Posts filed under “Digital Media”

Music Sales Fall for 7th Consecutive Year

We now enter the 7th year of CD sale declines, and nary a person in the industry is willing to speaketh the truth (‘cepting Lefsetz the pariah).

Forthwith, an outsider from the East was compelled to do so. He seeth what the pros do not, for they art dumbeth beyond their years, and yeah, have shite for whence there should be brains, and know not the difference between thine own arse and thine elbow:

Hence, from outside the industry, he removeth the scales from thine eyes, and he said unto thee — GO FORTH AND SLASH PRICES BEFORETH ITS TOO LATE, YOU STUPID BASTARDS. 

And lo, they heard but the did not understand. Instead, they chose to lobby for copyright extensions and engage in pederasty, but only on the weekends.

Sayeth unto me the truth, oh wise ass from the East, from outside the industry, so we may find redemption and rejoice once again in the land of profitability and unit sales growth.

Nay, sayeth the wise ass. Your products are over-priced, your clients have lost interest, your promotional machinary hath groundeth unto dust. Ye are like the elder woman, unable to conceive, yet unaware that your time hath past. I say unto thee like the Lord said unto Adam and Abraham and Moses: You best find a way to sell your product for half of what you are charging now — $6.99-9.99 retail at mosteth — or else you will continue your slide into oblivion, where you will be forced to walk the dusty earth, lost, hungry, with unslaked thirst, unable to get a good table at The Foundry on Melrose . . .

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I have been saying this for more than a decade, but what the hell, let’s repeat it one more time: CDs as a product are not competitively priced. People with limited attention and other interests simply no longer care about buying music all that much.

It is not just that DVDs are so much a better value — that is
merely the starter issue. CDs are competing with multi-player games,
with blogs, with social networking sites, with online games, Wiis, YouTube, and the rest of the tubes on the internet.

That’s before we even get to the issue of free downloads, which are
not a legitimate business model in the eyes of the labels. As to the 1000s upon 1000s of artists freely streaming their music on
MySpace to fans, well, they will give you a different answer as to what sort of a business model free is.

A few excerpts:

Variety:

"Despite a massive surge in digital music sales last year, the
popularity of the fledgling market is still not making up for the slide
in physical products, such as CDs.

According to figures released by
the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, the global
recorded music market in 2006 slipped by 5% year on year to $19.6
billion last year, down from $20.7 billion in 2005.

The gloomy
news marks the recorded music industry’s seventh consecutive year of
falling sales, according to IFPI’s annual Recording Industry in Numbers
publication, as piracy continues to ravage the business around the
world.

Sales of physical product fell 11% to $17.5 billion in
2006 as consumers turn away from purchasing CDs in favor of getting
their music through other means."

The 85% increase in digital downloads (to $2.1 billion), plus mobile phone ringtone revenues, failed to make up the difference.

I love this line  "The results reflect an industry in transition,"  said IFPI
chairman and nitwit John Kennedy. An industry in transition. Kinda like VHS tapes are.

Billboard noted:

"Despite the global decline, 12 countries — Japan, Russia, South
Africa, South Korea, Ireland, Argentina, Indonesia, Hungary, Malaysia,
India, China and Venezuela — posted growth in their respective
recorded music markets during the year.

The top 10 respective recorded music markets in the world last year
were the U.S., Japan, the U.K., Germany, France, Canada, Australia,
Italy, Spain and Mexico.

On digital value alone, the top 10 markets were the U.S., Japan, the
U.K., South Korea, France, Germany, Canada, China, Italy and Australia."

Sadly amusing . . .

>

Sources:
Music biz sales off for a seventh year: study
Lars Brandle
Billboard, Thu Jul 5, 1:45 AM

http://tinyurl.com/2rv4ax

Music sales continue to fall
Digital fails to replace lost CD revenue
GORDON MASSON
Variety, Wed., Jul. 4, 2007, 6:54am PT
http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117968039.html?categoryid=19&cs=1

Universal in Dispute With Apple Over iTunes
JEFF LEEDS
NYT, July 2, 2007
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/02/business/media/02universal.html

Category: Consumer Spending, Digital Media, Music

Blade Runner’s 25th Anniversary

Category: Digital Media, Film

What Does the iPhone Teach Us About Technology & Commerce?

Iphone The reviews for the iPhone are coming in, and they are breathless (see below).

Rather than add to the over-the-top-hype about the gorgeous little thing, I would rather think about what lessons can be drawn from its mere existence.

I believe there are quite a few practical things to be taken away from the development and marketing of this. An education is available to those companies, corporate mangements, engineers, inventors and investors who are paying attention:

1. Committees Suck: The old joke is that a Camel is a Horse designed by a committee. As we have seen all too often, what comes out of large corporations are bland-to-ugly items that (while functional and reliable) do not excite consumers.

When a company decides to break the committee mindset and give a great designer the reins, you get terrific products that sell well. The Chrysler 300 does not looks like it was designed by a corporate committee. Think of Chris Bangle’s vision for BMW — and its huge sales spike — and you can see what the upside is in having a visionary in charge of design.

Better pick a damned good one, though . . .

2. Present Interfaces Stink: How bad is the present Human Interface of most consumer items? Leaving the improving, but still too hard to use Windows aside for a moment, let’s consider the mobile phone market: It was so kludgy and ugly that the entire 100 million unit, multi-billion dollar industry now finds itself at risk of being completely bypassed, all because some geek from California wanted a cooler and easier to use phone.

What other industries may be at risk? 

3. Industrial Design Matters:  We have entered a period where industrial design is a significant element in consumer items. From the VW Bug to the iPod, good design can take a ho-hum ordinary product and turn it into a sales winner.

4. R&D is Paramount: While most of corporate America is slashing
R&D budgets (and buying back stock), the handful of companies who
have plowed cash back into R&D are the clear market leaders this
cycle: Think
Apple, Google (Maps, Search), Toyota (Hybrid), Nintendo (Wii). A well designed, innovative product can create — or upend — an entire market. Even Microsoft did it with the X-box;

What other companies have the ability to disrupt an entire market?

5. Disdain for the Consumer can be Fatal: As we have seen with Dell, Home Depot, The Gap, Sears, etc., the consumer experience is more important than most corporate management seem to realize. Ignore the public at your peril.

What other lessons are there for companies in the business of designing products for consumers to use?

For the moment, let’s put the iPhone aside and answer the questions above:  What markets, companies, products , segments are at risk due to their poor designs?  (Use the comments to answer).

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Note:  Some of the commenters are missing the point of the post — this is about the business of creativity and innovation.

We are not looking for a discussion of Apple in general; Off topic comments will be unpublished.

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Category: Digital Media, Film, Music, Technology, Web/Tech

Apple iTunes outsells Amazon and Target

Category: Digital Media, Music, Retail

Rocco DeLuca & The Burden

I_trust_you_to_kill_me
Rocco DeLuca & The Burden
have put out the most interesting new rock album I’ve heard in some time: I Trust You To Kill Me.

Their sound is original — jangly roots-rock romp laced with bluegrass
and countrified leanings.

I agree with the reviewer who wrote that their bluesy debut album "fairly vibrates on DeLuca’s Dobro steel guitar and throaty wail."

DeLuca careens from influence to influence, paying homage to his predecessors and then going a step further.

The music is flavored with dollops of Jeff Buckley, Coldplay and
most of all, Bron Y-Aur Stomp Led Zeppelin.

I Trust You To Kill Me is one of those rare discs where there in not a single weak cut on the CD.

The band’s Myspace page has four songs to stream.

The band has been opening for the likes of Ben Folds and John Mayer.  The next area show I could find is
Tue Jul 31st 2007, Bowery Ballroom, NY

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Videos below

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Category: Digital Media, Music

Friday Night Jazz: JVC Jazz Festival NY

Category: Digital Media, Friday Night Jazz, Music

The Making of Steely Dan’s Aja

SopranosWhile waiting for last night’s Soprano’s to start, I decided to pop in a DVD I had lying around: Steely Dan – The Making of Aja.

Since someone else is sure to bring it up in comments, let’s deal with the finale: Creator/writer/director David Chase made his bones adding a level of reality — Cinéma vérité — to his plotting and characters. He never liked neat endings, always leaves a level of ambiguity and uncertainty. 

And while I didn’t love last night’s episode — it was just another episode, and not any way at all a special "finale" — I recognize what Chase attempted: He ended the show on a note of tension, uncertainty, and ambiguity. You know, just like real life. Hey, no one knows what will happen in the future, or what fate awaits us. He ended the show the same way . . .

Not that I really liked it — it was disappointingly slow, and except for Phil "Flat-Head" Leotardo, not a whole lot happened.

AjaBut I digress.

Where was I? Oh, yes.

A few months ago, I mentioned on Friday Night Jazz this great video on the making of Steely Dan’ Peg that I (somehow randomly) discovered on YouTube.

Turns out its part of a series of DVDs titled "Classic Albums" series that aired originally on VH1. So, while waiting for the last episode to begin, I popped in this DVD I’ve had lying around. 

FloydIt was simply terrific. Really high quality stuff — none of this "Behind-the-Boy-Band crap typical of VH1. Indeed, the great tragedy of VH1 is this very series — and many of the

UnPlugged shows
– are just so damn good, it makes you wonder how the rest of their programming can be so goddamned awful. It was that much better than what you would expect from typical VH1 stuff. 

If you are any type of Dan fan, you must go order this right now.

In fact, I was so impressed with the quality of the interviews, clips, and sound quality — I can’t recall the last time I did this — that,  even as the DVD credits were rolling, I ordered four more DVDs (all $10 or less) from the same series.

GracelandAs a music fan, I felt compelled to check out these "Classic Albums":

The Making of The Dark Side of the Moon

Paul Simon – Graceland

The Who: Who’s Next

U2: The Joshua Tree

I’ll update how these are at a latter date, but based on the Steely Dan DVD, and the high caliber of reviews at Amazon.com, I expect these all to be similarly excellent . . . 


Category: Digital Media, Music, Video

Friday Night Jazz Classic Rock: ‘Sgt. Pepper’

Category: Digital Media, Music

Caffe Blog = Splog ?

Category: Digital Media, Weblogs

Bob Dylan Wrote Every Pop Hit of the Past 35 Years

Category: Digital Media, Music