Archive for January, 2009

Club Transmediale 09 – Berlin

January 31, 2009

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The 10th anniversary edition of Club Transmediale 09, Berlin’s unique festival for electronic and experimental musical culture, is over.
For more than a week the conference offered a bunch of great talks and workshops in the daytime program and amazing club events at night.

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The Festival theme of this year was STRUCTURES – The aim was to inquire into the current state and future potential of microstructures and networks in independent music and media culture.

Given the situation triggered by the crisis of the music industry, club transmediale decided to provide a platform for interdisciplinary exchange and bring together protagonists from various scenes. The conference tried to encourage a debate from several different perspectives about how the most broadly accessible, artistically self-determined and at the same time economically viable musical cultures might be organised today; to actively promote democratic structures, diversity, critical discourse and creativity.

By far I am not able to cover the whole event here…. see a documentation here and here.

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I just want to mention some of the talks concerning the media industry.

In his great Keynote “The Crisis of the Music Industry – Chance or Calamity?Prof. Peter Wicke (Humboldt University, Berlin) critizes the big discussion initiated by the record industry about the risks and threats for music culture and artists cause of the digitalization. Wicke shows in his talk that not the music culture and musicians are in a crisis, but the investors in the record industry. We have to separate the commercial value and the cultural value, we have to separate artists and investors. Listen to the talk here – German only.

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One of my favourite speakers of this years program was Umar Haique (director of the Havas Media Lab in New York). Unfortunately he was not able to appear in person and had to cancel his talk, but he sent a video.

In his video he considers the current crisis of the music industry in the light of microeconomic information and contract theory. He thereby reaches the conclusion that file-sharing is not to blame for the drop in profits but rather, the music industry’s loss of credibility – for which the industry itself is to blame – which subsequently led consumers to look for alternatives or perhaps, even to rebel. From there, Haque goes on to expound strategic solutions that seek to balance the interests of producers, consumers and those spinning the deals. Here the video:

See many more interesting talks and panels documented as audio files here.

More on Club Transmediale Blog.
Great Festival!

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Access is better than ownership!

January 22, 2009

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Again a remarkable blog post by Kevin Kelly. In his text titled “Better than owning” Kevin calls the Internet the “magic rental store” and asks: “If you lived inside of the world’s largest rental store, why would you own anything?”
We are on a way to the “Age of Access” i fully agree.

Here are some quotes of his best arguments:

“The request to enjoy a work is thus separated from the more complicated choice of whether I want to “own” it. I can consume a movie, music or book without having to decide or follow up on ownership.”

(…)

“For many people this type of instant universal access is better than owning. No responsibility of care, backing up, sorting, cataloging, cleaning, or storage.  As they gain in public accessibility, books, music and movies are headed to become social goods even though they might not be paid by taxes.”

(…)

“Our sense of ownership is a funny thing. If you purchase an ebook and download the book’s PDF file to your computer, you’d say you owned it, and expect the rights of ownership. However if you went to a link where a PDF of a book was opened on your screen for free and automatically, you might not feel you owned this book, even if it was copied to your disk. Possession of a copy turns out to be less important in the feeling of ownership than does the price. Free things don’t generate strong feelings of ownership. Gifts do, which we think of as “free,” but our sense of ownership is related to their “replacement costs” – how much they would cost us to buy elsewhere, their market value. If an item has a marketplace cost of zero, we tend not to feel we own it. So as more economic activity gravitates toward the free, less will feel owned. As more is shared, less will act like property.”

(…)

“The downside to the traditional rental business is the “rival” nature of physical goods. Rival means that there is a zero-sum game; only one rival prevails. If I am renting your boat, no one else can. (…) But of course, intangible goods and services don’t work this way. They are “non-rival” which means you can rent the same movie to as many people who want to rent it this hour. Sharing intangibles scales magnificently. This ability to share on a large scale without diminishing the satisfaction of the individual renter is transformative. The total cost of use drops precipitously (shared by millions instead of one). Suddenly, ownership is not so important.  Why own, when you get the same utility from renting, leasing, licensing, sharing?”

Global TV-Series Release Strategy Has To Change

January 21, 2009

TV stations in Germany have to notice that audience ratings of “blockbuster” TV Series like Lost are constantly not as high as years before, the German newspaper Süddeutsche reports.

A reason for this could be seen in the huge delay of release dates in the German market compared to the US releases. Often series were brought months later to the German market like in the example Lost, where the latest season started 12 months later.

Of course this incentives the fans to get their shows somewhere online, which obviously lowers the demand and “hype” about a free TV release months later. “The dark market” for streaming online services is getting better and better and many episodes have  even German subtitles just a few days after the U.S. release. A study of the research company tfactory shows that more than 50% between 15 and 25 years old are watching TV series online now. So also the awareness for illegal alternatives is rising.

I´m surprised that this discussion didn´t start earlier. Obviously the usage of mostly illegal web TV streaming websites are rising to a critical mass.

The strategy of production companies and TV stations is probably to wait how the series perform in the US key market before selling it to the global market in order to minimize their risks. But in my opinion, like in the movie industry, the global release has to be simultaneously in the future. The TV companies must react and have to change there release windowing strategy for the global market. Synchronizing issues can´t be an excuse.

Conference: Dancing With Myself – Music, Money, and Community After Digitalization

January 19, 2009

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The next several weeks three small “indie” conferences are taking place here in Berlin. In the broadest sense they are all about the future of music culture and industry in the digital age: Club Transmediale, Audio Poverty and Dancing With Myself.  All of them have  an amazing live music/dj programme as well. If you are in Berlin, check them out.

The first one was Dancing With Myself at HAU Berlin. The theme weekend with the subtitel “Music, Money, and Community After Digitalization” provided a forum for discussion about a future that has already begun. Far from lamenting falling sales figures, and far from the usual themes dealt with at ordinary industry conferences, the conference tried to to examine the cultural and theoretical implications of the digitalization of music, through a plethora of lectures, discussion panels, concerts, performances and parties, as well as selected films.

I liked the conference concept a lot and was especially interested in the keynote by Jacques Attali a French economist who wrote 1977 the book ” Noise – The Political Economy of Music” (French titel: Bruits). A great book I never heard before with a lot of thoughts that are more prevailling than ever before… written 30 years ago.

Today I was visiting a few panels at the conference and without going in details, I was a little bit dissapointed about the “overall vibe” of most of the discussions. There was a lot of talking about “the state”, “culture policy” and what should happen that maybe everything is good again… how the state can fix all the problems.

I was wondering, why aren´t we thinking more like entrepreneurs…. seeing the chances….not looking back, talking about good old times and thinking about “fixing problems”…. why not  instead behaving like someone who is the first day in the music business, accepting the status quo, seeing the chances of the democratization of music…
Call me naive, but where is the spirit of something like a revolution? The digitalization is not a dearth… the digitalization has so many positive aspects… let´s start using them.
Just a thought.

24 hours at Sundance

January 18, 2009

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The Sundance Festival starts today and Qik is doing a nice pilot project. Kevin Rose and Ashton Kutcher are hosting a little “interactive” game show “24 hours at Sundance” … something like a “scavenger hunt” / paper chase … live on several Qik channels.

For 24 straight hours during the Sundance film festival, a few contestants will compete to complete a series of tasks, as announced by hosts Ashton Kutcher and Kevin Rose, in real-time. Each player attempts to complete the tasks as they are revealed. The players can complete a task and win points for doing so, or can pass and move ahead to the next task and lose points. You can follow the tasks on Quik, and watch the entire event as it unfolds in real-time.

I like the concept, but the implementation maybe could be better… especially Qik had some performance problems … the stream was often broken… so changing the channels … it wasn´t much fun… following the game was very difficult… a bit chaotic… but watch yourself… there are a few hours left.

Anyway I think that`s the way and the potential of good old “television show formats”. Without big budgets you can deliver a real time interactive experience… we will see what comes next…

Lawrence Lessig on The Colbert Report

January 14, 2009

Very funny Video!

Vodpod videos no longer available.