Get the lowdown (below) on the music offerings at this week's Launch conference in San Francisco.
Business Matters: Motorola Gets Cloud Fever, Invests in Catch Media
-- Motorola has made a strategic investment in cloud storage and playback service Catch Media through its strategic investment arm, Motorola Mobility Ventures http://www.motorola.com/Consumers/US-EN/About_Motorola/Ventures. The fund has invested in a number of technology startups in order to form a strategic alliance and nurture them through their early stages. Some are later acquired by Motorola but many either have IPOs or are acquired by other companies.
When you think of Catch Media, think digital locker service, not robust cloud music service like Spotify. What Catch Media does is allow users to upload media files and access them from an array of devices: smartphones, tablets, PCs and Internet-connected TVs.
Catch Media is more than a textbook locker service, which would not require licenses from rights holders if files were uploaded and streamed by the owner. It's also about sharing. Catch Media's technology, called Play Anywhere, allows users to share content to friends' phones with the push of a button. The recipient can listen to the song for a period of time that is "determined by the rights holder," according to the company website. After the trial period ends, the recipient can purchase the song.
While Catch Media lacks the excitement of more traditional cloud music services, it has a couple things going for it. First, it's about enjoying an existing music collection. Trying to up-sell a customer on a feature-rich music service for $10 a month would be more difficult. If offered to mobile and broadband subscribers as either a free perk or a low-cost add-on, Catch Media could do well.
The second thing Catch Media has going for it is similar competition. As the Financial Times reported on Thursday, Apple and Google are planning their own locker services (not feature-rich cloud music services) to provide backup for their download stores (Apple obviously has iTunes, Google is hoping to launch a download store soon) http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/14a64aba-404b-11e0-9140-00144feabdc0.html. Motorola will not need to be first to the music/video locker market. But if it follows Apple and Google, it will find that consumers are educated on the details and merits of locker services. As it often the case, strong competition brings awareness to all competitors. Motorola can ride that wave of awareness. (Press release)
Dar, Gobbler, Mougg, Streemio, Twimbo: A Launch Conference Overview
-- The Launch conference took place this week in San Francisco, with a few music-related firms emerging that are worth following. They include:
-- DAR.fm, a TiVO-like service that records Internet radio from MP3Tunes founder Michael Robertson. As previously reported on Billboard.biz, this one is sure to gain the labels' attention with a feature that lets users save individual tracks from Internet radio streams and store them as music files on their computers and portable devices in lieu of buying them.
-- Gobbler, a cloud-based storage and management repository for professional audio projects. It is compatible with most digital audio workstation software and file types. Includes backup and collaboration tools as well. The service is integrated with SoundCloud so users can publish directly from Gobbler to SoundCloud.
-- FitRadio, an online and mobile music app created to stream high-energy music created and programmed by DJs for listening during workouts. Genre channels include Top 40, electronic, hip hop and rock (which streamed "Eye of the Tiger" on our test). Or the listener can choose music by type of workout: cardio, high BPM, strength training, etc.
-- Mougg, a Web and mobile app that lets users store music in the cloud and play it on any wireless-enabled device. There's already tons of competition in this space, from Thumbplay, Audiogalazy and doubleTwist, to name just a few.
-- Streemio.com: an ad-supported personalized music service that allows the user to listen to pre-defined channels, share playlists and discover concerts. Based in Ghana, the company was founded in January 2010 and has received seed funding from Meltwater Foundation.
There were also a few other services that may be of interest to music folks for their ecommerce, event marketing and social media applications:
-- eEvent.com: a service that lets event organizers engage attendees as ambassadors to share, recommend and invite others. Both mobile and Web-based.
-- Justuno.com: offers online merchants a widget to share coupon codes directly on their site. The "social coupon" feature includes a social referral tool which offers customers an extra discount in real time if they share on their social walls.
-- Twimbow: a web-based Twitter client with a focus on filtering. Assign different colors to different users and groups, and change the color of a tweet shown in the app by adding a #color tag. You can then sort and filter tweets by color.
URL Detective Wors: Android Has Some Music Thing Up Its Sleeves
-- It may not mean much right now that there is a URL for music at the web version of the Android Market (https://market.android.com/music/). The URL points to the Android Market app store, so it's just a place holder. But it's worth noting that URLs for movies and books simultaneous appeared last week. Then on Thursday Android's book store went live. https://market.android.com/books/ So consider these URLS first steps in the eventual arrivals of movies and music to the Android Market.
The Digital Music Brain Drain: Lala Found Bill Nguyen
-- Lala founder Bill Nguyen has apparently left the music business. Business Insider reports the founder of digital music service Lala is working on a new project that does not involve music. Nguyen went to Apple after the company acquired Lala in December 2009. There's still no word what Bill is up to, although it was reported in December that Nguyen acquired the domain color.com in November for $350,000. http://www.dotweekly.com/bill-nguyen-co-founder-of-lala-likely-purchased-color-com-for-350k And it appears Nguyen is keeping some people apprised of his goings on. Earlier this month Forbes editor tweeted that Nguyen "has cool thing going on" and more info will be available next month. http://twitter.com/#!/bupbin/status/34766019792871424
LimeWire Dragging Google & Myspace Into Copyright Lawsuit
-- The major labels' lawsuit against LimeWire has a few new wrinkles as the two sides determine what amount of damages will be paid (LimeWire was found guilty of copyright infringement last year). Now Google and MySpace have been pulled into the fray because LimeWire wants to know about the deals labels have reached in legal disputes with other parties. "That's likely because Limewire wants to show that the actual licensing deals done by the record companies don't justify their outsize damage demands," writes Joe Mullin at paidContent. If Google and MySpace did not license hundreds of millions of dollars, LimeWire's thinking probably goes, then their catalogs just aren't worth that much in damages.
The report claims Google and MySpace have given the court information on licenses (wouldn't that be nice to have that information in the public record?). But now LimeWire wants to see all the communications (letters, emails, etc) that dealt with those licenses. Google and MySpace are said to have argued in a joint motion that the expensive request for documents is irrelevant to the case. LimeWire has told the court it really does need those documents as exhibits when the penalty phase of the trial starts next month. "Google's stonewalling has gone on for months," claim LimeWire's lawyers.