MediaFile

Thursday media highlights

Here are some of the day’s top stories in the media industry:

New York Times Asks Subscribers: Is It Wrong to Charge for Online Content? (Poynter)
Bill Mitchell writes: “The New York Times is testing a price point of $5 a month for access to nytimes.com, with a 50 percent discount for print subscribers. The Times e-mailed a survey to print subscribers Thursday afternoon inviting their reaction to that pricing plan and asking a range of questions about online pricing.”

Murdoch papers paid £1m to gag phone-hacking victims (Guardian)
“The payments secured secrecy over out-of-court settlements in three cases that threatened to expose evidence of Murdoch journalists using private investigators who illegally hacked into the mobile phone messages of numerous public figures to gain unlawful access to confidential personal data, including tax records, social security files, bank statements and itemised phone bills,” writes Nick Davies.
UK police won’t reopen Murdoch paper phonetap case (Reuters)

A is for abattoir; Z is for ZULU: All in the Handbook of Journalism (Reuters)
Dean Wright writes: “The handbook is the guidance Reuters journalists live by — and we’re proud of it. Until now, it hasn’t been freely available to the public. In the early 1990s, a printed handbook was published and in 2006 the Reuters Foundation published a relatively short PDF online that gave some basic guidance to reporters. But it’s only now that we’re putting the full handbook online.”

As Gannett’s Newspapers Suffer, Digital Side Sees Growth, More Hiring And Acquisitions (paidContent)
“As Gannett continues to be roiled with huge debt problems, an absent CEO, and hundreds more layoffs across its community newspapers, its digital division appears to be a sea of calm. In fact [...] things are going just fine on their respective ends,” writes David Kaplan.

Analyst Admits to Being ‘Dead Wrong’ After Disney’s ‘Up’ Is Big Earner (NYT)
“Dead wrong” is how Richard Greenfield of Pali Research put his related analysis in a research note. “The recent success of Pixar’s ‘Up’ (well ahead of our forecasts) has renewed investor confidence in Disney’s creative capabilities,” he added. “Up” has so far sold $265.9 million in tickets in North America and $35.4 million overseas, where it has only begun to arrive in theaters,” writes Brooks Barnes.

Tuesday media highlights

Here are some of the day’s stories about the media industry:

Amazon Patents Detail Kindle Advertising Model (Mediapost)
Laurie Sullivan writes: “The patents clearly note that Amazon would insert advertisements throughout the ebooks, from the beginning to the end, between chapters or following every 10 pages, as well as in the margins.”

> In-Book Ads Coming to the Amazon Kindle? (Fast Company)
> 6 Reasons Why Ads On The Kindle Don’t Work (Business Insider)

Deadline for Globe bids postponed (Boston Globe)
“The New York Times Co. has postponed tomorrow’s deadline for prospective buyers of The Boston Globe to submit preliminary bids for the newspaper, people briefed on the sales process said. No new date has been set for the bids,” writes Robert Weisman.

Fans still buying tickets, startup CEO says

So how’s the market for sports and concert tickets holding up, given the economic turmoil that has dominated the public imagination since last year? Better than you’d think, according to Mike Janes, the founder and CEO of FanSnap, a live-event ticket search engine that launched in March.

“People’s appetite for the shared experience of a game or show hasn’t changed. Their bank accounts may have changed, but not the desire,” Janes said.

The difficult economy has had the effect of bringing many ticket prices down, he said, meaning there are plenty of bargains out there. While there will always be insatiable demand for big-name performers or games (Springsteen; Yankees vs. Red Sox) keeping those ticket prices high, Janes said tix for your average major league baseball game can be had for below face value in some cases, as folks looking to resell tickets flood the market with supply. It’s a bit too early to see about NFL games, he said.

In death Michael Jackson gives life to media

As the world mourned his death, Michael Jackson gave new life to all kinds of media – online, broadcast, print tabloids and broadsheets as the public appeared to lap up the extravagant reflections on the singer’s highs and lows.

T-shirts were sold and TV specials were planned giving a sense of drama reminiscent to the death of Diana Princess of Wales.

In newspapers like the New York Times, Jackson, 50, took over much of the Friday front page. Forget the political uproar in Iran, which has dominated headlines in recent days or the adulturous governor of South Carolina, or even the demise of Charlie’s Angels star Farrah Fawcett.

Global music sales keep falling, pretty much everywhere

The global recorded music sales tanked in 2008, according to figures from the music trade body IFPI, which finally confirmed what we all expected. The worldwide decline was led by a sharp 31 percent drop-off in physical format sales (mainly CDs) in the US. Even though US digital sales grew 16.5 percent it couldn’t make up the shortfall, and overall US sales were down 19 percent.

The trends were similar in the Europe where sales fell by 6.3 percent.

It’s not all gloom and doom though. Sales were up 1 percent in Asia, because it was the one region where the growth in digital sales managed to make up for the fall in CD sales. That will likely be due to the fact that CD sales in some Asian countries has never been properly developed due to piracy. Many labels are further along in using digital-only formats in Asia.

Phil Hardy, analyst at The View, said while physical recorded music sales are in terminal decline, a new business is emerging for recorded music companies in which the digital and ancillary exploitation of their rights are growing. Many in the music business are hoping that licensing music rights to social media sites like Imeem and Pandora or mobile music services beyond just ringtones will be a major growth area in years ahead.

YouTube: And the beat no longer goes on — in the UK

It’s Day 2 of YouTube versus PRS For Music, the British organization that collects royalties for songwriters and publishers whenever songs are broadcast over the air and the Web or performed in public venues .

As you may know by now, YouTube started blocking UK visitors from watching professional music videos and users’ videos that feature licensed music. The reason, as usual, is each side said the other guys are being unreasonable in their fee negotiations. YouTube says PRS wants many times more than a previous deal, while PRS says YouTube actually wants to pay less than they currently pay.

There was some signs of progress today when PRS put out a statement:

Talks between PRS for Music and Google took place today to discuss the licensing of YouTube following Google’s sudden decision to block premium video content on the service in the UK.

Tweeters as editors, sources, merchants?

In his speech at the Shorty Awards — the first unofficial Oscars for Twitter users — on Wednesday night, CNN anchor Rick Sanchez marveled at the intermingling of new and old media. Then he told the smartly dressed audience that Tweeters are “my editors, my sources, my friends, my focus group. You’re the people who matter to me more than some of the people who are supposed to matter to me.”******All this from a site where everything starts with a simple question: “What are you doing?” As the audience kept an eye on the stage while typing furiously on their cellphones, event organizer Gregory Galant told us Twitter was about much more than “where you write about what you had for lunch.”***This seemed to be confirmed by by this so-very-novice-tweeter reporter’s straw poll of attendees, who were treated to an appearance by fellow-tweeter MC Hammer.******Whatever else it is, Twitter is definitely a commercial tool as well as a social platform. Many of the 26 winners even used their tweet-sized-140-words acceptance speeches for blatant promotion of ideas, blogs businesses or causes.******Rich Tucker, known as @cruisesource on twitter, won the travel award and used his short spot to plug something called the Sofresh Social Media Cruise.***Politics winner @justin_hart promoted a politician while Scott Zagarino @athletes4acure spoke out about prostate cancer when accepting the nonprofits prize.***Martin Sargent @martinsargent, won the weird category and took a dig at the platform itself. “What’s truly weird is that by receiving the $1,000 grant that accompanies this award, I’m 1,000 times more profitable than Twitter. Thank you.” Another contendor for the weird prize, @Matman showed up at the party in an outfit to promote WellComeMat.com******Then there was the mix of attendees, many of whom paid a $60 entrance fee, besides the reporters who gave the event pretty wide coverage.***Nora Abousteit, who runs an open source sewing pattern web site burdaStyle.com, said she depends so much on Twitter for media updates that she changed her cellphone number and service after discovering twitter didn’t work well on her old phone.***Liam, a bemused 26-year-old from Brooklyn went because he is friends with the organizers. “I don’t understand twitter at all. I don’t get it,” he said. “I don’t like the idea of social interaction being boiled down to a computer.”******But Claire Chang of San Francisco-based Psolenoid saw practical uses. Chang, who is developing a twitter application, tweeted that she was going from Times Square to the awards. A reply came in time to share a car with another tweeter. At the end of the night Claire was confidently tweeting for a ride back to the city.******Vonda LePage, communications director for ad agency Deutsche Inc, dabbles with allkinds of social media. New York Times David Pogue may see twitter being “What you make it” but LePage has definite notions about what Twitter means to her – sharing information for business. But you have to be sincere or people will stop following your tweets, “if you only use it for commercial purposes, you’ll be turned off,” she said. As for the idea of telling the world you’re drinking a coffee or upset about something, LePage said, “That’s Facebook.”******(Photos of @Matman and stage screen at Shorty awards/Sinead Carew)

Even Apple music wants to be free, sort of

The New York Times headline on Apple’s Macworld convention is so snappy that it almost frees me of the obligation to write this blog entry today:

Want to copy iTunes Music? Go Ahead, Apple says.

Fortunately, the Times couldn’t fit this other part into the headline, giving us something to quote:

Beginning this week, three of the four major music labels – Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group – will begin selling music through iTunes without digital rights management software, or D.R.M., which controls the copying and use of digital files. The fourth, EMI, was already doing so.

Sirius brings back hip hop; still owes $1 bln

Sirius XM Radio has got a lot of big issues: a huge debt load; its deflated stock price; the auto industry — its biggest source of news subscribers — is hurting; and consumers are shying away from consumer electronics this holiday season.

The company planned to address some of those issues today at its shareholder meeting, hoping to win the right to issue 3.5 billion shares and launch a reverse stock split. Those moves may not fix all of its woes.

But the company has at least addressed one other festering problem. They are bringing back Monie Love in January.

Entire iTunes libraries at your finger tips

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It’s been available for a few months for unlocked iPhones, but Simplify Media’s iPhone application has finally hit Apple’s App Store. Simplify Media’s software, which can also be used on the iPod Touch, will let users stream entire iTunes libraries wirelessly.

Start by downloading the desktop version of Simplify Media’s software for the PC, Mac or Linux and create a screen name. Then find and download Simplify Media’s iPhone application from iTunes or directly from the iPhone or iPod Touch.

The software will let you stream your entire iTunes music catalog and those that belong to up to 30 of your friends who also have the application running on their computers.