Technology News of Note

September 2013

  1. A Pay-What-You-Can Music Model

    Musicians Carla Kihlstedt and Matthias Bossi have developed a novel plan, a subscription Web site, Rabbit Rabbit Radio, to distribute new music by their latest band, Rabbit Rabbit.  The plan was to release a new song for subscribers on the first of every month, with accompanying video clips, slide shows and photo albums; information about the making of the track; and essays on various subjects.  Past releases can be explored in their online archives.  Subscribers pay $2 to $5 a month. (There is no difference in access; it’s a matter of paying what you can.)   So far, after 18 months, Rabbit Rabbit Radio has nearly 900 subscribers, with a goal of increasing their subscription list by 500 listeners a year and eventually making the site a small part of their monthly income.  (Source: New York Times)

  2. If CDs cost £8 ($12) where does the money go?

    Despite digital's complete dominance of the singles market, most albums are still bought on CD. The average cost is £8 ($12.50), but where does the money go for a typical CD sold in the U.K.?  According to music agent Jonathan Shalit, about 13% goes to the artists, 30% goes to the label, 17% to the British government in the form of VAT (applied at 20% and therefore 1/6 of purchase price). About 17% goes to the retailer, while the rest goes to manufacturers (9%), distributors (8%) and copyright (6%).    (Source: BBC News)

  3. Bounty on a Budget

    Naxos – once known as a budget record label of obscure works by relatively unknown artists – now stands for a gigantic new force in classical recordings, uniquely in tune with the markets, technology and listening habits of our time.   Founded by the German-born, Hong Kong-based maverick Klaus Heymann, the Naxos empire stands on three pillars. First: a budget-CD label—once belittled, now showered with prizes. Second: a distribution network—founded because existing distributors refused to do business with Naxos, now the go-to conduit for classical-indie-CD labels and producers of opera DVDs galore. And third: what bills itself as the world's first subscription streaming service, running to 85,000 CDs on some 250 labels, 1¼ million tracks in all, the lot available on demand for about 85 cents a day. Some 800 CDs' worth of music is added monthly.   (Source: Wall Street Journal)

  4. Saving Classical Music: An App for That?

    Although Classical music in the 21st century has seemed in a precarious state, recent news items also hint at a possible countertrend.   Pianist Jonathan Biss announced the creation of a free five-week home-study course on the Beethoven Piano Sonatas beginning Sept. 3, offered through the Curtis Institute and online content provider Coursera. At last count, enrollment stood at more than 29,000.  More astoundingly, in May digital-software publisher Touch Press offered a sophisticated app for Apple's mobile devices that allows users to explore Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. And it has thus far been downloaded more than 620,000 times.   This raises the question: Could new media save classical music?   (Source: Wall Street Journal)

  5. How Ashamed Should You Feel About Using Spotify?

    The image of wide-eyed young musicians having their lunches eaten by rapacious corporations is pretty compelling, and the ongoing collapse of the record business makes it look even scarier.   But, maybe the perception that there are gross inequities in how music-streaming services like Pandora and Spotify pay artists is not quite as simple as it seems.  Before criticizing those services, it's worth considering who's paying whom when music gets streamed, and how that might change. Whenever you read a shockingly low number, it's also worth keeping three things in mind:

    1. "The music business" is not the same thing as "the recorded music business"—especially for musicians;
    2. Streaming music is not the digital equivalent of radio; and
    3. "Paying to play a song" is not as simple as handing a performer a check.(Source: Slate)

  6. Fast Forward: Assessing the classical recording industry as it exists today

    If you follow any news about the record industry, then you know that we live in interesting times.  The CD format, while not dead, continues to suffer.   Digital music consumption continues to surge, albeit unpredictably.   This industry-wide uncertainty grows more acute when it comes to the very small classical-recording sector.  And yet, orchestral recordings persist, made by orchestras at every size level and with a variety of means.   Symphony Magazine provides an overview of the recording strategies being used by orchestras today.   (Source: Symphony Magazine)

  7. Everyone In The Tech And TV Industries Is Passing Around This Speech By Kevin Spacey

    Everyone in the tech industry is passing around this video of Kevin Spacey talking about how Netflix (and other tech companies) will blow up the traditional TV industry, by shifting a lot of control from the content creators to the viewers.  In an edited version of Spacey's speech, he touches on how Netflix, which has produced a handful of excellent original series this year, has the potential to disrupt the traditional cable and network TV model of forcing content creators to make a pilot before accepting a show.  (Source: Business Insider)