digital music

Hannah Kuchler

Sunday night’s US finale of Emmy award-winning TV series Breaking Bad sent viewers flocking to their laptops to hear a song played on the programme, boosting downloads of the 1970s British rock band Badfinger’s hit “Baby Blue” by almost 3000 per cent this week. In the last hours of Sunday night, the track was bought 5,300 times, compared to 200 the week before.

As TV viewers got ready to wean themselves off their addiction to the Crystal Meth fest, they found comfort in being able to instantly hear the song featured on the show, as well as other Badfinger songs. Sales of those tunes increased their sales by up to 260 per cent.

But according to the data from research firm Nielsen, the real story is in the streaming. 

Tim Bradshaw

Spotify is to open its doors in Germany this week in the digital music service’s biggest launch since coming to the US last year.

It is the latest example of a digital music firm growing its global footprint as record labels become increasingly bullish on subscription services.  

Tech news from around the web:

Research in Motion is in talks with the four largest record companies about launching a new music service to run on top of the company’s instant message service, BlackBerry Messenger, according to CNET.  At the moment there are very few details as to how the music service would work within BBM but it is expected to be launched within the next few weeks, sources told CNET. 

Tech news from around the web:

A survey from Nielsen that tracks music sales across real and digital sources shows that album sales actually increased in the first half of this year, Techcrunch reports. The increase – albeit one of just 1% – was the first time album sales had risen since 2004.

In an apparent move to take on Apple’s iCloud, Amazon has made a series of enhancements to its Amazon Cloud Drive and Cloud Player services, says bgr.com. For a limited time, anyone who signs up will get unlimited space for music while Cloud Drive customers can now store all MP3s purchased from the Amazon MP3 music store for free. On top of this, the Cloud Player for Web is now available on the iPad. 

Tim Bradshaw

Spotify has just launched a new download service and integration with non-touchscreen iPods, capabilities that have been more than a year in the making.

But Spotify is insisting this lengthy timescale is not another symptom of its tensions with record labels – rather it shows just how difficult it is to create a rival to iTunes for managing music on the go. 

Tim Bradshaw

Virgin Media’s head of music, Richard Wheeler, gave a brief update on the media group’s planned music service at the FT’s digital media conference in central London on Wednesday.

Back in June 2009, Virgin Media and Universal Music announced a ground-breaking partnership to launch an unlimited music downloads service, on the proviso that Virgin would help Universal to catch people pirating its music on its broadband network.

But since then, the most revolutionary thing about the service has been how long it’s taken to launch. Mr Wheeler hinted that the long negotiations may finally be coming to fruition – but perhaps without the downloading element. 

Tim Bradshaw

Spotify knows how to brand a music service.

Last year, the ad-supported streaming service introduced “offline listening” to its mobile and desktop music applications for premium subscribers without ever mentioning the dreaded phrase “DRM” – in spite of the fact that access to the songs disappears as soon as you stop paying.

Today, it has announced a couple of new ways to access its extensive library in the cloud, whose limitations are so cleverly branded that you’d hardly notice. 

Tim Bradshaw

Spotify is growing up fast. After first pitching itself as the best weapon against piracy, the online music service now has Apple in its sights. Apple’s approval of Spotify’s mobile application into the iPhone’s App Store surprised many last year but with a major upgrade to its main desktop software, Spotify is now challenging iTunes on its home turf.

Daniel Ek, Spotify’s co-founder, has never seemed short of self-belief but putting itself up against iTunes directly is a confident move for a service that has been around just 18 months. 

Tim Bradshaw

Excitement about Spotify, and more recently MOG, has remained at boiling point for months now, as the music streaming sites raise new funds and gear up for international expansion.

But although Spotify and MOG have attracted the most hype, new rivals – from start-ups Deezer and Grooveshark, to Sky Songs and Virgin Media’s long-awaited MusicFish – are emerging all the time.

In the UK, We7 has been quietly building its offering after launching here around the same time as Spotify in late 2008.

Some 3m people now use its free, ad-supported site. Last month saw a new £4.99-a-month ad-free service, followed today by the release of a £9.99 monthly “Premium+” offering that adds mobile access to its library of millions of tracks. 

Tim Bradshaw

The music industry has taken another beating in the blogosphere over the last 24 hours after the head of Warner Music lashed out against online music streaming services such as Spotify and We7.

“Free streaming services are clearly not net positive for the industry, and, as far as Warner Music is concerned, will not be licensed,” Edgar Bronfman Jr, Warner Music’s chairman, said on the major label’s analyst call yesterday.

“The sort of ‘Get all of the music you want for free and then, with a few bells and whistles, maybe we can move you to a premium price’ strategy is not the kind of approach to business we’ll be supporting in the future.”