Is Clear Channel Playing With Buying Playlist.com?
-- Clear Channel is said to be interested in the assets of Playlist.com, which filed for bankruptcy in August. From CNET:
Details are few, but apparently Clear Channel, the media conglomerate with a large stake in broadcast radio, concert promotion, and billboard advertising, is interested in the user interface and other technology belonging to the defunct Playlist.com, once known as Project Playlist.
Interest in Playlist.com would not be surprising given Clear Channel's digital ambitions. Earlier this month, the company acquired digital music service Thumbplay. Although Thumbplay has a paid, on-demand service, Clear Channel's Bob Pittman told me the company was interested in the personalized Internet radio service Thumbplay had developed but not yet launched. Personalized radio will be added to Clear Channel's main digital property, iheartradio, a mobile app that aggregates the digital streams of its many stations across the country.
The acquisition of Thumbplay can take the service to a new level. "We, unlike anyone else, have the promotional power to promote it," Pittman said of a personalized Internet radio service. "We've got 228 million monthly listeners. No one comes close." The same could be said for an online service like Playlist that shares music.
The Upside of Best Buy's Earnings Release
-- Here are some notes from the Best Buy earnings release already mentioned at Billbaord.biz. Best Buy revenue dropped slightly in its fourth quarter and also dropped a bit for the full fiscal year. The company does not break out its music, video or game sales. So all we know is the company's same-store domestic sales of entertainment hardware and software dropped 14.3% in its last fiscal quarter. The category was down 9.9% at international stores.
But there were a few bright sides to the earnings release. The company posted a net profit of $1.28 billion for the full year and $651 million in its fiscal fourth quarter. The company "net new stores" over the last 12 months (it did not specify the gain in stores, however), which means more locations to sell CDs and other entertainment products. And the company noted it had a "significant increase in connections transactions" driven primarily by Best Buy Mobile. ( Press release)
NYT Paywall: Gray Lady To Feel Music Industry's Pain
-- As MusicRow publisher David Ross writes, the New York Times is feeling the music industry's pain. That's because clever programmers did to the New York Times' pay wall what they have been doing to recorded music for the last 12 years.
The paywall is live in Canada and goes up March 28 in the U.S. (First 20 articles are free, with some important exceptions.) It didn't take long for people to figure out ways to tunnel underneath the wall using the Times' own loopholes. For example, the Times allows people to read whatever articles are shared through social media. In response, somebody set up a Twitter account called Free New York Times that automatically created a tweet for each New York Times article. The most obvious infringement was on the Times name and the use of the gothic "T" logo. Media reports have said the Times has asked Twitter to take down the account, but it lives on under the name Not New York Times https://twitter.com/#!/freeNYTimes (minus the gothic T). The Twitter account may be making a statement against the paywall, but it's not doing much damage just yet - it has only 900 followers.
Another programmer launched a workaround - during his lunch hour - called NYTClean. It's a bookmarklet that can be dragged into a web browser and clicked on to access blocked Times articles. "You just can't see a wall like this without wondering how you can get around it," wrote the creator. "I love the New York Times," he added, "don't say that I forced you to not pay for it."
So now the newspaper business is dealing with the same issues the music business seen for years: rights issues, piracy and consumers who simply do not want to pay. They both make the same argument ("People should support good music/journalism in order for it to survive"). And they both have to deal with growing digital business while monetizing its core physical business. It's a difficult juggling act.
But there are signs the newspaper business is figuring out ways to reshape itself. In fact, Groupon has led the way. Local, daily deals may be a great substitute for lost classified advertising revenue. Now Gannett and McClatchey are launching its own local deals. And The New York Times has its own TimesLimited deals.