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.
Mastering engineer Denny Purcell let out a long sigh. "Does anyone in this room really believe that any of this is going to do any good?" he asked. Of the eight or nine people—each with decades of experience in the music and/or audio industries—hanging out at Georgetown Masters Studios in Nashville for SDMI's Phase II listening tests, no one said "Yes." The consensus: The watermarking issue will probably be dead and forgotten within a year.
Some optimists in Washington, on Wall Street, and elsewhere predicted that the Asian economic crisis wouldn't reach the United States. But in late August, the financial flu infecting that part of the world, and the ongoing monetary instability in Russia, finally affected North America. As of Friday, August 28th, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was hovering just above 8000, down from a record high of 9337.97 on July 17th. The market decline has affected the whole economy---traditional industries as well as hot-ticket ventures like Internet stocks.
Promising technology, interesting programming, and good business plans may not be enough to keep satellite radio services XM Radio and Sirius Radio aloft. Both companies are struggling with massive financial problems as they scramble to gain subscribers.
Beginning next year, XM Satellite Radio won't merely offer 100 channels of news, sports, talk shows, and the entire spectrum of music nationwide. Thanks to a partnership announced May 30 with Command Audio Corporation, XM will allow listeners to personalize their radio programming.
The next generation of streaming media technology was unveiled last week at RealNetworks' Conference '98 in Burlingame, California. The star of the show? "Bandwidth-friendly" RealPlayer G2, which promises to make noisy audio and glitchy video a part of the Web's past.