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Will Microsoft Dominate the Grammys?
By Eric de Fontenay (Founder & Publisher)
(more articles from this author)
2003-04-17
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Are we seeing one of the turning points in the evolution of the music industry? In addition to Ice-T's matching up with Altnet & Kazaa, Sanctuary Records' Widespread Panic announced that it would make an unreleased track "Nebulous," from their new album "Ball," available exclusively to Kazaa Media Desktop's users. With a critical mass of loyal users (200M+ downloads) just a desktop click away from accessing a wealth of music, Kazaa would appear the logical choice for artists wishing to reach their fans without the baggage of a record label.

So why wouldn't a computer company known for being on the cutting-edge of design, lifestyle & multimedia want a piece of the action. The mere rumor that Apple was in talks to purchase Vivendi's music division was greeted with an 8% drop in Apple's stock, the media had a field day. A search on Google News of 'Apple' & 'Vivendi' yielded 227 results, with the best headline being "Enter Jobs, Exit Music Piracy?" While the financial community has it right, Apple's success with everything from iTunes to the iPod makes the idea of an 'iMusic' facelift to UMG more than appealing.

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But what if a computer company controls 95% of desktops, owns one of the leading media formats, internet services & browsers, and has established itself in no-time as a serious player in the gaming industry. Yes, the media was in a fit as speculation expanded to rumors that Microsoft was also eyeing the ailing music company.

There are valid arguments why computer/software companies like Apple & Microsoft are a more logical combination for music companies than media conglomerates. First, if the Internet & wireless are the distribution pipes of tomorrow, few companies are better positioned except for one of the media conglomerates, AOL/TW. Their near-ubiquitous presence on the Internet's gateway, the PC desktop, provides with the most visible and embedded retail branding. And despite Microsoft's recent gaffes with product licensing, they understand, better than media conglomerates, the online consumer and business models best suited for a digital, networked environment. Finally, their stake in nearly every node of the distribution chain, from the server and desktop to devices & phones, provide them with the best chance to develop a truly end-to-end DRM solution.

Maybe Apple could settle for EMI as Microsoft grabs UMG.

Related News from Mi2N:
» Widespread Panic To Release Free Exclusive Download From Upcoming Album, Ball To Kazaa Media Desktop Users Via Altnet


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