Digital Music Trends – Episode 57

This week: an interview with Michael Robertson, CEO of MP3Tunes and experienced entrepreneur probably best known for founding in the late 90s. In the interview we discuss cloud music, MP3 tune’s business model, the way the service has been integrated with numerous software and hardware partners, EMI’s lawsuit against the company and the future of digital music consumption.

Also this week in the news our heads stay firmly in the cloud with Carphone Warehouse launching a new, licensed, Music Anywhere service in the UK, Rdio removes restrictions to access in the US and Canada, Apple appears to be scaling back its efforts to roll out a comprehensive cloud music service and the numbers atMyspace are not looking good with the company still loosing bucket-loads of money for NewsCorp.

But let’s start with this week’s interview with Michael Robertson, founder of, Linspire, SIPPhone, MP3Tunes and Ajax13.

And now for the news:

Carphone Warehouse beats Google and Apple to a licensed and sensible cloud music service in the UK

Carphone Warehouse this week got everyone talking by announcing – in a surprise move – the launch of a new service called Music Anywhere that has been licensed by all four majors and by digital distributor the Orchard. The new cloud service will compare the user’s music library with its servers and basically only upload the tracks that it does not already have on file, so that users won’t have to spend hours and hours on end uploading their entire library. For a fee of 29.99 per year users will then be able to take advantage of the many applications developed for the service, there’s one for Blackberry, iPhone and android as well as for PCs to listen to their music wherever they are. The mobile apps will also allow cashing of a number of songs from the cloud that users will be able to play them without an Internet connections. The service will then pay some license fees to the labels and artists calculated on how many times their track has been accessed online. This is a pretty interesting turn of events, because it looks a lot like what people have been waiting for from Apple or Google but from a mobile brand that people would probably not normally associate with music. What’s funny about this story is that the service is basically an advanced version of the Beam-it idea that had been implemented by in the 90s, where people could just insert a CD in the drive as a proof of purchase and after that they could access the song online. In this case the files on users’ computers are already digitized which makes the process a lot easier. There are some privacy concerns as the company that is providing the service said that it will intervene if it sees that the majority of a user’s music is made of pirated filed by shutting down their access which is posing some questions as to how much privacy users will have with a service like this. I am pretty surprised that the labels gave this service the go-ahead to be honest but with the latestBPI numbers showing that secondary revenues are becoming more and more important record companies have to be willing to experiment.

Rdio opens its doors to everyone in the US and Canada.

Digital Music Start-up Rdio, founded by Skype, Kazaa and Joost founders Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis has opened its doors to everyone in the US and Canada, so that users won’t have to know someone that can extend them an invite in order to join the service. New users will get a 3 days trial, which can then be extended to 10 days, and after that they will have to pay $9.99 per month for using the service. Rdio now boasts over 7 million songs from both majors and indie aggregators and is in a pretty good place in the US since Spotify is struggling to get off the ground because of issues with its licenses. Rdio places a lot of emphasis on its social features and boast some great mobile apps for all major systems that are updated frequently. In the US it faces competition from the likes of MOG and Pandora so it will have to really capture the public’s imagination to capture a substantial user base.

Apple scaling back its cloud music efforts

According to the latest Cnet reports Apple has been telling music industry executives that the company’s plans in regards to music on the cloud are likely to have a fairly modest scope in the near future, thus disappointing many who were hoping for a fully featured cloud service by the end of the year. The company has found it hard to negotiate licenses for this new way of consuming music ever since it purchased Lala .com at the end of 2009. Apple has apparently decided to shift its focus to video content with rumors of large deals with movie and TV companies nearing completion, rumors that are corroborated by reports of a re-vamped Apple TV box, cheaper and completely reliant on the cloud for content.

Myspace losing money for NewsCorp

Paid Content reports that News Corp blamed its higher Q4 and full-year operating losses in its digital media groups to lower search and advertising revenues at Myspace, bringing them to 575 million dollars. Although this could sound like a nearing death knell for Myspace, Ruperto Murdoch has re-affirmed his backing of Myspace for the time being since the site is going through a major overhaul that will make it better to navigate and more in tune with the public’s needs. Personally I never feel the need to go to Myspace any longer and given the fact that it’s hemorrhaging visitors and users to Facebook and other social networks I find it hard to believe that an overhaul of the site’s look will be of much help.

Streamjam goes beta with new features:

And finally I wanted to let you know that the The Electric Sheep Company has launched the first beta version of StreamJam, a free app for putting live events – and particularly live music – online in a virtual venue. The beta app includes a virtual currency usable for purchasing virtual goods that support the performers as well as dancing, embedded live video streaming, and other interactive features. I interviewed StreamJam’s founder Sibley Verbeck on episode 28 of Digital Music Trends and it’s great to hear about the company’s progress. Check out for more information.

Well, that’s all for this week, I really hope you enjoyed the show. Next week on Digital Music Trends the third installment in my series of features on piracy and anti-piracy, this time featuring the BPI’s point of view. Please write in with any feedback, the email is and you can also follow me on twitter, the handle is digimusictrends. On you’ll find all you need to know about the show. Digital Music Trends is distributed via iTunes, Podbean, Soundcloud, The Music Void and Mixcloud.

Have a great week and ’till next time! This has been Andrea Leonelli for Digital Music Trends.

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