Digital Music Round Up

Lots has happened over the last few days in the digital music arena, so here is a quick round up:

Universal Music are attempting to get Apple to move towards shorter, potentially month-to-month, license agreements. This would weaken Apple’s negotiating position with a view to introducing variable pricing i.e. Apple would be a lot less bullish if the iTunes status of the world’s largest music company was in doubt. See David Card’s blog for more insight.

EMI have signed up with Snocap to sell DRM-free content through the MyStore widget, which is most widely used on MySpace.

It’s not the only social networking widget story to hit the news: music recommendation / playlist sharing site iLike recently introduced a widget for Facebook and is reporting an additional 1 million registered users a week as a result. This compares to just a few hundred thousand from the MySpace widget. iLike claim this is because with the Facebook widget all user preferences are automatically pulled through, whereas with the MySpace widget they have to re-enter their details. There have been a few small indications that MySpace is beginning to get left behind in the innovation and coolness race. They are clearly still the dominant social network by a long stretch (close to 200 million registered users compared to FaceBook’s 25 million for example) and are not about to loose that throne anytime soon, but maybe we are seeing the first chinks in their armour: does being owned by a media conglomerate mean that MySpace no longer has the entrepreneurial agility to ensure it stays ahead of the game?

This weekend saw the Diana concert at the new Wembley stadium (was it just me, or did that stadium look under-capacity?) with MTV signing up online rights to accompany its TV rights. Yet MTV seem to have completely underplayed their hand – I can’t find videos of performances anywhere on their site, let alone a dedicated sub-site. For a little more on the concert see Card’s treasonous post 😉

UK music retailer Fopp went into administration, highlighting the continuing difficult market conditions facing high street music sales.

HMV also announced a slump in profits and announced its intention to launch a social networking site and to sell DRM-free music – pretty key considering the importance of iPod and iPod accessories to HMV’s revenues and of iPod owners in its customer base. They’ll also sell digital albums alongside physical albums online – this is well overdue but really needs backing up with similar in-store integration if they really want to take on iTunes. Of course that won’t happen for a long time because the store division will simply not countenance cannibalizing their core revenues. Such is the dilemma of the physical music retailer, and whilst they are stuck in this mindset Apple will make hey.

And finally…rumour has it (well according to an interview with the Arctic Monkey’s Alex Turner who is apparently know for his wind ups) that Lilly Allen, Dizzy Rascal and elements of the Arctic Monkeys and the Klaxons (one of my favourite bands at the moment) are due to form a supergroup…