Business Week refutes FT.com’s Apple story, quotes “people in a position to know”

March 20, 2008

Yesterday I posted a story from the FT that basically says Apple and the labels are talking about an unlimited download subscription for people who buy and iPod or iPhone. Angry about being scooped Bussiness Week posted a story saying the Financial Times has either been speaking with Snoop Dog or smoking his stuff, cause the Apple story was bull. Where is their evidence you ask?

Reports that Apple is discussing an “all-you-can-eat” subscription music service with major record labels are overblown, say people in a position to know.

Thats right they are refuting the Financial Times story by paraphrasing an HR Block tag line. They got people? Wait you say, surely Business Weeks has more evidence then that, they must have a quote, a named source, something more substantial. Here it is, the smoking gun:

[The Apple unlimited subscription] would use that premium to create a pool of revenue, a portion of which would be divided among the major music labels, the newspaper said.

Trouble is, no such talks are under way, according to people familiar with Apple’s plans. An Apple spokesperson declined to comment. Insiders at major music labels were similarly dismissive.

So lets review, “people in a position to know” told Business Week’s Arik Hesseldahl that nothing was going on between Apple and the labels and this version of the story was corroborated by “people familiar with Apple’s plans”. The PR Flacks at Apple and the labels hung-up everytime Arik called them and he took it as evidence that the Financial times was wrong.

Now I’m not saying that the FT story was some great piece of reporting or that I necessarily believe all of it, but Business Week needs raise its game a bit. When a venerable news weekly with ungodly sums of money and decades worth of reporting experience sitting on its bench runs with poorly researched crap with no credible citations or sources, its no better then a blog. I dont want major weeklies running with innuendo, rumor and hearsay. Thats what I’m here for. I want them to give me some facts with names of real people attached to them, so I can poke holes and look for flaws or fallacies. There is a reason bloggers are not journalist and its really important that the journalist remember that.


1000 Fans of Natalie Merchant: 2 essays for artist in the digital age

March 7, 2008

pgp-8142.jpgThe recorded music industry has become the global icon of how to destroy customer goodwill and torpedo an industry, in the digital age. Their mis-steps go from the tragically self-defeating (suing fans, grandma and apple pie) to the spectacularly ineffective (seeding corrupt files on P2P networks, malware and DRM). The US recorded music industry isnt in decline, its dead, there is nothing left to do but harvest the usable organs.

The surest sign that the recorded music industry has gone the way of chimney sweeps and buggy builders, is a couple of recent articles from blog A-listers Seth Goodin and Kevin Kelly. These are not folks from the lunatic fringe screaming in the wind, like myself, these guys are mainstream pundits well respected by the conference booking set. Even they no longer question but are promoting solutions to come after. The lessons and insights they offer could be as instructive to magazine publishers and indie flim makers as they should be to musicians.

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Kevin Kelly’s article, 1,000 True Fans is a must read for any artist hoping to make money in the digital age. In it he argues that an artist can make a decent living ($100,000k/yr) concentrating most of their efforts on cultivating a fan base of just 1,000 “true fans”. He defines a true fan as “someone who will purchase anything and everything you produce”, ie your mother. The model is actually very well reasoned and hearkens back to the patronage model that Pholks have been debating for years. The application of a CLV to a music fan that appeals to me on some fundamentally geeky level but attempting to a hard dollar value on fans is frought with issues. While this is agreat article with lots of interesting areas for exploration and strategy building its to be taken with a dose of salt.

head.gifMarketing god Seth Godin, one of the coolest looking bald guys since Cypher, released the text of a speech he delivered on the music business. His Live Music Talk is another long read, but well worth it (pdf here). He basically argues that fan engagement, he calls it “tribe management”, is the future of the music business. Get permission, get personal and get pervasive is the point he is driving home. Of course he says it much better then that but you get the point. Seth, we’re that close, reimages the music industry through a consumer marketing framework, using Natalie Merchant to make it concrete. While this article doesnt offfer anything really new it does make seem to crystallize and simplify many older arguments.


Digg Bows to Spontaneous User Protest

May 4, 2007


A must read article over at Rev2.org on the Digg rebellion and its outcome. Two items that I think are really interesting and deserve more thought:
1) spontaneous user protest
2) siding with your users is a winning strategy

DVD’s, cracked. HD-DVD’s, cracked. Blu-Ray disk’s, cracked. There has to come a point where the movie guys realize that the effort and cost associated with trying to bottle up content isnt worth it. The main question shouldnt how do I protect my content, it should be how do I help people access and use my content, what are they willing to pay for and how much are they willing to pay.


Blogosphere by Numbers

April 9, 2007

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Technorati has belatedly released their State of the Blogosphere report, which runs through some of the stats from their index of the Blogosphere. Its kinda like Yahoo or AOL putting out a report on the state of the Web, it may be great directional information but with more possible meanings then an interpretive dance. Some of the highlights of the report:

  1. Japaneses is the dominant language of the Blogosphere, Farsi is growing
  2. 70 million blogs in the Technorati index up from 52 million last time
  3. 1.4 million posts per day spread across these blogs
  4. 120,000 new blogs created everyday up from 100,000 in last report
  5. ~5% of these new blogs are spam-blogs (splogs)

Read the rest of this entry »


The Two Sides of NIN

March 21, 2007

poster_23052.jpgAt this weeks VON 07 conference I was accosted by a fanatic passionate Canuck Podcaster. He regaled me with tales of the Internet’s future and helpfully suggested I spend more time online; so I could better understand online communities and the changes they are likely to have on big media.

One of the many points he made was how NIN was using the Internet and specifically Last.fm to engage theirs fans. He spoke about it in such loving and rapt tones that I thought for sure that Trent and team had jumped from their label and were now doing things on their own. No such luck. Janko Roettgers over at the put up a post today highlighting just how well the labels can screw-up anything dealing with the Internet. The short story, a German fan participating in the NIN ARG (started by NIN’s label) got shakendown for $675 by NIN’s German label reps. Thats right he got sued by NIN label reps for participating in a game started by NIN’s label. After a few months and lots of pressure from the blogosphere the label woke up, ate crow, apologized and made good.

This struck me as such an apt example, especially after the WSJ article today, of how dysfunctional the labels are and how difficult it is to manage the diametrically opposed goals of control and engagement.


Homeland Security cant tell LED from IED

February 1, 2007

Lite-Brite’s Shut-Down Beantown

That’s right folks Boston was brought to its knee’s yesterday by a number of suspicious looking devices planted all over the city. Police were called. Traffic was halted. Panic ensued, at least among panic prone politicos and Jack Bauer wanna-be ‘s. Thankfully, the bomb squad was called out and blew up a number of the devices. Yes thats right, the Bomb Squad! However, since the devices were LED not IED the Bomb Squad had to bring their own explosives with which to blow-up the devices.

Read the rest of this entry »


From WordPress.com to WordPress.org another Odyssey

January 31, 2007

Last week I was inspired by the progress of my ultra-secret project to register a domain name for the project. Thats right my ultra-secret mission now has an ultra-secret domain name to go along with it. Anyway while I was getting things set-up I decided to register a vanity domain and upgrade my blog to what I thought was a more robust, full-featured version of WordPress.

Needless it to say it has been an educational and humbling experience. I’ve been using wordpress for almost a year and I was growing tired of all the hand-holding and restrictions. I wanted to play with some of the plug-ins and widgets Guy Kawasaki is always touting and maybe add some to my blog. Heck, I’ve had an Adsense account for more then a year but I havent collected any of the millions Google is doling out to Dalit bloggers like myself. So, I registered siddiqbello.com, installed the WordPress 2.1 on the server, imported everything from the old blog and flipped the ON switch.

Your reading this on the old blog… Nuff said.

See, what people leave out when they talk of beauty of having ones own installation of wordpress, running on ones own domain, is that with all that freedom comes very little else. I’ve spent the better part of this week trying configure the themes, plug-ins and widgets that make this site run on my new server, while simultaneously trying to understand and configure a bunch of new themes, plug-ins and widgets. Its no easy task.

Check my progress (or lack thereof) here and feel free to let me know what you think. When I have it in a usable form I’ll switch over, but until then its free wordpress all the way.


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