Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I Tunes reps 1 in every 4 songs sold in the US...

August 18, 2009 8:41 AM PDT

iTunes reps 1 in every 4 songs sold in U.S.
Faced with heat from iTunes and other digital downloads, the nearly-three-decade-old music CD is slowly melting away.

iTunes-purchased songs now account for 25 percent of the overall music market--both physical and digital--in the U.S., says an NPD Group report released Tuesday.
However, CDs are still the most popular format for music lovers, winning a 65 percent slice of the market for the first half of 2009.

Digital music downloads have jumped in recent years, said NPD, hitting 35 percent of the overall market for the first half of this year, compared with 30 percent last year and 20 percent in 2007.

For the first half of 2009, iTunes itself snagged a 69 percent share of the overall digital music arena, trailed far behind by with 8 percent.

"The growth of legal digital music downloads, and Apple's success in holding that market, has increased iTunes's overall strength in the retail music category," said Russ Crupnick, entertainment industry analyst for NPD Group.

The CD, though, marches on.
Among CD retailers, Wal-Mart leads with a 20 percent chunk of the physical music market, said NPD.
Best Buy took a 16 percent share, followed by Target and Amazon at 10 percent each.

Still, the days of the CD seem numbered.

"Many people are surprised that the CD is still the dominant music delivery format, given the attention to digital music and the shrinking retail footprint for physical products," said Crupnick.
"But with digital music sales growing at 15 to 20 percent, and CDs falling by an equal proportion, digital music sales will nearly equal CD sales by the end of 2010."

Correction at 3:30 p.m.: The venerable audio CD is actually 27 years old.

How to Make Money Off the New Socialism
Pouring precious resources into Detroit, argues Esquire's financial columnist, was a bad fix for the long-term crisis in which we're mired.
So, things in our strangled economy are going to be slow for a while, but luckily there are havens against the excesses of our bailout government — gold and McDonald's.

By Ken Kurson

The smartest observation I've come across during our country's eight-month-long rush toward socialism came from the pot-smoking, gravel-voiced lead singer of Staind.
Aaron Lewis was explaining why he opposed government bailouts on The Howard Stern Show.
Robin Quivers asked him whether — if the government did not prop up the car companies — even more people might lose their jobs.
Lewis responded, That's not the government's role.

"Oh, you're one of those," observed Quivers.

I'm one of those, too.

I'm one of those who believe our economy has thrived by culling the herd: Let strong companies compete and prosper.
Allow weak companies to fail.
Instead, we've spent most of the last year doing pretty much the exact opposite.
We handed out jillions to banks without demanding proof that they'd commit social usefulness with that stimulus in the form of actual stimulating.
We tried propping up the domestic auto industry for sentimental reasons and watched oceans of taxpayer dollars disappear alongside money from everyone else who loaned to Chrysler and GM in good faith.

But fixing Detroit should never have been a national priority.
Neither should propping up failed financial-services firms.
It's a classic and admirable American impulse — heroic measures to extend the life of some miserable old fogy by 15 minutes.
But the fortune that's spent on the liver transplant an 85-year-old receives is gone for good when it's time to provide basic care to the 25-year-olds this country will rely upon in the future.

There is no way America will recover from this long-term economic crisis by borrowing from the Chinese to buy Chinese-made goods.
Higher unemployment and a devalued dollar cannot be avoided in that scenario. U. S. industrial production from January 2008 to January 2009 fell by a shocking 11 percent,
even as Chinese industrial production rose 4 percent during the same period — hardly the "global" crisis we've been sold.
The only way out is to let shitty companies die and pour our resources — as producers and consumers — into companies that can actually compete.

Happily for investors, there are great ways to play this.
My top plays are both politically based.
If you don't accept my two premises — that regulation strangles markets and that economies cannot thrive without a healthy manufacturing sector — then you should not follow this advice.

Gold is my very favorite.
Until recently, goldbugs had only two bad options:
1) buy gold-related companies, like miners, which exposes you to all the foibles of any company (bad management, leaner competition),
2) buy bars of gold, which makes you a target for both robbery and ridicule, since there's something vaguely off-the-grid about people who stockpile gold.
Now there's a spider that allows a pure play.
Look at a chart of SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) over the last year and it's instantly clear:
Gold shoots up in direct relation to American commitments to greater spending.
That's telekinesis, Kyle, the power to move you.

Then there's McDonald's (MCD).
No American company has proven nimbler at anticipating changes in the culture and pretending to adapt to them.
You want healthy?
We're a wrap store with salads.
You want fancy lattes?
We're coming damn close to doing to Starbucks what it did to thousands of indie coffee shops.
Its sheer size — 32,000 restaurants — makes that dexterity all the more impressive.
I'm even more impressed by a forward PE under 14, PS under $3, and a dividend that still kicks out $2 a share.
Like Marlboro before it, McD's is an unlikely status symbol throughout the developing world, and any health challenges posed by nanny states will crumble before its ability to pretend it's something other than a week's worth of calories packed into one Mega Mac (four patties and a slice of cheese, available in Japan).

How to Play the Death of Capitalism
Enormous change brings enormous opportunities, and there are sectors where America will continue to lead.
Agriculture, marketing, entertainment, iconic brands, and even some slivers of manufacturing — such as small weapons and heavy machinery — can continue to thrive.
My favorites: Agent Orange, Roundup, rBGH "food" manufacturer Monsanto (MON).
And John Deere (DE), whose earth-moving machines have proven cheaper to buy than to copy and, more important, trades at less than $11 PE with almost $4 a share in earnings.
Other sectors, subject to politburo regulation or forced to "compete" with the government, will struggle.
Betting against big pharmaceutical companies — Merck (MRK) is the most worrisome — and just about any large financial firm that isn't already ruined should be profitable.

Re-Repackaging the Beatles

By Dominic Patten

You could call it a cottage industry, but that would miss the point of the millions and millions of albums and singles that the Beatles have released and sold since they broke up in 1970.

In fact, "Let It Be," the last Beatles album, is technically a post-break up album as it was actually released on May 8, 1970 -- just under a month after Paul McCartney announced publicly he was leaving the band.

Since they split, the Beatles have had a fairly steady series of releases -- and that’s just as a band, as solo artists, the greatest hits and compilations have come fast and furiously as well.

Now, some of these Beatles compilations, such as “Rock N Roll Music” and “Love Songs” were released by record companies without any imput or permission from the former Beatles.

Not that they didn’t have their fingers in other releases -- the band did agree to let Capitol Records put out “The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl” in 1977.

And other compilations -- like the famed multi-platinum “Red” and “Blue” greatest hits albums that everyone seemed to have in the 1970s and the multi-disc “Anthology” series in the mid-1990s -- had the personal touch of the Fab Four all over them.

In fact, while the band released only 12 albums together, they have released over two dozen since calling it a day.

For good reason:

“Beatles 1,” released over 30 years after the band split, proved one of their most successful releases ever, selling over 31 million copies worldwide.

Which isn’t bad at all for what is, really" 1982’s "20 Greatest Hits," with George Harrison's “Something” added.

Ladies and gentlemnen, the complete post-breakup Beatles:


"1962-1966: The Red Album"
"1967-1970: The Blue Album"


"Rock N Roll Music" (re-released in 1980 as two volumes)


"Live! at the Star-Club in Hamburg, Germany"
"The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl"
"Love Songs"


"The Beatles Collection" (box set)




"Reel Music" (Beatles music from their movies)
"20 Greatest Hits"


The first official US releases of the band’s early U.K. albums:
"Please Please Me"
"With the Beatles"
"A Hard’s Day Night"
"Beatles for Sale"
"Rubber Soul"


"Past Masters Vol. 1"
"Past Masters Vol. II"
"The Beatles Box Set" (the albums released in CD format)


"Live at the BBC"


"Anthology 1"
"Anthology II"


"Anthology III"


"Yellow Submarine" (soundtrack)


"Beatles 1"


"Let It Be … Naked"


"The Capitol Albums Vol. I"


"Capitol Albums Vol. II"

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