Archive for the 'entertainment' Category

Online Gaming Nothing New

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At least in the context of web-enabled gaming, one expert doesn’t think it’s any different from what came before. Regarding the roll-out of Sony Playstation’s online gaming service, the Reuters analyst said “I don’t get the impression that this is something drastically new. There may be something hidden that is amazing, but I can’t spot it at the moment.”

Jay-Z sees the Web Difference

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NYTimes.com article states that Jay-Z is in the midsts of inking a deal that would make him the third major star to sign with Live Nation lately (w/ Madonna and U2 being the others). The article mentions the drop in CD revenues that we have discussed in class as a possible explanation for the sucess of Live Nation:

As CD sales plunge, an array of players — including record labels, promoters and advertisers — are racing to secure deals that cut them in on a larger share of an artist’s overall revenue… pressured record-label executives [must] rewrite the economics of their business and step beyond the sale of albums in an attempt to wring revenue out of everything from ring tones to artist fan clubs.

Live Nation’s core business has revolved around major rock and country tours, and with Jay-Z it is making an unexpected foray into hip-hop. The company is also placing an enormous wager on a performer who, like many others, has experienced declining record sales.

Because everyone in the business is trying to find ways to capitalize on the musics industry in new ways, the deal has a host of other benefits that Live Nation hopes may augment lackluster CD sales:

[T]he arrangement would also position Live Nation to participate in a range of new deals with Jay-Z, one of music’s most entrepreneurial stars, whose past ventures have included the Rocawear clothing line, which he sold last year for $204 million, and the chain of 40/40 nightclubs . . . As part of the arrangement, Live Nation would finance the start-up of a venture that would be an umbrella for his outside projects, which are expected to include his own label, music publishing, and talent consulting and managing. Live Nation is expected to contribute $5 million a year in overhead for five years, with another $25 million available to finance Jay-Z’s acquisitions or investments, according to people in the music industry briefed on the agreement. The venture, to be called Roc Nation, will split profits with Live Nation.

The overall package for Jay-Z also includes an upfront payment of $25 million, a general advance of $25 million that includes fees for his current tour, and advance payment of $10 million an album for a minimum of three albums during the deal’s 10-year term, these people said. A series of other payments adding up to about $20 million is included in exchange for certain publishing, licensing and other rights. Jay-Z said Live Nation’s consolidated approach was in sync with the emerging potential “to reach the consumer in so many different ways right now.” He added: “Everyone’s trying to figure it out. I want to be on the front lines in that fight.”

“I’ve turned into the Rolling Stones of hip-hop,” Jay-Z said in a recent telephone interview.

Will the new business model work for the Rolling Stones of hip-hop?

Warner is spearheading a plan to collect fees for unlimited access to music

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Warner Music is seriously thinking of implementing a plan to bundle a monthly fee into consumers’ internet-service bills for unlimited access to music.

This article states how the traditional concept of “music as a product” is evolving to “music as a service”. Warner thinks the best way to adapt to this new model is to build a pool of money and split it up, instead of trying to control the distribution and sharing of sound recordings. Apparently, Apple and Sony are also exploring new business models that will allow users to have unlimited access to their music library at a fee. It’s interesting that Warner has conceded that this collective licensing model is being explored because of “loss of control” by the recording industry. Shows how the music industry is now recognizing that it has to adapt to the web difference brought about by the growth of P2P sharing services.

Of course, critics state that Warner’s plan is essentially a ” tax”, and is inequitable (even amounting to extortion) since the fee is imposed regardless of users’ preferences.

My personal view: I prefer Apple or Sony’s plans to impose a fee only on those who wish to access their music libraries. Warner’s plan is useful in obtaining a sizeable pool of money and relieving ISPs of the burden of monitoring users. However, there should be some kind of distinction between broadband users who are interested in downloading music, and those who hardly engage in copyright-infringing behavior on the web. I am inclined to agree with the critics that a blanket fee is not equitable, and likely to be met with opposition. It’s as if the recording industry is choosing the easy way out by asking the public to compensate them for their failure to control copyright infringement.

Will Hulu kill the Net?

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This is an, ahem, provocative article that worries that the entertainment industry’s chosen vehicle for delivering content is going to be given preference over all else.

Live music festivals — beneficiaries of the web difference in the music world?

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“The record business, or at least that of the major labels, is foundering, as CD sales spiral downward. But South by Southwest thrives on the plain fact that people still love music: making it, hearing it, dancing to it, even marketing it.” -Jon Pareles, NYT

The NY Times featured an article this past week on Austin’s South by Southwest music festival, and it made some interesting observations about today’s music industry that I thought were relevant to our discussion of the web difference in the music world. The author reiterates the point made in class that more and more musicians will turn to concert sales to make their living (as opposed to record sales). He ultimately characterizes the festival as “as close as the concert business gets to a level playing field.” He adds, “Big names and small play the same beery clubs, through the same sound systems, without their accustomed arena video setups or undistracted audiences.”

So in the growing popularity of these live music festivals, we see another example of the Web breaking down barriers to entry in the music business, a development which we in turn expect to improve information flow, increase choice, and drive competition.

I don’t know much about the festival, but Wikipedia says it is the largest revenue-producing event for the city of Austin – bigger than things like UT football games and even the more storied Austin City Limits music festival! (For more, see this article.) So it seems clear that the internet – by bringing about phenomena like the decreasing importance of major record labels, the popularization of off-label music on the Web, and increasing fan demand for live concerts – is also having a significant impact on local, non-Web entities like local governments/ economies. I think all this is interesting because music is one area where the Web has enabled a distinct online culture (MySpace, Bradsucks) to develop, but everything we’re seeing now suggests that the benefits from this online community are being transferred to (or at least shared with) the non-Internet world.

Brad of Bradsucks seemed to be focused more on the opportunities to make (and distribute) a new kind of music that have been made possible by the Web. He said he was less into the live performance opportunities, and is happiest when he’s at his computer, mixing and recording songs. But for many other musicians, the internet is changing the landscape of the live music industry and, in so doing, creating all kinds of opportunities to do what they love most – perform in front of a music-loving audience. All in all, it seems like the web difference in the music world has benefited all musicians. I wonder if this is truly a Pareto improvement vis-à-vis the artists themselves – or if there are some musicians out there who were happier before all these changes?

Brad Sucks’ surprises

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[This is what I posted on my personal blog:]

Brad Sucks came to Harvard this week and gave a performance-conversation and addressed the class I’m co-teaching with John Palfrey (blogged here and here). There were a few surprises.

What was not surprising was that Brad’s totally delightful, frank, and just a good guy.

First, he pronounces his last name (Turcotte) as Tur-COTT, not Tur-COAT. I stand corrected. Also, he likes his name written as “Brad Sucks,” not “BradSucks.” Sorry twice, Brad!

Second, especially during the class, I was struck by how different copyright looks to Brad than it looks to, well, lots of others. It’s not just that copyright protection looks to Brad like a limitation on how widely his music spreads and his musical career builds. Rather, it was how foreign copyright looks to him. From what he said, it seems like an imposition of an artificial construct place on top of the work.

Here’s what I think is happening, although I can’t say that this is what Brad is thinking. To people who think of music as a work, copyright looks like the natural boundary of their work, the ethical edge of their work itself. Others (Brad, maybe?) think of music not so much as a work as a shared experience, as a connection with listeners. For them, listening is co-creation. The work feels more like a performance to them. The concept of copyright doesn’t fit easily over such a view.

Third, Brad surprised both the class and the attendees at the performance-conversation with his claim that he is a “horrible capitalist” who gives his songs away for intensely practical reasons, not because he’s an anti-copyright activist.

Thanks for coming, Brad. And thanks for being so BradSucksy.

Beijing Olympics Video

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An addendum to yesterday’s class notes – this is the link to the video that JP mentioned regarding the Beijing Olympics (to which I have tickets!):

 http://www.runnerspace.com/news.php?do=v….

RIAA wants songwriter cut lowered

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Slashdot discusses the recording industry’s proposal that songwriters take even less of the pie than they do now. This is possibly relevant to some of the discussion we’ll be having with Brad Sucks on Feb. 11.

That’s a ton of video

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Says a Center for Media Research Brief:

According to a recently published market report from AccuStream iMedia Research, user Generated Video (UGV) scored 22.4 billion views in 2007, up 70% over 2006.

[Tags: media video participatory_media ]