Sony Rebrands Qriocity Music Service as Music Unlimited
-- Say goodbye to the Qriocity brand name and one of the oddest product names in recent memory. Sony has unified its online music, video and game services under a division called Sony Entertainment Network - the web page is already live -- and has given it a new logo. Because of the change, the company's music streaming service has been renamed as Music Unlimited (from Music Unlimited Powered by Qriocity). The video service formally known as Video on Demand Powered by Qriocity will simply be called Video Unlimited.
Good riddance! The unusual spelling of the word "curiosity" leads to uncertainty about correct pronunciation and makes one wonder what the word has to do with the product. In any case, Sony will be better off with a more straightforward product name. Music Unlimited actually speaks to a product attribute, and it's easy to spell and pronounce.
Unfortunately, the rebranding effort is not quite finished. Consumers who want to sign up for a Music Unlimited service from the rebranded Sony Music Entertainment page are taken to the old Qriocity site at the old web page (www.music.qriocity.com) that's branded with the old logo and name.
The move comes months after Sony's Qriocity and PlayStation networks were hacked and roughly 77 million consumers had their personal information compromised. The attack, as well as the company's delayed response, turned out to be a public relations nightmare. And it ended up costing the company, too. Sony estimates the attack comes with a price tag of $172 million.
The Music Unlimited is Sony's take on the cloud-based music service. The service grants access to a catalog of over 10 million tracks from a variety of devices, including Sony Bravia televisions and PlayStation 3 units in addition to PCs and Android phones. A basic plan that costs $3.99 per month syncs the users music across devices and includes access to programmed channels. The $9.99-per-month premium plan adds more channels, unlimited playback and some other, poorly defined features. (Press release)
Music's New Gatekeeper: Television?
-- You've heard the story: Since the Internet democratized music, people no longer need to seek out music in such middle-of-the-road places as television. One-way broadcasts have been replaced by on-demand music and the interactivity of social media. There are no gatekeepers. People no longer need television networks, radio stations and magazines to tell them what to listen to.
But reality doesn't seem to be in sync with those well-worn sound bites. No, it looks like people are still actively seeking out music on television. But they're not simply watching music videos like people did in the '80s.
As Mitch Glazer, the RIAA's Senior Executive Vice President, notes in a blog post at The Comet, mainstream music abounds on television. He points to Nielsen ratings that show three of the top shows in the 2010-2011 season with the highest viewership in the 18-49 demographic were about music (two were "American Idol" and one was "The Voice"). He points to a strong debut season by "The Voice," strong popularity of "Dancing With The Stars" and "Glee," and the first year-over-year ratings gain by "American Idol" in five years.
This has also been a good year for awards shows. The Grammys had its most-watched broadcast in a decade. The Billboard Music Awards was up 30% over the most recent broadcast in 2006. And the CMT Awards was up 19% over its 2010 broadcast. And Sunday's MTV Music Awards got great ratings and was a social media bonanza for MTV.
How much does it matter? Artists and labels can still count television as a medium to break artists and reach large swathes of mainstream consumers. Because the Internet is so fractured, television's ability to cover a lot of territory could make it more valuable than ever. After all, any artist can get on YouTube, but only a select few can get a prime time television spot. And isn't that the definition of a gatekeeper? ( The Comet)
Finland Gets Spotify'ed, Denmark Next?
-- Spotify just opened an office in Finland, where the service is already available, and is targeting an expansion to Denmark, according to a report at Helsingin Sanomat.
According to the IFPI, the service in Finland has grown 77% in the first half of the year and has doubled the number of users in the last 12 months. "At the moment Spotify is responsible for the greatest growth in the digital markets", said Tommi Kyyrä from IFPI Finland, who added that piracy is more common in Finland than other Nordic countries. ( HS.fi)
Pandora on Hold
-- Gilford Securities has opened research of Pandora Media with a "hold" rating and a target price of $14. Shares of Pandora were down 3.11% to $12.79 in late afternoon trading Thursday. ( Benzinga)