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Musical Chairs Continues At Major Labels

Wmg_37 Just in case you were sitting there wishing you had a job at a major label, here's part of an email announcing a new edition of the A&R Registry: "Twenty-nine A&R Executives have moved from one label to another. Ken Blaustein joined Virgin from Warner Bros., MichaelVirgin_8 Howe joined Downtown from Virgin, Josh Freni joined Virgin from TVT, Jeff Fenster joined Jive from J, Steve Lunt joined Atlantic from Jive, and those are just some of the massive changes we've listed."

"A&R Executives Kaz Utsunimoya, Tim Devine, Mike Taylor, Matt Pinfield and Mitchell Cohen have allSony_4 left SONY as well as Steve Greenberg, Lee Dennay, Nick Casinelli, Ben Simone and Tom Lee. We're also announcing changes for James Endacott, Gordon Charlton, Ed Jefferson, Damon Booth, Debbie Southwood-Smith, Daniel Schulman, Ben Lazar, Joey Arbagy, Mary Gormley, Scott Austin and others! And those are just a FEW of the changes..."

And this is before the end of the year cuts. Gee...I wish I'd taken that career path...

US Mobile Music Interest High But Usage Remains Low

Fusic_7 The cell + portable player combo may become the next killer device. But for now even though early US adopters are very aware of all their cell has to offer in the way of music and entertainment, they are slow to actually utilize these new services. Ringones and ringbacks remain the bright spots.  A new IPSOS study shows:

  • Only 4% of American mobile phone owners aged 12 and older have downloaded full digital music songs over-the-air in the past 30 days. Teens are the most likely (11%), with younger adults 18 to 34Nokian_3 being the next most likely (8% among 18 to 24 year olds and 7% among those 25 to 34).
  • Reflecting untapped opportunity 71% of American mobile phone owners are aware of mobile/wireless phones that would allow them to download and play entire songs rather than just ringtones. (More after the jump.)

Continue reading "US Mobile Music Interest High But Usage Remains Low" »

Hypebot's New Music Business Briefing For Thursday November 30th, 2006

Universal_7 > Universal expects MySpace to settle their lawsuit.  "I think it will settle. It would be a horrible case for them to lose," music head Doug Morris said at the Reuters Media Summit in New York.(Reuters via cNet)

Wmg_39 > Warner Music buys UK firm The Rights Company and gets into the video content business. (Variety)

> Set your alarm clocks: The Warner Music Group 4thQ earnings call is tomorrow (Friday) at 8:30AM EST. Expect flat numbers and slower download growth. To listen: (800) 857-2625 or (210) 234-6601. Passcode is “Warner Music.”  A replay of the call will be at (866) 443-1220 or (203) 369-1096 for a week.  There is also webcast at www.wmg.com.

> Founder Jac Holzman talks about the early days at Elektra Records. (Guardian Unlimited)Beatles_logo_9

> Are The Beatles finally headed to iTunes? (TechWeb) Not bad news for potential EMI investors. (see below)

Zune_logo_34 > Music attorney Stephen Gordon has written a an op-ed piece skeptical about how much of the $1 Universal is getting for each Zune will go to the aritst. (Register UK)

Emi_52 > EMI stock continued its two day upward trend on the news of a buyout by one or more financial groups.  But their trying to keep it business as usual within EMI including a new UK mobile marketing deal with Flytxt. (press release) Expect more similar deals from both majors and indies. And don't miss the story we broke on EMI experimenting with the mp3 format. (here)

MTV Announces 20 Online Niche Channels

Mtv_29 MTV Networks has announced more than 20 "hyper-programmed" online channels. The channels, many of which have been in development for months, will debut in the first and second quarters of 2007 and will enable users to explore their personal interests and topics by covering a range of subjects including music genres and sub-genres, celebrity fashion and style, personal growth and faith and spirituality and more. 

Read the full press release after the jump.

Continue reading "MTV Announces 20 Online Niche Channels" »

Coalition of Independent Music Stores Top 200 for Week Ending 11-26-06

Cims_69 Pos.  ARTIST  |  TITLE

Read the entire SIMS Top 200 after the jump.

Continue reading "Coalition of Independent Music Stores Top 200 for Week Ending 11-26-06" »

Is EMI Experimenting With MP3's?

I was poking around the net last night when I noticed that EMI was offering the pre-sale of an unrestricted mp3 by Lily Allen. The pre-order also smartly includes:Lily_alen

  • immediate access to exclusive video footage from the
    shoot of  the Littlest Things video
  • exclusive artwork from day of release

Hypebot and others have written for months that restrictive DRM along with fixed pricing is slowing digital growth and driving consumers to less than legal Emi_51 alternatives. Perhaps the labels are finally waking up to this reality.

Let's hope that this is not an isolated experiment for EMI, but the beginning of a trend.

Hypebot's New Music Business Briefing For Wednesday November 29th, 2006

Zune_logo_32 > The Creative Common folks were less than happy to learn that Zune attaches it's three play limited to all songs shared wirelessly even if the artist wanted gave away the track in the first place. (Wired)

Universal_4 > Universal may ask iPod for a per unit royalty as it did with Microsoft's ZUNE and points to upcoming renegotiation's round. (Reuters)

> Jay-Z shows the power of a great set-up campaign (Clear Channel, NASCAR, NFL) with one of the top three first week sales of the year at 708,000 units and counting. (Hits)

> Signs point to portable players having much larger storage capacity soon and consumers are lovin' it. (ZDNet Asia)

Babyrock_cure>FROM THE GRAB 'EM YOUNG DEPARTMENT: Baby Rock Records produces lullaby tributes to the likes of The Cure, Metallica, Radiohead, Pink Floyd, Nirvana, Led Zeppelin, the Beach Boys, Tool and Coldplay for hipster toddlers.  (NY Times) Meanwhile Crayola has rolled out a line kid friendly music players.

> ABBA gets their own museum in Stockholm. (Reuters)

Emi_50 > A skeptical look at the bid by private equity firms to buy EMI. (Businessweek.com) plus background info (Hypebot).  EMI shares on the London stock exchange moved upward sharply yesterday on the news.

> Widgets like Sonific's SongSpot and and the iTunes playlist based iLike can be a huge boon to viral marketers if used creatively.  WebProNews takes a look at the possibilities. (here)

This Week's UK Indietore Picks

Viva Machine - "My Jet Set Radio"
This teenage quartet hailing from South Wales have served up the best first 12 seconds of a song we've heard in long time. And we've heard a lot of songs for the first 12 seconds - a lot. The rest isn'tUk_flag_7 too shabby either. Their punchy pop is worth keeping an ear out for.

Laura B - "Midi A Minuit"
The deeply chilled outings from this French solo artist have already graced the nation's airwaves thanks to Pete Tong and Chris Coco. On the strength of this debut offering from her own Fantastic Recordings imprint, Laura B's rise won't be as gentle as her music.

Rizzo - "Around Me"
The taut pop of Colchester-based Rizzo is promising stuff, falling roughly in the region of Throwing Muses, Belly and The Breeders. While we're at it, a free Pro upgrade for the first person to tell us another band named after a character from "Grease".

Who Is Trying To Buy EMI?

I got this short and somewhat cryptic press release from EMI this morning:

EMI Group plc (‘EMI’ or the ‘Company’) has noted the recent movement in its share price.


Emi_49EMI announces that it has, this morning, received a preliminary approach for the Company which may or may not lead to an offer being made for the Company.


A further announcement will be made if required.

This kind of announcement is required of any public company when approached by a serious outside buyer:

Under the provisions of Rule 8.3 of the Takeover Code (the "Code"), if any person is, or becomes, "interested" (directly or indirectly) in 1% or more of any class of "relevantMoney_7 securities" of the Company, all "dealings" in any "relevant securities" of the Company (including by means of an option in respect of, or a derivative referenced to, any such "relevant securities") must be publicly disclosed by no later than 3.30 pm (London time) on the London business day following the date of the relevant transaction.

Is the potential buyer Warner Music Group as it was a few months ago? That deal went cold in part because of European regulatory review of the Sony BMG merger.  No conclusion on that has been reached by regulators; so the new potential buyer is probably a non-music company. Analysts believe that the offer comes from a private equity firm according to Bloomberg and other sources.

Stay tuned...

Full press release after the jump.

Continue reading "Who Is Trying To Buy EMI?" »

Mp3Sugar Still Up But AllOfMp3 Neutered

Mp3sugar_1 Even as World Trade Organization talks appear to have neutered controversial Russian download site allofmp3.com another similar offering Mp3Sugar.com is still in operation.   Allofmp3_13

Though pricing is similar to allofmp3.com (15 cents a track or $2.00 or less for most full album downloads) Mp3Sugar has never gained as much popularity perhaps because it requires a minimum pre-payment via credit card of $19.95 to purchase even a single track

Hypebot's New Music Business Briefing For Tuesday November 28th, 2006

Sirius_9 - An interview with Sirius head Mel Karmazian that hints at future moves for the satellite radio provider including a rumored merger with XM. (Smart Money)

- A JP Morgan analyst believes that traditional broadcasters are driving the strongRadio_5 growth in internet radio....and he doesn't mean by forcing listeners to find an alternative to the crap they play. (Radio World)

> A download service that enables consumers to buy songs instantly as they listen to them on digital radio will start operating in Britain in the first half of 2007. (Reuters)

Wmg_38> Mark you calendars and set your alarm clocks. The Warner Music Group 4thQ earnings call is Friday at 8:30AM EST. Expect flat numbers and slower download growth. To listen: (800) 857-2625 or (210) 234-6601. Passcode is “Warner Music.”  A replay of the call will be at (866) 443-1220 or (203) 369-1096 for a week.  There is also webcast at www.wmg.com.

> Music business educator and career coach Peter Spellman has released his latest book, "Indie Marketing Power: The Resource Guide for Maximizing Your Music Marketing," a 386-page knowledge-rich handbook designed to help all music entrepreneurs navigate through the hundreds of music marketing and promotional opportunities available today. (press release)

R.I.P. - Jazz diva Anita O'Day.

Hilburn Interviews Universal's Iovine

Universal Music head Jimmy Iovine sat down recently with former LA Times music critic Robert Hilburn for an extensive interview. Iovine is portrayed as a frenetic executive who puts music and particularly great songs before the bottom line. Many insiders - even those who respect his ears Universal_6 honed as a hit record producer - would counter that Iovine is only concerned with having big hits and not career development.

Whatever side you come down on, its clear that Iovine is a successful - if old school - record executive.  Aside from an instructive history lesson the most interesting part of the interview comes near the end:

"...the structure of the record business doesn't work...If we don't fix this...They'll Cd_many_8 remember us as the generation that watched the music business die..."

"Until now, the record industry has thought primarily in terms of defense"...finding ways to combat what he brands as the "stealing" of music through file sharing, piracy and other means. "We have to get into more of the revenue stream. The eventual answer may be a flat fee that enables you to listen to all the music you want. Sites like iTunes need to become a more fulfilling experience — besides music, they should allow you to communicate with other fans, buy concert tickets, T-shirts, maybe even get unreleased recordings by your favorite artists." (more @ LA Times)

Artists Rewarding Fans For Spreading the Word

Viral may be the only kind of marketing that works with modern music consumers. Who can you trust more than a friend to help you cut through the clutter to find music you actually want to listen to?

Generic_headphone_computer_16 More and more artists are encouraging fans spread the word with forwardable ecards, widgets to drop on personal blogs and MySpace pages and a multitude of other devices.  But now some artists are going a step further offer rewards for telling friends about a new release or live show.

Dualtone sing/songwriter Brett Dennon offers a free private living room concert, iPods and other prizes to the fans who forward a promotional page to the most people.

Unsigned Ohio band Black Cat Revival goes the next step offering ranks and prizes in their street team "army" for getting people to actually sign up for their mailing list.  This promotion is ongoing with rankings and very generous rewards like:Arny_stripes

  • Sergeant: 25 subscribers. You get a free T-shirt or Baby-Doll T as well as free admission for 2 at a show of your choosing.
  • Major: 250 subscribers. This earns you permanent guest list status. Never pay for a show again. Ok, fine, we'll take you out to dinner and have another party for you too.
  • Colonel: 500 subscribers. You get a weekend in Vegas for 2. No joke. We pay for the flight and hotel, you go and have fun. 'Nuff said... (Black Cat Revival via Digital Music)

On the surface this is all smart marketing.  But how long will a "trusted friend" remain a believable source of music and information when its revealed that their enthusiasm has been bought or as least influenced with prizes?

Hypebot's New Music Business Briefing For Monday November 27th, 2006

Sonybmg_44>  The annual end of the year cuts at labels has begun with  Sony BMG gutting  its classical division and now reportedly the label groups urban unit is on the chopping block. (NY Post)

> The Rolling Stones' "A Bigger Bang" tour has surpassed U2 as the top grossing tour of all time.(Ray Wadell in Billboard)

Zune_logo_33 > Hackers have already found an easy way to allow Zune users unrestricted wired and wireless file sharing with other Zune users. Now they only have to wish there were other Zune users... (Engadget)

Creativezenvplus_11 > A laymen's overview of the latest iPods, competitors and accessories. (Washington Post)

Fcc_7 > The FCC will conduct 10 studies on the effects of consolidated media ownership on
radio and TV.  (Radio Ink via Coolfer)

> Former Eurythmic and producer Dave Stewart inaugurates a promising new HBO talk show with U2's Bono and The Edge. (Hollywood Reporter)

> CLASSICAL NEWS: Classical music fans are embracing paid downloads in a big way and some orchestras are trying to profit from the trend. (Toronto Star) And online retailer ArkivMusic is chasing classical's long tail with 70,000 titles including 1600 custom burned CD-R out of print titles. (New York Times)

Iceland's Smekkleysa Label Celebrates 20 Years

Smekkleysa_1 Iceland's Smekkleysa recording company is celebrating its 20th anniversary.

In 1986 the single "ammaeli" was released in Iceland later to become a world wide hit under the name "Birthday". Since then The Sugarcubes owned label has released over 200 albums and continues to passionately support new and original music made in Iceland. Mojo online claims this is “Iceland’s most noble and altruistic label”.

The catalog includes 2200 songs in all genres including tracks with The Sugarcubes, Bjork and Sigur Ros. iTunes, eMusic and Napster all are featuring a compilation on their front pages which provide a look at the last 20 years. 

Musicovery: Music Discovery With A Welcome Twist

Musicovery Just in time for the long weekend comes a new music discovery engine that allows you to control your journey in ways that Pandora does do not. At Musicovery.com, click on a genre, pick a mood and with no registration required up pops a series of interconnected bubbles.  Pick a song that intrigues you and off you go...

Some won't enjoy Musicovery because it requires more interactivity than Pandora, but others will love that you don;t have to listen to even a second of a song that you know you hate. And lets face it, clicking your mouse may be all you have energy for in your post-Thanksgiving stupor...

Hypebot's New Music Business Briefing For Friday November 24th, 2006

> Hope you had a great Thanksgiving.  You've probably got a little extra surfing time on you hands today as you smartly avoid the holiday rush. Unfortunately, it's also a slow news day. So in addition to the stories below take a minute to vote in our Zune poll (in the right hand column) and to read some archived articles. A few of the most popular are listed in the next post down.

> A full list of American Music Award winners. (here)

Aarp > We've been teaching this mantra for several hears and now the NY Times agrees. The older demo has suddenly become the darlings of the music business because they have more disposable income and a general aversion to downloads. Now even the AARP is getting into the act. (NY Times)Habbo_hotel

> MSN Radio had relaunched using Pandora song customization technology. (CNet)

> Habbo Hotel with it's 7 million distinct young users monthly and other teen sites are drawing interest from music  marketers and bands including U2. (Guardian UK)
and other

> Proposed tougher Australian rights protection legislation is drawing sharp criticism. (AP)

> R.I.P - Delta blues legend Robert Lockwood Junior. (more)

Hypebot's Most Read

HAVE A GREAT THANKSGIVING! Here are a few of the post over the last year that were most popular with our readers.  Many are worth re-reading. In no particular order they include:

Hypebot's New Music Business Briefing For Wednesday November 22nd, 2006

- A country flavored Coachella festival?  It's a comin'!  (Pollstar)

Youtube_26- "You have to go through a lot of crap on YouTube to get anything good."—David Poltrack, Chief Research Officer, CBS and more quotes from the Future Of Television Conference. (here)

- Digital music sales not showing much recent growth. (Pali Research via Digital Music News) And we wonder if restrictive and incompatible DRM, devices and stores and the lack of variable pricing is hurting sales growth?

Sonybmg_43- Sony BMG apparently does not believe in the long tail of classical music as the head of Sony BMG Masterworks and some staff depart and the division gets Mouse_29absorbed. (Billboard.biz)

WORTHY CLICK: The 88 - LA band who know how to use the net, new media and song placement to create a buzz.

MatketWatch Says MySpace Likely To Settle Universal Suit

MarketWatch writes on why MySpace will likely settle the Universal lawsuit rather than fight it:

"if (MySpace attorney) Chernin is truly dedicated to the cause of copyright protection, rather than holding up the Digital Millennium Copyright Act as a defense to skirt any responsibility Myspace_2MySpace has, he would argue for an amendment to the law. When the legislation was enacted in the late '90s, lawmakers didn't anticipate a world in which content could be shared with millions across social networks as easily as it is today..."
"...Of course, it also might be a tall order to make changes to the law. Given that challenge -- and Chernin's own high principles -- I'd imagine he'd hold MySpace to the same high standard."
"That's why this case is more likely to settle than be protracted and dirty."

Hypebot's New Music Business Briefing For Tuesday November 21st, 2006

Ipod_46> A new Nielson study shows that video use on iPod lags far behind listening to music and podcasts. "Less than 1% of content items played by iPod users on either iTunes or the device itself were videos. Among video iPod users, that percentage barely improves, up to 2.2%." (Hollywood Reporter)

Emusic_2> Emusic is approaching its 100 millionth mp3 download and The Barenaked Ladies promise an original song for the person who downloads the milestone track. (press release)

> ProHipHop.com extends it's empire with the WeeklyHipHopAlbums.com new release blog. (press release)

Clearchannel_8 > The sale of Clear Channel's radio stations could effect ownership caps. (FMQB) Some shareholders are suing to block the sale stating the price is too low. (FMQB)

Mouse_28> Worthy Click: Recording Industry Vs. The People.  A lawyer's blog devoted to the RIAA's lawsuits of intimidation brought against ordinary working people. (click)

US Supports Russia's WTO Entry But AllOfMp3.com Still Up

US trade negotiators had emphatically stated that Russia must get much tougher with intellectual property protection before it would back entry into the World Allofmp3_11Trade Organization.  Specifically mentioned was notorious Russian download site allofmp3.com.

But this weekend as Presidents Bush and Putin announced that the US was officially backing Russia's Now23bid, and search of related news stories and documents made no mention of an allofmp3.com shutdown. In fact promises of real intellectual property protection seemed vague at best.

UPDATE: As of this writing at 4PM EST today (Monday) allofmp3.com still had thousands of hit track available at cut-rate prices like this week's Billboard chart topper "Now That's What I Call Music 23" for $3.23.

Chinese Court Deals Blow To Major Labels

Chinese_flag_1A Beijing court has ruled that China's leading Internet search engine Baidu.com was not guilty of property rights infringement when they posted links to sites offering illegal music downloads. The court ruled in favor of Baidu in a lawsuit brought by major music companies including EMI, Sony BMG, Warner Music and Universal according to Xinhua the official state news agency. (More from AFP)

Continue reading "Chinese Court Deals Blow To Major Labels " »

Hypebot's New Music Business Briefing For Monday November 20th, 2006

Antiapple_6> The NY Times looks at how DRM is confusing the consumer and hurting the growth of digital music The article offers consumers some alternatives. (NY Times) Catstevens

> FREE THE IPOD! New software promises to unlock tunes bought on iTunes. (Reuters)

- Yusaf aka Cat Stevens' first CD in 15 years carries a healing message. (Billboard) Amazon has a BBC performance clip.

-  UK publication NME is pushing into the US market on several fronts including editorial content on Zunes' Marketplace storefront.

Walkmanmusicphones> Has UK cell provider 3 found the secret to getting consumers to embrace streaming media and mobile content on their cells?  Hint: Low flat pricing plus ads. (BBC) 3 also published a report that claims mobile music sales will overtake computer downloads within 5 years. (here)

Mouse_26> Worthy Click: The AdvertisingForPeanuts blog showcasing the best new free and inexpensive on and offline ads and ad campaigns. Food for thought for cash strapped marketers. (click)

R.I.P - R&B legend Ruth Brown.

Universal Sues MySpace - A Commentary

After talks broke down on Thursday Universal filed suit against MySpace claiming copyright infringement on a grand scale:

Universal_5"It claims thousands of links to music from Universal's biggest artists, including Jay-Z and Gwen Stefani, are widely available on MySpace, even ahead of their release to music stores. It estimated maximum statutory damages for each copyrighted work at $150,000."

Myspace_1"Earlier on Friday, MySpace unveiled an enhanced copyright protection tool to make it easier for content owners to remove unauthorized material." (Reuters)

This is certainly the first of will be many similar lawsuits against MySpace, YouTube and others by various rights holders.  While protecting their "property" Universal may also be neutering the most effective viral promotional tools that they have.  MySpace is not  like the original Napster or some P2P's whose primary purpose was to facilitate illegal file transfers. 

Wouldn't Universal and the music industry have been better served by finding a way to work with MySpace instead of against it?

More: LA Times, MarketWatch, NY Times.  On MySpace's new plan to fight infringement: (InfoWeek)

Free Advance Online Streaming & Film Footage Of The Beatles' New LOVE Album

The new Beatles mashup album 'LOVE' will be released on November 21st and as part of the Bealteslovepromo EMI is streaming the whole album online now.  The promotion requires users to login with email address and add a LOVE "pin" to a world map.

There's also film featuring Paul, Ringo, Yoko Ono Lennon, Olivia Harrison and music producer Sir George Martin. The film explains how the tracks were re-worked by Sir George and his son Giles for "LOVE" - the music and visual collaboration between The Beatles and Cirque Du Soleil.

Click here to register and listen