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It would be a total and complete understatement to state the fact that music is more “social” now than it has ever been.

Honestly, can you remember another time in history where music in its most basic form has been more sharable and more consumable than it is now?

Through the use of social networks, streaming music platforms, and music festivals that have become stand-alone media outlets in themselves – music has become more than just a product that you sell. It’s now an experience that fans have more control over than ever before.

And all of this begs the question: When it comes to the new social music war that we’re witnessing, who is winning? Who has the upper hand and the distinguishing advantage? Who’s playing catch up? Who are the new kids on the block, that are just starting to make a name for themselves? Who’s the established juggernaut that everyone is aspiring to be like?

These aren’t easy questions to answer. Between some of the seemingly more established services such as Rdio, Spotify, Reverbnation and Pandora – things have truly gotten interesting. In addition, lesser-known services like Myxer as well as major tech and social network players like Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and Google continuing to throw their hat into the social music ring.

Take, for example, how both Facebook and Spotify continue to toss their weight around in the social music wars. Many of us are aware that both companies created an exclusive partnership when Spotify first made its way to the States. But now, Spotify has announced a new Music Unlimited service exclusively for iPhone users, with plans available in the $3.99 and $9.99 price ranges.

Meanwhile, its partner Facebook has now added a ton of content to its artist pages including total number of Spotify plays, videos, a sharing feature and more – making it easier for listeners to reference a particular song and encouraging users to use both Spotify and YouTube more. Spofity also recently announced a partnership with Yahoo to provide users with on-demand music.

Not to be outdone by their bigger rival, streaming service Rdio has done a lot in the past year to make a name for itself as a company. Between announcing an exclusive partnership with Paste magazine and unveiling a newly revamped service, both in May, Rdio is looking to continue building on the momentum it gained when it was founded in 2010.

And Padora is looking to be no slouch on the social music scene, either. After a five-year hiatus, the company announced that its services would again be available in Australia after it dealt with several licensing issues in the country. Pandora has even been able to create an exclusive partnership with Chase Card Services and Chase Sapphire to offer personalized music in the summer months to its listeners. But it still seems that it still has some catching up to do if it is to regain some of the footing that was stolen from it by Spotify in the last half year.

But of course, the social music wars reach far beyond just regular ole music companies. For example, Bill Gates brainchild company Microsoft, still smarting a bit from the failure of Zune, recently announced Xbox Music, a brand new venture that will apparently challenge both Spotify and iTunes in streaming music over Wifi and 3G devices.

Beats By Dre, the company known for producing upscale headphones that have become status symbols for celebrities and regular folk alike, recently purchased digital music service MOG, which reportedly has about 500,000 subscribers, according to a report in the L.A. Times. The purchase gives Beats By Dre the opportunity to build on-demand music service into its ever-growing array of products.

The most interesting and dynamic thing about the social music wars is that they are all encompassing and non-discriminatory. There’s really no kind of music company or service that’s not being dragged into this new competition, be it a terrestrial radio station, a streaming radio service, a record label, a tech company or what have you. Companies of all kinds are realizing that music has, for one become more disposable, but for two, has also become more easily sharable and consumable, and they are taking advantage as such.

So, again, who’s winning? Well, from the looks of things right about now, the clear front-runner in all of this would seem to be Spotify. Having been able to successfully introduce services in the United States last year, and partnering with the biggest and most formidable social network in the world clearly gives Spotify the upper hand. In addition, being able to offer their services across a ton of different platforms Spotify is a social music juggernaut with no plans on stopping any time soon.

But the truth is, it’s still too early to tell. The social music landscape can change from day to day – and who was on top once can easily fall to the bottom very quickly and with a plethora of social music services being dreamed up there’s no telling who or what will be on top in the near future.

But at this point in history, it’s kind of a treat to see all of these companies duking it out to see who’s truly going to be top dog when it comes to giving music fans the most engaging and most enjoyable social music experience. And be prepared for more companies to start vying for the attentions, hearts and minds of those all important music fans. Ding ding!


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By Paul Sandle

PARIS, June 15 (Reuters) – Digital music services battling to build a serious business out of selling tracks online need to embrace social media, smartphones and emerging markets, two of the most successful companies told the Reuters Media and Technology Summit.

Despite numerous attempts and the continued popularity of music, few start-ups have managed to succeed in launching new services as they struggled to secure the support of the record labels and compete with the might of Apple’s (AAPL.O) iTunes.

But more than 10 years in, groups such as the music discovery specialist Shazam and music services Rhapsody, Spotify and Pandora have become well established by delivering tunes to more consumers around the world and helping to grow revenues for the once-wary labels.

Telecom operators which can hide the cost of the music in their monthly contract fee and social networks which can raise awareness to millions of people are key. Tapping emerging markets can also prove fruitful.

“I think for younger music consumers it’s not about ownership any more: it’s about access to 16, 20 million tracks,” said Will Mills, Shazam’s director of music and content. “Then it’s about social curation to try to work out what you want to listen to.

“If you make it frictionless and priced right people will buy music still.”

The music industry has been criticised in the past for focusing too much on fighting piracy and failing to develop new online services that can attract consumers.

While Apple’s (AAPL.O) iTunes dominates the market, consumers often buy single tracks rather than albums.

In response, the industry is now expanding its horizons with more players and a push into subscription services where fans pay a monthly fee to access millions of songs. Including that fee in a mobile phone bill can help drive sales while also increasing customer loyalty for the operator.

French music streaming company Deezer is growing globally using a partnership with Facebook and deals with telecom operators to encourage people to discover music through their networks of friends and listen to it via phones and computers.

Chief Executive Axel Dauchez said one important issue was the need to teach people that they could access the music offline on their phones without running up huge data bills. “If you reach that point there is no more need for ownership,” he said.

Deezer offers a limited free service in France, its biggest market, but outside the country its streaming services, which are targeted at smartphone users, generally carry a monthly fee.

Dauchez said the labels’ attitude changed after they realised streaming services were a new source of revenue. “It is now much easier (dealing with labels),” he said.

Streaming also has huge potential. He said an average of two CDs were bought per household in 2000 In France, whereas a subscriber to its streaming service generated 10 euros a month.

Independent music industry analyst Mark Mulligan said major labels welcomed streaming services, but their enthusiasm was not shared by independent labels and some artists, who were not seeing much return.

“Something in the region of 130-140 streams is equivalent to one download (in returns),” he said. “It looks better if you’re a record label because you aggregate everything, but if you’re an artist and you’re swopping one download for 20 plays you are looking at a massive drop in your income.”

But he said the opposing argument said the number of people downloading music was quite small so streaming could be one way of getting everyone else involved with digital music.

“The theory is things will essentially right themselves over a period of years as more people move into the consumption paradigm, because ultimately it’s a scale game,” he said.

The industry has also woken up to the potential of services like Shazam, a smartphone app that recognises and identifies tracks.

It has attracted more than 200 million users, who tag more than 7 million songs each day. Users can then click through to Shazam’s partner sites to buy the song.

“Eight percent go on to buy a track, that’s primarily an a-la-carte download from the big players in the space,” Mills said. “It drives more than $100 million of music sales a year.

“We have deals with a lot of record labels around the world,” he said. “A very big track, such as Goyte’s ‘Somebody That I Used to Know’ will get more than 1.5 million tags a week, which nets out to sales of 120,000.”

Shazam is bolstering its strong position in music by agreeing deals with broadcasters and advertisers to enable consumers to tag adverts or programmes during major events such as the Super Bowl, enabling programme makers to directly interact with consumers.

Other opportunities include selling tickets to live music. “It’s not just about selling units anymore, it’s about maximising the value around the whole music experience,” he said.

Mills said the labels were now much more open to working with a range of new business models.

“Five years ago they were very much about wanting to get very large advances, but now they want to innovate, (they) throw as much against the wall as they can and see what sticks,” he said.

Deezer has a tie-up with France Telecom (FTE.PA), helping it reach 1.4 million paid subscribers in the country.

Dauchez said it had taken time to establish the right model in working with telcos. “Now there is a specific know-how at every level to make sure it works,” he said.

The ability to reach millions of people through social networks and to provide music through smartphones means those who have got it right are starting to feel more optimistic about the future.

“We are coming out of the trough now,” said Mills.

Original Story : Reuters.com

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The TuneUp Team has put together a Top 5 list of must-have music apps for your mobile device. These are apps that we use on the regular around the office, at home, and out and about.

Without further ado, check ‘em out!

Rdio – Free, or unlimited streaming for $14.99 / month

Rdio is an awesome ad-free music service that works on multiple platforms including iOS and Android. Rdio allows you to stream the music you want, when you want. Keep tabs on new releases and top charts for albums, songs and playlists. There is also a stellar social feature that let’s you follow your friends and other people with great taste in music, and discover new and old favorite songs.

iKaossilator – $9.99

Take control of around 150 built in samples and create unique musical works by simply touching, tapping, and swiping the screen of your device.

It may seem a pricey at $10, but we can say from experience that it’s not only awesome, but also ultra-addictive.

Read the full story:TuneUp Media Blog

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It’s no secret the digital revolution has changed how music is recorded, shared, and heard. The past decade alone has seen a transfusion of music exchange unlike anything record labels or distribution company could have ever predicted. The format for music distribution has been slain and re-birthed in a unique method of file sharing and streaming on a play by purchase basis of subscriber networking.

Music has come along way since the introduction of compact discs in 1983. Even further of an evolution from cassettes tapes of the 1970’s and the original production of Vinyl recordings made popular in the 1950’s. The digital age gave birth to the Mp3; a low-memory data file used to store the contents of audio recordings on computer systems and digital play-back devices. The first mass-produced hardware MP3 was sold in 1998 as a SaeHan/Eiger MPMan. Apple began their monopolization of the Mp3 player phenomenon with the first edition Ipod in 2001.

Just a little over a decade later, The Iphone has seen nearly 5 upgrades and is virtually a hand-held computer with multiple functions of the most mind-boggling nature. Ipods have transformed into button size nano devices and computer systems have evolved to fit into a portable digital tablet that serves as a personal media notebook without needing the capacity of large computer hard drives. Tablet devices seem to have taken a strong leap in the world of multi-media storage and sharing. Apple’s Ipad isn’t the only company at the forefront either. Between the HP Touchpad, Samsung Galaxy, Acer’s Iconia Tab A500, Notion Ink’s ADAM and Blackberry Playbook there’s enough competition out there to stretch the market. In addition one of the cool things about purchasing tablets is that most of them are coming equipped with social music apps like Spotifty, Rdio, and Pandora.

These portable wireless multi-media sharing devices are just a small glimpse into how music will continue to be stored and shared in the 21st century. These new advances in technology leave the door wide open for streaming music services like Spotify, Rdio, and Lasf.fm to grow as more and more consumers adapt to the modern-day music model. Cloud technology has made a quantum leap in making all the music in your personal library portably playable without having transfer any actual file data.

It seems the day of carrying around hundreds of cd’s in sleeve books or stacks of cd cases is over, as thousands of songs are literally at our fingertips with the push of a button. Just imagine what we’ll be capable of as cloud computing and blue tooth technology morph, allowing us to vocally pull music literally out of thin air.

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Sean Parker’s character, which was played by Justin Timberlake, is without a doubt my favorite character in the ‘The Social Network.’ Reading and watching his interviews you can tell that he has mastered the art of story telling and he must have read Dale Carnegie’s classic, How to Win Friends and Influence People. It is interesting to see how pivotal his role was in the initial stages of Facebook and I wonder if Facebook would have been what it is today without his help.

I first read about Sean Parker in the fall of 2000 while interning for a mortgage brokerage firm in Dallas, TX. It was a Time Magazine interview featuring his Napster Co-Founder, Shawn Fanning. At the time, I was first starting to get into the music industry and hearing about two teenagers who had the entire recording industry by the balls was addictive.

Fastforward to 2011, and Sean introduced the U.S. to Spotify which he said will pick up where Napster left of. At the F8 Conference last year, Facebook announced its music plans and Spotify instantly became the poster child for the social music movement. Playing second fiddle to the Sean Parker’s backed service were dozens of other companies like MOG, Turntable.FM and Rdio.

Is Spotify really that good? I guess that is a matter of opinion and I have yet to use a lot of the other social music services available today. What I do know is that Sean’s stake in Facebook gives Spotify an unfair advantage over every other social music service on the market, but when has business ever been fair. As a music lover I am in love with Spotify as an independent artist, eh.

As the 2012 begins Spotify has made a change from a streaming music service to a platform by opening up its API for developers to build applications upon. Some of the biggest brands in music such as Billboard and Rollingstone have already jumped onboard. As Spotify’s domination continues, other music services are forced to join the ‘MOB.” On the flip side, the huge disadvantage given to other social music services will force developers to come up with more unique products that push the envelope and help take music to an even higher level.

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The title of this article is wrong, it should have read “Music is Mobile.” Last year was an extremely active year for social and mobile music. In 2012, we will begin to see social and mobile music as an inseparable entity. If you look at the most popular music technology companies like Spotify, Last.FM, Pandora or Turntable.FM they all have mobile applications. It is without a doubt impossible to be successful as an artist or brand without a strong mobile presence.

According to Juniper Research, mobile music revenue will reach 5.5 billion dollars by the year 2012. This upbeat outlook translates into a tremendous opportunity for young entrepreneurs and companies looking to create profitable start-ups in the new music business. As the amount of mobile full-legnth tracks downloaded is declining, mobile music application developers will begin to take center stage.

In my opinion the next few years we will also see the gamification of music taking through facebook and mobile platforms worldwide. In order to push this envelope records labels, publishers, artist and developers music unite to create more profitable revenue streams. If more people than ever are listening to more music than ever we all should be making more money than ever…