Grooveshark to be sued by Warner and Sony

Will Grooveshark be the next LimeWire? The streaming music service is going to be sued by Warner Music and Sony Music, according to a report from the New York Times. This could mark a shift in litigation from P2P services to streaming music providers.

Upset YouTube Users Strike Back at Music Biz

Two German music fans were fed up with geo-blocking on YouTube, which has been preventing them from accessing music videos from major-label artists. So they turned the tables and started to block employees of major music labels from accessing popular blogs and other websites.

Imeem’s Recap Round Doesn’t Include Sequoia

imeem_logoImeem lost a key backer when the social music site raised its last round of financing this spring: Sequoia Capital. The stalwart VC firm, which invested in Imeem’s Series A round and followed on at least one other time, has apparently lost confidence in the startup’s ability to reap profits from free ad-supported music streams, and was largely washed out in the recapitalization round. Existing shareholders Morgenthaler Ventures and Warner Music Group (s WMG) provided money in the round, worth about $6 million, which first came to light in May. Read More about Imeem’s Recap Round Doesn’t Include Sequoia

YouTube Blocks Music Vids in UK

The appropriate soundtrack for the latest music kerfuffle for YouTube (s GOOG) would be “The Sound of Silence,” that is, if they let you hear it. Because of stalled negotiations with the UK’s Performing Rights Society (PRS), YouTube has blocked thousands of music videos in that country.

YouTube posted the following statement on its blog yesterday:

Our previous license from PRS for Music has expired, and we’ve been unable so far to come to an agreement to renew it on terms that are economically sustainable for us. There are two obstacles in these negotiations: prohibitive licensing fees and lack of transparency.

The PRS issued its own response:

Google has told us they are taking this step because they wish to pay significantly less than at present to the writers of the music on which their service relies, despite the massive increase in YouTube viewing.

The PRS also said that it did not ask YouTube to block the music videos, and that the action was done while the two were in the middle of negotiating.

If all this sounds familiar, it should. YouTube has had a rough go of it with music issues for the past few months. In December, YouTube got into a spat with Warner Music Group (s TWX) that resulted in music from that label being removed from the site. But not all negotiations for the video site have ended in lost content. YouTube reportedly reached an agreement with Sony (s SNE) earlier this year and just last week it was reported that YouTube and Universal Music Group (s GE) were working together on a standalone music site to be called “Vevo.”

Labels Looking to Hook Up With Hulu?

A week after Warner Music and YouTube got into a public spat resulting in Warner music videos being pulled from the site, The Financial Times is reporting that major music labels might strike up a deal with premium content darling Hulu. Options being mulled by the the labels reportedly include partnering with Hulu, creating a premium service on YouTube, or creating a standalone venture (similar to Hulu). The FT doesn’t get too specific with its reporting when it comes to the Hulu news, writing only that:

Representatives of two music companies, who would not be named, said they were in discussions with Hulu, adding that no partnership announcement was imminent but that the site appeared to be the favoured partner. “If it happens at all it will be with Hulu,” one said.

Here the bump in one party’s head fits the hole in the other. YouTube has the audience (both in size and target demographic), but hasn’t monetized those eyeballs effectively yet. Hulu can monetize its audience, but isn’t nearly as big as YouTube. The music labels have all the content, but a joint venture between those control freaks would most likely wind up being a nightmare for its creators and users.

The labels’ would be smart to put their content on Hulu. With music videos responsible for so much of its traffic, losing them would be the kick in the pants YouTube needs and provide incentive for YouTube to come up with a better way to monetize that traffic. The trick for Hulu would be adding a ton of content without junking up its interface.

YouTube, Music Labels: Stop Crying Over Spilt Milk

youtubelogoAmazing! I have been watching the spat between Google’s YouTube and Warner Music Group (s WMG) play out in the media — both online and in its offline variants. The bottom line of this corporate he said she said is that there are no more music videos that feature Warner artists such as Madonna. And a lot of it is two parties crying over spilt milk.

Warner complains it doesn’t make any money from Google (s GOOG), even though music videos are extremely popular on YouTube and are major drivers of traffic to the site. According to The New York Times, Warner made $639 million in digital revenues for fiscal year 2008, of which less than 1 percent (or less than $6.39 million) came from YouTube. Another Fellow music labels might soon follow Warner’s suit and try and renegotiate with YouTube or opt out all together. Read More about YouTube, Music Labels: Stop Crying Over Spilt Milk

Amazon Now Offers Warner DRM-Free Downloads

Amazon.com (AMZN) has added DRM free downloads from Warner Music Group to its MP3 store, something Apple is yet to offer on its iTunes music store. With 2.9 million songs available for download, the Amazon MP3 store is a very legitimate player in the digital music business, and a true competitor to Apple, which has 5.5 million songs available but majority are protected by Apple’s own DRM.

I liked the download service when it first launched, and have often bought music from them, though it still doesn’t come close to the convenience and ease of use of the Apple’s iTunes.