Destined to be combined?
The final round in the Warner Music auction closed yesterday, with two primary bidders said to be vying for the company, one being Len Blavatnik’s Access Industries and the other, a coalition of brothers Tom and Alec Gores, whose respective company’s are Platinum Equity and Gores Group – both suitors reportedly tendered bids around $3billion for the entirety of WMG. Attention has begun to drift to the looming sale of EMI by owner Citigroup, and the belief de-jour is that whomever ends up nabbing Warner Music, will also be aggressive in securing EMI as well. The result would likely be a cut and paste job between the various components of the two music groups. In another twist, The Telegraph reported yesterday that KKR-backed BMG Rights Management and Universal Music Group may be teaming up in an attempt to acquire either or both EMI and Warners, having put together a plan to carve up catalogues in an effort to avoid regulatory hurdles… Elsewhere, according to FMQB, Q Prime is expanding its promotion team, with an emphasis on bolstering the undertakings of its premier management operation, with a roster including Cage the Elephant, The Black Keys, Silversun Pickups, Snow Patrol, Muse and many others. Q Prime’s Mom + Pop Records, who has releases from Sleigh Bells, Metric, Freelance Whales among others, should also benefit from the increased staff. The additions include Trina Schaefer (formerly of Island Def Jam), Erin Gellert (formerly of Epic Records), Devin Rosevear, Chris Frank (formerly of Universal Motown) and Michael Fang (formerly of Red)… Meanwhile, the news of a nearly 25 million additional user accounts being compromised in the recent PlayStation Network breach (77 million were initially reported) smacks of the Sony BMG rootkit blunder (and ensuing lawsuits), and it can’t be good news for Sony Corp. CEO Howard Stringer, whose term has recently begun to be put in question more frequently… And for an interesting read about some of what labels are said to be demanding from cloud music, or locker, services (efforts from Amazon, Apple, Google and Spotify being the most widely discussed), check out the guest post from MP3.com and MP3Tunes founder Michael Robertson on TechCrunch.
[UPDATE - Bloomberg first reported yesterday that a last minute joint-offer for Warners was submitted by Sony/ATV Music Publishing and Ronald Perelman and Guggenheim Partners LLC. A winning bidder is expected to be announced on Friday.]
Parker Joins Bid for WMG
The latest news coming out of the Warner Music Group sale, is that Napster co-founder, and current Facebook and Spotify investor, Sean Parker is part of a consortium that is planning to make a bid for WMG, a group led by Ron Burkle and Doug Teitelbaum, according to AllThingsD. Burkle’s interest in making a play for the company was recently revealed along with a handful of other leading suitors. Parker’s moves are always of interest to tech and music industry circles, due to his association with such high-profile and influential start ups. Warner is one of two remaining major label groups yet to sign on with Spotify in the U.S. – Universal Music Group being the other… The New York Times profiled Big Machine Records founder Scott Borchetta in a piece over the weekend. Borchetta goes into his early career in Nashville working with his father’s promotion company and various Music City record labels, before starting Big Machine in 2005… On the heels of the recent acquisition of music subscription service Thumbplay by Clear Channel, who is eyeing the online radio space currently dominated by Pandora, the company has announced the departure of its head of digital Evan Harrison… And Superglued, a highly-anticipted location-based Foursquare-like mobile app for concerts, will be unveiled tomorrow during the last day of SXSW Interactive.
Beyond believable funding
Today Vivendi announced that Lucian Grainge will now be taking the title of Chairman along with CEO of Universal Music Group, this comes ahead of the original timeline for assumption of the title, a result of Doug Morris exiting his contract early to head to Sony Music this summer. Grainge will report to Vivendi CEO Jean-Bernard Levy, and will also take a seat on the board of gaming company Activision Blizzard… Warner Music Group is reportedly narrowing the field of offers it has received, for both the entire company as well as just the publishing unit Warner/Chappell Music - conflicting rumors have current WMG investors wanting to sell the entire lot, while most believe CEO Edgar Bronfman Jr. is still eying EMI and has no intention of exiting the recorded music space…Elsewhere, Spotify revealed that its music service now boasts 1million paying customers, which represents roughly 15 percent of its overall active user base. A good sign for a U.S. launch soon?… File-sharing service LimeWire, which was recently shutdown by court order, has settled legal action brought by music publishers for an undisclosed sum. Action brought against the company by the record labels has yet to be resolved… And a News Corp-backed digital music start up called Beyond Oblivion made waves this week with a reported $77million in new funding. The company’s model has a twist in that it is a device-based cloud music service, which will pay content holders a royalty every time a song is played on a device, regardless of where the song originated.
Morris takes his talents to Sony
The big news this morning from within the big four music groups (soon to be three?), is the confirmation that outgoing Universal Music Group CEO Doug Morris will indeed take over the reigns as new chief executive at Sony Music on July 1st, as Rolf Schmidt-Holz departs at the end of this month. Sony Corp. chairman Howard Stringer will fill the role in the meantime. Morris held the role of CEO at UMG since 1995, before announcing a successor in Lucian Grainge at the beginning of last year. On the other side of the coin, RCA/Jive label chief Barry Weiss will also leave the building this week, as he takes a top spot in Grainge’s East Coast Universal label operation… Bloomberg reported this week that Warner Music Group, which recently put itself on the block with help from Goldman Sachs, has received ten offers so far including bids on its publishing division Warner/Chappell Music by Sony/ATV Music and KKR-backed BMG Rights Management, while Russian billionaire Len Blavatnik is seeking to acquire most of the company. UMG did not submit an offer, reportedly due to anti-trust concerns – though they may be interested in acquiring parts of the recorded music business… In what could be seen as a preemptive move as Spotify appears to be gearing up for a U.S. launch (including reportedly making hires), Rhapsody is offering a 60 day free trial for its streaming service… Ringtone company Thumbplay, who transitioned into the music subscription arena earlier than most current players, has been bought by Clear Channel. It appears that the new owners of the service intend to transition the service into online radio, utilizing the Thumbplay technology and talent and integrating it into Clear Channel’s current free iheartradio service… Elsewhere, Live Nation California prexy Rick Mueller is reportedly leaving and heading to rival AEG… MTV and Sony/ATV’s Extreme Music are launching Hype Production Music as the result of a new licensing partnership that will focus on emerging and independent artists… And despite continued turmoil in the digital music landscape, investors are once again starting to dump big cash in the chaotic space.
BMG RM's Hartwig Masuch; Who will they take first?
It’s being reported the Warner Music Group is preparing to receive offers this week from a list of up to 20 bidders, the latest entry on the list of suitors is Russian businessman Len Blavatnik, who already owns a minority stake in Warner/Chappell Music. The KKR-backed BMG Rights Management venture is expected to be among bidders for WMG’s publishing division, having apparently tapped multiple banks to advise and provide financing. Though the move could also be to prepare bidding for the Citigroup-owned EMI Music, the other major music group currently on the block. Or maybe it’s both… EMI group CEO Roger Faxon continues his media tour, with a piece this week in The Guardian where he explains the pitfalls of splitting up the company’s recording and publishing divisions. Meanwhile, former owner Guy Hands expresses disappointment over losing EMI, his highest profile investment, to Citigroup… Details coming out over the weekend have Spotify getting a large amount of new financing in the range of $100million from Digital Sky Technologies (also backers of Facebook, Groupon and others), which would give the company a new valuation of around $1billion. If it seems like all that new money will just end up going to the labels in the U.S. in order to get off the ground (Spotify now has both Sony Music And EMI onboard), MediaMemo‘s Peter Kafka says think again… And how would the new Apple content subscription service fees hinder music services like Spotify? A cryptic email from Steve Jobs this week has many questioning if Apple is changing its tune on fees applying to music services.
#1 source of label revenue in Sweden & Norway
Contrasting speculation continues around Spotify and when the start up will launch in the U.S. as well as whether or not the income it could create would even mean anything significant for artists or labels. Recent reports have anonymous label executives calling the revenue they create “Microscopic,” “Laughable,” And “Pathetic”, while others proclaim the service is now the “second largest source of revenue in Europe for labels”. For what that’s worth. And questions continue to be raised over how the service pays artists, particularly indie acts… Only an actual launch in the U.S. would tell the full story. Where do things sit with such a launch? Sony Music has signed on, and EMI is supposedly “close” – but they have been for weeks, and there’s larger entanglements there with the state of limbo the label is in under the temporary ownership of Citigroup. Warner Music Group CEO Edgar Bronfman Jr. has changed his tune slightly, stating on yesterday’s WMG earnings call “We do see Spotify, and services like Spotify, as ever-more meaningful for our results.” Meanwhile Universal Music Group remains the big prize for the start up getting off the ground in the states. If a letter sent to the current few U.S. users of the service and a job opening in an unnamed U.S. location, are any indication, Spotify will soon be landing here. Or maybe not. As aptly put by @evolverfm “Spotify in the U.S. is the new Beatles on iTunes.”
Who will get out of the gate first?
In another 2011 industry horse race, contradictory reports and speculation continue to surface about the launch of digital streaming music services from high profile companies like Google, Spotify and Apple. Sony Music recently inked a deal with Spotify, becoming the first U.S. label to do so. And that was quickly followed by rumors of a U.S. deal with EMI being closed in on, however the effects on such a deal by the label takeover this week by Citigroup are yet to be known, but it’s likely not good for the European start up. Even if an agreement was reached, would it be valid when new ownership takes over? Regardless of an EMI deal, or even Warner Music Group, the biggest target for Spotify to get the service off the ground in America is still Universal Music Group, who boasts the largest market share and a significant stable of current hit artists. What will it take to land the other majors? Lots of cash, and most likely a number of concessions in the area of how much free music it offers… Meanwhile, Google has plenty of cash, and reports continue to indicate that it has no problem plunking it down for labels to launch Google Music. While rumored timelines for a launch continue to contract and expand, a possible major stumbling block for Google, and other services in the same cloud, is music publishers. Matt Rosoff wrote a piece this week citing a source that claims publishers want to be paid for every download. Meaning that the key aspect of the locker-based service would conceivably force users to pay multiple times for the same song when downloading at different locations and on multiple devices. Something consumers will surely scoff at… The end of last year saw plenty of anticipation and predictions about a streaming service from Apple, however the talked has quieted this year as the company remains mum. However recent comments from Spotify executives have accused Apple of putting pressure on labels in an effort to keep the service from launching in the U.S., presumably to give themselves more time to finish working on a yet-to-be confirmed streaming version of iTunes. Not unheard of when considering the continued pressure it puts on artists and labels who do business with Amazon… Stay tuned.
Which way is the river flowing?
Over the weekend The New York Times published what has become an annual gloom and doom report regarding the state of music sales, using the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry‘s report as the guidepost. In addition to the continued slump in physical, the recap for 2010 concentrated on the plateauing of digital sales and “not a lot of progress” in digital after a decade. However as Evolver.fm points out, the piece focused heavily on the slowing at marketplaces like iTunes and Amazon, while paying less attention to revenue generated from newer services like Pandora, Spotify, YouTube, etc – which is not the same as digital sales. The IFPI’s report contains various points of optimism, like in the growth of mobile access to subscription services due to new technology and compatibility improvements, as well as the significant expansion in the customers of new “freemium” services… Elsewhere, a Financial Times piece this week adds to the growing reports of Doug Morris seeking an early exit from his contract with Universal Music Group owner Vivendi, although it’s still unclear if he will get released in time for a presumed takeover for Sony Music CEO Rolf Schmidt-Holtz, whose contract is up at the end of March. More red rover continues between UMG and Sony, as Lucian Grainge taps former Sony A&R executive Larry Jackson as EVP of the IGA family of labels…. Meanwhile Guy Hands reportedly will get a last chance to hang on to EMI Music, as Citigroup asks the Terra Firma boss to make an offer to keep control of the music company, which is thought to be valued around £1.6 billion.
Murdoch's News Corp. Weighing Myspace Options
While the massively rumored layoffs at MySpace were officially announced this week, seeing a cut of almost 50% of the workforce, speculation continues as to the future of the site. Yesterday owner New Corp. made comments published on Bloomberg indicating that a sale, merger or spinout of the social network are all possibilities being considered. The latter could see the site continuing to receive funding from New Corp., with the opportunity for employees (that are left) to be eligible for shares in the company. Some reports following the layoffs this week, indicate a possible spinout is already in talks, with CEO Mike Jones and other executives plotting a scenario that would give them majority control… Good news for Spotify users, is a new deal that has two of Europe’s top technology start-ups partnering to allow music lovers access to Spotify directly through the Shazam mobile app. Users can listen to or buy tracks that they have tagged or found through the music discovery service… Is NPR a new kingmaker in music? Helping boost sales for artists such as Arcade Fire, Florence + the Machine and Vampire Weekend, the outlet is increasing seen as a path to breaking an act… Speaking of tastemakers, check out this compilation of recent Soundscan numbers for Pitchfork‘s list of the Top 50 albums of 2010, and draw your own conclusions… And manager Blaze James has joined forces with Velvet Hammer Management, bringing along his longtime clients Coheed and Cambria and Sparta to join a roster that includes Deftones, Alice in Chains, System of a Down and others. Coheed and Cambria have just announced plans this spring to perform their debut album, The Second Stage Turbine Blade, in its entirety in 22 cities across the US and in Toronto, Canada. The “Evening with” format will also feature a rare 30-40 minute acoustic set, as well as an extra set of songs from other albums. These dates are set to commemorate the band’s 10 year anniversary.
Music services hot at CES
It’s 2011 and streaming music continues to be a hot topic. Spotify is still getting headlines, but questions now surround not when the service will be launching in the U.S., but if it will ever see life in the states. It appears that labels are continuing to ask for extremely high upfront payments from the startup, due to uncertainty in results from the service’s model. Spotify is betting on a high rate of conversion from free to paid accounts, while content owners remain skeptical. If the company doesn’t go public, is the answer to be acquired, and should Amazon be that buyer?… While the clock ticks on Spotify, not to mention Google Music and a streaming service from Apple, lower profile services that have already launched continue to made progress in the new digital music arena, with a number of key announcements coming out of this weeks Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. MOG will be coming preinstalled on Verizon‘s new 4G LTE phones, as well as being included in Toyota connected cars, along with Pandora… Slacker also announced new changes to its service this week, including a new on-demand subscription tier, that sees a third level of access for users, adding to the non-interactive internet radio service it already provides… Meanwhile Sony took the stage at CES to announced the launch of its new Music Unlimited service in America in the coming months. Already live in the UK, the service will be available to users via Bravia TVs, Blu-ray players, Vaio PCs and PlayStation 3 consoles… Elsewhere, in expected news, Lucian Grainge, who officially assumes his CEO seat at Universal Music Group, announced contract renewals for Universal/Republic rulers Monte and Avery Lipman this week – also re-upped with UMG was SRC Records founder and CEO Steve Rifkind… S&P Equity Research adds credence to the talk of a likely Warner Music Group acquisition of EMI, as they make their 2011 media predictions, stating [WMG] could finally be poised to make a successful bid for the recorded music operations of EMI Group… And sales data for music in 2010 comes in with news of continued decline for both physical and digital albums, while single tracks all but flatlined. Last year saw a 12.8% decline from the 2009 level in album sales, while single song sales were up by 1%. More stats including 2010 highest sellers are here…
Investors weary of future
More bad news for Guy Hands, as The NY Post reports that Terra Firma investors are extremely cold on the idea of putting more funds in EMI, as the private equity firms’ next debt obligation to Citigroup comes up in March of 2011… It’s already known that Spotify won’t be landing in the U.S. before the end of the year, with no indication from CEO Daniel Ek on a new timetable, but Evolver.fm takes a look at what kind of subscriber statistics and revenue the digital music service could be generating if it were operating in the states… Speaking at the LeWeb conference yesterday MySpace CEO Mike Jones was defensive of the social network’s seriously waning status, saying, “I don’t wanna be the place that replaces iTunes. I wanna be the place where you learn about music and then take that to wherever your music consumption happens.” An admirable position, and true in the aspect that the site continues to act for the most part as an initial place one can listen to an artist, though the discovery element is lacking, with some recognition from Jones, adding “We do need to get better at surfacing the music that interests you”… Elsewhere, Howard Stern renewed his contract with Sirius XM for another five years, the sum is undisclosed at this point… Apple is beginning to roll out increased song samples in the iTunes store… And Madison Square Garden in is the process of completing a deal to purchase the L.A. Forum…
As had been rumored for weeks, the departure of Barry Weiss from Sony Music to a new top spot at Universal Music was leaked yesterday, with multiple ensuing reports confirming Weiss’s impending move from one Midtown high rise to another. The scuttlebutt continues as speculation ramps up as to the whether or not Weiss will ride out the rest of his contract with Sony, which expires in April, and who will replace Rolf Schmidt-Holtz, with UMG CEO-in-limbo Doug Morris being hoisted by some as a new leading candidate for the top spot at Sony. Make sense? We told you months ago, in the now proliferated musical-chairs idiom, the back room dealing will continue to heat up. Onlookers continue to watch the fate of labels within both music groups, and top level execs currently in place and those waiting in the wings. Stay tuned… Meanwhile, Spotify has backed off its stance that a U.S. launch of the service will arrive before the end of the year. Speaking at D: Dive Into Mobile, CEO Daniel Ek wouldn’t commit to a specific date, stating about the continued negotiation trouble with labels, “It’s a business problem and a product problem at the same time.” When asked about the possibility of more cash, to bring a bigger bag to the table, Ek said the start up is not currently raising funds… Elsewhere, PledgeMusic is launching a new type of label, and they’ve announced the first signing in The Damnwells… And talk at SF Music Tech Summit has some questioning if music start ups are being increasingly stifled as weariness of investors to fund services requiring direct licenses from labels grows….
New stats show unsure future for mixed model
The latest Spotify stats show a mixed forecast for the the digital music service, as the number of users has increased substantially, both free and paid subscribers, but significant losses continue. The biggest contributing factor to the hefty costs comes from licensing fees for content, and while continued increases in users (and a U.S. launch) might help the company turn a corner, as Matt Rosoff reported, the startup may be in a particularly tough spot being a hybrid model that has both ad-supported and subscription options. He points out that rights holders calculate royalty payments at a rate for either one or the other, not both – the subscription rate being higher. So if Spotify is paying the higher royalty rate for all of its users, not just the paying ones, can they sustain such heavy payouts?… While EMI has received the brunt of public scrutiny in recent times, all four major music groups are amid a transition phase, with initial shake ups already happening and most predicting much more to come. After last week’s Hollywood Reporter piece, which picked apart Epic Records recent struggles under exiting Amanda Ghost at length and had Sony Music chairman Rob Stringer going on record about his failed decision to bring aboard the songwriter as label president, the industry chatter has ramped up about the impending new guard at Sony. Whether or not the new CEO will come from within the Sony ranks is still unclear, though most don’t expect the younger Stringer will be named to the top spot, leaving many to wonder if a dark horse will emerge as Rolf Schmidt-Holtz‘s successor in the end… Elsewhere, Primary Wave Talent Management, who recently grabbed a high-profile client in Cee Lo Green, has announced that writer/producer manager Tom Maffei will head up the independent publisher’s new management efforts on the West Coast… Downtown Music, who is also seen as positioning itself to shift toward increased management operations, has upped Michael Pontecorvo to oversee label operations and development… And ahead of Kanye West‘s latest release, his manager talks to The Daily Beast about the business strategy and development to expand Kanye Inc…
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 Studios… Check 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?
Spotify Closing in on Labels with Cash in Hand
It seems that everyone agrees that Apple buying Spotify is not going to happen, even Danielle Ek told TechCrunch, who first reported the possible negotiations, that “We don’t want to sell, we are here for the long term”… But more interesting are reports by MediaMemo and CNET that the European startup is getting ever closer to a launch in the states, and the primary reason is cash. The company is reportedly offering large up front advances or guarantees to the major labels who hold the fate of the service in the U.S. in their hands. Sony is reportedly the closest to making a deal, though Spotify will need at least three of the four major labels onboard to press the button – Warner Music Group would seem like the most obvious holdout if there is one… And MySpace saw a lot of positive reviews of its new design, though users of the early stage and invite-only startup Pinterest are calling foul play, as the site’s new aesthetics are strikingly similar. Apparently a now former technology director at MySpace asked for an invite to Pinterest back in March of this year, shown in an email released on TechCrunch…
Gets a Relaunch
Yesterday LimeWire software was dealt a blow in the form of a permanent injunction from a U.S. District Judge issued to parent company Lime Group, essentially killing the software that once was found on 1/3 of all PCs. Reports of a new legal digital music service began when the initial injunction was handed down against the company in May, though it appears licensing talks with major labels have broken down. The company still insists that they hope to launch the new service before the end of the year… Meanwhile, TechCrunch published a piece yesterday claiming that Apple has been in sporadic discussions with Spotify about acquisition, though it’s very early in the process, and no price has been offered. The claims are being questioned by many, believing that a deal of that kind for Apple would not make sense, if for no other reason than the presumed high price alone. However in the same post, it was revealed that Google had offered $1 billion for the service last year around the same time that the company acquired Lala… The new redesigned MySpace was launched in beta last night, and the new focus of the beleaguered social network will apparently be on entertainment content. Recognizing that they’ve been passed by in the social networking arena by Facebook, they no longer aim to compete, and are now looking to become the web’s biggest hub for music, movies and games – seeing MTV now as a more apt comparison. The backend of the site has also gotten a major overhaul, something that has been much needed since its acquisition by News Corp back in 2005…
Web TV Means Opportunity for Music
News, commentary and opinions in the tech + music arena were particularly plentiful this week, with many of the current players making headlines… Vevo and MTV are still at an impasse for a deal that would allow the former to sell ads on the latter’s properties and target their viewers, a scenario that MTV is not comfortable with. While publicity battling over who has the #1 spot in views has become common, the heart of the matter is that Vevo continues to capture the majority of the online music video market, with deals in place with all the major labels except Warner Music Group, but its sights are set on bigger targets in the form of deals like the recent Google TV partnership. AdAge has more on the standoff… And television increasing looks likes the next platform to conquer for digital music, with set-top boxes growing in availability and increased features, mainly apps. As smartphones multiply and the user base for those who get their music delivered via web and mobile apps increases, TV is quickly becoming a big part of the equation. More on why this is at Evolver.fm… The founder of the now deceased Imeem, Dalton Caldwell, gave some cautionary words to those looking to enter the music startup world this week, pointing to the difficulty to innovate in the current landscape… Though MOG CEO and founder David Hyman, was quick to share his opposing opinion via TechCrunch, saying, “digital music seems to be a game that every 20-something wants to try and play, and it’s almost as if creating a digital music product is a rite of passage for millions of young buck programmers. It’s unfortunate that because it’s a sexy space, and because there are tons of entrants into the field, all of the noise creates an impression that winning can’t be done. It certainly can”... [Update: Rhapsody weighs in on opportunity for music startups via SAI]… Former young buck behind Napster, Sean Parker, is feeling confident about Spotify in spite of continued roadblocks in the U.S., saying of the company’s model, which is creating most of the hesitation from labels in the states, “You have no choice. We’ve got you by the balls, you’ll have to become a subscriber.” Parker, who was speaking at a DailyBeast event, also claimed a launch of the service in the states will still happen before the year ends … Elsewhere, Google has launched its music service… In India… Viacom has tapped a new big gun lawyer to lead its next round in court against YouTube… The L.A. Times catches up with Tim Westergren on what’s next for Pandora… And Chamillionaire schools tech entrepreneurs and talks to ThisWeekIn…
Yesterday CNET published a lengthy piece on Spotify and the ongoing struggle to launch its music streaming service in the U.S., mentioning sources who have indicated that Apple is putting up road-blocks to the Swedes’ already difficult free-music pitch to labels. Just last week Spotify celebrated hitting 10 million users across Europe, only 5% of which are paying, with a bash in London where they indicated that a launch in the states is indeed still planned for before the the end of 2010. While most don’t believe that is possible at this point (the article also pointed out that even Google‘s highly publicized music service will most likely not launch until early 2011 now), the company also announced the launch of its Windows Phone app this week. It’s clear that Apple is taking this potential rival more seriously than most recent music services given the same moniker by the media. Further proof comes in the form of a New York Post dispatch late last night, reporting that Apple is still in talks with labels about a monthly subscription service, reviving the all too familiar iTunes in-the-cloud chatter…
Fortune’s Fool: Edgar Bronfman Jr., Warner Music and an Industry in Crisis hit the book shelves this week. Check out the 2-part interview on Wired.com with author Fred Goodman… The new “Facebook movie,” officially titled The Social Network, released a new trailer for the upcoming film that features an eerie background supplied by a choral rendition of Radiohead‘s “Creep” – you won’t find the film being promoted on Facebook, but it is part of Twitter‘s newly launched Promoted Tweets… Fear not, if the lack of news regarding Spotify in the last few weeks has got you worried, CEO says the service is “growing healthily,” and the U.S. launch of the service is still on track for this year… Elsewhere, the NY Times has a profile of Pitchfork and its growth from a small bedroom website to indie music dominance, getting 30-million page views a month… Live Nation Entertainment held a presentation this week for investors and analysts detailing the company’s plans for the future and addressing the highly scrutinized struggle of the concert business this year… And Peter Jenner, former manager of acts such as Pink Floyd and The Clash, shares his thoughts on the economics of digital music and the inevitability of file-sharing…
The Best Things in Life Aren't Free?
Not to be left out of the growing media preoccupation with new music services from industry giants like Google and Apple, not to mention the handful of new players who have emerged ahead of the curve like mspot, MOG, Spotify and Rdio, MySpace Music is back in the mix with renewed reports this week of a looming subscription service. The company is said to be in talks with labels about moving away from their current free streaming model to a paid service… Simultaneously MySpace parent News Corp. was quick to deny rumors that the company is in talks to sell the once supreme social network that has been facing a tough transition and revolving door of executives over the last year… An article in the WSJ today examines the increasingly tough road for the live music business – and for those keeping score, Rihanna‘s “Last Girl on Earth” tour appears to be the latest summer outing to announce cancellations… Elsewhere, Wilco is planning to start their own label and will be leaving Warner Music after a 15-year relationship, having released albums on both Reprise and then Nonesuch… And CAA + “The Decision” x Kanye West = LeBron to The Heat…