Tag - napster

The “Napster Principle” Writ Large

20140211-134131.jpgMeanwhile, in other news… The Europeans are beginning to take a dim view of US control of the Interwebs…

WSJ: EU Body Seeks to Reduce U.S. Influence Over Internet’s Structure

The European Union’s executive body is raising pressure to reduce U.S. influence on the Internet’s infrastructure, after revelations of widespread U.S. surveillance activities have caused what it calls a “loss of confidence” in the global network’s current makeup.

The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, will propose the adoption of “concrete and actionable steps” to globalize essential Web functions–like the assignment of so-called top-level domain names–that are still contractually linked to the U.S. government, according to a draft policy paper seen by The Wall Street Journal.

I don’t know that I trust the EU’s Communications Command and Control structures any more than I like the U.S.’s… this is probably an internecine turf war: The EU doesn’t like the US/NSA monitoring our communications only because it presents a challenge to the EU’s ability to do precisely the same thing.

I am reminded (as I am often) of an observation that somebody made back in the heyday of Napster: “The labels don’t like Napster ripping off the artists because it interferes with the labels’ ability to rip off the artists…” Or something to that effect.

I think the same principal probably applies here.

 

I’m NOT The Only One: Passman Thinks Sub Services Are The Future, Too

I don't know if I've ever read Donald Passman's book, All You Need to Know About the Music Business.  I think I might have glanced through it when I first arrived in Nashville in 1994.  The whole business is in such a state of flux right now that trying to compile it all into a book strikes me as aiming a Howitzer at a moving target, but Passman has been re-issuing this book for almost 20 years now and I guess old habits die hard. 

In any event, I'm pleased to see that Mr. Passman thinks well of the future of subscriptions services as the ultimate form of digital music delivery, despite the speed bumps such services have encountered along the way: 

Q: Why do you think subscription-based services (such as Rhapsody) haven't really taken off? 

A: Passman: They're not convenient enough, they're not truly cross-platform. For me, the ultimate would be anytime-anywhere access to any music for one subscription. On my computer, in my car, on a connected device, whether it's an
iPod or something else, on an airplane when I don't have an Internet connection. Not just tied to one or two devices. I'm personally a believer in subscription services. People don't think twice about paying for cable, and when you stop paying it goes away. But with music, there's a kneejerk reaction because we're used to owning it.

via news.cnet.com

Which nicely echoes the point that I've been making all along: Besides the clunky interfaces, the biggest obstacle to more widespread acceptance for music subscriptions services is the persistence of the illusion of "ownership."   

Which, again, is why I'm one of the few who thinks the Google partnership with Lala such a potential game changer.  Yes, I know, Lala is not a flat-fee subscription service (yet?).  But the user interface works exceptionally well — is far superior to Rhapsody or the latest incarnation of Napster (from what I hear).  

So users will find Lala from its new links in Google music searches, discover its ease of use, and become enraptured with the virtually infinite quantities of music they can absorb when they don't have to "own" it to listen to it.  From there it's a short leap from Lala's current "nickel and dime" approach to "just let me pay a flat monthly fee and open the flood gates."

Add an iPhone app (presently in beta) to that scenario and it's pretty much "game over." 

Orphan Business Model Attracts More Prospective Parents

For a business model that supposedly has no future, there sure are a lot companies trying to jump on to the "Celestial Jukebox" bandwagon. Earlier this week I read that British TV company BSkyB is planning a subscription service called "SkySongs." Now comes another entrant, from the guys who brought you Kazaa.  The New York Times reports:

The idea of selling monthly subscriptions to a vast catalog of online music has met with only limited success. That isn’t stopping a new batch of entrepreneurs from trying to make it work, The New York Times’s Brad Stone writes.

The latest and perhaps most surprising entrants to the field are the European entrepreneurs Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis. In 2001, they created and financed Kazaa, one of the original peer-to-peer file-sharing services that hurt the music industry. The two have created and financed a secretive start-up called Rdio, with offices in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

I've lost count now, how many subscription services are now climbing on the Celestial Jukebox bandwagon. Let's see… Rhapsody and Napster are now the old kids on the block. There's my personal fave, Lala.com. There's the infinitely over-hyped Spotify, now I read about something called "Mog," there's the BSkyB service that is supposed to launch next week, and now Rdio, from the Kazaa guys.
For a model that so many people scoff at, the landscape is starting to get crowded. Hopefully I can get a decent count of the options before they start shaking each other out…

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.

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

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