iTunes Page Sees Christmas Boost

-- The iTunes download page was the eighth most popular web page on Christmas day, as ranked by Alexa.com. That rank is on pace with previous years -- it was No. 7 and No. 8 on Christmas in 2008 and 2009, respectively. The fact that the iTunes download page was trending and in the top ten at Alexa.com that day suggests Apple products and gift cards were popular Christmas items again this year. That download page is not regularly in Alexa's top ten. In fact, it quickly fell to No. 38 the day after Christmas.

On Alexa's "Hot Products" on Christmas was the iPod Touch 8GB (at No. 8) and three music titles: Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream" (No. 6), Kings of Leon's "Come Around Sundown" (No. 7), Bruno Mars' "Doo-Waps and Hooligans" (No. 9) and Maroon 5's "Hands All Over" (No. 10).
(Alexa.com)

Tap Tap Revenge: This Year's Stocking Stuffer App

-- Tap Tap Revenge 4 had a strong holiday week, according to figures shared by app maker Tapulous owner Disney Mobile. Released on December 22, the app became the No. 1 free app in 37 countries and was being downloaded 45,000 times per hour at peak times during the holidays. That's double the download traffic of the 2009 holiday season, according to the company. The fact that it's a free download certainly helped the traffic. Instead of charging for the app, Tapulous charges for new music downloads that are added weekly. That strategy has resulted in 25 million downloads from 40 million downloads of previous versions of the game.

Tap Tap 4 offers over 100 free songs including tracks from Linkin Park, Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars, Tiesto, Ke$ha, My Chemical Romance and many more. The app has an "Indies Channel" with songs by Epitaph, Vagrant and other indie labels. It includes new social features that allow users to share scores via Facebook, Twitter and email. In addition, users can "like" a track and see which tracks are trending among other players.

Kings of Leon's 'Come Around Sundown' at Full Price Tops Amazon.com MP3 Store Xmas Sales
-- Perhaps driven by gift-giving, the makeup of Amazon.com's top MP3 albums changed on Christmas day. For a change, regularly price albums topped Amazon.com's MP3 store on Christmas day rather than low-priced daily deals. At 6pm ET on Christmas, Kings of Leon's "Come Around Sundown" topped Amazon.com's album download chart with a $7.99 price. Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream," also with a $7.99 price, was No. 2 and Bruno Mars' "Doo-Waps" was No. 3 with a $5.99 price. The top album with an aggressive sale price was "The 99 Most Essential Christmas Masterpieces" at No. 9 with a $1.99 price tag. The day after Christmas, however, the Amazon.com album download chart reverted back to form when the "The 99 Most Essential" title rose to No. 1.

Karma Killer: Robbie Williams' Earnings Drop By $48 Million

-- Robbie Williams' earnings have fallen by £31 million ($48 million) in three years, according to reports of the U.K. pop star's finances. From the Daily Star:

"The chart-topper earned a massive £32m in 2006 from records and touring. But this plummeted to just £269,000 last year, official figures have revealed. Robbie's firm, The In Good Company Co, saw cash reserves drop from £1.6m in 2008 to £800,000 and profits from £708,000 to £555,000. And the 36-year-old's music publishing business, Farrell Music, recorded losses of £536,000, while another of his companies, Little Youth, posted a loss of £65,000. Only Robbiewilliams.com recorded a healthy profit of £400,000."

But 2009 was probably just a temporary lull in Williams' earnings. The Star claims record labels are "fighting to sign him" after his deal with EMI ended. And the Take That reunion tour could result in a £15 million ($23 million) pay day.

( Daily Star)

Radio, Sales, Piracy: The Challenges Currently Facing Country Music

-- Nashville-based journalist Craig Havighurst has a good look into the changes in country music songwriting for NPR. The process and the business are unique in Nashville. And, as Havighurst explains, the industry is undergoing changes that threaten the way songs are traditionally written and brought to market. From the article:

"This system is a way of life in Nashville, but it is under pressure. Shorter radio playlists and the collapse in CD sales have made lucrative hits scarcer than ever. The city's top songwriting association estimates there are only about a quarter as many staff writers on Music Row today as there were a decade ago."

One thing not mentioned in the article is piracy. Along with tighter playlist and falling CD sales, piracy is the third problem facing Nashville. Depending on who you talk to, it could be the biggest problem facing Music Row. But even without piracy, the industry is going through many changes that impact the songwriting town. What happens when Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Target reduce their already thin CD shelves to nothing? It's a scenario that could be four or five years away.
( NPR.com)