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August 31, 2005

Warner Music Group To Form Digital Label

Mercury News: Warner Music Group has announced plans to form a digital label, tentatively named Cordless, which will release songs exclusively for download over the internet or to mobile phones. It's a belated adaption to the decline of the album... not necessarily the CD, I think. As the article points out most albums have no more than three hit tracks, with the rest being regarded as "filler" by all but the die-hard fans and are simply there to justify the album price. With the advent of individual downloads people are less willing to pay for an album when they just want a single song. This affects the way the new label will do business....
"An artist is not required to have enough material for an album, only just enough to excite our ears,'' Bronfman said in his speech. "Rather than releasing an album every couple of years, every few months the label will release 'clusters' -- three or more songs -- by an artist.''
It will see a wider range of music too: "Warner's e-label will be headed by noted music figure Jac Holtzman, a technophile who pushed early adoption of the compact disc, the LaserDisc and now can be spotted in Warner's New York offices with a flash drive dangling from his neck. Since his e-label starts with modest production budgets of about $30,000, rather than millions, Holtzman is free to sign more eclectic acts, like Devo bassist Jerry Casale's new group, Jihad Jerry and the Evildoers." (via Ringtonia)
Related stories:
Apple & Record Labels Square Off
Can Cell Phones Save the Music Business?
Universal Music Group Gets A PhoneOf Its Own

Posted by James in Mobile Music, WMG | Permalink | Comments (80)

HMV and Virgin Launch Rival Download Services in UK

BrandRepublic: Finally, some good homegrown competition in the UK digital music market, though not sure if this will have any major effect: UK's biggest record stores, HMV and Virgin, are launch their own download services in the next few days.
HMV Digital goes live on Monday September 5; however, rival Virgin is attempting to steal a march on HMV by launching its Virgin Digital service on Friday.
Virgin: includes a digital music store, music club subscription service, streaming radio and management tools for MP3 players..it is working with MusicNet.
HMV: HMV Digital has cost £10m to develop and is the result of a collaboration with Microsoft and MusicNet as well. Full details of HMV's plans are here: "HMV's big noise"

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Rival of Apple, Armed With Fresh Patent, May Seek IPod Royalties

LATimes: (reg. req.) If this happens, it will be a sad commentary on the state of affairs of the digital music industry, unable to compete with iPod. Creative Technology said it had been awarded a patent for technology used in the iPod - which means the rival manufacturer of digital music players might hit Apple up for hefty royalty payments on every iPod sold.
Creative's patent, awarded Aug. 5, covers the interface that lets users scroll through screens and choose which songs to play, said Craig McHugh, president of Creative Labs, the U.S. unit of Creative, which is based in Singapore. "We're openly looking at all of our alternatives," McHugh said. "A patent protects your intellectual property, and we'd be very open to discussing with other companies who would like to use our user interface in their products or future products."

Posted by Rafat Ali in Apple | Permalink | Comments (15) | TrackBack

August 30, 2005

Shazam's Tech Assets Gets Bought Out, By BMI

Release: Two music recognition deals in a day: One of my favorite startups in the space, Shazam Entertainment, is being bought out (at least its technology)...it has been sold to BMI, the performing rights and music publishing royalties company. Shazam is a mobile music recognition company based in London, and entered the U.S. market a year ago.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed...BMI will get all the technology and patents, and will use those to form a new company called Landmark Digital Services, which will be tracking music royalty payments using Shazam's recognition technology. Over the next 12 months, performance information from this new technology will be combined with BMI's current radio airplay measurement system.
Shazam's technology, called BlueArrows, uses pattern recognition to identify performances from any source containing audio, and can detect the source in as little as one to two seconds, says the company.
Shazam will continue to pursue business activities aimed at the mobile consumer use of the BlueArrow technology, under a worldwide exclusive license to be provided by Landmark.
The company had a lot of momentum going for it, but was having trouble capitalizing on that momentum, as technology and business models kept morphing at warp speed over the last few years. So all in all, probably the best thing for the company going forward...
Our previous coverage on Shazam and music recognition, here and here

Posted by Rafat Ali in M&A | Permalink | Comments (30) | TrackBack

Gracenote Buys Philips' Audio Fingerprinting Technology

SiliconValley: Audio recognition company Gracenote has bought out Philips Electronics' audio fingerprinting technology, that will allow it to launch mobile and online music recognition services, something it has been working on for some years now (in association with Philips too).
Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Philips, however, has taken an equity position in Gracenote.
Gracenote is the company behind the CDDB -- the original online database of music CDs. The sophisticated technology identifies songs within five seconds of starting to play -- matching audio waves against a database of recorded audio. It's used by Snocap to check legal sharing status and can be used to return data about songs on multiple devices.
Gracenote's Mobile MusicID program already allows some users in other countries to order CDs or ringtone based on matching music via cell phones.
As part of the deal, Gracenote will gain early access to research on new audio and video technologies under development in Philips Research Labs.
-- Philips and Gracenote Launch Music Recognition Service for Mobiles
-- Gracenote: The House That Music Fans Built
-- Gracenote Raises $13 Million
-- NTT's New Music Recognition System

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Microsoft's Music DRM Gets Setback

Inquirer: The Inquirer posits that with the Rio MP3 player leaving the market left "Creative Technology with its Zen players as the major flagship for Windows based players"...and this "makes it more likely that the mobile phone industry's DRM 1.0 standard will therefore emerge as the true rival to Apple's Fairplay DRM (as used by iTunes)." I'm sure Microsoft has some plans to deal with this...

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Apple iPod Phone To Be Released Sep 7? With Cingular?

Apple is touting a big announcement at a 10 a.m. (PDT) press conference next Wednesday (Sep 7) at the San Francisco's Moscone Center. NYT suggests in a story that it is the much-expected Apple-Motorola iTunes phone.
Roger Entner, a telecoms analyst with Ovum, said he had been told by an industry executive that the new phone, to be made by Motorola, would be marketed by Cingular Wireless. The software will allow people to transfer songs from a PC to the mobile phone, then listen to the songs, presumably through headphones.
WSJ also says the same thing, quoting sources. Cingular is expected to make the phone available in time for the holidays.
Also, Apple may introduce a line of iPods intended to replace its hugely popular iPod mini line...

Posted by Rafat Ali in Apple, Mobile Music | Permalink | Comments (182) | TrackBack

August 29, 2005

New Music Service Knows What You Like

PCWorld: A new online music discovery service called Pandora has been launched...Pandora Media, formerly known as Savage Beast Technologies, based its new service on the Music Genome Project, the company's close to six-year study of the 300,000 songs of more than 10,000 artists undertaken by 30 musician analysts
The first 10 hours of Pandora are free. After that, subscriptions costs $3 per month or $36 per year. Subscribers can set up a maximum of 100 online radio stations tuned to their preferences and further tailor the selections by giving a thumbs up or down to each song played.

Posted by Rafat Ali in General | Permalink | Comments (16) | TrackBack

Music Price Elasticity Debate

SharkJumping: Sean Ryan dissects it very well: despite what the labels argue, "the studies show that when you measure behavior across a longer period of time, everyone is better off with lower prices for music downloads, with $.50 being actually the magic number, especially for a business which has NO hard cost of goods outside of artist royalties, which are almost never on a fixed basis so they will decrease with the price. "

Posted by Rafat Ali in Apple | Permalink | Comments (23) | TrackBack

Q&A: IODA's Kevin Arnold

RedHerring: NoisePop's Kevin Arnold brings indie music into the digital age via the Independent Online Distribution Association.

Posted by Rafat Ali in Indie Labels | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack