This week on the show an interview with Thomas Reemer, co-founder and chairman of 88TC88 – a company specialized in helping international artists access the Chinese legal digital music market. In the show we talk about the way digital music distribution works in China, about government regulation and how to get international content approved,the challenge of piracy and about 88TC88’s relationship with its US and Chinese partners. And this week in the news: Google appears to be fast-tracking plans for its music service, Shazam partners with mobile carrier Orange, Spotify’s US saga continues, Tunecore and Ditto music disagree and the BPI new figures show that secondary revenues are becoming more and more important to UK record labels.
But now, as usual let’s start with this week’s interview with Thomas Reemer.
Two tad-bits of news sent the Internet abuzz this week and they both concern Google and their rumored music service. First of all, as Tech Crunch and Cnet report – Google just hired one of the most US’s most experienced lawyers in the field of digital music – Elizabeth Moody – to steer them through the licensing process. At her firm she has previously worked with iMeem, Spotify, Myspace Music and knows many record label executives. So this is the first part of the puzzle that could get things moving for Google. The second part is that they are apparently attempting to fast-track licensing negotiations with the Harry Fox Agency, which is the largest owner of mechanical licenses in the US. Google would need to have such licenses in place with Harry Fox before being able to start selling or streaming music from the major labels. If the Harry Fox negotiations fell into place and new hire Moody managed to reassure record labels the service could truly come to life by the end of the year, which would be a big win for Google and pretty distressing to other players in the field both established like Rhapsody and perspective like Spotify.
Meanwhile PC world reports that the app Cloud Music – available on the Apple store, has already transformed the space provided by google for docs and photos into a music locker. You can upload your tracks on there and the app scans your google account for files so you can access them on the go. A bit rudimentary for now but an interesting option!
Music recognition firm Shazam has launched a partnership with mobile carrier Orange in the UK and in France – the app will be readily available on a number of Orange handsets and users will be able to access a free version limited to five tags or pay £3 per month to be able to look up an unlimited number of songs and artist biographies. The app will be tightly integrated with the orange music store so you will be able to buy the music very easily after it has been recognized. I’m not terribly impressed by the subscription nature of the app – I actually had to double check to see whether there was a mistake in one of the reports I was reading, but it really looks like it will be £3 per month and I don’t know how many users will be wanting to spend that much for an app that the average person will probably use two, three times per week, but I could be totally mistaken are there be
droves of people ready to subscribe…
– Spotify’s US saga goes on with a re-boot on negotiations
There were more rumors flying around this week regarding the state of Spotify’s negotiations with the majors in the US. An article on Billboard Business that appeared on July the 29th reported that Spotify had rebooted its negotiations with the labels starting practically from square one in order to get things running again and that they were contemplating having the managing partner of the Founders Fund Sean Parker lead the US operations. Both stories were essentially shot down by Spotify’s PR department later that day. The company maintains that the talks with the record labels are progressing and that they are still on track to launch in 2010. The also re-affirmed their faith in ex EMI man Kenneth Parks, Spotify’s US managing director since June who has been personally involved in the US label negotiations from the beginning. Given the trouble Spotify is having in closing these deals though there is the possibility that there had to be a change or a reboot of some sort in the negotiations, and a Telegraph article points out how a big reason why Spotify has not yet launched in the US is that the company is not as needed there as it was in Europe as there are already many streaming services and the digital market is much healthier. Labels are worried that introducing a free service – especially one that has been so popular here in Europe – may cannibalize some of the users that they have fought so hard to bring into subscription or a’ la carte services.
– A squabble on delivery times between Tunecore and Ditto Music
And there was a bit of a squabble between Tunecore and Ditto Music this week. The two companies are competitors – unsigned artists use Tunecore and Ditto in order to get their music onto digital stores all over the world. Ditto received quite a bit of press attention recently when they started a 24 hours guarantee promising that they’d get your music on the iTunes store within 24 hours. This guarantee did not go down well with Jeff Price, the CEO of Tunecore, who last week in an interview with Hypebot hinted at the fact that services guaranteeing 24 hours turnaround times cannot possibly do that as they are subject to Apple’s processes so a track could be uploaded in a few minutes or in three or four days depending entirely on Apple. The co-founder of Ditto Music Lee Parsons responded by remarking that Tunecore were the first company to shout about their new reduced delivery times and that they have put their neck on the line by instituting this 24 hours guarantee – crediting Apple for making this possible. Although this may seem like a minor altercation between competitors the delivery to market of a digital product is an essential part of being an artist and for bands it’s really important to be able to capture a sudden momentum given by – for example – a glowing review on a popular music blog by making that track available to buy right away. Hopefully these little squabbles will make digital distributors work even harder to make access to digital stores quicker and easier for unsigned bands.
– the BPI’s new figures show that secondary revenues are on the rise for UK record companies.
And finally the BPI has produced new figures showing that in the UK in 2009 secondary revenues for the music industry grew by 6.6%. These are the revenues generated by radio plays, merchandising, TV, licensing and advertising. This is further proof that the industry need to explore every avenue in monetizing the recordings and that the creation of secondary revenue streams is a number one priority.
Well that’s all for this week, I really hope you enjoyed the show. Next week I should have a pretty exciting interview as well so keep an eye out for that – I don’t want to name names in case things don’t work out. Remember to check out the site at www.digitalmusictrends.com, write in with any feedback – the email is digitalmusictrends.com – or follow me on twitter the handle is digimusictrends.
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Have a great week and ’till next time.
Weekly podcasts on the latest news in the digital music industry