Category Archives: Future of Technology

Loving Music in a World of Shifting Business Models

I love music.

I probably listen to music 4-6 hours a day, much of it while I am working.

And I am not an expert on music, digital business models, digital technology, or the music business.  I am simply a humble, passionate user.

I am worried that the “market” for music is going to evolve away from what I want.  Is downloaded music over?  Is streaming dead? Or doomed to being a loss-leader for larger behemoths like cell phone carriers or Amazon?

Ever since digital music and downloading emerged, I have been happy to pay for music.  Most of my iTunes library was built from ripping my CDs.  And as the RIAA and its business allies screamed and shouted and whinged about illegal downloads in the era of Napster, I seethed that all those freeloaders were making life difficult for me by provoking various forms of DRM (digital rights management).  For example, I couldn’t copy music from a first generation iPod from the iPod to a second computer.  I paid for the music, and now this wall of property rights was inserted in MY TECHNOLOGY.

Models evolved.  Pandora came along and at first I loved it.  But then, I realized, I wanted to be able to play the song I wanted when I wanted.  Too many hours were spent trying to “trick” Pandora into the perfect mix of alternative, folk, americana, jazz, and bluegrass.

I tied to get off iTunes with a Songbird experiment.  But something happened and it mixed up meta data and then I had songs with the wrong titles.  I am still looking for an iTunes alternative, preferably one that folds lyrics in.

RDIO came along, and I happily signed up.  $10 a month for unlimited PC streaming of anything I wanted?  Yes, please.

I learned about emusic.  Which has been around for awhile, in turns out.  I can often get songs for $0.49 or $0.79!  The model also constrains my spending to $15 a month on new music.  I listen to music on RDIO.  When I hear something I like, I pop over to emusic.com and buy it.  If I want to make a mix cd for a friend, I go into iTunes.  It all works just fine.

But emusic changed its catalog to focus only on “indie artists and labels.”  Fine.  But, really, no Indigo Girls?  So, am I back to buying from Amazon or iTunes?  Are the artists even seeing anything fair in these purchases?  Spotify et al have big revenue streams, but most of that goes to the labels, not the creators of the music.

Rdio won’t make the details of its revenue public, but Spotify took in more than half a billion dollars last year. Nevertheless, its losses grew from from $60 million to $78 million. Spotify executives say 70 percent of its revenue went to paying licensing fees. (From NPR).

eMusic, through its editorial, magazine-like portal, Wondering Sound, is trying to make music discovery and curating a service you want.  That is fine, as far as it goes, but the link from listening to buying then becomes too convoluted.  I hear a song I like on Rdio, or through its pretty good social media features, and then I have to hunt for it on eMusic.com, and if not there, maybe Amazon?  Maybe iTunes?  But pay more?  And also feel like I am no longer supporting emusic’s love-of-music ethos?  It is like buying music from Wal-Mart instead of a record store.  I _LIKE_ hanging out in the record store.

One jazz music writer covers some of the emusic changes and what it means for his tastes.

Meanwhile, vinyl is making its little comeback, even in our house, led by my music-phile son, Elijah.  Music I love, like The National, or San Fermin, or Sharon Von Etten, I’d be willing to buy and own as vinyl for the audio quality.

Why are labels so powerful still?  Because they control the back catalogs?

Why can’t there be a stream-and-purchase model?  Emusic.com has a stream part, but you are capped at like ten hours a month.  Why wouldn’t musicians seek out a label-free distribution platform so they can record music and have it available to stream, download or hard copy purchase without going through a label?  A platform that also catalyzes concert-going and other revenue streams for them?

UPDATE:  Pandora seems to have some ideas along these lines, as here Fortune describes Customer Relationship Management for artists…

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Filed under Creativity, digital culture, Future of Technology, Information and Communication Technology, innovation, management, Media, music, Network Society, Social Networks, Uncategorized

Ideas for Questions and Themes for Arianna Huffington

Today, as part of the tech/no Forum series at Bucknell, we are hosting Arianna Huffington.  I had imagine I would do some deep research on her background, her role as founder of HuffingtonPost, her role as CEO of the merged AOL-Huffington company  her ideas on the relationship between media, democracy, and profit, the death (?) of the newspaper, and so on.

Well, that didn’t happen.

Instead, I’ll have to generate some from what I have in my head (as opposed to research-based).

If you are coming to the afternoon session, feel free to read these, use these, modify these, and so on.

Business and Technology

* Is the content-for-eyeballs formula of the Internet dying?  Are advertisers not willing to pay?

* Are we at the end of an innovation burst as the Internet and mobile platforms are merging?  Is the heady period of “social media” and its rapid expansion done?

* Who are HP’s or AOL’s competitors?

Media and Profit

* Is it the responsibility of the media company to provide what “customers” want or what they need?  Does a media/news company create its own demand and then project that onto the audience.  “See, they want _____________ (tits, blood, murders, horse-race politics)?” Continue reading

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Filed under Business, economics, Future of Technology, higher education, Information and Communication Technology, innovation, Media, Network Society, Politics, Power, Activism, Social Networks, sociology, technology, Technology history

Social Networks gains another level of salience

While over at socnet, there is a discussion of how “social networks” has become totally co-opted and stolen by the rise of the social networking sites/services (MySpace, Facebook, Okrut, LinkedIn, etc), i stumbled on to the new HP TouchSmart computer marketing campaign.  By the way, the author of the post above, Guy Hagen, is totally correct that social networks are as old as the species while SNS are, well, younger.

(I wonder what is the first SNS?  Orkut?  Tribe.net? It would be nice to have a brief history of SNS.  What would minimal definition be?  Profiles+relationship building+messaging system… Is that enough?)

The HP touchSmart, which looks pretty cool, bills itself as the one machine that will enable you to manage your digital life.  “It puts your digital life at your fingertips giving you instant access to info, entertainment, and social networks.”  So, not only has social networks as a term become a whole genre of applications, but even a class of functions like photography, word processing, or data management.

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Filed under Future of Technology, Social Network Sites, Social Networks, words

Mapping Manhattan

I was fascinated to read about this project to make a detailed, 3D, explorable map of Manhattan before contact and conquest. It sounds like secondlife! And the use of real markers and connections to the 3d map will enable even more cross-over from virtual to real world and vice-versa. Another blogger who lives in NY waxes about the project.

Our Local Correspondents: The Mannahatta Project: Reporting & Essays: The New Yorker
Eric Sanderson, a landscape ecologist with the Wildlife Conservation Society (W.C.S.), is in charge of a project called the Human Footprint, which seeks to map the human race’s impact on the surface of the earth. New York is the ultimate case. “It’s probably the fastest, biggest land-coverage swing in history,” Sanderson said. For nearly a decade, he has been working on the Mannahatta Project, an attempt to determine exactly how Manhattan would have appeared to Hudson and his crew in 1609. It will include a lavish book; a Web site; a possible exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History; and a three-dimensional computer map which would allow you to fly above the island, land wherever you want, and look around. Eventually, Sanderson would like to put up plaques around town calling attention to vanished landmarks.

My friend Alex Pulsipher, who has an intro textbook for Geography has talked to me about his ideas for the future of that book. Wandering around our old haunts in Knoxville we were discussing the use of educational games, internet publishing, and learning. The Manhattana Project may be a great example of that future. But why stop with traveling around? Why not let people create modules that would run in the map/world? Replay Hudson’s voyage? Replay the local Indian’s use of land. Having student’s design these modules and discuss what matters and how to incorporate what they know would engage them and force them to make consequential choices based on their current knowledge and intellectual perspectives.

Manhattana Project Image

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Filed under digital culture, Future of Technology, Gaming, geography, pedagogy

State of Play Conference

Ted Tschang, my new Second Life research pal, sent me this link to a conference…

I find it quite amusing that they use “metaverse,” a term originated by Neal Stephenson so many years ago.  Is this life imitating art?  or did Stephenson look into life and simply speed up what he saw into a likely future.

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Filed under Future of Technology, Gaming, Sci Fi