Even Reasonablys-Priced Albums by Mumford & Sons & Florence & The Machine Enjoying Grammy Bump
-- On Monday morning, Grammy-driven demand was trumping the benefits of low prices. The morning after the Grammys telecast, Mumford & Sons' "Sign No More" was Amazon's top MP3 album at $7.99. Seeing a $7.99 album atop so many cheaper albums was somewhat surprising on an album list that is typically driven by low prices. It's not uncommon to see $1.99 price tag push a title to the top of Amazon's MP3 album list that would otherwise be far down the rankings.
Following "Sigh No More" were three Grammy-related artists whose albums cost only $5: Eminem's "Recovery," Arcade Fire's "The Suburbs" and Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream." The next $7.99 album was Florence + The Machine's "Lungs" at No. 14.
"Sign No More," with a $9.99 price tag, was also the top iTunes album on Monday morning. And as with Amazon, there were many cheaper albums below it (although iTunes album purchases tend to be far less price-driven than Amazon MP3 purchases). iTunes' No. 2 through No. 5 albums were all either $6.99 or $7.99, and all were by artists who performed at the Grammys on Sunday. Lady Antebellum's "Need You Now" sat at No. 6 with a $9.99 price tag.
Not only are these albums high on the stores' charts, they're doing good business. Grammy winners tend to get a pretty nice bump in sales. Taylor Swift's "Fearless" got a 58% sales increase after it won Album of the Year in 2010, according to Nielsen SoundScan, although digital sales rose by only 23%. Albums by Zac Brown Band (82%), Lady Gaga (17% and 8%), Black Eyed Peas (76%) and Kings of Leon (66%) also got Grammy-induced sales bumps.
It goes to show that lowering prices is not a cure-all for sagging sales. Value is created when a listener connects with an artist's and his or her music. When consumers find something they like, many will pay for it.
Apple Forecast: Possible Cloud
-- In the vague Apple news item of the day, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that Apple's MobileMe online storage service "could become a focal point for a new online music service," according to people familiar with the matter. Note that the words "will" or "should," which denote certainty, were not used. The word "could" is filled with uncertainty.
As Antony Bruno wrote on Monday, there are a number of signs that point to some sort of streaming media service: a new server farm in North Carolina, a service that lets people stream content to their mobile devices and a new device with less storage capacity to go along with its lower price.
The type of music streaming service could very well hinge upon the outcome of the lawsuit against MP3Tunes brought by EMI. MP3Tunes is being sued for offering a cloud-based music service that requires users to upload each song individually. So, MP3Tunes does not stream a song unless the user has uploaded the track. MP3Tunes is arguing that no license should be required unless MP3Tunes used a single copy of a song to stream to multiple users. EMI is challenging MP3Tunes' business model and says MP3Tunes needs a license to stream remotely stored content.
If MP3Tunes wins, MobileMe could - not will or should, but could - become the foundation for a cloud-based music service. It would not have the bells and whistles of a Spotify, for example, but it would allow people to stream their iTunes libraries from multiple devices. And it could be launched in short order. If MP3Tunes loses, the signal sent to the market would discourage such services.
Ultimately, the battles in music- and media-streaming services will be less about those standalone services and more about market share in mobile operating systems and hardware sales. That means staying ahead of the competition. Even if Apple does offers only a cloud storage service - basically an improved version of MobileMe - that will only be a stepping stone to something far more robust.
Songtrust, Sonicbids New Publishing Partner
-- Sonicbids has partnered with Songtrust https://www.songtrust.com to help its artist members take more control of their publishing catalog. The first 500 Sonicbids artists who sign up get a free one-month membership. Songtrust is a new publishing administration service that is a division of Downtown Music. It aims to simply for the song registration and royalty collection processes. When an artist signs up, Songtrust takes care of the details involved in registering the works with performing rights organizations, collecting royalties (mechanical, performance and sync).
Wall Street Hearts Mobile Streams
-- Investors are likely to react positively if and when Google or Apple introduces a new music service. More distribution by powerful partners will be viewed as a good development. Case in point: Shares of Netflix rose over 6% on Monday on news that Qualcomm will power Netflix on Android devices. For a company with a $12.97 billion market capitalization - which means a lot of optimism is already built into the share price - a 6% jump shows just how much value investors place on a company's ability to stream to mobile devices.
UK Universal Chief Also Hearts Streaming, Integrated Billing
-- Universal Music UK chief David Joseph proclaims that streaming is the future. Here's a sample of an interview he did with The Guardian:
"Streams of music are eclipsing everything. It's a different digital currency to downloading. You're dealing there with 175m single tracks bought a year compared to 7bn streams of music. The revenues are significantly growing and I fundamentally believe that streaming and subscription models with unlimited access on all devices are the future of our business. But will people still listen to albums, or just single tracks, or send playlists to their friends? Answer: all of the above."
Keep in mind that we've heard many times before that streaming is the future. In fact, it's practically impossible to find a person -- even a vinyl enthusiast -- who doesn't believe streaming is the future. But the questions remain. How best to get from the present to the future? How long will it take to get there? And which companies and business leaders will take us there?
Fortunately, Joseph did single out one thing that he sees as a game-changer: integrated billing, which allows consumers to pay through mobile and broadband carriers. Yeah, it would be a good start.
( The Guardian)