PonoPlayer to be available for pre-order via Kickstarter campaign beginning next week
Musician Neil Young has founded a high-fidelity digital music service, and with it an accompanying playback device soon to be available for pre-order. Entitled PonoMusic, the company encompasses both an online music store and a playback device (PonoPlayer), which is set to be available for pre-ordering through Kickstarter starting next week. The PonoPlayer offers the ability to play high-resolution digital music from both major labels and prominent independent labels, curated and archived for purchasing on PonoMusic.com. The aim is to deliver audio quality that is far superior to other audio file formats, such as the standard MP3.
First drop in digital music sales since iTunes was invented
According to a new report by Nielsen SoundScan, digital music sales dropped for the first time since the iTunes Store went online in 2003. Sales fell by 5.7 percent to 1.26 billion songs, with industry executives putting the blame on streaming services like Pandora, Spotify and Rdio -- services the record companies themselves licensed their music to in an effort to reduce their dependency on iTunes. Whether revenue from streaming has offset the sales dip hasn't yet been revealed.
Music site exploits publicity, complains of 'substandard' terms
A digital music news site was forced to take down a copy of an iTunes Radio contract it had been given and published -- opting to post the entire contract online rather than just discuss the portions it wanted to highlight, prompting a copyright claim from Apple. While some have claimed that Apple's beef was more about suppressing business details than protecting copyright, the site's tactics raise the question of whether its okay to break the law in the name of trying to garner hits.
Music store has gone from iPod supplement to profitable enterprise
Apple's iTunes was originally conceived (and run for a number of years) as a more-or-less "break even" music service that was little more than a value-added feature driving buyers to the high-margin iPod line. Today, the iTunes empire pulls in $13.5 billion annually, of which music sales still play an enormous part -- around $4.4 billion, of which about $3.4 billion goes to music publishers large and small. This would mean that iTunes alone accounts for about 60 percent of the music industry's $5.6 billion in digital music sales.
Neil Young continues crusade to improve digital music
Neil Young has made an appearance on the David Letterman show to promote a new music player and digital music service branded Pono. The new Pono players will support the playback of audio master files stored digitally in high-resolution, 192kHz/24-bit sound, reports Rolling Stone. The new Pono service, which will launch next year, has the backing of Warner Music Group with Meridian and Dolby involved as well.
Streaming revenue growth outpaces downloads by 5x
Digital music revenues are forecast to finally excede physical media sales globally sometime as early as 2015, driven by strong growth from streaming services such as Pandora and Spotify, according to research firm Strategy Analytics. Spending on digital music, including downloads and streaming services, is expected to increase by 17.8 percent to $8.6 billion in 2012, as revenue from packaged sales drops by an estimated 12.1 percent.
Michael Robertson reveals record company practices
Writing for GigaOM, Michael Robertson the founder and former CEO of MP3.com has lifted the lid on the onerous financial arrangements that record companies impose on digital music subscription services. He argues that online music services such as Spotify, Rhapsody, MOG, Rdio and others are so much at the mercy of the deals that record companies impose on them that the likelihood of turning a profit for the supplier is extremely slim. Instead record companies reap just about any financial reward that is on the table, a fact that has hitherto gone unaddressed as these types of deals are often signed under non-disclosure arrangements.
Judge approves class-action status
US District Jude Loretta Preska has allowed a class-action lawsuit against RIAA music labels to continue forward. The lawsuit, which accuses major labels of conspiring to fix prices for digital music distribution, will be pursued under the Sherman Act to explore potential antitrust violations of federal law. Similar antitrust actions under New York state law will also be investigated, as well as other claims related to consumer protection and unjust enrichment.
Will provide music, ringback and ring tones
Sprint and RealNetworks have announced an agreement that will give Sprint's mobile customers digital music through a unified storefront. Initially the service will provide full-track music, ringtones, and ringbacks through a simplified user interface. The move is expected to create a better user experience as well as save resources for for Sprint.
Napster and Lenovo team up
Desktop and notebook PC maker Lenovo and Napster announced an agreement on Friday that will have Napster provide buyers of Lenovo PCs with a free 14-day trial to Napster's Napster To Go digital music service. The offer is valid for most of the models Lenovo sells in North America, and will give the customers access to more than 6 million songs and audio tracks in the Napster MP3 store introduced earlier this year.
Cover Stream 2.0 released
Snarb.tk has released Cover Stream 2.0, an update to its iTunes controller that extends iTunes Cover Flow to the desktop. The upgrade features new graphics, a playlist and search filter, an integrated songs browser, Last FM and Apple Remote support, full screen mode, Apple-flavored bezels, desktop artwork, and much more. Cover Stream, a popular iTunes controller, was developed exclusively for Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, extending iTunes Cover Flow to the desktop and giving users a quick and convenient way to control, browse and search their music library.
Tivoli to ship NetWorks
Tivoli on Wednesday announced that the NetWorks – the company's mono digital music player – will ship within a few weeks. The unit is capable of streaming internet radio over WiFi or Ethernet, and also includes a USB port and audio input port for connecting to a number of different portable music devices. The player is expandable, with options for stereo output, CDs, a subwoofer, or surround sound setup. The Tivoli NetWorks starts at $600 for the monaural unit.
Only 6m songs on iTunes
Apple has quietly backpedaled on its claim of 10 million songs in the iTunes catalog. Earlier this week, in touting iTunes' fifth birthday (the store, not the software), the company noted that its catalog contained more than 10 million songs, but since then the company has updated its own iTunes marketing to reflect the previously announced 6 million number (also noted by setteB.IT). As reported on Monday, the 10 million number would have represented a 66 percent increase in its catalog in just under a month. The company, however, in April announced that surpassed Wal-Mart to become the number one music retailer in the US (based on data from January and February of 2008).
eMusic now in Canada
The subscription-based digital music retailer, eMusic, launches today in Canada online and in over 80 Best Buy stores and Avis car rental locations. This marks eMusic's first expansion into other markets, as the service has been in operation in the US since 2003 and recently surpassed 200 million downloads, making it the second biggest online music retailer next to iTunes. eMusic offers 3.5 million DRM-free MP3-format songs and audio books, allowing users to burn them to CDs, transfer them to personal MP3 players and make multiple copies for personal use.
Comes With Music burden
Nokia's "Comes With Music" program, offering those who purchase Nokia phones nearly unlimited free access to a large music database, could cost the company more than it would make. The Register writes that Nokia would be responsible for footing the bill for downloads that exceed the estimated limit of 35 songs per user, charged wholesale per unit. The move reportedly pressured Ed Averdieck, former Managing Director of Nokia Music, to leave his position.
Pick of the Week promo
Apple and Starbucks on Tuesday announced a new collaboration, dubbed Pick of the Week. The program offers Starbucks customers free music and music videos, downloadable from the iTunes Store. According to the companies, the content will be available through Pick of the Week download cards, provided at more than 7,000 Starbucks locations in the United States. The cards will be good for 60 days from the date a song is named "Pick of the Week," and allow customers to get a complimentary (though pre-selected) song or music video.