Technology News of Note

August 2013

  1. Email Is Crushing Twitter, Facebook for Selling Stuff Online

    In 2013, no company can expect to be taken seriously if it’s not on Facebook or Twitter.    Despite the hype that inevitably clings to the newfangled, however, a new report from marketing data outfit Custora found that over the past four years, online retailers have quadrupled the rate of customers acquired through email to nearly 7 percent.  Facebook over that same period barely registers as a way to make a sale, and the tiny percentage of people who do connect and buy over Facebook has stayed flat. Twitter, meanwhile, doesn’t register at all. By far the most popular way to get customers was “organic search,” according to the report, followed by “cost per click” ads (in both cases, read: Google).   (Source: Wired)

  2. A New Service for Collecting Royalties From YouTube

    TuneCore has announced the launch of Audiam, a new service designed to help artists make money off their music when it’s part of user-uploaded content on YouTube.  Through a partnership with YouTube, Audiam will allow artists to upload tracks to be digitally “fingerprinted” using YouTube’s Content ID tools for automated identification in YouTube videos. When the service recognizes a track, rather than issuing a takedown notice, YouTube will place an advertisement in the user’s video to generate ad revenue and pay for the license. YouTube takes 45 percent of revenue generated for hosting the content and brokering the deals with advertisers, and Audiam takes 25 percent. Notably, Audiam collects royalties for both the composition and the recording, so an artist must control both to make money on a track.   (Source: Future of Music Coalition)

  3. Atoms for Peace Pull Music From Spotify

    “Atoms for Peace” have removed their music from Spotify.   Band member (and Radiohead producer) Nigel Godrich announced the move in a series of tweets, in which he said that the music streaming service is "bad for new music."   While Godrich acknowledges that the service might make sense for established artists with huge catalogs, he says that the model doesn't hold up for new music.  “People are scared to speak up or not take part as they are told they will lose invaluable exposure if they don't play ball. Meanwhile millions of streams gets them a few thousand dollars. Not like radio at all."   (Source: Rolling Stone)

  4. How Spotify is killing music piracy

    Spotify has long argued that it isn’t killing music sales, but is rather reducing piracy — and the company now has some numbers to back that claim up: Spotify has recently published a report that shows that piracy in the Netherlands has gone down just as Spotify has become more popular in the country.  A chart, showing how music piracy has changed in that country over the last few years, compared to other types of piracy proves the point. (Source: Paid Content)

  5. Spotify Losses Grow, Despite Successful Expansion

    After five years, the streaming music service Spotify has established itself as a financial force in the music industry, with more than $500 million in revenue last year. Yet its losses have also grown as the company expands around the world and tries to attract paying customers.   The company, which introduced its service in Sweden in 2008 and came the United States two years ago, had about $578 million in revenue during 2012. That’s an increase of 128 percent from 2011.  But the company, which has been valued at $3 billion by investors, has yet to turn a profit. Last year it lost $78 million, up from $60 million the year before.    (Source: New York Times)

  6. STAATSOPER.TV: Watch opera live and online

    Bavarian State Opera has announced it will be the first international opera house to present a season with live streams online free of charge. Opera and ballet lovers from all over the world will be able to enjoy a total of seven opera performances and two ballet evenings in full and live online from Munich, via staatsoper.tv.   (Source: Bayerische Staatsoper)

  7. Can PledgeMusic's direct-to-fan approach unlock untapped revenue?

    Record labels are leaving billions of pounds in revenue on the table every year by only offering music fans "ways to spend less", says Benji Rogers, co-founder and CEO of direct-to-fan platform PledgeMusic.   PledgeMusic specializes in using a group’s passionate fan base to generate funds to pay for the release of new recordings. The average pledger, based on the past six months, spends $57 per transaction on the site, and for that money they don't just get the album and/or merchandise – they get exclusive, immediate video updates from the artist, as the record is being created. Perhaps one of the most glowing endorsements for direct-to-fan crowdfunding is that Amanda Palmer, who last year raised $1.2m on Kickstarter, is now using the Pledge platform.   (Source: The Guardian)

  8. Chromecast, Simply and Cheaply, Flings Web Video to TVs

    The number of people who cut the cable TV cord, or cancel the satellite, in favor of getting all their TV from the Internet is still small — maybe 1 percent a year. But the online alternatives to cable TV are growing.   Google’s new Chromecast gizmo is the smallest, cheapest, simplest way yet to add Internet to your TV. It costs $35 and, if you have a Wi-Fi wireless network in your home, the Chromecast can perform two useful stunts:

    Stunt 1: It lets you watch videos from YouTube, Netflix and Google Play (Google’s movie and TV store for Android gadgets) on your big screen. You use your phone or tablet (Apple or Android) as a remote control.

    Stunt 2: The Chromecast displays Web sites on your TV — by broadcasting from Google’s Chrome browser on your Mac or PC. More on this in a moment.

    Although the number of channels currently available is small, relative to those you can get via Xbox, TiVo, Roky or Blu-ray player, Google says that more services are on the way.   (Source: New York Times)

  9. Congressman Vows to Introduce Bill on Radio Royaltie

    Representative Melvin L. Watt, a Democrat from North Carolina, said that he planned to introduce a bill requiring broadcasters to recognize the performance rights of record companies and musicians, the latest effort in a decades-old fight by the music industry to extract greater royalties from radio.  Radio broadcasters in the United States — almost alone in the world — pay royalties only to music publishers and songwriters when songs are played over the air on AM or FM radio. They don’t pay royalties to record companies or performing artists, under the argument that the promotional value those parties receive is sufficient compensation.  Representative Watt hopes the introduction of legislation establishing a performance right in sound recordings could lead to private licensing negotiations between broadcasters and record companies.   (Source: New York Times)

  10. When Spotify, Pandora, and iTunes Pay Royalties, This Is Where the Money Goes...

    This doesn't answer all the questions, but a graphic from the Future of Music Coalition admirably attempts to shine light on the very murky (i.e. non-transparent) process by which musicians and songwriters are compensated when their music is played on the radio, sold on digital platforms, webcast or streamed on interactive services.  (Source: Digital Music News)

  11. Pandora opens more classical boxes

    For Pandora, the online custom radio service that allows you to program your own stations to your own tastes (a thumbs up/thumbs down rating option lets the search engines know how its suggestions have gone over, and help them make new ones), classical music did not figure large in its original plans. However, finding that its classical stations were performing slightly better than market share indicated they should, the company has made a significant push over the last three years to expand its classical catalogue.  The result: three new classical stations, available as of today, with a Goldilocks array of choices: a light one for the casual listener, a more serious one, and one that focuses exclusively on complete performances -- as people who love classical music generally expect.  (Source: Washington Post)

  12. Is Pandora Really Short-Changing Songwriters?

    Many musicians have been decrying Pandora’s attempts to reduce the royalties it pays to artists. This ongoing fight has been waged in Congress, in the courts and, of course, online. It all started in earnest last year when Pandora lobbied hard for the Internet Radio Fairness Act. The bill, which musicians said would “gut the royalties that thousands of musicians rely upon,” would have changed how royalty rates paid by streaming services are determined and almost certainly reduced the amount paid to artists. The bill didn’t get far, though, because it was introduced too late in the session for any action before the new Congress was sworn in.  That said, the bill could come back this year, which may be why artists are speaking out.   (Source: Wired)

  13. Is Spotify bad for music?

    Thom Yorke has pulled his solo projects from Spotify, after complaining that new artists do not get paid fairly with this model. Tim Ingham, editor of Music Week, and Johnny Lynch, aka the Pictish Trail, debate whether he's right… or simply out of date.  (Source: The Guardian)

  14. Fallout From Apple’s Loss on E-Books

    A federal judge has ruled that some of Apple founder Steve Jobs’s words helped persuade her that Apple had violated antitrust law in conspiring with publishers to raise prices of e-books. Although it appears unlikely that the ruling will have an immediate effect on the book-buying public, it could affect how Apple cuts deals with media companies that provide the music, books and movies that help make its iPhones and iPads compelling.   The ruling could lead Apple and other technology companies negotiating with media companies to proceed with extreme caution to avoid any appearance of collusion.   (Source: New York Times)

  15. The real villain in the ebooks case isn’t Apple or Amazon — it’s publishers’ addiction to DRM

    The major publishers say they needed to cut an ebook deal with Apple in order to blunt the force of Amazon’s monopoly — but they themselves helped construct that monopoly by insisting on platform-specific Digital Rights Management technology.   (Source: GigaOM)

  16. Google Said to Weigh Supplying TV Channels

    If Google has its way, you might someday get cable television the same way you get Gmail: through any ordinary Internet connection.   Foreshadowing a new challenge to entrenched cable and satellite providers, Google is one of several technology giants trying to license TV channels for an Internet cable service.  No deals are imminent. But Google’s recent meetings with major media companies that own channels are a sign of the newfound race to sell cablelike services via the Internet, creating an alternative to the current television packages that 100 million American households buy from companies like Comcast and Time Warner Cable.   (Source: New York Times)

  17. How to Create a Perfect Facebook Promoted Post that Doesn’t Break the Rules

    If you’re a social media marketer or advertiser, the odds are that you have run into trouble with getting your company’s ad approved on Facebook’s self serve advertising service.  This is due to Facebook’s 20% rule, which means that any promoted page posts through their services will need to include no more than 20% text. The promoted page post feature on Facebook wants all of its advertisements to have more focus on the images themselves versus the words on them. With advertiser’s energy sliding away from generating page “likes,” if you can capture the attention of the news feed browser, you’ll be well on your way to generating clicks and business. So you need to work out how to stay within the rules.   (Source: JeffBullas.com)

  18. Major Distributor Codaex Group Collapses

    Codaex, one of Europe's largest recording distributors, has filed for bankruptcy.  Codaex's most prominent clients included the fine Austrian label PentaTone--which launched the career of violin star Julia Fischer, and whose artists today include major conductors Marek Janowksi and Philippe Herreweghe--as well as SOMM (which boasts pianists Mark Bebbington and Peter Donohoe), Canadian labels Analekta and ATMA Classique (who number the Philadelphia Orchestra's new boss, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, among their artists), as well as Australia's ABC Classics and many, many others.   (Source: Classicalite)

  19. Increasingly, a Jazz Stage Is Digital

    Smalls, the endearingly casual Greenwich Village jazz club, has had a strong digital presence for a while now, sending out transmissions and stockpiling thousands of hours of recordings. A few weeks ago the club announced a new initiative to monetize its video and audio archives, creating an online subscription database with a revenue-sharing apparatus for musicians.   That model — which will be supported by a $60,000 fund-raising campaign — could be a bellwether for other jazz clubs. But because a permanent archive has different implications than an ephemeral stream, the issue has raised concerns among some musicians, including Smalls regulars. What everyone seems to agree on, at a moment of accelerating media metabolisms and diminishing record sales, is that a new reality is inevitable.   (Source: New York Times)

  20. Vine vs. Instagram, round 2 and revining

    While many users and marketers have already picked sides in the battle between Instagram and Vine for the top video content sharing platform, it’s still anyone’s game. Vine recently countered from previous reports showing Instagram was pulling ahead. The fresh-faced Twitter-owned application announced a slew of new features that stand to improve user experience and play up the viral sharing potential of the program.   (Source: Brafton)