iTunes To Expand DRM Free & Variable Pricing Model

Apple will soon announce that it is expanding iTunes DRM free offering to include all of the major labels and will add variable pricing accordingly. Songs will be priced in three tiers: 79 69 cents for older catalog, 99 cents for midline product and slightly higher for some new hit tracks. Depending on how much of iTune’s catalog is priced at 79 cents, Jobs may have bested Amazon and WalMart.com who have used price as part of their strategy to whittle away at Apple’s dominate 70%+ download market share.

Universal Music Lose Court Battle to Veoh

veoh logoOver the holidays Universal Music Group lost a major lawsuit to online video sharing site Veoh.  Much like the many lawsuits flying around between the major labels and music 2.0 companies that enable fans to upload content, Universal sought to make Veoh responsible for any copyright violations the fan may have incurred – like the time you added Dylan’s “Like A Rolling Stone” as a sondtrack to the home video of you throwing your kid brother down a flight of stairs.  Viacom and YouTube locked in a court similar battle that promises to be the the clash of the titans on this issue.

Zavvi Group Goes Into Administration. 114 Stores and over 3,000 Employees Going Under

U.K. entertainment retail chain Zavvi, has gone into administration, the U.K. equivalent of Chapter 11 bankrutcy protection.

Administrators Ernst & Young said today they intended to trade the 114-store Zavvi UK with a view to selling all or part of the business as a going concern.

Zavvi was formed just 15 months ago from a management buyout of the Virgin Megastore division of the Virgin Group.

Last month Entertainment UK, Zavvi’s main supplier and part of Woolworths, went into administration which meant Zavvi had difficulty obtaining stock on favourable credit terms.

This resulted in considerable working capital difficulties, in addition to continuing operating losses.

“In the absence of a buyer for EUK, and with dire trading conditions on the high street, the Zavvi Group has seen a material fall in sales and the directors have now been forced to place parts of the group in administration,” said joint administrator Tom Jack.

Ernst & Young said Zavvi Guernsey will be liquidated, while the 11-store Zavvi Ireland business was not subject to any formal insolvency proceedings.

The Zavvi Group as a whole employs 2,363 permanent staff and 1,052 temporary staff.

Warner Music Group Pull All Their Music From YouTube

Warner Music Group has not been able to finalise negotiations with YouTube so they have pulled all their music from the site. There has been a lot of reports recently that YouTube will be a major revenue stream for all 4 major labels in 2009, but obviously Warner couldnt get the ad revenues they were after.

“We are working actively to find a resolution with YouTube that would enable the return of our artists’ content to the site,” Warner said in a statement. “Until then, we simply cannot accept terms that fail to appropriately and fairly compensate recording artists, songwriters, labels and publishers for the value they provide.”

Other sites have reported about Warner Music and YouTube non-deal, Thenextweb, Silicon Alley Insider and PaidContent.

Metallica Gets Their Own Branded Version of Guitar Hero

Metallicas has finally confirmed that they will be getting their own Guitar Hero branded game. It was confirmed on the Metallica website and will likely be released in the first half of 2009.

The game allows you to play as us in either single instrument or band career game modes.

Adding to the atmosphere will be famous setting associated with the band’s career, including Moscow’s Tushino Airfield, the site of the 1991 Monsters of Rock concert, and “new venues with in-the-round staging.”

There will be 28 Metallica songs in all, although the full list has not yet been announced. Songs from Alice In Chains, Foo Fighters, Slayer, Machine Head and Queen can also be played.

Lastly, in a feature sure to thrill Lars Ulrich devotees, “Guitar Hero: Metallica” will boast an “expert” difficulty level that employs two bass drum kick pedals. The Metallica edition follows an Aerosmith-dedicated “Guitar Hero,” which was released in June.

Happy Birthday Amazon MP3

Amazon has been trading in mp3 downloads for a year now, and while it’s still nothing like a serious competitor to itunes, it’s made a healthy start in the market. Amazon is the biggest e-commerce organisation in the world, so they did start with a captive audience, albeit not as well targeted at music consumers as Apple’s list of ipod owners. From a standing start they’ve sold 130 million tracks in their first year. The vast bulk of these being in the USA, the only country where they were operational until their UK store opened earlier this month. As impressive as this volume of sales is, it pales in comparison to the 2.4 billion tracks that itunes is predicted to sell by the end of the year, eighteen times what Amazon have sold.

iTunes and the iPod/iPhone deliver a package that’s hard to beat; ease of use with a really good looking piece of technology,
ad it’s hard to see how Amazon can break people out of that neat circle of consumption. Their fledgling relationship with Google might prove an ace in the hole; they’re working together to provide MP3 downloads on the G1 – Google’s iPhone competitor. This will probably end up being another iteration of the age old mac vs. pc battle, greater stability and efficiency coupled with higher prices on the mac side, with more flexibility, content and bugs on the pc/Google side, although the search giant is a new factor in this battle, having so neatly taken effective control of the search and contextual advertising sectors of the net, and stripping Microsoft’s flagship Office software out from under it’s nose with their Google documents suite.

However this pans out, Amazon and iTunes will still own between 75% and 85% of the digital music market between them, with the rest of it divided up between a turbulent and ever changing multitude of other minor players. This market is only going to get bigger, especially now the lines between phones, mp3 players, web tablets and personal computers are blurring so fast. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Amazon’s next generation of their Kindle reader have a phone, web browser and mp3 player built into it using Google’s Android/Chrome platforms.

CBS Gets Rid of 20% of Last.fm’s Staff

Last.fm staff in London were celebrating their Christmas party at a venue complete with hot tub. Through today’s hangover, they heard about 20 percent are being disposed of as parent CBS Interactive (NYSE: CBS) restructures in a cost-cutting move. CBS, which splashed out $280 million in May 2007 on the social music site, confirmed to us “around 20” of its 95 staff are being laid off.

Creed, The Worst Band In The World According To Google

Have you seen this? A Google search for “worst band in the world” turns up some interesting results:


Update: Just since this afternoon, the results have changed and Creed has vanished. Hey, it was good while it lasted.Some other random search results are in the video below — everything from the meaning of life to the secret location of Heidi Klum’s best assets. It’s not all brand new, but it’s funny nonetheless.



Google Mistakes – video powered by Metacafe