Business Matters: Sony Music UK Sees Turnaround in 'Two to Three Years'
Business Matters: Sony Music UK Sees Turnaround in 'Two to Three Years'

Sony Music UK Sees Turnaround in 'Two to Three Years'
-- As recorded music revenues have slid over the last decade, one common question has been, "Where is the bottom?" Growth in download sales haven't replaced lost CD sales. Streaming revenues are still small and a small army of additional revenue streams -- licensing, touring, merchandise -- have helped but not stopped revenue erosion.

But Sony Music UK boss Nick Gatfield thinks the bottom is near -- at least in the United Kingdom. "In the next two or three years you are going to see the business coming out of the trough it's in at the moment," he told the Guardian.

The U.K. recorded music market appeared to be in a trough a couple years ago but dropped 11 percent in 2010, according to the IFPI's Recording Industry in Numbers 2011 report. Revenue actually rose 1.9 percent in 2009 and fell just 3.5 percent in 2008. The question is how quickly can physical and other revenues offset the inevitable slide of the CD. Physical sales revenue in the U.K. slipped 19 percent in 2010 and face considerable headwinds. But digital revenue -- 25 percent of 2010 total revenues -- rose 19.6 percent in 2010 and will continue to improve as the U.K. enjoys a healthy marketplace for legitimate digital music stores and streaming services.
(The Guardian)

The Megaupload Saga Continues…
-- The Megaupload saga continues with a statement from a Google executive concerning YouTube's decision to reinstate a controversial promotional video. "Our partners do not have the right to take down videos from YouTube unless they own the rights to them or they are live performances controlled through exclusive agreements with their artists, which is why we reinstated it."

The backstory: A promotional video for Hong Kong-based file-hosting site Megaupload, featuring a bevy of superstar musicians, prompted Universal Music Group to file a DMCA takedown notice with YouTube (the takedown notice is the copyright owner's instrument to remove infringing content at digital services). Last week, Megaupload's attorney told Billboard.biz that Universal's takedown efforts are a "sham" and accused it of using "improper means to try getting an advantage over companies they don't like."

Content owners have long had problems with services like Megaupload, which allow people to easily upload and share digital files. Earlier this year, adult media company Perfect 10 sued Megaupload for copyright infringement. Hotfile, another file-hosting service, has traded lawsuits with the MPAA.

The video is an unlikely viral hit that has been made all the more viral by the controversy. Through Monday evening "Megaupload Mega Song" had been viewed 5.3 million times at YouTube.
(New York Times)

Vinyl Sales Up 36.5% So Far In 2011
-- Vinyl LP sales are up 36.5 percent so far this year, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Even though 75 percent of vinyl sales through Dec. 11 were rock titles, Nashville is a good reflection for the changes vinyl has wrought. As The Tennessean's Peter Cooper explains, the strength of the vinyl record shows two things. Not all consumers are opting for either Spotify or piracy, and vinyl -- not the CD -- is helping keep some retailers in business.

"We're having our best year ever," says Doyle Davis, co-owner of Grimey's New and Pre-Loved Music. "Black Friday weekend, we were up 16 percent over last year. And last year was great."

About a mile north of Grimey's is Jack White's Third Man Records, a leading force in the revival of the scarce, physical object. Third Man operates as a record studio, record label, mail order business, and brick-and-mortar retail store (with a rolling record store to boot). And not far from Third Man, on Nashville's honky-tonk filled Lower Broadway, is Ernest Tubb Record Shops.

"We're having one of our best years ever," Ernest Tubb's David McCormick tells the Tennessean, adding "vinyl is doing fantastic" and is being bought mainly be young customers.

Nashville is also home to United Record Pressing, one of the leading vinyl manufacturers in the country (it makes all those cool two- and three-color records released by Third Man).

OK, so the album -- and the vinyl record -- isn't what it used to be. Nashville was once home to numerous record distributors that have since gone out of business. The Tower Records by Vanderbilt University was like a morgue before its going-out-of-business sale got a few warm bodies in the door. The location is now home to an f.y.e. store. But Nashville does have a lot of people who love music. And as Cooper points out, people who want a special music experience are buying vinyl. Finding a good metaphor in live music, Cooper likens streaming services to nosebleed seats and 180-gram vinyl played through big speakers to great front-row seats.

"The front row at the end of 2011 feels just like the front row in 1972," he writes. "It's a place of immediacy and intensity, and it's a good hang."
(The Tennessean)

Turntable.fm Interest on the Decline?
-- There is some evidence that music lovers' initial infatuation with social music service Turntable.fm has waned considerably since the summer. U.S.-based Google search volume for the term "turntable.fm" is currently about one-fifth of its peak in late June. AppData puts Turntable.fm's current monthly average users (MAU) at 110,000. AppData pegged Turntable.fm's MAU at 335,000 on Aug. 12 and over 370,000 in mid-July.

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