Rumored for some time, Amazon is reportedly closer than ever to launching a music service. Amazon is engaged in “more serious talks” with big music labels about a Spotify-like music subscription service -- which would likely tie into its Prime delivery service -- sources tell Re/Code. Yet, “one label source reports that Amazon isn’t close to getting a deal done, because its executives are asking for a substantial discount on the pricing the labels have given to other services.”
The New Yorker
After some years of obscure movies being feted during the Academy Awards, TV executives should be happy about the slate of nominees up for Best Picture and Best Actor nominations in Sunday's telecast: "We now have nine good movies jostling for Best Picture; we have a cluster of major stars" and "a box-office that is worthy of the occasion," writes Anthony Lane. His slightly tongue-in-cheek analysis of the Oscars begins with a snappy lead well worth reading, all about a deer urinating on Adam Sandler's face (trust us; you gotta be there).
Netflix, which "makes no bones about the fact that it wants to be HBO," is actually "closing in on the pay channel, at least in terms of revenue: Last year, Netflix’s streaming business generated $3.5 billion, while HBO made $4.9 billion from subscription fees," writes Peter Kafka. And Netflix revenue already outpaces that of other big cable channels, such as AMC, Starz and Showtime.
Activist investor Carl Icahn is stepping up his efforts to shake up eBay. In a new letter, “Icahn goes after board member Scott Cook -- who runs a company that Ichan argues is a competitor,” Business Insider reports. As Icahn writes, “Having Mr. Cook on the board while planning PayPal’s future is akin to having Pete Carroll, coach of the Seattle Seahawks, sitting in when the Denver Broncos were constructing their game plan for the Super Bowl (then again, maybe he did).”
Getting excited about the return of AMC's "Mad Men" April 13? Then watch this network promo that nicely encapsulates the key moments of the show, including a glimpse of dearly departed Lane Pryce -- and, in what we'd call a sexist bit of cropping, only the naked back and then spread legs of Linda Cardellini's Sylvia. (But, hey, one could argue that she's functioning here as sexual plot device, so that's all that's required.)
Yes, there will be branded tweets during Sunday's Academy Awards broadcast. "A quick poll of agencies showed that they'll be helping many more clients attempt real-time this weekend compared to '13," writes Christopher Heine. "And their performance on the Twitter stage could influence real-time marketing budgets for the rest of the year."
The Atlantic Wire
The “White Text on Gray Rectangles School” of news site design is having of a moment, The Atlantic observes. But, it’s not because the layout is particularly responsive, according to Ethan Marcotte, whom The Atlantic considers the godfather of responsive Web design. Rather, “the grid … lets [publishers] ‘promote’ many stories above the fold -- to showcase the work of many writers on the Web site’s most prominent page.” Plus, “the grid also looks like some popular social networks.”
Self magazine is launching a line of branded frozen foods: "eight health-conscious entrées" that "aspire to be high-end" in keeping with parent company Condé Nast's heritage, so are priced at around $4.99, writes Emma Bazilian. Yep, it's a first for the glossy publisher. The Self Healthy Kitchen Line, a partnership with Benevida Foods CEO and chef Calvin Harris, "is rolling out to 2,900 stores across 37 states, including Kroger, Stop & Shop and Whole Foods' Northwest locations," according to Bazilian.
It's a tougher year than usual for making the always-controversial decision of who will be featured in the Academy Awards' "In Memoriam" sequence honoring those who died, since the list includes 27 deceased Oscar nominees and winners -- and time allows for only about 30 folks to be included, which could mean leaving out "two past presidents of the Academy, a producer who is tied for the most Best Picture wins of all time... and the man whose name is on the theater in which the Oscars are held," writes Steve Pond.
Women's Wear Daily
The first biweekly edition of New York magazine is on newsstands today, launching a regular six-page fashion spread. That's the only specific change mentioned in this interview with magazine Editor In Chief Adam Moss, who notes that “The decision to go biweekly was just a moment when we rethought the whole magazine. And to say we rethought the whole magazine isn’t to say we changed the whole magazine, but we did think about every part of it."