So I walked into PlayNetwork the other morning, and was making my morning tea, when I noticed the overhead was playing some classic jazz – no idea who it was, but I was enjoying it. It kind of struck me that here I was listening to something I was completely unfamiliar with, yet I trusted it was good, and that the next song would probably also be something interesting; I asked myself why I felt this way, and it struck me, it was because I ‘trusted my DJ’. I know the music programmers at PlayNetwork don’t put together crap, so I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt instead of ‘changing the station’.
Commercial radio have transformed DJ’s into voices, but don’t trust them to pick music anymore. What is interesting is that with the tracking capabilities of the ‘Personal People Monitors’ that are used to track ratings, it has been shown how much people will jump from station to station when they here a song they don’t like or are unfamiliar with. If they actually trusted their DJ, would they be so quick to move? If commercial radio empowered their DJ’s to be more than voices, and allowed that trust to be rebuilt, would you see as much jumping around? Looking at the success of stations like KEXP and KCRW, which do have real DJ’s, I think they would – what do you think?
Do you trust your DJ?
Well another SFMusicTech conference is over, and now it’s time to distill it all. So short answer, the music industry is still as screwed up as ever. Nobody can figure out how to make money, and everybody points fingers. In one panel you have Micheal Robertson from MP3Tunes saying that you can’t make any money in a business that requires licensing from the major labels, in another panel you have the artists complaining about not getting any royalties. Unfortunately, they are both right – there is a lot of money flowing through the system, but the artist never sees any of it. One insight that I had while listening to all this is that the music industry is primarily made up of middle men. You have the musicians, you have fans – how many people can get between them. While at your next live show, please go buy something at the merch table – at least the artist gets to keep most of that.
On the technology side, the only thing I saw that I thought was really interesting was from ThingLink.com – they are offering an easy way to take a picture and embed a bunch of links into it. Yes, I know that is just a web page, but I think they do it in a very interesting way. Everybody is doing location based concert listings, and everybody is going to get eyeballs and then figure out how to monotize – by they way, no, we are not in a bubble… Oh, and everybody is looking for developers.
From a geek standpoint, the best panel was the HTML 5 discussion. While Adobe/Flash isn’t going away anytime soon, they are going to have to adapt (which they are doing already). Biggest benefits of HTML5 appear to be being able to ditch a big chunk of your flash application (but not always all). Big downside – yes, you guessed it, compatibility…
So interesting undercurrent that I liked to hear – pushback on the algorithm – the need for the human part in music discovery, the role the DJ used to play, and how Pandora hasn’t replaced that need. These feeds very much into some of the stuff I am doing. and is something that I have been preaching for a while.
So I subscribe to both Spotify and Rdio for on demand music. Why two services, you ask. Well, I originally subscribed to Rdio so I could use their API on a project I am working on (more on that later…). Then Spotify finally came to the U.S., and needing to be one of the cool people, I subscribed; not realizing there was no web application. I like Spotify’s application, but I don’t want to install it on both of my laptops, the computer in the kitchen, the one at the office, etc. Also, without a web based app, how do a create an application with their API that is truly useful? So I guess what I am saying is “hey Spotify, build a web application, or your going to loose me”. Seems so Rhapsody 2003.
So I was listening to the ‘Big Lebowski’ soundtrack this morning on Spotify; this wasn’t the actual soundtrack CD but a playlist that someone else had put together, so the tracks were all taken from their original CD’s. As I am listening to this very eclectic mix of music, it hit me that this could be a great form of music discovery.
What if you could get a giant database of movie soundtrack music and use that for creating a playlists. Not only do you have the standard relationships between tracks (artist, albums, genres), but you also have the relationships between movies, as well the related emotions attached those movies. Start with your favorite movie, and branch off from there. You may discover some new music, and possibly some new movies to watch.
Anybody know of a database of movie music?
So I have attempted to maintain a couple of blogs in the past, but they all have been project based (musicofinterest.com, whattoplaynext.com); this is because when you create a project, your supposed to have a blog to talk about it, right? The problem has been that since they were all project centric, it didn’t make sense to talk about anything else on them – my marketing department would shoot me! I was about to make the same mistake again, but then said screw it, I’m going to create a blog that is not named after a project, and I am going to talk about whatever I want on it. So that is what this is. Yes, I will be making announcements about my latest projects, but will also talk about the development process going on around those projects, as well as the way to many ideas swirling around my head, especially around music.