Lala.com, an online CD trading platform, began offering a limited music locker with free music streaming this week and it pissed off uber-CEO and music locker competitor Michael Robertson. The general reaction to Lala.com’s announcement ranged from the mildly bemused to the historically reflective with most blog post and articles mentioning Mp3.com or Napster as parallels. That wasnt enough for the Michael “lightening will strike as many time as I say” Robertson, who promptly posted a pretty damning “expose” of the details not mentioned in any of the post about Lala.com’s new service. Read the rest of this entry »
Back in April, Michael Robertson launched his latest Internet venture called AnywhereCD, which was supposed to sell CD’s with MP3 tracks that could be downloaded immediately. No sooner had the companies press release hit the Blogosphere then Warner Music pulled its music from the site. The lawsuits started to fly and the AnywhereCD was reduced to eMusic.com circa 1999.
Last week serial business starter and aging Internet super-star, Michael Robertson, launched the 6th iconoclastic Internet venture in his portfolio of disruptive ventures. The new business, called AnywhereCD, billed itself as an MP3 music vendor with a CD delivery option. And while the business itself is a bit of a yawner, its pricing and sales pitch are at least entertaining.
Explaining the AnywhereCD business model is a bit complex, largely because of how they are trying to market the service. Basically for around $15 bucks you can buy a CD from the site and get it sent to you in the mail. With each CD purchase you also get DRM-free files of songs from the CD int eh MP3 format. This is pretty impressive given the labels resistance to MP3 downloads even when they might make money from it. This is of course where things get kinda wonky. For $3 less than price of both the CD and MP3 files, AnywhereCD will sell you the CD and MP3 files but only give you the MP3 files. Confused?
The CD is clearly the basis of pricing on the site but their sales pitch is fashioned in a way to make it seem that the MP3 files are what’s being sold. The MP3 delivery and all the digital goodness that flows from having a DRM-free digital file is ancillary to the basic transaction of buying a CD for 12 bucks. The sites original pricing model featured two sets of prices one for MP3’s + a CD and the other for just the MP3’s. Thankfully, before anyone really had a chance to ask any questions or point out what was truly being offered, the MP3 album option disappeared.
In less then 12 hours after the sites launch, on April 12th, the MP3 only option was gone from the site. Apparently even the pretense of being able to buy albums exclusively as MP3 files is more then the labels can stomach. Gone is the “MP3 Album + CD” verbiage, replaced by the much safer and probably more truthful CD plus MP3 wording. Thus an interesting, if not truly new, online marketing and sales scheme was killed on the vine by the luddite music business. But wait, there’s more…
On April 20th Reuters reported that AnywhereCD had filed a lawsuit against Warner Music for breach of contract, business defamation and trade libel. Former liquor vendor and current Warner Music topper, Edgar Bronfman Jr., is reported to have said that selling digital music without DRM is illogical, clearly he believes not selling any music at all is the better option.
Earlier this week the Chief Evangelical Officer of Apple
Computers Inc., Steve Jobs, channeled the spirit of Ronald Regan (media moguls tear down these digital walls) and wrote an open letter (read my post here) aimed at the music barron’s in their Bling’d-out offices. In it he basically says that DRM sucks, iPods rock and the labels dont grok the implications of either. Well it was a shot heard around the blogosphere and the commentary came fast a furious from low caste bloggers like myself.
Not to be outdone by the rabble, the unfortunately named IFPI strongman, John Kennedy, posted a retort to Steve (El Capitain) Jobs. His response could be summed up in two words: “You First!” In what I imagine is a whining monotone, he suggests that Steve drop DRM from Apple, Disney and Pixar products as an example to the industry.
I love MP3tunes and when they announced that they were expanding their service to include 1GB of free music storage I thought it was a brilliant move. The MP3tune service is pretty simple, give them $40 bucks a year and you can upload all the music you have into a virtual “locker”. They store it for you, give you the software to synch it with a bunch of computers and they do deals to make it available via an ever expanding list of interenet connected devices. Its musical goodness.
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 »
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 »
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.
While playing with AjaxAMP v3.0 the other day I couldnt help thinking that the shift to Internet based applications is going to fundamentally change how media is created, promoted, used and distributed. From Pandora's approach to music discovery to Jumpcuts efforts at online video editing, there are few areas of the media value chain not challenged by a new service or application available via the web. Read the rest of this entry »
The battle starts with these words from Michael Robertson, “Bye Bye Microsoft Word, Hello ajaxWrite”. You gotta love his showmanship. From relentlessly tweaking the music Industry with MP3.com to taking on MS with Lindows and hitting them up for 20 million dollars to go away. Back when I was publishing MP3 Impact Micheal was always good for a great quote or interesting story lead on slow news weeks. Recently, I’ve come to think of his projects as a little less ambitious then his earlier goals of turning the music industry on its head or revamping the desktop but this weeks release of ajaxWrite has reminded me that ain’t nothing changed.