Rewriting the Rules

U.K. pop charts set for radical overhaulpdf

The British pop chart will undergo one of the biggest shake-ups since its inception 54 years ago on Sunday when any song downloaded from the Internet will be able to compete for the number one single spot.

Up to now, only songs which were physically available for purchase in shops counted toward the weekly chart.

[…] [The Official UK Charts Company (OCC)] said the “dramatic development” would be more reflective of what music Britons were buying, and could mean that old tunes, tracks by unknown artists or unreleased songs on albums hitting the top of the charts.

Tim Wu on the AT&T Merger

A look at how we got here and why we should be vigilant: Ma Bell is back. Should you be afraid?

That is why Congress should pass a network neutrality law, and make what has worked for the last 20 years endure for the next 20. But congressional action is only part of the solution, and the other part is you. Because even if passed, there is only one way net neutrality can work, and that’s if it becomes the third rail of telecom politics. The advantage of the neutrality concept is that while the subject is complex, people know they’re angry when the phone or cable company decides how they should be using the Internet. That kind of interference gets libertarians as mad as Naderites. If there’s one thing the Internet has shown, it’s that Americans like a huge variety of strange and obscure stuff, and they get mad when they can’t get it. Oddly enough, that’s the public spirit that, as much as any law, can keep AT&T a friendlier giant.

See earlier FCC OKs AT&T Merger w/ BellSouth

Variety on 2006 Music Sales

Digital sales boost music industrypdf

The music biz can’t stem the bleeding, but for now, digital tracks are proving to be a secure Band-aid.

Album sales dropped for a seventh consecutive year, but a dramatic increase in the sale of digital tracks helped keep the music industry afloat in 2006.

Some 588.2 million album units sold last year, down 4.9%, while consumers purchased 581.9 million digital tracks — a 65% increase from 2005’s 352.7 million sold. Nielsen SoundScan, which released the figures Thursday, counts a block of 10 tracks sold as an album.

[…] Good news: Sales were spread around many different artists. Bad news: The bar for a “hit” is reduced and in many cases the return on investment for a label is smaller.