Monday, 29 September 2008

Brent Hoberman And The Future Of Online Retail

Fantastic interview with Brent Hoberman in The Times today on the future of online retail.

Hoberman predicts the rise of APML (in everything but name), mass customisation and GPS based marketing promotions via SMS.

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Sunday, 28 September 2008

EconMusic - The Economics Of Digital Music 2008

The different panels during this conference were inadvertently but subtly tied together by “the long tail.” Whilst this wasn’t always referred to explicitly it is impossible to ignore this paradigm of the new economy. This is especially true of the music industry, in which the entire traditional value chain has been brought into question.

Whilst tools like MySpace can be a fantastic way to promote your music to a global audience with very little effort, the artists are not compensated fairly. This point was put across succinctly by Billy Bragg on the Social Media panel in which he berated MySpace for not sharing any of their £800 million per annum advertising revenue with the artists providing content on the site. There is the possibility that until recently MySpace individually viewed the collective content provided by artists as nothing more than fodder in order to attract eyeballs and ultimately provide audiences to advertisers. However, the recent launch of the MySpace Music point of sale platform should align the interests of MySpace and the artists to derive revenue from music sales. The service should prove to be mutually beneficial to labels and MySpace as all of the major labels hold equity in the new venture.

On the same panel Steve Purdham,(CEO,We7 voiced the difficulties between the royalty rates demanded by labels and the reality of revenues derived by his advertising supported streaming audio model. At present Purdham is paying out royalty rates to artists in excess of the revenues which the site is generating. He believes that regulatory changes and label demands will change in the near future to allow We7 to operate as a commercial going concern. Danny Rimer (Partner, Index Ventures) picked up on Purdham’s vision by comparing it to the forward thinking Spencer Hyman (COO, Last.FM), who was able to action a pioneering advertising supported model which has benefited other music related internet startups.

Whether the mobile phone companies are artist friendly is a bit sketchy. On the Mobile Music panel Tom Erskine (Head of Go-to-Market, Nokia Music) sang the praises of the much hyped, and soon to be launched, Nokia Comes With Music. Erskine was insistent that the service is going to be marketed as “premium not freemium.” However, if the service allows subscribers to download as much music as they want then surely this promotes the message of music being a commodity. With Sony Ericsson making noises about launching a similar service, it seems like that that this is one trend that is going to be around for sometime yet. Whilst such services will make music feel like free to consumers it is important to educate consumers through marketing that this isn’t the case.

The Direct-To-Fans panel revealed perhaps the most creative and artist friendly digital music business models. Services like Slicethepie and Sellaband harness the collective intelligence of their userbases to discover and fund unsigned artists. The interests of the artists, consumers and service providers are mutually aligned. Both services are essentially financing models but at the same time can help as being part of an online marketing campaign. The main pros for the artists is that they retain greater control over their recordings and are offered much more favourable terms than by going with a label. David Courtier-Dutton (CEO, Slicethepie) pointed out that the only reason to go with a major over such services would be to have access to their marketing muscle and huge advances.

In summary, the Econmusic Conference provided some lively and lucid debate but very much presented as industry still in transition. At present there appears to be a huge shift in power from the labels and artists into the hands of technology and media companies. The challenge is for artists and labels to monetise content from the plethora of services on offer, and to work in harmony with technology and media companies to create a pioneering new ecosystem where all stakeholders are fairly compensated.

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Thursday, 25 September 2008


After around six months of waiting, I've finally been sent an invitation to beta test Spotify

Numerous people within my network have been evangelizing about this for a while.

The service has only been in my life for just over twelve hours but I'm already convinced that at present it is the best consumer serving on demand streaming music service around.

Whilst similar products, like Songza, Seeqpod and Mixturtle, have been around for a while they sweep the internet for illegal content. Notably Seeqpod had a huge lawsuit brought against them by Warner earlier in the year. However, Spotify are trying to build a legitimate scaleable business so all of the content is licensed. On top of this the interface and execution of the site is clean and seamless, thus providing a superior service.

Providing they can steer clear of lawsuits and backwards thinking labels refusing to cooperate I'm pretty confident Spotify will become the market leader in on demand
streaming audio services.

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Thursday, 18 September 2008

Channel 4 and ITV could learn a thing or two from Joost

This month Joost announced that they will be launching a web based player to replace their download software client.

I'm amazed that Channel 4 and ITV still haven't got round to doing this. At present ITV's Catch Up service requires the user to download Microsoft Silverlight, whilst Channel 4's 4OD requires users to make a similar installation on their device.

As quite frankly I can't be bothered to do this I watch Channel 4 and ITV content on third-party streaming sites like OV Guide. The upshot of this is that Channel 4 and ITV are losing out on advertising revenue.

All these channels have to do is make it easy for the user. It's not rocket science.

You have to really give it up to the BBC for providing such a fantastic product in the IPlayer. They've set the bar high.

Time will tell whether the launch of Project Kangaroo will reveal whether the other terrestrial channels learn from their mistakes.

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Friday, 12 September 2008


Earlier in the year I was blown away by Martin Thornkivst from Digital Renaissance showing me the Flickr app for Nokia. The software lets you instantly upload photos taken on your phone to your Flickr account.

Lately I've been playing around with Qik. The software lets you stream live video to the internet. It's quite ingenious really, and takes citizen journalism to a whole new level. With this in mind, I'm not surprised that Reuters have stationed all of their journalists with Nokia N95s.

One of the things which is great about Qik is that at present there don't appear to be too many users of the software. The upshot of this is that there are a lot more viewers than content producers who use the site.

My latest footage is of London band Rogues playing their first gig, at Cross Kings in London. The gig was notable for quite a heavy A&R presence turning up, and with very little promotion the main video has garnered close to 500 views in less than 48 hours.

A shame the sound came out really badly but you can't have it all.

If you are on Qik and want to add me/view my channel it's based over at

Nokia's announcement of BBC I-Player functionality and its Comes With Music range suggest that Iphone may not reach critical mass for some time yet.

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Sunday, 7 September 2008

Ideas For Marketing eReaders (Iliad, Amazon Kindle, Sony eReader etc).

1. Bundle with classic content which has had its copyright expired, and is now in the public domain. I.e. The complete works of Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Aesop's Fables etc.

2. Bundle with credit to the same value of the cost of the eReader, and make this redeemable against content/catalogue.

3. Give away content for free, which is advertising supported. The classic media model.

4. Give away the eReader for free as part of a set price monthly contract. The monthly fee is used to purchase catalogue each month.

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