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.