

Orchard logo The newly formed Digital Data Exchange (DDEX) has added The Orchard as a charter member and given the digital distributor a seat on its Board.The Orchard will play rolein shpaing  how DDEX might apply standards to the exchange of digital data in the web 2.0 space including the marketing and promotion of artists on social networking sites.

DDEX hopes to spread a single set of stantdards across the digital landscape. Implementation has already been completed at iTunes, Muzak, Real Networks, SFR and Telefónica Servicios de Música S.A.U., music content companies Sony Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group, and music rights societies, ASCAP, BMI, HFA, MCPS-PRS, SACEM and SGAE.

Continue reading "Orchard Joins DDEX Effort To Set Digital Standards" »

Top Facebook Music Applications

DailyDIY Here are the top music applications on Facebook courtesy of a neat analytics tool created by

Name DAU MAU Daily Growth
1. iLike 411,606 6,148,212 1.44
2. YouTube Video Box 73,654 1,255,992 1.73
3. YouTube Box 27,783 606,932 1.36
4. My Band 24,914 411,484 1.59
5. Music Player 22,929 396,152 1.31
6. Profile Song 24,967 331,509 1.28
7. Songs 12,626 277,194 1.80
8. Blood Lust 20,746 155,571 -1.67
9. My Music 8,812 155,499 1.14
10. iLike this Artist 6,573 147,237 1.93
11. ReverbNation 7,022 132,132 1.44
12. imeem 5,019 93,292 1.26

Continue reading "Top Facebook Music Applications" »

Thursday's Music Brief: Slacker Gets $5M, ISP Love, Zune Marketplace & Much More

Hypebot Favicon HYPEBOT FEATURES:Change


  • Slacker Personalized radio service and player Slacker gets $5 million more in funding.
  • (DMW) What recession?
  • AT&T, Comcast may help RIAA foil piracy. (cNet) I still thinks its more words than action.
  • A detailed  and very positive look inside the Zune Marketplace. (ars)
  • "Licensing Remains Essential But Elusive For Digital Music Providers" (IPW) The complexity of this issue and the diverse interests of all of the stakeholders is why I doubt that we'll see real ISP level music licensing anytime soon.
  • The Spanish music biz fell 10% in 2008. (Hollywood Reporter)Ticketmaster
  • - Another indie music centered social networking site joins the pack.
  •  Irving Azoff adds Ticketmaster Board member to his CEO title.

Continue reading "Thursday's Music Brief: Slacker Gets $5M, ISP Love, Zune Marketplace & Much More" »

Muxtape Inches Back To Life

The major labels forced it out of business by not playing nice, but the once mighty Muxtape appears to be inching back to life with a more narrow an decidedly indie focus.  From the front page:

Muxtape Welcome to a preview of the new Muxtape, a minimalist platform for bands to promote their music and listeners to create mixes. We’ve invited 12 of our favorite artists to help test, and in the coming weeks we'll begin allowing bands to sign up themselves for free. Learn more.

Audiolife: Sell Music & Merch With No Upfront Costs

Audiolife has launched a platform which uses on demand technologies to enable artists to deAudiolifesign, promote and sell music and merchandise online with no up-front costs or physical inventory.

The online service allows artists to:

  •  Create a store with unlimited downloads, ringtones, CDs and merchandise items.
  • Sell directly to fans on any website, blog or social network
  • Have one central place to design custom products and manage all e-commerce.
  • Buy CDs and merch with no minimums for sale at shows
  • Audiolife handles manufacturing, distribution, customer service and accounting

A video demo:

Continue reading "Audiolife: Sell Music & Merch With No Upfront Costs" »

Are You Talking To Your Fans Or With Them?


"The relationship between fans and artists is less and less
like a business relationship in which artists and industry set the terms
and audiences either buy or don’t,
and more and more like a social relationship
in which bands and fans
have to negotiate terms together."

- Nancy Baym, Online Fandom

Are you talking to your fans or having a conversation with them? How can you change the way you communicate with fans to build a relationship that is mutually beneficial? 

Gathering & Analyzing Artist & Fan Data

In an increasingly fractured media landscape who is saying what about an artist across the global internet and how fans are reacting has become increasingly important.  But how do you track this vast amount of  data and then make actionable sense of it all? 

Data SVP of Digital for EMI Cory Ondrejka, the founder of analytics firm Band Metrics Duncan Freeman, Neil Carwright, the head of online marketer Million and I explored these importance questions during a Midemnet panel last week. The panelists referenced some interesting resources during the session and now share them online on the Midemnet blog. Joining in is Ticketmaster president Eric Korman who at the last minute could not join us in Cannes, but generaously offered to share two of his favorite data sources. 

More on the Midemnet Blog.

Maximizing Your Music Experience (Part Three)

In the final part of his three part essay, our resident music industry philosopher Kyle Bylin makes his conclusions about why the digital natives are different from the previous generations and defines the four trends that separate them. (Read Parts One and Two.)

Song_mapping New Music

With the ability to maximize almost every aspect of our music experience, the problems created are both the unrealistic expectations we set for how good music should be and how happy it should make us when heard. These raised expectations affect how we evaluate new music.  In turn, the abundance of choice leads us to create personal biases based on irrelevant comparisons that we occasionally and often times make. 

It actually feels quite silly to overhear people comparing The All-American Rejects' release 'When The World Comes Down' to Kanye West's '808s & Heartbreak.'  Even if music can hold its merit through the gauntlet of irrelevant comparisons, once it reaches the human imagination, its almost doomed to failure.  After all, while comparing music to things that are irrelevant is a bad practice, they are at least real.  It get worse when your trying to compare it to your own unique set of imagined alternatives which are used in your attempt to explain to yourself about how it 'could've been better.'  If new music is going to become a part of a digital native's top one hundred songs, only the best will do.  But it doesn't stop there, most natives choose to explore new music without a paradox of choice present, something previous generations only dreamed of. 

Continue reading "Maximizing Your Music Experience (Part Three)" »

Wednesday's Music Brief: Sony & YouTube, China. MySpace $$ & Much More



  • Sony is close to a deal with YouTube. (cNet)  
  • China pledged to strengthen its protection of copyrights and trademarks, after the United States claimed victory in a World Trade Organization case.(Reuters) Many doubt that the words will lead to action.
  • Mag Rack Entertainment has acquired for an undisclosed sum.
  • Can MySpace make money? (FT) At least they are trying, but will it matter if the migration to Facebook and other services continues? Parent Fox Interactive just let go of 100 or 5% of its workforce. (WSJ)
  • A look into how the small screen - online and mobile - is effecting how music videos are produced. (NPR text and audio)
  • Bonnaroo has launched an online video concert seies of past fest performances called Bonnaroo 365 powered by Ooyala and Threshold Interactive.

Continue reading "Wednesday's Music Brief: Sony & YouTube, China. MySpace $$ & Much More" »

N.I.N. Released Free In New PlayApp Format

NIN Nine Inch Nails' album "The Slip" has been released as a free Creative Commons licensed  single file, custom multimedia PlayApp download that can contain music, pictures, lyrics, and video. The songs in the NIN PlayApp are extractable as 192 kbps MP3 files and the pictures as high resolution .JPGs. Initially the format has been developed for Windows XP and Vista.

PlayApp is being designed as a new music sales format that offers more than just songs as a downloadable multiimedia collectible with DRM optional. There is no adware or spyware and all are digitally signed by the publisher. Custom PlayApps ready for sale can be setup for as little as $19.

Meet Me In The Upper Right Hand Corner

Seth Godin posted this chart on his blog and it struck me as wonderfully true and universal. Think about where the music industry sits on this chart.  Ask yourself where you fit on it right now and where you'd like to be in 3-6 months - both professionally and personally..

I hope (and believe) that, despite the doom and gloom all around us, 2009 is the year that more of us can meet in the upper right corner.  Hope to see you there.

Seth Godin Matrix

2 Brands, 12 Bands & Insound Join To Help Independent Radio

Free yr radio Toyota's Yaris and Urban Outfitters have joined forces to release a 12 song compilation for 99 cents exclusively via Insound of bands a that participated in last year's 12 city tour of independent radio stations. 

All profits from the Free Yr Radio compilation will be donated to partner radio stations and buyers of the album will be encouraged to add a tipî on top of the 99 cents as a way to show their support of independent radio.   

Participating stations include Ohio.FM in Columbus, KVRX in Austin, KRCL in Salt Lake City, WPRB in Philadelphia, KIWR in Omaha, WERS in Cambridge, KEXP in Seattle, The Current in Minneapolis, KUSF in San Francisco, KUCI in Irvine, WVUM in Miami, and WVKR in New York. 

Continue reading "2 Brands, 12 Bands & Insound Join To Help Independent Radio" »

Maximizing Your Music Experience (Part Two)

In part two of his three part essay, our resident music industry philosopher Kyle Bylin continues his exploration of the differences between digital natives and the previous generations.  (Read Part One and Part 3)

Paradox Of Choice In his book The Paradox of Choice, Barry Schwartz explains, “We all know people who do their choosing quickly and decisively and people for whom almost every decision is a major project.”  Therefore, we've all known someone from recent generations that have displayed tendency to maximize their current music experience, but there is one factor that separates digitaSong_mappingl natives from their parents.  The 'birth right' that they embraced and claimed was the ability to maximize both their current and future music experiences.  A burnt remix CD is the first time they could, most effortlessly, place the songs they wanted to hear in a 'maximized' order with the hope that their predictions would satisfy their future needs. 

 Plotting Music Maps

These slight exaggerations of experience maximization were used as examples to build a premise for my main contention: when we are given an iPod or Zune, does the likelihood that we will settle with any given song decrease?  Given that our ability to maximize our music experience quicker and more smoothly navigated than with previous technologies, it seems that there are more users who display the habits of maximizing than those who 'satisfice.' 

Continue reading "Maximizing Your Music Experience (Part Two)" »

A Wonderfully Horrible Microsoft Songsmith Ad

The new Songsmith app auto-creates backing tracks as you sing. This hopefully tongue in cheek promotional video intentionally shows just how wonderfully useless Microsoft's latest creation is. After the jump see what Songsmith does with falling stock prices (including WMG's) and other bad news...

via Music Ally

Continue reading "A Wonderfully Horrible Microsoft Songsmith Ad" »

LA's EconMusic Conference Set For Feb. 5th


ContentNext Media, the parent company of tech journal is organizing the EconMusic Conference, a half-day event that will examine the state of the digital music industry.

Taking place in Los Angeles from 1:00 p.m. – 4:45 p.m. PT on Thursday, February 5 at the Harry Chandler Auditorium inside the Los Angeles Times Building, EconMusic promises to be an interactive event with moderated discussions between ContentNext Media editors, digital music industry experts, business leaders, investors and entrepreneurs.

Scheduled speakers include:

Continue reading "LA's EconMusic Conference Set For Feb. 5th" »

Tuesday's Music Brief: Isle Of Man, Variety Layoffs, Microsoft DRM, Koch & More



  • UK flag Despite music industry rhetoric to the contrary, UK downloaders are unlikely to be shut off by their ISP's. (Times UK)
  • More on the Isle of Man's plans to offer unlimited music via ISP. (Guardian, NY Times)
  • Variety lays off 30. (paidContent)
  • Indie filmmaker is giving away the soundtrack to promote the movie. (TechDirt)
  • Microsoft defends DRM on its UK mobile music service. (EFF)
  • How to record an album on your iPhone. (Music Radar)
  • EMI continues its high quality vinyl series by releasing Ben Harper's catalog. (press release)
  • Koch is taking on the moniker of its parent company and changing its name to E1.
  • A contrary (and somewhat accurate) view of Midem.  (Online Fandom)
  • Thrift store MP3 player contains secret military files. (CNN)

Layoffs At Universal's Interscope

Layoff A variety of sources are reporting substantial layoffs at UMG's Interscope Geffen A&M label group across several departments. Specifically identified were marketing executives Robbie Snow and Paul Orescan, along with A&R staffer Ryan O’Donnell, who recently signed Street Drum Corps.

The moves come alongside a sense that the economic downturn could be longlasting and just a month after substantial layoffs within other music related companies.

Virgin Media ISP Pulls Radical Plan For Legal P2P

The buzz last week at Midemnet was that legal P2P was just around the corner. Some believe that licensing downloads at the ISP level and thus monetizing a currently illegal practice could be the savior of  the music industry.

Virgin_media_logo But ISP Virgin Media, controlled in part by ex-music man and entrepreneur Richard Branson, had been deep into negotiations to create a service for the U.S. or Europe tentatively called Virgin Music Unlimited. Now Virgin has dropped the initiative due to unreasonable demands by the major labels.  According to the Register, at least two majors, Universal and Sony, "demanded that Virgin block uploads and downloads of songs from subscribers' PCs."  In other words, while Virgin envisioned legal P2P; the labels just want an ISP version of unlimited or metered downloads like Nokia's Comes With Music.

ANALYSIS: As much a the more forward thinkers at Midem pontificated about legalized P2P; most others pinned their hopes on less radical solutions. Better monetization of the direct artist to fan relationship was the conference theme and initiatives like mobile downloads, music in the cloud, ad supported music and even subscriptions were all touted as revenue streams.

Continue reading "Virgin Media ISP Pulls Radical Plan For Legal P2P " »

Maximizing Your Music Experience (Part 1)

Paradox Of Choice In part one of his three part essay, our resident music industry philosopher Kyle Bylin was inspired by Barry Schwartz's book The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less. (Read Part 2 and Part 3)

In recent years the coming of age for a music fan has been a fundamentally different experience than it was for the previous generation.  Technology has given the digital natives access to abilities that they have since embraced and claimed as their 'birth right.'  These social trends that they display have casted the generational gap far wider than ever before.  Because, not only does the music that they listen to drive their parents crazy, but the way in which they choose what to listen to tends to have the same effect.  Its the difference between their decision-making strategies that further ingrains the impression that natives have the tendency to be both irrational and impatient when it comes down to deciding what song they actually want to hear.

A Digital Native and His Father

My father is a satisficer, meaning that he's willing to stop searching for a radio station once he finds something that's good enough and not worry about the possibility that there might have been something better.  But the willingness to stick with his current decision would soon be tested and the satisfaction derived from the experience would be short lived.  With each passing year, I became more readily prepared to make sure that my opinion was heard.

Continue reading "Maximizing Your Music Experience (Part 1)" »