They may sound like uneasy partners, but digital music executives, record company executives and Hollywood creative types are caucusing at the Radisson this week for iHollywood Forum's digital music confab, Music 2.0.
The topic is the currently touchy discussion of how digital and mobile platforms basically, music in cell phones can generate revenue in the music business.
About 400 attendees came last year, and the organizers expect a similar crowd this year. Two of the biggest sponsors are Santa Monica-based Yahoo Music, the subscription music service of Yahoo Inc., and New York City-based AOL Music, part of America Online Inc. AOL is preparing to launch a subscription-based music service of its own this spring called AOLMusicNow.
Yahoo Music's General Manager David Goldberg will give a keynote address at the conference, as will Eric Flannigan, general manager for AOL Music, Movies and TV. Both Flannigan and Goldberg are based in Los Angeles, even though their companies are headquartered elsewhere.
"We've been in the music space for quite some time, and the big events are always in L.A. and New York," said Ann Junod Burkart, spokeswoman for America Online. AOL Productions, the original content division, has had operations in L.A. for a decade, though it's recently ballooned to more than 150 employees. Some of AOL's business positions including Burkart recently relocated to Culver City. In short, AOL has been expanding its L.A. presence. "Between the record labels, the entertainment and the movie industry, there's an important audience for us to reach here," Burkart said.
Apple Computer Inc.'s iTunes was an early entrant into the mobile arena last year with its Rokr phone, from Motorola Inc., which injected 100 songs from iTunes into a Motorola Razr phone. It received mixed reviews.
Verizon Communications Inc.'s third-generation network, called Vcast, offers downloadable music onto phones, and Ted Casey, head of mobile music for Verizon also will be addressing the Music 2.0 conference.
Other carriers are trying to follow. European telecom giant Ericsson partnered with Napster Inc. to offer its music service to subscribers in certain areas, starting with SunCom Wireless Inc., a carrier in the Southeast and Puerto Rico. Sprint PCS partnered with RealNetwork Inc.'s Rhapsody in September to offer the service to PCS Vision customers. This week, Helio a joint venture between South Korea's SK Telekom and Earthlink Networks Inc. partnered with networking site MySpace.com.
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