Will Japan Warm Up To Sony Music Unlimited?
-- Subscription services haven't had much success in Japan. Napster Japan, a joint venture between Napster and Tower Records, failed to grow subscribers to a profitable in three and a half years of operation. It shut down in March 2010.
The country's recorded music revenues are dominated by physical formats while digital revenues are dominated by track downloads, ringtunes and ringback tunes, according to the RIAJ. In the first quarter of 2012, subscription revenue was just 151 million yen (about $1.9 million), or 1% of total digital revenue. For a market dominated by physical formats, 1% of digital revenue is practically nothing.
Sony is giving subscriptions a shot by making Japan the 17th country to get its Sony Music Unlimited service. Tim Schaaff, President of Sony Network Entertainment International, calls it a "key step" in the service's expansion. Japanese consumers get a service that launched in Europe in December 2010 and is already available on a wide variety of devices, from Android smartphones and tablets to Sony devices such as PlayStation 3, Blu-ray players and Bravia HDTVs. The cost will be 1,480 yen ($18.56) per month with tax included.
( Sony press release)
Pandora Gets Upgraded
-- Raymond James upgraded Pandora Media to "outperform" from "market perform" earlier this week, according to a post at Forbes.com. The firm's proprietary survey of 422 Internet users showed Pandora "is well positioned competitively," and the analyst believes the Internet radio leader will improve in fiscal 2013 and accelerate in fiscal 2014. Unlike some other recent developments in the Internet radio market, Raymond James' upgrade didn't have much effect on Pandora's share price.
Shares have been trading between $10 and $12 for the month. Shares stood at $11.47 before a brief tumble caused by the launch of a free Internet radio service on the Spotify mobile app. Pandora dropped 0.6% to $10.64 in Tuesday.
The Hubub YouTube-MP3 Conversions?
-- People today prefer access over ownership, right? That's what today's thought leaders tell us. If that were the case, it would be hard to imagine why Google and a record industry trade group are going after applications that convert YouTube streams' audio into MP3 files. But people just aren't streaming audio and video, they're converting those streams to MP3s.
Here's some background on the events in Germany: YouTube-MP3 is a website based in Germany that allows people to convert YouTube videos into MP3 files. In June, Google threatened legal action and gave the site seven days to comply with its demands. According to reports, YouTube said providing an audio ripping service, isolating or modifying the components of a YouTube file or externally storing copies of a YouTube file are prohibited.
All this might not be worth mentioning if not for two things. First, YouTube-MP3 gets an estimated 1.3 million daily visitors. Other sites perform the same task, but YouTube-MP3 tops search results and is clearly popular. Second, the site doesn't return value to rights owners, songwriters or performing artists although it generates revenue from display advertisements (ads for Toyota's 4th of July sale were seen Tuesday afternoon).
But why would YouTube-MP3 pay rights owners when there are no copyright issues at hand and it merely provides personal copies to its visitors? Those are the company's arguments laid out in a case study and post by the site's 21-year-old founder. "Downloading of streamed content from YouTube by natural persons for their private use does not currently require the consent of the copyright holder," the case study states in reference to German copyright law.
Around the same YouTube starting addressing this YouTube-MP3 issue, the RIAA requested that CNET's Download.com site remove software that converts streams to MP3 files. In a statement, the RIAA said it had first asked Download.com to remove the applications in question over a year ago. "Download.com is profiting from this infringement through advertisements and other ways it derives revenue when people use the site to download these applications," says the RIAA.
Some conversion applications may have non-infringing uses but it's not a stretch of the imagination to think some people are using them to acquire free MP3s of songs that can be legally purchased elsewhere. The most popular videos in YouTube history are music videos and the most popular videos at any given time are often music videos.