EMI Cutting One-Third of Jobs – EMI Group PLC – whose record labels include EMI Classics, Angel, Virgin and Capitol – own the rights to over a million songs. Last year it was acquired by a private equity firm and this week it announced a restructuring plan which will save about $400 million a year but lay off from 1500 to 2000 jobs from their work force in the next six months.
Apple Launches Movie Download Service – At the annual Macworld Conference and Expo in San Francisco, Apple announced that their iTunes will begin renting downloads of movies. Pricing ranges from $3 for classics to $5 for hi-def movies – of which they so far stock 100 titles. Users can download and watch a movie any time within 30 days, but they can take no longer than 24 hours to view one movie. This is the same pricing as Amazon’s video store; previously iTunes users had to pay about $10 to buy a downloadable movie to watch on their iPod or iPhone.
An allied video service was also announced: Apple and 20th Century Fox are offering Digital Copy for iTunes, which provides customers who purchase a physical DVD with an additional digital copy which can be easily transferred to iTunes and viewed on any home computer, iPod, iPhone or Apple TV. The first DVD offered is the Family Guy “Star Wars” parody, “Blue Harvest.” Each DVD will only transfer its iTunes Digital Copy to a single iTunes library.
iTunes Has a Rival – The big music companies originally praised iTunes because it offered a paid commercial alternative to the rampant illegal downloading of music. But with its great success they are now they are looking for an alternative. They also don’t like the single 99-cent pricing policy for everything, and they would like the iPod to have more stringent antipiracy protections. iTunes downloads – protected with AAC DRM – only play on the wildly-popular iPod.
The largest music companies have begun offering their music without the digital rights management in an effort to level the playing field with iTunes. These MP3 files will play on any digital device, not just iPods. Amazon has a DRM-free service charging only 89 cents for many of its tracks. Wal-Mart sells MP3s from Universal. Best Buy, Target and others are expected to offer similar services. Others are trying music subscription services tied in with cell phone carriers. Certain Nokia phone users receive unlimited Universal downloads for a year. Advertising-supported services are another ploy: users can stream as many songs as they like for free and share them with friends on Imeem. A similar route is being used by the just-launching Q-Trax, offering free downloads.