Amazon Becomes a Book Publisher -- Is Music Next?
-- Amazon will publish 122 books in both physical and digital formats this fall, according to the New York Times. It won't just act as an exclusive distributor, however. The company is acting as publisher and retailer. It is already signing writers to contracts and will provide them with editors.
Amazon has signed two writers who bring their own followings. Self-help author Tim Ferriss was Amazon's first signing in August. The Times reports the company has also paid $800,000 for actress/director Penny Marshall's memoir.
Amazon's move into publishing changes the traditional value chain of the publishing business. With publishers and agents out of the equation, there are fewer intermediaries between the creator and the buyer. "The only really necessary people in the publishing process now are the writer and reader," top Amazon executive Russell Grandinetti told the Times.
Why would Amazon upset the delicate balance of the publishing world? The best explanation is the company's push to become a leader in mobile devices and cloud store. Amazon's Kindle Fire is an expensive tablet with its various storefronts baked right in. The ability to store purchased media -- books, music, apps -- in the cloud and access from Amazon mobile devices is a pretty good strategy. So good, in fact, it's a main strategy of Apple and Google as well.
The obvious question to ask is, Will Amazon also be more aggressive with music? It's not an unthinkable scenario. There are plenty of established artists who are in a position to either leave their current label or license self-released music to Amazon for exclusive distribution. And the company needs to make bold move to grab digital music market share from Apple.
But Amazon is a more attractive destination for authors than musicians. Earlier this year Grandinetti was predicting Amazon could grab a 50 percent share of the U.S. book market by the end of 2012. But it couldn't touch that number in music. By Billboard's estimate, iTunes accounted for 33 percent of U.S. recorded music revenue in 2010, while Walmart was second at 10.1 percent.
In the near term, it's more likely that Amazon will release exclusives but leave the business of being a record label to others. In recent years, artists have had ample opportunity to leave major labels and strike out on their own. But what's been more common is artists partnering with major retailers for exclusives. Target, Best Buy and Walmart have had numerous exclusive releases, and that should continue as long as CD sales are a dominant revenue source. Exclusive releases through Amazon won't threaten the nature of the record business until Amazon can beef up its market share.
(New York Times)
Brian Whitman's (of the Echo Nest) Solution For Social Music
-- For social music to work right, Facebook should help its users play a song on the music service of choice, writes Brian Whitman, co-founder of music intelligence company the Echo Nest. But for that to happen there needs to be a system for music ID resolution. Otherwise, as he explains, clicking on link to Spotify activity for John Mayer's "Your Body is a Wonderland" could result in the playing of a different song with the same title by the group the Hit Crew.
"ID resolution isn't just the plumbing underneath a social music experience -- it is the foundation of any good music service that allows sharing," Whitman writes at his blog. "If songs don't play when they should or link to the wrong song, people can't talk about them… The more social your music activity, the more you'll agree that any decent social music service needs to know that two slightly differently spelled artists may be the same artist. Or that the radio edit of a song can be played in place of the single version."
In a nutshell, Whitman concludes Facebook has a lot of work to do in order to make music truly social. And the Echo Nest is doing its part. Whitman writes the that company's Project Rosetta Stone (nice name) identifies songs or artists on any platform. Or Facebook could use audio fingerprinting or a couple other solutions. "It's clear that none of this happened," he notes.
Attorneys Marcus & Colvin Team With Carroll, Guido & Groffman
-- Nashville-based entertainment attorneys Kent Marcus and Jeff Colvin have formed Marcus & Colvin, LLP. Marcus is perhaps best known as the attorney for rock groups Kings of Leon and Paramore.
Marcus & Colvin has since expanded its operations and service with a unique of counsel "bridge" with the New York- and Los Angeles-based entertainment law firm of Carroll, Guido & Groffman, LLP.
"We wanted to provide our clients with the best possible counsel in all areas of the entertainment industry," Marcus wrote. "Nashville is much bigger than 'Music Row' and we wanted to build a strong bridge of service for our national and international clients."
iTunes, Starbucks Partnership Expands Overseas
-- iTunes's partnership with Starbucks has moved overseas. Starbucks customers in the United Kingdom can now get a free, weekly download at iTunes. The free offering kicks off with "My Dreams" by James Morrison. Future artists for the free weekly email are reported to be Coldplay, Tony Bennett and the Kooks. In addition, iTunes is making available a free iBook, "Limitless" by Alan Glynn.
Vevo Names Jim Macnie Editorial Director
-- Vevo, the world's leading all-premium music video and entertainment platform, has named Jim Macnie to the newly created post of editorial director. With Macnie's appointment, Vevo is placing a stronger emphasis on news and editorial context surrounding the platform's catalogue of more than 45,000 music videos and original programming.
Based in New York and reporting directly to Scott Reich (VP of original content and programming), veteran pop culture digital writer Macnie is responsible for overseeing all editorial direction, including creating and maintaining a consistent voice, on Vevo's online, mobile, tablet and connected television platforms.
Prior to joining Vevo, Macnie worked for nearly a decade as managing editor of VH1.com, overseeing all editorial on the main portal, sub-sites and blogs. He has been a professional journalist since 1985, with his cover stories, articles and reviews appearing in leading publications such as the New York Times, L.A. Times, Boston Globe, Elle and Village Voice.