BUSINESS & TECHNOLOGY NEWS: BMG to Release Its First Commercial CD with Copy Management Technology (Click on More to view all articles)

(CelebrityAccess News Service) – Arista Records will be BMG's first label in the United States to release a commercial CD using copy management technology. Comin' From Where I'm From, by singer-songwriter Anthony Hamilton, will be released nationwide on September 23. Until now BMG's U.S. labels have used copy management technology only on promotional CDs as part of their overall approach to protecting copyrighted content.

"The consumer experience is BMG's top priority," said Thomas Hesse, chief strategic officer, BMG. "Consumers who purchase this CD will have broad flexibility, including the ability to listen to it on a whole range of devices and players, and the ability to burn copies for their personal use. At the same time, this CD will not be able to be mass copied. Because of improvements in the SunnComm MediaMax technology, it is now possible to offer consumers the level of flexibility to which they have become accustomed while beginning to better protect our artists' rights."

Comin' From Where I'm From utilizes a copy protection technology that allows the CD to play on nearly all standard playback devices including CD players, DVD players, car stereos, boomboxes, PCs, Macs, Walkman's and game consoles. Using the original disc, consumers can transfer this album to their personal computers. From their computer, consumers can also transfer the music to a secure portable device and burn three copies to a CDR. This is made possible by "MediaMax CD-3 Technology," SunnComm's second session solution, which adds a digitally encrypted file for each track on a CD. The technology also makes it possible for Comin' From Where I'm From to include a Web link to Anthony Hamilton's website which contains videos, photos, upcoming appearances and other news.

"Anthony Hamilton's passionate, soulful performances always take you to another place. Comin' From Where I'm From stirs those same emotions, " said Antonio "LA" Reid, president and CEO, Arista Records. "Copy management technology gives us an important new way to protect our artists' rights which is crucial for us in terms of continuing to foster new talent and exciting music."

In addition, the disc will also feature SunnComm's PromoPlay Technology that allows consumers to share the music with a friend by providing the recipient with a link to the music, which can be downloaded and listened to for 10 days.

Hamilton's Comin' From Where I'm From, which will carry a $13.98 suggested list price, will be appropriately labeled to inform consumers of the technology and the range of uses that can be made of the product. –by Bob Grossweiner and Jane Cohen

Limelight Networks Makes It Easier and Cheaper to Download Songs Legally

(CelebrityAccess News Service) – Phoenix-based Limelight Networks, a leading end-to-end digital delivery network, has teamed up with some of the top players in the music industry to offer consumers a low-cost, secure and user-friendly solution to encourage legal music downloading.

Limelight Networks, recognized as the industry leader in online music delivery by Accustream iMedia Research, now offers multiple patent-pending tools that enable features such as the ability to download multiple songs in just one click, making music downloading faster and easier than ever.

"The future success of both the recording industry and Internet music industry requires a shared commitment to enhancing legal downloading opportunities," said David Rice, Limelight Networks vice president of marketing and channel development. "The easier and more affordable everyone makes legal music downloading for consumers, the more likely we will see a reduction in the practice of illegal downloading."

Rice said that the company's efficient delivery platform combined with its proprietary innovative media download tools represents a huge step toward reducing illegal downloads, while at the same time providing online music providers the best delivery channel available. The company's customers agree.

"Musicmatch has worked with Limelight Networks for the past two years to deliver high-quality Internet radio and music streaming services through Musicmatch Jukebox," said Bill Caid, senior vice president of engineering at Musicmatch. "Limelight provides us with a fast and reliable platform to bring legal online music to consumers worldwide."

Limelight Network's relationship with leading Internet music providers, as well as technology leaders such as Microsoft, will ensure that music enthusiasts throughout the world have an appealing legal download option. BuyMusic.com is the first company to utilize Limelight Network's new software download manager, called Bulk Get, to enhance its delivery capabilities to a level that is unsurpassed in the industry.

"Limelight Networks supports us with the advanced network and download management tools we need in order to provide a reliable and streamlined music download experience to our customers. Their technology enables our customers to buy multiple tracks and entire albums online without having to click dozens of times for the music they want," said Elizabeth Brooks, senior vice president of business development for BuyMusic.com.

"We feel that the best way to combat filesharing and to encourage the purchase and use of legal downloads is to provide a high-quality, simple, and intuitive alternative. Our partnership with Limelight Networks offers the online music community that alternative, backed by efficient and trustworthy technology," Brooks added.

In addition to BuyMusic.com and Musicmatch, Limelight Networks provides digital content delivery for many of the world's leading music, entertainment and Internet companies, including, Wind-up Records, RadioFree Virgin, Jimmy Buffett's Radio Margaritaville, radio and QuePasa.com as well as leading broadcast networks. –by Bob Grossweiner and Jane Cohen

AOL AOL Time Warner Drops 'AOL' From Name

NEW YORK (AP) — Acknowledging the failures of the largest merger in U.S. history, the board of AOL Time Warner Inc. voted Thursday to remove the letters "AOL" from the company's name.

The largest media and entertainment company in the world will now be called Time Warner Inc., as it was before the merger announced on Jan. 10, 2000 that was billed as a way to jump-start a media revolution by combining "old" and "new" media companies.

"We believe that our new name better reflects the portfolio of our valuable businesses and ends any confusion between our corporate name and the America Online brand name for our investors, partners and the public," chairman and chief executive Richard Parsons said in a statement.

The company declined to make Parsons available to comment.

The name change will be phased in over the next several weeks, and will affect the company's logos, the way promotes its brands and even its ticker symbol, which is currently "AOL" but will revert to "TWX."

The change will also affect the name on the company's new headquarters building, a gleaming 80-story structure in Manhattan's Columbus Circle currently known as AOL Time Warner Center. The building is nearly complete and will be opened to its first occupant, the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, in the fall. Time Warner plans to move in next spring.

The pioneering Internet company America Online was once seen as a catalyst to breathe new life into the various media properties of Time Warner, including HBO, Time magazine and the nation's No. 2 cable company, Time Warner Cable.

Now, AOL is the company's biggest embarrassment. AOL is still profitable, on track to make $1 billion this year, but it's facing a host of problems, including a regulatory inquiry into its accounting and an eroding subscriber base as users drop AOL for faster connections to the Internet.

With hopes for a media revolution now a distant memory, the company will continue to focus on simplifying its tangled corporate structure, cleaning up its balance sheet and selling off businesses not central to its core media operations.

This week the company announced its latest asset sale, a deal to sell its two winter sports teams in Atlanta, the NBA's Hawks and the NHL's Thrashers, to a Boston businessman for $250 million. AOL has also sold off a DVD manufacturing facility and its half-interest in the Comedy Central cable channel.

In a memo to employees, Parsons said the company was delivering on its goals of debt reduction and turning around AOL. "We've also devoted a good deal of attention to revitalizing company morale," he wrote.

AOL Time Warner first indicated that it was considering a name change last month, when AOL chief Jonathan Miller personally appealed to Parsons that AOL be dropped from the corporate title so people wouldn't confuse the overall company with the online division.

Time Warner veterans from the company have long pressed for such a change, but Miller said he made the push on his own. Miller was not a loyalist in either side of the AOL-Time Warner feud, having come in as AOL's fix-it man from the former USA Interactive.

Investors and analysts responded well to the name change. The company's stock has been rising since last month, when word first came out that the change was being considered. In trading on the New York Stock Exchange, the shares rose 14 cents to close at $16.45.

"AOL is a very unattractive tail on a beautiful dog," said Larry Haverty, a media analyst at State Street Research in Boston. "It's the best possible thing for a shareholder _ admit your mistake and move on."

AOL Time Warner has said it is not contemplating a sale or spinoff of the AOL division, focusing instead on trying to fix the problems there.

In his memo, Parons called AOL "an important part of our company, and we expect it to continue to make major contributions to our success in the future."

Merrill Lynch analyst Jessica Reif Cohen said the company was right to hold on to AOL, which was just recently showing signs of life, including better advertising trends. "They've gone through the brunt of the pain, and it makes no sense to spin it off now," she said.

AOL Time Warner isn't the only company going through an identity crisis. Vivendi Universal is also considering a name change after the French company, which started out as a water utilities conglomerate, completes a deal to merge its Universal entertainment assets with General Electric Co.'s NBC. Vivendi took on the Universal name after it bought the properties from Seagram Co., the Canadian beverage maker.

The company once known as WorldCom Inc. announced in April that it would change its name to MCI, the name of its long-distance carrier, as it moved to distance itself from a major accounting scandal, and cigarette maker Philip Morris Cos. Inc. changed its name to Altria Group Inc.

Trans World Entertainment to Purchase Assets of Wherehouse Entertainment

(CelebrityAccess News Service) – Trans World Entertainment Corporation, a leading retailer of entertainment products, has reached agreement in principal to acquire substantially all of the assets of Wherehouse Entertainment, Inc. Wherehouse, currently operating in Chapter 11 bankruptcy, is a specialty music retailer, which owns and operates 148 stores located primarily in the western United States. Upon completion of the sale, Trans World expects to retain 113 of the Wherehouse's best performing stores. The remaining 35 stores will be liquidated by a joint venture comprised of Hilco Merchant Resources, LLC, Gordon Brothers Retail Partners, LLC and The Ozer Group LLC. The transaction represents total consideration of $41 million in cash and assumed liabilities. The transaction is subject to the approval of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware and is expected to close in early October 2003.

"These stores represent an excellent fit both strategically and operationally with our free standing format and provide us with a unique opportunity to expand our presence on the west coast and gain significant market share in Los Angeles," commented Robert J. Higgins, chairman and chief executive officer of Trans World Entertainment. "This acquisition further validates our strategic plan of using our strong balance sheet to find financially attractive opportunities as our industry continues to consolidate."

"The terms and timing of this deal are particularly attractive as we head into the all-important holiday season. Most importantly, we expect this acquisition to be immediately accretive, adding to our earnings in the fourth quarter and for the year," added Higgins. –by Bob Grossweiner and Jane Cohen

BMI Partners with SupportMusic.com

(CelebrityAccess News Service) – BMI has partnered with www.SupportMusic.com in a new initiative in BMI's
array of efforts to support music education and school music programs. BMI's
dedicated partnership with SupportMusic.com will provide resources to
community members to act locally, focused on informing and empowering
parents to help restore local school music programs. "BMI is pleased to partner with SupportMusic.com. Our effort recognizes the importance of music education within all communities," said Frances W. Preston, BMI president and CEO.

Launched by the Music Education Coalition, (an entity created by MENC, the
National Association for Music Education and NAMM, the International Music
Products Association), SupportMusic.com is the largest national grass roots
initiative organized to support local school music programs.

Key to this crusade is an innovative online "Build Your Case" system that
simplifies the advocacy process, featuring an interactive bulletin board
where strategies can be shared and questions answered by advocacy advisors.
Visitors to this site can also access information regarding ways to help
combat the elimination of music from school curriculums.

BMI's partnership with SupportMusic.com is part of a continuing effort to
enhance the creation, performance and study of music. The BMI Foundation,
Inc., a separate not-for-profit corporation founded by BMI executives in
1985, is dedicated to encouraging young musical talent through awards,
scholarships, internships, grants and commissions. Included among the BMI
Foundation's many programs are the John Lennon Scholarship, BMI Student
Composer Awards and Pete Carpenter Fellowship. Additionally, BMI was a
founding sponsor of The Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation, which has donated
approximately $6 million worth of instruments to programs and individuals
nationwide.

SupportMusic.com is the most recent effort in a long tradition of
initiatives with MENC, which include BMI's role as a functioning sponsor for
MENC's Foundation for the Advancement of Music Education (FAME). –by Jane Cohen and Bob Grossweiner

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