MySpace will try to re-assert itself versus Spotify and iTunes - some nice features in the recent update, but not sure if it’s enough to take on Spotify and become the defacto music discovery site - vs current front-runner YouTube
YouTube is still most likely to remain the dominant Musical discovery / promotion vehicle for most pop artists throughout 2013
iTunes and Spotify will hopefully bring out browser versions of their interfaces in 2013 - meaning we don’t need to continue using clunky desktop applications
We will see more mixing apps and utilities in 2013 - allowing you to create seamless fx-laden DJ mixes and compilations from your own digital collections, YouTube, Spotify and iTunes, something along similar lines to Turntable.fm - but simpler and more stand-alone
We are still waiting for genuine competitors to Spotify; - iTunes was feted to launch a streaming service in 2012 but nothing materialised - perhaps we will see something more promising this year - perhaps MySpace can have a real impact
Expect to see further advancements and refinements in musical services SoundCloud and MixCloud - both could do with better music discovery facilities
In 2012 almost all my Music Album consumption was digital - I only bought a handful of CDs for albums which I was unable to acquire digitally - still suprising to see that not everything is yet available universally in commercial digital formats
Amazon is set to become sole purveyor of mass-market solid format music (CDs really) with the demise of Play.com’s own products retail and HMV in dire trouble, digital music really is king (For me that means iTunes, Amazon, Beatport, Juno and even Spotify downloads on occasion)
Lady Gaga has announced a multi-media / apps extravaganza for her new album - along similar lines to Björk’s Biophilia, kind of surprised more artist have not followed suit already
What with cinemas now showing Live Theatre, Opera, Concerts and Sporting Events,
Google’s first foray into tablets is part of a double-headed attack on Amazon - to reclaim Android for the Android vanilla experience. Everyone is well aware now of how fragmented the Android landscape is - not just in terms of different version releases, but with every device manufacturer producing their own skinned-up derivation of Android - from HTC Sense, to Samsung’s TouchWiz to Amazon’s Silk Browser. Here Google is aiming to show that the standard Google Android experience really is the best. This is backed up by the relaunch of the various Google Android stores under the singular ’Google play’ brand, to compete with iTunes in some ways, but really to take the initiative away from Amazon’s Appstore.
The Google Nexus 7 equals the current Kindle Fire in price - for the base 8GB model, and serves up faster processor and better screen for a far superior experience to that of the Kindle Fire. For a little more money (£199 vs £159 and dollar equivalents) you get the 16GB of Google’s top ranked Nexus 7 model.
The Nexus 7 is built by Asus - who are responsible for purportedly the best Android tablet experience currently - by way of the Transformer series. I don’t really see this troubling Apple too much in terms of a head-to-head comparison with the higher specced iPads, but it should really worry everyone involved in the more budget end of the market. In stark contrast to Microsoft - who’s Surface Tablet launch was all hyperbole and bluster - with no pricing, launch date or even proper tech specs. Go to the Google play site though, and you will see that the Nexus 7 ships in 2-3 weeks (£159 for 8GB model and £199 for 16GB model). Admittedly this is only a 7" tablet, and it lacks typical Android staples in terms of plug-in memory or replaceable battery. There’s nothing new or innovative here - the form itself is about as standard as you can get, but if you were going to buy a tablet for £159-199 - this is probably where you should be spending your money; by comparison the cheapest iPad model is the 16GB iPad 2 at £329.
Google has a few more tricks up its sleeve with clever Cloud syncing and Google+ integration - which should enable some smart social media sharing and automatic backups, photo archiving etc. Google play + Google Nexus 7
I’ve been playing around with the Tomahawk Social Media Player desktop app for about a week now - since brother Markus introduced me to it - it exists in both PC and Mac flavours, with the latter being slightly more seamless an experience at the moment. This is definitely NOT a replacement for Spotify, more of a useful addition to it - as the largest library of quality music media comes from Spotify itself (requires Premium account).
Out of the box, Tomahawk does not do much more than play back files you already have on your desktop or network. To really get it working, you need to configure a number of ’Resolvers’ which include the following:
Spotify (Requires Premium Account,as well as specially downloaded extension from Tomahawk site)
For Spotify Premium account holders (Windows Users) you need to download a separate Spotify Resolver from the Tomahawk site. All these Resolvers are only semi-official, so chances are some of them could get blocked at some stage in the future, but essentially the system allows you to search by all these resources and play back the various sound files on the Tomahawk Player.
It’s currently a little clunky and unrefined in its user experience and does certain things more awkwardly than one would have deemed necessary. There are separate searches for instance for ’Super Collection’ (Online Resources) and ’My Collection’ (Your own local or networked music files) - why these are not combined into a single uber search is kind of strange. Also, the Search results themselves are no way near as clear and concise as those on Spotify. In many ways, this seems very much a beta release - when compared to the slick experience of Spotify and new online apps like Pinterest.
There’s nothing particularly genius about the search either - as it does not retrieve all those oddly named YouTube files which you can find yourself on YouTube. Some of the results are bizarre ’near matches’ which appear midway through the results listsings rather than at the bottom - they should really be arranged by some sort of ’suitability’ algorithm.
Warner Bros started off this stupidity by increasing their initial 28 day retail to rental window to 56 days. Now Disney is considering a 28-day rental window of its own. On the same day that the Bridesmaids movie announces record online rentals / on-demand views - approaching 5 million views in four months.
Do these movie studios not realise that the majority of people now watch rentals, and ongoingly, fewer and fewer DVDs and even movie downloads will be sold - as for most people, seeing a movie once is enough. The occasional film comes along where repeated viewing is enjoyable - but this is typically an exception, as once you’ve seen ’The Usual Suspects’ the twist does not have the same impact the second time around.
I’m still very much a mixed-media man - consuming both digital and traditional format media - I still buy vinyl for DJ’ing, but for daily listening - which happens to involve my iMac or iPhone - I’m finding it more instantly gratifying and convenient to buy downloads vs CDs - I really only buy CDs now when what I want is not available as a download, or else there’s additional material contained in CD format - oh, one more thing - some CD’s are still cheaper than their download equivalents, so where it makes best sense really, but increasingly with a preference for digital (no waiting around).
For movies and television though, my 27" PC / iMac is now my regular TV, and I use a mix of terrestrial on-demand services (iPlayer, ITV Player etc.), Netflix and iTunes to satisfy my viewing needs. I also buy a smattering of DVDs- such as recent TV series, as they are far more expensive on iTunes (for a lower quality) and too recent for Netflix. Which brings me onto Netflix - which is undoubtedly a really great system, but somewhat worryingly has introduced hardly any new material since I signed on a month ago. As Betamax vs VHS has shown, as well as the various console wars, it’s the system with the best / most content that wins out, not necessarily the best quality of experience.
A long time ago I coined a phrase for this current generation of youth - ’The Now Generation’ as in they never had to save up or wait for anything, nor do they want to. In marketing you always have a limited window of opportunity - based on a customer’s proclivity and propensity to consume a particular
Yesterday’s Apple Education Event (iBooks 2) was essentially all about the iPad’s increasing role within the realms of education. I already own a number of educational-type Apps on my iPad which I believe had a significant impact on this evolution - Touch Press’s ’The Elements’ and ’Solar System’ as well as Transworld Digital’s ’The Magic of Reality’ are all superb types of a new interactive forms of learning - the latter is closer to the new standard that Apple has introduced with its digital ’Textbooks’ - actually just an updated standard of its iBooks format.
These new ’Textbooks’ are essentially interactive books with inline media and other games and interactive puzzles included within the flow of the books, as well as built-in tests, glossaries and clever indexes and bookmarks / study cards.
The Key Features are as follows:
Thumbnail Index - essentially a visual plus text overview index of the key parts of the textbook
Integral Videos - inline Videos and animations within context
Interactive Animations - animated timelines, puzzles and the like bring an added tactile dimension to learning - which of course aids memory
Study Cards - Highlighted passages of text and notes will automatically turn into ordered and indexed study cards - to aid revision
Custom Glossary - Each textbook will have it’s own explanations / descriptions of key terms
Quizzes and Review Questions - Instant Quizzes built into the end of each chapter - to aid memory recall
For content creators, Apple has provided a new ’iBooks Author’ Mac OSX App - wich allows anyone to create their own enhanced interactive textbook in this format (in fact any iBooks can be created like this) - the App is free and is available on the Mac App Store.
Apple has also produced a specific iPad App for Higher Education called ’iTunes U’ - which is already being used by universities - Duke, Stanford and Yale to provide large parts of their curricula in this format.
Apple has once again really stolen the march on its competitors! I had expected Amazon to have made some ground with its Kindle offerings, but truth be told - E-Ink is great for reading regular books, but it’s way too laggy to provide a full interactive environment along the lines of the iPad. A friend of mine has the latest Kindle Touch -
I’ve been waiting a while now for the arrival of Netflix on these shores, so was it worth the wait?
When I received the initial email invitation, it’s poor quality made me unsure as to whether this was some sort of phishing effort. This was not helped by the very basic Netflix holding page presented to UK users.
In any case, I had been waiting a while for this so I dipped my toes into the 30 day free trial. You have to enter you credit card details during registration, which will likely put off some users, but I triangulated the security certificate to be sure. Once registered, you get presented with a very elegant browsing interface, not a million miles from the one for iTunes films, but much the superior in my opininon - especially how it pops up detail information when you hover over the film / programme image.
I caught up with ’Gone Baby Gone’ - a film I had not got around to watching yet, but had always wanted to see. The whole experience from browsing, to selecting and watching is truly slick, simple and elegant. For those worried about signing up via Facebook - for everything you watch, you get the option to not share to Facebook - so that you can continue to watch trashy TV and movies without exposing your viewing choices to friends and family.
Currently, the only thing that really counts against Neflix at the moment is the rather slim selection of video available. Like many other users, I expected there to be a lot more US TV Series. Also - you don’t get the very latest films or TV - it’s mostly a series or two behind. But great if you want to catch up with films and TV you missed when they were initially releases - a couple or so years ago.
The £5.99 all-inclusive monthly fee is the perfect price point as far as I’m concerned - Netflix just needs to work on signing more studio deals and providing a larger selection.
In terms of overall experience, this is currently my favourite way of watching video online - I’m of course interested to see what Apple, Amazon (LoveFilm), YouTube and the BBC do in response to this.
I wrote a blog not so long ago about the poor state of online video, and how poorly it compared to the more traditional model of Blockbuster - which is unfortunately fast waning. There is no online service yet though which is able to deliver as wide a video libary, as quickly as Blockbuster.
I must admit that I used to be a huge fan of Blockbuster Video Stores, and if there was one next door to me, I would probably still use it, as they still have by far and away the best range of movies, have the earliest release dates, and their price point is only £2.99. Apple iTunes currently has downloads only - you can start viewing progressively at 10-15 minutes in, but it’s not streaming, this is at £3.49 for standard definition, and £4.49 for high definition where available (Older films are at £2.49 and specials at £0.99). LoveFilm has a subscription service also at £5.99 per month, with some films only available on subscription, and new films are typically at £3.49, with older ones at £2.49 - on a par with iTunes. The issue for me on LoveFilm is that it’s overly fussy and overly complex - giving you different options to rent DVD, watch online, sign up for subscription, buy on Amazon etc. Moreover, beyond the optional subscription it offers no great advantage over iTunes as it pretty much has the same fairly slim selection of films which are largely made available for rent a week or two after Blockbuster.
HMV has gone against the grain by launching at a higher level one tier standard price of £3.99 - it’s not clear yet as to what the quality of the stream is though. For HMV you can of course download to watch, as well as stream directly. Again, browsing through their library - there are still enormous holes in the catalogue, although I could find some films here that were not listed on iTunes or LoveFilm.
The point is that the old format - DVD - which is ’Blockbuster’ really still has by far and away the best selection and the best price. Online video has the advantage of convenience
In comparison, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt II which is the record daily film box office, took $91 million on its first day. Music sales are not recorded on a daily basis typically, the best data we have is in terms of weekly sales statistics. It’s somewhat strange to report that the one week sales record goes to *NSYNC’s ’No Strings Attached’ album which shipped 2.4 million units in its first week back in April of 2000. In terms of digital sales, it would seem that Lady Gaga’s ’Born This Way’ would have the current record of first week 662,000 unit digital sales, contributed to in no small part by a special 99 cent deal on Amazon.com - which shifted 440,000 copies in just 2 days.
Lil Wayne currently holds the US iTunes record of circa 300,000 units of ’Tha Carter IV’ downloaded in the first 4 days. Coldplay’s ’Xylo Myloto’ holds the international iTunes record - across all 35 stores, achieving in excess of 500,000 downloads in its first week.
It’s somehwat heartening to see that the most liquid / profitable entertainment medium is no longer music or film, but games. I would go one step further and highlight software overall - in terms of apps and programmes. The digital economy is now truly gigantic, and Apple and Android are capturing an ever bigger share of the gaming marketplace. That said, Call of Duty MW3 is an old-fashioned console game, shipped mostly in hardcopy format.
I have always hinted that the music and film industries would eventually copy the most successful parts of the gaming economy. Sure gaming suffers piracy and blackmarket copies of its titles, but the size and scope of many of these games means enormous data, which does not make for easy downloads; a lot of games also make use of hardware peripherals which make it difficult for pirates to replicate the whole experience. One of the key reasons that the movie industry has got so heavily behind the 3D format is also because of the fact that it’s more difficult to replicate that experience via illegal means.
In an article I wrote a while ago about the Icelandic economy, I highlighted the success of
I am very saddened to hear that Steve Jobs has unfortunately succumbed to pancreatic cancer after a brave fight of some 8 years.
As someone who loves technology, and more importantly loves the benefits that great technology brings - I will be eternally grateful for Steve’s contributions to the world.
Hundreds of millions around the world have benefitted both directly and indirectly from Steve’s input. Steve was never afraid to go his own way, he always believed though we frequently doubted.
From his love of black turtle necks, Levi’s 501s and New Balance 993 trainers, to his stalwart championing of great design - Steve was ever uncompromising in his pursuit of useful and beautifully usable technology - for genuine benefit to the people.
His legacy and trail of innovation will be with us for a very long time to come:
MacBook / Air / Pro
Our thoughts are of course with his family and friends.
Apple fails to meet the weight / wait of expectation by way of an overdose of déjà vu! After a summer of lacklustre Hollywood blockbuster sequels, we get a lacklustre sequel from Apple.
I followed the whole of the tedious iPhone Keynote event via the always excellent Engadget Liveblog. Huge chunks of the presentation seemed to be entirely lifted from the previous mid-year WWDC. About 20 minutes into the hyperbolic statistics, I had a feeling that I was going to be disappointed.
Don’t get me wrong! I’m a huge iPhone fan, and had been looking forward enormously to upgrading my now aging 3GS to a shiny metallic iPhone 5. My current phone contract ran out at the start of this year, and I waited expectantly for a June upgrade - that was then delayed to the Autumn, and the level of expectation increased enormously with the additional wait.
I had assumed that the Apple engineers had been busy on a larger form factor screen and enormously improved chassis. It now turns out that it was the software engineers who were busying themselves away with innovating a special feature that they hoped would otherwise overcome the disappointing lack of hardware innovation - the Siri Voice-activated assistant - which is still a Beta version!
I have always believed the iPhone 4 design to be inherently flawed, both in terms of its relatively fragile glass sandwich surround, and the problematic antenna, which even in its recent Verizon phone version, still did not seem to have entirely solved the well-documented connectivity issues. The new antenna looks not much different to the Verizon one.
Whilst HTC, Samsung and the like are continually innovating with slick new hardware features, larger, brighter screens and Electronic Wallet / NFC and 4G capabilities, I was hoping to see Apple leapfrog the competition yet again. In truth though, this phone is really just on par with its current contemporary peers - with all the other hardware companies on the point of launching even newer and more impressive models, Apple really did need to push the boat out a little further!
Here follows my brief Hits & Misses overview:
Faster A5 Chip - better graphics handling
64GB Storage Memory
Siri - Voice-controlled assistant (Still in Beta)
No 4" Screen
No real chassis improvements - same but different antenna, same fragile glass
I was a little sad to see that Google TV failed to take off, as I really saw it as the perfect solution to my viewing requirements. I spend most days and several nights working on my 27" iMac, which has ended up as my proxy television set as well. I am so grateful to the various terrestrial TV on-demand services, best exemplified by the BBC’s iPlayer, but pretty much every major terrestrial Channel has one now:
I almost never watch anything live any more - I can schedule my TV viewing around my work, rather than the other way around.
In addition to the various ’on demand’ services, there is the fantastic ’TV Catchup’ service for UK viewers, which allows you to follow some live programming online should you wish. There are also the ’new money for old rope services’ - ’Blinkbox’ and ’YouView’ where the BBC amongst others charges the public again for watching repeats of programmes they paid for with their TV licence.
Apple’s iTunes Service is another resource I find very useful, as this is now my chief ’Video Rental’ as such; I also buy the occasional TV series from here, but it is typically cheaper to buy a whole series DVD on Amazon or eBay. This is not necessarily Apple’s fault, media companies are too greedy on the price-point, meaning that the majority of viewers tend to choose to watch a dodgy pirated torrent download rather than an over-priced but quality download from official sources (that is if the programme is available online through official sources at all!).
In the US, they have 3 great TV / video aggregators - that is to say proper cross-channel on-demand services - Amazon VOD, Hulu and Netflix. Hulu has long tried to make inroads into the UK, but the terrestrial broadcasters won’t licence their programmes to Hulu. We really need more competition here to shake up the domestic market a little bit.
Referencing the main picture, an interesting Hulu-related story is currently circulating on the net, since Fox Broadcasting introduced an 8 day delay on one-off programme purchasing / viewing. The summary is as follows: if you’re on a Hulu+ subscription you can pretty much watch what you want when you want. If you pay individually for programmes, Fox has introduced a mandatory 8
The most amazing thing about the iCloud service - which stores your music, photos, apps, calendars and documents - is that it’s free! (As long as you don’t exceed 5GB). The iCloud stores all your content and media, and automatically and wirelessly syncs / pushes them to all your Apple devices.
There are some obvious benefits of this within the incredibly easy to use Apple ecosystem - automatic backup and syncing through the cloud is a great service for Apple users. Instead of introducing Spotify-style music streaming, Apple instead introduces ’iTunes Match’ for $25 p.a.- this service automatically matches all your CD-ripped music with existing tracks from the iTunes library and delivers them as high quality DRM-free 256kbps AAC files. Obviously if your collection is all iTunes-based anyway, you don’t need the ’Match’ service, but the system works in the same way. The way Apple can steal a march on Google and Amazon’s equivalent Cloud Music Services is that most of what Apple is streaming comes from it’s core collection which it simply ID’s from your own iTunes collection - and then has the corresponding Apple Library track streamed out - making for a much more light-weight system, really quite clever in its conceptualisation - we have yet to experience the full final implementation of course.
Music is supposedly limited to 25,000 tracks, and photos are only stored in the cloud for 30 days - those are the downsides. The upside is obviously that all of this is built into the latest versions of the Apple operating systems; OSX Lion is out in July and iOS 5 arrives in September.
For me I’m not sure it makes much difference. I will still keep my Spotify subscription, and I like the fact that I can shop around for tracks - on Amazon, Beatport and Juno as well as on iTunes - both in solid and digital formats. I also quite like that Dropbox is fully universal - and you can share content with friends and colleagues on any system / platform.
The genius of Apple is always in its simplicity and ease of use,
Google Music Beta was one of the main introductions at the recent Google I/O Conference. In essence, it is a Cloud-based music file storage system which has a number of clever features enabled by the Android software that powers / manages it from Android devices.
The idea is that you can store 20,000 or so MP3 files in the Google Cloud, and access these music files in streaming fashion - through any of your Android devices at any time. The software does some clever syncing which allows you to add files and create playlists and auto-generated mixes from any location. Additional smarts is provided by and offline syncing system which downloads recently played tracks to the local device, so that the files can also be played offline.
Obviously, it's not long since Amazon launched its Amazon Cloud Player, which offers similar functionality on the storage front, albeit not backed up by the same clever multi-device software. Spotify is an obvious competitor which offers a very similar service, but rather from an extended music library angle. For Google Music Beta - you upload all your own tracks versus Spotify where you typically stream from a larger general library of music. No doubt Apple is watching and waiting in the wings, as it's own rumoured Cloud Storage / Streaming Solution is due around the middle of this year.
In a conversation with my younger colleague Chris, I was somewhat surprised that he operates by a similar music collector system to me - buying cherished / favourite tracks / albums on CD and then transferring to digital library, whilst downloading more spontaneous and adhoc tunes and tracks in digital format. As a contrast, my brother Markus gets pretty much all his music from Spotify.
I'm still of a mind that the global network / Internet infrastructure- particularly for the UK, is wholly NOT up to the task of providing a decent uninterrupted streaming service. I still see the cloud as a virtual attic - where you store your overflow files and materials which are not in daily use. I cannot see any substitute for having the actual files on your portable device - if you want to ensure quality and reliable music playback. One of the main reasons I like my iPhone is that its 32GB of inbuilt memory allows me to carry circa 26GB worth of current music with me wherever I go. I keep hoping the next generation of iPhone is going to up the memory size to at
On the latest Millward Brown BrandZ ’Global Top 100’ listing, Apple has overtaken Google by quite a significant margin. No doubt this has a lot to do with the phenomenal sales success of the iPad , as well as continuing strong retail performance across most divisions.
Our own household has slowly and steadily, not particularly deliberately, become rather Apple -fied. It started with iPods and iPhones , then a MacBook Pro or two, and now includes iMacs , iPads and Apple TV . I’m not saying that Apple necessarily make the perfect product in every category, but they do have an uncanny knack of getting the quality, aesthetics and usability just right. Sure there are some quirks here and there, but in each category we have an Apple product, it is significantly the best in that category - and usually for a variety of reasons. I’m certainly not the biggest fan of iTunes , but there is an easy convenience in syncing devices with iTunes and sharing media files. It’s a little suprising how far behind some of the previously dominant competitors have fallen - chiefly I suppose Sony and Nokia in their respective sectors.
Anyway, the top 20 most valuable brands for 2011 is as follows; (Percentage % Change vs 2010 in Parenthesis):
Most will be aware that the traditional high street record store has become an endangered species. Long gone are the days when you had an HMV , Virgin, Our Price, Woolworths and WHSmith on the same high street - all selling vinyl records; nowadays only HMV remains as a proper high street music retailer and even HMV has abandoned nearly all vinyl. Off the high street though is where the real action is / was happening - the independent record stores would be found in a back alley or cul-de-sac shopping precinct. 5 years ago there were 900+ independent record stores in the UK, last year this figure was down to 269. Strangely this year, the independents’ numbers are back up a fraction to 281.
The big story is of course the changing patterns of music consumption where currently 99% of single sales are by way of digitial downloads. The figures are a little less extreme for albums, but increasingly these are also being sold digitally; an interesting counter to this is the new Alison Krauss album - ’Paper Airplane’ which recently entered the top 5 with 99% non-digital sales, i.e. CD and Vinyl, but increasingly digital is marginalising the traditional formats.
When I pop into town, usually on a Saturday, I often proceed along the Poland Street - Berwick Street route, usually starting at the one remaining ’HMV ’ on Oxford Street, working my way down Poland street to my favourite record store ’Phonica ’, and then through D’Arblay Street to ’Sister Ray ’ on Berwick Street. Occasionally I feel a little more missioneered and include ’BM Soho ’, ’Reckless ’, ’Sounds of the Universe ’ and ’Music & Video Exchange ’ also. All the record shops are in a fairly neat circuit, as can be seen on the map below:
This being ’Record Store Day ’ of course I made the extra effort to stop off at every which one; I ended up buying a single sliver of vinyl in Phonica , in case I forgot about it next week, and of course to honour the day, and keep these businesses alive. Although I do buy a lot online, I’m not averse to the occasional crate-digging...
Radiohead announced today that their latest album ’The King of Limbs ’ is to be available for download this Saturday - 19th February across 5 territories - UK / Ireland, Europe, The Americas, S.E.Asia, and Rest of the World.
There are in fact 4 versions of the album available as you can see from the above screen-capture:
MP3 Download - £6 / $9
WAV Download - £9 / $14
Newspaper Artwork Physical Album + MP3 Download - £30 / $48
Newspaper Artwork Physical Album + WAV Download - £33 / $53
The full physical release does not take place until 9th May, but fans can of course get hold of the downloads a lot sooner.
Radiohead of course pioneered online independent distribution with their ’In Rainbows’ album - for which fans could choose how much the album was worth to them. On this occasion they have fixed the parameters, and they are totally in control of the sale of the album themselves.
At Comrz we’ve long been saying that ongoingly artists will become increasingly more in control of their output and assets, and more and more will follow Radiohead in owning and controlling their retail environments. I believe these are reasonable price-points for this kind of ’product’. I have long held the belief that download music albums should not cost much more than £5 and singles no more than £0.59 (in line with the iPhone App Store ; not iTunes obviously) - I firmly hold to the belief that this will become the case eventually.
The nature of the traditional music industry involves lots of intermediaries and go-betweens, in fact a fairly sizeable distribution network intricately linked to radio, media and chart organisations. By going the Radiohead route, you totally cut out the traditional channels, and forego radio and retail support and the pubclity and advertising that goes with that; being outside traditional retail channels means also that you also forego a chart position. The online music industry has seen a lot of recent evolution with entities like Spotify and SoundCloud . It will be very interesting to see what evolves out of all of this.
For established bands like Radiohead - who already have a sizeable following - going down the proprietary retail route is a no-brainer. For new and up-and-coming artists though the promotional clout of the...
A recent report ’The Connected Kingdom’ commissioned by Google and carried out by US consultancy - Boston Consulting Group , finds that the Internet contributed some £100bn or 7.2% of UK gross domestic product in 2009.
This £100bn figure is said to be a conservative estimate, and excludes business-to-business eCommerce which is a £360bn per year market alone.
Of the £100bn figure, half of this is estimated to be consumer eCommerce, £10bn is for internet service providers and equipment used to get online, and the remaining £40bn comprises mainly of government spending and private investment in Internet technology - such as fibre optic networks and broadband. The UK Internet industry is estimated to employ circa 250,000 people - mostly made up of small companies like Comrz funnily enough.
The UK is actually a net exporter of eCommerce goods and services, exporting £2.80 for every £1 it imports, or in 2009 figures - £9.5bn exports vs £3.4bn imports. In terms of domestic consumer eCommerce; circa 31m people are responsible for the £50bn figure - spending circa £1,600 each - largely on media, travel, insurance and fashion - this sum puts UK consumers ahead of their American counterparts - on the basis of per capita spending. The UK is also the second largest online advertising market in the world after the US. The finaly interesting statistic revealed by the survey is that households can save approximately £1,000 per annum - by buying most of their goods online.
I know from my own patterns of consumption exactly how invaluable the UK Online Retail Market is. I along with many others regularly use larger stores like Amazon , Tesco , iTunes , M&S , John Lewis , HMV and ASOS , as well as more specialist stores like music store Juno and various ticket-based operations like airline tickets and cinemas - like Odeon . I must say that Amazon is still overall my favourite retail destination.
I shop online because there’s a greater range of goods and better availability, as well as keener pricing. I still quite like High Street and Mall shopping - but my biggest issue there is one of availability - in that the local store often runs out of stock - particularly with regards to specific clothing sizes. For online retail, the weakest pa...
A recent post on Gizmodo has brought to my attention all that is wrong with Apple , and how Apple has no understanding of Social Networking or Social Media. The company has posted a series of guidlines / restrictions for artists using their Ping Social Network - including the prohibition of using external links or linking to the artist’s main site!!!
I’m totally flabbergasted that Apple have such little understanding of the current dynamics of Social Networking - and equally - their target market - the artists themselves. What artist is going to bother using Ping when it comes with the following restrictions:
iTunes Content Policies:
Videos, photos, and text posts should not contain pornography, hate speech, racism, nudity or any references ot depiction of drug use.
Posts should not include advertisements or links to site outside of iTunes
Post should not contain links to other content providers.
URLs should not be included in the About section of your artist profile. This includes official artist Website URLs. URLs can only be posted in the Event feed.
Only upload photos and videos that you have a legal right to share.
For the Music I Like section of your artist profile, we recommend that you don’t pick the same album mutliple time, and that you don’t pick only your own music. Fans are eager to find new music that their favorite artists are listening to and downloading.
Do no create your artist profile until yo are ready to make a post or two. Fans will be far more likely to follow you if they can tell that your profile is active
It looks like Ping is totally dead in the water before it had a proper chance to develop.
The AOL Network fell into decline for many of the same reasons - inflexibility, prohibition and restriction. Rock and Roll IS Sex, Alcohol, Drugs AND Rock and Roll. What is Ping aimed at? Choral Societies?
This is one of the dumbest moves in the recent history of Social Networking - let’s have some further opinions on this matter then ... please post your comments below!
Simon Cowell has obviously been keeping one beady eye on Glee ’s success in releasing show music via iTunes . Glee just recently surpassed the Beatles in achieving 75 Billboard Top 100 hits - the Beatles amassed 71 in circa 30 years, Glee has achieved its success in under 2 years.
An email has just comes through from Apple announcing that all of tonight’s live X Factor performances are available for download - for the princely sum of £0.99 each. For trial purposes I downloaded my favourite performance of the night - Aiden Grimshaw’s beautiful version of Tears for Fears’ ’Mad World’ - which is all of 2:17 minutes long. The price point is exactly the same as the Glee singles, but for me this is somewhat of a rip-off. In my recent ’The Increasing Internationalisation of Media’ posting, I suggested a price point of £0.59 as being the correct, acceptable pricing point for a single - this is 20 pence lower than the current regular price of £0.79. There are all kinds of clever Internet applications which can capture the track from the live broadcast and render it as an MP3 track for free. This is just a typical case of corporate greed taking advantage of the less savvy consumer.
At least with Glee what you get is a fully studio-recorded version with proper post-production mixing and proper mastering. All professional musicians will tell you about the key importance of mixing and mastering the recording to a high standard. For X Factor we are simply getting audio captures from the live broadcast - with audience noise etc. included. However much a fan of X Factor I might be, I am slightly put out by this sly opportunistic move by the show producers. The standout Glee tracks are performed under studio conditions - mostly with brilliant arrangements, and performed by talented professionals. Most of the X Factor output is far far below the quality of what comes out of Glee . That said, the Aiden Grimshaw track was of perfectly acceptable quality for playback - I just find the cost of the track way too high.
If software developers Rovio can take several months to produce the highly addictive game ’Angry Birds ’ and sell this for £0.59 how can the music or entertainments industry justify £0.99 for re-cycled snippets of TV content? The maths of t...
The Internet is largely a multi-cultural and International environment. Peoples of many countries follow the same news, blog and entertainment resources, yet don’t have the same access to related media content. I can perfectly understand for live broadcast events - why you might want to and need to have Geo-blocking and Regional restrictions in place, I no longer understand why for general Videos, DVDs, Music etc. there are restrictions from one country to another.
This failing was perfectly illustrated when I was on holiday in Iceland a week ago. Iceland lies midway between the USA and Europe, and is equally influenced by both continents. Most of Iceland’s American TV content runs concurrently with the US release schedule - the same goes for say Music CD’s - as Iceland is midway in the Atlantic, music releases are pretty spontaneous here - arriving simultaneously from USA, UK and Europe. Iceland has no MTV website - yet it can access most of MTV USA. When I’m in the UK, lots of MTV USA content is restricted to USA IP addresses. Lots of related US TV program resources though are restricted from viewing from Iceland - this makes no sense to me?
I follow a lot of American news sites and blogs, and often get blocked by the relevant video player for being in the wrong country - ’This media is owned by Sony and is not licenced for your Region!’ or something similar. This happens quite a lot for YouTube music videos, which I totally cannot understand. I also cannot understand why music available on USA iTunes might not be available on UK iTunes - I can go to the same music blog sites, artist sites, MySpace sites etc. - I know the album is out, I have heard most of the tracks, but I am unable to buy the album officially in my locality. I don’t condone media Piracy in any way, but fully understand why and how it happens. All people are created the same - they hear or see something, and they instantly want to own it - for quite a lot of content, immediate ownership can only be gained by illegal means.
I can understand why the big music giants did this in the past - they want to co-ordinate releases for maximum exposure and maximum chart impact - so they sell more of said release. Alas I think, those days are far behind us now. Interesting statistics from USA TV audience research are showing...