Posts Tagged ‘music’

Playing into the hands of pirates?

February 23, 2011

Priracy is a growing threat for all digital content

We just noticed an interesting blog from Fred Wilson, a venture capitalist who found that he needed to become a pirate in order to get hold of the latest Streets album. Despite struggling with iTunes, eMusic and Amazon US, Fred could not find the record:

“It was not even listed in iTunes or emusic. It was listed on Amazon US as an import that would be available on Feb 15th, but only in CD form. I’m not buying plastic just to rip the files and throw it out. Seeing as it was an import, I searched Amazon UK. And there I found the record in mp3 form for 4 pounds. It was going to be released on Feb 4th. I made a mental note to come back and get it when it was released. I got around to doing that today. I clicked on “buy with one click” and was greeted with this nonsense” (i.e. not being able to purchase music from outside the UK) “…so reluctantly, I went to a bit torrent search. I found plenty of torrents for the record and quickly had the record in mp3 form. That took less than a minute compared to the 20+ minutes I wasted trying pretty hard to buy the record legally.”

Given the global nature of the internet, and its rapidly increasing access speeds, does it any longer make sense for the same digital content to be released to different regions of the world at varying times?

Surely this plays into the hands of pirates, and – as in Fred’s case – makes it more likely for legitimate paying customers to turn to piracy to download the music they want to listen to?

Back to the 90s…or 80s, even?

July 1, 2009

Check out the Walkman! I remember the days when I used to have one of these, and I loved it. It had a metallic blue front panel where the cassette went in, and those old school headphones that went over the head, but were always that little bit too big, even when you did adjust them.  

But the one this boy’s been given is even more retro – I certainly wasn’t alive when those bad boys were around. However – the article on the BBC’s news site did astound and upset me a little. The boy in question, Scott Campbell, said it took him ‘3 days to realise there were two sides to the tape’. 3 days!? I’m not being funny, but bloody hell, isn’t it obvious?
Actually that’s a bit of a rhetorical question, as clearly it’s not obvious to the youth of today. I always thought of myself as a younger generation person [I’m 22] but here I am, being made to feel old by a teenager who has never seen a cassette tape before.
His account – if he is indeed the author (more of that later) – is both funny and nostalgic. I used to love fast forwarding, although not to create a shuffle but to skip to my favourite songs. I never experienced a metal cassettetape, but I strongly believe I would have enjoyed it.
I think his face says it all...

I think his face says it all...


It was most interesting to note, however, the changes to the Walkman “brand” that have occurred through the years. The Walkman brand lives on, but due to the iPod being the be-all-and-end-all of MP3 players, I think we now know it primarily through Sony Ericsson Walkman phones. This in itself is interesting, as it reflects the converged services that mobile phones now offer. Mobile phones are digital cameras, MP3 players, internet browsers – it’s staggering how far technology has come since I listened to tapes on my Walkman. However, the opportunity to reflect on this only really surfaces when we’re provided with a comparison to something more outdated. 

Now – about the authorship – what kind of 13-year old says ‘cumbersome’…??  Or better still – ‘aesthetically pleasing’…? In fact, did a 13-year old even write this? The more I read of this article, the less convinced I am.

Cheer up News Corp it might never happen

February 9, 2009


‘cept it has, hasn’t it?  While many blame the media for overhyping our collective financial woes and accelerating us all towards a depression, the industry is not immune to its own effects.  In fact, last week News Corp blamed its quarterly losses of $6.4bn on a huge decline in ad revenue.  Nobody is spending, because we’ve read in the papers and seen on the TV that it’s all rather grim out there, so you’re better off saving your pennies for a rainy day.  So, as us media people trip over each other in the dole queue, you could argue that we’ve cut our collective nose off to spite our collective face.

But fear not.  Seeing as I am completely ignorant of the inner workings of hedge funds, private equity, derivatives and the like, I can categorically sum the lot up as just imaginary numbers on a screen.  Banking and finance? It’s all a bit mysterious and hard to wrap your arms around isn’t it?  A bit like God.  And I’m agnostic.

Let’s leave the bankers to it, eh and get working on something we can affect. 


So, if the media helped fuel the speed of economic decline by undermining confidence, let’s just all get a bit of a collective cheer on and maybe, just maybe, we can chuckle our way back to the good times.  

Party on.

X Factor or internet factor?

December 16, 2008

Alexandra Burke surprised us all when she won the X Factor last Saturday. Well, that’s a lie, it wasn’t a surprise to be quite honest – I thought it was obvious she should win. The bookies have made hundreds of thousands of pounds out of her winning, and look set to make much more as she’s storming the charts, well on her way to becoming this year’s Christmas number one. Her single had sold more than 105,000 copies since going on sale at midnight on Saturday, less than two hours after she won the fifth series of the ITV1 reality show.

Is Lilys success down to MySpace?

Is Lily's success down to MySpace?

So, the question I ask is this: is the accessibility, the ease of downloading songs nowadays, the main reason she’s already so successful? Are people that much more tech savvy now that they know they can acquire her song without having to leave the comfort of their own home? I’d hazard a guess at yes.

However, a bigger question to ask, is that of the internet: is the internet the main reason why artists are so successful today? Is it not so much a case of really great music being made, but instead, being made so easily available to buy at such a low cost that people buy it just for the sake of it?  

Would Lily Allen be so well known now had it not been for MySpace? I sense not, and that’s one of the joys (or pitfalls) of the internet. Stores like iTunes and recently, Amazon’s MP3 store are further compounding this surge in music downloads, as are apps like Pandora and Shazam on the iPhone. Both Pandora and Shazam link back to the internet, as when using the app, you are directed to the internet site related to them to buy the song you’re hearing.

All in all, the internet is most definitely a contributing factor in the success – both monetary and in terms of popularity – of some of today’s music stars. Not all of them, however, warrant their success…but that’s a whole separate rant!

30 minutes on the Tube

October 29, 2008

I had the unpleasant experience of having to travel on the Tube the other day minus music, as I left my iPod at home.

The results: not good. I thought my music blocked out merely the rattling of the Tube, however it turns out it blocks out a multitude of other sins. Namely – the interference of other people’s music on the tube. I’d never realised how irritating it is!

Therefore I believe some form of music etiquette should be followed at all times:

  1. Have your volume at a reasonable level – i.e. so no one else can hear the not-so-faint strains of some hideous happy hardcore tune blasting out by your left ear. There have been studies done in the past where MP3 manufacturers have had to set limits on the volume at which music can be played – clearly some MP3 players managed to avoid imposing this legislation.
  2. Do not hum, sing, or worst of all, whistle along with the tune.
  3. Don’t drum your fingers in an annoying ‘I want to be the drummer’ style tapping rhythm.

I obviously abide by my own rules at all times – although I have noticed I tend to attempt to do some form of mini-dance moves occasionally when on the train. Ultra embarrassing!

On similarly hilarious theme –  this made me laugh a LOT this morning. I think every seasoned Tube user has seen something similar to this:

Sony Ericsson PlayNow raises DRM debate

September 24, 2008

News today from Sony Ericsson unveiling its mobile music platform, PlayNow Plus, has re-sparked the debate on DRM (digital rights management) for music


Now, I’m not saying that I LOVE DRM,  but it is interesting that people don’t get in quite such a lather over DRM when it comes to their own images.  Perhaps it is because the public can so easily produce their own images that they are so intensely into a version of DRM for their own property – just look at the furore over privacy rights (DRM by another name?) in social networking sites like Facebook.   


Anyway, back to music. 


I blame the disastrous anti-mixtape campaign of the 1980s, ‘home taping is killing music’, for musos’ desire to ‘stick it to the man’ and flout the law when it comes to music copying and distribution. 


Home taping didn’t kill music in case you were wondering.  In fact, many say it revitalised the sector, helping to spread music and recommendations far beyond what the radio stations were able to do at the time.  For a modern day equivalent, using the radio function or scrobbling your music through a site like is brilliant to expand your musical horizons.


Anyway back to DRM.


The thing is, any business will charge as much as it possibly can to as many people as it can to make as much money as it can – that’s just business.  Wrapping digital music in DRM looks to me like the industry is yet to really pin down exactly what all this music content is worth so they are hedging their bets with restrictive DRM.  After all, once DRM free music is out in the open, there is no bringing it back.

“You are the music while the music lasts” (T.S.Eliot)

July 7, 2008

Having recently discovered the joys of downloading an album from iTunes for a very reasonable £7.49 I am personally very smug about being able to access the latest music for half the cost of a CD when I was a teenager. (I remember when the cost of a CD equalled my monthly pocket money!) 

So smug, some might say, that I simply cannot understand the rationale behind those who are making such a song and dance about the BPI/Virgin Media illegal downloads campaign.  If people continue to steal music then yes, they should be ‘educated’.  And why not?


I applaud the fact that music is becoming more affordable, but I don’t necessarily expect it for free.  I believe that music downloads should be regulated, and yes, maybe I am just too conventional when it comes to this whole debate over privacy issues, but if you have nothing to hide, then why make such a fuss?!  “Thou doth protest too much….”?


Consumers win on digital music, so why are the other entertainment industries so behind?

May 22, 2008

The FT today reported how the value of music downloads and broadcasts has overtaken that of CD sales. For the music industry, this is no surprise. Over the past few years we have witnessed a huge step change in music “going digital” with big name bands snubbing their record labels and iPods becoming as prolific as slugs in a newly planted veg patch.

Meanwhile, the other media industries, particularly film and games, are sticking to their physical product roots and worrying about illegal downloads, ignoring the lessons that a heal-dragging attitude is fast teaching the music industry. From our side of the fence, we’ve seen a growth in young companies that are legitimate digital content retailers. Some have media players embedded within them, some monetise peer to peer sharing (P2P) and others are mobile. What they all have in common is incredibly tight Digital Rights Management (DRM) protection.

The speed at which the media and entertainment industries are willing to respond to consumer demand for digital is tiresome. We’ve been talking about the issues and barriers through our PR efforts for years now. With the proof of digital demand from the MCPS-PRS Alliance and extra pressure from this year’s explosion in green interest, with people realising that no physical products means no plastic packaging, will we see the fruition of a true digital revolution before the next decade?

Music makes wine taste better

May 14, 2008

I like this story.  According to a study, playing music makes wine taste better .  Funny that, because my experience is quite the opposite.  Having a glass or two of wine makes music sound better.   Give it a glass or two more and most music sounds BRILLIANT.  At this point, I might start to sing along and do a little jig.  Interestingly, given one more glass, I’ll still sing along but it will be with a tear in my eye as music unveils its hidden meaning, becoming infinitely more depressing and evoking memories of unreciprocated teenage love and the happier times spent with long-dead family pets.  There is a name for this state of heightened musical awareness.  It’s called Being A Bit Tipsy.

Anyway, check out the story, it’s quite interesting – given a bit of Tchaikovsky, you too might be able to transform that three quid bottle of plonk into something a little more palatable.

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