Saturday, October 20, 2007

Chris Anderson on "the Music Industry"

Chris Anderson has written another excellent post about the music industry, "Everything in the Music Industry is Up! (except those plastic discs)." An excerpt:

. . . it's a big mistake to equate the major labels and their plastic disc business with the industry as a whole. Indeed, when you stand back and look at all of music, things don't look so bad at all.

Indeed, it appears that every single part of the music industry except the sale of compact discs is up.

Concerts and merchandise: UP (+4%)
Digital tracks: UP (+46%)
Ringtones: UP (+86% last year, but probably just single-digit percent this year)
Licensing for commercials, TV shows, movies and videogames: UP (Warner Music saw licensing grow by about $20 million over the past year)
Even vinyl singles (think DJs): UP (more than doubled in the UK)
And, if you include the iPod in the music industry, as I'd argue a fair-minded analysis would: UP, UP, UP! (+31% this year)
Only CDs are down (-18%). They're around 60% of the industry not including the MP3 players, but just around 25% if you do include them.

So the problem with the music labels is not that music is an industry in decline, but that they have a too-narrow view of what business they're in.

And from the comments on Chris's post:


And, for what it's worth, down here in long-tail retailer land at CD Baby, even physical CD sales are up 35% over this same month last year. I suspect that part (not all) of the decline of the top-40 CD sales are people buying more CDs directly from independent musicians and alternative outlets.

Posted by: Derek Sivers | October 19, 2007 at 11:07 PM

Then there's the content. I'd bet that # of bands, # of musicians, # of tracks being made and available somewhere, # of venues are all up as well. My gut feel is that there are more people making more music than ever before. Then how about streaming; and Pandora up. P2P sharing; Up. Number of shoutcast servers; Up. Digital radio and radio over cable/satellite stations are Up.

It's highly likely that more people are listening to more (and more varied) music than ever before.

It's not really CD sales that are down. It's the Music Major's profits.

Posted by: julian bond | October 20, 2007 at 01:46 AM

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Music 2.0 Meetup in NYC

Amie Street is presenting tonight at the Music 2.0 Meetup in NYC (Spreading Music Enjoyment Through Technology). Abby Schneiderman, Anthony Volodkin (founder and creator of The Hype Machine), Art Chang, Dick Huey, Taylor
McKnight (Hype Machine), Jordan Garbis, Juliette Powell, Myles Grosovsky and Phil
Schuster are inviting their tech, music, and VC friends to join us for an
evening of Music 2.0: Spreading Music Enjoyment Through Technology.
Their friend Drew Lipsher, a Partner at Greycroft
Partners has agreed to emcee. (They say that Drew is the only VC they know who is a
former label exec (Universal).)

Short presentations are expected from companies working on spreading our passion for music via the
Internet: Amie Street, Haystack Media, Hype Machine, Tourfilter and

Ted Guggenheim and I have signed up to attend, and I think our friends from, Daniel Ek and Niklas Ivarsson, may show up as well.

Powered by ScribeFire.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Back in NYC

Ted Guggenheim are back in NYC for another round of meetings. Tonight we had dinner at the Red Eye Grill and a round of drinks at Seppi's with someone who shares a remarkably similar perspective on what needs to happen in the music industry.

All three of us have managed artists/bands. Two of us have played in bands. All three of us think the industry is ripe for dramatic change, and we're prepared to seize the opportunity.

And that's exactly what Ted and I are doing in NYC.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

CTO vs. VP Engineering

Brad Feld has a great post up today about the difference between CTOs and VPs of Engineering.

CTO vs. VP Engineering [Feld Thoughts]

It's interesting how similar our experiences are on this point and how much his description (below) of "the great CTO's" reminds me of my dear friend, Niel Robertson, who served as CTO of Service Metrics.

In contrast, the great CTO’s usually can’t manage their way out of a paper bag, but have huge vision, the ability to pull an all-nighter and crank out a rough prototype of the thing they are thinking about, have the unique ability to translate complex / abstract thoughts into simple English that a non-technical end-user can understand, and a willingness (or even desire) to get up in front of 1,000 people and talk about the latest greatest thing they are working on / thinking about. They are also perfectly happy to work collaboratively with the VP Eng while leaving the engineering team completely alone.

This paragraph describes Niel perfectly. I remember a particular incident during the development of Service Metrics' first product offering when Niel had an insight about how he could illustrate the performance data in an utterly unique way. I think he managed to "crank out a rough prototype" within 24 hours. It blew us away. And it was exactly what Service Metrics (and the market) needed.

(Via Venture Capital.)

Radiohead May Not Need iTunes, But It Still Needs Record Labels - MarketingVOX

Radiohead May Not Need iTunes, But It Still Needs Record Labels - MarketingVOX: Radiohead May Not Need iTunes, But It Still Needs Record Labels...

Radiohead May Not Need iTunes, But It Still Needs Record Labels

Life in technicolor
Radiohead, which released its latest oeuvre on its site in a pay-as-you-wish format, still plans to push the album in stores — most likely with a Big Four label, reports Ars Technica.

Radiohead fans gave the group much love after i"

Social networking and the Geocities fallacy

Marc Andreesen has done it again. His blog - - has been a treasure trove of information and commentary about startups, career building, platforms and much more. In nearly every case, Marc makes plain that the intellect and drive that brought Mosaic/Netscape into being followed by more than a few other substantial startups, including Loudcloud/Opsware (purchased by HP in September 2007 for $1.6B) and Ning, has not been dulled in the years since 1993 when Marc first developed Mosaic at NCSCA and suggested Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, give it a look.

This time, Andreesen directs his attention to the suggestions - by such illustrious commentators as the Wall Street Journal and Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer - that Facebook and social networks are really nothing more than Geocities with a few updating bells and whistles. Um, no. Social networking and the Geocities fallacy: "
Often wrong, never in doubt.

Social networking and the Geocities fallacy
OCT 4, 2007

When I take someone through Ning for the first time, 49 out of 50 people look up at some point and say brightly, 'Oh! It's like I can have my own Facebook!' or 'my own Myspace!' or 'my own Youtube!'. And I say 'yes!', smile, nod, and continue.

But every once in a while, I'll take someone through Ning and he or she will look up at some point and say brightly, 'Oh! It's just like Geocities!' And I say nothing, fake smile, grit my teeth, and resist the urge to throw myself out of the window.

A Geocities analogy to Ning, or any modern social networking service, is so screamingly wrong that I thought time passing -- and more people using social networking services -- would fix the small but nagging problem automatically.

I was incorrect.