« January 2006 | Main | March 2006 »

Jack Johnson Breaks Digital Record

More than a quarter of the 163,000 copies of Jack Johnson's "Sing-a-Longs and Lullabies for the Film Curious George" sold for the week ending February 12th were sold digitally according to Nielson Soundscan.  Previously digital album sales have never represented even 10 percent of a No. 1 selling album's total sales.

More from Billboard Reuters here.

Apple Offers No Real Surprises As It Jumps Into The iPod Accessory Market

IpodjukeboxThe big news from Apple today is that.....there is no big news.  On the music front, Apple is jumping into the iPod accessory market that it had previously left to others.  First up is a $99 leather iPod carying case and a rather cumbersome looking iPod jukebox that gadget gurus Engadget were not all that impressed with.  What are the odds that Microsoft's Thirsday announcement will be euqually unexctiting...

Musician Sandi Thom Broadcasts 21 Straight Nights From Tiny UK Apartment

In a smart use of affordable technology, Sandi Thom is promoting the upcoming release of her CD by  Sandi_thom_1broadcasting 21 nights straight with a band from her basement bedroom in Tooting, London @ 9pm (that's unfortunately London time or 2AM NYC/5AM LA) daily. (OOPS....SEE BELOW) There is only room for an audience of 6, but nearly 7,000 have watched on web in first 3 nights.  The broadcasts continue through March 16th.

CORRECTION:  These broadcasts can be heard at 4PM EST and 1PM PST.  Thanks to reader Ken J. for the correction

Another Side Of The James Blunt Story

The UK singer/songwriter James Blunt is taking off here and abroad thanks in large part to a huge old fashioned spend the big money promo push.  But there's always a back story and an interesting one is provided here by a Lukas Burton who takes some credit for Blunts success only to have been tossed aside. He's posted his story on MySpace and written music commentator Bob Lefsetz and others asking them to help spread his tale of woe. Read it and learn...

Apple (Today) & Microsoft (Thursday) Ready Big Announcements As Acer Jumps Into The Portable Device Market

Applelogo_8We'd love to tell you that Hypebot will have the best insider coverage of today's announcement of a few "fun new products" by Apple, but we're not even invited.  So we're betting that the folks at Engadget - who claim to have a SWAT team descending on Jobs HQ as we write this - will have the best coverage.

But even as Apple makes buzz-worthy additions to it's hardware line, others continue work feverishly to create an iPod killer - or any real competition to Apple's 80+% of the portable music market.  Microsoft is planning some kind of announcement Thursday which has been precluded by a rather feeble attempt at viral marketing dubbed the OrigamiProject. But those in the  know seem to agree that Gate's announcement will be more software than hardware and perhaps just a work in progress. In the meantime, however, Acer is reportedly ready to jump into the device fray with a cool looking audio/video device (see below).


photo via Engadget.

Apple & Microsoft To Unveil New Music/Video Products This Week

Apple is bringing reporters into its headquarters Tuesday for the unveiling of some "fun new products".  Online speculation has some kind of iPod boom-box other additions to the iPod line being Applelogo_7 unveiled.  Whatever Apple has up its sleeve, it is surely aimed at keeping them well ahead of the competition that is heating up around the creation of an "iPod killer" - or any device or service elegant enough to pry consumers away from the Apple cult which currently controls 80% of the market.

Amazon rumors continue to swirl around a combination of device and download Microsoft_8 service and now Microsoft is starting their own rumors around it's Origami Project complete with a cryptic web site and a promised Thursday announcement.  The online rumor mill is pointing to some kind of audio/video device but thus far no details have leaked.  A new family of players called XM2go from various manufacturers offers iPod like features plus XM satellite service and the ability to bookmark songs for later download from Napster are just starting to hit the market.

New Data Tracks Top Music Sites

Of note is how dominate the top 3 players are and how Universal - the largest label group and often thought to be a web leader - is not even represented. Warners is the only label group offering music news and content in the Top 10 as BMG's BeMusic is primarily a record club sales site.

Top 10 Online Music Destinations Week ending January 29, 2006 US, Home and Work


Unique Audience (000)

Active Reach (%)

AOL Music






Yahoo! Music



MTV Networks Music



MSN Music



Clear Channel Music Radio Network






Warner Music Group



A-Z Lyrics Universe



eBay Musical Instruments



Source:  Nielsen//NetRatings NetView

From The Center For Media Research.

Where Is Atty. General Spitzer When We Need Him? Epic Gets Caught Trying To Influence MySpace.

Jailcell Did you ever wonder how all of the buzz around certain bands on MySpace and other social networking sites actually got started?  Sure some bands really do attract fans with great music and a little elbow grease, but leave it to the major labels to try to find a way to "influence" the system...Check out this posting on EntertainmentCareers.net:

This is a PART TIME Unpaid Internship
Location: Santa Monica  CA
Date Posted: 1/30/2006 3:24:32 PM
Description: Do you blog, have lots of friends at your MySpace page, and love music?

Epic Records is looking for skilled, motivated interns to promote artists on social networking sites like MySpace, purevolume, Facebook & others.
Requirements: Interns must be internet savvy and be available to work at the Epic Records office in Santa Monica, CA 10-20 hours per week.

HTML & Photoshop skills are a plus, but not necessary.

This is a non-paying internship and interns must be able to receive college credit for their internship.

This job is in Los Angeles, California.

Top 5 Net Radio Networks Top 7 Million Average Weekly Listeners

Aolmusic_7Providing further proof of the power of Internet broadcasting, more than 7 million different people aged 12 and older tuned to the online radio networks measured byLive365_9 comScore Arbitron during average week in December. (Monday to Sunday from 6AM – 12 midnight)  This is the first time the audience for the 5 measured networks surpassed 7 million during an average week. The midday Average Quarter-Hour (AQH) audience – listening Monday through Friday  from 10AM-3PM -Clearchannel300_22 for the online networks also reached a new high of 1,832,300 aged 12 plus. The  December report included AOL; Yahoo!; MSN Radio and WindowsMedia.com; Live365; and Clear Channel Online, but does not included dozens of extremely popular net broadcasts ranging from Radio Paradise to SomaFM that do not subscribe to the rating service.

A chart of the results is available on line from Arbitron here.

Yahoo! Music Head Calls For Downloads Without Restrictions

Yahoomusiclogos_16Yahoo! Music chief Dave Goldberg took a bold step yesterday at the Music 2.0 conference in LA by suggesting that the major record labels should try selling music online without copy protection. Music_20_1

According to reports, Goldberg pointed to the success of eMusic which offers MP3 files of hundreds of independent labels without  any  digital rights management. Rights management restrictions create frustration for consumers making it a harder or impossible to transfer music to portable devices and creating incompatibility between music services and MP3 players, according to Goldberg.

Is anyone listening?  Would it help if we sent this memo to your Blackberry?

MSN & Billboard Partner On Latin Music Site

Billboard_6MSN and Billboard will partner to produce Billboard.Latino.MSN.com a spanish-language music site that will feature reviews and stories produced by Billboard.  Msn_music_4 “This represents the beginning of our efforts to reach the growing Latin-American community,” said Scott McKenzie of Billboard. There are 41.3 million Latinos in the US making up 14% of the total population.

New Study Provides Insights Into US Paid Download Patterns

A new Ipsos study shows that US consumers continue to experiment with paid digital music services in record numbers.

IpsosOver Half of U.S. Downloaders Have Paid – One Quarter in the Past 30 Days - In December of 2005, over half (52%) of American downloaders aged 12 and older report having paid a fee to download music or MP3 files from the Internet, and 24% had done so in the past 30 days. These figures represent a continued increase in fee-based downloading activity over the past year. 47% reported having paid a fee to download music or MP3 files from the Internet in December 2004. Based on the current US Census figures, approximately 25 million people have paid a fee to download music or MP3 files from the Internet - 11 million Americans in the past 30 days.

The research also revealed some interesting trends:

  • Adult downloaders aged 25 to 54 continue to drive the growth in paid downloading (67% have Ipod2_15 paid to download among 25 to 34 year olds, 59% among 35 to 54 year olds). And while younger downloaders continue to experiment with fee-based downloading, they are less likely than older downloaders to have done so in the past 30 days. Furthermore, only 13% of college aged downloaders have paid for digital music in the past 30 days.

  • Nearly equal proportions of male and female downloaders have paid to download digital music files off of the Internet: 51% of U.S. male downloaders aged 12 or older report having engaged in this activity compared to 53% of American females.

  • U.S. paid downloaders in this evolving digital marketplace are nearly three times as likely to have used a la carte download (or ‘pay-as-you-go’) services compared to fee-based subscriptions, (77% vs. 27%), and when they do, they download an average of eight songs each month.

  • Despite the current popularity of online a la carte services, when asked whether online fee-based a la carte, subscription, or satellite radio was the most appealing digital music service, U.S. downloaders (and particularly those aged 18-24 and 35 or older) were most likely to say Satellite Radio (32% vs. 28% for fee-based a la carte and 8% for fee-based online subscriptions services among total U.S. downloaders age 12 and older).

  • One-fifth of Americans aged 12 and older now own a Portable MP3 Player, up from 12% in December of 2004.

Itunes_logo_4Desire For A La Carte Songs And Recent Portable Device Purchases Fuel Growth - The study found that for many frequent fee-based downloaders, the desire to purchase an individual song without having to buy the entire album fueled their first foray into fee-based digital music, with a recent portable MP3 player purchase and the perceived convenience of an online purchase also being key drivers to initial fee-based downloading. This is reinforced by the findings that 30% of US fee-based downloaders first paid to download within in the past 6 months, and corresponds with record growth over the past year in Portable MP3 Player ownership.

“This suggests that many consumers may act impulsively when entering this market, with the moment of truth in fee-based digital music coming via the desire for an individual song, convenience and as a means of acquiring content for their new MP3 player,” according to the study. “The key for continued overall category growth will be to encourage consumers who are new to this market and sampling fee-based services for the first time to become more consistent in their fee-based content acquisition behaviors." 

Delldj_1In other words, more people are buying players and many are willing to fill them with paid content particularly since they can purchase a favorite song without buying the whole album.  But how do we keep them coming back and not just turning their players into personal classics stations?  Releasing new tracks by an act over time instead of 10 at once in an album-like format is certainly one possible answer as well as variable pricing and providing compelling content and extras like interviews and videos.  But as the industry struggles with declining revenue more creative answers need to be found and the experimentation needs to start now.

Read more from the Ipsos study and see some related charts here.

Remember The Jukebox?

When thinking about music promotion the good old fashioned jukebox seldom comes to mind.  But  Touchtunesthe jukebox in new digital forms that allow for much larger song selections - and thus more room for  new music - is making a comeback. 

Jukebox manufacturer TouchTunes recently announced that it has delivered one billion song plays via its system. And while TouchTunes doesn't sell actual downloads like iTunes (who also just passed the billion track mark) using TouchTunes does represent a paid transaction from a music fan.  The revenue stream to rights holders may be smaller per transaction, but since the "play" happens in a public bar or restaurant the promotional value is multiplied.

PromoonlyNow Promo Only MPE who already distribute music via secure distribution of promotional singles to radio stations is going to do the same for digital jukeboxes. "Music that is digitally sent to a jukebox in this manner ensures that it is able to reach new audiences in a secure and controlled way," said Dean Ernst, director of Promo Only MPE. "The ability to pick and choose what tracks you add to your jukebox means owners can always ensure they have a musical selection that meets the needs of their clientele."

In an era of fragmented listening and media overkill, the jukebox at the neighborhood bar certainly sounds like an effective place to encourage new music discovery.

A Techie Provides His View Of The State If The Music Industry

According to Gene Koprowski of Tech World News "digital downloads have Ipod2_14 replaced the single and iPods are the new turntables".  For a somewhat interesting if narrow perspective of the music industry through a techie's eyes check it out.

"...because of digital downloading technology and the Internet, the single is making a smashing comeback. For example, a wacky song called "Laffy Taffy" by the Atlanta rap group D4L was first thought to be a novelty song, and nothing more, by music producers.

It turns out, however, that the song has been downloaded -- for a fee -- more than 700,000 times from iTunes, Yahoo Music and other online music stores..."

Mall Music Retailer Trans World To Buy Musicland/Sam Goody

TransworldTrans World Entertainment has entered into a purchase and sale agreement with Musicland who are currently in Chapter 11. The sale is still subject to court approval,but few believe that it won’t happen leaving Trans World the only national mall music and video operator still standing.  There are currently about 190 Sam Goody and 210 Suncoast Video outlets left that will be included in the sale making the total Trans World control portfolio roughly 1,200 stores.

Police Stop Major P2P Hub But Does It Matter?

HandcuffsSwiss and Belgian police shut down Razorback 2 a major server hub of the eDonkey P2P network the Motion Picture Association said yesterday.  At its peak last year eDonkey had up to 3 million users spread over more than 100 servers and Razorback2 was the most popular server with about 1 million users.

Despite these continued efforts ,P2P use continues to rise with music and video file sharers simply switching networks or using less detectable direct sharing via IM and other platforms.

More Trouble Ahead At Sony BMG?

Just as Andy Lack moves downstairs and Rolf Schmidt-Holmes heads to the executive, come rumors of troubled waters ahead for Sony BMG including a possible breakup of the two merged companies.Sonybmg_16

According to the New York Post, the executive swap was just "a Band-Aid over a severe wound," and the merger could be "destined for dissolution" in the absence of "marked improvement in both performance and internal politics".  According to the Post, which has on occasion been known to print rumor as if it were fact, Sony and Bertelsmann each have the power to "trigger a put/call option on its half of the venture" in 2007 which could allow "the sale or purchase by the other side or a third party."

Andylack_1 And if future intrigue is not enough for you, the New York Times has printed a interesting piece the chronicles former Sony BMG's demotion from an insider perspective.  The consensus seems to be that the TV exec alienated a lot of old school music people and was unable to manage relationships with his BMG counterparts. Some execs actually agreed with Lack's positions on issues like variable digital pricing, monetizing video content and resigning Bruce Springsteen to a $100 million contract, but bristled at his arrogance. That's an amusing since statement since one insider claims that three of the people Lack most alienated were Clive Davis and Charles Goldstuck during their negotiations on a settlement for selling J Records to BMG and attorney Allen Grubman all known for their own form of bluster.  Lacks $400 Million in coast cuts also probably failed to make him few Friends outside of the Boardroom.

Read the full NY Times piece here.  Free registration may be required.

Camplified Tour Brings New Music To Summer Camps

Want to reach the pre-teen market with your music?  Here's an unusual appproach - a tour of summer camps.

Camplified_logo_edited_4In July 2003, the first Camplified tour was launched at 15 camps with artists from Island, Capitol, Atlantic, and Columbia Records. The tour has continued to grow reaching 40 camps in six weeks in 2005 and will do at least the same in 2006.After the concert, campers get to talk with the musicians, have their photograph taken with them and receive signed autographs. Merchandise booths are set up at most camps for the artists to sell their posters, tshirts, CDs etc. 

Artists participating in the tour pay a fee to offset production costs which includes but not limited to sound equipment, sound crew, tour crew etc.  These fees range approximately $750.00 a day.  hree to four artists will perform at each tour date.   If you have artists interested in participating you can contact Aimee Berger at 212 842 8478 or email her at management@2generations.com.

Clear Channel & Cumulus Cancel Country Radio Meetings As Payola Probe Continues

NY Attorney General Elliot Spitzer's payola probe of record labels and large radio groups apparently led to radio giants Clear Channel and Cumulus canceling annual meetings at last week's Country Countryradioseminar_2Radio Seminar; and according to some attendees this may be just the beginning.

"Literally, one of the other shoes is about to drop," music attorney Malcolm Mimms told the  the daily Nashville Tennessean referring to the fact that neither EMI nor Universal had yet settled with Spitzer. The same insider also speculated that the music industry is nervous because the FCC has also promised get involved in the issue.  "At this point, they almost have to do something," he said.

Read the full article here.

Barry Manilow #1 In Billboard. What Is This World Coming Too?

OK, admit it. It's a long weekend and yet you still are a bit...depressed.  Manilow

If you're like me (and if you're reading this you probably are) your funk is in no small part because  your wondering what in hell is going on with the record business when an aging Barry "I Write The (Bad) Songs" Manilow can have the #1 CD in Billboard magazine with a bunch of mediocre songs from the 1950's. 

Well fortunately we are not alone in our puzzlement. Check out Jody Rosen's "When Cheeseballs Sing Standards" on Slate.com.

100 Free & Affordable High And Low Tech Ways To Promote Live Music

Cic2006mastheadblacklogo_2 Earlier this week at Pollstar Magazine's Concert Industry Consortium in Las Vegas I gave two round-tables entitled 100 Free & Affordable High & Low Tech Ways To Promote.  It was I believe the best attended round table at the convention and really seem to strike a chord. Given the audience I geared it toward the touring industry (promoters, venues and bands) but almost any music marketer should find it of interest.  Special thanks to those who attended. - Bruce Houghton Hypebot/Skyline Music

#1.  Never leave promotion to the other guy. Bands should promote as if the promoter will do nothing.  Promoters shouldn’t count on the band or label.

Click below for more or email us and will send you the list as a Word document.

Continue reading "100 Free & Affordable High And Low Tech Ways To Promote Live Music" »

Podbop Hooks You Up With New Bands On Tour

Podbop_2The just launched Podbop provides another great example of how the net can democratize music discovery .  Pop in your zip code and the site shows you bands coming to your area and provided you with free downloadable mp3's of the bands to check out.  Grab a little RSS code and the mp3's will download to you automatically podcast-style when a band on the system hits your town. As they describe it:

  • Old way: Looking up concerts in your town on an event site, googling 100 different bands, tracking down an MP3 for each band, and then deciding which show you want to go to.
  • The Podbop way: Type in a city, get MP3s, discover a band you like, and go see them.

The site is a digital mashup of information driven by new calender and event listing site Eventful Eventful.com and unfortunately any events must be listed there first to come up in a search. (Wouldn't linking with a more complete concert database like Pollstar.com, MusicToday, or CelebrityAccess make more sense? Hey, Podbop guys, if you read this and want us to we'll try to hook you up.) And we suggest adding a kind of wide area search.  Our zip code 20 miles outside of LA netted no listings.

But smart indy labels like Saddle Creek, Sub Pop, and Vagrant are already providing free downloads of more than 2300 songs by 1500 artists.  So perhaps as more people get involved and more shows get listed, Podbop's potential can be achieved.

XM FALTERS: A Brief Analysis

Every music head's favorite satellite provider XM posted much wider losses in recent SEC filings despite significant increases in it's subscriber base.  Increased costs in hooking each subscriber was apparently to blame.  One member of the company's board of directors apparently lobbied for major Xmradio_39 cost cutting as a way out and resigned when his suggestions were rejected.

While XM is certainly not down for the count yet, one has to wonder about their long  term outlook with  cells, wi-fi and wi-max soon making thousands of music streams accessible everywhere for free. Satellite radio's business model has always been somewhat like cable's counting on the long term subscriptions from many millions of subscribers to cover expensive upfront costs.  Won't the cost of subscriber acquisition only rise and the rate of retention fall as competition increases?

XM's SEC filings can be viewed here.

Digital Hollywood To Spotlight Startups

Here is an interesting opportunity for tech related music start-ups and visionaries (that's you Hypebot readers!):

Digitalhollywood_13A new event that will kick off at Digital Hollywood Spring called "Launch" is designed  to give start-ups and industry innovators the opportunity to sit center stage in front of an audience of venture capitalists, private equity and the trade press.

On Tuesday, March 28th, twenty companies will be selected to present during that after noon and to join the dinner that night being held by the "Venture, Private Equity and M&A Consortium at Digital Hollywood."  To apply  go to http://www.digitalhollywood.com/VCConsortSp06.html

Amazon Reportedly To Offer Downloads By Summer

Stories are surfacing everywhere that Amazon is in serious talks with all for major label groups about starting a music download and subscription services as early as this summer.  This could beAmazon_3  good news for those in the industry hoping for a serious competitor to iTunes. 

Amazon would be a late entry into the digital music space and appears to have been taking it's time as they looked for a way to create a clear point of differentiation from Apples dominant presence. Ipodgirl_12 One possibility that surfaced in this week's wall street journal is that the Amazon may be eying creation of their own branded music player with built in compatibility just like the iPod/iTunes pairing but using WMA or other more widely compatible digital rights management than Apple's proprietary DRM.  This new pairing could also solve many of the compatibility glitches that have plagued other device manufacturers and digital services. Early reports also had Amazon offering instant downloads alongside any CD purchase. 

These strategies coupled with Amazon's customer service and marketing acumen could prove a powerful competitor in an evolving market.

Sprint Says 1 Million Songs Downloaded To Cells Since Late October Launch

Sprint_3Sprint Nextel says that customers of its Music Store have downloaded 1 million songs since it opened in late October. While the numbers may pale in comparison to iTunes, this hints at a much larger potential market.  The Sprint library is only 320,000 songs and customers must pay $2.50 for two copies of each tune -one for the phone and one to be played on a home computer.  Verizon has launched a similar service but has not released sales figures.

Dem Franchize Boys Sell 1 Million Ringtones Before First CD Release

Defjam_1Just in case you had any doubts about the power and profit potential of ringtones, Dem Franchize Boyz (So So Def/Virgin/EMI) have sold one million master ringtones a week before their first full CD release. Part of a growing sub-genre called "snap," crossed the threshold a full week before their full album release. Two catchy tracks - "I Think They Like Me" and "Lean Wit It, Rock Wit It" - are fueling the sales.

YouTube.com Says Share Your Videos For Free

As if we weren't already inundated with too many windows into people's personal lives and opinions via blogs,live journals, podcasts, and photo sharing services, along comes YouTube which allows folks to upload video for free and share it with the world.  Of course it will lead to too many videos Youtubeof Chris' birthday party online but it is also becoming  a great new source of band promotion as more musicians and savvy marketers post all kinds on clips that MTV or even Fuse could care less about.

Thanks to a cool video search feature YouTube is also a great place to find old concert videos or Sly Stone onstage at the Grammys.  Some social networking features tie the whole package together nicely and seem to be driving growing repeat traffic to the YouTube site.