Opinion and analysis on the day's music business news.

-- According to a study commissioned by Aspiro, using a streaming music service cuts down on users’ illegal file-sharing while getting them to listen to more music and discover new music. Sweden-based Aspiro is the maker of the WiMP streaming service and a while label streaming service.

The survey, conducted by Norstat, found that 33% of Norwegians have streamed music. Of those who have streamed music, 60% say they feel more up to date with current music, 68% listen to more music, 72% say they discovery new music using a streaming service and 54% say they no longer illegally download music because of streaming services.

These survey results are not surprising. Time spent listening to licensed, streaming media is time not spent downloading content. So, access to licensed content will result in less illegally downloading. The all-you-can-eat aspect of streaming services allow users to listen to a wide range of music with no incremental cost. That naturally encourages people to sample music and stay on top of trends.

But it’s not surprising that nearly half of people surveyed continue to illegally download music. Some people are going to want downloads for some tracks – a streaming service may offer downloads but at an extra cost. In addition, not all content is available in streaming services. The existence of holes in licensed catalogs will lead to some illegal downloading. And leaked content that is not yet available on streaming services will be sought out by the more passionate fans. So, music streaming services result in less piracy but won’t get rid of it all. (Press release)


-- As the prominence of the album format declines, many experts and pundits say artists should trade infrequent albums for a constant flow of singles and EPs. But that means more time in the studio. As country star Trace Adkins told Billboard Country Update’s Tom Roland, he doesn’t intend to follow Blake Shelton’s lead and release a series of six-song EPs.

“Blake, he doesn’t have kids, he does whatever he wants to, and his fiancé is doing the same thing he does. And so they’re immersed in the music business. For me, I want to make an album and then not have to make another one for a while. I don’t have time to do that.”

The EP isn’t for everybody in country music. Jamey Johnson, for example, is about to release a double album. And it’s not for all Warner Nashville artists. But Shelton’s experiment is being seen as a leading indicator of changes in how music is packaged and priced – less waiting time for fans, songs brought to market faster, packages priced lower than standard albums. For more frequent, shorter releases to catch on with artists and fans, these types of experiments are necessary. And it’s possible that someday an artist like Adkins will end up scheduling more time in the studio that he does currently. But it’s clear from Adkins’ statement that some artists don’t want to spend any more time in the studio. (Billboard Country Update)


-- A Newsweek infograph on physical books versus e-books provides some interesting numbers based on Stifg Larsson’s “The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest.” The book topped both the New York Times Bestseller List and Amazon.com’s Kindle bestseller list. The physical book has sold 30 million units to the Kindle’s one million units. Total 2009 publisher sales are $249 million for the physical edition ($111 for paperback and $138 million for hardcover) and $29 million for Kindle. So, Kindle sales are relatively low but obviously growing well.
Two other items in the infographic stand out. First, only 15% of e-reader owners say they stop purchasing print books altogether. Second, Kindle owners buy 3.3 times more titles than before they owned a Kindle. Those figures imply that ownership of an e-reader is a supplement to physical book purchases. But they also hint that overall unit book sales could increase in a hybrid world of physical and e-book purchases. That’s because the frictionless ecosystems of e-book retail, as well as the low prices, encourage impulse purchases that are not captured in the physical world. (Newsweek)


Assorted Links
-- Ten new songs, including tracks by Basement Jaxx and Pitbull, have been added to the Dance Central video game by MTV Games and Harmonix. (Softpedia)
-- Seven reasons why “fake check-ins” are a fake problem for local businesses. (MobileBeat)
-- The basics of music licensing in digital media. (Davis Wright Tremaine LLP)

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboardbiz

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