Business Matters: Rdio Unveils Free Listening Option
Business Matters: Rdio Unveils Free Listening Option

Microsoft's Acquisition of Skype Means Nothing for Us, Rdio Says
-- What does Microsoft's $8.5 billion acquisition of Skype mean for upstart music service Rdio? Recall the two companies are closely related. Prior to founding Rdio, Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis founded Skype. And Skype is an investor in Rdio.

Well, MediaMemo's Peter Kafka pulls out a section from Skype's SEC filing for its abandoned IPO. It states that until November 19, 2011, Skype "will not provide, other than with Rdio, or engage others to provide, services for the broadcast of professionally-produced music that is accessible by computer, mobile device, television set-top box, or other device that is capable of accessing the Internet."

One interpretation is that Microsoft's acquisition of Skype could prevent the company from continuing to operate its Zune music subscription service and store. After all, Zune currently broadcasts "professionally-produced music" (depending on the artist, one could argue) to computers, mobile devices and Xbox game units.

Such talk is much ado about nothing, Rdio says. The company's publicist sent Billboard the following statement: "While Skype is an investor in Rdio, it is important to note that it is one of many and that Skype's acquisition has no impact on Rdio, operationally or financially. We remain focused on our goal of continuing to deliver what we believe to be the best online and mobile music experience on the market."
(MediaMemo)

LimeWire Trial: WMG CEO Bronfman Talks To Jury
-- As the LimeWire trial continued on Wednesday, Warner Music Group chairman/CEO Edgar Bronfman Jr. told the jury about the P2P service's impact on his company. Bronfman explained that declining revenues due to P2P services like LimeWire cause Warner to reduce its staff and release fewer recordings. He added that he hoped LimeWire would shut down voluntarily after the Grokster was found liable for infringement in 2005. "When Lime Wire kept operating it frustrated me greatly. It was devastating, frankly."

CNET's Greg Sandoval adds that LimeWire's attorney argued that Warner's problems were rooted in mismanagement, not just piracy. He provided documents showing statements Bronfman had made in recent years that attributed the company's woes to factors such as the wane of the CD format and the being slow to embrace technological change. And he pointed out Bronfman's multi-million compensation in the years Warner laid off employees. As a result of the questioning, Sandoval writes, Bronfman "didn't appear to have suffered much from the downturn in music" and "didn't appear be all that friendly to music artists or his company's employees."
(Bloomberg, CNET)

Hot Startup: Official.fm Has Raised $8 Million
-- Artist services startups continue to be a hot investment. Music startup Official.fm has raised $8 million. The company, which dubs itself "the do-it-yourself music club," allows musicians and labels to create Web pages with unique URLs for their songs and provides tools for them to share that music and collect e-mail addresses.

In a blog post announcing the funding, CEO Jeremie Abihssira said the money will "go directly into the development" of the Official.fm platform. In the coming months, the company will launch premium accounts and a desktop manager for easier uploading and management of music catalogs. He adds that Official.fm already has "hundreds of thousands of artists, labels and promoters" using the product.

It's a pretty big amount of funding for a single round and for this type of startup. But there have been many investments in companies that offer a variety of digital services to artists. Nimbit's latest funding -- announced in March -- was $1.25 million. FanBridge landed $2 million in January and acquired Facebook marketing company Damntheradio. RootMusic, another startup that offers marketing tools for Facebook, raised $2.3 million in January. Among the activity in 2010 was a $6.3 million investment in Ourstage, SonicBids' acquisition of ArtistData and $4 million in funding raised by Hello Music.
(Official.fm blog)

I/O Confab Day 2: Google Focuses on Chrome Browser

-- Google debuted Music Beta on the first day of its annual I/O developers conference. The second day was all about its Chrome Web browser and operating system, mocoNews reports.

The biggest news was about Chromebook, a laptop that uses Chrome browser as the computer's only interface. It boots up in eight seconds, is always connected through a series of Wifi hotspots and pay-per-usage broadband connections, and uses so little energy that the battery can last eight hours. Chromebook launches June 15 through Best Buy and Amazon in the United States. The first model will be built by Samsung. It will have a 12.1" display and will cost $429 for a Wifi model and $499 for the 3G model. Acer plans to ship a slightly smaller version and charge $399 and up.

Along with the Chromebook, Google has launched Chromebooks for Business and Education, which the company calls "a cloud management console to remotely administer and manage users, devices, applications and policies." It includes enterprise-level support, warranties and replacements. The service starts at $28 per user for universities and $20 per user for schools.
(Google blog, mocoNews)

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