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) 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

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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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August 19, 2005

Music Choice Europe Sold For $4.85 Million

The Independent: Music Choice Europe, the digital music company backed by Rupert Murdoch's BSkyB that was once worth more than $380 million on the stock market, has been sold for just $4.85 million, to a group of individual investors.
Much like its U.S. namesake, it provides music channels on cable and satellite TV, and online.
The company went IPO in 2000, at the height of the boom. Sky is the biggest shareholder in MCE, with a 36 per cent holding after the listing, while the original investors in the business, Time Warner and Sony, now have 16 per cent and 8 per cent respectively.
As well as the inability to garner significant advertising sales, MCE said yesterday that its other revenue source - a subscription paid to it by TV companies for carrying MCE channels - was also drying up. Margot Daly, MCE's CEO, who will stay on under the new owners, said that the company now had new opportunities to "gun for" in broadband and mobile platforms.

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August 01, 2005

ArtistDirect Purchases MediaDefender For $42.5 Million

Slyck: ArtistDirect, the online indie-music network/retailer, has bought out MediaDefender, a anti-piracy solutions company, for $42.5 million. MediaDefender develops software for detecting illegal file trading and is used on P2P networks. ArtistDirect now plans to offer the MediaDefender technology for protecting videos, computer games, software, and e-books too.
"The merger should prove to be an interesting one, as it is the first time an authorized music distributor is also directly in control of a P2P flooding firm."
Randy Saaf will remain as MediaDefender's CEO during and after the transition.

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July 27, 2005

RioAudio's Assets Sold To SigmaTel

EETimes: SigmaTel, the digital chip maker (it supplies to iPod shuffle, among others) has bought out the software, patents and engineering resources associated with D&M Holdings' Rio portable audio product line. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The Rio acquisition does not include any rights to ownership of the portable audio player products, inventory or trademarks associated with the Rio brand, SigmaTel said. It does, however, include as many as 15 patents and patent applications, some of which are among the earliest MP3 player patents ever granted and many of which have been granted or are pending in Europe and Asia.
D&M Holdings owns the Denon, Marantz, McIntosh Laboratory and the D&M Professional, ReplayTV, Rio and Escient brands.
Some more details in the release.

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July 18, 2005

Fox Interactive/News Corp Buys and Parent In what would kickstart News Corp's online ambitions, its newly formed unit Fox Interactive Media has bought out the hottest social networkign and music site (along with its parent Intermix) for $580 million in cash.
News Corp. will pay $12 per share for Intermix. News Corp. plans to incorporate and Intermix's 30 other Websites into its newly formed unit. The new additions will nearly double News Corp.'s U.S. Web traffic to more than 45 million unique monthly visitors, according to the companies.
Some more details in the release.
More to come...

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July 15, 2005

XM Agrees To Buy WCS Wireless

ZDNet: XM Satellite Radio has agreed to buy privately held WCS Wireless in a stock deal reportedly worth $198 million. The principal assets of WCS Wireless are wireless spectrum licenses in geographic areas covering 163 million people throughout the U.S., including 15 of the top 20 metropolitan markets. As a result of the acquisition, XM will gain additional frequencies to broaden its offerings into multimedia subscription services such areas as video and data...Under the terms of the deal (which could close before year's end - subject to regulatory approval) XM offered 5.5 million of its shares for the assets of WCS Wireless. The expansionary move comes after Sirius announced last month that it also will be diving into video soon...

According to XM Chairman Gary Parsons, "This essentially doubles the amount of capacity we've had available and while we've demonstrated video, we had not seen a compelling business model for this going forward. This could mean we have a compelling business case." Read the full press release HERE.

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July 13, 2005

Nielsen Media Acquires Digsound License Agreement

Press Release: Digsound announced yesterday that its exclusive licensing agreement with Audio Audit for the local TV and cable broadcast markets has been assigned to Nielsen Media Research, an operating unit of VNU. "This is a big step for broadcast music," said Paul Martin, President and CEO of Digsound. "Watermarking technology is moving to the forefront in this industry and the acquisition of Audio Audit by Nielsen confirms its stability and reliability.

The company provides watermarking, verification and music services to the broadcast music industries and has developed a new platform (VR24/7) to help broadcasters, advertisers, publishers and composers streamline the processes of music licensing, reporting and the payment of a performance. According to their website, "Digsound's software suite cuts the costs of distribution, production and licensing of production music and also allows music providers an online interface enabling more efficient methods for reporting and monitoring content usage. In addition, VR24/7 will provide broadcasters and content providers who currently use outdated industry procedures the ability to automate and manage this process."

According to Kevin Demeritt, Interim COO and VP of Marketing, "Watermarking and verification of an airplay levels the playing field for music providers and with the addition of Nielsen Media Research products we can expand the value of our offering to the broadcaster... "The additional value the watermarking service adds for the broadcaster once the data is manipulated changes the landscape of simply licensing music." 

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May 31, 2005

EMI and Warner Music?

TimesOnline: Could the timing finally be right for a deal between these two giants?..."If the latest murmurings from the music world are to be believed, EMI and New York-listed Warner Music are once again on the verge of full-blown merger talks...Both companies have done a good job of taking out costs. Putting them together would create further synergies in traditional and digital sales channels."

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May 27, 2005

SK Telecom to Acquire Korea's Largest Music Label

KoreaHerald:  Yesterday, SK Telecom - South Korea's top mobile carrier which controls about 19 million customers and more than half of the Korean wireless market - said that it is planning to acquire 60 percent of YBM Seoul Records Inc., Korea's largest music recording company, in a $29.2 billion won deal...The move into the music recording business adds to SK Telecom's growing portfolio in the entertainment industry as it seeks other sources of revenue that will be blended with its communications network...

--SK Telecom Acquires Music Label YBM Seoul for 12.7 Bln Won
(This article reports a 43.33 percent stake and a US $12.6 million dollar deal

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