Technology News of Note

November 2013

  1. As Downloads Dip, Music Executives Cast a Wary Eye on Streaming Services

    As sales of CDs plunged over the last decade, the music industry clung to one comfort: downloads continued to sell briskly as people filled their computers and iPods with songs by the billions.  Now even that certainty seems to have disappeared, as downloads – after enjoying double-digit growth in the years after Apple opened its iTunes store in 2003 – head toward their first yearly decline.

    So far this year, total digital album and track downloads in the United States (using the industry’s standard yardstick of 10 tracks to an album) are down almost 1 percent from the same time last year, according to the tracking service Nielsen SoundScan.  Music executives and analysts disagree about exactly what is causing this slowdown, but many cite streaming music services like Pandora, Spotify and YouTube as one possible cause.   (Source: New York Times)

  2. From Flying Bows to Intent Faces, Verdi Via a Laptop

    The Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s recent performance of the Verdi Requiem was streamed live from Orchestra Hall for the first time on its own Web site. It was also viewable on Facebook and other sites and beamed to an outdoor screen at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. (Source: New York Times)

  3. Digital piracy not harming entertainment industries: study

    A new study by researchers at the London School of Economics suggests the music and movie industries have been exaggerating the impact digital file sharing has had on their bottom line and found that for some creative industries, copyright infringement might actually be helping boost revenues.   (Source: CBC News)

  4. Facebook Radically Simplifies Ad Buying

    ad buyers have cause to celebrate, as the social network has unveiled a major overhaul of both its basic ad-buying platform, Ads Manager, and its more sophisticated offering, Power Editor, both of which now boast a more streamlined interface.  Previously, ad buyers were asked to choose from a range of ad options and then select their campaign objectives and optimization methods.  Now, more reasonably, advertisers are first asked to identify their objectives.  (Source: Mashable)

  5. How Spotify and its digital music rivals can win over artists: 'Just include us'

    How can digital music services win praise from musicians, rather than the kind of attacks recently aimed at Spotify by Thom Yorke and David Byrne?   For cellist Zoe Keating, it’s simple. "Just include us," she said during a debate organized by Virgin that brought musicians, managers and technology firms together for a discussion of music/tech disruption.  "An artist like me couldn’t exist without technology: I can just record music in my basement and release it on the internet," said Keating.  "But this is not just an excuse for services to replicate the payment landscapes of the past….and take advantage of those without power … Corporations do have a responsibility not just to their shareholders but to the world at large, and to artists."  Keating renewed her previous call for streaming services to share more data with musicians, as well as forging more links to other startups that help artists to connect directly with fans.    (Source: The Guardian)

  6. Spotify fight: artists threaten to sue labels over music streaming

    Proponents of music streaming as a viable business model often point to Scandinavia as proof. Sweden, the birth country of Spotify, saw music sales jump 13.8% in 2012 and 12% in the first half of 2013 – the turnaround in revenue is largely attributed to the streaming service.  So how come Swedish artists are far from cheering?  A number of Swedish artists are threatening to sue Universal and Warner Music over the paltry royalties they get from people streaming their music. If record labels don't agree to increase the share of the royalties distributed to artists from services such as Spotify, the artists will start demanding that their music is removed from the service, says Swedish Musicians' Union lawyer Per Herrey.   (Source: The Guardian)

  7. Merlin CEO: major labels are setting new music services up to fail

    Merlin, a UK-based organization that represents the global digital rights of indie labels from more than 35 countries, is currently negotiating with Beats Music and others about licensing its repertoire to their music subscription services.  But, Merlin’s CEO warned that it may not be able to reach an agreement.  The dispute turns on how much the new services are going to pay independent labels, which largely depends on the deals music services strike with the majors.   The big labels are demanding that new services pay them huge minimum guarantees, regardless of whether the music is actually consumed, or whether the service is even able to go to market. These demands Merlin’s CEO alleges are not leaving enough money on the table for independent artists.   (Source: GigaOm)

  8. Royal Opera House Plans Simulcasts in U.S.

    The Royal Opera House in London has announced that part of its lineup from the 2013-14 season will be simulcast for the first time in more than 500 movie theaters in the United States.  Tickets are at   (Source: New York Times)

  9. Vienna State Opera goes live stream

    For all those who can't come to the Vienna State Opera — it can now come to you.  The company is now offering what it describes as state-of-the art live streaming, with viewers able to switch between a view of the stage and close-ups with moving cameras. Innovations promised by the year's end will include apps providing subtitles in English, German and Korean and a synchronized score of the work being shown.  A live stream performance costs 14 euros ($20) while an on-demand stream from the archives will sell for 5 euros, or almost $7.  (Source: Yahoo)

  10. New York Philharmonic to Stream Video Performances

    The New York Philharmonic is revisiting a few highlights of its recent history, and inviting its fans to tune in and relive those events as well, by way of a five-day “I ♥ New York Philharmonic Festival,” to be streamed on the classical music video Web site The festival includes “A Dancer’s Dream” (a staging of Stravinsky’s “Fairy’s Kiss” and “Petrushka”, using a combination of film and live action), Stockhausen’s “Gruppen,” (performed in 2012 at the Park Avenue Armory), Lorin Maazel’s historic 2008 visit to North Korea for a concert in Pyongyang, a February 2013 “Chinese New Year” gala (conducted by Long Yu, with the pianist Lang Lang and the mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnson Cano as the soloists) and Lindberg’s “Kraft” (conducted by Mr. Gilbert in Dresden, Germany) (Source: New York Times)

  11. Keep Wireless Mics Interference-Free

    Decisions will soon be made by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that could have a negative impact on wireless microphone users, including opera companies, orchestras and other performing arts organizations.  The League of American Orchestras and Opera America are urging their members to contact their members of Congress to ask them to go on record in support of the performing arts, by becoming a cosponsor of a bill that would protect performing arts wireless technology from potential interference.   The Wireless Microphone Users Interference Protection Act of 2013 has been introduced by Congressman Bobby L. Rush (D-IL-01) and it asks the FCC to protect the existing space designated for wireless microphone users, so that users will not suffer interference during performances.   (Source: League of American Orchestras)

  12. Research Update #2: Creating Online Audiences for Orchestras

    The Arts Management and Technology Laboratory at Carnegie-Mellon University has been researching best-practice examples of efforts by symphony orchestras to create online audiences for their music beyond the walls of a traditional concert hall.  The latest installment inspects three of these orchestras—the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, and the Philharmonia Orchestra (UK)—with a closer look at some of the tools they use, how these tools are being implemented, and the resulting opportunities they create.   (Source: AMTLab)

  13. Social media brings new orchestra, opera fans

    The Philadelphia Orchestra and Opera Philadelphia have had recent audience triumphs radically revising old notions that Twitter and other social media work only for young millennials.  On Oct. 2, the Philadelphia Orchestra played to a full Verizon Hall on six hours' notice, aided by social media, after an engagement at Carnegie Hall was abruptly canceled. The strategy: Massive contacts via e-mail, Facebook, and Twitter.   Days before (Sept. 27), Opera Philadelphia drew 4,000 for an outdoor simulcast on Independence Mall of its season-opening Nabucco. Social media got the word out about the event. And once there, attendees tweeted their reactions on Twitter. The hashtag #onthemall was among the highest-trending tags in town that night.   That prompted the company's general director, David Devan, to consider establishing a "tweet zone" in the Academy of Music where listeners can do their electronic socializing during the show.  The point of social media, says Devan, is not the number of hits, but how the contacts generate discussion.   (Source: Philadelphia Inquirer)

  14. YouTube Close to Launching Subscription Music Service

    YouTube is preparing a premium on-demand music service -- akin to a Spotify, but with video -- to launch later this year.  The service, designed with mobile listening in mind, will have a free component and a premium tier that offers unlimited access to a full catalog of tracks similar to what's already available via YouTube's parent company, Google Inc., via its All Access subscription music service. Premium features would include the ability to cache music for offline listening and removing ads.  The free tier is likely to be unlimited, on-demand access to full tracks on all platforms, including mobile. In that sense, the paid tier is more of a "soft sell" as YouTube's primary goal is to continue to amass ears and eyes to its mobile platform to sell ads.   (Source: Billboard)