Posts Tagged ‘music’

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

January 19, 2009


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.


Tim Westergren – The Future of Radio and Digital Music

November 22, 2008

Tim Westergren the founder of the free Internet music provider 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:

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…

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?

Students Don`t Care About Piracy

September 18, 2008

Well it`s no surprise.
According to a study by Darryl Woolley, assistant professor at the University of Idaho, piracy may not be perceived as  “immoral behavior” for students. Woolley has been analyzing piracy among university students for several years. Despite the greater awareness of copyright law, students have become less accepting of piracy. It appears that education about copyright law does not influence students’ attitudes toward piracy.

“Music piracy – especially among college students – is viewed as socially acceptable,” said Woolley. “What one’s friends think about illegal downloading influences one’s thoughts and behaviors. Unfortunately, professors or authority figures do not have the same kind of influence.”

According to Woolley, students aren’t even ashamed to admit illegally downloading music off the Internet. More than 95 percent of respondents in his research freely admitted to illegally downloading music, and some 63 percent admitted to copying a CD. Students indicated that they expect the trend to continue after they graduate and move into the workplace.

Found via Coolfer.

Sony Ericsson Comes With Music…

September 10, 2008

So, after Nokia, now Sony Ericsson starts with this subscription, or better, bundling pricing model (see Financial Times).

As you know I’m a fan of these business models… they “feel like free” and if there is enough added value they will have a chance to compete with the “free” alternatives. A crucial feature will be, if there is any portability of the music. Is there any chance to get this music from my mobile phone also on my big speakers in the living room? Is there any chance to hear the music in the car? et cetera… but of course the most important point is the price question: Where is the price point to have still this “feeling” “like free”?

Rafe Blandford did a bit of pricing research and showed that Nokia’s Comes With Music adds about 70 to 85GBP (US$123 to $150 or 85 to 105 Euros) to the price of a handset for a year music. That´s less than 10 Euros per month. For someone who is not an active “darknet” downloader and maybe iTunes customer… this is a reasonable price, if there is this mentioned portability. We will see.

Well, now we are waiting on the reaction of apple. When does the ipod or iphone come with a music subscription? I hoped Steve would announce it at his September keynote… but unfortunately not. Anyway there are this rumours it will come soon and the price will be around $130 per year…
It would be a lot of fun to use this new recommendation system “Genius” on ITunes 8 with a subscription model on a iphone…

The time of “a la carte models” in the music industry is ticking…

Itunes Finally Goes Subscription? Too late?

August 30, 2008

Well the rumour leaked already last week… for the few that didn`t heard it: The baby is called Itunes unlimited… and according to an anonymous source, the subscription service will feature on-demand songs at 256 kbps and cost $130 per year, or $100 for existing MobileMe subscribers. It will come in fall …

We have been talking about this for years now… and finally it`s coming…

Why am I posting this? … Cause I was thinking again about this Google China music service… that`s where we are heading… The Itunes price point is too high… it doesn`t “feel like it`s free”. I don`t have the data but I think there is a big risk that ITunes will cannibalize their own “a la carte” download revenue, while not getting any new customers… well we will see…

Google Did It In China

August 29, 2008

I would never have believed it, but it finally happened. Google released it`s free legal MP3 music search service. The link only works in china, of course.

A free ad-supported MP3 download service with all the top artists of the country…

When they have nothing left to loose, the labels react. This decision should have an impact on the future business model developement in Europe too… hopefully.

What Is Your Primary Digital Front End…

July 20, 2008

… to listen to music?

I found via Coolfer a small interesting poll on the website of the mag Stereophile. Of course that`s not academic primary research and the website is just targeting  “music geeks”  on this website, but anyway an interesting question and figures…
Here the results:

• CD player: 34%
• Hi-rez disc player: 11%
• iPod: 4%
• Music Server (computer-based): 36%
• Music Server (dedicated: Sooloos, Sonos, etc.): 10%
• Other: 3%

Well…apparently the average livingroom music device is changing…

Maybe somewhere there are more credible results of a broad user set to a similar question…

It’s All About A Music Entertainment Experience

May 21, 2008

There is a quite interesting Digital Media Wire interview with Chris Allen (COO Napster): “It’s all about a music entertainment experience and not about a buying experience… “I agree!

Vodpod videos no longer available.