Albums are dead, the price of music going to zero and other good news

March 28, 2007

So this week is turning out to be another pretty bad PR week for the old music biz but healthy signs for the evolution of the industry overall. From the NYT and USAT to lawmakers and academics everyone appears ready to call the traditional music business dead! Sure, folks on the net have been talking about the death of the traditional music industry for years but this week the New York Times finally decided to join the party.

NYT reporter Jeff Leeds wrote an article entitled, “The Album, a Commodity in Disfavor” this past Monday that basically highlights the death of the CD format. USA Today blogger Angela Gunn posted a pointer to a story about the RIAA’s attempt to drag a 10 year old girl into court. Meanwhile the Consumerist is running a story about the University of Nebraska’s efforts to bill the RIAA for every copyright complaint sent to the school. Basically the university says it cost them $11 bucks to process each letter and that since they arent agents of the RIAA they need to get paid for doing it. Unfortunately they didnt back up the bill with say a threat not to snitch on their students or spend tax-payers money doing the RIAA’s work for it. Another bit of news coming out of the UK in the form of a research paper written by Will Page of MCPS-PRS, the UK’s version of ASCAP. The paper entitled “Is the price of recorded music heading towards zero?” basically reinforces the notion that music is becoming little more the a commodity. The value in the music business in the future will be in the services that surround the music and the music itself not the format in which its delivered.

Advertisements

Viacom vs YouTube via YouTube

March 23, 2007

Its an awesome skit. And even better its on YouTube. Awesomeness, thanks to Scott Mathews! Alas, the clip is no longer available on YouTube!

Here’s one of  man, many funny anti-Viacom clips out there.


3 Reasons NBC’s YouTube Clone’s Gonna Flop

March 22, 2007

758.jpgThe LAT is running a story about the not so secret, YouTube rival being created by News Corp and NBC-Universal, which is set to launch today. This cabal used to include CBS and Viacom but they droppped out somewhere between December and March. Had anyone bothered to ask me, I could’ve told them that their money was better spent on lunches and lap dances.

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.


Music Sales Down 20% only 80% to go

March 21, 2007

The WSJ is running an article with the rather hilarious title Sales of Music, Long in Decline, Plunge Sharply. I wonder if that’ll get any attention with the Luddites over at the RIAA that think suing college students is the answer or the executives in NY and LA that let them do it.

The article, which is behind the WSJ idiotic registration wall, is a great read.Some of the more interesting highlights include:
CD sales down 20% first quarter
800 record stores closed in 2006
Overall sale of music (physical and digital) down 10% this year
#1 albums can sell fewer then 100 units

At this pace, which isn’t likely to keep up, the music industry would be out of business before the end of the year. However, even if they squeeze out a profit in the coming quarters and manage to escape the year with only the normal 7% decline in sales, the recorded music industry as we know it is dead within 5 years. No more labels with their current contracts, no more CD, more touring and merchandising. If Musictoday goes public or joins a public company buy that stock and hold it. Thats where all the money will be in the music biz.


A 5 Site Guide to Web 2.0

March 21, 2007

If you follow any of the Web 2.0 A-listers, like Pete Cashmore, Frank Arrington or Om Malik , then you know that the only thing anyone can agree on is that no one really knows what Web 2.0 is. Folks seem to agree that it’s got something to do with the rise of social media, Rich Internet Applications and the growing power of us, but beyond that there lots of debate and grey area. In an attempt to cut through some of the noise, I offer this list of 5 sites you can play with to get first hand experience of Web 2.0. No need for $1,500 research reports or slick consultants with 50 slide PowerPoint decks. I guarantee that if you get engaged in at least 3 of these sites you’ll know more about Web 2.0 then most new media pontificators and all old media execs.


“Whats the point of this?” Thats seems to be the universal refrain when people first encounter the site, and its a damn good question. I still havent figured out what the point really is, but whenever I get a text telling me to post, I do. I also post when I have those all to frequent that someone says something where the only intelligent response is to stage blankly in dumbfounded silence (a look I’ve had to perfect of late).

The site is slow and often unresponsive but its a great example of the utilities and services that catch on with people hungry to say all that goes unsaid. Its a place where you and a few hundred thousand of your closest friends can answer one simple question; “What are you doing?” Thats it, nothing else. Yup, Web 2.0 all over. Simple, straightforward, discovered through usage not planning and amazingly addictive. Just like any good conversation. Doppelgangers: Happytxt, Justanger


Amazin Phasin’ hipped me to Grandcentral last year and I’ve used it as my main phone number ever since. The basic idea behind the site is to provide users with “one number to rule them all.” The simple way to think about it is Internet based call screening, with a bunch of features layered on top.

Want all the calls from a boss or co-worker to go directly to a voice mail? Done. Want calls from a talkative parent to be forwarded to the cell phone of a favorite sibling? Done. Grandcentral highlights the fun that can be had when one can apply online controls to multiple offline devices.


No discussion of Web 2.0 can occur without someone saying AJAX at least 10 times and in three different parts of speech (noun, verb, adjective). AJAX is the new HTML, its the basic building blocks of the new super cools webpages. I first took note of the power of AJAX when I started to play with the SideStep. It’s heavy use of AJAX makes finding the fare you want a much simpler process then Orbitz or any of the other travel meta-search engines out there. Farecast takes Sidestep to the next level, not only providing ticket information but also predicting the way that ticket price is likely to move. Both make heavy use of what anyone, excluding developers and techies, would most likely call AJAX (Farecast uses flash for most of its visualizations). If being an expert on Web 2.0 is important getting comfortable navigating around sites  like Sidestep and Farecast is  a good first step.


In the “early days”, way back in ’95, everyone was rushing to build beautifully gilded prisons within which to lock away users, or more specifically their eyeballs. Ironically these gilded prisons were called “portals”, although they didnt take you anywhere. Netvibes is one of a growing list of services that have taken a twist on the portal idea. Rather then gather everything into one place for you, they provide you with the means to build your own start page and litter it with what ever you find valuable. From gmail accounts and news sources to Flickr images and net videos, Netvibes gives you a way to bring them all together on one page. A start page that requires nothing to get going and only an email address to save. Where the old portals attempted to be the gatekeeper of your Internet experience these sites seek to be the concierge. Doppelgangers: Google Personalized Home, SuprGlu


Myspace, a collection of 159 million random profiles and musings by a lot less then 150 million random people, was sold for more then half a Billion non-random dollars. Why? Because it had 150 million random profiles, a ton of traffic and lots of press buzz. If you’ve ever thought you could build a social network of the same scale then Ning is the site for you. It started as the place to build lots of weird little social applications, from polls to “Hot or Not” like sites, and has evolved (or devolved) into a place to build weird little social networks. Rather then having to fuss with some geeky software, expensive developers or arcane technologies, Ning provides a simple page where you can drag and drop the features you want on your social network, pick its design, its privacy level and launch it to the public. Think of it as the WordPress of social networks.

Bonus:

Where do you go in this ever shrinking world for some alone time? How do you disconnect from the overly social networks, the ever twittering devices and the ubiquitous pings of email? Thankfully there is a site that helps you do just that. This site express the nature of Web 2.0 better then any Doc Searls rant or Clay Shirky lecture. If you want to be were others arent, isolatr is the site for you.


Twitter Getting Bigger then Reddit

March 16, 2007

graph1.png

While I was preparing another post I ran this chart in Alexa and was surprised to discover that Twitter is already par with Reddit in traffic and is clearly on track to overtake them. I compared it to Virb, Reddit, Vox and Multiply. Only Multiply had more traffic according to Alexa’s ranking. I never would have thought that a site where random folks post statements about what they are doing at any given moment would be more popular then a news site where you get actual information about whats going on in the world.

There is something in the addictive, low commitment, ad-free site that is catching on with folks. The question I usually get about Twitter is “whats the point?” And I generally give some glib answer about self-expression and users connecting with each other. The truth is I have no idea why Twitter has caught on. All I can tell you for sure is that its going to be bigger then Reddit by the end of the month and may surpass Multiply by the Summer.

There was a lot of talk about the folks at Obvious being crazy to give up Odeo for Twitter but as they said at the time it was the more interesting project. If your not Twittering yet check out the site and give it a try and see if you get addicted like so many others.