Yup. Just like ice cream samples.
Archive for the ‘Music’ Category
The second largest company in the world reported earnings last night and one of the break-outs is: iPod sales continue to decline.
Extrapolate what you wish: saturation is near peak, no compelling reason to upgrade, etc
The fact remains, iPod sales are down 4% from last quarter and 11% year over year. Meanwhile, AppleTV did decently, iPhone continues to sell in record numbers, and the iPad, which didn’t even exist 6 months ago, sold $2.8 billion.
Compare the 9 million iPods sold last quarter with the 4 million iPads and it is clear where the momentum is headed.
With Apple focused on iPad and iPhone and even AppleTV finally becoming more than a “hobby,” it seems that the iPod will become more and more irrelevant to Apple’s numbers.
Apple has 70% share of music players and has set its sights on other mediums.
If the single largest company acting as the largest driver of music consumption and music sales no longer cares so much about music, what does that mean for the music industry?
There’s a chance Google puts some pizazz back in the game but I’m betting Google’s more focused on tablets and smartphones, just like Apple is.
Maybe some lawsuits can spice things up? Without Glee, it seems, no one would care at all.
Grouch Marx can still tickle the funny bone but even he couldn’t get a laugh on the state of affairs in the music biz.
With the (rumored) iTablet announcement less than two weeks away, I’m wondering what iPhone interface tricks Apple has up its sleeve for OS4. What started as an elegant, simple GUI is getting more and more clogged. I’ve only got 6 screens worth of apps but I’ve seen friends with plenty more. Quick, random access went out the window 20 apps ago.
The ability to organize my apps and screens in iTunes gives me a semblance of control but in the end I’m just shuffling apps around and not solving the problem. Not that I see a solution either. But Apple must have something. The clutter of tons of screens with apps must be driving Steve crazy by now.
One iPhone App I Want
And anyone with MobileMe should download that Apple app by the same name and check it out. Pictures and video galleries streamed to your iPhone with the option to choose how much local cache used for pictures. Works fine. Neat but no big deal. But a glimpse into the near-future?
How hard would it be to extend this to my iTunes library? With the Lala acquisition, probably not too hard.
All my music and playlists available for on-demand streaming with a user-level cache setting? Yes please. Basically extending the recently added iTunes share library functionality beyond the home network to the iPhone.
Forget monthly subscriptions, streaming user-owned content will be the next step.
With the rumors heating up about Apple buying Lala, it seems the web is focused on the subscription side of things.
But the first thing I thought when I saw Google’s Chrome for netbooks due next year, “what about iTunes?”
If the dumb terminal works — and Google is one of a handful that actually has a shot of doing so — the missing piece will be iTunes and iPod sync and music. With limited local storage, sync doesn’t really matter. It will be more like a heavily cached stream that should — even with limited storage — permit at least a few hours of local cache. But iTunes only runs as a local app not web cloud. I wouldn’t even be able to access iTunes at all on Chromium.
But Lala is web cloud. Perfect.
There’s also the distinct possibility that web cloud streaming access and integration with an iTunes account could be extremely important for the Yeti-like Apple tablet not yet spied in the wild.
Maybe “subscription” and all that comes with that business model is what Apple is actually after. Somehow, I don’t believe it. I don’t see this as driven by the business model but by the fact that iTunes is application based and Apple doesn’t have a web based product ready so it is easier to buy one.
Web cloud streaming capabilities seems more likely with how the wind is blowing with netbooks and the rumored iTablet.
UCSC, home of the Banana Slugs, is looking for a Grateful Dead Archivist.
If making $52k to live in Santa Cruz and listen to Jerry all day is your ideal job, hit the link below, just be sure you’ve got a Masters degree as it is a requirement. And no, Graphix Bong U does not count.
See the full job description here:
The University Library of the University of California, Santa Cruz, seeks an enterprising, creative, and service-oriented archivist to join the staff of Special Collections & Archives (SC&A) as Archivist for the Grateful Dead Archive. This is a potential career status position. The Archivist will be part of a dynamic, collegial, and highly motivated department dedicated to building, preserving, promoting, and providing maximum access both physically and virtually to one of the Library’s most exciting and unique collections, The Grateful Dead Archive (GDA).
Nothing like a Summer Friday for burying the news. And yes, it looks like EMI Digital is essentially disbanded.
Billboard has learned that EMI executive VP of digital marketing Cory Ondrejka is leaving the company.
Ondrejka is the second high-profile digital executive to leave EMI after having been recruited away from the technology industry. Former Google CIO Douglas Merrill left the company this March. Ondrejka was the co-founder of the virtual world Second Life.
Now, I was no fan of Cory’s hire. It wasn’t anything personal, just the wrong background for the job. And when Douglas Merril left just a bit ago, I didn’t think Cory would last in the top spot.
EMI certainly seems to be floundering. BMG/KKR is actively targeting the EMI publishing biz and Guy Hands had to inject hundreds of millions in fresh equity to keep the ship afloat. A year from now, EMI will most likely not look like itself.
Paul’s song “Great Day” which is featured in the Judd Apatow movie, Funny People, is free for download. Go get some free MP3 goodness.
“We reject the view,” he writes in a letter to the top legal advisor at the Copyright Office, “that copyright owners and their licensees are required to provide consumers with perpetual access to creative works. No other product or service providers are held to such lofty standards. No one expects computers or other electronics devices to work properly in perpetuity, and there is no reason that any particular mode of distributing copyrighted works should be required to do so.”
So says Steven Metalitz, the Washington DC lawyer who represents the MPAA, RIAA, and other rightsholders
The fallacy, of course, is that electronic devices are hardware. Hardware does die. Software need not die. It can be backed up, transferred, transcoded. That digital photo I took ten years ago on a Sony Mavica wrote the image in jpeg to a floppy disk.
The Mavica and floppy are both long gone. The jpeg remains — having survived transfer on probably a dozen computers since then.
He rejects the view that we can OWN something. Everything will be a license, perhaps yanked off your Kindle if he feels like it. Do I believe Steven doesn’t understand the difference between hardware and software? How I can build an Apple II from old, spare parts and fire up that copy of Bank Street Writer if I get the urge? He wants the servers in the sky, not owned, not controlled by the consumer, to have the final say.
All so they can sell the exact same work again and again. He wants consumers to pay for their failures.
I remember being eight and on vacation the hotel had this pinata. Each kid got a couple of whacks with a baseball bat and when the thing finally broke it was worse than a Who concert. Twenty plus kids rushing a small spot of ground piled with candy. Mayhem doesn’t begin to describe it.
Kinda reminds me of MJ. Everyone rushing to make some bucks before the body is even buried. Sharpton and Jesse and papa Joe and the rest of them in a mad scrimmage for the candy on the ground. After all, it’s just sitting there. Throw a few elbows, bite some arms, and grab it. Doesn’t matter if you don’t know what kind of candy it is. Just grab it before someone else does.
There is a guy who knows… John Branca is the guy with those answers but he ain’t talking. Yet. But there’s money at stake and a legacy that must be shined to remove some of the tarnish that’s built up the past decade of wackiness (and worse). Yeah, everyone wants their slice of the King of Pop.
And that includes AEG. After all, they’re the ones who took a huge gamble on an (essentially) uninsured and faded star. AEG looked good with all those sold out dates, ridiculous VIP packages, and a media storm guaranteed. And now?
Looking at a bunch of empty dates for their venue during the high season, a chunk of production money down the drain, and one million tickets to refund.
They got some video of rehearsals in the can so they’ll recoup some production and MJ upfront there but it won’t go far enough.
So, how about if people actually pay to NOT see MJ?
I mean, what if AEG could get people to pay for a ticket but AEG doesn’t actually put on the show. No lights. No stage. No dancers or security. And, of course, no Michael. Totally crazy, right?
Fans will be also given the option to receive the concert tickets as souvenirs in lieu of the full refund. The tickets were printed with the lenticular process and were designed by Jackson, according to the release. The offer will be valid through Aug. 14.
Everyone wants their little piece. And AEG is willing to sell it to them.
When Spitzer de-criminalized ticket scalping in New York State in 2007, it brought out into the light the underground system that had existed for years. After all, plenty of nearby states didn’t have the $2 above face rule and it made no sense for New York to try and stop the underground market. Control and tax is usually a much better system and scalping became legal.
But Monday, the law’s sunset provision hit and for the moment, scalping tickets for more then $2 over face is again illegal in New York.There’s work going on to enact a new law but in the meantime, none of the online ticket brokers should be able to legally sell me a ticket for more than $2 over face value. My credit card and shipping address are both in New York so it’s fairly simple to weed me out.
Sure, one would imagine the smaller guys would ignore the law and try and fly under the rader.
But how about StubHub? Owned by Ebay, a public company? More than willing to bill and ship Madison Square Garden Green Day tickets for well over face to my New York address today.
Or TicketsNow? Owned by public company Ticketmaster, currently under DoJ review for its buyout offer of Live Nation? Yup. Them too. More than willing to sell and ship me Green Day tickets for hundreds of dollars over face value to NYC.
It’s fairly clear. Since Monday, re-selling tickets for more than $2 over face in New York State is against the law. A couple of major public companies don’t seem to care if it’s illegal and it’s interesting how it’s being allowed. After all, catching them is as simple as logging in and buying some tickets.
Be interesting to see how this unravels and how long the flagrant flouting is permitted…
Proving once again he gets the new world and has a soul and a heart…from the NIN store.
A Letter from Trent:
This is for something important. Eric De La Cruz is dying and needs a heart transplant. He keeps getting turned down for a transplant list because he’s on Nevada Medicaid, and there are no transplant centers in Nevada. We want to get involved and hopefully so do you, so we’re extending a hand. His sister Veronica (former Anchor and Internet Correspondent for CNN) has started a campaign to save his life.
Eric’s situation shines a bright light on a broken health care system, and his particular set of problems are being addressed on the political front, aiming for reform in addition to the need for immediate financial help to keep him alive TODAY. I think we can help with the latter.
Here’s what we’re offering – three options:
If you have a ticket to a NIN/JA show: if you donate $1,000 to this cause, we’ll invite you to come hang out with us before the NIN/JA show of your choice. You and a guest can watch NIN and Street Sweeper Social Club’s soundchecks, eat dinner backstage with us, take pics / get autographs and watch the show from the side of the stage if you’d like.
If you donate $300, you and a friend can join us for NIN and SSSC’s soundchecks and a handshaking / hug session before doors open at the NIN/JA show of your choice.
If you do NOT have a ticket to a NIN/JA show: if you donate $1,200 to this cause, we’ll invite you to come hang out with us before the NIN/ JA show of your choice and provide 2 tickets (best available). You and a guest can watch soundcheck, eat dinner backstage with us, take pics / get autographs and watch the show from the side of the stage if you’d like.
100% of the money collected from this will go directly to Eric’s fund.
I hope you’ll consider helping out with this.
Sincerely, Trent Reznor
But his piece on the need for artist support for performance royalties for radio digressed into Choruss and he misses the mark:
Like with this Choruss thing. Sure, the devil is in the details, but I’ve broken bread with Jim Griffin over this topic, the intent of the rights holders isn’t to fuck college students, but to create a legal avenue for music acquisition that generates revenue to purveyors. Suddenly this is a foul goal? Music should be free forever more? There should be no legal alternative to P2P theft?
But if you read the online prognosticators, this is an evil plot by the record companies, to collect names and add heinous college fees. How this story has gotten so twisted, I do not know. But I will say that Choruss has done a bad job of telling its story, of getting the facts of its mission across. Labels have been hated for so long, having sued their customers, consumers no longer give them a pass, they believe if the labels are behind it it’s a rip-off, it’s faulty, it must be stopped. So a few bloggers take down the entire mission.
I doubt Bob reads my little blog but I am one of those who does think Chorrus is an evil plot by the record companies. Now Bob is right. Music shouldn’t be free forever and a legal alternative to P2p would be a fantastic shift. But I haven’t seen many people argue that music should be free forever. Striking down that straw man arguement doesn’t make the point.
He’s right again that labels are hated, sued their customers and that Choruss has done a lousy job in telling the story. But what he misses — ironically in a piece on how artists should band together — is that the labels have a long history of ripping off the artists. And that Choruss is a label-run entity at its core.
We need look no further than the 2007 settlement with Napster that yielded a few hundred million to the labels. The New York Post had this line that perfectly sums it up:
What’s more, these sources said that after the labels recouped their legal expenses, there wasn’t much left to pass along to the artists.
Choruss would have so much more credibility if it came from ASCAP or BMI or any place other than WMG. I don’t get how Bob can believe that Choruss will be transparently set-up when transpancy is the last thing any label wants. Again, who creates the formula for tracking that determines how much each artist is paid? How much does Choruss take for setting up the toll booth? How long will payments take? And why should artists trust the labels when the labels are the same companies that have screwed them for decades, charging for breakage, no payments for music clubs, late or missing payments for digital settlements, etc.?
Maybe Bob is 100% right. The intent isn’t to fuck college students. But the labels will fuck artists. They’ve done nothing but.
I’m not against Choruss as a concept. Yet. I’m against who is in charge. The best idea in the world run by incompetent crooks will not end well. Yes, the labels need to be on board with such a concept but if they really want traction, they’ll step back and let someone else run it.
The story is trickling out. Larry Lessig has a few words on his blog about the issue:
Received a notice that Warner Music had objected to its being posted on copyright grounds. Apparently, YouTube’s content-ID algorithm had found music in the video that they claimed ownership to. The organization is apparently responding by disputing the claim. I’ll report back when I hear more.
This isn’t a DMCA takedown notice or a WMG initiated action — except indirectly. This is YouTube’s content algorithm system put into place by terms of agreements with the major labels. For the best analysis I’ve seen of how the system works, go here. Evidently, it’s fairly good but with a few truck sized holes. Like the one where the system needs the first 30 seconds of the song.
Last December 2008, WMG dissolved its agreement with YouTube and pulled all its music videos from the site. So any WMG content flagged by the system becomes a problem for YouTube. Hence the notice. WMG is still the bully, it just got YouTube’s content system doing the punching.
Bob Dylan announced the US summer leg of his tour today. Minor league ball parks. Mostly General Admission. Under $70 ticket price. Kids are free. The Bob Dylan Show. Gotta love it.
Along with fellow troubadour Willie Nelson, this summer The Bob Dylan Show will also feature John Mellencamp, marking just the second time in the past 24 years that these three performers have shared the concert stage.
bobdylan.com is happy to offer pre-sale tickets for all ballpark shows to its visitors. At each venue, the gates will open 30 minutes early for holders of tickets purchased during the bobdylan.com pre-sale.
Visit this page for pre-sale passwords, which will be posted in the table below before each pre-sale begins.
All concert tickets are priced at $67.50 and most shows are general admission, allowing fans to grab a seat in the stands or find a place to watch from the field. Children 14 and under get in free with each adult ticket holder.
Showtime is 5:30pm and gates open at 5:00. Gates will open at 4:30 for holders of bobdylan.com pre-sale tickets.
With the fleeing from Eqypt holiday approaching, I have no time to leaven the bread. These little matzoh bites will need to suffice.
- iPod near saturation point. According to Piper Jaffray’s annual round-up. No big surprise there. iPhone and applications will be growth driver. Check out Lose it! and iFitness after the big holiday meal.
- Zappos, the uber-consumer friendly internet shoe bazaar, has an excellent Google Maps mash-up showing sales on the US map. Now if I can only figure out how to make it my iTunes visualizer for the newly released Hartford 77 GD show…
- Such the irony as the major labels impose a new pricing scheme and Apple plays along — see iPod saturation point above — and at the same time, the major labels offer 350,000 tracks for free to the Chinese through Google. So why do I feel like that $0.29 price hike is going to subsidize some Bon Jovi fan in China? We get a price increase, they get it for free, and the RIAA is still bitching about piracy? Oh Vey!
- If you want to feel like even more of a second-class citizen, go watch the Spotify review on You Tube. Again, not available in the USA.
- And if anyone can possibly explain to me what Chuck — I can announce three press releases per day every day – Schumer is even talking about with this new ticket reseller bill, I would be very grateful. Is it like a 48 hour waiting period on buying a gun? Ticket brokers must wait 48 hours? Basic economics should tell Chuck this won’t effect the pricing curve but hey, it must be a consumer-friendly bill because the head of Ticketmaster supports it! That alone should be enough to bury this misguided and useless piece of legislation. Noise for its own sake…
“I am very happy to support Sen. Schumer’s thoughtful proposal and leadership on this issue,” said Ticketmaster CEO Irving Azoff.
- Q1 2009 had precisely zero albums released that made it to platinum status. And U2′s new album sold a paltry 35,000 units last week in the USA. Strong international sales will help but it looks like a hard climb to get to even 1.5 million US. Halfway there and the little engine is running out of steam.
- Beatles re-mastered? All of the UK albums? Hell yes!
Lars Ulrich, drummer for uber-band, Metallic, sat with the LA Times for an interview. Lars has been an outspoken critic of P2p and file-sharing. And he’s a self-admitted Luddite. Wrong side of the past decade to be on.
But as I noted a few months ago, Metallica’s record deal is soon up and Lars is correctly saying that Metallica doesn’t really have a need for a major label anymore:
“The primary — not the only, but the primary — function of a record label is to act as a bank. When you’re fortunate enough to be successful and so on, you don’t need to rely on record companies as the banks. . . .”
I read Lars saying “bank” to mean “venture capital firm.” He’s Danish so I give him the ESL room in the quote — but he’s right. A&R is like venture capital. Signing a bunch of bands and paying for their records — an up-front against future royalties — is a lot like making a bunch of VC investments in fledgling companies. Most will fail but the few that make it will repay the risk with fat rewards.
But Metallica isn’t the first successful band. After all, The Rolling Stones and U2 and other massive bands stayed with their labels well after “success” was a given in a stratospheric career. If a major was just about being a VC firm, post the first deal those bands would have left their majors. They didn’t. They got more money. They got a bigger piece of the pie. But they stayed with a major. Until recently.
Now we can point to guys like Trent and Paul McCartney and Radiohead ditching the major label machine. If it’s not about the VC, what’s different.
It’s about the marketing and distribution.
No longer does radio and MTV rule. And one needed a label to get any kind of play on either.
No longer does physical distribution — with all that logisitics and fixed costs — matter. I can’t even find a record store near me — if I even wanted to.
Lars and Metallica can leave Warner because Warner doesn’t control marketing or distribution anymore. The bank part? Not important to Metallica.
But that doesn’t solve the whole problem. The new world of marketing and promotion independent of a major is still evolving. There are a bunch of service companies stepping in to try and fill the space but everyone is still groping in the dark. The dollars are smaller, the background noise is louder, and the possibility of screwing it up is bigger.
Sure, going back to a debt-laden major which spends all its time suing your fans and pissing them off as the world marches by the window isn’t the brightest move. Unless they’re offering a huge guarantee which is hard for them these days — see debt loads. But wandering out the door into the wilderness and saying, “I can do this myself” is a pretty crazy tact too. Plan carefully, hire smart people, triple-check the technology. Then go.
Back in SF, Lars used to bring a friend of mine that dark, salty Danish licorice she missed so much. He was really nice about it. He’s not a bad guy. He got caught on the wrong end of the P2P arguement because he didn’t understand what it all meant.
It’ll be an interesting to see what Metallica ends up doing. My guess? Another nail in the major label coffin…
He didn’t even last a year. By all accounts, Douglas is a tech-savvy, smart, and engaging guy. Clearly those things are wrong for EMI. The announcement came today
EMI Music has announced a restructure that’ll see its digital unit merged back into the main company. Former Googler Douglas Merrill is stepping down from his role as president of digital and chief operating officer of EMI’s New Music unit, while senior VP of digital strategy Cory Ondrejka is being promoted to the new post of executive vice president of digital marketing.
Yup. That’s right. The top spot now goes to Cory.
He who co-founded the disastrous, money-sucking, flailing, hyped up virtual place to have sex with a sheep, Linden Labs aka Second Life.
He who thought iTunes’ music store was too complicated. Meanwhile hundreds of millions of people have purchased over 6 billion songs on it.
He who said, ““I neither buy nor hear much new music.”
With Guy Hands stepping out of the spotlight and, it appears, leaving it to Elio to run things, this has got to be one of those moments that a year from now Elio will look back on and wish it went a different way.
I wish Douglas well on his next endeavor.
Two years ago, I wrote as part of an overly-long missive: “But IP doesn’t have the same characteristics of hard goods. Not only do they need to stop me from stealing the product, they also need me to actually buy it. They need to turn the thief honorable.”
And from today’s Swedish Pirate Bay trial:
Laughter filled The Pirate Bay trial here Wednesday when John Kennedy, the chief executive of the International Federation of Phonographic Industries, testified that people would have purchased every music track they got free file sharing.
Kennedy answered an affirmative “Yes” to Pirate Bay defense attorneys when asked whether that was true. Bursting laughter could be heard from the audio room beside the courtroom where the trial’s sound was being broadcast.
I still don’t believe in the honorable thief demand curve. Stopping piracy will not result in a sudden and massive influx of revenue for the content rights holders and until they understand that key and basic truism, they will spend their time, energy, and resources trying to capture ghost revenues that will never ever materialize.
As scary as John Kennedy’s court room testimony is, it’s scarier that there are content company executives who may actually believe it.
I met John briefly back in 1992. He was playing with a friend, Mare Winningham, and the bill included The Bare Naked Ladies. Great time.
JWH’s got his first new rock album since 2004, “Who was Changed and Who was Dead,” coming out next month. Besides being excited to hear the new album, I’m pretty intrigued by the pricing tiers on his site. They look like this:
- BASIC: $15.98
Download, CD, and bonus live disk
- BASIC PLUS: $29.98
Everything above plus T-Shirt
- FANCY: $49.98
Everything above plus limited edition DVD
- SUPERFANCY: $79.98
Everything above plus handsigned artwork (hand numbered, limited to 100 units) by John and the artist
- CRAZY DELUXE & PERSONAL: $5,000
Everything above plus JWH comes to your house to play. Seriously.
John Wesley Harding will come and perform at your house, for you and your friends, on a mutually agreeable date. NO JOKE! If it’s near, he’ll even pay the transport; though if it’s far, you’ll have to pay
Why I really like this?
Although I think JWH could have benefited from a lower price, digital only package — start the supply curve as close to $0 as possible — the rest of the tiers offer something special at each step. $80 for the handsigned artwork in a limited 100 edition is a real value to a JWH fan. The $5,000 package is, of course, the doozy. The, “I’ll come to your house and play” is the ultimate artist privilage and a dream come true for a rabid fan. It’s not desparate or kitch. It’s a direct connection.
No, it won’t work for U2 or The Fireman. Well, it does work, just not at published prices you’d ever see on a website.
JWH should make some good revenue from this, more than the just offering the usual CDs for sale. Hopefully a lucky fan or two will take him up on the Ultimate package and will get the memories of a lifetime.
And there will be more of these, more packages, more experimentation, more direct connections between artists and fans. The product/price monopoly of the record labels is over. We’re in the imagination phase now where things will be tried and some will work and some will not. Next comes the evaluation and honing phase where the art becomes more of a science and revenue maximization gets serious.
Randy Phillips, head of AEG, granted a small interview with Forbes. Read it.
In 2009 and 2010, our biggest challenge is the economy. I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop…at some point this massive unemployment is going to bite us. I think it’s going to happen around June or July, when we start to put tickets on sale for the summer.
My biggest concern honestly past the economy is where the headliners of tomorrow are going to come from. That’s scary.