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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Say You Want A Revolution: Beatles and Harmonix in Game Pact

gh-beatles-ndering-2-sm.jpgIt’s been the ungettable get, the top of the wish list, the digital archive that every vendor has wanted but nobody could have.  iTunes was rumored close, more than once.  Members of the band suggested it would happen this year (it hasn’t).   Activision’s Guitar Hero was the subject of more whispers but nobody could seem to get the complex mix of license holders to reach a joint agreement.  Somehow, over the course of seventeen months, Viacom’s Harmonix found a way.   Ahead of Apple and Activision, the pioneers behind Rock Band and Guitar Hero, will launch a video game built entirely around the catalog of The Beatles.

Because the game is in development, details have largely been held back but here’s what we know:

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Sony Earnings Slide

Sony warned of financial trouble last week.  Now it’s official.  Hit with the triple whammy of a unexpected currency fluctuation, weakening consumer spending and mounting losses at the music division, the company reported a 72% drop (y/y) in net income for the fiscal second quarter ended September 30th.

By the numbers, for the 2nd quarter, total revenue was ¥2,072b.  At Sept. 30th exchange rates of ¥104 to $1 that translated to about $19.93b.  (At Wednesday’s intraday rate of about 97 Yen to the dollar it’s equivalent to near $21.4b).  Net income was ¥20.8b or ¥19.83 per diluted share. 

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Walmart Updates Music Store, Cuts Download Prices

mpe price cutsIn August, NPD Group released its Top 5 ranking of U.S. music retailers for the first half of 2008.  Apple was number one and Amazon rising.  In the related press coverage, Walmart, though a significant seller at number two, seemed almost a future footnote.  The prevailing view was to write them off.  Now, with Best Buy trying to secure its digital footing via Napster, Walmart is making moves to regain ground (or at least maintain it) too.

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Apple Rides the Waves: Q4 2008 Earnings


“A leader is a dealer in hope” Napoleon Bonaparte


Layoffs.  Write-offs.  Weak Guidance. Turbulent Times. Uncertainty.  Foggy Futures. Cracked crystal balls.  Caution. Concern.  

In recent weeks, bad financial news has been like a mosquito you know is there but can’t swat.  It’s been a constant, inescapable drone to a market fearful and in need of reassurance; a market in need of Napoleon’s kind of leader.

Tuesday, though Steve Jobs doesn’t typically participate in earnings calls, Apple’s chief made a rare exception to try and offer just such reassurance.  About fifteen minutes in the conference call, he took the helm stating, “Against the backdrop of this global economic slowdown, it seemed a good time to make a few remarks.”

Together with CFO Peter Oppenheimer and COO, Tim Cook, Jobs helped deliver news that was at once both positive and, looking forward, prudently conservative. Click to Read More

EMI Taking New Digital Approach?

emi music storeIn the 2007 movie August Rush, the title character says “The music is all around you, all you have to do is listen.”  That’s especially true online.  From iTunes to Amazon, from Pandora to Slacker, from Facebook to MySpace and imeem, the songbooks and song vendors border on ubiquity.  You can buy a DRM-Free download or tune in to a free stream; you can catch a new single or embed a sample as soundtrack to your personal corner of the web.  And in case that’s not enough, if those options don’t overwhelm, now there will be another.  The Financial Times reported Wednesday that EMI, the smallest of the world’s Big Four music labels, is preparing to launch a digital music portal of their own in time for the holidays.

Few details have been released but the FT reports the service will offer both audio and video content, some paid and some free. 

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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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