Editor’s Notebook: eMusic’s long road and changing identity

by Brad Hill

Once a pioneer, subscription music-download site eMusic is striking out afresh with news of a change its music catalog to focus on indie labels and artists. The service will discontinue major-label recordings. In doing so, eMusic circles back to its roots as a champion of indie music, and of users who dig deeper than the hit charts. Continue Reading

Editor’s Notebook: Will Apple shutter Beats Music? (And more important questions)

At RAIN News we prefer facts to rumors. But rumors can anticipate reality. Whether they do or not, well-sourced rumors are interesting, and point to underlying issues. This rumor started with a TechCrunch article, circulated by other publications, and was quickly denied by Apple. Another recent Apple acquisition might provide guiding light. And no matter what happens to the Beats Music brand, important questions surround Apple’s role in music and listening. Continue Reading


Editor’s Notebook: Baseball and AM radio

Reading that automaker BMW eliminated AM terrestrial reception from one of its new car models was a “Hold everything!” moment. The hazy future of AM is generally troubling to someone of a certain age, who grew up listening pretty evenly to the AM and FM sides of the dial. But there is something more sharply distressing in seeing AM ripped out of a car, laregly because of the baseball connection. Continue Reading


Editor’s Notebook: For the love of jukeboxes

Music jukeboxes have been popular for about 90 years. Online music services and mobile technology have created a “celestial jukebox” that’s available anywhere — an astonishing marvel best appreciated by people over 35 and history students. The modern versions of the jukebox are streamlined to the consumer’s favor in every way — less money, more mobility, bigger selection. But I the attraction is essentially the same as when tabletop jukeboxes were in every New Jersey diner: Music you choose, in new places and times. Continue Reading

Curation: The programming buzzword for 2014 which drives acquisitions

by Brad Hill

Google’s acquisition of Songza is widely regarded as a buy-in of Songza’s unique “Concierge” delivery of personalized music, based on each user’s activity and mood combined with other data signals. The backbone of Songza programming is assembled by a team of 60 music specialists, and their work is supplemented by a Big Data-fed algorithm which refines the output based on the listener’s history of song votes and song skips.

Songza’s formula, and those of other music services, which determine what a listener hears, all fall under the broad term “curation.” All music services that provide some degree of interactivity deploy a curation strategy. The underpinning of that strategy is subject to trend and vogue. How has music curation evolved, and what is the trend this year which is driving acquisitions?
Continue Reading

Editor’s Notebook: Radio, disaster relief, and performance royalties

Inside Radio noted (paywall link here) that a group of Nebraska radio stations has donated $5,000 to the Red Cross for disaster relief after storms ripped through parts of the state. This sort of radio activism on behalf of local communities ties into traditional radio values of locality and community service. More particularly it resonates with recent arguments, in press releases and government hearings, against applying music-licensing performance royalties to broadcast radio. Continue Reading


Editor’s Notebook: Bette Midler’s rage against the stream is a case study in confusion

Bette Midler is the latest high-profile musician to launch a complaint about revenue from music streaming, a meme that we refer to as the Spotify Debate. Spotify and Pandora bear the lash of musicians’ anger more than most other services — and suffer the resulting confusion, too. Continue Reading