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.

Lyor Cohen to rivals: ‘Why can’t we all get along?’

Lyor Cohen (right) with hip hop artist Kanye West last year.

Lyor Cohen, Warner Music’s chief executive for recorded music, thinks the long-suffering and depleted music business would do a lot better if it could just stop the bitter in-fighting and back-stabbing particularly among the major label owner rivals Universal Music Group, Sony Music and EMI.

“We should root for one another,” said Cohen speaking at the New Music Seminar in New York earlier this week. “We can all come together and support each other. That’s hugely missing from our business.”

Referring to an industry which hopes it has now hit rock bottom and is finally turning things around:

Everything we know about tech we learned from Kraftwerk

At 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday there was no more coveted piece of New York City real estate than standing room in the Museum of Modern Art’s Marron Atrium. And so it shall be for the next seven nights as Kraftwerk, the German electronic outfit from the 1970s, plays to a scant crowd of about 450 lucky souls. That this quartet, which includes just one of its original members, can command a showcase like MoMA – and sell out in a drumbeat – provides a useful lesson into technology’s risk of obsolescence.

It would be easy to dismiss Kraftwerk as a relic from the dawn of the digital age and its ardent fans a weird cult in turtleneck sweaters and 3D glasses. But MoMA’s eight-night retrospective of the band helmed by Ralf Hutter provides surprising insight into why some innovations fade and others flourish. Ultimately, success in technology – as in art – is derived from the expression of big ideas, not simply a mastering of its circuitry. It is an example that businesses, too, can learn from.

Kraftwerk is best known for harnessing new gadgets, primarily synthesizers like the Minimoog, to create industrial rhythms and electronic drumbeats that broke new ground in pop music. Kraftwerk’s sounds have been copied, built upon and sampled by artists from Afrika Bambaataa to Pink Floyd to Jay-Z. Today’s auto-tuned pop stars owe a direct debt to the musical sequencing that Hutter and his former partner Florian Schneider pioneered at their Kling Klang Studios in Dusseldorf four decades ago.

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.

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.

from Fan Fare:

Teen girl’s pop video mercilessly dissected by Internet masses

If you have trouble remembering the days of the week, a teen pop starlet named Rebecca Black has come to your rescue with an annoyingly catchy song that has quickly made her the hottest -- and most lampooned -- phenomenon on the Web. Black was a top-trending topic on Twitter on Tuesday, while her video for "Friday" racked up almost eight million page views in a matter of days.

The comments have been savage, ruthless dissections of the girl herself, her bubblegum pop song and the cheesy video. "Not joking. Worst lyrics I have ever heard. Ever. Yet so addictive," was one of the kinder critiques.

The fresh-faced youngster sings over and over in a nasally twang, "It's Friday, Friday, gotta get down on Friday. Everybody's looking forward to the weekend ... Fun, fun, fun, fun. Looking forward to the weekend."

TodayInMusic: Warner goes up, up, up on news of race to sell…

Michael Stipe of R.E.M. performs on stage in Riga REUTERS/Ints Kalnins (LATVIA)

Michael Stipe of R.E.M. performs on stage in Riga REUTERS/Ints Kalnins (LATVIA)

Just 48 hours ago we pointed out how Warner Music Group shares had dropped some 11 percent as investors panicked over the extent of the downturn in the business’s fundamentals which were worse-than-expected in the all important Holiday quarter and management gave a gloomy prognosis.  But this is big finance where focusing on fundamentals is for suckers…things turn around pretty quickly and Warner Music is back up.

The World’s No.3 music company crept back up just over 1 percent yesterday as some investors returned and today they’ve returned in their droves and pushed the shares up some 11 percent. Why? Well, they’re likely back because a story in the New York Post rolls out a list of names including many we knew/expected to be among 20 bidders for all or parts of Warner Music, home of acts like R.E.M and Red Hot Chili Peppers.

The Post makes the point, as we did earlier this month, that any hopes for a Warner Music sale kind of depend on what happens with EMI Music which was recently taken over Citigroup.  The Post says Citi is ready for the London-based EMI sale sooner rather than later so a race is on.

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.

Today In Music: Sony Music boss invests in start-up, fuels exit speculation

Doug Morris UMGSony Music Entertainment Rolf Schmidt-Holtz’s personal investment in Hamburg-based entertainment technology company TeVeo has sparked off speculation that his departure is imminent — which it almost certainly is, but not necessarily because of his investment.

As is well known by now, Schmidt-Holtz is very likely to leave Sony Music on March 31st when his contract expires after five years on the hotseat. He will be a partner in TeVeo following an investment, which was cleared by Sony, and is believed to be around 10 percent.  We’ve been told by a source that the investment and his likely departure in March are not linked.

So if he does leave what will that mean for Sony Music, still struggling to present a completely united front to the world since the 2004 merger between Sony Music and BMG Entertainment?