Saturday, January 29, 2005

Music: Recommendations

So here's an idea.... If an artist uploads their music into the system and they have recommendations, their songs should get into the list of "pushed" songs of others that like the same kind of music.... that's a way to get songs that haven't been listened too, connected to people that might like them.

The logic being... if you as an artist, like certain bands... then your music might appeal to others that listen to those bands...

Music: Where to start reading

If you're new... here are a few links to read on my blog to get started on what this whole music system is.

Music = Loud
Music = The Internet
Artist compensation
User Experience

Those are some of the highlights....

More Bryan Free

So yeah, Gwen took me over and introduced me to Bryan (my brother's name is spelled Brian so it's really hard for me to remember to spell his name with a Y). We only talked for a minute and now he's up on stage. He sounded interested and I'm looking forward to talking more with him.

Most of these ideas seem good to me, but I don't earn my living off music, so my perspective isn't the best. I need feedback from people that would place their livelihood in the hands of a label. Established record labels have the benefit of history. All I have are some crazy half baked ideas that might or might not work out. :-)

Well, but that's the point of this blog... to separate out the ideas that can't work from the ones that can.

Bryan Free

Gwen and I and a bunch of folks from COTA are about to hear Bryan Free play.

Gwen likes his music, and I think his ideas about honest in music are interesting.... I wonder if I"ll have a chance to talk to him about them.

Music: Recording

Maybe I should spend some time talking with local artists about doing recording for the system. I have a protools digi 002, and could probably produce some pretty reasonable quality recordings....

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Recent Slow Down

I haven't slowed down too much I guess, but it sure feels like it. Work has been really busy these last few weeks.

I'm going on vacation next tuesday though, so hopefully I'll have some more time to get my head around this stuff then.

SmartShuffle: Refreshing Your Music Without Wires

IOD: SmartShuffle: Refreshing Your Music Without Wires: "Each day my phone would call up my home computer on its own and replace the 5-10 oldest songs on my phone with 5-10 new 'recommendations'."

Sounds like Josh would be interested in something like "the system".

Reactions to the Pew Study on Search Engine Users (by Jeremy Zawodny)

Reactions to the Pew Study on Search Engine Users (by Jeremy Zawodny): "If you find what you're looking for, does it really matter if it's a sponsored result or not?"

The only reason I think it would matter is that without indicating they are sponsored links, you would lead your users to believe that their ranking was as a result of your searching algorithm, instead of their rank because a result of their money.

If the links are relevent like Jeremy indicates, then I don't think I need to care as much where they come from. But when money gets involved, things get sticky.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Why we need an iPod competitor | Doc Searls' IT Garage

Why we need an iPod competitor | Doc Searls' IT Garage: "It's a closed system."

Yup. I would love to see a really strong ipod competitor as well. Especially since I'm still brainstorming ways to integrate the system with players.

Music: BBC NEWS | Technology | Napster offers rented music to go

BBC NEWS | Technology | Napster offers rented music to go: "'Music fans are moving away from buying the traditional bundled package of a dozen or more songs that we used to call an album to newer ways that fit their lifestyle; either single tracks or subscriptions services,' said Paul Myers, chief executive of Wippit, a UK-based music download service."

Interesting no? I think there are 2 things that will set the system apart.

1) Licensing
2) Implementation

I think the licensing will help make the implementation easier. Hopefully the licensing and the implementation will attract the critical component.


Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Music: Gizmodo : Gates Interview Part Four: Communists and DRM

Gizmodo : Gates Interview Part Four: Communists and DRM

There are some very good quotes to look at from this interview. I think those most interesting to look at right now is.

And in the case that the authors decided it's rights managed, you can decide to stay away from it or to use it. That, again, is your choice.

We're still at a point where digital rights management can't really work. Every DRM system to date has been compromised by determined hackers. Soon though, the hardware and the software will start to come together, and things will start to get rough. I think that's when people will start to wake up and realize that DRM does not help them (the consumers) at all.

Take a song you bought off iTunes Music Store and put it on a linux machine. You bought the music right, you should be able to listen to it on another computer right? Well you can't, not without breaking the DRM.

That's part of the goal of the system. To provide an alternative to DRM. An alternative that artists will need to evaluate when looking at ways to distribute their music in the internet age.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Music: Creative Commons

What do y'all think of this creative commons license

Music in the system will need to be licensed in such a way that people can legally download and share it. I like the terms of this license, except that I'm concerned about the non-commercial part. It will probably be beneficial for users of the system to be able to download the music for use in DJing or radio play.

Perhaps that could be a different kind of subscription to the service...

FeedBurner's XSLT and CSS Feed Views (by Jeremy Zawodny)

FeedBurner's XSLT and CSS Feed Views (by Jeremy Zawodny): "Related to Dan's complaint, I see the FeedBurner, like a few other services, does a good job of using XSLT and CSS to render human readable views of RSS feeds."

Like I mentioned before, blogger does a pretty good job of providing human readable atom feeds. So readable that I didn't think they were XML at first.

my atom feed

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Music: Wired 13.01: The Zen of Jeff Bezos

Wired 13.01: The Zen of Jeff Bezos: "Well, it's difficult to see how physical stores participate in the digital distribution of music. Today most music is sold by multi-category retailers who are cutting back on the square footage they deploy to music."

A couple of interesting tidbits from this article. The most interesting I think is this quote.

WIRED: Does Amazon actually create demand for hard-to-find products?
BEZOS: Absolutely. We not only help readers find books, we also help books find readers, with personalized recommendations based on the patterns we see.

This is part of what I see the system doing. Since I perceive that in the future, the challenge of music isn't going to be media distribution or product, but marketing. Connecting musicians and fans.

Friday, January 14, 2005

iTunes restrictions

Miguel de Icaza: "Today a friend of mine asked me if I bought music from the Apple iTunes Store and whether she should. I explained to her that the music she purchases will be locked into the iPod and iTunes and she wont be able to play it on other MP3 players unless she hacks her music."

It's unfortunate that apple appears to be one of the most open of the online music distributors.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Music: DJs and Playlists

So I'm listening to this Japanese Peercast right... and I have no idea if a person is behind it or not. And do I really care?

If the music selection is "good"...

I should be careful with this... my wife was a college radio DJ, and she reads the blog. :-)

Maybe the system can be your own personal DJ through the recommendation system.

I remember Brian Mansell (he used to livejournal, but I've lost track of him, does he have another blog up?) working on creating a system that would allow people to post requests to an automated playlist system. I bet he would have some interesting ideas about this.

Music: Recommendation Configuration

Recommendations should be configurable. Sometimes I'm in the mood for music that I haven't heard before. So I would want a list of music that is of a genre I don't typically listen too, but is highly rated. Also, I may want to check out music that is new to the system, or music that is highly rated, but not by many people (undiscovered).

Off the top of my head, here are some types of recommendations

1) More of what I like: Uses genre/style + ratings, plus people who rate like you
2) More of the genre I like: Uses genre/style + ratings, ignores others
3) Stuff I don't listen to but others like: Other's ratings - your ratings
4) Stuff I might like, but others haven't found: Genre + ratings, low rate count
5) New Stuff I might like: Genre + date added + ratings

We will probably want to end up producing multiple "feeds" of recommendations so that you can check out your recommendations under multiple categories.

Music: Artist Compensation

Artist compensation is something that is important to get right. Artists have to think they will get paid using the system, or else they wont want to use it. If I were putting my music up on the system, my main concern would be that people could circumvent the system and get my music without me getting paid for it.

Maybe we need 2 steps here. Artist need to begin to understand the disconnect between distribution and compensation. We aren't paying them based on how many copies of the song were created... If somebody emails somebody else a copy of the song, that doesn't cost me anything, and it doesn't really cost the artist anything either except lost opportunity.

So what are we really compensating the artists based on. I think song ratings is the way to go. The more favorably your song is rated and by more people, the more you get paid. I think this model makes sense as well, because the higher your song is rated, the more likely it is to be recommended to somebody, and the more value it has to the system (better recommendations for songs create more value for the user).

So the song has value to the system primarily in it's ability to both 1) bring more users into the system and 2) keep more users happy with the system (and subscribed). So the artist compensation model should be based on how successful a song (and the artist) is at doing those things.

Quantity of music doesn't matter either... if you only put one song up, but everybody loves it, it's just as valuable as somebody with 50 songs that some people like.

So practically what does this mean? Do we count positive recommendations and breakout the cash based on those recommendations?

The thing I like about that model is that it encourages the arist to throw the curve, by bringing their fans/family into the system. We should consider that when putting the payment structure together. If Bill creates four songs and puts them up in the system (at no cost to him) and gets 10 members of his family to sign up and rate his music highly, it seems like he should get some cash money out of that. It might not be much money, but it would be nice if we could put him on the map. Those positive recommendations would also potentially push his music out to others... and depending on how they rate the music, it will move up or down in the ratings (average rating).

Music: More on Peercasting

So I downloaded the client and am currently listening to some japanese radio station.

Unfortunately this technology will probably end up being abandoned once the record labels find out about it. They'll do their best to sue everybody out of business. Course it's an open source project so it can't really die... I'm interested in watching this one play out.

The problem with broadcasting of any kind is that you're always beholden to the copyright owners. And since most people want to listen to music owned by the record labels, they have to play by the labels rules.

Bittorrent and Peercasting are great pieces of technology for the system though, because they solve even more of the technical hurtles involved in distributing large (although they get relatively smaller every day) media files. And since we are creating a business model independent from distribution restrictions, we want to encourage this kind of development.

It's all about the artists though... enough artists have to be convinced to see the value of this kind of business model for it to take off.

Music: PeerCast P2P Radio

PeerCast P2P Radio

Ok, this peercasting sounds really cool. I wonder if we can integate this into the system somehow. I'm thinking that we're going to want some kind of thick client component to handle stuff like managed downloads, pushing recommendations, integration into common media players, etc... Perhaps peercasting could be part of the equation.

I'm going to have to get a couple of people together to try this thing out.

I bet the crew at mixaddicts would be good test subjects.

simultaneous releases

Does the film industry need simultaneous releases?: "While that results in fewer CD sales, the costs to the record companies to sell music online are negligible compared to making, packaging, and shipping CDs around the world. "

Yeah, cause they're not doing anything once the music has been produced.

The article is talking about releasing DVDs and online at the same time, but I this quote stuck out to me.

Another interesting quote from the article.

This begs the question of how much such activities actually hurt the movie industry. The actual economic impact is arguably negligible — studies have shown that those who download movies are no less likely to go to the theater or rent and buy DVDs.

I gots to read them studies.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Music: UI Prototype

Tonight I began working on some simple UI pages to illustrate some of the feature I've been talking about. They're not ready to be shown yet, and they wont be very pretty when I do show them off, but they will help those who are more visual learners to understand what kind of user interface to expect from the system.

It's taking a little while because I'm coding the XHTML up by hand so that it's symatically correct and can be marked up using CSS. It will make skinning and changing the prototype UI much easier, which is good because I don't expect the first version to look very good.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Hyperlinks are blue and underlined because they are hyperlinks

I just removed the styling for hyperlinks from the CSS because hyperlinks are blue and underlined because they are hyperlinks.

I don't buy into this whole, "links should be almost indistinguishable from regular content" thing. Blue underlines fit into this minimalist color scheme and so by gosh, you're gonna be able to see those links.

The only think I might change are the hyperlinks in the right side menu. Those lists do a pretty good job of letting you know visually that they can be selected, but for links I insert in my posts, I want them to stand out as you're reading. They are there to encourage you to clicky clicky.

Music: Song Meta-Data or Tracks vs. Albums

So I've been thinking about song meta-data (I think has popups, but I wouldn't know because I use firefox).

Meta-data is going to be important to the song searching/recommendation process. In order to know whether we should recommend a song to someone, we'll need to know enough about it to classify it in relationship to other songs.

I spent some time looking at the list of fields in theCDDB

It seems like their database is designed for albums primarily, while I'm inclined to make tracks the primary piece of data in the system. Albums can definitely be defined on the system, however they are used as a device of the artist to build a collection of songs. Since the system isn't tied to the typical album model, it seems like we should take advantage of that. And along with throwing out the baby, we can throw out some bathwater... for example: Artists will no longer be encouraged to produce "filler" tracks to bring their "album" up to 50 minutes. If you have 3 really good songs, put them up on the system. Group them up as an EP if you like, but those three popular songs could bring you as much income as 4 full albums worth of material that isn't as appealing.

But at the same time, we need to make sure to support artists that already have an "albums" worth of material put together that they want to classify as a "unit".

What do y'all think. In an idea world, with no legacy system to support, how should your music be organized?

Music: PodCasting defined

I'm starting a new protocol. I'm going to preface any post titles relating to the music system with "Music:" Since I can't setup categories in blogger, this will be the next best thing. If you are only interested in the system, you can ignore anything not prefaced with Music:

Here is a wikipedia link to podcasting for those that have heard me use the term but aren't familiar with it.

Podcasting is the concept I think we could use for music delivery in the system. The system would have a set of heuristics it would use to determine what songs a user of the system would find interesting. And then setup a custom podcast for that user that would deliver music to that users inbox. Podcasting is a good fit from a technology perspective because it gives distribution control to both the user and the producer. Since we populate the RSS feed, we can effectively "push" new music to the client, but at the same time, users could simply disable the client if they didn't want to get new music.

CSS Tweaks

I tweaked on the CSS just a little bit to get a slightly different style. The minimalist template was a little too minimal for me.

Style modifications

I'm changing to a simpler style. This one seems to have better organized CSS. Should be easier to make modifications.

You should read this blog using an RSS aggregator anyways. ;-)

Bloggers Atom Feed

If you're following the system you can safely ignore this post, unless you're interested in CSS.

Check out the atom feed for this blog. First notice that it's an XML feed. If you view source on the document, you can see the atom xml format. Second, notice that it's a pretty darn good looking XML feed. Here's another example of an xml feed. See how this one isn't as nice looking.

I haven't figured out what part of the XML/HTML specs allow you to markup XML using CSS the way these blogger guys have, but it sure is nice. If they included a link to the comments in the atom XML feed I would almost rather use that as my blog style.

Producers and Studios

I've identified another area that music labels help out artists. They help connect producers with artists, as well as having access to networks of recording studios and mastering houses.

Recording is being pushed "down" in terms of the initial investment required to start a studio, but the skills are still a pre-requisite.

The system will probably need a way for producers to enter in and offer up their services to those in the system.

I can think of 2 ways to arrange that.

1) Artists use the system to search for producers that could help them with a project. They arrange to pay for the producers service outside of the system.

Or the more interesting one

2) Producers become associated with a song in the same way that an artist is associated with a song. That way, a producer can be paid through the system, using a similar system (with different percentages probably) to how artists are compensated.

Recording studios are a different beast though, because they are typically paid by the hour, regardless of how popular the song becomes. I don't see the system having a huge impact on recording studios, except that it would give them a good networking tool. We will need to figure out whether they should pay for access to the system, or inversely, somehow encourage them to take on projects originating from the system.

That's an interesting viral technique... when somebody from the system records a song in a recording studio, that studio gets listed through the artist.

Just an idea... I think having access to those resources will be a service of the system, and as the system hosts we'll probably have to put some time into finding recording studios.

Media player integration

I'm stuck here at work for a few extra minutes waiting for Gwen so I thought I'd blog a little.

One idea I had about the system was that to get real value, we need to integrate with the popular media players. iTunes seems like a no-brainer in terms of support. Integrating with iTunes would give us tight integration with the iPod as well. Similar to how iPodder or the other podcasting tools integrate with iTunes and hence the iPod.

What are some other candidates.

Is music match jukebox still a popular one?
I'm thinking that integrate into Windows Media Center Edition would be cool. The market is probably kind of small for it today, but there's potential there.

I wonder what Winamp's latest version looks like?

I've mostly been using iTunes on the mac lately because of the iPod.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Tired tonight

I worked late tonight so I'm kind of fried. Brain storming is now a drizzle... a brain drizzle...

Not enough bits in this byte: User experience

Not enough bits in this byte: User experience"I want them to be smart enough to know (pretty much) what I want to listen to when I switch them on."

Fred has done some brainstorming on his ideal user experience. It's definitely an interesting read.

I have no idea how to build that kind of solution. But I have a feeling it could be built on top of the system. There are so many details to put something like that together.

Let's call that kind of experience "the system 10.0" :) My favorite part is the telepathic interface. ;)

Cats help write blogs

Radish is sitting with me again. She's my blogging partner.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Artist community

Here's another quick thought.

Part of the value add of the labels is connecting artists and producers so that the producers can help the artists produce music. Similarly, they help connect recording studios and mastering facilities.

I think the system could be used to connect these people together as well. In addition to providing a direct feedback loop between the subscribers and the artists.

We would need to do some leg work to come up with studios and mastering houses to recommend, but that's just part of the whole relationship building we'll need to do.

More Genres

Jon posted in a comment here talking about how one system does more advanced genre work for music.

I really like that idea. I'm thinking of how we could get the benefits of something like that.

Maybe it's not a genre so much as a description of the music. And a piece of music should have multiple descriptions associated with it. Some examples of descriptions could be: contemplative, intense, melancholy. While a piece of music might only have one genre or subgenre, another level of description would be helpful in classifying the music.

Meta-data is going to be one of the more critical pieces of the system, so doing some brain storming on how to extend the "standard" musical meta-data is good.

User experience

Let's brainstorm user experience some...

The community interaction aspect of the system points towards a web based interface. But the iTunes like seamless interaction would probably require a thick client for the desktop.

Perhaps a combination of the two... a thick client that manages your downloaded music and schedules new downloads....

ooohhhhhh.... maybe the desktop client could be a podcast tool. oh oh oh, I like that idea. Part of the service could be to subscribe to "podcasts" of recommended music. Every night your desktop app automatically downloads the latest songs that are recommended for you.

With all the podcasting hubub, I'm actually a little concerned about making that idea public... but oh well.

Ok, so let's describe the user experience for that.

You browse around the site, and download some songs you think you'll like (based on comments and reviews). You like some of the songs, and add them to your personal genre. After enough time you've built up a big enough list of rated music that the system can begin guessing at your tastes.

At this point you install the desktop app that watches the service for songs to downloaded based on recommendations.

If Adam Curry has taught us anything though, it's that podcasts use a ton of bandwidth. Perhaps the thick client can use an implementation of bittorrent to distribute the files.

This actually ties into keeping subscribers around. Imagine if after rating enough netflix movies, extra movies just ended up in your mailbox because netflix thought you would like it. And if you don't, then you can just send it back, at no extra cost to you.

Keeping subscribers

ok, so... if you're earning money to make music, and then you stop making money, you will probably have to either cut back on the music, or quit it all together (Cause of that whole day job thing).

So, to sustain artists over the long term, subscribers will need to stay in the system. If subscribers and artists stay, then we get a nice big positive feedback loop. Subscribers pay artists, artists make music, subscribers get music, etc...

So the question is raised, how to keep subscribers in the system. Some services use long contracts to accomplish this goal, I would prefer to come up with a service so compelling that no-one would ever want to leave.

Netflix has a good example of positive lock-in with their rating system. Since I've started using netflix I get really good recommendations based on movies I've reviewed in the past. If the system is constantly pointing subscribers towards good music, then perhaps there is enough there to keep them interested and using the system after they got what they originally came in for (presuming they only came into the system to get accesss to one or two artists).

How much is music worth?

How much is your music worth to you? At what point would you stop making music if you weren't being paid enough?


How much are you willing to pay for access to people's music?

These are some fundamental business model type questions that will end up determining if the system can sustain itself. If people are only willing to pay $1 per month, and artists require that users pay $10 per month, then the system is not sustainable. But if users are willing to pay $5 per month, and the artists can be supported for $5 per month, then all is well.

Before this exercise is over we'll have to do some math. Subscribers times fee minus overhead divided by tier 2 artists = success or failure.

File sharing = lost opportunities

Why is file sharing "bad". From the record labels perspective it seems bad because it replaces their business model (which is primarily based on distribution). But I think the "bad" is slightly different for the artists.

File sharing isn't directly analagous to stealing, because stealing implies exclusive ownership of some property. I'm stealing from you if I take your CD because you no longer have the CD. If I copy a file from your computer, it's not quite stealing because you still have your copy. You are no worse off because I copied the file from you. I think this is primarily why file sharing was so popular. It cost people very little to contribute "their" files to the system. The problem was, their files were really their's, they belong to the record labels.

Those traded files didn't cost record labels in the same tangible sense that me stealing CDs from a warehouse would(no I don't steal from warehouses)... they represent a lost opportunity. Back when I didn't have a song, there was the opporunity for a sale because I wanted to own it. If I procure the song using a file sharing utility, the "lost" from the label or artists perspective is that there is no longer an opportunity to sell me a CD.

So, part of the goal of the system will be to allow for file sharing, without the pain of losing that opportunity.

More compensation thoughts

I kind of like a tiered profit sharing system because it blurs the line between popular artists and undiscovered artists. If you're music is of quality and people like it, then it can quickly become popular, and as the artist, there aren't any more contracts to sign, or deals to cut to "get yo money".

I think there will end up being a lot of tiers, but for now we'll refer to two kinds of artists, tier 1 and tier 2. Tier 1 is out of the money, and tier 2 is in the money. Like I mentioned before, this idea could be revised to include tier 1 in the money, but I think the two groups will have slightly different focuses. The primary benefits that tier 1's will be interested in "how can I get people to listen to my music", where as tier 2's will be more interested in "sustaining and growing my popularity".

Once you reach tier 2, you will have a slightly different set of motivations as tier 1's, and I think the system should be designed to appeal to both sets of users. The undiscovered bands vs. the established artists.

Artist Compensation

Artist compensation will be pretty important to the system. I'm not quite sure what the best model will be, but hey, let's think about it.

In the distribution model, artists are compensated based on how popular their music is. Popularity is pretty straightforward to measure in that model. But it should be replacable.

Artists could be compensated based on the concensus of the system's users.

The exact ratios are going to be tricky to figure out. Maybe a profit sharing model would work. The top rated artists are awared percentages of the profits. The percentages would need to be tweaked as the system grows, in the beginning a limited number of the top rated artists would share in the profits, but as the profits grew, the percentage of artists "in the money" could be tweaked.

I think in order to build the community, there will need to be a tier that is not compensated, but depending on the quanity vs. quality of contributors, it may be possible to reward all the artists monetarily. Perhaps at the lowest tier the value to the artists is in the relationships and marketing potential.

hmmm, I kind of like that idea.

Tier 1: Access to the system's core features to help promote the artists contributions.
Tier 2: Fixed monetary contribution.
Tier 3: Profit sharing

Tier 2 might actually simply be a very wide area of profit sharing... with everyone in that tier getting .1% or something (depending on how high the profits are this could be a lot of money), and then increasing in percentages once you get to a certain popularity "level".

More Cats

Our cat Radish is helping mme out with this postp. She has planted her hean firmly on my right hand, making it difficult to delete anything I've written.

it's very cute though

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

The Nuggery: LOTR's Aragorn - Is He "What Women Want"?

The Nuggery: LOTR's Aragorn - Is He "What Women Want"?

Paul D commented that he also did a full day extended LOTRs-athon. And directed me to this interesting article he wrote.

See and I always though that Orlando, err... Legolas was considered "the hot one". Maybe when the teenage girls get a little older they're ready to settle down with Aragorn.... cause he's king and all....

Viggo Mortensen is definitely awesome though. Watching the documentaries I was impressed to hear how quickly he was able to come up to speed for the movies, and how generally likeable he seemed in the interviews and to other cast members.

yeah yeah yeah, LOTRs is good and all that jazz. I'm a geek. Next topic: how Lucas totally messed up Star Wars. ;-)

Rating songs

ahh... I can't believe I haven't spent much time thinking about this before.

Ratings and reviews should be on the song level as well as the artist level. I might like a completely different half of an album from somebody else, which would mean we have drastically different musical tastes. If we have drastically different musical tastes then I wont find their list of ratings helpful in finding new music.

Existing (non system) Artists

In order to make the meta-data in the system work, we would probably need to allow for reviews and ratings for music not in the system. The fact that I really like radiohead and basement jaxx is probably important to somebody who wants to know whether they would like the same music as me.

I don't think there are any legal reasons that wouldn't work. We could simply define artists and music that is "outside" the system, but allow users to rate it and use it in creating genres.

Music Genres

Ok here's an idea.

Who defines music genres? It seems like we all pretty much agree on genres... but who said that if it sounds like X then it's country, or if it sounds like Y then it's electro.

That genre classification only gets you one piece of information. What if we defined genres based on our personal preferences, and the preferences of those we agreed with. Who would be interested in checking out music in the Gary genre, or the Gwen genre.

If we cross-index across those genres we could probably come up with some pretty interesting results.

Music Reviews

How do people find new music today? I mostly find music through my friends, but how did they find their music. Gwen found a lot of music when she was working at the college radio station. It sounds like that was primarily because she had access to tons of music. So she could just listen to thinks until she found stuff she liked. On top of that, she was communicating with others that had the same kind of access and interest.

I'm thinking of how music reviews might be part of the value add of the system. Similar to how netflix/amazon has user reviews and "critic" or editor reviews, perhaps the system needs a mechanism for authoritative opinions on the music. Since the system gives access to everyone, anybody who writes well and has good opinions would qualify as an authoritative writer. I'm thinking of two ideas.

1) Scout for music reviewers that would be willing to contribute to the system for a fee.
2) Reward artists and fans that write good reviews.

I'm thinking in practice it would take a combination of the two. But imagine, if you're a good writer, and can write good reviews, you could get your access to the system paid for by the reviews that you write. What exactly makes a good review is subjective, but perhaps a mechanism can be put in place. Sort of a download the song and see if you agree with the review, if so, the reviewer gets points.

Artist Rights

Ok, so when a musician puts their music up for download through "the system" (I'm not going to give this thing a name until it deserves one), there are some legal issues that will need to be addressed. I'm not a lawyer, but there are some fundamental issues I know will need to be addressed

The first is of music rights. I don't want to require the artists to release their music under creative commons, because they might want to pull the music off the system at some point. Perhaps there is a part of creative commons that could be used. That will take more research.

I would like for the system to be a good platforms for those musicians that want to get signed to a traditional label at some point. Since this is a grass-roots campaign, it will be important to not try and lock artists in like the major labels do. Perhaps when the system is big enough to guarantee revenues to artists we could require some kind of non-commercial creative license, but until then we would need to leave room in the licensing for artists to take their music elsewhere, and not limit or put the rights of the system users at risk.

The artists will need to grant users of the system access to all the music made available on the system for non-commercial use (or maybe commercial use as well... would make for a good DJ resource). My concern is that in the future if the artists want to pull their music from the system to sell it to a label, that would leave the existing users at risk for lawsuits... unless the wording included use of, but not sharing of music that has been pulled off the system. It may be enough to track what music has been pulled, and make the users of the system aware that they still have a license to use that music, but are putting themselves at risk for lawsuits if they share the music outside of the system.

I think a goal of the system should be to allow the artists to retain as many rights to their music as possible. Some will need to be given to the users obviously, but the system shouldn't need rights to the music to make money. Since the systems revenue is not driven off of distribution, there is no need to own the copyright of the music.

Another model

The more I think about this music idea tonight, the less it seems possible to me. I'm not sure what it is, but there's something about it that just doesn't gel.

Maybe it's my own resistance to online subscription services. I'm usually not very interested in subscription style services. I would much rather purchase a CD and "own" the music than subscribe to a service that gives me music. But maybe that's just the old-skool part of me that isn't ready to jump into new technology.

My concern is that too many people share the same feelings as I do. But the success of iTunes argues against that... At least some people are willing to purchase their music online.

I wonder if maybe in all this value add brain-storming I'm losing sight of the original core benefit, which is helping people find good music. The system should be, at it's core, about connecting artists with fans. The core value of the system is music lovers, finding music.

So what is the core, and what is the fluff?

Artist blogs seem like fluff, so do discussion boards. Even file hosting could be done elsewhere (although practically that probably wouldn't work). The core technology is tying music to other music.

Artists communicating with music fans is the next level of value add. But the primary focus should be on how to link music up.

I bet Joel would have some good insight on how those relationships should be defined. Where is he anyways. :)

I guess they still exist... who knew? :)

Music = Community

So I've been thinking some more about community type ideas. It kind of tough to articulate, but here we go.

Start out creating a community of artists. Provide services such as blogs, web hosting, file distribution, message boards, etc... for free as a way to build up a community of contributing artists. It sort of reminds me of I need to do some post-mortem research into how failed.

So, contributors get free access to these utilities, and consumers, pay for access to the utilities. We use the revenue from the consumers, to compensate the contributors.

This would incentivise the contributors to bring in consumers, which improves the consumer's ability to take home money, and improve the size and quality of the system.

I'm not convinced this will work, but it's interesting to think about.

Design Notebook

I just picked up a notebook at Bartel's in which I hope to draw out some high level designs for this system from a technology perspective.

It was recently pointed out in a comment that users don't care about underlying technology, they care about how easy the system is to use. iTunes was cited as an example of something that "just works" whether you understand the underlying tecnology or not. This is a good point, and I think one of the reasons that so many open source projects are not as successful (measured in popularity) as they could be. Many are very solid technical implementations of a feature set, but are so difficult to install and configure, that only the hardcore end up using them. That's not the kind of software I would like to create.

Scooblog on Corporate Transparency

Scooblog on Corporate Transparency: "In this series, I explored the creation of a transparency guide that would help people ask good questions about the costs and values when deciding whether or not to open up an aspect of your business for customer involvement."

A pretty good collection of ideas about company transparency compiled by a microsoft employee. The last section isn't as valuable as the first three in my opinion, but the rest seems pretty well balanced.

A good place to start for an overview of this whole thing known as transparency.


I recently linked to Joel's livejournal instead of his actual blog...

Joel Hartse

According to Joel livejournal is 'SO 2 years ago'

Sorry Joel :)

Monday, January 03, 2005

Proudly Serving My Corporate Masters: Virtual PC - App Compat Story of the Future?

Proudly Serving My Corporate Masters: Virtual PC - App Compat Story of the Future?: "Anyway, this got me thinking that Virtual PC could really become the application compatibility story for Microsoft in the future. "

I've used Virtual PC for this in the past, and it works well so long as you don't need any advanced video capabilities. I used it to play Full Throttle, which has got to be one of my all time favorite games.

Media costs money

Another idea for "the system" would be to sell physical media of any of the CDs for a "nominal" fee. Producing and shipping CDs is a pretty cheap operation. (are you listening record labels...)

Music = Premises + Implementation

Talked to Shawn a little bit today about the music ideas. I think I've boiled the fundamentals down to two things.

1) Musicians need to be paid to keep making music.
2) File sharing can't be stopped.

So, the design of the system has to accomodate these two premises.

If you remove either of those two premises, you end up at either side of the two issues that I've remained on the fence about for so many years. Removing premise number one and you get original napster file sharing. Remove number 2, and you get companies that sue thousands of their customers.

Scobleizer: Microsoft Geek Blogger

Scobleizer: Microsoft Geek Blogger: "The system that Savage Beast has built is quite interesting -- it's an all-Internet Explorer application (doesn't look like one, though). They've been paying musicians to come in and categorize thousands of songs. "

That's the quote that stuck out to me. This system sounds like what I've been kicking around, except it's used more as a tool of the established record labels.

I think it's fascinating that they are paying people to create these associations. With the right system setup, I think people will do all that work for free. Not to mention it will end up being a more accurate representation.

Denial and Television 2.0: Quotes from The BitTorrent Effect (by Jeremy Zawodny)

Denial and Television 2.0: Quotes from The BitTorrent Effect (by Jeremy Zawodny): "Not enough people have been thinking about Television 2.0."

Jeremy is hitting on the issues I've been thinking about for a while. What is music, television, and movies 2.0 going to look like.

Hopefully the brain storming that I'm doing on this blog will make some progress towards what the might look like.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Cats are Nice

yup... nobody can argue with that.... except for those people that have... cat.... phobia... or just don't like cats, and maybe are catallergic.

Maybe it's just the sleepiness 'n Gandalf and also Frodo talking... but man are I tired.


Aqua Teen Hunger Force in the hizouse. Number 1 in the hood G.

Saturday, January 01, 2005


Just got done with an all day super extended lord of the rings super event.

All three extended editions back to back. We started at 10:30, took a one hour break at 3:30, and ended at 11:00pm. Gwen and I just finished up the dishes and cleaning so the house will not look horrible in the morning.

A good time was had by all...