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December 29, 2003

Who Owns What?
Politics, Policy and Popular Sentiment in the Digital Age

Suing The Downloaders (It Works?) Canadian recording companies are about to begin suing downloades. Why? It appears to be an effective tactic. "In the United States, since the American recording industry began filing lawsuits earlier this year, Kazaa usage has fallen 41 per cent, according to monitoring of Internet use by Nielsen/NetRatings. As a result, sales of CDs began to rise in the U.S. after three years of decline." Edmonton Journal 12/29/03

Rethinking Music (And How To Sell It) There are numerous experiments in selling music online competing for consumers. A company called Magnatune offers no set prices, and a variety of creative music licenses. "Magnatune is one example of a growing movement among arts organizations, civil libertarians and artists who are rethinking the whole notion of access to creative works and copyright laws. Some, like Magnatune, believe they can profit if their artists make their works more readily available, in some cases for no charge; or if they even relinquish at least some rights to their works." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 12/29/03

Label Sales: This Can't Be Good For The Music Business The sale and dismantling of two of the best music labels in 2003 bodes ill for the music business. "Those two developments, both announced in the fall and awaiting governmental approval, represent a tipping point - the moment when, with swift decisiveness, the patient, long-term approach to record-making that prevailed at the major labels through much of the rock era bit the dust." Philadelphia Inquirer 12/28/03

Is The Music Album Dead? "With the recent boom in 99-cent-per-song downloading sites, music fans are cherry-picking their favorite tunes and ignoring full-length albums – much to the dismay of musicians who spend months crafting them. The album's glory days could be history, with three-minute singles ruling the music world as they did in the 1950s. That shake-up would not only affect the record labels' bottom line but might also transform the way pop music is created and heard." Dallas Morning News 12/27/03

Free Music? On Its Way You want free music? Legally? Coming right up. "You're going to see lots of free music given out via third-party companies. It's not going to be Apple and iTunes driving the business. It's going to be companies like Pepsi and other third parties that are promoting digital music on bottle caps and on labels. Indeed, Apple Computer has inked a deal with Pepsi to give away 100 million iTunes downloads in a promotion that kicks off in February with a Super Bowl ad." CNN.com 12/23/03

Why Is Music Just A Commodity? "Seldom, it would appear, is music simply thought of or enjoyed as music anymore. It's a commodity, a type of virtual contraband, the "sport" at the centre of cutthroat, Olympian competitions. Even the sense of community that a shared love of music is supposed to bring people has been supplanted by a pitched us-against-them mentality between the recording industry and the hordes of downloaders it longs to drag into court." Toronto Star 12/22/03

Why Recording Labels And Download Companies Can't Get Together So with all the money to be made in online downloading, why don't recording labels and the downloading networks just get together and be content making their fortunes? Answer - they don't like each other. "Label executives continue to hold hush-hush meetings with leading distributors of file-sharing software, trying to find common ground. But they also seethe at the companies' refusal to change their software in ways that might deter piracy, using words like "extortion" and "rape" to describe their situation." Los Angeles Times 12/21/03

Whatever Happened To Using A Couple of AAs? Apple iPod users are, let's face it, a bit over-the-top in their love of the device, which is, let's face it, just a jukebox with a long memory. Still, many iPod users claim they couldn't live without theirs, which has caused some consternation of late, because as it turns out, the rechargable battery packs that power the little boxes of joy can run down after a year or so. No problem, you say? Just pick up a replacement pack, you say? Good thought, but Apple doesn't actually sell replacements, and the company has been telling users to shell out $300-$500 for a whole new iPod when their batteries run down. One jilted user was so angry that he's made a film about Apple's betrayal. Washington Post 12/20/03 

Downloading At The Big Blue Box WalMart is rolling out its own online music download service, with what it says are "hundreds of thousands" of songs available in Windows Media format. In typical WalMart style, the big draw is expected to be low prices: where many other download services are charging 99 cents a song, WalMart is charging 88 cents. Wired 12/18/03

Recordings In The UK: Prices Fall, Sales Rise Unlike in the US, sales of recorded music have been growing in the UK. Why? Maybe it's price cuts. "Average prices have continued to fall and reached a new low of £10.40 for the year ending in September, the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) said. It said prices of new albums had fallen by 7.6% since it began providing detailed records at the start of 2000." BBC 12/18/03

Waiting For A Revolution That's Already Here At a recent music industry conference in Aspen, "the divisiveness and panic in the room were evident" whenever conversation turned to the state of recorded music. The problem seems to be that, while most in the industry recognize that a major sea change in the way the public consumes recorded music is upon them, few are willing to hitch their wagon to a particular horse before knowing what the new industry standard will be. In the meantime, the CD market continues to tank, and the people for whom that particular piece of turf is sacred continue to fight like cornered rats to forestall the digital revolution. Denver Post 12/18/03

Canadian Recording Industry To Sue Uploaders The Canadian recording industry says it is going to begin suing uploaders of music. "Any litigation would be a course of action we are really being forced into. It's a process that's a last resort, to try and address the huge problems, because the industry's lost 30 per cent of its retail base since 1999. The losses [in Canada] are in excess of $425-million."
The Globe & Mail (Canada) 12/17/03

Canada Enacts Tax On MP3 Players Canada is imposing a new tax on MP3 players. "A price increase of between $2 and $25 will come into effect after the Copyright Board of Canada gave the go-ahead Friday on a new levy for digital audio recorders, including Apple's hot-selling IPod. The move is part of several efforts underway to combat music downloading and copying." Canada.com (CP) 12/12/03

Better CD's, Better Sound If regular CD's aren't selling so well now, how about super enhanced sound CD's? "Introduced four years ago, SACD boasts superior fidelity and surround-sound capability when played on an SACD player. Though the format is not widely established, a renewed interest in rock classics and a considerable uptick in SACD sales have given its supporters reason to be optimistic." Chicago Tribune 11/30/03

Record Album Sales (But Lower Revenues) Better music in the past year helped sell 232 million albums last year, a record amount. But "heavy discounting by stores has seen the total value of music sales drop 4.6%, according to the British Phonographic Industry (BPI). Singles sales fell 31% in the 12 months up to September, the BPI said." BBC 11/27/03

Insta-Recording - The Ultimate Concert Souvenir Fans record concerts. How to make them quit? Offer better instant recodings and sell them. "Those enthralled by a performance will seek mementos and there are few more appealing than a recording of the event, an audible aide de memoire. The way to persuade them to leave their Minidiscs at home and to shun those who peddle noisy, distorted, unbalanced piracies is to offer them that memento as they leave — under terms which reward not only the audience but the artists and the company." San Francisco Classical Voice 11/026/03

Why EMI Shouldn't Feel Jilted EMI had wanted to merger with Warner. But it shouldn't feel too bad the deal won't happen. "The truth is that Warner is being bought by a music industry wannabe responsible for one of the worst deals of the 1990s - the sale of Seagram, the Bronfman family's drinks and entertainment firm, to Jean-Marie Messier's Vivendi." The Guardian (UK) 11/25/03

Older Music Fans Dominate "At a time when the 'MP3 generation' is getting its tracks for free from the internet, fortysomething music fans are beginning to dominate sales. According to current trends, the over-40s will account for more than 50 per cent of album sales in Britain within five years." London Evening Standard 11/25/03

The Explosion of Online Radio With traditional over-the-air radio fast becoming just another tool of the global corporate music industry, music fans are looking to new technologies to replace the predictable playlists of their local radio stations. The phenomenon of Internet radio, in particular, is becoming increasibly popular, thanks to its easy accessibility and diversity of content. In addition, a savvy webcaster can personalize the content of his stream for listeners in specific regions, which can result in a global webcast that sounds more local than your local radio station. Denver Post 11/23/03

Clear Channel To Offer Instant Recordings Of Live ConcertsClear Channel Communications, America's largest concert presenter is getting set to sell recordings of live concerts to the fans who just paid to see the concert as soon as the show is finished. "It is almost an impulse buy. You walk home with a memento of the concert. You had a great feeling coming out of it and, for $20, you can put it on again anytime you want." Christian Science Monitor 11/21/03

Video Games Helping To Sell Music
"Video games are proving to be a good partner for a struggling industry eager to find new ways to appeal to young people who would rather pirate music off the Internet than pay for it. Million-selling games are boosting sales, launching musical careers, and persuading skittish record executives that not all technology is bad for business." Christian Science Monitor 11/21/03

File-Swapping Bad! (Unless There's Money To Be Made...) "The recording industry, it seems, doesn't hate absolutely everything about illicit music downloading. 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." Yahoo! News (AP) 11/17/03

Giving The People What They Want "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... The music is available for free in MP3 format, but the company sells its CDs and vinyl in retail stores throughout Europe." Wired 11/20/03

A River Of Illegal DVDs In the UK one of every three DVDs sold is said to be an illegal copy. "No one knows exactly how big the market is for bootleg discs, but already this year more than a million copied DVDs have been seized in the UK. Compared to videos, which are bulky and offer compromised quality, the new digital format is a bootlegger's delight. The discs are cheap, light and easy to transport, while copying is quick and quality does not degrade." BBC 11/19/03

No End In Sight For CD Slump A research group is predicting that the worldwide slump in music sales will continue for at least the next two years, with total sales falling by as much as $500 million in the next year. But the report also predicts that sales will begin to nose upwards in 2006, largely as a result of the anti-piracy efforts of the industry. BBC 11/19/03

  • Indies Slumping, Too In Boston, two major music stores owned by national chains have closed, amid much gnashing of media teeth over the state of the industry. But independent record stores, which depend on a small cadre of loyal customers to survive, are dropping like flies in the city, and no one seems to notice or care. "To counter falling sales, managers are cutting their staffs, strengthening their services, pricing their CDs competitively, and expanding stock to include videos, DVDs, and clothing." Boston Globe 11/19/03

Recording Co. Mergers = Less Choice With recent merger announcements, it looks like the five major recording companies could become three. "If American and European regulators approve both the Sony-BMG and EMI-Warner mergers, about 75 percent of global music sales would be controlled by three companies. For a typical music shopper, that could well mean fewer new acts (since artist development is so expensive), fewer independent stores (since business with large chains is more cost-efficient), and more major-label product on the racks of remaining stores (since they'd be able to strong-arm retailers the way the big snack and soda companies do with delis)." Village Voice 11/18/03

Too Many Bad Songs - Is That The Problem? Music executives are prodding acts to limit the number of tracks on their CDs in a bid to raise fans' perceptions of the value of albums. 'There's been a tendency to overload CDs because the technology permits it. The final choice will always be the artist's, but I feel — and consumer research bears it out — that the public thinks albums have too much filler'." Los Angeles Times 11/18/03

Can't Tell The Music Without A Program... So you've decided to take the plunge and buy and download some classical music from one of the hot new legal paysites. First you've got to find it, writes Greg Sandow: "As I rooted around, I came across all the Beethoven sonatas in the old and greatly respected Artur Schnabel performances. All of them! Ninety-nine cents per track. There's only one problem. What you get, when you look these up - and it's the same on all three services I've mentioned - is a track listing. As follows (transcribed verbatim): 1 The Complete Piano Sonatas, I. Allegro/ 2 The Complete Piano Sonatas, II. Adagio..." Sandow (AJBlogs) 11/17/03

Bye-Bye CD's? "The future of the album - both in its physical form and as a grouping of related songs - is being pondered by everyone from bands who refuse to provide their music to online services to technology analysts, who predict that the CD will become passé within the next five years. It's a pressing concern, given the decline of record sales since 2000 and the popularity of downloading singles by a public tired of paying $15 for an album with one hit and lots of padding." Christian Science Monitor 11/14/03

Where Virtual Law Rules The virtual gaming community gathers to discuss the laws of cyberspace. "A host of questions are on everyone's minds: Are virtual worlds the new Wild West or a legitimate province of the courts? Is game play equivalent to speech as defined in the First Amendment? Is there such a thing as fraud in a metaverse? As the game universe becomes intricate, as transactions start to cross the boundary between the game world and the real world, it becomes more complicated as to what you're going to call defamation."
Wired 11/13/03

A Whole New Way To Be Shallow We've all heard about the way Apple's iTunes music download service is revolutionizing the industry. But could it revolutionize our social interactions as well? "Thanks to the ability of Apple's iTunes to share music collections over local networks, it is now possible to judge someone's taste in music -- or lack of it -- in a way that previously required a certain level of intimacy. The ability to examine the music collections of co-workers, neighbors or fellow students is akin to peering into their souls: Someone who appears cool and interesting from the outside is revealed as a cultural nincompoop through the poor sap's terrible taste in music." Wired 11/12/03

A Productive Use For File-Sharing While music fans and the recording industry continue to bicker and sue each other over the legality of file-swapping, America's top non-classical music school is working to advance the idea that there is a place for the peer-to-peer network, and it doesn't have to have anything to do with illegal downloads. "The Berklee Shares program at the Berklee College of Music offers 80 different online lessons for download -- and sharing -- on topics like writing music, producing, engineering, remixing and performing... Anyone can use and trade the material provided she or he agrees to the terms set by the school: Users may not alter or sell the material, and must credit the original source." Wired 11/12/03

Cleaning Up The Red Tape "The music industry announced a 'one-stop' international license for online radio broadcasters Tuesday, hoping the removal of red tape will encourage the rise of legitimate Web music services. Previously, online radio broadcasters, or webcasters, had to secure approval from an alphabet soup of national collection agencies... Webcasters have argued that until the number of licensing fees is reduced, the nascent broadcasting sector will never gain the critical commercial mass of its over-the-air cousins." Wired 11/11/03

The Big Get Bigger Universal Music has announced plans to acquire Dreamworks Records, in yet another music industry consolidation seen to represent the desperation of many companies in the struggling recording business. "The music business is currently going through major changes as it struggles to counter falling sales and the impact of unofficial online music sales. Last week, Sony Music - the second-largest music company - said it was planning to merge with Bertelsmann. EMI and Warner Music have also been in talks about a possible merger." BBC 11/11/03

Sony's Latest Gamble Sony is preparing to begin selling a new type of copy-protected CD in Germany, with hopes to expand worldwide if consumers embrace the new technology. The CDs do not allow users to share their contents on illegal file-swapping sites, but contain a compressed digital copy of the music which individual consumers can "rip" to their computers and later download to Sony-based portable music players. In what has become a familiar dance, the company is calling its new CDs a breakthrough for consumers, and consumer groups opposed to copy protection of any sort are claiming that the discs can cause computers to malfunction, and are unfairly limiting in any case. Wired (Reuters) 11/10/03

Tough Anti-Copy Laws Come To UK European digital rights management comes to the UK. "While much of what home users do with their CDs, DVDs and videos could now be legally questionable, the directive is instead aimed at large-scale privacy outfits." BBC 11/10/03

A Music Mag For Adults Pretty much all music magazines are written for younger fans. But what about older adults? They still like music too. A new music magazine called Tracks hopes to reach that market. "Older consumers generally do not excite advertisers, and Tracks' first issue has little in the way of ads from companies that are not record labels. But older consumers, whether out of technological impairment or a habit of collecting, still actually buy music. So as the music industry has watched sales drop 30 percent over the last few years, these listeners - and readers - have a special, and growing, power in the music industry." The New York Times 11/10/03

iTunes As Apple Loss Leader That 99-cent price to download music from iTunes still seems a little high to some, especially since it costs nothing for the recording companies to produce it. But then, Apple's got to make some money too, right? Wrong. Apple CEO Steve Jobs says that all of that 99 cents goes back to the copyright holders - the recording companies, not artists. That makes iTunes a loss-leader. So how is Apple making money on the deal? Selling iPods... The Register 11/07/03

MIT Shuts Down Student File-Share Scheme MIT has shut down a new file-sharing system set up by students. "The music service had its official start one week ago but within hours, music companies, including the Universal Music Group, complained that they had not granted - or been paid for - the required legal permission to make the copies of their songs used by the system." The New York Times 11/04/03

How About Flex-Pricing For Recordings? "Doesn't it seem odd that these fully automated online e-commerce systems, with software that ought to be able to track and respond to customer behavior instantly, unimaginatively mandate the same fixed price across the board? One of the Internet's supposed strengths is its ability to let supply and demand drive prices up and down in real time. Couldn't the music companies use the Internet as a way to introduce popularity-based pricing, meaning that the songs with the highest demand would cost the most? Compared to eBay, charging 99 cents for every song is price fixing. And while 99 cents for my favorite song seems fair, what about my not-so-favorite songs?" Slate 11/04/03

The Chorus Grows - Singing Praises Of Pay-Per-Song It's official: downloading pay-per-song tracks is the new darling of the music world. "Pay-per-song is now a legitimate industry promoted by some of the best brains in modern technology and entertainment, from Apple to Napster to Dell. With prices starting low and falling lower, legally downloading your own songs and mixing them to use the way you want is a seductive right that is fast revolutionizing the music business." Denver Post 11/03/03

File-Sharing That's Legal? "Two students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a system for sharing music within their campus community that they say can avoid the copyright battles that have pitted the music industry against many customers." The New York Times 10/28/03

The Music Biz's New Biz Model "In the trickle-down economics of the music industry, the travails of the Big 5 major labels - who have suffered steeply declining sales for the last three years - are having an impact on the smaller bands, record companies and media who make up the rock and rap underground. The idea of the Big 5 multinationals as viable distributors of music becomes a less likely scenario every year; a new business model that is emerging sees the big record companies as glorified marketing companies, expert at spending money to get consumers to spend even more money." Chicago Tribune 10/27/03

Music Fans Beginning To Rebel Against Recording Companies More and more music lovers are getting fed up with the recording industry's tactics of protecting their business. Some are organizing a boycott of CD sales for the month of Decemeber. "Angry music fans see the recording industry's tactics for dealing with declining CD sales as punishing the wrong people - music lovers." Charlotte Observer 10/24/03

Music's Do-It-Yourselfers A new generation of musicians is producing recordings on its own. "It has never been easier to make a record than it is now. Computers and digital recording technology have put the means of production into the hands of the musician. So, if you can make a record that sounds every bit as polished as an expensive studio recording, press copies and produce an eye-catching sleeve with the aid of graphics programmes, what do you need a major record company for?" The Telegraph (UK) 10/23/03

How Technology Trumps Law-making Technology always finds a way around obstacles, writes Clay Shirkey. Peer-to-peer file-sharing technologies will continue to adapt to the ways recording companies try to stop them. Social softwarefinds ways to connect people. "In hostile environments, organisms often adapt to become less energetic but harder to kill, and so it is now." Shirkey 10/03

iTunes - The End Of Illegal Downloading? Apple's iTunes for Windows is a big success so far. "To hear Apple's CEO Steve Jobs tell it, the iTunes store is the beginning of the end for the file-sharing networks. 'This has been the birth of legal downloading'." Others, though, are not so sure... Wired 10/21/03

Recording Industry On The Trail Of 204 More Music File-Traders The recording industry has warned 204 more people that they will be prosecuted for file-sharing. "The RIAA's second round of lawsuits started with a sternly worded letter giving the individuals 10 days to contact the RIAA to discuss a settlement and avoid being formally sued. Under copyright law, the defendants could face damages that range from $750 to $150,000 for each illegal song." San Francisco Chronicle 10/21/03

A Tax To Pay Artists For Music Copying? Harvard professor William Fisher has a proposal for a tax on digital playback devices. Music could be downloaded and copied freely and artists would be paid from the tax fees. "He predicts that his plan, debated at a recent copyright conference, eventually would boost music revenues. Since online distribution is cheaper than printing CDs, overhead should shrink. Promotion costs could drop, too, as fans spread the word themselves about talented artists. Legal costs should vanish along with copyright lawsuits." The Star-Ledger (Newark) 10/21/03

Charge: Microsoft Manipulating Online Music Buyers Is Microsoft forcing computer users to buy music only by using its browser? "Lawyers for the Justice Department and 19 state attorneys general have formally complained to a federal judge about a design feature of Windows that compels consumers who buy music online to use only Microsoft's Internet browser and steers them to a website operated by the company." Wired 10/20/03

iTunes Windows A Hit Apple's iTunes service for Windows computer users is a hit. "More than a million copies of the Windows version of its iTunes music software have been downloaded in the past three days. The program offers PC users the same services, prices and catalogue of songs, which Apple hopes to increase to 400,000 by the end of October." Since debuting earlier this year, Apple's Mac iTunes stores has sold 14 million songs. BBC 10/20/03

How Much Is Music Worth? Is 99 cents a fair price for a downloadable music track? "Some analysts are beginning to realize that lower prices could greatly expand the size of the digital-music market, still minuscule despite iTunes' success. A July survey by Jupiter Research of 2,500 adults who use the Internet found that 35% of people are willing to pay 51 cents to $1 for a song by a favorite artist; 20% are willing to pay 50 cents or less; and 19% would pay more than $1 (26% say no price is right, they'll pay nothing). Problem is, online-music services cannot significantly lower prices without losing money." BusinessWeek 10/17/03

Open Source, The Revolution Spreads Open source is a big movement in software. But the idea is spreading beyond computers. "In 2003, the method is proving to be as broadly effective - and, yes, as revolutionary - a means of production as the assembly line was a century ago.But software is just the beginning. Open source has spread to other disciplines, from the hard sciences to the liberal arts. There is open source publishing: Prentice Hall is publishing a series of computer books open to any use, modification, or redistribution, with readers' improvements considered for succeeding editions. There are library efforts like Project Gutenberg, which has already digitized more than 6,000 books, with hundreds of volunteers typing in, page by page, classics from Shakespeare to Stendhal; at the same time, a related project, Distributed Proofreading, deploys legions of copy editors to make sure the Gutenberg texts are correct. There are open source projects in law and religion. There's even an open source cookbook." Wired 10/03

The Rise Of "Illegal Art" "Around the country, copyright concerns are fueling a grassroots movement that brings together artists frustrated by the corporate lock on popular-culture icons, musicians pondering the distribution of their work in the era of sampling and Napster, and technophiles worried about the ways that new digital copyright-protection technology is fencing in the formerly wide open electronic frontier. More than protecting those who create, this growing chorus of critics says, the current copyright system serves to enrich big corporations, stifle innovation, silence social criticism, and impoverish the culture." Philadelphia Inquirer 10/15/03

The Rise Of "Illegal Art" "Around the country, copyright concerns are fueling a grassroots movement that brings together artists frustrated by the corporate lock on popular-culture icons, musicians pondering the distribution of their work in the era of sampling and Napster, and technophiles worried about the ways that new digital copyright-protection technology is fencing in the formerly wide open electronic frontier. More than protecting those who create, this growing chorus of critics says, the current copyright system serves to enrich big corporations, stifle innovation, silence social criticism, and impoverish the culture." Philadelphia Inquirer 10/15/03

Recordings - The Politics Of Price "As musical recordings have increasingly shed their physical form, the record industry and its customers have been at odds over what it all should cost. Music fans complain of high CD prices and copy more music illicitly than they purchase legally, while the record companies rail against the devaluation of their product and take file-sharers to court. Since legal ways to experience online music are only now becoming widely available, there is no established record of what the market will bear or how these innovations will be received. Will each song purchased online represent the loss of a whole CD sale in the store? Or will customers respond to the ease and selection of e-commerce by buying more, overall?" The New York Times 10/12/03

Recording Industry Suing Flea Markets The recording industry has widened its legal offensive. Now it's suing owners of flea markets. "The lawsuit filed by the Recording Industry Association of America charges that the market has made only token efforts to deter the sale of counterfeit and pirated recordings, and says that, like many flea markets, Columbus profits by virtue of its underground reputation as a marketplace for cheap discs. 'There are 3,000 flea markets in the country, and at many of them, vendors are offering home-burned CD's or other illegal recordings'." The New York Times 10/10/03

But Will Anyone Use It? Napster is back, and it's legal this time. The embattles song-swapping service was shut down last year after the recording industry filed multiple lawsuits alleging copyright violation. The new Napster is owned by media company Roxio, which had no connection to the original service, and which is hoping that the notoriety of the Napster name will help it cash in on the growing consumer base desiring legal downloading options. BBC 10/09/03

Shouldn't Somebody Have Checked On This? Shouldn't Somebody Have Checked On This? "With its relaunch on Thursday, Napster, the most notorious name in music downloads, will collide with the hottest music player on the market, the iPod. That's because music downloaded from Napster will not be playable on Apple's insanely popular iPod. The newly legal Napster service and the iPod use incompatible file formats." Wired 10/09/03

An Underground Musician With Tips For The Music Industry The recording industry is at war with its consumers. But "the industry's efforts are counterproductive. About 60 million people in the United States have already swapped copyrighted material over the Internet, and that number isn't likely to shrink. The times are a changin', and record companies should learn to how to profit in this new environment." A musician who sells his music in the New York subways and makes a good living at it has some tips for the industry. Washington Monthly 10/09/03

Embracing the Future "As the major record companies scramble to put a lid on peer-to-peer file-sharing networks like Morpheus and Kazaa, an upstart California record label is trying to revolutionize the industry by taking the opposite approach: making file sharing the heart of its business. Berkeley-based Magnatune calls its approach 'open music,' a blend of shareware, open source and grass-roots activism. The idea is to let users try music before they buy, and when they do, to give half of every sale to the artist. Magnatune's motto: 'We are not evil.'" Wired 10/08/03

And How Much Did This Wonder Of Technology Cost? The much-ballyhooed MediaMax CD3, a copy-protected disc which was designed to prevent its contents from being 'ripped' to computers and converted into digital music files, apparently needs fewer loopholes. The discs operate by launching a driver onto any computer into which they are inserted, and the driver blocks the ability to copy the disc. But the driver doesn't work on Mac or Linux machines, and a college student is already publicizing his discovery that the driver can be bypassed on Windows machines, simply by pressing the key. Wired (Reuters) 10/08/03

CD Sales Decline Accelerates The drop in CD sales worldwide is accelerating, reports an industry association. "The International Federation of the Phonographic Industries (IFPI) says sales fell by 10.9% in the first half of 2003, but by just 7.1% in 2002. The body blames the fall on commercial piracy and unauthorised internet music sharing." BBC 10/01/03

Unpopular, But Effective When the recording industry began suing consumers in an effort to scare users of peer-to-peer file trading networks into ceasing their illegal trading of copyrighted songs, the chorus of protest was heard across the country. The RIAA's move was called draconian, unnecessary, and absurd. But the strategy appears to be working: new site tracking numbers out this week show that usage of the leading file-trading service, Kazaa, is down 41% over the last three months. Wired 09/30/03

RIAA Settles With 64 Downloaders "The Recording Industry Association of America says it has reached settlements with 64 people accused of downloading copyrighted music over the Internet as music companies try to combat piracy they say cost them $700 million." Earlier this month the RIAA sued 261 people for file-trading. Denver Post (Bloomberg) 09/29/03

Music Piracy Outside The US - What Are The Tactics? "Music executives abroad are scrutinizing the American industry's legal campaign against people who share files on the Internet. But many doubt such tactics would work in their countries, given the relative weakness of laws protecting copyrights and the ubiquity of the activity. 'People in their 60's are burning CD's at home. Housewives, who should be cooking, are burning. It's not like we can go after 80-year-old men or 12-year-old kids. We have to find the right approach'." The New York Times 09/26/03

Celebrating Tape "Forty years ago this month, Phillips launched the compact audio cassette at the 1963 Berlin Radio Show, and our relationship with music has never been quite the same since. Portable, cheap and relatively robust, the new format was an instant success. By the early 1970s, we were voraciously recording music onto blank cassettes: LPs, concerts, tunes from the radio. " The Guardian (UK) 09/26/03

The Truth About Illegal Downloading File-trading is unquestionably illegal. It is very clearly an act which closely approximates stealing. So why can't the recording industry get any support for its efforts to stop the piracy? Simple, says Russell Smith. Corporate slimeballs who ignore good music in favor of brainless pap don't deserve any sympathy, and everyone knows it. "File-sharing is a rejection of the social power of bland culture. Why should we pay for crap?" The Globe & Mail (Canada) 09/25/03

  • Recording Industry Withdraws Lawsuit Against Grandparents The recording industry has withdrawn a suit filed against granparents who say they've never downloaded music. "They use a Macintosh, which cannot even run the Kazaa file-sharing service they are accused of using illegally'. "This is what happens when you sweep away all the due process protections and all the privacy protections. Those are the kinds of things that would stop this before it gets to the stage where you sue some nice old lady who did nothing wrong." Wired 09/24/03

File-Share Company Sues Recording Companies The company behind the Kazaa file-sharing software is suing recording companies who are trolling Kazaa for copyright violators. "Sharman said the companies used Kazaa Lite, an ad-less replica of its software, to get onto the network. The lawsuit also claims efforts to combat piracy on Kazaa violated terms for using the network. Entertainment companies have offered bogus versions of copyright works and sent online messages to users." The Star-Tribune (Mpls) (AP) 09/24/03

EMI's Play For Warner Not Playing Well With Banks Recording giant EMI confirms that it is in talks to buy Warner Music. But analysts say that EMI's enormous debt is an imprediment to the deal, and its creditors are ready to downgrade its borrowing capacity. "They have very limited debt capacity and if they were to buy a valuable and profitable business it would have some earnings with it, but our concern is that there is not a lot of scope to increase the overall debt leverage." The Guardian (UK) 09/23/03

Malaysia Lowers CD Prices The Malaysian government has decreed a new maximum price for CDs sold there. And it's a significant cut in price from the previous ceiling. Artists are trying to be philosophical: "Without compromising on quality, we can still release a good album. But instead of recording 10 songs at the cost of RM50,000, we can produce five songs under RM25,000. It's just a matter of choosing between quality and quantity. After all, who said an album should comprise 10 songs? And for this new format to work, the industry should work together and not go against one another." New Straights-Times (Malaysia) 09/24/03

Why Suing Technology Doesn't Work Trying to fight new technologies with legal tactics is a losing strategy. Trying to block file-sharing will only delay the technology, not stop it. "Technologies can be stubborn. Efforts to knock them down can send them rebounding back with a new twist. In the case of encryption, the technology continued to grow more powerful and researchers poked holes in the government's weaker alternatives. In the case of peer-to-peer applications, the makers have found increasingly clever ways to help traders act anonymously, and without a centralized service that can be shut down." The New York Times 09/22/03

Recording Companies Who Cheer On File-Traders (And The Musicians Who Love Them) The recording industry isn't solidly against file-sharing. Indeed smaller labels benefit from file-trading. "File sharing, these owners say, helps their small companies compete against conglomerates with deeper pockets for advertising and greater access to radio programmers. 'Our music, by and large, when kids listen to it, they share it with their friends. Then they go buy the record; they take ownership of it'." The New York Times 09/22/03

Why Punishing Downloaders Won't Work "The urge to cast downloading as a kind of black-and-white moral issue that simply needs to be made plain to the kids so that they will knock it off is understandable, but it's also wishful thinking. An estimated 60 million people have downloaded songs illicitly, which makes the phenomenon bigger than a youth fad. It's more like speeding or marijuana use - activities that many people in a wide range of ages know are 'wrong' in a technical sense but not in a behavioral sense. By now, even if the music industry is right on the legal argument, it can't win the moral one." The New York Times 09/21/03

EMI To Buy Time Warner Music? Recording giant EMI says it is in talks to buy AOL Time Warner's music business. "British-based EMI, which tried and failed to merge with AOL Time Warner's Warner Music three years ago, stressed that the talks were not advanced and a deal may not materialize." Yahoo! (AP) 09/21/03

Canadian Blank CD Tax Generates $19 Million For Music Industry A Canadian tax on blank CD and audio cassette sales is expected to pay out $19 million to composers, performers, publishers and record labels in the next three months. "The payments are calculated from two measurable factors - the airplay songs get on radio, TV networks and individual music programs, and the record sales logged and reported by labels." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 09/19/03

Big Recording Companies Jockey For Ownership Music recording giants BMG and Warner seem on the verge of forging an alliance worth $2 billion. EMI, which has been circling Warner and appears to be gearing up for another run at the company, would likely find the alliance too costly to swallow. The Guardian (UK) 09/18/03

Appeals Court To Scrutinize RIAA A federal court is challenging the recording industry's assertion that consumers who have copyrighted material available to others on their home computers are guilty of illegal distribution. Judge John Roberts is asking the industry to clarify how such practices are any different from an open library door. But the judge also has some tough questions for the telecommunications companies who have been subpoenaed by the RIAA, telling the lawyer for Verizon Communications, "You make a lot of money off piracy." Wired 09/17/03

Now You've Done It! You Woke Up Congress! Senator Sam Brownback has had about enough of the recording industry's legal crusade against illegal file-swapping, and, since he makes laws for a living, he's making a law intended to make it tougher for the industry to keep up its pursuit. Among other things, "the legislation would require owners of digital media to file a John Doe lawsuit to obtain the identifying information of an Internet user, rather than simply requesting a subpoena." Wired 09/17/03

RIAA's Failed Strategy The recording industry is doing itself n o favors with its war on music file traders. "In its current action, the RIAA, which is claiming damages of thousands of dollars per download, may have the law on its side, but that will matter little in the end. Indeed, it's far from clear whether the group's legal threats will even have any, let alone much, impact on unauthorized file sharing. There's no mass exodus [from file-sharing services], that's safe to say. Ironically, usage this week and this month is up... More important, even if the RIAA is somehow successful in actually stamping out file sharing (which it won't be), that doesn't mean that CD sales will necessarily pick up. "Many of these individuals [who use file-sharing services] have gotten out of the habit of buying CDs. They think CDs are too expensive." Reason 09/15/03

Suing Kids -Maybe Not The Most Sympathetic Strategy The recording industry could have made itself sympathetic - all those people downloading and stealing music. But suing music lovers... and a 12-year-old girl no less... "Suddenly, the trade association - in its effort to squelch illegal music sharing over peer-to-peer networks such as Kazaa and Grokster - looked more like a schoolyard bully." San Jose Mercury-News 09/15/03

Music Without Flavor These days, you can walk into a WalMart and buy a CD full of classical music carefully chosen to pair perfectly with your Sunday brunch. Or your Saturday night date. Or a quiet dinner with friends. "All of this would be funny were it not for the wasting disease it represents. Call it silence deprivation. One of the reasons music tastes less good for a lot of us these days is that it increasingly lacks beginnings and ends. It is the blank spaces that surround music that give it shape — allow it to breathe. Music not framed by the absence of music really isn't music. Nor is music at dinner. Works of Brahms are not well served when they accompany pork chops. It is not fair to the pork chops either." The New York Times 09/14/03

Lawsuits No Deterrent To File-Swapping The recording industry was hoping that the 261 lawsuits it filed against file-swapping music fans last month might have a chilling effect on the whole online piracy problem. But in fact, the opposite seems to be true: according to one independent research firm, "the number of people using these file sharing services in the first 10 days of September is up more than 20 percent from the August average." Of course, the industry will be going ahead with the lawsuits, regardless... BBC 09/12/03

Recordings And Porn - A Reason To Object? The recording industry seems to be hitching its objections to file-trading to the porn industry. "It said that peer-to-peer file-sharing - the technology used by Internet sites like Kazaa and Morpheus - was bad not only because citizens could share music without paying for it, but also because it was used to swap pornographic images. One odd thing here: If you tweak that sentiment just a little bit, it becomes: We join our friends the child pornographers in deploring file-sharing of protected works of art." San Francisco Chronicle 09/11/03

Twelve-Year-Old Settles Download Suit The mother of the 12-year-old music downloader sued by the recording industry has paid to settle the suit. "Brianna LaHara, of New York, was one of 261 people served with a lawsuit by the Recording Industry of America (RIAA). She has admitted swapping music online, and her mother has agreed to pay $2,000 to settle the case." Wired 09/10/03

Recording Companies Sue 12-Year-Old A 12-year-old girl was among those sued by the recoding industry for music file swapping. "I got really scared. My stomach is all turning. I thought it was OK to download music because my mom paid a service fee for it. Out of all people, why did they pick me?" Fox News 09/09/03

Big Music's Problems Beyond The File Traders File trading is only one of the recording companies' problems. "Among the problems they cited were the consolidation of radio stations, making it harder to expose new bands and records, and the lack of a widely popular musical trend like teen-pop, which relied on stars like Britney Spears and `N Sync to drive young people to record stores. They also blamed a poor economy and competition for the limited time and money of teenagers and young adults, their main customers, who often find that they prefer buying DVD's, video games, sneakers and more. Indeed, thousands of music retail stores have closed recently, and the ones that are still open have given shelf space to competing products, like DVD's and video games." The New York Times 09/09/03

News Flash: Customers Don't Like You If You Sue Them Prosecuting file traders isn't likely to win recording companies many fans. "Some music industry analysts and file-trading fans question whether the strategy will do much to further the RIAA's goal of boosting legitimate music sales. If you're trying to instill fear, you may have success. But if you're trying to increase CD sales by getting people to stop sharing music, I don't think it will have any effect at all." Wired 09/09/03

The "Booker Prize" Of Music? The Mercury Prize was "conceived in the early 1990s by Jon Webster, then MD of Virgin Records, who envisaged it as 'the Booker Prize of the music industry'. It would be independent of both the record companies and the music retailers, but endorsed by both. Its serious image would encourage ageing music fans to explore new albums as well as buying CD copies of their old vinyl favourites. And it would promote modern music as 'art'. But it's the sheer unpredictability of the Mercury that makes it so charming. Don't ever believe anyone who says they know who is or isn't going to win. And has it achieved its original objectives?" The Guardian (UK) 09/09/03

CD Price-Cut Is Desperation Play Not hard to figure out why Universal is cutting CD prices. "After years of gouging customers, the recording industry is desperate. Sparked by Napster, and continued through such file-swapping services as Kazaa, Morpheus, and Grokster, the free-music revolution has left the major labels reeling and hemorrhaging. And CD prices, which despite promises to the contrary have steadily increased through the years, turned off even those who weren't inclined to sit at their computers downloading their favorite tracks. Now, with CD sales already down almost 16 percent this year - after a 9 percent decline in 2002 - the industry is so rattled it has had to resort to something it has arrogantly avoided for years: a move that will benefit, instead of undermine, music consumers." Boston Globe 09/09/03

Universal Price Cut - Just Desperation Universal's decision to cut prices by 30 percent is a blockbuster. "It's a historic move - the first time prices have been trimmed across the board by a major label in the 20-year history of the CD - but it comes at a time when the music industry as we know it is fast becoming history." The price cut is too little too late. Chicago Tribune 09/08/03

Recording Industry Files Lawsuits Against File-Traders The recording industry began filing lawsuits against file-traders. Monday 261 suits were filed. "On average, the music traders had made over 1,000 music files available to others on P2P networks like Kazaa. The most egregious offender sued had shared over 3,000 files." Wired 09/08/03

A File-Trading Amnesty You Should Resist "Should you take the RIAA up on its amnesty offer? Maybe not. The "Clean Slate" program promises that the RIAA won't pursue legal action against P2P pirates who send in a notarized affidavit declaring that they've wiped all copyright-infringing materials from their disk drives and who vow not to file-share again. But lawyers at the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco say there are multiple reasons to sit tight for now, rather than rush to sign and deliver what amounts to an admission of guilt." Slate 09/08/03

Universal Strings For CD Price-Cuts Universal's plan to cut the suggested retail price of its CD's comes with some strings that won't endear it to retailers. "Universal's cut turns out to be a complex proposal that comes with many conditions for retailers. In order to get a wholesale price cut, retailers would have to make concessions to Universal. Those concessions include such items as guaranteed shelf space and special promotions for the company's releases." Minneapolis Star-Tribune 09/05/03

Discount Pressure Influenced Universal? Universal's price cuts sound good, but the company was likely influenced in its decision by discount chain stores. "Universal executives downplay the notion that giant discounters directly forced the world's largest record label to lower the wholesale price of most CDs by 25% and the suggested retail price by as much as 32%. But it was certainly more than coincidence that the amount Universal suggests consumers will now pay for its CDs — around $10 — is the same one that has become common in the weekly circulars distributed by big chains such as Best Buy." Los Angeles Times 09/05/03

Downloader Amnesty - But There's A Price The recording industry is ready to offer amnesty to music downloaders. But there are conditions. "To be eligible, sources said, people would have to cleanse their computers of all the tunes they downloaded without permission and destroy any CDs they burned with those songs. They'd also have to submit a notarized form to the RIAA, possibly with some official identification, pledging not to run afoul of copyright laws again." Los Angeles Times 09/05/06

Privacy Fears May Doom Amnesty Plan Will downloaders take up the music industry's offer of amnesty? Not likely. "I would think that many of the people who have downloaded music would be concerned about their privacy rights. To put identifying information into a database that the RIAA owns will turn people off, and therefore the program will not succeed." Wired 09/07/03

CD Price Cut - Great Move or Too Little, Too Late Reactions are mixed to Universal's announcement that it will cut CD prices by 30 percent. "It as been hailed by some observers as a move guaranteed to revitalize the moribund recording industry, and by others as an act of capitulation by a giant brought to its knees by the revenue-sucking effects of illegal Internet music file-sharing and copying on home computers." Toronto Star 09/05/03

Study: CD's Will Die A new study says that CDs will go the way of vinyl, to be replaced by downloadable music. "On-demand services are the future of entertainment delivery. CDs, DVDs, and any other forms of physical media will become obsolete." CNN.com 09/04/03

Universal To Lower CD Prices by 30 Percent As CD sales have dropped 15 percent in the past two years, recording companies have become more shrill in their contention that piracy is hurting their business. On the other hand, maybe CD prices are just too high. So Universal - one of the Big Five - is dropping its album prices. Come October, the company will lower the "suggested" price in the US for most CDs to $13 - down from $17-19. BBC 09/04/03

  • EMI Exec: CDs Aren't Overpriced An EMI exec defends the pricing system for CDs. "The gap between the perception of how record companies like EMI work and the actual reality is now a chasm. I sometimes wonder if it's because music is intangible that people forget that there are many more costs involved than merely manufacturing a piece of plastic." BBC 09/04/03

Whither The Record Industry? "The popularity of Apple's iTunes song service has demonstrated that customers like to pick and choose their songs online. New statistics from the music industry indicate that labels are shipping more singles to stores, too. But whether the stats signal the return of the single is still a bit of a puzzle." The industry denies that it is making any sort of concentrated effort to market the single more heavily as an alternative to illegal song-swapping, but "faced with falling CD sales for the third year in a row, it's to the music industry's benefit to offer music in formats that consumers will pay for." Wired 09/04/03

  • CD Prices To Drop The world's largest producer of CDs has announced that it will drop the price of the average disc sold in the U.S. by 30% this fall. Universal, which has suffered from a 3-year slump in album sales, will lower the retail price of an average CD from $17-$19 to $13, and lower the wholesale cost from $12.02 to $9.09. The price cut is seen as an acknowledgement by Universal that the problems of the industry go beyond the phenomenon of online piracy, and that consumers are no longer content to pay inflated prices for pop music. BBC 09/04/03

Is Software Code Art? Creative Expression? "The issue of patents for software and business methods has been causing a stir in America ever since the Patent and Trademark Office started issuing patents on internet business methods in 1998, most famously that for one-click shopping. Proponents argue that these patents provide the necessary incentives to innovate at a time when more inventions are computer-related. Critics claim that such intellectual monopolies hinder innovation, because software giants can use them to attack fledgling competitors. Moreover, as software is often built on the achievements of others, writing code could become a legal hurdle race. By analogy, if Haydn had patented the symphony form, Mozart would have been in trouble." The Economist 09/04/03

Pirates Fighting Back When the recording industry began going after individuals for the practice of illegal online 'song-swapping,' many predicted that the pirates would not be cowed. At least one target of the industry's lawsuits is indeed fighting back: a US woman known as "nycfashiongirl" has filed suit against her pursuers, claiming that the industry's tracking of her internet usage violates her right to privacy. BBC 09/03/03

What Happens If You Just Give Education Away? "When MIT announced to the world in April 2001 that it would be posting the content of some 2,000 classes on the Web, it hoped the program - dubbed OpenCourseWare - would spur a worldwide movement among educators to share knowledge and improve teaching methods. No institution of higher learning had ever proposed anything as revolutionary, or as daunting. MIT would make everything, from video lectures and class notes to tests and course outlines, available to any joker with a browser. The academic world was shocked by MIT's audacity - and skeptical of the experiment. At a time when most enterprises were racing to profit from the Internet and universities were peddling every conceivable variant of distance learning, here was the pinnacle of technology and science education ready to give it away. Not the degrees, which now cost about $41,000 a year, but the content. No registration required. It's a profoundly simple idea that was not intuitive." Wired 08/03

The "Distributed" Library An experiment in the San Francisco area tries to create a virtual "distributed" library. "List the books and videos that you own. You will then have access to the multitude of books and videos available in other people's collections. You can search for specific authors or titles, browse individual collections, find nearby users, or find people who like books in common with yours. You will have access to user-written reviews and have the opportunity to write your own. If the owner of a book or video you're interested in has time for you to pick it up, you can check out items for a 2, 7, 14, or 30 day period (at the owner's discretion). Returning books late will get you negative feedback, while returning books promptly will get you positive feedback." Community Books 08/03

How To Catch A Pirate "The music industry's methods of tracking down suspected music pirates have been revealed for the first time. Using digital fingerprints, or 'hashes', investigators say they can tell if an MP3 file was downloaded from an unauthorised service. The industry also tracks 'metadata' tags, which provide hidden clues about how files were created." The methods of detection were revealed in the proceedings of an industry lawsuit against a file-trader known by her screenname, 'Nycfashiongirl,' who is accused of offering over 900 copyrighted and illegally obtained songs for free download. BBC08/28/03

iTunes - Not Such A Good Deal After All People are raving about Apple's iTunes. But it's not a good deal for consumers, or for artists. "Apple takes a 35% cut from every song and every album sold, a huge amount considering how little they have to do. Record labels receive the other 65% of each sale. Of this, major label artists will end up with only 8 to 14 cents per song, depending on their contract. Many of them will never even see this paltry share because they have to pay for producers and recording costs, both of which can be enormous. Until the musician 'recoups' these costs, when you buy an iTunes song, the label gives them nothing." Downhillbattle 08/26/03

Demise Of The Record Store Clerk "Like their counterparts at book and video stores, record clerks shape our experience of culture as decidedly as any critic, curator or culture-industry executive. They're street-level tastemakers, part of a breed that's entered pop mythology. But despite these glamorous associations, serious clerks have become an endangered species. The Internet, with outfits like book and CD merchant Amazon and DVD service Netflix, is put- ting stores, which offer the joy of browsing, serendipity and human contact, out of business." Los Angeles Times

CD's Are Forever? HA! So you're transferring your music to recordable CD's so you'll have them forever? Better think again. A Dutch magazine tested CD's that had been recorded less than two years ago and discovered many of them no longer play. "It is presumed that CD-Rs are good for at least 10 years. Some manufacturers even claim that their CD-Rs will last up to a century. From our tests it's concluded however that there is a lot of junk on the market. We came across CD-Rs that should never have been released to the market. It's completely unacceptable that CD-Rs become unusable in less than two years." CDFreaks 08/24/03

Music - Best Of Times, Worst Of Times "For the past few years, the music industry has been awash in gloom and doom. The grim chorus is now as familiar to the public as any top 40 hit: Piracy has gutted profits, CD sales are going steadily south for the first time since the format was introduced in the 1980s, corporate conglomeration has stultified any art in the business of recording and concerts. All of that is true, and in private even the titans of the business express fears that probably echo the anxious mutterings of railroad barons in the days when Model T's began rolling down the line. But here is the funny thing lost in the histrionics: Today may be the very best time to be a music fan, especially one looking for a connection to a favorite artist or guidance and access to the exotic or rare." Fort Worth Star-Telegram (LATimes) 08/24/03

Australian Court Fines Big Music Companies Music giants Warner and Universal have been fined $2 million in Australia for trying to coerce retailers into not selling budget CD's. "The commission originally launched legal action after the companies first threatened then refused to supply four Australian retailers that stocked so-called parallel-imported CDs." The Age (Melbourne) 08/23/03

Downloaders: What Constitutes "Light" Use? The recording industry says it will only prosecute "light" users of music file-trading services. But what does that mean? "Because the RIAA has refused to quantify what constitutes a 'substantial' amount of file sharing, file sharers are left to wonder whether they are vulnerable to litigation." Wired 08/20/03

  • Previously: Recording Industry: We Won't Pursue Little Guys The recording industry tells a US Congressional committee that it isn't pursuing small-time music downloaders to prosecute them. "RIAA is gathering evidence and preparing lawsuits only against individual computer users who are illegally distributing a substantial amount of copyrighted music." Wired 08/19/03

Album Sales Hit Record Level In UK Deflating the recording industry's claims that downloading is killing their business, recording sales in the UK have scored a record high. "After a dip in the first quarter of the year, sales hit a new peak of 228.3m at the end of June, almost 3% up on last year. The figure published yesterday by the British Phonographic Industry marks the fifth consecutive year that album sales have topped 200m." The Guardian (UK) 08/18/03

  • Lower Prices And They Will Buy "For years record buyers have complained that CDs are overpriced and the music industry has responded by saying, as politely as possible, put up or shut up. Now, panicked by the pirates, they've finally been compelled to slash prices to a reasonable level and sales have reached an all-time high. Profits are down but that's what happens when you stop charging £16.99 for an item that costs 50p to manufacture." The Guardian (UK) 08/18/03

Your Music Future - Coming Soon The way we get and consume music is changing. Fast. "We are now on the edge of an entertainment revolution. It's all driven by technology, like the Internet 2.0. First, it established new ways of communication - e-mail and Web sites. The next wave will be about entertainment and its distribution. By year-end, it will be here." Newsday 08/16/03

US Senate To Investigate Recording Industry Tactics A US Senate subcommittee will investigate the tactics of the Recording Industry Association of America's to go after music downloaders. The committe will "look at not just the scope of that campaign but also the dangers that downloaders face by making their personal information available to others. Senator Norm Coleman said he would review legislation that would expand criminal penalties for downloading music." Wired 08/15/03

All Your Music, All Online Microsoft announces a new deal that will allow computer users to download music from all five major recording companies. "The new venture will be accessed through Microsoft's Windows Media Player software and will allow users to download songs from a choice of more than 200,000 by major artists." The Guardian (UK) 08/15/03

Internet Providers Protest Recording Industry Tactics A coalition of 100 internet service providers is protesting against the Recording Industry Association of America's tactics trying to force ISP's to turn over names of customers the RIAA suspects of downloading music. The group "contends the RIAA's enforcement tactics would essentially force its members, such as EarthLink and America Online, to act as the 'police of the Internet' for the recording industry's interests." The NewsHour 08/13/03

Is Technology Progress Threatened? "The defining political conflict of the 21st century is shaping up to be the battle over the future of technology. Fortunately, technological progress doesn't just have opponents; it also has boosters. The rise of neo-Luddism is calling forth self-conscious defenders of technological progress. Growing numbers of extropians, transhumanists, futurists and others are entering the intellectual fray to do battle against the neo-Luddite activists who oppose biotechnology, nanotechnology, and new intelligence technologies." Reason 08/13/03

Music Giants To Merge? Two of the big five music recording companies - Warner and BMG - are in final negotiations to merge. "The industry heavyweights are negotiating the nuts and bolts of combining their recorded music empires but are closing in on an agreement that would create the world's second-biggest music company, the sources said." Toronto Star (Reuters) 08/13/03

I Just Called To Hear That Pop Song... In the UK, consumers are buying songs for the ringers of their mobile phones. The tones generate huge profits for recording companies. "An estimated £70m of ringtones will be sold in 2003 - up from £40m in 2002. Most pop hits are available to buy as mobile phone rings - as are other popular tunes such as TV themes - for between £1.50 and £3.50. Many young mobile phone-owners change their ringtones regularly to keep up with the latest songs." BBC 08/12/03

Warning The Kids On File-Sharing College students will be getting a warning this fall when they return to school. "Specifically they'll be warned they can lose their Internet access or get slapped with a costly copyright infringement lawsuit if they aren't careful about uploading and downloading files using programs like Kazaa." San Francisco Chronicle 08/11/03

Music Technology - Problem Or Solution? Recording companies blame file-sharing for much of their current woes, and they're getting increasingly aggressive about going after file traders. "Yet no matter what the label lawyers say, technology itself isn't the problem. The problem is how the technology is used, and how copyrights are protected with those new uses. Along with that comes the challenge of rebuilding relationships with consumers who are increasingly treated like criminals. Sooner or later, companies will have to shift their emphasis from policing and throwing up roadblocks to their exclusive material and move toward inspiring listeners, engaging them, bringing them into more active modes of listening and interacting with music." Philadelphia Inquirer 08/10/03

Are Recording Labels Irrelevant These Days? "Record labels these days are the stuff of great melodrama in the decline-of-Rome battles between petulant artists and the fading major brand names that print their work onto CDs. But music lovers these days know more about who built the blank CDs stacked in their ripping rooms than the name of the record company that puts out Queens of the Stone Age or Ashanti." Denver Post 08/05/03

Death Of The Single? Is the record single a dead item? "High promotional costs mean the industry doesn't make much money from the sale of a single. But singles attract new consumers (teenagers buy more singles than any other age group) and drive album sales. Singles also generate valuable media interest - for instance, Blur v Oasis in the 90s. Britpop aside, the singles charts have not been much fun for many years." The Guardian (UK) 08/05/03

Designer Muzak... For the most part, background music played in elevators, stores and other public spaces is an irritation of modern life. But it's not going to ever go away. Now some designers are using background music as a branding opportunity. Designers try to match music to the brand image a store wants to project... Toronto Star 08/03/03

Unrepentant Pirates A new survey estimates that more than 35 million adults spend at least some amount of time downloading copyrighted material online without paying for it. The vast majority of these amateur pirates also claim to be indifferent to copyright law, saying that the legality of file-sharing 'doesn't concern them.' But the recording industry points out that the study was conducted before the industry announced plans to sue individuals found to be illegally downloading. BBC 08/01/03


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