Showbiz Sandbox 215: How Many Music Streaming Services Does It Take To Make A Profit?

Just when you thought the online music streaming space couldn’t get any more crowded or competitive, along comes Deezer. The French company already boasts 5 million paying subscribers in 80 countries and now plans to launch in the United States, where Spotify and Pandora are the market leaders. However, none of these companies are actually profitable, which may be why services like Rdio went through a round of layoffs in November and Turtable.fm is shuttering.

Profitability seems to be an issue for Sony Pictures too. The movie studio lost $181 million last quarter leading to the announcement of significant cost cutting measures in the wake of some summer box office duds.

Disappointing earnings and a declining subscriber base are also a problem at Time Warner Cable. As telcos and satellite providers continue to erode their market share, rumors have begun swirling that the second largest cable operator in North America might be acquired by one or more of its competitors, including Comcast.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including the Thanksgiving weekend’s record breaking box office, “Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark” lowers the curtains on its Broadway run and the mediocre sales figures of Lady Gaga’s latest album.

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Showbiz Sandbox 161: Patrick Goldstein On Departing The L.A. Times And Seeing The Big Picture

Entertainment reporter Patrick Goldstein surprised everyone two weeks ago in announcing he was leaving the Los Angeles Times after 12 years. His column, The Big Picture, was a must read for anyone in or just following the industry. Goldstein joins us to discuss his departure from the Times, the state of the movie business and where we might be able to read his work in the future.

If one were to look solely at box office alone, they wouldn’t be faulted for believing the film industry was in dire straits. Though receipts were only down 3% to $4.2 billion this summer, movie attendance dropped to a 20 year low in North America.

Televised sports, on the other hand, isn’t having any trouble attracting an audience. In fact, cable networks can’t seem to pay enough for the broadcast rights to sporting events as ESPN proved by signing a multi-billion dollar deal with Major League Baseball.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including why Bruce Willis is mad at iTunes, MTV cancels “Jersey Shore” and how you’ll be able to play, but not hear, Beck’s latest music.

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Showbiz Sandbox 139: Why The Music Industry Is More Brutal Than Ever

With nine different streaming services there are more ways than ever to listen to music these days. With the likes of Spotify, Rhapsody, Rdio, Mog and Pandora all competing for our attention and media dollars, some have argued that there is too much competition in the market and is primed for a major consolidation. Which services will survive and why? Will Amazon, Apple or Google launch there own services? We try to answer all these questions and more.

Meanwhile Harvey Weinstein is once again fighting the MPAA over the ratings for one of his films. Public figures such as Rev. Jesse Jackson joined the chorus of those opposing the R-rating which the Weinstein Company’s school bullying documentary received. Unfortunately, if “Bully” is released without a rating, movie theaters may be forced to treat it as an NC-17 film.

Former co-host Karen Woodward, joins us to run down some of the top entertainment news stories of the week including, James Spader’s departure from “The Office”, Mike Tyson’s Las Vegas show, and Random House trippling the price of e-books for libraries.

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Showbiz Sandbox 137: A Revealing Look At Who Votes For The Oscars

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has never published a complete list of the 5,765 members who cast ballots for their annual Oscars. Despite the secrecy surrounding the Academy’s membership, Nicole Sperling worked for months with her colleagues at the Los Angeles Times to confirm 5,100 members. Sperling explains the method behind the Times’ research and some of the details they uncovered. Did you know only 2% of members are under the age of 40? Neither did we.

While the Academy Awards may celebrate some of the big critical and financial successes of the past year, Aaron Rich, the gentleman blogger behind All The Movies I Watch joins us to discuss some of his top movies of 2011, many of which were overlooked by Oscar voters.

If you watch the Oscars telecast this weekend you’ll probably be doing so through a cable or satellite signal. Aero, a new company backed by the likes of Barry Diller, hopes to change that by providing those wishing to cut their cable cord with a special antenna capable of receiving broadcast television. That is if the inevitable law suits don’t shut them down first.

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Showbiz Sandbox 108: China Becomes Hollywood’s New Best Frenemy

Hollywood movie studios have been raking in the yuan at the Chinese box office over the past year. This despite China missing the most recent World Trade Organization deadline to open its market to more foreign films. Forced to work through government sanctioned monopolies, studios have been aggressive about getting their movies in front of China’s billion plus citizens. Meanwhile, actors such as Christian Bale have headed east to star in China’s big blockbusters, such as Zhang Yimou’s Heroes of Nanking.

Maybe a film from China will be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar in the near future. Of course, contenders will have to figure out the new Best Picture nomination process put forth by the Academy last week. In an effort to create an air of suspense, the number of nominees for the year’s big film prize will fluctuate between 5 and 10 entries, depending on how balloting shakes out. We’ll explain all the new rules.

It looks as if Spotify, the popular European music streaming service, may be launching in the United States as early as July. They’ll go up against well established offerings like Pandora, which went public last week.

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Showbiz Sandbox 96: Why Facebook Is Becoming Your Friendly Neighborhood Video Store

In their never ending quest to replace declining DVD revenue movie studios have begun renting movies on Facebook. Such partnerships are focused on more than just sales, or finding a Netflix competitor, they are also about marketing. As Facebook users rent and purchase movies they’ll be transformed into a social marketing army.

Mel Gibson made headlines again last week accepting a plea deal in his spousal battery case. Whether moviegoers will forgive Gibson for recent ethnic slurs and racist comments will be tested when his next film, “The Beaver”, premieres at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas. Meanwhile, Carlie Sheen, in between streaming his wacky behavior on the Internet, was also headed to court to file a $100 million lawsuit against Warner Bros. and sitcom producer Chuck Lorre.

Julie Taymor joined Sheen on the unemployment line. After spending nine years bringing the Broadway musical “Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark”, Taymor was replaced as the director of the expensive, beleaguered musical.

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