You are currently browsing the daily archive for October 7, 2007.
An article published today by the Times Online examines the trend toward offering recorded music for free. A practice that is hardly new. TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington recently argued that recorded music, based simply on economic considerations, must eventually reach a price of zero. Many of his readers vehemently disagreed with him. I don’t remember much about economics but I see no reason to doubt Arrington’s conclusion, given the conditions he cites. The Times article’s mention of a list of 800 albums offered for free via Free Albums Galore would seem to bolster his argument. Though there is absolutely no way you’ll have time to read all the comments at TechCrunch (174 at this posting), you should at least read a healthy sampling. Quite a discussion.
Though I don’t see the flaw in Arrington’s reasoning, and I sort of rejoice at what Radiohead has done with their latest (even though I’m not a huge fan), and Prince with his (even though I’m really, really not a fan), there’s something I’m wondering about.
The Times article hints at a line of argument that I’ve read in a few places, i.e. that touring will allow the artist to make money that will support continued creation of new music. That’s fine, but the article only begins to tackle the real story at the very end, with these couple of sentences…
Interestingly the band now tolling the death knell of the record industry, Radiohead, seem currently to have mixed feelings about live work.
“They probably will be playing some dates next year,” a spokesman said last week. “But Thom Yorke doesn’t like touring much.”
What happens to artists that don’t, won’t, or can’t go on tour with their music? I think it’s simpleminded to suggest that they will go ‘out of business’ as it were, though that may seem inevitable under the circumstances. For artists like Radiohead, past success probably ensures many more years of music. Here’s the thing about what they’re doing though: say you download Radiohead’s newest for, oh, say $5.00. What’s to stop you at that point from uploading it to something like Kazaa or some other internet file uploading thingamabob and giving it away to all your friends and their brothers? (This is what Arrington is talking about when he says that marginal costs are $0… after the initial item is released, there is no real cost associated with making unlimited copies). So essentially, Yorke and company are giving away their album, just like Prince did. The difference is that Prince loves to play live and Thom Yorke apparently does not.
Back in the sixties when the Beatles decided to become a studio band and quit touring, they could count on record sales because there was no digital music and no internet over which to distribute it. Today when your earnestly produced homegrown record is offered for sale via your myspace page or whatever, you’re essentially giving it away. How are you going to make money off of your artistry? If the answer is, ‘you can’t', will you be able to produce anything else or will you wait tables or deliver the mail like all of your friends?
I don’t know the answers, but I do care a lot about the question. And I think that question is becoming more and more valid by the minute, even if it’s not getting much attention. Yet.
The idea of a meme will not die. No matter how hard we try to kill it.
Jeff tagged me with the latest. This time it’s a list of 4s.
4ward I go…
Four Films I Could Watch Over and Over Again
- 2001:A Space Odyssey
- Dances With Wolves
- Field of Dreams
Four TV Shows I Watch:
- Forensic Files.
- Sorry, there aren’t any more.
Four Places I’ve Lived:
Four Favorite Foods:
- Steak, medium rare please.
- Mushrooms, especially if they’re on top of a medium rare steak.
- Coffee Ice Cream with Chocolate Chips mixed in.
Four Websites I visit Daily
- Netvibes (to see what’s happening in the world)
- Bloglines (to see what’s happening to you)
- iGoogle (to see what’s happening to me)
- This blog (to see if anybody left a comment)
Four Favorite Colors
Four Places I Would Love To Be Right Now
(much more reasonable than ten places in Texas I would like to be right now)…
- Yellowstone National Park
- Long Beach Island, NJ
- My Parents’ House in NJ
- Denali National Park, AK
Four Names You Love, But Could/Would Not Use For Your Children:
No tagging. You can participate if you like.
Yes, it is true. Google Reader is a much better web application than it once was. It is quicker, easier to use and has better features than its first and relatively inauspicious version.
But Bloglines beta is all that plus a bag of chips. Simply put, bloglines beta does almost everything that Google Reader does and in addition sports a better, easier to read layout. It’s also more visually attractive than the original bloglines but I don’t really care about that. One thing that bloglines beta does much better than Google Reader is subscription management. The two readers are almost twins in terms of functionality. Google has a separate feed management ‘page’ where you can select a number of feeds and accidentally delete them all with one click! Or do something useful like rename them or change their folders.
Bloglines feed management, though lacking any bulk update capability that I can see, lets you do all your editing right on the main viewer page. Want to change folders? In bloglines, you just drag the item to the new folder. That’s it.
But, you say, Google lets you star items!
Well, in bloglines you can “pin” an item, which is exactly the same as “starring” it in google.
Bloglines does not let you see all your pinned items at one time, which Google does. That feature of Greader is not one I used at all during my side by side trial of the two, so I’m concluding that I don’t need it. But if “view starred items” is something that you need, Bloglines doesn’t have it… yet.
Further, Bloglines’ cleaner look, with more space between lines of type in the feed list, and right adjusted unread counts, is more appealing to me than Google Reader’s comparatively cluttered look.
Finally the folks at Bloglines seem hungrier. I sent them an email about a feature from the original bloglines that has not yet been transferred over (that feature, by the way, displays the number of unread and also the number of pinned items from your library in the bloglines browser tab). I got an email response in less than twenty four hours that said basically, “it’s coming!” Requests for features or anything else which are sent into the Googlesphere are rarely heard from again. Though, I must say that in the Google Calendar forum, I got a pretty quick response when I couldn’t delete any events.
It was close, but Bloglines is the winner.
I still like Google and most of their apps. Gmail makes mincemeat out of every other web mail application I’ve tried, the same goes for Google Calendar in its field. Google Docs is awesome even if its formatting capabilities aren’t quite there yet.
I did receive a couple of suggestions about other readers and I tried each one. Newshutch, as far as I’m concerned is a non starter, mostly because it didn’t start [i.e. wouldn't let me load my opml file]. Spokeo is like the USA Today of feed readers… it’s fine if you like cartoons and lots of colors.
All you hardcore Google Reader users out there (this mean you, Beth)… these two offerings are so close that I wouldn’t recommend switching if you’re already using one of them. But if you’re on the fence, Bloglines Beta (the Beta, not the original… there’s a big difference) is the way to go.