Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Google's New Music Service

I just returned from a presentation at Capitol Records Studio A announcing the new Google music service with partnerships with MySpace/iLike, Lala, imeem, Rhapsody and Pandora. This is the same room that in the past couple of weeks I had seen Sir George Martin working on reissues and a tribute to my friend Greg Ladanyi where Jackson Browne, Danny Kortchmar, Waddy Wachtel, members of Toto and others perform Warren Zevon (Greg produced Warren's early records) songs as well as their own in Greg's honor. But today the stage was theirs, trying to make claim how they are the future of music. They basically have two assumptions; that by being at the top of the Google search for music and offering the streaming of the tracks from these legit services that it will convert to increased sales and that this will serve as a music discovery mechanism. In regards to the first assumption, it will still be difficult to compete with free but it will increase their streaming costs, a question they avoided from the audience asking if Google was helping offset. In regards to the second, they still have not proven to be the starting point for the discovery of a large amount of artists even though all these services have been around for years. I remain optimistic that we will find an answer yet skeptical that this is it. Anyway, isn't this what Yahoo has been doing for some time now?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Total Live Music, All About Live Music!

I recently had someone from of all places, iTunes, make the following statement on their Twitter account "@totallivemusic but, unfortunately, not live" I have never stated that is a live streaming site of concert events.

As a person who has helped in the production of such events I don't see a business model in this yet. Places like the AT&T Blueroom, Control Room and the upcoming streaming of the U2 show from the Rose Bowl on YouTube may all seem like a very nice thing for fans but unfortunately when the bills get paid for the cost of production and delivery you come out in the negative.

As a bootstrapping business we may in the future get into the delivery of live events once it's proven as a smart business model but for now I'll leave it up to people like Apple to cover the losses of broadcasting "live" with their iPod and iPhone sales, while we here at Total Live Music will continue to be all about live music!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Sights with Sounds

Local Natives

Will There Ever Be a Successful Online Music Business?

Here we are 10 years past the launch of Napster and we are still debating viable business models for music on the web (or anywhere else), which to date have been none. Content owners (mainly labels) blame tech companies and consumers, tech companies blame the labels and consumers don't care, although there is a vociferous minority who would have you believe it's all the labels fault. Here's what I believe, it is perfectly within an individuals right to refuse access to anything he or she may own as long as it does not create harm to other people. In other words, No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service. Labels are perfectly within their rights as owners to do whatever they want with the things they claim ownership to. If they do so and the results put them in peril, then so be it. Tech companies on the other hand need to come up with better solutions for content creators (artists) than utilities for marketing their music on the web because it's a fact the return is not covering the costs artists have to bare in the marketplace. Market forces have created generations who believe music should be free. Will we have to wait another 10 years until the content owners and the tech companies either work in tandem or figure out themselves how to have a business around music?

Friday, October 9, 2009

Houston We Have A Problem

Said to me at yesterday's Digital Music Forum West

"Why would you use T-Bone Burnett when you have pro tools available?"

I wasn't going to share it but I can't get it out of my head. I won't comment beyond that.

Data, the new Music Industry

One of the things that I've taken away from the Digital Music Forum: West conference I participated in the past couple of days is that there will be no shortage of data for artists and their representatives. In fact, I would say one growth area in the music industry will be that of data analyst and I suspect if you looked at the job boards for content owners you will find a listing. Not to undermine the importance of data but to say that it is some new phenomenom is just untrue, however now the focus is on data directly related to the interaction between the artist and their fan (as opposed to the traditional data utilized by labels like Soundscan, BDS, etc.). Obviously such data is a benefit to the independent sector or artists that have no label affiliation or team working on their behalf who otherwise didn't have this information available to them. But caution must be taken when trying to quantify the arts. To say you are able to analyze entire segments is to suggest that cultures remain stagnant. Things move, people change and with that so does the music.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Hulu Streaming Austin City Limits Music Festival

Hulu, a streaming video site created for television programming, is streaming selected artists from the Austin City Limits Music Festival this weekend. They seemed to be stepping in for a void recently created when the AT&T Blueroom recently exited the streaming of festivals. As a person who has direct knowledge of the model I knew it was only a matter of time before AT&T realized they were overpaying for the privilege. Not exactly sure of the model associated with the Hulu stream but based on the level of artists participating it seems to replicate that of of AT&T's, using music as a loss leader to drive end user awareness to the site. Unfortunately not very sustainable once the margins are calculated and even more important, another step backwards for live music online. A model can exist in the online live music world but it takes cooperation by all intellectual property owners, an argument that has been debated far too long and with too much destruction in the music industry as it relates to music in general online.