Monthly Archives: February 2007
I stumbled across a great (if a few years old) documentary called “The way the music died”. This is a must watch for any industry follower.
“The Way the Music Died follows the trajectory of the recording industry from its post-Woodstock heyday in the 1970s and 1980s to what one observer describes as a “hysteria” of mass layoffs and bankruptcy in 2004.”
It’s an hour long, but well worth it. Watch it here
The new DYLAN project has been released. What is DYLAN?
“DYLAN is a project to define an OPEN specification for digital music packages. It is an independent project coming out of the XIPF initiative started by Yahoo! Music. The goal of DYLAN and XIPF is to allow music downloads to support functionality beyond just listening.”
Really, this is about providing context. This is about putting the ‘listening experience’ back into a plain old folder of mp3’s. There’s an feeling I get from looking at the spines of my vinyl record collection that is sorely missed from iTunes, and I have high hopes that this project will rectify the situation.
“In other words, the music industry wants a magical DRM format that gives them — not Apple, not Microsoft — complete control over all digital music. And a unicorn and a rainbow.”
Steve Jobs said today that he would “embrace it (DRM free music on iTunes) in a heartbeat” if he could. I think this is the beginning of corporate shift away from DRM, echoing the consumer shift that has been ongoing for quite some time. DRM is a bad idea that has run it’s course and I’m looking forward to seeing how fast it can crumble.
Last.fm can now stream the entire library of Warner Music, and there was much rejoicing.
“Warner Music Group has signed a deal to allow its entire catalogue to be played over the fast-growing social networking music service Last.fm
The deal with Warner, the world’s fourth-largest music company, is the first with one of the major labels and the network’s co-founder Martin Stiksel said they were in talks with the other three major labels and content holders.”
When many voices join together, they usually get louder so it’s nice to see Independent musicians and labels join together to form Merlin.
“The world’s independent record sector, responsible for artists including The White Stripes, Arctic Monkeys, Tom Waits, Pixies, De La Soul and Cat Power, today launched Merlin, the world’s first global music new media licensing agency, with the message:
“Equitable deals for ALL independents”
A one-stop licensing shop, Merlin will leverage the sector’s 30% world share … and will make it easy to license up to 80% of the world’s new releases through a single point of contact - potentially replacing the need to negotiate thousands of individual deals.”
Apple and the Beatles have made up at last. Looks like one might be able to get Beatles songs through iTunes in the very near future. I’m still not clear if this means Michael Jackson will get a few cents every time a song is downloaded though.
Sales for online music stores continue to climb sharply, and DRM free marketplaces like eMusic are gaining support. But still, commercial offerings are a just a small part of the overall pile in digital music downloads. Bittorrent and other P2P technologies are still king. I guess it’s hard to compete with a price point of zero, coupled with the largest digital library ever created… The fact that in 2006 around 60 million Americans (a number often cited in news stories; no link to an official survey or study though) ‘broke the law’ by downloading music illegally leads me to believe that at some point, compulsory licensing schemes will have to be implemented. There’s been much talk on this idea, but one thing that I haven’t seen explored in much depth is the consequences of a compulsory license scheme on the growing ‘legitimate’ (ie. commercial) digital music download services.
What would a compulsory license do to the iTunes business model. Or that of eMusic? Would bittorrent and other p2p networks gain even more prominence?
Here’s what I think would happen:
- New music services will blossom, focusing on interface, ease of use and features like recommendations and music sharing.
- Existing pay per download services (like iTunes) will struggle, but ultimately still have a place by focusing on the above points.
- The celestial juke box will become be a reality
It’s a bit old but I found this great post from Cory Doctorow that examines how a compulsory license for P2P music sharing could work and talks a bit about how iTunes would fare in such a world. As iTunes, Rhapsody, eMusic and others continue to expand, they will undoubtedly be against such changes though.
Here’s a breakdown of the winners and losers in a post compulsory license world.
- The winners
- You, me, and all our friends
- The Songbrird music player
- The losers
- labels (They’ll actually be winners in the end, but they’ll feel like losers for having to give up control)