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Sunday, September 28, 2003

quiz me

ok, to explain the “quiz me” button you may be seeing on the lower right corner of your screen (or somewhere else) (or nowhere) depending on how you found yourself here.

the button’s been there for a while, but there’s a new upgrade that makes it worth mentioning.

stephanie aka punqun created this thing. she’s a genius. brilliant. and now you can create profiles with her little quiz me project.

she’s also looking for new ideas for quizzes, and, so, you should send her your ideas.

and that concludes this public service announcement.

posted by roj at 1:00 am  

Sunday, September 28, 2003

splitting categories

well, since i seem to have picked a track for a relatively active music business discussion, i’ve decided to split out the relevant posts to their own category. in the process, you’ll notice a few other category flips (if you pay attention to such things).

in any case, for those of you interested in the series of long, sometimes tedious posts on the business of music, this should make things just a bit easier on you if you have to catch up at all…

posted by roj at 12:11 am  

Sunday, September 28, 2003

googlejuice shares up in heavy trading

(i just had to do this before the dance takes it all away)

i think this is my first #1 position (not just page) for a one-word search in google:


so, remember, buy my googlejuice

posted by roj at 12:06 am  

Saturday, September 27, 2003

you can’t afford all this music

gikiski recently brought up a point about minutes and music. now that this subject has appeared, it’s time to dump my thoughts into the ether. (don’t be too afraid, this will be shorter than my post on music monopolies, i hope).

dollars are a fluid, expanding market, but attention is a fixed, limited market. this means that capturing your attention is more challenging than capturing your music-buying dollar. if i have your attention, the dollars will come.

defining the attention market

gikiski’s got some interesting theoretical data, but we can get a better fix. the us census bureau publishes [pdf] this stuff. the relevant table is #920: media usage and consumer spending 1992 to 2002. it’s a bit dated (1998 to 2002 are projected figures), but close enough for blog work.

the top-line figure is 3360 hours of media consumption per person per year (this varies from 3324 to 3398, i’m just picking a nice round figure), and it remains fairly steady. just over 9 hours per day. that does make sense – if you figure you work 8 hours and sleep 7 hours there’s 9 hours left in the day (for most of us). sure, some of your work time might include listening to the radio, but some of your not-work-not-sleep time involves conversing with people, so it probably evens out. in any case, about 9 hours a day passes the “sniff” test – it’s not outrageous.

how are you going to spend your 3360 hours?

according to this table, “media consumption” includes tv, radio, recorded music, magazines, newspapers, books, home video, movies, video games and the internet. that’s a lot of slices in the pie, and the only one we are sure is about music is “recorded music” (radio must be some combination of music, talk news and commercials). for the sake of argument, we’ll give the recording industry half of radio plus the recorded music – about 800 hours, or about 24% of the total attention market

so, madame recording business executive, you have 800 hours a year to tickle my ears – just over two hours a day (2.2 hours)… and there are fundamental, practical limits that apply.

limits on the market

the first limit is that people generally can’t listen to more than one song at a time (and enjoy both). that’s a hard technical limit (i haven’t seen anyone pitching brain-rewiring technologies to expand the potential music market yet). that means you can only cram about 33 4-minute tracks into my head per day (12,000 per year). (and now you know why songs get shorter and “hey jude” is an exception 🙂 ).

the next limit is a personal one. people actually like to listen to the same old songs. a lot. once they fall in love with a track, it gets replayed until it’s “played out.” once it’s played out, it may still worth an occasional listen, especially if you somehow associated some meaning with it.

the third limit is a processing-cost one. rather than putting effort into “finding our music” we generally use filters that that narrow the field [dramatically] so we don’t have to hear things we don’t like. how many bad songs will you put up with before you hear something you like? often, the answer is zero. music consumers have choice, and it’s real easy to skip to the next track or the next station if you don’t like a song. the most obvious filter is the radio playlist. top hits can approach 14 spins a day on a radio station. at that rate, you’ll hear that track twice in your 2.2 hours a day. two of your 33 available slots just got used by one song. and you’ll hear it twice a day, every day, maybe for weeks.

wrap it up, i’ll take it

success is self-limiting, and this gets back to my theory that performers are monopolies.

at the high end of the curve, we run into a problem of diversity. as a performer, i want your attention. i absolutely want 14 spins a day on radio. i want to own as many of those 33-slots-a-day as i can get. if i can get my tune into your head often enough, you might just fall in love with it. once you fall in love with it, you’ll buy the cd. and a ticket to the concert. and a t-shirt. and maybe a poster. and the video. and my next cd. and the next ticket. and the next t-shirt. and you’ll play my tune at your wedding, and aniversaries. and when i issue a greatest hits set, you’ll buy that too. and the special edition box set. and when cds are old and boring, you’ll buy the holographic musicube that has that track on it.

but there is a problem in this market for attention. for every slot the recording industry fills, there’s one less slots for someone elses’ music. the record label’s job is to get you to fall in love with as many tracks and performers as possible – and they can’t do much about increasing the number of tracks you’re exposed to. they can make the tracks shorter to squeeze in maybe just one more (and are doing that). they can make the market broader, and hit everyone with the same track at the same time (and are doing that). and while all this is happening, they have to fend off all the other media so you still have 33 slots to play into (and there are some strong suggestions that they aren’t succeeding).

once they succeed with one track, and you buy that cd, every time you play it also counts against those 33 slots, and they have to push harder to open them up so you can pay attention to their Next Big Thing. so they play the tracks out. if you fall in love enough to get hooked into the money-making machinery, that’s all it takes. after that they have to move you on to the next one as fast as possible, or the machine grinds to a halt. what’s that grinding sound in the distance?

there are hundreds of thousands of performers out their doing their thing, and you just can’t afford the attention to hear them. that’s their problem: finding you, their audience.

posted by roj at 4:04 pm  

Saturday, September 27, 2003

do social weeds spread?

a while ago, i made some comments about tools and how you use them. a while later, i had some comments on communication among geeks domain experts specialists (it’s that definition thing). just hours ago, i watched a conversation grind to a halt because we had to re-define si prefixes and fairly common terms before we said anything substantial. my funk apparently continues.

then, today, i finally stumble into this. while that doesn’t really address the gap in language (syntactics, semiotics, metaphorics, semantics, pragmatics, whatever) that’s been bothering me so much lately, it’s someone’s attempt to improve the social standard. and i appreciate that.

but i’m still trying to buy a clue. does anyone have a clue they can spare?

posted by roj at 2:25 pm  

Saturday, September 27, 2003

Robert Palmer

might as well face it

posted by roj at 5:08 am  

Saturday, September 27, 2003

dead-end conversations

tonight i was trying to spark a little discussion about music business models, since that’s one of those occupying a lot of my time. it didn’t get very far. with the frustration of running into a dead-end, i think i’ll keep the guilty nameless, but it went something like this:

blah blah blah blah…. music business model links and brief comments… blah blah blah…
[person_a] it sounds like quickly you are at the micropayment level
[me] i think anytime you talk about individual “tracks” you’re pretty much automatically into micropayments
[me] depending on your definition of “tracks” and “micropayments” of course 🙂
[person_a] true
[person_b] define micro
[person_b] centipayments
[person_b] micro implies 10^-6
[person_c] does mini imply 10^-3?
[person_b] no, milli does
[person_b] decipayments

and shortly thereafter, it became a dead-end. i managed to come to a common language quickly with “person_a” but that wasn’t good enough for the rest of the participants. call that a partial success, maybe? but the substance of the conversation still vanished in a flood of math and si prefixes.

i’m not impressed with our ability to define the problem.

micro means “very small” or “involving minute quantities or variations” it is also an si prefix, but not necessarily so. and payments aren’t the same as dollars, so micropayments aren’t the same as microdollars. i didn’t feel like arguing about definitions until we found a common set of definitions that everyone could agree on, the discussion was over.

i’ve got things to think about. you’ve got interesting perspectives. can someone tell me how i can discuss the model with you and skip some of the constantly re-debating the definitions? we’re missing something valuable by constantly picking the nits (and so often, the same old nits).

update: just in case there’s any confusion, i’m not pissed about this. just frustrated – and to me there’s a big difference. we have these incredible communications tools, but it often (and this is one example) feels like we haven’t figured out how to communicate. text is such a limited medium, and i’ve often said as much. the real loss that happens with these things is the “shutdown” – and this was just a brutally clear example, so i had to use it. i harbor no ill-will toward any of the “persons” mentioned. really.

posted by roj at 4:46 am  

Friday, September 26, 2003

George Plimpton

professional amateur

posted by roj at 1:58 pm  

Thursday, September 25, 2003

a little humility goes a long way

i’ve been waiting for a good link into lisa rein (because there are just so many common threads here), and today i found one. in keeping with the tools and results post of some weeks ago, again, it’s all in the approach.

the riaa made a mistake. usually, in civil interaction, when you make a mistake, it’s a good idea to apologize. a little. especially if everyone is watching you and it’s a really big mistake.

obviously, a little story in a little newspaper like the new york times isn’t the whole story here, but… y’know. it’s just an opinion of mine. humility is a good thing. self-deprecation is a good thing too. and apologizing when you bag the wrong ferocious criminal is always a good thing. joi puts it well:

Being sued isn’t like, “oh sorry… wrong number..”

maybe it’s a cultural thing?

just, please, when you apologize, try to be a little more sincere than “my bad.”

since the riaa [apparently] isn’t going to do it, i will.

mrs. ward, i am very sorry that the recording industry association of america incorrectly identified you as a career criminal and music thief. i’m sorry you had to deal with lawyers and paperwork. i’m sorry you had to deal with media and rap music (but only because you don’t seem to like it 🙂 ). and i do hope that the recording industry association of america will make every effort to learn from this mistake and implement changes to prevent this from happening again.

posted by roj at 6:13 pm  

Thursday, September 25, 2003

humanity in the military

in a proud tradition of refusing illegal and immoral orders, relying on their humanity and sense of justice as opposed to blindly following orders, a group of israeli pilots have issued a public letter condemning the actions of their own military against civilians.

“We, for whom the Israel Defence Forces and the Israel Air Force are an inseparable part of us, refuse to continue to hurt innocent civilians.”

the pilots have been grounded, and disciplinary action is pending.

to me, the fact that refusing “to continue to hurt innocent civilians” is even an issue for a state military is simply repugnant.

posted by roj at 5:48 pm  
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