Apple played hardball with labels and acts that allowed their new releases to be featured in Amazon MP3’s Daily Deal promotion, despite iTunes’ undiminished preeminence in music retail.

I.B. BAD ON THE YEAR IN MUSIC: DIGITAL & TOURING

The Action Was Fierce in Two Critical Battlegrounds for the Music Business
Here are the biggest stories of 2010, 12 months of heated activity in all the key sectors of the industry. Today, our in-house pundit looks at digital and touring.

DIGITAL: A decade ago, the mainstream music business was still pretending the Internet didn’t exist; today, the digital realm is the industry’s primary focus and battleground as well as the key to its survival. As always, Apple generated the most headlines and the most revenue, introducing the iPad and the iPhone 4, and finally making a deal with the Beatles, while the stock price rocketed past $300 a share. Apple played hardball with labels and acts that allowed their new releases to be featured in Amazon MP3’s Daily Deal promotion, despite iTunes’ undiminished preeminence in music retail. Google spent much of the year in licensing negotiations with labels and publishers, as the media speculated about the nature of the Internet giant’s much-anticipated music venture, while European subscription service Spotify engaged in talks with the same parties in hopes of creating a U.S. service, but neither company managed to make its hoped-for launch by year’s end. The summer brought a still-unresolved showdown between the UMG-created Vevo and MTV Networks in which clips from UMG and partner Sony Music were pulled down from MTV’s digital platforms, which featured the video catalog of Vevo-holdout Warner Music. The ultimate prize was and is dominance in the ad-supported music-video streaming sector, with Vevo and MTVN both claiming to be on top based on differing formulas.

THE CONCERT BUSINESS: After months of lobbying on Capitol Hill, Live Nation’s Michael Rapino and Ticketmaster Entertainment’s Irving Azoff got approval for the merger of the two companies. But as soon as the champagne corks were popped, the newly formed Live Nation Entertainment and bitter rival AEG Live were buffeted by the most horrific summer touring season in memory, from which the two concert powers are still struggling to recover.

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