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Music Industry News
In case you haven't heard....
It's important for musicians, independent or otherwise, to stay up to speed with what's going on in the music industry. Here's a round up of news stories hitting the wires right now.

Please Note: The below articles do NOT reflect the position of the Music Biz Academy. They are included simply so you can see the wide range of issues effecting the music industry today...

Major Labels End Lawsuits.... Now What?
Major labels are now discontinuing their multi-year, legal attack against individual file-swappers, according to information confirmed by the RIAA on Friday. According to agreement details, alternative plans are now being pursued with various ISPs in the United States.  The reshaped agreements call for ISPs to start issuing warnings and eventually, terminations, to infringing subscribers. That leaves a lot of open questions. Are ISPs willing to play bad cop against their own, paying customers? Article by Paul Resnikoff. Added 12/21/2008.

MySpace Music Goes Live: All Majors on Board
MySpace Music is now opening its eyes to the world, the beginning of an aggressive experiment by labels, artists, and the social network.  The early-morning launch includes participation from all four majors, including EMI Music, an eleventh-hour partner.  As expected, those majors will carry an equity stake in a joint venture structure, and receive payout percentages on related advertising and purchases. The independent collection is far less complete, at least at launch.  The Orchard is among the early participants, though discussions with other groups remain ongoing. Added 09/25/2008

CD Baby Sold to Discmakers
CD Baby, which describes itself as the world's largest independent music retailer, has been sold to CD and DVD manufacturer Disc Makers. CD Baby will continue to operate as a separate company, focusing on its successful online CD sales and downloads.

FCC Approves XM-Sirius Satellite Radio Merger

Sirius Satellite Radio'
s $3.3 billion buyout of rival XM Satellite Radio will mean millions of subscribers will be able to receive programming from both services, while executives say it will create huge cost savings for the industry. Subscribers will not have to buy new radios to receive a mix of programming from both services, according to the companies. But if they want to pursue a special pay-per-channel a la carte option, they will need new sets.Federal regulators formally approved the merger of the nation's only two satellite radio operators Friday. Added 07/26/2008.

Yahoo Music Store Goes Dark in September...
Yahoo has announced the closure of its music store, leaving users unable to access the songs they have purchased. Starting, September 30 users will not be able to purchase songs from the Yahoo Music Unlimited Store.  Songs and albums that are purchased through Yahoo Music Unlimited Store are protected by a Digital Rights Management (DRM) system that requires a valid license key for playing them on the PC. The company will be taking off this license key servers offline on the same day the store shuts. After the store closes, users will not have access to these license keys. So the purchased tracks will continue playing on the existing authorized PCs but not on any other machine. Added 07/25/2008.

July Already? Album Sales Keep Sinking In '08...

Album sales in the United States took a serious bath during the first half of this year, according to figures supplied by Nielsen Soundscan.  Aggregated physical and digital albums dropped a significant 11 percent during the period, another discouraging data point for a beleaguered business.  In total, the recording industry shifted 204.6 million units during the first half, down from 229.8 million during the comparable, year-ago period. Within that figure, the digital story continued to grow, though gains failed to cover massive physical declines.  In the six-month period, digital album sales climbed 34 percent to 31.6 million units, or 15.5 percent of overall album totals.  The disparity has become a disappointing development for an industry expecting a more substantial digital contribution. Added 07/03/2008.

TuneCore Spins Flat Rate Proposition
Digital distributor TuneCore is now sweetening the deal with a one-price, one-track distribution plan. The company will soon distribute any artist track across eleven stores for a flat price of $9.99, according to information shared by the company on Friday. That replaces a pricing formula that includes per-song, per-store and yearly maintenance fees. The new, flat-rate plan starts June 20th.  
The TuneCore distribution network includes iTunes Stores in the US, Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and Europe.  Others include AmazonMP3, eMusic, Napster, Rhapsody, LaLa, and GroupieTunes.  Artists retain all royalties, and TuneCore deals are non-exclusive.  Added 06/09/2008.

The Incredibly Discounted CD: Now at Wal-Mart
Want cheap CDs?  Wal-Mart has been pressuring major label groups to lower wholesale pricing for quite some time.  And the results of those efforts are now being felt.  Currently on walmart.com, fresh titles from Michael Buble, Josh Groban, and Blake Shelton are available for $5, and other titles are available sub-$10.  Cheaper discs are now available both online and in-store, part of an aggressive downward trend.  In fact, a large percentage of CDs are expected to carry the basement tags in the near term. Added 04/29/2008.

TuneCore Payouts Top One Million In January

Brooklyn-based TuneCore paid participating artists more than $1 million in January, according to information shared by the company on Monday.  TuneCore allows artists to directly port content onto digital ecommerce environments like the iTunes Store, subject to various distribution fees.  Among the most successful is Josh Kelly, who earned $135,000 though TuneCore.  That represents another unsigned success story, and a convincing case study for those considering big-label alternatives.  Added 04/15/2008

1,000 True Fans
The long tail is famously good news for two classes of people; a few lucky aggregators, such as Amazon and Netflix, and 6 billion consumers. Of those two, I think consumers earn the greater reward from the wealth hidden in infinite niches. But the long tail is a decidedly mixed blessing for creators. Individual artists, producers, inventors and makers are overlooked in the equation. The long tail does not raise the sales of creators much, but it does add massive competition and endless downward pressure on prices. Unless artists become a large aggregator of other artist's works, the long tail offers no path out of the quiet doldrums of minuscule sales. Other than aim for a blockbuster hit, what can an artist do to escape the long tail? Added 03/07/2008.

Seeking a Cure for the Music Business Blues
The plight of the music industry has played out like a 1970s disaster film, the kind where the principal characters declare that nothing on earth could threaten their state-of-the-art luxury liner or superstructure.
Crash! Cut to people gasping for air or scrambling for a seat on the lifeboat. That's where the record labels are now--scrounging for technologies and business models that can keep them afloat. Added 03/04/2008.

Facebook Music Dances With iTunes
Facebook Thursday launched its new music section for bands in a tie-up with iTunes. Tracks can be streamed and Facebook is providing a link to iTunes in order that acts can offer songs for sale to fans visiting their pages. Facebook denizens can become fans of their chosen artists, can rate and review the music and can choose to receive messages from acts. The new section lets bands create their own profiles, making songs, photos and music videos available to fans. The service - which takes the social networking war to MySpace - also lets acts sell tickets and merchandise through a deal with the Music Today service. Added 02/29/2008.

iTunes Now #2 Music Retailer in the U.S.
Apple announced that iTunes (www.itunes.com) is now the number two music retailer in the US, behind only Wal-Mart, based on the latest data from the NPD Group*. Apple also announced that there are now over 50 million iTunes Store customers. iTunes has sold over four billion songs, with an incredible 20 million songs sold on Christmas Day 2007 alone, and offers the world's largest music catalog of over six million songs from all of the major and thousands of independent labels. Added 02/28/2008.

Digital Sales Predicted To Pass CDs By 2012
A new study from Forrester Research Inc. predicts that half of all music sold in the U.S. will be digital sales by the year 2011, with digital music surpassing the CD in 2012. The Massachusetts-based research firm says that digital music sales will increased with a compound annual growth of 23 percent over the next five years, bringing in $4.8 billion by 2012. However, CD sales figures will continue to decline to $3.8 billion by 2012. Added 2/25/2008.

Amazon Builds MP3 War-Chest for Battle With iTunes
Sony BMG took a major step away from digital content protection on Thursday by licensing MP3s to Amazon. In line with Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group, Sony BMG has offered its DRM-free catalog to Amazon first, and not iTunes. That is part of a larger plan to tilt the playing field away from Apple, whose dominance has allowed it to dictate digital pricing and packaging terms to labels. Now, Amazon is loaded with a full catalog of MP3s, and a complete war-chest for 2008.  "Our Amazon MP3 customers will be able to choose from a full selection of DRM-free music downloads from all four major labels and over 33,000 independents that they can play on virtually any music-capable device," said Bill Carr, vice president for Digital Music at Amazon.com. Added 01/11/2008.

The Death of High Fidelity

Over the past decade and a half, a revolution in recording technology has changed the way albums are produced, mixed and mastered — almost always for the worse. "They make it loud to get [listeners'] attention," Producer David Bendeth says. Engineers do that by applying dynamic range compression, which reduces the difference between the loudest and softest sounds in a song. Like many of his peers, Bendeth believes that relying too much on this effect can obscure sonic detail, rob music of its emotional power and leave listeners with what engineers call ear fatigue. Added 12/3/12007.

Music Biz Lawyers Weigh in on Label's 360-Degree Grab
Like it or not, major record companies are expected to continue drafting their artist contracts so that labels share a piece of most -- if not all -- of the artists' rights in all types of revenue streams, not just record sales, but also concert tickets and t-shirts. Artist lawyers say that their responses are as varied as the rights and terms in each label's "360-degree" deal. Some labels want to be the merchandiser, while others want rights only in certain types of merchandise connected to album cover artwork. And when it comes to artist royalties, some labels pay a royalty based on wholesale prices, while others are offering profit-sharing arrangements. Added 12/31/2007.

David Byrne's Survival Strategies for Emerging Artists — and Megastars
What is called the music business today is not the business of producing music. At some point it became the business of selling CDs in plastic cases, and that business will soon be over. But that's not bad news for music, and it's certainly not bad news for musicians. Indeed, with all the ways to reach an audience, there have never been more opportunities for artists. Where are things going? Well, some people's charts look like this.... Added 12/26/2007.

Radiohead Shuts Down 'In Rainbows' Name-Your-Own-Price Promotion
One of the recording industry's most daring experiments ended on Monday. Three months after Radiohead stunned the music industry by allowing fans to pay whatever they wanted for the album, In Rainbows, the band has now opted for a more traditional sales approach. That was fast.

Snowcap Aggresively Shopping Itself... Any Takers?
Beleaguered digital music upstart Snocap is now looking for an exit door, and pitching itself to prospective buyers.  On Monday, Snocap vice president of Marketing and Public Relations Bruce Taylor confirmed that the company is aggressively seeking acquisition prospects, and courting multiple possibilities.  "There are several companies that we are having active discussions with," Taylor told Digital Music News, though the executive stopped short of offering specifics.  Meanwhile, a number of sources pointed to a hard closure at the end of January if a buyer is not found, though Taylor dismissed those claims as unfounded.  Added 12/11/2007.

Wendy's to Give Away Digital Music With Their Burgers! Wendy's and Rhapsody have joined forces to delight music fans across the country with the giveaway of up to 100,000,000 songs. Starting this week, every Wendy's medium- and large-sized combo meal sold at participating restaurants will include a unique code redeemable for any of Rhapsody's over 4.5 million songs. The Wendy's/Rhapsody song download giveaway will be supported by a comprehensive marketing campaign including broadcast and online media. Added 11/14/2007.

3 in 5 "Didn't  Pay a Cent" for Radiohead Album
Radiohead's grand experiment in 'honesty box' music sales may have gone a little flat after a report found that three in five people downloading the band's latest album did not pay a cent for it. Of the 1.2 million people who have downloaded In Rainbows since it was released last month, 62 per cent did not pay anything, and 12 per cent accounted for more than 52 per cent of the revenue from sales. The average price paid was $6 (£2.90) globally, but this figure was propped up by the 12 per cent who were willing to pay between $8 to $12 (£3.90 to £5.80) - the approximate cost of downloading an album from a retail service like iTunes, the report, by comScore, concluded. Added 11/06/2007.

More Facebook Music Rumors
Is Facebook finally going to take on MySpace as a place for bands and music fans to hang out? We’ve heard various Facebook Music rumors before. The latest one comes from CO-ED Magazine.com  According to CO-ED’s executive editor Stephen Gebhardt, who says he heard it from a group of marketing managers at a major music label, Facebook has been holding secret meetings with all the music labels and will announce Facebook Music next week at New York’s ad:tech conference. Added 10/31/2007.

Everything in the Music Industry is Up! (Except those plastic discs)
At a speech last week I was asked a question that has come up every day since the Radiohead (and Madonna, NIN, Prince, etc, etc) announcement: What's going to happen to the music industry? To which I answered "Which music industry?" You don't mean just the one that sells CDs, do you? Because it's a big mistake to equate the major labels and their plastic disc business with the industry as a whole. Indeed, when you stand back and look at all of music, things don't look so bad at all. Added 10/23/2007.

What Happened with CD Baby and Snocap
Sometimes the best deal for everyone is no deal at all.  Added 10/23/2007.

Amazon Unleashes MP3-Based Music Store Beta
Amazon has now launched its MP3-based music download store, a long-awaited arrival.  As promised earlier, the store offers DRM-free selections from EMI Music, Universal Music Group, and a large number of independents.  Remaining majors Sony BMG and Warner Music Group are absent, and it remains unclear if and when those companies will shed digital protections. The store contains two million tracks from roughly 20,000 labels, according to information disclosed early this morning.  Songs carry price points of between 89- and 99-cents, and approximately half the catalog lies at the lower end of that range. Added 09/26/2007

CD Baby Spins MP3 Albums
CD Baby is renowned for selling unsigned and independent artist CDs, and for distributing content digitally.  Now, the company is broadening its digital footprint by offering downloads directly from its destination.  CD Baby is already a major digital distributor of music, and supplies large amounts of content to destinations like the iTunes Store and Rhapsody.  Artists now gain an extra sales outlet, though the format is a bundled, MP3-based album download. Added 08/29/2007.

Are Free CDs Killing Music?
Prince has sparked an outcry by giving away his new album in the Mail on Sunday. Many weekend newspapers are now sold with a CD or film enclosed. Forget downloads, are free CDs killing music? The giveaway, or covermount as it is known in the trade, is now big
business, but on Sunday the market experiences a fresh twist. Nestling under cellophane wrapped around the Mail on Sunday, Prince's Planet Earth CD will become the first new studio album to be given away. The Mail on Sunday says the deal - which earns Prince an undisclosed fee - is all about giving music to the masses and free CDs usually increase sales for the artist. But the shops are outraged and predict  that music lovers will lose out. Added 08/13/2007.

SoundExchange Tells Webcasters: Keep Streaming
According to a commitment made yesterday by SoundExchange executive director John Simson in front of the House Commerce committee, small and noncommercial webcasters may continue streaming next week — i.e., after the CRB's effective date of July 15th — without fear of the threat of legal action against them, and may continue doing so as long as good-faith negotiations between the parties are continuing. In an interview with RAIN last night, Simson explained, "For the people who want to comply with the law and are in bona fide negotiations with us, we don't want those people to be intimidated.  And we don't want them to stop streaming."  Simson qualified his statement by noting, "That's just so long as they're continuing to pay under the license they had." 
Added 07/13/2007.

Universal Music Plays iTunes Hardball with Apple
Does Apple’s iTunes store need U2? That’s the crux of a game of chicken being played between Apple and Universal Music Group, which counts U2 and other big name artists in its stable. Who’s going to blink? The New York Times and others are reporting that Universal Music Group told Apple that it will not renew its annual contract to sell music through iTunes. The reports, which cite unnamed sources, indicate that Universal Music is looking to market its music at will. The bottom line there is that Universal can pull its music at any time if there’s a spat. Clearly, Universal Music is looking for leverage. Added 07/02/2007.

The Record Industry's Decline
Record sales are tanking, and there's no hope in sight. How it all
went wrong. CD sales have plummeted sixteen percent for the year so far -- and that's after seven years of near-constant erosion. In the face of widespread piracy, consumers' growing preference for low-profit-margin digital singles over albums, and other woes, the record business has plunged into a historic decline. The major labels are struggling to reinvent their business models, even as some wonder whether it's too late. Added 06/21/2007.

FTC Asks Court to Shut Burnlounge: Pyramid Scheme
The Federal Trade Commission
filed suit last week alleging that Burnlounge is a pyramid scheme and that some of its largest retailers have misrepresented the income investors made with the company. One had claimed that by last summer he had made almost $300,000. Burnlounge sells downloads via custom stores set up by individuals who buy in and profit from a multi-level marketing style arrangement. For now at least, Burnlounge's download stores remain open and pacts with high profile partners like Live Nation remain intact. Added 06/11/2007.

Will Music Industry Dance Again to Apple's Tune?
Never before has Apple sold songs without attaching antipiracy software--the digital rights management systems that prevent file sharing and are hated by many music fans. If successful, Apple's bold gamble to do away with digital rights management, or DRM, could act as a whirlpool that sucks the rest of the music industry into DRM-free music, say analysts. Apple on Wednesday began selling unprotected MP3s from record label EMI. Shoppers have the option to purchase either a 256kbps AAC-encoded DRM-free song for $1.29 via iTunes Plus, or the usual 128kbps AAC-encoded DRM version for 99 cents. For the first time, consumers can play music from Apple's iTunes on digital players other than the iPod. For the record industry, it once again may find itself being herded into a direction of Apple's choosing. Added 05/31/2007.

Resurrection of a Music Industry Bogeyman: The iTunes Single
It sounds like a horror movie: a beloved friend is callously exterminated, then reincarnated in a different form to wreak havoc on the killer.
That's the nightmare currently facing the music industry. Almost a decade after virtually eliminating 45s and cassette singles, thereby forcing fans to spend more money on whole albums, the digital single is largely responsible for the industry's woes. Consumers no longer need to buy an album if they want that cool jam they heard on the radio -- and in growing numbers, they're choosing 99 US cent downloads over $15 CDs. Some worry this trend is worsening the quality of albums as a cohesive musical work, and that label executives are more and more interested in quick hits than lasting music or artists. Added 05/24/2007.

Amazon to Sell Digital Music Without Copy Restrictions
Amazon.com said on Wednesday the company will launch a digital music store later in 2007 with millions of songs, free of copy protection technology that limits where consumers can play their music. The Seattle-based company said music company EMI, home to artists ranging from Coldplay to Norah Jones to Joss Stone to Pink Floyd, has licensed its digital catalog to Amazon, the second such deal in a month. "Our MP3-only strategy means all the music that customers buy on Amazon is always DRM-free and plays on any device," said Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com founder and CEO. Added 05/16/2007

Sex, Drugs, and Updating Your Blog
Jonathan Coulton sat in Gorilla Coffee in Brooklyn, his Apple PowerBook open before him, and began slogging through the day’s e-mail. Coulton is 36 and shaggily handsome. In September 2005, he quit his job as a computer programmer and, with his wife’s guarded blessing, became a full-time singer and songwriter. He set a quixotic goal for himself: for the next year, he would write and record a song each week, posting each one to his blog. By the middle of last year, his project had attracted a sizable audience. More than 3,000 people, on average, were visiting his site every day, and his most popular songs were being downloaded as many as 500,000 times; he was making what he described as “a reasonable middle-class living” — between $3,000 and $5,000 a month — by selling CDs and digital downloads of his work on iTunes and on his own site. Added 05/15/2007.

Is the RIAA Pulling a Scam on the Music Industry?
There has been an understandable public outcry against the RIAA’s attempts to more than triple the sound recording copyright royalties on Internet radio. (See
Save Internet Radio from Corporate Money Grab) One solution proposed by Webcasters is to just not play RIAA-member songs under the assumption that then they don’t have to pay the royalty to the RIAA’s collection body, SoundExchange; Webcasters would then just pay the independent artist the royalty. This sounds fair and just because it is. However, the game is rigged and the RIAA has rigged it in their favor. The strategy of playing only non-RIAA songs won't work because the RIAA has secured the right to collect royalties on all songs regardless of who controls the copyright. Added 05/03/2007.

Industry Assesses MySpace Selling Power....
Music remains an important part of the MySpace experience, and millions of bands have pages on the destination.  For artists, that means greater connectivity with fans, an inexpensive mechanism for promotion, and a better feedback loop on creative projects.  But is MySpace a place to sell music effectively?  The question is now more than academic, thanks to  number of aggressive initiatives.  The first comes from Snocap, which is now ramping its embedded, MyStores music ecommerce program, one that allows artists to sell MP3s directly from their profiles.  The concept opens an entirely new sales channel for artists, though early-stage numbers appear very low. Added 04/10/2007

EMI Goes DRM-Free - for a Price
Record company EMI has announced that they are to ditch DRM, but at a price. Premium versions of its digital catalog will be made available on Apple's iTunes, without Digital Rights Management, and encoded at the higher bit-rate of 256kbps (up from 128kbps). The catch? Songs will be priced at $1.29 each, a 30 cents increase on their DRM'd equivalent. Alhough album pricing will remain the same, and customers will still have the option of purchasing individual DRM'd tracks at the lower price of 99 cents. So let me get this straight. EMI is attempting to compete with piracy by charging more for the convenience that non-DRM'd tracks offer, under the guise of 'higher quality'. If this is to be the test case that proves that ditching DRM will invigorate the market place then I wish EMI (and the rest of the music industry) good luck — as they'll surely need it. Added 04/03/2007

The CD is Dead: Long Live the CD!
Mozart wrote only one Requiem, but in recent years, music journalists have written about 80 requiems for the compact disc, mostly in the key of boo-hoo major. Data from the Recording Industry Association of America show that between 2000 and 2005, the number of CDs shipped fell 25 percent to 705.4 million, while their value slipped 20 percent, from $13.2 billion to $10.5 billion. On Monday, Jeff Leeds, writing in the New York Times, penned an obituary for the CD, which has been driven into oblivion by consumers' preference for digital singles over albums. Last year, hundreds of music stores closed, among them the 89 outlets of the greatly missed (subscription required) Tower Records. Conclusion: The CD is dead! Except, it's not. Added 03/29/2007.

U.S. CD Sales Plummet
U.S. sales of music compact discs plummeted 20 percent in the first three months of the year as downloading of songs continued to knock the underpinnings from record studio revenues. Eighty-nine million CDs were sold from the start of the year through March 18 as compared with 112 million CDs sold during the same period in 2006, according to figures released Wednesday by industry tracker Nielsen SoundScan. Purchases of digitized albums online failed to make up the difference -- instead they dropped from 119 million during that time period in 2006 to 99 million during the first three months of this year, SoundScan reported. Meanwhile, sales of individual songs in digital format on the Internet rose from 242 million tracks during those months last year to 288 million this year, according to SoundScan. Added 03/22/2007

RIAA Stumbles Upon Another Public Relations Pitfall
The RIAA has been suing file-swappers for more than three years, and its efforts are occasionally marred by high-profile, public relations disasters.  That includes a lawsuit against dead grandmother Gertrude Walton and 12 year-old Brianna LaHara, among several other embarrassing episodes.  Perhaps those snafus are inevitable in a total targeted list that now surpasses 18,000, though each incident helps to paint the RIAA - and the major labels they represent - with a negative brush.  And unlike the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), which has adopted a somewhat softer legal tone, the RIAA generally carries a heavy and uncompromising legal hammer into most nuanced situations.  Now, that attitude is about to be tested once again, thanks to a lawsuit that was recently issued to stroke victim John Paladuk. Added 03/15/2007

Where Did the Music Industry Go So Wrong?
Wasn't it all so gloriously simple back when people listened to top 40 radio and obediently paid $20 for discs at record store chains? Labels set the deal terms for artists. Managers handled the "biz." The touring circuits were maintained by well-mannered warlords that politely divvied up the venues. And everyone had their place in the pond. So where did it all go wrong with the music business? Somehow, the pond became stagnant over time, mucked up with greed, laziness, contempt and excess. People got bored with music. Then, someone threw a rock into the middle of it called the Internet, and nothing will ever be the same. Added 03/15/2007

Viacom Sues Google/YouTube for a Billion
Viacom on Tuesday slapped YouTube and parent company Google with a lawsuit, accusing the wildly popular video-sharing site of "massive intentional copyright infringement" and seeking more than $1 billion in damages. The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, contends that nearly 160,000 unauthorized clips of Viacom's entertainment programming have been available on YouTube and that these clips had been viewed more than 1.5 billion times. Added 03/13/2007.

RIAA Stomps Your Radio
RIAA, smarting from recent court decisions impeding their ability to stick up ordinary citizens for alleged downloading infractions, retreated to a quiet corner with a bag of puppies, a few M-80s, and a book of matches. As you can imagine, nothing good came of it. The puppies in this case -- certainly as beloved as a puppy, this stuff -- is Net radio, and while you were heading out for the weekend and your humble blogger was wading through redesign stuff, the Copyright Royalty Board allowed a sub-unit of RIAA to set policy on the amount your favorite Net broadcasters are going to have to pay to stay on the air. And the rates are exactly as fair as you'd expect from the RIAA -- a minimum of $500 / year, with maximums... well, let's just say that royalties are likely to easily exceed 100 percent of whatever the station takes in. Translation: Kiss your favorite Net station goodbye. Added 03/08/2007

RIAA 'Settlement-o-matic' Site Taunts You
Boing Boing takes a closer look at the new "settlement-o-matic" website constructed by the RIAA to offer "the accused" (TM) a chance to buy their way out of an RIAA lawsuit. With a few clicks, accused pirates can send thousands of dollars to the RIAA and have their sins purged -- without the muss and fuss of an actual legal process. A screenshot from one of the site's first users (a college student) notes that after you pay, the RIAA expresses that the organization is "looking forward to future business together." "This hurts almost more than having to pay the ~$3500 for a 'reduced price' settlement," says the college student. Added 03/08/2007.

Broadcast Companies Agree to Anti-Payola Settlement Radio listeners weary of hearing the same songs over and over may have something to cheer about: Broadcasters have tentatively agreed to anti-payola settlements that could shake up music playlists at some of the nation's largest radio chains. Four major broadcast companies would pay the government $12.5 million and provide 8,400 half-hour segments of free airtime for independent record labels and local artists. Two FCC officials said the settlement is part of a consent decree between the FCC and Clear Channel Communications Inc., CBS Radio, Entercom Communications Corp. and Citadel Broadcasting Corp. Added 03/05/2007.

Shoot the Piano Player - An Amazing Story of Plagiarism
It seemed almost too good to be true. A conscientious pianist who had an undistinguished career in London falls ill and retreats to a small town. Here she undertakes a project to record virtually the entire standard classical repertoire. Her recordings, CDs made when she was in her late 60s and 70s, are staggering, showing a masterful technique, a preternatural ability to adapt to different styles and a depth of musical insight hardly seen elsewhere. But all was not as it seemed... Added 03/02/2007

Internet Radio Listener Levels Jump in 2006
The number of internet radio listeners jumped considerably last year, according to figures released by Bridge Ratings & Research.  The group pointed to a year-end total of 72 million monthly listeners, up from 45 million at the tail end of 2005.  On a weekly basis, that figure was 57 million, or 19 percent of all people above the age of 12.  Interestingly, most internet radio listening happens at the office, when workers are often chained to their desks. "Internet radio listening is primarily a work-hour phenomenon, with 75 percent of all on-line listening occurring between 5 am Pacific and 5 pm Pacific," the group noted.  Added 02/27/2007.

XM, Sirius Enter Definitive Merger Agreement
XM Satellite Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio are now planning to merge, according to an announcement issued Monday morning.  The definitive agreement, billed as a "merger of equals," is actually a $4.57 billion, all-stock buyout by Sirius. The combined entity will be valued at approximately $13 billion. Significant regulatory hurdles lie ahead, including reviews by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and potentially others. For the time being, both XM and Sirius will operate as independent companies, according to the announcement. Added 02/20/2007.

MP3.com Founder Responds To Steve Jobs
My vision is that customers should be able to mix and match the type of computer, music software, retail option and music devices they want to use. No single company is the best in every product category so consumer choice ensures the best music experience. Here are some immediate actions Apple could take to help push the industry in that direction." Added 02/12/2007

Five Reasons Why Jobs Went Anti-DRM Now
As any witness of a Macworld keynote knows Apple CEO Steve Jobs doesn't do much of anything that isn't well scripted and thought out. That strategy and advance preparation is what makes his open letter to the music industry about digital rights management so interesting. Lost amid all the conversation about Jobs' blog one question remains unanswered: Why now? Added 02/08/2007

Thoughts on Music by Steve Jobs, Apple CEO
With the stunning global success of Apple’s iPod music player and iTunes online music store, some have called for Apple to “open” the digital rights management (DRM) system that Apple uses to protect its music against theft, so that music purchased from iTunes can be played on digital devices purchased from other companies, and protected music purchased from other online music stores can play on iPods. Let’s examine the current situation and how we got here, then look at three possible alternatives for the future. Added 02/08/2007

Industry Ponders CD Sales Cliff, Post Physical World
Are CD sales headed for a cliff this year?  Sales tallies from the first few weeks of this year have certainly supported that notion, particularly in the United States. During a keynote presentation in West Hollywood on Thursday, Yahoo Music chief David Goldberg pointed to a 20 percent drop in 2007, a prediction that is being driven by several forces. Big-box retailers like Wal-Mart and Best Buy have traditionally positioned CDs as loss leaders, a strategy that helps to generate extra foot traffic.  But softened consumer demand could decrease the emphasis on that approach.  "Once CDs stop drawing people in, there’s less reason for stores to keep large collections on their floor," Goldberg noted.  The result will be less opportunities for consumers to make impulsive CD purchases. Added 02/02/2007.

Music Industry Threatens ISPs Over Piracy
The music industry opened up a new front in the war on online music piracy yesterday, threatening to sue internet service providers that allow customers to illegally share copyrighted tracks over their networks. The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, or IFPI, said it would take action against internet companies that carry vast amounts of illegally shared files over their networks. John Kennedy, the chairman of the IFPI, said he had been frustrated by internet companies that have not acted against customers involved in illegal activity. He warned that litigation against ISPs would be instigated "in weeks rather than months". Added 01/18/2007.

Music Industry's Got the Blues: Global Sales Decline 3%
Worldwide online music sales nearly doubled in 2006 to about $2 billion, or 10% of all sales, but they failed to compensate for an overall decline in sales of CDs, the global music industry trade group said Wednesday in its 2007 Digital Music Report. As a result, overall music sales fell about 3% in 2006, said The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) report. "We don't have the holy grail of digital (online) offsetting the decline of CDs as yet," IFPI Chairman John Kennedy said here after the release of the report. Added 01/18/2007.

Napter Buys AOL Music: What's Next?
Napster is one of the oddest companies. It is a deeply unprofitable startup trying to grow a business, and with a huge war chest of cash. Napster hired an investment bank in September to sell themselves. At the time they were losing $10 million in cash per fiscal quarter, and had $100 million in the bank. Now they’ve announced the acquisition of AOL Music’s subscription service. They’ll add 350,000 new subscribers, get promotion on AOL, and pay just $15 million in cash. It’s not a bad deal, except it adds more unprofitable customers to the struggling company, and the company's war chest just got significantly lighter. Added 01/16/2007.

Milestones: Stuff we won't soon forget...
Many of these links may be out of date. The headlines are here more for purposes of nostalgia than anything else.

Google Acquires YouTube for 1.65 Billion
Added 10/10/2006

The RIAA vs. John Doe,
a Layperson's Guide to Filesharing Lawsuits

Added 08/10/2006.

MySpace Reaches the Top of Site Ranking

Added 07/12/2006.

Social Networks Poised to Shape Net's Future

Added 06/13/2006.

CD Baby Signs Artist Distribution Deal with Super D

Added 04/20/2006.

MySpace Passes eBay, AOL & Google for Page Views
Added 11/23/2005.

ITunes Ranks With Music Retailers
Added 11/23/2005.

Harry Fox Agency Unveils Digital Download Licensing

Added 11/16/2005.

Jazz Composer Nabs Grammy After Web-Only Sales
Added 02/14/2005

2004: The Year Digital Music Became Cool
Added 1/12/2005.

Apple iTunes Hits 100 Million iTunes Mark
Added 07/13/2004.

MP3.com Acquired by CNET
Added 11/14/2003.

CD Baby Announces FREE Digital Distribution for Independent Musicians
CD Baby will now be offering its members free digital distribution to services like iTunes and Listen.com’s Rhapsody.
Sign up here. Added 11/10/2003.

Apple Launches iTunes for Windows
Added 10/16/2003.


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