Music > MP3, Internet / online music,
Documentary: Culture of Free | Retro Report | The New York Times
8 December 2014
program created in a Boston dorm room
sent shock waves
across the music industry
and served notice that a major cultural shift was
Produced by: Retro
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music and the internet
music streaming /
streaming service > Tidal UK / USA
streaming service >
Apple Music USA
over the internet
UK music download sales hit £1bn
BPI figures reveal
total digital spending by fans since 2004,
with Adele's 21 the biggest-selling album
legal music download business >
> Zune music service USA
download music legally
the age of the download
the cloud -
online storage and software
Google's cloud-based music player
Allowing people to upload and store
their music collections on the Web
and listen to their songs on Android phones or tablets
and on computers
illegal file-sharing network eDonkey
online music sharing
face lawsuits for
illegally downloading tracks
violating copyright laws
crackdown on music piracy
music download service
online music service Spotify
UK / USA
online music service Deezer
large-scale record store
on-line / online music store
the first "official" chart
measure tracks bought on the internet
music player >
touch screen USA
music player market
digital music market
Apple’s iTunes > legal download
Apple's iCloud > online music service
compressed computer files
Kazaa peer-to-peer file-sharing network
online piracy UK
"lossy" formats > AAC, M4P or MP3
Cloud That Ate Your Music
By JON PARELES
for the cloud. Soon, I hope, it will be ready for me.
Recent weeks have been filled with announcements about music taking residence in
the cloud, the poetic name for online storage and software that promises to make
lifetimes worth of songs available to anyone, anywhere, as long as those people
and places have Internet connections. (Which of course is a long way from
everyone, everywhere, but utopian tech dreams tend to ignore mere hardware.)
I can’t wait. Ever since music began migrating online in the 1990s I have longed
to make my record collection evaporate — simply to have available the one song I
need at any moment, without having to store the rest.
But I have, as they say, special needs. In three decades as a critic I have
amassed more vinyl, CDs and digital files than I know what to do with. Periodic
weeding can’t keep up with the 20 to 30 discs that arrive in the daily mailbag;
the overfull floor-to-ceiling shelves are already straining under thousands of
CDs and LPs. Any affection I had for physical packaging, no matter how elegant
or unique, has long since vanished; it’s a reference library, not an art
And it grows, and grows, because I never know what I’ll need: the
limited-edition 45, the home-burned debut CD. Yet I’d much rather have it in the
cloud than in my apartment.
In recent weeks Amazon, Google and Apple have announced services to store
individual music collections in the cloud, ready for access online and for
syncing to multiple devices. Pandora Internet radio, which extrapolates
individual playlists from users’ likes and dislikes, raised hundreds of millions
of dollars with a huge initial public offering (followed, however, by a steep
drop in stock price; with operating costs and royalties to copyright owners, the
company has never made a profit).
Dar.fm recently arrived as a free service that records radio stations — like
TiVo for radio — and, as a bonus, conveniently indexes any music from those
stations that has been electronically tagged. (Choose a congenial radio station
and assemble a well-chosen collection.) Other companies — Rdio, MOG, Napster,
Rhapsody — have been offering huge catalogs of music on demand (and transferable
to portable devices) for some time as subscription services for a monthly fee,
and Spotify, already online in Europe, is likely to join them in the United
That’s not to mention the many unauthorized sources for music; virtually any
album can be found for downloading with a simple search. Free or paid, the cloud
is already active.
Dematerializing recorded music has consequences. On the positive side it hugely
multiplies the potential audience, letting the music travel fast and far to
listeners who would never have known it existed. It escalates music’s
portability, as it adds one more previously stand-alone function — like clocks,
cameras, calendars, newspapers, video players and games — to the omnivorous
smartphone. That’s instant gratification, but with a catch: Smartphones aren’t
exactly renowned for sound quality. And the MP3 compression that has made music
so portable has already robbed it of some fidelity even before it reaches my
The ritual of placing an LP on a turntable and cranking up a hi-fi home stereo
disappeared — when? Perhaps with the cassette and the Walkman, the ancestor of
the portable MP3 player. Now even the thought of having a separate music player
is a little quaint. The smartphone will do it all — just adequately, but
convenience trumps quality. Baby boomers who remember the transistor radio, that
formerly miniature marvel that now looks and feels like a brick compared to
current MP3 players, can experience again the sound of an inadequate speaker
squeezing out a beloved song.
As the last decade has abundantly proved, freeing music from discs also drives
down the price of recorded music, often to zero, dematerializing what used to be
an income for musicians and recording companies. Royalties generated from sales
of MP3 files and by online subscription services are unlikely to ever make
recorded music as profitable as it was in disc form.
There has also been another, far less quantifiable, effect of separating music
from its physical package. Songs have become, for lack of a better word,
trivial: not through any less effort from the best musicians, but through the
unexpected combination of a nearly infinite supply, constant availability,
suboptimum sound quality and the intangibility I’ve always thought I would
Now everyone, not just a critic, can feel awash in music, with an infinitude of
choices immediately at hand. But each of those choices is a diminished thing;
attainable without effort, disposable without a second thought, just another
icon in a folder on a pocket-size screen with pocket-sized sound. The tricky
part, more now than ever, is to make any new release feel like an occasion: to
give a song more impact than a single droplet out of the cloud. This presents a
challenge to culturally ambitious musicians: before they can be larger than
life, they have to be larger than the LCD screen.
Or they can try to conquer that screen and play the Internet as an instrument,
using its defining attribute: interactivity. When Google replaced its logo with
a virtual instrument for Les Paul’s 96th birthday — not strictly speaking a
guitar but a harp, with one note per string — people worldwide played tunes on
it and recorded them into the cloud. And of course there are smartphone apps to
simulate guitars, keyboards, drums and recording studios.
Bjork’s next album, “Biophilia,” is due to arrive this fall with a smartphone
app built around every song: apps that diagram the song in both conventional
music notation and invented graphic notation, that remap the songs as scientific
phenomena like (among other things) planetary systems and crystal structures,
that encourage listeners to toy with components of the music to create songs of
“I’m excited to embrace a different handshake between the object and sound,”
Bjork said in an e-mail. “It seems like every couple of decades this takes a
somersault, and I enjoy the fresh point of view, like the honeymoon of the new
format where you can really have an effect on the overall direction, and things
like enjoyment, love and freedom matter again.”
She added, “I definitely wanted the songs to be a spatial experience, where you
can play with lightning or a crystal or the full moon and the song changes. I
would like to feel the apps are equal to the song in the same way I have always
aimed for the music video to be equal to the song: the 1+1 is 3 thing. Not that
it works every time, but you have to aim for it.”
But while musicians learn to play in the cloud, I need it as a repository. For
the moment, the much-ballyhooed cloud music players leave me unimpressed. Each
has different mechanisms, features, prices and limitations, including one major
one: They all depend on first uploading the collection into the cloud.
Google Music Beta’s Music Manager has been running for days on my laptop, and
it’s barely one-third of the way through a mere 4,000 songs from a single hard
drive — a tiny random fraction of the collection. Amazon and Apple will
automatically add the music purchased through their respective stores, but the
rest is slow going.
Apple is also promising that later this year, for a fee it will share with
record companies, that it will implement a service called iTunes Match, which
will scan and recognize music and add Apple’s own copies without uploading. That
was an idea that mp3.com implemented back in 2000, when its Beam-it function
recognized CDs in home computers to add immediately to online collections. But
Beam-it was soon stopped by a record-company lawsuit. Now Apple has gotten
permission from the major labels, though at least one independent, the
archivally minded Numero Group, has turned down iTunes Match, describing Apple’s
financial terms as a “pittance.”
Meanwhile, as many technology writers have pointed out, iTunes Match as
currently described will in effect launder music that was copied illicitly,
replacing home-ripped files with standardized, good-quality MP3s. But now record
labels and publishers will receive 70 percent of Apple’s fee.
As for the far greater part of my music library that’s just on CDs, well, it’s
too bad no one is bringing back Beam-it, and even then the uploading would be
endless. But yes, it’s charming to see an album that’s nowhere in my phone’s
memory available for listening, with the option to copy selected files for
offline (which to me means subway) play. The cloud services are, after all, just
getting started; speed and storage capacity will only increase.
For me, though, the great hope of the cloud is the subscription services, like
MOG and Rdio. Their catalogs are deep, their interfaces sensible, their sound
quality decent though not spectacular. For every fan who imagines herself a
D.J., there’s a new social curatorial model arising in these services, somewhere
between the old homemade cassette mixtape handed to a friend and full-scale
broadcasting, with a giant potential library. You can flaunt or hide what you’re
listening to; you can get ideas from others’ playlists or copy them wholesale.
But as deep as the subscription catalogs go, they aren’t deep enough: imported
albums, out-of-print albums, minuscule independents and big-time holdouts like
the Beatles aren’t in that sector of the cloud.
Yet, again, there’s hope. Apple’s Match is a sign that copyright holders are
starting to rethink their licensing terms for the cloud, which will make
subscription catalogs even larger. And, practically speaking, for those obscure,
orphaned releases there is the unlicensed but hyperactive community of
collectors who continue to share their finds online, with downloads just a
search away. As for sound quality — well, maybe that’s wishful thinking.
But I have to stay optimistic that it won’t be another decade before all my
discs really can disappear into the cloud. And then, having solved the space
problem, I can turn to something even more intractable: the time to listen to it
has been revised
to reflect the following correction:
Correction: June 26, 2011
A cover essay this weekend
about the online storage of music misstates
of the Apple service
that will scan and recognize music
and add Apple’s own
copies without uploading.
It is iTunesMatch, not iMatch.
The Cloud That Ate Your Music,
Google to Unveil Service
to Let Users Stream Their Music
May 10, 2011
The New York Times
By CLAIRE CAIN MILLER
SAN FRANCISCO — Google plans to introduce its long-awaited service to allow
people to upload and store their music collections on the Web and listen to
their songs on Android phones or tablets and on computers.
The announcement of the new service, a so-called cloud-based music player, will
be made on Tuesday at Google I/O, the company’s developers conference here,
which will run through Wednesday.
The service, to be called Music Beta by Google, is similar to one introduced by
Amazon in March, although it will store considerably more music. And like
Amazon, Google does not have the cooperation of music labels, which means that
users cannot do certain things that would legally require licenses, like sharing
songs with friends and buying songs from Google.
But Google’s announcement at this time was unexpected because it has been
negotiating with the music labels for months to try to make a deal to team with
them on a cloud music service.
“A couple of major labels were not as collaborative and frankly were demanding a
set of business terms that were unreasonable and did not allow us to build a
product or a business on a sustainable business,” said Jamie Rosenberg, director
for digital content for Android. “So we’re not necessarily relying on the
partnerships that have proven difficult.”
After Amazon introduced its service, music label executives said they were
disappointed and exploring their legal options.
Neither Google’s nor Amazon’s cloud players make true many Web companies’ dream,
which is for people to be able to listen to their music whenever they want, on
any device. Ideally, Web companies would keep a copy of every song in the cloud,
creating a kind of Internet jukebox, and give users instant access to those they
own without uploading. But that would require licenses.
“This whole upload thing just seems like a significant barrier to wide consumer
adoption, because even with broadband it just takes a long time” to upload, said
David Pakman, who invests in digital media start-ups for the venture capital
firm Venrock, and helped found a similar music service, Myplay, in 1999.
But Amazon forced Google’s hand, he said. “If you’re faced with another six
months of brutal negotiations and your competitor just launched this, you just
get in the market and get a lot of users.”
Mr. Rosenberg characterized Music Beta as a first step in a broader cloud music
service and said Google hoped to continue negotiating with the record labels to
get licenses to offer other things, like a music store that sells songs or a
service that suggests new music to listeners.
For Google, the new service is a way to compete with the iPhone by giving
Android users the ability to easily use their music collections. Android users
could previously store MP3 music files on their phones but it was a cumbersome
process. Amazon’s service, Cloud Player, also works on Android phones, but
stores many fewer songs free.
Since songs stored by Google will stream from the Web, they are not always as
accessible as songs stored on iPods, because people can’t listen to them in
places without data connections, like airplanes. But Google stores copies of
recently played songs and certain songs that users choose for offline access.
The music labels have long argued that they should be paid when people listen to
songs on various devices. Google, Amazon and Apple, along with start-ups like
Spotify and the now-defunct Imeem, have struggled to strike agreements.
Apple is still expected to be working on such a service. It acquired Lala, a
cloud music service, and built a data center in North Carolina that could store
users’ music collections. It also has relationships with the labels through
Google and Amazon, meanwhile, say they do not need licenses to store music for
users and play songs on multiple devices because users upload the songs they
own, just as they would if they backed up their computers. “This is really a
personal storage service in the same way that you would put songs on an iPad or
you would put songs on a backup hard drive, so this service does not involve
licenses for the music industry,” Mr. Rosenberg said.
The service is invitation-only to start. Verizon Xoom owners will receive
invitations and others can sign up at music.google.com. Users download an
application to their computer and upload their music, which could take many
hours. The songs will be available on any device linked to the user’s Google
account using a mobile app or a Web-based player, as long as they support Flash,
which excludes iPhones and iPads.
Users can store 20,000 songs free, as opposed to Amazon’s service, which stores
up to 1,000 songs without charge.
The service syncs activity on different devices, so if users create playlists on
their phones, the playlists will automatically show up on their computers.
“We looked at the power of Google to deliver a compelling cloud-based service
and essentially married those technologies with what we felt was lacking in the
Android experience up until now,” Mr. Rosenberg said.
Google to Unveil Service
to Let Users Stream Their Music,
Platinum Is So Passé.
In iTunes Era, the Singles Count.
August 30, 2010
The New York Times
By JOSEPH PLAMBECK
By traditional measures, the British hip-hop artist Taio Cruz is
far from being a star. But in the new world of pop music, he is certified gold.
Mr. Cruz’s latest album, “Rokstarr,” has sold just 93,000 copies in 12 weeks,
according to Nielsen SoundScan, and this week sits at No. 54 on the Billboard
But while he has sold relatively few albums, he has sold 4.9 million copies of
two singles from the album, “Break Your Heart” and “Dynamite,” and videos for
those singles have been viewed more than 49 million times online. For his label,
Mercury Records, that means he is a commercial success.
For decades, the music industry has been looking to the album charts to
establish what made a hit. In the past 10 years, though, album sales have
plummeted, sales of singles have surged and new sources of revenue have emerged
— like fees for music streamed online and ringtone purchases — that are changing
the definition of a hot artist.
Still, much of the industry relies on the Billboard 200, the longtime album
sales chart, as the primary measure and talking point about an artist’s
“The music industry has trained people to focus on the album chart for 20
years,” said Jay Frank, the head of music for CMT, the country music cable
network. “Now they need to get them to focus on something else.”
BigChampagne, a media measurement firm in California, believes there is an
opening for a new chart that better captures an artist’s popularity and
commercial success. Last month, the company introduced a service, which it is
calling the Ultimate Chart, that ranks artists based on the number of albums
sold, singles sold, songs streamed online and other factors. The service also
ranks sales of albums and singles, though they diverge little from Billboard’s
On the most recent Ultimate Chart, Mr. Cruz is the No. 2 artist. Lil Wayne ranks
as the fourth most popular artist, while his most recent album, “Rebirth,” is on
the Billboard album chart at No. 89. (The two charts are not always at such
great odds. Eminem is the No. 1 artist on the Ultimate Chart while his album
sits at No. 1 on the Billboard 200.)
The new charts reflect the shift in music industry revenue. Even established
performers like Rihanna, whose latest album, “Rated R,” broke into the top five
on the Billboard 200 in 2009, receives half of her revenue through those other
avenues, according to Jim Urie, the head of distribution for the Universal Music
Group, which owns her label, Def Jam, as well as Mercury.
“We used to have basically a single line on the revenue sheet,” Mr. Urie said.
“Now we have many.”
For most labels and artists, though, revenue from those new streams has not made
up for the sharp drop in CD sales. While labels would not discuss overall
revenue for specific artists, total revenue from recorded music peaked in 1999,
at $13.4 billion, according to Forrester Research, and was about half of that in
But the multiple ways to make money provide hope to a struggling industry and
are also changing the kind of music that gets made and promoted. Album sales are
often driven by older listeners who typically favor country and soft-rock
artists like Taylor Swift and Susan Boyle.
Pop and hip-hop artists like Taio Cruz and Rihanna are sometimes
underrepresented on the album chart, as younger fans in particular have moved to
buying singles and streaming music online.
In the near future, that could mean more Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber, less
Nickelback and Keith Urban.
“It’s becoming clear this year, to the industry and the artists, that when
you’re having real hit singles, it has great value,” said David Massey,
president of Mercury Records, Mr. Cruz’s label. “They can be more important than
the album chart position.”
The Billboard charts have been modified over the years as the music industry
changed. Back in 1913, Billboard published a chart showing the popularity of
sheet music. In 1945, Billboard magazine introduced a chart displaying the top
five albums. Five eventually grew to 200, the number the magazine has stuck with
The album charts were largely a guessing game and could be manipulated by music
insiders. That changed in 1991, when SoundScan began electronically tracking
sales by retailers. The labels signed on to the service, and Billboard used the
data for its Billboard 200 chart.
It didn’t take long for the industry to realize that albums usually peaked in
sales during their first week of release, rather than build up momentum over
time, as they had long thought. That discovery changed the marketing strategy at
record labels, said Peter Lubin, a former record executive, putting the focus on
the weeks leading up to the release.
“The music industry got very good at creating stories about artist launches,”
said David Pakman, a venture capitalist and former chief executive of the
digital music store eMusic. “You created a story to get radio programmers to get
If a record had a bad first week, Mr. Lubin said, the thinking at a label
quickly became, “This record is a loser; if you invest any more money in it,
you’ll be a loser, too.”
And no one wants to be a loser. But until a new measurement tool is widely
adopted, labels are largely left to their own devices to figure out a profitable
strategy and a way to compare their success with the competition.
Cliff Chenfeld, an owner of Razor and Tie, an independent label in New York,
said his company tailored a revenue strategy for each project rather than
immediately falling back on a calculation of how many albums could be sold.
The singer-songwriter Dave Barnes, an artist signed to Razor and Tie, has never
broken the top 50 in the Billboard 200. But Mr. Barnes found success on
Christian radio and landed a deal with SongFreedom.com, a site that provides
music to wedding photographers and videographers.
The commercial success of that deal, according to Mr. Chenfeld, is not reflected
on the Billboard 200, even though its revenue is “considerable, and
opportunities like that are viral.”
“The reliance on album sales is very 20th century,” he said.
Bill Werde, the editorial director of Billboard, said its Hot 100 chart lists
the most popular songs based on a formula that factors in single sales, radio
airplay and online streaming. “We’re constantly evolving what we’re doing and
how we do it,” he said. Nielsen, the company that provides the album sales data
to Billboard, has started to compile an artist’s revenue streams on a single
sheet that it calls a scorecard.
But the top spot on the album charts, like a No. 1 book or a big opening weekend
at the box office, remains a salient — and marketable — shorthand for industry
“We still fight for the No. 1 spot,” said Lee Stimmel, executive vice president
for marketing at Epic Records, a Sony Music label. “It’s still a very important
tag to have on a record.”
Platinum Is So Passé. In
iTunes Era, the Singles Count,
Apple Rolls Out Talking iPod Shuffle
March 11, 2009
Filed at 1:16 p.m. ET
The New York Times
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Apple Inc introduced a smaller version of its popular
iPod Shuffle music player on Wednesday with a new feature that tells the user
what song is playing.
The new 4-gigabyte gadget costs $79, is half the size of the previous Shuffle,
and carries up to 1,000 songs -- twice as many as the last generation of the
All of the controls on the new Shuffle have been moved from the device to the
earphone cord. The new VoiceOver feature announces songs and playlists to users
in 14 different languages, according to Apple, whose shares rose 4.5 percent.
The voice function is particularly useful on the Shuffle, which does not have a
display screen like most iPods or other digital music players.
Needham & Co analyst Charles Wolf said the new Shuffle design was appealing and
called the voice function a "nice a little gimmick. It shows that Apple intends
to keep that piece of the portfolio going. They're going to continue to
innovate, upgrade the sub-$100 device."
"It won't necessarily stimulate sales, but it clearly will keep sales of the
Shuffle going forward," he said.
The VoiceOver feature works by synchronizing with iTunes software, which
installs a voice kit on the user's computer. VoiceOver can also tell a user how
much battery life remains.
"You previously couldn't have multiple playlists on the iPod Shuffle because you
couldn't really switch between them as there was no way to know how you would
switch," said Greg Joswiak, Apple vice president of iPod marketing, told
Reuters. "So now instead of seeing, you get to hear."
Although Apple does not break out Shuffle sales, Needham's Wolf estimated some
7.5 million units were sold in the December quarter, it's biggest-selling
quarter. Apple sold 22.7 million iPod units overall in the period.
The third generation of iPod Shuffle will be the world's tiniest music player,
smaller than an AA battery. It comes in two colors, silver and black.
Apple will continue to sell the second-generation version of the 1-gigabyte,
240-song Shuffle for $49. but phase out the 2-gigabyte Shuffle, which sells for
The iPod music player has played an important role in the revival of Apple's
fortunes. The company has sold more than 200 million iPods since they launched
in 2001. It launched the first Shuffle in January 2005.
The refreshed Shuffle comes just a week after the company updated its line of
Mac desktop computers. Apple refreshed it MacBook laptop computers last fall.
Shares of Cupertino, California-based Apple rose $3.97 to $92.59 in early
afternoon trading on Nasdaq.
(Reporting by Yinka Adegoke and Gabriel Madway;
Editing by Derek Caney, Steve
and Jeffrey Benkoe)
Apple Rolls Out Talking
iPod Shuffle, NYT, 11.3.2009,
Win Music Sharing Trial
October 5, 2007
Filed at 2:31 a.m. ET
The New York Times
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
DULUTH, Minn. (AP) -- The recording industry hopes $222,000 will be enough to
dissuade music lovers from downloading songs from the Internet without paying
for them. That's the amount a federal jury ordered a Minnesota woman to pay for
sharing copyrighted music online.
''This does send a message, I hope, that downloading and distributing our
recordings is not OK,'' Richard Gabriel, the lead attorney for the music
companies that sued the woman, said Thursday after the three-day civil trial in
this city on the shore of Lake Superior.
In closing arguments he had told the jury, ''I only ask that you consider that
the need for deterrence here is great.''
Jammie Thomas, 30, a single mother from Brainerd, was ordered to pay the six
record companies that sued her $9,250 for each of 24 songs they focused on in
the case. They had alleged she shared 1,702 songs in all.
It was the first time one of the industry's lawsuits against individual
downloaders had gone to trial. Many other defendants have settled by paying the
companies a few thousand dollars, but Thomas decided she would take them on and
maintained she had done nothing wrong.
''She was in tears. She's devastated,'' Thomas' attorney, Brian Toder, told The
Associated Press. ''This is a girl that lives from paycheck to paycheck, and now
all of a sudden she could get a quarter of her paycheck garnished for the rest
of her life.''
Toder said the plaintiff's attorney fees are automatically awarded in such
judgments under copyright law, meaning Thomas could actually owe as much as a
half-million dollars. However, he said he suspects the record companies ''will
probably be people we can deal with.''
Gabriel said no decision had yet been made about what the record companies would
do, if anything, to pursue collecting the money from Thomas.
The record companies accused Thomas of downloading the songs without permission
and offering them online through a Kazaa file-sharing account. Thomas denied
wrongdoing and testified that she didn't have a Kazaa account.
Since 2003, record companies have filed some 26,000 lawsuits over file-sharing,
which has hurt sales because it allows people to get music for free instead of
paying for recordings in stores.
During the trial, the record companies presented evidence they said showed the
copyrighted songs were offered by a Kazaa user under the name ''tereastarr.''
Their witnesses, including officials from an Internet provider and a security
firm, testified that the Internet address used by ''tereastarr'' belonged to
Toder said in his closing argument that the companies never proved ''Jammie
Thomas, a human being, got on her keyboard and sent out these things.''
''We don't know what happened,'' Toder told jurors. ''All we know is that Jammie
Thomas didn't do this.''
Copyright law sets a damage range of $750 to $30,000 per infringement, or up to
$150,000 if the violation was ''willful.'' Jurors ruled that Thomas'
infringement was willful but awarded damages in a middle range; Gabriel said
they did not explain the amount to attorneys afterward. Jurors left the
courthouse without commenting.
Before the verdict, an official with an industry trade group said he was
surprised it had taken so long for one of the industry's lawsuits against
individual downloaders to come to trial.
Illegal downloads have ''become business as usual. Nobody really thinks about
it,'' said Cary Sherman, president of the Recording Industry Association of
America, which coordinates the lawsuits. ''This case has put it back in the
news. Win or lose, people will understand that we are out there trying to
protect our rights.''
Thomas' testimony was complicated by the fact that she had replaced her
computer's hard drive after the sharing was alleged to have taken place -- and
later than she said in a deposition before trial.
The hard drive in question was not presented at trial by either party.
The record companies said Thomas was sent an instant message in February 2005
warning her that she was violating copyright law. Her hard drive was replaced
the following month, not in 2004 as she said in the deposition.
''I don't think the jury believed my client regarding the events concerning the
replacement of the hard drive,'' Toder said.
The record companies involved in the lawsuit are Sony BMG, Arista Records LLC,
Interscope Records, UMG Recordings Inc., Capitol Records Inc. and Warner Bros.
On the Net:
Record Companies Win
Music Sharing Trial, NYT, 5.10.2007,
The sound of a revolution
Published: 04 October 2007
A revolution has been taking place in the commercial music industry. For
several years, online music file swapping has been hitting CD sales and
diminishing the profits of the major record companies. The runaway success of
high-memory digital music players and online music stores (iPods and iTunes in
particular) has accelerated this process.
This week, the revolution entered a new stage. The Charlatans have announced
that they will make their new album available to anyone who logs on to a radio
station's website. And Radiohead are asking their fans to pay as little or as
much for their latest album online as they see fit. The era of free recorded
music would appear to be dawning.
This is another major blow to the record companies, which thought they had
finally begun to arrest their profit slump by agreeing to sell their artists'
products through online music stores at knock-down prices. If other bands follow
the lead of Radiohead, the record companies will not even receive the 79p it
costs to download a single song from iTunes.
But could this latest development also be damaging to popular music in general?
A case can be made that it is a dangerous thing. It is all very well for
established bands to give up their revenue from CD sales and rely solely on
merchandise sales and income from live shows. But smaller, up and coming bands
tend to rely on CD revenue for a much greater proportion of their income. They
could never afford to follow suit. And if the superstars encourage the public to
believe that recorded music ought to be free, will people not be less inclined
to pay for the product of smaller bands?
That is a risk. But there are compensating aspects of the musical revolution as
far as smaller artists are concerned. They can promote themselves and connect
with their fan base much more effectively through the web. Smaller bands are
also benefiting from falling CD production costs. Artists can produce their CDs
themselves and keep all of what they sell, bypassing the old record companies
As for the record companies, the smart ones have already realised that targeting
niche audiences through intelligent marketing and advertising is the future. The
days when they could simply sign the hottest bands and then wait for the cash to
flow in from record sales are over. They will have to work considerably harder
for their revenue in the new musical marketplace. Some will thrive. Others will
go to the wall. But one thing is for sure, the revolution is too advanced to be
turned back now.
Leading article: The
sound of a revolution, I, 4.10.2007,
Microsoft Shows Off New Zune Players
October 3, 2007
Filed at 7:49 a.m. ET
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
The New York Times
REDMOND, Wash. (AP) -- Microsoft Corp. took the wraps off its
second-generation Zune digital media players late Tuesday, showing three models
that bring the software maker's offerings more in line with Apple's
One model -- available in black -- has an 80-gigabyte hard drive and a 3.2-inch
screen. It's slimmer than last year's Zune, which had a 30 GB hard drive and a
smaller screen. Microsoft also will sell a smaller, flash memory-based Zune,
similar in shape and size to the original iPod Nano, in pink, green, black and
red with either 4 GB or 8 GB of storage.
Like the original Zune, the new models include an FM radio tuner and the ability
to wirelessly share songs with other Zune owners.
The latest generation sports a shiny glass screen and a new touch pad navigation
button. The gadgets use Wi-Fi to sync music, movies and photos wirelessly and
automatically with users' PCs.
The new Zunes are to go on sale in mid-November. The 4 GB Zune will cost $149,
the 8 GB one will sell for $199 and the 80 GB model for $249. The prices match
those of Apple Inc.'s comparable iPod models.
Microsoft has yet to wow consumers or analysts the way Apple has done
consistently. As of the end of the last fiscal quarter, Apple Inc. had sold more
than 100 million iPods, while Microsoft had sold about 1.2 million Zunes.
''There's nothing earth-shattering there,'' said Van Baker, an analyst at the
research group Gartner, in an interview about the new Zunes.
Baker said he expects the changes to help Microsoft keep its distant No. 2 spot
in the digital media player market, but improving the software and adding a new
model isn't going to radically change Microsoft's market share.
''Maybe next year they can make an aggressive push against Apple,'' he said.
To get its first-generation Zunes to consumers quickly last year, Microsoft
relied heavily on partners, including Toshiba Corp. for the design of the
This time, the company bulked up its own staff to include industrial designers
and rebuilt the software for the device and the linked computer and Web services
Microsoft tweaked the look of the new Zunes' display and menus, and added the
Zune Pad, a combination mouse-button and touch pad that lets users scroll down a
long list of songs with a few flicks of the finger, then click the button to
select tracks or change the volume.
Zune users can set up their devices to connect automatically to their home Wi-Fi
network, and sync music, podcasts and video while the device charges. They can
also sync the device with TV shows recorded using Windows Media Center on
Windows Vista PCs.
First-generation Zunes will automatically get software updates this fall.
In November, Microsoft will also release redesigned Zune desktop software,
revamp its Marketplace store and launch a social networking site called
The new Marketplace will carry about 3 million tracks, about 1 million of which
will be sold as MP3s without copy protection, in line with the number of songs
Apple offers without digital rights management.
Microsoft executives have denied plans for a ''Zune phone'' since the iPhone was
introduced this summer. J Allard, a corporate vice president in Microsoft's
Entertainment and Devices Division, said designing a touch pad instead of a
touch screen was a deliberate decision to let users skip tracks and change the
volume without having to look at the screen.
Allard said that for this generation, Microsoft was focused on improving the
hardware and software.
''Market share comes after,'' he said.
Microsoft Shows Off New
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