CBS to Combine Radio Websites and in New Unit

last-fm-cbs.jpgCBS has been working to make a more integrated part of its digital porfolio. In late March, announced its streaming music service would no longer be free in some international markets.  Tuesday,CBS said it will bring the more than 100 websites in the CBS Radio portfolio and together into a single new unit to be called the CBS Interactive Music Group.

David Goodman who joined CBS Radio in 2002 will lead the new combined unit.  Goodman became President of Marketing in 2005 and President, Digital Media and Integrated Marketing in 2007.  Before CBS, he spent six years at the Warner Music Group.   Goodman will report to Neil Ashe, the president of CBS Interactive.

The combined group will reach more than 40m people, the company said. 

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iTunes Tiered Pricing Set for April 7?

itunes pricing smallThe recording industry has had a love affair with the idea of variably priced music for years.  As a tool, it’s a way to manage supply or even manipulate demand. If an album (or single)  isn’t selling or there’s excess inventory, for example,  the price can be trimmed and the bargain used as a lure.  If sales are good, or an album is starting to climb a key ratings chart, price adjustments can tweak the momentum.  

The practices are common but in the digital world, some retailers have fought against it.  For the better part of six years, Apple’s resisted its use at iTunes but that’s changing.

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U2 Cashes out of Live Nation Stock

guitar moneyOver the past year, in an effort to establish exclusive, long term multiple-rights partnerships (so called “360” deals) with select A-list artists, Live Nation has dangled generous advance payments and equity as bait.  Some of music’s biggest names bit in to the lure.   Madonna, and Jay-Z, Shakira, Nickelback and U2 all signed up.  Now, it seems a couple of the deals may have been even more generous than Live Nation intended. SEC filings indicate U2 will be the first to cash in.

U2’s next studio album, “No Line on the Horizon,” is officially slated for a March 2nd  release. The band’s promotional and touring partnership with Live Nation won’t really pick up steam until then.  Still, before the revenue starts running, nearly $25mllion is going U2’s way now.

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Need a Miracle? Need Tickets? Try Blockbuster

bbi lyv ticketsBlockbuster wants to be your entertainment superstore.  They’ll sell you electronics, rent you a movie or now, even get you into a concert.

Today, Blockbuster and Live Nation announced a three year deal to make Blockbuster the brick & mortar retail outlet for Live Nation’s soon to be launched concert ticket service.  500 stores in cities home to Live Nation operated venues will take on the new sales task.

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Copyright Contentment: Music Royalties Stay the Same

record-rights-issue-sm.jpgIt was the “showdown,” the looming crisis, digital music’s “Ok Corral.” If you believed the headlines and bought into the sensationalism, the fate of iTunes, the future of the world’s leading digital music store, hinged on the decision of the obscure three judge Copyright Royalty Board (CRB).   The reality was hardly so dramatic.

Thursday, the CRB was set to announce its decision on the mechanical royalty rate: the default per song license fees paid to music publishers for the sale of their music.  It was the first time since 1980 a government hearing addressed the rate, the review the result of last year’s expiration of a 1997 agreement.

Lobbying on one side of the aisle sat the National Publishers Association.  They were seeking a rate hike from the current 9.1 cents a song to 15 cents.  On the other side, the Digital Music Association, representing music sellers like Apple and Amazon,  lobbied for a price cut down to 4 cents per download.

The court, whose three judges are appointed by the Librarian of Congress had heard testimony and was set to break the stalemate.

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Moving Vertical: Live Nations Increasingly Integrated Music Business

live nation bankSince being spun off from Clear Channel in 2005, Live Nation’s management has oriented the company toward a path of broad, vertical integration.  Instead of being just an event promoter, they’ve aimed to transform from a narrowly focused promotion business to a comprehensive music services company.  Non-essential (and non-music) assets have been divested.  Ticketing and fan membership services have been acquired.  People and assets have been shifted.  This week, two more steps were taken toward the fulfillment of those goals.

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Changing of the Guard at MTV

MTV has been through its share of ups and downs as the original cable TV brand has matured, new offerings launched, and their audience’s preferences adapted to changing entertainment and communication technologies.  Now, MTV will see some change in the executive ranks too.

Christina Norman, president of the cable channel since 2005, and a 17 year veteran of Viacom’s MTV Networks, has resigned.  She will leave at the end of the month.

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