August 15, 2005
Mix & Burn Kiosk Adds Sony and WMG
Release: Mix & Burn, which has recently launched its music kiosk "Digital Music Filling Station" as a beta, has launched a new version with music from Sony BMG and Warner Music Group.
Upgraded kiosks allow retail customers to purchase, download and play major label content directly on portable devices compliant with WMP10.
The Mix & Burn listening and CD burning system is currently being tested by a number of major retailers.
July 26, 2005
Sony BMG Music Agrees to $10 Million Payola Settlement
Seattle Times: Yesterday, during a press conference held by New York state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, a string of incriminating e-mails from record-company executives was unveiled as part of an in-depth "pay-for-play" probe of the music industry. Sony BMG Music Entertainment, the world's second-biggest record label, admitted that its employees lavished cash, trips and other bribes on radio stations and their employees to get its music on the air. Spitzer said that, 'Sony BMG's efforts to win more airplay took many forms, including outright bribes of electronics to radio stations and paying for contest giveaways for listeners'...Sony BMG responded in a statement that "direct and indirect forms of what has been described generically as 'payola' for spins has continued to be an unfortunately prevalent aspect of radio promotion." It added that "various employees pursued some radio promotion practices on behalf of the company that were wrong and improper." The company apologized for "such conduct."
As a result, Sony BMG agreed to tighten its promotion guidelines and will pay a $10 million fine. The money will be distributed by the Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors to New York nonprofit organizations aimed at arts and education. Spitzer indicated that the money will in part benefit independent musicians indirectly frozen out by the alleged payola...Spitzer has also asked for documents from the other three major labels: EMI, Warner Music Group and Universal Music Group...While Spitzer would not talk specifically about investigations into those companies, he said the payola problem goes "way beyond Sony BMG." Spitzer also called on the Federal Communications Commission to take a "very hard look" at the major radio-station owners and consider stripping the companies of broadcast licenses in cases where they are found to have "violated a public trust."
--Sony BMG faces the music in payola settlement
--Sony BMG Settles Radio Payola Probe
--Payola Shocker: J-Lo Hits, Others Were 'Bought' by Sony - "The question now is: Who will take the fall at Sony for all this? Spitzer is said to be close friends with Sony's new CEO, Andrew Lack, who publicly welcomed the new investigations earlier this year when they were announced. Did Lack anticipate using Spitzer's results to clean house?"
July 11, 2005
iMesh Announces Distribution Agreement with Sony BMG Music Entertainment
Press Release: Today's announcement confirms other recent reports that a deal has officially been reached. SONY BMG - which has been pretty agressive lately in the P2P space - will license its digital content for distribution with the New York-based iMesh P2P service. The news follows a major settlement between iMesh and the RIAA with promises to become a legitimate and copyright respecting service by incorporating a centrally managed rights clearinghouse so music companies and publishers can claim compensation for songs being traded...
With an expected launch date by the end of 2005, the new iMesh will offer consumers a broad selection of easily accessible content of all genres to be discovered, shared and enjoyed within an active P2P community. Authorized content will be available through ala carte downloads and a subscription sales plan, allowing users unlimited music downloads, for a low monthly fee. The iMesh community will be able to search, sample and download a growing selection of more than 15 million tracks as part of a shared experience. Apparently, the new iMesh application will use MusicNet on the backend with Audible Magic doing the filtering (identifying songs by their digital "fingerprint" and determining if they are copyrighted.) Universal's catalogue is also reportedly on the way...
--Sony BMG Reaches Licensing Deal with iMesh - The privately held company also hired former Sony Music President Robert Summer as executive chairman to handle negotiations with the music industry...
June 29, 2005
SonyBMG and mpGreek Sign Download Deal
Press Release: mpGreek announced yesterday that it has signed a deal with SonyBMG Greece to sell SonyBMG’s digital downloads in Greece. mpGreek, which officially launched in the spring of 2004 with 20,000 tracks from over 250 artists, is the first Greek digital music service to sign with an international record label. Under the new agreement, a "selection" of SonyBMG repertoire will be included in mpGreek’s a la carte digital download service. All SonyBMG repertoire will be served centrally by mpGreek directly to its users and be protected with DRM - allowing users to burn a limited number of CD copies and export tracks to portable devices...Popular hits from some of the biggest Greek stars will now be available for the first time ever as downloads in Greece.
May 26, 2005
Sony BMG CEO Still Smarting
Reuters: Sony BMG CEO Andy Lack is the eternal pessimist: at a time when everyone in the industry is hopeful for new digital technologies, he is worried: "I don't think the prognosis is all that attractive going forward in '05, '06 and '07," he said. Digital downloads, ring tones and a new dual disc format, all of which have excited consumers, investors and record companies to varying degrees, are merely helping to stop a five-year decline in music sales, not expanding the industry, he said. On which he is completely wrong, but I'll let that slide for now...
Reuters: At the same speech, Lack said it could be 2009 before digital music becomes a large and profitable business for the major music companies. "I'm not making any money on this," he said. "(Apple Computer CEO) Steve Jobs ... has got two revenue streams: one from our music and one from the sale of his iPods. I've got one revenue stream that a proctologist would have a hard time analyzing. It's not pretty."
May 18, 2005
Minick Secures Sony BMG Deal
Mobile Entertainment: Newly-merged music giant Sony BMG has appointed Minick to provide its direct-to-consumer mobile multimedia download offering..."Sony BMG believes that mobile is a very important medium for our artists to gain exposure as well as to increase revenues through the sale of content," said Jon Davis, Sony BMG's director of new media. "We have aggressive targets for mobile revenues in 2005 and together with Minick we are planning the launch of new services such as video downloads and artist WAP sites."
--SmartVideo Brings Ad-Supported Music Videos To Mobiles
--Mobile Music & DRM
--British Youth Spend £165m A Year On Mobile Music
May 12, 2005
Britney Spears Sued For Copyright Infringement
BBC: Last week Steve Wallace, an Indiana songwriter, filed a complaint in federal court against Spears and affiliated companies Sony/BMG. Apparently he wrote the song "Sometimes" 15 years ago but did not formally copyright the track until 2003. The song first appeared on Spears' debut album Baby One More Time in 1999 and on 2004's Greatest Hits: My Prerogative...As keenly pointed out HERE, "If proven, this looks to be a REAL case of copyright infringement as opposed to someone sharing a song non-commercially via p2p." So should we call her a pirate too?
April 25, 2005
Sony BMG Partners With Warner/Chappell
Reuters: Sony BMG Music Entertainment has signed a broad-based licensing deal with Warner/Chappell Music for publishing rights to a variety of new digital entertainment formats - including DualDisc, ringtones, ringbacks, video-on-demand services and video downloads. In general, the music publishing industry has been pushing for 'experimental deals' that don't set long-term precedents because the legal system is so far behind the technology. However, the major deals that have been brokered thus far are "finding a way around the central sticking point that labels and publishers have experienced in their negotiations related to new digital formats: the publishers' assertion that they are not bound by the same compulsory licensing rate that governs their CD and digital download royalties."
According to Ron Wilcox, executive VP/chief business and legal affairs officer for Sony BMG Music Entertainment, "The good thing for both parties is they can be comfortable that opportunities aren't being lost. That's the greatest danger as we try to negotiate between ourselves what might be appropriate. It's important to not over-negotiate and lose the opportunity to develop a new business."