Doesn’t anyone buy music anymore ?

I used to like owning music. Truth be told I still do. I still download songs, albeit mostly now after I’ve listened to the album they originated from on Spotify, and being an ex muso geek I even edit them to get them exactly the way i like – fade-outs, fade-ins eq fixes etc. That’s one of the many reasons why i hate Apple iTunes but that’s not a debate for here. The fact is I spent years building a collection in vinyl,  cassette, CD and now digital but through it all it was mine; to do with as I saw fit.

However it seems that music ownership is going the way of the dinosaur. Global revenues from streaming music services such as Spotify, Pandora, and Rdio will grow almost five times faster than revenues from downloads over the course of this year, according to a new forecast from Strategy Analytics. The research firm predicts that streaming will bring in $1.1 billion in 2012 compared to $3.9 billion from downloads, with overall digital revenues expected to overtake those of physical music in 2015.

Now don’t get me wrong, I understand the whole scarcity and abundance theories and how the recorded music is  just becoming a another vehicle through which fans connect with the artist or band but to me its still important. Live performance is indeed the true “scarcity” and therefore often the most valued experience but I don’t get to see every band I want to play live and in some cases I don’t even want to – I just love the track(s) and that’s enough. I made a choice many years ago to posses the music I loved and despite all the advances in streaming technologies and services, I find it hard to place my enjoyment in the hands of an intermediary – what happens if Spotify falls out with a particular record company and I loose my treasured playlist.

And by the way, there’s a reason the title of this post used the word “buy”. I’m pretty sure I’m also one of a dwindling band of consumers who still buy their music.

Oh well

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The pink paper to fold …

I wonder how many of my ex colleagues at the FT saw this headline and did a double take.

No its not the Financial Times that’s shutting down its print operations but the gay communities own national newspaper The Pink Paper. Despite the reportedly under exploited gay advertising market, the publication has become the latest victim of the economic downturn and decline in newspaper readership according to the “Old Pinkun”, the FT itself.

Tris Reid-Smith, Pink Paper editor, said the downturn – particularly in recruitment and housing advertising, as well as display adverts – had hit the paper. “We probably didn’t diversify our advertising base enough and we didn’t diversify our income streams away from advertising enough.

The Pink Paper title will remain in its online form

No Kindle required – Google to sell eBooks

According to the New York Times, ” Google signaled its intent to introduce a program by that would enable publishers to sell digital versions of their newest books direct to consumers…. through Google”.

This was the big news at this years BookExpo convention in New York and seems to have been warmly received by publishers who have been concerned by Amazons pricing and revenue share policies. Google have said that they will leave pricing to the publishers in as much as the publishers will be able to set a list price for a publication, however Google will set the price paid by consumers through the e-Book program.

Now to be fair, we’ve heard this stuff before from Google however Tom Turvey, director of strategic partnerships at Google, used the phrase: “This time we mean it.”

More importantly, this is apparently going to be a device agnostic initiative as Google’s program would allow consumers to read books on any device with Internet access, including mobile phones, rather than being limited to dedicated reading devices like the Amazon Kindle. “We don’t believe that having a silo or a proprietary system is the way that e-books will go,” continued Mr Turvey.

This could get intertesting – watch this space

Newspapers failing web 2.0 challenge

Newspapers need to find innovative ways to embrace web 2.0 – or face a perilous future

(Originally published 12/05/09 – silicon.com)

For too long now people have talked about the decline in newspapers as if this was something slow and cyclical – worse still, something that they can actually manage.  I’m sure the people who ran chemical based photography at Kodak thought the same. The music industry clearly also had this perspective on life. Look, this might well just be a “decline” that has been accelerated by a recession but equally we may be approaching a structural, social and generational cliff face. Either way, you surely don’t want to be just another lemming?

Newspapers are facing the most fundamental period of change in their history. Some would say that until recently nothing much had actually changed since the town crier used to wander into the market square, ring his bell and shout “hear ye, hear ye – plague, death, taxation, fat-cat bankers and the worst recession in living memory …. local vicar involved”.

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Was no-one listening…

Its always sad to hear of newspaper and magazine publications disappearing but so many are in trouble that their demise is being predicted with alarming regularity.

Alongside today’s FT article “End of an era for Hearsts Seattle paper” which covers the move of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer newspaper to an all digital product after 146 years of print publication, Yahoo gave their prediction of the next 10 major newspapers that will either fold of go digital. There are some major names in this list.

Those who know me well will recall that I have long argued that newspapers will not die. Rather, that we live in a multi channel world and that publishers must recognise this and adapt. Reading is a specific “state” that cannot be replaced by a website (ebooks and ePaper solutions recognise this and focus on augmenting and enhancing that “state” rather than challenging it).

I still believe this to be true but the current predicament of the publishing industry does make one ask the question ..  “was no-one listening at the end of 2004”. Back then, many of us used a website called EPIC2014 to describe a possible future. Lots of editors laughed, some dismissed it out of hand ….. but some didn’t.

In these troubled and uncertain times, it’s worth another look – it lasts about 8mins, the tone is a little dramatic and the post 2005 product names may have turned out to be a bit different but is the outcome any less certain.

What d’ya think