June 15, 2008


I have renamed this blog New Media Economist. It just makes sense to talk about the entertainment industry as a whole, rather than keeping a whole other blog about the film industry. So enjoy, as this will also likely mean more content, more often.

June 14, 2008

Starbucks actually markets music properly

Most people don’t give Starbucks enough credit for their entry into the music business. Well, most people don’t really give Starbucks enough credit for anything, but that’s another story. The truth is that when it comes to marketing music, Starbucks has the right idea… and others need to follow.

Starbucks has begun putting plasma televisions in all their stores that show you what song is currently playing, who it’s by, and what album it is on. Furthermore, if you open iTunes during this time, you can find out this information as well, along with a list of the songs played previously in that location. This is genius.

A few weeks ago, I was at my coffee shop of choice when a song came on that I liked and totally would’ve purchased on the spot if only I had a clue what it was. But I did not, and as such the music industry lost a sale.

The music industry is likely losing millions of potential sales because of this.

Some sort of service along the lines of this Starbucks one should be implemented anywhere music plays and where people congregate. It will earn money for both the venue and the music industry, and introduce people to new music in the process.

June 11, 2008

Stop suing, start hijacking

If you know me at all, you probably know that back in high school, I co-founded and taught Video Productions, an award-winning filmmaking program. To this day, I still help out, and still work on the site and keep the YouTube page relatively up to date.

Not too long ago, Video Productions got its first copyright claim, this one coming from UMG. However, instead of the video being taken offline, given a cease and desist, or being sued, we received the following:

Your video is still live because UMG has authorized the use of this content on YouTube. As long as UMG has a claim on your video, they will receive public statistics about your video, such as number of views. Viewers may also see advertising on your video’s page.

Advertising? This is very interesting, because this basically means that UMG can now insert ads onto our page and take any revenue that this video would have earned. While this is probably better than a bunch of minors being sued, I wonder to what extent this could be taken.

For instance, if I were to create a long, very popular film that used only 15 seconds of copyrighted music, could the label still take control of all revenue and traffic? Could they effectively be given distribution rights over any piece of content that uses their property, even if the violation is minor in comparison to the work as a whole?

Obviously in this situation, the filmmaker would be best to get an original score or purchase licensing rights to the song used.

But I still find the concept of the media companies hijacking content and injecting ads into it rather fascinating. It’s almost an argument against doing any in-house new media marketing. Just wait for some kid to upload your song/movie/show and then go claim it.

The irony is that the video in question is a fake commercial for Pepsi. Perhaps we can get them as a sponsor and license the song from UMG. That’ll be the day…

June 1, 2008

MTV’s brilliant music marketing

I am in no way a fan of The Hills. I have many legitimate reasons for disliking that show. However, I do have to commend MTV for integrating a brilliant method of music marketing into The Hills, and possibly other shows as well.

Whenever a song is playing in the background of an episode of The Hills, MTV overlays the title and artist, as well as a short URL you can use to later to find out more. This is brilliant! I cannot recall the number of times I have been watching a television show and wondered what the background music was.

Clearly, this is a market worth tapping into, as sites like What’s That Called? have been around for years, not to mention tons of forums, blog posts, and Yahoo! Answers questions on the subject.

I only hope this method of marketing expands to other television shows and forms of media, and that people figure out how to make money from this promotion.

Oh, and yes, I apologize for my lack of posts, and you can consider this one to be the first of a long stream of regular content from now on.

May 15, 2008

EMI and Suretone provide RSS feeds

I’m a big fan of RSS and of giving people the ability to build web services around your data. One of the things I’ve been hoping for was for the record labels to start offering RSS feeds of their tour data.

EMI has gotten all their labels to do it (see Capitol’s artists page), and it appears that Suretone has as done it, too. Suretone is a subsidiary of UMG, and as far as I can tell, unlike EMI, Universal has not implemented this across any of their other labels. If there are others out there that I’m missing, let me know.

Why is this important? Why do nerdy things like RSS help people who like music? The truth is, this is huge. For one project I’m working on we want to be able to show you all upcoming tours from your favorite bands, without having to log into a different website/MySpace/whatever for each band. The RSS feed is how we would get this data.

Basically, once more labels start doing this, you’ll start seeing tons of exciting new applications that make use of this data in ways we still haven’t imagined yet.

May 14, 2008

eMusic: Excellent… if you like their catalog.

So eMusic has been around for quite some time, but has it changed over the years? How does it fare against iTunes and Amazon? I hadn’t used it for some time, so I went over and grabbed myself a subscription.

I’m not going to go crazy with this entry, so I will just tell you what you need to know. eMusic’s catalog is pretty large. If you like independent music, you will love eMusic. If you intend on buying music from any of the major record labels, go elsewhere. This part hasn’t really changed over the years. Their catalog is growing, but only as other independent labels get onboard.

With their most basic subscription, songs only cost $0.35 each, and they are DRM-free MP3’s at ~200kbit VBR. Definitely awesome. For whatever reason, though, they do not offer album art still. However, if you have an account on the iTunes Music Store, you can just use iTunes’ album art grabbing feature to fix this.

And I think that little detail kind of summarizes the whole service — you should use it alongside a service like iTunes; the catalog is not good enough to be your only source of music unless you don’t like anything by any of the big labels at all. But if you consume a lot of independent music, eMusic is still a great service, and will save you a lot of money for the songs they offer that you want.

May 13, 2008

Coldplay is spamming me

So, we all know that Coldplay released their single Violet Hill as a free MP3 download. What I did not know was that when you gave them your email address, they automatically subscribed you to their newsletter without a disclaimer and without giving you the option to not do this.

Yet I have now been getting email from Coldplay with things like how to win tickets to shows and why I might want to pre-order the album.

Of course, they do give you the option to unsubscribe to this newsletter. But in 2008 when privacy concerns are the highest they’ve ever been and spam is absolutely out of control, it is simply not acceptable to sign up anyone to any kind of mailing list without their knowledge or consent.

May 12, 2008

The Offspring’s free single

I can’t really think about The Offspring without being reminded of my seventh-grade self blasting Americana at inopportune moments, but let’s put that aside for a second.

The band has released their new single Hammerhead as a free MP3 download from their website. A handful of artists have been doing this, but what’s interesting about this one is that they have released the MP3 compressed at 320kbits, which not only makes it higher-quality than any of the other free singles bands have been giving away, but that’s also better than Amazon or iTunes, including iTunes Plus. There’s no album art embedded in it, but hey, you can’t have everything.

May 11, 2008

What’s all this about?

It’s no big secret that the entertainment industry is rebuilding itself with an emphasis on new technology and new media. And as with all exciting things on the internet these days, someone just had to coin a term for it. Within the music industry, the term for this trend is, allegedly, the New Music Economy. I am borrowing that title and expanding it to encompass filmmaking, as well — new media within the entertainment industry as a whole.

You can probably figure out what this blog is about. I am someone who works professionally within this niche — that being the bridge between technology and entertainment — and I intend to use this blog to chronicle any news or opinions on this subject that I deem to be interesting.

From artists and companies who “get it” and do cool things with technology to market their properties, to those who fight it… I will blog about it.

Because if the way the industry is changing actually warrants a whole new economy, I might as well be its economist. Besides, I thought it was a creative domain name.