"Future use of the Internet will be among the greatest challenges the new Congress faces."
—--MP3.com CEO Michael Robertson


Our Guide To The Guides That Are
Guiding The Tech World
Following in the grand tradition of such lobbying heavyweights as tobacco companies, pharmaceutical congloms and the Christian Coalition, MP3.com has produced a Congressional Guide, featuring photos and biographies of the 535 members of the 107th U.S. Congress. "We thought an introduction to the new Congress by an Internet service provider is appropriate," proclaims the netco's CEO, Michael Robertson, in his preface to the guide, "since future use of the Internet will be among the greatest challenges the new Congress faces." With the guide, MP3.com intends to position itself as a familiar force among lawmakers and make nice-nice to protect its embattled My.MP3.com service. No word on whether or not Sen. Orrin Hatch will participate in the "Payback for Playback" program. Meanwhile, the music service provider has launched its Premium Artist Service to help musicians promote themselves online. The upper-tier service costs $19.99 a month; while participating acts will still be able to post music on the site for free, the additional bucks buy them banner ads and priority placement in the site's search engine, among other perks. Payment is accepted in FedEx envelopes only.

Digital media promotions company Digital Payloads announced that it has made its "Payload" technology compatible with Windows Media Audio (WMA). The company embeds marketing and promotional campaigns into licensed MP3 and WMA files, displaying pretty pictures and words while music files play, with links directing listeners to label or artist websites. Said Digital Payloads CEO John Brewer, "Payloads will become the value-added tracks that drive fans to new subscription models in the way AOL and Earthlink drove millions of subscribers to their services via promotional CDs and diskettes. But if it turns out I'm wrong, who's gonna remember?"

Late last week, the National Association of Broadcasters filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District against Marybeth Peters, the U.S. Register of Copyrights. Last month Peters ruled that the Digital Millenium Copyright Act of 1998 does not exempt terrestrial broadcasters from paying webcast royalites. The Copyright Office's ruling obliges broadcasters to pay millions in royalties to labels. The NAB's suit challenging the decision states that album sales are helped by radio and that ASCAP and BMI fees—which go to songwriters, not performers as webcast royalties do—pretty much cover things. Whew! This is almost as riveting as work-for-hire.

The Walt Disney Company today announced that it is dismantling its Go.com network and folding its Internet properties, Disney Internet Group, into the company's television division. The dissolution of Go.com operations has resulted in 400 layoffs, mostly of employees based in Sunnyvale, CA. In a prepared statement, Disney CEO Michael Eisner said, "The Internet continues to be a central focus of our company's business strategy. We believe this action should help us gain greater competitive advantage as we leverage Disney's creative content, brands and other assets." Disney's digital restructuring follows close upon the decision of News Corp.'s Fox division to move its sites under its TV properties umbrella and Viacom's reclaiming of sole control of its Internet operations from the MTVi Group.

has jumped on the XM bandwidth bandwagon. The Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. affiliate has agreed to produce XM Satellite Radio-capable radios for installation in new vehicles. XM radios, which promise up to 100 digital music, sports, talk and news channels coast to coast, will also be manufactured by Sony, Alpine and Pioneer, among others. XM's first satellite is scheduled to launch February 28 and broadcasting is scheduled to begin this summer.

What's gotten just as much hype as the dot-com phenom, but is twice as meaningless? As you've doubtless read about 600 times already, SamDirect Internet.MU Inc (SDI) is offering up the dot-MU domain, targeting musicians and music industry entities. Limp Bizkit, Columbia Records, Garth Brooks, Korn, Diamond Rio and other artists and agencies have already staked their claim in .MU-ville. On a related note, bids continue to increase for the dot-FU domain.