The Brit tabloid, Mail on Sunday, has come under attack from British music retailers over a promotion its running with Prince (TAFKAP). It seems that the retailers have gotten all bent out of shape because the paper, with 2 million weekly readers, was smart enough to sign a deal with the Purple One to give away free copies of his latest CD. Prince, like most artist, makes the majority of his money from shows and will also be giving away copies of the CD to people who purchase tickets to his concert. The Guardian Unlimited has the full story but this is yet another sign of the utter collapse of the traditional music industry value chain.
Last week serial business starter and aging Internet super-star, Michael Robertson, launched the 6th iconoclastic Internet venture in his portfolio of disruptive ventures. The new business, called AnywhereCD, billed itself as an MP3 music vendor with a CD delivery option. And while the business itself is a bit of a yawner, its pricing and sales pitch are at least entertaining.
Explaining the AnywhereCD business model is a bit complex, largely because of how they are trying to market the service. Basically for around $15 bucks you can buy a CD from the site and get it sent to you in the mail. With each CD purchase you also get DRM-free files of songs from the CD int eh MP3 format. This is pretty impressive given the labels resistance to MP3 downloads even when they might make money from it. This is of course where things get kinda wonky. For $3 less than price of both the CD and MP3 files, AnywhereCD will sell you the CD and MP3 files but only give you the MP3 files. Confused?
The CD is clearly the basis of pricing on the site but their sales pitch is fashioned in a way to make it seem that the MP3 files are what’s being sold. The MP3 delivery and all the digital goodness that flows from having a DRM-free digital file is ancillary to the basic transaction of buying a CD for 12 bucks. The sites original pricing model featured two sets of prices one for MP3’s + a CD and the other for just the MP3’s. Thankfully, before anyone really had a chance to ask any questions or point out what was truly being offered, the MP3 album option disappeared.
In less then 12 hours after the sites launch, on April 12th, the MP3 only option was gone from the site. Apparently even the pretense of being able to buy albums exclusively as MP3 files is more then the labels can stomach. Gone is the “MP3 Album + CD” verbiage, replaced by the much safer and probably more truthful CD plus MP3 wording. Thus an interesting, if not truly new, online marketing and sales scheme was killed on the vine by the luddite music business. But wait, there’s more…
On April 20th Reuters reported that AnywhereCD had filed a lawsuit against Warner Music for breach of contract, business defamation and trade libel. Former liquor vendor and current Warner Music topper, Edgar Bronfman Jr., is reported to have said that selling digital music without DRM is illogical, clearly he believes not selling any music at all is the better option.
Our Russian friends over at ALLofMP3.com are showing the kind of staying power that would make Lexington Steel proud. Despite being perpetually attacked by the bulldogs of the copyright industries ALLofMP3.com continues to evolve their offering and enhance their site. While checking out their latest upgrades I came across a rather incongruous image on the home page.
It was a link in the news section directing people to take a survey being conducted by the good folks at P2Pnet.net a site dedicated to news with a distint anti-RIAA flavor. The survey is being billed as the first online survey of perceptions of the RIAA and its title, The Sultans of Spin, shouldn’t in anyway skew the results.
ALLofMp3.com decision to feature the survey on their homepage is what struck me as strange. Last year the US trade rep was on the war path and tried to get Russian strongman Vladimir “toxic tea” Putin to shut the site down. ALLofMP3.com responded by starting a half-hearted attempt to get their side of the story out but ended-up just ignoring the public altogether. ALLofMP3 seemed more comfortable trying to avoid confrontations with the IFPI, RIAA and BPI by putting out luke warm statements asserting the legality of their service under Russian law. This is what made the prominent placement of what is clearly anti-RIAA propaganda so shocking. When the upgraded their site did they increase the amount of backboneas well?
The good folks at the IFPI released a report (pdf) today which pegged the size of the digital music industry at $2 billion. This is double the size it was in 2005 and while thats great news, but still doesnt cover the homaging in the rest of the industry. Music sales are expected to continue its on going decline by another 3% drop in global music sales this year. Besides the news that “digital is big and growing”, the most interesting bit of info in the report was the split between online and mobile, which music was generally evenly split 50/50 online/mobile. Who knew? The only other bit of the report worth reading was the quotes from various music industry executives.
Its been coming for a few weeks now… In early August the LA Times reported (here or reg free here) that at least 3 labels had cut off Tower’s supply of overpriced plastic discs as a result of its failure to keep the checks flowing. Now, recently hired Tower CEO, Joseph D’Amico is making good on his promise to sell the company by declaring it bust and begging anyone with a checkbook and masochistic tendencies to take it off his hands. But dont worry the stores arent going to close since NARM thinks their swell and their bankers were willing to spot them $85 million. The full press release is here, my take on snippets of it are below. Check out the PDF’s of the various and sundry chapter 11 related fillings here. Read the rest of this entry »