Friday May 6th, 2011 13:02
We haven’t done one of these in a while, what with all these Friday holidays we’ve been having of late. But look, here we go again. This time next week, of course, we’ll be half way through this year’s Great Escape, which is very very very exciting. Our programme for 2011 is complete, and, though we do say so ourselves, is looking really rather good.
You can check the full schedule on The Great Escape website, or check out a digital version of the actual convention programme, or download it as a PDF. Do check it out and, if you’re already booked and coming, start planning your three days with us, or if you’ve not yet made the plunge and bought your delegates pass, then get to escapegreat.com and get your ticket. And I look forward to seeing you all next week. Meanwhile, here’s our week in five.
01: Warner got very close to selling itself to Russian Len Blavatnik. It’s widely expected that the Warner Music board will announce who they are selling their company to later today, and that the lucky bidder will be Blavatnik, who already has a minority share of the firm, and who is expected to pay $3 billion to get ownership outright. Assuming that announcement does come today, and that there are no hitches as the takeover goes through the motions, it will bring to an end four months of speculation about the US music firm’s future, since its current owners announced their intent to sell at the start of the year. It’s thought Blavatnik will keep Edgar Bronfman Jr in the top job and that the two men could now mount a bid to buy EMI and merge it with Warner. CMU reports | Telegraph report
02: Spotify revamped its free service. Having put limitations in place last weekend so that free users only get ten hours of listening a month, and can only listen to any one track five times, Spotify basically relaunched its freemium platform as an MP3 store with super-duper preview listening this week. They are revamping their existing MP3 download service, bring it to the fore, and have made it easier for users to sync music they buy via the Spotify player to their iPod. Many spun this as Spotify taking on iTunes, though more likely it is an attempt to stay connected to those existing freemium users who can’t be persuaded to upgrade to a premium account, and who have just lost their unlimited listening service. In other Spot news, word has it a Spotify/Virgin Media alliance is imminent. CMU report | The Guardian report
03: The final LimeWire court case kicked off, though not much happened. With a US judge ruling LimeWire was liable for copyright infringement last year, the labels are now seeking billions in damages. The only real developments this week were that the judge confirmed LimeWire founder Mark Gorton could be held personally liable for those damages, and that one of LimeWire’s expert witnesses won’t be allowed to make some sweeping statements about the link between file-sharing and slumping record sales (or, rather, in his opinion, the lack of a link). CMU report | Independent feature
04: EMI Publishing took digital rights away from ASCAP. It means that EMI will licence the performing rights in its April Music catalogue in the US directly to digital services rather than via the collecting society. EMI say it’s about unifying all the digital rights that exist in the April Music songs with one in-house team to simplify the licensing process. Though many would argue that moving away from the collecting society system in digital – which much of the publishing sector has previously embraced – is actually a backwards step. CMU report | Paid Content report
05: Baidu started beta testing a music service. The often controversial Chinese search engine recently announced its intent to launch a legit music venture, and according to reports that service will go live this month, and will be a free ad-funded MP3 download platform – the sort of thing music companies wouldn’t licence in the West, but which they’ll support in China, where even nominal royalties are an improvement. CMU report | CNET report
And that’s your lot – see you on the podcast this afternoon.
Business Editor, CMU