Tech News August 2010

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1.  NEA Report: How Technology Influences Arts Participation

A new report has been released by the National Endowment for the Arts, Audience 2.0: How Technology Influences Arts Participation, which describes the demographic characteristics of U.S. adults who participated in “live” arts (such as concerts, plays, and dance performances) via electronic media (e.g., TV, radio, computers and portable media devices) in 2008, based on the Survey of Public Participation in the Arts (SPPA). The report also examines broad categories of arts participation via Internet and investigates factors contributing to the likelihood of some Americans experiencing art through media. Finally, the report considers the relationship between media-based arts activities and other types of arts participation, such as live attendance and personal arts creation.  Key findings include:

  • Over half of all U.S. adults participate in the arts through electronic and digital media;
  • For many adults, electronic media represents their sole means of viewing or listening to benchmark arts activities;
  • A relatively large proportion of adults participate in benchmark arts activities through both live attendance and electronic media; and
  • Arts participation through media does not appear to “replace” live arts attendance, personal arts performance, or arts creation.

(Source: NEA)

2.  With touch of sadness, area's classical music radio station bids farewell

KFUO (99.1 FM), St. Louis’ 62-year-old classical music station, has been sold by its owner, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, to Gateway Creative Broadcasting’s JOY-FM, which will use the signal for Christian contemporary pop music. In place of the usual ads in the last days, there were thank-yous from prominent figures in the arts, including Susan Slaughter, the just-retired longtime principal trumpet of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra.  (Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

3.  The future of the recording industry: is there one?

The record label Naxos has gone from budget outsider to industry leader in its 20-plus years of existence. But what does the future hold for any record label at a time when CD sales are plummeting and downloads are stagnant? Naxos’s founder and CEO, Klaus Heymann, is one of the most candid and straightforward executives in the business, and he’s tailored his long-term goals to the realities of today’s market; his goal, he says, is to be “the last man standing.” He was interviewed by Anne Midgette of the Washington Post while in the U.S. for marketing meetings about the Naxos’s future.  (Source: The Washington Post)
4.  Spotify 'growing healthily and on track for US launch'

Daniel Ek, the chief executive of Spotify, the internet music streaming service, said they now have more than half a million subscribers and that the long rumored American launch of the service was still on track and would happen before the end of the year. The service now offers up to 20 hours of free music streaming per month, but users will have to listen to ads. For £4.99 per month, listeners can turn off the ads and the time limit, while a £9.99 monthly subscription adds the option to play music offline or on a mobile phone.

He added: “Music needs to be like water. It needs to be ubiquitous. We need to understand that this is not about MP3 files anymore; the MP3 file has become the URL and through that unique identifier I can send you something and you’ll be able to know what it is and listen to it."  Spotify are unlikely to be alone in their plans. Apple are thought to be developing a version of iTunes that will store music in ‘the cloud’ - a series of internet-connected servers that will allow people to access their music collection without having the files with them on an iPod or laptop.  (Source: The Telegraph of London)

5.  All-format film digital downloads coming soon

A group of media and electronics companies has announced an agreement on an all-formats system called UltraViolet for digital downloads. The single standard will allow the consumer to purchase films to be viewed on any device - a PC, smartphone, X-box, tablet, Blu-ray player, and television.  Backed by 48 companies, including film studios such as Paramount, Warner Bros., Sony and Fox, and tech firms like Microsoft, Toshiba, Panasonic as well as Intel and Comcast, the consortium, called the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem, covers the spectrum of entertainment, software, hardware, and retail companies. The only holdouts are the Walt Disney Company, which has developed its own system called KeyChest, and Apple's iPad and Apple TV. Whether they will participate in the future is unknown.  

UltraViolet, a universal file format, could launch by the end of the year or in 2011, after the system is tested with an unnamed retailer.  A "digital locker" will store DVDs, Blu-ray discs, TV shows and movie downloads in a cloud of servers to be accessed with a code for the proof of purchase from a store or online. The consumer can then view the film anywhere and on any equipment, from mobile phone to television set without the having to copy the file. (Source: The Independent)

6.  WXEL board considers alternative buyers despite agreement between Barry University and Classical South Florida

The controversy over the sale of Barry University's public broadcasting radio station, WXEL, 90.7 FM, to Classical South Florida continues as the station's independent community advisory board considers endorsing a new potential buyer.  In March, Barry University in Miami agreed to sell the radio station to Classical South Florida for $3.85 million, but before that sale can go forward it must be approved by the Florida Department of Education and the Federal Communications Commission. The WXEL Community Advisory Board, which holds no decision-making power, opposes the sale to Classical South Florida, an affiliate of American Public Media based in Minnesota.  The advisory board recently heard from two local nonprofit organizations interested in purchasing Barry University's radio and television stations – Strategic Broadcast Media Group and the Community Broadcast Foundation of the Palm Beaches and the Treasure Coast – and will shortly consider whether to endorse one of the two local bids.   (Source: The South Florida Sun-Sentinel)

7.  Movie Clips and Copyright

The thing that has made so many professors abuzz is the latest round of rule changes, issued by the U.S. Copyright Office, dealing with what is legal and what is not as far as decrypting and repurposing copyrighted content.  One change in particular is making waves in academe: an exemption that allows professors in all fields and “film and media studies students” to hack encrypted DVD content and clip “short portions” into documentary films and “non-commercial videos.” (The agency does not define “short portions.")  It is not yet clear whether the ruling would also apply to arts education activities outside the classroom.  (Source:

8.  Free downloads from British orchestras

The Association of British Orchestras (ABO) has linked up with iTunes and the Sunday Times of London to offer free classical music downloads.  The free tracks include pieces from Handel and Holst to Mozart and Mahler, played by top orchestras including the Hallé, Philharmonia, London Symphony Orchestra, Manchester Camerata and London Mozart Players.  (Source: Association of British Orchestras)

9.  Boston Symphony launches iPhone app

The Boston Symphony Orchestra has released “BSO Media Center,” its first iTunes application for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad users. The app will allow users to access the BSO, Boston Pops, and Tanglewood program notes, season schedules, tickets, and digital music; users may also listen to podcasts, view selected concerts via WebTV episodes, and view the interactive Classical Companion feature. Users can also stream live broadcasts of the Sunday-afternoon Tanglewood concerts by accessing WAMC/Northeast Public Radio’s broadcast stream link. Features to be added soon include a “push” notification, allowing the app to notify users when important updates have been made available, such as artist and schedule changes, news, and exclusive offers.  (Source: Boston Symphony Orchestra)

10.  St. Paul Chamber Orchestra gets a million from Mellon

The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra has snared a $1 million grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to be used for "artistic and digital media initiatives." That means it can use it to pay for major commissions, an annual composer in residence and collaborations with artists and institutions outside the realm of classical music.  And they'll have funding for artists and producers who'll come up with companion projects such as humanities activities, multimedia activities, and other new programming elements.  Ara Guzelimian, provost and dean of The Juilliard School and former senior director and artistic adviser at Carnegie Hall, will be senior adviser to the SPCO for the projects.  The money will come in over four years.  The SPCO will also be hiring an Executive Producer of Digital Media to assist in the implementation of the projects. (Source: )

11.  Orchestras Seek BFF by Cellphone Texts

In an increasingly common practice, orchestras are now soliciting cell phone texts for marketing purposes, in what they consider a new way to connect with audiences. Some are also using the technology to allow audiences to participate in programming in a way that would have been unthinkable a short time ago.  It is less surprising that music organizations are using the technology to sell themselves or raise money.
The New York Philharmonic has solicited texts for encores during its previous two summers. In 2008 it advertised discounts for coming concerts. Last summer it added a way for people to text donations.  (Source: New York Times)

12.  E-books outsell hardbacks on Amazon

Amazon, the online retailer and owner of the Kindle e-reader, has announced that digital books have been consistently outselling hardback books for the last three months in the US. The company has revealed that it has been selling 143 e-books for every 100 hardcover books over the course of the second quarter of 2010. The outpacing of digital books versus hardbacks is also accelerating, as during the last month alone, has sold 180 Kindle e-books for every 100 hardcovers.  Amazon says its Kindle bookstore now offers more than 630,000 e-books, with an additional 1.8 million out-of-copyright e-books made available for free.  (Source: The Telegraph of London)