Technology News of Note

March 2013

1.    25 billion served up: iTunes reaches milestone

Apple has announced that it has sold its 25 billionth download.  It took the Cupertino, Calif., company almost 10 years to reach the milestone. Customers download an average of 15,000 songs a minute from the iTunes music store, which was launched in April 2003. The digital retailer's catalog is 26 million songs deep.   (Source: Yahoo News)

2.    ABC Works on an App for Live Streaming Shows to Mobile Devices

The Walt Disney Company, while sorting out the future of the online video Web site Hulu, has an app in the works that may render Hulu passé for some people.  The app will live stream ABC programming to the phones and tablets of cable and satellite subscribers, allowing them to watch content while standing in line at Starbucks or riding a bus home from work. The subscriber-only arrangement, sometimes called TV Everywhere in industry circles, preserves the cable business model that is crucial to the bottom lines of broadcasters, while giving subscribers more of what they seem to want — mobile access to TV shows. The arrangement could extend the reach of ads that appear on ABC as well.  (Source: New York Times)  

3.    A Success in HD, but at What Cost?

Peter Gelb, the general manager of the Metropolitan Opera, now says that it was not the most fortunate choice of words when he recently attributed a decline in attendance at the house to the “cannibalization” of the audience by the company’s high-definition broadcasts.  Yet that comment gained attention because it taps into some reservations that many opera buffs and critics have had about the project, which started in 2006, and has been an indisputable success.  The concern is that, if f opera fans in the greater New York area get used to the convenience and affordability of seeing performances in their local movie houses, will they eventually stop coming to the Met? And will live video performances, with close-up camerawork, vivid sound systems and intermission interviews, become more appealing to some than seeing an opera from a top balcony seat in a big house?  (Source: New York Times)

4.    Viewers Are Flocking to Streaming Video Content — And So Are Advertisers

With its new array of online options for viewing media — not to mention the increasing amount of original content created for online audiences — the internet has become a disruptive influence on the traditional television business, plain and simple. Even the staid Nielsen ratings standards have finally announced plans to include online streaming audiences in their metrics starting this fall. Now after years of talk about “cord-cutting” and the collapse of TV as we know it, a new report is suggesting that the rapid growth of the online audiences will fundamentally change not only the way viewers approach video content, but the way that advertisers do.   (Source: Wired)

5.    What Is 3D Printing? And Will It Change the World?

3D printing, futuristic name notwithstanding, is a pretty simple phenomenon: the conversion of a digital file into a physical product. With detailed instructions and the right materials, in theory and -- more and more often -- in practice, you can manufacture objects from a little machine on your desk. So we can now 3D print parts for machines and home appliances. In the latest episode of PBS's "OffBook" series, entrepreneurs and journalists discuss the future of the technology, considering not just how 3D printing can change the way humans create, but also how it can change our assumptions -- about manufacturing and retailing and economic efficiencies, about food production and even human production.   (Source: The Atlantic)

6.    3-D printing produces a fresh creative outlet for artists

Despite the chicken-in-every-pot hype over consumer-level 3-D printers, the technology still has a long way to go to be usable, or useful, for the average Joe.   But for some artists, 3-D printing has been a revelation. The ability to design and build objects layer by layer, rather than through traditional methods such as casting or handcrafting, has created a new level of freedom.   (Source: Los Angeles Times)

7.    An upbeat trend for classical pubradio despite audience slide

In public radio, the number of stations dedicated to classical music has rebounded, with a 40 percent increase from 109 in 2011 to 178 2012. The conversion of commercial classical stations to public radio has been one of the driving forces behind this growth.  This total, for the first time, included not just radio broadcasters’ primary signals but also their HD Radio multicast streams.   But while the number of classical music outlets is up, the format still faces major challenges in bolstering its listenership.  Of the 15 largest metro markets with a single classical station, 13 saw audience declines and one – Seattle’s KING-FM – recorded a slight increase.   (Source: Current)

8.    The Improbable Rise of NPR Music

With 2.7 million unique monthly visitors, 1.4 million podcast downloads every four weeks and an additional 1.4 million iPhone and iPad apps in circulation, NPR Music (npr.org/music) has become a sought-after stop for both aspiring and established artists. More broadly, it has become a rising power in the music industry.   (Source: Wall Street Journal)

9.    Playwrights Horizons First New York Theater to Offer Ticket Sales via Facebook

Playwrights Horizons has announced the launch of AVTiki, an innovative online sales channel that will give theater patrons the ability to purchase tickets without leaving Facebook.   (Source: AudienceView)

10.  What’s Billboard’s No. 1? Now YouTube Has a Say

The Billboard Hot 100, the magazine’s 55-year-old singles chart, has taken a revolutionary step and will now incorporate YouTube plays into its formula.   (Source: New York Times)

11.  Google Grants to increase maximum bid rate to $2.00

Google has increased the maximum bid rate for Google Grantees to $2.00 USD Cost Per Click (CPC) as of January 28, 2013. This is a tremendous change for Google Grantees, as it will allow for better placement of advertisements. However, Google Grants ads will now be shown below paying advertisers.   (Source: LinkedIn)

12.  Preparing Your Organization for Facebook Search

Facebook recently began the rollout of social search, a powerful tool that will allow users on Facebook to obtain search results with built-in friend endorsement. Some suggestions for ways arts organizations should prepare for this new feature include:

1.    Make sure your “About” section is up to date, complete, and keyword-rich.
2.    Focus on getting more “Likes”
3.    Encourage users to post about your organization on Facebook  (Source:  Capacity Interactive)

13.  Chicago Shakespeare Theater uses rich media messaging to build mobile database

Chicago Shakespeare Theater used rich media messaging to engage opted in audience members with a campaign that helped bring a famous painting to life and drive awareness for an upcoming performance.  The theater group sent exclusive video content on their mobile devices that could be shared on Twitter and Facebook, driving viral awareness of an upcoming production. More than 14 percent of opted-in users shared the rich content they received on their Facebook page while more than 17 percent agreed to receive future updates from Chicago Shakespeare Theater.   (Source: Mobile Marker)

14.  Copyright Protection That Serves to Destroy

In commentary in the Wall Street Journal, critic Terry Teachout urges Congress “to straighten out America's confused copyright laws,” which absurdly allow sound recordings to be "protected" by a prohibitive snarl of federal and state legislation that insure even the oldest U.S. recordings, dating from the late 19th century, will not lose their copyright protection until 2067 at the earliest.  He says that “intellectual property rights have become a sensitive issue in the age of instantaneous digital distribution, and rightly so. But copyright law was never meant to allow such rights to be restricted indefinitely. A time eventually comes when all books pass into the public domain. That's part of what makes a great book classic—the power to reprint or quote from it at will. Each time we do so, we fertilize our own culture, thereby helping to preserve it for future generations. Why can't we treat sound recordings the same way?”  (Source: Wall Street Journal)

15.  Museums Make Bigscreen Push

The success of bigscreen fine-arts cinemacast “Leonardo Live” has spurred its producers, PhilGrabskyFilms.com and BY Experience, to team with alternative content distributor NCM Fathom Events to present a series of museum-based cinemacasts called “Exhibition.”   Launching in April with “Manet: Portraying Life,” a look at an exhibit of the Impressionist painter’s art on view at London’s Royal Academy of Arts, the “Exhibition” programming establishes an ongoing footprint for fine-arts offerings in the alt-content cinema marketplace. Performing arts organizations have already had notable success drawing crowds to HD cinemacasts (both live and recorded) of live entertainment, with the Metropolitan Opera’s high-profile programming joined more recently by legit troupes including London’s National Theater, which in June will present a live cinemacast of Helen Mirren topliner “The Audience.”   With “Exhibition,” art museums muscle in on the turf that for other arts orgs has become a fruitful means of brand expansion — as well as a new revenue stream.   (Source: Variety)

16.  Music Industry Sales Rise, and Digital Revenue Gets the Credit

The music industry, the first media business to be consumed by the digital revolution, said that its global sales rose last year for the first time since 1999, raising hopes that a long-sought recovery might have begun.   The increase, of 0.3 percent, was tiny, and the total revenue, $16.5 billion, was a far cry from the $38 billion that the industry took in at its peak more than a decade ago. Still, even if it is not time for the record companies to party like it’s 1999, the figures, reported by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, provide significant encouragement. (Source: New York Times)

17.  Philip Glass' Walt Disney opera to be broadcast live online

Can't get to Madrid for the world premiere of Philip Glass' Walt Disney Opera? "The Perfect American," a fictionalized account of Disney's final days, was broadcast live online in early February, with the video available for free up to three months after.  "The Perfect American" can be streamed on medici.tv for free; registration is required for viewing the archived video.  (Source: Los Angeles Times)

18.   Imagining a Swap Meet for E-Books and Music

The bedrock distinction between physical and electronic works for the last decade has been that, with digital goods, you are in effect only renting an e-book — or an iTunes song — and your rights are severely limited.  That distinction is now under attack, both in the courts and the marketplace.  Recently, both Amazon and Apple have received patents to set up systems for allowing users to sell or give e-books, music, movies and software to each other by transferring files rather than reproducing them.  The retailers would presumably earn a commission on each transaction, and consumers would surely see lower prices.  But a shudder went through publishers and media companies, which produce content and might see their work devalued, just as they did when Amazon began selling secondhand books.   (Source: New York Times)

19.  Study Finds That Streaming And Spyware Are Killing Music Piracy

It seems that people just aren’t pirating music the way they used to. In many cases, because they don’t have to.  According to the NPD Group’s “Annual Music Study 2012,” the number of music files being illegally downloaded was 26% less in 2012 than in 2011. What’s more, 40% of the people surveyed in the study who said that they’d illegally downloaded in 2011 did not do so in 2012.  So what’s responsible for this massive reduction in piracy? According to the survey, it’s not stepped-up enforcement – it’s the availability of free music via streaming services like Spotify.   (Source: Forbes)