« April 2007 | Main | June 2007 »

EMI Cuts YouTube Deal

Emi EMI and YouTube today announced an agreement which will give YouTube users access to videos and recordings from EMI artists as well as user generated content.  “With this deal, all four of the world’s major music companies are now official YouTube partners,” saidYoutube Chad Hurley, CEO and Co-founder of YouTube.   

Interstingly, the press release also states that, "YouTube’s content management tools also give EMI Music the ability to request the removal of EMI’s copyrighted content."

Net Radio Asks Court To Stop Rate Increase

An emergency stay filed today in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. could delay higher royalty rates forSavenetradiobolt300x78_2 Internet radio. The motion, filed by the Digital Media Association, NPR and the Small Commercial Webcasters requests that the court delay the "radical and arbitrary" recording royalty rate increase imposed by the Copyright Royalty Board on May 1st.

Legislation that would repeal the increase is pending in the U.S. Senate and House, but may not be brought to a vote before July 15th, the day that the first payments under the increased rates are due. For complete language of the motion visit http://www.savenetradio.org/.

iTunes Selling EMI DRM Free But Attaching Purchaser's Info

UPDATED:  iTunes yesterday began selling thousands of higher quality EMI tracks DRM free and added an upgrade option for previous purchases. But the offering dubbed iTunes Plus comes with some major Itunes_2 baggage that may not please consumers.

First, iTunes Plus requires a software upgrade and then asks users to choose an option that allows them see available DRM free tracks when searching for an artist or album.  But once consumers choose the iTunes Plus option and look for an EMI act, the results will only show the $1.29 DRM free download.  The original $.99 EMI track with DRM is no longer available to iTunes Plus consumers unless they go back and switch their settings before each search or purchase.

But that's just the beginning...

Applelogo_3 Apple is permanently attaching the purchaser's name and email address to every download for the whole world to see. Apparently, iTunes does this even with non-DRM free tracks. But the info like the track was encrypted; and who was going to try to trade a restricted track anyway?

The move is apparently aimed at stopping piracy.  But with the info open to spoofing how reliable is it? And how will Apple use or share the information?  Thus far Apple has not commented, but the blogs are burning with indignation. "Apple and EMI can't cover up the fact that they're fucking with us.  This is WORSE than restricted/DRM/copy-protected music!" cried Bob Lefsetz.

HYPEBOT COMMENTARY: How could Steve Jobs not have understood that there would not be consumer backlash at adding personal info to each track? And what made Apple think that consumers don't sometimes want to pay more for DRM free tracks and at other times prefer the $.99 version? 

Is Job's desire to control each transaction so great that he doesn't care if he pisses off the consumer?  It makes one wonder if all of the pontification from Jobs about a DRM free music world isn't a smokescreen and his real endgame is to make sure that EMI's DRM free experiment fails.

After all, if the iPod and iTunes combo remains a closed loop; the consumer is forced to buy there.

Please tell us that this isn't part of Amazon's mp3 plan...

(Apple press release)

New Music Business Briefing: WMG Adds TV, Viacom Sells Famous, SonyBMG Finance Film

Wmg >>> WMG is putting its video archives online in ad supported genre and artist channels or "digital hubs".

>>> Viacom is selling Famous Music publishing to Sony/ATV. (Reuters)

>>> Borders' reported 2% better quarterly sales but the downturn in music continued. (press release)
>>> Ahead of the iTune's launch other mobile music cell deals are emerging to compete. (DMN)

>>> Sony BMG is financing a new film about Chicago bluesmen Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf and Little Walter called "Cadillac Records".

Rumors >>> We're hearing from multiple sources that Amazon wants to launch its mp3 download store in late June.  Only technology glitches will delay the start.

Coalition of Independent Music Stores Top 200 for Week Ending 05-27-07


Continue reading "Coalition of Independent Music Stores Top 200 for Week Ending 05-27-07" »

CBS Buys Last.FM For $280 Million

Last_fm CBS has just bought music and social networking site Last.FM for $280 million.  Founded in 2002 Last.FM claims 15 million users worldwide most of them in the sought after younger demos.

Cbs_tv The price tag may seem high, but you can expect more of these large deals in the future. This purchase is part of CBS and other major media companies' efforts to broaden their base. With the Last.FM purchase, CBS is both spreading its wings via the internet and delving further back into music.

(More from the WSJ Via RAIN)

Terra Firma Confirms EMI Bid Setting June 27th Deadline. Now It Gets Interesting...

Private equity firm Terra Firma has officially confirmed its 265 pence per share cash bid totaling 2.4 billion pounds ($4.7 billion) for EMI effectively setting a June 27th deadline for any counter-offers.

EmiThe action could get hot over the next four weeks with former EMI CEO Jim Fifield still rounding up the capital for a bid and WMG reportedly considering a 280 pence per share offer. Other players may also still emerge.

Another scenario has WMG buying just the record division from Terra Firma after the purchase leaving invsetors with the lucrative publishing division.  Investor Charles Koppelman has also expressed interest in the publishing  division if  Fifield is the winning bidder.

iTunes Upgrade Paves Way For EMI's DRM Free Launch. Indies Left Wondering When They'll Be Invited.

A new upgrade 7.2 for iTunes which appeared late yesterday offers support for "iTunes Plus", the titleItunes Apple has given for the higher 256 bit-rate DRM free downloads from EMI.  These unprotected AAC tracks will sell for $1.29.

As of early Wednesday, no tracks were being offered in the new format; although they Applelogoare expected to become available later today or tomorrow just beating Apple's self imposed May deadline. 

iTunes is still silent, however, as to when DRM free tracks from hundreds of indie labels clamoring to offer them will become available.  While Apple sent a letter weeks ago asking indies to deliver mp3 masters, no label or distributor that we surveyed had been offered a launch date or the contract addendum that would be required to allow DRM free sales.

These delays by iTune's call into question both Apple's real enthusiasm for DRM free sales and the validitAmazony of any EMI only experiment. But they must be music to Amazon's ears as the internet giant rushes towards the launch of its DRM-free only store which promises a much broader  selection of untethered tracks.

New Music Business Briefing: Beatnik Speeds Downloads, One Little Indian Puts Digital First & Much More

Radio_tower >>> An update from internet broadcasters on where they think things stand on the pending royalty rate increases. (RAIN)

>>> Beatnik is pushing a software that will make music downloads happen 10 times faster. It should give a boost to music on older phones and slower networks. (InfoWorld)

>>> Justin Timerlake gets his own label with Interscope.

>>> Indie label One Little Indian starts Digital First to give select artists aggresssive marketing around digital pre-releases. (CMJ)

>>> The NY Times looks at the death of the CD.

>> R.I.P - Laura Elle Harper, founder and programmer of the legendary KPIG.

How Far Can A Beatle Fall? McCartney To Appear On Home Shopping Network

PaulmccartneyWhat does it say about your music when you're reduced to schilling it on a channel dedicated to selling people useless crap?

From the press release: "Multichannel retailing powerhouse HSN today announced that it is teaming with Hear Music to produce a Paul McCartney Listening Party television special to celebrate the upcoming release of Paul McCartney's latest album, "Memory Almost"...the special 30-minute program will feature cuts from the new CD, lively discussions with McCartney fans and video segments from Paul McCartney as he shares the inspiration behind his latest work."

What a breathtakingly stupid idea.  I understood McCartney's deal with Starbucks and their Hear Music imprint. How many adults still go into record stores.  But schilling yourself on Home Shopping Network....excuse me "HSN"? 

Sure some groups need hit the channel to sell CD's to its homebound shopaholic audience.  But Sir Paul?  A Beatle?

New Music Business Briefing: More EMI Action, Apple's DRM Deadline, Zune Hits 1 Million & Much More

Emi >>> Bloomberg analysts provide the latest roundup in the derby to purchase EMI.  In sort, the company is still very much in play with former CEO Jim Fifield developing a plan involving money from the Royal family of Qatar and selling the publishing division off to Charles Koppelman. WMG is also reportedly itching to the make a better offer.

Itunes >>> Is this the week or even the day that iTunes will finally add EMI's DRM free offering?  Steve promised May and he's only got three days to keep his promise.  Our sources tell us that last week was the intended launch, but coding is always harder than issuing press releases.

>>> Coolfer Joins The Man - I don't always agree with him, but Glenn is (was) one of the few (other) music industry bloggers who (usually) has enough insight to make him worthy reading. But now he's taken a summer job at Warner Music Group in NYC and admits that it's going to limit what he can write. Too bad.  The new music business needs more insightful and unbiased commentary (not less).

Zune_logo >>> Microsoft had a goal of selling 1 million Zunes by June and it has apparently just hit Ipodamenestybin the benchmark. This is in comparison to just over 100 million iPods sold.  A photo taken by a blogger at Microsoft's Zune headquarters last week shows a less than successful iPod Amnesty program and is a reminder of just how far Microsoft has to go. (Click on the photo to enlarge.)

>>> A look at the importance of presidential campaign theme songs and how they are being chosen.

>>> Wired.cm interviews the creator of the popular Hype Machine mp3 blog.

Hypebot's Exclusive eMusic Series

  • Emusic_2 PART 1 - eMusic Has Become An Indie Cornerstone
  • PART 2 - eMusic Under Attack
  • PART 3 - Hypebot Gets A Letter From eMusic
  • PART 4 - Does eMusic's Math Work For The Labels?
  • PART 5 - Free Music At eMusic.  Who Really Pays?
  • PART 6 - eMusic Responds

Next Week: Industry & eMusic Subcsriber Reaction


Facebook Opens Platform

Just as MySpace is restricting outside applications, rival Facebook has just comepletely opened its socialFacebook networking platform to outside developers.  Their even encouraging developers to profit from their creations via advertising, etc.

Initial creations include apps from Amazon and Microsoft and tools for marketing music are sure to follow. Some critics still say that while the moves may open Facebook to developers; for uses its still a more closed community then MySpace.

(press release)

New Music Business Briefing: EMI Still In Play, Universal & WMG Sued And Much More


>>> Retail giant Trans World reported another down quarter.

>>> Fast growing music-centric social networking site BuzzNet has grabbed $8 million in venture funding led by Redpoint and Anthem venture funds.

>>>Indie Wind-Up has expanded mobile based its Featured Artist Program with Nokia.Cdbaby

>>> CD Baby has partnered with voeveo for mobile distribution

>>> Former EMI CEO Jim Fifield stated publicly yesterday that he still wants to buy EMI despite a partner Corvus Capital pulling out.  Fifield has been trying to buy his former employer on and off for more than five years. Other equity firms are also rumored to still be eying a higher bid than the EMIEmi board tentatively accepted last week.

>>> The NY Post says that former CAA and Disney exec Michael Ovitz had been tapped to helm EMI if another bid by JP Morgan had been successful.  Ovitz's plan was reportedly to turn EMI into more of a talent management and marketing firm with more deals similar to the Korn and Robbie Williams all-inclusive partnerships.

>>> In a lawsuit that could have ramifications throughout the industry bluegrass legend and formerDavid_grisman Jerry Garcia collaborator David Grisman and his manager label partner Craig Miller are suing Universal and WMG claiming that the companies " made unauthorized copies" when it put the act on digital services like iTunes without permission  and are "grossly" underpaying the artist.  Many older record contracts did not anticipate the digital age yet most labels did not renegotiate with these artists before putting their works out digitally.

>>> A new study says that the music store industry includes about 4,000 stores with combined annual revenue of about $4 billion dominated by FYE, Musicland and Wherehouse. The sector is highly concentrated with the top 50 companies booking 80% of total industry revenue.

Survey Says Strict Parents Are Answer To Music Industry's Prayers

American_gothic A new survey of online habits released but the Business Software Alliance offered some hope for the beleaguered music industry...if you believe that Mom and Dad should be keeping a closer eye on their kids. In the survey, comparing young people without parental rules to those with rules, kids are more likely to:

  • surf the Web (87% without parental rules vs. 63% with rules)
  • download software (52% without parental rules vs. 19% with rules)Spanking_2
  • download music without paying a download fee (47% without parental rules vs. 16% with rules)

When comparing the 2007 study results with the 2004 and 2006 surveys:

  • There was a decrease in the percentage of kids downloading software without paying for it; 11% reported illegal downloading in 2007, down from 14% in 2006 and in 2004 at 22%.
  • In 2007, 30% of kids admitted to downloading music without paying, compared to 32% in 2006 and 53% in 2004.
  • 8% admitted to downloading movies without paying in 2007, down from 10% in 2006 admitting downloading without paying and 17% reporting so in 2004.

New Music Business Briefing: EMI Still In Play, No McCartney On iTunes & Much More

Emi_2 >>> Sources tell the Financial Times that several other bidders may still offer for EMI and that WMG may be on the hunt of just the recorded music division in a post-sale spin-off.

>>> Linken Park scores the year's best debut week with 623,000 copies. (Billboard)

>>> UK indie music download site Extraplay has unveiled an expanded service that enables artists to upload, bundle, price and sell their music in minutes.  No more waiting for 6-10 weeks for iTune's to process a new track.   Itunes

>>>Paul McCartney tracks started showing up on Napster, Rhapsody and elsewhere, but for some reason was a no show on iTunes. (PC Magazine)

>>> Review: Sansa Connect good player but no iPod. And Creative debuts a new Zen.

>>> Internet broadcasting provider JOOST has signed with uber-agency CAA for representation.  Next up: Ronald McDonlad cuts a lower commission deal and moves from William Morris to ICM.

Coalition of Independent Music Stores Top 200 for Week Ending 05-20-07

Cims Pos. ARTIST  |  TITLE

Read the entire CIM's Top 200 After The Jump

Continue reading "Coalition of Independent Music Stores Top 200 for Week Ending 05-20-07" »

UPDATED: Former CEO May Offer Higher Bid For EMI.

Emi Sorry Edgar. Sorry Eric. Jim may have the last laugh...

According to today's NY Post, former EMI CEO Jim Fifield is readying a bid for the company backed by Corvus Capital Investments and an unnamed Cayman Islands bank. 

Reportedly the bid will be 278 pence per share and thus higher than the 265 pence per share offered by private equity firm Terra Firma. (Total: $5 billion vs. $4.7 billion) The bid is also likely higher than WMG will be willing to bid.

With Fifield at the helm, at least this bid is led by someone from the music industry.

UPDATE: Corvus has just announced that it will not be making an offer.


eMusic Responds

  • PART 1 - eMusic Has Become An Indie Cornerstone
  • PART 2 - eMusic Under Attack
  • PART 3 - Hypebot Gets A Letter From eMusic
  • PART 4 - Does eMusic's Math Work For The Labels?
  • PART 5 - Free Music At eMusic.  Who Really Pays?

PART 6 - During the preparation for our ongoing series on eMusic we contacted the company for comment and clarification.  In the interest of balance today we'll print some of the responses from Emusic eMusic VP of Corporate Communications Kathy Halgas Nevins.

The portion of the series that received the most attention "Does eMusic's Math Work For Labels" calculated net payments to label which some feels does not leave enough net revenue to properly compensate artists and songwriters. Halgas Nevins responded:  "I can’t comment on this calculation, however, our price per download has grown considerably over the past three years and is now the highest it’s ever been.  (Per track payments from wholesale models such as iTunes don't grow.)

Emusic25free "... eMusic’s subscription plans generate a large volume of sales for our labels. While the average iTunes user buys 7 – 10 songs in one year, the average eMusic subscriber buys 20 songs in one month.  That’s nearly 35 times more music annually than iTunes sells on a per-customer basis.  Another way to think about this trade-off is “wallet share.”  eMusic receives on average more than $13 per subscriber every month.  Compare this with the $7 per year that iTunes receives.  eMusic subscribers commit themselves to spending, on average, $160 per year on independent music.  In other words, we get a larger chunk, or percentage, of a subscriber’s wallet or spending than any other digital download service." (more after the jump)


Continue reading "eMusic Responds" »

New Music Business Briefing: EU Clears Universal BMG, Royalty Share Gets Idea, Sprint Streams Pandora & More

Universal >>> The EU has cleared Universal's purchase of BMG Publishing. Deal includes sell off of Zomba and other catalogs.Generic_headphone_computer

>>> Digital music solution and royalty tracking provider RoyaltyShare has acquired IDEA an LA firm focused on preparation and delivery of tracks for digital distribution.

>>> WIRED looks at Ogg Vorbis an open source digital platform without and of the licensing issues of mp3 and some other formats.

Sprint >>> Sprint will offer Pandora streaming radio.

>>> Tribute bands are becoming big business.

>>> Digital distributor IODA has added large Australian indie SHOCK to it's label roster.

>>> Fan widget creator RockYou.com has expanded its offering with new deals with SNOCAP, Nettwerk Records, Pump Audio and FlipTrack. (press release)

EMI North America Appoints Lauren Berkowitz SVP Digital

They may be on the verge of being sold to an investment firm, but that didn't keep EMI from appointing Lauren Berkowitz the new Senior VP of Digital for EMI Music North America.  She begins her new role Music_phone_nokia_n_series immediately and is reporting to Roger Ames, head of EMI North America and Barney Wragg, EMI's global Head of Digital.

Berkowitz brings more than a decade of experience in digital music most recently as VP Global Digital Business with Sony ATV Music Publishing.  Prior to that, Berkowitz was VP at Sony BMG Music Entertainment. In her new role, Berkowitz will lead EMI Music's digital business in North America, including its recently launched DRM-free download offering.

EMI Sold: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly.

Emi THE GOOD -  Yesterday EMI accepted a $4.7 Billion offer from investment firm Terra Firma Capital Partners.  While bidding may continue the EMI board signaled that "other offers" (aka WMG) had "faced uncertain regulatory review" (as in by various EU Commissions). This means that four major label groups are unlikely to become three major label groups. Less consolidation of remaining power and resources is good for music.

EMI is now more than ever in the hands of suits and bean counters.  These guys never were or wanted to be music men.  Oh sure, buying EMI is sexier than buying pork belly futures, but doing either is an activity only undertaken to enrich themselves and their shareholders.

THE UGLY - We could easily say that the ugliness is EMI's latest dire financial report  conveniently released yesterday alongside the announcement to sell and including a 15.8% revenue drop.  But far uglier is the fact that sometime very soon more decent people will suffer and more acts will be dropped.  There will be lots of babble about "synergies", "reorganization" and "re-allocation of resources to meet the challenges of the digital revolution" first, but there will be layoffs, acts will be dropped and (we're speculating here) perhaps most sadly, the march towards DRM freedom will be slowed.

SoundExchange Offers Small Webcasters Reduced Rate

Soundexchange_2UPDATED: Under pressure from the House Subcommittee investigating a recent large increase in royalty rates, internet music rights collection agency SoundExchange has offered smaller webcasters an olive branch.  Under the offer, smaller net stations would  pay 10% of revenues up to $250,000 and 12% Radio_tower_2 of revenues over that amount. 

The press release states that the definition of smaller will include traffic size as well as revenue but offers no details, leaving it unclear exactly what size and how many webcatsers are effected.  Internet radio trade group SaveInternetRadio opposes the offer as unfair to larger broadcasters. More reaction can be found here from webcaster Kurt Hanson on his RAIN blog.

New Music Business Briefing: Hawthorne Heights Wins Victory, WMG Ups EMI Bid & Much More


>>> A judge ruled that while Hawthorne Heights owes Victory two more albums it can also record and release elsewhere. If the ruling sticks it could have ramifications across the industry.

>>> WMG appears ready to up it's bid for EMI by almost $200 million confident that the EU would approve Emi_2 the merger. I predict EMI's Nicoli will resist. The NY Post has a behind the scenes look as EMI opens its books to interested parties.

>>>> cNet looks at how the rest of the industry will be watching the upcoming sales of EMI on iTunes and Amazon to determine their next moves.  Is it a fair test and isn't DRM free inevitable anyway?

>>> How will things change and fans react as the White Stripes move to a major label and begin to play
the corporate game? (Billboard)

Youtube >>> Last week the US military banned YouTube and MySpace because of bandwidth concerns.  Now the YouTube founders are asking the Pentagon to rethink the order.

Amazon >>> Coolfer has a nice roundup of analyst comments on the Amazon all-mp3 store.

>>> New intellectual property rights advocacy group The Copyright Alliance has launched.

Breakfast In Bed With Joan Osborne

REVIEW: Joan Osborne's career has ranged from a million selling single, "(What If God Was) One Of Us", to a stint in the Grateful Dead.  Throughout there has been a soulfulness to her work that makes her latest project no surprise.

Joanosborne"Breakfast In Bed" is a respectful homage to the classic soul and R&B of the late 1960's and early 1970's. It was a time when the smoothness of Bill Whiters and Gladys Knight had a place at the top of the charts and Osborne recreates the period nicely with smartly chosen covers alongside a few originals inspired by the era.  Her renditions stay true to the hits; perhaps a bit too true given Osborne's considerable talent.  She has a voice that can go from silk to growl with ease and this CD would have benefited from a bit more of the later.  You can hear a hint of what's missing on the CD's final track "What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted" recorded live as part of her wonderful appearance in the film "Standing In The Shadows Of Motown".

MARKETING: Of particular interest to Hypebot readers is that the label releasing the CD is Time Life. The TV advertising giant promises to use their considerable direct marketing power alongside traditonal music retail to help Osborne find the elusive adult audience that will surely be interested in this very solid offering.


Savenetradiobolt300x78_3TIME US RUNNING OUT!

Internet radio needs your help.

The Internet Radio Equality Act (pdf) has been introduced in Congress to roll back higher royalty rates that many believe would cripple internet broadcasting. A similar bill was introduced last week in the Senate. The bills must move forward before July to stall a rate increase that many believe couldRadio_tower_2 mean the end of independent internet broadcasting.

Please help save this important avenue for independent music exposure by writing or calling your Congressmen. Here's how and more info on the issue via SaveNetRadio.org

New Music Business Briefing: iPhone Details, MSN Grabs Live Earth, TuneCore Gets Props

Iphone >>> New details were revealed as the FCC approved the iPhone. (InfoWorld) And some recent product announcements show that the iPhone will have lots of competition when it launches.(Reuters)

>>> Droves of Opie & Anthony fans are canceling their XM their subscriptions in protest of a current suspension.

7d_logo_newsletter >>> UK download store innovators 7Digital has spearheaded a hugely successful program that rewards students with hit downloads donated by EMI to those with 100% attendance records. If only they'd offered this when I went to school.... (more)

Earth_2 >>> MSN grabs the online exclsuive and creates LiveEarth.msn.com as a hub for all the concert activities.  The actions already begun with a new song from Madonna.

>>> RealNetworks follows Yahoo by iincorporating lyrics into its online offerings.

>>> TuneCore is a digital distributor run by Jeff Price of indie label SpinArt who doesn't take a % from the music it places on download services but rather it charges a small upfront fee and you keep 100% of revenue. Last year it collects $1.4 million for its clients. Recently the Wall Street Journal took notice in this profile.