February 6, 2007

Industry Watchdog: WMG/Last.FM, Apple, Bleep.com

>> It doesn't seem like the blogosphere has picked up on the announcement of the Warner Music Group deal with Last.FM yet (oh Coolfer, why must you forsake us for higher education?). We think the deal -- which allows music recommendation / social networking hybrid Last.FM to stream Warner's catalog, and the financial terms of which were not disclosed -- is very interesting. We're not intimate with every function Last.FM offers, but we have been impressed by two things recently. Here we talked about how German electropop dynamo Morr Music had agreed to stream its catalog at Last.FM. And here we took note of how Swedish pop label Labrador [which, incidentally, will issue next week an impressive four-disc comp called Labrador 100 -- perhaps inspired by the excellent Darla 100?] was promoting an EP from Mary Onettes via the web site. We speculated at the time that Last.FM, a privately held operation based in the UK, might make an attractive acquisition to someone like AOL. Certainly the manner in which Last.FM's charting and recommendation engine enables affinity-based social networking must seem a valuable proposition to anyone looking to compete with MySpace or Facebook. Which brings us back to today. The WMG deal seems to signal that at least one major label takes Last.FM seriously as a promotional vehicle for music. The service is definitely one to watch.

>> Does anybody else think it is odd that Steve Jobs made headlines today by telling major labels they should abandon DRM? Here is AP's story. We may be looking at the wrong side of the coin on this one, but it seems to us a primary reason the ITunes music store has been so successful is because its DRM-encoded music can only be played on Apple's snappy, market-leading IPods. In an open letter placed on the Apple web site that admittedly we didn't read, Jobs states "the anti-piracy technology as the main reason music sold through ITunes can't be transferred to other portable players besides the IPod." That sounds like a load of crap. Apple could have designed a DRM that would play on other devices. It didn't. And Apple got very mad every time RealNetworks rejiggered a software that let files encoded in its codec sneak onto IPods, from what we recall. Anyway, enough of that. Buried at the bottom of the AP story is an interesting metric: Jobs states that research indicates 22 out of every 1,000 songs stored on an IPod was purchased from ITunes. That's 2.2%.

>> A fellow blogger pointed out that Warp's Bleep.com digital music store now lets bloggers offer streams of any track the outfit sells. Pretty darn cool. So here's "Uniform" from Bloc Party's A Weekend In The City, which streeted today, and which we'll probably pick up later in the week if a promo doesn't waltz through the door by then.

No comments: