p2pnet news | Music:- Are the members of the Big 4 organised music cartel getting together to organise a little, well, price-fixing?
“In a challenge to a music-industry initiative that has barely reached the planning stages, the Department of Justice has begun an inquiry into a new way of selling music that Vivendi SA’s Universal Music Group has proposed to its three main competitors,” says the Wall Street Journal.
“Universal and Sony BMG Music Entertainment, the No. 1 and No. 2 music companies world-wide by market share, have gotten letters of inquiry from the Justice Department, according to people familiar with the matter.”
In October last year, “The world’s most powerful music executive aims to join forces with other record companies to launch an industry-owned subscription service,” said BusinessWeek, going on that it had learned, “[UMG's Doug] Morris has already enlisted Sony BMG Music Entertainment as a potential partner and is talking to Warner Music Group”.
Together, it went on, “the three would control about 75% of the music sold in the U.S.” also hoping to, “move digital music beyond the iPod-iTunes universe by nurturing the likes of Microsoft’s Zune media player and Sony’s PlayStation and by working with the wireless carriers. The service, which is one of several initiatives the music majors are considering to help reverse sliding sales, will be called Total Music.”
And, reminded Business Week, the labels had been here before:
“A few years ago they launched services with the aim of defeating Napster-style file-sharing – and failed miserably. And let’s not forget that existing subscription services have signed up only a few million people …….”
Now, “The U.S. Department of Justice has requested information from Sony BMG Music Entertainment and Universal Music Group about Total Music, an iTunes competitor that plans to offer music from all the majors for a $5-per-month subscription fee,” says CNET News, quoting a report in Music Alley.
“Two sources close to both record companies confirmed that that the labels had received letters from the DOJ in an interview with CNET News.com,” says the story, going on:
“A spokeswoman for the Justice Department declined to comment. Representatives from Sony BMG, and Warner Music Group did not return calls. Universal Music declined to comment. A spokeswoman from The EMI Group said that executives there have not been asked for information from the DOJ.”
The DoJ probe is, “unprecedented for something that has yet to get out of the concept stage, according to one of the sources who spoke on condition of anonymity,” says the story.
As far as the Big 4 are concerned, it’s a given that you’ll swallow whatever they care to dish out.
Definitely stay tuned.
Again – Big Music price fixing saga, June 27, 2004
Wall Street Journal – Music-Industry Initiative Comes Under U.S. Scrutiny, February 7, 2008
BusinessWeek – Universal Music Takes on iTunes, October 22, 2007
CNET News – Feds eye music site backed by two labels, February 7, 2008
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