Opinion and analysis of the day's music news.

Terra Firma, Citigroup Head To Court Next Month
-- On Tuesday a New York judge ruled that Terra Firma's lawsuit against Citigroup will go to trial next month. The court will hear only two of the four arguments originally brought by Terra Firma: fraudulent misrepresentation and fraudulent concealment. The other arguments, negligent misrepresentation and tortuous indifference, were rejected.

Here are some helpful definitions from the Cornell Universal Law School web site. Under contract law, a plaintiff can recover against a defendant on grounds of fraudulent misrepresentation if a false representation was made with the intention that the plaintiff rely upon it and suffered damages as a result. Fraudulent concealment is when a party concealed or suppressed a material fact with the intention of misleading the plaintiff about the true condition of the property, and the plaintiff suffered damages as a result.

As a refresher, Terra Firma is suing Citigroup for allegedly misrepresenting the involvement of Cerebus Capital in the bidding for EMI in 2007. Because it was lead to believe Cerebus was in the running, says Terra Firma, it made a higher bid for EMI. Citi acted as both financial advisor and lender in the deal. (Financial Times)


NAB Study: 76% of Cell Owners Would Pay Fee For Radio
-- A study commissioned by the National Association of Broadcasters has found that 76% of American cell phone owners would consider paying a one-time fee of $0.30 to access local FM stations. Two-thirds of all adults and 71% of 18- to 34-year-olds say they would listen to more radio if their mobile devices had FM chips.

Why would the NAB pay for such a study? It just so happens that the NAB is working on a compromise with the RIAA over performance royalties from broadcast radio play. In exchange for a lower royalty rate (about $100 million per year), broadcasters would get FM radio chips inside mobile devices. The chips would increase the number of mobile devices that receive FM radio transmissions. As a result, radio stations would be more competitive against competing services such as Pandora as well as in-device MP3 players.

The deal is not yet finalized and its full implementation would require the passage of a bill by Congress regarding the FM radio chips. (Inside Radio)


Best Buy Shrinks Floor Space For CDs
-- Best Buy plans to allocate less floor space to CDs and DVDs this fall, according to a report of a Tuesday conference call with analysts. No indication was given on the treatment of new release and catalog titles in this latest reduction of CD shelf space. Said CEO Brian Dunn:

“We’ll have another store reset before the holidays, which will include an increase in the space for higher-growth and, in the aggregate, higher-margin categories, like Best Buy Mobile, e-readers and gaming, with a heavy emphasis on new gaming platforms and pre-owned game titles. This will be enabled by our reorganization of the DVD and CD sections. The CD section in particular will shrink in space allotment.”

The extra space created by shrinking CD and DVD sections will help create a space for demonstrations of new motion-controlled video games, Microsoft’s Kinect and Sony’s Move.

Best Buy had a 8.7% share of the U.S. music retail market in 2009, according to Billboard estimates, down from 10.7% in 2008. Walmart had an estimated 12.5% share in 2009, down from 15% in 2008. Both retailers have consistently reduced the CD’s footprint in their stores. (Investors.com)


FCC Marches Forward With 'White Space' Plan
FCC chairman Julius Genachowski is pushing ahead with the plan to open up unlicensed wireless spectrum - called white space – for high-speed Internet connections. The FCC will vote later this month on the white space order. Opening up that part of the spectrum would help create an entirely new, multi-billion-dollar industry for white-space applications.

The appropriation of white space for Internet use has been a hot issue in the musicians' community for a number of years. Wireless devices used by musicians and many others may be affected by the changes. Similarly, the National Association of Broadcasters is asking that the FCC's white space rules preserve broadcasters' ability to deliver television signals without interference.

But the momentum appears to clearly be in favor of opening that white space. Technology companies are hoping white space devices will be on the market in just a few years. Microsoft, for example, is showing off its White-fi network that uses only two transmitters to cover most of its 500-acre campus in Redmond, Washington. (Politico, Bloomberg)


Target Gets Taylor Swift Exclusive
Target will offer an exclusive deluxe version of Taylor Swift's "Speak Now" that features three new music tracks, three remixed music tracks, and 30 minutes of video content. The deluxe version will be available at Target stores nationwide and Target.com beginning October 25.


Topspin Launches Fan Club Product
-- Topspin has launched VIP Access, a new product type that allows Topspin users to incorporate something like a fan club model. VIP Access products can be bundled and priced like any other Topspin product. Fans who buy into these different levels of membership can be given special access to offers (such as ticket pre-sales) or content (like exclusive downloads).

It appears the possibilities with this new feature are limitless. One good outcome is the artist has the freedom to give any name to this higher level of membership. In country music, for example, fan clubs are standard. Just about every country artist has some sort of fan club - and they're called "fan clubs." Fans of other genres may be more hesitant to join something called a "fan club." But they may not have any qualms about signing up for a "song of the month" club that offers not only an exclusive track each month but perks not available to
non-members. Both fan club and song of the month club would use the same underlying technology. Thus, Topspin allows artists to customize the fan club approach for their particular audiences. After all, artists know their fans best.

"Look for a couple of large artists to roll out large-scale fan clubs with Topspin's VIP Access product underneath over the next couple of weeks," writes Tim Read at the Topspin blog. "But also expect to see offerings which aren't called 'membership' or 'fan club' but have VIP Access underneath." (Topspin blog)


TuneCore Links With Ping
Perhaps the most prevalent criticism of Apple’s new Ping social network within iTunes is the early lack of participating artists. Hoping to help with that problem is TuneCore, which struck a deal with Apple to let artists using TuneCore’s digital distribution services to set up Ping artist accounts. TuneCore verifies that anyone setting up an Artist Ping account is authorized to do so.

Setting up Artist Ping accounts is different than setting up a general Ping account, and Apple is being rather slow about working with artists on this. So, TuneCore’s involvement may help grease the wheels a bit, particularly for the newer acts it services. Read more about it in the TuneCore blog. -- Antony Bruno

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboardbiz

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