May 8, 2006

I Guess I Shouldn’t Be Surprised [9:20 pm]

But I am: At strip clubs, hip-hop is big business - [pdf]

“Strip clubs have become the main breaking place for records, especially in the South,” says Jermaine Dupri, president of urban music for Virgin Records.

The music industry increasingly has embraced the strip club out of necessity and convenience. Tighter radio playlists mean it’s harder than ever to break a track on the FM dial, and regular dance clubs — where songs get played for a moment and then lost in a mix — tend to play what’s already on the radio. At strip joints, DJs are able to play full tracks and can take a chance on underground and unproven material.

[...] “Word-of-mouth is still one of the biggest promotion factors out there,” Universal Motown VP of rap promotion Troy Marshall adds. “That has helped turn strip clubs into big business.”

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From This Weekend: Revamping Movie Distribution [4:32 pm]

Straight to DVD

But when it comes to futuristic visions for the movie business, Hollywood is extraordinarily timid. During my three decades in the industry, I’ve seen film executives try to shun every innovation from VCR’s to digital editing. Ultimately, they’ve accepted and profited from these new technologies but, by waiting years longer than they should have, left a lot of money on the table. And now studios are committing a far costlier error by refusing to release DVD’s and downloads of movies at the same time they make their premieres in theaters.

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Nastier and Nastier [3:09 pm]

Verizon warns financial sector on Internet fight - [pdf]

Verizon Communications warned the financial services industry may not get the secure networks it needs if Congress adopts laws governing high-speed Internet broadband networks, according to a company memo obtained by Reuters on Monday.

[...] “They are being fed a lot of cock-and-bull, Chicken Little stories about how the future of their industry is at stake because another network industry might have the freedom to price broadband services according to market demand,” Verizon’s chief congressional lobbyist Peter Davidson said in the memo.

He warned that the financial services industry “better not start moaning in the future about a lack of sophisticated data links they need” if Net neutrality laws were passed because the communications industry may not invest in new networks.

Note that this is clearly in response to this earlier note: US finance sector puts Web pricing in crosshairs [pdf]

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Getting On With It [9:04 am]

The opening paragraph of this article fails to capture the true nature of scholarly publishing — Reed Elsevier’s not big because of its academic journals, but because it’s figured out how to monetize access via Lexis-Nexis, IMHO. It seems to me that, in the face of Bayh-Dole, the American public should get at least free access to papers for their money, but it’s always a question of whose ox is gored in these kinds of fights: Some Publishers of Scholarly Journals Dislike Bill to Require Online Access to Articles

Scholarly publishing has never been a big business. But it could take a financial hit if a proposed federal law is enacted, opening taxpayer-financed research to the public, according to some critics in academic institutions.

The Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006, proposed last week by Senators Joseph I. Lieberman, Democrat of Connecticut, and John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, would require 11 government agencies to publish online any articles that contained research financed with federal grants. If enacted, the measure would require that the articles be accessible online without charge within six months of their initial publication in a scholarly journal.

“Not everybody has a library next door. I don’t mean to be flippant about it, but this gives access to anybody,” said Donald Stewart, a spokesman for Senator Cornyn. “The genesis of this was his interest in open government and finding ways to reform our Freedom of Information laws and taxpayer access to federally funded work.”

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Apple Computer != Apple Corp [7:49 am]

Apple wins Beatles battle

Apple Computer is not liable for trademark infringement against Apple Corps, the music company owned by the Beatles, a judge in London’s High Court ruled Monday.

Later: the NYTimes’ article points out some elements of the decision — Apple Wins Trademark Case With Beatles

The judge, who acknowledged in the trial that he owned an iPod, one of Apple Computer’s portable music devices, wrote that his decision hinged in part on a proviso to the 1991 agreement, preventing Apple Computer from using the trademark “on or in connection with physical media delivering pre-recorded content.”

“It would require a serious distortion of fairly plain notions to say that files delivered by ITMS and stored somehow in digital form, and/or the hard disk which stores them, amount to ‘physical media’ which ‘deliver’ pre-recorded content,” Justice Mann said, referring to the acronym for the iTunes Music Store. “It is true that physical things are involved — servers, communication equipment, wires and hard disks, to name but some, but they do not, in any form of ordinary parlance, amount to “physical media delivering pre-recorded content.”

Later: Apple versus Apple

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TV Distribution Experiment [7:35 am]

Warner to Let TV Stations Offer Sitcom Reruns Online [pdf]

[...] Warner plans to offer broadcasters the right to stream on their own websites older episodes of its popular sitcom “Two and a Half Men.”

The deal is significant because it represents the first major syndication package that bundles a program’s over-the-air broadcast rights with its broadband rights. It also shows how Hollywood is aggressively exploring how best to exploit technology to wring as much money as possible from its shows.

Until now, most of the network video-on-demand deals have bypassed stations, and only recently have started to include advertising. [...]

Related: For MTV Fans, a Parallel Universe of Programs: At Once Online and on TV

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The Game Front In The Digital Media Wars [7:33 am]

Sony Has Much Riding on Console [pdf]

So although Sony will spend this week promoting PS3’s technical credentials to the 100,000 or so gamers attending the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo at the Los Angeles Convention Center, the company’s real aim is to anchor the device at the hub of the digital living room.

“The PS3 is Sony’s Trojan horse,” said Michael Pachter, an analyst at Wedbush Morgan Securities.

Central to Sony’s strategy is to use PS3 to win rapid acceptance of its high-definition DVD technology, called Blu-ray. In a fight reminiscent of the battle between VHS and Sony’s Betamax format, Blu-ray is jockeying for consumer favor with a rival standard called HD DVD.

[...] History is not on Sony’s side as it tries to roll out PS3. In three decades of home video games, no company has been able to maintain hegemony as long as Sony has with PlayStation.

And no company would like to dethrone Sony as much as Microsoft Corp., which in November started selling its rival machine, Xbox 360.

By the time Sony launches PS3, Xbox 360 — which has many of the same entertainment features as the Sony device — will have had a year’s head start in the market.

Unlike Sony, which subsidizes its other businesses with PlayStation profit, Microsoft supports the money-losing Xbox operation with its highly profitable software products — notably its Office productivity package. Like Sony, though, Microsoft has aspirations beyond games: It seeks broad acceptance of its digital media software.

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