The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) may spend the rest of its associated life in litigation—as either as the initiator or the recipient of actions intended to determine who can use its products, under which circumstances they can do so, and how much they should pay, assuming they are allowed to use them.
The US Copyright Office is being pulled in opposite directions over a recent decree establishing royalty rates for music played by webcasters. On one side are radio stations and Internet-only music sites, which claim that the rates are too high. On the other side is the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), which claims that the rates are too low. Both sides have filed separate appeals in US federal court.
On December 14, the music industry and small webcasters concluded their long and often-acrimonious negotiations on royalties. The two parties—the Recording Industry Association of America's (RIAA) "SoundExchange," a royalty-collecting body, and the Voice of Webcasters (VOW)—filed an agreement with the US Copyright Office in Washington that details generalities agreed to under the Small Webcaster Settlement Act (SWSA), signed December 4.
The WebNoize three-day conference took place last week in Los Angeles, mixing record-company executives with Internet geeks, all trying to find profitable ways to distribute music online. Tom Roli, publisher of the Webnoize website, set the tone for the event, stating that "the industry is facing great change and uncertainty due to emerging technologies, shifting global markets, and media revolutions."
Our corporate IT department has informed us that they will be performing some server and network upgrades in the production data center today (June 22). Starting at 3:00PM Eastern (12:00PM Pacific) this website will be offline for several hours. Our apologies for any inconvenience.
Over the last several weeks, one newspaper after another has made note of Nielsen Soundscan's 2006 point-of-purchase data, which showed classical record sales up 22.5%, making it the "fastest growing" category for the year. Hip-hop was down (-20.7%), R&B was down (-18.4%), alternative was down (-9.2%), jazz was down (-8.3%)—soundtracks were up (+19%), but everybody dismissed that, attributing it to the dominance of a single title, High School Musical.
It is with regret that I announce that Wes Phillips has resigned from Stereophile in order to take a position, beginning January 1, 1999, with PR company J.B. Stanton Communications, Inc. Wes and his wife, Joan, will be relocating to Connecticut. I wonder how Wes's unreconstructed Virginia ancestors will take to his becoming a Yankee!
You've got to give the audiophiles who post at the Audio Asylum online forum credit. Not only is AA one of the more informative and constructive audiophile communities, some of its members provide the audio industry much-needed feedback on how it's doing—for better or worse.
For the last few months, random postings kept appearing on internet newsgroups and in my e-mail box: "Anybody know what happened to Counterpoint?" At last count there were 10,000 Counterpoint preamps, power amps, and loudspeakers fanned out across the planet, some dating back to 1977, when the company launched its first product: the SA-1 tube preamp, designed by Ed Semanko.
An audio system even Nero could love: Pyrotechnical effects have apparently gotten slightly out of control with Philips Consumer Electronics MX920 speaker systems, 25,500 of which have been recalled due to fire hazards from overheating voice coils. Four such incidents have been reported since the MX920 went on sale in June 1997. No one has been injured, and property damage has been limited to one scorched rug.
In a recent bake-off, online retailer CDnow was named top music banana by the New York consulting firm eMarketer. Although placing further down the list based on price alone, CDnow gained the highest overall score in an averaging of the rankings of six criteria. Rated on a scale of 1 to 5, these were: Selection, Price, Service, Usability, Presentation, and Features.
DVD-Audio has been getting a lot of press and comments from consumers lately—as in "Where is it?" As we reported back in August, the first players from Panasonic were slated to appear last month (see previous story). But, as with all things worth waiting for, better late than never.
Media conglomerate Viacom, parent company of Blockbuster Music, has reportedly put the ailing chain on the auction block. Most likely buyer is Torrance, California-based music retailer Wherehouse Entertainment, Inc., which has 220 stores of its own, primarily on the West Coast. On Wednesday, May 13, Reuters news service reported that Wherehouse had tendered an offer of $200 million for Blockbuster. Wherehouse has been in intermittent discussions for several months with Viacom.
Up from the deep: Torrance, CA-based Wherehouse Entertainment announced last week that it will purchase Blockbuster Music from Viacom Inc. for $115 million. The merged operation will have 598 stores throughout North America, second only to Minnesota-based Musicland. The deal comes at the end of a prolonged slump for the music industry, one that was particularly hard for Blockbuster.