Time to Quit Myspace?

October 28, 2009

There’s quite an interesting discussion started over on MusicThinkTank regarding MySpace. Specifically, Andrew Dubber’s suggesting a mass exodus from the service. It’s a great read, as are the comments.

Here’re my thoughts on that idea. First off, MySpace is a bit like Celine Dion. It’s really cool to hate her, and definitely NOT cool to like her – Tim Westergren (honcho of online music service Pandora) tells a great story about Pandora & Celine Dion in a recent article for the NYT. The bottom line of which is maybe it’s NOT cool to like Celine but that shouldn’t make you hate or ignore her, if it’s possible that her music will serve it’s purpose.

It might also be a mistake to abandon MySpace if you’ve NO IDEA who or how many people actually ONLY KNOW YOUR MUSIC THROUGH MYSPACE. You could be cutting off hundreds of paying customers because you hate Celine Dion, so to speak. 🙂 Not good and certainly worth considering before you pull the plug.

Much of the MTT post rings true, that MySpace is completely unfit for purpose, that it’s drastically underutilizing the resources it has.

But at the same time, and a similar point is made by Rich Dale in the comments, “to myspace” someone is an understandable action, just as understandable as “to google” something.

And it’s that simplicity that makes me think abandoning MySpace would be a terrible idea. In fact, it’d contrivene one of Andrew’s “20 Things You Must Know About Music Online” – Rule 9 “Don’t make me search for something, show me”. The lack of a barrier to entry that MySpace has created is it’s primary asset. And quite frankly, I’m happy if that’s all it’s used for.

If you’ve “quit myspace” recently, why? What combination of tools work best for you to build your fanbase and is MySpace part of that?

Update: A fantastic middle ground has also been presented in the comments! Replace your MySpace player with any widget from another music service (including Bandcamp). Hurrah for compromise! – http://su.pr/6jc2y6

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Hey Pump Audio – What’s with all the fees?

October 8, 2009

So I just got my second email in less than a year from Music Licensing service Pump Audio, explaining that the fees (or in this case, percentage of master recording licensing) is increasing. Hilariously, one of the reasons they give for the increase is “the need to support 400+ Getty Images Sales & Support Staff”.

Let’s take a jump back in time -In 2006, Pump Audio were an innovative service who worked with artists of all stripes, taking your music and finding placements for the music in film, tv, advertising and digital media. They’d take 50% of any deal done (of the master side) and 50% of the publishers share of publishing royalties. Not a great deal, but not terrible, either. And as other players began to emerge in the space (Rumblefish, MuSync), this was pretty much the standard.

But in 2008, Getty Images bought Pump Audio. And that’s when the emails started coming in.

The “percentage of sales” model was, and still is, a popular model for these kinds of services. Indeed, distribution (both physical and digital), rely on it. But the real question is not “what percentage are you taking” but “what are you providing for that percentage?”

Where is the value-add that the company gives you and is it WORTH that percentage? When they tell you about their value add (e.g. marketing services, pitching to music supes or in Pump’s case “improvements in marketing technology” (huh?)), where is their track record for music like yours? And more importantly, for all the hoops you’ll be jumping through to sign up, will you simply get lost in the massive soup of music that exists on the services servers?

Reminds me of a quote by Ian Rogers:

“Any of us, myself included, that are not either the artist or the fan, are just potentially in the way. So it’s on us to provide value. To provide real value. And that’s fine with me. I’m very happy to say, OK, my company has to provide real value. My company is not about lock-in. It’s not about me owning your masters. It’s about me providing value to you, and if I can’t, well, then I should get the hell out of the way. So I really encourage you, when thinking about the music business, to think about marginal profitability for artists first and foremost, and to think about the companies that enable that, and to forget about the ones that don’t.”

So: would you, or have you, signed up and worked with companies like Pump Audio? What’s your experience? What could make them better for you, as an artist or label?

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Spotify iPhone App – Just Not Good Enough (For Me)

October 1, 2009

So, I’ve had one month with Spotify‘s iPhone app, and I’m cancelling my Premium subscription today. Below are some of the reasons why.

– Doesn’t run in background. When streaming music or playing the songs which you’ve previously cached (which is admittedly a cool feature), Spotify effectively disables your phone. You can’t do anything else while the music is playing and this is HUGE, given the myriad of tasks you can accomplish on an iPhone. You CAN, however, listen to your music on your iPhone from your iPod. Hmm, anything to do with WHY Apple approved the app in the first place?

– the caching is a very slow, even over wifi – this maybe more to do with how I interact with music (see below) but it’s just not going to be worth it for me to either a) remember to cache that Kanye West remix playlist the night before or b) wait 10 minutes while the playlist caches over my wifi network. Sue me for being demanding, but it’s just not good enough for how I work and consume music.

And that’s the major killer point here – the appeal of Spotify FREE is the instantaneousness of it. Think of a record, and it’s right there. But I don’t need to pay £9.99/month for that.

– Music recommendations are not intergrated or in any way useful. Partner with LastFM already, coz I’ve had it darting between the two to sample my new recommendations. This is a minor quibble, but could be a deal breaker in getting me back into the Premium fold.

All of the above, I’ve discovered, is related individually to how I prefer to consume and discover music, which is inherently different for each person (cool, huh?). Me? I want access to the music I love on a whim, and without having to pre-plan what music I’ll take with me on a trip. If I want to hear Phoenix all of a sudden on a run, I want it to be there on my iPod ready to go. And I damn sure want to check my emails while I’m on the bus listening to Common.

I just re-upped with eMusic today. It’s the best solution for me.

The pre-planning necessary with the Spotify app at the moment is too reminiscent of having a 12-disc CD holder to take with you on a plane, and invariably you’d be flying without a record that you REALLY want to listen to. Ah, the bad old days.

Are you using Spotify on iPhone? How’s it working for you?

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