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150 German Companies at MIDEM, The World’s Largest Music Industry Trade Fair

January 24, 2012 Industry Trends No Comments

It’s not just 150 German music companies, but also advertising agencies and digital music marketers which are presenting themselves on January 28-31, 2012 at the world’s largest music industry trade fair MIDEM in Cannes. The midem committee is expecting 8,000 trade visitors from 80 countries at the Palais des Festivals on the Côte d’Azur. The repertoire of music offered ranges from pop and rock to jazz and classical.

Over the past few years, midem has seen a significant change in its customers. The midem festival used to be the place where artists met record labels, publishers and producers. Now, technology is the driving force that pushes music into the future. midem 2012 is packed with the tech industry’s leaders, teachers, and rising stars, and this year, Germany has a prominent place among them.

Dr. Heinz Stroh, CEO of the Germany Music Publishers Association (DMV) in Bonn, said: “Visitors to midem get to know the latest developments in digital music. Never before has the interest in German Music been so big.”

This might be thanks to the new licensing agreement between Bitkom and GEMA, which has lifted the ban on music services like YouTube and Spotify. The digital world in Germany promises much growth as the industry become more favorable to services like Spotify, including Simfy, Deezer, Apple’s iTunes Match, Nokia Music, Mix Music, Google Music, and more.

I’m looking forward to seeing what midem has in store for labels and digital music companies this year.

DO STUFF! with Schemer – Google’s Answer to “I Just Don’t Know What to Do”

January 23, 2012 Industry Trends No Comments

Are you bored? Do you ever think “Man, I love activities, but I need inspiration! I don’t know what to do! I want to do STUFF!”? Do you ever think “Wow, that action adventure movie was 2 hours of my life I will never get back. I like rom coms. I wish someone had suggested a rom com. Preferably a Ryan Gosling rom com”? Well then, look no further! We have just the thing for you.

Google’s answer to all these questions and more is Schemer – a new service (launched into private beta) that suggests things for you to do. All you need is a Google+ account, then you can go to Schemer and enter your location. Your Schemer profile will populate with suggestions of things to do in your area like “Try the 102-foot slide at The New Museum” and those you select will fill out your profile as “schemes.” You can also add your own schemes as well, like “Jump out of a plane” or “fall in love and throw pottery Ghost style.” The more you use it, the more your suggested schemes will fit things YOU like to do.

But, wait, there’s more! Artists can get involved as well and suggest folks check out a track, download an album or see them live at a venue. The possibilities are an endless bucket list!

And now, for the low cost of $19.95 nothing, you can get crackin’ on DOING STUFF with this one of a kind invite! So click here! Shed the boredom and DO STUFF right now with Schemer.

Note that although Schemer is available worldwide (and our invite code will work!), it is not yet officially supported by the site outside of the United States. 

Pirates! The Feds! Hackers!! SOPA, PIPA, Mega-Upload & Anonymous

January 20, 2012 Industry Trends No Comments

anonymous maskChoppy waters this week. On Wednesday, the web went largely black, as prominent sites and the denizens of the web at large protested Capitol Hill’s consideration of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and its sister Protect IP Act (PIPA).

A mere 48 hours later, the world has shifted. Again. And the waves are rocking the boats of pirates, pirate hunters, privacy advocates, IP owners, government agencies and a secretive collective of hackers. Yes, this sounds like a comic book (V for Vendetta, specifically) but it is actually today’s tech news cycle.

For those keeping score at home, here’s where we stand:

  • The House and Senate have shelved SOPA and PIPA amidst the outpouring of opposition, including the White House, the founders of the web and its most prominent sites, among them Wikipedia, Craiglist, Google and (late to the party) Facebook
  • The Justice Department has shut-down, the type of site each bill had intended on targeting. 4 employees, including its CEO Kim Dotcom (aka Kim Tim Jim Vestor, aka Kim Schmitz) have been indicted and arrested in New Zealand, owing to the fact that some of its file sharing apparatus was hosted on servers in Virginia
  • In apparent retaliation for the take-down of Mega-Upload, the Hacker collective known as Anonymous temporarily brought down the site of the Department of Justice as well as several prominent “big media” sites
  • In the inevitable “whack-a-mole” moment, has come back online with their “DMCA compliant” claims process, then gone back offline again

What’s so interesting here is to look at the events of this week in the context of one another. SOPA and PIPA moved so slowly by modern standards. It took the legitimate tech community quite some time to gear up their protest, black out their pages and Twitter pics, and in an eventual impressive display of strength get the even slower moving US Government to change their ways. Everyone was still patting their own back when the hacker group Anonymous in mere seconds brought down the Justice Department’s site in retaliation for what went down with Mainstream Tech lobby no longer looks so impressive.

What we’e seeing is that the law of the web might be light years more complicated than what is normally viewed as complicated by a US legislator.

Just for a second, imagine the above was played out not on the web, but in your town, borough, city etc…. You would be shocked as every notion of law and process got challenged… Now, imagine the governing law of that town is a 16 year-old piece of legislation called the “Digital Millennium Copyright Act.”

The (New) Italian Job: Bringing the Future to Italy

January 19, 2012 Industry Trends 1 Comment

After being based at The Orchard in London for almost 6 months and dealing with a wide spectrum of digital stores and streaming services, the prospect of being relocated to Italy is akin to coming back from the future.

The Italian market is led by iTunes, who holds an 80% market share, ‘followed by’ – if you can call it that – YouTube with 10%. Small digital stores and a handful of streaming services (Dada and the newest Deezer) split the remaining share with no more than 1% each.

One alternate activity is to download programs that hide IP addresses in order to get Spotify Freemium. Very few Italians have understood the “power of streaming” and they are still stuck in a fake sense of ownership: it doesn’t matter if it’s a copied CD or a hard drive full of MP3s (feels prehistoric, doesn’t it?), they want to feel the content with their own hands.

There are at least three Italian issues that can explain this feeling: [1] the ease with which illegal content can be downloaded despite the lack of broadband as well as easy access to the Internet; [2] the unbridled use of cash (and the consequent fear of using credit cards online); [3] the absence of young giant streaming services like Spotify or Wimp, which Italy really needs in order to change the current situation.

On the upside, there is also a lot of enthusiasm in the music production industry and people are looking forward to using new digital services, particularly in the indie scene, which is growing considerably thanks to digital platforms and social networking. Furthermore, if Spain could learn the “streaming lesson” from Spotify, I have no doubt that Italy can do the same. When these services are at people’s fingertips and Italians realize that “access” doesn’t mean downloading a terabyte of songs that they will never listen to, then the future will finally make it to Italy too.

The Orchard’s Viewpoint on SOPA and PIPA

January 18, 2012 Industry Trends 2 Comments

Google Search Box, January 18, 2012

There are likely more black pages, icons and avatars appearing on the web today than at any time in its history. Why? Two pieces of legislation being considered on Capitol Hill: The Stop Online Piracy Act (a House bill commonly called SOPA) and the Protect IP Act in the Senate (called PIPA).

From today’s Google doodle’s censorship iconography to Boing-Boing, Craigslist and countless other sites going dark while Twitter is immersed in “#stopsopa” and “#stoppipa” verbiage and imagery, the opposition to this legislation is obvious and growing rapidly. Several weeks back, a consortium of the “founders” of the web (not you, Al Gore) asked congress to (re)consider their actions and possibly listen to someone who knew something about the matter. Web giants such as Yahoo!, eBay, and Facebook, which apparently many people use, have also come out against the legislation. Today, Wikipedia powerfully darkened their U.S. home page and included the Orwellian statement “Imagine a World Without Free Knowledge.” Um, no thank you.

The ins and outs of how we got here are maze-like and not worth rehashing. Wikipedia offers a wonderful (community-edited, of course) overview. In essence, there are bad actors on the web; sites which knowingly and willfully house copyrighted material with the full intent to disseminate that content to end users without compensating the intellectual property owners. This is true. And has been for a long while. No one debates the fact. Now, exactly what to do about it… that’s another issue. Very quickly, you’re in first amendment waters. Deep waters, indeed.

The Orchard has decided to let its feelings on PIPA and SOPA be known today. We feel that as providers of a technology platform and business engineered to facilitate the broad distribution, discovery and legal consumption of online content, we are uniquely positioned to do so.

Herewith a summary of our thinking:

  1. The Orchard is certainly concerned with piracy and is not opposed to measures which attempt to address it, be they business solutions or legislation. SOPA and PIPA are simply not the right ones as they are constructed in ways which may prove harmful to our business partners and, potentially ourselves, having the exact inverse effect legislators are seeking.
  2. It is far too early in the stages of innovation around digital content online to enact sweeping legislation which is at once broad in who may be targeted for infringing and on what grounds, while being very specific about the penalties involved. As has been pointed out, this puts at risk any site which may contain even one piece of “infringing content.” In other words, just about any site on the web.
  3. The Orchard is in the business of providing maximum reach for IP owners and, as such, can’t endorse policies that would stifle potential business innovations that allow for this to be done in a legal, consumer-friendly manner.
  4. We have watched legislative action often pale in comparison to business innovation in stemming piracy as business solutions tend to provide a “viable alternative” to piracy as opposed to merely whacking each mole that arises.
  5. We believe that the DMCA and its Safe harbor clause could be refined and iterated on to potentially provide some legislative support to business innovation.

It would appear that we are in good company as the Obama White House has come out against SOPA, indicating that it would only consider legislation “narrowly targeted only at sites beyond the reach of current U.S. law, [that] cover[s] activity clearly prohibited under existing U.S. laws, and [that is] effectively tailored, with strong due process and focused on criminal activity.” The statement went on to say that they would seek legislation “that provides new tools needed in the global fight against piracy and counterfeiting, while vigorously defending an open Internet based on the values of free expression, privacy, security and innovation.”

Clearly, this is not over. We will be actively watching and participating in the dialogue. We hope you will be, too.

About The Orchard

The Orchard is a pioneering music, video and film distribution company and top-ranked Multi Channel Network operating in more than 25 global markets. Founded in 1997, we empower businesses and creators in the entertainment industry.

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