While not exactly rats fleeing a sinking ship, the exodus of Jason Hirschhorn and Ted Cohen from their cushy jobs helming digital media efforts within luddites firms seems directionally relevant. Were they finally beat down by years of pointing their respective companies in the right direction only to have some executive with a year end bonus to protect kill their ideas? Was it the chance to be the whipping boy for a series of clueless companies, rather then just one or the desire to pander to the whims of investors that made them jump? I dont know, but if one more long-time digital media proponent jumps ship I'm ready to call it a trend!
I've written a few post (here, here and here) where I was rather glowing about the the wonders of sites like AllofMP3 and MP3Sugar. I've been pretty glib about both the legal and security concerns around using these sites. A reader, dare I say rabid fan, wrote in to express her concern with my attitude and took me to task for the dearth of cautionary advice around providing sites like those with credit card and other personal information. In my defence, I'd assumed that no one needed me to tell them that putting their credit card information on quasi-legal Russian music sites might not be the most secure transaction they could conduct online, but apparently I was wrong. So here are two suggestions on how one can decrease the likely hood of the Russian mafiya using your credit card for Friday night Vodka binges. Read the rest of this entry »
This may sound strange but I couldnt care less about my Technocrati ranking. Readers (both of you) have made this blog the 528,178th most linked to blog and I'm proud of that. This post by Guy Kawasaki (The OE), about his obsession with his Technocrati ranking made me reflect on my own little obsession with rankings. While, I'm unlikely to ever attain the status of blogging "A-lister" and I know it wont change the world (and yes its geeky as hell), but it would be really sweet to have the largest MP3 Locker online. I admit it, I'm obsessed with my MP3Tunes rank.
Let me state upfront that I'm not stalking, obsessed with or employed by Michael Robertson. Despite his rugged good looks and jockular charm, my repeated posts (here, here, here and here) about businesses that come under his umbrella are purely coincidental. Read the rest of this entry »
The downtime experienced by the site seemed to dovetail Putin's call for stronger copyright protections and many (myself included) read ominous signs in it. However, it appears that it may have been mere coincidence. The site is back up and fully functioning. Sample and ordering have been restored and all is once again right with the world.
What does it take to build a business that gets a whole meme named after it? How do you get to be part of the Web 2.0 goodness that has been exploding all over the media? I dont know, but the web does provide access to lots of people that do. I contacted 10 of them for their answers to these questions and more.
Firing up my email program, along with a bit of courage, I emailed the founders of 10 different companies a series of questions about how they started their businesses and any lessons they'd picked-up along the way. I expected to get a few cruel letters of rejection and disdain from some overworked PR flack distrustful of blogs and unsure of their validity or usefulness. Instead, six founders running some of the Webs most interesting companies (at least the ones I use most often) agreed to chat with me.
Score: Indie Blogger 1, PR Flacks 0! Read the rest of this entry »
Updated: A shining example of the future of online music sales has gone ominously dark. AllofMP3, which has been the center of IFPI and RIAA ire, may have finally succumbed to the forces of complacency and stasis.
Last week, Russian strongman Vladimir Putin, declared in his state of the nation address, that in addition to having more babies and ending official corruption, Russia needed to get tough on piracy. Apparently, the irony of declaring a desire for innovation while promoting a legal statue that limits it was lost of Mr. Putin. утесы рационализаторства, Mr Putin, утесы рационализаторства!!! Alas, a few days after this speech, which included the quote "We must defend copyright inside the country. That is our obligation to our foreign partners" AllofMP3.com went dark.
The site now claims to be "down for maintenance" and the allTunes desktop client that worked with the AllofMP3.com service no longer functions. On the plus side, most of the other Russian MP3 downloading sites are still up and accepting new customers although I wouldnt recommend banking on their long term prospects.
Update: Reports of the death of AllofMP3 seem a bit premature. The site is back up with what seems to be reduced content. More to come.
Everyone has probably experienced the problem of traveling to your country home and having to figure out how to take all your music with you. Do you buy another music server? Do you just hire the bands you want to listen to and let them stay with you? What to do, what to do?
Enter MP3tunes. Michael Robertson announced that his company MP3tunes has turned on a feature that allows you to sync your MP3tunes locker with your Tivo box and play your music. Dont have a locker? No problem they have created a demo account for you to test out the new feature. Michael's minute has details on how to set it up. As a paying member of MP3tunes I can tell you I'd rather have a better way of getting my 40GB worth of songs into my locker then the ability to stream to a device I don't own.
Yesterday's NYT carried this story about "the frog" doing a deal with BitTorrent to distribute hundreds of movies and TV shows via its software. My favorite quote form the whole article is by Kevin Tsujihara, a WB prexy, he said, "If we can convert 5, 10 or 15 percent of the illegal down-loaders into consumers of our product, that is significant."
Awesome. This is what I've been saying (here and here). Someone on the left coast is finally getting it. Now if they would only mention it to their brethren in the music biz we might actually see some innovation in payment options, distribution models and devices.
The service wont be available until the summer and no information was offered in terms of pricing or DRM but its safe to assume they are both going to be part of the deal. Big questions not addressed in the article or press release include users response to paying for music they help distribute. Read the press release here although the article is a tad more insightful.
In a demonstration of its love for music consumers, the RIAA announced the Top 12 cities to find great music compilations and mixed CD's at discount prices. The cities highlighted in the report are Atlanta, LA, New York, San Francisco, Austin, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Philadelphia, Providence and San Diego. Singling out these cities as "hot spots" for their booming markets, "sophisticated trade" and "savvy", the RIAA states it wants to "step up" its presence in those cities and dedicate additional resource to them. Noting that these markets are home to some of the more enterprising players, the RIAA hopes to learn more from the only segment of the industry that continues to evolve.
In a veiled admission of the failure of its hard line stance against consumers the RIAA has opted to strike a more playful tone with its new campaign . Using a scavenger hunt styled theme the RIAA challenges consumers to find great music product in its "hot spot" cities using the following tips to help with purchasing and discovery.
1) Watch for Product Being Sold in Unusual Places
2) Trust your ear
3) Watch for Compilations that are “Too Good to Be True"
4) Look for Suspicious Packaging
5) Remember the Adage “You Get What You Pay For”
You should read the full (and more accurate) release here.
It seems that Shawn Fanning was right afterall. This morning the folks at Napster threw in the towel and opened their online music store for free, ad-supported, listening. The service promises simple access to a huge music collection from anywhere (in the US) via a searchable database. Except for the annoying and intrusive web ads and the limited selection (only 2 million tracks), its almost as good as the original Napster. Read the rest of this entry »