Category - gizmos

It’s the gizmos, stupid.

It’s A Start: 500k New Users Download Rhapsody for iPhone

Rhapsody Rhapsody’s iPhone app has been downloaded 500,000 time according to the company.  “Over 500K shrewd users have decided that unlimited access to practically any song, practically anywhere ain’t such a bad idea,” wrote Rhapsody’s Garrett Kamps on the company’s blog. Exactly how many are also paying $12.99 a month for a Rhapsody Unlimited subscription was not disclosed

via www.hypebot.com

I pulled an ad for the Rhapsody iPhone app out of the new issue of Rolling Stone over the weekend, and I plan to try it out. Rhapsody has struggled to find a viable business model, but it’s entirely possible that mobile availability could be the ingredient that pushes it to prosperity. People are slowly getting used to the idea that they don’t need to “own” what they want to listen to. They don’t “own” what they hear on the radio, this is like “radio on demand.”

Unfettered Access: Here’s a Blogger Who Gets It

Unfortunately, he has to get it from his Zune…

Zune-hd-leak

This is the best $15/mo I spend.

I have gladly given up owning my music for the convenience of having access to all the music I can discover. (The only bands I haven’t been able to find on Zune’s subscription service are Tool and Rammstein).

Who’da thunk that Microsoft would ever get ahead of the curve that Apple has been bending for an entire decade?  Or that an Apple/Mac/iPod convert like me would have something favorable to say about the friggin’ Zune?

I keep reading that (for example) iTunes won’t offer a similar subscription-based service because of Steve Jobs insistence that users want to “own” and not “rent” the music they listen to.

OK, that’s fine for those narrow-minded consumers who want to listen to the same thing over and over again.  But there are some of us who actually like to discover new music, and are willing to shell out the cost of a single CD each month if it means we get “access” to everything.

Note the use of words here:  “rent” carries this negative connotation of temporariness, the idea that “if you stop subscribing, you loose all your music.” Well, if you do stop subscribing, you don’t really lose all the music, it’s still there.

The better word is “access,” because when you speak of “access” to the entire universe of recorded music, then the notion of a temporary “rental” becomes, well, pretty fucking irrelevant.

It’s sorta like the “public option” in the health care debate.  You want your current plan, fine, keep it (and keep listening to the same damn thing over and over again). But there are some of us who want another option.

So it’s good to see, as this blogger attests, that once people discover the advantages of “access”
over “ownership,” the market is going to continue growing.

iTunes -v- Spotify? Slap Your Forehead and Say “Duh!”

Amid the hype for the "not available at store near you" service called Spotify, one often reads of its promise to be the next "iTunes killer" — though one also wonders why it's really necessary to kill iTunes. Granted, I don't use iTunes for "purchasing" music much any more, but it's still a very useful program, and of course essential for sync'ing up my iPhone.

So it's interesting to get Techdirt's take on the obvious question, "why would Apple approve a Spotify app for the iPhone?" and here is the most obvious answer:

Itunes-logo

I would bet that the folks at Apple are pretty damn sure that they can outlast and out-innovate Spotify. Spotify hasn't shown much ability to make money, and while it has become a press darling as a music app, I wouldn't be surprised to find out that Apple's quietly been working on its own version of a Spotify-like offering built directly into iTunes. And, given Apple's standard operating procedure, if that's the case, there's a good chance that the Spotify-like iTunes will be even better than Spotify itself.

In other words: "iTunes" is the "iTunes killer." And Spotify goes down with it… 

Let's give credit where it's due: iTunes has played a pivotal role in the way music is offered and delivered in the Music 3.0 era; it has pursuaded a vast legion of music lovers of the ease and advantage of downloading their music collections rather than buying and ripping them.  That's a huge — and very successful — exercise in consumer behavior modification and an essential phase in the transition from Music 2.0 to Music 3.0.

iTunes has gotten a lot of mileage out of the "purchase per unit," product-based delivery model.  All the while, Steve Jobs and his minions have insisted that listeners (I hate calling us "consumers") are somehow compelled to "own" our very own collections of music. And the relatively modest acceptance of the subscription services like Rhapsody and Napster would seem to affirm that assessment. 

But just you wait: Someday — probably sooner rather than later — Apple will begin converting the faithful.  You'll see stylish ads from Apple that say "for the price of a single CD, for the cost of just 10 tracks per month, you can now have access to millions of tracks…and listen to whatever you want whenever and wherever you want (somebody should trademark that…)

And millions of iTunes users will slap their foreheads and exclaim, "well, fucking DUH!" 

Pogue’s Take on Zune HD

Pogue.2.190 I'm writing about the "Zune" again?  Must be a tear in the fabric of the universe.  Says David Pogue at the NYTimes:

Over the years, mention of the word “Microsoft” has set off a variety of emotions. Some consider how Microsoft achieved its success, and feel anger. Some consider how Microsoft borrows other companies’ ideas, and feel indignation. Some consider recent battles with Windows, and feel frustration.

via www.nytimes.com

At least he sees the potential of an "all your ears can eat model. Maybe Zune is the gizmo that cracks it open.

More Zune HD

Thanks to things like Spotify, I don’t really need to have a huge library of songs constantly on my computer. So, host my library on the Windows partition, then keep a smaller one/use spotify for when I’m in Mac OS X. I get to use the Zune HD and my preferred OS.

via www.crunchgear.com

Who'da thunk I'd have two posts in the same morning about a gizmo I've never even seen?

But, reading just the short excerpt above, you can see what a Tower of Babel all this is for a typical user. A separate operating system just or music? Granted, that's what a Mac user (like me, now) would have to face if they want to use a Zune.

But the point is, if the content is "in the cloud," then it shouldn't (ultimately) matter what platform, device, or operating system you're using.

And again with the Spotify? I have no idea how well Spotify the service actually works, but I'll tell you what does work: Spotify's PR department. I've never seen so much hype for a service that your typical user can't even use.

Point taken, though, re: iTunes. That remains a closed eco-system, and some of its particulars are getting pretty stale.

Zune? Really?

Zune-hd-leak But perhaps the biggest part of the new Zune 4.0 experience is that Microsoft is giving Zune Pass music subscribers a way to stream music over the Web by logging into their Zune.net accounts on any
Mac or PC. We're still a far cry from being able to sync a Zune with a Mac, but at least Zune Pass users can now dig into the Zune Marketplace's deep catalog and stream music wherever and whenever they want.

via news.cnet.com

Not quite sure what to make of this report, since the "Zune" is completely foreign to my experience (I don't know if I've ever even seen one). I mean, I regard the Zune with pretty much the same disregard as the rest of the world — as something of a joke, an iPod wanna-be latecomer. But if it can deliver, as this article from CNET suggests, "music wherever and whenever" users want, than perhaps it is bridging the gap that iPod/iTunes seems unable or unwilling to bridge.

But maybe the most interesting aspect of this report comes in the comments, some of which come from users of Lala.com. For example,

I was seriously getting hopeful that it would download the songs since
I use Lala, a web service, for about 80% of my music anyhow. I wouldn't
have mind the lack of a Mac desktop client if I could only download the
songs 🙁

The interesting part of that comment is the "I use Lala… for about 80% of my music anyhow."  I don't quite get the complaint re: Zune or the Zune Pass program.  I wonder if these means I'm going to have to buy a Zune to find out WTF?

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…

A Paradigm Shift in 280 Characters

LMDFA09_1-310x176 Last month, Nashville's Leadership Music held its annual Dale Franklin Awards Banquet at which the honorees were producer Allen Reynolds, music executive Jim Fogelsong, and some country crooner named Garth Brooks. The morning after the gala event, I learned that the esteemed Mr. Brooks had used his after dinner remarks to rail against the evils of all things digital in the music business.

During the event, I'd noticed the editor of Music Row posting to Twitter from the venue about the goings on, so I posed the question to him: "What exactly did Garth say about digital last night?"  To which he replied:

Screen-capture-1 

To which I replied:

Screen-capture-3  

And there, in two 140 character statements, is the essential paradigm shift that the arrival of the Celestial Jukebox portends.