MediaFile

Adele close to the unheard of: 10 million albums sold

Adele and all those Grammys (Photo: Reuters)

Adele, the soulful British songstress, has broken all kinds of records with her hugely successful sophomore album ’21′ since it was released in the US in Feb 2011. The album, which picked up 6 Grammys this year,  was by far and away the biggest selling album of last year with 5.8 million copies sold. And in 2012, at the halfway mark, despite endless plays in supermarkets, gyms and your dentist’s waiting room, it’s still burning up cash registers, moving another 3.7 million units through the end of June, or more than four times the next best-selling album (Lionel Richie’s Tuskegee in case you wondered).

Combined, “21” has sold 9.5 million copies in 15 months, putting it just 500,000 copies shy of the magical 10 million-mark. That’s unheard of in today’s music business. To put that figure in perspective, consider that the most recent album to cross the 10 million sales threshold was Usher’s “Confession,” which only broke that barrier this year. “Confessions” was released eight years ago, in 2004!

In fact, overall album sales for the first half of 2012 were down 3.2 percent, according to Nielsen Soundscan, as fans buy fewer and fewer albums — probably in favor of streaming and other forms of entertainment away from music.

From our story this week:

U.S. album sales for the first half of 2012 slumped after seeing growth last year, while digital track sales rose, according to music sales figures released by Nielsen SoundScan on Thursday.

At mid-year 2012, album sales were down 3 percent from 2011 at 150.5 million units sold over the last six months. Digital song sales, however, notched a 6 percent rise with 698 million tracks downloaded since January.

Vevo relaunches with closer Facebook ties

Vevo, the music video company, has relaunched the popular site with a more personalized, social, long-play viewing experience getting closer and further away from that MTV experience at the same time.
One of the big changes is that you can now only get the full benefits of Vevo with a Facebook login in, which allows you to create a personalized Facebook playlist and share the videos you’ve watched with your friends on Facebook.

Vevo was the second most watched online video service in the U.S. in January with more than 51.5 million unique visitors watching an average of 62  minutes of video that month according to comScore. It is also YouTube’s number 1 partner.

A reminder that Vevo is owned by Universal Music Group, Sony Music Group and the Abu Dhabi Media Company, It also features music videos from EMI and many independent labels but not Warner Music Group, the third largest label owner.

Spotify now a New York company…oh, and an app platform too

Photo: Daniel Ek, Spotify CEO previews app platform (courtesy: Spotify)

Spotify, the hype-tastic digital music service that started in Stockholm, then moved to London is now a New York headquartered company founder Daniel Ek tells us at the glamorous launch of the new Spotify App platform at the Stephen Weiss Studios in the trendy West Village area of the city.

“I love London, it’s a great city but so much of our business is here now,” said Ek. Spotify has quietly built up a team of some 100 staffers at its Chelsea offices, a couple of floors below Google’s New York office, and will probably be seeking new space in the future at their current rate of growth.

Ek debuted as a solo showman on Wednesday showing off Spotify’s new platform, which allows third parties to develop applications to work within the Spotify desktop software. For example applications  including Rolling Stone, Last.fm and Tune Wiki can all be added  to your Spotify platform and integrate with the music you choose to listen to. If successful, Spotify will explore moving the service to the mobile platform says Ek. Opening its platform to developers is a similar move to what Facebook did (on a much larger user scale) a couple of years ago to impressive results.  Indeed Spotify is one of Facebook’s music apps.

Clear Channel’s Pittman: iHeartRadio app is not about Pandora, kinda

When Pandora shares took a dive last week several people pointed out that its dip came soon after the number one U.S. radio company Clear Channel Inc launched a customized radio application announced with a press release which didn’t shy away from drawing comparisons with Pandora.

Of course those comparisons essentially said “look our service is waaay better  than Pandora” and Clear Channel’s chairman of media and entertainment platforms Bob Pittman, couldn’t help but damn Pandora with faint praise in our interview.

Here are highlights of our chat with Pittman, a well -known AOL and MTV alum. (By the way, Pandora shares were back up 5 percent on Tuesday morning to $10.38).

Facebook’s No. 1 music app raises $16 mln

Rihanna is one of BandPage's most popular artists

RootMusic is not one of the better known names in the digital music business, but in just 18 months  it has built the most popular music app on the world’s largest social networking platform, Facebook.

That service is called BandPage and allows artists’ to post their video, sell  songs and promote their tours on Facebook.

Though this might seem like a service with a  relatively low barrier to entry — it is free and up to the artists or their representatives to post their videos — RootMusic has done a quietly efficient job of achieving scale and now claims some 250,000 musicians using BandPage.

Spotify gets warm US welcome with a lawsuit

European digital music service Spotify has re-ignited the U.S. music business since it opened up shop on these shores two weeks ago. Hype and Twitter-based excitement have gone into over-drive as users have sought out valuable Spotify invites for the partly free on-demand music service.

It’s not been an easy ride getting here for Spotify and founder Daniel Ek (pictured, right). For one thing, there had been two years of testy, and presumably expensive, music licensing negotiations with the major record labels. Still, they got here, only to now find that one of the other common distractions of US technology business is threatening to spoil the party: A patent lawsuit.

Spotify was sued by PacketVideo Corp for patent infringement for of its United States Patent No. 5,636,276 entitled “Device for the Distribution of Music in Digital Form”. The suit was filed at the US  District Court, Southern District of California on Wednesday (Case No: ’11CV1659 IEG)

TodayInMusic: Pandora adds Chernin and ex-Netflix CFO to board

Pandora_Tim Westergren11Pandora, the popular Internet radio service, has expanded its board membership with two heavyweights of the media world: former News Corp no.2 Peter Chernin and former Netflix CFO Barry McCarthy.

The news will naturally stoke speculation that an IPO is indeed round the corner. Reuters reported last month that the company has met with bankers to discuss a $100 million public offering.

Chernin, wh0 left News Corp in early 2009, now runs his own business in Hollywood called The Chernin Group and Chernin Entertainment investing in media, entertainment and technology businesses.

TodayInMusic: Rdio gets $17.5 mln funding, Warner exec on board

Niklas Zennstrom Skype

Rdio, the social media music service backed by the founders of KaZaa and Skype, has raised another $17.5 million in its latest round of funding.

Its latest backer is Mangrove Capital Partners, who inadvertently broke this story over the weekend via Twitter. The start-up’s earlier funding was provided by Rdio co-founder Janus Friis through his investment entities as well as Atomico  and Skype. Atomico is the VC firm from Niklas Zennstrom (pictured) who was Janus’ partner in Skype and KaZaa, the music file sharing service. Currently available only in US North America., it’s going to use the new funds to expand its footprint to new platforms and countries this year.

Rdio’s service allows you to automatically share the music you’re listening to and discover new music through people you follow. It’s kind of what iTunes and Ping are trying to do but few think they’ve achieved.

Today In Music: Rhapsody’s added 100,000 new subscribers since April

JonIrwin1Rhapsody, one of the pioneers of music subscription services, has added more than 100,000 net new subscribers since the company was restructured in April President Jon Irwin (pictured, left) told Reuters. This means they’ve overcome  a long period of slow or no  growth during which its two major owners Real Networks and MTV Networks tried to figure out what to do with the business amidst the usual issue of conflicting agendas in  joint ventures.

As you may recall, last February both owners agreed to reduce their stakes by bringing in two major label owners Universal Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment as minority holders and also offered warrants to Warner Music Group and EMI Group. The company actively became independent in April.

Now with those closer relationships with the music business but more importantly its expansion through mobile platforms like the iPhone and Google’s Android platform, business is growing.  Irwin said Rhapsody has been adding as many customers as its key music subscription rivals have altogether– it now has around 750,000 subscribers. Last we heard a couple of years ago it was around 700,000-mark.

Today In Music: Q&A with Tim Westergren founder of Pandora

Q&A: Tim Westergren, Founder Pandora

Pandora_Tim Westergren11Pandora is the leading Internet radio service in the United States with more than 75 million registered listeners  claiming more than 50 percent of that market using its free service. It is one of the top five most download apps across smartphones and mobile platforms like iPhone, Android and BlackBerry according to Nielsen research with more than 50 million total mobile downloads.

It was launched on the Web in 2005 by Westergren and to date has raised more than $56.3 million through five rounds of funding according to TechCrunchwith backing from names like Greylock Partners, Hearst Interactive Media and Allen & Co.

Earlier this month sources told Reuters that Pandora has opened early conversations with bankers about a possible $100 million IPO . The company has declined to comment on any details of the potential offering.