January 19, 2007Digital music doubled in 2006 - 10% of all music sales
A new International Federation Of The Phonographic Industry report confirms that global digital music sales almost doubled in 2006 so that they were worth over $2 billion - and about 10% of all music sales. Some 795 million tracks were downloaded from nearly 500 legitimate online music services in 40 countries - an 89% increase on 2005. The trade body now reckons the growth will continue so that digital accounts for a quarter of worldwide music sales by 2010.
But, and it's a crucial but, the report also confirms that, even with the recent boom, digital sales were not fully compensating for the slump in physical CD sales, meaning that overall music sales were down - by 4% in the first half of last year.
January 15, 2007Napster gains MusicNow subscribers
Following on from my post last week about subcriptions, Napster has been busy again, increasing its subscriber base by 60% through the acquisition of MusicNow (or at least its customers) from AOL. AOL also will promote Napster with links to its service throughout AOL Music site.
January 12, 2007When will music subscriptions take off?
During testing Virgin Digital, and since we launched the new site, I've had the player on pretty much constantly; a subscription service is a bit like a dishwasher or air-con in a car - once you get used to it there's no going back.
The subscription concept hasn't really caught on yet, although Napster recently reported some more encouraging numbers. I think that the tipping point will come when all-you-can-eat subscription services start to be bundled with other services such as broadband, mobile or TV packages. If you can add a music package to your monthly bill from Sky, BT or Virgin Media for a few pounds, that sounds like an attractive proposition.
The last piece of that jigsaw is user-friendly home networking capability. While there are plenty of ways to hook up a PC to home speakers or a TV, either they aren't that easy to use or they aren't being marketed too well to potential users. Microsoft is really pushing this as a benefit of Vista (integrated with Xbox 360) and Apple is also active - expect some significant moves forward in 2007.Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes
I've been working with Virgin Digital for the last few months, managing the development and delivery of a new music download service.
The new service replaces one that was developed by Virgin in the US, which closed down last week. Knowing that the US service was closing made the project a race against time, but thanks to a lot of hard work - big thanks to the development team at Interesource - we made it!
The big change is that while the old service required customers to download and install a 25MB software application, even if they only wanted to buy a single track, the new service is completely web-based - as far as we know the first in the world.
As well as the store, there is a music club. For only £9.99 a month club members can listen to all the music they want, 24 hours a day. They can stream and create playlists in the very cool Virgin Digital Player, or download unlimited tracks to listen to offline. For an extra fiver , club members can transfer their downloaded tracks to a compatible MP3 player.
Over the few weeks we'll be working on some enhancements to improve the site's performance: but already sales have increased significantly compared with the old service. The advantage of a web service is that it can easily be changed to improve design and usability, and add features. There are some exciting developments planned over the coming months so watch this space...
January 7, 2007Happy New Year
A very happy new year to all of you. Here's hoping it's a good one.
Sorry I haven't been blogging very much recently but I've been hard at work with Virgin Digital, launching a new webstore and subscription service.
When I can, I'll write a little about what makes the Virgin service different from everything else out there.
Over the last few months I've also been working with Arsenal Football Club on a few projects including an online soccer skills website.
For those of you who wait with baited breath for the next entry (and there must be, oh, one of you...), my apologies. I'll try to be more prolific in 2007.