Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Warner Music readies CD-free 'e-label' | CNET News.com

Warner Music readies CD-free 'e-label' | CNET News.com: "The e-label will permit recording artists to enjoy a 'supportive, lower-risk environment' without as much pressure for huge commercial hits, Bronfman said. In addition, artists signed to the e-label will retain copyright and ownership of their master recordings. "

It's nice to see that the major labels are starting to understand that the game is changing and they need to adapt. Digital distribution is killing the traditional "hits-driven" marketplace and creating true one-to-one marketing and distribution relationships around the long-tail content.

Friday, August 19, 2005

AppleInsider | Apple, Sony among those named in new DRM lawsuit

AppleInsider | Apple, Sony among those named in new DRM lawsuit: "Five of the top companies in the online music industry are being sued by an individual who claims that the digital rights management software used by the Internet's most popular music download services violates a seven-year-old technology patent."

Interesting in that the suit doesn't include Microsoft, who's DRM technology is used by a number of the services cited. I haven't read the claim, but it sounds like the patent is more about the manner is which DRM is used and not the technological underpinnings of how it works.

BetaNews | Yahoo Music Service Officially Launches

BetaNews | Yahoo Music Service Officially Launches: "Yahoo! Music Unlimited attempts to differentiate itself from iTunes and other services by focusing on personalization. Users can setup profiles of their musical likes and dislikes, which are used by Yahoo to create custom home page of recommended artists and songs."

Monday, August 15, 2005

Apple: Deaf to the Rent-a-Tunes Beat

Apple: Deaf to the Rent-a-Tunes Beat: "BusinessWeek Online has learned that Apple is not likely to get into the subscription game soon -- and maybe not ever, unless one of its rivals comes up with a way to make subscriptions mainstream."

The story goes on to say...

But Apple's strategic goal is not to sell music, it's to sell iPods. Selling songs is marginally profitable, and helps Apple keep the support of the music labels. But the iPod is the reason for Apple's runaway success in recent years. Sales of the device soared 343% in the quarter that ended July 31, when the outfit brought in nearly a third of Apple's $3.5 billion in sales.

The rumblings I hear is that Apple isn't yet technically capable of launching a subscription service. Supposedly the Fairplay DRM scheme doesn't handle it and the iPods themselves don't have a secure clock (a requirement so that people can't have their player frozen in time, thereby keeping their subscription content from every expiring). I'm not sure about the secure clock thing, but that is what I've hear from a number of people/sources. If true, a subscription service would REQUIRE everyone to buy a new iPod. This would give everyone else in the market a free shot at converting Apple's consumers over to a cheaper product/service.

New Orb Add-On: TiVoAnywhere - Engadget - www.engadget.com

New Orb Add-On: TiVoAnywhere - Engadget - www.engadget.com: " Orb Networks opened up their API a few days ago, they must have figured out that loosening up and letting developers (and the rest of us) create third-party plug-ins for their placeshifting app is an easy way to add value and make their product even more attractive to customers (Sony, are you listening?). "

Cool, if you've got TivoToGo (meaning your Tivo Series 2 is networked to your PC), you can now essentially "passthrough" that content via Orb running on your Windows machine.

Imeem dials into social networking craze | CNET News.com

Imeem dials into social networking craze | CNET News.com: "Imeem, whose name comes from the word 'meme,' aims to differentiate itself by giving users an easy way to specify exactly who they want to share information with and by providing technology that enforces that access control on the desktop, instead of on a server at the provider company. "

BetaNews | MSN Enhances Spaces, Start.com

BetaNews | MSN Enhances Spaces, Start.com: "Also available is a tool to embed Windows Media Player into a user's Space and allow for the playing of media files directly from the Web. 'I think I received a few hundred e-mails on this feature alone,' Torres said. Media files can't be uploaded to MSN Spaces yet, but the player could be linked to somewhere else that hosts the files in the meantime."

Microsoft continues to evolve their Spaces platform...

Exclusive pics of TiVo Download - Engadget - www.engadget.com

Exclusive pics of TiVo Download - Engadget - www.engadget.com Interested in what TiVo's download service may look like? Check out the pictures that Engadget has posted....

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Ruckus music subscription program fails to cause excitement at American University - Engadget - www.engadget.com

Ruckus music subscription program fails to cause excitement at American University - Engadget - www.engadget.com: "In the latest trial, American University students were given a free trial of Ruckus, a movie and music downloading program. A full half of them didn�t even bother to try it, and a third of those surveyed said it should definitely not be offered in the coming academic year. "

Ouch. Not sure what the problem is here... maybe too many of them still stealing their songs, or perhaps many are already locked into an iPod (not compatible with any service other than iTunes)? I've never seen the Ruckus service in person, so I don't know how it competes against Napster, but I would assume that they would have the same problems.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Russell Beattie Notebook - AOL Rising

Russell Beattie Notebook - AOL Rising: "I think anyone who's forgotten about AOL or discounted them has to rethink these guys - they really are giants and they've awoken. Check out their list of services - it's like a full-on portal filled with people came out of nowhere. They have 10+ years of understanding how online communities and online consumer services work, and they're now focusing that experience on the Internet at large, as well as mobile devices. Think about it... "

It's good to see that AOL is finally starting to get some credit from the rest of the industry (I believe Russell is a Yahoo employee) as being more than just "the Internet on training wheels"....

BetaNews | Amazon to Move Into Digital Music Biz

BetaNews | Amazon to Move Into Digital Music Biz: "The Wall Street Journal reported late Thursday that online retailer Amazon.com is considering an entrance into the digital music business, and has held talks with industry executives over the past two weeks to license content."

They've had headhunters calling around for quite a few months trying to lure people over from competitors in the space. No doubt about it, Amazon is the king when it comes to moving physical goods and inventory via e-commerce, but I'm not convinced that it will help them all that much in the digital music space. That being said, they do have the luxury of having an awful large number of credit cards on file, thereby lowering one of the biggest barriers to entry for many...

Friday, August 05, 2005

Pandora (formerly Savage Beast) Launches New Radio Beta

It appears that Savage Beast is looking to get into the online Radio game themselves. They've changed their name to Pandora and have launched a beta where they create Personal Radio stations based on a users artist or song input.

When a "station" is created, users can skip songs, and purchase from either iTunes or Amazon.

As I play with it more I will add some more color commentary.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

WSJ.com - Real Time - The Case of the Missing Music

WSJ.com - Real Time - The Case of the Missing Music: "Mr. Arnold notes that 1.5 million songs is currently the benchmark for an online service, adding that he believes that benchmark will be replaced by five million. But he notes even that will leave a lot out: Gracenote -- the service that in all likelihood does the magic of identifying the CD you just put in your PC -- has nearly 50 million tracks in its current database."

A good article on the the process (or lack thereof) the record labels undertake to get their artists' back catalogs onto the digital music services. It seems that companies like Snocap are trying to lure the record companies into simply monetizing consumer's encodes of this content (instead of waiting for the labels to encode it themselves). Eventually, the belief is that there will be a "good enough" digital copy from someone in the audience that the labels will able use for their archive without having to incur the cost of doing it themselves.

More insider details about the PS3? - Engadget

More insider details about the PS3? - Engadget - www.engadget.com: "...there will eventually be some sort of USB TV tuner add-on for the PS3 so it can double as digital video recorder (best part: it sounds like it'll incorporate Sony's LocationFree technology so you can access recorded TV shows using your PSP from anywhere in the world over the internet)."

I have yet to hook up my Slingbox, but have used Orb to "placeshift" my television content before. All-in-all, it is a pretty cool concept but I have yet to find a real use for it. But, if I can give my buddy the rights to view my shows from his PS3, then that is a pretty compelling angle on media sharing that I think could make consumers giddy but copyright holders and cable providers nauseous.

Monday, August 01, 2005

BetaNews | Apple, HP Call it Quits on iPod Deal

BetaNews | Apple, HP Call it Quits on iPod Deal: "The falling out comes as a surprise, since HP as recently as July 1 announced that it would sell a co-branded version the iPod Shuffle, along with an iPod+HP Mini that was announced in June."

This deal never made sense to me in the first place (at least for HP). Once again, the stars are aligning so that it is all the PC OEMs and Microsoft in one corner and little ol' Apple in the other.