Monday, September 27, 2010

Listening to Sunday football on the radio: ruminations of a casual fan of a poor team

2 Quick Hits:

#1: I am a very casual football fan. And don't listen to sports radio at all. But I do listen to Rams football pre- post- and game coverage on KLOU and now 101.1 ... as a form of background noise/"Sunday nerve therapy" for me, if nothing else. Consequently, I don't get too low when the Rams are down nor too high when they're on the uptick.

But the enthusiasm, post-game yesterday had me tuning out. I couldn't stand it another second. They actually read, with approval, some guy's text into the station which said, "Dallas [Super Bowl] here we come!" instead of instantly hitting delete as they should*. So much for 'editorial sifting'. (I haven't even learned the names of who does that show yet.) I mean i am as glad as everyone else that the team is showing some promise, but ...

And how long do these post-game shows go on for? Monday morning? I feel like telling 101.1, "Don't you have a format to go home to?".

#2 I consider it one of the flaws of football that of all the sports that have 6 or more positions, it is the sport with 22 positions that is most influenced by one position. And that a team can change overnight with an addition/subtraction at that position (QB). It's probably great for league parity, but it's too unrealistic for my tastes. "Let 'em rebuild", I say. A good lo-o-o-ng time.

And all the other 21 guys that sucked last year are suddenly [i]great[/i]? Why weren't they great last year on their own? Not enough pride?? Oh, they were down in their dobbers because they didnt have the right quarterback and now that they have the right quarterback they're "free, free, FREE to be who they really are"??? (sorry about accidentally breaking into a lisp there)

Anyway, can we buy these 101.1 guys some Xanax so those of us in the listening audience don't have to?

* The St. Louis Rams are 1-2 this season and have notched a whole six wins the last three seasons.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Hype vs. Innovation: Music Startup 'Beyond Oblivion' Highlights the Age-Old Battle

I naturally recoil from hype like “Music Liberation” and gimmicks like a “Countdown to Insurrection” (with a clock ticking live to the second). Even the name itself, Beyond Oblivion, is over the top.

It’s natural to be proud of your invention. But anybody hyping that much makes me think immediately the Emperor has no clothes. We have been working on the Digital Content Exchange (boring name isn't it?) for 8 years. That is a good sign that we're on the right track because a problem as big as piracy (a better way to put it: artists not being able to control the use of their creations in digital space) is a big problem that takes a thoughtful solution.

The key thing to recognize is that it is not a legal problem, it is a technological problem. Solved the same way we solve everything else in society since the Cotton Gin (and of course loo-o-o-ng before that): innovation. What has set the industry on the wrong road IMO is too much chasing of hype without innovation. Not having the patience or taking the time to assess new ideas and innovation. The music industry has adopted the same policy for music start-ups that they used for artists in the 1990s and 2000s: look for the buzz, and then sign it to a contract. That may be okay for a pet food website ("How many users do you have? Sold!") but it is not a mature way to go about solving a technological problem of this magnitude.

We don’t need hype, we need a solution. I guess when it comes to solving this problem, we are asking the music industry to go back to 1970s style A&R: listening to demos quietly and thoughtfully and deciding, "Is this the right stuff?".

Newscorp has invested in BO. I hope this time they got it right.

Friday, September 17, 2010

How tech companies are devaluing music

This is a smart three-minute video that I highly recommend, showing how Google and Apple treat the music industry like an ugly step-child. Google and Apple’s insouciance about the music industry’s woes is especially demonstrated by all the help Google and Apple give you to do more with your pirated tunes. Googapple are, so far as we can tell anyway, agnostic as to whether the music was legally purchased or not. Remember all those people that stole music via Napster/Kazaa and forwent buying CDs in 1999-2004 … when all you could really do readily with the illegal file is play it through cruddy speakers? Just think of how much more they are probably stealing *now* that they have iPods, iTunes, and the new Google Music service which is supposed to scan users’ hard drives and make that music available to the user anywhere from the cloud!

For background on the Google Music service plan rumors, see this from TechCrunch. (Hint: Net Neutrality in the cross-hairs).

Just so I am not accused of posing problems only and no solutions: piracy is a technological problem and must have a technological solution. We know how to find this solution: we must innovate. Technological innovation. So far, the powers that be have not even begun to innovate. Because of parochial, short-sighted interests, all the solutions which have been grasped at have involved either giving up on ownership or giving up on copyright law or sometimes both.