1. 2nd Season for Berlin Phil Online Concerts:
The Berlin Philharmonic will continue its “Digital Concert Hall” project into a second season. Almost all of the orchestra’s concerts in the 2009-2010 season will be available live on the internet at www.berliner-philharmoniker.de. After the broadcast, the concerts go into the Digital Concert Hall video archive, where there are also around 30 recordings from last season.
The first broadcast of the new season is on August 28, when principal conductor Sir Simon Rattle will conduct a programme that includes Berlioz’s “Symphonie fantastique.” Among the guest conductors appearing will be Claudio Abbado, Daniel Barenboim, Christoph von Dohnányi, Bernard Haitink, Daniel Harding, Mariss Jansons, Ton Koopman, Zubin Mehta, Seiji Ozawa and Christian Thielemann.
A year’s subscription to the Digital Concert Hall costs 149 euros ($211) and provides unlimited access to all the live broadcasts and archive of recordings from the 2009/2010 season, as well as the recordings from the previous season. Since the first live broadcast in January 2008 there have been more than 200,000 visitors to the site. Nearly two-thirds of visitors are from outside Germany. After the home market (with 35% of all users), the second largest uptake has been in Japan (13%), followed by the USA (9%) and Spain (4%).
2. The Cleveland Orchestra partners with Distributive Networks to launch Text to Win Contest at Public Square on July 2
The Cleveland Orchestra and Distributive Networks launched the Cleveland Orchestra Trivia Challenge, an innovative mobile marketing campaign that captured fan enthusiasm at the 2009 Star-Spangled Spectacular Community Concert and Festival at Public Square in Cleveland on Thursday, July 2. Fans played the trivia game on their mobile phones throughout the Festival and Concert, interacting live to win free tickets to the 2009 Blossom Festival. Approximately 70,000 to 80,000 fans annually attend the free community concert at Public Square.
To start the challenge, fans were invited to simply text the word BLOSSOM on their cellular phones to a “short code” number. Instructions including the specific number were broadcast on a large screen at Public Square and via local radio stations. During the concert, participants received text trivia challenge questions about The Cleveland Orchestra.
The Cleveland Orchestra Trivia Challenge is part of a public launch of social media tools available from the Orchestra. Fans are encouraged to share their photos of friends and families at Public Square and Blossom by uploading to YouTube and flickr using the tag keywords “Cleveland Orchestra.” The Orchestra also launched a blog, available through the website www.clevelandorchestra.com that will chronicle news, behind-the-scenes information, and points of view from musicians and guest artists.
3. Music Labels Reach Online Royalty Deal
After a two-year battle, record labels and online radio stations agreed on new royalty rates that cover music streaming. Many of the music sites had argued that the old rates were so high that they were being forced out of business. That could have come back to haunt the record labels, since for many people the sites are becoming a useful way to discover music.
In 2007 a federal royalty board ruled that all so-called webcasters needed to pay a fee, set to increase to 0.19 cent a song next year, each time they streamed a song for a listener. Webcasters said the fees would eat up most of their revenue, which generally comes from advertising on their sites and in their music streams, as well as from subscriptions and fees they earn when a listener clicks to buy a song from a digital music store.
The new agreement treats sites differently depending on their size and business model. It applies to companies that make most of their money from streaming music, so webcasters like CBS Radio, which runs online music services for AOL and Yahoo, are not part of it. It covers the period from 2006 through 2015 for big sites and through 2014 for small sites.
Webcasters with significant advertising revenue, like Pandora or Slacker, will pay the greater of 25 percent of revenue or a fee each time a listener hears a song, starting at .08 cent for songs streamed in 2006 and increasing to .14 cent in 2015. Small sites with less than $1.25 million in revenue, like AccuRadio, Digitally Imported and RadioIO, will pay 12 to 14 percent of it in royalties. All stations will be required to pay an annual minimum fee of $25,000, which they can apply to their royalty payments. Webcasters also agreed to give more detailed information about the songs they play and how many people listen to them to SoundExchange, the nonprofit organization that collects and distributes digital royalties on behalf of artists and labels.
Other kinds of streaming sites will pay different rates. Under an agreement reached in January, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting made a single royalty payment of $1.85 million to cover the online streams of the nation’s public radio stations through 2010.
Many of the streaming music sites had argued that all sites should pay a percentage of revenue rather than a per-song fee. They added that satellite radio stations pay a cut of their revenue, while broadcast stations pay nothing to artists and labels. Under the new agreement, though, almost all Internet radio stations will pay the new, lower fee for each song, because that will be more than 25 percent of revenue.
4. National Symphony to introduce real-time Twittered program notes
National Symphony Orchestra conductor Emil de Cou prepared “real-time” program notes to Beethoven's Sixth that were sent via Twitter to those sitting on the lawn of Wolf Trap on July 30. (The Filene Center does not allow electronic devices to be used in the main house, only on the lawn.) It's an interesting variation on a palm-held device, tried out by some orchestras a few years ago, that texted program notes as a performance was in progress.
“With this first ever in-time symphonic Twitter you can have the conductor as your personal guide through Beethoven's most colorful and atmospheric work,” explained NSO @ Wolf Trap Festival Conductor Emil de Cou. “I have designed the tweets to go perfectly with ideas I have about the piece as I conduct it but also some interesting commentary to go along with the sights and sounds of Beethoven's day in the countryside: an adult musical pop-up book written for first timers and concert veterans alike."
The messages began during intermission and provided facts about Beethoven’s life and work. The tweets were sent at specific points in the score, becoming streaming program notes that mark musical signposts depicting Beethoven’s symphonic tribute to a day in the country.
5. NY Pops Offers Free Downloads of Music From The Macy's 4th Of July Fireworks
On July 4, The New York Pops and Music Director-Designate Steven Reineke joined Macy's to celebrate America's birthday with a rousing musical score to accompany the nation's largest fireworks display. For a limited time, the music from the telecast is available as a free download from The New York Pops' website, www.newyorkpops.org.
The music of the 2009 Macy's 4th of July Fireworks includes American River Suite, an original composition with music by Broadway composer Stephen Flaherty and lyrics by William Schermerhorn. The piece features the vocal talents of Audra McDonald and Idina Menzel, as well as Sara Caswell on violin, and the Choir Academy of Harlem.
Visitors to The New York Pops website can also download two bonus tracks: River Medley and Americana Medley, both arranged by The New York Pops' Music Director-Designate Steven Reineke. The seven tracks are available for free download for a limited time, exclusively on www.newyorkpops.org, and will not be sold in stores.
6. Cleveland International Piano Competition makes changes to reach more people
As Cleveland's biennial keyboard contest prepares for its 18th edition next week, there are many new bells and whistles in store for the 2009 contest, takes place at the Cleveland Play House through Sunday, Aug. 9, with finalists playing concertos at Severance Hall with the Cleveland Orchestra under Jahja Ling. The most conspicuous innovation involves video, where for the first time in its history, the competition will display simultaneous video of all 33 contestants during the first two rounds.
A screen above the stage in the Bolton Theatre will provide various angles on the recitalists, showing their hands, faces and, in a nod to piano aficionados interested in pedaling, feet. Also in the mix will be an aerial view. The screen will be positioned out of view of the artists. But even if it doesn't interfere with performances, it could prove distracting to listeners wary of an intrusion on traditional recital format.
Taking inspiration from Van Cliburn, the Cleveland organizers plan to stream live video of the contest's first two rounds via a link on its Web site, www.clevelandpiano.org. The widely adopted Flash Media Player format should allow most fans and family members around the world with high-speed Internet connections to follow the events in real time. Much of this content is also bound to wind up on YouTube, the popular video-sharing Web site, as individual contestants share their own performances. Look, too, for videos posted by fans on the social networking site Facebook.
A third technological first in 2009 will be the filming of a documentary. Using original backstage footage as well as performance tapes from the event's own videographer, WVIZ will compile a brief feature on the competition for release on the event's Web site in the fall. By now, audience members are also used to purchasing recordings of individual performances. But the most popular performers have only been available later, after the fact. This year, the competition can appeal to more fleeting consumer impulses by making CDs and DVDs available immediately after each performance. Meanwhile, audio of each performance can be accessed or downloaded online at Instant Encore, a Web site specializing in music distribution.
7. What's the Payoff? How Charities Can Figure Out How Much Time and Money to Invest in Social Networking
Nonprofit workers are spending an increasing amount of time building relationships with supporters on social-networking Web sites such as Twitter and Facebook, on blogs, and in virtual worlds like Second Life. But as they devote more time and money to such activities, they often do so without a clear understanding of what they are getting out of these tools.
Many are not sure how to measure the value of these interactions. Should they focus on dollars raised, number of online "friends," mentions on blogs, or visitors to their Web sites?
Beth Kanter has been studying how nonprofit groups measure the return on investment in online social networks and has written extensively about the topic on her popular blog, Beth's Blog: How Nonprofits Can Use Social Media. A very useful Q&A between The Chronicle of Philanthropy and Beth Kanter can be found at this link:
8. Apple, Labels Scheme to Increase Profits
Apple Inc. and the four major recording labels are working on launching in the fall a music offering code-named “Cocktail’’ that aims to add value to digital albums sold on the online iTunes Store. The new package will include liner notes, artwork, and potentially cellphone ringtones and music videos in a unified software package that the labels hope will boost sales of albums, instead of just single tracks.
Music sales have declined nationwide in seven of the last eight years, largely because of illegal file-sharing over the Internet, but also because consumers tend to buy individual songs rather than full albums. The “Cocktail’’ project is the latest attempt by the labels to get consumers to spend more.
In February, Apple and fourth-ranked EMI Group PLC unveiled an iTunes Pass, which gave music fans willing to pay $18.99 access to early release singles, a new album upon its release, and exclusive videos, remixes and other content. In April, Apple also allowed record labels to set song prices in three different tiers, at 69 cents, 99 cents, and $1.29. So far the impact of such efforts on sales volumes has been minimal. US album sales are down 14 percent so this year, while digital track sales are up 13 percent, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The net effect is that music sales are down about 8 percent this year.
The labels - Vivendi SA’s Universal Music Group, Sony Corp.’s Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group Corp., and EMI - presented their proposal to Apple two years ago but the company rejected it.
9. NewApple Hampson iPhone and iTouch FanApplication Offers Live Performances, Radio Broadcasts, Podcasts, Tour Info and Recordings to iPhone Users
Reflecting his long-held passion for technology and innovation, Thomas Hampson launched his “Song of America” project with several new media initiatives and collaborations between traditional and web-based broadcasters and content providers – all very new to classical music circles and still very much at the cutting edge of music promotion in any genre.
Hampson performed his first “Song of America” recital in Winona, MN, on July 9, where the audience was able to take the concert home for free. Each member of the tour’s opening-night concert audience received a card bearing a special code that enabled them to go home and download the program they just heard through www.InstantEncore.com. This recital program was recorded by Minnesota Public Radio for American Public Media for broadcast and streaming in several formats and on several programs throughout the course of the “Song of America” tour (which runs from July 2009 through February 2010), as well as for InstantEncore.com.
The recital material will be divided into segments, to which commentary on the individual works by Hampson himself will be added, creating a series of insightful programs on American song that will become a regular feature on Performance Today . Both the concert and short program segments will also be made available through other American Public Media outlets that can be heard throughout the US on more than 240 radio stations, more than 100 of which stream their content, and through the European Broadcasting Union, which syndicates to 110 radio stations around the world. The material will also be posted on ThomasHampson.com, PerformanceToday.org, InstantEncore.com and other web sites.
In addition to features on radio and on the web, recitals and radio broadcast segments will also be available through a newly launched “Thomas Hampson” iPhone application powered by InstantEncore.com and available though the Apple iPhone store for free download. The Thomas Hampson iPhone app also includes tour dates and ticket information, as well as music, news, blogs, podcasts, program notes, and links to Hampson’s online communities.
10. Siemens Festival Night Brings Bayreuth and Salzburg Festival to the Internet and Free Public Viewing
Cosi Fan Tutte was streamed live on the internet from the Salzburg Festival on July 30, 2009. It is available on demand until August 7, 2009. The fee to access the performance is 7.90 Euros. Highlights of the opera will also be seen from July 25 through August 16 at 9:15PM each night for free on a large screen located in Salzburg’s Kapitalplatz. The television production is by Austria’s ORF and Unitel Classica.
Tristan and Isolde will be streamed live from Bayreuth at 3PM (CEST) on August 9 via the internet and available on demand through August 23 for a fee of 14.90 Euros. It will also be shown free on large screen outdoors in the city on August 9.