Saturday, December 30, 2006

AACS is Unbreakable!

It's pretty amazing when you think about how hard Hollywood has fought to lock down video content and then a video like this shows just how easy it really is to make a personal copy or backup of DVD's that you buy...

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

P2P Digital Video Downloading Outpacing Legal Alternatives 5 to 1

The NPD Group posted a press release last week that confirms what everyone already knows - Adult-oriented content is the most popular genre among those who dowload video files via P2P. The research also indicates that:
  • Among U.S. households with members who regularly use the Internet, 8 percent (six million households) downloaded at least one digital video file (10MB or larger) from a P2P service for free in the third quarter of 2006.

  • Nearly 60 percent of video files downloaded from P2P sites were adult-film content, while 20 percent was TV show content and 5 percent was mainstream movie content.

Friday, December 15, 2006

New Radio Study Completed by FOMC

(Via press release) The Future of Music Coalition publicly released its report this week documenting the effects of radio station ownership consolidation on musicians and the public.

Data in the 116 page report shows that station ownership consolidation at the national and local levels has led to fewer choices in radio programming and harmed the listening public and those working in the music and media industries, including DJs, programmers and musicians.

Key points included in report:

* The top four radio station owners have almost half of the listeners and the top ten owners have almost two-thirds of listeners.

* The 'localness' of radio ownership – ownership by individuals living in the community -- has declined between 1975 and 2005 by almost one-third.

* Just fifteen formats make up three-quarters of all commercial programming. Moreover, radio formats with different names can overlap up to 80% in terms of the songs played on them.

* Niche musical formats like Classical, Jazz, Americana, Bluegrass, New Rock, and Folk, where they exist, are provided almost exclusively by smaller station groups.

* Across 155 markets, radio listenership has declined over the past fourteen years, a 22% drop since its peak in 1989. The consolidation allowed by the Telecom Act has failed to reverse
this trend."

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

New Akamai Index Measures Real-Time Global Consumption of Online Music

(from press release) The Akamai Net Usage Index for Digital Music is the world's first and only daily Web traffic benchmark that tracks where and when digital music is being consumed on a global basis. Key to the relevance of the index - is the fact that Akamai is the delivery platform for many of the leading global digital music companies - giving it a unique view into the daily Web traffic of music streaming and music download websites.

Akamia's index tracks and benchmarks global Web usage patterns of visitors to more than 40 digital music websites, including music download sites, music destination sites, and live radio broadcast services, such as XM Satellite Radio, Clear Channel, Premiere Radio, MTV, and Napster, among others.

According to Brad Rinklin, vice president of Marketing, "The Net Usage Index for Digital Music data will help the industry by providing empirical data on consumer behavior and online music."

Data collected from the Index over the past three months shows key geographic patterns and insight into Web traffic trends associated with downloaded and streamed digital music:

  • North America, Asia, and Europe represent the bulk of visitor traffic to these sites
  • Daily peak traffic worldwide is more than half a million visitors per minute
  • Traffic peaks in North America and Europe tend to occur mid-week, while peaks in Asia and Australia come toward the end of the week
  • Sunday is consistently the slowest day for visitors to these sites

The Index provides a global aggregate view of total visitors per minute, as well as a detailed view by continent, from a collection of digital music sites delivered by Akamai. All of the sites included in the index provide digital music streaming or downloads as their core business. Akamai's Net Usage Index offers businesses real-time information about the usage habits of visitors to their sites, and an industry benchmark to measure against. Anyone interested in data from the Index can view an aggregate, real-time view of Web traffic patterns online.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Superdistribution = ZUNE's Compensated Sharing + WEEDSHARE

With all the ZUNE-bashing lately, here's an interesting article from last Wednesday's Good Morning Silicon Valley, which talks about one of the most innovative and distinguishing business models out there called WEEDSHARE and Microsoft's recent desire to use it....umm...I mean share it :-) It's been updated twice since the original post (with some inquisitive patent comments at the end) and also picked up by Gizmodo.

The key point here is that the folks over at Weedshare are now sitting in the pole position to fully "exploit the intellectual property on which a core feature of a major Microsoft product is based."

Monday, November 27, 2006

Digital Music Market to reach $15 Billion by 2010

According to the latest research from iSuppli, The global market for digital recorded music, delivered both via broadband and over mobile-phone networks, is expected to grow by nearly six-fold during the period from 2005 to 2010.

Due to the rapid growth of these two segments, iSuppli believes the worldwide market for digital recorded music will reach $14.9 billion in revenue by 2010, expanding at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 40.7 percent from $2.7 billion in 2005. Meanwhile, the market for physically distributed music, i.e. music CDs, will decline to $19.6 billion by 2010, down from $27.3 billion in 2005.

Major trends in digital music include:

  • The emerging competitive battle between mobile and broadband music services.-- Mobile/cellular music's generation of new revenue streams, as well as comparatively lower piracy risk and new forms of music derivatives.
  • The strong expansion of broadband music revenue in North America, and the nascent growth in Europe and Japan.
  • The vertical integration of the music playback devices, software and online stores, as more competitors mimic Apple's successful iTunes/iPod model.
  • The rising number of mobile music track downloads and the increasing sales of music-enabled phones as a competitive threat to broadband music and standalone MP3 players. Music-enabled phones already out-ship MP3 players by a factor of more than 2 to 1.

Of these, the most important trend in digital music is the increasing competition between broadband music distribution and mobile network music distribution.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Rhapsody Releases White Paper

The folks over at Rhapsody have released a new 33 page PDF white paper which provides an overview of Rhapsody DNA, the music software platform that enables integration of the Rhapsody experience directly into hardware, software and the Web. Rhapsody DNA is an extension to the Rhapsody music service that provides the entire technology stack needed for a Rhapsody-branded consumer facing experience. Rhapsody DNA provides the consumer with secure, personalized end-to-end hardware, software and browser access to music and music assets. (The white paper also serves as an introduction to the Rhapsody DNA SDKs...)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

DWA Publishes White Paper on P2P Copyright Issues

[via press release] "The Digital Watermarking Alliance (DWA), an international group of industry leading companies, recently announced a new white paper that discusses how digital watermarking can effectively address the copyright and content identification issues facing the peer-to-peer (P2P) and social networking communities.

The PDF white paper outlines how content owners can embed digital watermarks as content identifiers and digital media serial numbers into entertainment content to communicate the identity of copyrighted works. Because digital watermarks inherently survive the "ripping" process and format conversions, copyrighted songs, movies, TV or radio programming and images can be identified on P2P systems and online communities such as MySpace, YouTube, Google and Yahoo.

With technology that has been proven to be effective in billions of media objects, including music, TV, movies and digital images, P2P and online content sharing providers have the opportunity to work with content owners to deploy systems to detect digitally watermarked content as it is introduced into those systems and help ensure proper usage or compensation in accordance with rights."

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Nationwide Survey of 1,000 Digital Music Users

Below are the key findings of a recent report commissioned by and conducted by Insight Express via the Internet from June 8-12, 2006. Consumers are clearly frustrated trying to find new music online, but apparently, help is on the way...the answer is SOUNDFLAVOR DJ (powered by the Soundflavor Music Recommendation Engine) which is based on more than six years of research spanning nearly every music genre. In a nutshell, the new music software helps iTunes users quickly create great playlists, rediscover the songs in their library, and discover new music based on songs that they already like. If it works as advertised, this could turn out to be a very valuable tool to have...

- The average digital music collection is substantial: nearly half (49%) of digital music users have more than 500 songs stored on their computer or laptop.

- Digital music users are not listening to all of the songs that they like: 64% note that they have a lot of music that they like but forget to play.

- Digital music users have trouble finding new music online: 41% say they have a hard time finding new music that they like when shopping online.

- Retailers are missing out on a key opportunity to sell music: 84% of respondents would purchase more music if they found more of it that they liked.

- Digital music users want help building playlists and finding new music: 67% said that they would use a service that helps them shop for new music and create playlists based on music that they like.

Monday, October 02, 2006

DVD Jon Fairplays Apple

The Apple DRM solution has been reserve-engineered by "DVD Jon" and he's apparently going to license the solution to other companies who want their digital products on iPods, beyond MP3 quality..."Instead of breaking the DRM (something he’s already done), Jon has replicated it, andwants to license the technology to companies that want their content (music,movies, whatever) to play on Apple devices. This may not be good news foriTunes the store, but it could make the iPod even more popular."

Saturday, September 30, 2006

ComScore Releases U.S. Video Metrix Rankings

Video Metrix is the first and only service to track actual online streaming video behavior among U.S. Internet users, offering publishers and advertisers valuable insights into the emerging Internet video universe. According to the latest press release, Flash video content is now part of the monthly rankings for streaming video sites and as a result - Yahoo sites attract the most U.S. streamers while MySpace leads in number of streams among U.S. internet users.

comScore Video Metrix measures online video content served through all major media players, including: Flash, RealPlayer, Windows Media, QuickTime and DivX. (The service, which is based on streaming activity among U.S. Internet users, does not include measurement of digital rights management (DRM) content online, videos viewed through peer-to-peer (P2P) applications, or offline viewing of video content.)

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Future of the Internet - PART II

The Pew Internet Project announces the release of its second report on The Future of the Internet. (For the full report, please click HERE.) The report is built around respondents' responses to scenarios stretching to the year 2020 and hundreds of their written elaborations that address such things as the kinds of new social interactions that will occur when more "meetings" take place on screens; the changes that will occur in nation-states; the evolution of autonomous technology; and the proper ways to police the internet. According to the press release, a survey of internet leaders, activists, and analysts shows that a majority agree with predictions that by 2020:

o A low-cost global network will be thriving and creating new opportunities in a "flattening" world.

o Humans will remain in charge of technology, even as more activity is automated and "smart agents" proliferate. However, a significant 42% of survey respondents were pessimistic about humans' ability to control the technology in the future. This significant majority agreed that dangers and dependencies will grow beyond our ability to stay in charge of technology. This was one of the major surprises in the survey.

o Virtual reality will be compelling enough to enhance worker productivity and also spawn new addiction problems.

o Tech "refuseniks" will emerge as a cultural group characterized by their choice to live off the network. Some will do this as a benign way to limit information overload, while others will commit acts of violence and terror against technology-inspired change.

o People will wittingly and unwittingly disclose more about themselves, gaining some benefits in the process even as they lose some privacy.

o English will be a universal language of global communications, but other languages will not be displaced. Indeed, many felt other languages such as Mandarin, would grow in prominence.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Beyond The Soundbytes - The MusicTank Report

Since its inception in 2003, MusicTank has earned its title as the UK music business network- a collaborative community that overrides traditional industry partitions in all genres. The network also hosts regular think tanks which bring hot topics into sharp focus and help pinpoint the opportunities created by disruptive technologies.

"In composing this first ever review of MusicTank activity, Peter Jenner has summed up of-the-moment Think Tank debates, from DRM usage to the emerging possibilities of future radio, and has also taken this opportunity to look beneath the immediate issues to unearth the fundamental and seismic changes which new technology and new consumer attitudes continue to affect within all areas of the business. "

The main findings of the report, in terms of where the industry is now, where it should be, and how it can get there, are summed up in the freely available Executive Summary available HERE.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Apple's DRM Cracked Once Again!

Thanks to our friends over at the Wired Blog called the Listening Post, cracking Apples Fairplay DRM for the new iTunes 7 is pretty simple using version 2.3 of the application called QTFairUse6 created by the clever hackers inhabiting the pages of (The only drawback is that it removes the usability restrictions one song at a time and leaves you with a naked file in the AAC format - which doesn't work on every portable music player yet...)

(Correction: Only version 1.0 produced raw AAC files. Versions 2.0+ produce nicely playable .m4a files with all metadata intact.)

Saturday, September 09, 2006

White Paper Evaluates DRM

PRESS RELEASE: Last week The Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) released a document designed to help promote a greater public understanding of the choices and tradeoffs associated with products and services that include Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology.

An electronic PDF copy of the paper is available at:

A handy reference sheet is available at:

"The rapid emergence of DRM technology has sparked a serious policy debate between copyright owners, who say the technology is essential to protecting their works, and critics who warn that many DRM technologies threaten to undermine consumers' rights to use digital media. But as that debate rages, DRM products continue to enter the marketplace, leaving consumers to decide what tradeoffs they're willing to make when buying electronic media.

The paper tackles the complicated subject of copyright protection technology, offering a clear set of metrics for consumers and product reviewers to consider when evaluating DRM-protected devices and services. The goal of the paper is to educate users about what questions to ask to determine how various DRM applications may affect their ability to use movies, music, games and other media."

Thursday, September 07, 2006

The Digital Learning Challenge

Obstacles to Educational Uses of Copyrighted Material in the Digital Age - Click HERE to read the White Paper online, which reports on a year-long study by the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The study explores whether innovative educational uses of digital technology – everything from DVDs in the classroom to digital music libraries to online resources such as Wikipedia -- are hampered by copyright restrictions.

The foundational paper examines the relationship between copyright law and education. In particular, exploring whether innovative educational uses of digital technology are hampered by the restrictions of copyright. They found that provisions of copyright law concerning the educational use of copyrighted material, as well as the business and institutional structures shaped by that law, are among the most important obstacles to realizing the potential of digital technology in education. The paper builds on four detailed case studies of initiatives that have encountered such obstacles. Each of these initiatives is moving forward, but only by fighting against a copyright-related system that instead should be helping educators accomplish their goals...

While the primary task of the paper was to identify these obstacles, the paper concludes with some discussion of paths toward reform that might improve the situation. It suggests that certain types of legal reform, technological improvements in the rights clearance process, educator agreement on best practices, and increased use of open access distribution would help overcome the obstacles identified.It's available in HTML and PDF. You can also listen to an interview with McGeveran about the paper at AudioBerkman.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

NARM 2006 Video - "Top 10 Reasons Indies Do It Better"

Here's a 6 minute VIDEO of the American Association of Music (a2im) President, Don Rose and Membership Director, Rob Weitzner, discussing the Top 10 Reasons Indies Do It Better. After only 1 year in existence, the a2im has over 125 member labels and 60 associate members. (sorry in advance for the room echo!)

The "Indie Show" panel was sponsored by San Diego-based Royaltyshare, who officially announced at NARM a new digital royalty infrastructure solution and service for record labels and music distributors to track mechanical and artist royalties for sound recordings. RoyaltyShare will provide indies Web-based services (with no upfront or set-up fees) to clients, who are then billed 1.5% of all royalty revenues from sales of content on services like iTunes, Rhapsody and eMusic. Called Digital Advantage, the management system allows labels and distributors to easily aggregate, monitor and interpret a broad array of digital sales receipts.


The 2nd research presentation of the day was presented by Chris Muratore and Rob Sisco, from Nielsen SoundScan. It was reported that Nielsen is currently the only pan-american music tracking service and they are now seeing the trending in Europe. One example of this is that mobile full-track downloads are outpacing PC downloads across the pond...(It's worth noting that SoundScan tracks over 300 labels and that all the online digital music services report sales totals every week...) While it's easy to get excited with all the reported growth in digital, it's extremely important to keep in mind that it's still only 6% of the market. (Maybe someday we can also factor in streams and mobile sales to get a clearer picture, eh...?) Listed below are some of the highlights.

- The industry just experienced a sharp decline - 2nd lowest week since 1994 - with only 8.9 million sales. (2006 has had 36,866 new album releases with 13,210 being digital only.)

- Although CD album sales were down almost 8%, overall music purchases (which includes albums, singles and digital tracks) exceeded 1 billion for the first time ever! In other words, even though CD's aren't flying off the shelves, there was a 23% increase in overall paid music consumption - which is great news for the industry.

- Mass merchant channels (i.e., Best Buy, Target) continue to grow, hitting a 40% marketshare for the very first time.

- Internet album sales were up 11% over 2004 and digital album sales had 200% growth in 2005. (2006's digital album sales are up 123% over last year.)

- For you trivia lovers, the Black Eyed Peas have sold the most digital tracks of all time of any band at 6.3 million. (Eminem is 2nd at 5.8 mil and Green Day is third at 5.5. mil)

NARM - Day 3

Friday's NARM/NPD part III research results were delivered by Russ Crupnick from The NPD Group. (NARM promised to send the almost-completed report to its members soon, but if you were smart enough to have attended, NPD also gave out free USB stick drives with Parts I&II on them.) It's important to note that NPD's research did not look at the impact of ringtones.)

- There are just over 150 million music shoppers in the U.S. and the average revenue per person over age 13 is $8.85. (19% of music buyers walk in into the store and only buy 1 item, but the existence of bundles do help purchasing decisions.)

- Music consumption is up 12% as physical sales slide 8%. (Apple held 76% of the market in June 2006 for downoads)

- Consumers are not becoming less loyal - the problem is that there's too many choices and they're being overstimlated. The result is that there's a lot of competition for their time and money and the channels for music buying are becoming blurry.

- For the lighter browsing segments new demand has to be created while they sit on the couch and awareness levels have to be built before they even get into the car.

- Consumers spend nearly a day per week listening to music (89% of music buyers are on the web and spend 21 hours a week online)

- People are actually consuming more music than ever. Physical sales are off but music consumption is up 12% - mostly through unpaid means of acquisition. Some good news from the research (which I personally find hard to believe) indicates that consumers believe that music is every bit as good a value as DVD's.

- One new trend is that people are getting conditioned to do one-stop-shopping (i.e., Super Walmart, Super Target) and tend to get all their errands done at less stores.

- Nearly 9 out of 10 physical music buyers are unaware of kiosks, which could be better utilized to offer deeper and out-of-print catalogue choices.

- Consumers are willing to pay for more actual content (i.e. DVD) but the expectation is more value for same price. The avg. DVD price is $15.98.

Sunday, August 06, 2006


Day two of NARM's annual meeting started off with a brief presentation by president Jim Donio, where he gave an insightful overview of the industry and shared several ways in which NARM is trying to help its members. For example, the organization's Media On Demand task force has evolved into a broader Digital Entertainment Council to deal with the wider range of challenges facing the industry. Key advocacy priorities on the horizon are: music licensing reform (i.e., SIRA), Anti-piracy, improved ratings & labeling as well as more emphasis on artist development. Donio also announced that next year's Spring NARM meeting will be held in Chicago from April 29 - May 2nd.

Last week's sales numbers were not pretty. According to Nielsen SoundScan figures, physical album sales were the lowest they've been since January 1994. Although physical CD sales continue to decline when compared to last year's numbers, the simple fact is: America's passion for music remains. With the plethora of entertainment choices brought on by new technology, this basic passion has evolved though and retailers need to continually adapt or get out of the game. [Too many choices = situational shopping.] Any business that's going to be successful needs to have parallel paths.

One of the main challenges the industry faces is how to get the consumer 'off of the couch' with so many entertainment choices. To effectively meet this challenge, retailers need a much more sophisticated understanding of their shopper base. In addition, NARM's members need to work tirelessly with the distribution companies to raise awareness of new product releases, especially for new media formats.

Another industry-wide problem is that the configuration of certain CD/DVD sales data may be misleading when you actually sit down and try to analyze certain data trends. For example, are CD's that are included with DVD box sets counted as CD sales or a DVD sale, etc...? With all the numbers flying around this year's conference, it's interesting to note that ringbacks, subscriptions, kiosks and streaming sales are not normally factored into the music industry's overall sales figures. This is due to the fact that Soundscan only reports on album sales and digital song downloads. However, from a macro level when these additional sources are factored in, there are many new types of revenue streams that help paint a much brighter picture for the health of the industry.

The "State of Music Retail Discussion" consisted of several big box retailers including Gary Arnold, Sr. VP of Entertainment from Best Buy Enterprise and Darrell Tucker, VP Merchandising, from Target Stores. The general mood was positive - although Arnold thinks that the overall retail industry is "choppy", especially when considering the fact that Best Buy made more money last year selling MP3 players than CD's. John Marmaduke, CEO of Hastings Entertainment, stated that "CD burning and increased competition from video games are the driving forces behind the lagging sales and digital by itself - is not a bad thing...We've got to figure out how to make a living selling the long tail artists....Formulaic promotions may help (i.e., focusing on the 80's slice of the catalogue)."

During the same panel it was also mentioned that reversing the multi-year downward sales trend can possibly be achieved through the practice and execution of flawless category management and product mix modifications. In other words, if the retail experience is designed and delivered effectively - consumers will still patronize retail stores. Case in point: people don't necessarily go to Starbucks just for the's for the EXPERIENCE. However, changing the retail experience requires a lot of effort - which will no doubt result in some heavy experimentation and failures. During this transitional phase, one of the keys to success will be to stay flexible.

According to Target's Tucker, "the digital format was chosen by the consumer in a non-retail friendly way, so we're going through a cultural shift as a result and we're now only at the tip of the iceberg." Digital IS the revolution and no one company or entity will own the music business in totality.

Today's youth are hungry for content and knowledge about it. The fact is, kids aren't hanging out anymore at listening stations in the stores. With hundreds of new releases every year, how is the consumer to know or choose what to buy? Any customer assistance in this area would be helpful and welcomed. Thanks to p2p and the internet though, the average consumer now knows more than most music store clerks. Best Buy is aware of this problem and has over 7,000 employees tasked specifically to media. Basically, they're trying to create a community inside the company where these media employees can share and inspire one another.According to Maramaduke, "The music industry needs to figure out that you can't continue to do business the old way and wait to release all of your best titles in the 4th quarter. Music can't effectively compete with video and video game sales because they own this part of the fiscal year because they spend over a billion dollars in advertising...Unfortunately, the music industry isn't based on research - It's based on habit."

The morning session ended with a keynote by Chris Sacca, Google's Head of Special Initiatives. Sacca said that "the big opportunity in digital music is in developing the ecosystem: one that allows consumers to move content from the home to the car and between devices with ease." I couldn't agree more. Google appears to have reconsidered rumours of it's desire to make a retail play in music and is putting the brakes on music and other areas of digital entertainment, which I'm sure was a sigh of relief for NARM members.

The a2im's acting presdient Don Rose hosted the "Indie Show" skit in the afternoon which was tailored after David Letterman's show. Licensing opportunities in new arenas were discussed and the humorous approach was quite refreshing. Attendees heard from Bob French, Mix & Burn, Adam Sexton, Groove Mobile and Amaechi Uzoigwe, from World's Fair.To end the day in style, the Sony/BGM cocktail party was held on a massive 60 foot sailboat moored in the Gaylord's salt water lagoon and was as tropical as you could get without the humidity. (The entire resort is housed under a gigantic glass dome resulting in a theme-park- like atrium atmosphere with no insects and cool air conditioning everywhere you go).

Also noteworthy for NARM's history book, Sprint was onsite mobile-casting some of the nightly performances directly onto its Power Vision network. Loyal fans who couldn't make the show could tune in to a channel on Sprint TV and watch the performance stream live on their cell phones, which is an interesting new broadcast channel and delivery method...

NARM 2006 Photos

I've posted 20 photos of the 4-day NARM show just held at the Gaylord Palms in Kissimee, FL.Click HERE to see them on Flickr. I'm still working on summarizing my notes and editing some video footage. Check back soon as I will post more info and media from Days 2-4...


The 48th annual NARM show is officially underway at the spectacular new Gaylord Palms Resort in Kissimmee, FL with over 1,300 expected attendees. Established in 1958, NJ-based National Association of Recording Merchandisers (NARM) is a not-for-profit trade association that serves the music retailing community in the areas of networking, advocacy, information, education and promotion. NARM's members operate 7,000 storefronts that account for almost 85 percent of the music sold in the 12 billion U.S. music market.

If you're not familiar with what some insiders call "the event of the year", InSights & Sounds 06 is a 4-day conference where the industry comes to do business and prepare for the fourth quarter. Jim Donio, NARM president, states "Its mission is to help you meet the future armed with new business partners, critical analysis, fresh ideas and the camaraderie of a shared passion for music." Through multiple panel discussions, presentations and keynotes, valuable insights from the entertainment industry's top leaders are shared with members and attendees. All of this information is designed to give you an overview of where the industry is now, where it's going and where it could be. In addition, there's an eclectic line-up of established and undiscovered world class performing artists. Tonight's performances start at 9:30pm:

- Paolo Nutini, Atlantic Records
- PF Sloan, Hightone Records/Rhino
- Lupe Fiasco, 1st & 15th / Atlantic Records
- Tego Calderon, Jiggiri / Atlantic Records

Today's afternoon action started with a morphed version of Speed Dating from 2-5pm, where one-on-one meeting opportunities were arranged in advance to easily help you discover and develop important business contacts. This year, NARM has extended these unique meetings to last 3 days and participants can use this focused time to get to know potential new trading partners.

One innovative new product I learned about was from Marware. The company has invented a retractable cord wrap and stand for the video iPod called the Sidewinder.Very cool! Also, the well stuffed conference goodie bag had 10 Cd's, 1 cassette, a live double DVD set from Jimmy Buffet, a t-shirt and more...

Background Music For Your Cell Phone?

As if Ringtones, ringbacks and drop-tones weren't enough, Indian cellular provider has launched a customized background music (BGM) solution as its latest offering, allowing users to play music in the background during a call..."Technically, it is a conference service, which involves the calling party, called party and the music playing entity, which is also, part of the conference. This entity is responsible for playing back music during the conversation." Apparently, 170,000 mobile subscribers have already tried the service but don't hold your breath - this is just another idea thrown at the wall to see if there is stickiness - and there's not!

Phanfare vs. YouTube

Apparently, many people are surprised that when they post their user-generated digital media content to online places like MySpace and YouTube, they're actually giving these popular destinations the right to distribute it, sell ads against it, and generally make money from it...But don't be surprised...this is a new type of business model - aggregating an audience around consumer generated content and then making money by selling access to that audience in one way, shape or form.

Phanfare, however, claims to be a little different. 'With Phanfare, you are paying to publish and archive your video. Not only do you retain the rights to your content, but we claim no right to distribute, remarket, or otherwise make money on your content. Phanfare’ s positioning and business model fits better with the needs of the mainstream who are not seeking anonymous attention but instead seek to maintain a semi-private collection of photos and videos."

Microsoft Will Pay You To Leave iTunes

According to Engadget, Microsoft is actually going to pay for users to switch to Zune - which is quite a risky (but compelling) value proposition..."To attract current iPod users Microsoft is going to let you download for free any songs you've already bought from the iTunes Music Store. They'll actually scan iTunes for purchased tracks and then automatically add those to your account. Microsoft will still have to pay the rights-holders for the songs, but they believe it'll be worth it to acquire converts to their new player."

Microsoft Confirms Competition for iTunes/iPod

Well it's official...Last week, MSFT confirmed a new music and entertainment project called Zune which promises to deliver a family of hardware and software products expected to compete with Apple's market leading ecosystem consisting of the iTunes / iPod. The Zune brand is being billed as a "music and entertainment" project aimed at connecting with others to discover new music and entertainment and will deliver a family of hardware and software products.

Billboard reports that "additional Zune-branded devices will follow, including a portable video player and, potentially, a portable game device," as well as an initial device offering WiFi and drive-based storage. The WiFi won't just be for moving around music files, as in the MusicGremlin, however. Apparently other "seven or eight" wireless usage scenarios are envisioned, as suspected, and aims at providing "ubiquitous access to digital media from a wide range of Windows-powered devices in what ultimately aspires to be one part MySpace, one part iTunes and one part Xbox Live."

Open Source Linux DRM Grows Up

An open source DRM (digital rights management) software project started in 2002 that supports embedded Linux has apparently achieved its second major release. OpenIPMP v2 adds support for additional open DRM standards, along with structural and development improvements aimed at making the software easier to port, build, and integrate. The OpenIPMP project aims to provide open standards-based DRM software that can be easily ported to any platform. Along with an SDK (software development kit) for adding DRM to media encoders and players, OpenIPMP includes a J2EE (Java 2 Enterprise Edition) server application for rights management and license issuing.

OpenIPMP v2 supports open DRM standards that include: Motion Picture Expert Group IPMP (intellectual property management and protection) specifications for MPEG-2 and MPEG-4,OMA (Open Mobile Alliance) DRM v2 specification and ISMA (Internet streaming media alliance) encryption and DRM signaling specifications for MPEG-4 streaming and local playback (ISMAcryp)

In addition, OpenIPMP v2 adds a better integration interface, pluggable key management, a full crypto system interface, and an upgraded client-server protocol based on SOAP web services. OpenIPMP v2 is available now for download at SourceForge and its integrated by default with MPEG4IP, although it should support any MPEG-2 or MPEG-4 management system. Additionally, OpenIPMP plug-ins for Windows Media Player and Apple Quicktime player are said to be commercially available from various third-party codec vendors.

Democrats Using BitTorrent

According to a recent report on, John Edwards, one of the democratic presidential candidates in 2004, is apparently using BitTorrent to efficiently distribute and share some of his campaign video content. He's likely to run for President again, so if you want a hip president that understands and supports powerful and disruptive technologies like BitTorrent - vote for Edwards in 2008!

The World’s First P2P Webathon

(via press release) - London-based RawFlow, a leading provider of live peer-to-peer (P2P) streaming technology, has started working with NexusLive, an internet broadcast specialist. RawFlow will support NexusLive in a major webcast happening on the July 19th to promote the emerging Edinburgh act Amplifico. The event is the world’s first ever live web broadcast album fundraiser.

The band has been endorsed by singer KT Tunstall and has received a fair share of media attention worldwide after the launch of a donations campaign for getting their first album produced. The cash strapped, unsigned four-piece have already recorded half their debut album, but now the band intend to complete their album solely by donations generated via a unique webathon fundraiser. So far they have raised around £3,000 from people from all over the world on their Webathon website (they need £10,000). In exchange for a donation to the Amplifico album appeal fans will receive a mention in the thanks and see their face appear in a photo-collage included in the artwork to accompany the CD.The webcast is predicted to reach a larger audience than Sandi Thom’s Tooting flat gigs online, and Amplifico has been heavily featured in blogs and forums online. The band will also be featured on BBC 1 Scotland today promoting their webcast and webathon.

The webcast will commence on the 19.07.06 at 8 PM GMT will stream directly from The Bongo Club, Edinburgh. The 3 hour event will include sets from 3 fantastic Scottish bands, followed by a set from Amplifico and will be broadcast live from NexusLive's site: simultaneously. There will be live donations feeds to see how much is being raised over the course of the event.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

DMC2006: Panel 4 - Mobility Is The Message

[Notes from the 2006 Digital Media Conference]

Paul Towler: Mobile is an incredibly flexible distribution mechanism, but one of the key challenges that all the MVNOs have is that they don't own their own infrastructure, so they're forced to live at the whim of the mother network. To that degree on the data side, they're not in full control. The key attributes of a successful MVNO (Virgin Mobile comes to mind) is that they capitalize on their marketing ability instead of their segmentation capabilities. Being consumer-oriented can also carry over to this space...

Vince Shaw: You really have to educate the customer and this is a market challenge. eBay could potentially roll out a wireless device oriented towards making money off of non-talk uses...becasue of all the loyal customers...Believe it or not, John Deer has a pretty loyal community as well. Location based services offer tremendous opportunity too...the surface of that hasn't even been scratched. The technology always outpaces the business models...

Key Sar: Wi-Max is a threat to carriers as it eventually surpasses the 5-10 city block range. It's certainly something that we're looking at...But, one of the problems is that there's a lack of OEM in the devices...Building a Network is very expensive...ours cost us 30 billion dollars...

Alan Reiter: If you're thinking of getting into this business, you need to look at every single piece of your value chain. In wireless, if one of those links is missing it can really trip you up. At this point in time, ESPN and Disney are looking the like the best MVNO's for the longterm...Helio is probably 3rd...but needs to tweak their pricing...and AMP'd mobile is 4th, chasing the young adults - but their pricing is too high. In this fast moving business, "don't look at what's happening today - look at what's going to happen in the next 2 years." Also, think about the business processes...Very very soon, video-enabled phones are going to have a huge impact on user-generated sites like Youtube. (Camcorders aren't really going to be the dominant content source anymore.)

Jeff Lee: Text messaging is pretty easy to launch and is an easy way to get into the space; from there you can easily branch out. Don't agonize over the myriad of choices, but definitely start something. I agree with Alan's rankings. AMP is an anchor in this category, while Helio/SK telecom is heavily committed. 25% of our users have played a game on their handset, but when you look at downloading a brew/java application - that's quite a bit more complex, so you have to make these things order to become explosive.

DMC2006: Keynote #3 - Michael Kelly, President, AOL Media Networks

[Notes from the 2006 Digital Media Conference]

The market has enjoyed 3 plus years of quarter over quarter growth in online advertising, which is big and it's getting even bigger... and becoming a huge part of our business at AOL. Keeping up with the demand is a challenge. The 4 big players (Google, Yahoo, AOL and MSN) control 50% of the advertising dollars. Each of these players enjoy over a 100M visitors a month. The spending gap between the 4 major portals and the non-portals is huge (i.e. a billion compared to 400k)

- The ability to assemble 3rd party networks will play a critical role...(Build large networks with lots of inventory.)
- The big macro-trend is that big media is losing viewers.
- It's always about the consumer's habits.
- Almost 20% of consumer usage is online.
- 63% of all online households have broadband today; this is an amazing transformation of medium and has ushered in a wave of opportunity and its taught the consumer that they can get way more out of being online. The consumer sees real value in having an online connection.
- 86% of internet usage is from broadband connectionthe new primetime is online (in the office)
- All advertisers want to be direct response advertisers.
- We're entering a world where traditional television is in a potential state of scatter...It's going to be hard for new players to enter the market.

Search has created a whole new life for content. Convergence was the digitization of all content, but we're still in the early stages...This mass digitization thrills the consumer. Social networking is also a key driver of growth. (i.e., AOL has a billion IM messages sent every day.) In the near future, however, different social networks will start to interact with each other.

Scale will continue to matter...It's very hard for a sub-scale player to generate the earnings required. 76% of the online traffic is being generated by an industry that generates 23% of its own revenue. The market will continue to be driven by the big players. We're a scale player in video; currently 200M streams a month and this will grow over time.

The advertising agencies of this world are all dealing with clients who are asking about, "what's going on with online advertising?" Unbelievably creative things are occurring, such as creative execution and creative mix of applications. But in the next few years, we're going to see a huge explosion in online advertising creativity; this will be very exciting.

DMC2006: Panel 3 - Television - The Future Is Now

[Notes from the 2006 Digital Media Conference]

Larry Gerbrandt: The digital genie has been let out of the lamp. Case in point: Google has recently surpassed 44 million streams a day…From a macro-perspective, we're looking at 110 million households here in the U.S....User-generated content is clearly the hottest ticket of the day, but just how big of a game changer is it? The bottom line of this panel is "to follow the eyeballs..."

Daniel Blackman: What's interesting is that as we move forward, we can experiment with different models (i.e. day pass, syndication, etc...) Overall, the future is going to be positive because we can hook advertisers and customers together with better granularity that we really never had before and have more level of control. Targeting is also going to be very powerful...We're trying to create the infrastructure and the platforms to reach those new consumers. How do you define user-generated content? (Stuff that's professionally produced that then gets uploaded...or the lo-fi stuff that's created by the actual user?) How do we leverage all this content from the long tail to the torso to the premium content? It's all over the map in terms of capabilities and opportunities now. What we find exciting is the maturation towards premium content. Niche advertising is going to be a very big story down the line...Our video is primarily download video-to-own...

Paul Condolora: The landscape is largely positive. Historically speaking, technology clearly helps the media industry. Our brand translates incredibly well into the new media space. Fortunately, cannibalization of our linear format is not occurring for us...each channel is reinforcing the other. Primarily it's a net win for the incumbents...Competition is great and it forces to rethink your strategy and forces you to raise your game. As we move forward, its still too early to make any comments or predictions. One thing is for sure, User-generated content is only going to grow...However, just because content is uploaded doesn't mean its going to find an audience. And people aren't always going to accept the status quo.

Joshua Freeman: Anytime a new distribution channel opens up, the ultimate winner is the content owner. Many companies in the space are tripping up over rights issues, which is inhibiting growth. The more that we all see and enable this explosion of content, the better for the industry. This is really about incremental growth by opening up shelf space. Use of the internet opens up new windows. Traditional television usage will suffer some...Short-form "snack sized" content is working best for AOL and is probably the best current viewing experience on a PC. Consumers will move the content where it needs to be. This year we've seen the addition of two pieces to the puzzle: 1) user-generated content - which is here to stay, but how do you monetize it? and 2) distributed content (i.e. warner brothers) the redistribution of a branded content.

Ray Hopkins: We feel that we have the best content and we try to maximize that content across a bunch of different platforms. We're not too concerned with competition from user-generated content. We just launched last week...where we add programming that you can't see on our linear channel. This is another area that we can exploit.

Chris Maxcy: Our success is incremental. In our view, we're not hurting opportunities for the content owners; some are more forward looking than others. It really boils down to consumer choice and content is still king. The difference now is that there's a new way to look at it...Obviously, an internet platform can help build awareness. We're currently experiencing 70 million streams a day and the average length is 1-2 minutes... "I tell people that we cater to the ADD generation." (laugh...laugh...) We think that advertising is the way to monetize free. Consumers are basically used to consuming television video in a free format...We look at our company as an advertising supported model. User-generated content has been around for a long time and it will continue to be, but the difference now is how its being delivered and who's creating it. Our advertising model is going to evolve, but we're going to be very careful not to alienate the users or the advertisers - make it relevant...but not annoying.

DMC2006: Panel 1 - The Battle For The Digital Consumer

[Notes from the 2006 Digital Media Conference]

Ok, I missed the first part of this panel saying "HI" to a few people on the break, but here's what I heard during the second half...In general, the consumer now has complete control over their television viewing habits and the advertisers need to respect that. The 1980-2000 generation is not really watching tv screens and is much more interested in dealing with content that they've generated and in sharing it thereby building community.

Colin Dixon: The traditional thirty second spot does not work anymore. So how then do we reach the consumer?

Mark Walsh: Advertising will cease to be intrusive and become more of an opt-in. Refusal to share personal info online may result in a clunky entertainment experience and those who do will have a richer and more satisfying online experience. What new search engine will deliver what we want in entertainment? Who's going to be the source? Speech recognition is the next UI and could be an important future search technology. European ads are more sexy and funny than here. Agencies need to get back to persuading using humor, rather than hitting us over the head; this will be a real challenge. People love dumb stuff (i.e. the "Paris Hiltonization" effect) , but Darwin was right too...Entertainment that is 'smart' will appeal to people looking for smart entertainment.

Davina Kent: Let's give the consumer the opportunity to tell us what kind of advertising they actually want. The average length of these new targeted on-demand messages will be 2-4 minutes. In general, people still want to consume content on the television, but the content could still come from the internet, especially if the media search element works well. (Tivo is partnering with Comcast and positioning itself as the premium content choice.) In the near-term the consumers will be the winners and the losers will be the companies who don't think about the consumer first...

Marsh Marshall: From a privacy perspective, are you being careful with the information I'm giving you? Search systems used in Blink, Flickr and Delicious can eventually be far more powerful than Google is now. The recent proliferation of communication tools is a key driver of the media industry. The editorial function of the great newspapers is under threat. The technology is enabling a new generation to explore information in a new way.

Andrew Nachison: Services that figure how to "connect" and not control consumers will be the winners of tomorrow. Believe it or not, our research shows that young people have a massive and passionate interest in news and politics, but they consume it in a brand new way.

DMC2006: Keynote #1 - Dawn McCall, President, Discovery Networks Intl.

(Notes from the DMC 2006)

Discovery Networks International, (DNI) programs content for 704 million subscribers outside of the U.S. and it operates the largest international footprint in the industry. (i.e., consists of 17 brands, multiple continents, 100 unique feeds, 35 languages, 1000 employees in 24 offices throughout the world.) DNI is committed to ambitious growth in the next 5 years, investing in their viewers and brands. The company is currently delivering 731M in revenues and 109M in operating cash flow.

DNI is a longstanding supporter of platform neutrality. A key to their growth is the strength of the brand = customized programming and custom scheduling. "Trusted brands and quality will always win out." They possess an in-depth understanding of their audiences and cultures. They try to make their brands as relevant as possible by owning their own content. For example, each year they produce 5000 hours of content. Their massive library of footage can be easily be repurposed - making them one of the most nimble players in the space, which helps differentiate them in the marketplace. Lifestyle is the next big area of growth, with each of the 3 lifestyle brands targeting a different demographic group.

Through John Hendricks' leadership , they delivered the 1st international HD factual international network operating 24/7. HD is currently in 7 markets outside of the U.S., making them the leading HD network in the entire world. DNI is also currently in 23 spanish speaking countries with 3 specific latin channels. The company embraces platform-neutrality. In a crowded media environment, trusted brands are critical. DNI has been active in the new media area for the last 6 years (i.e. they have a Made-for-mobile channel on Vodafone which contains 2 hours of streaming video that is refreshed weekly. Specific footage is carefully selected to complement current cell phone screen limitations.) DNI is also active in the development of new genres in mobile film-making, which offers a new type of online forum.

NEW PROJECTS: Google earth partnered with them this year to share video footage. "Cosmio" is another new venture which is basically a digital encyclopedia. The Discovery Atlas series is another new HD initiative. They've also recently done a deal with the video iPod. As soon as the ability is there to capture video elegantly, they will push the content out asap. They're always looking for new ways to inform and entertain their audience.

Digital Media Conference: Music Matters

(Notes from the DMC 2006)

This year's Digital Media Conference (DMC2006) was produced by Digital Media Wire and held at the Ritz Carlton in Tyson's Corner, Virginia. Below, are some notes from last Friday's event called Music Matters, which as you can see, had the industry's real heavyweights weighing in on the issues...I've also posted some photos on Flickr HERE!

Aydin Caginalp: The Industry Perspective - The sale of music downloads (online/mobile) has doubled in the last year and has helped to offset the 7% drop in physical CD sales. Most iPods contain files which are 66% ripped from CD's and most are only half-filled. The empowerment of the internet is the empowerment of the artist.

Ted Cohen: Unfortunately, differential pricing went out the window at Apple's iTunes for the next 2 years and the consumer basically loses in that decision. DRM is still a problem and needs to be more transparent, although it is still necessary to support a variety of business models. He disagrees with Jim. The imperative that every kid has to fill their device with paid content is not true. He likes the value proposition with subscription services such as Rhapsody, Yahoo, MusicNow...which gives fantastic choice, but they still need good recommenders, filters and editorial to deliver the best consumer experience. It's too hard to sift through all the content out there...We have the ability to produce and deliver content much quicker now...

Jim Griffin: The medium is the message, and MP3's have won. That war is over. The format has been chosen...The labels already sell unprotected wave files since 1983 which is the number 2 file format. The business model of a buck-a-song is flawed and there is no 1 business model that wins. We have to think our way through it for the prime demographic - which is teenagers. We're moving to a service business. The battle of the business models is a waste of time. Our competition now is a dwindling share of the consumer's wallet and a clock that moves fast on people's schedule. Charging by the minute is old news...tiered usage works. Our struggle is with other industries that already know how to do this. Keep government out of the interoperability legislation! (The judges barely know what happened when they watch a webcast...) In the past, we've licensed video extensively as a service model. People just don't have the motive to record and keep/re-use video on their VCR's and Tivo's. Attack the motive NOT the mechanism.

David Pakman: You have to go with the consumer's choice for MP3 and stop fighting it. The 80/20 rule has not corrected and democratized itself. But in reality it's a 95/5 hit-driven situation. The industry has got to get better at selling the long tail material...and find the sweet spot other than the top hits. I don't look at the industry as one big giant pod. The independent segment has doubled in the last 12 years. Our indie sales at emusic are doubling every month. Return rates on portable music devices are between 40-70 % because of the device interoperability problem. The major labels created the interoperability problem because way back when - they required Apple to use DRM and unfortunately the license agreement doesn't allow the sale of music without it. Consumers are very smart and they make value propositions every day; so there is no right way or model...

Gary Cohen: I don't have a major issue with DRM, the problem is the implementation of it. The reason for the DRM has got to change and we can't wait for the politicians to do it. Nothing looks great on the horizon. We have 2.2 million songs on AOL's Music Now that are protected. In addition to the subscription model, we also offer the dollar-a-song model too...We're trying to become business model agnostic (i.e. a la carte, subs, ad-based). The problem becomes that once you get the content on your device - how are you going to access it? Having a flat-fee will grow the pie as music is everywhere. I'm a Mac fanatic and I love Apple and what they did, but I really believe that it's incumbent on them to open up the device and model in the near future. The interoperability thing is what's really holding things back. Everybody has to play nice...There's never been a better time to be an artist now...(i.e. record a sonically superior song for $200 and upload it to CD Baby)

Dave Ulmer: It's a phenomenal time for this industry, i.e., you can listen to practically anything that you want to - when you want to. Consumers are in control and they're actually paying for content. One of the problems though is that we don't know about the "non-hits." Most people buy new portable music players every 14 months. It's amazing when you think about that the total dollars of ringtones is three times what Apple generated from iTunes. Looking at the mobile space, purchasing over a phone is not free, compared to your always-on internet connection. The OTA distribution costs have come down, but they haven't come down to "0." I think we're moving to a multiple delivery system; i.e., one low bandwidth version for your phone and one .wma for your PC. This combination of OTA delivery and sideload capability will proliferate. Apple is the only game in town because they put it all together right. New hits are being created with no radio play because of online discovery.

Original Music Needed for Fitness Project...

I'm currently working with a new upstart looking to license 100 songs for a unique and innovative fitness video project and thought I'd throw this out to you all before I start cold-calling. Right now, we're planning on delivering the workout videos in 4 distinct ways, but that could change as things progress...

1) on-demand (to be stored locally on the Mac/PC and/or portable music player)
2) streaming on the Mac/PC and on gym equipment
3) burn-to-DVD after downloading
4) mail order custom and pre-packaged DVD's...

Of course we're on a limited budget in stealth mode, but we're willing to cross-promote your artist/band AND pay mechanical and sync royalties...Please contact me if you own or have the master use/publishing rights for some broadcast quality independent musical content that needs exposure and is reasonably priced.

*The main genres are:*

- Rock
- Alternative
- Classical
- Jazz
- World
- Latin
- Reggae
- Kids Music
- Dance/Techno
- New Age/Ambient
- R&B/Hip Hop/Rap
- Golden Oldies

Monday, June 26, 2006

DCIA's P2P Media Summit

Last Thursday on June 22nd, the Distributed Computing Industry Association held its inaugural P2P Media Summit - which consisted of 7 panels and 5 keynotes by some very distinguished guests. The DCIA is a voluntary organization representing all sectors of the distributed computing industry (including content providers, software developers and distributors, and service-and-support companies) and is engaged in developing standards-and-practices to advance this innovative consumer-based distribution channel. Several awards were given out with the Pioneer Award going to MetaMachine (eDonkey), the Groundbreaker's Award to Arvato Mobile, the Trendsetter's Award to LTDnetwork (developer of Qtrax) and the Innovator's Award went to INTENT MediaWorks. The event was held at the Holiday Inn at Tyson's Corner in McClean, Virginia and was well attended with over 100 guests. I will post a summary of my notes soon...In the meantime, HERE's a link to some photos. The organization also publishes an excellent weekly newsletter that I recommend opting into...

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Melodeo Releases Open Source DRM

Yesterday via press release, Melodeo, announced PachyDRM, an open source digital rights management (DRM) initiative designed to accelerate a broad and secure market for "any media, on any network, on any device."

PachyDRM includes the release of the Melodeo DRM source code and specification, now openly available at Commercially deployed by Melodeo since 2004, PachyDRM has been licensed by leading device manufacturers and endorsed by major content providers.
PachyDRM is a proven solution for all leading business approaches, including pay-per-download transactions and subscription services. Among its distinctions, the PachyDRM code was used for the world's first commercial deployment of legal peer-to-peer music file sharing on mobile phones in Canada, and it has been selected by Access Media as the basis of legal, protected digital content distribution in China.

The PachyDRM code has been implemented on multiple mobile phone platforms and is now extending to other devices including the personal computer. "We believe PachyDRM fills the critical need for an open, freely available and technically viable solution," said Jim Billmaier, CEO, Melodeo. "The industry needs a working, open alternative to onerous, closed, and proprietary technologies such as Apple Fairplay and Microsoft DRM."

The specification and client-server reference source code for PachyDRM can be downloaded for free HERE.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Free Virus Scan

Here's a healthy computing tip: If you happen to be using a computer without virus protection software (or your subscription has expired) you can go to and find the link for their "Active Scan" - run that on your computer and it will search for viruses for free. Your computer will NOT be permanently protected, but it will find whatever you have on their now.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Real Drops Music Prices

Just when you thought there was no margin on digital music sales, Real Music Store has dropped the pricing on on old favorites and new releases:

- Song downloads $.69
- Whole albums $6.99


Warner Brothers is doing a good job going after the long-tail and is helping to redefine television. The new Superman channel starts tomorrow and includes:

- The A&E Special
- 'Look, Up In The Sky! The Amazing Story of Superman'
- 'The Adventures of Superman'
- 'Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman'
- Max Fleischer Superman Cartoons

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Blogger Help : What is BlogThis! ?

Here's a really quick way to post to your blog by using a handy dandy Google add-in called "BlogThis!." Whenever you hit a webpage that is news worthy, just hit the Blogger icon in the Google tool bar and a post is automatically added to your blog. It is definitely a time saver :)

BlogThis! will work with almost any browser and operating system including IE 5 or greater on both the PC and Mac, Mozilla 1.0+, Safari, Camino, Firefox, and Opera. It does not work with Netscape 4.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

New Piracy Documentary

ON PIRACY: On Piracy, Radio & Walmarts is a new documentary film by 20 year old University of Ottawa student Julien McArdle. The film is nearly 2 hours long and discusses music and movie piracy. Other topics include DRM, TPM's, the DMCA, why people pirate, what everyone thinks of it, etc. Deviating from the standard media regurgitation of this controversial topic, several interviews were conducted with top Canadian industry execs, copyright lawyers, pirates, government officials, consumers and artists. The film is currently available in pre-release form via streaming, bit torrent or google video. McArdle released the film under a Creative Commons license and eventually hopes to get the film translated into several other languages too...

Saturday, May 27, 2006

77% of U.S. Adults Go Online

The number of U.S. adults who go online at home, in the office, at school or elsewhere has grown 5% in the past year to an estimated 172 million, or 77% of all adults, according to the latest Harris Poll. The percentage of adults online has risen from 66% in 2002, 57% in 2000 and 9% in 1995, when Harris began tracking Internet use. The proportion of adults who have Internet access at home has risen to 70%, up from 66% in 2005 ad 55% in 2002, while the percentage of those who have Internet access at work remained flat, at 35% year over year, compared with 30% in 2002. The poll also found that as Internet penetration rises, the demographic profile of Internet users is coming more in line with that of the nation as a whole. Data showed that 14% of online adults earn less than $25,000 (compared with 19% of all adults), and 39% of online adults (compared with 47% overall) did not go to college.

Internet Video Consumption Up Heavily: comScore

The number of Internet users watching video online grew an impressive 18 percent between October 2005 and March 2006. That's according to comScore's first ever analysis of U.S. Web users' online video viewing habits, drawn from its new Video Metrix service.In March, U.S. Internet users initiated a total of 3.7 billion video content streams; and they watched an average 100 minutes of video content each during the month, compared with 85 minutes back in October.Men initiated 52 percent of those streams, women 48 percent; splitting genders along roughly equal lines. But men spent far more time with the content, averaging two hours of viewing time during the month, compared with women's hour-and-twenty. Not surprisingly, males 18 to 34 were most engrossed with online video, averaging 140 minutes of video consumption.

Software Piracy Costs $34 Billion

Software piracy resulted in a loss of $34 billion worldwide in 2005, a $1.6 billion increase over 2004, according to a study commissioned by the Business Software Alliance (BSA). The study, conducted by information-technology research firm IDC, found that roughly one out of every three copies of personal computing software installed in 2005 was pirated. While the rate of piracy has fluctuated from country to country, globally it has remained steady since 2004.

Online Game Download Market Growing

U.S. spending on video games for personal computers hit $1.4 billion in 2005, according to an estimate released yesterday by market research firm NPD Group. Online subscriptions to PC games and gaming Web sites accounted for about $344 million of those annual sales. Major U.S. game publishers such as EA and Activision expect downloads to grow into a substantial business, although that part of the industry is just starting out. NPD analyst Anita Frazier said "digital downloads appeared to have contributed about 3 percent of total PC market sales in 2005, which would amount to about $42 million."

Florida Music Festival 2006 Photos

Here's a LINK to some music panel photos from last week's Florida Music Festival. The 5 year old three day event continues to draw growing numbers of people from all over the world to discuss, perform and share new music. Highlights included Music Orchard's Richard Gottehrer's keynote as well as Transcontinental's Lou Pearlman's comments regarding bold new online music copy protection strategies currently being implemented in Europe...

Rhapsody Adds Verve Jazz Titles

The Verve Music Group has just announced an exclusive 3 month program with Rhapsody, the online music service from RealNetworks, to make a number of its classic, out-of-print recordings available to consumers as digital releases. For a short time, Rhapsody will be the only source for several Jazz favorites online.The Verve Music Group is thrilled to have Rhapsody embrace the delivery of out-of-print music to meet the consumer demand for it," says Ron Goldstein, President and CEO of The Verve Music Group. "Verve can now achieve the full potential of its amazing catalog by re-releasing these classic recordings in the digital space."The program launched yesterday with 28 titles, which are currently unavailable for purchase anywhere else online in America. Consumers will be able to stream, download, or purchase these classic recordings as well as transfer them to Windows Play-For-Sure compatible portable devices. (Sorry iPod owners!)

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

RIAA Sues XM Satellite

Today, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) filed a lawsuit in New York federal court claiming that XM Satellite Radio's handheld receivers (such as the $400 Pioneer Inno and Samsung Helix which can store up to 50 hours of downloaded music) violates federal copyright laws by allowing users to save and label songs that are saved. In other words, the RIAA is suing XM over the satellite company's refusal to pay another set of license fees (in addition to blanket performance royalties) for storage of music on portable devices. The lawsuit seeks $150,000 in damages for every song copied by XM customers using the devices. The "Inno" receivers went on sale several weeks ago under the slogan, "Hear it, click it, save it." * Click HERE to read the 33 page PDF complaint *

Paid Downloads Losing Steam

Paid online downloads are possibly losing some momentum this quarter, following explosive fourth and first quarter performances. According to the latest numbers from Pali Research, overall, weekly paid download purchases from outlets like the iTunes Music Store are double levels from last year, though purchases have been sagging in the second quarter. Citing Nielsen Soundscan data, research analyst Richard Greenfield pointed to week-over-week declines. "In 2006, despite the aggregate year-to-date strength in digital tracks, weekly performance continues to decline, with every week during the second quarter below the year-to-date average," he said. * Click HERE to read the PDF Pali Research Summary *

Future of Music Policy Summit

The Future of Music Coalition (FMC) has just announced dates for the 6th Annual Future of Music Policy Summit. Top names in music, technology, law, academia and policy will convene in Montreal, Canada from October 5-7, 2006 to discuss crucial issues facing musicians and the music industry. Presented in partnership with McGill University's Schulich School of Music and Pop Montreal, the Policy Summit will provide musicians, students, attorneys, advocates and policymakers with opportunity to examine the critical issues facing the international music community through a robust debate.

RSS: Subscribe HERE to the FMC Events blog...

Podcasting Legal Guide: Rules for the Revolution

Last month, Creative Commons and the Berkman Center Clinical Program in Cyberlaw released the Podcasting Legal Guide: Rules for the Revolution. The Guide provides a comprehensive summary of the complex body of copyright, trademark and publicity rights issues that face podcasters, as well as a helpful list of resources for podcasters, ranging from technical overviews to useful software to ways to find "podsafe" content that may be freely used. Equally important, the complexity revealed by the Guide illustrates the disconnect between current law and the technological upheaval represented by new digital media tools such as podcasting. A copy of the report is available HERE.

[INTERVIEW] Paul Hoffert on the Digital Media Exchange and More

The Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School is home to approximately thirty fellows, all of whom focus their time and energy on issues concerning the Internet, including Internet governance, privacy concerns, intellectual property rights, competition policy and antitrust issues, electronic commerce, the role of new media and journalism proper, and digital media, among many others.Paul Hoffert (from the band Lighthouse) is Chair of the Bell Broadcast and New Media Fund, Chair of the Guild of Canadian Film and Television Composers, faculty fellow at Harvard University, Fine Arts Professor at York University, and a Board Director of the Glenn Gould Foundation, and the SOCAN Foundation. HERE is an interesting link to a Q&A with Paul about his work with the Digital Media Exchange (DMX) project - a legal non-profit Peer-to-Peer on-line service."....DMX royalty payments are based on a formula that incorporates several royalty distribution schemes, such as number of downloads; number of plays (experiences); a novelty bonus for recently added works; number of copies made to fixed and removable media and devices; availability of works for derivations; and royalties linked directly to individual subscriber payments and consumption. The weighting of each of these terms will be adjusted from time to time by the DMX governing council..."

Net Neutrality Video

Here's a short 3 minute VIDEO produced by Public Knowledge which clearly explains the concept of "net neutrality". The topic has been somewhat confusing in the media as of late, but watching this excerpt reminds us of how simple but important this isssue really is. (Share it with your friends and co-workers!)

Florida Music Festival 2006

The 5th Annual Florida Music Festival is coming to downtown Orlando soon this week - May 18th-20th. Similar in scope to Austin's SXSW but without the chaos, FMF2006 promises 3 full days of incredible music being showcased by more than 250 bands performing in over 15 Venues = 20,000 Music Fans! Attend digital media panels by industry experts, rooftop VIP industry parties with more than 300 labels as well as network with major label representatives from Atlantic, Columbia, Island, RCA and attorneys from some of the largest firms in the country...

Friday, May 05, 2006

RAIN SUMMIT 2006: Pandora Presentation Video

Here's a nice overview of Pandora, given at the RAIN Summit last week in Vegas by CEO and Founder, Tim Westergren. The site also has several other cool on-demand streaming videos offered in windows media format...Average length is 10-20 minutes with an impressive quick/smooth playback :-)

RAIN: "CARP"(Royalties) Update
RAIN: How Internet Radio Can Help the Music Industry
RAIN: The Future/The Big Picture
RAIN: Interview with David Goldberg

Monday, May 01, 2006

Napster Goes Web-based!

In a surprise twist of events, I learned over the weekend (from Rafat and David's post) that Napster has tweaked it's consumer offering to evolve into a web-based music service which now operates using any web browser instead of a clunky client download. One major benefit of this approach is that they instantly gain more market share by simultaneously hitting the Mac and Linux camps... A little late to the party since AOL's Music Now and Real's Rhapsody are already doing this - but I predict that Apple will follow this road eventually too...What does this all mean? Well, in a nutshell, the new Napster is now offering FREE listens to any of its 2 million songs - the catch as a non-paying "member" is that you're limited to only 5 listens of any particular song and the streaming tracks are lo-fidelity and highly compressed (they sound like mono too!) Banking on the fact that most people like to try-before-they-buy, Napster is betting on acquiring more subscription customers who will get addicted to the ease of use and vast selection and then eventually spring for the monthly fee. This was a smart move and shows that the management team is paying attention and not afraid of change!

Now if the technology is already there to track usage per song by each "member" - one would think that eventually some of these streaming royalties being paid to the PRO's (i.e., ASCAP, BMI, SESAC) would eventually find their way to the individual artists whose music is being played!?

Thursday, April 27, 2006

What Is The PERFORM Act?

Even though it's only a draft bill, the answer to that question depends on which side of the fence you sit on with respect to music licensing reformation :-)

Below are my favorite quotes fom copyright/technology attorney Bob Schwartz cross posted from Public Knowledge's Gigi Sohn.

  • "It is simply wrong for the government to freeze innovation by banning new technologies and features that are desired by consumers."
  • "The RIAA is already being well compensated by the satellite radio industry. XM and Sirius already pay the record labels tens of millions of dollars in performance royalties. In addition, under the Audio Home Recording Act of 1992 ("AHRA") satellite radio pays the record labels up to $8 for every digital radio recorder sold. RIAA's demand to be paid a third time reflects either greed or their simple desire to shut down a new technology."
  • "It bans the sort of private, noncommercial time-shifting that Americans have engaged in for decades."
  • "This bill is nothing more than the recording industry using Congress to gain leverage in private negotiations."
  • "The PERFORM ACT harms American consumers, the technology industry, and private, noncommercial recording rights."

Read the whole 8 pages HERE...

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

RealNetworks Granted Another Streaming Media Patent

RealNetworks announced yesterday that it has received a fundamental patent for streaming media technology and applications. The "Click-to-Stream"patent covers innovations going back to November 30, 1994, more than four months before Real introduced RealAudio. It also covers the core methods used when consumers select links to stream audio-visual media via webbrowsers and other media players.

Click-to-Stream joins a portfolio of over 35 patents related to the world of Internet media delivery. Real has more than 100 additional patent applications pending relating to digital media technology and services and continues to lead the paid content market - with more than 2.25 million paying subscribers for premium services as of the end of 2005.

"The "Click-to-Stream" patent covers the core methods used when an end user selects a digital media asset (audio and accompanying video or other metadata) to be played, causing digital packets of the selected digital media to be transmitted over an Internet Protocol network and received by the end user's playback device when playback begins prior to delivery of the entire digital media asset to the consumer's device. The patent applies whether the digital media is played back on a personal computer, mobilephone, or other hardware device. The patented "Click-to-Stream" method is most commonly initiated when an end user accesses media links from web browser pages, embedded multimedia advertising, and links managed by network- enabled software media players."Rob Glaser, chairman and CEO of RealNetworks stated "This fundamental new patent recognizes our breakthrough innovation, and provides Real with an exciting opportunity to expand the Helix Community's role as the centerpiece of the digital media marketplace."

Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing on Digital Radio

Mark Lam, Chairman and CEO of Live365, will testify tomorrow at a U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on digital radio entitled "Parity,Platforms and Protection: The Future of the Music Industry in the Digital Radio Revolution ". According to DiMA's website, Lam will discuss the challenges facing Internet radio and will urge the Committee to help create a level competitive playing field for broadcast, cable, satellite and Internet radio by:

- Legislating royalty and programming parity among all digital radio services

- Protecting recording artists and copyright owners from radio services that promote and profit from consumer recording of their programming

- Resolving the longstanding dispute over the meaning of "interactive service" so that consumers, online radio services and recording artists can maximize the benefits of blending Internet technology and radio programming.

It seems that Lam and others are hoping to amend the Copyright Act so that it no longer favors broadcast, cable and satellite radio...Perhaps it's time terrestrial broadcast radio pays their way like everyone else? Maybe then we'd get a quicker resolution :-)

Internet Sound Recording Royalties

Here are a few links to some illuminating documents from the Digital Media Association's website (DiMA). Taking the time to read these cleared up a lot of questions I've been having recently regarding the current rate structure for Sound Recording Royalties and how artists are getting paid for the online broadcasts and performances of their music...

Monday, April 17, 2006

CD Baby Partners with Worldwide One-Stop SUPER D

This exciting announcement was released last Friday but is still under the radar (thanks Coolfer!) Continuing the tradition of enabling and emancipating indie artists, Derek and crew are raising the bar for independent music distribution by making their entire CD catalogue available to retailers on a global scale. According to the press release, the exclusive distribution agreement includes CD Baby's 160,000 titles, comprised of 128,000 artists, which will now be available to augment Super D's current in stock selection of 216,000 titles - representing product from 24 countries. The major benefit of using a one-stop is simplified purchasing via a single source. I'm personally glad to see that another antiquated and time-honored barrier to entry (ACCESS) has been removed for the independent sector - which will hopefully lead to improved consumer selection, increased physical sales and revived distribution of quality music...

Friday, April 14, 2006

Hollywood Is Getting It!

I was pleasantly surprised to read today in a Strategy Analytics email that the produers of the recent King Kong remake decided to release the movie simultaneoulsy on DVD and for Download - even if only in the UK. "Although independent and back-catalogue movies have been available via download before, Kong marks the first time that a Hollywood studio (Universal Pictures International) has allowed a major hit title to be released simultaneously on both DVD and through the online channel." Very smart and only a small glimpse of things to come...I think that the content cannibilization argument will be seriously tested in the coming months and the eventual results will show that more sales actually result in this type of dual-distribution-approach...

Thursday, April 13, 2006

RivBea Orchestra Relases New CD - AURORA

A few years ago in the mid nineties, I had the esteemed honor and pleasure to be a regular member of the Rivbea Jazz Orchestra, directed by Sam Rivers. This ensemble is a unique 17 piece band that plays avant garde jazz written exclusively by by the legendary saxophonist and composer Sam Rivers. The music from his latest Aurora CD (which I happen to play trumpet on) was recorded and mixed at FullSail's Studio B and was officially released last week. The CD is not for everyone, but is truly world class in its infectious grooves and daring improvisations. Since Sam's last CD was nominated for a Grammy - I've got my fingers crossed :-)
(I will post later to tell you where it's commercially available, since it's officially an "indie" release and has no major distribution...Hopefully, Rhapsody, CD Baby, iTunes and Amazon will add it. )