Thursday, November 29, 2007

Universal Music CEO in the Sunday Funnies

I've been traveling the last 2 weeks and haven't posted much - including my lack of commentary on Universal Music's CEO (Doug Morris) much maligned interview in Wired a few days ago. I would give you my take, but this comic from Hijinks Ensue pretty much wraps it up in 4 frames...

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

No Music Day

I discovered from David Jenning's status message this morning that today is "No Music Day". I didn't know what sort of statement was being made, so I went to to check it out.

It turns out, you can make whatever statement you want. Perhaps you want to abstain because you think the quality or music being produced lately is sub-par. Perhaps you want to send a message to the major labels that they should stop suing their customers. It could be that by not listening today, you will appreciate it more tomorrow. Maybe you want to make a statement that if consumers keep stealing music, artists will stop making it. Whatever you want. Make a statement for why you are supporting it or not.

Personally, while I'd like to make some noble statement about how I'm not going to listen today until the major labels get their shit together (in general) - honestly I'm ultimately *not* going to support it because I don't think I can go all day without it. You wouldn't ask a schizophrenic to abstain from taking their anti-psychotic drugs for a day to make a point would you?! :-)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

AOL Music - When Ads Attack

I just went to go see what's been going on at AOL Music lately and was virtually accosted and groped inappropriately by Kohl's department store.

Now, I have no inherent dislikes of advertising... it is often a business necessity, and on rare occasion the ads are even enjoyable or personally relevant. Unfortunately, that was not the case today - and I sincerely hope that the site is broken and this is not working as intended. I went to the site with the intention of watching some music videos, so I landed on their home page and clicked the "videos" tab.

(Aside: I fully expect as a consumer that I will see ads on each of these pages, and expect at a site like AOL that I will most likely see some video pre- or post-roll every other video I watch.)

But, when it went to load the video "hub" page I was presented with a full-page interstitial. OK, not *that* horrific... many sites do that (a number of news sites comes to mind). The issue I have is that the interstitial was a video commercial for Kohl's department store! Considering I'm currently online using my AT&T wireless card the whole process freaked out my machine while the video buffered... there was no escape. Later, I finally got the "skip this ad" (about 30 seconds too late). My other issue? I have no interest in Kohl's. There is one down the street from me and I've never been in it. No interest, not relevant to me.

The question I have is... given all of the options for music videos out there would you (as a consumer) ever come back after experiencing this? It's one thing if you're the only game in town, it's quite another when you have new competitors every day.

Industry Moves: Swarms Musicmobs

Toby Padilla, creator of Musicmobs (one of the first "music 2.0" sites out there) has packed his bags, ideas and talent and moved to London to join (nee CBS) as their VP of Client Software.

I heart Musicmobs: "In the end, I accepted's offer to help create the social music dream team :) I'll be heading up the desktop and client software division and working with some really amazing people to take the desktop player to the next level."

Congrats to Toby - and to for getting him. Not only has he shown he is a visionary in the industry (and all-around good guy) but he has the unique distinction of getting me to join Facebook. Perhaps I can file charges against him for drug dealing?! :-)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Where Classic Rock Goes to Live

I drove from my home in Northern Virginia to upstate New York this weekend, and every time I do so I am amazed that apparently the only thing you can find on the radio from Gettysburg, PA all the way to Syracuse, NY is classic rock. All Zeppelin, all the time. You've got to wonder if these stations have had the same rotation for the last 30+ years.

"Radio?" Yeah, I almost never listen to terrestrial radio anymore, but what are you to do when your portable player's battery dies and you don't have a car charger with you? Well, apparently you just listen to the Top 10 playlist from 1969... and put it on repeat.

Get me (and everyone else) cheap/pervasive high-speed internet access to my car and/or mobile and watch how fast terrestrial radio goes into the toilet.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

RocketSurgeon & the Brain Scientists

I'm guessing that most of you that read my blog are also very familiar with the posts and directory of RocketSurgeon. What most people probably don't know is that RocketSurgeon (aka Jadam Kahn) and I worked together on the music service formerly known as MusicNow (aka AOL Music Now or more commonly..."the service AOL shot in the head because they could make a quick buck by selling off the subscribers to Napster").

Well, I'm excited to say that (some of) the band is getting back together... Jadam and I are now working together again on the next generation of MyStrands products and services.

I've heard from a number of people who have been watching the activity at MyStrands ask, "what the hell are you guys working on"? Usually right before or after the reference to the recent $25 million round of funding we raised this summer and the stable of Ph.Ds we have squirreled away in various corners of the world.

Well, of course I can't tell you that, but we are very excited about the stuff we've got cooking, and it won't be long before we give you all a whiff. :-)

Monday, November 12, 2007

Song of the Day: Manchester Orchestra - Where Have You Been?

I am a fan of Simplify Media, and their iTunes plug-in just got better by now also supporting Winamp. Now I can stream songs off my friends' machines regardless of which media player they use.

Today, I was trawling a friend's collection and saw an artist I had never heard before... Manchester Orchestra. So I just clicked and listened. It turns out that it was a great discovery, so I thought I'd share.

The Manchester Orchestra - Where Have You Been?

Found at

A nice side-effect of this use case is that all of my "scrobblers" track these so if I'm streaming off an friends machine and I missed what I had played, I can just go and check out my play history.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

muSick in the Head Logo

I have no real creative talent... musical, design or the such. But that doesn't keep me from occasionally trying to create a logo. Here's one I came up with today for m.i.t.h. (muSick in the Head).

I basically knocked it off from something I saw on iStockPhoto. I may still play around with it... but thought I'd share just for the hell of it.

mith logo

me*dia*or: Finally Gets Some Fixes

The relaunch of Tumblr finally forced me to clean up me*dia*or and I think it should be much more user-friendly now. Before I had just been using Tumblr to aggregate all of the "music 2.0" feeds that I pull (almost 100 now I think) - which is not really it's primary purpose, but it worked. Then a few months ago I reimplemented the me*dia*or tumblelog as more of it's own social network built upon Ning. Then I started using Yahoo Pipes to pull, filter and aggregate some more sources that covered a wider range of subjects (but I only wanted the music related ones). I then had a number of different uber-feeds and depending on which one you subscribed to, you got slightly different behaviors. Worst of all if you subscribed to the me*dia*or feed and clicked on a link, it took you to the same synopsis of that feed on my Tumblr site where you'd have to click again to get the full/original story. Yeah, a total frankenstein.

Tumblr's new build (launched last week) has some nice additions, but they have now implemented some new rules that limit users ability to use it in the manner I was. First of all, they have removed all the source attribution links. I had been asking the Tumblr folks if there was a way to make the sources *more* prominent (e.g. in the Title of each story) - but unfortunately they went the other way. I'm not sure if it is just a bug - but I have a feeling this is tied to the second TOS change they implemented... you are now only allowed to aggregate up to 5 RSS feeds into Tumblr (slightly less than the 100 I was using it for) and they state that any/all feeds you aggregate must be your own original content. OK, OK, I've got it.... you don't want me using your service the way I was. :-)

So, I went back and built a massive RSS feed splicer, filter, renamer thingamajig using Yahoo Pipes (which *is* exactly what it was meant for). I took the resulting Pipe feed and ran it through feedburner, then took that feed and sucked it back into my Ning site. Clear as mud?!

To make a short story long, all it means is that when you subscribe to the feed ( you will now get nice clean links (with attribution in the title) that takes you directly to the source of the story - no need to make a superfluous stop on my site. If you want the more full experience - with community, jobs, photos, etc then you can still get it all at

Any comments, suggestions, ideas? Just let me know. Hope you enjoy the new and improved me*dia*or.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Qloud & iLike Talk OpenSocial

Everyone is talking about OpenSocial, and the music 2.0 services are no exception.

Toby Murdock - CEO, Qloud

Ali Partovi - CEO, iLike

The thing that most immediately strikes me is that iLike, Qloud and MySpace all have their own versions of an "artist page" within the same network. So, now the consumer experience is fragmented. "Did you see my post on 50 Cent's wall?!". "Uh, no. Which wall? The MySpace artist page, the iLike artist page or the Qloud artist page?". The same problem already exists in Facebook.

How does this all shake out?! I don't know yet. Any thoughts?

TechCrunch covers some of the upcoming battle here.

UPDATE: It turns out that Tim O'Reily is a bit disappointed with OpenSocial in general...

OpenSocial: It's the data, stupid: "If all OpenSocial does is allow developers to port their applications more easily from one social network to another, that's a big win for the developer, as they get to shop their application to users of every participating social network. But it provides little incremental value to the user, the real target. We don't want to have the same application on multiple social networks. We want applications that can use data from multiple social networks."

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Macrovision Acquires AMG

Breaking news.... Macrovision acquires AMG (aka All Media Guide). AMG is most widely known for their music database products (which powers many media players and music stores), and also has a portfolio that include recommendation engines (Tapestry), music recognition technology (LASSO), and their consumer sites AllMusic, AllMovie and AllGame. - The Economics of Content - Financial: "The acquisition of AMG extends Macrovision’s solutions for the enhancement and distribution of digital content by making it easier for consumers to discover, purchase, interact with and play back digital media assets, which is a strategic priority for Macrovision. Macrovision and AMG’s combined solutions offer consumer electronics device manufacturers the ability to better manage media while putting information about millions of movies, videos and songs within the easy reach of consumers. AMG’s comprehensive data is also intended to strongly appeal to Macrovision video content customers, which include Hollywood studios. AMG’s content enables those customers to more easily monetize digital media by making content identification, navigation, recommendation and enjoyment simpler for consumers. “In an era when consumers have many choices, cell phone manufacturers, electronics device makers and service providers want to make video and all other entertainment content quick and easy to find,” said Fred Amoroso, CEO of Macrovision Corporation. “AMG plays a critical role in enhancing the overall consumers’ user experience in searching, discovering, purchasing and enjoying entertainment media. Its offerings complement our existing sol and partnerships for helping content owners monetize their digital media assets and device makers retain and grow their customer base.”

“Metadata is a critical component of media commerce and demand for rich descriptive data such as reviews, album art, artist biographies and accompanying editorials is growing quickly,” said Karl Ryser Jr., President of AMG. “It takes years to accumulate a high-quality database of metadata, and AMG has become an essential partner for its customers. Joining together with Macrovision puts us in an even better position to help more consumer electronics manufacturers, retailers and content owners collaborate with customers to create outstanding online media experiences.”

UPDATE: For those curious, the reports say the deal was for $82 million.

Name Your Own Price Trend Grows

I forgot to post about this when the news first broke, but Paste Magazine is offering a "name your own price" deal for a 1 year (11 issue) subscription to their magazine. Their gamble is really that you will be a multi-year subscriber and will re-up at their standard rate starting year 2.

The hard-costs are substantial for a print magazine (with a 20-song promotional music CD with every issue), but I bet it ends up working out well for them. I would have probably never subscribed without this promo (in fact I had never heard of the pub before), but now have thrown $5 their way to see what it's all about.

Paste Magazine :: Name Your Own Price: "For a limited time, name your own price for a one-year subscription to Paste. Yes, it's up to you. What's it worth to have a great read and a great listen delivered to your door every month? 11 issues and 11 CDs (roughly 220 songs) covering the best in music, film and culture. On the newsstand, one year of Paste costs $65.45; one-year subscriptions are $19.95. In February, we will recognize those who pay the most (more than the subscription price) in the magazine—and we even made it easy for you to give gifts."

Check it out... don't cost nuthin' (well, $1 is the minimum - but that's almost free).

Leopard Gets Some Flea Collars

Yesterday I mentioned that there was an update to Quicktime and iTunes that I hoped killed some of the changes/bugs that had been perpetuated onto virtually every company that had ever built an iTunes plug-in. I'm not sure if Apple's fix helped pave the way for other fixes, but today saw the release of new clients for both iLike and Qloud that got them both up and running again on the new OS (MyStrands and fixes posted last week).

Pandora Builds Some Additions to their Box

Pandora has finally started to add some more social features to their radio product. Nothing earth-shattering (at least not yet) but they are good first steps....

Pandora: Everything starts with listening... some big changes at Pandora: "The new system is called Pandora Extras and it lets us place dynamic content and functionality alongside the music player. Tonight we're shipping four of these Extras:

  • Now Playing: tells you all about the song, album, and artist you're hearing, recommends other similar songs and bands, and points you to other Pandora listeners that are fans.
  • Friends: helps you keep tabs on all your friends that use Pandora so you can learn from their music discoveries. Find all your friends with a few clicks by importing your web mail address book.
  • Genre Stations: lets you explore unfamiliar parts of the music universe by sampling over 100 genre stations.
  • Pandora Presents...: features our new series of Pandora-produced podcasts and videos.

What's most exciting about this though is it's an entirely new palette for us to paint on; this is the beginning of a larger vision for Pandora. We've got all kinds of ideas for future 'Extras' to add to the system and what we're rolling out tonight gives us a flexible design that will allow us to add literally dozens of new options to compliment listening. It's a whole new world for us. There are a few other little things tucked into this release for you to enjoy as well. For example, you can now comment on album, artist, and song pages."

Monday, November 05, 2007

iTunes & Quicktime Updates

I've been regularly and manually hammering away on "check for software updates" on Leopard. Today came new builds of both iTunes and Quicktime - there are some minor feature additions, but what I'm really hopeful of is that the undisclosed "bug fixes" remedies some of the issues with this machine since I upgraded to Leopard. Specifically, Front Row (often times it won't render the video, only the audio) and iTunes (many broken plug-ins).

Let's hope....

Thursday, November 01, 2007

A Tale of Two Cats, A Diamond and Commercial Success

There is a diamond commercial that is playing right now that has the web abuzz. The commercial is simple... a man quietly puts a diamond necklace on his wife while she is sleeping. The entire tone and emotional power of the commercial is provided by Cat Power doing a cover of "How Can I Tell You" by another Cat... Cat Stevens.

I don't go out of my way to buy Cat Power albums, but every time I hear any of her songs I like it. So, I went to search for it and you can find post after post of people asking "who does that song, I love it!". Well, the song is not available in anything more than the 30 second snippet from the commercial.

Cat Power - How Can I Tell You

The word is that there is a Cat Power album of covers coming out next year. This commercial may very well turn Chan Marshall (aka Cat Power) into a mainstream star. Some people may call this a sellout, but I think when done right commercial soundtracks can be a very powerful tool. Nick Drake and Volkswagen. Feist and Apple. Israel Kamakawiwo'ole and eToys.

What to get a Cat Power fix to hold you over until the album comes out? Check out the Cat Power Channel on MyStrands.TV.