Thursday, December 22, 2005 - Get your music to go: Online subscriptions get a test drive - Get your music to go: Online subscriptions get a test drive: "A friend argues that he would never use the to-go services because if he pays for music, he wants to own it. But for anyone who wants to check out lots of new music on the run - frequent travelers, bike riders or joggers - the prices of the to-go services can't be beat. "

Forget the other services they talk about and go to the "preview" of AOL Music Now (

Wednesday, December 21, 2005 - 2006 could be year that Apple CEO Jobs falls off pedestal

"Sometime in 2006, Steve Jobs will probably get hosed. That's not so much a prediction as it is playing the odds. Nobody in America gets such a long ride on the oh-we-sooooo-adore-you bandwagon."

The tide is beginning to turn....

Sunday, December 18, 2005

New Playlist Alerts via AIM!

Now that I've got working, let the fun begin. Want to get an IM whenever I create a new playlist? Click here!

Perhaps more interesting is the mash-up I created between Music Now, Wists and, where you can subscribe to my album recommendations (see the sidebar to see what they are). Conceptually, every time I add an album recommendation, you would get an AIM with a link to the album within the Music Now catalog. To subscribe to this one, click here.

So far, the IMs seem to take there time getting to you, but I'm guessing the folks at are getting slammed right now with traffic.

Saturday, December 17, 2005 It's like RSS crack!

I haven't gotten this to work yet, but once I do you can bet I will talk more about it. The concept is... subscribe to be notified via AIM whenever a feed is updated and/or a post is made to someones blog. This tied into some of the music service feeds that I use could be REALLY powerful. Stay tuned, I'll keep trying.

UPDATE: I've now got it working... click here to try it out.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Digital Music News

"AOL will use its recently-acquired MusicNow property to deliver a web-based solution, while Napster and RealNetworks will broaden their existing application-based approaches. Meanwhile, Apple has little intention of moving away from the application, indicating that competitors are taking fewer cues from the market leader.

The key advantage of a web-based solution is accessibility - not only from multiple computers and browsers, but increasingly from mobile devices. At first blush, the proposition is compelling: buy or listen to music from wherever you are, by simply entering a username and password. And for a player like AOL, a web-based approach is designed to integrate more smoothly into a larger music destination."

Sunday, November 06, 2005

E-Commerce News: Entertainment : AOL Aims High With MusicNow Buy

E-Commerce News: Entertainment : AOL Aims High With MusicNow Buy: "MusicNow has a long history in Internet time, having been founded in 1999 as FullAudio. Circuit City owned it for about a year, in a move that many analysts viewed as a bold experiment at the time but has proven to be a poor fit.
But that time has given MusicNow ample opportunity to develop a strong user interface and the type of features menu that analysts say will be increasingly important to set music download sites apart, especially as the predicted shift from pay-per-download -- the current model offered by the dominant Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) iTunes -- to subscription services."

Saturday, November 05, 2005

AOL Adds Further Tune To The Sounds Through Its Music Subscription Service

AOL Adds Further Tune To The Sounds Through Its Music Subscription Service: "On Thursday, America Online Inc., announced the spectacular news that it has acquired online music subscription company MusicNow LLC, and has launched a preview of the AOL-branded service."

AOL Adds Further Tune To The Sounds Through Its Music Subscription Service

AOL Adds Further Tune To The Sounds Through Its Music Subscription Service: "On Thursday, America Online Inc., announced the spectacular news that it has acquired online music subscription company MusicNow LLC, and has launched a preview of the AOL-branded service."

The Modern Journalist: It's Back To The Web For Digital Music

The Modern Journalist: It's Back To The Web For Digital Music: "Breaking with the Apple iTunes / Napster model, many biggest digital music providers are moving portions or all of their services onto the Web. This trend toward the Web by music services may be a part of a broader move by technology companies--most notably in Microsoft's new Window Live campaign--to offer increasingly powerful computing features on the Web that were once limited to computer desktops and hard drives."

Jon Wright UK - Music To Our Ears

Jon Wright UK - Music To Our Ears: "Nice to see other music providers starting to think a little differently about how they deliver music online. According to CNET news, America online are going to do things a little differently by providing music that consumers can access anywhere."

Friday, November 04, 2005


GarageRockers: "As long as WMA DRM is Windows only, they leave out the statistically better educated, wealthier users. Of course, the fact remains that even if Microsoft were to make WMA DRM Mac compatible (and in their current state of desperation, it's pretty much just a matter of time), the better educated user is still most likely to make the smarter choice, and buy an iPod and buy from iTMS because their DRM restrictions are more open than those of WMA DRM."

Ah, now here's a logical arguement... I would contest the point, but I'm obviously not appopriately educated to the point where I could engage in a battle of wits with him (since my OS has a "Microsoft" emblazoned on it). What I love most about his "logic" is that the reason iTunes/iPod will win is due to it's unsurmountable market share position (80% marketshare). Bascially, if you're not the market leader then you shouldn't even try, yet he seems to be composing this arguement from his Mac.....

Dygital's Blog - AOL Announces Acquisition of MusicNow

Dygital�s Blog � AOL Announces Acquisition of MusicNow: "This is good, and competitive to iTunes. Though, realistically, iTunes has more marketshare and more opt-in users with iPods; this does offer people with that Microsoft �PlaysForSure� crap an option to use this service. This is a pretty cool service, for the same price as iTunes and integrates with your AOL/AIM login. I wish they had a PayPal option, but heh, I guess its okay as it is. This service is better than MusicNet that AOL has been offering for a while now. Glad to see some more progress." - AOL retunes to MusicNow - AOL retunes to MusicNow: "While similar in content and pricing to musicstores run by Napster, Rhapsody and Yahoo!, AOL's will be the only one that's fully Web-based and doesn't require that users download an application. That could give it an edge in drawing in casual users surfing around the site."

AOL Ramps Up Tunes, Buying MusicNow - Yahoo! News

AOL Ramps Up Tunes, Buying MusicNow - Yahoo! News: "MusicNow holds its own against the competing services currently, but AOL must build on what's there in order to make it compelling and unique, Schadler says.
'It allows me to pick songs and express preferences and see playlists of people like me. It's pretty good,' he says. 'If it's about other people finding me based on my profile and contacting me over this Web site saying, 'Dude, you've got to check this out,' that's not happening.'"

Hey, I'll take it. It's not a rave review, but I'm not even sure if they checked out the new features that launched this week. But, I'll keep my eyes open and post more reviews here when I find them.

Web-based tunes--music to bloggers' ears | | CNET

Web-based tunes--music to bloggers' ears | | CNET "Many are welcoming MusicNow and the overall movement, which runs counter to Apple's iTunes model of delivering downloads through a separate software application."

Digital music's move back to the Web | CNET

Digital music's move back to the Web | CNET "The biggest to take this step so far is America Online, which announced Thursday that it had purchased the Circuit City-owned MusicNow and would adopt its Web-based music service as AOL's main store. "


Daily Playlists

Now featuring My Daily Playlist! See the sidebar -->

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

How to: Top 10 Email Signatures

Below is a step-by-step instruction on how to create an email signature that includes your personal Top 10 songs (based on playcounts). When another user clicks on the animated image, then Windows Media Player will launch and begin to play your Top 10 "hotlist". If that user is a MusicNow subscriber, then they will enjoy the full playlist. If they are not, then they will experience 30 second snippets of each song in the list.


Phone: (xxx) xxx-xxxx
AIM: aolscreenname
Music Profile: [

[muSick in the Head] Top 10 Songs

1. Find your MusicNow profile ID # by going to "view my profile" and looking at the URL (following "id=")

2. Your personal "Top 10" feed is available by typing: (but replace my id # with the one you got from above) By entering this URL into a browser, you will be taken to a simple text page of your Top 10.

3. Go to and create a free account.

4. "Burn a feed" by copying your new feed URL (as created above in Step 2).

5. "Activate" your feed by clicking the button at the bottom of the confirmation page

6. Click on the "Publicize" tab, then click on "Headline Animator" in the left-hand column of the page. Make sure your newly created feed has been used to create the animated graphic.

7. Click on "Activate".

8. Copy the HTML that is generated. It should look something like this:

9. Create a new HTML email signature.
The easiest way to do this is to open Notepad* and paste in the following HTML , making sure to replace the ID number in the "Music Profile" line so that it matches your ID. Also enter your own personal information for the rest of the signature field or simply edit them to what ever you want;

And then paste the HTML from Step 8 below the Music Profile line so it looks like this;

9a. For AOL you need to add some HTML tags before you paste in the HTML code snippet you created above.

  • Then select all of the text you have just created, right click and select Copy to copy the HTML to your clipboard.
  • Go to AOL Mail and click Write Mail (or just click Write).
  • At the bottom right of the letter template it says Signatures.
  • Click Signatures and then highlight and click Set Up Signatures.
  • A window will open, click Create.
  • In the upper field of the new window, type "Top 10" .
  • In the lower field, paste in the signature HTML you created that is now in your clipboard.
  • Then click OK.
  • Click Default on/off to turn your signature on or off.

9b. For Outlook, the process is very similar:

  • Open Outlook > Tools > Options > Mail Format > Signatures
  • Create a New Signature by selecting "Start with a blank signature":

10 . Choose your signature preferences, alter the font, formatting, etc.

Done, and done!

* Notepad comes standard with all installations of Windows, you will find it in your Start menu under Accessories or just click on Run in your Start menu and type in notepad. Then click on OK and it will start up.

Friday, October 07, 2005

AIM Presence

AIM Presence: "Now, visitors to your Web site can see when you are online with AIM through this simple cut-and-paste code. AIM Presence uses the familiar Running Man icon to let your visitors easily see when others are online and available to chat in real time. "

Just updated my blog to support this "official" API. Before it was kind of a hack....

Thursday, September 29, 2005

AOL Radio

Is it possible to launch AOL Radio's "Adult Alternative" station from this page? Let's see....

Also, one of the XM Station's such as "XM Fred".

OQO Model 01+

OQO Model 01+
Originally uploaded by jherskowitz.
The ultimate portable media player? If you've got $2K burning a whole in

your pocket and your don't mind waiting for a full-blown XP machine to boot

up, then this may be kinda cool for you music and videos. No sync

required... just download via WiFi and enjoy.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Treo + Windows Mobile 5 = Plays for Damn Sure

Awww yeah.... this is definitely a step in the right direction. A Treo

running Windows Mobile (and thereby Window Media Player) means that these

will be "Plays for Sure" devices fully capable of syncing and listenting to

all your subscription music content. Note to carriers - this is the

beginning of the end for your walled garden approaches. Once there is an

open platform and open access to the network(s), there is no reason the

public will pay a premium for content to be delivered specifically to their


BetaNews | Apple Maintains Margin with iPod Nano

BetaNews | Apple Maintains Margin with iPod Nano: "iSuppli dissected a 2GB iPod Nano and found $90.18 USD worth of parts. Combined with the $8-10 it costs to produce each model, the Nano ran about $100 USD to produce, said iSuppli. The player retails for $199 USD, meaning a profit margin of just under 50 percent."

It's interesting to see what Apple's costs are, but the margin quoted above is misleading since the retailers have to get their piece of the pie too. It's been a while since I've dealt with product that was sold through retail outlets, but in the past the Best Buy's and Target's of the world demanded at least 20 points of profit...

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Art: Dan Sutherland

Art: Dan Sutherland
Originally uploaded by jherskowitz.

So, my brother-in-law (and artist extrordinare) has FINALLY gotten a site up. Between my complete lack of artistic talent and his technological aversion, we make quite a pair.

Here is one of my favorite pieces of his recent work. Check out to see some of his other stuff. The site and images don't really do it justice (as you can imagine), particularly considering many of the paintings are 5' tall....

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

E-Commerce News: Personal Tech : iPod Slayers Misdirecting Efforts

E-Commerce News: Personal Tech : iPod Slayers Misdirecting Efforts: "'When you combine the iPod and iTunes, there's still not much that can top that combination,' he said. 'It's more than just one or the other.'"

This is essentially stating the obvious, but it is the piece that everyone is missing.... there needs to be tight integration and working relationships between the music service, the PC software and the device to create an Apple killer. Samsung, get on the phone with Microsoft and a top tier music service provider, and make something compelling.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005 Dear Google, I Have Found Another Suitor -- Sep. 26, 2005 -- Page 1 Dear Google, I Have Found Another Suitor -- Sep. 26, 2005 -- Page 1: "Negotiations are now at an impasse over key technology issues, such as whose instant-messaging platform would be used. But a variety of proposals remain on the table, including the creation of a separately traded company. 'We could take a more modest approach with co-marketing agreements,' the source tells TIME, 'but the bias is, if we're going to do this, let's really play to win.'"

The saga continues....

Media Center on Vista

Media Center on Vista
Originally uploaded by jherskowitz.
Some of the first screenshots are now making their way online...

BetaNews | Report: Mashboxx May Acquire Grokster

BetaNews | Report: Mashboxx May Acquire Grokster: "Mashboxx is in talks with file-sharing service Grokster over a possible puchase, a move that could be seen as an attempt to keep the embattled file-sharing service alive. "

Here comes the industry shakeout....

Friday, September 16, 2005

Microsoft Said to Be in Talks on Forming Link to AOL - New York Times

Microsoft Said to Be in Talks on Forming Link to AOL - New York Times: "A deal with AOL could provide widespread distribution for Microsoft's search system and a platform for developing Microsoft's own Internet-based services. An AOL merger would also provide a graceful exit from MSN's stagnant dial-up Internet service business, which still has several million subscribers. "

Offered without comment....

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Add muSick in the Head to the new My AOL Page

Just added... one click support to add this feed to your new personalized "My AOL" page. Scroll down to the Feeds section in the right hand column of this page and just click on it. Voila!

Alternatively, if you are just interested in some of my music-related charts (like my Top 10), then I've added this support to just that piece of this page.... then every time you go to your My AOL page you will see my latest Top 10 list. "But wait - just to add to the excitement comes news of the Samsung i300, pictured right. It's going to be exclusive to o2 and will begins selling in October for around 79.99 Pounds. The 3Gb internal hard drive is capable of storing up to 1000 music files and features scroll-wheel navigation, enabling you to search tracks with ease You can also enjoy 3D sound through its stereo speakers and download music online. "

To go along with my last post.... here is the latest object of my affection. And it is going to sell for only $149?! I'll take three. Granted the iPod Nano is cool looking, but for less money I can get this... supports subscription music services, sports Windows Mobile 5 and WiFi (I believe). Best of all, it limits the number of devices I have to carry down to one. It's the day I've been dreaming of for 10 years.

Technology News Article |

Technology News Article | "Once the chip was incorporated into a 32-gigabyte memory card, users of portable digital devices would be able to store some 200 years of articles from daily newspapers or some 8,000 MP3 music titles capable of playing for 680 hours, Samsung said."

Sweet. Flash memory continues to get bigger (capacity not physical size). Imagine your next mobile phone... Windows Mobile 5, Windows Media Player (with Janus Support) and 32GB worth of storage. All in a phone no larger than the one you have now. Mmmmm....

Pre-PDC Exclusive: Windows Vista Product Editions Revealed

Pre-PDC Exclusive: Windows Vista Product Editions Revealed: "Vista will feature two categories: Home and Business. In the Home category, Microsoft will create four product editions: Vista Starter Edition, Vista Home Basic Edition, Vista Home Premium Edition, and Vista Ultimate Edition (previously known as the 'Uber' Edition). The Business category will feature three editions: Vista Small Business Edition, Vista Professional Edition, and Vista Enterprise Edition."

So, I was almost right. I've been speculating for some time that Media Center would be bundled with the "standard" home edition of Vista. Well, Microsoft has announced no less than 7 different version of Vista, with MCE being part of the bigger "Vista Home Premium" edition. The article speculates that this will be the volume seller, with it being the equivalent of XP Pro. Good news for those of us awaiting mass market adoption of Media Center.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Digital Music News: SoniqCast, PassAlong Team on WiFi-Enabled Device Transfers

Digital Music News: "SoniqCast, a developer of WiFi-enabled MP3 players, has recently teamed with PassAlong Networks on a next-generation method for delivering music files."

I'll be the first to say that a wi-fi connected media player is very cool. In this scenario, I could just leave my portable player in my car and when I pull into my garage just have it pull and/or sync my latest content wirelessly. Maybe I'm just lazy, but one of my big pet peeves with other portable players is that I have to bring it inside an sync it every few days.

EFF: The Customer Is Always Wrong: A User's Guide to DRM in Online Music

EFF: The Customer Is Always Wrong: A User's Guide to DRM in Online Music: "In other words, in this brave new world of 'authorized music services,' law-abiding music fans often get less for their money than they did in the old world of CDs (or at least, the world before record companies started crippling CDs with DRM, too). "

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has posted a "Guide to Online Music" that is basically a list of reasons why DRM sucks and how consumers should basically just visit some alternative DRM-free solutions like eMusic and Audio Lunchbox. It's a noble cause, but you'd be waiting an awfully long time for any "big name" music to be legally distributed without copy protection...

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Where the hell am I?

Beleive me, I realize that I've been really bad with posting lately. Work has been keeping me extremely busy, and I promise to get back to it (posting, not work) this week.... stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Warner Music readies CD-free 'e-label' | CNET

Warner Music readies CD-free 'e-label' | CNET "The e-label will permit recording artists to enjoy a 'supportive, lower-risk environment' without as much pressure for huge commercial hits, Bronfman said. In addition, artists signed to the e-label will retain copyright and ownership of their master recordings. "

It's nice to see that the major labels are starting to understand that the game is changing and they need to adapt. Digital distribution is killing the traditional "hits-driven" marketplace and creating true one-to-one marketing and distribution relationships around the long-tail content.

Friday, August 19, 2005

AppleInsider | Apple, Sony among those named in new DRM lawsuit

AppleInsider | Apple, Sony among those named in new DRM lawsuit: "Five of the top companies in the online music industry are being sued by an individual who claims that the digital rights management software used by the Internet's most popular music download services violates a seven-year-old technology patent."

Interesting in that the suit doesn't include Microsoft, who's DRM technology is used by a number of the services cited. I haven't read the claim, but it sounds like the patent is more about the manner is which DRM is used and not the technological underpinnings of how it works.

BetaNews | Yahoo Music Service Officially Launches

BetaNews | Yahoo Music Service Officially Launches: "Yahoo! Music Unlimited attempts to differentiate itself from iTunes and other services by focusing on personalization. Users can setup profiles of their musical likes and dislikes, which are used by Yahoo to create custom home page of recommended artists and songs."

Monday, August 15, 2005

Apple: Deaf to the Rent-a-Tunes Beat

Apple: Deaf to the Rent-a-Tunes Beat: "BusinessWeek Online has learned that Apple is not likely to get into the subscription game soon -- and maybe not ever, unless one of its rivals comes up with a way to make subscriptions mainstream."

The story goes on to say...

But Apple's strategic goal is not to sell music, it's to sell iPods. Selling songs is marginally profitable, and helps Apple keep the support of the music labels. But the iPod is the reason for Apple's runaway success in recent years. Sales of the device soared 343% in the quarter that ended July 31, when the outfit brought in nearly a third of Apple's $3.5 billion in sales.

The rumblings I hear is that Apple isn't yet technically capable of launching a subscription service. Supposedly the Fairplay DRM scheme doesn't handle it and the iPods themselves don't have a secure clock (a requirement so that people can't have their player frozen in time, thereby keeping their subscription content from every expiring). I'm not sure about the secure clock thing, but that is what I've hear from a number of people/sources. If true, a subscription service would REQUIRE everyone to buy a new iPod. This would give everyone else in the market a free shot at converting Apple's consumers over to a cheaper product/service.

New Orb Add-On: TiVoAnywhere - Engadget -

New Orb Add-On: TiVoAnywhere - Engadget - " Orb Networks opened up their API a few days ago, they must have figured out that loosening up and letting developers (and the rest of us) create third-party plug-ins for their placeshifting app is an easy way to add value and make their product even more attractive to customers (Sony, are you listening?). "

Cool, if you've got TivoToGo (meaning your Tivo Series 2 is networked to your PC), you can now essentially "passthrough" that content via Orb running on your Windows machine.

Imeem dials into social networking craze | CNET

Imeem dials into social networking craze | CNET "Imeem, whose name comes from the word 'meme,' aims to differentiate itself by giving users an easy way to specify exactly who they want to share information with and by providing technology that enforces that access control on the desktop, instead of on a server at the provider company. "

BetaNews | MSN Enhances Spaces,

BetaNews | MSN Enhances Spaces, "Also available is a tool to embed Windows Media Player into a user's Space and allow for the playing of media files directly from the Web. 'I think I received a few hundred e-mails on this feature alone,' Torres said. Media files can't be uploaded to MSN Spaces yet, but the player could be linked to somewhere else that hosts the files in the meantime."

Microsoft continues to evolve their Spaces platform...

Exclusive pics of TiVo Download - Engadget -

Exclusive pics of TiVo Download - Engadget - Interested in what TiVo's download service may look like? Check out the pictures that Engadget has posted....

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Ruckus music subscription program fails to cause excitement at American University - Engadget -

Ruckus music subscription program fails to cause excitement at American University - Engadget - "In the latest trial, American University students were given a free trial of Ruckus, a movie and music downloading program. A full half of them didn�t even bother to try it, and a third of those surveyed said it should definitely not be offered in the coming academic year. "

Ouch. Not sure what the problem is here... maybe too many of them still stealing their songs, or perhaps many are already locked into an iPod (not compatible with any service other than iTunes)? I've never seen the Ruckus service in person, so I don't know how it competes against Napster, but I would assume that they would have the same problems.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Russell Beattie Notebook - AOL Rising

Russell Beattie Notebook - AOL Rising: "I think anyone who's forgotten about AOL or discounted them has to rethink these guys - they really are giants and they've awoken. Check out their list of services - it's like a full-on portal filled with people came out of nowhere. They have 10+ years of understanding how online communities and online consumer services work, and they're now focusing that experience on the Internet at large, as well as mobile devices. Think about it... "

It's good to see that AOL is finally starting to get some credit from the rest of the industry (I believe Russell is a Yahoo employee) as being more than just "the Internet on training wheels"....

BetaNews | Amazon to Move Into Digital Music Biz

BetaNews | Amazon to Move Into Digital Music Biz: "The Wall Street Journal reported late Thursday that online retailer is considering an entrance into the digital music business, and has held talks with industry executives over the past two weeks to license content."

They've had headhunters calling around for quite a few months trying to lure people over from competitors in the space. No doubt about it, Amazon is the king when it comes to moving physical goods and inventory via e-commerce, but I'm not convinced that it will help them all that much in the digital music space. That being said, they do have the luxury of having an awful large number of credit cards on file, thereby lowering one of the biggest barriers to entry for many...

Friday, August 05, 2005

Pandora (formerly Savage Beast) Launches New Radio Beta

It appears that Savage Beast is looking to get into the online Radio game themselves. They've changed their name to Pandora and have launched a beta where they create Personal Radio stations based on a users artist or song input.

When a "station" is created, users can skip songs, and purchase from either iTunes or Amazon.

As I play with it more I will add some more color commentary.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005 - Real Time - The Case of the Missing Music - Real Time - The Case of the Missing Music: "Mr. Arnold notes that 1.5 million songs is currently the benchmark for an online service, adding that he believes that benchmark will be replaced by five million. But he notes even that will leave a lot out: Gracenote -- the service that in all likelihood does the magic of identifying the CD you just put in your PC -- has nearly 50 million tracks in its current database."

A good article on the the process (or lack thereof) the record labels undertake to get their artists' back catalogs onto the digital music services. It seems that companies like Snocap are trying to lure the record companies into simply monetizing consumer's encodes of this content (instead of waiting for the labels to encode it themselves). Eventually, the belief is that there will be a "good enough" digital copy from someone in the audience that the labels will able use for their archive without having to incur the cost of doing it themselves.

More insider details about the PS3? - Engadget

More insider details about the PS3? - Engadget - "...there will eventually be some sort of USB TV tuner add-on for the PS3 so it can double as digital video recorder (best part: it sounds like it'll incorporate Sony's LocationFree technology so you can access recorded TV shows using your PSP from anywhere in the world over the internet)."

I have yet to hook up my Slingbox, but have used Orb to "placeshift" my television content before. All-in-all, it is a pretty cool concept but I have yet to find a real use for it. But, if I can give my buddy the rights to view my shows from his PS3, then that is a pretty compelling angle on media sharing that I think could make consumers giddy but copyright holders and cable providers nauseous.

Monday, August 01, 2005

BetaNews | Apple, HP Call it Quits on iPod Deal

BetaNews | Apple, HP Call it Quits on iPod Deal: "The falling out comes as a surprise, since HP as recently as July 1 announced that it would sell a co-branded version the iPod Shuffle, along with an iPod+HP Mini that was announced in June."

This deal never made sense to me in the first place (at least for HP). Once again, the stars are aligning so that it is all the PC OEMs and Microsoft in one corner and little ol' Apple in the other.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

eHomeUpgrade | Cisco Systems to Acquire KiSS Technology A/S

eHomeUpgrade | Cisco Systems to Acquire KiSS Technology A/S: "KiSS is a leading technology provider for networked entertainment devices and has a product portfolio that includes home video products such as networked DVD players and networked DVD recorders. KiSS's technology platform also has the capability to extend to other consumer electronics products and will help Linksys develop a unique, networked entertainment product suite."

Looks like Linksys is getting more serious about the networked entertainment device space....

Friday, July 22, 2005

Billboard PostPlay: Coremedia Combines OMA DRM With Microsoft DRM

Billboard PostPlay: Coremedia Combines OMA DRM With Microsoft DRM:

Great for the consumer, but I'm sure that neither Microsoft nor the mobile carriers are too pleased about this. Microsoft wants the handset manufacturers to license their DRM, and the carriers don't want you to be able to buy music without them in the loop. Let the mayhem begin!

BetaNews | Longhorn Gets a Name: Windows Vista

BetaNews | Longhorn Gets a Name: Windows Vista: "Now, it appears Microsoft has chosen an official name for Longhorn with just that in mind. Enter: Windows Vista."

I don't know... I think I like "Longhorn" better. :-)

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

How To Turn A Travel Mug Into An MP3 Player Mounting System

Maybe I've been watching too many back-to-back airings of "American Chopper", but after struggling to come up with a good way to mount my Creative Zen Micro in my car this idea struck me.

Essentially, by using an old travel mug and a 20 cent "L" bracket that I had laying around, I hacked together this solution. The bent "L" bracket slides into the Zen Micro's case on one end, and into the "sip hole" of the coffee mug at the other.

The good news is that it is secure, the right height with adjustable angle (just spin the mug so either the driver or passenger can easily read) and best of all, a place to store my player when I park. Hopefully, this will keep any potential thieves from breaking in (unless someone is just dying for what looks like a cup of stale coffee). I'm thinking about trying to run the wires (mini-jack to cassette adapter and cigarette lighter to mini-USB charger) through the bottom to clean it up a little. The bad news... that mug won't ever see coffee again.

AOL's Music on Demand gets Emmy Nomination

Sweet. I certainly can't take credit for this, but it is nice to work on something that gets recognized by the industry. Check the competition out:

From Interactive TV Today :

The nominees for the Emmy for Non-Program Specific Enhanced or Interactive Television for a Channel, Network or Service are:

  • AOL Music On Demand (Zetools / Time Warner Cable)
  • The DirecTV Interactive Service (DirecTV)
  • iO Interactive Optimum Digital Cable Service (Cablevision Systems Corporation)
  • Reuters Interactive TV Channel (Reuters)
  • Sesame Street Games (Sesame Workshop)

The ITV Emmys will be presented at the Creative Arts Awards Ceremony at the Shrine Auditorium in downtown Los Angeles on September 11th. The Academy has upgraded the status of its ITV Emmys this year: the award decisions of the Interactive Media Peer Group are no longer subject to ratification by the Academy's board, and all recipients will receive Emmy statuettes; previously, it was up to the board to decide whether each recipient would receive a statuette or a simple plaque.

PBS | I, Cringely . July 14, 2005 - More Shoes

PBS | I, Cringely . July 14, 2005 - More Shoes Very interesting speculation from Robert Cringely about the the Apple/Intel + Intel/Clickstar deals and how they may be inherently linked.

In short, Cringely says he thinks that Clickstar will power an iTunes Movie Service with Intel providing the support for a device ecosystem that can access the content from living room and mobile devices. Could be, but I think the mobile DRM issue is non-trivial and unless Intel has solved the portable tether subscription issues that Microsoft has already tackled with "Janus", then I'm not sure how they plan to "rent" first-run movie content. Maybe the consumers would only have a "purchase" movie option?

Keep an eye on this one...

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

BetaNews | Napster To Go Comes to Palm

BetaNews | Napster To Go Comes to Palm: "Napster on Monday announced that it had certified a new set of devices to work with the company's Napster To Go subscription based music service, including a new option for users of some Palm OS handhelds through third-party software."

Good news. The more Janus devices the better. What is more exciting is the thought of NormSoft's Janus compatible player (Pocket Tunes 3.1) running on the new Treo. I'm not sure if any of the existing Treo's (or upcoming) have a secure clock, which is a requirement for Janus, but I would think that they should...

News Corporation to Acquire Intermix Media, Inc.

News Corporation to Acquire Intermix Media, Inc.: "Acquisition Includes World's Fastest-Growing Social Networking Portal,"

I had heard the rumors that MySpace was a prime acquistion target, but I would have not guessed that Fox would be the suitor. I'm as big a fan of MySpace as most, but I've got to say that I think $580 Million is more than a little steep for a site and service that can be duplicated fairly easily. Granted, they are buying mulitple properties and established eyeballs, but if MySpace can build that kind of traffic as a small independent company with little to no marketing budget (at first), than others should be able to do the same.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Xbox 360 launching November 4th? - Engadget -

Xbox 360 launching November 4th? - Engadget - "It's not entirely clear where they scored this info, but is reporting that Microsoft is going to launch the Xbox 360 on November 4th."

Nice. Say an early "hello" to the first Media Center Extender device that will hit critical mass. Now all Microsoft has to do is include Media Center functionality in the baseline Windows "Longhorn" Home Edition.

Music Videos May Be Coming to iPods - Yahoo! News

Music Videos May Be Coming to iPods - Yahoo! News Ah, the enigma that is known as Steve Jobs. Lots of stories the last couple of days regarding Apple's Video iPod plans. If true, then you've got to wonder about Jobs' credibility.

Here is a quote from Jobs' published by SeattlePI last year regarding the Video iPod rumors...

Responded Jobs: "You know one of the things that I say around Apple, I paraphrase Bill Clinton when he was running long ago, when he said, 'It's the economy stupid.' I say, 'It's the music, stupid.' We have to stay focused on the fact that people are buying these devices to listen to music. ... People love listening to music as a background activity when they're exercising, when they're commuting and when they're just hanging out. Music is a wonderful thing because A, it's music, and B, because it can be listened to as a background activity. And a lot of these other things that people are talking about building in, such as video and things like that, are foreground activities. You can't drive a car when you're watching a movie. You know? It's really hard. So we really are very focused on music because that's what we think the revolution is here."

This is exactly why I don't believe any of the latest feigned disinterest from Jobs' regarding a subscription music service. As he has a history of doing, I believe he will continue to spout "people don't want it" until he is ready to launch. Then he will position himself as the creator of all that is good and holy and grant the world the power to subscribe to a music service. Ugh.

Friday, July 15, 2005 casting the net wider casting the net wider It took a little finnagling, but I just learned how to use tags in association with a podcatching client (DopplerRadio). Basically, this enables me to tag any media file I find online with my "jherskowitzpodcasts" tag and it will then automatically download to my PC and dump it into a newly created My Music/Podcasts folder. It also creates an auto-synced playlist so that they next time I connect my portable player I will get the content I tagged.

Most podcatching clients seem to have settings that allow you to specify how many files/podcasts to download, how long to keep them, maximium size allowed, etc. Once I find some copyright-free material to tag, I will let you know and you guys should be able to easily subscribe to my "channel".

UPDATE: My podcast feed is available here....

AIM Fight!

AIM Fight!

Not necessarily useful for much, but still kind of fun in a time-wasting sort of way. Interesting to see just how networked you are in the AIM world.... Recommendations

I've started to toy around with and am now "tagging" artists so that they appear in a recommendations RSS feed. I then used an RSS-to-Javascript converter so that I can put that module into the sidebar of this page. Now, when ever I see/hear something that I want to recommend, I can just right-click and "post link to" and it will appear shortly thereafter in this blog. More experiments are in the works (such as the AIM presence indicator I recently added). Stay tuned...

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Podcatching 101 - Editor's Corner "Hey, what's this podcasting/catching thing all about?" you ask. Well, here is a nice overview of how to get started in a Windows Media Player world (enough with iTunes already!).

The Weakerthans : Get Music : MusicNow

The Weakerthans : Get Music : MusicNow

New feature! My artist pick of the moment, The Weakerthans. Check them out.

The Globe and Mail: A record company's best friend

The Globe and Mail: A record company's best friend: "Welcome to the world of mp3 blogs, the soft beachhead of the recording industry's efforts to get more gain and less pain from on-line music sharing. The same companies that are trying to crush illegal downloading are making nice with a growing army of audio bloggers who offer free access to copyrighted music every day."

The labels speak... file sharing bad, streaming audio blogs of the same content...good.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

iMesh Announces Distribution Agreement with SONY BMG MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT

BUSINESS WIRE: The Global Leader in News Distribution: "Slated to roll out this year, the new iMesh will offer consumers a broad selection of easily accessible content of all genres to be discovered, shared and enjoyed within an active P2P community. Authorized content will be available through ala carte downloads and a subscription sales plan, allowing users unlimited music downloads, for a low monthly fee. The iMesh site will also open access to a large pool of content culled from multiple sources, including the Gnutella network, that will remain available for unlimited downloads that are free to the user. The iMesh community will be able to search, sample and download a growing selection of more than 15 million tracks as part of a shared experience. To further assure the compensation of rightsholders, iMesh enables a confirmed rightsholder to register their content and make instant claim for protection and compensation for their works under a mutually agreed formula. "

These iMesh and Snocap P2P deals are interesting, in that it creates an open trading post for unsigned artists and small indies to get there stuff out there, but without a compelling discovery/recomendations engine I don't think it is going to help the average user much. The good news for these companies is that they may be able to get thousands of small artists advertising their solution.... "look for us on iMesh!".

RangeMax Wireless Networking Technology

RangeMax Wireless Networking Technology: "Buy a RangeMax Router and receive a free RangeMax Wireless Adapter when you trade-in your old wireless router."

Hey, this looks like a pretty sweet deal. I was thinking about upgrading anyways, and this may be just what the doctor ordered. All I have to do is get myself to the post office and let Netgear borrow $100 for 4 months... AOL, AEG and XM To Launch On-Demand "Live Channel" Venture July 12, 2005 Archives: "America Online is tying up with movie theater/stadium/entertainment giant AEG Group and satellite radio player XM to launch an on-demand 'live entertainment' venture, has learned. The formal announcement is expected as soon as tomorrow... "

Friday, July 08, 2005

Is Apple Your Next Mobile Phone Carrier? -

Everybody In The Pool - "The solution could be for Apple to launch its own cellular network, doing an end run around carriers and providing the company with revenue from both selling phone handsets and from the resale of cellular service. "

It's no secret that the latest iTunes release (4.9) is riddled with references of phone support, such as:

  • Eject mobile phone.
  • Phone>Podcasts
  • iPod>iPodmobile
  • iPod Phone Prefs
  • iPod>Phone>iTunes Setup
  • Phone>Updating contacts
  • The name of my mobile phone is:__
  • The mobile phone cannot be ejected because it contains files that are in use by another application.
  • Set Up Your Mobile Phone
  • Automatically choose songs for my mobile phone
  • iTunes will automatically fill your mobile phone with a random selection of songs from your library. You may fill your mobile phone with a different selection of songs by pressing Autofill in the mobile phone playlist.
  • No mobile phone connected.
  • Open iTunes when this mobile phone is attached.
I, like most, figured this was just a precursor to Cingular releasing the much discussed/much delayed Motorola iTunes phone. But, Apple as a MVNO (mobile virtual network operator)? It had never really crossed my mind before, but it seems like it could be a good oportunity for them. Apply Apple's flair for "cool" industrial design to a combo phone/iPod, and then subsidize the hardware with a carrier contract (private-labeled Cingular network perhaps?) and you've got a pretty compelling offering.

I'm going to have to keep my eyes and ears open on this. This is one of the more industry rumors I've heard in a while.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Stocks That Will Rock Your World [ Commentary] July 5, 2005

Stocks That Will Rock Your World [ Commentary] July 5, 2005: "That's why I believe that, years from now, the major labels won't be the same batch of old-school vinyl pushers you see today. As ludicrous as it may seem, I think that the real power brokers in the music industry will be Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO), and Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT)."

I agree with Motley Fool's Rick Aristotle Munarriz on the point above, but I beleive that he is of course missing one major player... AOL. You may say I'm biased (and I am), but with AOL still glowing the Live8 broadcast triumph and introduction of an industry benchmark Video Search service, AOL is quickly recasting themselves as THE company to watch.

Xbox 360 Media Center Screenshots

We are starting to see some screenshots appear for the Xbox 360. This is my

personal favorite... the media "blade".

Target Aims At Music Subscriptions -

Target Aims At Music Subscriptions - "Executives at major music labels who have seen Target's presentation say the offering, which will be powered by Seattle-based Loudeye (nasdaq: LOUD - news - people ), will offer both a 'tethered' service, which allows customers to use the service only on their PCs, as well as a 'portable' service, which allows users to move the tracks to compatible music players--which, notably, does not include the most popular digital music player, Apple's iPod. The portable service, sources say, will likely be priced somewhere between the $6.99 charged by Yahoo! for Yahoo! Music Unlimited and the $14.95 charged by RealNetworks and others for their portable services."

According to the story, Target thinks there niche in the market is appealing to mothers who purchase music for their families. I applaud the fact that Target's marketing muscle will help educate consumers on the benefits of subscription music service, but ultimately I don't Target is going to make much of an impact (at least for the first few years). Walmart is having the same problem...

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

ABC's modest Live 8 special rocked by AOL |

Television Article | "ABC's two-hour highlights special from the Live 8 concerts drew just 2.9 million viewers Saturday, according to preliminary estimates from Nielsen Media Research, far fewer than the 5 million users who logged on for AOL's free live video streaming coverage."

I'll be very excited to see what the on-demand video usage numbers look like at the end of 6 week window that AOL has for delivering the concert footage...

Sony's new CEO fights discord at rival units

Sony's new CEO fights discord at rival units: "An early indicator of whether Mr. Stringer can instill teamwork will be the Connect service and the revamped Walkman line that is crucial to its success. Both are scheduled for a relaunch before the end of the year. Although Sony has plenty of businesses that are bigger and sicker, few reflect the current sprawl and dysfunction of the group as well as Connect."

An insightful article into the disaster that is known as Sony Connect...

KRT Wire | 07/02/2005 | Internet coverage of Live 8 concerts blows away TV

KRT Wire 07/02/2005 Internet coverage of Live 8 concerts blows away TV: "The Internet left cable in the dust. To put it bluntly, MTV sank and AOL soared."

What's that? You missed it? Have no fear, you can go and check out the whole thing on-demand at Congratulations to everyone at AOL that made this a success.

This quote from David Bauer (AP), sums it up quite nicely... "Television seemed shockingly old-fashioned in how it followed Saturday's worldwide concert for poverty relief. AOL's coverage was so superior, it may one day be seen as a historical marker in drawing people to computers instead of TV screens for big events."

Friday, July 01, 2005 - Microsoft might license Xbox software - Microsoft might license Xbox software: "The arrangements being considered are similar to those that Microsoft has employed in the past by working with other companies, including Japanese electronics makers, to install its Windows operating system in personal computers, Okabe said."

This story made me sit up and scratch my head. The battle for the living room is going to be a bloody one, and it looks like Microsoft is trying to build a Coallition of the Willing. If this actually happens, it would make Microsoft's Media Center Extender functionality the de facto standard for in-home media networking (thereby ensuring Windows role as the center of the digital media universe).

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Years After Giant Flop, Online Media Take Hold

Years After Giant Flop, Online Media Take Hold This is a pretty good story on the renewed push into online media creation and distribution...

Sci-Tech Today - Computing - Verizon Wireless Set To Roll Out Music Service

Sci-Tech Today - Computing - Verizon Wireless Set To Roll Out Music Service: "'We intend and are working toward the launch of a service that would allow for full music on a mobile phone,' Verizon Wireless spokesperson Jeffrey Nelson said. Verizon Wireless has one phone is its handset lineup that will support music downloads, which will be available 'in the next couple of months,' he noted. "

Not a surprise, but them seem to be tipping their hand a little early if you ask me...

Ruckus to Allow Students to Legally Share Music; Becomes First Campus Entertainment Network to Support Legal Music Sharing

Ruckus to Allow Students to Legally Share Music; Becomes First Campus Entertainment Network to Support Legal Music Sharing: "'Ruckus is excited to offer legal music sharing, an improvement to the traditional P2P experience for students,' said William Raduchel, Chairman and CEO of Ruckus. 'The application enables users to find and download virus free tracks from Ruckus on their friends' and classmates' computers at incredible speeds. What we're really doing is allowing students to find friends through media, and media through friends, using Ruckus' powerful social media application. The Ruckus music sharing application also protects students from legal liability.' "

Ah, the beauty of marketing spin.... sure, Ruckus wants to use P2P as a distribution method because it's going to lower their bandwidth costs incurred by having to serve up all the content from their head-end. But, why would a consumer care that they can download a song directly from their friend as oppossed to directly from the Ruckus servers? In a scenario where both users are subscribers to an all-you-can eat music service, then they can "share" all they want just with published/public playlists, queues and listening history that link back to the source content on the host.

As I always provide as a disclaimer.... "I may be missing something", but I don't get how this is anything more than a PR person's take on how to generate some P2P-related press coverage after the Grokster ruling.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Grokster Decision - Everyone Weighs In

Grokster: Tech Companies Respond:

  • "Fred von Lohmann, senior staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, says that while the decision largely upheld the Sony-Betamax decision protecting technology innovation, technology companies now have a greater burden of proof when defending themselves against lawsuits from content owners."
  • “This decision seems somewhat Orwellian to me in that it seems the copyright and entertainment industries now become the thought police,” adds Matt Neco, general counsel for StreamCast Networks. “(Technology companies’) every thought and every action will now be subject to discovery in expensive litigation. Lawyers are going to be pulled into every aspect of innovation and business. It’s not a great way for a business to function.”
  • “Of more concern to me is for the guy in the garage coming up with the next great product,” says Michael Pettricone, VP technology policy for the Consumers Electronics Association. “The legal environment (they’re) facing is much less clear. As an innovator, I’m not sure you know what the rule is and what you have to do to avoid being sued.”
  • “It makes it harder for them to negotiate with content providers if they’re vulnerable for suit and that discovery process,” says Ed Black, president of the Computer and Communications Industry Association. “Not that it will happen all the time. But the threat of that actually taking place allows (content owners) to extract concessions.”
  • “Verizon remains committed to continuing to work with copyright owners and Congress to find appropriate solutions to the difficult issues of copyright liability,” said Sarah Deutsch, Verizon vice president and associate general counsel in a statement.
  • “We do have those concerns,” says David Pakman, eMusic COO. “We don’t think that stings us down the road based on the current service we have. But we constantly look at new features that we can deploy that may have a combo of infringing and non-infringing use. We now have to question if we can offer a feature that can be used legally by our users but illegally by others, are we liable? That puts a cloud over development activities over innovating new features.”
  • “P2P is not going to go away,” says Gigi Shone, president of Public Knowledge, a DC-based digital rights advocacy group that has long-supported Grokster. “There’s still going to be P2P and Hollywood and the recording industry are still going to have to deal with it. And they’re going to have to try to modify their business model to take advantage of it and not try to kill it. This is a pyrrhic victory for them, at best.”

MGM Triumphs Over Grokster, Not P2P

MGM Triumphs Over Grokster, Not P2P: "'This is an unwelcome verdict for the industry, and a positive ruling for P2P,' he said. 'It might be viewed as a tactical loss in the short run for Grokster, but it's definitely a strategic victory for P2P in the long run.' "

And goes on to say...

"The court laid out what should be avoided in internal memoranda and advertising," Solum said. "With this information, P2P services and software developers can easily figure out how to immunize themselves from prosecution."

Obviously I'm no legal expert, but to me it sounds like the Supreme Court has in essence just avoided a overarching ruling on the legality of the P2P technical implication and instead are creating a precedent where each service is evaluated individually (based on how they market their services). I beleive this is good news and seems to open the door to the creation of non-infringing services that leverage all the distribution benefits of a peer to peer network.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Online music stores singing a new tune: No big labels allowed - The Boston Globe

Online music stores singing a new tune: No big labels allowed - The Boston Globe: "As more online businesses begin to pop up in support of independent music, it's clear that musicians can get a good deal. While artists get more direct revenue, usually 50 percent or higher, most companies like Audio Lunchbox and Magnatune are nonexclusive, allowing musicians to distribute their music anywhere."

Good story about the push around distribution channels for unsigned bands. The story goes on to say...

"With artists now receiving revenue from downloading, fans don't mind supporting the artists. However, on sites like iTunes and Napster, artists only receive eight to 14 cents per song, according to, a Worcester based nonprofit organization working to promote a fair music industry."

Of course, the question is... why do these sites have to be indie-only? As a consumer, I want a single service that exposes both major label and unsigned artists in a single interface with a recommnedations engine that will surface the latter based on my preferences for the former.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Sub-$600 media PC from eMachines - Engadget -

Sub-$600 media PC from eMachines - Engadget - Wow, these things are getting cheaper by the day. Pretty soon dedicated MCEs will almost be as cheap as Media Center Extenders...

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Jeff Louella : The rise and fall of a revolutionary company

Jeff Louella : The rise and fall of a revolutionary company I've seen a lot of people talking about Jeff's commentary on the death of Real, and he brings up some good points. The place where he loses me is that in one sentence he says "there are too many media players fighting to play my media streams" and then folllows it up with a statement that there is a market opportunity for yet another media player.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

LA Weekly: Features: Baby Love

LA Weekly: Features: Baby Love An interesting interview with the founder of CD Baby and the marketplace he built for self-published/unsigned bands....

Monday, June 20, 2005 - Microsoft Taps Xbox Leader For Music Fix - Microsoft Taps Xbox Leader For Music Fix I'm a couple days behind on my news, but in case you guys haven't seen it.... MS may see the threat of the new Mac(Intel) Mini (and iPod ecosystem) being a real contender as the living room media hub (see the story I posted a couple days ago from CNet).

Radio Ink - The Voice of Radio Revolution

Radio Ink - The Voice of Radio Revolution: "According to new forecasts from The Diffusion Group, demand for time-shifted digital audio files or 'podcasts' is expected to grow from less than 15% of portable digital music player owners in 2004 to 75% by 2010"

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

What's really behind Apple-Intel alliance? | CNET

What's really behind Apple-Intel alliance? | CNET "Many people in the industry believe that Jobs is racing quietly toward a direct challenge to Microsoft and Sony in the market for digital entertainment gear for the living room."

I know that I said I wasn't going to post anything this week since I'm on vacation, but I was reading the news this morning and thought that this article was worth a mention. This NYT piece has a very interesting perspective on the new Macintel relationship where the real driving factor for both Apple and Intel is control of the living room. Xbox 360 & PS3 both are well poised to be the centerpiece of digital living room (neither of which use Intel processors). Media Center PCs certainly have a role as well, but they can't compete on the $300 price point of these other devices. If the game consoles get good traction as media hubs, then that limits Intel to a role as the main CPU in the PCs that they are connected to (or not). This is not enough for them, as they want to be powering multiple connected devices in the home. This new relationship opens up the possibility of a sub-$500 Mac(Intel) Mini sitting in your AV Rack for those that aren't gamers.

A enlightening read. Take a look....

Napster, Ericsson join forces for mobile music | CNET

Napster, Ericsson join forces for mobile music | CNET "The two companies said they would combine elements of both companies' technologies and digital music catalog to create a new product, offering iTunes-like song downloads and a monthly subscription plan. They will offer it to wireless carriers around the world over the next year, they said."

Monday, June 13, 2005

No News is Good News

Beach + Sun + Golf + Boat = No posts this week. Tune in next week... same bat-time, same bat-station. PaPow!

Friday, June 10, 2005

Add-on PlayStation 3 HDD will run Linux - News at GameSpot

Add-on PlayStation 3 HDD will run Linux - News at GameSpot: Pat, pat, pat... that's the sound of me patting myself on the back. For those that would listen to me ramble, I've been saying for a long time that Sony will ultimately position the PS3 as an "entertainment hub" (aka computer) and use Linux as the OS. There is certainly some ambiguity in a translated interview, but here is what Ken Kutragi (President - Sony Computer Entertainment) has to say about it....

"Linux is legacy, but it will be a start. In the case of the Cell, operation systems are applications. The kernel will be running on the Cell, and multiple OSes will be running on top of that as applications. Of course, the PS3 can run Linux. If Linux can run, so can Lindows. Other PC Operating Systems can run too, such as Windows and Tiger (Max OS X 10.4), if the publishers want [them] to do so. Maybe a new OS might come out. "

It's an enlightening interview, check it out.

Report: Who Is Listening To Internet Radio?

Report: Who Is Listening To Internet Radio?: "A recently released report from Audio Graphics, compiled from over 45,000 responses by online radio listeners, offers a look at who is listening to radio on the Internet. Among the highlights:

  • 57.7% hold a college or post-graduate degree
  • 45.1% have an annual household income of $50,000+
  • 46.8% work in technology, management, medical, or professional positions
  • 56.1% find most new music on Internet radio
  • 82.4% connect to the Internet via broadband
  • 40.9% listen for 3 hours+ each listening session
  • 81.6% claim their online station satisfies expectations by 80% or more
  • 57.6% listen during morning, mid-day, afternoon, and late afternoon
  • 56.1% say online advertising 'frequently' or 'sometimes' helps them make an offline purchase

The study was conducted over a four year period and combines the findings of 31 separate surveys."

Universal Music adds full-track downloads to artists' WAP sites "Universal Music is ramping up its direct-to-consumer mobile strategy to add full-track downloads and music videos to its artists' WAP sites."

I know why the labels want to sell songs (and music videos) directly, but I think they are making a huge assumption that people, a.) know, or b.) care, what label their favorite bands are on. It's like telling me if I want to buy Oreos then I need to go to the Nabisco store and I've I want to buy Chips Ahoy then I have to go to buy them at the store that is owned by whoever the hell makes Chips Ahoy. So, in actuallity, I have to first go do research on who makes Chips Ahoy, THEN I can go to there store and buy them.

Microsoft planning music subscription service | CNET

Microsoft planning music subscription service CNET "The tentative features of the new service--which is still under development--include advanced community aspects and playlist-sharing. But sources say Microsoft is also considering a more direct attack on Apple, seeking rights from copyright holders to give subscribers a new, Microsoft-formatted version of any song they've purchased from the iTunes store so those songs can be played on devices other than an iPod. "

The story goes on to say..."the iTunes replacement plan would require agreements from multiple copyright holders, and may not come to pass, however." Maybe I'm missing something, but this should be simple... scan the user's existing library and match (either via metadata or audio fingerprint) to the corresponding Windows Media DRM'd track on their service and download it. Sure the users ends up with two copies of the same track, one for the iPod and one that works on everything else, but that's the beauty of a subscription service... you can download whatever you want.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

InformationWeek > Online Music > Consumers Ignoring Radio For The Web > June 7, 2005

InformationWeek > Online Music > Consumers Ignoring Radio For The Web > June 7, 2005: "'Young adults are more inclined to go to the web than to traditional radio,' TechnoMetrica analyst Constantine Kambanis said. 'But we're also finding that the whole U.S. population is starting to prefer the web. The shift is going up the age brackets and down the economic ladder.' "

Another study pointing out that traditional broadcast radio is on the decline. The combination of new personlization technologies and recomendations engines are exposing consumers to "long tail" content that is highly targeted to their tastes. Say goodbye to the concept of "mass media" as consumers start to rebel against being spoon-fed the lowest common denominator of media swill that is being served to us by the traditional channels.

Next-Generation MP3 Players will be WLAN-enabled : Multimedia Devices : MobileMag

Next-Generation MP3 Players will be WLAN-enabled : Multimedia Devices : MobileMag I'm not sure if this is using MusicGremlin's software (see post from yesterday) but here is a story on Samsung's new Yepp WLAN-enabled portable audio player.

Reuters | TiVo mobile video service now on Microsoft devices

Reuters | Latest Financial News / Full News Coverage: "TiVo Inc. on Wednesday said it extended its TiVoToGo portable video service to pocket computers and mobile phones running Microsoft software, as the television recording company beefed up its offerings in an effort to differentiate from its rivals."

Granted, people will argue the value of watching TV on a small mobile device, but I have to say that I have put shows I've recorded on my Media Center PC onto my Audiovox smartphone in the past, and in fact found it watchable. I still need to optimize the transcoding profile so that the framerate is a little better on my phone, but when stuck on an airplane where your other viewing option is "White Chicks"... a small, choppy episode of "Arrested Development" is a welcome reprieve any day.

Indie labels join forces | CNET

Indie labels join forces | CNET "Betting that collective action will help give them more market power, a group of 125 independent record labels initiated a new trade group Monday night aimed at giving them more parity with the four major music labels. "

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Audible and XM Satellite Radio Sign Exclusive Technology, Marketing and Content Agreement

Audible and XM Satellite Radio Sign Exclusive Technology, Marketing and Content Agreement: "In 2006 Audible and XM will introduce the first portable, handheld satellite radio devices that are capable of playing both the XM service as well as Audible's spoken-word content, which can be downloaded from the Web into the devices' memory. With the launch of these 'AudibleReady/XM' devices, XM subscribers will be able to expand their listening experience through purchase of audiobooks and other content from Audible."

MusicNet Announces Partnership With MusicGremlin

MusicNet Announces Partnership With MusicGremlin: "With MusicGremlin-enabled devices, customers can discover, manage and purchase digital music directly from their players-wirelessly and without a personal computer. MusicGremlin's device-based music store will allow customers to get music either through a monthly subscription service, allowing them to receive unlimited downloads, or by purchasing 'a la carte' downloads for permanent ownership. As part of the experience, device owners will be able to communicate with and even legally share music wirelessly with other users, creating a mobile community of music enthusiasts."

I applaude the concept, but if you believe that ultimately the mobile phone eats the dedicated portable audio player (which I do) and that most of these phones will have some notion of high(er) level operating system (which they will), then this may end up being a short-lived market for a company like MusicGremlin. Today, with Wi-Fi enabled smartphones/Pocket PCs, users can go to dedicated web-based music stores (like MusicNow) and stream their entire content directly to their device. Direct over-the-air downloads to these devices aren't far behind and the open development nature of these OSes (Windows Mobile/Symbian) makes integration of these applications much easier (and upgradeable) then embedded firmware.

P2P radio morphing into free music search | CNET

P2P radio morphing into free music search | CNET "The new tool is aimed at appealing to a new audience of casual Web surfers, allowing them to search the Mercora network and listen to a wide range of songs that approximates on demand."

I would think that this is going to ruffle some feathers over at the RIAA...

Monday, June 06, 2005

Musical tastes get high-tech analysis

Musical tastes get high-tech analysis

A pretty good article covering technology-only recommendations engines and their pros/cons. Personally, I think the hardcore analysis is a good first step, but it needs to be bolstered and refined by editorial content. Professional music editors are fine, but more powerful is being able to leverage my social network to make recommendations.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Apple to ditch IBM, switch to Intel chips | CNET

Apple to ditch IBM, switch to Intel chips | CNET "The move also raises questions about Apple's future computer strategy. One basic choice it has in the Intel-based PC realm is whether to permit its Mac OS X operating system to run on any company's computer or only its own. "

Does Apple want OS X to displace Linux as the alternative OS of choice for the 90% of computers out there that use the x86 architecture?

BetaNews | MTV Goes Mobile with 'FLUX' Brand

BetaNews | MTV Goes Mobile with 'FLUX' Brand: "The service will provide subscribers who pay a monthly fee equivalent to $3 USD access to short videos and music through their mobile phones or computers. "

Thursday, June 02, 2005 � Blog Archive � HTPC Frontend roundup � Blog Archive � HTPC Frontend roundup: "And I must say... wow, now we are talking! Old and boring Microsoft. The company that still does not have a clue about design and media. The company that still delivers their operating system with "Paint" as the hard core imaging tool. The company that thinks PowerPoint is good for presentations and visual work... They have actually done it. They have made an impressive solution. MCE is by far the easiest and most complete HTPC front end I have tried."

A nice roundup of many of the integrated 10' media management/consumption applications.

Bertelsmann Gives P2P Another Try "German media giant Bertelsmann reportedly pumped $85 million into the beleaguered Napster between 2000 and 2002, before Napster finally declared bankruptcy and its remains were scooped up by Roxio. So what did Bertelsmann get for its $85 mil? The short answer is, nothing. However, Bertelsmann did get something from its dalliance with Napster: a profound respect for P2P technology and its potential for content distribution (especially of large media files). "

Personally, I think that the labels should leave the distribution piece of the media puzzle to the content aggregrators, but I'm all for R&D that may make digital distribution easier and more efficient....

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Tatung forms strategic alliance with Roku for making Internet-radio MP3 players

Tatung forms strategic alliance with Roku for making Internet-radio MP3 players: "On May 26, Tatung, a manufacturer of consumer electronics and electrical home appliances in Taiwan, signed strategic alliance with California-based Roku, a globally leading designer of digital media players, to cooperate in development and manufacturing of wireless Internet-radio MP3 players which are equipped hard disk drives (HDDs) and able to receive online radio and download paid music."

Live8 Concerts to be broadcast free online by AOL "All of the Live8 concerts will be broadcast free online, in what is likely to become the biggest broadband event to date."

AOL scores exclusive rights to broadcast all 5 of the concerts live on AOL and Nice.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Wired News: TunA Lets Users Fish for Music

Wired News: TunA Lets Users Fish for Music: "Media Lab Europe, research partner to MIT Media Lab, is testing tunA, a software application that employs Wi-Fi to locate nearby users, peek at their music playlist and wirelessly jack into their audio stream."

Very cool... social/music networking developments continuing to progress very quickly in both the IP and physical worlds. Sign me up.

Why MySpace Is the Hot Place

Why MySpace Is the Hot Place: "Thanks to its addictive appeal, MySpace has become one of the hottest properties on the Web. Only 20 months old, it already has 14 million unique visitors a month, according to market researcher comScore Media Metrix in Chicago. That makes MySpace, more than 50%-owned by InterMix Media (MIX ), far and away the most popular of a new breed of social-networking site, where people use home pages laden with blogs and message boards to create extended networks of friends and acquaintances."

A potential acquistion target for one of the major content aggregators? If not, it probably should be....

Monday, May 30, 2005

XM planning online subscription music service and an XM Digital Music Player? - Engadget -

XM planning online subscription music service and an XM Digital Music Player? It appears that XM is worried impact of portable music subscription services (as they should be since there is very little reason I need a "live" feed of pre-recorded music content). Just give me a better way to connect my portable player to my car stereo (FM transmitters just don't quite cut it... I'd settle for a simple 5 cent Line In jack on the front of the head unit) and my $15/month is FAR better spent on one of the all-you-can eat music services. I can then listen in my car, at work on my PC, and in my living room on my Media Center Extender. Let the record labels continue to piss off CD consumers with convoluted DRM schemes, I for one no longer have a need for CDs....

Friday, May 27, 2005 - Music-subscription services can be a good deal - Music-subscription services can be a good deal: "I remain an unabashed iTunes junkie. But an alternative model - the 'portable' music subscription - is growing on me."

It seems that subscription music models are suffering the same fate as TiVo - you can't really appreciate the value of it UNTIL YOU TRY IT. Because of my music subscription (tied in with some social networking features), I found 3 new bands that I like... TODAY. I believe that this scenario is just not feasible in the current iTunes model. In fact, you can argue that the audiences are totally different... I (and a wide range of others like me) employ a music service to discover new artists. iTunes users generally discover their music outside the context of the service and then proactively go there to purchase something that is "on their list".

I think the onus is on the marketing departments of these subscription music services to communicate the value of discovery. You are not "renting" music you would otherwise buy... you are discovering new music that you would have otherwise never noticed. For me, that is certainly worth the equivalent price of a few sodas a week.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Yahoo MusicMatch on Media Center

Yahoo MusicMatch on Media Center

Just when I was thinking that Yahoo was moving everyone away from their MusicMatch products (which they paid upwards of $160 million for), they go and launch a Radio and Music service branded with the old moniker within Media Center's "Online Spotlight". In addition to the fact that it requires you to install yet another media player (MusicMatch) on top of all the others, it had the nerve to crash my machine while doing it.

While a solid radio offering is a welcome addition to MCE, this seems to be a little bit of a contrivance.. Yahoo is pushing you to their new Yahoo Music Unlimited / Yahoo Radio (aka Launch) on your 2' PC UI, but a separate UI and infrastructure when you want to manage your music from the comfort of your sofa. That's just odd.

I work in this industry, and the current state of the market and messaging is confusing enough to me. How is the average Joe Schmo supposed to make heads or tails of which service to use on which device?!

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Online Music: Rewriting the Score

Online Music: Rewriting the Score: "And BusinessWeek has learned that mighty Microsoft (MSFT ) is waiting for the right moment to strike with its own low-cost introductory offer. 'When you see us move into the space,' says Rob Bennett, senior director of MSN Entertainment, 'you'll see us try very similar things.' "

Good overview and insight into the typical pricing model of online music distribution and why Yahoo's current prices aren't sustainable (unless they use it as a loss-leader to generate other revenue streams).

Chicago Tribune | MusicNow is future-driven

Chicago Tribune MusicNow is future-driven: "MusicNow retooled its Web site last month, making it more personalized and easier to use."

I can attest to that. The networking feature is extremely compelling and puts the "pick and play" usage models of the past to shame. By being able to listen to what my friends inherently recommend (through their usage patterns), I've discovered more new music and artists in the past month that I have in probably the 5 years prior. Check them out... Mando Diao, The Honorary Title, 22-20's, Mike Doughty. All great stuff that I would have never heard of before without investing the time and effort to seek new stuff out.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Parsons: would consider AOL spinoff -- Fortune - May. 17, 2005

Parsons: would consider AOL spinoff -- Fortune - May. 17, 2005: "'If (the portal strategy) works, this business looks like our publishing business, it looks like our TV business, it looks like our local cable advertising business,' Parsons told Fortune. 'If this doesn't work, then you start to think about AOL much differently. You start to think about AOL in somewhat the same way I think about the cable would have its own currency to go out and do acquisitions or other deals.' "

Let the rumor mill begin....

Monday, May 16, 2005 - What's ahead for Net, digital entertainment - What's ahead for Net, digital entertainment - I haven't read this yet, but it looks like it could be an interesting panel dicussion between a diverse range of people involved in the industry.

BetaNews | iPod to Connect with Xbox 360

BetaNews iPod to Connect with Xbox 360: "The Xbox 360 will enable users to connect a portable music player, including an iPod, to the system and browse or play back music through the console's interface while watching 50 visualizations."

Perhaps the story I just posted below (Sony/iPod relationship) is just a bunch of marketing swirl inflicted upon us consumers in retaliation to this Xbox 360 feature as reported last week by BetaNews?

iTunes/iPod integration with the PS3?

iTunes/iPod integration with the PS3? - Engadget - "File this under "rumour mill," but there's talk of Apple and Sony getting buddy buddy enough to work together on support for iTunes and iPod integration with the Sony PS3."

Whoa, this sounds completely crazy on one hand, but a Sony and Apple joining forces to battle Microsoft may make sense to some. It's no secret that Sony's efforts in portable players, proprietary formats and abandoned DRM schemes have left them desperately trying to figure out how to best get into the digital media game. Some have speculated that Apple may exit the hardware game completely and license their hardware designs to 3rd parties. Personally I don't buy it (yet) since the hardware is where they make the bulk of their money... BUT a PSP that syncs to iTunes and/or a Sony-branded iPod could certainly throw a new wrinkle into the quickly chaning landscape. I would assume we will here more this week at E3. I'll let you all know once I get out there.

AirTunes Remote?

AirTunes Remote?

It looks like the latest iTunes build (4.8) had tipped Apple's hand. It appears that the next Airport Express will actually include a remote so that you can can navigate and control your iTunes library directly from your stereo. I'm not sure whether they will do an LCD remote a la Creative's SoundBlaster Wireless device or whether it will have some notion of using a
TV as the UI's display. Of course if they more actively pursed the TV UI, then when/if they launch a movie service as rumored, they have all the pieces to do so.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Mossberg on Yahoo Music, Rhapsody & iTunes...

Personal Technology -- Personal Technology from The Wall Street Journal.:

"In the quest to break Apple Computer's grip on the legal online music market, the best approach has seemed to be to try an entirely different model. Instead of selling individual songs outright for 99 cents each, as Apple does, some other companies are renting songs to users who pay a monthly subscription fee.

But the subscription services have had trouble gaining any real traction. So two big players, Yahoo and RealNetworks, are taking interesting steps to change the game. Yahoo has introduced a new service that's priced at just a third of what competing rental services charge, and Real is offering some music free to entice new customers.

I've been testing these two new services, and of the two, I strongly prefer the new Yahoo Music Unlimited to Real's revamped Rhapsody service. Yahoo's offering is bolder, and it works much better. In fact, even though it is still in a beta, or test, phase, I regard Yahoo Music as the new champ among subscription services. Whether it can dislodge Apple is another matter."