In a recent presentation to music and tech industry executives, NPD Group’s Russ Crupnick had some interesting things to say about music streaming. According to Crupnick, on-demand streaming services like Spotify result in a 13 percent decrease in paid downloads. He went on point out that services that follow the “radio” model, like Pandora, increase sales 41%.
Pandora doesn’t allow users to select specific songs like Spotify, but instead plays music in a chosen genre more or less randomly. The unsurprising conclusion is that people are less likely to buy a song if they can stream it at any time. Perhaps it isn’t that simple; is it possible to draw enough new users to increase overall sales? The key for Spotify may be the effort to convert free users to paid premium users.
This report is just the sort of thing music labels could use to justify keeping Spotify from launching in the US. Warner Music Group Chairman Edgar Bronfman said earlier this month, “Free streaming services are clearly not net positive for the industry.” If Spotify launched stateside, would you ante up for extra features like mobile streaming?
Music, music everywhere, and a ton of programs with which to organize it. But how will you know which of the many iTunes-equivalents (if not iTunes itself) are going to be right for your needs?
If you're one of the many people using Windows' default music libraries to organize and store your files, stop. Just stop. There's so much more you can do beyond that-which-is-given by Windows Media Player's library features, it's not even funny. Conversely, if you're one of the people who clings to Apple's iTunes with a death grip by virtue of it being one of the first big music organizing tools to really "stick" amongst the general geek population... you might be in good hands. You also might be missing out on a ton of additional functionality, depending on what you're looking for and how you typically go about rocking out on your computer.
To keep the playing field fair, we'll look at three different applications in this ultimate guide to media organizing: iTunes, Songbird, and Zune. For those keeping score at home, that's one big solution from Apple, one big solution from Microsoft, and one big solution from the open-source community. There are certainly other options around--Foobar comes to mind as one such example. None are as comprehensive in their combination of features and/or customizability as these three, however. They're all easy to install and easy to set up, but which application has the features and usability that'll make it a hit?
BitTorrent has plenty of practical and legal uses, but sadly, if you're one of the millions of people using it, you're probably breaking the law. A student at Princeton University by the name of Sauhard Sahi has conducted a study of more than 1,000 random files acquired using the trackerless Mainline DHT, and found that more than 99% of them infringe on copyrights. I somehow doubt this news will shock or amaze you, but at least one interesting discovery was made and it makes a pretty compelling argument against those who would try to claim that DRM helps prevent piracy.
According to Sahi's findings, movies and TV shows are among the most popular files being downloaded, and he argues that the onerous DRM which accompanies protected video could be to blame for this trend. This would also explain why music downloading is on the decline, and points out the sad reality that people who download video legally often have to deal with far more challenges than pirates operating over BitTorrent. It certainly makes an interesting hypothesis, but you could also argue that BitTorrent is a bit too much of a hassle just to track down a $0.99 song, but might be more worthwhile for those looking for a $20 DVD.
Sahi's results only reflect data collected from Mainline DHT, but its hard to argue with these numbers, even if they are off plus or minus a few percentage points. Do you think BitTorrent can continue to function as a viable medium with such a high percentage of abuse? It will certainly be interesting to see how things play out over the next few years, or if governments will ever get involved. What do you think?
You didn't really expect the RIAA to roll over and accept the latest verdict in the Jammie Thomas trial, did you? There's too much at stake for that to happen. To quickly recap, the Minnesota mother who opted not to settle with the RIAA for $5,000 over copyright infringement allegations ended up being hammered in court to the tune $222,000, an award that was later increased to $1.9 million following a retrial last June.
The shocking turn of events came last Friday when District Court judge Michael Davis reduced the award by 97 percent, dropping the "monstrous and shocking" damages to $54,000. Davis then gave the RIAA seven days to challenge his ruling and schedule a trial on the damages.
Since then, there's been yet another twist in a case which has already had more twists and turns than a Six Flags theme park. While $54,000 is a far cry from $1.9 million, Thomas' lawyers have challenged the constitutionality of not just the current ruling, but the minimum amount of statutory damages. That's what we call a game changer, and as CNet words it, one that puts the RIAA in a pickle.
"This means that the RIAA cannot avoid the constitutional issue, even if (it accepts the latest ruling on the reduced damages)," said Kiwi Camara, one of Thomas' attorneys.
But even if Thomas' side doesn't challenge the ruling, the RIAA almost has to, lest the organization let a legal precedent remain that could impact any future copyright claims.
"There's some interesting language in (Davis' decision)," said Denise Howell, a Silicon Valley-based attorney. "The constitutional nature of statutory damages comes up over and over again. If you're in any kind of copyright case, and you've gotten a very high damage award entered against you, you're going to want to bring this up and use Judge Davis' reasoning. I know a few folks in other copyright cases that have nothing to do with P2P file sharing but think this is quite an interesting development."
So do we, and like everyone else, we'll have to wait to see how it unfolds.
Minnesota resident Jammie Thomas-Rasset, 32, was thrust into the public eye in 2006, when the music industry chose her for the most unenviable role imaginable: the poster girl of the brand of digital piracy that the average Joe practices from the comforts of his home. Several record companies sued her for copyright infringement on April 19, 2006.
Though the court originally ordered Thomas-Rasset to pay a fine of $220,000, the fine was raised to a vertiginous $1.92 million, or $80,000 per song, at a retrial. She was now left with a three-pronged hope: a court will scrap the fine or at least lower it; or a bankruptcy court will pave the way for her escape; or she will land a major book deal.
The decision leaves the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) with seven days to either accept the fresh fine or request a retrial. Joe Sibley, one of the defendant's attorneys, told Cnet that the judge had made “it much more equitable and this was much closer to the $0 award that we were seeking."
Cnet's Greg Sandoval has learnt from his sources that RIAA is not too keen on taking this any further as it only wanted to use the case as a deterrent. Sandoval also reminds everyone that Thomas-Rasset's refusal to settle with RIAA left it with no choice but to drag her to court.
Unfortunately for OK Go, there's little to no chance that any of their music videos are going to go viral again and get 50 million hits, because as lead singer Damian Kulash puts it, "you can't embed diddlycrap." In an open letter to fans, Kulash offers up a lengthy explanation as to why the decision was made, why it sucks, and why it's a good thing (for some). Oh, and there's an apology thrown in there as well.
"We've been flooded with complaints recently because our YouTube videos can't be embedded in websites, and in certain countries can't be seen at all," Kulash starts off. "And we want you to know: we hear you, and we're sorry. We wish there was something we could do. Believe us, we want you to pass our videos around more than you do, but, crazy as it may seem, it's now far harder for bands to make videos accessible online than it was four years ago."
Kulash goes on to describe record labels as a sort of necessary evil which front all the money to distribute and promote albums, press CDs, make videos, and everything else that "adds up to a great deal more than we have in our bank account." So it's the labels' right to cash in everywhere they can. After all, "they need new shoes, just like everybody else."
That doesn't mean OK Go agrees with EMI's decision, and on the contrary, Kulash says, "It's a decision that bums us out. We've argued with them a lot about it," to no avail, obviously. So "in the meantime, the only thing OK Go can do is to upload our videos to sites that allow for embedding, like MySpace and Vimeo. We do that already, but it stings a little. Not only does it cannibalize our own numbers (it tends do do our business more good to get 40 million hits on one site than 1 million hits on 40 sites), but, as you can imagine, we feel a lot of allegiance to the fine people at YouTube."
Are you ready to rock? Because you'll be doing a lot of head-banging and dancing around once you've transformed every computer in your living area into a collective speaker system. Perhaps the better question remains unasked: Why would you do this? Because you can. Because you want to. Because it reverses the issue of having to connect to or stream from a central music repository (like an iTunes database) and instead allows you to push tunes out of a single music hub to anywhere you want to them to go.
Also, you want to do this because the app that makes this cacophonous symphony possible--SpeakerShare--is super-easy to use and well worth the small time investment you'll make. For the full details on this virtual conductor, check out the rest of the article after the jump.
No matter how many companies try, we're not sure USB flash drives preloaded with music or movies will ever generate the kind of sales marketing gurus envision, but Kingston and Sony, along with the help of the late king of pop, are nevertheless going to try.
Timed to the DVD and Blu-ray release of Michael Jackson's "This Is It," Kingston plans to release a limited edition 2GB drive with the flick preloaded on the memory stick. According to Kingston, the film can be backed up on up to three PCs and works with Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7.
"Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is dedicated to exploring new distribution channels, and we are pleased to work together with Kingston on a program that introduces consumers to Flash memory as a vehicle for enjoying their favorite movies on devices like netbooks and PCs," said Sony Pictures Home Entertainment senior vice president digital distribution Joe Arancio.
The drive will be available on January 26 for $20.
If you're going to call something "iTunes Preview," it'd be nice to, you know, actually be able to preview songs, and now you finally can.
To get it to work, head over to iTunes Preview through Apple's iTunes Charts page. Once there, mash on any album or artist and then hover your mouse cursor over a track number. You'll now see a little play icon which, when clicked, results in a 30-second snippet.
There are some caveats. You'll to have iTunes installed, and you can't preview an entire album. Nor does iTunes Preview offer up samples of movies, TV shows, audio books, or anything other than music. Still, it's a start, and a badly needed feature if iTunes Preview was going to live up to its name.
Muziic developer David Nelson still isn't a household name. But this 16-year-old may be pitchforked into the limelight, in case the music industry chooses to confront him over his creation, Muziic, an app that streams YouTube music directly to the user's desktop. He and his dad, Mark Nelson, had launched the media player on February 25, 2009. The Muziic player, to its credit, not only spares users an otherwise mandatory visit to YouTube's website but also lets them search YouTube's vast music library, create playlists, and browse them with ample ease.
While Google gave the nod for Muziic to continue after the latter agreed to expand the size of its video player, the music industry has hitherto chosen to turn its sight away from the father-son duo and Muziic. All that changed on Monday, though, when Muziic expanded its service to include content from label-backed video service Vevo, and that too without any annoying ads. Vevo is operated by YouTube for the companies that own the service: Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group, EMI and Abu Dhabi Media Company. As if blocking ads usually displayed along with Vevo content wasn't enough, Muziic circumvents the site's North America-only limitation to add insult to injury.
Push has come to shove for the music industry and the consortium behind Vevo is in the mood for some action. Vevo CEO Rio Caraeff has asked David Nelson to pull the plug on Muziic's use of Vevo's content. "I kindly advise you to immediately cease the use of the Vevo Logo, trademark and any other references to our corporate name," Caraeff wrote in an e-mail meant for the Muziic founder. "With regards to the use of Vevo licensed videos...they are also being used directly without our consent...You can be assured that changes are being deployed to the API in question immediately, however I am still going to ask you directly to cease the use of Vevo videos from within your service." Nelson remains adamant that he has done nothing wrong. He insists that he hasn't taken “any actions to circumvent the delivery of 'pre-roll' advertisements.” He further contends that it is the Youtube API, which currently does not deliver any ads to Vevo content, that is at fault.