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Macworld UK: US legal music downloads double

“Digital music download services are exploding, with the number of US consumers downloading tracks doubling in the first half of 2003.

Ownership of MP3 players such as Apple’s market leading iPod is also climbing: 19 per cent of US music downloaders own such devices - up from 12 per cent in December 2002.

A quarterly digital music behaviour report from research firmIpsos-Insight shows that in late June 2003, “roughly” one out of six (16 per cent) of US music downloaders aged 12 and older had paid to download music online. The company says this is the equivalent of 10 million people.”

Wired News: Record Label Sings New Tune

“Record labels have long been accused of stealing musicians’ copyrights as soon as the ink is dry on the contract. Now, one small independent label in Great Britain is doing the opposite: It’s giving the rights to the artists—and anyone else who wants to use the music, too.

Loca Records wants to foster experimentation and freedom in music by building a stable of free music which can be shared, remixed and manipulated by anyone. Songs are not locked by digital rights management technology.”

Financial Times: Piracy and downloading hit music sales

“Informa Media, the music consultancy, on Tuesday

Forbes: CD sales turn up; new digital players key

“Analysts estimate consumers will spend over $1 billion on portable players this season, while fourth-quarter CD sales should top $3 billion. In fact, after gains in recent weeks, the quarter’s CD sales look poised to top the 221 million units sold last year, said Geoff Mayfield, director of charts for Billboard Magazine.”

AP: Music labels tapping illegal song-swapping to glean trends

“Despite their legal blitzkrieg to stop online song-swapping, many music labels are benefiting from—and paying for—intelligence on the latest trends in Internet trading. [...]

One company, Beverly Hills-based BigChampagne, began mining such data from popular peer-to-peer networks in 2000 and has built a thriving business selling it to recording labels. [...]

BigChampagne has certainly done well by file-swapping. It formed in July 2000, just as the Internet boom was beginning to bust, and now counts Maverick, DreamWorks, Warner Bros., Disney and Atlantic Records among its clients. All the major labels have worked with BigChampagne ‘in one capacity or another,’ Garland said.”

Feinstein proposes illegal recording as a federal offense

“Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California moved Thursday to protect increasingly beleaguered movie and music producers and artists by proposing a new federal crackdown on pirates, especially those who use the Internet to distribute their goods. [...]

The Feinstein-Cornyn proposal would make illegal recording a federal felony, with a maximum punishment of five years in prison, an unspecified fine, or both. The maximum prison time increases to 10 years for a second offense.”

BillBoard: Digital tracks pose new problem for Billboard’s industry charts

“Rising sales of digital tracks through such services as iTunes Music Store and Napster are raising questions about how such transactions should be measured on the Billboard charts. [...]

‘The consumer’s rapid and enthusiastic acceptance of iTunes and other download services gives great meaning to that data,” says Geoff Mayfield, Billboard director of charts. “We will need to factor those transactions into The Billboard Hot 100 . . . .’”

The Music Industry: History Repeats Itself

Writer and blogger Tristan Louis has an interesting overview of the four stages of panic in the music industry: Ignorance, Panic, Protection and Litigation, and Quiet Acceptance. Some interesting food for thought.

“The recent fights of the music industry remind me a lot about the early days of the personal computer industry. While I was still a kid then, it seems the software industry went through a similar experience in terms of trying to figure out how to deal with piracy. In this entry, I examine what I consider to be the four stages of dealing with piracy of digital assets.

I believe that any industry that is seeing a move of their intellectual assets to a digital medium will go through four basic stages: ignorance, panic, protection and litigation, quiet acceptance. This was the case with software in the 80s and 90s, is currently the case with music, and will soon be the case with movies. I suspect that other industries like the professional photography market are facing similar issues currently or have in the past.”

Wired: Sony’s User-Friendly Copy Block

“Sony Music, home to such artists as Beyonce Knowles and Bruce Springsteen, said Monday it plans to introduce new CD technology in Germany that prevents users from copying songs to file-sharing sites, but allows them to make copies for their personal use. [...]

To copy the music to the Sony portable player, the technology requires an extra step to copy the files to a separate program to transfer the music to the portable player.

At this point, music can be transferred only to Sony portable players, although Sony executives note that Apple Computer’s popular iTunes service works the same way with the Apple-branded iPod.”

TechNewsWorld: Napster: ‘We Will Take Market Share from Apple’

“Not to be upstaged by Apple, Roxio chairman and chief executive officer Chris Gorog challenged Apple’s statistics and told TechNewsWorld his company will be chipping away at Apple’s market share with a powerful marketing campaign already underway.

“We expect as soon as we get the word out to consumers that Napster is back, it will significantly impact our growth,” Gorog said in an exclusive interview with TechNewsWorld. “We would also expect to be taking away market share from Apple on a weekly basis.”“

ZDNet UK: What’s wrong with digital rights management?

“The problem, critics say, is that companies can all too easily turn DRM into a powerful tool for locking customers into proprietary technologies. For example, files that users purchase through Apple’s iTunes music store won’t work with portable music players other than the company’s own iPod device.”

NY Post: Wal-Mart to offer online music store

“Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, has told the music industry it expects to unveil an online music store this month, The Post has learned.

The company is still finalizing deals with the five major music companies and has told music industry executives it could launch the service by Nov. 15. If it doesn’t meet that date, the company hopes to launch the service by Thanksgiving, sources say.”

iPod Shootout at the TechTV Corral

TechTV’s Fresh Gear has posted a roundup review and humorous western-styled ‘shootout’ video of iPod ‘the undisputed quick drive’ vs. the rest of the competition. You can take a guess who’s still standing after the dust clears.

USATODAY: MTV eyes music download service by early 2004

“MTV Networks is preparing to launch a music download service with plans to go up against Apple’s iTunes and other competitors, said MTV chief Tom Freston Monday.

Freston, who addressed investors at the Harris Nesbitt Gerard Playtime conference, said the as-yet-unnamed service would debut within the first half of next year, but gave few details.”

E-Commerce News: The Real Cost of Online Music

“Now that Apple’s iTunes Music Store (iTMS) does Windows and Napster has bee rehabilitated, more people are starting to change their music-buying focus moving from old-school CDs to new-generation digital formats like AAC (Advance Audio Coding) and WMA (Windows Media Audio)

However, the onset of legal music download services has brought a new issue front and center: sound quality. The bit rate of an iTMS AAC file is 128 kilobits per second (kbps)—just a fraction of the 1,411 kbps “uncompressed” standard used for CD, WAV and AIFF files.”

NY Times: Online Music Business, Neither Quick Nor Sure

“In the last decade a new record business has been forming online. It has been coalescing by trial and error, largely error. And its evolution is in no way complete as it moves toward a finish line at the rate of one step forward for every nine-tenths of a step back.”

Washington Post: The RIAA and the Music Piracy Debate

“Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) was online to talk about his efforts to rein in the recording industry’s aggressive legal war against people who illegally trade music online.  Piracy is wrong, Coleman agrees, but so too are some of the industry’s tactics.”

Stereophile: Copy protected CDs don’t play nice with iPods

“Whether listeners like it or not, record labels, including major players like BMG and Arista Records, are now making moves to rein in how their CDs are played and used.  Unfettered CDs have been on the shelves for almost two decades, and some industry observers note that changing how they work at this late stage could be a recipe for trouble with consumers. [...]

One major drawback of the restricted disks, however, is non-compatibility with the Apple iPod. Since the new discs are based on SunnComm’s MediaMax, which itself is rooted in Microsoft’s Digital Rights Management (DRM) applications, the brochure leaves it up to iPod owners to read between the lines, explaining only, “It will play on any device that supports Windows Media DRM.”

Analyst expects Napster to lead in online music market

“‘This is the next major shift in music,’ said Gene Munster, a senior research analyst with US Bancorp Piper Jaffray, an investment bank. He expects Napster to lead the way with a 30 percent share of the online music market and Apple, with a combination of Macintosh and Windows users, in second, with 20 percent. He does not own stock in either company, but his firm has sought banking business with them.”

AP: Apple facing more music rivals

“‘We have a bunch of very comparable services each with their own natural constituencies, and the ability to market to their constituencies is what will determine their success,’ said Josh Bernoff, a Forrester Research analyst.

Early bets on front-runners so far are going to Napster, Apple and MusicMatch—Napster for its deep brand recognition from its freewheeling song-swapping days, MusicMatch for its built-in connection to the widely used Windows Media Player, and Apple for its seamless integration with its popular iPod portable music player.”

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