Tuesday, 12 December 2006

DRM: Doesn’t Really Matter

It’s no secret that folks looking to pick up some new tunes would like to avoid DRM at all costs, but instead of seeing CD sales skyrocket, there’s simply been a general decrease across the board in the whole “music buying scene.” – Darren Murph, Engadget

If I buy CDs these days, it’s directly from the artist. It’s far more likely that I’ll just give my favorite artist a few bucks. Oh, and then there’s this whole DRM-free podcasting-thing.

Monday, 20 November 2006

Rediscover Your iTunes Library with Tangerine

Like everyone else, my podcast listening (and publishing) has an inverse relationship to how busy I am at work. I’ve cut back to only the gPod – bookending the day – with music in the middle.

A couple weeks back, I found Potion Factory’s Tangerine, a great little app that generates iTunes playlist based on BPM and beat intensity and a handful of different patterns (think treadmill workout patterns).

I’ve got 5 Tangerine playlists right now – each a couple hours long with a different random selection of music that falls within specified BPM and beat intensity ranges. I’ve found it a great way to shake up my favorite tunes with others that I’ve neglected for too long.

Tuesday, 29 August 2006

iTunes Podcast Directory Strategy – Divert and Distract

Based on the “Promote Your Podcast and Make Money on iTunes” email I just received from the iTunes Podcasting team, Apple’s podcast directory revenue-generation strategy is two-fold:

  1. Divert: Apple wants podcasters to point listeners to the iTunes Podcast directory listing of their podcast – rather then the one controlled by the podcaster. From Apple’s perspective, this increases usage of the iTunes Music Store. From the podcaster’s perspective, you’re handing over full control of your podcast to someone else – that’s suicide. Though, you might get to be listed in the Top Podcasts as a consolation (then again, you might otherwise).
  2. Distract: Once iTunes has your listeners, anything they purchase within 24 hours the directing podcaster receives a 5% commission on (4.95 cents here, 4.95 cents there, soon we’re talking ad money). As should be obvious, this distracts the listener from the entire reason they came to iTunes (the podcast).

As with the iTunes Podcast Directory thus far, the big loser is the podcaster. The smaller loser is the listener.

Wednesday, 9 August 2006

Finally – Multiple Speakers in iTunes AirTunes

Spent a few moments over lunch refining my wireless network, while making sure everything worked as expected, I noticed a ‘Multiple Speakers’ option in my iTunes v6.0.5 (20).

About Frigging Time!

When we first set up the Airport Express, I was baffled why I couldn’t have the same music playing in the room with the laptop as the room with the Tivoli.

Thankfully that bug has been fixed – and with enough Airport Expresses, I can fill the neighborhood with podcasts just like the crappy music blaring from Silver Lake Village.

Seriously, it’s a horrid place to make phone calls – despite being outside and away from traffic.

Nathan Stohlmann says this is part of the AirPort Express Firmware 6.3 Update.

Monday, 17 July 2006

T-75 and Counting

PodcastNYC lists out 9 Ways to Kill Podcasting. Articulating some of the ‘this feels wrong’ parts of the iTunes, Yahoo podcast directories.

On the other side, thanks to Dave Winer for comparing the river-of-news vs. portal presentations. Personally, I see time-based navigation as a good way to see how a story evolves – though, I think the story itself should be the primary navigation method.

Any individual item in an rss feed has a number of attributes. From my perspective pubDate, source and author are of secondary to title, link, description.

Oh, and if your interested in getting early previews of this project – drop me an email.

Tuesday, 4 July 2006

New iTunes Podcast Categorization and WP-iPodCatter

On Friday, I received an email from Apple’s iTunes Podcasting team that they’re changing the categories in the iTunes directory. So, I updated the WP-iPodcatter plugin to reflect these changes.

Like their removal of item-level categorization, I’m not crazy about these changes.

  1. There are 2 ‘Other’ categories (in Religion, Games & Hobbies). But not in any of the other categories. ‘Other’, like ‘Miscellaneous’, is an acknowledgment of an unsuccessful categorization scheme. Conceivably, ‘Other’ will have the most things in it – so filtering that category will be the challenge.
  2. These categories feel more like Apple trying to form and mold what’s in the iTunes directory rather than fostering what’s currently being published.
  3. I have no idea where to put the First Crack Podcast. Best I could do was; Business, Technology, Arts:Food. I know. Not accurate.

Then again, iTunes is a pretty worthless interface for finding podcasts, and these category revisions only make the problem worse. While doing nothing to eliminate podcasters gaming their placement with; -, –>, :: , ‘, ‘”, “”””””””””””””””””.

All podcast directories have a similar problem – trying to be the Yahoo of podcasts (hierarchical directory) rather than the Google (really good filtering). If you’re looking for good podcasts – I recommend AmigoFish or a regular web search (Google, Yahoo, etc) with “podcast” added at the end.

Tuesday, 17 January 2006

A Proposal for a TiVo, iTunes, Podcast Ad Formats

30 seconds is way too long. On the TiVo, we’re fast-forwarding through the commercials and other boring bits. We’re still watching as we fast-forward (we get the brand-impression, just more quickly and without sound).

Same with podcasts. As I’ve mentioned earlier, we’re not skipping the ads, just getting through them more quickly. I know one of the podcasts I listen to is sponsored by Earthlink. The host mentions it the moment before I start fast-forwarding. I don’t need to hear Earthlink themselves waste my time – the host already told me everything I need to know. Using 3 words – “sponsored by Earthlink”.

Likewise, television advertisers need to embraces the fast-forward and create media entertaining at both speeds. Something akin to the Levi’s ads from the 80s – a big logo taking up most of the screen surrounded by entertaining animations. This would scale to smaller video devices like the iPod, PSP, and Archos while giving TiVo viewers a reason to replay.

Friday, 14 October 2005

Thursday, 13 October 2005

Oh, Did I Mention iTunes Kills Television Advertising

Josh at Splintered Channels ponders traditional ad spots within the new iTunes-delivered TV programs.

The TV I’ve had for the last 10 years has a 30-sec timer button on it. Hit the button, change the channel, and 30 seconds later you’ll automatically return to the previous program. Tivo time-shifted both the program and this ad-skip behavior (though VCR instilled this behavior decades ago, albeit without the sexiness of digital).

Josh is right, ad campaigns have a shorter shelf-life than the programs they interrupt. In all but the biggest of primetime television programs, the ads are also region specific (if not local). So, inserting a conventional 30-second spot in a digital iTunes download wastes at least the same amount of money as one delivered via the air waves.

As I’ve mentioned in the Economics of Podcasting and Podcasting is Closer to Voicemail than Radio, the pains of conventional broadcasting (FCC licensing, antennas, etc) don’t exist in the digital realm. Combine that with customers actually paying per episode and the advertiser/distributor relationship turns from symbiotic to parasitic.

If iTunes starts to include interruption-based ads within the TV programs they offer, 2 things will happen:

  1. An iMovie Applescript will magically appear that automatically slices out the annoyances.
  2. The programs with ads won’t sell….at any price.

Catharine Taylor at AdWeek’s AdFreak concurs.

“…not only is the video iPod a watershed, but, sorry advertisers and agencies, that commercial TV may just be f*cked, and it’s going to hurt advertisers much more than it will hurt the networks.”

I’m glad someone inside the advertising industry said that and cursed while doing so.

Once television advertising goes the way of the Wicked Witch of the West, where does that leave Nielsen Ratings?

ABC affiliates are asking that now.

“The prospect of the new device [video-enabled iPod] distracting Nielsen-measurable eyeballs from its own over-the-air programming is generating some anxiety from stations all over the country…”

Just as I can read the same email in a web-browser, in a desktop application, and through VersaMail on my Treo, all other media will shortly be liberated from it’s exclusive distribution channel.

Quick rhetorical question: What’s a television program that isn’t originally released on television?

I’m pretty sure Chuck, Steve, and Amanda have an answer.

Wednesday, 12 October 2005

iTunes Upgrades Destroys Record Store, Cable Company, Movie Theater

With today’s announcement of a Video iPod and the corresponding iTunes bump to v6.0, Apple felled 3 of my least favorite things; record store, cable company, and movie theater.

If for $1.99, I can purchase a past episode of Desperate Housewives and for a couple dollars more a feature length film, what’s compelling about a movie theater? Hell, Netflix might want to step up their digital distribution strategy (Hint, it now has to integrate into iTunes). Throw the Food Network’s, Comedy Central’s, and HBO’s worst, best, and experimental programs into iTunes and there’s as much reason for a Comcast subscription as there is for a landline telephone.
David at the Brand Experience Lab had the same notion:

“…potentially create an Apple media center that actually by-passes network TV?”

As an interesting side effect, by keeping prices below $5, Apple is effective killing Darknet usage by people with more money than patience (i.e. not students). Leaving the only reason to dig around the file sharing networks is for things not in iTunes (though even today, the bulk of music’s long tail absent from iTMS). Despite the DRM, iTunes is still my first stop for purchasing music – followed by Amazon. I suspect the same will be true of motion pictures by the end of the year.

Right now, BitTorrent is the only sustainable solution for handling the bandwidth demands of a popular podcast or video. Both iPodder and DTV offered built in BitTorrent clients very early in their development. Unless Apple also purchased miles of dark fiber, they’re going to feel the burn of multi-terabyte transfers very quickly.

I predict 2 additional features before iTunes turns 7:

  1. Integrated BitTorrent client
  2. iTMS Storefront for independent producers – with the same price points as big media.