Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Youtube in deal with Independent Label

February 27, 2007

Deal a day is the mantra at Youtube. Yesterday there was news of Youtube getting together with NBA to launch “NBA Channel” that will feature original content from National Basketball Association and user-posted basketball videos. Today Youtube is getting together with a prominent independent label, Wind-up Entertainment Inc, to enable legitimize user of its music and videos. The deal with Wind-up involves more than 225 songs and rev share agreement. As part of the deal, Google/Youtube will pay an undisclosed share of revenue from advertising on the video page that either uses the songs as promotional music or as background for a video created by a user. With most of the major content providers already under the wraps, expanding on to indies, sports, brands is where we will see major thrust from Youtube.


MyBlogLog spam; Fring & MSN get talking; Netvibes gets mobile; Ricall updates

February 9, 2007

spam profile spread: Few days back I had read about spam profiles showing up in the MyBlogLog. Today, VC Andrew Luter posted snapshot of spam profiles showing up in the widget on his blog. Looks like the bad-bad spam world has just starting hitting MyBlogLog. Hope they have remedies in place before they are gone like Snap.


  Fring does MSN integration: I think this startup is 24-7 on caffeine. Haven’t come across any mVoIP startup doing weekly release cycle like Fring. Coming to today’s release, Fring is now integrated with Microsoft network enabling users to make/receive calls to/from their MSN buddies. Initial hiccups aside, I expect this integration to be humming around fine pretty soon. Personally, I am beginning to hate these 2 years contracts more and more as each feature release comes from Fring, and I find myself stuck with an unsupported BB.

goes mobile: Netvibes has become the first homepage service to get a mobile face. You can now get all your favorite modules right on your mobile WAP browser. Load Netvibes2Go by browsing to and access all your modules anytime. Modules get loaded left-to-right and top-to-bottom and RSS click-throughs still keep you on Netvibes.

Ricall Launches site updates: Ricall, the UK based Benchmark funded music search and licensing company, has launched significant updates to its site. With over 3 million tracks to search from, Ricall now enables direct connection between music buyers (ad agencies/broadcasters/film & TV companies/…..) and music sellers (labels/artists/writers….). Ricall has also made available the advanced music search engine to all registered users. As I have written before, the search engine takes into account 140 attributes to enable search according to Mood, Activity, Demographic, Tempo, Lyric, Instrument, Chart and Sound to come back with perfect usable results.

Judge admonishes FCC attorney: This happened today at the D.C. Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals where FCC was trying to defend Universal Service Fund charge for VoIP companies. According to news report from WSJ, at one point Judge Harry T. Edwards told FCC attorney James Carr- “what you’re saying is nonsense.” Even the VoIP lobbying group was not spared. Get the juicy details at WSJ.


iPhone — undecided customer

January 11, 2007

Among all the positive and negative thoughts about iPhone, below is my take on some of the issues:

(-?)Internet Access: iPhone enables Internet browsing over WiFi which will be great option over the large sized screen. But you can easily write off browsing on iPhone over Cingular’s Edge network unless Cingular gets serious about is data speeds. Also Cingular or Apple haven’t disclosed the pricing of the data plan for iPhone. I hope Cingular doesn’t force users to go for bundled data plan with iPhone.

(-?)iTunes over WiFi iPod: We all had wanted this feature and waited for a long long time and really really hoped Apple will deliver it. But as it seems right now, this is a no go. Even after all the hype, technology, research, and investment, why do we still need to stick a PC/Mac in between to get on with our digital life? Maybe Yahoo or someone else can put their player onto WiFi enabled Nokias of the world to give Apple a run for money.

(-)2 Year Contracts: Selling a Mac is very different from selling a mobile. Mac buying can be impulsive, but same can’t be true for iPhone. Most of the people like to stick around with their existing phones till their contract ends and only than they negotiate a deal with another carrier. With each of the mobile carriers moving over to 2 year contracts, it will take that much longer for iPhone to penetrate the market. Further, uptake will be limited by Cingular’s exclusivity in the iPhone deal. Although Apple never claims that it wants to capture the complete mobile market, but they would have really liked if they were the ones to decide it.

(+)App Favs: To put it simply – you can’t find the same application installed on 2 different mobile. Such has been the state of highly bifurcated mobile device market, that none of application providers can claim domination over majority of mobile handsets. Not Google, not Microsoft, not Yahoo. This works perfectly for Apple since most of the users won’t miss out on their favorite applications when they move over to iPhone. A very painless migration for all!!

(-)Development community: Nokia has a good market share of the mobile apps that are launched and strong development community to power innovative application development. Just look at some of the most promising technologies in making from startups like Truphone, Fring, iSkoot, Skype, Gizmo, and Imity, all of whom first support the Symbian phones. After Nokia, rest of the market share is taken up by Moto, Sony, Treo/Microsoft Mobile and few more European mobile companies. When Apple opens up its platform(if it plans) in June, it will be looking to grab share from either of these development communities which like any other development platform take its own sweet amount of time.

(+-)Version 1.0: And remember this is just Version 1.0 of the iPhone. Just like any other first generation device, iPhone will come with its own set of bugs and their hacks that can make it a costly investment if it has too many of them. Also Nokia, Moto and others have years of experience in building mobile UIs and would for sure understand user needs better atleast in the voice calling aspect. When a nut-case is running after your poor ass(after paying $500 or $600) at 2 AM, you won’t like the idea of looking at and fumbling with keys on a newly designed mobile touchpad to call 911. Still iPhone should serve as a lesson for mobile manufactures to stop releasing a barrage of mobiles and take up a more standardized approach.

Apple iPhone is live

January 9, 2007

Steve Jobs finally launched the long-long waited for mobile-music-video gadget. iPhone will initially be available to Cingular Wireless customers from June. The 1/2 inch thick phone sports no keys at all. Make calls, watch videos, listen to music, ……………Pricing not disclosed. Yeah, Steve would from now on will watch over Nielsen Buzzmetrics et al, run analytics, and get a nice round figure for all our yearnings. Okay pricing is set to $499 for 4GB iPhone and $599 for 8GB iPhone.


And not to forget the launch of iTV for $299. With support for HDMI, component video and audio ports, 802.11 WiFi, iTV will sync your digital life forever. Ordering mine now!!



iLike gets equity funding from Ticketmaster

December 19, 2006

iLike today announced that it has received $13.5 million funding from As part of the equity funding Ticketmaster will get 25% stake in iLike and Sean Moriarty, Ticketmaster’s president and chief operating officer, will join iLike’s board of directors. iLike had earlier received $2.5 million in funding from Khosla Ventures and MTV co-founder Bob Pitman.

iLike service enables easier discovery, sharing and browsing of music libraries of other people with similar tastes. The service music sharing recommendations works by scanning your iTunes music files and via recommendations and friends. iLike also provides free mp3 downloads of emerging artists. Besides this iLike also provides widget for users to post on their blogs which displays your recently played songs. I think the ability for users to interact and share their music tastes has been a major factor for the good uptake of the service.


Music recommendations – An evolving field:, SoundFlavor, and Ricall are few of other services that study music tastes and provide enhanced services. widget scans music files on users system to automatically provide tour dates for their favorite artists. OnTour currently provides widgets for Yahoo widget engine and Mac Dashboard, but does not directly support purchase of tickets.

SoundFlavor is another service whose Recommendation Engine combines precise, song-level advanced search, navigation, and personalized recommendations that helps users discover new music easily. SoundFlavor’s desktop client works on top of iTunes and analyzes songs based on various attributes, ranging from instrumentation to subject matter. SoundFlavor had received $2.3 million in Series A round lead by Amicus Capital, with Nueva Ventures and others participating.

Ricall with a similar idea but works as a music marketplace where media companies can buy and sell music. With over 3 million records, 3,500 record companies, 22,000 music publishers, Ricall targets its product towards advertising, broadcasting, multimedia, film, and companies in similar areas, who was an easier way to buy/license professional quality music. Ricall has built its music search and recommendation engine that analyzes over 140 attributes of every track in its database. Ricall’s backend platform enables accurate price estimates, complete transaction processing, and contract management for every music record a company wants to license. The Benchmark Capital Europe funded company is based out of UK.



OnTour widget — Automate your concert search

November 30, 2006

recently launched their widget for Mac and PC users that automatically searches your computer’s music library to get your favorite artist and display relevant concerts near your location. OnTour is developed by PassAlong Networks which is a privately held company based out of Franklin, Tennessee.

To get started, PC users need to get the Yahoo Widget Engine and than drop the OnTour widget into the widget folder. After that OnTour widget automatically keeps scanning your iTunes and other music folders to get the artist information and refreshes the widget screen when it receives information about new concerts for those artists. If you don’t already have songs from any of the artists you like, you can always manually add the artist name in the widget settings. Apart from these results you can always search in the widget by your location or by the artist name you are interested in. OnTour widget links each result with your default music store to enable each download/purchase of the song. You can associate the widget using the OnTour website with any of the major music stores including iTunes, Rhapsody, Napster, and PassAlong. To get more details about the venue of the concert and purchase tickets you can hit the ‘Tickets’ links next to each result in the widget, which brings you to the OnTour website. Concert location is mapped onto Google Maps and OnTour provides you links to search tickets at Ticketmaster and perform remote search for tickets on eBay.

In my talk with OnTour Product Manager Stuart Young, he mentioned that they are also working aggressively on developing mobile and web versions of the widget. Soon MySpace users will be able to display concert results for their favorite artists on their profile pages using the web OnTour widget.

As for monetizing the service, OnTour team is building their advertising network which will show artist and album ads on the widget itself.

OnTour widget has received a good response from the Mac users and was the top download widget for 3 days. Also today PassAlong Networks announced that OnTour product has been awarded “Best Use of Technology by an Artist” award at the 3rd Annual Billboard Digital Entertainment Conference and Awards.

Personally I like the idea of getting concert results automatically instead of trying to remember doing the same every few days or end up missing the concert that happens ever so often with me.

PassAlong Networks


Zune launches today

November 14, 2006

Microsoft will today be launching Zune and entering the dirty water of DRM world. From the feature perspective Zune will provide most of the features similar to iPod including media file download, sync, playlists, music flagging, connect to stereo/TV,………….

Zune-Zune connectivity: As compared to iPod, Zune offers sharing of songs among Zune users over wireless connection. Shared songs or the songs that you receive from others are called ‘Sample Songs’ and can be played on your Zune for only 3 times in 3 days. Also you cannot resend music files you received via sharing and Zune-Zune sharing might not be available for songs. Besides this, you have the limitation that the sharing will work only within wireless range of your Zune player. Given all these limitations I don’t see Zune-Zune sharing being the motivating factor for uses to buy the $250 device. However, as the WiFi hardware is already in place, Microsoft can always launch more products and services that can take advantage of the wireless connectivity.

If you are in for the Zune-Zune sharing you can easily share audio files and pictures with other users. Zune enables you to set your wireless presence and if needed you can shutdown your wireless connectivity. When you are online, you can accept and reject songs that you receive from others, or if wanted you can block a particular device. I am not sure whether Zune-Zune sharing supports video files.

As for logging into the Zune account you can use your existing Windows Live ID or create a new Zune tag. As I had written before you can buy individual songs from Zune Marketplace. You need to adding Microsoft Points to your account and use them to buy songs at the Marketplace. Microsoft will also be offering Zune Pass using which you can download as many music files as you like from the Zune Marketplace. Monthly Zune Pass is priced at $14.99 and the 3-month Zune Pass is priced at $44.97.

Today we will also come to know more about the connectivity between Zune and Xbox 360 console, details about which have not really been revealed.

Soapbox team is ready with it’s Soapbox Weekly Top Videos that can be downloaded to your Zune. Zune accessories are also all set to be yours. Offerings include Car pack, Dock, Wireless remote, and many other parts.

Buy Zune:
Zune White
Zune Brown
Zune Black

Microsoft to give Universal a cut on Zune sales
Microsoft offers movies, TV shows to Xbox users
Songs on Zune to cost 99 cents


Microsoft to give Universal a cut on Zune sales

November 9, 2006

Microsoft today agreed to pay Universal not only a share from its music sales, but will also be paying a percentage revenue generated from sale of Zune players. According to news report in New York Times, Universal might be receiving $1 for each Zune player. This move from Microsoft is in stark comparison to Apple, which pays music companies on percentage basis only for the songs sold through iTunes. After wrapping up the deal with Microsoft, Universal will try to negotiate a better deal with Apple the next time around.

From the Microsoft standpoint this deal had to be done before the November 14th launch of Zune in order to give Zune customers access to Universal’s media library. Compared to few months back when Zune was just considered to be an iPod clone, Microsoft has rolled out a complete strategy around it’s release. Leaving aside the issues related to DRM, Zune battery life, and the number of songs being available at the Live Marketplace, Microsoft is all set to offer the best digital home experience for a total of $650 retail price.

However the news report also adds-

Two months ago, Mr. Morris took a public swipe at user-driven Web sites like MySpace and YouTube, telling a Merrill Lynch investor conference that “these new businesses are copyright infringers and owe us tens of millions of dollars.” (Universal later struck a licensing deal with YouTube.)

I think Universal got it all wrong. In the first place people are not running radio or TV stations out of MySpace and YouTube. Even if some of them are using their content, it is companies like Universal that are gaining free publicity. Also, if the whole case was soo wrong why did Universal sign an agreement with YouTube?

Also some David Griffin adds

“It’s a major change for the industry,” said David Geffen, the entertainment mogul who more than a decade ago sold the record label that bears his name to Universal. “Each of these devices is used to store unpaid-for material. This way, on top of the material people do pay for, the record companies are getting paid on the devices storing the copied music.”

Did he really go and have a look at everyone’s iPod? Can we get some real stats for these claims(we don’t need data from Universal funded research report). Also it is amazing how easily executives from media industry can blame consumers for all the problems when they originate from the lack of innovation and imagination of media companies themselves. Had it not been for Kazaa, Napster and Bittorent, we would still have been paying $20 per CD to get just 1 of our favorite songs.

Microsoft offers movies, TV shows to Xbox users

Zune site launched

November 2, 2006

Microsoft has launched the web site for Zune, which is due to launch on November 14th. Zune features include wifi connectivity, 3-inch LCD screen, 30GB Harddrive, FM radio, and social networking-sharing features.

Related: Songs on Zune to cost 99 cents             
Links: Zune Home

Mercora launches Mobile music sharing

October 17, 2006

Mercora has launched a new service called Mercora M that will enable users to access their Mercora library on their Windows Mobile 5.0 smartphones. Mercora M users will also be able to tune in to up to five of your friends’ and family members’ music collections. Unlike the Mercora IMRadio, users will have to pay for the M service starting 1st November. Users can either pay $4.99/month or get a subscription package for the M which are priced at $29.99 for six months, $49.99 for a year, and $99.99 for a two-year subscription.

Users will have to download and install Mercora applications on their PC and mobile phone to access music through Mercora. I am not sure if users need to keep their PC running while using Mercora M. Also users will need to have an unlimited data plan on their mobile phones. I feel the requirements of an unlimited data plan and a Widows Mobile device will make it tough for the service to catch up quickly.

I haven’t tried the service myself since I don’t have  a Windows Mobile phone. For a list of supported device go here.

Mercora M
Mercora M Download