Monday, January 28, 2008

Anywhere.FM Acquired by Imeem

I just got this in my inbox this morning...

We are very excited to announce that Anywhere.FM has been acquired by imeem (, the leading social media network.

Since our launch last August, Anywhere.FM has been dedicated to making it easy to upload, play, and share your music wherever you go. We have listened to our users and worked hard to provide them with the best music playback experience available on the Internet. The millions of tracks that our users have uploaded to Anywhere.FM over the last 6 months prove to us that we have been successful in achieving this goal.

Today's announcement broadens the scope of Anywhere.FM's ambitions, bringing us together with imeem, a social networking site with a media-centric approach to connecting consumers. With imeem, users can enjoy, recommend and discover not only music, but film, video, TV programming and art, and connect with people who share similar tastes.

Anywhere.FM will continue to exist as a standalone site for our users to enjoy. At the same time, we will bring many of the innovations of Anywhere.FM to the imeem community as well as the broader internet community in the near future. We'll also keep on innovating on the Anywhere.FM website. We have some interesting ideas on how to best leverage imeem's audience and media content to further enrich the Anywhere.FM experience.

We hope you are as excited as we are about this acquisition. We have lots in store for you - we'll be sure to keep you posted in the coming months as we unveil our exciting plans.

Feel free to share your ideas and feedback with us at


Anson, Lux, and Sachin
The Anywhere.FM Team

I haven't thought much about this yet, but obviously Imeem is looking to simplify the process by which people upload and share their content.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Amazon's Kindle

I've never paid much attention to the talk of Amazon's Kindle eBook device, but I came across it today on their site and finally learned more about it.

I'm not much of a book reader myself, so I don't envision getting one for myself (although it could be a good gift for my wife). Actually, the thing I find most interesting about it is Amazon's "Whispernet" delivery network. It's build on top of Sprint's EVDO network, but I'm not sure what is different about it from what Sprint already has.

Of course, my first question is.... I wonder if they are planning on utilizing it to deliver music and movies to another Kindle-like device they may have in the works?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Seeqpod Next Target for the Major's Legal Machine?

Looks like WMG (or their legal department at least) is now targeting Seeqpod. Who wants to bet the next announcement we see is that Seeqpod is moving to an ad rev-share model with the major labels.

Warner Music Lawyers Roll Again, Seeqpod Latest Target — Digital Music News: "Warner Music Lawyers Roll Again, Seeqpod Latest Target

Warner Music Group is now directing its legal guns at Seeqpod (, a media-focused search service. The Seeqpod engine resembles larger and more established players like Google, though it focuses on playable media results. That includes a heavy amount of music, and Seeqpod allows users to access and stream millions of songs on-demand through an integrated player.

That eventually grabbed the attention of Warner, which first filed against the engine last week. The label claims that Seeqpod is illegally allowing access to its music by accessing servers worldwide. But Seeqpod notes that it hosts none of the content in question, and therefore enjoys protection under Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Elsewhere, Google also indexes web-hosted MP3s, and search engines represent a growing method for music acquisition."

It was my understanding that search engines were protected (per the story above), but for a little company like Seeqpod it's probably a lot less painful to cut a deal than fight. Thoughts?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008 Rolls Out Freeplays and Subscription

And another shoe drops... – the Blog · Free the Music: "As of today, you can play full-length tracks and entire albums for free on the website.

Something we’ve wanted for years—for people who visit to be able to play any track for free—is now possible. With the support of the folks behind EMI, Sony BMG, Universal and Warner—and the artists they work with—plus thousands of independent artists and labels, we’ve made the biggest legal collection of music available to play online for free, the way we believe it should be.

Full-length tracks are now available in the US, UK, and Germany, and we’re hard at work broadening our coverage into other countries. During this initial public beta period, each track can be played up to 3 times for free before a notice appears telling you about our upcoming subscription service. The soon-to-be announced subscription service will give you unlimited plays and some other useful things. We’re also working on bringing full-length tracks to the desktop client and beyond."

What's unclear is whether their subscription service will be streaming only or have some download component. My guess is the former - unlimited on-demand streaming - with continued affiliate relationships with Amazon for iPod compatible downloads.

Now the big question is, just how much advertising are they going to have to put in front of everyone to cover the costs of the on-demand licenses with the labels? I've done some modeling of this in the past, and it's most likely going to need to include some piece of video advertising (see prior post about Truveo/AOL deal). And just how much will consumer put up with before they move on to the next ad-free, business model-free, offering?

Radio Adios

There is lots of talk about Yahoo's upcoming layoffs with many predicting that their Yahoo Music Unlimited subscription service going the way of the Dodo (perhaps selling off their subscriber base to Rhapsody). I agree with this speculation, particularly in light of their new strategy and their focus on "context" over "content". The other thing I think that may get hit in the downsizing is their radio product, LAUNCHcast.

Given the strategic shift taking place over there (particularly with their music products), as well as the ongoing SoundExchange negotiation debacle, I think they will cut-and-run on radio too. Radio is generally a loss-leader for the big portals and with the (unknown) future royalty rates the "loss" is going to get too much to stomach for most.

On a related note, look for AOL to dump their AOL Radio product as well (along with XM partnership) and replace it with a third party player/product. Probably from a larger terrestrial radio network... most likely related to the recent video advertising deal announced between CBS (owner of and Truveo (part of AOL). This would get AOL out of a money-losing content endeavor and more focused on being a cross-platform advertising network. Great for everyone. Well, except the consumers....

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Off Topic: Funny Video - AOL's New Extra Senior Vice President for Special Excellence

I'm a big fan of 30 Rock, and when some of my friends still at AOL mentioned that they got Alec Baldwin to be in a little promotional skit for the company I went to check it out.

I'm not sure it is as funny to people who haven't been part of that company's environment (or catch some of the people references), but I got a kick out of it. And my friend Ivy scored a speaking part with Alec... nice! :-)

It looks like (CEO) Randy Falco's NBC connections finally paid off for something...

Friday, January 18, 2008

Rhapsody's 50 Free Plays

Rhapsody has had a long established trial model where you get 25 free plays (streaming only) a month just by registering at their site.

Well, Rhapsody also introduced a Facebook widget the extends that experience into the popular social network (with whom my love affair is starting to fade... but that's another story). What I noticed today, is that the two accounts have no knowledge of each other. I used up about 15 of my 25 free plays this month at today checking out the soon-to-be-released Cat Power album "Jukebox" and some tracks from the critically-acclaim Athens, GA band The Whigs.

I then got a song sent to me in Facebook from their application, clicked play and noticed it said that I had 24 free plays left. Nice, without doing any work I just doubled the number of free plays I get a month. ;-)

Now you can use up a couple of your 50 too.....

Like A Vibration - The Whigs

Metal Heart - Cat Power

By the way Rhapsody, your "RhapLink Generator" (used to generate the links above) is a bit of a mess. It spit out bad HTML that I had to tweak by hand to work (as well as manually adding the artist name to the link)....

Yahoo to Snare Foxytunes?

Given what Yahoo has shown what they are up to with their new plans around music and their new web layer, this actually doesn't come as a surprise to me.

Yahoo May Be Looking To Buy Israel’s FoxyTunes: "Rumors popped up here in Silicon Valley that Yahoo is in negotiations to buy Israel-based FoxyTunes."

I mentioned in my previous post about Yahoo's new strategy reminded me a lot of Foxytunes' approach. Perhaps I was more right than I knew at the time...

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

For Those About To Rock Club, We Salute You

Great story in the Washington Post this past Sunday about 4 guys (very much like me) that have sworn to re-invent the notion of the "book club" for those of us that would rather go check out a local concert...

For Those About To Rock Club, We Salute You - "Getting four ultra-busy guys together every week doesn't happen easily. After his initial plea for regular rock-and-roll meet-ups was welcomed with open arms, Andelman fleshed out his plan, suggesting that each week, one member would research and select a band. But the concept that sounded great in an e-mail could very well have failed. (How often do people plan to get together regularly, only to meet sporadically, if at all?)"

The weeks rolled by and the guys went out, wrote reviews and went out again. Amazingly, the whole thing worked. The secret to Rock Club's success? 'We see a wide range of bands,' says Fintel, a consultant. 'And we've gone to all kinds of venues: the Black Cat, 9:30 club, Rock and Roll Hotel, Velvet Lounge, Verizon Center, DAR, Wonderland. And we even braved a snowstorm to see [New York band] the Mooney Suzuki.'"

Amusingly enough, it turns out that one of the guys (follow the link in the blockquote above to read the whole story) actually has a kid in the same class as one of my music-loving buddies. So, sure enough we are now trying to figure out how we get our asses off the couch and out to more shows. I'm not going to fool myself into thinking I'd be up for this once a week, but maybe once a quarter to start.... if it goes well (and as the kids get older) maybe we can crank it up to once a month.

Here are some tips for setting up your own Rock Club, and don't forget the "rules"...

"The Rules of Rock Club were drafted and ratified: Shows were to cost no more than $20; the person who picked a concert would write a review on the blog; no wives or girlfriends allowed."

Who's in?! :-)

Friday, January 11, 2008

Note to eMusic... Round Up

I, like most eMusic "subscribers", anxiously await the date our monthly download credits refresh so we can scoop up the tracks and albums that we've bookmarked over the previous month. I actually never knew my exact date of refresh, although I knew it was sometime around the 2nd week of the month. Well, after I realized (or were told by a few people) that I had sort of slept on the Spoon and Of Montreal albums last year (made *lots* of people's top 10 lists, but for some reason I never got around to listening to them) - I decided I would scoop them both up on eMusic.

So, on January 9th I checked my refresh date and luckily it said my monthly refresh was scheduled to happen on on January 10th. Nice, so I went to bed with the intention that I'd grab them first thing in the morning. But, to my dismay, when I woke up it still said I had 0 credits. I checked back a couple hours later... 0 credits. Another couple of hours later.... 0 credits. Rechecked my refresh date... yep, it was the right day... Jan. 10. There should have been 30 credits in my account, but still 0.

By this time I was really annoyed. I contacted eMusic's customer service to be told that my credits would refresh "at some point throughout the day". Would it kill you to give me the benefit of a a half a day to give me a better experience? Hell, I'd even prefer to give up 12 hours and you can round up.... tell me my account refreshes on the 11th (instead of the 10th) and I would have been a much happier customer. Whatever happened to underpromise and overdeliver?

And while you are at it... can you add a "remember me" checkbox on the login so I don't have to re-enter my credentials every time I want to browse the catalog?

Or perhaps you are just getting back at me for my mention of you in my 2008 predictions?

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Sony BMG + MP3 - DRM = Amazon

Sony BMG has given us all a roller coaster ride over the last week and half or so. They announced they would offer DRMless MP3s, and we all cheered. Then they announced their ill-conceived MusicPass initiative and put the fear into us all that was all they were going to do. Some even went so far as to say they were *trying* to fail with DRMless MP3s... "hey, we tried it and no one bought them so now put the shackles back on!"

Now there is a collective sigh of relief that they have, in fact, signed with Amazon to make their catalog available sans DRM at everyone's favorite online retailer.

Sony BMG Will Allow Amazon to Sell Its Music Without DRM | Listening Post from "Sony BMG made history Thursday by becoming the fourth and final major label to allow its music to be sold without digital rights management, issuing a announcement that's MP3 store would start carrying music from the label by the end of this month."

Phew, disaster averted....

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Yahoo's New Play(er)

Yahoo just announced their new web player today and released it into the wild for us to play with.

Basically, it works as follows:

Here's what it does:

  1. Link to MP3s in your web page. These can be anywhere on the web.
  2. Add a line of code to insert our Javascript library. We host this, so you just have to point to our URL.
  3. Working play buttons appear next to MP3s.

More information can be found here:

My first impressions are very positive. As a blogger it will make my life easier since I just embed the player code once into the body of my page, and then just drop the MP3 links anywhere on the page and they automagically get a play icon (and get playlisted).

It also is supporting some open standards (under the covers) in the form of XSPF playlists - I assume in a future release I will be able to hit a page that uses this player and download the XSPF playlist file to take with me - where I can then decide to either have it continue to resolve to the original source files or to a catalog of my choice (e.g. a subscription catalog, my local library, etc.). Check out the work going on at OpenMediaWeb that Yahoo is also heavily involved in and this previous conversation around playlist portability.

Yahoo gets their piece by linking off to a Yahoo Search based on the metadata keywords.

All-in-all, it strikes me as a web-based client version of Foxytunes. I've always been a fan of Foxytunes, and you can see my previous coverage of them here. In fact, I would not be surprised to see Yahoo Search evolve to have "artist pages" that suck in related content from the artist from all over the web - photos from Flickr, videos from YouTube, free-range MP3s (similar to the way AOL just starting doing), Wikipedia-based bios, etc. very much like FoxyTunes Planet.

The downside? Well, if you are "playing a page" you are basically tied to that page as long as you want to keep listening. The easy way around that is to open a new tab instead of refreshing the current page you are on. Not a huge deal, but you may often find yourself accidentally turning the music off if you follow another link on the page that you are playing (if that link doesn't target a new browser window/tab). The other downside that I noticed when I first implemented it, is that in a heavily widgetized page, you may have to wait a while for the javascript to load.

I speculated about 6 months ago that Yahoo was up to something based on the previous Webjay work of Lucas Gonze. It looks to have evolved a bit since then, but I think understand where the are going and I applaud it.

In honor of this new player, I've got a new Song of the Day to share too.
Thanks to Redboy I just discovered The Big Sleep. This song is off their soon-to-be-released album, and I'm diggin' it.

Also check out one of the instrumental tracks from their previous album.

You Can't Touch the Untouchable - The Big Sleep

Monday, January 07, 2008

2008 Digital Media/Music Predictions

I have been remiss in making my 2008 Digital Media/Music Predictions this year. Instead of putting it off until I could formulate some well-thought predictions, I figured I'd take the more lax approach this year and go stream-of-consciousness (and slightly tongue-in-cheek).

As a reference, here are my 2007 Predictions. Now, on to 2008!

  • Apple launches a subscription music service (of one form or another). Dark Horse/Long Shot but I'm putting it out there.
  • Rhapsody & Napster... "there can be only one!". Napster continues to run out of cash and sells subscriber base off to Rhapsody.
  • Amazon siphons off all of eMusic's userbase - eMusic goes up for sale. Potentially to a major label - or a consortium of them?
  • The Beatles *finally* make their digital debut - on iTunes. Apple sells millions virtually overnight. That's my "lock of the week".
  • AmazonMP3's affiliate program takes off as their catalog of DRMless MP3's from all 4 major labels grow - virtually every site with music content moves to Amazon as primary affiliate partner (and away from iTunes) due to better terms from Amazon.
  • Open Standards for music and taste portability finally start to make inroads (see
  • SoundExchange becomes successful in drastically increasing royalty rates for online radio (retroactively) - they put massive number of broadcasters our of business (and forcing companies like Pandora to change their product and/or business model or shut there doors), see a proliferation of "gray" services that don't pay royalties directly, and collect a fraction of royalty payments then they did before they raise the rates.
  • Slacker is acquired - by Microsoft or Motorola. Their hardware/satellite delivery platform is integrated into a more holistic product line.
  • The major labels (while tentatively supporting DRMless MP3s) will still screw around and not giving users what they want - by forcing users to jump through additional hoops to get the MP3 versions. I cheated on this one since Sony BMG just tipped their hand on this "plan".
  • While 2007 saw explosion of new "media & music 2.0" companies hit the market, 2008 will be the year of the great shakeout. Smaller existing "music 2.0" companies are acquired - funding gets tougher to come by for new ones.
  • AOL completes their "transformation" to become an ad network - they try to sell off their audience/portal business at bargain basement prices. There are no takers. On a related note, they sell off the AIM business to Facebook. What the hell, every once in a while you have to close your eyes and throw a dart.

I'm not going to make predictions on the work that I'm doing (it wouldn't be so much a prediction as a breach of confidentiality) but look for some very cool things out of MyStrands in 2008 too. :-)

What do you guys think? Anything to add? Anything that jumps out as you as "are you smoking crack?!".

MusicPass - Another Swing and Miss from Sony BMG

Am I missing something? Is Sony BMG forcing consumers to go to the store to buy a card that then then bring back to their house to redeem online?? Can you not just go directly to the site to buy? Add why do the labels continue to think that consumers know (or care) what label an artist is on? I don't want to have to buy my milk at one store and my eggs at another.... I want one place where I can find everything.

All of you planning to get my a gift card this year... don't get me this one. :-)


Musicpass: "New York, NY - Monday, January 7, 2008 -- SONY BMG MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT today announced the launch of Platinum MusicPass, a series of digital album cards that enable consumers to download full-length albums, and in many cases special bonus content, in the form of high-quality MP3 files. The first 37 titles in the series, which represent musical genres ranging from Rock and Pop to R&B and Country, will debut on January 15th, 2008 and by the end of the month will be available at 4,500 retail outlets across the United States. In Canada, MusicPass will debut in late January of 2008.

UPDATE: So, ValleyWag *doesn't* think this idea is crazy (at least for the labels and artists). But the more I think about this the dumber it seems to me...

  • If I'm buying this for myself, when wouldn't I just buy the CD instead of the plastic "trading card"? Isn't the CD inherently more collectible then a plastic gift card? It comes with whatever bitrate MP3 (or other codec) I want to rip it in, and already has all of the "extra" like album art and liner notes. Besides, I can sell it when I'm done with it.
  • If I'm at Best Buy looking for a gift card for a friend, why wouldn't I just get them a Best Buy gift card that can be used for *any* CD not just one of the 37 albums they can redeem with this card? Or anything else in the store for that matter...
I sincerely hope I am missing something in this announcement, but I fear I am not.

Apple Gets Their Dominoes in Place

I've been thinking more about the odds of whether Apple will decide 2008 is the year they launch a subscription music service (of some sort) and been asking others what they think the likelihood is.

The consensus (or lack thereof) is that people either lover or hate the subscription model. And I thought (once again) I would wax (un)poetically about what I'm currently thinking...

As someone that worked on subscription service, I can say without hesitation that the biggest consumer question (and hurdle to trial - and therefore adoption) was "does it work with my iPod"? In response, all of us in that business would do a little tap dance and reply with something akin to..."Uh, no... but check out these cool devices from Creative and iRiver. You should just get rid of your shiny new iPod (and Mac if you have one of those too) and buy one of these instead so you can try this really cool service that your not sure you understand the value of yet".

As subscription services suffer from the "TiVo problem" (where users don't fully appreciate the value until they try it), getting trial is key. If the the addressable market that can actually try it (aka the iPod installed base) is then in the hundreds of millions, the wall comes tumbling down and subscription takes off - albeit at the expense of Rhapsody, Napster and others (sell, sell, sell!).

A 3G (or maybe even WiMax?) WiFiPod/Phone with all-you-can-eat streaming/mobile downloads for $10/month? Done. Trials spike into the tens of millions virtually overnight and conversion rates give Apple a subscription base larger then all other competitors. Offer movie rentals for a couple more bucks a month and now Apple kills Netflix and Blockbuster too. Oh yeah, while they are at it Apple can throw a Skype client onto the device and begin to marginalize the carriers while they are at it by offering voice services for a fraction of consumers current voice plans.

All of this pervasive "Apple-Ready" content then drives adoption of AppleTV (and Mac Mini's) - or at least next generation ones that also support CableCard. People start forsaking their rented Cable Set-Top boxes for Apple boxes they own outright (and also allow them to do more then just watch videos). These boxes bring them broadcast and IP content delivered seamlessly to their living room and the public starts to wonder... "why am I paying Comcast $100/month for TV when everything I'm watching is on-demand content being delivered over the web"?

Apple then controls the devices and the delivery pipe for all your content ("you" pertaining both to the labels/studios and consumers) - and communication. The dominoes are in place... do you dare topple the first one?

If you listen closely you can hear Steve Jobs in the background.... "BWA HA HA HA HA!".

Friday, January 04, 2008

2008: Already Turning Out to be a Good Year for Music Consumers

Ding, dong, the witch is dead! It looks like the remaining two major labels made great New Year's Resolutions and have already delivered by offering (at least some) of their catalogs available sans DRM (for a la carte purchases - subscription services is another creature).

Sony BMG Plans to Drop DRM: "In a move that would mark the end of a digital music era, Sony BMG Music Entertainment is finalizing plans to sell songs without the copyright protection software that has long restricted the use of music downloaded from the Internet, has learned. Sony BMG, a joint venture of Sony (SNE) and Bertelsmann, will make at least part of its collection available without so-called digital rights management, or DRM, software some time in the first quarter, according to people familiar with the matter.

Sony BMG would become the last of the top four music labels to drop DRM, following Warner Music Group (WMG), which in late December said it would sell DRM-free songs through's (AMZN) digital music store. EMI and Vivendi's Universal Music Group announced their plans for DRM-free downloads earlier in 2007."

Time to buy Amazon stock?

UPDATE: I just saw TechCrunch's headline (also referencing our favorite witch-melting ditty). I swear I didn't see that before I posted, but I get a kick out of the fact that so many people have that same view of (and imagery) of DRM...

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Rhapsody Kills YottaMusic

Rhapsody apparently sent cease-and-desist letters to a number of 3rd parties that were using their "non-public" APIs to build value-added services on top of their content and data.

The first company that I've noticed be affected is YottaMusic.

I'm not sure what the difference is between the public and non-public APIs (or how YottaMusic got access to the non-public ones in the first place). But, it's unfortunate, I thought highly of YottaMusic and I think Rhapsody could have learned a thing or two from them. In fact, they should have bought them and leveraged their talent to finally RE-introduce some better community features into the Rhapsody service.

Rhapsody had, in fact, introduced some new community features (music profiles) last year but then rolled them back - rumor is that they way the feature was architected was not able to scale and was straining the whole service. I don't know if this is accurate or not, but I would love to see them make a reappearance. It's been over 6 months since they were yanked. Anyone from Rhapsody want to provide a more detailed update than this one?