Nokia phones to come with Warner music

Warner Music Group signs deal Nokia Comes with Music free song downloads The first casualty of this decade's digital music revolution has been music sales, as consumer switched from CDs to 99 cent singles or free downloads. But some industry executives see a chance to reverse the trend and sell music in significantly larger bundles -- more songs, in fact, than the average consumer buys in a year. That's the home-run swing promised by initiatives such as Nokia's Comes with Music, which signed up its third major record company today, Warner Music Group. Universal Music Group, an early advocate of this kind of thing, and Sony BMG were already on board, with EMI still in licensing talks.

The Comes with Music proposition is simple: buy a specially designated Nokia phone, get an unlimited number of seemingly free song downloads for one year. That's seemingly free, not actually free, because the price of the phone will include a hidden sum that Nokia will split with the labels and music publishers.

Read on »


The future of entertainment, USC style

Usc_entertainment_technology_center The entertainment industry has been pressuring colleges directly and indirectly to teach students the do's and don'ts of copyrights, hoping such lessons will help abate online piracy. But at USC's Entertainment Technology Center, students often are the ones giving lessons to Hollywood and the high-tech world about the right way to deliver movies and TV shows to consumers who are increasingly mobile and digital.

Etc_screen_grab_3 The ETC, a 15-year-old branch of the university's School of Cinematic Arts, was established as a forum for tech companies and studios to collaborate -- a good example being the center's work on digital cinema. A more recent project is the Anytime/Anywhere Content Lab, a place for ETC staff to put a variety of cutting edge (or even bleeding edge) entertainment equipment and services together to see how they work. Or don't, as the case may be.

David Wertheimer, the ETC's executive director and a former digital guru at Paramount, said that while studios focus on their product, the lab concentrates on the user. The hope, he said, is that its work will show studios and tech companies how to "meet in the middle and provide new kinds of products" that appeal to the next generation of consumers. In addition to interviewing USC students on campus every week about their media consumption habits and attitudes, the ETC brings about 20 students into the lab to talk to its board and try out some of the gear it has assembled. It's not a scientific sampling, but the ETC does try to draw specimens participants from a range of backgrounds and fields of study.

The lab takes up a portion of the ETC's office, which is planted in an industrial strip between the USC campus and the 110. The current configuration includes a home theater, a conference area and a room for testing and experimentation (i.e., a place to answer questions like "Can I make it do this?"). The centerpiece, though, is an 18' x 20' demo room with eight flat-panel screens hung on the walls at eye level. Below the screens sit black metal boxes of various shapes and sizes -- amplifiers, disc players, computers, hard drives, iPods, cell phones, networking gear and the like. It's a bit like an electronics retailer's showroom, designed to make it easy for the staff to add, subtract and connect things. "It could end up looking like NORAD and be totally stressful to people," Wertheimer cracked. The intended vibe, though, is more like the living room you wish you had at home. If you were me, that is.

Read on »


CinemaNow phones in movies

Cinemanow_logo This morning, CinemaNow announced a mobile version of its downloadable movie site. Happily, the point isn't to supply movies to your cell phone (not that there's anything wrong with that). Instead, it lets people use their phones to order movies and have them delivered electronically to their PC or a variety of other devices.

Read on »


Verizon, AT&T rule at 700 Mhz

Any auction that brings in almost twice as much money as expected isn't likely to be considered a failure. That's the case with the FCC's recently completed auction of the 700 MHz airwaves, which raised about $19 billion. But the auction of these frequencies, which have been used for UHF TV signals, didn't live up to the hopes of many who make their living off teh Interwebs. That's because the sell-off apparently will not produce a new, national provider of broadband Internet access, even though the frequencies would be up to the task, technically speaking.

Read on »


Apple iPods come with music?

Apple_ipods_2007 It's poor form to criticize a competitor's scoop, but I won't let that stop me. The Financial Times ran an attention-grabbing piece today about a "radical new business model" Apple was floating with the record labels: letting buyers of premium-priced iPods and iPhones download an unlimited amount of music from the iTunes store. Radical for Apple, perhaps, but not for the music industry, which (as the story points out) is already talking to Nokia about the very same approach.

Read on »


MMCast's mobile commercials

Here's a link to my column today about MMCast's intriguing approach to advertiser-supported content on wireless networks. The company, which has offices in Beverly Hills and London, believes its targeted approach to commercials can generate enough revenue to enable content companies to give away music, ringtones, games, and videos. Its secret sauce is technology to cache video ads on handsets, rather than embedding them into the content. Included is one interesting data point about a test that Vodafone did to measure the price elasticity of downloadable games. Not surprisingly, people really, really like free content....


Our Blogger
Times editorial writer Jon Healey pens opinion pieces about a variety of business issues, and blogs about technologies that are changing the entertainment industry's business model.

Search this blog

Subscribe to this Blog - What is RSS?

Now Playing

Where I've Been Lately