Saturday, April 30, 2005

First look at Yahoo! 360

First look at Yahoo! 360

The first thing I've been able to find on Yahoo! 360... it is a more general social networking site, but it they are beginning to leverage their Lauchcast Radio service into it.

From Charlene Li (Forrester):

The profile page contains the usual features from social networking sites friends, profile, lists of things you like to do, where you work/went to school, and groups that you belong to on Yahoo! Groups. But it also excerpts content you've created that you want to share with your network. This includes not only a blog, but also photos from Yahoo! photos, reviews created on Yahoo! Local, and LAUNCHcast Stations. Its similar to what MSN Spaces has, where users can add content from MSN Photos and MSN Music (Click here to see more on MSN Spaces.)

Friday, April 29, 2005

SBC Yahoo Launch Video Service

SBC Yahoo Launch Video Service

SBC Yahoo hopes music -- and an odd collection at that -- will bring in new subs and encourage broadband use. The Blue Room, a music site with exclusive video and other music-oriented content launched today. The first offerings include Rob Thomas, Blake Shelton, Rod Stewart, Billy Idol and Joey Ramone. The site complements this summer's 13-state, 150-city "SBC Blue Room HOW2 Tour" to teach consumers how to use services and devices they already havewhile encouraging them to sign up for more.

Can IM morph into 'instant music'? | CNET


Can IM morph into 'instant music'? | CNET
- This article is about 6 months old, but I think they have
done a good job identifying the opportunity around social networking,
Instant Messaging and Music. In fact, a Yahoo exec recently stated that
upwards of 50% of all of their Launch Radio audience is listening directly
from Yahoo Messenger.

Portable Player Market a Losing Proposition?

Digital Music News: "iRiver Sees Big Sales Increases, Major Profit Downturn
The intense portable mp3 space is creating some horrific earnings results, with iRiver parent ReignCom Ltd. the latest to show a big downturn. The Korean portable mp3 manufacturer revealed a quarterly operating profit loss of 82.8 percent, with total earnings hitting 2.92 billion won ($2.91 million) on revenue volume of 122.6 billion won (US$122.2 million). But overall sales jumped 46 percent, with heavy turnover powered by some deep price discounts. Those low prices, coupled with heavy marketing costs, helped to create the earnings drop.

The ReignCom showing mirrors a result from Singaporean manufacturer Creative, which recently revealed a 72% first quarter earnings downturn. In that situation, the cocktail of super low prices and high marketing costs were also to blame, with Creative playing a dangerous strategy of catch-up. While that approach could eventually payoff, the market was recently surprised by a low-budget entry from SanDisk, with the flash memory chip manufacturer successfully entering the portable mp3 space will little marketing expenditures. Surprisingly, the company recently ranked second behind iPod in the US according to NPD Group, with SanDisk leveraging key distribution arrangements with big retailers like Best Buy."

Where is innovation? Everyone is so busy trying to build iPod clones that they all end up hawking commodity product that can only compete on price. I don't remember what marketing guru said it, but to paraphrase... "charge a premium and then justify the price". Why can't anyone learn that from Apple? iPod is dominating the market while it is the MOST expensive device in it's class. In my opinion, the main reason that no one can loosen Apple's stranglehold on the portable player market is... Accessories (or lack thereof). Maybe I'm biased because I used to work in the electronic accessory business, but people have proven (for decades) that they like to accessorize, and "personalize", their electronics (Blueberry iMac anyone?). It's time for Creative to go knock on Belkin's, Bose's and Monster Cable's door and offer up some dollars (either hard cash or marketing money) to get them on board with lines of compatible goodies.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Digital Music News: Insider Blogs

Digital Music News: Insider Blogs - A good argument from Rags Gupta (COO of Live365) in support of streaming "IP Radio" (although he is obviously biased by his Live365 affiliation) and the various forms it may take. His blog was promted by Om Malik's posting that closed with:

The Internet enables consumers to be highly selective. In other words, digital music is the first big market that allows mass customization. With an iPod/iTunes or Creative Zen/Napster combination, I can create my own radio stations, sans ads. It doesn't even cost much. Companies like Napster will rent you as much music as you want for $15 a month.

Why listen to someone's generic playlist when you can create your own? (Looking for help finding new music? Free online music recommendation engines like can find tunes you might like.)

Do you really need online radio? I didn't think so.

MTV Overdrive

MTV Overdrive - MTV's new video service launched this past weekend. There doesn't seem to be a MediaCenter version yet, although the application is essentially a 10' UI built with Flash. It includes music videos (appears to be in the range of serveral hundred), news, movie trailers and previews and highlights from some of their exclusive tv programming. The application includes both host- and user-side playlisting, e-commerce links to CDs & DVDs, sponsorship(s) woven throughout and in-stream advertising. It's too bad for them (and their viewers) that their video looks awful when a user goes into full screen mode...

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Billboard PostPlay: Nokia Launches First Phone with Built-In Hard Drive

Billboard PostPlay: Nokia Launches First Phone with Built-In Hard Drive: "According to the press release, 'a revolutionary new feature is the possibility to share your playlists with friends by multimedia message, email or Bluetooth. Proudly show off your musical taste or simply share the latest songs that have been stuck in your head.'" - Social networking and playlist sharing are already beginning to move to mobile phones. All we need now is someone to do it really well on the PC....

Infinity Launches First Podcasting Radio Station

Infinity Launches First Podcasting Radio Station - Perhaps one of the first signals that broadcast music may be "music-free" in the near future? In fact, David Goldberg, Yahoo's VP/GM of Music made a very similar statement at the RAIN summit last week.

RealNetworks rekindles iPod tech tussle | CNET

RealNetworks rekindles iPod tech tussle | CNET "In the midst of a broader music release, RealNetworks has quietly renewed its iPod technology battle with Apple Computer." Now, here is the real story - quietly slip iPod compatibility back into the Rhapsody a la carte business.(the iPod does not support the Windows Media DRM scheme used in their "2go" service). I guess they figure Apple is so busy playing peekabo with PyMusique that they won't take the time and effort in continually revving their iTunes client to maintain incompatibility? Or perhaps they are in fact hoping that Apple keeps requiring consumers to upgrade their iTunes client until the point of complete frustration and subsequent migration to a more "stable" service?

New Rhapsody Lets Consumers Listen To And Share Music For Free, Legally

New Rhapsody Lets Consumers Listen To And Share Music For Free, Legally - Pretty ho-hum if you ask me.... "hey, let's offer the same service as Napster... but cheaper!"

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Yahoo hires ex-AOL media exec

Yahoo hires another top media exec | CNET - Small world, eh?

Last.FM & Audioscrobbler

Last.FM - Your personal music network - Personalised online radio station - Maybe I'm just late to the game, but Audioscrobbler and seem to be onto something here. As we are exposed to more and more content (breadth and depth) - community, recommendations and discovery engines are going to be the key differentiators that media companies will need to leverage to stake a defendable postion in the market (INMHO). Without that, every company playing in the digital media distribution game quickly becomes commodity retailers all hawking the same catalog of goods.

You Are What You Hear?

Users of digital music sharing system judge others by their playlists - A very interesting study done by Georgia Tech and PARC on the social phenomena around music (playlist) sharing and how it affects people's perceptions of each other.

From The Wesleyan Argus on the topic of "playlistism":
"Some people don’t have any Elliot Smith in their playlist. This means they’re not as brooding as they ought to be and they have no respect for the dead. Not the type of person you’d want to meet. Some people have crazy scary German bands. These people are usually bad-ass fascists or enjoy wearing mesh shirts. Or both. Either way, be careful. Some people have extensive collections of show tunes, often with accompanying karaoke-style instrumental tracks. All right, so maybe that one is only me, but you don’t know the thrill of signing Fiddler on the Roof in your underwear. Some people have obscure bands I’ve never heard of. These people are probably too cool for me and I’ll leave them alone until I have an iPod. Some people have a song called “Dead Baby Orgy Club.” I’m not sure how to respond to this one." - Who's Going to Win The Living-Room Wars?

The Wall Street Journal had a good overview of the battle for the living room ( - Who's Going to Win The Living-Room Wars?). While they provide a nice high-level view of the world, I think they missed a couple of key points. First, the Network gear companies are also targeting this space by offering peripherals that leverage the PC but bring the content to other distribution points throughout the home (no need for a $2000 PC tied to every television). Secondly, the Game Console are in a very good position to own the living room as well. Granted, Sony & Microsoft are covered in the story but not specifically their game-console-as-trojan-horse strategies.

Friday, April 01, 2005

MusicNow : My Music > Alternative Top 10 Songs

I decided to swap out the cumulative MusicNow Top 10 for the Alternative Top 10 as they seem to be more relevant for me. Check it out here:
MusicNow : My Music > Alternative Top 10 Songs. Or see it dynamically updated in the righthand column of this site.

Public Library

I FINALLY finished ripping my CDs! It took several weeks, and my library now tops out at over 9300 songs but the project that has been on my to-do list for several years is now complete. Unfortunately, the whole project could be deemed as being done in vain considering that I am very close to subscribing to a full-blown music service that includes "portable teathered downloads". For those that find themselves without their Secret Decoder Ring, that means that as long as I keep paying my monthly fee, I can download and sync to a portable player (and access them from devices connected to my home network) virtually any song I want when- and wherever I want. Of course, to burn a CD you will still have to purchase the songs you want, but with portable players with FM transmitter peripherals (for the car) and Digital Media Adapters (for the living room), I have no need for CDs anymore. But, you never know what kind of screwy ideas the record labels are going to get in their heads... if they start to monkey around with the digital rights schemes, I wanted to be safe and have everything I already own in form in which they ae easily accessible.