Friday, November 25, 2005

True Interoperability Is Already Here

I recently responded to another blog posting regarding the lack of digital music file/player interoperability in the industry and I'm going to expand on my initial thoughts...Beyond unprotected mp3's, which pretty much play EVERYWHERE but are undeniably below true CD quality in terms of fidelity, the industry has been experimenting with different types and levels of digital rights management for the last several years. At the end of the day, it is incredibly challenging to reasonably protect the intellectual property of the music creators while simultaneously delivering a seamless experience for the consumers. In other words, for DRM to work, it must appear invisible to the average user - which iTunes and the iPod have succeeded in doing and pretty much set the bar for everyone else.

However, in my opinion, the next holy grail for the digital music industry is to design and deliver an easier (less confusing) AND even better experience for the consumer. The way to do this is to simply embrace .wav files for sale instead of "Play For Sure" .wma files or protected AAC's . By doing this the industry kill 2 birds with 1 stone with regards to cross-platform computer playability and mp3 player soundfile compatability.

1) Releasing songs as .wav files would solve one huge aspect of the interoperability problem of files sold at various popular online music stores (i.e. MSN Music, Rhapsody, Yahoo) not playing on the Apple iPod. I mean really, who wants to rerip files they legitimately bought into MP3 files just to get them into their iPod? Who has the time or the energy?


2) Also, uncompressed .wav files are "true CD quality" and actually provide something worth charging more for - if the major record labels truly insist on this variable pricing nonsense (i.e., $.50-$2.50 per song). Many of you would argue that compressing music files is necessary to carry around your whole collection in your pocket, but flash drive sizes and pricing are improving daily so its only a matter of time before space is a non issue here...(Besides, who really needs more than 24 albums on a daily basis when there are only 24 hours in a day. Most people only like certain songs anyway and probably don't even listen to the whole album!)

Take the steam out of P2P. I don't know, perhaps I think differently becasue I don't have to please any stock holders, but I think the entire industry would rapidly flourish and prosper together if they just decided across the board to sell music online at the same quality and mobility as CD's, cassettes, 8-tracks and vinyl records provided - without trying to lock it down with finnicky DRM. Reward fans who pay for their music by giving them access to multiple copies (i.e., sampling rate, size, bitrate, formats) of the music they buy so they can take it with them wherever they go...and they can experience it whenever and wherever they are...

Monday, November 21, 2005

My Favorite Sites for Following Sony's Debacle...

The latest Sony/BMG CD count containing invasive and allegedly illegal DRM is now up to 52 discs and may also include another content protection vendor Sunncomm...

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Podcast Advertising

I recently came a cross an interesting company/concept called Fruitcast, which is basically a web application that: 1) allows podcasters to generate revenue and 2) allows advertisers to easily advertise on podcasts. Sounds pretty cool, right?

In a nutshell, what Fruitcast does, is it automates the process of inserting ads into podcasts. They download a podcast's MP3 audio files, add the advertisements in on the fly, and then resend them to the podcast's subscribers. (This allows any advertiser to put their audio commercials on multiple podcasts within a few minutes and if you think that's cool - just wait until podcast video reaches critical mass!) Then, each time a podcast episode is downloaded by the subscriber, the advertiser is charged a predetermined amount, and a significant portion of that amount is credited to the podcaster. (Kinda reminds me of Revver for audio.) Anyway, in my humble opinion, this innovative idea is helping to make podcasting a viable medium for traditional ad campaigns by automating ad insertion, payments, and reporting for both podcasters and advertisers and I applaud them for their innovation...

Monday, November 14, 2005

Warner Music Appears To Be Adapting To The Digital Revolution

While I applaud Warner and Holzman's hipness to start an e-label (Cordless Recordings) amidst all the changes going on in the industry, what bugs me about the rollout is that it seems to still reak of the old way of doing business = FAVORITISM. According to the article, "Groups will release their work in three-song "clusters" -- mini-albums of a sort -- that will be sold at online music stores like iTunes and Rhapsody, and then manufactured in compact disc form only if the audience is large enough to make it financially viable."

Well that's great if you happen to have inside Apple and Real connections, but what about the rest of us independent artists who have our own record labels and are still waiting to get in the front door without going through a middleman? What I'm saying is that the "little guy" still doesn't have a voice when dealing with these online music stores. As far as I know, they (i.e., Apple, MSN Music, Yahoo, and Real) will currently only deal with offering complete albums from large labels or aggregators like IODA and Orchard...The rules are obviously being bent for Cordless, which will hopefully lead to new opportunities for unsigned artists as well...

Friday, November 11, 2005

Consumers Digital Rights

Here's an interesting article about DRM posted on the Consumers Digital Rights website. The European group is working to guarantee all consumers certain basic rights in the digital world and to tell them what they can/can't do with their digital hardware/content.

Here's a PDF of their take on the situation...... Digital Rights Management - BEUC position. (BEUC is an umbrella body for Europe's consumer rights organizations)

Basically, they are urging policy makers to endorse the 6 consumer rights below:
  • Right to choice, knowledge and cultural diversity
  • Right to the principle of “technical neutrality”
  • Right to benefit from technological innovations without abusive restrictions
  • Right to interoperability of content and devices
  • Right to the protection of privacy
  • Right not to be criminalised

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Is The WiFi iPod Next?

Kodak has released a new camera called the KODAK EASYSHARE-ONE Zoom Digital Camera. As far as I know, it's one of the world's first Wi-Fi consumer digital cameras - enabling a new way of instant sharing that the music industry will likely imitate if its finished hibernating. You can easily email photos right from your camera or print pictures without messing with memory cards or docking stations. You can even transfer pictures and videos to your computer without USB cables. My favorite feature is that its compatible with most open public hotspots...

It features a rotating touch screen and stylus with 256 MB of internal memory, which stores up to 1500 pictures. The US retail price is a little steep at $600 for 4.0 Mega Pixels and a 3X Optical Zoom Lens, but the novelty got me thinking..What's Apple waiting for? With the rapid proliferation of wireless home networks and low cost portable internet connectivity, it would be a cinch for Apple's iTunes to offer wireless browsing and purchasing directly from the iPod. Shoot, for that matter, whoever beats Apple to it just might steal some marketshare!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Top Videos on MySpace This Week - 11/9/05

It's interesting to note that to watch videos on MySpace - you need to use Internet Explorer as your browser and Windows Media Player 9+...
  1. My Humps
    Black Eyed Peas
  2. Shut Me Up
    Mindless Self Indulgence
  3. Shake
    Ying Yang Twins
  4. One Wish
    Ray J
  5. Who I Am Hates Who I've Been
    Relient K
  6. Dirty Little Secret
    The All-American Rejects
  7. Jesus Of Suburbia
    Green Day
  8. Feel Good Inc.
  9. Hung Up
  10. I Wasnt Prepared