Apple Launches Talking Shuffle

new shuffleUntil recently when Apple geared up to launch a new product it was lights, camera and action; the full-on spectacle.  Lately though, the theater’s dark.  With recent launches, the company’s opting to use a simple press release instead of a big stage show.   To start the conversation, Apple’s letting products speak for themselves.  The approach suits the newly announced iPod Shuffle just fine.  The device speaks plenty, literally.

Announced today, the new generation of Apple’s tiniest iPod is billed as “the first music player that talks to you.” 

The tiny device features a Voice Over feature that acts like something of a virtual DJ.  Push the control button and it will call out the track name and artist of the song playing. Push it again and it can provide battery status information or even identify the names of different playlists.

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YouTube Pulls Music Videos in The UK Over Lincensing

record-rights-issue-sm.jpg Music videos are among the most popular clips on YouTube but the battle to keep them there is getting more and more contentious.  Back in December, faced with failing licensing negotiations, Warner Music, pulled its programming off of the site.  Monday, it was Google playing the role of the aggressor. The company took a hard-line stance with the UK’s royalty collecting body.

After failing to reach an agreement with Performing Rights Society for Music (PRS), Google said it would block UK users from watching premium music videos on its YouTube site.

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Applevine Report: Netbook Rumors? U2 Leaving Apple for RIM?

apple rumors netbookApple’s said it again and again: it has little interest in the netbook category of computers at this time.  As recently as October, Steve Jobs called it a “nascent” market segment.  Still, no matter the denials or rejections, the rumors just won’t quit.   They’ve been trailing the company for months and they’re back at it again.

The latest batch took flight Monday when DigiTimes published a report saying Taiwan-based Wintek had been contracted to deliver touchscreen panels for a new netbook. Click to Read More

Microsoft Splits Zune Group, Emphasizes Broader Entertainment

In early February, Microsoft announced plans to create original video programming for its Zune media player.  The concept seemed a wild tangent and the question at the time was: why? Now, there’s more of an answer: it’s not about the device.

Microsoft has quietly broken its Zune group into two separate units, one software and services focused, the other hardware.

The hardware group will now work out of the Windows Mobile organization.

The software team, which will be under the watchful eye of Enrique Rodriguez, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s TV business, will focus on a broader converged entertainment offering.

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Terms Announced: Live Nation and Ticketmaster Merger

merger signed by boardIt’s now official. I’s dotted and T’s crossed on the plan.  Live Nation and Ticketmaster have agreed to merge. The official press release (PDF) was issued this morning.  Substantiating the early reports , here are the facts from the press releases and conference call:

• The companies will combine in a tax free, all stock merger with a combined enterprise value estimated at $2.5b.

• Ticketmaster will receive 1.384 shares of Live Nation for each share of Ticketmaster they own.  Pro -Forma, Live Nation shareholders will hold 49.99% of the new company. Ticketmaster will hold 50.01%.

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Live Nation and Ticketmaster Merger Gets Board Approval

music-merger-rumor-metue-small.jpgFor a long time, Live Nation and Ticketmaster were joined at the hip.  The nation’s largest concert promoter and the nation’s largest ticket vendor formed an inseparable pair.  Then Live Nation, pursuing better margins and greater ambitions of vertical integration, decided to go it alone.  The tie was severed, with prejudice.  Live Nation began acquiring assets and partners to be more self reliant. It joined with CTS Eventim to begin selling tickets on its own. Ticketmaster spun off from its parent corporation, IAC, and tried to blaze its own path.

Now, not a month into Live Nation’s re- incarnation as both promoter and ticket vendor (ticket sales began in January), and it turns out the old pals are ready to not just rekindle their old relationship, but tie up entirely in a merger.

Last  week the Wall Street Journal discovered the two companies were in the late stage of discussions.  Widespread reports citing “sources familiar” and “inside sources” predicted a deal would hit the news wires by early Monday.    

The Monday news never came. The boards of both companies apparently met late Sunday but failed to hammer out all issues.  A second meeting on Monday afternoon is believed to have settled the remaining impasse.

At this point, there’s no official press release nor comment from the companies but reports are starting to circulate that both boards agreed unanimously.  (Details will be updated on Metue as they become available).

(UPDATE: As of Tuesday morning, the companies have now confirmed the merger and issued statements regarding the details. A full summary of the deal terms as currently announced is available here on Metue. Other details about the company can be found at the bottom of this article).

What is believed known now: Click to Read More

Bridge financing for Slacker

slacker bridgeAccording to a regulatory filing cited on Venture Wire, Slacker, a multi-channel digital music service, has taken an additional $5m in venture funding in a bridge financing from existing investors.

Since opening its doors and publicly launching its product in March of 2007, Slacker has now taken on a cumulative total of more than $58.5m in financing to build out its ambitious plans.

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