Go ahead and leave your mix tapes at home before you go test drive a new vehicle, they won't do you any good. According to a report in The New York Times, auto makers have finally moved on and there isn't a single 2011 model car that sports a factory-installed cassette player. The last model that did was a 2010 Lexus. Is time running out on the CD player too?
After Justin Bieber failed to win a Grammy for Best New Artist, with the award instead going to Esperanza Spaldking, fans suffering from Bieber Fever took their virtual torches and pitchforks to Spalding's Wikipedia page and let their feelings be known, MSNBC reports. Hours later, it was filled with insults and death threats, including one entry which read, "Justin Bieber deserved it go die in a hole. Who the heck are you anyway?" We couldn't care less about Justin Bieber or his perceived snub at the Grammys, but perhaps this latest tirade should have Wikipedia rethinking how it does things.
Sony, whose ebook application was blocked from the App Store because it would have sidestepped Apple's system for buying content and deprived the Cupertino company of its cut of revenue, indicated it may pull its artists from iTunes and withhold its games from the iPhone, an Australian news outlet reports. The move would also set up a showdown between iTunes and Sony's upcoming Music Unlimited streaming service, which is set to open in Australia soon.
It feels like we’ve been hearing the same song and dance regarding Spotify's US launch for months now. It's always just over the horizon. An email sent to All Things D is at least tacit confirmation that a launch is imminent. The message was sent to the few Us users of Spotify test accounts to let them know they're going to have to start paying up. The email also said that a US launch was coming "over the coming months". Well, at least they didn't say years.
Located in Pitman, New Jersey are just under 9,400 residents, a historical museum, the University of Glassboro, and one of two CD manufacturing plants owned and operated by Sony. Come March 31, 2011, you can scratch that last one off the list, CNet reports.
"In light of the current economic environment and challenges facing the physical media industry, Sony DADC is taking additional steps to reduce cost from our supply chain network in order to remain competitive," Lisa Gephart, a Sony spokeswoman, said in a statement earlier this year.
Or, as one employee put it, "the CD is dying." Here's a quick history lesson. Audio CDs have been around in commercial form since 1982, or nearly three decades. Sony at one time operated three CD manufacturing plants, closing one down in 2003 and will shutter a second two months from now.
With all that said, don't take this to mean that CDs are, in fact, dead. They're not, at least not yet, but there's no doubt interest is waning. Citing Nielsen's figures, CNet points out that while digital track sales grew by just 1 percent last year, new CD sales dropped 16 percent.
Spotify once set a goal of infiltrating the U.S. market before the end of 2010, which on hindsight turned out to be overly ambitious. Perhaps the first half of 2011 will prove a bit more reasonable.
The European streaming music service isn't bound for North American homes just yet, though it took a giant leap towards that goal by signing a U.S. distribution deal with Sony, All Things Digital reports.
Under terms of the deal, which are being passed on by "multiple sources," none of which include Sony or Spotify, the streaming music service will offer a set number of hours per month of free streaming music, with the option of shelling out for an ad-free version. There will also be a service compatible with mobile devices.
For this to actually happen, All Things Digital says Spotify needs at least one more major music to hop on board, and preferably Universal Music Group, the largest of them all.
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.