Imeem Salvages Snocap (UPDATED)

snocap imeemTech Crunch is reporting what’s left of digital music wholesale service Snocap has been sold to the Web 2.0 social music service Imeem.  A formal announcement, they report, is coming later in the week.(UPDATE: It took months not weeks for an official announcement but as of April 7, 2008, the news is now official. See the bottom of the article for updated terms)

Snocap, which aimed to be a licensing conduit for music, has been diseased and for sale for some time.   Despite deals with MySpace and other vendors, they were a casualty of the DRM Wars; never able to grab much marketshare.   Rumors have consistently put them one foot from the dead pool for months.

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Total Music: Stalling Before Starting?

music investigationA new effort by the major music labels to distribute their own music online may be in trouble before it even launches.  According to reports circulating Thursday, Sony BMG and Vivendi’s Universal Music Group have both received letters of inquiry from the Department of Justice over their planned “Total Music” service.   (Early reports suggested the other Big 4 labels (EMI and Warner Music) were also contacted but their spokespeople have apparently denied any involvement).

Not a lot is known about what “Total Music” will entail.  The most common theory is that it will be a new breed of music subscription service.  By this theory, unlike current equivalents from Napster and Rhapsody, or the now shuttering Yahoo Music Unlimited, “Total Music” won’t Click to Read More

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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Yahoo Music: Back to Basics

yhoo rnwkRather than pulling the plug after MTV’s Urge music failed to catch on, Viacom (parent of MTV Networks) withdrew from the music subscription business by merging Urge with Real Networks’ Rhapsody and retaining 49percent of the joint venture.  Now, on a smaller scale, Yahoo is doing similar with their Music Unlimited subscription service. Yahoo Music Unlimited, will now be managed by Rhapsody America. Yahoo Music will refocus on providing features for their web traffic.

The strategic relationship announced with Real Networks today will be implemented over the next few months. During that time, Yahoo Music Unlimited subscribers will be converted over to Rhapsody. Click to Read More

Amazon on a Digital Mission: acquires Audible

amazon-audible.jpgAmazon was a pioneer in establishing internet based e-commerce.  Now, in their second act, they look like they are trying to blaze a similar trail in the sale of digital goods.  Today, in line with those efforts, Amazon announced they will buy spoken word (audiobook) publisher Audible for $11.50 a share in cash. 

At the $11.50 a share price Amazon is paying a 24% premium over Audible’s Wednesday closing price of $9.33 a share.   Two months ago Audible traded upwards of $14 a share.  Last quarter they did sales of $27m and lost $192k.  Those metrics may make the purchase look like a bargain (and it probably is), but views on that are likely to be divergent.  Part of the reason: last month, Audible’s largest shareholder, Apax, signaled a lack of confidence in the company when they (and affiliates) began selling off their 23% stake in the company. 

Probably the best near term gauge for valuing this deal as an Amazon shareholder lies in measuring the strategy it reflects rather than the approximately $300m purchase price.

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Rationalizing Rumors: DRM-Free Music from Yahoo

not crazy rumorsMove over Amazon and iTunes, here comes Yahoo with the volume blaring.   At least that’s a rumor that circulated late last week.  Citing anonymous music industry executives, several reports claimed Yahoo is negotiating to begin selling DRM-Free music later this year.   

A few days looking for more info has yielded no substantive confirmation and little further detail.  From what’s available, it appears talks are real but early in process and delicate enough that nobody wants to compromise the discussions by sharing information.    Still, as for logic, a deal makes sense for both Yahoo and the labels.  There’s incentive for both sides to reach agreement.   There’s a good probability something will be announced between the two; possibly by June, or sooner.

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Wall Street Panics, Apple Pays: Measuring Q1 Earnings

measure appleWith markets in panic mode, the “R” word being used at the water coolers and the Fed pulling the ripcord on an emergency parachute, it was a bad day for any company to release earnings.  It was an especially bad day to share any comments that were cautionary, ambiguous, or anything but outrageously optimistic.  Apple shareholders paid the short term price.

Not five minutes into Apple’s earnings conference call After Hours traders, seizing on cautious, conservative lowered guidance, drove the stock down another ten percent.  The unfortunate thing is, the response is extreme, more a consequence of the economic climate than the actual news.

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