Home entertainment revenues have been on a steady decline in the U.K. since 2008, but in 2013, that trend got reversed by Netflix and Amazon’s Lovefilm, according to a report from the Guardian. Video subscription services like Netflix and Lovefilm grew 120 percent last year, the paper said, quoting a recent report by the British Entertainment Retailers Association. Digital music services like Spotify and Deezer also fared well, growing 34 percent, but physical media sales were down 8 percent, and now only make up 40 percent of the home entertainment market.
Well, that was fast. Neil Young’s Pono startup, which wants to build a high-resolution digital music player by the same name, shot past its $800,000 funding goal on day one of its Kickstarter campaign. Pono launched a Kickstarter campaign to finance the production of its player Tuesday morning, and at 10pm, it already had raised more than $925,000. This also means that the discounted $200 Pono players are all gone, but backers can still secure a player for $300, which is $100 less than what Pono wants to sell the device for this fall.
Beats Music raised a big round of new funding, according to multiple reports that put the total amount raised between $60 million and $100 million. The new raise comes after Beats secured a $60 million round of financing a year ago, once again proving the point that digital music is a really expensive business. Beats competitor Spotify, for instance, has raised close t0 $540 million so far, and is now looking to go public to bring in more cash.
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The Kickstarter campaign for Pono, the high-resolution music startup founded by Neil Young, is live, with an ambitious goal: Pono wants to raise $800,000 within the next 34 days to fund the production of its portable music player. Early backers have a chance to pick up a Pono player for $200, as opposed to the $400 retail price it will be selling for this fall. Other rewards include posters signed by Neil Young and a private dinner with the rock star. The campaign page also includes a few more technical details, including that Pono will play FLAC files with bit rates of up to 9216 kbps.
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After months of rumors, Warner Bros. is now making its $18 million investment in Los Angeles-based YouTube network Machinima official. The investment comes after Machinima was forced to lay off 30 percent of its staff last week, including its entire ad sales department. So why buy a stake in a struggling company? Because it buys the studio access to a young male audience for relatively little risk, argues Variety.
Neil Young is set to unveil his Pono music player at SXSW this week. The unveiling comes after the startup switched hardware partners in the last few months. Read more »
Connected speaker maker Sonos announced Monday that it generated $535 million in revenue in 2013. This represents a 97 percent year-over-year growth, according to a company spokesperson. Sonos got a nice boost in sales after introducing its $200 Play-1 speaker last year, with some retailers struggling to keep the device in stock during the holiday season. This year around, Sonos is facing a number of new competitors, with everyone from chipset makers to startups like Beep rushing into the internet-connected speakers market.
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Vudu, the Walmart-owned premium video service, is adding Chromecast support to its iOS and Android app soon. Vudu announced the upcoming Chromecast support on its website Sunday, adding that users will also be able to cast video straight from the Vudu website. Google opened up the Google Cast SDK to developers a month ago, but so far, there haven’t been any new apps from major publishers. However, both Rdio and Beats Music have announced that they’re working on adding Chromecast support to their apps as well.
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Apple has been pushing for a windowed release strategy for new music, according to a Billboard report. In talks with record label executives, Apple has pointed to the latest Beyonce album as a possible blueprint for future releases: iTunes offered Beyonce’s self-titled album as an exclusive for one week when it was released in December. After that, it also sold at other retailers, but Spotify and other streaming services only got two tracks. Apple executives think that such windows could boost digital downloads, which declined by 5.7 percent last year.
Updated: This story has been corrected to reflect that it declined 5.7 percent last year, not 57 percent.
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