Born To Leak

Bruce Springsteen’s upcoming album, Magic, won’t be released until October 2nd, but the entire song-set, plus a bonus track, appeared on the Internet on Friday, September 7th.

Usually, those responsible for leaking such a high-profile upcoming album on the Net almost a full month before its release would be tracked down, beaten, killed, buried and then dug up and beaten again.

But the album was still available on one particular Web site six days after the tracks first appeared on the Net, leading to speculation that the leak might have been intentional, and that the files either came from the label itself or someone in the Springsteen camp.

The reason for this thinking is that the album’s release date is the first date of the tour. Since Springsteen’s fans are a rather vocal bunch, it’s hard to imagine them going to a concert by their hero without already knowing the words and melodies to all the new songs.

Whether the leak will impact sales is anyone’s guess. If sales are less than expected, Sony BMG could claim the leak was responsible. But if CD sales go through the roof, Springsteen’s people can take credit for a brilliant viral marketing maneuver.

Most online discussions about the download included messages from fans saying that even though they downloaded the album, they would still buy the CD.

"I’m gonna hold out & not download the full CD. Call me old-fashioned or
whatever but I’d rather wait for the official release," wrote one fan on the newsgroup, adding, "However . . . I wouldn’t mind treating myself to maybe another couple of tracks. Anyone know of a link where I could get any MP3 versions?"


Apple’s iCredit

Apple CEO Steve Jobs drew plenty of applause when he introduced the new iPod Touch during a press conference at San Francisco’s Moscone Center. In fact, the Apple-heads were banging their hands together in response to each and every announcement from their saint and savior, including the news that the company was cutting $200 from the iPhone’s price tag.

But it didn’t take long before the first iPhone buyers, the ones who lined up days in advance outside stores in anticipation of the gadget’s June 29th onsale date, started crying foul!

Yes, just fewer than10 weeks after the high-tech aficionados went nuts over Apple’s latest gadget from its profitable line of lowercase "i" products, the company cut a third off iPhone’s price, effectively penalizing loyal customers for being, well, loyal.

So Apple met early iPhone buyers half way, by offering them a $100 credit toward other Apple products.

Jobs explained his company’s reasoning in an open letter on the Apple Web site that he had received "hundreds of emails" from customers complaining about the price drop. Jobs then went on to make a few observations.

"First, I am sure that we are making the correct decision to lower the price of the 8GB iPhone from $599 to $399, and that now is the right time to do it," Jobs wrote. "iPhone is a breakthrough product, and we have the chance to ‘go for it’ this holiday season … It benefits both Apple and every iPhone user to get as many new customers as possible in the iPhone ‘tent.’ We strongly believe the $399 price will help us do just that this holiday season."

Jobs went on to write that the "technology road is bumpy" and "there is always someone who bought a product before a particular cutoff date and misses the new price or the new operating system or the new whatever. This is life in the technology lane."

But that didn’t mean the Applemeister was telling his customers they were out of luck. Instead, in the paragraph leading to the $100 credit announcement, Jobs wrote, ". . . we need to do a better job taking care of our early iPhone customers as we aggressively go after new ones with a lower price. Our early customers trusted us, and we must live up to that trust with our actions in moments like these."

By the way, a few days after Jobs posted his message, the Apple media machine announced it had sold 1 million iPhones since June 29th. With most of that sales action occurring under the original $599 price, it looks as if someone at Apple is going to have his or her hands full issuing those $100 credits.


MusicNet’s Latin Connection

MusicNet has partnered with Hispanic retailer La Curacao to develop what it is calling the "first ever full-featured Hispanic-focused digital music service."

Called Pasito Tunes, the service will launch by the end of the year, providing bilingual access and featuring song categorization in several Latin musical genres including salsa, merengue, cumbia, Tex-Mex, reggaeton, bachata, rancheras, baladas and more.

The blueprint has MusicNet providing the technological foundation while La Curacao flexes its marketing muscle to spread the word among its Hispanic customer base. Customers will be able to purchase subscriptions and à la carte downloads at La Curacao retail outlets and online at

"La Curacao has a unique relationship with its customers, " said Reuven Hayun, the company’s head of business development. "True to our slogan, ‘Un Poco De Su Pais – A Little Of Your Country,’ we have sought to provide a pleasurable, comfortable and familiar in-store atmosphere. Music has always been rooted in the vibrant Hispanic culture and La Curacao shopping experience."



For those who don’t cotton to music players sold by companies named after fruit that grows on trees, Sony is betting those same people might prefer a gadget that resembles hen fruit.

It’s called "Rolly," and the egg-shaped player weighs 11 ounces, comes with a gig of flash memory and is small enough to fit into the palm of your hand.

But if that wasn’t enough to grab your interest, you might want to consider one of Rolly’s most noticeable features – it dances.

The device, which looks like an egg with flaps on either end, moves, spins and flaps in time to the music it’s playing. Its sensors enable users to control volume by turning the player clockwise or counterclockwise, and song selection is controlled by pushing and pulling the device.

But don’t look for the $350 egg anytime soon on American store shelves, or, for that matter, in retail stores throughout most of the world. Right now Sony plans to market the Rolly only in Japan where it will go up against the Miuro, a device shaped like a ball within an egg that moves in time to the music when attached to an iPod.


Ring A Ding Ding

Here’s a switch – ringtones for your land line.

Up until now the ringtone biz has been all about cell phones. Now Universal Music and Home Phone Tunes think land lines could also use a little ringtone love.

The Ringboxx is a small device about the size of a garage door remote control. When connected to a computer, users can download ringtones to the Ringboxx, which they then disconnect from the computer and attach it to a landline. Because the Ringboxx also acts as a caller I.D. device, users can assign specific ringtones to individual callers.

Universal is the first major label to license music for the Ringboxx, joining indie digital music distributor Orchard on the hard-connection platform.

"Universal Music Group is excited to lead the industry in our partnership with Home Phone Tunes to make our music available for the first time to the home phone," said Rio Caraeff, Executive VP of eLabs, Universal’s new media and technologies division. "The Ringboxx is a natural and innovative way to provide entertainment and personalization for today’s modern home."