2012's Consumer Electronics Show Biz Blog
2012's Consumer Electronics Show Biz Blog

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Jan 13, 2012 | Blog Post

CES 2012: 8 Cool Things

Andrew Hampp, Las Vegas

The music industry was all over Las Vegas this week, from Will Smith and Kelly Clarkson at Sony's presentation, Justin Timberlake's cameo at MySpace's TV announcement and Justin Bieber helping Tosy Robotics pitch a new dancing robot, to DJ sets from Will.i.am and Tiesto. Here are eight cool new gadgets, apps and technology trends sure to be impacting music and entertainment in 2012.

1. Intel's Ultrabook. Will.i.am calls it his new "ghetto blaster", while Intel CEO Paul Otellini dubbed it "a redefinition of what can be done with the power of computing." The extra-thin laptop has a super-fast processor and even 3D capabilities, thanks to a new 22 nanometer 3D transmitter Intel issued last year. As Intel's director of creative innovation, Will.i.am will be taking his Ultrabook around the world with him, recording original songs and videos in 12 different cities in 12 different countries. Stay tuned to Intel.com/Ultrabookproject for streaming updates.

2. Celebrity headphones. With Beats by Dre set to end their partnership later this year, the celebrity turf war to steal share from the category leader is heating up. Both 50 Cent and Ludacris showed off their new lines at this year's show, while RZA's Chambers line also made a booth appearance on the showfloor. Let the games begin!

3. LG's Smart Home Appliances. If Samsung's Pandora-equipped refrigerator was the most nontraditional music player of 2011, could a washer-dryer with IHeartRadio be too far off? LG Electronics showcased a new suite of wi-fi appliances that can recommend recipes based on your health condition, send alerts based on food's expiration date and even program your oven and washing machine from miles away on your LG phone.

4. Tablet Phones. It was bound to happen sooner or later - Samsung was the first major player to debut a combination tablet phone, the Galaxy Note, complete with giant bus ads that cruised all over town. It's not earning many points for design -alternately smaller than most other tablets and too large to be a subtle phone, it's the 2012 equivalent to the Zach Morris phone. But as a bellwether for future device consolidation, its long-term implications are substantial.

5. 3-D Music Videos. A nascent trend in 2011 (Foster The People, Ok Go, Jason Derulo and Blue Man Group all debuted 3-D clips for the Nintendo 3DS), 3-D/augmented reality music videos may catch on in a bigger way in 2012. Several label execs who toured the floor this year were excited by technology from vendors like LG, TCL and Panasonic that could make 3-D video conversion faster and cheaper for the music industry to embrace.

6. Ford Sync AppLink. Move over, Siri. Voice activation is coming to the in-car media dashboard, courtesy of Ford's new AppLink software that allows you to dial up your favorite Clear Channel station via IHeartRadio or NPR News program via voice command. So if you want to hear "Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me" during your morning drive, AppLink can find the nearest NPR station playing that week's episode. Same with your favorite Clear Channel's station's call letters.

7. MySpace TV. Though MySpace is still a few months away from an official relaunch under creative director Justin Timberlake, new owners Tim and Chris Vanderhook at Specific Media unveiled a promising new TV app that further demonstrates MySpace's desire to be a more integrated part of entertainment. Set to launch in Panasonic Viera TVs next month, MySpace TV lets you chat about and vote for music videos in real-time with friends and other users on your mobile device, as well as access exclusive artist material through a Shazam-like song-tagging function compatible with any TV network.

8. Wireless Boomboxes. Could the iPod dock soon go the way of the tape deck? That seemed to be the trend on the CES floor, with docks and auxiliary cords ditched in favor of Bluetooth-enabled wireless music players from Sony, Logitech, and most interestingly, TDK. The former mixtape mavens are banking on a fourth-quarter suite of wireless products to revive the flagging company and regain relevance, having already seeded their products to artists like Snoop Dogg, Matt & Kim and the Beastie Boys.

Jan 13, 2012
| Blog Post

CES Quick Hit: Motorola's MOTOACTV Monitors Your Best Workout Songs

Kerri Mason, Las Vegas

Time After Time: Motorola's MOTOACTV allows users to track which songs pump them up.

If you always suspected that Nine Inch Nails' "March of the Pigs" made you run just that much faster during your workouts, now, there's a device that can prove it.

While it made its debut prior to the show, the MOTOACTV from Motorola was named the Best Bluetooth Product of CES this year. The sleek little square is a more elegant answer to Apple and Nike's Nike+ system, which allows runners to gauge their progress while listening to music.

The Android-based touchscreen device has a ton of bells and whistles, like time, distance, speed, and calories burned measurement, an accelerometer, and precision GPS. It uploads your results to the Motocast platform, accessible via motoactv.com, and is Mac/iTunes and PC/Windows Media Player compatible.

But the coolest part? A feature that relates your speed and calorie burn to the song being played, and makes a "power playlist" of your top musical motivators.

Whether it's NIN, or LMFAO's "Sexy and I Know It," we won't judge.

Jan 13, 2012 | Analysis

Apps Reshaping Digital Media Consumption At 2012 CES

Andrew Hampp (@ahampp), Las Vegas

Jolly Boys
App-titude test: The floor of the 2012 CES Convention Hall in Las Vegas

Las Vegas -- The annual International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas is all about gadgets. But as this year's confab demonstrated, some of the most exciting technological developments related to music are currently focused on software applications for consumer electronics, rather than the actual hardware itself.

Hardware makers are well aware of this shift to a more app-centric world and made sure to emphasize how software enhances the experience of consuming digital media through their products.

Mobile devices are at the center of the app universe, and a veritable army of new Android smartphones and tablet computers made their debuts at CES, as did Nokia's flagship Windows Lumia 900 smartphone, all hoping to significantly challenge Apple's iPhone and iPad.

But the show, held Jan. 10-13, also illustrated how the ability to access music apps continues to expand to other platforms, either through a Bluetooth connection to a mobile device (in-dash car stereos) or a home Wi-Fi network (connected TVs and gaming systems). LG Electronics even showcased a series of Wi-Fi-enhanced home appliances like a washer/dryer and an oven that could soon bring digital entertainment to a new class of products, just as Samsung's app-based refrigerator teased at CES 2011. Even more so than TV and movie services like Netflix and Hulu, music apps were the go-to vehicle for consumer-electronics manufacturers to show off their wares.

Even TV makers like Panasonic, Samsung, Vizio and LG relied heavily on music videos to showcase their new cutting-edge 3-D technologies. Rob Norman, CEO of WPP's GroupM North America, likened the demos at this year's show to the early days of when interactive-TV applications were all the rage during CES keynotes.

"Everyone would always use the example of the pizza-delivery service to show interactive TV's capabilities, " Norman says. "That's what music has become--it's become an example of connectivity. "

Web radio service Pandora alone is now available on more than 450 devices, including 16 automotive systems and countless mobile and home entertainment devices. "It's a signal of what's happening in the industry, " Pandora founder/chief strategy officer Tim Westergren says. "They know what people want, and it's music. It's a harbinger of the future."

Even though the "appification " of streaming music services is merely taking them to places where terrestrial radio has long since ruled, Clear Channel Digital president Brian Lakamp says the added level of interactivity of webcasting services like Clear Channel's iHeartRadio makes app-based streaming services an essential part of the radio giant's future.

"We're adding a new mode of connectivity to the experience, " Lakamp says. Myspace and its owner Specific Media used CES as a launch pad for the new Myspace TV app for Panasonic's Viera line of TVs, recruiting creative director Justin Timberlake for a splashy announcement. The app enables users to stream new music videos directly from the app and chat about them in real time with their friends. They can also synch their smartphone or tablet with any song playing on a Viera TV, which redirects them to the artist's Myspace page.

"We want to provide for the complete TV experience, " Specific Media CEO Tim Vanderhook said at Panasonic's booth at the Las Vegas Convention Center. "We're not trying to disrupt the TV model. Most digital guys think of free, over-the-top apps and we want to be integrated. "

Video technology also factored into many music industry attendees' plans, as executives start to plot innovative music video strategies for 2012. Since Nintendo's handheld 3DS gaming system rolled out 3-D clips last summer from Jason Derulo and other artists, labels and video directors have been exploring cool yet cost-effective ways to incorporate 3-D technology, whether by filming in 3-D or converting existing clips, according to a label executive who attended CES.

The Black Eyed Peas' Will.i.am and Intel showcased 360-degree camera technology during Intel CEO Paul Otellini's CES keynote. As part of an Intel branding campaign, Will.i.am will visit 12 countries during the next year, filming his trips with his Intel "Ultrabook " laptop. Using Intel's willpower360 app, the 3-D footage will enable viewers to watch the artist from every possible angle. Will.i.am will also record an original song in each city using his Ultrabook and other Intel products.

Will.i.am and Timberlake were among the host of A-list musicians who stopped by CES this year. LL Cool J debuted a virtual recording studio presented by his Boomdizzle online music community in conjunction with Dolby, 50 Cent talked up his new SMS headphone line, and Justin Bieber drew crowds to help Tosy Robotics introduce its new music-centric mRobo Ultra Bass robot. Even Kelly Clarkson made an impromptu appearance during Sony's presentation to perform her hit "Mr. Know It All " as part of a demonstration of Sony's Music Unlimited subscription service.

This year's CES coincided with heated debate in Congress over two controversial anti-piracy bills: the Stop Online Piracy Act in the House and the PROTECT IP Act in the Senate. The RIAA, which backs both bills, wasn't invited to speak on any CES panels addressing the pending legislation, so RIAA senior executive VP Mitch Glazier and other officials appeared at various press events to get the recording industry's voice in front of individual journalists.

"We love seeing all the new cutting-edge devices that are powered by music, " said RIAA VP of communications Cara Duckworth, adding that the trade organization felt it was vital to represent creator interests at CES to "counter a lot of the misinformation out there about the bills.

Jan 12, 2012
| Blog Post

Backbeat: Will.I.Am, Jimmy Iovine, Bob Pittman And, Er, Andy Dick Rock CES iHeartRadio Party

Billboard Staff, Las Vegas

Online radio service iHeartRadio hosted a party at Haze nightclub in the Aria Hotel in Las Vegas Wednesday night that drew some of the most storied stars and celebrities attending the CES conference this year.

Curating the music for the night was guest DJ Will.I.Am who set the mood for attendees such as 50 Cent, Akon, Coolio and Andy Dick, who was, in classic style, kicked out of the DJ booth for some of his less-than-savory antics.

Also in attendance were Bob Pittman, CEO of Clear Channel, and Interscope head Jimmy Iovine, who was spotted hanging out with Clear Channel's John Sykes and Tom Poleman.


(L-R): Bob Pittman (CEO of Clear Channel), Will.i.am, John Sykes (Clear Channel) and Tom Poleman (President of National Programming Platforms, Clear Channel) at the iHeartRadio CES party at Haze nightclub at the Aria Resort and Casino. (Photo: Brian Friedman for iHeartRadio)


Will.i.am spinning at the iHeartRadio CES party at the iHeartRadio CES party at Haze nightclub at the Aria Resort and Casino. (Photo: Brian Friedman for iHeartRadio)

Tom Poleman

(L-R): Tom Poleman (President of National Programming Platforms, Clear Channel), John Sykes (Clear Channel) and Jimmy lovine at the iHeartRadio CES party at Haze nightclub at the Aria Resort and Casino. (Photo: Brian Friedman for iHeartRadio)

andy dick

Andy Dick and friends at the iHeartRadio CES party at the iHeartRadio CES party at Haze nightclub at the Aria Resort and Casino. (Photo: Brian Friedman for iHeartRadio)


The crowd at the iHeartRadio CES party at the iHeartRadio CES party at Haze nightclub at the Aria Resort and Casino. (Photo: Brian Friedman for iHeartRadio)

Jan 12, 2012 | Blog Post

Backbeat: Tiesto DJs First Twitter Live Stream Event, But Does He Write His Own Tweets?

Kerri Mason, Las Vegas

Tiësto DJs at XS nightclub in Las Vegas (Photo: Franklin Williams)

"This entrance is only for VERY important clients," the woman with the guestlist advised gravely. XS nightclub, the glittering indoor/outdoor venue at Las Vegas' Wynn Encore casino-hotel, was temporarily turned into a giant corporate hoedown on Wednesday, Jan. 11, as HP and Intel execs and guests celebrated the introduction of their new ultrabook products with a very special house band: DJ/producer Tiësto.

A fully branded experience, with HP and Intel logos, signage and product showcases dotting the entire venue - not to mention an HP laptop prominently used - the event was also a social media landmark: The first live performance streamed live on Twitter, via Ustream.

"I really love Twitter; I think it's a very positive thing. It makes it so easy to connect to people," Tiësto said. "Basically, I Tweet when I'm bored. When you travel a lot, sometimes you have a half an hour here or there, in the airport when you're waiting."

With nearly 847,000 followers, Tiësto is one of Twitter's top DJs - and despite his international superstar status, one of its most engaged, frequently responding to fans.

"A lot of people think I don't do my own Twitter or something. If not, what's the use? It's a very personal thing," he said. "People get mad if I don't follow them or retweet them; that's a little bit annoying, since I'm trying to do the right thing. Some people write me a hundred messages in a row, but I actually will not respond to that because it's trying to force me to do something, and it has to be organic, right? If something's nice, I'll retweet it or say something. And oh, people love it."

Tiësto DJs at XS nightclub in Las Vegas (Photo: Franklin Williams)

At XS, Believe Entertainment, a production and management company, announced "In the Booth," a 10-part video series underwritten by the two technology brands, going behind-the-scenes on Tiësto's superstar DJ life. It will premiere Jan. 17 on the artist's YouTube page.

Over on the HP black carpet (who does red anymore, anyway?), Believe co-founders William H. Masterson III and Dan Goodman mugged with Tiësto and his worldwide manager, MIchael Cohen of Complete Control, and posed with crowds of execs from the brand sponsors, seemingly enjoying their moment with the affable Tijs.

"While there are millions of people around the world who love Tiësto, there are millions more who will love him after seeing this," says Masterson. "[A behind-the-scenes documentary series] is a fairly new concept for someone who's a private person. But he said, 'You know what, I care about my fans so much, I want them to see all that goes into what Tiësto is, as a performer, a producer and as a person. He's been amazing to work with."

"Tiësto is an electronic dance music artist: He IS technology, he's an innovator, he's global, and he's first in almost everything he does," said Goodman. "For HP and Intel, it's just a really natural partnership that's been fantastic."

From left: Michael Cohen of Complete Control, Tiësto and Believe Entertainment co-founders William H. Masterson III and Dan Goodman (Photo: Franklin Williams)

Winner of Project Runway Season 9, and another HP endorser, former beauty queen Anya Ayoung-Chee, also walked the step-and-repeat; while TV's Steve Urkel - Jaleel White, now 35 - tailed the Getty Images photographer to try to get his picture taken.

Out on the dance floor, the CES crowd got down like tipsy relatives at a wedding, enjoying a privileged taste of the global underground care of HP, Intel and Tiësto.

Project Runway Season 9 winner Anya Ayoung-Chee poses on the HP "black carpet" at XS nightclub in Las Vegas (Photo: Franklin Williams)

Jan 12, 2012 | Blog Post

CES Backbeat: Where Is Rhapsody President Jon Irwin's Hair? We Know ...

Glenn Peoples, Nashville

Rhapsody president Jon Irwin is currently attending CES in Las Vegas with a buzz cut. Here's why:

Irwin set a goal of reaching 1 million subscribers by the end of 2011 during a planning meeting for the year. When somebody asked Irwin what he would do if the goal were reached, he said he would shave his head. It was an off-the-cuff statement that Irwin didn't expect people to remember. "When you make statements like that, you should probably clear it with your spouse," he adds.

But Rhapsody's staff remembered and talked about it more as the company neared the 1-million mark. "Sure enough, as soon as we did they were all over it," says Irwin. "Which was fun."

Lead program manager Jim Santanella takes the clippers to Rhapsody president Jon Irwin's head in honor of the company's one millionth subscriber. (Photo: Jon Maples)

At the end of the workday on December 22, the same day Rhapsody publicly announced it hit the 1 million subscriber mark, Irwin lived up to his pledge. Jim Santanella, lead program manager, was selected from a group of eager volunteers to do the sheering. Irwin just sat back and soaked it in. "There was a big crowd. I poured myself a nice glass of beer and enjoyed the experience."

Irwin says his hair was clipped without an attachment, not shaved with a razor. And he admits the new look hasn't turned out to be such a bad thing. "My wife's getting used to it. And everybody's saying I look younger."

Jan 11, 2012 | Blog Post

Tiesto DJs First Ever Live Twitter Stream At 2012 CES

Kerri Mason, Las Vegas

CES saw the power of dance music firsthand Wednesday night, as Tiësto took the booth at Las Vegas nightclub XS to make social media history.

The DJ/producer and Billboard cover star partnered with HP and Intel to stage the first-ever live concert stream on Twitter, for a room full of the sponsors' best clients - some still wearing their CES badges and trade show comfort shoes - and an online audience of thousands.

"The coolest aspect for me is to be the first one to do it," the 42-year-old global superstar said earlier that day. "Twitter is here to stay; it's a long-term thing. And to be a part of it, to help its development, is amazing."

The private, invite-only set also marked the launch of another social media initiative for the man his friends call Tijs: "In The Booth," a 10-part video series meant to document Tiësto's fast-paced, globetrotting life, is set to premiere on the artist's YouTube channel on January 17. Produced by Believe Entertainment Group - the digital content company behind Lebron James' animated Web series "The Lebrons" - the documentary was also underwritten by HP and Intel, and features Tiësto prominently using the brands' products.

"He's the king of electronic dance music, but he's also a guy who gets it," said Believe co-founder William H. Masterson III from the event's "black carpet" (HP's key brand color). "He tries to create experiences for his audience that they've never had before."

For the sponsors, the Tiësto partnership was an ideal way to showcase their top priority for 2012: The new ultrabook category, created by (or according to event signage, "inspired by") processor giant Intel to compete with Apple's MacBook Air. Ultrabooks are meant to be light, thin and powerful; aesthetically pleasing but undeniably high-functioning. While Intel has charged all of its manufacturing partners to try their hands at making the lithe machines - with Acer, Lenovo and Dell also debuting new models at CES - the focus at XS was HP.

With media sponsorships that span other verticals - like "Project Runway" (Season 8 winner Anya Ayoung-Chee made an appearance at the HP booth, and at the Tiësto event) - HP likes to position itself as a facilitator of creativity, for a slightly younger and hipper audience. Its Envy 14 Spectre, a lightweight, visually striking Gorilla Glass-encased 14-incher; and Folio 15, a 15-inch addition to the Folio series, which boasts long battery life, were splashed all over the venue, on video screens, banners, and even in glass cases for revelers to gawk at.

Tiësto played his heart out for the full 90 minutes, blasting his trademark confetti cannons, and dropping a greatest-hits type of set, including Avicii's omnipresent "Le7els," Kaskade's "Turn It Down," a new remix of Oasis classic "Wonderwall," and his own "Maximal Crazy." The UStream video feed appeared in the extended body of a traditional Tweet, on HP and Intel's enhanced Twitter pages. The video player was tiny - but the real-time quality of the platform, now augmented with sight, sound and motion, was undeniably game-changing.

With logos strewn around every corner of the room - sketched on mirrors, projected on walls, even stretched over male dancers in branded unitards - there was no doubt that HP and Intel were in full support of their smiling Dutch DJ star, and his 847,000 Twitter followers.

"Five years ago, no way - brands like this wouldn't have gotten behind a DJ," says Believe co-founder Dan Goodman. "They wouldn't have known who you were talking about. Even now, I think it's early; we're just at the beginning."

"Never before has their been a form of music that's taken hold so hard," said Masterson. "Electronic music is probably the most dominant category globally right now. The way people react to the music, and the enjoyment they get out of it - that tells the entire story."

Jan 11, 2012 | Blog Post

CES Quick Hits: Tim, Chris Vanderhook on Making MySpace TV 'Complete TV Experience'

Andrew Hampp (@ahampp), Las Vegas

Just what exactly is MySpace TV? As described by Tim and Chris Vanderhook, MySpace's new owners at Specific Media, it's a "linear TV experience" for the app-heavy smart TV marketplace. Launching on Panasonic's Viera TVs some time before the end of the second quarter, MySpace TV and it's accompanying mobile and tablet apps wants to be Twitter, Shazam and Facebook all in one. The pair are at CES promoting their new vision for MySpace, and started things off with a bang by bringing out co-owner Justin Timberlake on Monday.

Not only can users stream new music videos and vote on which ones they want to see next with other users in real-time, they can also interact with music on any other TV channel. Let's say you're watching a video from The Band Perry on MTV, and want to find out more about the group. By turning on the MySpace TV mobile app, the Viera technology will help your mobile device recognize the song and instantly redirect you to The Band Perry's MySpace page for more information and social media functionality.

"We want to provide for the complete TV experience," Tim Vanderhook said from Panasonic's booth in Central Hall. "We're not trying to disrupt the TV model. Most digital guys think of free, over-the-top apps and we want to be integrated."

MySpace TV comes on the heels of the company's revamped music player, as the site readies a more formal relaunch later this year. The Vanderhooks remained mum on further plans at this time, though Chris promised a drastic change to the old advertising model. "It won't be flashing, blinking banners," he said. "We've created a whole new experience for our users, so now it's, how do you create an equal experience for advertisers?"

Jan 11, 2012 | Blog Post

CES Quick Hits: Clear Channel's Brian Lakamp on Becoming Even More Ubiquitous in Cars

Andrew Hampp (@ahampp), Las Vegas

Brian Lakamp, Clear Channel's president of digital, fully understands the irony of a radio company hawking its in-car apps at CES. "We're already in every car," he said from Ford's booth in the South Hall, where Clear Channel's IHeartRadio was a featured partner of Ford's new Sync AppLink system. "But we're adding a new mode of connectivity to the experience, and are excited to bring our customized app into the car."

In addition to Ford, IHeartRadio has existing deals with Toyota and Chrysler in the automotive sector. It's also venturing into TV and gaming, with recent announcements with Vizio TV and Microsoft Kinect. What's unique about the new Sync AppLink is voice activation, allowing drivers to access their favorite stations with simple commands like "local stations," "my stations" or even individual call letters. The feature will be available in all 2012 Ford Fiesta, Fusion, Fusion Hybrid, F150, Mustang, Expedition, E-Series, Super Duty, Shelby GT500 and SVT Raptor vehicles.

Music-service distribution has become something of an arms race at CES in recent years, particularly as major players like Pandora and Mog continue to be featured in more automakers' dashboard systems and after-market manufacturers' products. But can they really move the needle on the companies' user base? Mog has yet to disclose any subscriber figures, but told Billboard Tuesday that the service has seen monumental growth since its Facebook integration launched in September. IHeartRadio, which relaunched with a major music festival in September, has seen a boost of over 2 million new registered users since the new app debuted, with over 47 million downloads in total to date. "We want to be everywhere our listeners are," Lakamp said.

Jan 11, 2012 | Blog Post

CES Quick Hits: Could LG's Smart Home Appliances Be the Next Music Player?

Andrew Hampp (@ahampp), Las Vegas

LG showcases its new line of smart home appliances at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

If a Pandora-playing refrigerator was the talk of last year's CES, could a washing machine be next?

LG Electronics showcased its new line of smart home appliances at CES Wednesday, which includes refrigerators, ovens and washer/dryers. Each is wi-fi enabled, designed to sync to a homeowner's LG phone with custom updates and features via LG's Smart ThinQ technology. The smart washing machines, for example, can be monitored remotely via wi-fi connectivity. Although no music partners were featured during LG's presentation by speaker Brian Robert Taylor, it's not hard to imagine where a Pandora, Spotify or IHeartRadio app might fit in some day.

Among the innovations, Taylor demonstrated how the smart refrigerator can check for food's expiration dates and send reminders as the day approaches. A feature called Health Manager can also customize recipes and foods to household members' individual weight and health condition. And the smart oven can operate remotely for long food preparations. "You can start your day in San Francisco, and if you have a turkey in the oven in L.A. you can have dinner ready when you get home," Taylor said.

Jan 10, 2012 | Blog Post

Will.I.Am and Intel at CES: Ultrabook Is 'the New Ghetto Blaster'

Andrew Hampp (@ahampp), Las Vegas


So what exactly has Will.I.Am up to since being named Intel's director of creative innovation last year? As the Black Eyed Peas' leader detailed on Tuesday at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, he's taking his new Ultrabook, a new #willpower app and a flair for philanthropy with him around the world.

During the final moments of Intel CEO Paul Cotellini's keynote, Will previewed the first of 12 songs he'll be creating over the course of the next 12 months. The first, "I'll Blow Your Mind With My Ghetto Blaster," was recorded in Japan over the course of a four-day trip in which Will.i.am played a DJ gig, helped raise money for Japanese tsunami relief and recorded a track that captured his experience using Intel technology. "Ghetto Blaster" will be available for a free, limited download of 10,000 at Intel.com before it's taken down.

Eleven more original songs are expected to be produced from each respective trip, with upcoming jaunts slated for Mexico City and China. But Will.i.am doesn't expect to produce an official album from his Intel exploits. "I believe with this new connectivity and ability to send out that one song to many is the new album," he said during a press conference following the keynote. "To then take 12 songs and sell them, that's not what I'm doing this for. Isn't it 2012?"

Each of Will.i.am's trips will be visible through his new #willpower app and on Intel.com, using a panoramic, 360-degree camera technology powered by Intel that allows the user to view everything from the nightclub where Will is spinning to the airport from which he's flying at every imaginable angle. "The user is the editor, the user gets to navigate however they want to experience it," he says.

The first single's title also took on a double meaning when Will hoisted his Ultrabook on his shoulder and said, "This is the new ghetto blaster." Such a uniquely post-millennial metaphor was one of many statements Will.i.am had about technology's impact on the music "business," a word he notably bristled at when Otellini used it to describe his profession.

"Back when Michael Jackson was making music, we used to make music in studios and it would play on the radio. Now you're making music on the computer and you listen to it on the computer. The idea of that is just amazing," he said.

He expanded upon the analogy even further during the press conference alongside Johan Jervoe, Intel's VP of sales and marketing. "What's weird is how do we monetize it the way we used to? Touring actually lets you weed out the fakers from the shakers. And I think tomorrow's about people that actually write their own music, that can perform and have a perspective. And it goes back to people talking about what s happening in the community and also music that's about entertainment or purely to make people smile. As long as the person is talking and thinking about doing things, it grants them the ability o be creative. That's what technology does."

Such big-picture thinking is what first made Intel's Jervoe consider Will.i.am as a potential collaborator when the two met nearly nine years ago. "Will thinks of user experiences way more than the very narrow content piece. When he thinks about how I want technology to inform my art, my design, my music, that mental cognitive power of thinking out-of-the box is very similar on both sides. When you bring in an engineer that brings product and processing power for five, 10, 15 years ahead, the two sides all of a sudden become very unified and solutions-based."

Jan 10, 2012
| Blog Post

Mog Hits The Road @ CES

Andrew Hampp (@ahampp), Las Vegas

Christina Aguilera
JVC multimedia products featuring Mog (Photo: Andrew Hampp)

Like many music services at CES, this year, Mog is making in-roads with the automotive industry. The on-demand music service made its first big stride last fall when it became one of BMW's first app partners for its in-car Connected technology debuting in its 2012 models, But at CES, Mog's main focus was after-market in-car products, with Mog players set to be synced with new multimedia systems from JVC and Harman's Aha.

Drew Denbo, Mog's senior VP of business development, said in-car apps had been a priority of his ever since he joined the company in May 2010 after 10 years with Rhapsody. "We knew we had to start bringing our services to the car because it was the number-one place for listening but ironically the last place for subscriptions." JVC products will start shipping in February, with prices ranging from $549 to $649.

Mog's in-car apps aim for seamless connectivity, making downloads available straight from a car's dashboard and easily transferrable to the listener's mobile device - not to mention data-plan conservation through on-demand listening. "If you're just streaming it could easily blow through all your data points," he says.

Also high on Mog's priority list is connected-TVs, recently inking deals with LG, Samsung and Vizio to be part of their new home theater systems and Blu Ray players, as well as home-entertainment products like Boxee, Sonos, Squeezebox and Roku. Denbo also pointed to a recent handset deal with AT&T which allows subscribers to add Mog fees to their AT&T phone bills to avoid separate credit card charges. "We're seeing really good success on that," he says. "Strategically, this is where we have to put a lot of resources. We're very serious about this category."

TDK's new line of headphones are a direct response to disposable headphones with "investment-grade audio." (Photo: Andrew Hampp)

Jan 10, 2012 | Blog Post

CES Quick Hits: TDK Honors Mixtape Roots with New Boombox, Headphone Products
Andrew Hampp (@ahampp), Las Vegas

Steven Swenson, global brand manager for TDK, still hears it all the time. "Whenever we say 'TDK,' consumers will inevitably say 'cassettes,'" he told Billboard from TDK's booth at CES' Central Hall Tuesday. But as a shiny, nostalgia-enhanced display of new boomboxes, headphones and wireless speakers made quite clear, TDK is moving beyond its outdated roots with a nod to the vintage stereo equipment that made its heritage product so memorable.

Swenson calls the new products "investment-grade audio," a direct response to the trend of disposable headphones and MP3 players. Its new high-fidelity ST800 headphones, for example, contain just as many state-of-the art exterior features as they do interior, with genuine leather, braided cables and a digital equalizer to adjust sound levels. "A lot of headphones are often tailored to one specific genre, like big bass music, but we wanted something that worked for all types of music," he said.

Coming later this fall, TDK is going wireless, with a quartet of Bluetooth-enabled boomboxes and speakers that harken back to TDK's 1980s heyday. Although they're designed to integrate with any mobile device, the products contain no dock. "We wanted the music to be front and center, not the device," Swenson says.

Expect a marketing campaign later this year to promote the new product line, leveraging TDK's newfound street cred among the indie-rock and hip-hop circles. Artists like Snoop Dogg, Matt & Kim and Rick Ross have featured newer TDK products in recent music videos, while the Beastie Boys recently featured TDK's 3-Speaker Boombox as part of a contest at Madison Square Garden. Even "Glee" asked to include a TDK product in a recent episode. "We're depositing a lot of long-term equity," Swenson says.

Jan 10, 2012 | Blog Post

What Would CES Be Without an Internet Enabled Refrigerator That Runs Pandora?
Eliot Van Buskirk, Evolver.fm

Christina Aguilera
Would you like Pandora with your ice?

The more the Consumer Electronics Show changes, the more it stays the same -- and by "it," we mean the internet-enabled refrigerator that can inevitably be found somewhere on the CES showroom floor. I'm half-convinced that these things only exist to give tech reporters a reliable oddity to write about each year as an example of the sort of Jetsons-style nonsense we can expect from the future. "It's just like the internet... but colder!"

The thing is, why not? The internet refrigerator is still a gimmick, but RFID, barcodes, QR codes, shopping comparison services, recipe services like Epicurious, grocery deliverers like PeaPod, and home networked audio systems like Sonos and AirPlay could converge to make it something you might actually want. To trot out the age-old example of how one might use this, the refrigerator of tomorrow might know you're out of milk, and make sure that some shows up soon. And of course it would let you select new dinner music while grabbing that second bottle of white wine.

This year's internet-enabled fridge arrives at CES from Samsung (just like last year's), and it runs Android apps including Pandora, Epicurious, Twitter, Google Calendar, AP News, Weatherbug, and Picasa. The Pandora app allows you to stream your Pandora stations via Wi-Fi and even play them through speakers that are embedded in the refrigerator -- because what you really need is crappy little speakers inside of every single one of your appliances.

Joking aside, perhaps the most salient thing about this year's CES internet fridge is that it's actually starting to make sense, and not just as a punchline about our connected future. Android and other app platforms have the versatility to let you control music throughout the house (i.e. not just on those surely subpar built-in speakers). In addition, the mainstream is becoming accustomed to running apps on other devices now (mainly phones, tablets, and televisions), so it might actually make sense to put a touchscreen control module at eye level in something like a refrigerator.

That said, Samsung's 28-cubic-foot, four-door, Pandora-enabled fridge still costs $3500. Unless we can print money in the future too, it has a way to go before most reasonable people would want to buy one.

Jan 10, 2012 | News

Pandora's Stock Jumps With Announcement of 125 Million Registered Users As CES Gets Rolling
Glenn Peoples (@billboardglenn), Nashville

Pandora is going into CES with over 125 registered users and an average listener time of 18 hours per month. The company's Monday press release also boasts of a 68-percent share of the top 20 Internet radio services for the month of November, according to Triton Digital, as well as availability on 450 consumer electronics devices. Impressive numbers. The release made no mention of active users, which stood at 40 million on Oct. 31, 2011.

One never knows if news coming out of CES will move the needle. During the CES week the landslide of press releases is an overload of information. In terms of volume, the press release onslaught during CES is like a typical fourth quarter album release schedule - times 10.

But Pandora apparently pushed the right buttons. The company's stock was up 8.3 percent to $11.33 in midday trading. Tuesday's jump puts Pandora up 13.2 percent in January.

A couple of other items stand out. An announcement by MySpace about an online, subscription TV service pointed to an unexpected addition to its proclaimed role as a music portal with a vast catalog (read Peter Kafka's post at MediaMemo for a smart bit of skepticism). And Clear Channel announcement it will open the iHeartRadio API to developers. That won't have an immediate impact but should eventually result in some cool apps and an expansion of iHeartRadio's footprint.

Jan 10, 2012 | Video & News

Video: Justin Timberlake Announces MySpace TV at CES
Billboard staff with Georg Szalai, THR

"MySpace got CES off to an early start Monday night by using its trump card - co-owner Justin Timberlake - to announce the company's new initiative, MySpace TV.

"We're ready to take television and entertainment to the next step by upgrading it to the social networking experience. Why text or email your friends to talk about your favorite programs after they've aired when you could be sharing the experience with real-time interactivity from anywhere across the globe?" he said in his brief presentation (see video from CNET above).

"Myspace TV puts viewers in control by allowing them to discover, share and comment on the programs they're viewing," the companies said in an announcement from CES. Viewers will be able to chat about what they are watching while they are viewing it and invite friends to watch with them and join fan communities.

Initial channels on the over-the-top TV service will be music-focused and use the network's library of 100,000 music videos and 42 million songs.

However, Myspace TV will eventually expand beyond music "to encompass movies, news, sports and reality channels, with a growing lineup of today's most popular broadcast and on-demand content," the partners said.
A companion app for Myspace TV will be available on tablets and smartphones.

"Myspace was the first successful social network because it allowed individuals to share their interests, listen to music, express their creativity and connect around the things they love," said Myspace CEO Tim Vanderhook. "Historically, TV has been a shared experience, as people gathered together to watch their favorite programs. Our belief was that we could enhance the TV experience by increasing viewers' ability to connect to both content and each other."

Added Myspace co-owner and singer/actor Justin Timberlake: "We're ready to take television and entertainment to the next step by upgrading it to the social networking experience. Why text or email your friends to talk about your favorite programs after they've aired when you could be sharing the experience with real-time interactivity from anywhere across the globe?"

He added: "As the plot of your favorite drama unfolds, the joke of your favorite SNL character plays or even the last second shot of your favorite team swishes the net, we're giving you the opportunity to connect your friends to your moments as they're actually occurring. This is the evolution of one of our greatest inventions, the television."

Viera Connect is Panasonic's connected TV platform, which offers access to Internet-based video-on-demand content and applications, ranging from news and fitness, to social networking and online gaming.

Jan 10, 2012 | News
Will Smith, Barry Sonnenfeld, Kelly Clarkson Headline Sony CES Event

Carolyn Giardina, THR

Will Smith and director Barry Sonnenfeld showed up in Las Vegas on Monday for Sony's Consumer Electronics Show press conference, which included a sneak peek at their upcoming Men in Black 3.

"We have a fantastic movie," Smith told the crowd. "It was a lot of fun to make. It's difficult because movies get bronzed in people's memories. Barry did a fantastic job directing."

Turning to Sony Corp.'s chief executive Howard Stringer, Smith joked, "and you did great job paying for it."

Sony music artist Kelly Clarkson also made an appearance, singing "Mr. Know It All."

Stringer talked connectivity, noting over the next three years, Sony expects to deliver over 300 connected devices.

He also gave a warm welcome to Sony Deputy President Kazuo Hirai-tipped as Howard Stringer's successor last week in Japanese daily Nikkei, though Sony denied that a decision has been made-who led the majority of company's product announcements.

"Only Sony can offer true convergence of hardware, software and networked services," Hirai said, noting Sony Entertainment Network can be used with any connected devices, offering services including Video Unlimited, which offers new movie releases; and Music Unlimited, with more than 12 million songs.

Sony continued to promote 4K-more than four times the resolution of HD-which is already offered in its digital cinema projects, and this month, through its soon to launch F65 4K professional digital cinematography camera.

Sony is extending 4K support to the living room with a 4K home theater projector, as well as a Blu-Ray player with 4K upres capabilities. The company is additionally working on 4K TVs.

Sony noted that 3D continues to evolve "While some of you many be skeptical, the numbers speaker for themselves," Stringer said, noting that last year, 3D motion pictures grossed $6 billion worldwide.

Jan 9, 2012 | News & AnalySis

CES 2012: Here's What The Music Biz Will Be Watching For

Andrew Hampp, NY and Glenn Peoples, Nashville

The International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, long the go-to event for the tech and mobile industries, is increasingly becoming a magnet for music-based services and media companies.

With many of this year's announcements expected to focus on thinner tablets, Internet-connected TVs and app-laden automotive dashboards, companies like Pandora, Clear Channel, MOG and CBS Radio's Last.fm are expected to be featured partners.

There are even a few artists booked for high-profile events around the Jan. 10-13 confab. Nickelback will play AT&T's party at the Palms' Rain nightclub the night before CES opens. Will.i.am is scheduled to appear alongside Intel CEO Paul Otellini on Jan. 10 during the executive's keynote address and will DJ iHeartRadio's party at Haze Nightclub on Jan. 11. Croatian duo 2Cellos are confirmed to play Sony Corp. chairman/CEO Howard Stringer's private reception, and Tiësto will spin a 90-minute set on behalf of his new Hewlett-Packard and Intel-sponsored Web series, "In the Booth," at the Encore's XS nightclub.

Pandora led CES 2011's conversation around multiplatform distribution by announcing apps with four automotive partners and a Wi-Fi-enabled Samsung refrigerator. Since then, the company has announced 10 additional automotive partnerships. "We're seeing continued momentum toward ubiquity," Pandora executive VP of business and corporate development Jessica Steel says. "We're so much farther ahead in executing this story than other player in media."

If 2011 was a year of experimentation with apps and new technologies for the music industry, 2012 is the year of implementation-with CES the key place to start those conversations. Major-label executives will be among the participants.

"We want to get more quality apps created out to market faster, to try and to test," says Jon Vanhala, senior VP of digital, brand integration and new business for Universal Republic and Island Def Jam Music Group, who will be returning to CES this year. "There are some really exciting products wrapped around music and fan engagement," he says, "and we want to learn how all parties can get involved faster."

Lori Feldman, senior VP of brand partnerships and music licensing at Warner Bros. Records, is making her second consecutive trip. "For us, it's about taking these technologies and utilizing them to serve our artists as well as we can," she says.

The digital living room is a hot topic, and rumors about Apple TV heated up during the week leading up to CES. Apple already offers a set-top box called Apple TV, but the latest talk is about an Internet-connected TV, although a lack of chatter in the supply chain has led some analysts to believe Apple is unlikely to launch its own TV in 2012. The lure is understandable: The living room is ripe for a disruptive digital product as well as a killer music app.

Other companies are already making inroads in the living room. Sony will be at CES pushing Music Unlimited, the subscription service that launched in the United States last February. Music Unlimited is now available in nine markets, with more likely to be announced during CES.

Roku, maker of a popular set-top box that connects TVs to the Internet, is another company to watch. A week before CES, Roku debuted its Streaming Stick, a device the size of a USB thumb drive that delivers Roku's streaming platform when plugged into a TV's HDMI port. It doesn't require a power adapter and works with any Roku remote control. Roku has partnered with Best Buy to sell the Stick with the retailer's own line of Insignia TVs. Consumers will be able to buy the Stick separately this fall. Roku has many music channels, including personalized Internet radio service Pandora and subscription offerings Rdio and MOG.

New headphone launches have become commonplace at CES. Lady Gaga was there in 2010 to show off her branded headphones by Monster. Last year Ludacris presented the SOUL From Luda while 50 Cent introduced his Sleek Platinum. In 2012, Wicked Audio will debut the newest Solus headphones. The red-on-black, over-the-ear headphones will be available this month and priced at $100.

CBS Interactive Music Group president David Goodman says that he keeps coming back to CES for the sheer diversity of its attendees. "In terms of the types of discussions that you're able to have, I don't really know of a place other than CES that enables those," Goodman says. "It's different than Cannes Lions or MIDEM. It's one of these places that brings a different type of people together."