Opinion and analysis of the day's music news.
Stocks Spike On Economic News
-- Entertainment stocks had a strong day on Monday as the market rose on news the recession ended in June 2009. The National Bureau of Economic Research agreed that an economic recovery has been in place for over a year. The committee, it points out, “did not conclude that economic conditions since that month have been favorable or that the economy has returned to operating at normal capacity.” In other words, just because the recession is officially over doesn’t mean unemployment and low GDP growth are not still problems.
But good news is good news. Live Nation shot up 5.9% to $10.22, its highest close since July 14. Warner Music Group increase 2.7%. The Dow rose 1.37%, the S&P 500 rose 1.52% and the Nasdaq rose 1.74%. (National Bureau of Economic Research)
Zune Goes International
-- Microsoft announced on Monday it is launching its Zune Marketplace to international markets this fall.
The Zune Pass service will be available in the U.K., France, Italy and Spain. The service, which offers unlimited streaming and tethered downloads, will cost €9.99 and can be accessed on Windows PCs, Windows Phone 7 devices and Xbox Live. Unlike the U.S. version of Zune Pass, the version available in these four countries will not come with ten MP3 downloads. These four markets as well as Germany will be able to purchase MP3s from the Zune Marketplace.
Video purchases will be available in the U.K., France, Germany, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Movie rentals will be available in the U.K., France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Ireland, Netherlands, Switzerland, Mexico, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
As usual, press reports pitted Microsoft against the likes of iTunes and Spotify. Yes, technically Zune is a competitor to both iTunes and Spotify. But just as the Los Angeles Clippers take on the Los Angeles Lakers a few times each season, it’s neither a rivalry nor a fair fight. The Zune is a decent software and service. However, the Zune device, in spite of good reviews and performance, has failed to gain momentum with consumers. With the hardware lagging, the software never got off the ground.
Now, the Zune software has been upgraded to serve as the synchronization client for Windows Phone 7. Different type of device, same problem. As Microsoft’s share of mobile operating systems goes, so goes its share of music streaming and downloads. (Press release)
In Talks With Apple
-- Magazines and newspapers are said to still be in talks with Apple about selling subscriptions through the iPad platform. People close to the negotiations said Apple could announce a print-subscription offering within two months.
One issue seems to be Apple’s reluctance to give publishers access to the names and other information of subscribers. However, Apple is said to be open to helping publishers find a way to share names and information of subscribers to iPad titles. And, to no surprise, publishers are said to be wary of Apple’s 30% cut of revenue.
There are a couple ways for the music business to look at Apple’s outreach to publishers. On one hand, the iPad, through its use of apps, holds some promise for subscription content. Any efforts to warm consumers to subscription-based digital content should be good for all content creators. In music, the recurring revenue of subscriptions is greatly desired. Labels and publishers look at subscription-based apps as one possible replacement for the album format.
On the other hand, it’s clear that Apple is more engaged with visual media these days. The iPad is well suited for print and video. The most exciting things happening with the iPad have nothing to do with music. Apple TV is another product with a lot of potential. But, again, it’s well-suited for visual media. In fact, Apple’s music-related efforts are mature products that have already gone through numerous iterations (the iPod and Nano, for example). Rather than being a part of Apple’s strategy for the coming years, music is the old cash cow. (Wall Street Journal)
Ronson Remixed For Spotify Ads
-- Sony Music is letting consumers remix Mark Ronson tracks directly inside advertisements running at Spotify and in an app at Ronson’s Facebook page. The promotion uses interactive solution MXP4. At his Facebook page, users have to click the “like” button (thereby sharing the existence of the app with their social networks) in order to use the remix app. (Press release)
Pirate Party's Disappointing Performance
-- Maybe piracy just isn’t the call-to-arms it used to be? The Pirate Party had a disappointing performance in Sweden’s general elections on Sunday, getting less than 1.4% of votes. Technically, the Pirate Party was lumped in with the “other” candidates that received a total of 1.4% of the votes. Four percent is needed to gain seats in parliament. The party had received 7.1% of Swedish votes in the 2009 European parliamentary elections and gained two seats in the European Parliament.
The party was founded in 2006 in an effort to reform copyright and patent laws. Its membership swelled after the April 2009 verdict that found the founders of the Pirate Bay website guilty of copyright infringement. Earlier this year, The Pirate Bay began hosting its site on bandwidth provided by the Pirate Party. (IDG)
-- New academic paper examines distribution and “making available.” ((Copyrights & Campaigns)
-- Next Big Nashville/Leadership Music announce lineup. (MusicRow)
-- Seattle-based Ivi Inc. has brought a lawsuit against the major television networks seeking a declaratory judgment that its online service, which allows users to watch live broadcasts of television channels, is operating within copyright law. (TechFlash)