The Pandora Effect

Pandora founder Tim Westergren appeared at USC yesterday as part of the Thornton School's "Hot Topics" program. Westergren is an easily likeable guy who appears to be very sincere and has a quality I love -- he's a good listener. Students, industry people and faculty got a glimpse of the next radio -- the one that gives listeners unprecedented choice in their music and the one that could elevate musicians to a status most can only dream of presently. Pandora is radio -- online radio that matches 400 identifiable qualities of tunes to the tastes of users, but the word radio has become so negative&hellip

This Makes The CD Officially Dead

Gen Y knows the CD isn't what it used to be. Record stores most certainly know it. The previously unimaginable growth of iPods and iTunes should have been a warning sign. Now, you can believe it. A Record exec has said the words -- "the CD as it is right now is dead". Okay, EMI Music Chairman and Chief Executive Alain Levy couched his language a bit -- maybe the way politicians in our country do just before an election saying one thing and meaning another. But it's out there -- he said it and can't take it back -- the CD is dead. In the interest of full disclosure Levy went on to say, "You're not going to offer your mother-in-law&hellip

Payback Time For The Consolidators

Clear Channel owns 1,150 radio stations and apparently can't seem to produce a stock price over $30 these days. That is until it announced intentions to pursue other options (like going private or selling assets). Not exactly a vote of confidence. And they're not alone, the other media companies are hurting (CBS Radio comes to mind. Notice they are selling not buying). My radio friends knew in 1996 that consolidation wasn't going to work. Yes, they heard that bigger is better and big companies can do better things for their audiences but they also knew that the consolidators' audience was about to become Wall Street not Main&hellip

Sports Is Next

It was unthinkable back in 1996 when the Telecommunications Act was enacted to usher in consolidation that radio would actually recede as an industry ten years later. No one would believe that TV, having survived cable competition, would be taken on by YouTube. Wasn't MTV high and mighty with youth? Who could have known even MTV would struggle with its online reason for being. Everyone seemed to know that newspapers were dying -- thirty years ago -- but why can't they see that online is today's news print and integrity covers a multitude of sins. Well, the unthinkable is going to happen again and it pains me to say it. Sports is&hellip

Trouble for Facebook and MySpace

You could see this coming on the college campus -- as good an early warning system for the viability of social networks as anything. Now a recent Wall Street Journal article quotes Nielsen/NetRatings as showing both Facebook and MySpace lost visitors in September. The Journal says, "the number of unique U.S. visitors at MySpace fell 4% to 47.2 million from 49.2 million in August and the number of visitors to Facebook fell 12% to 7.8 million from 8.9 million." You remember MySpace. Rupert Murdock paid about $600 million for it last year. And Facebook is rumored to be worth about $1 billion -- plausible in this post-YouTube/Google&hellip

92% Do What!

There's a Coleman Research study being touted to the radio industry currently that "on average, radio holds onto more that 92% of its lead-in audience during commercial breaks." Arbitron took out a full page ad in my favorite radio publication, Inside Radio and other trades "on behalf of the radio industry." Jon Coleman is an excellent researcher who has been studying radio for a long time. I mention this because if radio executives really believe this stat, they are indeed misguided and incapable of making sound decisions about the tough competition that has already stopped this growth industry dead in its tracks. Anyone alive and&hellip

The Apple Phone No One Wants

Rumors continue that Apple is secretly at work on a new mobile phone that will enable users to download music on the fly. This would involve Apple partnering with a mobile operator -- unlikely, since Apple would not retain the control it likes over their products and marketing. Apple could buy phone time and become a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO), but this option involves a lot of initial expense and management. The more important question is: do consumers want an Apple iPhone? Do they want a device that is both an iPod (a real one not a ROKR) and a mobile phone? My sense is that curiosity is spilt 50/50. Some like the&hellip

Clear Channel: Mission Accomplished

One can't help but think of George Bush's premature "Mission Accomplished" photo op before the Iraq war was over when one thinks of Clear Channel. Clear Channel yesterday announced intentions to evaluate "strategic alternatives to enhance shareholder value" just before it retained Goldman Sachs as a financial advisor. Translated for the common folk: Clear Channel may be considering a private buyout that would put the Mays family back in total control. In fact Clear Channel never accomplished its mission. It can't seem to get the stock price above $30 a share even with the industry's largest platform of radio stations. A lot of&hellip

YouTube Could Encourage Litigators To Cut Out the Middleman (Them!)

Don't worry about parent company Google getting sued. There is some speculation that under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act YouTube may be able to have the litigator bypass them and let the user collect a lawsuit. How can this be? The law doesn't protect users who access copyrighted content. Google may find it expedient to turn over info on who is illegally posting video clips as self-protection. According to Online Media Daily precedent exists. Journalist Robert Tur who is suing for copyright infringement was encouraged by YouTube's attorney to pursue litigation against the person who posted video clips of his coverage of the&hellip

New Tool Makes Everything iPod Compatible

That is until founder Jon Lech Johansen is sued into oblivion by Apple. Johansen's new tool will make it possible for labels and other digital music copyright owners to sell iPod compatible music and consumers will not have to use Apple's iTunes store. It's like Apple's FairPlay DRM and it fools your iPod into playing the song. The repercussions are great for the record industry if Johansen's Doubletwist company survives the almost certain litigation. Labels can implement the variable pricing scheme that Apple CEO Stephen Jobs is stubbornly preventing. Of course labels should be careful what they wish for because Jobs may be saving&hellip