eMusic is in talks with other majors after Sony deal

Long time independent digital music retailer eMusic has finally got its mittens on some major label music after signing a deal with Sony Music Entertainment — and the company says it is still in talks with other majors like Universal Music, Warner Music and EMI to see if it can get more.

From the third quarter eMusic will have catalog from names like Bruce Springsteen, The Clash, Johnny Cash and Outkast. Catalog music here means songs older than two years.

eMusic, which is an independent retailer owned by JDS Capital Management, competes in a tough market led by Apple’s iTunes and MP3. But it has has held its own and even claimed to be the No.2 digital music retailer on some measures in the recent past.

It has managed to gain market share by being the digital retailer of choice for music on independent labels focusing on the grown-up end of the market.

Some see this deal as the latest sign that the major labels are finally getting round to the idea of becoming more flexible and prepared to work with a wider range of retailers on less onerous terms licensing terms.

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.

iTunes cuts/raises prices: Teens poised to shrug

With little (or no) fanfare, Apple’s iTunes opened its doors to a new pricing scheme, and song-based packages that the recording industry hopes will jazz up music sales.  Good luck.

Apple unveiled a three-tier price scheme – 69 cents, 99 cents and $1.29. Since opening in 2003 all songs in the iTunes store have been priced at 99 cents.

So what sells at what price? A little scouring this morning yielded this comparison:

Thinking about EchoStarSiriusXMSatelliteRadio Inc.

Because of a big upcoming debt payment — and a stock price of about 14 cents a share — Sirius XM Satellite Radio finds itself in quite a predicament.

This, apparently, hasn’t been lost on EchoStar’s Charles Ergen, who may be getting ready to take over the company.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Ergen has recently acquired part of a $300 million tranche of Sirius debt that matures on Feb. 17: “Sirius recently converted part of the debt to equity, reducing the total debt outstanding to about $175 million. It isn’t clear whether Mr. Ergen participated in the exchange, however. Mr. Ergen could also be buying up senior bank debt, due in May, which trades thinly on the over-the-counter market.”

from DealZone:

Just the ticket

Will Ticketmaster's new duet fend off a hot rival and help it rise above an economic climate that makes pricey concert tickets seem like an extravagance?

The ticketing giant has announced a complex deal to acquire top artist-management agency Front Line, home to artists including Christina Aguilera, the Eagles and Neil Diamond. Front Line honcho Irving Azoff will run the combined company -- raising questions about how Ms. Aguilera's manager will negotiate her ticketing fees with himself.

Ticketmaster already owns a minority stake in Front Line, and will pay $123 million to Warner Music Group for an additional 30 percent stake, as the Wall Street Journal was the first to report.