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    This is the personal blog of Simon Kendrick and covers my interests in media, technology and popular culture. All opinions expressed are my own and may not be representative of past or present employers
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Links – 16th June 2008

Part 4 of 5:

Technology and social software links

Collection of presentations from the Web2.0 Expo (random($foo)) – a very comprehensive directory containing both videos and slides

10 things to hate about web2.0(Hugh McCloud)

Scaling a microblogging service(Hueniverse) – or How to fix Twitter

Chronology of brands hit by social media(Jeremiah Owyang)

The first Internet disconnection due to piracy is… The Finnish Government (Torrent Freak) – I can’t think of a better indictment of this law

ExpoTV matches users to product owners(Mashable)

Chris Brogan’s exhaustive collection of social media advice – for me, the personal branding section is the most interesting

Top Microbloggers(Technobabble2.0) – Another sterling piece of analysis from Jonny

How to make the most of Twitter(Guardian) – the long list of 3rd party applications shows the benefits of releasing the API

Reasons to have a vanity folder in RSS (Pro Blogger)

Can newspapers publish blog material without payment or notification to the author? (Comment is Free) – the Mail on Sunday published blog extracts without clearing them with the author

The state of the Facebook platform (20bits) – excellent write-up of the application economy

The Get Out Clause make their music video using CCTV (Daily Telegraph)

Emily Gould on the dangers of blogging(NY Times) – I believe she got flamed on this from both regular NYT readers and those that broke her on Gawker in the first place

History of failed musical platforms(The Register) – I still have a minidisc player somewhere. The only discs I ever bought were blank, to copy my CDs over

Reuters opens up its API and makes its news content available(Mashable) – though lawyers will be watching closely

Wikipedia to be published in physical form (Read Write Web) – but the contributors won’t get paid

We should think like a dandelion (Cory Doctorow)

Is UseNet going to be blocked from the Internet?(Web Monkey) – though I’ve been online for 12-13 years, I’ve never actually used UseNet before

Is Google making us stupid? (The Atlantic)

The importance of being an early adopter(Mashable)

Facebook and Myspace lose out to the niche social sites on CPM (Chris Anderson)

Scoble and La Gesse have a flame war over who “owns” comments and threads(lagesse)

Prediction of a Microsoft-Facebook union that will be detrimental to users(Robert Scoble)

In particular I would recommend Collection of presentations from the Web2.0 Expo, Chris Brogan’s exhaustive collection of social media advice, The state of the Facebook platform and Is Google making us stupid?

The other posts in this series of updates are:

Friday: Marketing links

Saturday: Trivia, and Interesting/thoughtful articles

Sunday: Interesting websites, and useful tips

Tuesday: Miscellaneous random links

sk

Nine Inch Nails and free music

Free music

Photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/mightymightymatze

As the world and his blog is now aware, the latest Nine Inch Nails album has been released over the Internet, in a variety of formats and prices. Rather pointedly, Trent Reznor remarked, “I’m very pleased with the result and the ability to present it directly to you without interference”. However, the most interesting thing about this (press) release is the following quote:

“Now that we’re no longer constrained by a record label, we’ve decided to personally upload Ghosts I, the first of the four volumes, to various torrent sites because we believe BitTorrent is a revolutionary digital distribution method.”

Furthermore, the album is being released under a Creative Commons licence that permits sharing. So, while the music has been made available for purchase both digitally and physically, the band are essentially saying that it is OK to distribute for free. They are not concerned with revenues or royalties on the release.

This leads back to a couple of prescient posts from some very authoritative figures. Firstly, Chris Anderson started the PR campaign for his latest book with a preview in Wired entitled “Free! Why $0.00 Is the Future of Business”. He highlights how Prince was able to release his album for free (or the price of a newspaper, with a free Mail on Sunday bundled in) by making money from live performances. That he could have sold out the dates without the CD is seemingly incidental. I was at one of the O2 gigs and while the performance was fantastic, the CD has had one listen.

The free hypothesis ties in with Seth Godin‘s Seinfeld curve (the second link is a must read):

If you like Jerry Seinfeld you can watch him on television, for free, in any city in the world two or three times a day. Or, you could pay $200 to go see him in Vegas. But there is no $4 option for Jerry Seinfeld. This is death. You can’t make any money in here. Because if you’re not scarce I’m not going to pay for it because I can get if for free. And one of the realities that the music industry is going to have to accept is this curve now exists for you. That for everybody under eighteen years old, it’s either free or it’s something I really want and I’m willing to pay for it. There is nothing in the center-it’s going away really fast.

As Seth points out, digital makes scarcity obsolete. There are no longer finite units – when I lend or share music, I still have my copy. With infinite supply, the price gravitates towards zero.

The traditional business model of the record label is in ruins. Seth suggests that we are moving from brand/artist management to tribal management:

That the next model is to say, what you do for a living is manage a tribe…many tribes…silos of tribes. That your job is to make the people in that tribe delighted to know each other and trust you to go find music for them

I think the Seinfeld curve is genius but, through my interpretation at least, tribal management is flawed. It is saying that niches need to be identified – almost isolated – while an editor of sorts suggest music for the tribe to select. Evidently people can be in multiple tribes, but a tribe – traditionally based on kinship – is the primary social identification. There is a hierarchy. Musical influences don’t conform to this. And if music is free at the point of entry, why should people choose bundles?

Furthermore, musical movements shift faster than general societal trends (where is crunk these days?). Newspaper editors can predict and adapt to shifts, but in this sphere it would be far more difficult. A Nick Denton type mogul could emerge and preside over an ever-shifting portfolio of niche movements. But can this trust last? Gawker hasn’t had the smoothest of rides recently.

I am not nearly as clever or insightful as Seth, and I do not have an alternative answer. What is clear is that the Internet is brilliant for musicians to disseminate their creations virally. More people are listening to more music through more methods than ever before.

And for businesses? In a free economy, one needs a combination of creativity, luck and finance to be heard over the cacophony. And with less control over distribution, it becomes more difficult to judge the success of a release, to measure a return on investment, and to forecast future finances. Dull perhaps, but integral to a healthy business. Guy Hands must be in his worst nightmare. However, this can be where the Seinfeld Curve comes in. The live arena offers a unique, finite experience where supply and price can be controlled. So will CDs become the loss leaders – the razors to the blades?

From a research perspective, the future is fascinating. With no accurate measurements, how can we assess succcess and forecast for the future? As well as music, it raises fascinating questions over the future of TV. I will return to this topic later in the week with a few further thoughts.

sk