Digital Marketing News Update – Online Music Update and the Sony Security Breach

 

Online music updates.

With the race now on between Apple and Google to launch a cloud music service hotting up, there seems to be a bit of shuffling around for many music based services. Reports this week indicate that Apple is the next in line with its offering and rumours are that they are moving fast and already have deals in place with at least two of the four big labels.

 

Apple also appear to be loosening their historically tight restrictions on iTunes only access to music by extending the user’s ability to play tracks in other user’s collections. The rumour mill cranked up a notch in the last few days when reports indicated that Apple has purchased the icloud.com domain from Xcerion who have rebranded their cloud services CloudMe. So far Apple has declined to comment on the rumours.

 

While there are no details yet as to what Apple’s new service will look like, we can probably expect the basic features to include online storage, multi device access to songs bought on iTunes as well as access to other users.

 

In an interesting twist to the tale though, it appears Apple have authorised an app in its store which allows users to search for, play and download any song they want. And it’s legal! The app has been tested and works as described so it’s a wonder how this got approved by Apple. Perhaps Apple is beginning to position itself as a gateway for accessing music rather than forcing users to manage their music collections through its software alone.

 

While Facebook are moving their own product forward, Google is rumoured to be partnering up with Spotify which took a bit of a hit recently after reducing the access on its free service and angering users. But that’s not the only development Spotify has up its sleeve with news announced this week that it is soon to be offering streaming movies as well as music and has already a number of deals with major music studios. The company also appears to be pushing its negotiations with Facebook over its long awaited U.S. launch.

 

Finding new music through Facebook has also become a talking point this week after RootMusic publicly criticised the company for not providing a platform which supports the promotion of artists and their music. The criticism seems to be fuelled by Facebook’s constant changing of its platform which often threatens the success of other entertainment segments who build followings only to find that a change has been made which impacts on their ability to engage with their target audience. But with the sale of myspace expected to go through in the next few weeks, Facebook could be well placed to build it’s own capacity as a source for discovering new music.

 

Another interesting offering to the online music and gaming industry is iRok2 which allows users to download gaming tracks and play along to their favourite songs. Tracks are pulled down from youtube which gives the user access to almost any track they like as well as promoting new music through their “Daily Track” option. It’s certainly a fun way to discover new music and having tried it out I’m definitely a fan. If you like guitar hero you’ll love this.

 

And as if all of that wasn’t enough, U.S. based music video service Vevo has launched in the UK in its first step outside of the U.S. market. U.K. users can access all of its video contact including music videos, live events, interviews and performance coverage. The company is also looking into potential deals with U.K. TV channels to expand its service even further.

It seems some big changes are starting to hit the online music industry and it will be interesting to see what the landscape looks like once the dust starts to settle.

Editor: If I can do what I do with Last.fm or Spotify through iTunes and it connects to Genius, that will be the end of anything other than iTunes for me. One of the key reasons I stick to a pure Apple platform is that everything is integrated, and streaming music has been the missing piece for me. One great advantage of Last.fm though was the amount of small independent labels and music that is included. Without this, the sense of discovery you get when coming across new music will be fairly lacking. Sacrilege alert: I used Zune through my XBox – its really very good.

Sony hack update

Over two weeks have passed since hackers accessed the personal details of some 77 million accounts on Sony’s online network and while it has issued numerous apologies Sony is still unable to state with any real certainty whether customers’ credit card and bank details were compromised during the raid.

 

Investigations into the security breach are still ongoing and it is unknown when the company’s online services will be back up and running though Sony expect it to be some time this week.

 

While Sony continues to scratch its head over the forensics, one thing is clear; the gaming giant has taken a battering from the world’s media, it’s customers and bloggers across the world. Criticism has come mainly from the lack of communication to customers when Sony realised there had been a breach, waiting almost a week before informing those affected. Now Sony is facing a class action lawsuit amid concerns that it failed to take reasonable care to adequately protect its customers.

 

This recent security breach comes only a few weeks after Epsilon databases were exposed, although their management of the PR around the breach was almost beyond reproach, showing a stark contrast to Sony’s tight lipped and somewhat defensive approach.

 

Sony is still repeating their line that there is no evidence that credit card details were accessed even though some customers have reported incidences of credit card fraud. They appear to be taking the stance of a small child putting their fingers in their ears and singing to drown out the noise around them which doesn’t appear to be impressing anyone.

 

With two major security breaches in such a short space of time, it’s bound to make users question whether their details are safe and if a company like Sony can be compromised what hope is there for smaller, less well resourced companies.

 

Time will tell how Sony fare the storm but one thing is clear they haven’t managed their reputation as well as you’d expect from a company of this size. Sony has issued several apologies now to users but it may be too little too late to do much in the way of damage control.

Editor: The reputation management and online PR efforts have been surprisingly week – I regularly use Sony as a great example of online reputation management. I guess its pretty hard to put a good spin on loosing 70+M peoples data 😉

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