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CD sellers adapting to Internet competition

Posted at 11:38 on 9/4/2007
Local businesses expand offerings as more people go online for music
By Emily Arthur
American News Writer

In the 10 years Joann Richter has been involved in the music-selling business, she's watched the industry change immensely.
The sound has been modified, technology has created huge advances, but perhaps the biggest difference has been with where people buy their music.
Songs and albums can now be purchased online. And although CDs still account for more than 85 percent of music sold, sales continue to drop across the nation as more people are turning to the Internet for their music.
"If you're strictly in the (CD) market, it's not something that you can be successful with anymore," said Richter, owner and manager of CD Exchange in Aberdeen. "You have to wear a lot of different hats and offer a lot of different products to your customers. That's what makes us be able to stay open."
Music CD sales dropped 20 percent in the first three months of 2007, according to industry figures. Nielsen SoundScan reported 89 million CDs being sold between the start of the year and March 18. During the same time period last year, 112 million were sold.
"There's absolutely been a decrease," Richter said. "It's just been something that's been building. With some of the prices of CDs - $17, $18 a piece - people aren't as likely to buy the whole album anymore. They'll go online and buy just one or two of the songs."
Local department stores, like Kmart, ShopKo, Target and Wal-Mart Supercenter, are also competing with the online sales. Stores like CD Exchange are competing with them.
"They kill us with pricing," Richter said. "Sometimes you can buy things less there than we can buy them at cost. They get the better price buying them at bulk."
Still, national statistics show the discount stores are experiencing a decrease in CD sales as well. Locally, the question can't be answered. Representatives from ShopKo, Wal-mart and Target referred questions to their corporate offices. A corporate representative from Target said that kind of sales information is confidential, while the others didn't return phone calls.
At Aberdeen's Big Kmart, a manager said specific sales numbers are not kept on the local level.
Still, the smaller, locally owned stores are finding ways to make it work. At CD Exchange, 501 S. Harvard St., customers can also buy professional skateboarding gear, special order CDs or DVDs, buy or trade used CDs or DVDs and buy other music-related items.
Another CD store in town, Anchors of Faith at 510 S. Main St., also sells other merchandise. Still, CDs remain a top seller, said Deb Stengel, owner and manager of the Christian-based store.
"For me, it seems to be just fine," Stengel said. "We sell a lot of CDs."
So does CD Exchange, just not at the rate that the store used to, Richter said.
Both Stengel and Richter hope sales are strong the rest of the year.
"You don't do this for the money," Richter said. "You do this because of the music."
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Pandora's Music Box

Posted at 11:40 on 8/4/2007
Labels may not like it, but radio on the Net is catching on.

By Steven Levy
Newsweek

April 16, 2007 issue - Tim Westergren's brain-child, "The Music Genome Project," sounds vaguely "Monty Python"-ish—a system by which trained musician-analysts break down songs into hundreds of categories to find which tunes work well together in playlists. But it's proved to be an effective foundation for his company: a free Internet-based radio-style service that lets people create personal radio stations based on their favorite artists. With more than 6 million subscribers, Pandora is one of the most popular of the new wave of Net-based digital music start-ups. Yet Westergren is concerned about the impact of a proposed revision of the royalty rates that Internet-radio services must pay to copyright holders. (These rates, several times higher than what terrestrial radio stations pay, were determined by a government board that accepted the arguments of the music industry.) Westergren, 41, is himself a former musician who still hits the road often—not to play but to seek new bands and connect with customers face to face. He talked to NEWSWEEK from Pandora's Oakland, Calif., headquarters.
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Changing their tune: CD distributor branches out as online music sales take off

Posted at 11:36 on 8/4/2007
April 8, 2007
BY JEWEL GOPWANI
FREE PRESS BUSINESS WRITER
Handleman Co. has kept the Kmarts of the world stocked with music for more than 50 years. But these days, the Troy-based music distributor is starting to deal in greeting cards, DVDs and video games, all to redefine itself in a quickly changing music industry, where CD sales are dropping and more people than ever are buying their music online.
As it adjusts, the company has cut jobs in the United States, hired people across the Atlantic and made acquisitions to offset falling music sales. Handleman, which turns 73 this year, is another Michigan firm that finds itself in an industry that may be changing faster than the company can change itself.

The same situation can be found in retail, autos and newspapers, all changing because of technology and global competition.

For Handleman, with 325 of its 3,200 employees in Michigan, it's not competitors on the other side of the world that are forcing it to change, but technology and music companies on the other side of the country that have moved buyers to download their music.

The compact disc isn't dead. Last year, retailers sold 554 million of them,
liner notes and all. But that's 8% fewer than 2005, according to Nielsen SoundScan. And in 2005, retailers sold 7.6% fewer than they did the year before.
So far, 2007 is looking worse. For the first three months of the year, CD sales plummeted 20%. At the same time, digital album sales on the likes of iTunes and eMusic doubled, both in 2006 and the first quarter of 2007, SoundScan reports.
This is a problem for Handleman, a company that makes about 80% of its revenue by distributing and managing CD collections for big-box stores like Wal-Mart and Kmart.
"The things we've seen are foreboding of what's going to happen in the future," said Bob Kirby, who joined Handleman in November as its chief operating officer.
Kirby, who is charged with guiding Handleman into new markets, isn't a music guy. Sure he's a fan of jazz and swing. But Kirby, 50, was president of personal products at Johnson & Johnson and has worked at Procter & Gamble Co. He knows about a lot of the products that Handleman's customers sell outside the music section.
In the past, Handleman has entered, and exited, the book, video and software markets. Handleman's new plans are starting to steer the company away from entertainment -- a sign of things to come for the company.
Here are a few of the initiatives Kirby is in charge of shepherding:
• Greeting cards: Handleman has started managing greeting cards in 320 ASDA stores, Wal-Mart's nameplate in Britain. Handleman will do for greeting cards what it does for music: track what's selling, where it's selling, and add stock where needed, all with the aim of selling more cards.
• In-store: Handleman's employees have long restocked CD shelves and set up music displays in stores like Kmart and Wal-Mart. After Handleman bought a company called Reps LLC for $21 million, it is doing the same for other products in the stores, like batteries and razors.
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Digital music industry finally faces reality

Posted at 11:35 on 8/4/2007
April 8, 2007
BY TERRY LAWSON
FREE PRESS COLUMNIST
When Apple Inc. called a news conference last week, reporters on the tech and music beats believed they knew what was coming: CEO and Beatles freak Steve Jobs was going to make the announcement expected more than three months ago, that the coveted Beatles catalog was going to be digitized and available on iTunes.
He didn't. Apparently Paul, Ringo, Olivia, Yoko and however many lawyers it takes to fill the Albert Hall have yet to come to terms on how the new Apple can be sliced. Instead, Jobs made an announcement that should prove a lot more momentous: The end of what the download and MP3 industries politely refer to as DRM -- digital rights management.
For the download elite, this means nothing; they not only get the music they want free, they get it before it's released; as a computer-savvy pal of mine says, he has "friends in Central America."
But for the vast silent majority of casual consumers, it means that the restrictions of legal downloading -- the ones that prevent them from playing the music they buy from iTunes on other players, like the increasingly popular Zune or the cheap iPod alternatives you can buy at Wal-Mart, or burning them onto discs for the car or home stereo -- will be removed from all product released by EMI.
The company distributes the catalogs of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Beach Boys, Garth Brooks and hundreds of other pop, R&B, classical and jazz artists.
EMI's best-known brand labels are the venerated Capitol, Virgin, classical colossus Angel and jazz legend Blue Note. It hasn't had much luck breaking new acts or selling new albums, even though it has been gifted with new artists like Lily Allen. Paul McCartney announced that he was leaving after 40 years, and Bob Seger, who caught Capitol off guard by producing a million-seller, has put the company on notice.
Yet the EMI library is deep and invaluable, and the company has been convinced by Jobs and Apple that it will sell more songs by giving buyers freedom to use what they purchase in any manner they see fit. Does that mean EMI and the artists will lose royalties when the buyer makes duplicates? Sure it does -- the same way an author and publisher lose when you loan a book to a friend.
More to the point is what Viacom, for example, refuses to acknowledge when it sues YouTube for violating copyright: You can't put toothpaste back in the tube.
It's only a matter of time before the other music companies follow suit, and if they stubbornly refuse, old fogies like me will learn how to make new friends in Central America. Think about it: We don't have to learn how to set the clocks on our VCRs anymore, because our TiVos and DVRs know what time it is.
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Internet killed the CD store

Posted at 11:39 on 7/4/2007
By Jeff Wirick / Times-News
April 8, 2007 3:00 AM
Keith Sykes, left, and Colon Moffitt, co-owners of Keith’s CDs at 2222 Maple Ave. in Burlington, say the trend of downloading music off the Internet has hurt their business more than Wal-Mart or Best Buy.

Keith Sykes has always lived and breathed for music.

A quick smile flashes through his gray beard when Sykes thinks back to his first vinyl record, an album by Herman’s Hermits, which he purchased at age 8. He speaks fondly of listening to the radio on weekday mornings as a teenager and of watching “American Bandstand” on Saturday nights.

It’s what steered Sykes toward a job at the old Burlington Stereo City more than 30 years ago. And what compelled him to open his own record store eight years later.

Sykes, 52, has survived through a bevy of changes in the music industry, seamlessly transitioning from records to 8-tracks to tapes to compact discs.

Music will always play an important role in Sykes’ life. But he wonders how long he’ll make a living from it.

“I imagine I’ve got a couple more years left,” he said sadly. “Hopefully.”

Business isn’t what it used to be at Keith’s CDs and Tapes, located at 2222 Maple Ave. in Burlington. The emergence of digital downloading off the Internet and iPods has driven away potential customers in droves.

Sykes isn’t alone. Since 2003, about 25 percent of independently owned music stores nationwide have closed, according to statistics compiled by the Almighty Institute of Music Retail.

Record labels seem powerless to turn around slumping CD sales. They’ve dropped 20 percent in the first three months of 2007 compared with this time last year.

“I would think it’s definitely a trend,” said Rob Jara, sales and marketing representative for the music distributing company AEC One Stop. “I have a lot of friends at record labels who say the final days are upon us.”

IF THAT’S TRUE, independent store owners such as Sykes are suffering the consequences.

When Sykes started Keith’s Record Shop in 1985 — the name was later altered to Keith’s CDs and Tapes to keep up with the changing technology — there were as many as four independently owned music stores in Alamance County. Now it’s just Keith’s and a small store on South Mebane Street called CDs R Used.

Shopping at Keith’s means a more personal experience. Sykes can special order CDs from any popular artist, no matter how old, and have it shipped to his store in a few days.

But shopping at Keith’s also means paying a couple more dollars than at national retail stores like Wal-Mart and Best Buy.

Those larger stores hold an advantage because they deal directly with the record labels, Jara said. Keith’s has to buy its music from distributing companies like AEC One Stop, which must mark up the product to earn its profit.

“(The Wal-Marts and Best Buys) get a better price, but they also don’t care about the price because it’s not their primary product,” said Joel Oberstein, president of the Almighty Institute of Music Retail. “So they don’t have to mark it up as high.”

Despite some initial worries, Sykes said Wal-Mart and Best Buy haven’t made a significant dent in his business. He believes the popularity of digital downloading has made a far greater impact.

“In a way, I can’t blame them,” Sykes said. “People are just not going to pay $20 for a CD when they can go online and buy one song for 99 cents. … But where does that leave me?”

JEANNIE BURGESS, owner of CDs R Used at 2640 S. Mebane St., Burlington, said digital downloads haven’t dramatically affected her bottom line. She blamed any dip in business on higher gas prices and a poor economy.

Unlike Keith’s, CDs R Used doesn’t rely on distributors to stock its shelves.

Burgess said most of her store’s inventory comes from customers looking to unload music they no longer want. That allows her to sell most CDs for less than $10, and continue a longstanding “buy three CDs, get the fourth free” policy.

“To be quite honest, it’s been so prevalent for so long that it was a lot more noticeable a few years ago,” Burgess said. “A few years ago, you’d hear kids (who came into the store) say to one another ‘don’t get that, I’ll just burn you a copy.’”

That mentality, Jara said, is a by-product of the music industry’s constant overpricing.

“In the mid-1990s, (record) labels started raising list prices,” Jara said. “It was immediate. It would go from $13.95 to $15.95 to $16.95. It was at that point that they started to price them too high.

“Then the digital stuff started to appear more. The record companies almost drove people to look at digital because the prices were so high.”

Slowly, the music industry has adjusted to the changing climate. Instead of producing full-length CDs, some labels are promoting artists by releasing one or two songs for digital downloads.

Daniel Gross of the online news and culture publication “Slate Magazine” contends that companies are finding innovative ways to keep the CD alive.

Starbucks, for example, announced that it will launch its first CD this summer from Paul McCartney. Amazon began a classical music retail to profit from that genre’s surprising surge in popularity.

Burgess has noticed teenagers taking a liking to vinyl records because of the “retro” factor, and believes CDs might someday hold the same distinction.

“What we are witnessing is not so much the imminent death of CDs, but the death of the old methods of selling CDs,” Gross wrote in an article called “The CD is dead: Long live the CD.” “It’s still possible to make money in the CD business … The incumbents are getting killed, but upstarts are thriving, using different methods.”

Alamance County’s latest music casualty came last month when FYE, a nationwide chain that sold music and movies, left the Burlington Square Mall. Spokeswoman Julie Swanner said she could not say if the mall planned to fill that vacancy with another music store.

Sykes said he has started carrying DVD movies to supplement his store’s income. Perhaps that would help him and co-owner Colon Moffitt stay in business a little longer.

“I love my business,” Sykes said. “I don’t want to get rid of it.”
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Music therapists use their talents to heal

Posted at 11:37 on 7/4/2007
By JOY BUCHANAN
Staff Writer

Musicians from all over the country come to Nashville hoping to make it big — or at least score a career that puts them in front of audiences, gets their songs recorded and pays the bills.
They love the connection they make with the audience when they perform. It's often about whipping crowds into a foot-stomping frenzy or choking people up with emotion coaxed from perfect chords and impeccable vocals.
But some musicians find another way to make that connection — with less emphasis on a flawless performance — through music therapy. Music therapists are trained and certified to use music as a tool to help patients with rehabilitation after an injury, expressing emotion, easing physical pain or soothing troubled minds.
Music therapy is still about moving an audience, but the end result may be markedly different from performing. A music therapist might calm a screaming toddler who's terrified of yet another painful test or treatment at the hospital or invite a war veteran to talk about feelings and fears long ago pushed to the back of his mind where they create depression, resentment and loneliness.
For four local therapists, neither therapy nor performing is enough on its own. Though most would happily perform professionally if they made it big, a part of them would still be drawn to music therapy. Therapy is about healing others with music. Performing is about healing themselves.
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Free Record Shop want a quality mark for cd's

Posted at 14:10 on 4/4/2007
Free Record Shop (FRS) vraagt de muziekindustrie om een keurmerk voor cd's. Met een keurmerk kunnen consument en detailhandel echte cd's van namaak onderscheiden.

Vorig jaar werd FRS het slachtoffer van illegale cd's die in een aantal van zijn winkels waren terechtgekomen. Die ontdekking van namaakschijfjes zorgde binnen het bedrijf voor veel beroering.

Free Record Shop is in Nederland met het Openbaar Ministerie een transactie overeengekomen, maar vraagt nu uitdrukkelijk om een systeem waarmee zo'n fout niet opnieuw kan voorkomen. Een keurmerk is daarbij van groot belang.

"Voor ons waren de meeste namaak-cd's niet van echt te onderscheiden. Onafhankelijke experts hebben dat bevestigd", zei Free Record Shop-directeur Hans Breukhoven.

FRS wijst op de situatie in Italië, waar cd's nu al voorzien zijn van een keurmerk. In Noorwegen neemt FRS deel aan een grootscheepse anti-piraterij campagne, samen met de muziekindustrie en de belangenvereniging van Noorse artiesten.

Jean-Pierre Demeuter, commercieel manager bij FRS België, liet weten dat ook de Belgische afdeling voor 100 procent achter het keurmerk staat.
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EMI and Apple agree to music catalog deal

Posted at 16:56 on 2/4/2007

LONDON (Reuters) - EMI Group Plc said on Monday it was making its music catalog available through Apple Inc's iTunes store without the anti-piracy measure known as digital rights management (DRM).

"The new higher quality DRM-free music will complement EMI's existing range of standard DRM-protected downloads already available," EMI said in a statement as the company began a joint press conference in central London with Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs.

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EMI-Apple in deal to sell protection-free music

Posted at 16:40 on 2/4/2007

Music company is partnering with Apple to sell music catalog free from copy protection, but the Beatles aren't part of the deal.

By Paul R. La Monica, CNNMoney.com editor at large

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- EMI Group PLC. announced a deal Monday with Apple Inc.'s iTunes to sell its music catalog without the anti-piracy protection known as DRM restrictions.

But Beatles fans have to keep waiting for songs from the Fab Four to be available online. EMI, which owns the Beatles catalog, said that music from the Beatles is not part of the deal with Apple.

The Beatles are one of the few remaining digital music holdouts and there had been speculation that Monday's announcement would be about the Beatles' albums finally becoming available on iTunes.

The London-based music company said it would make the downloads, including songs from top artists such as Coldplay, Norah Jones, Pink Floyd and the Rolling Stones, available for retail on a global basis.

"Selling digital music DRM-free is the right step forward for the music industry," Steve Jobs, Apple's (up $0.31 to $93.22, Charts) CEO, said in a statement. "EMI has been a great partner for iTunes and is once again leading the industry as the first major music company to offer its entire digital catalogue DRM-free."

During a press conference Monday in London, Eric Nicoli, the CEO of EMI Group, said that he expected music sales for his company to increase because the DRM-free tracks will have better sound quality and will be easier to transfer from one device to another.

"Many consumers find it frustrating that they don't have interoperability," Nicoli said. Tracks without DRM will cost consumers extra however - songs without DRM will sell for $1.29 a download on iTunes versus standard prices of 99 cents per download.

James McQuivey, a media technology analyst with Forrester Research, said Apple's agreement to charge more than 99 cents for a track is significant because Jobs has been extremely critical of the music companies' efforts to increase the price for digital downloads and has rebuked the labels' attempts to increase prices in the past.

McQuivey added that this deal makes perfect sense for Apple since it should allow Apple to sell more downloads on iTunes because it will be easier for consumers using any music device, not just the iPod, to use iTunes. And EMI should benefit, McQuivey said, from higher prices as well as the perception that is a more technologically savvy and consumer friendly company.

"This is a perfect marriage of interests," McQuivey said. "It satisfies everybody's needs."

Jobs said at the press conference that EMI deserves a lot of credit for being the first major label to sell music without DRM protection. He would not comment on whether other labels were talking with Apple about selling their music without DRM.

Jobs stressed that EMI's decision was a good first step for the music industry that made sense since the big four music labels - Sony BMG, which is a joint venture of consumer electronics giant Sony (Charts) and German media firm Bertelsmann, Warner Music Group (Charts), Vivendi-owned Universal Music and EMI - already sell CDs without DRM protection.

"Customers get what they want and music companies will make a little more money by offering more value. Everybody wins here," Jobs said.

EMI's move comes almost two months after Jobs wrote an open letter to the music industry on Apple's Web site urging the labels to drop DRM.

Another music industry expert said the announcement from Apple and EMI could spur the other big record labels to also abandon DRM.

"It's about time. This is a welcome step in the right direction and it's pro-consumer," said Bob Kohn, chairman and CEO of RoyaltyShare, a Web-based royalty processing firm for the music industry. "This will put pressure on other labels to at least release some of their music in a non-DRM format."

Kohn was also a co-founder of eMusic, an online music subscription service which competes with iTunes and was bought by Universal in 2001 and then sold to private-equity firm Dimensional Associates in 2003.

But Jobs added that Apple is not looking to sell videos without DRM just yet, however. The company currently sells movies and TV shows from several entertainment companies.

Copyright protection for video is still a major concern for the top media firms. Viacom (Charts), which owns cable networks MTV and Comedy Central, sued Google (Charts) and its online video sharing subsidiary YouTube for copyright infringement last month and is seeking $1 billion in damages.

In addition, media firms News Corp. (Charts) and GE's (Charts) NBC Universal announced last month that they were teaming up to launch an online video service to compete with YouTube that would feature content from the libraries of the two companies.

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EMI launches DRM-free music downloads

Posted at 14:57 on 2/4/2007

By Kate Holton and Yinka Adegoke

LONDON/NEW YORK (Reuters) - EMI said it was making its digital music catalog available without the anti-piracy measure known as digital rights management (DRM), with Apple Inc.'s iTunes as its first retail outlet.

"The new higher quality DRM-free music will complement EMI's existing range of standard DRM-protected downloads already available," EMI said in a statement on Monday as the company began a press conference in central London with Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs.

"From today, EMI's retailers will be offered downloads of tracks and albums in the DRM-free audio format of their choice in a variety of bit rates up to CD quality," EMI added.

As expected there was no announcement regarding a Beatles deal, as some followers had anticipated when EMI announced on Sunday that it would hold a press conference with Apple.

EMI has acted as the distributor for the Beatles since the early 1960s, but the Fab Four's music holding company Apple Corps Ltd. has been a high-profile hold-out from Internet music services like Apple's iTunes.

Earlier this year, Jobs called on the world's four major record companies, including EMI, to start selling songs online without copy-protection software, known as DRM, for digital rights management. DRM software is designed to thwart piracy but also makes using music cumbersome for many consumers.

Jobs argued that there appeared to be no benefit for the record companies in selling more than 90 percent of their music without DRM on compact discs, while selling the remaining small percentage of music online encumbered with DRM.

Executives at several rival record companies said they had expected EMI to drop DRM but questioned whether EMI had done sufficient market research to justify the move.

"It's problematic," said one executive. "EMI haven't tested it enough so they don't know what the market reaction is going to be to open MP3s."

MP3s are an open audio format that allows digital music fans to share songs or albums with other listeners. The music industry has shunned the standard in favor of formats that require some form of copy protection.

(Additional reporting by Eric Auchard, Duncan Martell and Michael Kahn in San Francisco, Kenneth Li in New York and Gavin Haycock in London)

"The issues are will MP3s help expand the market and how will it affect piracy? We just don't know," the executive said. EMI's biggest market test was with Norah Jones' single "Thinking About You" in January, while Sony BMG tested the market with Jessica Simpson's "A Public Affair" last summer.
Apple said iTunes would make individual tracks available from EMI artists at twice the sound quality of existing downloads, with their DRM removed, at a price of $1.29, 1.29 euros and 99 pence.
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DRM-free music

Posted at 14:54 on 2/4/2007
The major record company EMI has announced today (2.4) that they are going to offer all their music in DRM-free Mp3-formats.
 
 
EMI Music announced today (02.04.2007) that they are going to offer their catalogue for digital retail, with close to CD-quality and no Digital Rights Management (DRM) restrictions. This will first and foremost be available through Apple’s digital music store iTunes, but hopefully in a couple of weeks also be included in other online music stores as well.
 
 
The music purchased in iTunes, are protected with DRM which makes the files only usable with Apple’s digital music players and unable to copy. This lack of interoperability has been very frustrating for many of their users, but now it seems as things are about to change. With EMI Music as the first record company to offer their music DRM-free, it is likely that more companies are going to follow.
 
 
Apples Steve Jobbs has for a long time tried to get the record companies launch their music in DRM-free formats, which he sees as a step forward for the music business.
 
 
Not everybody shares Jobbs’ vision, and questions how this will effect the market growth and the music-piracy business. It is hard to tell whether it will increase or decrease the piracy, but at least it will provide a much better offer for the customers. It is likely to believe that more people are interested to buy DRM-free music, while the music purchased now can be used at any device or platform.
 
 
Anyway, most music is already available in illegal Mp3’s, so it is not for sure that DRM-free music will increase piracy. This move is on the contrary a way to serve the legal buyers better.
 
 
Since EMI Music is the only record company to contribute to this agreement, only their catalogue will be available in DRM-free files. There will also be possible to upgrade old DRM-locked files for a small fee.
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Beatles-iTunes deal may come Monday

Posted at 18:43 on 1/4/2007

Two months after a major roadblock to the availability of Beatles songs on iTunes was lifted, Apple and Beatles distributor EMI plan to announce Monday an "exciting" new digital deal.

(SAN FRANCISCO) Reuters -- Apple Inc. and music label EMI Group Plc plan to announce "an exciting new digital offering," EMI said Sunday, a move that could involve putting the Beatles music catalog online.

EMI said it plans to hold a news conference Monday at its London headquarters where EMI Chief Executive Eric Nicoli will be joined by Apple (Charts) Chief Executive and co-founder Steve Jobs, the company said in an e-mail to reporters.

Currently, no Beatles songs can be downloaded via online music services. EMI has been the distributor for the Beatles since the early 1960s.

The news event follows the settlement in February of a long-running trademark dispute between Apple Inc., which recently changed its name from Apple Computer Inc., and the Beatle's company, Apple Corps Ltd. This cleared away a major hurdle for selling the Fab Four's songs on Apple Inc.'s iTunes online music store.

Apple Corps is owned by Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, John Lennon's widow Yoko Ono and the estate of George Harrison. The music company had maintained that the computer company had violated a series of agreements stretching back decades over use of the Apple trademark by entering the music business through its now market-leading iTunes online store.

The Beatles are high-profile holdouts from Internet music services such as iTunes, but it also emerged during a trial last year that Apple Corps was preparing the band's catalog to be sold online for the first time.

At the high-profile launch of the Apple iPhone in January, Steve Jobs raised hopes that the band could be about to go digital when it played one of their songs and used a Beatles' album cover to grace a giant on-stage screen behind him.

Beyond any potential deal with EMI involving the Beatles, Apple and EMI could also be working on a means for eliminating restrictions that prevent unauthorized duplication of digital music. Earlier this year, Jobs called on the world's four major record companies, including EMI, to start selling songs online without copy protection software to thwart piracy known as digital rights management (DRM).

Jobs said there appeared to be no benefit for the record companies in continuing to sell more than 90 percent of their music without DRM on compact discs, while selling the remaining small percentage of music online encumbered with a DRM system.

A live webcast of Monday's press conference, which will feature "a special live performance," will be available at http://www.emigroup.com beginning at 8 a.m. EDT.  Top of page

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STONE SOUR ANNOUNCE NEXT TOUR, SPONSORED BY KFC

Posted at 20:32 on 30/3/2007

After the conclusion of their current, headling stint as part of the Jagermeister Music Tour, Stone Sour has been tapped to embark on a nationwide, finger-licking-good concert tour, sponsored by KFC.

Stone Sour's second album, Come What(ever) May, was recently certified Gold for U.S. sales exceeding 500,000 and has yielded the popular hits "Through Glass," "30/30-150" and "Sillyworld" - get their ringtones for your cellphone now, and watch their videos HERE.

Final details about the upcoming tour and possible support acts are still being discussed, but stay tuned to RR.com for info about a special pre-order for VIP Packages, including premium seating, meet & greets with the members of Stone Sour, and coupons good for an additional two sides with your next order at KFC

Commented vocalist Corey Taylor, while digging through the first bucket of a contractually obligated 2-years' all-he-can-eat supply of KFC's Extra Crispy (TM) recipe, "This chicken is as crispy as our riffs are crunchy! We'll see all of you out on the road - GET READY TO ROCK OUT WITH YOUR COCK OUT!!!"

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Apple gets behind the album format with new offer

Posted at 19:27 on 29/3/2007

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Apple Inc. is throwing its weight behind the music industry's efforts to protect the album format by allowing fans to buy complete digital albums without having to pay again for songs they already own.

The record industry is keen to maintain the profitable album format, which is under threat as users of Web-based music download stores, such as Apple's iTunes and Napster Inc., prefer to buy individual songs rather than whole albums.

Apple said on Thursday iTunes is introducing a "Complete My Album" service that offers customers who want to turn individual tracks into an album a 99-cent credit for every song they have already purchased from the album.

Fans will only be able to take advantage of the discount within 180 days after first buying the songs, Apple said.

The new service comes as the music industry is under pressure to find new ways to boost profits, as sales of digital songs have so far failed to come close to replacing the downturn in revenue from CD sales.

According to Nielsen SoundScan, U.S. album sales in both physical and digital formats fell 10 percent in the first quarter of 2007 compared to the same period a year ago.

Even though digital album sales doubled, CD sales fell 20 percent. CDs still account for 90 percent of traditional album sales.

Apple's iTunes has more than 70 percent of digital music sales in the United States, putting Chief Executive Steve Jobs in a powerful position in negotiations with record majors including Warner Music Group, Universal Music Group, EMI Group and Sony BMG Music Entertainment. To date, iTunes has sold more than 2 billion songs.

At eMusic, the No. 2 digital music store, the company said it has been offering a similar service since launch and that over 60 percent of all its downloads were full-length albums.

"The premise that the album is dead is only true among the youth segment, which is really the iTunes customer," eMusic Chief Executive David Pakman said.

EMusic currently does not carry music from the major labels and said it serves a mainly older customer base than iTunes.

The major record companies will open separate talks with Apple over the summer and will try to improve the terms of their respective relationships.

Jobs has been described both as a savior and thorn in the side of record companies by analysts, since he unveiled his company's hugely popular iPod digital media player and the accompanying iTunes store four years ago.

For example, if a customer had bought three 99-cent singles and decides to download the entire album with a listed price of $9.99, the customer would only have to pay $7.02.
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The downward spiral of music.

Posted at 16:25 on 28/3/2007

   The fact of the decline in record sales is not hot news anymore. New numbers shows that the record sales in the USA went down with 20 % the three first months this year, compared to the same period in the last year. These numbers only confirm the fact that a new period of the music business is just around the corner.

 

   Despite of all the predicted doom-scenarios about the end of the professional music business as we know it, not everybody has that negative thoughts about the business' future. The Wall Street Journal writes thursday 22.03 about the american manager Jeff Rabhan (represents artists such as Jermaine Dupri, Kelis and Elliot Yamin), who claims that normal CD-sales is now nothing more than a marketing tool, rather than a source of revenue. He also claims that most of the incomes are generated by conserts, merchandice and other artist-related products, and the CD's are only released to make a certain buzz around those products including the value of the artists "brands".

 

   It is not only the physical music products which are in a decline, says the norwegian media-statisticscompany Nielsen SoundScan. Both CD's and digital music are in a downward spiral in a revenue setting. One cause, according to Simon Wright in Virgin Entertainment Group, is that the prices of music is lower than ever. But the main reason is probably that consumers of music also buy less than ever. Other music related products are more important than the actual music.

 

   In other words, the future of music business may consists less music, and instead more sales related to merchandice, concerts and other products such as DVDs.

 

   By Øyvin Ranum.

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The Great Giveaway - Legal Free Digital Music Just Around The Corner

Posted at 16:23 on 28/3/2007

There is mounting speculation that digital music will become free - and legally so. The hot topic at January's Midem music industry conference in Cannes was wether DRM (digital rights management, the technology that protects MP3s from piracy) should be scrapped. No DRM would mean once acquired, MP3 files could be played on any MP3 player any number of times, making sharing music even easier than it is at present. Currently, MP3s bought on iTunes are only compatible with iPods, for example.

 

The argument is that DRM might actually be holding back the music business rather than protecting its interests. This was summed up at Midem by Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief of Wired magazine and author of The Long Tale, widely considered the Bible for the digital era.

 

"You cannot have zero piracy", said Anderson. "If you try to get to zero piracy you will make the experience of consuming music so painful you'll en up with zero industry."

 

Emiko Terazono, media correspondent for the Finacial Times, agrees. "The current position is unsustainable," says Terazono. "Record companies spend a lot of money putting DRM on their content, but DRM could be preventing the real take-off of digital music and downloading."

 

Ditching DRM would have a huge impact on how musicians and record companies do business. MP3s would effectively become a promotional device helping to drive sales of concert tickets, ringtones and merchandise. Anderson points out that The Rolling Stones already earn 92 per cent of their revenue from ticket sales.

 

Last month, Apple boss Steve Jobs declared he would be happy for major record labels to license tracks to iTunes minus DRM. While some labels remain defiant ("We will not abandon DRM," responded Warner Music chairman Edgar Bronfman, JR), experiments with DRM-free downloads have already begun.

 

EMI recently placed tracks by Norah Jones and Lily Allen online in unprotected form. And subscription-based eMusic, the second largest service in the US after iTunes, currently offers unprotected downloads, mostly from independent labels.

 

Q-magazine, April 2007  

Kristian Nilsen

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Podcast

Posted at 14:28 on 27/3/2007

Tarieven voor muziek in podcasts bekend lees voor

Uitgegeven: 15 februari 2007 12:31
Laatst gewijzigd: 15 februari 2007 12:55

AMSTERDAM - De muziekindustrie heeft bekend gemaakt hoeveel het gebruik van muziek in podcasts moet gaan kosten. Particuliere podcasters moeten vijftig euro per podcast per maand gaan betalen als zij een nummer gebruiken waarop royalties moeten worden afgedragen.

Als podcasts meer dan tienduizend downloads per maand hebben komt daar nog eens 25 euro bovenop. Reguliere zenders moeten een bedrag van 135 euro per maand betalen voor muziek in podcasts die minder dan tienduizend keer worden gedownload. Dit verklaarde NVPI-directeur Paul Solleveld in Radio Online van de TROS.

 

Onbetaalbaar

De branchevereniging stelt overigens als voorwaarde dat een podcast maar voor maximaal 80 procent uit muziek mag bestaan. Door de nieuwe tarieven wordt het vrijwel onbetaalbaar om grote archieven aan te leggen. Volgens het weblog Bright kan bijvoorbeeld Radio 538 door de nieuwe regelgeving in de problemen komen.

De podcasts van de populaire radiozender worden, naar eigen zeggen, 200.000 keer per maand gedownload. De meeste zenders hebben nog niet gereageerd op de nieuwe tarieven van de NVPI.

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The Beatles

Posted at 14:27 on 27/3/2007

Muziek van The Beatles nog steeds niet digitaal lees voor

Uitgegeven: 13 maart 2007 18:12

AMSTERDAM - De geruchten worden steeds hardnekkiger, maar nog steeds is het niet mogelijk om de muziek van The Beatles online aan te schaffen. Daarmee is The Fab Four zo ongeveer de enige band waarvan de muziek niet is te downloaden.

De Engelse downloadsite Wippit verkondigde onlangs vol trots dat zij als eerste de catalogus van de band digitaal ging aanbieden, maar onder druk van platenmaatschappij EMI is deze verklaring weer ingetrokken. EMI verklaarde ook tegenover de BBC dat er van de digitale verkoop van The Beatles voorlopig nog geen sprake is.

 

iPhone

Toch zijn er een aantal tekenen die er op wijzen dat daar heel snel verandering in kan komen. Zo presenteerde Apple, met iTunes de grootste speler in de online muziekverkoop, onlangs de iPhone, een combinatie van een iPod en een mobiele telefoon. Tijdens de presentatie van dit apparaat maakte Apple-topman gebruik van enkele nummers van het album Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Heart Club Band.

Dat kan haast geen toeval zijn, zeker omdat het oorspronkelijke label van The Beatles en Jobs' bedrijf al jaren in rechtszaken waren verwikkeld om gebruik van de naam Apple. Dit geschil is onlangs eindelijk tot een oplossing gekomen, maar toch lijkt het erop dat de fans nog even geduld moeten hebben.

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CDR

Posted at 14:25 on 27/3/2007

CDR leent nog een jaar gratis digitaal muziek uit

Uitgegeven: 3 november 2006 20:06
Laatst gewijzigd: 3 november 2006 20:14

ROTTERDAM - De Centrale Discotheek Rotterdam (CDR) gaat nog ruim een jaar door met het gratis digitaal uitlenen van muziek.

Sinds zij met de landelijke proef op 4 november vorig jaar begon heeft de CDR meer dan een half miljoen tracks uitgeleend via www.muziekweb.nl, liet directeur Michiel Laan vrijdag weten.

 

De Discotheek wil de komende veertien maanden gebruiken om het digitaal lenen van muziek "nog makkelijker en leuker te maken''.

Vrijdag zijn nieuwe labels toegevoegd. Het totale aantal digitaal te lenen albums is daarmee op 6000 gekomen.

De CDR bestaat al 45 jaar. In het najaar van 1961 begon zij met het uitlenen van lp's met klassieke muziek. Doelstelling was mensen kennis te laten maken met muziek. In het begin konden die een lp een week lang lenen, nu kunnen ze digitaal geleende muziek een week afspelen: niet meer op de platenspeler, maar op de pc. 'Gewone' cd's van de CDR zijn ook nog steeds te leen, ook in de bibliotheken in heel het land.

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Klassieke muziek

Posted at 14:21 on 27/3/2007

Experimentele zoekmachine vindt klassieke muziek lees voor

Uitgegeven: 12 februari 2007 17:23

UTRECHT - De tijd dat muziek op internet alleen te vinden was door te zoeken op titel of op artiestnaam is bijna voorbij. In de toekomst kunnen muziekliefhebbers de melodie zingen, spelen, neuriën of fluiten, waarna een speciale zoekmachine de juiste muziek erbij zoekt.

Dat heeft de Universiteit van Utrecht maandag bekendgemaakt.

De zoekmachine is ontwikkeld door informaticus Rainer Typke, die op 19 november op dit onderwerp promoveert. Binnen enkele minuten doorzoekt zijn applicatie 500.000 klassieke muziekstukken, een handeling die zonder computer ruim een jaar zou duren, aldus de universiteit.

Variaties

Typke heeft de zoekmachine zo ingesteld dat deze niet gevoelig is voor variaties en toonhoogte van degene die de muziek inzingt. Het maakt dus niet uit of de zoeker kan zingen. Zolang de melodie juist is, kan de zoekmachine de bijbehorende muziek terugvinden.

De universiteit verwacht dat de applicatie in de toekomst voor het grote publiek toegankelijk zal zijn. De zoekmachine kan dan uitgebreid worden met andere muziekgenres.

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