Music’s Sales Slumped Slowed – But Not Stopped – By Michael Jackson and the Beatles

beatlesforsaleI don’t normally bother providing you updates on the music industry’s revenues, because the update has been the same for most of the last decade: Each quarter, the industry’s collective sales decline yet again.

But here’s a very slight twist: The sales decline slowed in the most recent quarter. U.S. sales dropped 11.1% in Q3, compared to a 14.5% drop in Q2, according to Nielsen Soundscan.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that Michael Jackson isn’t going to pass away again, and that unless they finally do come to Apple’s iTunes (AAPL), there probably isn’t another way to repackage the Beatles again. Billboard:

Renewed interest in the Beatles and Michael Jackson slowed the decline of U.S. album sales in the third quarter, although the industry is still on track to fall for the eighth time in nine years…

Music retailers are hoping that the continued performance of Jackson and Beatles albums and a strong fourth-quarter release schedule will continue to make up lost ground.

During the quarter, Jackson’s June 25 death fueled sales of about 5 million units, and the September 9 re-release of the Beatles catalog has sold 1.3 million units so far.

So far this year 11 albums have topped the 1 million-unit mark, the same number as in 2008. In 2008, the top seller was Lil Wayne’s “Tha Carter III,” at 2.5 million units; this year’s top seller is Jackson’s “Number Ones,” at 1.8 million units.

Stream (Most of) the Austin City Live Fest on Hulu

If you couldn’t or didn’t get tickets to the big ole Austin City Limits festival happening this weekend — don’t be too glum. Word from the GigaOM remote office in Austin is that it’s going to rain (big, Texas-style thunderstorms!).

HuluACL

With that kind of forecast, you should stay inside and stay dry. Hulu’s got you covered by streaming pretty much the whole three-day shebang live. We say pretty much because headliners are on a delay (BOO!).

You can catch the whole show at Hulu.com, or alternately, Hulu is also streaming the show through Facebook.

Hulu is really getting into this whole live concert thing. Earlier this summer it streamed one of Dave Matthews Band.

Below is the lineup for the show (all times PDT); streaming starts at 10:30 a.m. PDT and goes till 8:30 p.m. PDT.

Friday, October 2nd
10:30am – 11:30am: School of Seven Bells (LIVE)
11:30am – 12:30pm: The Knux (LIVE)
12:30pm – 1:30pm: The Avett Brothers (LIVE)
1:30pm – 2:30pm: Dr. Dog (LIVE)
2:30pm – 3:30pm: Coheed and Cambria (LIVE)
3:30pm – 4:30pm: Raphael Saadiq (LIVE)
4:30pm – 5:30pm: John Legend (LIVE)
5:30pm – 6:30pm: Andrew Bird (LIVE)
6:30pm – 7:30pm: Medeski, Martin & Wood (On Delay)
7:30pm – 8:30pm: Thievery Corporation (On Delay)


Saturday, October 3
9:45am – 10:30am: The Henry Clay People (LIVE)
10:30am – 11:15am: Alberta Cross (LIVE)
11:15am – 12:00pm: The Raveonettes (LIVE)
12:00pm – 1:00pm: Deer Tick (On Delay)
1:00pm – 2:00pm: The Airborne Toxic Event (LIVE)
2:00pm – 3:00pm: TBA
3:00pm – 4:00pm: Bon Iver (LIVE)
4:00pm – 5:00pm: …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead (On Delay)
5:00pm – 6:00pm: The Decemberists (LIVE)
6:00pm – 7:30pm: Ghostland Observatory (LIVE)
7:30pm – 8:30pm: STS9 (On Delay)


Sunday, October 4
9:45am – 10:30am: Suckers (LIVE)
10:30am – 10:50am: Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears (LIVE)
10:50am – 11:15am: The Dodos (LIVE)
11:15am – 12:00pm: Here We Go Magic (LIVE)
12:00pm – 1:00pm: Clutch (LIVE)
1:00pm – 2:00pm: Heartless Bastards (LIVE)
2:00pm – 3:00pm: Toadies (LIVE)
3:00pm – 4:00pm: Passion Pit (LIVE)
4:00pm – 5:00pm: Ben Harper and Relentless7 (LIVE)
5:00pm – 6:00pm: The B-52’s (On Delay)
6:00pm – 7:00pm: The Dead Weather (On Delay)

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This Just In: YouTube Is Ginormous!

kingkonglivesYou already know this, but it’s always good to be reminded: In online video, there’s YouTube, and then there’s everybody else. Today’s data point: Comscore’s (SCOR) August video report, which shows Google’s video site generating 10 billion views and owning 39.6% of the market.

That’s 10 billion views, and that’s just counting Web surfers from the U.S. Factor in international visitors, and… it would be a lot bigger.

The rest of the rankings look about the same as they as they always do — puny compared to Google’s (GOOG) status. That is, if you add the next 9 biggest sites up together they won’t come close to matching YouTube’s share. But for the record, Hulu gained share but lost a position to its corporate cousin Fox Interactive Media/MySpace, its corporate cousin from News Corp (NWS). And Time Warner’s AOL (TWX) replaced Disney’s ABC (DIS) at the bottom of the rankings. Click chart to enlarge:
comscore chart

Yet another reason it’s amazing that it took Warner Music Group nine months to hammer out a deal to get its video back on YouTube — and bear in mind that they’re not there yet. If you’re in the music video business, and you pull your videos off the world’s biggest video site, you better have a very good reason to do so.

In other shocking news: This movie is 12 years old. That’s older than Google!

How the YouTube-Warner Music Deal Got Done: Meet Vevo Jr.

green_day_Warner Music and YouTube, co-owners of the one of the Web’s nastiest spats, are about to patch things up. How’d they do it? By cutting a deal that looks a lot like the one YouTube has already made with Universal Music Group.

Last December, talks between Warner and YouTube to renew a licensing deal broke down, and Warner’s videos disappeared from the world’s largest video site. Now, as Advertising Age has reported, an agreement is in the works that will bring Green Day, Madonna and their label-mates back to the site.

What hasn’t been reported, so far: The deal terms themselves. Neither company is talking, but sources familiar with the negotiations tell me the new pact will be similar to the one Google’s (GOOG) video unit struck earlier this year with Universal Music Group.

That deal created Vevo, a sort of “Hulu for music videos,” owned by Universal and Sony (SNE). So think of Warner’s deal as a “son of Vevo.”

The big idea is the same: Try to create more value for videos by limiting their distribution and creating a more ad-friendly atmosphere around them, and share ad revenue between YouTube and the videos’ owner. The big points:

  • Unlike Vevo, Warner and YouTube won’t be creating a separate site for Warner videos, and Warner won’t be creating a separate company dedicated to its videos. Instead, YouTube will help Warner create a “premium advertising platform” for its videos within YouTube.
  • Warner will take primary responsibility for selling its videos, and YouTube will receive a cut of the revenue.
  • Warner will no longer receive a licensing fee each time one of its videos is played.

I gather that a lot of this is still being hashed out, and some of this will evolve even after the deal is inked. For instance, Warner needs to figure out how it’s going to sell advertising for its clips, since it doesn’t have its own sales force. Timing is also up in the air: Even after the two sides formally announce the pact, users shouldn’t expect to see Warner videos instantly reappearing on YouTube; it may be that they only get rolled out as the new ad platform is built.

Then there’s the ad platform itself: I haven’t been able to get a concrete definition of what this is supposed to look like, but for now, I’m imagining something like the “channels” YouTube has made for partners like ESPN, except they’d be made on an artist-by-artist basis.

All in all, this sounds like a fair deal. Warner loses a guaranteed revenue stream, but if its contention about the value of its videos is correct, it will make even more than it did under the old arrangement. Meanwhile, YouTube gets to hang onto “premium” inventory without being locked into the kind of  pay-per-play arrangement that helped drive the site’s expenses sky-high.

The potential downside for YouTube: If this works–or if the Vevo deal works–it will have to create similar packages/portals/platforms to retain or attract other “premium” content suppliers, like, say Hollywood studios. But given that the site has had limited success getting those guys on board so far, that’s not the worst fate in the world.

In the meantime, even though Green Day is Warner act, you can still find plenty of its clips on YouTube–it’s just that most of them are odds and ends like this grainy concert video:

Vevo, Universal Music’s Hulu for Video, Gets a Salesman

david kohlVevo, the music industry’s attempt to create a Hulu-like hub for its videos, is going to attract a lot of eyeballs when it launches later this year. Here’s the guy who’s supposed to attract advertisers: David Kohl, a former Nokia executive who starts work today as the site’s sales boss.

Kohl’s job is a key one at the venture, whose premise is that the music industry can do a better job of selling its video inventory than sites like Google’s YouTube (GOOG). Vevo is a joint venture owned (for now) by Sony (SNE) and Vivendi’s Universal Music Group; YouTube will help power the site and will share in some of its revenue.

In theory, there could be a lot of dollars to go around. When Vevo opens its doors later this year, it is expected to generate some 450 million video streams a month. In theory, the fact that a single company will control the way the videos and displayed and distributed will make those streams more attractive to advertisers.

vevo-logoBut there are plenty of skeptics who think the site will flounder, in large part because the music industry has never figured out how to run a successful consumer business, and the media business has a terrible track record when it comes to joint ventures. In Vevo’s favor: They said the same thing about Hulu, and that has been a success, at least operationally.

Kohl will run a six-person sales team he intends to expand, people familiar with Vevo’s strategy tell me. Up until now, Vevo head Rio Caraeff has been overseeing sales himself — and learning on the job, since he didn’t have any sales experience of his own. Vevo now employs about 45 people.

At Nokia, Kohl ran the company’s interactive ad group; he has also put in time at Viacom’s MTV Networks, Vivendi Universal and Comedy Central.