Breakingviews

Spotify’s next investors may face the music

May 26, 2016

The streaming service increased revenue by 80 pct last year to $2.1 bln. More than 80 cents of each dollar pay for songs, however. Even assuming generous growth and operating leverage, Spotify will need to do still more to merit a higher valuation than its latest of $8.5 bln.

Pandora investor hits right note with sale push

May 17, 2016

Activist Keith Meister’s firm urges the online music service to find buyers after becoming its largest shareholder. A costly purchase, CEO change and lack of song rights suggest the company’s fading. Rivals Spotify and Sirius XM are possible partners. The board should be all ears.

Also recall the executive formerly known as Prince

By Rob Cox
April 21, 2016

The influence of the artist, who died at 57, extends beyond lasting hits like “Purple Rain.” His battles with the recording industry presaged an era where power drifted away from labels to the musicians. Prince experimented as much with the business as he did in the studio.

Pandora sends out bad signal with CEO change

March 28, 2016

The $2.5 bln streaming-music service abruptly replaced its boss with co-founder Tim Westergren. It’s a worrying sign with Pandora reportedly up for sale amid stiffer competition from Spotify and others. Companies that call on entrepreneurs later in life also have a mixed record.

Music rally can shake off discordant Taylor Swift

November 3, 2014

The 24-year-old pop star yanked her latest album and catalog from Spotify. The digital streaming service and its ilk offer low per-song royalties but subscriptions give labels higher margins than CDs or downloads. Buyer habits are also changing, even if Swift is stuck in 1989.

Apple shows another symptom of mid-life crisis

May 9, 2014

It hasn’t got a tattoo or hooked up with a Pilates instructor. But its interest in trendy headphone maker Beats may be a sign the $500 bln iPhone inventor feels the need to splash out $3 bln to keep up with the cool kids. The risk is that fast cars and other pricier toys follow.

Owners deserve right to resell book, byte or bean

April 8, 2013

U.S. courts say peddling used tomes is fine, but digital tunes are different. The jury is still out on genetically altered legumes. It need not be so complicated. The legal concepts of “fair use” and “first sale” are broad enough to satisfy consumers and rights holders alike.