This week on the show I am happy to feature an interview I just recorded with Scott Wambolt, the CEO of Canadian company Yangaroo. In the past 10 years Yangaroo has been instrumental in helping record labels in North America transition from the dependence on physical mediums to more efficient digital media workflows developing an end-to-end secure B2B solution for the delivery of digital music and more recently music videos.
Also on the show this week I’m going to talk about European anti-piracy measures, Ministry of Sound’s ongoing effort to sue file-sharers, Microsoft launching a Zune service in the UK, Vevo’s plans to launch a TV network to compete with MTV and a new piracy tool that is worrying the music industry called Mulve.
But let’s start with this week’s interview with Scott Wambolt from Yangaroo.com.
And now on to the news!
1) European anti-piracy measures
So the European Parliament on September the 22nd voted for the adoption of the report on the enforcement of Intellectual Property in the internal market. So what does this report say? Well basically it outlines the need to create a European-wide framework to protect intellectual property and calls for appropriate legislation to be considered. It is not a law in itself but its adoption allows for its findings to be used as a way to create a legislation on the protection of intellectual property. The report first of all calls for the creation of more services to access legal content online, second it establishes the need for ISPs to start a dialogue with the rights holders and third it allows for the possibility of creating a legislative framework for the protection of copyrighted material should the first two solutions fail. Potentially the effect of this report would be the implementation of European regulations that require countries to have a specific legislative path to protect copyrights and punish illegal file sharing. The approval of the report has been lauded by many in the music industry including the IFPI as the introduction of a European legal framework that could finally stop the slump music sales that has affected countries like Spain and France. Naturally all of this is a pre-preliminary step but one that makes labels understand that Europe has taken notice – though it may actually take a decade to finalize legislation!
2) Staying on the subject of piracy TorrentFreank and ISP Review this week reported that Ministry of Sound’s most recent request for the disclosure of broadband customer’s identities based on their IP addresses has raised concerns with the judge Chief Master Wintergarden – who pointed out first that he had received a large number of letters by people who were concerned with the way Ministry of Sound’s lawyers were sending out pay-up-or-else letters and second that he was surprised that after thousands of these letters were sent not one of the recipients was actually taken to court. The judge called Ministry of Sound’s approach like using a huge sledgehammer to crack a nut and refused to grant the labels’ lawyers latest request for the disclosure of personal contacts delaying the decision to the 4th of October. Many in the UK have questioned the legality of these pay-up-or-else letters, that have a very aggressive tone and demand the recipient for hundreds of pounds in compensation. The fact that none of these have been followed up and transformed into full-blown lawsuits is further proof that those damages would probably not be awarded in a court of law. The judge also made the point that after the introduction of the Digital economy act in the UK these requests will probably not be granted any longer. I don’t support piracy in any way but I have said it before – i really don’t like this approach. The fact that there isn’t a warning or anything and that the letters are sent indiscriminately to all users identified can only be seen as a way to get some money from the few people who will be scared enough by the letter to pay…
3) Microsoft launches the Zune platform in the UK!
The Telegraph and the Register reported this week on Microsoft’s latest move which is to expand the Zune entertainment platform to Europe by launching it in the UK alongside the release of Windows 7 mobile phones. The platform will work with the Xbox, Windows 7 mobile and naturally Windows PCs and will allow a song that is purchased on one system to be played on all three. Xbox users that decide to splash out on the new Kinect controller will also be able to buy music using their hands rather than a traditional keyboard. A very important development for the UK is the arrival of a Zune pass that enables unlimited streaming and (DRM’d) downloads for only £8.99 per month which is one pound cheaper than Spotify’s premium service. The new platform will face fierce competition by the likes of Spotify and We7 who already have a very loyal customer base and naturally being completely tied to Microsoft for your PC, phone and Xbox its appeal will be limited. I believe that the only way it will really take off would be if Microsoft decided to release an app for each of today’s leading mobile operating systems, iOS4, Android and Symbian and Blackberry. Only then would non-gamers catch on to the service – who knows they could pick up some mac users on the way!
4) Vevo plans to launch a TV channel
The New York Post this week revealed that in an interview with the CEO of Vevo Rio Caraeff he mentioned that the company is working on the launch of a regular TV network that would compete with MTV. But if you read the article closely there is actually very little reference to the “old” MTV model since Vevo has not yet established any partnership with networks or cable providers. Instead it is focusing on developing its relationship with manufacturers of web-enabled TV in order to offer a personalized channel that will be able to cater to the specific taste of a user. I think this is a great idea considering the resources and traction Vevo has at the moment and the fact that web-TV is on the brink of becoming mainstream with the new Apple TV and the upcoming Google TV set to sell in considerable numbers. I personally don’t think that they should even look into partnering with a network since I don’t believe there’s a huge amount of money to be made there – after all if there was MTV would have reverted back to its old model and ditched all of its annoying reality shows. But exploiting the momentum of Vevo to take it into people’s TVs via the Internet is absolutely the right thing to do and may also help the company attract more advertisers who would probably see the appeal in being able to reach people’s living rooms rather than just their laptop screen.
5) Is Mulve as scary as it sounds?
So this week every news outlet from Music Week to Billboard to CMU to more mainstream press seems to have covered Mulve. This is a new very small piece of software – only 2 megabytes – that gives the user access to a huge catalogue of music that can be downloaded, illegally i should point out, for free. Apparently Mulve’s representatives have clarified that this is not a new P2P software but that the music is simply stored on servers for which they did not reveal the location although they are believed to be located in Russia. The site mulve.com , in part because of the huge amount of coverage it received, is now down most of the time because of excessive traffic. Naturally the idea of a server storing the music is more appealing than a P2P solution because it is virtually impossible for rights holders to pick up on these downloads since they don’t happen in the public domain like on torrent networks. At the same time Mulve does sound a bit of a gimmicky challenge to the content industries and I wonder how long it will stay online for – after all maintaining all those servers, even in Russia, has got to be an expensive enterprise when so many users access the data. Naturally should it get funding and start meeting the demands of hundreds of thousands of users then yes – the nightmare scenario described on many publication may become reality. But I have the feeling that by then law enforcement agencies as well as the rights holders anti-piracy divisions will have worked out where the company’s servers are located and acted in order to get them shut down.
And that’s all for this week. On Thursday I will be in Barcelona at the Future Music Forum where I’ll moderate a session on the business model for on-demand music so expect to see some reports and interviews on that in the next episode. I will actually be in the States for the next two weeks so if you are in Seattle or Vancouver give me a shout – I should be able to publish the show as usual with some interview from the Future Music Forum and hopefully the Norwich Sound and Vision session I took part in a couple of weeks back coming through from the venue but I probably won’t be able to post any news coverage and if the podcast is a day or two late please bear with me.
As usual please feel free to email with any feedback or news story – the address is firstname.lastname@example.org. On the site at www.digitalmusictrends.com you can find all information you need about the episode and the relevant links and remember that you have quite a few options to listen to the show – the iTunes store, Soundcloud, the Music Void, Mixcloud, RSS and I believe you can now also search for Digital Music Trends on standalone Internet radios like those made by Logitech or Pure. Have a great week and ’till next time!