Hey, this digital music thing just might catch on

Although it should be taken with a grain of salt the size of newborn’s head, the IFPI have released a report on digital music sales in 2006. I’ll summarize:

  • Record company revenues (trade revenues) reached $US 1.1 billion in 2005 showing a threefold increase on 2004 ($US 380 million).
  • Digital music (online and mobile) represents approximately 6% of overall music sales
  • 420 million single tracks were downloaded in 2005 globally – more than double the number downloaded in 2004 (156 million).US: 353 million single tracks downloaded (up from 143 million) [Nielsen SoundScan]UK: 26.4 million single tracks downloaded (up from 5.8 million) [OCC]Germany: estimated 21 million single tracks downloaded (up from 6.4 million) [IFPI Germany]France: estimated 8 million single tracks downloaded (up from 1.5 million) [SNEP]
  • The number of users of subscription services, such as Rhapsody and Napster, increased from 1.5 to 2.8 million globally in 2005.
  • Globally there are now over 335 legitimate online services, up from 230 in 2004 and 50 two years ago. In Europe alone the number of services reached 200 in 2005, up from 150 in 2004.
  • Mobile sales in Japan totalled $US 211 million, or 96% of digital sales in the market, in the first nine months of 2005. Single track downloads reached 4.3 million during the period.
  • Mobile phone subscriptions reached 1.5 billion in 2005 – a 50% increase on 2002.
  • Satellite radio subscriptions reached over 9 million in the US alone – three times as many as the number of global subscription services users. Over 475 million people globally receive Digital Audio Broadcast services (DAB).
  • The number of infringing music files available on the internet at any one time is estimated at 885 million. This is slightly up on January 2005 (870 million) but down compared to June 2005 (900 million). By contrast, broadband uptake rose by 26% in the past year. Total infringing music files are down 20% on the 1.1 billion peak in April 2003.

More background and analaysis are available here and more analysis here.

Global digital music sales triple to US$1.1 billion in 2005 as new market takes shape

ViiV = DRM? Shame, shame.

ViiV (yeah, I have no idea how to pronouce it either) is Intel’s new platform push into the ‘multimedia home’ market. There is considerable rumbling that this is a new spin on the Trusted Computing Platform (TCM) efforts past. One of the nastier aspects of which allowed content providers to tie aspects of the DRM to specific hardware features; think hardward decoders. In the absence of these ‘features’ (and an OS that supports/recognizes/enables them <cough>Windows<cough>) the content is rendered unplayable.

This horrific idea limits content playback to specific hardware (Intel) and software (Microsoft & maybe Apple) vendors and blocks any OEM or open sourced tools entirely through the womb of patent protection.

Openness and standards are what drive inovation. You need look no further than the PC vs. Macintosh situation. IBM made a choice to open the platform and allow third-parties to build hardware that extended their basic platform; Apple choose to lock out all other hardware manufactures. The result is that the PC has a 90% market share and Apple has 10%.

When products and created that lock customers into a specific environment they either find away around it, or go elsewhere.

» DRM: Three dirty letters you won’t hear in a CES keynote | Between the Lines | ZDNet.com

PassAlong Networks — Digital music catalog provider with ‘viral distribtuion’

I came across this company whilst doing a search for digital music catalog providers. I do not have any direct experience with them but they do seem to offer the full range of services you would require to build a music store. I would put them in the same category as MusicNet & Loudeye (perhaps MoonTaxi aka PureTracks) but with the added bonus of a ‘viral marketing’ component.

They have a system that allows users to forward playlists to friends via email, IM, etc. The recipient hears 30s samples of each song and is offer the opportunity to purchase the song. When a song is purchased the originator of the playlist receives a 10% credit toward a new track download.

However, I would be a bit skeptical of their catalog. Their website claims ‘over a million tracks available for download’ however several press releases, albeit some over a year old, mention numbers in the 200-500,000 range. They have published deals with a few of the big indie aggregators (Orchard, IODA, CD Baby) but there are many, many more; it would be good to know with whom they have deals in place.

Also, all descriptions of their service describe ‘permanent download’ rights such as burning to CD (limit of 10 burns), transfers to portable devices (max of 3 devices) and playing on other PCs (max of 5). There is no mention of subscription based licensing being supported.

Lastly, they are have a store presence on eBay which is currently listed as eBay’s largest store. It seems that eBay measures ‘largest’ by number of active listings under that store. If PassAlong has the over 1M tracks it claims it’s no surprise that they are eBay’s largest.

PassAlong Networks – Music Distribution Platform Developer and Song Catalog for Music Fans, Artists and the P2P Industry

Digital Media and whatever else flows through my head…