Nokia's music subscription service was seen as an iTunes competitor when it launched in 2008. Now here we are just a few years later, and Nokia has made to call to discontinue the service, branded as either Comes with Music or Ovi Music Unlimited, in all but a few regions. Nokia will continue offering 12 month subscriptions in China, India and Indonesia, and 6 month subs in Brazil, Turkey and South Africa. As for those that have bought into the service in other places, they will still have access to tunes until their current subscription is up. Then only previously downloaded tracks will be accessible.
Nokia was fairly upfront about the issues associated with the service citing a lack of traction in most markets. Many point to problems with the service at the fundamental level. The subscriptions service was only available on some phones, most of which were running older hardware. The songs were also DRM-encumbered, making them playable only on a single phone. "The markets clearly want a DRM-free music service," said a Nokia spokesperson. Nokia still has a DRM-free Ovi Music store, but that will be of little comfort to those few that had gotten used to the all you can eat version.
What's good for the goose is good for the record labels, who have been ordered to pay Canadian artists $45 million for illegally using copyrighted tracks on compilation CDs, TorrentFreak reports. TorrentFreak says this sort of thing happens more frequently than you think.
"Over the years the labels have made a habit of using songs from a wide variety of artists for compilation CDs without securing the rights," TorrentFreak writes. "They simply use the recording and make note of it on a 'pending list' so they can deal with it later."
It's been going on since the 1980s, TorrentFreak says, with the list of unpaid tracks surpassing 300,000 just in Canada. That didn't sit well with a group of artists and composers waiting to get paid, so they filed a class action suit in 2008. The original suit sought $6 billion in damages from Warner Music, Sony BMG Music, EMI Music, and Universal Music.
In the end, both sides settled on $45 million, which represents "a compromise of disputed claims and is not an admission of liability or wrongdoing by the record labels."
"Suck it up, buttercup, you're going to have to defend your actions." The Supreme Court didn't word things that it way, but it might as well have when it refused to review a ruling that reinstated an antitrust lawsuit accusing major record labels of conspiring to fix song prices, Reuters reports.
The lawsuit, filed by a group of music buyers, alleges that several record companies (including EMI Group, Sony, Universal Music Group, and Warner) agreed to set a wholesale price floor of around 70 cents per song when competitors started to sell music online for lower prices.
In addition, the suit claims shenanigans on MusicNet and Pressplay, a pair of services the record labels started way back in 2001 to sell songs online.
"All defendants signed distribution agreements with MusicNet or Pressplay," the lawsuit contends. It goes on to say that the labels "sold music directly to consumers over the Internet through these joint ventures. Both the joint ventures and the (RIAA) provided a forum and means through which defendants could communicate about pricing, terms, and use restrictions. To obtain Internet Music from all major record labels, a consumer initially would have had to subscribe to both MusicNet and Pressplay at a cost of approximately $240 per year."
The case was dismissed in 2008, but an appeals court ruled that the federal judge involved erred in doing so, a decision upheld by Supreme Court justices refusing to review the case.
Hey, just what the world needs, another subscription streaming music service, right? Not exactly, but it's getting one anyway, this time courtesy of Sony, Yahoo News reports.
Sony's "Music Unlimited powered by Qriocity" is based entirely in the cloud, meaning you can't download tracks. What music lovers do get is access to some 6 million songs, and they can be streamed across Sony's Internet-connected devices, including the PlayStation 3 console and Bravia TVs.
By integrating the service into its products, Sony's hoping its existing userbase will help it chip away at iTunes, though acknowledges this won't be easy.
"We realized that if we were playing catch up with the same (iTunes) model, it would be difficult to appeal to users," Kazuo Hirai, executive VP and head of Sony's Networked Products and Services division, told reporters in Japan. "But over time, it needs to stand on its own."
The service launched in the U.K. and Ireland this week. Sony said it plans to expand the service to Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, New Zealand, and the U.S. sometime next year.
Apple this week released the 10.1.1 update for iTunes which was designed to fix crashing issues, and in an ironic twist, some users report they're unable to open iTunes after applying the update, Apple Insider reports.
Of course, some of you are thinking Apple just went and did you a favor by bricking iTunes, but for those who actually use the program, you may want to avoid the 10.1.1 patch until things get sorted out (in the meantime, check out our recently posted "15 Ways to Make iTunes Rock" article).
Alternately, Apple Insider says several users have been able to resolve the problem by downloading iTunes directly from Apple rather than using the built-in Software Update.
It’s hard to imagine that one could really tweak or improve iTunes in any particular fashion. I say that not because the software is perfect, rather, because it’s completely closed-source. Apple doesn’t have a list of extensions that you can just install into the application at a whim. If anything, iTunes is built for two purposes and two purposes alone: Buying stuff from Apple’s Store and transferring said stuff over to an Apple device of your choosing.
Yet, the more I looked into ways that one can extend the iTunes experience, the more I found that yes, Virginia, there are plenty of different tools, add-ons, and techniques you can employ to really make this music application shine. And before you start in the comments, yes, I know that there are better music players than iTunes. However, that’s not to say that iTunes itself is a poor program—with a little tender love and care, you can make it as welcome in your home as any other program you enjoy. Trust me.
We've been hearing for months that Spotify, a European music service that offers both a free streaming service and a paid subscription model, would launch in the U.S. by the end of the year, but guess what? The end of the year is only three-and-a-half weeks away and Spotify doesn't even have a passport.
According to CNet, Spotify hasn't even managed to sign a single licensing deal with a major label. Not a good sign, given that they've had over a year to negotiate. Nor is it promising that Spotify CEO Daniel Ek is now saying he can't commit to a U.S. launch date.
It's all just a numbers game, and at last count, Ek said Spotify has a paying subscription base 750,000 members strong, each one shelling out $13/month for the service. However, that only represents 7.5 percent of Spotify's 10 million users, a percentage which doesn't really excite music labels.
That's too bad, because as Napster co-founder and Spotify investor Sean Parker notes, Spotify's U.S. launch could be a "very disruptive event" to how users consume music.
LimeWire’s future has been in doubt ever since a U.S. federal judge granted the music industry’s shut down request back in October, but today the company confirmed “December 31st 2010 will mark the day when LimeWire shuts its virtual doors for good”. "As a result of our current legal situation, we have no choice but to wind down LimeWire Store operations," a company spokesman said in a prepared statement for Reuters.
LimeWire has been around since 2000 when Mark Gorton swooped in to take the place of Napster, and has been at odds with the music industry ever since. LimeWire has had its day in court many times since then, but defeat after defeat has finally forced them to throw in the towel. At one point the company was making plans to launch a separate legal music service, but even this idea was ultimately scrapped.
I suppose this means the music industry will now turn its attention to Bit Torrent next. Good luck with that one!
Say what you will about the Grammies (like how it's an awful, corrupt excuse for an award show that hasn't tried to highlight truly good music without some form of ulterior motive in years), but it's an excellent platform for recognition, and Civilization IV's “Baba Yetu” main theme certainly deserves it.
Composed by Christopher Tin, the song features the Soweto Gospel Choir and has transcended the admittedly large niche of Civilization addicts through more than 1000 live performances by local and professional choirs (via Gamasutra). If it manages to play the judges' heartstrings like a fiddle, it'll take home the award for "Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalists."
Sure, it's not “Song of the Year” or anything like that, but it's still a pretty big deal. Plus, in this category, there's no chance of going toe-to-toe with class acts like “F*** You.” Yeah, we think videogames are art, but we're clearly not ready to tussle with modern masterpieces of that calibur.
Maybe it's time we posted another guide on how to rip CDs so Beatles fans can save themselves a bit of scratch and fill their iPod touch devices without re-buying music. Or perhaps Beatles fans are invested in vinyl and cassette tapes. Get this -- initial sales figures show that music lovers purchased more than 450,000 Beatles albums and 2 million individual songs on iTunes through the first week of sales, according to Billboard.
U.S. album sales totaled 119,000 units, including 13,000 digital box sets, and 1.4 million individual digital tracks. To put that into perspective, weekly U.S. digital track sales have averaged 21.7 million units up to this point in 2010, which means the Beatles' first week of sales is about 6.4 percent of U.S. track sales for an average week.
You can also chalk this up to heavy marketing on the part of Apple. The Cupertino company ran TV spots during Sunday's American Music Awards, Sunday Night Football, and other prime time programming, with more TV and newspaper ads scheduled for Black Friday.