-- From the transcript of Monday's Apple fiscal Q4 earnings call is this lone excerpt that deals specifically with music: "We sold almost 10.2 million iPods, which was down from just over 11 million in the year-ago quarter. Our latest research indicates that 50% of recent iPod buyers were purchasing their first iPod, including those in our high market share countries such as the U.S., Japan, Australia, Canada, and the U.K."

More iPod owners equals more digital download sales, right? That statement by Apple indicates about five million consumers - across all markets - adopted portable digital music for the first time last quarter. Portable devices like the iPod tend to be the entry point for digital adoption and a driver of paid downloads. But download sales are flattening out in the U.S. If iPod laggards are starting to buy digital music, they may not have started buying downloads. Or download sales from new iPod owners are occurring but cannot be seen because they are making up for an equal amount of decline from earlier digital adopters.

Either way, download sales no longer appear to be driven by hardware purchases. Apple shipped 7.4 million iPhones in its fiscal Q4 - seven times as many as in the same period last year - and sell-through improved 38% year-over-year. It still sells millions of iPods in a quarter. But U.S. download sales are stagnant. In the previous earnings call, Apple's CFO said iTunes sales growth was being driven by the over-the-air capabilities of the iPhone and iPod Touch. Even then, there was little growth in digital downloads outside of the standard seasonal increase around Christmas.
(Seeking Alpha)

-- HMV will open a three-screen cinema in London this week. The cinema is a joint venture with cinema firm Curzon. Said an HMV spokesperson, "The point of this is to create a hybrid of retail and live events. Shoppers can watch the film and then buy the soundtrack or the book or the T-shirt - there is a lot of synergy between the two." (Retail Week)

-- In short, instructional YouTube videos, data analysis firm Band Metrics shows off its touring and broadcast radio maps. (Indie Music Tech)

-- The Crave UK blog conducted a blind audio test of Spotify and Sky Songs. Sixteen people from the CBS Interactive office (Crave is run by CBS-owned CNET) listened to the two streaming services with expensive headphones and a high-end audio processor. Ten of the 16 people thought Spotify's free service (160Kbps OGG Vorbis) sounded better than Sky Songs (48Kbps AAC+). (Crave)

-- A U.S. District judge will allow EMI to sue Michael Robertson - not just Robertson's company, MP3tunes. Previously a judge ruled EMI could sue only MP3tunes. The change occurred because of new testimony from a former MP3tunes employee that revealed Robertson had a higher level of personal involvement in the company than previously believed. So, EMI argued Robertson should be named in the suit because the new testimony shows he exercised control over the company. MP3tunes is an online music locker than allows users to stream their locker's contents from any Web-enabled device. Robertson. EMI says MP3tunes does not have the right to use its content in such a way. (CNET)

-- The 5,000-seat venue at the Konocti Harbor Resort and Spa in Northern California hosted its last concert on Sunday. Unless a buyer is found, the resort will close in November for financial and legal reasons. (Press Democrat)

-- MusicMetric is the latest analytics tool for music companies. The London-based company offers semantic analysis, meaning it includes not just play counts but the sentiment and opinions of bands being discussed online. (TechCrunch Europe)

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