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.
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.