by Mike Masnick
Tue, Jul 14th 2009 4:17am
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Jun 2nd 2009 11:11am
from the think-it-forward dept
When it comes to the future of music I've always consider myself an optimist.The whole thing is worth reading, but the final paragraph makes a really important point that we've discussed in the past, but which often gets forgotten in trying to understand trendlines and the music business. It's that storage is growing ever bigger and ever cheaper at an incredibly rapid pace -- and as such it won't be all that long until you can carry every song ever recorded on a device in your pocket:
For one I'm certain that musicians and music fans have a prosperous future ahead of them. That's because music is the single most important ingredient in the music business soup and music is of course a result of artists' creative minds. And it's when musicians interact with listeners that a window for business is opening. Not before, and not just because some A&R person, marketeer or CEO open their wallet. That the relationship between musicians and fans is the foundation to the business is the single most important piece of knowledge that we all have to submissively recognize. This is the key to the future for the middle men we call record labels – we have to encourage the interaction and realize that it will live without us.
We as middle men have to remember that we always need to convince our customers (musicians and fans) why they should engage with us. Music on plastic discs or plain mp3s just ain't enough anymore. Competition is hard and consumers don't take bullshit anymore. If they love something you don't offer, they'll go create it themselves.
In five years a hard drive available to ordinary consumers will carry 35 TB of data. Data = music. 35 TB = 2.5 million songs. Watch this development closely. It's easy to get blinded by Spotify, but imagine when file sharing on the street means transferring the entire music history. At least it is a wild card. Anyhow it seems that we will have to work on better ways of charging for music than 1 dollar a song. Don't you think?Indeed. When you can carry every song ever... do people really think that $1/song is going to make sense?
Wed, May 20th 2009 4:42pm
Closed: 27 May 2009, 11:59PM PT
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The business of print has always been a risky one. While the printing press made it much cheaper to print, there were still significant fixed costs involved. In order to make it economically feasible to print something, you had to make sure there were enough buyers, which involved significant forecasting. There were also significant costs associated with setting up each print run, such that it wasn't economically reasonable to do really custom work. Thankfully, in the past few decades advances in various technologies have made it cheaper and cheaper -- even as the rise of the internet has led many to write off the opportunities for print publishing, and even suggest that paper was dying.
Yet, what if that same trends, of ever decreasing technology costs combined with increasing quality and internet connectivity, enable a new era of print? These trends have the ability to enable things that simply couldn't be done before. We're seeing the beginnings of this with print-on-demand and self-publishing services, but where does it go from here? How far will these technology trends take us in creating totally new opportunities for print? When it's easy and cost effective to not just self-publish, but *micro-publish* suddenly the entire stream of possibilities becomes different. A photographer can publish a special magazine for every attendee at a wedding (even with the attendee's photo customized to be on the front). Or a novelist can let fans buy each chapter to be delivered fresh each month (or week!) as she finishes it. A textbook maker can create a totally customizable textbook, listing out a series of chapters online, allowing professors/teachers/students to create their own combination based on what works best for them.
And those are just a few starter ideas. HP is sponsoring this conversation (with more info at futureofprint.com) about how these trends will enable all sorts of new possibilities and business models. What new opportunities will be enabled thanks to ever cheaper print-on-demand offerings that combine customization, high quality and the connectivity of the internet? What new businesses may spring out of this convergence? What new hobbies, side projects, cultural artifacts? We're looking for creative thinking on where these trends will take us and what they'll enable.
from the might-ask-them-to-define-radio-first dept
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Apr 18th 2008 7:49pm
from the fun-stuff dept
Sadly I can detect no pattern to my mis-predictions. In some cases, I did not anticipate improvements and advances that would remake a pathetic first version into a truly cool tool. In others I anticipated advances that never came.It got me thinking about which predictions or trends I totally missed on, and thought it might be fun to post some of them here. In Silicon Valley, people are so focused on the future, they don't look back often enough. Besides, it's healthy (and a bit cathartic) to review your mistakes every once in a while. I'll admit that on some of these it took some serious thinking to remember my initial feelings about them, as my opinions have changed. Anyway, feel free to think through some of your own in the comments.
- Google. Now, to be fair, I always thought that Google was a great offering, and I was one of the early adopters and users of the search engine. What I didn't understand was how the company would make money -- and why Kleiner Perkins and Sequoia would put $25 million into a company that had no revenue and no clear path to revenue. Given the founders rather vehement claims that advertising on a search engine was bad (and, yes, they were vehement about this early on), I thought the company would struggle to find a business model. In fact, it did struggle for a little while... but once the company figured it out....
- RSS. While we at Techdirt were a somewhat early adopter in providing an RSS feed, I wasn't much of a believer in the technology for a while. I had been using various "multibrowser" systems that would load up a bunch of websites in a huge long list -- and that seemed like a perfectly efficient system for me to use. I was on the record saying I thought RSS was too confusing for most people -- and I still think it suffers from some of those problems, but it's become tremendously successful -- due, in large part, to the user-friendliness of various RSS readers, starting with Bloglines and moving on to Google Reader and the various customizable home page solutions.
- Skype: It launched to a ton of hype and I wasn't buying any of it. There were already a bunch of voicechat products on the market, and there had been for years. I just didn't see what was all that different about Skype. To be honest, I'm still not sure what was so different about it -- but it got users, and for the most part "it just worked." Never underestimate the power of those two things.
- The web itself: I first heard about "the world wide web" in early 1994. I had been using email, usenet and gopher for a while before that. While I knew that the web was something special, as soon as I first tried out Mosaic in 1994, I didn't think it would become this big of a deal. In fact, I just assumed that the world would move on to something else after a few years. After all, after the web came along, gopher pretty much died out, and I assumed that some new offering would come along and make the web obsolete, just as the web did to gopher.
- The original Napster: While I actually only played around with Napster briefly (at the time I had no broadband connection), I thought that it would revolutionize the music industry. In a way, it did, but not the way I expected it to. I honestly thought that (1) Napster would be found legal and that (2) the recording industry would quickly realize what a useful tool it would be for distribution and promotion of music. Boy, was I wrong on that one.... Though, to be fair, at the time, there were plenty of others who felt the same way. It's only in retrospect that people now say that Napster was obviously illegal.
- Intelligent Agents. I had done a research project in college about some of the work being done on intelligent computer agents, and I really thought the technology had a lot of promise. I figured that well before now, there would be virtual assistants everywhere, doing things and making people's lives more efficient. Turns out the technology never really worked all that well, and at best, most of the early efforts in the space moved on to things like collaborative filtering.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Sep 7th 2007 5:11pm
from the start-counting dept
He also highlights how the idiotic focus on getting more per song just as everything else about music and technology gets cheaper is hurting the record labels much more than it helps them. He compares the situation to how expensive it was to use mobile phones a dozen years ago. People were scared to use mobile phones because the charges were ridiculously high. You only used it in special circumstances. Today, however, the rates are much, much lower and that's massively grown the market for mobile services. Do you think the mobile operators would prefer to go back to $1/minute charges? Yet, why does the recording industry insist on $1/song charges when the infrastructure can support an entirely different model. Instead, make the music cheap and easily accessible. Take advantage of the infrastructure that allows people to carry around 40,000 songs in their pocket. Sell iPods that are pre-loaded with all kinds of music and watch them fly off the shelves. The record labels (and their supporters) will claim that it doesn't make sense to sell music for less when people are clearly willing to pay $1/song, but that's misunderstanding the market potential. People were willing to pay $1/minute for mobile phone calls too. And they were willing to pay $150/month for broadband access. But as all of those things got much, much cheaper it opened the markets up much wider, provided all sorts of new applications and services that made them more and more valuable -- and helped make the companies much richer by providing better services at cheaper prices. Why can't the recording industry understand that?