May 20, 2008
An interesting article from the good folks at TorrentFreak. While it wont have any of the humor and fireworks ThePirateBay brings to the party, I still think this will be an interesting battle. Mininova doesnt run a tracker or host files it is truly only pointing in the general direction of both legal and questionable torrent files. However the Dutch anti-piracy outfit BRIEN disagrees.
<Insert trite music industry is doomed comment here> blah </insert>
I noticed that the article keeps referencing the DMCA, which as a US law and as such probably has little applicability as a defense in a Dutch courtroom. Hope the folks at MiniNova have a better battle plan up their sleeve then “we kinda follow a fuzzy US law”. The Dutch agency persuing the case counts among is success forcing Demonoid offline for a couple of months and getting them to move their popular bitTorrent tracker to a different ISP.
<Insert music industry loves whack-a-mole comment here> blah </insert>
April 30, 2008
There are some folks, Andrew Keen comes to mind, who are easy to dismiss not because of the sensational and contrarian nature of their ideas but because of the lack of thought and discussion that surrounds them. Contrast this with Kevin Kelly who wrote 1,000 True Fans back in March and ignited the the echo chamber we lovingly call the Blogosphere with his suggestion that with a 1,000 true fans supporting them an artist could live exclusively from their craft.
The idea is not without its detractors, Jaron Lanier of Digital Moaism fame (summerized back in ’06), being the most prominent. However, unlike Andrew Keen who goes into Fox News styled apoplectic fits (more) when there is disagreement, Kevin Kelly has opened his blog to highlight the arguments against his meme. In posts last week and again today, Kelly has highlighted variations of and arguments against his meme. While remaining steadfastly committed to the idea of a 1,000 (or perhaps 5,000) true fans, Kelly is has taken up the challenge of proving his ideas right. He is on a quest to find 3 artist that make a “predictable income sufficient to raise a child.” If he cant, then the 1,000 true fans meme will be declared officially dead and Jaron Lanier, Andrew Keen and the terrorist will have won.
April 29, 2008
Last week the RIAA was cheering the destruction of million CD and DVD taken from flea market vendors and church swap meets across the country. This week it put out the numbers of CD’s shipped from its client record labels to music stores and they arent good. The ailing music industry shipped 17.5% fewer CD’s to record stores in ’07 than it did in ’06. Of course, much of what was shipped to the stores is still sitting in discount bins so the actual sales decline is surely much worse. Across all physical formats, CD singles (up 50%), Cassettes (down 41%), LP’s (up 36%) etc… shipments were down 16.9% Y/Y.
Despite this news, record labels still seem intent are keen on destroying any company, site or individual foolish enough to build a service that makes online music discovery and playback simple and painless. The four major labels, though nine of their subsidiary companies, have filed suit against Project Playlist, a site that aggregates music from around the web into one simple interface. According to the label’s, Playlist.com enables “massive copyright infringement” by pointing to files on other websites (ie blogs, artist pages, fan pages etc…). Despite common sense and the generally accepted business maxim that your customer can not be your enemy, the luddites at the major labels seem to relish finding novel ways to destroy shareholder value and drive customers away.
I’m not the sharpest tack in the marble box but if I wwas an exec in a failing $10 billion industry that had shrunk by more then $2 billion in the last year with shipments down 19%, the last thing I’d do is sue a company that lets my customers discover and buy my product. Call me crazy.
April 24, 2008
Apple’s ubiquitous iPod was built to ensure that listeners could not easily pass their music between devices. The iPod and iTunes combination leads to a very solitary musical experience with users only able to share music by jumping through technical hoops. The annoyance factor with sharing digital music was intentionally high. However, where ever there are digital roadblocks, there is an entrepreneur ready to remove them (for a small fee).
Enter MiShare, a nifty little device that came out late last year and allows users to transfer music, pictures, videos and even playlist between iPods. DRM infected music is transfered but must be reauthorized for use on the receiving iPod. But since your reading this blog you know that the vast majority of music on any given iPod is ripped or downloaded MP3’s and so we can assume that music reauthorization wont be much of an issue. The cool little device got good reviews from the NYTimes and the Chicago Tribune. Itis available from the Mishare site for $99.95.
April 23, 2008
Yesterday I got an email from Michael Robertson of MP3tunes, personally asking me for help (yeah were that close). You see, MP3tunes is being sued by EMI music for making it easy for people to store and access legally purchased music online. The labels are arguing that ripping a CD and uploading it for storage is tantamount to distributing it and is therefore illegal. Rebuffed by the courts in March, EMI is undetered and Michael says the labels efforts to sue his company out of existence is causing him major agita. Michael doesnt want me to write my congressperson or file an amicus brief on his behalf, what he really wants from me is Money. In the letter, apparently sent at random to conencted to the Interwebs, Michael has two request: 1) people upgrade their free MP3tunes accounts to the premium level. 2) blog about his plight. I’ve held a premium account for close to two years (Michael you need a better database marketing system) and I’ve now blogged about it so I consider my obligation fulfilled. Full email from Michael after the jump.
Read the rest of this entry »
March 19, 2008
The once haughty recorded music industry has finally collapsed under the weight of its own greed and inefficiency. We can officially call the industry dead, not when the companies are shuttered (because a number of them will survive), but when their main business model is radically different. According to an article in todays Financial Times the music industry is edging ever closer to signing a deal with Apple Computers which may do just that.
The article discusses a deal the two sides are trying to hammer out to shift the labels economics from collecting money based on the number of songs/CD’s that are sold to collecting money based on the number of iPod’s or iPhone’s thats are sold. Its a complex deal that the article emphasizes may not get done, however for the labels to even consider it highlights how very desperate they’ve become. This deal would certainly spell the end of the traditional record labels as their status as added value intermediaries (ie important middlemen) fades even further. Also read a related article which is a bit of a counter-point to the first article albeit with little new information.
March 7, 2008
The 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.
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.
Marketing 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.
February 19, 2008
A couple of years ago a kid from Norway, named Jon Lech Johansen, broke the encryption put on DVD’s to stop people from coping them onto their computers. A year or so later he did the same thing to the iTunes music store and made it possible for folks to share their music purchases. He was pretty unpopular with the big media companies but geek-boys the world over loved him, so he went legit and started a venture backed company. However, going legit isnt what it used to be. His latest application, let’s you share your music and other media with friends and family no matter what device they might be using. The new application called doubleTwist allows you to convert all your iTunes purchases to plain old mp3’s for you can shares them across devices. and it help you manage that process. The application is still in beta (early beta if the number of crashes I’ve had is any indicator) so you might want to check out the PDF press release here , the blog reaction here or the early articles here and here.
Thanks to the erudite scholar and gentleman, david touve for the tip.
July 3, 2007
It seems that after months of slow economic starvation AllofMP3.com is finally no more. Over the last few years the IFPI and RIAA have mounted a sustained assault on the site, which followed the letter of Russian law, but sold music in a format (MP3) and for a price (cheap as hell) that the dying recording industry disliked. For the music industry this was a long, hard fight and their victory would be a whole lot sweeter if AllofMP3.com hadn’t already reopened under a different name. The new site called Mp3sparks, has all of the features and functionality you loved in Allofmp3.com. Your old Allofmp3.com username and password are supposed to work on Mp3sparks.com although it hasnt for me. Credit cards are still not accepted on the site but its unclear if thats due to the old credit card monopoly ban on ALLofMP3 or a simple technical glitch. Hopefully, MP3Sparks can fill the gap left by the hobbling (and now full closure of ALLofMP3.com) but until it gets credit card payments up I dont recommend you let your BitTorrent ratio’s slide.