Archive for the ‘ The Biz ’ Category

WTF? Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger approved?

I’m no legal expert, nor do I have much experience in business, but something tells me nothing good can come of this…

Granted, there are caveats, including concessions for AEG. Check it out yourself and let me know what you think.

Oink admin not guilty, jury still out as to if we all gots to feel him

Meanwhile, back in the world in intellectual property law, Allan Ellis who ran Oink’s Pink Palace until it was shut down by UK authorities in 2007, was recently aquited of “conspiracy to defraud the music industry.” Check it out over at Wired. com

Can smartphones save the music industry?*

*probably not, but at this point, what’s the harm in trying

net_radioCanada’s Globe and Mail finished up their five part series “Download Decade” today, examining the future of digital media etc. Part 5 honed in specifically on smartphones which a big-wig at Google, a bunch of tech-nerd wonks and Nettwerk Record‘s Terry McBride all point to as the future.

I personally found this to be the least interesting entry in the series since it had very little to do with downloading media or music. Also, I don’t own a smartphone so I can’t really identify with what they’re talkning about. That’s not to say that I disagree with the crux of the story, that “‘the mobile phone is for the next decade what the computer has been for the last two or three,’” because that just makes sense.

One thing that did come out in the article was the idea that mobile apps like streaming radio are going to play a big part in the future of the music industry. With things moving to cloud computing, it seems the idea of paying a monthly fee to listen to everything ever recorded is getting closer. It also seems like good value for your dollar. I have well over 500 CD, 250 LPs and about 100GB of music lying around, and damned if I’m going to sit around organizing it all so I can access it on my iPhoneBerry or whatever (okay, if push came to shove I would).

Coincidentally,  this week Pandora (which doesn’t work in Canada – boo-urns) projected that after a decade it plans to turn a profit next year on the back of its iPhone app. Combined with an increasing push from media lobby groups (MPAA, RIAA) and some foreign governments (wipe that sly grin off your face Sarkozy) to have ISPs simply boot people off their servers when caught downloading shit, these guys just might be right.

How do you solve a problem like online piracy?

ipod-killingThe Globe and Mail‘s “Download Decade” series continues with parts 3 and 4 now up on their website.

I have to say that while the main stories don’t break a lot of new ground, they do an admirable job of summing up the story so far, which from the title of the series is what they intended to do.

Part 3 tackles the sticky problem of piracy (sorry, “copyright infringement” as one commenter posited. Downloading might be legal in Canada, but either way, nobody’s getting any money for the Green Day record you just downloaded) and how the habit might (if ever) be changed. It’s definitely the shortest entry and the least comprehensive in the series thus far. Curiously, Matt Hartley, who wrote the other three entries, didn’t contribute to this one.

Part 4 examines the lack of political will on behalf of Canadian politicians (thank you, minority government) to reform Canadian copyright law. The last time any new legislation was created was in 1997 and if you haven’t already heard, it’s a bit of a contentious issue these days. Personally I’m fine with this as I don’t really want Stephen Harper to be the one penning any such law. Quite frankly, I just don’t trust the guy.

Related Posts:

iPod opens the floodgates

Napster turns 10, but does anyboday care?

Is the Pirate Bay trial making the record industry look like morons?

l6613192082_2447Before you pipe in with cries of “they always look like morons,” look at things from an outside the blogosphere perspective.

First the prosecution was baffled by the site’s open-source concept,  uable to comprehend why a business wasn’t a for-profit hierarchy with a single person where the buck stopped. Not wanting to lose such an important case, the prosecution quickly altered the charges in order to better ensure a conviction. Then while testifying today the head of the International Federation of Phonographic Industries – the international version of the RIAA and CRIA – was insistent that every song downloaded, like ever, represented a lost sale for the record industry.

Obviously there’s a segment of us who already believe – with good reason – that the record industry has basically been out to lunch for the past decade. But think about what this would look like to an outsider; even my mom understands these basic online concepts. The record industry has been on a campaign for five years now, suing all over the place (though they say they’re now changing tactics), trying to convince the general public that downloading is a crime (which it is) and that it’s in the public interest to stop it. So far, reaction in the general public has been little more than a shrug of the shoulders. Something tells me that being outsmarted by a group of Swedish anarchists isn’t going to help their cause.

Live Nation/Ticketmaster Merger Pwned by Congress

image4789908g1I’ve already gone on at length about why this is a bad idea, but let me reiterate: there is no way that eliminating the competition in ticket sales can benefit the consumer. There is no incentive for a company to lower prices if there’s no one forcing their hand. Worst of all, a combined Ticketmaster/Live Nation would own you at a show – there’s no getting around them – they own the artist you’re watching, the venue you’re sitting in, the shirt you’re wearting…

One independent promoter put it best: “This is vertical integration on steroids. The amalgamation of these companies should be the poster child for why this country needs antitrust laws.

Anyway from the sounds of things the US Congress agrees. Sitting before the Senate Judiciary committee on Anti-Trust, the companies CEOs were taken to task and one Committee member seemed to want to further investigate their current practices.

Of course nothing has been decided yet and the Committee could still go ahead and approve the merger despite some members feelings on the matter. Still for once things look promising for the concert going consumer.

You can read about the whole thing via wired.com

Accusations and hearsay in the Ticketmaster-Live Nation merger debacle

image4789908gThere’s been a lot of talk about the potential of a Ticketmaster-Live Nation merger. And while I certainly have no love for either company (what the fuck is up with the service charges – if I buy a $20 ticket how does it end up costing me $30 when all is said and done. If I go down to Soundscapes or Rotate This they charge me a $1 service fee for the same ticket), I feel as if the response in the blogosphere has been particularly knee-jerk and maybe a bit one sided.

I speaking particularly about the accusations that Ticketmaster is scalping its own tickets without ever offering them to the public at face value – there has been no equivocal proof that this is an actual company policy, and therefore, it really shouldn’t be printed as being so. That said, am I skeptical of their handling of the Springsteen tickets – absolutely. And I’m happy that now governments stepping in to investigate.  I also believe that there is an inherent conflict of interest in the company hosting it’s own ticket-scalping site; if these sites, like ebay, craig’slist and Livestub remained in the hands of third parties we wouldn’t be having this debate. Ticketmaster claims TicketsNow allows customers to resell “unwanted” tickets in a safe environment, but I truly believe that it’s really just TM wanting a piece of the pie.

Of course then there is the essential (but not actual) monopoly a merged TM-LN would have over the live music industry. In the cases of artists like Madonna, Jay-Z and U2, one company would control the artist, the venue ticket distribution. The argument is that with everything centralized cost will be cut and passed on to the consumer. Of course every time there is an election governments say the same thing about the tax payer and that never happens – and the tax payer is who government is beholden to. I highly doubt some monolithic company who really only answers to its shareholders is going to give a shit about the little guy.

Anyway, this clip from BNN does a good job of balancing the various interests involved in the potential merger. The guest Michael Hershfield obviously has a vested interest in seeing the merger blocked, but I think he argues the point of view of the average fan quite well. Wait 30 seconds for the ad to finish. They talk about the Muzak company going under before diving into the merger issue. And excuse the ass-hat from Dragon’s Den, cause, well he’s an ass-hat

MuchMusic Doesn't Suck, You're Just Old

muchmusic1If you haven’t already heard, CTVglobemedia laid off 105 employees earlier this month. The bulk of the cuts occurred at the company’s arts and entertainment channels, MuchMusic, MuchMoreMusic and Bravo. MuchMoreMusic had its staff gutted, and Much canned two of their best shows, the NewMusic and Going Coastal (and my friend and former Going Coastal host Paul Brothers with it).

Fittingly, EYE WEEKLY’s cover story last week concerned the ongoing fortunes of “The Nation’s Music Station.” Some say it sucks, others say those viewers that believe that line are just too damn old. Whichever side of the arguement you come down on the story, written by Chandler Levack (with a pair of nifty sidebars written by yours truly), is worth reading.

No Internet for you!

riaa1That is if the RIAA has it’s way. It seems that after waging a five-year litigation campaign against it’s own customer base, the music industry’s playground bully lobby arm is changing course. With the cooperation of certain ISPs the RIAA wants to cut people caught sharing music illegally on the internet off. You can read the details over at wired.com’s Epicenter and Threat Level blogs.

While I’m hardly in favour of anyone getting their online acces cut, this does seem  to be a bit more of a sane (though still incredibly arbitrary and ineffective) way of dealing with illegal downloading. That said, I think this does present a slippery slope for ISPs, and hopefully here in Canada providers like Rogers, Bell and Shaw will recognize this and tell the CRIA to fuck off.

Also, the RIAA’s strategy to use screen caps as their only evidence of wrong doing seems a little fishy. Hopefully some judge with half a brain will deem this whole thing illegal (I hope).

R.I.P. The New Music

images

Last week amid all the canning of MuchMoreMusic et al, CTV quietly cancelled The New Music, a Canadian musical institution. Along with it went Hannah Sung, the nation’s music station’s last real music journalist. Thanks a lot CTV. The show will be sorely missed.

You can read more about the cancellation here, along with watching a handful of classic clips.