When talk turns to digital media players, Apple’s iPod and Microsoft’s second-generation Zune (with its third-gen firmware) dominate the conversation. But if you’re a Rhapsody-to-Go subscriber ($15 per month), there’s only one media player you should consider: Haier’s Rhapsody Ibiza.
The Recording Industry Association of America has ended its controversial relationship with MediaSentry. RIAA had entrusted MediaSentry with the task of compiling evidence against internet users that inundated the internet by uploading loads of music.
Buoyed by evidence collected by MediaSentry, RIAA has taken around 35,000 internet users to court with accusations of copyright infringement and piracy. The methods that MediaSentry employed infuriated civil-rights activists galore, but the company remained brazen in its defense.
RIAA’s current decision follows its promise to cut down on lawsuits. However, RIAA is ready with a replacement and has reached an agreement with DtecNet Software APS to fill the void created by MediaSentry, which will now be killing time by assessing the popularity of entertainment websites.
While it might not be a major setback for the Recording Industry Association of America, a federal judged has denied the RIAA's appeal for a mistrial against Jammie Thomas, the only person ever to go to trial after being charged with copyright infringement by the RIAA.
Jammie Thomas initially made headlines earlier this year when a jury found her guilty of violating copyright laws and was ordered to pay a staggering $220,000 to six of the top music labels. Thomas was accused of sharing more than 1,700 songs, but despite the moral ambiguity, public opinion tended to view the verdict as obscenely high.
Just weeks after the verdict was handed down, U.S. District Judge Michael Davis overturned the ruling on the basis that he had misguided the jury by indicating that the act of making a copyrighted song available was enough to constitute infringement. While a new trial has been scheduled for March, the RIAA appealed the judge's decision and asked that it be declared a mistrial.
It will be interesting to see what long-term implications this current setback has on the RIAA. Just weeks ago, the RIAA announced it would try a new tactic in thwarting copyright infringement. Rather than continuing to sue individuals like Jammie Thomas, the RIAA said it would start working with ISPs to send out warnings to those suspected of illegally sharing music. After three warnings, the ISPs would cut off internet service.
Meanwhile, a retrial is still scheduled for March, and it would be hard to imagine the losing side not appealing the verdict. That means we're still a long ways off from knowing the true implications of the Jammie Thomas saga.
It’s beginning to look an awful lot like major music labels, that are fed up with poor ad revenues from Google’s YouTube, are going to look to Hulu in search of bigger and better opportunities.
The four major labels, Universal MG, EMI, Warner and Sony BMG are reportedly in talks to port their content to a new site. These talks initially involved the idea of their own web site, but instead they’re not looking to creating a non-exclusive partnership with a preexisting media outlet, such as Hulu.
According to the Financial Times’ Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson, “Plans under discussion include: a partnership with Hulu, the online television and film joint venture between News Corp and NBC Universal; the creation of a premium service on YouTube, Google’s video sharing site; or, a standalone venture between some or all of the four largest recorded music groups.”
Remember when your great-great-great grandparents used to trek barefoot through miles of freezing snow in the scorching hot desert just for the privilege of purchasing a music CD from the music store that sat on top of a mountain? Maybe that's slightly exaggerating the situation, and while many of you still prefer to own physical media, downloading tracks has become the norm when it comes to purchasing groovy tunes. According to statistics compiled by Will Page, chief economist of the MCPS-PRS Alliance, and Andrew bud, the head of mobile software company mBlox, there are roughly 13 million songs available for download. But only a small fraction make up the majority of downloads.
With so many songs to choose from, you might think the wealth is being spread around. But surprisingly, just 52,000 songs make up for 80 percent all music purchased online. The distribution becomes even more lopsided when looking at albums, with 85 percent of bands and singers who released an album in 2008 not having sold a single copy.
"There is an eerie similarity between a digital and high-street retailer in terms of what constitutes an efficient inventory and the shape of their respective demand curves," Andrew Bud told the Times. "I think there's something more going on there: a case of new schools meets old schools."
What are you listening to that might be off the beaten path? Post your favorite non-mainstream hits below and help your fellow readers expand their music collection.
Microsoft’s Zune is seldom in the news, for its much feted rival, the Apple iPod, hogs all the limelight. Now, Philadelphia City Paper’s Neal Santos has revealed that he spotted soon-to-be-President Barack Obama with a Microsoft Zune in a gym. Although Santos was too mesmerized to talk to Obama, he did notice the President-elect hop onto the “machine next to me and broke a mean sweat while reading a copy of USA Today and listening to his Zune.”
He later claimed in a subsequent blog that he knows exactly what a Zune looks like and that he was sure to have spotted Obama with one. However, he isn’t sure whether it was his personal Zune. The blogosphere allows scribes to freely dump such harmless stories, though of no real import, on their blogs.
The day that digital music outsells their time-tested physical counterparts is finally upon us. Just this week Atlantic Records announced that more than half of its music sold within the United States was digital, thanks mostly to iTunes and cell phone ringtones.
But sadly, with the lowered amount of in-store copies being bought, there’s ultimately a smaller pie to get a digital piece from. Analysts at Forrester Research are estimating that music sales in the United Sates will go down to $9.2 billion in 2013, from $10.1 billion this year. Compare that to the $14.6 billion in 1999, and there’s a disturbing trend for record execs.
It’s expected that piracy has a good deal to do with the lowering numbers, but the ailing economy could very well be a large factor. The real question though, is how long until an overwhelming majority of music sold is digitally? It can’t be too far off.
In a joint collaboration with Universal Music Group (UMG), Dell has begun offering preloaded MP3 bundles on new systems. The move, according to Dell, is to give consumers a "simple, economical way to jump-start a digital music library."
For $25, users can select a 50-song bundle devoid of DRM, or $45 for a 100-song bundle. Song bundles are broken up into several categories, such as Rock Titans, which includes tracks like Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd and Kryptonite by Three Doors Down, or Afternoon Delight represented with tracks like On Bended Knee by Boyz II Men and Crazy by Patsy Cline. Sadly users aren't allowed to create their own bundle, but then again, who doesn't have both Patsy Cline and Boyz II Men in a single playlist?
Music packs are available now on both laptops and desktops, sans XPS ONE, Inspiron Mini 9, and operating systems XP, Vista 64-bit, and Linux.
I feel like my eyes have just been opened for the very first time. This iTunes store junkie has finally seen the true light when it comes to buying music online, and it comes in the form of Lala.com.
When buying a song on iTunes I find myself searching around the very easy to navigate store, buying music at a reasonably priced 99 cents per song, and downloading a file with attached DRM. I’d always accepted it, it didn’t seem unaccommodating. Now that I’ve had a chance to check out the eminence that is Lala.com, I can’t ever see myself going back to iTunes again. Not to say that iTunes is bad, but Lala is just that good.
Why is Lala good? First of all, they sell MP3’s for 89 cents without any attached DRM (seriously!), or you can buy a streaming only version for just 10 cents (which will go towards the purchase of the full version). Albums themselves come at the price of $7.49, less than both iTunes and the legendary price-slashing Amazon.
Lala also allows you to listen to a song completely before you decide to buy it – and there’s plenty to listen to. Lala offers tunes from the four major record labels and 170,000 independents. New members are also allowed to pick up their first 50 streaming songs for free, no strings attached – no credit card, no nothing.
Say you’re like me, you’re packing a hefty amount of songs on your computer. You’ve purchased some from iTunes with that nasty DRM attached and MP3s that you’ve ripped straight of CDs. What do you do? You use Lala’s safe to use uploader! It scans the music on your computer’s hard drive, identifies the songs you’ve got and tosses them onto your library so that you can listen to them anywhere. Users accustomed with MP3.com’s MyMP3 service will already be familiar with this concept.
I could quite literally go on and on about how great this service really is, but if you use it for even just a little bit you’ll realize its potential on your own. Be sure to drive your browser over to Lala’s web site, and sign up straight away (and keep your eyes glued to your iPhone’s app store, they’ve got an app on the horizon). And remember, cash in those 50 free songs!
Today the New York Post revealed that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg may be looking to follow MySpace’s lead by offering a digital music store. Not through licensing their own content, mind you, but working through a third party that already has the nasty licensing business worked out.
MySpace’s music service currently works as a proprietary service built from the ground up using source licensing, with all their content hosted directly from MySpace. Whereas Facebook is reportedly looking to work with Rhapsody, iLike, Lala and IMEEM as content providers and licensers.
Supposedly, listening to the music itself will be free, and sold through Amazon. Listening to songs on Facebook would prompt on-screen advertising.
“Facebook is a serious challenger to MySpace,” said Phil Leigh, of Inside Digital Media, “and they would certainly want to do anything that record labels would allow them to do with advertising-supported music.”
So what say you, social networking site user? Would you use a Facebook powered music store? Let us know in the comments.