Serve Well and Be Well Served

A curated look at music, craft beer and culture!

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-Gabriel Nijmeh
Toronto, Ontario

Music and Tech Recap - January 2011 Edition

A new year starts off with a bang as 2011 kicks off in similar style to 2010 where a flurry of music investment activity has been announced and new software, hardware and music apps continue to roll out of creative minds around the world. This year will be another year of inch-by-aching-inch progress on the music business side but the amount of innovation and creative will continue to flourish on the technology side.

The battle will continue to rage between pushing forward with innovative thinking and hanging on to a status quo that is long past its expiry date where some will continue to be so focused on turning back the hands of time to their glory days. Ultimately, innovation always wins not just the battle but the war.

For a really good take on business innovation, The Phoenix Principal blog by Adam Hartung is a must read. Adam does a great job comparing innovative companies against companies run by short-term “caretakers” who focus on efficiency and quarterly earnings results. Sound familiar?

Investments and Mergers/Acquisitions:

Total 2011 Investments (US$) as of January 311st, 2011

Q1/11: $32.3m

2011 total to-date: $32.3m

Latest investment activity: Rdio, SoundCloud, FanBridge, TargetSpot, Khush, trueAnthem, X5, RootMusic


As I mention each month, this isn’t a comprehensive list and the numbers (where disclosed) have been pulled from public sources but it still gives us a sense of general investment activity in the music tech space. If I missed any deals, please don’t hesitate to comment below.

Music Services and Apps:

New Social Commerce Tool Moontoast Impulse Gives Music Artists New Selling Options on Facebook - New music application lets fans listen, share, and buy without leaving Facebook. Is it just a matter of time before Facebook becomes the “premiere” music destination, fully replacing MySpace?

Music Storage Locker Service BlueTunes to Shut Down - Online music locker service has shut down effective January 31st, 2011. Users will have their accounts migrated to the MiMedia service.

Slacker Debuts Premium Tier, iPad App, Free Radio in Canada - Slacker has a new iPad app on the way, plus it will be entering the Canadian market. We’ve been shut out of services like Pandora and others, so it’s good to see Slacker join Rdio in servicing Canadian music consumers.

Discovr Delivers A World of Music to iPad - A well presented music map for the iPad that also pulls in bios, videos, which can be viewed with other relevant artist information. Feature wise, it’s nothing really new but the presentation is nice and does make for a useful music discovery tool.

Earbits - Music Discovery & Radio Where Artists Bid for Airtime & Gain Support from Listeners

MusicMaven - A Music Blog Player/Reader for the iPhone/iPad. It’s kind of like a mobile version of Ex.FM.

BlogFinder - Ex.FM presents The Super Awesome Music Blog Finder Thing. Enter your LastFM user ID and based on what you have been listening to, will present a bunch of relevant music blogs you probably have never heard of.

Fanity - A new service that lets you keep tabs on your favorite artists. Tweets, blog posts, photos and pretty much anything else that remotely associate with the band you a tracking will be consolidated and displayed.

StageIt - A virtual backstage platform where artists sell access to an online, intimate & interactive show with fans.

uWall.tv - Listen to a Wall of Music, By Genre

MidemNet Lab winners: Jammbox, Next Big Sound & Shuffler.fm - I personally love using Shuffler.fm to discover new music blogs and music. Highly recommended and a worthy Midem Lab winner.

Music Radar’s lists the best iPad music making apps - Amazing how in less than a year, developers have been creating an endless array of useful iPad apps across so many different industries. This list of music apps is quite impressive.

TuneTug - Having a party? Why not open up control over the playlist but allowing your guests a chance to influence what songs are played. Available for the iPhone/iPod Touch.

Jammit - a play-along software that gives you access to the original multi-track recordings. You can isolate instruments, slow the song down, loop and record. Here’s a demo of The Ramones - I Wanna be Sedated.

Midem Music Hack Day - Here’s a list of music hacks conjured up during the Midem edition of Music Hack Day. Not as extensive a list of hacks but always good nonetheless. The upcoming NYC Music Hack Day will feature many, many more. Stay tuned!

Know Your Genre - The database of music genres from around the world.

Disrupt.FM - A viral Facebook app that lets artists release music to their fans on Facebook, who in turn share the songs with their Facebook friends.

Viinyl - A simple pitch: 1 Song. 1 Site. 1 URL. It’s the digital version of the 45 single. Each site comes with lyrics, artwork, videos, notes, various download options, promotional tools and analytics.

Latest Internet radio gadget news - Radio and Internet Newsletter (RAIN) is keeping close tabs on the internet radio gadget market and covers news from hardware makers Sonos, Pioneer and Grace Digital.

Opinions, Insights and Analysis:

2011: A Compiled List of Music Industry Predictions, Premonitions, Hopes and Wishes - Here’s a list of predictions for 2011 that I put together. It will be interesting to see how different 2011 will be from 2010, 2009, 2008… will it be another groundhog year?

Entertainment And Media Deals Lead 2010 Mergers and Acquisitions - More deals were announced, up 8%, but total deal value dropped from $37.2b to $33.5b.

The State of Music Monetization - A look at various music services and their subscriber base, subscription costs and royalty payouts. Covers companies like Spotify, Rhapsody, Pandora, Napster, Rdio, Slacker, eMusic and others.

App Me Up, Call Me Mashup—Music Trends 2010–2011 - This is a great post by Ryan Van Etten… a full-featured editorial on the most notable digital music trends in 2010 and predictions for 2011.

Peter Jenner: On Locker Services - The International Music Managers Forum’s emeritus president muses on the implications of cloud-based music storage services.

The New Era of Music Apps: Subscription Services - Subscription music services like MOG and Rdio are getting more attention, especially as they partner with car and hardware makers like Sonos and others. Radio works for a reason: you dial in, sit back and listen to whatever has been programmed for you. Providing access to an endless music catalog is the easy part, the challenge will be how to help consumers navigate an infinite music universe. In the face of overwhelming choice, these services will need to find ways to make listening to music effortless. Pandora is by far the leader on this front, as they strike deals with car companies like BMW and Hyundai.

How Understanding Choice Will Bring Music Streaming To The Masses - “A music streaming service for the masses will awaken our love of music, and allow us to interact with it in a way not possible with radio as it currently is. We don’t want to buy CD’s anymore, that’s obvious, but we will pay for music to be delivered to us exactly as we want it.”

2011: A progressive agenda for the music industry - A five point blueprint for a new architecture for the music industry.

Digging into Pandora’s Music Genome with musicologist Nolan Gasser - An extensive interview with the architect of Pandora’s Music Genome project.

It’s a Wrap: Midem 2011 Full Coverage - The yearly global music conference held in Cannes, France is over for another year and here is a great summary of what went on.

Digital Natives: The Generation That Music Product Strategy Forgot - “But Digital Natives don’t have that analog-era baggage. All they’ve known is digital. Online video and mobile are their killer apps. These Digital Natives see music as the pervasive soundtrack to their interactive, immersive, social environments. Ownership matters less. Place of origin matters less. Context and experience is everything.”

The CD is Totally Dead!: Seven Battles Royale That Killed Music Formats in the Past (Who Will Vanquish the MP3?) - A historial look back at the various formats… remember the cylinder phonograph? Or the gramophone? Changing formats is a good thing, it follows the natural flow of innovation and improvement in light of current day technologies and culture.

How and Why Every Song Can Be an App - New app creation tools make it easy for artists to share their MP3s with much more detail like bio, tour dates etc. Songpier is the latest company that makes it dead simple to “wrap a song in an app” and distribute it on smartphones that support HTML5. This approach bypasses app stores in the process and allows artists to retain full fan access such as capturing emails and analytics.

Upcoming Music Events and Conferences

Gabriel Nijmeh is a business analyst, passionate music lover and guitar player. Currently building Mediazoic, a real-time personal broadcasting platform and co-organizer of OpenMusicMedia Toronto, which brings people together to openly discuss the intersection of digital music, culture and technology.
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