Music

Joseph Menn

Apple is making a more serious bid for the set top box market with 99 cent TV and $4.99 new movie rentals that are streamed through a smaller version of AppleTV.

Chief executive Steve Jobs introduced the new device at an event in San Francisco. It will cost $99, down from $229, and is available for pre-order today, arriving in about a month.

The new AppleTV will offer rentals exclusively, no purchases. This will eliminate storage issues. First-run HD movies will rent for $4.99 on the day of the DVD release. Read more

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. Read more

Maija Palmer

ShazamShazam, the mobile phone music discovery service, could be on track for an IPO, with Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers taking a stake in the company. Shazam, which was the original service that allowed users to hold up their phone in a noisy bar to identify what music track was playing, has seen phenomenal growth over the last few months, reaching the 50m user milestone this week.

The company has seen rapid growth after launching the service free on the iPhone App Store in the summer of 2008. The iPhone app has been downloaded more than 10m times. Read more

Joseph Menn

UPDATE: follow it live. Chris Nuttall will be providing live coverage from San Francisco of Wednesday’s Apple event, starting at 10am local time. Follow it here.

Apple is holding a music-themed press event tomorrow, where it is expected to unveil a package of  goodies that will start being attached to sales of full digital albums.

The product, code-named Cocktail by the record labels, will include interactive lyric sheets, photos and other virtual extras aimed at replicating and improving on the old experience of opening a vinyl record sleeve or CD boxed set filled with trinkets. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

“It’s a bummer.”

That’s how Quincy Smith, president of CBS Interactive, described the departure of Last.fm’s three founders, Martin Stiksel, Felix Miller and Richard Jones.

CBS paid $280m in 2007 for Last.fm, an online music service and community now used by over 37m people a month. It remains one of the UK’s biggest buyouts in the web 2.0 era and Last.fm is still a fixture of London’s Silicon Roundabout.

Yet Mr Smith was magnanimous as three darlings of the web scene left CBS Interactive, which as a whole generated revenues of over $600m last year. Read more

Maija Palmer

YouTube logoGoogle has waded into another row over music royalty rights in Europe, this time in Germany. Again, it has shut off premium music videos on the YouTube service as it negotiates with the local rights agency, Gema, over how much it has to pay for each video. It did the same thing in the UK two weeks ago.

Like any payment dispute, this is grubby. The rights agencies want more money for their musicians and songwriters. Google wants to pay less – preferably a flat fee – and argues that YouTube doesn’t make enough money to pay any more. Read more

ipod_classic_fam.jpgNews that Apple is in talks with record labels about a possible ‘all-you-can-eat’ model for iTunes is making the rounds on the blogs this morning following last night’s story in the FT.

Over at TechCrunch, Erick Schonfeld asks whether music companies would be willing to go along with a subscription model. We think the answer is clearly yes. Read more