GUVERA, THE ORCHARD INK DEAL
-- Ad-supported download site Guvera has inked a licensing deal with The Orchard, giving the startup a much-needed boost in its catalog. Currently, the Guvera website has a note about its catalog: “What you can't find today will be added into Guvera throughout July and August 2010.” The Australia-based startup already has deals with EMI, Universal Music Group, INgrooves and IODA. According to the company, the site had more than 75,000 users in mid-June and was signing up 3,000 to 5,000 each week. It also claims to have achieved double-digit click-through rates on ads. (Press release, Music Ally)


GOOGLE UPS CHINA TOP100 INVESTMENT
-- Google has increased its stake in Chinese music company Top100.cn by taking part in an investment round believed to be $1 million. Top100.cn is a competitor of Baidu, the dominant search engine in China, and has licensing deals with record labels that allow legal downloads to be obtained through its search function. Google joined as an equity and strategic partner in 2007. (MusicWeek, Top100.cn)


HOW AMERICANS USE MOBILE PHONES
-- Pew Research released some helpful statistics on how Americans use their mobile phones (as of May 2010): 76% take pictures (up from 66% in April 2009), 34% play games (up from 27%), 34% send/receive email (up from 25%), 38% access the Internet (up from 25%), 33% play music (up from 21%) and 34% record videos (up from 19%). Growth in smartphone ownership helps explain the growth in multimedia usage. Labels and publishers, note that one-third of all mobile phone owners (not just smartphone owners) listen to music on their devices. (Business Insider)


A LOOK AT THE U.K.'S MOBILE TICKETING CARRIERS
-- The U.K.’s three biggest mobile carriers all have some sort of mobile ticketing service. In late June, Vodaphone launched Vodaphone VIP through a partnership with Live Nation that will gives its customers advance access to tickets for ten music festivals. Mobile carrier Orange has a discounted ticketing service called Last Second Tickets. It also offers its customers two-for-one entry into movie theaters on Wednesdays. O2’s Priority Tickets lets its customers buy advance tickets to concerts using their mobile phones (a Ticketmaster ticket is sent in a barcode format that can be scanned at the venue). These campaigns are good for the carriers, but what do the partners get? Perhaps they get to move idle inventory without offering discounts to the general public.

From an article at New Media Age: “Although these schemes are unlikely to generate much in the way of new revenues, they are good at attracting new and keeping their existing subscribers. For instance, Orange Wednesdays has worked where other customer retention schemes, such as personalized mobile operator portals, have failed. Such schemes also give operators an alternative to competing in a price war to keep subscribers. However, it’s difficult to see how they’re making money for partner brands, particularly since the key proposition is discounts…With the Last Second Tickets from Orange service at least, could it be that partner brands, such as music venues, are simply using these services as an outlet for inventory that would otherwise lie dormant?” (EU Ticket News, New Media Age)


PITCHFORK'S ALTERED ZONES GOES LIVE
-- Pitchfork’s previously announced blog coalition Altered Zones went live on Thursday. Altered Zones compiles select content from 14 music bloggers and covers music even less mainstream than that typically covered on Pitchfork. It’s quite simple: each post has a paragraph on the band(s) and one or two MP3s that can be streamed or downloaded. Altered Zones is, in effect, a content-rich music blog. (Altered Zones)


VINYL SURGE IN INDIA?
-- Even though EMI shut down its LP manufacturing plant in India in 1998, the company is importing vinyl from the U.S. for sale in the country. The report says other labels are expected to follow EMI’s lead and reintroduce their titles to the market on vinyl. (Indian Express)


Assorted Links
-- Will tablets put an end to e-readers? (Knowledge@Wharton)
-- Foursquare is five times larger than Gowalla and growing 75% faster each day. (TechCrunch)
-- The big question: Is a network license worth doing? (David Touve)