Flagging music industry seeks reincarnation as iPod upsell

March 19, 2008

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The once haughty recorded music industry has finally collapsed under the weight of its own greed and inefficiency. We can officially call the industry dead, not when the companies are shuttered (because a number of them will survive), but when their main business model is radically different. According to an article in todays Financial Times the music industry is edging ever closer to signing a deal with Apple Computers which may do just that.

The article discusses a deal the two sides are trying to hammer out to shift the labels economics from collecting money based on the number of songs/CD’s that are sold to collecting money based on the number of iPod’s or iPhone’s thats are sold. Its a complex deal that the article emphasizes may not get done, however for the labels to even consider it highlights how very desperate they’ve become. This deal would certainly spell the end of the traditional record labels as their status as added value intermediaries (ie important middlemen) fades even further. Also read a related article which is a bit of a counter-point to the first article albeit with little new information.

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Googleplex: If I use it Google Will Buy it.

July 3, 2007

grandoogle.jpgSo I find out today, via voicemail from Craig and Vincent, that Google is buying my universal mail box, Grandcentral, for $45 million. Despite Grandcentral’s oh so very evil habit of promising 212 area codes and not actually having any, the Grandcentral service is one of the most useful free telephony services out there. Now it joins the ranks of Blogger, Writely, Feedburner and several other applications I’ve used on and off that Google has subsequently purchased. Thus proving once and for all, that if I use your product Google will buy it.

Using this same logic, here are 3 other companies likely to be purchased by Google in the next 12 – 18 months. GMail, EditGrid, Onlywire, a service that saves bookmarks to all the social bookmarking sites your a member of, with one click. GeoBeats, an amazing content site featuring video tours of cities around the globe. Splashcast, geek fanboy favorite and uber media tool to the stars (and star wanna-bes).


Suicide Watch: Universal Music Demands Customers Use P2P

July 2, 2007

umg_logo.jpgYesterday Big JG, the soup eater, posted a note about Universals Music’s mad dash to ends its tortured existence as the worlds largest purveyor of little plastics discs. In an act of classic Seppuku, Universal Music is reported to have told Apple that it was not going to renew its contract to sell music through iTunes. The move comes as a bit of a shock given that the Universal is reported to net somewhere in the $200 million dollar range through iTunes sales. Apple’s steadfast refusal to allow the labels to “wet their beaks” from iPod sales is widely believe to be the main reason behind the move by Universal.

There are two huge problems with Universal’s withdrawal from iTunes. First, they are the only ones doing it. Both Sony/BMG and EMI are on board with Apple and Warner Music is bleeding money and employees so fast it wouldnt dare walk away from any source of income. Second, by refusing to sell its music through iTunes, universal will not effect the consumption of its music, iPod sales or iTunes popularity. People will just get the content that isnt on iTunes they way they get 70-80% of the content on their iPod, from CD’s and P2P networks. The big loser therefore can only be Universal Music, which stands to loose a couple hundred million dollars along with a couple million paying customers. In these lean times for the music industry turning away either is the fastest way to quick death I can think of.

Here is a simple law of survival economics that all digital entertainment business MUST LEARN! “A little money is better then NO money.”


AnywhereCD back in CD Business

June 7, 2007

Back in April, Michael Robertson launched his latest Internet venture called AnywhereCD, which was supposed to sell CD’s with MP3 tracks that could be downloaded immediately. No sooner had the companies press release hit the Blogosphere then Warner Music pulled its music from the site. The lawsuits started to fly and the AnywhereCD was reduced to eMusic.com circa 1999.

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Good News/Bad News: Joost Gets $45 Million, Networks get Fewer Viewers

May 11, 2007

Good news: Today Joost announced they raised $45 million bucks with power VC firm’s from around the globe and a YouTube hating media giant. The deal brings together Index Ventures of the EU, Sequoia Capital of Silicon Valley fame, and the Li Ka-shing foundation run by Hong Kong based billionaire, Li Ka-shing. The international focus of the money flowing into the coffers of Joost is telling as is the participation of the GooTube hating crew at Viacom. The real shocker isnt that Joost got a butt load of money, its that with all the MBA’s, consultants, researchers, futurist and pundits, that are employed by the media companies only Viacom was smart or savvy enough to get in on the deal.

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Joost Signs Deal with CBS

April 12, 2007

screenhunter_002.jpgCBS just put out a press release announcing that they have cut a deal with Joost to show “first run and other premium content”. They are slated to launch content through the application in the spring and say that it will come from a bunch of the CBS divisions. The release says that they will make both new shows as well as previously aired stuff available via Joost. The content is supposed to included top rated shows like CSI: Hoboken and Survivor: Luxembourg.

Check out the full release here and watch for more details to come.


EMI Goes DRM Free. Offers MP3 trade-in. Really!

April 2, 2007

images.jpgI know I couldnt believe it myself. But unless everyone from the BBC to the WSJ has gotten it wrong its no joke. Sure it was first reported by the good folks that brought you the RARA joke but thats just a coincidence. The jist of this is that EMI will be releasing DRM free versions of some of its catalogue on iTunes. From the press release come news of their upgrade program:

Consumers who have already purchased standard tracks or albums with DRM will be able to upgrade their digital music for $0.30/€0.30/£0.20 per track. All EMI music videos will also be available on the iTunes Store DRM-free with no change in price.

Its only taken 10 years for one of the labels to finally give-in and that seems to only have happened with the prodding of iPod/iTunes maven Steve Jobs, who was on hand with the iPhone to show of the new EMI tracks. EMI remains the only major to make this transition but watch for the others to follow lemming like their decision within the year.

EMI has started down the road to building a digital music business by tearing down one of the many roadblocks to competing with free alternatives. Its a start. So happy trails EMI and best of luck.