Yahoo! Music Unlimited Unveiled

Been a Long Time Since We Rock & Rolled

XM Satellite Subscriptions Pass 4 Million

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Reprinted with permission from Hits Magazine

May 10, 2005

Yahoo! Music Group has released the beta version of its new ultra-hip music-listening experience by taking from all the different music services out there and adding the Yahoo! twist. The most-trafficked Internet destination worldwide has debuted Yahoo! Music Unlimited. For just $4.99 a month for an annual subscription or $6.99 monthly, members can play tunes from a catalog of more than 1 million songs and transfer tracks to portable devices, as well as share and discover music via Yahoo! Messenger.

The Yahoo! Music Engine will provide access to a music download store where, for 99 cents, users can purchase individual tracks, while subscribers will be offered a discounted price of 79 cents per track. This allows CD burning, transfer onto portable devices and the ability to use on a total of five PCs. Those not willing to cough up the five bucks a month can still download the Yahoo! Music Engine, which will give you 30-second streams, along with the music management feature, and the ability to pay for downloads.

Yahoo! Music General Manager David Goldberg says its service will be profitable with its pricing, though the company could eventually raise its fees. "We look at subscriptions as a way to get people to pay a little something for digital music as opposed to ripping their own CDs or stealing music," he says. "From premium radio to an entirely on-demand experience, Yahoo! Music Unlimited has assembled all the key elements to fulfill consumers' needs. For a great value, users get to listen to as much music as they want, while utilizing superior innovations in playlist generation and community features to enrich and expand their music experience."

This appears to be the way music is heading and will continue to go.

"It's a hugely aggressive move, a shot in the arm to the subscription notion," says David Card, an analyst at Jupiter Research. He predicts subscription revenue will be larger than downloads within a few years, from roughly equal shares today.

What separates this creation from the rest are many of the innovative things you can do. For instance, members will be able to view and listen to other members' playlists in a peer-to-peer like way via Yahoo! Messenger.

Best of all, the quality is 192k bps, which beats CD-quality audio and is near DVD quality. (For those not familiar with what this means, iTunes downloads come at 128k bps, which is less than CD quality. This means that the frequency isn't as sharp and listeners lose out on the quality and dynamics of the recording.) Also, members will receive personalized and constantly updated recommendations on music based on their listening habits.

The contact for the record companies is Head of Programming and Label Relations Jay Frank. He and his team are key in music selection, promotions and programming. They work very closely with labels to position their music in all Yahoo! Music products, including video, radio, live performances and now downloads and subscription.

Here's their contact info:

Jay Frank Head of Programming and Label Relations

Damian Anderson Product Manager

Dave DiMartino Executive Editor

John Lenac Senior Music Director

HITS magazine is the most powerful information vehicle in the music industry, and is read religiously by all the top executives and everyone else.

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Reprinted with permission from Hits Magazine

May 19, 2005

With the recent A&R interest in guitar-infused rock acts going down of late, the read we're getting from your friendly neighborhood weasels is that good `ol guitar-driven rock bands may become the choice signings in the near future. Although the new wave resurgence currently has an open window due to the current success of acts such as The Killers and Franz Ferdinand, many industry insiders, particularly in A&R and at Alternative Radio, share that the window may soon be closing. Label folks have already been asking what happened to the killer guitar players and star musicians who were prevalent in rock back in the day. Seems like there hasn't been a dominant guitar star since Slash. So will we see a new crop of young rock bands with guitar players who can really play get signed soon? We'll keep you posted...

Lots of buzz surrounding the Jim Welch-managed/Peter Lewit-repped Shiny Toy Guns. The dance-fused tracks by the group are apparently perking weasel ears. And it looks like former A&R exec Jim Welch has a burgeoning label/publishing/management company that's creating some noise. His client roster of producers/DJs have worked with acts such as Louis XIV, Good Charlotte and M.I.A., too name a few...

We heard there was a big NYC weasel turnout for Canadian rock outfit Priestess at their Mercury Lounge gig last week. Who's making calls for meet-and-greets?... Tongues are apparently flapping at the top of the label food chain on how crucial it is to have experienced, record-making A&R execs on staff, in light of what's happening with acts maintaining sales success or getting a revived career. Does this mean that A&R departments may be safe from the much-rumored layoffs that are supposedly imminent?...

Rondor Music Publishing artist Marie Digby will be showcasing at the Viper Room on June 3 at 8:30p.m. The unsigned female songstress has already garnered early label calls. Don't miss... Heard the numbers on the pub deal for the Fueled By Ramen/Island Records act Fall Out Boy? Whooa! But first-week sales numbers were quite impressive...

REVERSAL OF FORTUNE: New York player Peter Malkin has left the management game and has joined the Evil Empire. Malkin is taking a post as VP of A&R at Epic Records, and he will be based on the East Coast. Nice move, Pete. Just in time to get in on potentially another IPO... BUZZIN': Ina and Martin...

Hit me up:

THE OUTLINE Fri., May 20
8 p.m.
Key Club
ADERBAT Tues., May 31
8 p.m.
SHINY TOY GUNS Thurs., June 2
Viper Room

HITS magazine is the most powerful information vehicle in the music industry, and is read religiously by all the top executives and everyone else.

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Reprinted with permission from Hits Magazine

May 17, 2005

Saying it has achieved an unprecedented rate of growth for a new technology, XM Satellite Radio said yesterday that it now has over 4 million subscribers and now expects to have 5.5 million by the end of the year and as many as 20 million by 2010.

Commenting on the subscriber growth, which amounts to 33% in five months, XM CEO Hugh Panero said in a statement, "XM has continued to increase its subscriber base at an impressive rate since its launch. Our tremendous subscriber growth is a testament to XM's ever-increasing momentum."

XM says it has reached the 4 million subscriber mark in less time than cable TV or online subscription services such as AOL. XM rival Sirius Satellite Radio currently has 1.45 million subscribers and hopes to end the year with 2.7 million.

Reaching 4 million subscribers at this point "is reinforcing the fact that people are embracing the technology and they are embracing it moreso than they have a lot of other technologies," Panero told Reuters in an interview. And while XM hopes to keep customer acquisition costs in a range of $50 to $60, he says the company will offer deals—such as a giving away XM receivers—as needed to keep subscriptions growing.

"You do it prudently, but you have already created a space in your acquisition cost structure to be able to do it. We are building the foundation for a very profitable company going forward," he said. Both XM and Sirius are currently operating at substantial losses.

Meanwhile, XM is in talks with cell phone companies about offering XM content on their services, as the phone companies look for more and more content to drive their businesses. According to Reuters, Sprint is already working on a cell-phone radio service, while Time Warner's AOL is working on a wireless version of its Radio@AOL programming.

XM says a combined Satellite and cell-phone radio service could become available as soon as 2006 or 2007.

HITS magazine is the most powerful information vehicle in the music industry, and is read religiously by all the top executives and everyone else.

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By Kenny Kerner

Elton John and his business partners, Frank Presland and Keith Bradley, have sold London-based Twenty-First Artists to the Sanctuary Management Group for a reported $30 million dollars. At the heart of the deal, according to Presland, was "an opportunity for better creative management for Elton."

And speaking of Sanctuary, former leader of the Cars, Ric Ocasek, has launched Inverse Records through Sanctuary Music. Initial signing is New York-based band, the Hong Kong.

Neil Diamond is working with producer Rick Rubin on the artist's new CD for Columbia, his first for the label since 2001. Look for a summer release and tour.

Former record company execs Jerry and Bob Greenberg opened the Rainbow Bar and Grill in Las Vegas. The pair licensed the name from Mario Maglieri, who owns the original world famous Rainbow on Sunset Strip.

The new Def Leppard single is a cover of Badfinger's 1970 Top Ten hit, "No Matter What."... And while we're back in the '70s, look for a forthcoming Best of CD from New York Hard Rock band Dust. CD features the heaviest and fastest tracks culled from the band's two previous CDs, Dust and Hard Attack. The hard rock trio featured drummer Marc Bell who later went on to achieve fame and fortune as Marky Ramone.

Marky is currently readying his new solo CD.

Don't look now, but it's June and the amazing TAXI Road Rally is only a few short months away. Please do not miss it. Make your travel plans early because this sells out in a heartbeat! Keep checking you e-mails and reading the Meter and TAXI Transmitter as we get closer and closer to this free event for TAXI members.

See y'all next month.

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