Monday, March 20, 2006

Stuff Behind the Counters

While the very public MusicIP launch was going on last week, there were a few other projects going on behind the counters as well... I received a phone call that the Scorched Earth project is well in motion (with accompanying video). Also, work is in progress for another new project which will be open to the public just as soon as humanly possible. I'll be pouring out clues in my blog, because it's fun to do. So bring your hardhat, pull up a stool, and wait for the construction to be completed.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Dealing with Superabundance

Well, we made it back from SXSW 2006, and the topic on the top of my mind is superabundance. Anyone who was at SXSW probably knows what I'm talking about - music, music, and more music. That's great, but how can you decide what to see and hear when there's so many options? Ok, ok, yes, this is a shocking subject for me to be covering. Obviously that's what MusicIP is all about. This post is more specifically about what worked and what didn't work at SXSW. - We added a nifty feature to the SXSW website, so that artists who had made sample tracks available also got a "Other songs and SXSW artists you may enjoy" link to similar sample tracks available. This was a cool little feature, but depended on the specific tracks being made available, and knowing where to enter the system. (You had to start your search from an artist that was listed on the SXSW site, and that had a track available there). - Right before the show, we updated the "Discovery" window inside MusicIP Mixer to show recommendations based on playlists in your collection. This was easier, because you could start from music you own and know, and access related bands you didn't. Still, you had to go to the extra step of making a mix, and you didn't know who was playing when or where without clicking through to the SXSW website. After a long day working the convention center, if you've got four people walking down 6th Street trying to decide which direction to head, it needs to be even easier. (For the record, we took the easy road of assigning a "Team Leader".) Some things I'd like to see next year (or maybe at NXNE): - Some way, preferably from a phone, to get personalized recommendations and directions about what's playing right now. SXSW did have a service to find bands from text messages ("Where are the Brakes playing"), but not the ability to say something like "Music like Morcheeba, within 90 minutes and 6 blocks". - Some way to created a limited, targeted show guide. For instance, compare my collection and listening habits to the bands out there, remove stuff that doesn't match, and just show me what's left. - And some way to do that with multiple users - sync up our iPods, and find the best recommendations where our musical tastes overlap. That's just for starters. Hopefully we'll be at SXSW next year, with even more cool stuff!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

It's Time for MusicIP

Today's the day MusicIP launches as the new face of the MusicMagic technology. I'm in Austin, TX waiting for SXSW 2006 to begin, so I can start telling people what we've been up to. This is going to be fantasic. Listeners, Artists, and Enterprises will connect in a revolutionary way... today.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Oscar Buzz

Normally, I don't worry too much about the Oscars - this year, however, it seems I've got a relative up for an award. So here's hoping Amy Adams gets the Best Supporting Actress nod for her role in Junebug.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Getting It Right

In contrast to iTunes, who's lousy affiliate feedback I documented in an earlier post, I just received this unexpectedly pleasant email from the Amazon affiliate program:
Hello Associate, We noticed that you were accepted to the Associate Program several weeks ago but have yet to refer an order. Here are three quick and easy steps to help you get started: ... We hope this information was helpful, and thank you for your participation in our program.
I'm not entirely sure what this means, since I thought I already had some affiliate links in this blog, but maybe in just means no one's clicked on them? In any case, it was nice to get a pleasant "how's it going, glad to have you on board email", even if it was automatically generated. Kudos to the Amazon affiliates team.

Compare and Contrast

Two news stories popped out at me this morning from my Slashdot feed. 1. Microsoft Claims Worlds Best Search Engine Soon Microsoft will introduce a search engine better than Google in six months. 2. Wikipedia Reaches 1,000,000 Articles The Wikimedia Foundation announced today the creation of the 1,000,000th article in the English language edition of Wikipedia. I'll leave it to you to decide which story is more interesting. For me, I'm keeping my eyes on projects like Creative Commons and MusicBrainz.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Taking Aim At Target

Or.... "Why the Music Industry Needs To Wake Up" Awhile ago, I got some nice new speakers for my work computer (Logitech X-530 if you want to know, thanks for asking). Wanting to have some fun with the 5.1 speakers, I thought "Hey, why not grab a music DVD and see how it sounds?" So off I head to my local Target, and pick up a recent DualDisc with 5.1 audio on one side, and regular CD audio on the other. Bring it in to work, pop it into my external DVD drive... uh, oh... what's that funny noise? Not music, that's for sure. Thus, I found out the hard way that DualDiscs aren't compatible with all DVD players. Sigh... no 5.1 audio goodness for me. Luckily I kept the receipt, so I truck back into my local Target (yeah, ok, so I'm not entirely naive here - I'm expecting some problems). Local clerk, says "Sorry, we can't refund an opened CD, I'd be happy to replace it". Says me, "Spiffy, but a DualDisc is a DualDisc, and a new one won't do me any good. If you can't fix this, can I talk to someone higher up?" Next person, "Sorry, the State of California says it's illegal to accept returns on CD's for copyright reasons." Says me, "Next please. Preferably someone who won't start spouting lies?" Next person, "Yup, sorry, you're screwed. Take it up with the company if you like." Ok, let's give that a shot. Here's an excerpt from my first response:
I'm sorry for any disappointment, but we don't make returns or exchanges of music once they've been opened, unless the item is defective. Defective music items can be exchanged for another copy of the same title. In order to prevent fraudulent returns and keep prices low, we can't make any other return or exchange if the item has been opened. Great products. Great value. And a great shopping experience - every time you visit our stores.
Hmmm.. the product is clearly defective, but they'll only exchange it for defective product. So much for "great value". Did I mention that it's a lot easier to just download the tracks from the internet than trying to buy/rip/return a CD? For Pete's sake (Hi Pete!) if I was trying to steal the music, I wouldn't have bought the disc in the first place. I fire one more email off, including the following rant, among others: "I can appreciate your concerns, but the simple reality is you have sold me something that will not work, and you are not willing to stand behind the product. In this case, we have a Poor Product, with a Poor Value." And back with the response:
Problems relating to the width of DualDiscs is a known issue, and for help with your DVD, you'll want to call the manufacturer, Sony BMG Music Entertainment.
So we have a confirmation that they sold me defective product, and intend to do nothing about it, because I might in fact be a criminal trying to steal something from them. Who's the criminal now? Seriously, could the record labels try any harder to make me not want to give them my money?