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New Music Business Week In Review: Amazon Launches, Yahoo! Music Shrinks, WMG Tumbles & Much More

>>> The big new this week was the opening of the new Amazon.com DRM free mp3 download store. Coverage includes:

>>> Yahoo Music is scaling back its operations. One source says half the staff was let go last week.

>>> On Oct 2 Starbucks begins giving away 50 million free tracks to promote the launch of the new iTunes wireless store.

>>> Here is some video of WMG's Edgar Bronfman sharing his vision of the Music Business 2.0.  The company's stock got hammered as the week progressed.

Pirate_bay >>> Controversial P2P hub Pirate Bay turned the tables and filed charges in Sweden against several major labels using evidence discovered in the recent hack of MusicDefenders.

>>> Hypebot offered its readers a poll asking which of the new ad supported music services would gain traction and on Friday morning it appeared that SpiralFrog or a huge SF fan may have tried to rig the results.

Did SpiralFrog Try To Fix Hypebot's Poll Results?

UPDATED: I've been running a poll in the right hand column of Hypebot for about a week asking whichSpiral_frog_hand paid download service has the best chance of success - SprialFrog, We7 or "Other".  Throughout the week We7 was beating SpiralFrog by about 4 to 1 and as of yesterday evening less than 100 people had voted.

But this morning I awoke to see that 650 726 people had suddenly voted in the survey and that Sprial Frog was now slightly ahead of We7.  Sometime last night Hypebot's hits started to look like this:

5:49 AM     Last Days To Vote In the SpiralFrog vs. WE7 Poll
5:49 AM     /2007/09/we7-vs-spiralfr.html      
5:48 AM     /2007/09/we7-vs-spiralfr.html      
5:47 AM     Last Days To Vote In the SpiralFrog vs. WE7 Poll    
5:47 AM     Last Days To Vote In the SpiralFrog vs. WE7 Poll

I've asked SpiralFrog to comment.

Why Amazon Will Do Nothing To Help The Music Industry

GUEST COMMENTARY from Marc Cohen who blogs @ Ad Supported Music Central and  the founder of Lirix, a tech company focused on ad supported music solutions. Early next week I'll write about why I disagree with Mark and think that Amazon's new mp3 store is industry changing.

Marc_cohen To much fanfare, Amazon launched its Amazonmp3.com music download store.  As one would expect from Amazon, Amazonmp3 offers a superior on-line buying experience. Amazon has perfected the art of the up-sell and now it will weave music downloads into its synergistic retail web.

So Amazonmp3 is great for Amazon, but is it great for the industry?  I say that this new digital music storefront will do nothing to help the recorded music industry. Why? Because Amazonmp3 will not grow recording industry revenue. This is the critical point. Here is my rationale:

I don't believe that any more than an infinitesimally small portion of the digital music market has not bought a download because they couldn't find the right store. The available supply of music downloads exceeds the demand.

Continue reading "Why Amazon Will Do Nothing To Help The Music Industry" »

Yahoo! Blog Confirms Changes Ahead For Music Division

Rumors of major changes within Yahoo! Music have been rumored for weeks and a post on a company blog all but confirms them.

Yahoo_music "We are streamlining the structure of one portion of our Santa Monica presence — our entertainment division — with a vision of offering a more integrated entertainment experience. That means we’ll be creating more synergies between our music, games, movies, TV, and omg! properties..." wrote Vince Broady head of Yahoo! Entertainment and Video.  "...rather than staffing entertainment business units around distinct properties, we’re freeing up resources to feed new areas of focus. We’ll be investing in the development of next gen media platforms, applications and services, creating cool new opportunities for third-party publishers and media companies while also harnessing the power of social media and user-generated content."

Translation: Cuts are ahead and in the future more content will be user-generated and come from cheaper outside sources.

New Music Business Briefing: FCC May Fine XM & Sirius, Imeem Hooks Sony BMG, Britney Charts & More

Xm_sirius >>> The FCC is considering fines against XM and Sirius related to some of their receivers. (Radio Ink)

>>> Sony BMG is joining WMG and many indies in liscensing tracks for fan use on social networking site imeem. Universal and EMI are in talks with the site. (Forbes)

Note >>> Despite her career being declared D.O.A. after her recent VMA appearance (relive it here) the single which Britney Spears performed to such critical scorn is #3 at iTunes, the ringtone is #1 and its 18 on the R&R pop singles chart.  (DMW)

>>> Jupiter's David Card shares a few insights from his Millennials Conference panel. "There's a new middle class of fame." (Jupiter)

Chinese_flag >>> China Mobile is gaining traction in the music space as iTunes stalls in the world's largest marketplace. (Investor's Business Daily)

The Onion Skewers The Starbucks Music Giveaway

From The Onion

Starbucks announced that they would be giving away 1.5 million songs a day for one month to promote their music arm and iTunes deal. What do you think?         

Old Woman    

Claire Mahoney, Cashier
"I worry how this big partnership will affect mom and pop mp3 stores." 

Asian Man    

Xander Fukuda, Video Editor
"Finally, I can recreate that rockin' mix I always hear at my local Starbucks in my own home."    

Young Man    

Bryce Alberts, Corporate Attorney
"I can download Starbucks music on my iPhone while ordering a latte and talking on a conference call? Wow, I've hit the douchebag trifecta!"

100 Free & Affordable High & Low Tech Music Promotion Tips - Part 8

Top_100 As we reach the final 20 tips we'd love to add your ideas.  Please leave them in the comments section.

Hire or befriend a geek who will help you keep up on new technologies and internet promo opportunities.
72. Partner with an appropriate charity. Build good will and get more free media.  Maybe it’s a small % or maybe it’s auctioning off or selling the seats on stage or tickets to the sound check.
73. Consider Craigslist, Ebay and StubHub as promotional tools…Try selling tickets and other stuff there.
74. Musicians want to be actors and actors and athletes want to be musicians.  Think about how you can cross promote so everyone wins.
75. Always make available a hi-resolution color photo available for easy download and you’ll get much better placement in print Sunday editions and calendar sections.
76.Some fans travel so try cross–promoting with another show (by the same band or just a similar band) in another city 50 or 100 miles away.
77. Create a special “Insider” email list for pre-announcements and include key media and tastemakers who love to know things first…and like to tell others.
78. If the artist will agree to do a meet and greet after show make sure that it's advertised. Fans always want a chance to meet the musicians.
79. Consider offering a student discount or senior discount.
80. List all your tour dates online at pollstar.com, celebrityaccess.com, musictoday.com, livenation.com and elsewhere.  You never know where people will go looking for a show.

Read tips 1-10, 11-20 and 21-30, 31-40, 49-50, 51-60, and 61-70. And please share your ideas for the final 20 !

New Music Business Briefing: $3M For Project Playlist, More Amazon News, Last.FM Campaigns For Better Music & More

>>> Global Grind opens online hip hop community. Backers include Russell Simmons.

>>> Project Playlist which enables users to share playlist on social networking sites raises $3 million in venture capital. I love the idea, but am still not sure what the revenue model is.

>>> Kudos continue for the new Amazon download store (Newsfactor) Read Hypebot'sAmazon roundup of what's being said around the web here.

>>> Some mp3's sold by Amazon contain watermarks applied by labels that show where the track was purchased. (Listening PostThese are the harmless kind of watermarks that contain no personal info.

>>> Perhaps HD radio is finally gaining traction. Ford says it will offer HD as an option in most 2008 models. (press release)

Last_fm >>> Last.FM launches a Campaign For Better Music with the "Now Form A Band" blog for D.I.Y. musicians. "... It doesn’t have to be like the old days. We’re going to show you how to produce, promote and distribute your music, without spending a load of money, and without lots of other people getting involved."  Maybe they could do a version aimed at getting better music from the major labels?

Sonicbids Responds To CMJ Controversy

In responding to the recent controversy accusing CMJ of taking showcase submission fees vai Sonicbids and not listening to the applicants, Sonicbids CEO Panos Panay write wrote:

Sonicbids "....one of the nice things about being an online company is that we are able to see activities that happen on our servers...The issue arose from the fact that the current version of the Sonicbids EPK “hits tracker” tells you if an MP3 was streamed, but it does not indicate if it was downloaded...Since CMJ prefers to review submitting artists by downloading their tracks first, this resulted in several bands getting a rejection from CMJ, but, when they checked their tracker stats, noticed that their music was not registered as having been played..." Cmj_2007

"....In addition to this, we know that CMJ listened to the artists that submitted because, simply, we know CMJ. Big deal, you say, right? I can tell you that there is hardly an organization out there that has done more for independent music in the past 25 years than CMJ..."

Read the full text of his letter after the jump.

Continue reading "Sonicbids Responds To CMJ Controversy" »

Amazon MP3 Store Reaction & Analysis From Around The Web

Our news story and analysis "What The Amazon Store Is...And Is Not" got so many links and hits that we thought we'd take a look across the web to see what other's thought of the opening of Amazon's MP3 Download Store.

Amazon_mp3storefrontlogo_v2936426_2 Engadet - "If you're into DRM-free music, you have a reason to get pretty excited today."

Om Malik @ GigaOM - "Bottom line: 26 out of 50. I am not ready to write Amazon off just yet. We might have a worthy competitor..."

David Card of Jupiter Research - "Amazon's 2.3 million song catalog is fairly crippled...But pretty soon, consumers will see the fruit of competition based on pricing, merchandising, packaging, user experience, editorial, knowledge of consumer habits, etc., etc., instead of on random acts of technology...The game just got a lot more interesting.

Hypebot Comment by Bruce Warila - "Is Amazon going to make the pie bigger or divide it? I am doubtful that the paid download market is going to keep growing...:  (more great comments from Hypebot readers here.)

Continue reading "Amazon MP3 Store Reaction & Analysis From Around The Web" »

WMG Stock Falls

Wmg Warner Music Group shares hit new lows yesterday closing at $9.74.  A year ago the stock traded at $27.

As the only publicly traded stand alone record label WMG is the most visible recipient of growing investor doubts about the recorded music industry.  But despite public pronouncements to the contrary, the label group's slow adoption of new revenue streams - WMG labels were left completely out of yesterday's Amazon launch for example - is also causing concern.

Pirate Bay Turns Tables On EMI, Universal & Sony BMG

Swedish torrent site Pirate Bay has turned the tables and sues 10 major music and media companies who tried to disrupt the site by hiring Media Defender.  Using evidence it gathered thanks to the recent massive hack of MediaDefender's email, Swedish police are expected in the next few days to decide if charges should be brought against the labels and studios.

Pirate_bay" Thanks to the email-leakage from MediaDefender-Defenders we now have proof of the things we've been suspecting for a long time; the big record and movie labels are paying professional hackers, saboteurs and ddosers to destroy our trackers...The charges are infrastructural sabotage, denial of service attacks, hacking and spamming, all of these on a commercial level," wrote Pirate Bay. (Read the companies who may be charged after the jump)

Continue reading "Pirate Bay Turns Tables On EMI, Universal & Sony BMG" »

New Music Business Briefing: CMJ Responds, Universal vs. iTunes & Much More

>>> We got the most 1 day hits ever on our post yesterday "What The Amazon Store Is... And Isn't".  Check it out here.

Cmj_2007_2 >>> CMJ responds to showcase selection criticism saying that they "listen to at least two songs" from each artist that submits via Sonicbids or mail. (Brooklyn Vegan)

Universal >>> Universal's battle with iTunes continues with month to month contracts. (FMQB)

>>> Allegro Distribution expands its roster of labels with jazz an world offerings. (Billboard)Aol

>>> AOL's popular kids site KOL partners with tween lifestyle broad Miss O & Friends have partnered in a contest where the winners have songs produced by veteran producer John Boylan.

>>> Playlist sharing service Finetune which claims 1.2 million users adds a Facebook application.
>>> Get your daily dose of rock wisdom at TheRockDose.com.

Analysis: What The Amazon Store Is... And Is Not.

Amazon_7 You can find our in depth first look at the new Amazon DRM free download store here. But just how "industry changing" is it?

The Amazon MP3 Download Store IS:

  • An important step forward for digital music.
    • Amazon has set the bar higher and that's good for the entire industry. Plus Amazon name and buying experience and the universal usability of the tracks should help expand the universe of download buyers.
  • A another big nail in the DRM coffin.
  • A boost for the record industry.
    • Amazon is a partner the labels already know and trust who just gave them everything that Apple is fighting not to: variable pricing, full album downloads, universal compatibility and DRM sales of indie artists.
    • Come on WMG and Sony BMG...walk towards the light...
  • A serious threat to every other download store.
    • Not only does it have all of the major label DRM free product that they do. It has hundreds of thousands of indie tracks that the others do not.
  • A possible eMusic killer.
    • With defections from some a few of their most important labels, eMusic is left competing on price alone. I predict that when the checks from Amazon downloads equal those they get from eMusic that more indie labels will pull out.

The Amazon MP3 Download Store IS NOT:

  • The iTunes killer.
    • Serious competition yes. Killer no. Too many people are used to the iTunes to iPod experience no matter how easy Amazon makes it.
  • The answer to all your download buying needs.
    • It's not their fault. The labels won't let them...yet.
  • A mobile solution. 
    • With the Verizon's deal with Rhapsody/MTV and the the iTunes Wireless store, Amazon needs to move quickly to add over the air downloads.

Tell us what you think. We'll post the best comments and reaction from around the web tomorrow.

Amazon's DRM-Free Download Store Launches With 2.3 Million Tracks

UPDATED: After more than a year of speculation, The Amazon DRM-free download store has finally opened with an impressive 2,323,235 mp3's available from 180,000 artists on 20,000 labels. All tracks are 256 kps mp3's priced at 89 to 99 cents.

Included are thousands of tracks from Universal (more it appears than are available elsewhere) and virtually the entire EMI catalog including Radiohead and Pink Floyd. Missing are digital hold outs The Beatles and Bob Seger.

Amazon_3Leading independent labels offering their catalog of music for the first time DRM-free include Alligator, HighTone, Madacy, Sanctuary, Rounder, Righteous Babe, Sugar Hill, Trojan and Phillip Glass' Orange Mountain.

Vanguard/Sugar Hill/Welk, who have been experimenting with a limited mp3 offering via eMusic has a much broader selection on Amazon.  Drag City and Red House who had left eMusic's subscription service are now available as mp3's on Amazon. But eMusic's most high profile defections Epitaph and Victory have not yet made the jump to Amazon.

No downloads from Sony BMG or WMG are available on Amazon, but some labels distributed by WMG owned ADA are available including Beggars Group, Merge and Touch & Go. Several other ADA distributed labels are absent from today's launch.

Mp3top100spot01_v25577006__2 While there is a distinct mp3 section and chart, Amazon has smartly also positioned downloads alongside CD's in the general music section.  Search for the Beatles and you'll find only CD's for sale.  Search for most other EMI artists and you'll find mp3's also available.

Amazon has priced more than 1 million songs lower than iTunes price at 89 cents including most of the top 100 selling tracks. Other songs are priced at the industry standard 99 cents.  Full album purchase is encouraged with most albums priced from $5.99 to $9.99 with much of top 100 best-selling albums at $8.99 or less.

As with most Amazon offerings, ease of use should be a major draw. Customers can purchase downloads using Amazon 1-Click shopping and using a special Amazon MP3 Downloader add their mp3s to their iTunes or Windows Media Player libraries. Amazon's popular recommendation feature looks back up on all of your previous CD purchases to provide instant download suggestions.

Press Release

100 Free & Affordable High & Low Tech Music Promotion Tips - Part 7

Top_100 61. Send thank-you notes. No one ever says thank-you anymore. It will be remembered.
62. Ask for the purchase. Never forget that you are in sales.
63. Market to the niches. Market to bartenders in Irish pubs for a Celtic or motorcycle shops for a heavy metal.  Try tattoo parlors, coffee shops, book stores, niche clothing shops.
64. Make your emails and web site useful to the reader.  Add info and links to things your audience might find interesting or useful that you have nothing to do with.
65. Share your best promo ideas and avenues of promotion with other stakeholders: bands, promoters, labels, publicists, and sponsors.
66. Share media lists with others highlighting things you think will work best for each project.
67. Sell a series or combo. This works for recorded music and live tickets.
68. Surprise people. Give them something for free that they did not expect.
69. Create and use banners.  Don’t have time or $ for Kinkos? Try Avery Banner Maker.
70. Trade occasionally for targeted email lists, but don’t overuse them.

Read tips 1-10, 11-20 and 21-30, 31-40, 49-50 and  51-60.

New Music Business Briefing: CMJ Scam?, iTunes Terms "Indecent", The RIAA Follies & Much More

Cmj_2007 >>> CMJ appears to have been caught taking submission fees from bands via Sonicbids and not even listening to the music before rejecting them. (Ghost Media)

>>> Vivendi CEO calls the terms that iTunes asks for from labels "indecent". (Reuters)

>>> Calling the RIAA's case unjustified "as a reasonable exploration of the boundaries of copyright law," a federal  judge late last week awarded former RIAA defendant Tanya Riaa Andersen her attorney fees. Now the disabled single Mom who beat the RIAA is trying to get class action status for her fight against the music industry trade group. (ars) Go Mom!

>>> The RIAA has sent 403 letters to students at 22 universities offering pre-litigation discount settlements. "The letters reflect evidence of significant abuse of campus computer networks for the purpose of copyright infringement." (RIAA) Are they not in effect saying "we consider our customers guilty until proven innocent."?
>>> PirateBay has filed lawsuits against some of those attacked by MediaDefender and outed in the recent hack. (Billboard)

>>> A comparison of the LaLa vs. SnoCap widgets. (Coolfer)

>>> MP3 + CD online retailer AnywhereCD is shutting down. (OurDigitalMusic)

Virgin To Close US & UK Download Stores October 19th

Hypebot reported that this would happen months ago, but the end is finally near. Virgin will shut its music Virgin subscription and download services in the US and UK next month.

In the UK, Virgin Digital stopped selling tracks last week and is no longer accepting new customers. Only existing customers now use the service and the site will shut down completely on Oct. 19th. U.S. customers will face a similar fate but will get a credit to be used on Napster’s music download service. No figures have been released from Napster on conversion rates from Virgin or the similar deal that it made with AOL.

Update: Report From the Protest Against Sony BMG At Popkomm

EXCLUSIVE: This report came in this morning from the organizers of the protest against Sony BMG at Popkomm in Berlin:

Popkomm_sonybmg3_klein_2 "(At) Popkomm, we staged a small action at the SonyBMG stand with our large "Copy protection Disempowers" banner. SonyBMG are to date not cooperating with providers who would like to deliver music downloads without restrictions and protection schemes. For this the MP3-format would be well suited. Popkomm_sonybmg2_klein We therefore suggest a Boycott of SonyBMG-music which is delivered with copy protection. Sony was responsible for the Rootkit-disaster, spreading millions of cds containing malignant software. Sony is also one of the largest manufacturers of hardware with built-in copy protection systems." - Marcus @ Netzpolitik.org (site in German)

click on photos to enlarge

Starbucks Gives Away 50 Million Tracks For iTunes WiFi Launch

Starbucks is going to give away 50 million tracks as it helps launch the new iTunes wireless service with Apple. From Oct. 2 to Nov. 7 customers in all 10,000 U.S. StarbucksStarbucks outlets will be handed 1.5 million "Song of the Day" cards each day for redemption on iTunes.  The first song featured is Bob Dylan's "Joker Man."

Starbucks own Hear Music label artists Paul McCartney and Joni Mitchell will among the 37 artists featured along with Dave Mathews, Joss Stone, John Mayer, Annie Lennox and Band of Horses.

Starbucks will also start selling iTunes digital release cards for full albums plus bonus material. KT Tunstall's "Drastic Fantastic" and the soundtrack to the film "Into the Wild" Applelogofeaturing music by  Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder will be part of the card debut retailing for $14.99 and $11.99 respectively. Starbucks will also sell limited-edition re-loadable purchase or gift cards that include two free downloads when registered online.

Beginning with 600 stores in NY and Seattle on Oct 2 and then expanding nationally, a Starbucks icon will light up on any iPhone or iTouch when in range of a Starbucks WiFi signal. People with the Apple devices or any laptop with iTunes software can use the WiFi signal free to browse iTunes.

ANALYSIS - The partnership allows Starbucks to further imbed music into its brand experience with limited cost and precious self space.  In return Apple gets a ubiquitous and trusted retail partner as it works to extend its own dominance in the music marketplace.

But could Starbucks and iTunes actually accelerate sluggish download growth?  "We're going to see huge improvement in terms of the amount of tracks downloaded", Ken Lombard  the president of  Starbucks Entertainment told AP.

That may seem a bold prediction, but the majority of downloads already happen over the air in Japan and some other markets. Starbucks and iTunes  could in fact be on the front edge of a wireless download wave that once again transforms the new music business.

New Music Business Briefing: TVT's 50 State Promo Tour, German Copyright Law Leaps Backwards & Much More

Tvt >>> TVT SVP of Promo Brad Davidson and Northeast promotion man Dan Pearson will head out on a 50 state journey to break the band New Years Day. Billing it as the “I Was Right Tour,” the duo will kick things off in Maine and finish up in Florida. (FMQB) Reminds me of the George Thorogood 50 States In 50 Days tour that broke the band. OK, so I just dated myself.

>>> German copyright law has been updated to make copying a CD or DVD even for personal use illegal. (Variety) Won't this move just encourage P2P use and drive songApplelogo_2 sharing further underground?

>>> Richie Ramone is suing Apple, WalMart & Real demanding payment. (PC World) Join the club Richie.  Why not just wait to see how The Allman Brothers and Prince do? 

>>> Does album art have relevance in the digital age? (Billboard) We hope so...but we fear not. 

>>> Because we like you and don't want you to miss anything that would cost you that big promotion your expecting, we've produced another Hypebot's New Music Business Week In Review.

>>> Early every morning we check Amazon to see if they've finally launched their promised mp3 download store and again today...nothing.

Mouse >>> Don't forget to track the digital music space from the consumer point of view on our sister blog Our Digital Music.

New Music Business Week In Review

Emi >>> Terra Firma, the new owners of EMI, promised to save not sell the label group.

>>> The battle of the ad supported music services - We7 vs. Sprial Frog.  Read an exclusive interview with the head of We7 and vote in the poll here.

>>> Never doubt the power of YouTube. A crazed Britney Spears fan just got his own reality show. Britney also left her managers again at The Firm less than a month after re-hiring them.

Wmg >>> Warner Music Group head Edgar Bronfman declared "awesome growth" is ahead despite signs to the contrary and seemed to hint at a softening in their pro-DRM policy. WMG also made its first steps into gaming with tween title "Freaky Creatures".

>>> Can the merger of digital distributors The Orchard and Digital Music Group turn two losers into a winner?

>>> New study says DRM violates Canadian privacy laws.

>>> P2P fighter MediaDefender got hacked.

>>> Hypebot began a series of 100 Free & Affordable High & Low Tech Ways To Promote Music. Read tips 1-10, 11-20 and 21-30, 31-40, 49-50 and  51-60.

Is Amazon Ever Going To Open Their Download Store?

We were amused buy yesterday's post on Idolator...


"From Amazon.com's homepage today. Is this their way of waving the white flag with regards to their MP3 store, or is this their way of saying "eff you, you idiots, you're just forcing users to take extra steps and they'll probably steal the music anyway because they're as sick of your antics as we are" to SonyBMG and Warner Music Group, who are still holdouts on selling DRM-free music? It's so hard to tell!"  Idolator

It made us wonder...is it possible after all of the rumors and even public announcements by the company, that Amazon isn't going to open their mp3 store after all? All we can tell you is this: some of the record labels - who in the past have been a veritable fountains of information - are staying strangely silent both on and off the record.

We'll keep digging, but if you have heard any rumors or even have any good conspiracy theories, leave 'em in the comment section or email me privately.

New Study Says DRM Violates Canadian Privacy Laws

Canda_flag A new study says that the DRM used to "protect" music and software downloads violates Canadian privacy laws.

The study which was published by the University of Ottawa's Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic showed that DRM is being used to "collect, use and discloseDrm_anti_wall consumers' personal information for secondary purposes" without giving the consumer real notice or the opportunity to opt-out of DRM collection.

iTunes was one of the examples used in the study but it seems that any download with DRM attached would also violate Canadian law.

More: PC World