Posts Tagged ‘music industry’

Audio Poverty

February 10, 2009

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The Audio Poverty Festival – A weekend of discussions and lectures, concerts and parties, performances and experiments. The third and last of the three “indie” conferences here in Berlin at the beginning of this year, all dealing with music and culture in the digital age (see also Club Transmediale and Dancing With Myself).

Music is currently undergoing a loss of value not only in economic terms, but also in ways that have an impact on the social and aesthetic structure of musical life, affecting forms of publication, the culture of listening, musical discourse, and the music itself. Music has become a commodity, delivered from all parts of the world. Audio Poverty tried to explore the consequences of these changes: what is the relationship of the musician to the disappearing market? What is the significance of the individuation of listening for music’s social importance? What does it mean when the music critic is silent? And does musical poverty have a sound?

I liked the theme and concept of the festival a lot when i heard about it, but it didn´t quite meet my expectations. Most of the festival was very experimental…especially the music performance parts were more for a niche audience…. and also some of the talks were very specific… the “economic” part of the festival was not as important as I hoped. But anyway… I met some interesting people there.

For me the panel discussion “No markets, no goods, no future?” on the first day with Gudrun Gut (Monika, Berlin) Achim Bergmann (Trikont, Munich) Jay Rutledge (Outhere, Munich), Dieter Gorny (Berlin), Mark Chung (Freibank, Hamburg), Moderation: Christian Finkbeiner (Berlin) was the most interesting one.
I saw some video cams there… maybe there is a more detailed video documentation of the festival soon on the Audio Poverty website.

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Nine Inch Nails Case Study

February 5, 2009

Last year the name Nine Inch Nails or Trent Reznor was mentioned a lot, when someone was talking about the future of music marketing. Trent has developed a complete new way for music marketing using the whole potential of web 2.0.
He demonstrated on how many ways you can connect with fans and how you still can give your fans a reason to buy in the digital age. There is more than MySpace, there is more than just giving your songs away for free in hope the audience comes to your live shows.
Mike Masnick was summarizing the NIN Campaign in his presentation given to MidemNet this year.

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!

Tim Westergren – The Future of Radio and Digital Music

November 22, 2008

Tim Westergren the founder of the free Internet music provider Pandora.com speaks at the Harvard Berkman Centre about his experiences in the tumultuous world of digital radio.

He has an entrepreneur story to tell: Several months working without salary… 11 debt out credit cards – 3 years later: 18.5 million users, 35.000 new users per day. All without advertising. Now dreaming of one billion users sometime.

He delivered some insights in the analysing process of music at Pandora. Trained musicians are analysing the “Music Genome” of hundreds of tracks everyday. He spoke about the difficult right issues situations… about the monetization concept of the site… delivered some interesting insights into the user behavior (eg. users come back to the site during listening 7 to 10 times per hour)… a lot of interesting stuff in this video:

iTunes Dominates the Market

October 9, 2008

A survey of 1,148 Internet users in the summer of 2008  revealed 58% of people believe iTunes is the top fee-based digital music service or download store according to a report from market research firm Ipsos.


By far the best known brand is also iTunes with an unaided awareness of 39%. (Second is Napster with just 13%).
Hopefully this dominance won`t be a problem for the music industry to establish or improve their business or pricing models. These figures show that most people still think there is just one brand out there. And if you know just one brand, you won`t know the business or pricing models of other brands…  right?
Best example: Last.fm. Maybe one of the most innovative music services out there at the moment, but it faces incredibly low unaided (0%) and aided (6%) awareness.
And the time it takes to get a high awareness, even when you are a “mainstream brand” is a long journey. This is shown by the Amazon example, who get just 5% unaided awareness in their first year in the music download business.
So in the near future iTunes will show us the way…if we like it or not…

The Impact Of Unlimited Music Subscription Services

October 4, 2008

Nokia and Sony Ericsson are on the verge of releasing their mobile subscription services, so the chance for unlimited subscription music services to go mainstream is on the horizon again… and as always the question arises: Which impact will “mass market” subscription services have on the other distribution channels?
Some people in the industry fear that a “mass market realistic” subscription pricing offer could cannibalize their CD sales and their digital download sales much stronger than their outcome might be through the new channel (Itunes is the best example).

But I think they are missing one important thing. Subscription services are a good and maybe the only chance to get “active file shares” back on the pay bill. The opportunity to get this very active and important music target group back, should be a bigger goal than the fear of cannibalization. Besides I don`t think the cannibalization will be to high, cause cd buyers won`t change directly to a subscription service and “a la carte” customers will maybe leave on average more money as a subscriber… but that is just my first “gut feeling”. Let`s see what some first numbers say..
There were two new survey released on this theme. One I found via Coolfer it`s a study by TNS Technology released a month ago where TNS interviewed more than 1,000 people aged 16 to 64 about unlimited mobile music services. The survey found out that when presented with an unlimited service, 45% of users would buy fewer CDs and 47% would buy fewer digital downloads from online stores. But 38% also said they would reduce their use of illegal file-sharing sites.

The other survey was released by Jupiter Research titled “Subsidized Mobile Music Subscriptions” and tries to find answers on key questions amongst others like “What impact will subsidized services have on the relatively broader European digital music market?”
For me the “keyfinding” of this survey to the question above is: “Just five percent of Europeans said they would pay for subsidized mobile music services, but more than one-half of them are file sharers.”

So, of course the question cannibalization vs. “new customers from the piracy segment” is not answered yet… the Jupiter survey makes hope that there is a chance to mobilize the piracy segment …maybe there are  more figures coming soon…

Gerd Leonhard At Picnic

October 2, 2008

Gerd is doing a great job out there for years now and his blog is really worth reading.
Here a video of his speech at the Picnic Conference in Amsterdam last week.

He summarizes quite well what`s going on in the new attention economy and how the music industry can survive in it building an new Ecosystem.
Watch it. It will be 50 minutes well spent. Really great stuff.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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Will Music Copyright Holders Accept a Revenue Share Model?

October 1, 2008

Hopefully, they will.

Here is a good post at TechCrunch on this theme. Tomorrow there will be an announcement on the new rates of music copyright fees for digital music downloads for the next five years.

As always the music publisher are not realistic when it comes to pricing and even want to raise the fee from 9 to 15 cents per track. Apple is not amused and has vaguely threatened that it might have to shut down iTunes if the new rates go into effect.

Now Apple and the record labels are arguing that the rates should be changed from a flat fee per song to a percentage of revenues.
Hopefully Apple will be successful because this is the only chance for realistic pricing anytime soon.  It will make it possible to be much more flexible with pricing and to expand the business, which in the long term should be a big benefit for  artists.

We will see…

Music Access as Product Bundle

September 24, 2008

Sony Ericsson announced today more details to their new unlimited mobile music service. PlayNow Plus will launch in Sweden by the end of the year and will be available globally next year. Reuters reports, the service will cost 99 Swedish crowns (US $15.24) a month. Subscribers can download an unlimited number of tracks to the handset or to a PC. The handset will sync with the PC using broadband and 3G/HSDPA connectivity.

So here we go. After Nokia, Sony Ericsson is now the second big player in the game. We are just waiting on the iPod subscription bundle and then the transition is officially started. We are on the way to the “music age of access”.

Subscription services didn`t get a huge success on their own yet (like Rhapsody and Napster). But maybe they can find success with a device bundle. Of course there is the second big business model “Free”  with ad supported versions like Last.Fm or MySpace Music and there will always be the illegal “darknet” p2p version of music download, but getting your adored “high end” device subsidized is a big lure for many people to make a subscription contract. I´m sure there will be some devices exclusive with the subscription bundle comparable to the iPhone & mobile provider deals at the moment. If you`ve signed a contract and the music service is great, you wouldn`t want to loose it, because it`s “so convenient”. And most important, the service will “feel like it`s free” after a while.  At the moment, the price per month is still a little bit high, but when the price falls to 5 or 7 Dollars per month, many people really won´t care about this addition to their monthly mobile/internet bill.
And at this point there always comes the obligatory question: Do you know how much money you spend for water usage at home every month? Did you ever care about water costs standing under the shower?

DRM Free – Finally

September 16, 2008


Music provider 7Digital announced today that 100% of it’s 4 million strong catalogue is DRM free MP3 format. After years of talking about DRM issues, now one after another big player gets it… and we are finally there.

Apple is still “waiting” … Mark Mulligan has good comment on that:

“Often what happens when a single company dominates a marketplace it eventually falls foul of complacency and finds itself under multi-directional attack from niche innovators. Apple’s dominance of digital music is comparable to that of Google’s footprint: it continues to augment its dominance through innovation and weak competitive threat. Most other digital music providers have settled for me-too WMA stores. 7Digital hasn’t. The irony of all this though, is that DRM-free shouldn’t even be an issue anymore.”

Now I`m looking forward to the “MySpace Music” start… will it achieve all the expectations? We will see at the end of the week…