January 11, 2008

Sony Adds Catalogue to Amazon; Ups Competition with iTunes

Sony BMG became the last of the major labels to begin selling its music in mp3 format on Amazon.com. The deal includes the labels entire catalogue.

The result of the deal is two-fold. First, it increases Amazon.com's competition with Apple iTunes. Second, the music will be sold without digital rights management software, or DRM, nailing another coffin in an on-line music distribution model based on limiting user's experience with the media.

...and again, this is good for the consumer! More choice, more options, more freedom. It now seems inevitable that iTunes will need to lift its DRM software in order to offer consumers a competitive product.

January 10, 2008

Plastic Benjamin!

We asked; you answered.

Radiohead's new album "In Rainbows" ranked number 1 in US sales of physical CDs this week. So, people are still buying plastic! (122,000 of you bought Radiohead CDs this week.)

In other Radiohead news, the band announced a 20-city North American tour.

January 9, 2008

Accross the Pond, EU Takes Bite into Apple

Item 1: The European Union closed its anti-trust investigation into Apple iTunes operation. However, "some copyright issues remain". Notably, the European Commission refused to address other copyright restrictions in place, i.e., DRM.

Item 2: Apple will eliminate its price discrimination across the EU. Users of iTunes in Britain are charged approximately 9 cents more per download than users in other EU nations that use the Euro currency. In the coming months, users across the EU will be charged a uniform "pan-EU" price per download. However, what this means if the record labels fail to get on board and lower their wholesale prices to Apple is yet to be seen? It seems unlikely that the majors will forfeit the huge market iTunes provides by playing hard-ball and not lowering their prices. Similarly, small and indie labels will likely adjust their prices to maintain their access to their product via a mass-distributor like iTunes.

...so what does this mean to Apple? Are they no longer a "Standard Oil"?


As the group-breaking song by the Wu Tang Clan, Staten Island's finest, pontificates, "Cash Rules Everything Around Me: C.R.E.A.M. Get the money! Dollar-dollar bill, ya'll!"

And so it goes...yesterday, rapper and Wu member U-God (ne' Lamont Kawkins) filed suit in the Southern District of New York against the Wu Tang Clan's LLC ("Wu Music") for alleged breach of contract arising out of non-payment relating to a musical recording and live music performances agreement. The rapper alleged damages of $170,000.

[Lamont Kawkins pka U-God v. Wu Music Group LLC; filed 1/8/2008; case CV-0159]

January 8, 2008

Napster Caves; Drops DRM

The Wall Street Journal reports that Napster -- the company once synonymous with illegal on-line file sharing -- has dropped its software which limits the way users can listen to music.

Napster offered a subscription streaming service, which prevented subscribers from downloading a permanent copy of a sound recording to their hard-drive. With the termination of its digital rights management (DRM) program, it appears that Napster will now be an on-line music distributor modeled after traditional brick-and-mortar record stores (e.g., iTunes). In other words, users will be able to purchase their music and take it to-go, available on a whim.

Does this signal the death of subscription-based model of on-line content distribution? OTCS never believed this model would work - users, OTCS believes, prefer paying a la carte, rather than a monthly subscription fee.

Norah Jones Extends Publishing Deal

Norah Jones, who since 2002 has been signed with EMI Music Publishing, extended her publishing deal. The terms were undisclosed.

January 7, 2008

Infringement Case Reinstated

A copyright infringement case dismissed in Texas federal court upon a settlement amongst the parties has been reinstated after the defendant -- the alleged infringer via online distribution and copying-- defaulted on the settlement.

[Arista Records LLC et al. v. Painter; E.D.Tex. filed 2/6/07, Reinstated 1/4/08; case 1:07-cv-00071-MAC]