Simfy Launches Facebook Music Player Before Spotify Does
--With relatively little fanfare, German music streaming service Simfy has launched a music player for Facebook. This comes just a week after news broke that Spotify is working on some kind of Facebook integration. There is no indication that Facebook plans to launch a Spotify-powered music service (as some of the rehashed news reports have suggested). Instead, a safer guess is that Spotify on Facebook will look a lot like Simfy on Facebook.
A screen shot of the music player can be seen at Simfy's Facebook page (although if you're not in the correct region you won't be able to stream the song). The post contains a small picture of the album art with a play button. Clicking on the album expands the image into a Simfy streaming widget. It's very similar to how a YouTube video appears small on wall or news feed but expands when played.
Simfy is available in Germany, Switzerland and Austria. The company announced a €10 million (US $14.4 million) round of funding last month that will be used to strengthen its presence in German-speaking countries as well as expand into "other European countries."
Spotify Exec Faisal Galaria Exits Company
-- Spotify's global head of business development Faisal Galaria has left the company. The news was first reported by paidContent. Spotify confirmed the report and told Billboard there is no news yet on his replacement.
Impala Pushes For Better Music Tax Treatment in Europe
-- U.K.-based independent music companies association Impala is making a push for more favorable tax treatment of music in Europe. Impala executive chair Helen Smith called on the value added tax (VAT) system to logical and serve European values. "In turbulent times for artists and the music sector, vital changes to the VAT system are needed, today more than ever," she said in a statement.
Impala has offered two proposals: harmonized VAT rates for all cultural goods or a VAT moratorium for online services "to help European companies compete with the USA." Not only do VAT rates vary from country to country, but music (recorded and live) is taxed at varying rates and usually at a higher rate than other cultural goods (such as books).
Since the European Commission launched public consultation in December on how to alter the VAT, a number of stakeholders have come forth with their recommendations and concerns. Publishers would like lower VAT rates for digital publications Newspapers want either low or no VAT.
The idea of a VAT may be foreign to most Americans, but it was frequently mentioned last year as a fix for the U.S. budget deficit (printing money turned out to be the easier political strategy). It's basically a consumption tax, another topic that rears its head every now and again in U.S. politics. But don't expect a new approach to taxes (other than rising or lowering existing taxes). Calls to massively revise the U.S. tax code have gone nowhere for decades (just as Steve Forbes and his flat tax have failed to win an election). Many U.S. states can't muster the will to tax Internet sales for fear of angering Amazon. So in short, rest easy. There's about zero chance a VAT will appear on these shores anytime soon.
SoundCloud Integreates With Tumblr
-- Two of the easier online services now work together: SoundCloud is now integrated with micro-blogging service Tumblr. Not only is Tumblr integrated into SoundCloud's mobile app (just press a button to publish to your Tumblr page) but users can choose (in the advanced settings menu) to automatically push new SoundCloud uploads and favorite songs to their Tumblr pages.
An example can be seen at the Tumblr page of David Noel, the Berlin-based SoundCloud Community Evangelist.
Tumblr is an increasingly popular way to share online thoughts, pictures and links. A Tumblr page is basically like a blog but even easier to create entries. In addition, the community aspect to Tumblr makes it easier for a post to spread virally. The site now gets more than 250 million page views per day and U.S. traffic accounts for nearly half that number, according to a post at the Tumblr staff blog a few weeks ago.
Other forms of community outreach show the strides Tumblr is making in building a loyal user base. The company hosted a spoken word performance called "Tumblr Reads" in Los Angeles in late April. And it has a page called We Heart Tumblr Art that's dedicated to Tumblr fan art.
Overall Track Sales Up 10% Through May 29
-- Much has been discussed about the sales of Adele's latest album, "21." Through May 29, the set has sold 1.97 million units in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan. However, her track "Rolling in the Deep" is often overlooked. It's been the top digital track for six straight weeks and has sold a total of 3.2 million units. It has sold 3.1 million units in 2011 and is the top track of 2011. Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" is second with 2.7 million units. Both have put up better numbers than last year's top sellers. In the same week last year, the top digital track, Train's "Hey Soul Sister," had sold 3.02 million units. The No. 2 track, Black Eyed Peas' "Imma Be," had sold 2.44 million units. Overall track sales are up 10% through May 29, according to SoundScan.