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The domino hits South Jersey.

The unstoppable domino wave of lost physical sales has hit South Jersey’s Sony CD manufacturing plant. Goodbye to 300 workers and more than 50 years of music history.

Source: Sony will close South Jersey CD plant

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13/01/2011 Posted by | Music News | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Reach for the SKY

SKY has launched a beta website for their brand-new music-subscription service which allows DRM-free song downloads and streaming for all UK and Irish music lovers. In case you’re wondering, the DRM-free songs offered are truly DRM-free, untethered as the day they were digitally born (or made, if you will). For a simple fee every month, subscribers get a certain number of DRM-free songs to download, as well as unlimited streaming of music on the Sky music website. So far, as usual, only the pro-digital Universal Music Group has jumped right in with the utmost of enthusiasm.

While Sky assures that there are ‘talks’ for other labels to come onboard, I can assure you that it’s not going to happen anytime soon. If Sony, Warner and EMI are not already laughing at UMG for their overzealousness for such digital projects, then they are definitely bidding their time, waiting in line to see if UMG’s throat gets cut first, and when. These three giant labels are more concerned about profits first, and not about paving the way to building new digital business models.

Or maybe they are actually concerned about the latter, but in any case, they still have naught to show for it.

As of 12 October 2009, all four major labels have come onboard with offerings from their catalogue, making SKY a true model of the new digital music business. Wonderful news!

Sky, a self-proclaimed ‘communications’ corporation, has implemented a sleek look for their beta music site, which can be found here. Simple, elegant, and easy to use, Songs.Sky.Com has all the offerings from UMG’s huge catalogue, which consists of jazz great classics from the VERVE and ECM catalogues, hip-hop gems from the Def Jam catalogue, and of course chart-topping hits from pop and rock acts like the Black Eyed Peas, the soon-defunct Pussycat Dolls, Mariah Carey, No Doubt, Pixie Lott, Snow Patrol, Hoobastank, Keane and much more.

Mike Darcey, COO of BSkyB, sums it up, “We aim to offer an easy and affordable service for all UK music fans, while ensuring that artists are properly rewarded for their creativity.” While it has yet to be proven that digital profits from such straight-to-the-label tie-ups will blow through the roof anytime soon, it is heartening to see that a certain digital music business model is taking shape all over the world. To sum it up:

The All-New Digital Music Business Model
  • Unlimited Music Streaming for up to max. 30sec
  • Unlimited Tethered Downloads
  • Limited DRM-free (untethered) Downloads
  • Nice, softly-priced Subscription Fee (it can take any form other than a straight-up music subscription fee)
  • Easy-to-use Website
  • Easy-to-download at the click of a mouse
  • No hassle, no contracts

And there you have it: the new digital music business model of the 21st-century:

skyhomepage
SKY Songs Homepage

29/10/2009 Posted by | Music News | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Are the Labels Ready to Face the Digital Frontier?

VEVO_logoUniversal Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment have both put a foot in on the boat that is VEVO. And now VEVO looks set to sail into the bright horizon as investor Abu Dhabi Media Company (ADMC) pumps in a strategic investment, declaring itself a shareholder and a big part of this venture.

VEVO is branded as upcoming state-of-the-art music video and entertainment service powered by YouTube, with music content exclusively provided by UMG and SME, whose artists include Mariah Carey, Jay-Z, and Lady Gaga for the former, and Beyoncé, Justin Timberlake and the late Michael Jackson for the latter. VEVO is the next natural step in the long-term rollout of digital plans, according to the shareholders. “It illustrates our partnering approach with innovators in digital media services and technologies,” says H.E. Mohamed Khalaf Al Mazroui, Chairman of ADMC.

Rio Caraeff, CEO of VEVO, seems to have big plans up his sleeves. Having dealt with digital c ontent for 4 years in Universal Music Group and another 3 years in Sony Pictures Entertainment before that, Caraeff seems determined to steer the entire industry in the digital direction.

However, reticence to embark on digital projects is something the labels cannot seem to shake off. Red tape, protocols pertaining to physical products, inertia to recognize the obvious dawn of the digital age, are just some of the things that prevent labels from investing in the right research to find a digital music business model. Though Universal Music had led the way with their fondness for little digital projects all over the world (read: UMG-Webtv Europe’s deal in 2004, UMG and UK telco Orange’s mobile music deal in 2009, UMG and Singapore leading telco Singtel’s mobile music deal in 2009, UMG and Virgin Media’s ongoing deal, among others), impact made on consumer trends are arguable, and besides, none of the other labels seemed to have taken notice of what UMG has been doing. Or, rather, they probably could not care less.

Sony Music has apparently, however, woken up from the deep slumber caused by the messy and very recent separation from Bertelsmann Music Group (BMG), and has expressed interest in foraying into the digital music market. Just a few days ago, it was announced that Sony’s electronic arm has involved itself in a project called “Club Dates”, which is in fact a series of digital concerts planned to encourage music lovers to embrace what Sony calls “alternative content”. Concerts filmed ‘live’ will be shown on the various Sony platforms, including its 4K digital cinema projectors. The first act called upon to headline the series is none other than the band Third Eye Blind, whose latest album “Ursa Major” received the major honor of #1 Digital Album on the Billboard charts. Aside from “Club Dates” and the gentle stakeholding duties that are called upon by VEVO, Sony Music has yet to prove its interest in the global digital market.

As I type, Virgin Media and UMG have yet to reach a conclusion on what “unlimited DRM-free” downloads should mean. It seems simple – downloads that are untethered and are available readily without clauses in your contracts. Yet it isn’t really all that easy to implement. The question now remains: how can the labels protect their content and yet embrace a digital world completely?

21/10/2009 Posted by | Music News | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment