Every so often your pals at FMC take the weekend to do stuff like… make music. Seems like whenever we do, a major industry story breaks.
To wit: Taylor Swift’s open letter to Apple regarding the “free trial” period for Apple Music, during which the 12th largest company in world decided it would not be paying royalties to artists and rightsholders.read more
As expected, Apple announced its forthcoming music streaming service on Monday at its annual WorldWide Developers Conference. The service is scheduled to launch at the end of June, and naturally, our primary focus is on how the new offerings will impact musicians. The presentation was short on details, but here are some of the questions we’ve been wrestling with (and some partial answers)
For Apple, its Music app is a necessary Band-Aid. But it might not be big enough to stop the bleeding.
The company announced Apple Music, its latest foray into the music world, Monday. The new app will include playlists curated by real humans, a radio station with real DJs, its very own premium on-demand streaming option, and a way for musicians to connect directly with fans. With Apple Music, the company is joining a myriad of Internet radio and on-demand music streaming services in a crowded digital music space.
“Apple has a huge footprint, and gobs of cash, but Spotify has already made a lot of inroads,” says Casey Rae, CEO of the Future of Music Coalition.
Millions of smartphone users were surprised to learn this month that the rock band U2 had not only made a new album available to them for free, but that it was already loaded into their iPhones. U2 gave away the album as part of a blockbuster business deal with Apple, which is rolling out its newest devices this fall. But the band and the company are both being criticized over how the promotion affects the value of music in the digital age. Join Kojo for a Tech Tuesday conversation about the intersection of technology and music.
In some ways, I’m the perfect target for U2’s big new release partnership with Apple. U2 was my favorite band all through junior high and high school. I dutifully collected all their singles, and I still have my ticket stub and sweatshirt from the 1998 Popmart tour. Yet my interests drifted elsewhere as I got older; I’m part of the reason their last record sold relatively poorly, as I still haven’t heard it. Theoretically, a free copy of Songs of Innocence might rekindle my fandom.
But: it’s complicated. U2’s avowed commitments to social justice were a big part of what got me interested in activism and policy at a young age. It feels a bit jarring now to see the band whose liner notes got thirteen-year old me to join Amnesty International so closely associated with a company that’s facing protests both for inhumane factory conditions abroad and low contractor wages domestically.
The ambivalence doesn’t stop there. The Apple/U2/Universal Music Group partnership has also prompted some unexpected backlash. Still, that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been successful on the most basic levels; the band was reportedly well paid (over $100 million in marketing, plus a flat royalty fee), at least 36 million people have accessed the music, the new iPhone has set new sales records and everyone’s still talking about U2 and Apple two weeks later. Including our own Casey Rae, who joined Chris Richards of the Washington Post and Catherine Mayer of TIME Magazine—both of whom have recently written about U2—on the Kojo Nnamdi Show on Sept. 23. (Listen to the archived broadcast).
You may be feeling some U2 fatigue, but we think there’s still a need to ask deeper questions about what this deal means, and what it doesn’t.
By now, you've probably heard all about the iPad and seen the pictures of Steve Jobs displaying his new "tablet" in a manner undoubtedly familiar to the late Charlton Heston. So far, reaction to the device has been mixed at best, with some people already lining up to take potshots at Apple's latest doohickey.
We still think it's pretty neat, mostly because we're curious about what it could mean for the music biz, which is still struggling to find an attractive replacement for physical product. And as long as whatever new gadget plays nice with independent and unaffiliated creators who want to join the digital party, we're cool. read more
If you've been following the music-tech news lately, you've probably heard about the rather sudden and unexpected acquisition of digital music service Lala by Apple, Inc. Speculation has run rampant about why the country's largest music retailer — which sells individual music downloads via its iTunes store — would purchase a company that's made a name for itself via "cloud-based" access. read more
If you follow new technologies for the digital distribution and access of music, you've undoubtedly come across the name Spotify. In recent months, the Sweden-based service — which offers a deep catalog of high quality streaming audio via a rock-solid and intuitive desktop client — has racked up the press mentions on both sides of the Atlantic. Spotify's Daniel Ek will be presenting at the Future of Music Policy Summit 2009 (Georgetown University, Washington, DC, Oct. 4-6). Reserve your spot now! read more