Spotify wouldn't offer as much free music here

Spotify has struck its first licensing agreement with one of the four largest record companies and is closing in on a second deal, but what is it costing the European music service to open up shop in the United States?

The answer is plenty. The impasse that has prevented Spotify from acquiring U.S. music rights for more than a year has forced the streaming service to make significant concessions to the record labels, multiple music industry sources told CNET on Monday.

Not only has Spotify sweetened its financial offer to the top labels, but the streaming-music service has agreed … Read more

Spotify closing in on label deals

The four major record labels are warming up to Spotify, the popular European streaming music service trying to launch in the United States.

Spotify is still without signed contracts to license music from any top label and there are still numerous points to be negotiated, but the company has never been closer to finalizing deals than now, said multiple sources with knowledge of the talks.

One of the ways that Spotify has stirred the labels is by offering big money advances, the sources said. The amount could not be verified. Spokespeople for Spotify and the labels either were not immediately … Read more

Stats don't support hype: Digital music is ailing

commentary If you want to get a sense of both the wishful thinking and the likeliness of dashed dreams for people investing in the digital-music business, click over to your Netflix queue and rent a copy of the 1962 musical "The Music Man."

Humor me here: "The Music Man," first a Broadway play, tells the story of a traveling huckster who convinces people in small towns that he can teach their tin-eared kids to play a musical instrument--all he needs is money to buy their trumpets and whatnot. And what happens once they give him his … Read more

MySpace restores Imeem playlists

I criticized MySpace for burying Imeem when it bought the company last month, but it looks like MySpace is finally making good on its promise to let Imeem users transfer their music.

Imeem users began receiving e-mails on Friday explaining that they could now import their old Imeem playlists to MySpace, turning them into MySpace playlists. All they have to do is log in to MySpace, enter the e-mail address they used for Imeem into this form, and their playlists should automatically be transferred to the new service.

Unfortunately, I didn't save any of my music on Imeem in … Read more

Westergren keeps promise: Pandora profitable

Pandora, the popular music recommendation and online radio service, said Tuesday that it has recorded its first quarterly profit and is now striving to be profitable for all of 2010.

"We became profitable for the fourth quarter of 2009, and now we're shooting for profits for the entire 2010 [period]," Tom Conrad, Pandora's chief technology officer, told GigaOm.

While Pandora has yet to reach profitability for a full year, breaking the barrier--even for a quarter--is an accomplishment for the ravaged digital music sector.

Among the so-called Web 2.0 digital music services that sprang up in … Read more

MySpace buries Imeem

Here's an interesting study in contrasts. When MySpace acquired iLike back in August, MySpace left the site mostly intact. The iLike home page is still there, you can still add iLike's music-finding and sharing application to your Facebook page, and iLike is given prominent placement in Google search results for music-related queries, thanks to an October deal between MySpace and Google. (That deal also included several other companies.)

On Tuesday, MySpace completed its acquisition of Imeem, a service that used to let users upload music and videos and share playlists. In the press release announcing the finalization of … Read more

Did Apple pay $80 million or $17 million for Lala?

Two prominent technology writers are reporting vastly different stories about what Apple paid for music service Lala.

Peter Kafka, from The Wall Street Journal-owned blog All Things Digital, cited anonymous sources in a Monday report who said Apple plunked down $80 million for Lala. In a story published Tuesday, Michael Arrington at TechCrunch cited his own sources who disputed that price and said Lala was acquired for $17 million.

I wish I knew who was right, but my reporting came up with nothing solid. I will say that from the second I heard Kafka's number I was skeptical. After … Read more

Apple confirms acquisition of music site Lala

Apple has acquired struggling streaming music service Lala, an Apple spokesman told CNET News on Sunday.

Apple spokesman Steve Dowling confirmed the acquisition but did not disclose the terms of the deal or what the company intends to do with the 4-year-old Lala. The company scans users' hard drives and creates a duplicate music library that owners can access from Web-enabled devices. The company also sells songs for a dime each.

CNET News reported Friday that Apple was close to finalizing the sale and that one of the reasons Apple was interested in acquiring Lala is to obtain some of the company's payment and fulfillment systems, … Read more

Sources: Apple wants technology from struggling Lala

Update 6:21 p.m. PST: The New York Times and Wall Street Journal are reporting that Apple and Lala have struck a deal.

Apple acquired Lala on Friday, unlikely offering much for the streaming-music service.

Sources with knowledge of the discussion told me Apple is interested in bringing some of Lala's engineers onboard. According to the sources, Apple is impressed by Lala's technology. The 4-year-old Lala scans users' hard drives and creates a duplicate music library that they can access from Web-enabled devices. The company also sells songs for a dime each.

I posted a story on … Read more

Apple in 'advanced' acquisition talks with Lala

Update 1:32 p.m. PST to include some of the reasons sources say Apple is interested in Lala.

Apple is close to acquiring digital-music service Lala, according to two sources with knowledge of the discussions.

Talks are very advanced, the sources said Friday. One said that the sides have already agreed on terms and have only to sign a final agreement. (Update 6:21 p.m. PST: The New York Times and Wall Street Journal are reporting that Apple and Lala have struck a deal.)

Steve Dowling, Apple's spokesman, said the company doesn't comment on rumors and … Read more