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Music + Technology + Random Nonsense from the Music Industry by Ethan Kaplan, VP Product, Live Nation

Today’s f8

I don’t think its hyperbole to say I was reminded of this when I was watching f8 today.

It seems simple: verbs. But it’s also a statement:

Identity is now externalized, completely and holistically. And it will reside on Facebook.

And you are either a part of this, or you are not.

We’ve now reached our red pill/blue pill moment on the Internet and this will not be as easy of a decision as Mac or PC.

Regarding “Startup Culture”

Or “Startup Mojo”

Startup culture is not Razor scooters, pool tables, free snacks, a DJ table, a ping-pong tournament or dogs at work.

While I am all for “startup culture” infesting big companies (i.e., Zappos SF, the Wallmart Labs, NYTimes Labs, etc), these things are not what makes startups “startups.”

The freedom to engineer and implement rapid solutions to real problems with whatever means necessary. That is the “startup mojo” you seek.

All these other accouterments just let that happen in a more enjoyable way.

On Spotify

I’ve been a Spotify user for a few years now thanks to an early hook up from Daniel. And I love Spotify. It truly is like magic, and really fun to use. However, I don’t find myself using it all that often. Paradoxical? Maybe.

The issue for me is how I consume music. I don’t consume music like I consume information. I curate, digest, browse and meander the stacks as it were. Maybe it is a generational thing, as I do remember going to Tower Records every Saturday morning and doing the same. What it comes down to is that Spotify democratizes music to such an extent that it becomes just files and audio rather than atomic entities known as albums, artists and genres.

This might be addressing a nascent behavior in terms of music consumption, and I suspect it is judging from my younger family members, but I think something is missing.

Try going to Spotify and browsing movie soundtracks. I’ll wait.

Try searching for John Williams. He is not a guitarist, but that is what comes up mixed in with all of the soundtrack work he has done.

And this is not something unique to Spotify, but also endemic to Rdio and Mog. Mog at least has a page of curated soundtracks, but its just as hard to find them “in the wild” as it is on Spotify. The same applies to Rdio.

iTunes to me is like my Tower Records experiences on Saturday morning as a kid. I can browse genres, artists and albums. It still holds precious something I still hold precious, and while I know I’m in the minority (maybe), it does have a huge effect on my consumption behavior. I find myself curating my taste on iTunes, and broadening my taste on Spotify/Mog/Rdio/Rhapsody. I also find myself creating music-as-atmosphere on the streaming services, and music as focus on iTunes.

Spotify hitting the US is way overdue, and my hope is that they fix some of the data issues, and discovery issues and it grows to making music something to appreciate again. The trending toward this is emerging with things like Turntable and Soundtracking (both worthy of more posts), which I feel are more relevant forms of social discovery than the native Facebook integration in Spotify.

My biggest fear though is one of the biggest strengths of Spotify as a technology platform: they could make a new client for searching for photos and nothing much has to change in terms of UX. The user experience of Spotify is not endemically tied to music, and music deserves its own native experience model. Music is unique still, and different than files, photos, videos or software.

Ressurection

Regarding my name in some trade publications this morning. I’ll just refer to this post.

And I’m busy trying to eat my own dog food with Murmurs.

Perspective

Lets compare:

Logitech Harmony

201004090915.jpg

$399.00

Performs tasks related to the macro management of home entertainment gear with a three and a half inch capacitive display.

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Phillips Pronto TSU9800

$1,695.00

6.4″ VGA display with optical rotary wheel and WiFi support. Capacitive touch screen display.

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Phillips TSU9400

3.5 inch capacitive touch screen display. Works with Windows MCE!

$794.99

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Apple iPad

$499.00 to $829.00

General purpose computing device. 3,500 dedicated and 150,000 compatible apps and counting.

The iPad, what else?

The iPad hype trajectory is exactly as I anticipated. It was a lot of gasping on release, followed by a lot of shit talking, leading up to anticipation and hype and ultimately extremely high market success. Why did it follow this trajectory? Apple designed it to be. They seem to be the only company out there that does innovation through exclusion and feature absentia.

The question is: why are they the only one?

It takes a good conviction of character, brand identity, and a hell of a balance sheet to be able to take gambles like the iPad. A device that does not go to where the market is, but stands on the side and waits very patiently for everyone to come to it. Look at the Flash/HTML5 war that Apple decided to start. They did that willingly, to force various hands in their favor. If no one had switched video to HTML5 and Adobe double-downed on exclusivity, would Apple have bended on Flash? No. If they could get away with no Flash on OSX I’m sure they would. If they could include Click-To-Flash by default without DOJ issues I’m sure they would too.

Apple to me, and maybe a few other companies (BMW, Facebook) seems to be the only company who is willing to put a stake in the ground and not move it no matter how hard it is pushed.

And people wonder why other businesses are in trouble.

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