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-- KKBox, a Taiwan-based music service akin to Spotify, is said to be turning a profit on its desktop and mobile streaming service. This may come as a surprise to those who follow the financial hardships of Western streaming services. Just how does KKBox keep from sinking under royalty obligation generated by non-paying customers? It gives away 30-second song clips, not the entire song. Those 30-second clips do not carry a royalty obligation, so the expense to KKBox of carrying all those non-paying customers is negligible. Compare that to the expense generated by other freeloader models (usually called freemium models). The interesting aspect of this story is that its customer acquisition strategy contrasts so sharply with that of Spotify. A typical freeloader model gives away a free version of a product in hopes users will upgrade to a paid version with more features (and/or lack of advertising). KKBox's free version lacks the ability to play an entire song. That seems like a no-starter for consumers, yet 30% of Taiwanese Internet users have signed up for the service. In spite of the big difference between the free versions of their services, KKBox and Spotify actually have about the same conversation rate (although it should be noted they operate in different regions of the world). About 3.3% of KKBox's six million users pay $4.50 to $5.00 per month for the service. In comparison, Spotify's conversion rate is about 3.6% for a paid version that costs about $14 per month. (GigaOm)

-- The Los Angeles Times looked at how rock bands are seeking different strategies as major-label deals become harder to obtain. "Hunting for a record deal won't cut it anymore. Modern bands are focusing more on the Internet, looking for film soundtrack opportunities and piggy-backing album sales on designer T-shirts," reads the piece's intro. Shadow Shadow Shade (formerly The Afternoons) is hailed as an example of the type of new-era, Internet-driven independent band that would have previously looked at a major label deal as the path to success. Writer Geoff Boucher correctly senses a shift away from the old model and ably describes how today's rock bands build their careers. Yet it is too easy to leave reading this article with a sense than bands like Shadow Shadow Shade were ever suitable for a major. Even 10 or 12 years ago, such a band would have probably gone the indie label route. A few notes: First, Shadow Shadow Shade's sing-along indie rock doesn't really belong on a major label - at least not until two or three successful indie albums prove there is widespread potential. (The band is on Spaceland Recordings, according to its MySpace page.) Second, the Internet is one tool in a large toolkit, not the sole source for an artist's success. It is a fact that too often gets lost in the discussion of development in the digital age. Third, a major label is still a viable path for some artists. It is incredibly ironic that this article was published on the same day that Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga, the two fine case studies for success in the age of the Internet and multi-rights contracts, were among the most-nominated artists at the Grammy Awards. (Los Angeles Times)

-- After a couple setbacks, writes law blogger Ben Sheffner, Andersen v. Atlantic Recording Corp. appears to be on its last legs. Sheffner has been tracking the progress of the class action lawsuit against major labels through the federal courts in Portland, Oregon. Andersen was originally targeted for illegal file sharing, but the labels dropped the case after they were unable to link her to the actual downloading. Andersen subsequently sued the labels, the RIAA and MediaSentry (which performed the digital forensics work) over its campaign to sue individuals without probable cause. (Copyrights & Campaigns)

-- Matt Rosoff, who covered last week's iPad unveiling for, has some suggestions on how to make the iPad a better music device. One of the five items if the inclusion of a cloud-based music service. "Instead of having to load music onto the iPad itself," he writes, "I could sync it from my computer to Lala's online music locker service, then stream it over the Web directly to my device. Bye-bye, storage limits." There are two reasons why the iPad lends itself as a streaming device: the nature of its use (it's perfect for consuming media) and its low storage capacity (16GB to 64GB). Rossoff argues Apple's acquisition of Lala makes this scenario not just possible but obvious. (Digital Noise)

-- Spotify has opened up its free version to all people living in metropolitan France. The free version was previously available only by invitation. In a post at the company blog, Spotify says it is now sure it can maintain the quality of service for many users. (Spotify blog)

-- Grammy social networking note/oddity: Imogen Heap's dress has its own Twitter account. (Immi's Twitdress)