Tech News February 2012

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1. Artists: SoundExchange has free money for you, no Nigerian princes involved

Since its inception, SoundExchange, the organization that collects royalty payments from digital music services like Pandora, has brought in more than $900 million--$292 million of which it collected last year alone   SoundExchange is a non-profit organization, whose main mission is to track down rights holders and distribute royalty payments--a surprisingly difficult mission. Though registering with SoundExchange is a simple and free process, many artists have not claimed their royalties.  If you are a featured recording artist or a sound recording copyright owner (SRCO), you may have earned digital performance royalties for the use of sound recordings you own or on which you performed. Artists and SRCOs should register with SoundExchange as soon as possible: http://soundexchange.com/performer-owner/performer-srco-home/ (Source: Fast Company)

2. Digital downloads overtake physical music sales in the US for first time

Ten years after Steve Jobs promised to reinvent the music industry with the iPod, digital downloads have overtaken physical sales of singles and albums for the first time in the US.  Digital downloads accounted for a record 50.3% of all music sales in the US last year, according to an annual report by Nielsen and Billboard, contributing to a rise in total album sales for the first time since 2004.  The report shows digital album sales passed the 100m mark for the first time in 2011, as London-born Adele dominated the US charts. Individual digital track downloads also set a new record, reaching 1.27bn sales last year – an increase of 100m sales compared to 2010.  However, while music fans flocked to the internet in record numbers, the report shows that vinyl also had something of a resurgence. Vinyl album sales topped 3.9m last year, accounting for a tiny 1.2% of all album sales but shattering the previous record of 2.8m LP sales.  Total US digital sales were up 8.4% year on year in 2011, while physical sales fell 5% to 228m.   (Source: The Guardian)

3. Supreme Court upholds law that pulled foreign works back under copyright

A professor lost his long legal fight to keep thousands of foreign musical scores, books, and other copyrighted works in the public domain when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against him in a case that will affect scholars and artists around the country. The scholar is Lawrence Golan, a music professor and conductor at the University of Denver. He argued that the U.S. Congress did not have the legal authority to remove works from the public domain. It did so in 1994, when the Congress changed U.S. copyright law to conform with an international copyright agreement. The new law reapplied copyright to millions of works, first published abroad between 1889 and 1923, which had long been free for anyone to use without permission.  The Supreme Court heard the case, Golan v. Holder, No. 10-545, last October, and in a 6-to-2 ruling, the justices upheld the changes in U.S. copyright law.  (Source: Chronicle of Higher Education)

4. Sifting the professional From the personal

Among online networking sites, LinkedIn stands out as the specialized one — it’s for professional connections only. That distinction has given it staying power as Facebook’s predecessors have dropped away and as Facebook has grown to dwarf other sites. By keeping professional identity pristinely separate from the personal and the messy, LinkedIn has grown to more than 135 million members in 200 countries.  But challengers have arrived, in the form of apps. Rather than starting from scratch, independent software developers are trying to add a professional layer to Facebook — and are hoping that users will accept a less-than-complete separation of the professional and the personal.  (Source: New York Times)

5. How to create Facebook Timeline covers for your nonprofit

By now you’re probably aware that your Facebook profile has automatically been upgraded to the new timeline layout, which features a large cover at the very top.  The easiest way to create a custom Facebook cover for your organization is to get a designer to create one using Photoshop.  John Haydon provides instructions and a template on how to do this.  (Source: johnhaydon.com)

6. Is Facebook good for fundraising

The answer really depends on how you define "fundraising". There is a difference between “fundraising with Facebook” and “collecting donations with Facebook.”  Understanding the difference is absolutely critical and requires following certain key strategies.  (Source: Frogloop.com)

7. Why 2012 will be year of the artist-entrepreneur

While 2011 was a big year for political unrest, another uprising was afoot in the world of content creators and artists. Everywhere you look, artists are taking more control over their own economic well being, in large part because the Internet has enabled them to do so. You see it in all forms of content, from books, to video to music.  So what is driving this movement towards the artist-entrepreneur that will give it huge momentum in 2012? Here are a few underlying trends:

  • The distribution chain is collapsing across content verticals
  • Content production, distribution and monetization tools are becoming democratized through the web and
  • There are generational shifts towards technology savvy-artists

(Source: Gigaom.com)

8. Simple thoughts about fair use

Copyright is not an absolute. Potato chips are absolute. If this is my potato chip, then it's not yours. You can't touch it, eat it or use it for any reason whatsoever, not without asking first. Copyright doesn't work that way. There is a yin to the yang of copyright protection, and it's called Fair Use.  Most web users should know a few simple guidelines

  • You don't need to ask someone's permission to include a link to their site.
  • You don't need to ask permission to include a screen shot of a website in a directory, comment on that site or parody it.
  • You can quote hundreds of words from a book (for an article or book or on your website) without worrying about it and you certainly don't need a signed release from the original author or publisher (assuming you get credit).
  • Using photos, poems, music and recordigs, however, usually require the permission of the copyright holder.

(Source: Seth Godin’s Blog)

9. 6 SEO Jedi tactics to try before turning to the dark side


SEO (search engine optimization) is a powerful force that can be wielded to dictate the prominent content placement in search results, potentially driving countless visitors to websites. Those mastering this power represent contrasting strategies that search engines would consider "good and evil." Historically, we've called this white hat and black hat SEO.  If you're an SEO Jedi, black hat tactics undoubtedly tempt you on a regular basis. Before giving in to the dark side, check out these SEO tips to renew your faith in the [white hat] light side of the Force!  (Source: searchenginewatch.com)

10. Business Matters: social newcomers Tumblr and Pinterest each Beating MySpace in U.S.

Facebook dominates U.S. social media. Well behind Facebook are two growing social networks you might not be aware of, Tumblr and Pinterest. They have fewer users than Twitter and even MySpace, but they command quite a bit of time. Other social networks have more users but Tumblr ranks second only to Facebook in average time spent at the site. Pinterest, a virtual pinboard that tracks users' interests, is a social platform worth watching.  (Source: Billboard)

11. Social media explained (humorously)

Social Media Explained