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Winner Of The Appetite For Destruction Contest


Last week Kyle published a great two part interview with Steve Knopper, Rolling Stone reporter and author of Appetite for Self-Destruction: The Spectacular Crash of the Record Industry in the Digital Age, and we ran a contest to win a copy of the book asking readers to answer, "What do you think lead to The Spectacular Crash of the Record Industry in the Digital Age?

The winner is
Chrystian Lopez

You can read Chrystian's winning answer along with all the other entries here. And in case you missed it:
An Interview with Steve Knopper
Part 1Part 2

REWIND: The Music Industry's Week In Review

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WMG To Pay 9.5% On $1.1 Billion In New Notes

Edgar Bronfman right LYOR COHEN CIGAR

Last week the Warner Music Group surprised analysts by selling twice the number of secured notes than it had previously announced.  The $1,100,000,000 raised showed increasing confidence on Wall Street for the major label group and publishing company.

The funds raised plus $335 million in existing cash will be used to pay off previous notes according to documents filed with the SEC this morning.  The $1.1 billion in new notes carry a 9.5% interest rate and come due in 7 years.  At that hefty rate, the company will pay just over $410 million in interest to investors over the short life of the notes.


Despite WMG loosing $1.1 billion (a number which coincidentally matches the amount of the notes) in the fiscal year that ended October of 2008,  the two top executive Edgar Bronfman Jr. and Lyor Cohen received bonuses of $3 million and $3.25 million repsectively. Aknowledging that these bonds may not allow an early payoff, if the two execs kept their salaries ($1 million at Bronfman and $3 million for Cohen), but the board applied their bonuses to the bond debt each year, it would save WMG more than $230 million and pay the debt off a year early. (Details of the calculation after the jump.)

Continue reading "WMG To Pay 9.5% On $1.1 Billion In New Notes" »

More Trouble At EMI? Terra Firma Dumps In Another $45 Million

EMI Financial statements released earlier this month by EMI pointed to a turnaround for the major label group. The company admitted to being hit by an industry-wide 10% sales downturn, but pointed to cost cutting and a few successful releases as proof of its health.

Moneytoilet Now just 3 week's later, EMI owners Terra Firma Capital has been forced to put in an additional £28 million ($45 million) to help the company avoid defaulting on a multi-billion dollar loan from Citigroup, sources told the Wall Street Journal. Adding to fears, the chief financial officer of  EMI's music division has chosen to leave the company.

Band Rewards Fans For Burning Their CD And Giving It Away

Free sign oh yes It's no secret that there is promotional power in giving away music, but just slapping a FREE banner on a web site doesn't cut it anymore.  Free is everywhere.  But what if the free music was on a CD given fan to fan with no strings attached?  That could get pretty expensive...unless the fans do it for you. 

Free fan created CD's os exactly what indie band Chester French is encouraging fans to do with a video series about an an uber-fan who "burned tons of copies and gave them out to everyone he knows (and a bunch of people he doesn’t!)". Through the videos, "Bryce wants to teach you guys how to be the Ultimate Chester French Supporter, just like him." Then the bands asks, "So, how did you guys promote the mixtape?" Brilliant.

But the band doesn't just embrace "free" with fan burned CD's.

Continue reading "Band Rewards Fans For Burning Their CD And Giving It Away" »

Audiolife Adds Warehousing To On-Demand Indie Artist Services

Audiolife Keeping costs down as you're growing a business is crucial whether your a tech start up or a rock band; and in recent months, Audiolife has been building an infrastructure to help D.I.Y. and indie artists do just that. The company offers a platform that allows artists to create CDs, t-shirts and other merchandise on-demand with no up front costs for sale alongside downloads in a virtual storefront. (Watch a video after the jump.)

Audiolife warehouse Now Audiolife has added fulfillment and warehousing to its menu of services. They can ship as little or as many of their existing products including CDs, merchandise, and posters to the company's warehouse to be stored for a small monthly fee. Audiolife will then ship their items with no extra re-stocking charges.

"We wanted to make sure that we could accommodate any artist at any level of their career, and to do so, we needed to provide warehousing and tour support," Brandon Hance, co-founder and CEO of Audiolife told Hypebot.

Continue reading "Audiolife Adds Warehousing To On-Demand Indie Artist Services" »

A Quick Look At The New $5 Napster


What Do You Think Of The New Napster?

I've spent some time on the new Napster service over the last few days, and aside from a less than intuitive interface, I can't find much to dislike.  At just $5 a month for unlimited streaming of a deep catalog along with 5 mp3's monthly, the service is effectively free.  And if I'm in Napster previewing a track or album (and since they've already got my credit card), why not just buy it there instead of jumping over to Amazon or iTunes?

Reports are that Napster got a special deal on streaming licenses from the labels...

Continue reading "A Quick Look At The New $5 Napster" »

Friday's Music Brief

Hypebot Favicon It was a busy week. The summer slow down certainly hasn't hit yet; at least on the music and digital news front. Yesterday, I had the pleasure of recording a CD Baby podcast and will let you know in a couple of weeks when its ready. Also expect big announcements from Live Nation and mSpot on Monday. - Bruce Houghton



  • Europe Loosens Digital Downloading Rules While U.S. Suffers Audible Magic's Wire-Sniffing  (Fast Company)
  • Jay-Z To Strike Multiple Label Deals? (FMQB)
  • German Metal Label Declared Insolvent (Billboard)
  • Launches Free Online Community for Concert Industry (press release)
  • Filetwt I  wrote about Twitter file sharing tool earlier in the week. Just got word they've upgraded to better servers and launched an updated site.
  • Seven million Brits are downloading illegally, claims report. (Music Ally, Register UK)
  • iTunes support confirmed for Palm Pre. (Engadget)
  • New Law In Korea Means Google Bans The Uploading Of Music On Any Blog. (Techdirt)

Video: Spotify's Amazing Android App

This demo of the unreleased app includes offline streaming.

PREDICTION: When the iPhone version of this hits and Spotify expands the the US - both are inevitable - the entire landscape changes and everyone will be chasing Spotify instead of iTunes.

MySpace Music Mints A Messy Music Feed

But will fans flock to a new section curated by the major labels and dominated by ads?

(Updated) Music helped build MySpace and the top ranking social networker is continuing the tradition. Perhaps acknowledging that user generated content is no longer enough, the new section dubbed The Music Feed features original content from three bands whose music is distributed by one of MySpace Music's major label owner/partners.

MySpace Music Feed
Eminem (Universal), Passion Pit (French Kiss/Sony) and Phoenix (EMI) hold the first slots on the newly minted page. McDonald's McCafe sponsors and the section's almost unreadable 4 inch tall site banner (click graphic above to enlarge) plus...

Continue reading "MySpace Music Mints A Messy Music Feed" »

SayNow Connects Artists To Fans Via Voice Mail & Text Messages

Say now Our Call Katy Perry Now post last week led us to service provider SayNow. This free service connects bands with fans via voice mail and text messages.  Rapper Soulja Boy regularly connects with 2 million opt-in fans via SayNow.

Fans get voice or text messages broadcast from participating artists and can call in to hear a message recorded by the act, leave their own...

Continue reading "SayNow Connects Artists To Fans Via Voice Mail & Text Messages" »

More Fallout: HDMusic Files For Bankruptcy

Music Giants airstream Is another music startup riding off into the sunset?

HDGiants Inc.and its HDMusic and MusicGiants subsidiies filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection.on May 18th in the US Bankruptcy Court for the District of Nevada.  The online retailer serviced the high end digital audio market with higher quality HD downloads available both individually and in packages ranging in price from $500 to $5,000  "hand-crafed" by  an  HDGiants' Concierge and delivered on a hard drive.

Most major labels offered product through the company with the three largest unsecured creditors named as Scott Bahneman, Friendly Capital Partners, LP, and Sony Music Entertainment.  The debtor’s petition lists assets and liabilities of $1 million to $10 million. 

A Simple Strategy To Increase Your Band's Twitter Followers

The graph below highlights a simple way to get Twitter Followers – start Following! TrendRR CompareThis graph, for a particular artist we work with, vividly illustrates the effect of adding Followings – people followed tend to reciprocate. The obvious criticism of this approach is what is the value of the Followers? However, this is balanced by the fact that the people we select to Follow have either  mentioned similar artists or the specific artist in their previous posts. (via Million Music Marketing)

Thursday's Music Brief: MySpace, SayNow, DRM Study, Best Buy Offers Funding, Mufin, U2 & More



  • Landmark study: DRM truly does make pirates out of us all. (ars) Read the lengthy study or a summary.Best buy
  • Hoping to take advantage of deflated prices caused by the economic downurn, Best Buy launched a Digital Media Fund to be managed by Fuse (FKA Velocity) (Reuters)
  • Mufin, the sound driven music recommendation engine announced new features including an iTunes plug-in and full video playlist functions on the mufin site.
  • Music Labels Cut Friendlier Deals With Start-Ups (NY Times) Spotify, imeem and Rhapsody are mentioned.
  • EU sues Sweden, demands law requiring ISPs to retain data. (ars)
  • U2 logo U2 manager: 'Ultimately free is the enemy of good' (cNet) I believe Paul makes an over-simplified and judgmental argument.  Is Google not a "good" product because it is free? Was U2 a "less good" band when thay played for me in the early days for $1000 instead of $1 million?
  • Didiom Continues to Expand Mobile MP3 Store by Adding 1,500 Record Labels (press release)
  • JVC, Japan Signs Deal With BFM Digital For Distribution Of Digital Content (press release)
  • Dublin-based music video website, whose founders were named as 2009 Net Visionaries by the Irish Internet Association (IIA) just last week, has signed a major deal with Warner Music. (Irish Times)
  • Cool Uses of YouTube APIs (YouTube)

Zune Adds HD Radio & Video, Xbox Compatibility

ZuneHD Microsoft announced that it will open its Zune video service to the Xbox LIVE this Fall. Microsoft also unvieled its newest portable media player, the Zune HD. Designed to compete with the popular iPod Touch, the Zune HD combines built-in an mp3 and video players, an HD radio receiver, HD video output, an OLED touch screen, Wi-Fi and an internet browser.

More details:

Continue reading "Zune Adds HD Radio & Video, Xbox Compatibility" »

Mobile Music $'s To Hit $5.5B By 2013, But Ad-Supported Could See Shortfalls

Despite the global recession, revenues from streamed mobile music services and full-track downloads are expected to exhibit strong growth over the next 5 years, according to a new report froCell - Marleym Juniper Research. Combined revenues from these services are expected to more than double from $2.5 billion in 2009 to nearly $5.5 billion in 2013.

The report, however, found that those music services launched using an ad-funded model face a potential shortfall of as much as 50% to reductions in ad budgets. Other findings from the report include:
  • Ringback tone revenues will exceed ringtones by 2010 as service adoption increases outside Asia
  • The Far East & China will account for the largest share of mobile music revenues throughout the 2009-2013 forecast period, followed by Western Europe
  • Aggregators must expand the depth and breadth of their portfolios beyond ringtones if they are to remain competitive

Continue reading "Mobile Music $'s To Hit $5.5B By 2013, But Ad-Supported Could See Shortfalls" »

People Not PC's Pick Playlists On

On the recently relaunched website users can select from more than 12,000 DJ mixes, radio shows and live recordings sorted by style, popularity and other criteria.

Unlike Pandora or, people rather than an algorithm choose the music on  DJs can upload their mixes and view listener stats. The audio player displays the mix as a wave form and lets users set markers in order to ask the community of users for track ID's.

Free Book Contest and Knopper Interview Round-Up


"Well, selling music isn't the same as selling soap.  You can't just roll out a product when the timing suits you and you need a hit."

"Frankly I'm not sure the record industry has *ever* had a relationship with fans.  Their end users simply aren't music consumers --
their customers are actually retailers, from Tower to iTunes."

Interview with Steve Knopper:

Part 1
Part 2


Continue reading "Free Book Contest and Knopper Interview Round-Up" »

Wednesday's Music Brief: Zune, Mobile $'s, Pirate Bay, All EU iTunes? & More



  • The request from four major record labels to fine the Pirate Bay for every day the site remains up and running was declined by the Swedish District Court. (TorrentFreak)
  • Applelogo iTunes still not available in some EU countries. Here's why. (ars)
    • Apple is ready to open stores across the EU as soon as all-EU liscenses become available. (Bloomberg).  Hypebot hears that Amazon could follow as well.
  • YouTube may revive music streaming in the UK since PRS for Music has cut royalty rates. (Times UK)
  • New York Times appoints a “social media editor” (VentureBeat)
  • Illegal downloads soar as hard times bite Australia. (Sydney Morning Herald)
  • Nokia's Ovi Store Opens For Business; Experiences Early Hiccups (paidContent)
  • Facebook gets $200 million from Russian investment group. (FT)
  • 7 tips for those applying of their first job in the music industry. (New Music StrategiTwitter birdes) Tip # 8 - Could you start your own company?
  •  5 Twitter Tips For Bands From Co-Founder Biz Stone (Billboard)
  • Pollstar's Jay Smith writes that, like it or not, Twitter TV us coming. (Pollstar)

Farkie Turns Any Stream Into A Download

From The "It's Futile To Resist" Department:

Website Farkie bills itself as "the ultimate online application" for downloading YouTube videos, MySpace playlists, movies, audio, images, javascript, ajax, objects, applications, flash, links and "many other things". Usrs can use Farkie to:

  • Download YouTube videos in video or audio format
  • Download MySpace songs in mp3 format
  • Download scripts and pictures from a website
  • Download flash games from a website

How to download a YouTube video with Farkie:

Yahoo Music Changes Boost Traffic

Last month Yahoo Music opened up its artist pages to third-party music services like Pandora, and iTunes; and early results are impressive. According to Yahoo Music chief Michael Spiegelman in April artist pages, which represent about 37% of overall page views, saw:

  • Yahoo Music daily unique visitors double
  • page views tripled
  • visitors reaching the pages through search engines up 108%
  • page views per user increased 40%

Traffic at Yahoo Music overall was up 13% in April, to 20.5 million unique visitors.  Impressive, but still far behind AOL Music which logged 28 million unique visitors in April. 

Indie Labels Experience A Major Renaissance Amidst The Upheaval

Arrow up and down red With upheaval comes opportunity; and ongoing problems within the recorded music industry has also led to a revival within independent label sector.

While not without their own challenges, indie record labels appear to be experiencing a renaissance, thanks in part to new technologies and media that did not exist 5 years ago. Their nimbleness and a fan-like eye for emerging talent is being rewarded by a cadre of fans who continue to demand and support quality music.

In short, when the traditional gatekeepers and obstacles to reaching fans are removed, indies thrive.  As proof that an indie label renaissance is well under way, indie label trade group The American Association Of Independent Music (A2IM) offered these stats:A2im 
  • Independent labels accounted for 32% of aggregate album sales in 2008, up almost 1.5% from 2007.
  • Independent artists won 56 awards at this year's Grammys, up from 36 last year. That marks over 50% of all prizes given out

Continue reading "Indie Labels Experience A Major Renaissance Amidst The Upheaval" »

RoyaltyShare Pulls Out Of Digital Music Distribution

Royaltyshare Music royalty and sales services provider RoyaltyShare is pulling out of the digital distribution business.  Just a year after adding low cost digital distribution, the company is no longer soliciting new labels and is working to find new homes for existing clients.

Company spokesman Mike Kelly told paidContent that the economy had forced RoyaltyShare to de-emphasize distribution and lay-off two of its 30 staffers. Other employees are moving to the company's other operations.

Digital distribution is increasingly as commodity business with ongoing downward price pressure.  Full service digital distributors like The Orchard, IODA and INgrooves are responding by adding new services like marketing and brick and mortar distribution to justify their fees.

Interview: Steve Knopper of Rolling Stone and Appetite for Self-Destruction (Part 2)

Kyle Bylin, Associate Editorappetite_for_self-destruction — (Read Part 1)    

In Chapter Two:  How Big Spenders Got Rich in the Post-CD Boom, you commented, “The business was evolving from small-time guys who packed their products into crates themselves to an international network of distribution executives with MBAs.”

Followed later by, “Pressured by debt, he and other corporate types started to demand that the music unit function like every other unit.”

What’s the danger in trying to treat music like other products, where if “advertised” enough via MTV and Radio, sales can be hammered out in an attempt to exceed quarterly projections?

steve-knopper-190Steve Knopper: Well, selling music isn't the same as selling soap. You can't just roll out a product when the timing suits you and you need a hit. We've seen that over the last couple years, as labels have waited desperately for hit artists like Eminem, Guns N' Roses, Green Day and Dr. Dre to finish their albums during the past few crucial fourth-quarter holiday shopping seasons. As I report in the book, it was in the '90s that labels realized they couldn't just sign talent and wait for years and years for it to develop the way they could in the early days of Springsteen and U2, for example. By the '90s they were owned by massive public companies like Sony and Vivendi, and those corporate overseers demanded quarterly results. I believe there is a direct cause-and-effect between that mentality and the one-hit wonders that popped up around that time, from Third Eye Blind to Chumbawamba to the Spice Girls to Hanson to the entirety of teen pop.

Continue reading "Interview: Steve Knopper of Rolling Stone and Appetite for Self-Destruction (Part 2)" »

The New Art Of Collaboration

Hand shake symbol

Files flying across the net to be mixed in a studio on the other side of world. Mashups. Fan re-mixes. Collaboration in all its forms is almost as much part of music 2.0 as the internet that powers it.  Here via the net detectives at the Listenerd are two wonderful examples of the new art of collaboration - the first between many musicians and second with the user.

  • Bb 2.0 is a collaborative music and spoken word project conceived by Darren Solomon from Science for Girls. The videos can be played simultaneously -- the soundtracks will work together, and the mix can be adjusted with the individual volume sliders
  • Be patient for this site to load and be sure to move your mouse.

Tuesday's Music Brief: Indies, Yahoo, UK Streaming Rates, Pirate Bay Bias, Colplay & More



  • UK flag UK's PRS For Music has announced new reduced streaming rates. (Music Ally) PRS has effectively halved its on-demand streaming music rate from £0.0022 ($0.0035) to £0.00085 ($0.00135) per track, effective July 1 for 3 years.
  • Swedish Judge In Charge Of Determining Bias Of Pirate Bay Judge Removed... For Bias. (Techdirt)
  • Will ISP's and mobile carriers save the subscription music business? (Barron's)
  • Last_fm TechCrunch continues its feud with over whether or not the CBS owned music streaming site turned over user listening data to the RIAA. (TechCrunch)
  • EU pushes music industry to open up online rights for pan-EU licensing. (AP)
  • Idol's Kris Allen, Adam Lambert Dominating iTunes Charts (DMW)
  • We must stop illegal downloads: "We are not trying to disconnect fans, but illegal filesharing is hurting the music industry and we must work with ISPs to stop it". (Guardian)
  • Coldplay's Chris Martin Talks Lawsuits, Free Live Album. (FMQB)
  • Another class action suit against Ticketmaster. (Pollstar)
  • In South Korea, All of Life Is Mobile. (NY Times) This is a glimpse into our collective futures.
  • Warner Bros. Records Announces Multi-Year Global Partnership with Emblem Music Group Led by Matt and Dean Serletic. (press release)
  • R.I.P.  - JAY BENNETT, ex-Wilco and solo artist. (more)