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Music 2.0 Week In Review: Lala + WMG, Idol Cart Dominance, EMI 4 Sale & Much More

Lala_beta_2 > LaLa adds 10 cent song streams backed by $20 million from WMG.

> American Idol totally dominates the US charts. Is this the day the music died?

> EMI considers sale of recording division and HQ move to LA.

> Can The Music Industry Save Itself? - Part 3. Build Label Brands, Part 4. Chase TheBroken_record Niches

 > Study ranks US 8th in music intelligence

> Is Sony BMG hurting the music industry with a demand to sell mp3's via the agency model?

> Winning Fans - Metallica vs. N.I.N.

> UMG will sell direct to mobile consumers via Qualcomm's BrandXtend

> Should perforning rights societies take equity vs. cash from startups?

> ASCAP partners with Nimbit for artists services.

> Gydget gets free band widgets right

UMG Goes Direct To Consumer w/Qualcomm

Universal UMG announced that it will offer direct-to-consumer mobile music and services via Qualcomm's BrandXtend solution. UMG's mobile offering will be available iva artist Web and WAP sites, CD packaging and its GetMusic.comBrandxtend_logo portal. Direct sales means higher profits from ringtones, video ringtones, wallpapers, etc.  and  provides delivery, campaign management and merchandising tools including recommendations, bundles and text campaigns.

I'm not sure why we're not seeing more direct to consumer sales from labels?  Perhaps they're still afraid of upsetting retail. But direct sales means higher margins, the ability to up-sell and the capture of buyer info that leads to more sales. WHAT DO YOU THINK? Do direct sales help or hurt the music industry?

Idol Dominates Charts: Is This The Day The Music Died?

No offense to Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper or Don McLean, but I think we may be witnessing the actual day the music died and this time I can even name the man who killed it.

Americanidollogo_2 A week after being named the top British manager of all time by Billboard, SimonSimon_fuller_203_2 Fuller manages or records the acts that produced 17 songs on the magazine's Hot 100. 14 of those songs make their debut this week and all the acts (I refuse to call them artists) got their start on Fuller's American Idol. To find his closest chart rival, you have to look back to 1964 when the music industry was just coming into own and 14 singles charted in a week by the Brian Epstein-managed Beatles.

I'm sorry Simon Fuller, while this appears to be an epic accomplishment, it's also symptomatic...

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New Music Video Games Co. Launched

Video_game_reality_is Music Video Games, a new music-based game company, will focus on delivering interactive entertainment experiences for both casual gamers and music fans.

MvG was founded by gaming vets David Warhol, president of video game studio Realtime Associates and Vincent Bitetti, a former CEO of TDK Mediactive. Bitetti will act as CEO and Warhol will be COO. Former WMG SVP of Business & Legal Mark Goldstein is listed as a strategic advisor.

According to Pacific Crest Securities, the U.S. online casual games business will grow to $725 million in 2008...

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Guitar Hero III Hits 1M Mobile Downloads

Guitar_hero_mobile Hands-On Mobile says that Guitar Hero III Mobile has hit 1 million downloads including monthly subscriptions becoming one of the fastest selling games in mobile gaming history.

More than 250,000 songs are played daily by mobile subscribers across the U.S. Interestingly the most played  are re-cords of "Slow Ride", "Mississippi Queen", and "Black Magic Woman". (more)

Building The Label Brand

Our post on Building Label Brands as part of our ongoing Can The Music Industry Save Itself? series and the discussion that followed led to this astute comment from Jesse Kanner, Senior Director of Digital Strategy at Capitol/Virgin EMI Music:

Jessekanner_175 As an employee of a major label, I’ve had label branding argument a few times.

My position is: Label branding doesn’t matter to the consumer - until it does. Meaning - if you conduct yourself right, market well, understand your audiences and messaging, attend to the sonic and visual quality of your product, consumers will start to pay attention to your mark. It matters. People do need filters.

Attention label folk: If you can’t market yourselves, how on earth are you able to effectively market your artists? A record label is a promise. It defines an aesthetic standard - a set of assumptions. If you keep your promises your brand builds equity. If you don’t, no one cares about what you have to say - everyone loses (label, artist and consumer).

Friday's Music 2.0 Briefing: Bronfman Speaks, A8, EMI & More


> WMG CEO Edgar Bronfman talks to the Financial Times: "Within five years . . . I'm pretty confident that things will be significantly better." (FT) Here that Wall Street? Are you willing to give him 5 more years?

> A8, a leading multi-faceted Chinese digital music provider, is planning an IPO on the Hong Kong exchange and the $28M they hope to receive will be used for expansion. (press release)

> EMI is licensing mp3's to MediaAnywhere's airport kiosks.  (MusicWeek) I think you'll see a lot of growth in kiosks and labels are smart to embrace them.

> Moneyland, a multi-artist collection offering a look at today's economic injustices, hits Stores July 8. T features The Del McCoury Band, Merle Haggard, Chris Knight, Marty Stuart, Bruce Hornsby, Patty Loveless, Emmylou Harris, and more. (press release) I don't often highlight specific releases, but this is an important topic and I've often wondered why there aren't more themed releases.

> Rock You/Mystuff offers a suite of tools useful for sprucing up MySpace, Facebook and blog pages. Check out a really easy to use slide show creator after the jump.

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EMI May Be For Sale, HQ Shift To LA

Emi_logo_2 According to London's Evening Standard Terra Firma's Guy Hands is said to be open to offers to unload his record division and hold onto the more lucrativeGuy_hands publishing arm. He also is considering consolidating US operations in LA rather than the current NYC. Its all part of move to help investors recoup some of the almost $5 billion they paid for EMI rather than ask them to be patient through what Hands sees as a long term turn-around. 

None of these rumors will make EMI's now 8 month old search for a new CEO or  other turnaround efforts an easier. Who - whether executive or artist - wants to join an team with such an uncertain future? (more: Daily Swarm)

WMG Invests $20M In LaLa's 10 Cent Song Streams

Wmg Warner Music Group has invested $20 million in an experiment by LaLa.com to offer 10 cent song streams from all four major labels. The label group also agreed to advertise LaLa via 25 million CD inserts in exchange for a greater share of ownership according to entrepreneur Michael Robertson. A dime buys unlimited web streams of a track and new Lala_beta users get 50 free.

It's time that Edgar and Lyor surrounded themselves at WMG with people that actually...

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Winning Fans: Metallica vs. Nine Inc Nails

Metallica_logo_2 Metallica, who have often been critical of file sharing, are finally joining Music 2.0...soft of.  For $25 fans can join their Mission:Metallica fan club as a platinum member and get an mp3 version of the bands new album along with a complex array of other goodies like "fly on the wall" coverage and contests.  Add another $8 and they'll send you the CD.

Nin Contrast this to Nine Inch Nails who tells fans, just give me your email address and you're in my club.  Then I'll give you some music free, more music in any format you want cheaply, and if you really want to spend some money I've got limited edition stuff to sell you.

If you're a fan, which band wins your loyalty?

Kork Agency Joins Agency Group

Tagkorklogo08 (Celebrity Access) The Kork Agency is merging with The Agency Group. Kork agents Christian Bernhardt and his team Ryan Craven, Andrew Skikne, Avery McTaggart, and Molly Fitzgerald will all begin working out of the Agency Group's LA office July 1st. The entire Kork roster including Atmosphere, Aesop Rock, The Gossip, Beirut, Peaches, Coco Rosie, Yelle, Jens Lekman, ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, Suicide and Butthole Surfers will also transition as well.

Kork's Texas office will remain open and operate under a new moniker, Uncle Booking with agents Erik Carter and Jonathan Frye.

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Thursday's Music 2.0 Briefing: WMG, Universal 360, Borders Down, Virgin Gone & More


> CLASSICAL 360: Universal is moving into the management of classical music and jazz artists and producing live events with a new UK based division. (NY Times) It wasn't that long ago that MCA (which later became Universal) was forced to sell off its US agency division because of conflict of interest.

> HMV will add more music tech products to its mix when it opens a new concept store in Toronto. (Globe & Mail)

> Borders' first quarter music sales dropped almost 26%. (press release) Of course, the fact that they are devoting less and less floor space to music had nothing to do with it...

Virgin Radio will disappear as a national brand in the UK. (FT)

> MP3 player sales are sagging and the future looks dim thanks to competition from cell phones and other devices. (SJ Mercury News)

> Podcast listenership continues to grow. Here are the Edison Research study results. (FMQB)

Can The Music Industry Save Itself ? - Parts 3 & 4


Broken_record PREVIOUSLY: Introduction, Parts 1 & 2  - 1. Off With Their Heads, 2. Cut The Fat

The music industry is facing many challenges. How can the major labels and the entrepreneurs that seek to replace them adjust to compete in this new and  evolving environment?

3. BUILD LABEL BRANDS - Instead of suing fans, record labels must work to earn their loyalty.

Labels once promoted their releases on the paper sleeves that covered albums.  I poured over them to see what I might be missing.  I couldn't wait for the next Warner Brothers Loss Leaders. Twice a year I mailed in $2 (no S&H charge) and waited expectantly...

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Wednesday's Music Briefing: Borders, AllOfMp3, National Lampoon & More


> Borders.com has relaunched its web site without back office support from Amazon. The music section features playlists, exclusive concerts and used. Nothing new here, but there is  a comfortable and attractive layout that should attract some adult customers and Borders fans.

> The RIAA has dropped its lawsuit against notorious Russian download sites allofmp3 and mp3sparks claiming victory since the sites are all but out of business. (ars)

> New music format allows more user control of mix. (BetaNews)

> National Lampoon has launched its own audio label mining its comedy vaults as well as new content. (press release) I often think comedy is an under-developed area - particularly young and niche comedy.

> "DRM-free music: too little too late." (Silicon Alley Insider)

> An online music store for Middle Eastern ears. (National)

> Comparing free online streaming services. (MP3 Insider podcast)

ASCAP Partners With Nimbit


ASCAP will now include Nimbit’s direct-to-fan sales & catalog management tools as part of the basic membership package for more than 320,000 ASCAP songwriters and composers.  Nimbit will also offer premium packages in connection with ASCAP's member benefits.

In 2003 ASCAP launched Webtools as an umbrella program...

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US Ranks 8th In Musical Intelligence

Brain_music More than 26,000 respondents from 25 countries took an eMusic sponsored Music Intelligence test designed to determine whether they have a well-rounded music collection.  The survey revealed that Icelandics have the highest average national music IQ with a score of 119.

The homeland of Bjork, The Sugar Cubes and Sigur Ros beat Switzerland who came second with 113 points and Ireland with 111 points. Other countries to demonstrate better than average music intelligence...

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Is Sony BMG Hurting The Music Industry?

Drmdeathwatch_3 COMMENTARY: When Amazon launched an all mp3 download store, it seemed as if DRM was finally dead. But now things seem stalled. Napster just joined Amazon selling only mp3's. Wal-Mart does too, though with only 3 of the 4 major labels, and eMusic offers only indie mp3's. But the dominate paid download destination in the world iTunes as well as Zune, Rhapsody Yahoo! and others still sell mostly copy-protected music while declaring vaguely that "DRM-free is coming".

Last week we learned who is to blame for this delay in the inevitable: Sony BMG.

Many download stores are afraid to confuse customers with multiple formats. So without the second larger major, they won't embrace mp3's.  And unlike all other labels. Sony BMG is insisting...

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Equity vs. Cash For Rights Societies?

Money_leaves_music_2 The major labels and publishers often get flack for stalling innovation with demands for large advances and other demands, and deservedly so. But performing rights societies, with their own complex set of rules and priorities are often a roadblock as well.

A new UK white paper proposes that performing rights societies consider negotiating for equity with music startups rather than a more specific payment structure. "Should Societies Pursue Equity?" acknowledges...

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Gydget Gets Band Widgets Right

Gydget_2Few music 2.0 tools have gotten higher adoption rates as widgets. These little pieces of code are popular because they encourage viral promotion. Plus if you keep the widget updated, anywhere it's placed - MySpace, Facebook, Friendster and any blog or site - is updated instantly too.

Several sites offer tools for creating widegts including a great one from Nimbit. I used Widgetbox to create one for TheRockDose.com in the lower far right column here on Hypebot. But Gydget appears to be...

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Tuesday's Music Briefing: SonyBMG, Napster, CD Singles & More


> Napster has debuted an over the air video service and music subscription service in Japan. (press release)

> A short history of digital music failures. (Register)

> Woolworth will stop selling CD singles saying the format is in "terminal decline". (Press Association)

> Overall radio revenue dropped 5% in the 1st quarter of 2008. (FMQB)

> Thus far the majority of Web 2.0 companies are failing to generate much revenue. (FT) Some of this is about inflated expectations and values. Bring those down to earth and give them time. Things are just getting started.

Music 2.0 Week In Review: Napster, EMI, A Band With A Plan & More

Mp3_kittylg > Napster finally switched to all mp3 with 6 million tracks from all 4 majors and many indies. Hypebot has an exclusive interview with Napster COO Christopher Allen. Later in the week the company reported a rise in quarterly revenue despite slow subscription growth.

> Can The Music Industry Save Itself? Part I - Intro, Part II - Off With Their Heads. More next week.

> Citi Bank set tough new goals for EMI.

> "A Band With A Plan" takes a fresh approach to the fan financing model.

> Music 1.0 Scorecoard: Major label stats.

> AOL added two new niche music sites.

> Beach Boy Brian Wilson returns to Capital EMI.

Tv VIDEO: Napster's COO on pricing, piracy and the new mp3 store, Tom Wait's fake press conference

Friday's Music 2.0 Briefing: Chrysalis, Touring, Sony BMG's "Agency" & More

> Chrysalis struggles to get back on track after pulling an offer to sell. (FT)

> Touring acts are learning the power of online announcements, blogs, videos and even concerts. (AP)

> ArtistDirect reports a major drop in income and loss for the quarter. (SEC filing)

> Three Napster shareholders want seats on the board to implement their own turnaround plan. (AlleyInsider)

Sonybmg > I have to admit that I missed this story earlier this week. Sony BMG has been slowest major to roll out DRM free other than with Amazon and Napster. Now we know why.  The second largest major label group insists on selling mp3's using the agency or commission model. "Sony BMG is actually the seller and sets all retail prices on its content while Amazon acts as Sony BMG's agent and gets a commission on the sale," Billboard reports.

> "MT9, a new-generation digital-music file that allows people to tweak the mixes of each element in a particular piece of music." (Idolator)


  • More in our "Can The Music Industry Save Itself?" series
  • A look at the innovations that are turning Nimbit into an artist services powerhouse
  • Our take on Sony BMG's agency model

Have a great holiday weekend.

Music Publishing Fast Facts

  • The Harry Fox Agency represents over 1.9 million songs from almost 35,000 music publishers for mechanical licensing within the U.S.
  • Under American Copyright Law, mechanical licenses are required for music to be distributed through online music services.
  • The current U.S. statutory mechanical rate is 9.1¢ for songs five minutes or less and 1.75¢ per minute for songs over five minutes.

Coalition of Independent Music Stores Charts for 5-21-08

Cims IMS Top 20 Debuts for Tuesday, May 20, 2008


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"Band With A Plan" Ups Fan Driven Ante

Telling_on_trixie_2 NY indie band Telling On Trixie has dubbed itself "A Band With A Plan" and launched abandwithaplan.com to raise $50,000 and involve fans in the decision making process as they record and release a new album and video.

A Band with a Plan differs from other recent crowd-sourcing models. "In some programs, one-third of the money raisedTelling_photo_3 goes to some company that devised the model, and there's nothing left for marketing, much less a video," says lead singer Derek Nicoletto. In this D.I.Y. effort every penny goes to finance the album and video. "And instead of just asking fans to donate, as some artists have done, we're inviting them to hop on board on our 'Little Engine that Could' and go with us on the ride."

"Telling on Trixie fans tend to give us their opinion on everything from our clothes to our set list," according to Nicoletto. "So we thought - let's get their input from the beginning and give them an insider's view of the process. Depending on the level they select, they'll be our label, our sponsors, our A&R and sometimes, guest stars in our video and album."

How It Works

At the first, ten-dollar "Trixie" level, donors will receive digital downloads of Telling on Trixie's second album. At $25, fans get an advance copy of the new CD and become a "Green Room" member. Green Room membership allows fans into the secure areas of the website...

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SpiralFrog Spawns FrogClub

Spiralfrog SpiralFrog has launched SpiralFrogClub.com as well as started its first North American marketing campaign. SpiralFrog currently has 3.8 million unique monthly visitors and 1.1 million registered users

SpiralFrogClub.com is designed to showcases the service's benefits over illegal P2P.
The microsite allows users to sample and download free music from 12 genres. Users choose from virtual dancers that represent different playlists. The dancers can be personalized with hairstyles, accessories and upload pictures that become the dancer's face.
The site also includes a feature letting users pass along playlists and virtual dancers to friends.

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