Music Features

The News, Digested (07/04/2009)

By David Coleman

If you haven’t noticed the stream of tenth anniversary content that’s appeared on the site over the past week then you’re either lacking observational skills or a first time visitor that’s stumbled upon this news story. Either way, if you haven’t checked out any of our special NR10 features, you’re probably missing out. Visit the NR10 microsite for a summary of all of the new content and watch up updates on every working day throughout the month of April.

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By Miguel Morelli

Google and major labels EMI, Warner, Universal and Sony took the plunge, and started providing free music in China, exclusively, through the search engine. There is no news for plans to expand the service to other countries, but maybe the music industry is testing the free business model.

I think music will ultimately be free. It exists on the internet for free for those who want it, and music streaming technology is developing to the point where users don’t even have to download. So, the industry finally turns to advertising revenue. The recent move into China probably means that the major labels are conceding to Google’s way of doing business, which is essentially not charging the consumer a thing.

The prospect of free music from a simple search is mouth-watering, but I wonder about the consequences. If the revenue from advertising isn’t enough to go around, how will it affect the industry? Still, UK artists haven’t done badly, earning £139.6 million overseas in 2008, up from £121.2 million the previous year, so other forms of revenue might fill the sales gap. All we can hope for is that the revenue streams to settle into their new places, so we can finally dig into a complete, searchable database of music. [MyDigitalFC]

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By Miguel Morelli

EMI Australia has launched the first major label blog, The In Sound From Way Out. Not only does it serve as a promotion platform for EMI’s acts, but the blog has a drop box that reads: “If you think you’ve found the next big thing in music, send us a link to their music. If we like it, we’ll feature it. If we love it, we’ll sign it.” 

The blog has video and music streams, and links to free mp3s, providing EMI content practically every day. And by asking users for band suggestions, they are essentially taking the load of work off themselves. They probably get an enormous amount of terrible submissions, though.

So EMI is taking advantage of the collective mind, and asking music enthusiasts to submit their favorite bands for evaluation. It makes you wonder why it took so long, and why the other labels haven’t yet launched their own “crowdsourcing” platforms. [Prefix]

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By Miguel Morelli

YouTube is blocking videos in Germany, as result of a failed licensing deal between Googleand German organization GEMA. The scenario is identical to YouTube’s failed licensing deal with PRS for Music in March, which led to the blocking of premium videos in the UK.

Google stated that they “cannot be expected to engage in a business in which it loses money every time a music video is played,” which means that PRS for Music and GEMA are expecting royalties, not a profit sharing deal. Google, however, isn’t willing to pay-per-play, which would ultimately lead to the company wanting less plays on YouTube, not more.

It seems as though Google is going to remain adamant in its position, no matter how many artists and royalty collectors argue against it. Should artists be looking at new business models? Musicians will probably have to settle for less than before, and belts will be tightened. But generating conflict and forcing videos off of YouTube only loses the industry more money. And, as in the UK, Internet users are the ones punished. [NYTimes]