When SoundExchange, the organization that represents many labels and artists, proposed steep new royalty rates for radio webcasters last year, they shortsightedly killed off their own revenue stream. Instead of their proposed rates being cut back as part of a standard negotiation, they were surprised to see the U.S. Copyright Royalty Board reject opposing arguments and adopt SoundExchange’s rates fully. Now Pandora, the popular streaming music site, says it’s paying over 70% of its revenue in royalties, and unless Washington changes the rates soon—which looks unlikely— they will have to shut down.
When Yahoo announced last week that they were turning off their DRM-restricted music store store in September, thereby abandoning customers with songs that would no longer play, people were understantably angry. At the time, Yahoo suggested you burn the songs to CD while you still can, then re-rip them into unprotected MP3 files—but that was a lousy solution that took time and money, and resulted in lower-quality audio files. Now they’ve come back with a proper solution that seems to more than make up for the trouble—especially if we can believe what their spokesperson told the LA Times.
Rhapsody is entering the a la carte music store business—now you can buy single tracks or albums just like you can from Amazon or iTunes. The first 100,000 people who create accounts receive a $10 credit. (You need a credit card to register.) [Rhapsody]
If you were still somehow unconvinced that the RIAA’s legal strategy is “be sleazy, intimidate, then profit,” their latest legal maneuvering might finally convince you. Next week, a judge was to decide whether their case against a New York family should be thrown out—the family’s lawyer, RIAA critic Ray Beckerman, argued “that if the RIAA can’t prove anybody downloaded the music from an open share folder, then the case would have to be dismissed.”
Although it won’t affect other cases, the RIAA was handed a small smackdown this week when a U.S. district judge rejected their request for a summary judgement, and ruled that putting song files in a shared directory was not enough proof that infringement had occurred.
The Internet always seemed like a logical sales outlet for classical music, which has long been the neglected step-child of the record labels. We’re happy to see that last week, Deutsche Grammophon launched a music store that sells DRM-free files of classical recordings—the files are constant bit rate 320 kps MP3s, and prices range “from $/€1.29 for a full-length track to $/€11.99 for an album.”
You might have caught the Zune swoon in the blogosphere last week. For those who didn’t catch it, Zune is Microsoft’s planned iPod-killer: a device that is as often nifty (built in WiFi that allows you to share music with friends on the go) as it is underwhelming (30 gig hard drive, max.)
We called Mile Hi Aereation hoping to reach Florian McCann. We were going to pose as someone interested in buying the email list he created from DefendMyStreet.com. Unfortunately, he was out to lunch. When we were first shuffled to his mailbox, we couldn’t leave a message because it was full. Let us tell you, consumer reporting doesn’t get more exciting than this.
By popular demand, we tried to followup on the reader complaint about her disabled mother getting treated poorly at at Target. We made some calls and learned what happens when you try to go in the front door. It gets slammed in your face.
Creative Bastard blogger set up an extension on his phone line to route telemarketers to. It plays a loop of his voice being “highly interested” in the rep’s offer, with the goal being to keep the t-marketer on the line as long as possible.
This guy was the unlucky recipient of several spams which seemed to be coming from DreamHost. Seeing as he never heard of anyone forging message headers, he decided to call Dreamhost and leave two vitrol, curse and stupidity laden calls on their answering machine. [NSFW, cursin’]
Whenever we talk about recording customer service calls, someone always chimes in about wiretap laws. While far from being lawyers, we think it’s okay and here’s why.
This may not be the best or the cheapest way, but this is how we record our customer service calls, without ever going to Radio Shack.
UPDATE: We don’t mean to say that you should actually lie to your cellphone provider and do this. In the interest of following up on advice we previously posted, which also appeared in Wired, we wanted to see if this worked. So we gave it a shot.
Mark Perkel likes hookers. Hey, who doesn’t? Other than Paypal, that is.
It’s totally legal to record conversations across state lines and you don’t have to tell the company at all.