LiveNation and Ticketmaster to merge

To sort of quote the Spice Girls two could become one if Ticketmaster Entertainment and LiveNation merge.  As the Wall Street Journal reports today:

The combined company would be called Live Nation Ticketmaster ; and would merge the world’s biggest concert promoter with the world’s dominant ticketing and artist management company.

History tends to show that no one really likes it when something gets too big:  Jack and the Bean stalk, Ghost Busters Pillsbury Doughboy, Jessica Simpson.  In the business world words like ‘anti-competitive’ and ‘monopoly’ tend to get bandied about and people get hacked off .   ‘The Boss’ definitely isn’t happy about it: 

“…the one thing that would make the current ticket situation even worse for the fan than it is now would be Ticketmaster and Live Nation coming up with a single system, thereby returning us to a near monopoly situation in music ticketing. Several newspapers are reporting on this story right now. If you, like us, oppose that idea, you should make it known to your representatives.”

The other word that you tend to hear when things get too big is “antitrust” and its likely that this merger is unlikely to go ahead faced with such scrutiny.  Its even rumoured that good ol Barak Obama will oppose the deal (I am sure it has nothing to do with the high profile support he recieved from The Boss during his electoral campaign….)


Why the recording industry really stopped suing its customers

This is a super lazy post.  See the following link for David Silverman’s answer to the above question on

The RIAA will instead work with ISPs to crack down on file sharers.  The response of one small ISP based in Louisiana to the demands of the RIAA is spot on me thinks Beta goes live

Ok, this isn’t really news hot off the press but I was in Copenhagen and missed it until I got back today.  So launched on Wednesday 17th with Doug Merrill penning his own welcome email:

For all of you who love music, we are happy to introduce you to’s a website designed for you to discover new music, rediscover your favourite classics and find information about EMI artists. will allow you to listen to your favourite songs, watch videos, discover music based on your tastes, create playlists and search for content about EMI artists – all for FREE. In the future, you’ll be able to buy downloads from the site.

What you’ll discover at

  • 500,000 tracks from 11,000 artists and bands, with loads of new content being added regularly.
  • A media playerthat streams both audio and video from EMI artists.
  • A discover feature that lets you search for music according to your taste.
  • The ability to create an unlimited number of playlists.
  • Special video and audio features, including live sessions and behind-the-scenes footage from our biggest and our breaking artists.
  • And that’s just for starters! We’ve designed to be what we call a “learning lab” – a place to experiment with new ways to connect you with music. Over the coming months, we’ll be adding new features and content, and we want to hear what you think of the music, the site and anything else.

Visit today and sign up to access loads of great content and music!

Best Wishes

Douglas Merrill

Having visited the site, I’m underwhelmed.  But as Doug says its an experiment. is in Beta, more features’ll be added and the site will get better, promise.    Lets hope so.

The Next Big Thing?

My label

My label

OK first off – my apologies. I meant to blog about this site about a month ago, when I stumbled across it on Mashable, and I have only just got round to it.

The site is called The Next Big Sound. It’s a music social network site that lets you discover new bands. *hears sound of snoring*. I know, I know – sounds familiar doesn’t it, but bear with me.

The differentiator in the site is that it lets you – the user- become the label. In simple terms, this just means instead of ‘adding’ friends, or ‘joining’ groups as with traditional soc nets this site asks the user to ‘sign’ bands that you like. The registration process involves founding your own label, and then you’re encouraged to sign acts that you like to your label.

Now if I’m honest there are a number of limitations to the site, despite how nice it looks. Firstly, the bands are all US centric at the moment (no band thing, I love Americana College Rock – ala Death Cab– as much as the next guy, and the recently added Map function does mean you can build up location-based ‘scenes’).

Secondly there is very little engagement or dialogue between you and the bands you sign, making it a rather lonely experience. MySpace changed the way that fans could interact with acts they liked, and the absence of any messaging element seems a little strange here. Indeed there’s actually very little information available on some of the bands.

Thirdly, the filtering and search functions are very restrictive. This means that scouting for bands is actually quite tiresome, and relying on the automated filter (similar to the system) kind of takes the fun out of playing the role of an A&R man on the hunt for the next band who can make you a million

It’s actually this ‘play’ element though that made me sit up and take notice of the site. You’re restricted to signing 10 bands, which encourages you to be selective with who you sign – it’s a nice touch as you have to go for quality over quantity. For every signing you score points, the more popular and higher rated the band, the more points you earn.

This adds a competitive edge that is more akin to a casual game than a purely ‘social’ virtual music experience, which I thought was an interesting development. I’m not sure how the site expects to monetise the service, but if users are compelled to ‘play’ while they discover new music then it could prove very popular . If it’s of interest – a couple of bands I’ve signed and really like are somanydynamos (read it backwards…) and Han Ma and the Camaros.

And in other engagement/ music/ label news – why not buy shares in Patrick Wolfe for your loved one this Christmas?

Making money from the free economy

Anyone contemplating how to make money on the Internet out of things that consumers now consider free (i.e. digital music and films) should read Kevin Kelly’s ‘Better than Free” manifesto.  The “senior maverick” from Wired doesn’t believe that advertising is the only business model, but that generosity, accompanied by the cultivation and nurturing of qualities “that can’t be replicated with a click of the mouse” is the new business model. 

This brilliant manifesto “Better than Free”  looks at the eight things that are, well, better than free.  He starts off by setting the scene with:

When copies are super abundant, they become worthless

When copies are super abundant, stuff that can’t be copied becomes scare and valuable

When copies are free, you need to sell things that can not be copied

Well what can’t be copied?

Read it!

What does have in store?

I’ve been meaning to write a follow-up post to EMI says DRM free music boosts consumer engagementand today seemed as good a day as any.  Last night I took a wander to to see if there were any clues as to what lay in store but alas no. 

Boosting engagement, for a brand that until recently hasn’t been consumer facing, is important if, as Doug Merrill says, will become a place where bands can connect with fans and vice versa.  A modern day fan site if you will.

There are sites out there already that do connect bands with their fans and vice versa.  Sites like US based ReverbNation and former Edelman clients RAWRIP and Myspacehelp artists to connect with their fans, be discovered as well as market themselves using a comprehensive arsenal of tools and widgets.  In turn fans can gain access to the most up to date multimedia content, tour information, can contact artists ‘directly’ as well as show support for their band using some clever widgets.

I’m sure EMI will have a way of showcasing their artists but it will be interesting to see their manifestation of how bands can update and learn more about their fans and also how fans are able to interact with them.  Here are some of my favourite picks from the above:

  • Tunepaks from Reverbnation – a link which when clicked on releases a standalone player so the recipient can listen to the latest releases straight from the artist
  • Show schedule and Map from Reverbnation – a widget that can be embedded into any html page e.g. fan’s Myspace, aritsts’ official home page, that displays tour dates and route
  • Reverbnations’ Tunewidget is a widget that fans can spread and allows the artists to see where it goes, what songs were played most and contains music videos, ways for new fans to sign up to the artists mailing list etc
  • RAWRIP’s RAWSTORES are another portable widget that can be embedded in any html website.  One of RAWRIP’s USPs is that all songs sold through the site give artists 100% of the sale.  The RAWSTORE can be embedded on an artist or fan’s web page, blog or MySpace for example and fans can buy the tracks listed and the artist still receives 100% of the revenue.
  • Myspace celebrity members’ blogs keeping their fans (and media) up to date on their latest musings

One of the challenges that such sites have is the creation of compelling content that will bring users back again and again.  Reverbnation has a solution to this too (and a solution for pretty much everything else). Artists are able to claim 50% of the revenue gained from ads posted on the artist’s homepage.   

Whether any or all of these widgety bits will be deployed by still remains to be seen.  Sign up for Beta at

EMI says DRM free music boosts consumer engagement

Bill Werde from Billboard had a nice suprise on his visit to meet EMI’s new recorded music CEO Elio Leoni-Sceti, getting three for the price of one when president of A&R for North America, the United Kingdom and Ireland Nick Gatfield and EMI’s worldwide president of digital Douglas Merrill joined the confab too.

Douglas Merrill, the former CIO at Google, talks about the impact of being the first major label to supply their music DRM free to iTunes.  Did this lead to an increase in piracy?  No.  According to Merrill it lead to increased consumer engagement:

“We didn’t see the needle move at all on [piracy]. But what we did see is consumers loved the product. It was good for consumers, it’s good for artists. It gets people engaged with the art in a whole new way by getting rid of artificial rules-like we don’t trust you, so I’m not going to give you this content. It just sort of set the wrong tone with our customers.”

Here, here.  To see the full Q&A with all three executives you can see it here on Billboard’s website.  Definitely worth a read.