December 6, 2007
While scanning headlines over at Docuticker a came a cross a story which caught my attention, entitled Cash Starved Forest Service Spends $600,000 to Buy Tasers. Hmmm, lets seee should the agency buy more flame retardant or electroshock treatment for wild bears and hippy stoners? What to do, what to do….
It appears that the Forrest Service has ordered a truck load of Tasers for the 700 officers in its employ. However, they forgot to get those same officers some training in the use of those Tasers so unfortunately the weapons are sitting on a closet self in Gail Kimbell’s office. You gotta love the Bush administration!
July 2, 2007
Yesterday 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.”
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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April 18, 2007
A couple of weeks ago a little known government body called the Copyright Royalty Board set new rates for webcasters like Pandora, Last.fm and other streaming music services. The new rates made many webcasters and streaming music entrepreneurs apoplectic. Only being tangentially related to the streaming music space I was a bit confused by all the doom and gloom talk that had lots of really intelligent and articulate folks claiming that this was the end of streaming radio. It all sounded so over the top that I sent an email to the ever accommodating Tim Westergren, of Pandora, asking for his take on the controversy. I sent him a series of questions largely based on some projections Michael Robertson posted to the Pho List and one of this responses at the time really shocked me.
“There will be no Internet radio by the end of 2007 if these [new rates] go unchanged.”
At the time I thought there was no way that the music industry would allow the mostly legal and fee paying interactive music services to go under. Services like Pandora and Last.fm have been hailed in the media as the new “it” companies for music promotion and fans across the globe embrace these services for music sampling and discovery. But as of yesterday, influenced by the ever present RIAA in the guise of its bastard child SoundExchange, the CRB denied webcasters like Pandora’s attempts to rehear the case. Effectively putting an end to the nascent interactive radio business.
The survival of Pandora and all of Internet radio is in jeopardy because of a recent decision by the Copyright Royalty Board in Washington, DC to almost triple the licensing fees for Internet radio sites like Pandora. Tim Westergren in letter to Pandora commuity
In what seems like a last ditch effort to make a change to the deadly new rates, Tim Westernger sent a letter to the Pandora community asking people to write their lawmakers for a literal stay of execution. If you’ve enjoyed Pandora and Last.fm you might want to go ahead, sign the petition and get involved. Normally I’d also suggest that you go ahead and enjoy Pandora and Last.fm before they go out of business, but since the rates are being retroactively enforced, they apply to everyone that used the service in 2006 and everyone that uses it now, potentially tripling the fees these services owe copyright holders.