All posts tagged eMusic

Digital Music Round Up: Turntable.fm seeks label deals, MOG & Rdio go free, iHeartRadio vs. Pandora & more…

MOG launches free music service

In addition to revealing more details about investors in the recent funding round, Turntable.fm has also announced that the company is indeed seeking licensing deal with the four major label groups as well as indie labels. This would help the service grow internationally according to CEO Billy Chasen, presumably in addition to offering new and more robust features that licenses would allow for. It appears Turntable is attempting to forge a new kind of licensing deal with labels, something that would fall in between the low-rates that web radio services like Pandora pay and higher ones paid by on-demand services like Spotify… Music streaming service MOG launched a new free ad-supported version of the service called FreePlay yesterday, in a what can be seen as a direct move against Spotify. The concept puts a twist on the freemium model, by giving free-users a “gas tank” of music, which they can refill in perpetuity through various actions like listening, sharing with friends, making playlists, and exploring MOG. A possible leg-up for the new service, will be utilizing its large blog-directory, MOG Music Network, with integrated blogs now able to share songs and playlists with readers via FreePlay tools… Rdio is also releasing a free version of their music service, though details are still few. It’s expected that more information will be disclosed when Facebook reveals its new music-plans next week at its f8 conference; Rdio along with MOG and Spotify are all expected to be partners in the new FB music features – Deezer is also expected to be announced as a Facebook Music partner in Europe… On the heels of all the streaming-music announcements this week, the results of a new study commissioned by mp3-retailer eMusic were released, and they show that 91% of those polled still prefer to own their music, while 76% use streaming services to discover music before buying. More details from the study are here… Meanwhile, Clear Channel has seriously bolstered its online radio service iHeartRadio after recently acquiring Thumbplay, and the company is quickly taking shots at Pandora, who until now has not faced any serious competition in the non-interactive web-radio space. Clear Channel media chief Bob Pittman told Forbes that he doesn’t see Pandora’s business as a “free-standing platform,” and that more functionality will continually be added to iHeartRadio, including possible features similar to Turntable.fm.

More Bits & Pieces: BMG sizing up Warner/Chappell deal, Spotify inks Universal Music for U.S., eMusic & HP have sights set on the Cloud & more…

BMG eyeing WMG's pubco

As Citigroup readies EMI for auction, as soon as this month according to reports, KKR-backed BMG Rights Management is already kicking the tires on Warner/Chappell Music according to the New York Post. While a number of suitors are expected to submit bids for all or part of EMI when the music group is taken to auction, if Len Blavatnik‘s Access Industries comes out on top again, most expect that regulatory obstacles would see Warner Music‘s pubco being sold, though some observers have Citi more likely to favor other interested parties due to fear of such regulatory scrutiny… A Digital Music News story this week revealed that digital music retailer eMusic has had little to no subscriber growth since 2007, even with the addition of catalogs from major labels. The service however, can point to an increase in revenue from its current subscribers, who are opting for higher-paying levels of membership. Also apparently on the horizon for eMusic is a cloud-based service – with CEO Adam Klein telling Billboard that they hope to launch it by the fourth quarter of this year… How many more companies will join those already in the cloud like Apple, Amazon and Google? Apparently Hewlett Packard is in the early stage of discussions with content owners, including major labels, for a service similar to iCloud, offering music, movies and TV shows… Meanwhile, MediaMemo reported today that Universal Music Group has signed on with Spotify in America, and while a deal with Warner Music Group is yet to be reached, sources have the two sides close to a deal as well… Elsewhere, Irving Azoff and Liberty Media boss John Malone are said to be considering taking Live Nation private, in an effort to restructure the company… And while News Corp.‘s prospect of completely unloading MySpace don’t look good, according to a new report, the frontrunner among those in talks for a strategic partnership that would leave News Corp. with partial ownership, is an investment group which includes Activision Chairman and CEO Bobby Kotick.

More Bits & Pieces: Apple Inks EMI Deal For Cloud Service; Close to Landing Sony & Universal

Apple reaches agreement with EMI for cloud-music service

The news of Apple inking a cloud-music deal with EMI Music was first reported late yesterday on CNET, and according to the industry sources the report is based on, the company is close to reaching similar agreements with both Sony Music and Universal Music Group – a deal with Warner Music was reported to have been reached last month. By now having licensing agreements with two of the four major label groups, the implications are numerous, but mainly it’s that Apple will likely once again be the driving force behind the latest shift in the digital music arena, and that Amazon and Google jumped too soon by releasing services without label deals in place… While lately the tech and music industries have been hot on the cloud-music future and closely watching developments unfold, it remains to be seen how much consumer demand there is, and on a large scale, what are people willing to pay. A new survey from Nielsen that targeted people with ‘connected devices’ (smartphones, iPads, etc), asked how much they would be willing to pay for a monthly subscription for various types of content (music, TV, movies, news, etc), and the average seems to come in right around $10/month. That falls in line with some current services that are available, and isn’t a bad number, but of course that is all in theory, and an important point to keep in mind is that an overwhelming majority of people still do not use smartphones or other high-priced ‘connected’ devices… Some attention has also turned to Apple’s patent-pending pre-buffering technology that is supposed to make its streaming experience better than other current services, though as Evolver.fm points out, Pandora and Spotify have been using similar technology for some time already… And in related news, which is receiving less excitment than the Apple-EMI deal, is that EMI Music has now also reached an agreement with digital music subscription service eMusic.

More Bits & Pieces: Rdio Taps WBR Chief Rob Cavallo, AEG Launching Ticketing Venture & more…

Rdio taps WBR's Cavallo

Music-streaming start up Rdio has raised $17.5million in new funding with a round led by Mangrove Partners. The company, founded by Janus Friis and Niklas Zennstrom of Skype notoriety, also announced the addition of Warner Bros. Records chief Rob Cavallo to its board of directors.  The addition of Cavallo is said to be an effort to “strengthen” relationships with the music industry. Rdio currently offers a two-tiered paid subscription service, which fits in with Warner Music Group ruler Edgar Bronfman Jr.’s stance on services offering free levels of access, as in they “will not be licensed” by WMG… Yesterday’s News Corp. earnings call has led to more reports of an impending sale of MySpace. Company executives are not really saying anything new from what’s already been reported over the previous weeks, this time it is just more official… Anschutz Entertainment Group has announced a new joint venture called Outbox Enterprises, which sees the promoter entering the ticketing arena. As a result of the regulatory judgement in the Live Nation merger with Ticketmaster, AEG is allowed to compete for ticket sales. The new venture will be headed by former Ticketmaster executive Fred Rosen who will act as CEO. The company plans on beginning to sell tickets through Outbox in the next six to twelve months… Elsewhere, Inc.com checks in the eMusic after last years customer kerfuffle over the addition of more major label catalogues to the once indie-only music service, as well increased prices and the departure of indie stalwart labels Domino, Merge and Beggars Group… And The Fader Fort, a staple of the SXSW music festival for the last decade, has announced a new sponsor this year in Fiat. They’ll also be streaming live performances in conjunction with, err, MySpace Music?

Wednesday Bits & Pieces: eMusic Loses Big Indies, Warner Re-Ups with Spotify & UMG Looking to Get Lean

Indies On the Way Out

Last month digital music retailer eMusic announced that they would be adding a quarter-million more songs to its service in a new partnership with Universal Music Group, this following previous deals with Warner Music and Sony over the last year, a move which had some questioning whether the service was getting away from its ‘independent’ roots. While too early to tell the larger effects the new major label partnerships will have on customers, some big indie labels have decided they will no longer make their music available, including Domino Records, Merge and the Beggars Group of labels, which includes 4AD and Matador among others. No small exit, as those handful of labels are home to some of the most popular current and past independent acts including Animal Collective, Arcade Fire, Spoon, Bon Iver and many many others. A statement from Beggars Group made it clear that the split, at least for them, is directly in response to the arrival of the major labels to the service and new terms that they “have found impossible to accept, in our own interests, those of our artists, and ultimately those of their fans”… In the latest Warner Music earnings call, it was revealed that the company has renewed their existing deal with Spotify, which currently covers European markets. And while no update on a agreement covering the U.S., many still suspect that deals with multiple majors for the startup to launch its service in America are in motion.  In reference to the continued gap between physical and digital music sales, CEO Edgar Bronfman Jr. made it clear that he (and presumably all the labels) are hopeful for digital increases with the launch of Google‘s impending music service among others, like Spotify?… More talk of looming cutbacks at UMG persist after the CFO of parent company Vivendi made recent ominous comments about cost saving needs, including “A lot of fat can be taken out without hurting muscle and bones” – onlookers continue to keep an eye on Island Def Jam as one of Lucian Grainge‘s prime targets for restructuring… Elsewhere, Amazon.com is getting into the movie business by launching Amazon StudiosCheck Your Pulse songwriter Bonnie McKee talks to Billboard about launching her own recording project after a string of credits on some of 2010′s biggest songs… And inquiring minds want to know, which former major label head has been spotted moonlighting on lead guitar in a Neil Young cover band?

Tuesday Bits & Pieces: Terra Firma vs. Citi, eMusic + UMG & Google’s Music Exec Search

Terra Firma & Citi Face Off in NYC Next Week

The long awaited courtroom showdown between private-equity firm Terra Firma and Citigroup is set to begin next week in New York City over Project Dice, codename for the former’s 2007 acquisition of EMI that was heavily financed by the latter. The legal battle is largely being portrayed as a face-off between Guy Hands and Citi’s David Wormsley, with the highly publicized row between the two companies and individuals leaving many to believe that a last minute settlement is unlikely.  If a pact was reached over the weekend, some share that possible scenarios might include a conversion of loans by Citi into equity, giving the bank a minority stake in EMI… Elsewhere, Eminem‘s publisher is seeking enforcement of a settlement amount of over $2-million from a previous lawsuit involving Universal Music Group label Aftermath and Apple, over digital sales of the artist’s music on iTunes… Digital music service eMusic has announced its new partnership with UMG, adding an additional 250,000 songs to its catalogue – in a message this morning, presumable directed at those who have patronized the service since the early days when it mainly consisted of music from independent artists, the company tweeted, Our unique approach to music won’t change. We’ll still profile records we find interesting/ important, whether they’ve sold 4 or 4M copies… And the New York Post spotted Google CEO Eric Schmidt dining with former Sony Music executive Lisa Ellis over the weekend, speculating that the two were likely discussing possible candidates for the top spot at the company’s yet-to-be-unveiled music service…

Wednesday Bits & Pieces: Idol & UMG, eMusic’s new CEO and Chart Highlights

Idol's New Deal with UMG

The big news coming out yesterday was 19 Entertainment‘s decision to align American Idol with Universal Music Group for a new distribution and marketing deal, letting their previous deal with Sony Music lapse after 9 seasons.  While the move is being portrayed as “dropping a bomb” by many media outlets, the decision comes as much less of a surprise within the industry. The show itself is undergoing many transitions heading into the 10th season, not to mention that creator Simon Fuller‘s relationship with new UMG co-CEO Lucian Grainge is well known, performance of Idol finalist releases have been in decline, and uncertainty about what lies ahead for some of Sony’s top brass all pointed to a likely change – as was rumored in past weeks… eMusic has announced a new CEO in Adam Klein, who has previously held positions at MTV and EMI; a new upcoming cloud-based “locker” system has also been tipped. Klein replaces JDS Capital Management/Dimensional Associates head Danny Stein who was running the music service temporarily after the exit of eMusic’s former CEO David Pakman. JDS/Dimensional also recently finalized their acquisition of The Orchard… Elsewhere, Avenged Sevenfold sees their first No. 1 on the Billboard 200 Charts with their new release Nightmare, bumping Eminem‘s Recovery from the top spot. Another impressive chart story comes from L.A. locals Best Coast, whose new release Crazy For You debuted at #36 selling over 10K in its first week… And will Spotify move into the shadows of the new digital music era, at least in the U.S., with the public launch of Rdio this week?

Wednesday Bits & Pieces: WMG + MTV, eMusic Working on Cloud Service, Pitchfork’s New Blog Collective & More…

Warner Music Group brings in MTV Networks for ad-sales

Warner Music Group announced today its new partnership with MTV Networks, in which MTV will sell ads against the music group’s video content.  The arrangement replaces a previous partnership between Warner and Outrigger, a smaller sales company.  The most interesting part of the new deal is that MTV parent Viacom is still in court with Google, yet YouTube (owned by Google) is likely to account for a majority of the ads-sales by MTV. Make sense?… First week sales of Eminem‘s Recovery came in at 741,000, making it the biggest release yet for 2010 and the biggest first week since 2008′s AC/DC album Black IcePitchfork has announced it’s launching a sister site dubbed Altered Zones that will act as a blog collective of sorts with 14 different music blogs supplying content… The NY Times technology blog, Bits, has an article on cloud music companies to watch (spoiler, Apple and Google aren’t in there), but a surprise inclusion is eMusic. The piece reveals that the once indie-only subscription service that added both Sony and Warner Music catalogs to its service in the last 12 months, will soon also add Universal Music and is working on a cloud music service that could be introduced early next year… Expect a sold-out crowd at L.A.’s The Echo tomorrow night for the double-down and uber-indie bill featuring Dum Dum Girls and Crocodiles.  That latter recently recorded their new album with producer James Ford (Arctic Monkeys, Florence & the Machine, Klaxons) at the famed QOTSA studio Rancho De La Luna (check out “Sleep Forever” from the new album at Stereogum), while Dum Dum Girls, who recently released their debut full-length on Sub Pop, will head out on a North American tour with Vampire Weekend in August followed by a string of MGMT dates in Europe…

In Case You Missed It: Reading Recap – Extended Remix Edition

Linkin Park charity releases digital compilation to benefit Haiti

A lot to stay on top of over this short week, so enjoy this special extended edition of our weekly recap…

More chatter about a possible new iTunes streaming service from Apple continued, fueled by Michael Robertson’s prediction that the service will come in the form of a version update allowing users to access their iTunes media library from anywhere via the proverbial “cloud”… The lineup for Coachella 2010 was announced, and headliners include Jay-Z, Muse, Gorillaz and Thom Yorke… Ad-supported download service Free All Music announced a deal with EMI, who joins Universal Music as the first major music companies to strike agreements with the start-up… Elsewhere, Sony and Warner Music appear to be engaged in an eMusic pricing battle… YouTube launched a new music discovery and playlist experiment… Comcast appears to be taking steps toward an a la carte music streaming service for internet and cable customers… Other ISP news includes a report that Virgin Media‘s long delayed “unlimited” subscription service might be called MusicFish, it might not be unlimited and could be arriving this summer… It looks like Live Nation is putting its venues on the block in an effort to ease regulatory concerns over the Ticketmaster merger… And Prince revealed a new song “Purple and Gold” that he penned for his beloved Vikings - sorry Purple One, we’ll be rooting for the Saints

** If you haven’t yet, make sure to visit www.musicforrelief.org, where Linkin Park took the “pay what you want” model to their charity’s digital album that benefits the crisis in Haiti. The band quickly assembled a compilation of unreleased songs from Peter Gabriel, Alanis Morissette, All-American Rejects and many others.  The effort saw a quick and impressive collaboration of artists, labels and publishers who all granted full gratis rights for the compilation, and over a holiday weekend no less.