This week #2 in digital music

Scandinavian Newspaper giant Schibsted to acquire streaming service Aspiro

Streaming service Aspiro (WiMP) is to be acquired by Scandinavian news publisher Schibsted, reports paidContent . The price tag is said to be around $50 million, and the purpose of the acquisition is, writes paidContent to “compete with Spotify on the global stage”.

Schibsted, a newspaper giant, publishes the largest newspapers in Scandinavia and Norway and owns several other media companies.

This insightful article over at the The Music Industry Blog couldn’t have had a more opportune timing. The author notes:

“Innovate, innovate, innovate! Newspapers and record labels are both at a crucial juncture: physical format revenues will continue to pay the bills for the coming years but paradoxically they must pursue radical format and product innovation strategies that will actually hasten the demise of those same physical revenues. If they don’t, record labels and newspapers will find themselves with the lose-lose scenario of depleted physical revenues and pitiful digital income.”

Indeed. So this move by Schibsted makes perfect sense. The one concern would be whether such a large organisation can manage to pour enough product development love into the service in order to make it a real alternative in the competitive landscape of streaming services. When the novelty of streaming services wears off, and a baseline of identical catalogues and pricing is established, such intangibles as user experience, “look and feel” and brand might very well be what tips the scale in favour of one or the other.

Business Week: ”Spotify Doesn’t Sound So Great to Artists”

Business Week notes that some artists such as Coldplay, Adele and Tom Waits, are opting out of making their latest releases available on the streaming services. The reason given is the very one I explored here, that revenue from streaming services cannibalise on potential profit from downloads.

“Like all of Coldplay’s other titles, the new album will be on [Spotify] eventually”, Coldplay manager Dave Holmes tells Business Week. From this statement, Business Week draws the same conclusion as I did on these pages, namely that Coldplay and their management attempts to play the same game as the movie industry, releasing to theatres first (iTunes) and then to DVD (streaming services). Sort of.

 “It certainly hurts Spotify’s perceived value if the consumer frequently searches for songs that aren’t there, even if that represents a small fraction of titles”, Needham analyst Laura Martin tells Business Week.

On the other hand Justin Bieber manager Scooter Braun seems to believe that this is a temporary strategy:

 “There were a bunch of artists who wouldn’t sell music on iTunes when that first started, and now it’s standard. The same thing will happen with Spotify.”, Braun tells Newsweek.

So, which is it? A strategy that will become industry standard, or a temporary burst of techno-fear?

What do you think? Let us know in the comments.

A more grown up DIY movement on the rise?

In the wake of major label turmoil the middle ground of Indie-land is being populated by a growing crowd of music professionals. The many possibilities of the Internet is no doubt a driving force behind this trend, and the DIY spirit of  2012 certainly has a more professional feel to it than earlier incarnations of the same sentiment. This interesting piece in American Songwriter is an inspiring read on the subject.

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