Category - celestial jukebox

Whatever you want to hear, whenever you want to hear, wherever you are. If the bastards ever let us…

Everyody Wants It, But Nobody Wants to Pay?

Maybe that’s because the users know it’s the corporate monoliths that have breathed life into this beast?

Spotify Despite the buzz around Spotify, most users forage on the free content and are loathe to pay for extras. By most estimates, almost all Spotify listeners stick with the company’s free service, and don’t pay for the premium offerings.

Mark McCormick, 25, a graphic designer from Newcastle, signed up for Spotify’s free service about three months ago and now listens about five hours a day at work and at home.

“About three minutes after signing up, you are listening to almost anything you want,” he said. Though he isn’t keen on the advertising, he doesn’t want to sign up for the premium service, because he says £120 ($199) per year is a steep price.

Mr. Ek hopes that mobility will be the tool that changes users’ minds. Last month, Apple approved Spotify’s iPhone application — but only people who sign up for the premium service can use it.

via online.wsj.com

The Wall Street Journal weighs in on the big PR machine in Europe. Seems people like it, but they don’t want to pay for it. That could be a problem.

And, as this article points out, Spotify is owned in part by the big label media companies, which might explain why Spotify is getting off the ground at all — it’s a proving ground for the labels.

Still, if anybody does pay for it… where does the money go?

Whether streamed or downloaded, people will pay for their content if they know the revenue is going to the actual content creators.  But if they think it’s just going to the big media conglomerates, they probably care a lot less about paying for it.

Another Player from Across the Pond

Sky-universal Sky’s music service has been in the works since July last year, but if the latest reports are to be believed it’s about to come thundering out of the gates, offering a streaming service to tackle Spotify by Christmas.


Stuff Magazine’s resident music mogul, Mic Wright, reports Sky’s yet to be named music service has signed up a “major label artist” to promote it, and will be live in time for Christmas.

What’s more, it’ll let you give music packages away as gifts. Sounds like Sky’s got its Christmas sales pitch right there.

via www.electricpig.co.uk

Why is it that all the innovative stuff is happening in Europe?

Now, let's see… Spotify is supposed to be the iTunes killer, and now Sky Music is supposed to be the Spotify Killer, and I just keep listening to Lala.com and nobody ever talks about the Lala killer??

Music 1-2-3: Let Me Make This Simple

My central thesis here is that we're entering a "third epoch" of music as a cultural force for the human race. The "Celestial Jukebox" is one manifestation of that new epoch.

Here are the three epochs as I see them:

"Music 1.0" was everything before Edison recorded "Mary Had A little Lamb (sometime in 1877)."

"Music 2.0" was everything from that first recording to the advent of Napster (as a proxy for internet, digital distribution, etc. etc.)

"Music 3.0" has been evolving since that fateful day in the spring of 1999.  It is not entirely clear yet what it all means, but "whatever you want to hear, whenever you want to hear it, wherever you are," is a cornerstone of the era, along with a revitalization of "live" and "DIY" music. 

This site exists to explore the obstacles that remain in achieving that utopian ideal, and discovering the new behavior patterns that will arise from those possibilities.

M3.0 and The Return of the Album

Here's a thought: Maybe "albums" AREN'T dead.

There's been a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth since the arrival of iTunes over the death of the album, now that buyers can "cherry pick" the two or three actually "good" tracks on an album and ignore the rest. Lots has been said about the return of the single in the digital era.

Here's another angle: 

Since I've been listening to a LOT of new music via Lala.com, I am listening to entire albums.  That's very much part of the appeal:  I come out of Starbucks with a card offering me "one free download" from iTunes, but I go home and listen to the entire album on Lala.com. 

Why is that important?  Because several times, it has not been until I've gotten deep into the album that something has sunk in.  Now, maybe that's an argument for the singles – maybe that's the only track worth listening to.  But what's really happening is I'm getting comfortable with the whole experience, getting softened up for the musical harpoon to come…

Mauracover A couple of cases in point:  Over the weekend when I was listening to Maura O'Connell's album "Don't I Know," it wasn't until I got to the 10th track (Phoenix Falling) that I was really knocked out.  Then I went back and started listening to the whole thing again.  That would not have happened if I hadn't had access to the whole album.

600x600_joe-crookston_profile-280x280 A similar experience took place a few weeks ago when I was listening to a singer/songwriter Joe Crookston at a site called 100000fans.com . I picked Joe from their roster because he looked like my kinda guy — acoustic singer/songwriter, and that he was.  Nice voice, good guitar, interesting lyrics.  And then I got to a song called "Able Baker Charlie and Dog" about… well, don't let me spoil it for you.  Just and listen for yourself.  

But do yourself a favor, and listen to everything.  I mean, it's all there for the listening. 

And, Joe, if you've got a Google alert on yourself… when will you be in Nashville??

(And, just in passing: I don't know about that 100000fans site.  I signed up for Joe's e-newsletter from that site, and haven't heard a thing since…)

The Problem With Spotify – Maybe It’s Their Business Model?

via www.nme.com

Is everything all right at Spotify? News that the music streaming service has reverted to being invite-only – just days after the much-heralded launch of its iPhone app – is deeply puzzling. It's a bit like Arctic Monkeys releasing 'Humbug' – then a week later saying, Wait, hang on, it's not finished, can we do that again?

Furthermore:

But there is another, more troubling possibility: Spotify has a cashflow problem. As New Media Age point out, Spotify pays record labels per stream – it's not much, about half a penny per track – but any sudden spike in users would cause a corresponding hike in the site's costs.

Aside from the obvious question of "who gets that ha'penny per track, you still have to wonder where even that ha'penny is coming from. Advertising??

The celestial jukebox has arrived (?)

The Spotify iPhone app has been approved. With this app, I will now be able to carry 5 million songs in my pocket, and every week thousands more songs will be added to my collection automatically.  This is the proverbial celestial jukebox – the great jukebox in the cloud that lets me listen to any song I want to hear.    This is  going to change how we listen to music.  When we can listen to any song,  anywhere, any time and on any device our current ways of interacting with music will be woefully inadequate.

via musicmachinery.com

Has it really? I keep hearing that the Spotify app has been approved, but I still can’t use Spotify, as previously reported, the Lala.com app for the iPhone has been in limbo for more than six months now. But if and when it does arrive, it’s not really going to change “how we listen to music.” We’ll still use our ears for that, and some sort of delivery device like speakers or earbuds. But it will change how we collect and music. Mostly because… we won’t actually have to collect and store it ourselves any more, nor are we confined to the limitations of shelf (or hard-drive) space and budget.

The question then becomes, if we in fact have access-on-demand to everything, what will we listen to? And how will the people who make that music sustain their efforts?

The linked article continues:

The new challenge that these next generation music services face is
helping their listeners find new and interesting music.  Tools for
music discovery will be key to keeping listener’s coming back.

Which begins to ask the pertinent question: with changes in the media, patterns of behavior change.  What new behavioral patterns will emerge in the era of infinite music — and what business opportunities do those new behavior patterns offer.

And how much do we have to think about such things before we can get a clue what the answer is…??

A Contrary Opinion

Demand for a subscription music service has been capped, and a mobile app won’t help drive incremental demand even if it is a good product.

via www.businessinsider.com

I never did try Rhapsody (or the Napster subscription service), I guess I’ll have to check then out to see how well they work. I know a couple of people who’ve tried it and speak well of it. But when I read “demand… has been capped” at fewer than a million subscribers, I just have to think… somebody’s missing the boat. Hell, could just as well be me…

Spotify – The Devil You DON’T Know

The European online music service Spotify offers six million tracks—a practically limitless catalog spanning Aaron Copland to ZZ Top—in an interface as polished and intuitive as Apple’s iTunes. And unlike the pay-per-song iTunes, Spotify’s entire library is free for the taking, assuming users can tolerate an occasional advertisement.

via www.thedailybeast.com

…because you have to be somebody to get it.

The question is, what sort of licenses has Spotify been able to negotiate that iTunes cannot? Is Apple beholden to the labels for the 99c/track model? If not, is iTunes the Spotify killer?

Oh, and, “an occasional adverstisement” is NOT free… and… who gets THAT money? Remember, the reason the labels wanted to kill Napster was not because Napster was ripping off the artists, but to preserve the labels’ ability to rip off the artists. If Spotify is in league with the labels, how is it any different on that score?

Music 3.0 – The Historical Premise

Note: December 27, 2010:  Much has changed since this essay was first posted in September, 2009.  For starters, the referenced service “Lala.com” has been acquired by Apple, Inc., and is now defunct as we await the delivery of whatever cloud music service the people who brought you the iPod and iTunes and the iPhone have up their sleeve.  And, as mentioned at the very end, the Beatles are finally available in digital format, but only through iTunes, and only for download, still no streaming.  Both topics have been addressed in prior posts).

– – – – – – – –

The glimmer of a new beginning came at the end.

The “end” in this case is the final scene of a documentary called “Any Day Now,” which follows the summer, 2008 tour of a Nashville-based musicians’ collective called “Ten Out Of Tenn.”

10Tenn The movie documents how ten mostly Nashville-based musicians pooled their resources and put together an extraordinary tour.  All the participants are accomplished musicians and recording artists at various stages in their careers – one or two ‘major label’ names, some coming off major label deals, mostly talented indies still forging their careers amid the ruins of the dying music “industry.”

But what is most compelling about both the movie and the tour it follows is the ‘Ten ouf of Tenn’ experience and its spirit of shared resources.  Traveling individually, each of these artists would have had to book their own gigs, make their own travel arrangements, drive their own cars or rentals, and played their own shows.

By pooling their resources, the ten together could afford to hire a bus and a driver.  And they all became each other’s band.  The film shows them all playing in different combinations, all the accompaniment you could possibly want right there in the pool.  Want to play solo acoustic?   No prob.  But if you need a keyboard or a bassist or even a cello, well guess what, there’s somebody already on the bus who plays what you need to embellish your sound on stage.

Hiresphoto In the film, each of the ten principals performs one of their songs.  The stage performances are interspersed with segments depicting the sort of antics you might expect of creative personalities filling their days on the road.  Each of the performances is captivating, and the all of the clips in between are entertaining and engaging and offer a good sense of just what being on such a tour would be like.

But it is the penultimate scene that seals the deal and, I think, firmly places Ten Out Of Tenn — both the tour and the documentary — squarely astride the shifting paradigms of today’s music experience.

In this nearly final scene the musicians have finished their last show, but no one wants to leave the venue.  Not the audience, not the musicians.  And so the players come down off the stage, and with unplugged acoustic guitars lead their audience in an enthusiastic sing-along of Bob Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released.”

In that moment, the proscenium that separates the troubadours from their audience was erased.  The artists became the audience and the audience became the artists.  And I as I felt the chicken skin bubbling up on my arm I turned to the friend who’d invited me to the screening and said “THAT’s ‘Music three-point-oh.'”

Which statement I will now try to defend.

As I see it, “Music 3.0” is the perfect description of the tectonic shift that music — live and recorded – is now experiencing.  And following the transitions from 1.0 to 2.0 gives us some idea what to expect from 3.0

Read More