Forty-Plus Countries Make U.S. Trade Representative's Watch List
-- The U.S. Trade Representative's Ron Kirk released the annual "Special 301" report, a list of countries whose I.P. rights protections do not meet its approval. Twelve countries made the "priority watch list, including China ("fundamental problems remain"), Canada ("failing to bring its laws up to global minimum standards for the digital networked environment"), India ("more needs to be done given the scope of the problem"), Russia ("serious concerns") and Thailand ("has not made concrete progress on key concerns, both legislative and enforcement").

The "watch list" has 29 countries, including Spain, Finland, Norway, Mexico and Turkey. And Paraguay was the lone country on the "Section 306" list, which means it requires special attention.

The National Music Publishers' Association (NMPA) was quick to applaud the report. "The annual effort to call out countries that are not adequately meeting their obligations as members of the global marketplace is a vital undertaking that promotes American jobs and creativity," NMPA president/CEO David Israelite said in a statement.
(USTR Press release)

Music Check-In Incentives On the Rise
-- Vevo CEO Rio Caraeff is bullish on using location to enhance music services. "Location is a great way to discover music," he told paidContent. "Tying location, presence, geography in to music discovery is a big part of what we've enabled. I may want to say, what's going on in New York, or in Germany. I may want to see what videos were filmed in this location, who's playing in Texas tonight."

Many developers and companies share Vevo's enthusiasm for location. Last week, for example, Neurotic Media launched Music Check-In Incentives, a white label service that allows business establishments to reward Facebook check-ins with music downloads, a playlist or credits toward purchases at iTunes or other digital retailers. A similar idea is seen in TrackDropper (also called Piracy), an Android app created at the September 2010 installment of Music Hack Day in London. It creates a sort of treasure hunt in which a person "drops" MP3s that others can "pick up" when they visit that specific location, be it a street corner or a coffee shop.

Open APIs allow for creative uses of location. One of the better websites to use the SoundCloud API is, which organizes SoundCloud music by city. You can listen to SoundCloud artists in Berlin; Tokyo; New York; London; Istanbul; or even Albuquerque, New Mexico; and Waco, Texas.

Localized concert listings make for better services and products, too. TuneUp Media has a concert alert that gives local concert information for artists in the user's music collection (which TuneUp knows all about since it cleans up music file metadata). And consider the way Songkick's concert listings are now all over the Web, from YouTube and Yahoo to Warner Music artist sites.

Caraeff is also thinking of other inputs that can impact the music Vevo plays for a specific user. "Maybe it should know my likes and dislikes, maybe it should know whether it's raining in Seattle or whether the stock market's up or down. Maybe it should know whether it's daytime or night time out. Maybe it should be a different experience three months later, if the fan or artist wants to impact the creative process."

A Warning About Mobile Text Ads
-- Note to marketers: Text ads on mobile devices aimed at baby boomers may not be a good use of marketing dollars. A new study has found that Millennials (born between 1977 and 1994) are 57% more likely than average mobile users to recall seeing a text (SMS) ad on their mobile devices. Generation X (born between 1965 and 1976) are 19% more likely to have seen a text ad and 6% more likely to have responded to the ad or made the purchase. Baby boomers were 40% less likely to have seen a text ad and 55% less likely to have responded.
(Mobi AD News)

AFTRA, SAG Reach Tentative Deal On Corporate/Educational Contract
-- The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) and the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) have reached a tentative three-year agreement on a new contract for corporations and educational institutions. From The Hollywood Reporter: "The new agreement includes a 4.04% overall increase in minimum compensation during the term of the agreement, with a 2% increase effective on May 1, 2011 and another 2% increase effective on Nov. 1 2012, 18 months into the term of the contract… The agreement also features a 0.2% increase in employer pension and health contributions, which raises the total employer contribution from 15.3% to 15.5%."
(The Hollywood Reporter)

Sirius XM To Change Station Numbers on May 4
-- On Wednesday, Sirius XM will change its station numbers by consolidating old XM and Sirius stations into one lineup for the first time since the merger. Channels are grouped together based on content type or genre. "This re-organization will make it simpler to navigate through the lineup so you'll spend less time searching and more time listening to what you like the most," the company explains at its website.
(Sirius XM)