Universal digital chief: Android's selling bucketloads of Amazon MP3s, litigation is not a long-term fix to piracy


I haven’t exactly hidden my contempt in the past for Doug Morris, CEO of Universal Music Group. For many years, UMG has ridden the coattails of the other record labels, particularly the trailblazing EMI, when it came to digital music. It was with mild trepidation, therefore, that I began to read Cnet’s interview with UMG’s Digital Music head honcho, Rio Caraeff.

There are a number of interesting nuggets of info in the interview – that Android’s driving “a ton” of sales for Amazon MP3, that litigation is not “a definitive or long-term fix” for piracy, and another confirmation of the “tens of millions of dollars” that Rio had previously claimed the label was getting from YouTube.

Most interesting of all, though, is the way that Rio sounds like a guy who’s really got his head screwed on. He speaks very knowledgably about digital music, but the most telling statement is when he says “We’re trying new things constantly. There is nothing we won’t try.” Trying new stuff was one of the central themes of my Six Tenets series about how the next generation of music companies will work. Good to hear someone so high up in the ‘traditional’ industry echo those sentiments.

Cnet’s Rio Caraeff Interview

Related posts: Universal Music: We’re getting heaps of cash from YouTube | Dell fills its PCs with Universal MP3s

Universal Music: We're getting heaps of cash from YouTube


For a long time, Google has struggled to monetise its video-sharing site, YouTube. Experiments with advertising have been coldly received by the community but perhaps things are starting to perk up – the executive vice president of Universal Music Group’s eLabs, Rio Caraeff, has said that his company is getting “tens of millions of dollars” from YouTube.

Universal is one of a handful of companies who have a deal with YouTube where ad revenue from Universal’s content is split between the parties. As Universal has a hell of a lot of back-catalogue content, that’s a decent chunk of revenue, but “tens of millions” is far more than I would have expected.

Denon DVD-A1UD high-end universal Blu-ray player


Okay, I’ll have to admit I asked for this a bit. In my last post about Denon Blu-ray players I demanded to know what Denon would describe as ‘high-end’, after their ‘entry-level’ player cost £600.

Well, this is it. It’s the catchily-named DVD-A1UD, and it’ll play back Blu-ray discs, Super Audio CD (SACD), DVD-Audio, DVD-Video and plain old CDs. The DVD-A1UD is the replacement for the Denon’s previous universal DVD player – the DVD-A1XV. Full specs are over the jump.

It costs a massive £3,300. I can safely say that I don’t know anyone who’d splash out £3,300 on a DVD player, but someone must, or they wouldn’t make the damn thing. It’s going to show up across Europe in March 2009, in either a silver or black finish. Who knows, perhaps by then you’ll be rolling around in pots of money. Denon can only hope.

O2 launches universal, enviromental phone charger


This is the ‘Universal Charger’, which O2 will be selling in its high street shops. It kills two birds with one stone – firstly the annoyance of trying to find the right charger on some dodgy market stall if you happen to lose yours, and secondly, the annoyance of not being able to charge your phone in someone else’s house.

O2’s also touting the energy-efficient nature of the device. It consumes 70 percent less power than a standard mobile phone charger, and meets the strict energy efficient guidelines of the US Energy Star rating system. If every single phone in use in the UK was charged with one of these, it would save the country nearly £31.4 million, and cut the carbon emissions of the equivalent of 36,000 cars.

Sky and Universal Music partner to launch subscription music streaming and download service


Sky has partnered with Universal Music to launch a subscription-based music service offering both streaming music and “keep forever” download tracks.

The venture has just been announced, and the service doesn’t appear to have a name yet — at least, not a public one. Claiming the model is a world first (a claim I’m sceptical about), Universal Music will give it a flying start by making its entire catalogue of music (including U2, Kanye West, Amy Winehouse, Mika, the Killers, Snow Patrol, Luciano Pavarotti, ABBA, Rihanna, Eminem, Andrea Bocelli, Elton John, and Duffy) available, while Sky continues to negotiate with both major and independent music companies…

Qtrax redeems itself with a June 18th relaunch date for Universal and EMI downloads


After the initial controversy surrounding Qtrax, they’ve managed to improve upon their image and actually become a fairly legitimate download service. Having signed up their second major record label, they’ve now announced that June 18th will be the relaunch date for the beta version of the service.

Currently you’d be hard pressed to actually find a song that’s worth downloading on Qtrax – if you can find any that actually will download – however in just five days songs from Universal Music Group and EMI will be available to download, although it’s still unclear whether EMI songs…