Tuesday, April 24, 2007

FINAL: Five Predictions For the Future of Music on the Wireless Internet

We live in a technological world that is constantly evolving. Quoting Dale Carnegie in today's Music Media Solutions lab presentation for Emmis Broadcasting, Professor Jerry Del Colliano noted that it is in the best interest of broadcasters to take advantage of the new technologies that are out there, especially if they want to retain listener ship. It is another teaching of Carnegie's, however, that should serve as a lesson for most of the "big-wigs" in today's music industry. This teaching reads, "Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy." These "big-wigs" are afraid of how new technologies will change the music and recording industries. These individuals are afraid because they are unaware of the affects of this change. In order to achieve success, these suits must adapt quickly to change and overcome whatever reservations they may have regarding the issue.

In this final post, I will propose five predictions for how the music industry will evolve in response to advancements in wireless technology. Specifically advancements regarding WiFi and WiMax technologies, as they become readily available to the public. These predictions are as follows:

1. Free Downloads and On-Demand Streams of Music

2. An End to Podcasting

3. Terrestrial Radio Will Turn to Internet Broadcasting

4. The Death of HD Radio

5. Satellite Radio Will Flourish in Automobiles

Prediction #1: individuals will be able to access free downloads and streams of their favorite music whenever they want. Although this may not seem like a novel concept, there is more to it than meets the eye. Peer-to-Peer (P2P) networks gave rise to the on-demand access of free content. The introduction and incorporation of p2p file-sharing programs and online radio stations (abiding by this on-demand model) into the daily lives of Americans created a decline in record sales and radio audiences. Americans began to grow accustomed to receiving music instantly and without cost. In order for the RIAA, the music, and entertainment industries to increase their revenue, they must change their ways of promotion, distribution and marketing. In an interview conducted by John Sutton Smith on behalf of the Recording Academy for Grammy Magazine's April 2006 edition, Bonnie Raitt agrees, (when questioned about the affect digital technology has had on her recent career), “We have to be creative and figure out how to let people know that you have a new record out in different ways, so we basically did a live album for iTunes, live recordings for Sirius Radio, a huge VH1 special, another concert on DirecTV, and we did AOL Sessions, so I was editing and mixing for two months what basically [amounted] to three or four live albums. It’s certainly changed how we deliver music”. Back in 2005, the likelihood of completely shifting traditional forms of distribution to digital was not likely, “while the record companies and the publishers have had ample opportunity to voluntarily put such a licensing system in place, making it easy for consumers to get the music that they want digitally, it is quite unlikely that they will ever do so of their own accord, for what is now a familiar reason: they lose control,” (Kusek, David, Gerd Leonhard, “A New Music Economy”, The Future of Music p.132 2005).

However, things have quickly changed in two years. Suddenly the move towards digital distribution and acquisition is more plausible. Websites like Pandora.com have developed over the past couple of years to offer listeners with free streams of their favorite music. Pandora allows users to customize radio stations and skip over songs that they do not like. Such websites give hope that user suggested content is on the horizon in addition to free downloads. Now, more than ever, illegal downloads haunt the record industry. P2P networks serve as the means by which users receive illegal content. “It is estimated that hundreds of millions of copies of these free software applications have been downloaded and that millions of people are online trading music files every minute of everyday around the world.” (Kusek, David, Gerd Leonhard, “Music Like Water”, The Future of Music p.5-6 2005). From this format, people have the potential to communicate with others about new music or media and share personal interests. This is the exact appeal of social networking sites like Last.Fm which allow users to share their play lists and communicate with those of similar musical tastes. Clearly such technology and websites promote conflict within the record industry. With WiFi becoming readily available to the masses, illegal downloading will only increase. Instead of being a service, like it once was, music has evolved into an inherent need for people--like water. In order to accommodate this need, the record industry must adapt to these changes and accept the fact that legal purchasing of music is just not plausible for the future. Labels must acknowledge that they will not be making money from the exploitation of records so they must find alternative means of promoting, marketing, and monetizing artists. Additionally, the industry must encompass on-demand models (while distributing, promoting, and marketing media) to satisfy the general public. Once these changes are successfully achieved, the music industry will be able to make profit from their artists.

Prediction #2: Podcasting will reach the end of its road. Podcasts can be an effective way in promoting artists and other entities. However, one must consider the amount of people that actually subscribe and listen to these Podcasts. People are progressively becoming disinterested in both broadcasting and listening to Podcasts. Listeners and independent broadcasters are beginning to find other things to do with their time. Although Podcasts democratize media and broadcasters can create and determine the material they broadcast without reservation, there is not enough incentive to continue broadcasting---most of these DJs are not paid. Thus, the fad of the Podcasts is slowly dwindling, people do not have the time to integrate the listening of Podcasts into their busy lifestyles. At times it seems as though there are more Podcasts in existence than actual people on this earth. There are far too many podcasts in existence to attract listeners and viewers. Like any other fad, it is without a doubt that Podcasting will continue to run its course until the majority of the public loses interest. Especially with the expansion of WiFi technology, Podcasts will flourish with increased user created content then plateau.

Not everyone has iTunes, or an iPod, or even the Internet. It is impossible for Podcasting to become a revolution of new media as a means of changing how consumers view the music and entertainment industries. First of all, there are issues with licensing and rights management that Podcasting has stumbled upon. Currently, broadcasters are extremely limited with the amount and kind of music they can broadcast during each podcast. There are certain licenses that must be purchased in order to have control over the broadcasting of recorded music. In particular the Telecommunications Act of 1996 is violated every time an independent broadcaster plays a song with major label publishing. As a result, broadcasters are limited to just talk, independent music, and producing their own music on-air. There are plans to revise the Telecommunications Act of 1996 for Internet and web-based programs and, perhaps, a modified blanket license will become available for Podcasters; but, until then, it is unlikely that people will consistently tune into programs that feature just talk with the occasional uninhibited song—is this not what listeners of terrestrial radio ran away from in the first place?

In the future, Podcasting will become obsolete. There will be new developments and inventions within the next 10, 20, 30 years that will divert subscribers’ attention. Individuals will come to realize that specialized-programming is not necessarily worth spending the time to listen to. Artists will resort to social computing sites to gain continued and guaranteed promotion—the Podcast is unnecessary for this means of technology. Radio will find other ways to survive, it does not need Podcasting to secure its existence. Radio survived the invention of the television and it will attempt to combat the wave of Internet-based new media. This is the beauty of the Internet—every development is ephemeral because everything, especially Internet technology, has the potential to change and will change—it does not seem as though Podcasting will survive this ultimate change.

Prediction #3: Terrestrial radio will shift its broadcasting to be on the Internet. Once WiFi and WiMax become available on a larger scale to the public, the prevalence of Internet radio will increase ten-fold. Professor Steve Cunningham mentioned once in lecture that Internet radio has become the fastest growing radio format in the past few years. He agrees that once WiFi becomes readily available, Internet radio will quickly gain popularity. There will be thousands upon thousands of stations available to listeners on-demand. Back in 2004, About:Radio reporter Corey Deitz saw the future of Internet radio as the future of Internet radio as "bright". He agrees that Internet radio "will slowly evolve and with the help of broadband, wireless, and product development it will find it’s rightful place in the home, auto and hand-held device." Eventually the stubborn terrestrial programmers will realize the potential of the wireless Internet and develop a game plan for breaking into Internet radio niche-markets. Already there are thousands of user-created online radio stations. Free services like Live 365 take advantage of Internet radio. Live 365 provides thousands of free Internet radio stations from all over the world that are categorized by musical genre. Pandora and Yahoo! Music are other free online music host sites that allow users to stream radio stations live complete with their favorite artists and genres.

An important characteristic of Internet broadcasting is its on-demand aspect. On-demand gives the listener the illusion that they control what they are listening to. If terrestrial stations create a way that listeners can instant message the dj their requests, and if the dj's do honor these requests, then we have go something going on here. This model is similar to that of college radio. KSCR, the radio station of the University of Southern California, operates on the typical college radio standard. Hosting a simultaneous terrestrial (AM band) and Internet broadcast, KSCR targets its student population on campus. However, the majority of KSCR's listenership is generated from its online stream. This is a result of the fact that its AM-Band (1560 AM) only works within a 10-mile radius of its studio, located in Marks Hall. And, of course, terrestrial broadcasting is impractical in today's society...especially for the demographic of 18-24 year olds. Current KSCR General Manager Nicole Williams mentioned casually to me that KSCR generates over 4,000 listeners per week via its online broadcast--a noble feat for any radio station on the Internet (especially since KSCR is not a household name). This feat is especially notable since funding for the station was recently cut 45% by the USC student government. As an example made by KSCR and other online stations and hosting sites, there is definitely a home for current terrestrial streams online. Terrestrial stations can dominate the online market with their vast funds and sponsorships to provide a one-stop shop for their listeners.

Prediction #4: HD Radio will die out. In opposition to what the majority of the RIAA and NAB may think, HD radio only serves as mechanism by which terrestrial radio stations can play more eclectic genres of music; essentially creating an "underground" radio model that was successful and flourished in the 1960's. This will not, however, replace digital and web-based radio services. Generally, listeners want a radio station that is going provide the highest quality of content possible. There is noting "High Def" about HD radio. The quality of sound is not much better than it is on FM and the quality of content is the same. With masses quickly becoming accustomed to radio services the Internet has to offer, terrestrial radio will become close to obsolete and what little importance is placed on HD radio will diminish. Not only is HD radio pathetic, but also it comes at a cost. Currently, HD radios can cost anywhere from $200-$1,000.

The high cost of HD radio is daunting. Some reason that programming on side channels will be a bit better if not the same as the main terrestrial channel and, if this is the case, then why should they spend the money? If anything, HD radio creates exclusivity as opposed to inclusiveness. By valuing HD radio at such a high cost, this crack-team in radio is combating competition by isolating its listeners. This just doesn't make sense---why would you attempt to gain listenership through a high cost of listening (in both respects)? The future of the wireless Internet is categorized by inclusiveness, so there is no place for an exclusive technology like HD radio.

Prediction #5: Satellite Radio will flourish in automobiles. With an increase in the prevalence of wireless Internet, a market will be created where satellite radio can dominate. Currently, XM and Sirius are the two main satellite radio providers and, with their proposed merger, there is a potential to monopolize the market. To remain consistent with prediction #3, once terrestrial radio makes its shift over to Internet broadcasting, there will be a need for a car radio replacement. Here is where satellite radio comes in. Already, listeners have the option of having satellite service in their cars. Some vehicles even come with satellite radio already installed. Satellite providers are going a step further with Sirius' new "Backseat TV". Backseat TV will solidify satellite providers' dominance in the automobile market. I could go on and on about this, but I believe that the presented examples speak for themselves regarding satellite content providers' future. For, XM and Sirius will no longer been seen as purely satellite radio providers--in the future these companies will be in the satellite mobile content industry.

So there you have it, my top 5 predictions for the future of the wireless Internet. It will definitely be exciting to see in the coming days, months, and years if any of my predictions make it to fruition. Keep in mind that with new technology comes change, and with change comes opportunity. If individuals welcome this change, then great chances for monetary gain result. The music industry, especially, must adapt to changes posed by these technologies. Currently, we live in a culture that favors on-demand acquisition and knows the feeling of free downloads. As a result, individuals do not feel the same way about music as they once did during the times of, say, the Beatles. The music industry, in particular, must find alternative measures of reclaiming the awe and wonder music sparked amongst audiences—they must find alternative means of promoting, marketing and distributing music. Additionally, the industry must encompass on-demand models (while distributing, promoting, and marketing media) to satisfy the general public.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Rap and Hip-Hop Love Women?

"You're in business to make money, not to change society", cultural critic Jimmy Israel says. Currently, music is a business--not an art form like it once was. Today's music integrates infectious beats with misogynistic lyrics. Such lyrics largely objectify women and convey that it is acceptable to refer to women as "bitches" and "hos". Back in the prime of the Baby Boomers, lyrics had everything to do with the music--lyrics made the music. Artists like Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix were placed on pedestals as revolutionary lyricists. These artists promoted change and harmony in their works...these artists defined an era.

Those artists defining our modern era include rappers Nelly and Snoop Dogg. Such "artists" promote the objectification of women in both their hits and music videos. Most rappers have no idea what the implications of their lyrics are; they do not understand how greatly this music actually affects its listeners. By listening to such rap and hip-hop, individuals think that it is okay to refer to women unfavorably--they see women as simply sexual objects, not human beings. This distinction further separates the sexes in the race towards equality. Instead of accelerating this race, the teachings of rap and hip-hop lyrics only retard this action.

The few artistic musicians we have left of this generation are taking action. In an effort to highlight the ridiculousness of rap and hip-hop lyrics, artists like Jenny Owen Youngs, Ben Folds, and Alanis Morrisette have done stripped down covers of "Hot in Herre", "Bitches Ain't Shit", and "My Humps", respectively. Alanis Morrisette has taken these efforts a step further by producing a viral video featuring her Black Eyed Peas cover that includes a scantily clad Morrisette surrounded by men, jewelry, and cars--typical of the average hip-hop music video.

Women activists in the Black community are speaking out against the negative connotation associated with rap and hip-hop music. According to NPR reports, Essence Magazine has committed to a yearlong campaign to "Take Back the Music". This campaign will consist of an effort to "remake rap and de-emphasize its misogynistic lyrics". These women will focus on holding a yearlong series of conversations in Essence Magazine regarding their efforts to end the harmful lyrics contained in rap and hip-hop music. Additionally, these women seek to end the negative depiction of black women in the hip-hop world. We will have to see if their efforts promote any justice in the music world.

University of Southern California Gender Studies major Vanessa Shakib comments, "it's not a matter of seeking out the corporations responsible for promoting such music, it's a matter of addressing the individuals willing to exploit their own for the purposes of making money and achieving fame". In other words, Shakib suggests that those protesting against such issues should seek out the source of the music. In this case, the source of such defaming material would be the rappers themselves. This is the exact goal of the Essence's "Take Back the Music" campaign. Nelly, for instance, is an artist who campaigners targeted in the beginning of their efforts. They sought Nelly as a dominant rap icon who had ties to the Black Women's community, as a spokesperson for Leukemia (because his sister suffered from the disease). Instead, Nelly began producing music videos desecrating the Black woman, leading campaigners to think otherwise of his ability to make a change in the rap and hip-hop community.

Hopefully the Essence campaign will spark interest amongst other individuals to do the same. Rappers like K-OS, Kanye West, Nas, and Common give hope to rap and hip-hop by showing that it is possible to create both positive and meaningful music that is profitable.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Imus Wears His Scarlet Letter Gracefully

As many of you may know, Don Imus made some "politically incorrect" comments regarding the Rutgers Women’s' basketball team during a discussion about the NCAA Women’s' Basketball Championship on his show. This past week, Imus was held responsible for these comments and publicly "crucified" for his words, resulting in the termination of his job from both CBS radio and MSNBC television. From this cancellation of the syndicated "Imus in the Morning" show, Imus lost out on a reported 50 million deal. Imus has gone on record saying that he does not really need the job and it is not about making more money. Imus continued to mention, during a CBS evening news broadcast, that he wants to personally apologize to the Rutgers Women’s' team.

The Rutgers team has held a number of press conferences and has even gone on Oprah to voice their stance on the matter. They feel that Imus' comments were unfair, racist and chauvinistic. Currently, many individuals side with the Rutgers' team in their allegations. Al Sharpton held an interview, which seemed more like an attack on Imus, to discuss the matter on his April 9th radio show. Sharpton concurred that comments Imus made about the Rutgers team were "abominable", "racist", and "sexist". It seems as though figureheads in the media are blowing smoke left and right just talking about this issue.

The issue is not whether Imus' claims were said with malice (they were not), or politically correct (they were not). The matter at hand regards the extent of free speech in America---how far is too far? Radio jocks like Howard Stern constantly objectify women on their show and poke fun at people's sexual orientation---we are not seeing these people losing their jobs. America has a certain definition of free speech that is not consistent with what is stated in the First Amendment. Personalities like Rosie O' Donnell (that are currently under attack by the media) are speaking out to protect their rights as well as those of Imus as upheld by the First Amendment. It is hard not to side with Rosie on this subject---it is ok to bash on gays and lesbians in public, but it is not ok to make racial comments? The First Amendment grants citizens the right of "free speech, free press, free religion, and the right to petition".

If consistent with this amendment, Imus would still have his job. It seems like the media perpetuates scandal and conflict by targeting individuals and exaggerating subject matter. The media will do anything for ratings and discussion. It is somewhat pathetic how the media spins stories in their favor, but that is a whole other issue for debate...

Sunday, April 1, 2007


"In about 10.5 hours, we'll be living in a different world", typed a friend to me over instant messenger. After receiving this message, I was left scratching my head. I thought to myself, "what could this guy possibly mean?". He later explained to me that Steve Jobs and EMI plan to announce no-DRM music on iTunes. But what does this mean for the consumer public?

Digital Rights Management (DRM) refers to technology used by copyright owners to control the access to or usage of hardware. Copyright owners and publishers are proponents for DRM because it prevents unauthorized duplication of copyrighted works. In other words, copyright owners want to control how they're paid for exploitations of their works. The presence of DRM quickly increased following the introduction of the Internet and P2P networks to serve as a means of attacking illegal downloading of digital material. However, from the consumer's standpoint, DRM translates into what is known as "tethered downloads". Many online digital content stores, like iTunes and RealRhapsody, have included DRM with their content. This DRM scheme, in the case of the iTunes store, limits the amount of computers and portable devices that downloaded material could be accessed with. This means that the consumer does not actually own the material they have purchased. So, the first-sale doctrine (upheld by the Supreme Court in 1908) which currently applies to the purchasing of copyrightable works does not apply in practice with digital content, even though such content is copyrighted.

Apple DRM

As you can tell, DRM is a highly debated issue. With rumors surfacing that Steve Jobs and EMI will hold a press conference Monday morning (as confirmed by the Wall Street Journal ) to announce the removal of such anti-piracy software, they are making a huge step towards a DRM-free music industry. With such a statement, hopefully other labels will follow suit and offer DRM-free catalogs for sale on digital content stores like iTunes. By offering a DRM-free catalog for sale on stores like iTunes, it shows that the labels trust their consumers.

It is obvious that one of the most important qualities in a relationship is trust. So by EMI's motion, consumers are getting the message that they are trusted by one of the big 4 (record lables, that is). In turn, this will promote a better relationship between the labels and consumers; hopefully resulting in a greater increase in music being sold legally. Consumers will take the initiative to go to outlets like iTunes to purchase their content because they will actually own the material this time. Now I understand why we'll be living in a new world come Monday morning. No longer will we be living in a world where record labels are our enemies (at least not EMI). Come tomorrow morning, we will be living in a world where the record industry is taking the steps to trust its consumers--and that is what the industry should have been doing all along.

Down with DRM

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Satellite Television for Cars...Is This a Good Thing?

First there was the radio, then the DVD player, now the TV!? What will car companies think of next? According to Digital Music News, Sirius recently unveiled a television option to its satellite service; no longer will Sirius be associated with simply satellite radio. This service, "Sirius Backseat TV", will be offered exclusively in 2008 with video packages of DaimlerChrysler vehicles. After the first year, this Sirius service will be offered in models of other car manufacturers.

What does this mean for consumers? Sirius' goal with Backseat TV is to entertain those sitting in the backseat, which most of the time are children. As a result, the Sirius Backseat TV service will feature programming from stations like Comedy Central, The Disney Channel, and Nickelodeon. This is part of Sirius' goal to accommodate the driver by allowing family friendly programming to quiet down and entertain children so that the driver is not distracted.

Sirius Backseat TV

On the contrary, such a service may cause even more distraction for drivers. Lawyer Aaron Larson published an article about the relationship between distracted drivers and car accidents. Here, Larson lists the use of DVD players as one of the main distractions for drivers on the road. The article even directs readers to not attempt using such devices while driving because they require so much attention. Is this added distraction really worth the additional $470 it costs to install Sirius Backseat TV plus the additional $7/year + $13/month to maintain the service?

This all really depends on which way you look at it. For most consumers of the on-demand generation, including parents with little patience, this feature is very desirable. However, for those of us wanting to maintain a clean driving record, we may approach adding this feature with caution. All of this new technology is great in theory but when it really comes down to it, how willing are people to compromise their health and well-being for novelty? Well, I guess in this day and age they are quite willing.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Simlish--The Future Language of Recorded Music?

I don't know about you, but I love the Sims. I've purchased every expansion pack from "Livin' Large" to "Hot Date" and have even invested in The Sims 2. In order to promote their new Sims 2 expansion pack, "Seasons", EA games has put a video up on YouTube featuring UK artist Lily Allen's rendition of her song "Smile" in Simlish. This video animates Allen's likeness as a Sim and includes the features of the new expansion pack--a very effective way of marketing, if you ask me. So far, this video has generated over 100,000 views on viral video sites like YouTube. Below you will find the finished product.

...And the original

In the sprit of this video (and promoting new software), EA games is holding a contest through online karaoke site SingShot that allows fans of the Sims 2 and Lily Allen alike to re-create the Simlish version of Smile. So far, 85 people have taken the time to re-record this song in Simlish (which is harder than you may think, trust me). The hosting site, SingShot, allows users to rate themselves and each other; ultimately the user with the highest rating is the winner. This is some pretty cool stuff.

But, Miss Lily Allen is not the first to re-record one of her hit-songs in Simlish. In order to promote the release of their new game "Urbz: Sims in the City", EA utilized the talents of the Black Eyed Peas to record one of the tracks from their multi-platinum album "Monkey Business" in Simlish. Additionally, artists like The Flaming Lips, Pussycat Dolls, Barenaked Ladies, and Depeche Mode have lent their talents for the promotion of Sims games. But this is not a one-sided deal--the artists are also recieving a great deal of promotion for themselves. Generally, these artists record their new singles in Simlish in order to also promote the release of their up-coming album, (i.e. Depeche Mode recorded a Simlish-language version of their latest single Suffer Well for the Open for Business expansion pack).

This is a very good idea. Sims games attract millions of users across the globe, spanning from the United States to Europe to Asia. When these artists are featured in such games it allows their music to reach a greater audience and, hopefully, promote an increase in record sales and digital downloads. It would be interesting to see if EA games ever releases a Sims soundtrack of all the hit-songs in Simlish. Electronic Arts may very well be able to do this now after starting their own publishing company.

After all of this, I pose a question; could this be the future of recorded music? More specifically, is the only way to increase record sales synching songs with popular media (i.e. video games, television) and then monetizing those songs in conjunction with the media? It seems to have worked in the past with shows like Grey's Anatomy and The OC...Maybe recording artists stand a chance with The Sims.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Thanks Bunny!

I just got word, via Google, that our friends at MyBoxinaBox.com gave the Maggot a shout out on their blog the other day. In order to reciprocate this random act of kindness, I am going to give one back!

THANKS MY BOX IN A BOX!!!! I can't wait for your next video!

P.S. Note that the Maggot ranks higher than the Hollywood Reporter (was someone eating too many brownies that day???)

I also received e-mails from the business development manager, Henrik, over at Stardoll and Defyingdarwin, the creator of the "Rehabitual Britney" video thanking me for writing about them----You guys are fab, keep up the good work!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

The Internet's Answer to the Barbie Doll?

Attention all girls (and boys) ages 7 and up: Stardoll
has arrived! Stardoll (formerly known as Paperdoll Heaven) is an online forum started in 2006 that connects users across the globe through the past time of dressing up paper dolls. Featuring over 400 dolls to dress up, Stardoll features dolls in the likeness of everyone from Dakota Fanning to Sacha Baron Cohen,aka Borat. So far, this site has over 5 million users and has generated 10 million dollars to date, (with $6 million three months after its introduction!)

How do they do it? It's pretty simple--by targeting the Tween demographic, Stardoll has successfully been able to monetize access to exclusive paper dolls, in addition to the MeDoll feature. The MeDoll feature allows all members to create a paper doll in their likeness and dress them up in whichever clothes they purchase with their Stardollars. Here's the catch--in order to receive stardollars and, in turn, purchase clothing and gain access to VIP dolls, member must purchase packages ranging from $5.49-$27.98. The geniuses behind Stardoll make it easy for Tweens to purchase Stardollars by offering several different options. Users can purchase Stardollars via Paypal, credit card, and even mobile phone!

Users that don't purchase Stardollars have no need to fear. These members still have access to over 350 dolls that are free for use in addition to the social networking features and games that are available for all users. The social networking aspect allows users from across the globe to interact with one another based on similar interests. Also, Stardoll will hold contests where members compete by creating the best outfit, for example. In turn, winners receive free Stardollars. Additionally, users can visit each other's MeDoll homepages and dress up their personal paper dolls for free.

By allowing extended free use of content, Stardoll allows a greater range of individuals to become acquainted with what the site has to offer. This allowance creates increased interest and a desire to receive the exclusive features of the site--such features that require payment. So far, this model of business is working in Stardoll's favor. I, myself, am I "Superstar member", meaning I pay for Stardollars. Even at 20, I am not ashamed to be engaging in such Tween activity. On the contrary, I am highly entertained by what this site has to offer and I am not alone in this sentiment. There are more 20-something year old members on the site, than one would think. To me, Stardoll is a good way to pass the time when I'm bored--it serves as a good creative outlet for me and clearly serves the same for many others.

Could Stardoll be the Internet's answer to the Barbie doll? Perhaps. Stardoll reaches a broader demographic, is cheaper, more convenient, less time consuming, and far more accessible than actual dolls. Stardoll is the on-demand generation's Barbie doll...This could be the future of interactive entertainment for the younger sect. Already sites like Webkinz.com are emerging as a way to incorporate physicality (of the actual physical product) with interactivity (of the Internet). We will just have to wait and see if sites likes these continue to flourish in the coming months.

Paula Abdul's Stardoll:

Paula Abdul Stardoll

Friday, March 9, 2007

Viral Videos Break New Artists!

As we all know, promotion is extremely important to break a new artist into the mainstream. Promotion has been categorized in the past as anything from radio play to grassroots street promotion. Thanks to the advent of the Internet, promotion efforts for artists are so much different---some would even say more convenient. Essentially, the Internet is disrupting the way artists have been marketed in the past.

Social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook target specific demographics and enable a larger span of "word-of-mouth" promotion; these sites allow Japanese music fans to become acquainted with American artists, for example. Back in July 2006, the band OK Go gained popularity via YouTube for their "Here It Goes Again" music video, gaining over 12 million views to date. With the gained success in record sales and popularity from this video, the band received a Grammy award for "Best Short Form Music Video" in March.

Continuing in this fashion, artist like Amy Winehouse are getting a name for themselves in the U.S. thanks to viral videos. About a month ago, a video called "Rehabitual Britney" was posted on sites like Spinner and YouTube that featured spliced images of Britney Spears that made it to appear that she was singing along to the Amy Winehouse track "Rehab".

....And the original version

To date, this video has over 1 million views and counting. Thanks to the success that Winehouse has found on such viral websites, she is beginning to get airplay on AC and AAA formats like Star 98.7 in Los Angeles and 92.9 WBOS in Boston, respectively. Additionally, thanks to collaborations with artists like Ghostface Killah on the track "You Know I'm No Good" Winehouse has earned herself a spot performing at this year's Coachella music festival in Indio, CA.

But this isn't all to say that Amy Winehouse hasn't drawn a following before her U.S. debut. Winehouse is actually a major recording artist in the U.K, receiving the award for "British Female Solo Artist" at this year's Brit Awards. Similarly, OK Go, before their sudden U.S. popularity in 2007, did quite well in the U.K. Either the music industry is experiencing a British invasion, or they sincerely need to reconsider how artists are marketed and promoted to the public. I'm guessing the latter is more plausible.

Monday, March 5, 2007

What is Acceptable for TV?

Jack Black and Channel 101.com recently announced their attempt at monetizing user-created video content. Jack Black, along with friends Dan Harmon and Rob Schrab started Channel 101 in an effort to create an online forum for original digital shorts. Channel 101 was first introduced in 2003, serving as the predecessor of YouTube and other video hosting sites. In order to respond to the popularity of these video hosting sites, Black and Channel 101 have developed what is now known as the "Department of Acceptable Media".

Expanding on this idea, Black and the guys at Channel 101 pitched a television show to VH1 and, with no surprise, VH1 got on board. The new show "Acceptable. TV" will premiere March 23rd on VH1. "Acceptable.TV" will feature original user-created videos taken from the Department of Acceptable Media website along with original content created by the team at Channel 101.com. After each show, viewers can vote on the website for which shows should be canceled or continued for the next week.

Black, VH1, Channel 101, and the creators will be able to monetize this content in a very interesting way. The video hosting site is powered by Revver which will allow the creators of original content to retain a percentage of advertising income based on how many people view their respective videos. This will serve as an effective way to attract aspiring filmmakers to create content for the website; not only is there a chance for their work to be shown on national television, but there is a chance to make some money. The Department of Acceptable Media website is already up and running. So far, three videos are uploaded to the site for viewing...We will have to see which ones make the cut on the March 23rd premiere.

It is quite obvious that a goal of "Acceptable TV" is to re-gain the viewing audience lost to sites like YouTube. Instead of presenting the same old reality television shows created by "professionals", VH1 is, instead, accepting the changes in programming accelerated by the Internet. By cooperating with the move towards user created content, VH1 has the potential to attract a wider audience and marginally revolutionize network television. Below you will find some of the trailers for "Acceptable TV"; you are the judge of whether or not this show can be the future of television programming.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

EA Penetrates iTunes!

In a class presentation last week, I channeled the imagination of Steve Jobs and created the new "iPod VG". The iPod VG is a revolutionary device that would include the main functions of the iPod along with WiFi capabilities and access to the iTunes store, where you can purchase and download EA(Electronic Arts) video games, then play them right on your iPod. Additionally, this device would allow for on-demand purchasing of music synched with the EA games.

It seems as though this could soon become a reality. Electronic Arts announced on Thursday that they would be positioning tracks from its catalog on the iTunes store. And, although, this doesn't mean that an iPod VG, or a device of the same sort, will definitely come to be. It does, on the other hand, create much opportunity for the iTunes crowd. This created opportunity will allow for easy access and purchasing of music that gamers enjoy from the EA games they play. Ultimately, this will suit the fast-paced, multi-tasking lifestyle of the Super Connectors.

EA will be able to achieve this task with the help of their new publishing company, called Next Level Music,LLC. By having a publishing company, EA will be able to easily license their exclusive and original music while getting the rights needed to include music in their games and sell them on iTunes. By cutting out the middle man, EA games will be able to collect more of a profit from the 99 cent downloads offered on iTunes. By making their music available on iTunes, EA will be able to consolidate its online audience while tapping into mobile consumers. Ultimately, this is a win-win situation for both EA and iTunes. Electronic Arts will be able to increase both their audience and revenues while iTunes will be able to tap into another media outlet (gaming) and potentially see more traffic and purchases of music.

The iPod VG...It could happen.

iPod VG

Friday, March 2, 2007

Have Viral Videos Gone Too Far???

WebJunk is asking people, through their website, to vote for the "40 Greatest Internet Superstars". These "internet superstars" consist of indivduals who have either popularized themselves through blogging, like Perez Hilton, or via video hosting sites, like YouTube. The viral video stars that you can choose from include Andy Milonakis, Ask a Ninja, Lonley Girl, and Brian Atene--to name a few. Perhaps the most disturbing of all the "superstars", however, is Gino the Ginny.

According to his EPK, Gino the Ginny is an 11 year old from New York who specializes in sketch comedy. Although at first Gino the Ginny's parody is hilarious, it becomes offensive and alarming in retrospect. In his video, "Gino Hits the Clubs", Gino talks about being on steroids, tweezing his eyebrows, buying $500 bottles of wine, going tanning, and being tripped up on ecstasy. An 11 year old could not possibly have come up with this idea..And, in, fact, he did not. A producer by the name of Renzo Da'More put Gino Meluzzio up to this. Da'More's proudction company, has created 19 other viral videos starring Gino the Ginny. Additionally, there is a Gino the Ginny movie in the works and Gino even makes personal appearances at clubs in the Northeast. It seems as though Da'More and crew are exploiting this child more than helping further his "career". So far, Gino the Ginny's "Gino Hits the Clubs" has generated over 670,000 views on YouTube. Gino even has both a website, and a My Space page.

Gino the Ginny

Is exploiting the youth of America the future of online entertainment? More importantly, is laughing at the expense of others a viable means of entertainment? I know that the answer to both of these questions most likely is "yes". So expect to see more viral videos of this nature on the YouTubes and iFilms of the world wide web. But, when you really think about it, such exploitation of others is a direct reflection of the evils that are inherent in human nature. It's sad, I know, but we all need a little laugh every once in a while, right? What ever happened to stand up comedy?

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Satellite Radio Becomes Smarter While HD Radio Remains Left in the Dark

This past Monday, CEOs at XM and Sirius Satellite Radio announced their decision to combine forces. Yes, this will mean that the two main satellite radio service providers will be merging in the near future! In an attempt to lower overall costs, XM and Sirius will form one main satellite radio network that will provide the same "quality" programming of both stations, respectively. The only thing standing in their way, however, is the law. This minor aspect specifically prohibits this merger from happening. According to reports, the FCC will evaluate this case to see if it is in the public's best interest and, if it is, then the merger will be on its way to finalization.

XM and Sirius' goal to lessen its cost through a merger, theoretically, will attract more consumers. However, these companies will have to do a lot more to retain the interest of its listener public. XM's advertisements on television are entertaining and of the times, but what is a commercial without the content to back it up? I am not degrading the programming of XM radio, it just seems like people in this day and age are more prone to listening to their music on-demand via an iPod than tuning their satellite radio to a certain station. Hopefully, this merger will exhilarate motivation to respond to such issues.

XM/Sirius Merger

HD radio, on the other hand, is becoming even more pathetic. Constant spots on terrestrial radio advertise its HD counterpart as the "hidden channels you didn't know you had". These "hidden channels" come at a cost, however. In order to access the hidden channels, one must purchase a device equipped with HD radio. Currently, HD radios can cost anywhere from $200-$1,000. This high cost may make most consumers wary of purchasing this device. Some potential purchasers of the HD radio could ask themselves, "why would I purchase a device that costs more money than an iPod when I will most likely be more satisfied from my iPod?" This question is completely valid. HD radio is terrestrial radio's attempt to save its listenership while attracting even more listeners. So far, things have not gone according to plan.

The high cost of HD radio is daunting. Some reason that programming on side channels will be a bit better if not the same as the main terrestrial channel and, if this is the case, then why should they spend the money? It has even been mentioned that HD radio will be offered as an option in new BMW models. If anything, HD radio creates exclusivity as opposed to inclusiveness. By valuing HD radio at such a high cost and associating itself with top of the line vehicles, this crack-team in radio is combating competition by isolating its listeners. This just doesn't make sense---why would you attempt to gain listenership through a high cost of listening (in both respects)? Clearly, the radio big wigs have some work to do if they want to compete with the Steve Jobs of the world.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Newspapers Are Under Attack!

Publishers of heavily circulated newspapers, like USA Today, the New York Times, and the Washington Post have been under the attack of increasingly high printing costs for some time now. In response to this attack, papers are modifying their layouts as well as downsizing their content in order to cut costs. USA Today, for example, claims that rising newsprint costs were partially responsible for the company's third-quarter drop in profit. Even news sources like Barron's Dow Jones' Business Weekly are reacting to high costs by shrinking its size.

Perhaps the most radical of changes comes from the Wall Street Journal. In response to high production costs, Dow Jones & Co. (publishers of the Wall Street Journal) are shrinking its size. this change includes a ten percent decrease in the amount of graphics, articles, and photos the paper features. This decrease in content ultimately results in job lay-offs as well as an increased cost of circulation. But, wait, isn't that what publishers were trying to avoid?

The predicted cost of adjustment to the new WSJ is around $56 million. This includes costs of retraining employees and paying presses to print smaller fonts. But all costs are justifiable according to the Wall Street Journal. The WSJ predicts, with their new format, they will recoup production costs within the next few years. But how will the Wall Street Journal and other newspapers see any profit?

Most news publications, like the Wall Street Journal, feature an online counterpart. For example, if you subscribe to the Wall Street Journal then you can access the Internet periodical for $49/year. However, if you do not subscribe to the print version you must pay $99/year for online features. If you do the math, you are paying $4.99/month and $9.95/month, respectively. To the average person, the price of online features with a subscription to the print version is more attractive. However, that person is also paying to subscribe to the print version, so it adds up.

Like the radio and television industries, newspapers are not adjusting well with the times. Newspaper publishers must understand that they are not simply losing money because of production costs--they are losing money because people have other ways of getting their news. In a culture that is highly susceptible to changes in technology, most individuals receive their daily news from the Internet. If newspapers want to monetize their ability to provide the latest news, then they should be able to convert their current model to fit the Internet age. Instead of charging high fees to access stories online, news periodicals should offer free access. Instead of charging readers, they can charge sponsors money to advertise on their site.

If news publishers want to accommodate the on-demand generation, a generation that they will target in the coming years, then they must understand where these individuals are getting their news from. Blogging is an ever-increasing way for members of the on-demand generation to receive their news. Blogging sites like Perez Hilton.com and
Pink Is The New Blog.com, although highly superficial and are of little to no substance, provide news to readers in entertaining ways that keep them coming back. PerezHilton.com sees over 3 million hits per day and for its ability to monetize its offerings, the site was named no.2 in the Forbes Web 25 list...very interesting. There is definitely opportunity for newspapers in the sphere of blogging and other forms of Internet publishing. Newspaper publishers, wake up!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Can Wi-Fi Save Radio and Television?

Wi-Fi technology allows individuals to access the Internet without a landline connection. Currently, Wi-Fi is available on some college campuses, coffee shops like the Coffee Bean, and airports. It is predicted that very soon Wi-Fi will become available everywhere. With the introduction of Wi-Fi and WiMax into our everyday lives, we will literally be connected all of the time! With this available technology comes opportunity for both radio and television industries.

The gaming industry is already taking full advantage of wireless local area connections. Gaming consoles like Nintendo DS, Xbox 360, and Play station 3 incorporate this technology in order to create more accessibility for its consumers. Even desktop computers and laptops (PC and Macs, alike) include Wi-Fi in order for users to access the Internet whenever and wherever they need to. By far the most anticipated device for 2007 that will incorporate Wi-Fi is the new Apple iPhone. Apple's iPhone will permit Internet access wherever wireless networks exist. Additionally, the iPhone allows its users to upload files from thier iPod onto their iPhone. Here is some opportunity for the television and music industries. With Wi-Fi technology, Apple could include their iTunes Music Store as an option to access via the iPhone. Customers could purchase and download their music and television shows simultaneously from the convenience of one device---the iPhone. Individuals would be able to download music, podcasts, movies, and television programs with the click of a button. Sales would ultimately increase thanks to the hightened accessibility of downloading. However, Apple is already seeing competition with the Samsung 3GSM model, which bolsters a music-focused lineup; hopefully forever changing music's mobile market.

The opportunities wireless technology provides for mobile phones can benefit the radio and television industries. A Los Angeles-based company, Live 365, already takes advatange of Internet radio. Live 365 provides thousands of free Internet radio stations from all over the world that are categorized by musical genre. Live 365 also features a podcast section, where any registered user can create a podcast and then post that podcast to the site for others to listen to. Already some companies are taking advantage of the Live 365 software in order to create stations featuring a particular artist as means of promotion. Perhaps, sites like Live 365 are the future of radio. With wireless-capability, the iPhone and Samsung 3GSM could feature live-Internet radio streams that enable users to customize what they are listening and when they listen to it. If terrestrial radio can focus on utilizing WiFi technology for their benefit, then maybe there is a chance to revive its popularity.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

2007 Grammy Awards' Backlash at Payola!

I don't know about any of you, but I'm getting sick of payola. According to my trusted friends at Wikipedia, payola is "the practice of record companies paying money for the broadcast of record on the radio." Not only is Payola immoral, it's ILLEGAL! (But neither legality nor morality has ever stopped anyone in the music business from getting what they want). Payola has been active within the radio industry since the 1920's. The first court case involving payola wasn't until the 1960's! History of Payola

Even today, Program Directors at radio stations across the country engage in forms of payola. Instead of receiving gifts or favors directly from the record labels, these labels employ third parties called "independent promoters" to make deals with stations. Independent promoters are responsible for calling up radio stations to ensure a certain number of spins for an artist. Payola court cases have re-emerged over the past few years. Specifically cases targeting independent promoters and radio stations. In their April 6th 2006 edition, Rolling Stone reported such findings in an article titled "Payola Probe Branches Out". This article explains Eliot Spitzer's, the former Attorney General of New York and now the governor, and the FCC's attempt to file suit against such payola claims. The evidence gathered by Spitzer & Co. as reported in this article, would support that independent promoters paid significant amounts of money to Program Directors so that songs like "Daughters" by John Mayer would get airplay.

These independent promoters successfully achieved their goal. As a result of stations' continued play of "Daughters", not only was Mayer nominated for both Best Male Pop Vocal Performance and Song of the Year for "Daughters"in 2005, but he won. All of this for a song that Mayer, himself, claims should have never been on the radio. Clearly, radio had something, if not everything, to do with his Grammy win. If it hadn't been for the independent promoters and the program directors, then no one would have heard "Daughters" and no one in the Recording Academy would have had the inclination to vote for this song. This year's Grammys were a different story, however. A band whose current album recieved little radio play made out like bandits at this year's awards ceremony. This act was the Dixie Chicks.

After their public outcry against President Bush at a London concert in 2003, country radio stations across the United States began to drop their music from their playlists. And, Despite their Grammy haul, Dixie Chicks still on the outs with country radio. One would think that after sweeping awards in five different categories at this year's Grammys, including awards for "Best Country Album" and "Best Country Performance", country stations would begin to pick up their songs again. But, alas, they are not. Although this means "less exposure" (terrestrially) for the Dixie Chicks, they will continue to sell more records and be recognized for their musical efforts with the help of the Internet. After their five Grammy wins this past Sunday, the Dixie Chick's saw an album sales increase of 1,500 percent! It seems as though radio play in 2007 has little to no effect on who wins what in the music industry. Perhaps record labels should stop going through extreme measures of independent promotion and payola in order to get their music heard.

Dixie Chicks win!

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

iPTV...The Future of Television?

We all know how the Internet and the iPod contributed to the demise of terrestrial radio. But could both of these disruptive technologies lead to the demise of cable television? According to a report conducted by the online publication, The Nation, there is a "bright future for Internet television". In this article, Pichaya Changsorn reports on Thailand's desire to launch an iPTV service.

iPTV stands for "Internet protocol TV" and deals with streaming television in real time via the Internet. iPTV is essentially "video-on-demand" and will allow its users to subscribe to a service that streams television programs and movies from a computer. There is also a device in the works that will allow the streams on a computer to sync with a television monitor, similar to Apple's iTV. So far Sony, Fox, Intel Capital, Warner Bros., YTC Group (Singapore), Macquarie Bank group, Coote/Hayes Production, and Eros InternationalFox, are shareholders in Anytime (the company investing in this technology). These investors are offering the rights to their content for the iPTV service. By the end of the year, iPTV could grow into a "substantial business" in Thailand. After Thailand, Anytime has its sights set on launching an iPTV service in Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan, Korea, and China.

What does this mean for the United States? iPTV targets the on-demand generation. If any demographic is aware of this, it's the youth of America. Even the heavy-hitters at the major networks are tapping into this technology. Currently networks like ABC and NBC are offering free streams with limited commercials for previously aired episodes. Initially, ABC offered their service for a two-month free-trial. But once it gained popularity, ABC continued to offer the service to viewers. Even television service provider Comcast offers "On-Demand", a program which allows subscribers to view previously aired episodes of their favorite shows on networks such as MTV, E!, VH1, HBO, and Showtime, whenever they want.

It seems as though American television corporations are taking the right steps toward incorporating an iPTV-like service into their daily lives. Clearly, Americans are expressing an interest in having what they want and when they want it. An iPTV service will offer just this--but in real-time, a thing American technology has yet to take full-advantage of. If implemented correctly in the United States, a very profitable business could result. I guess we will just have to wait and see how successful iPTV is abroad.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

I Found This Interesting...

Here's an old-post from my MySpace blog...

December 24, 2005 • Saturday

XM Radio
Current mood: blah

So I got an XM radio last week and it's safe to say that I'm in love. It isn't safe to say, however, that I will discontinue my listening to commercial radio. I am so completely torn between commercial and satellite radio--->although satellite radio is completely genre specific and virtually commercial-free with minimum DJ banter, I still can't avoid the sound quality that emits from commercial radio---nothing can beat it. Maybe it's because I purchased the cheapest XM car radio transmitter, but regardless I'll always go back to commercial radio.

The only thing I don't like about commercial radio, which you could say is a major problem with all commercial radio stations, is that they do not have enough flexibility within their playlists, this is why it's so hard for Indie musicians----even those new musicians signed to major labels----to get airplay. XM and other satellite radio provdiers create a niche for these artists to flourish and for their music to be exposed.

Ok, that's enough of my discussion on commercial vs. satellite radio. Merry X-Mas to all the Jews of the world.

....Interesting. Even back then I was able to determine the problems that still trouble the radio industry. What I am suprised by here is that, back then, I preferred terrestrial over satellite radio--which is INSANE! How quickly things change, my friends. I haven't listened to XM in over a year and I can't even tell you when the last time I heard good terrestrial programming. These are the problems our industry unfortunately faces.

Today one of my old professors told me that radio is not dead. In fact, he said, Internet radio has been the fastest growing radio format in the past few years. According to him, once WiFi becomes readily available, Internet radio will quickly gain popularity. There will be thousands upon thousands of stations available to listeners on-demand. Back in 2004, About:Radio reporter Corey Deitz saw the future of Internet radio as "bright". He agrees that Internet radio "will slowly evolve and with the help of broadband, wireless, and product development it will find it’s rightful place in the home, auto and hand-held device." Maybe someone should give the heads up to stubborn terrestrial programmers so that they can develop a game-plan for breaking into Internet radio niche-markets.

You can find more information regarding this subject here: The Future of Internet Radio Is Bright

Monday, January 29, 2007

My Box in a Box Sensation

For those of you out there that have yet to hear about "My Box in a Box", I'll tell you about it. Basically, it's a spoof that was created by three young Philly natives in response to another spoof aired on SNL (Saturday Night Live) called "Dick in a Box". "My Box in a Box" is now considered a viral video--slowing down video hosting sites like YouTube because so many people log in at the same time to watch it (over 2 million views to date). Quickly, by word of mouth, "My Box in a Box" gained popularity. News networks like MSNBC jumped at the chance to get the inside scoop on the video. It turns out that "My Box in a Box" is not actually sung by "Bunny"--the girl who performs the song in the video. Instead, this Bunny character lip-syncs to a track pre-recorded by an American student studying in London.
A couple of nights ago, I went to the website

My Box in a Box.com

and downloaded the .mp3 file of the song for free. While listening to the song my roommate posed the question, "did you honestly pay money for this?" In response to her question I posed another, "And you listen to songs like Akon's 'Smack That' on the radio only to purchase them on iTunes?"
I had her stumped. This is a serious issue in the music business--if radio is stuck playing senseless songs like "Smack That", then they may as well play satires like "My Box in a Box". In fact, a number of radio stations have already added "My Box in a Box" onto their rotation. Check

Inside Music Media: My Box in a Box

for more details. Below you'll find the original "Dick in a Box" SNL sketch followed by the "My Box in a Box" video.

This is Me

Originally uploaded by jglitz14.
In case you were all wondering, this is what I look like (with the help of iPhoto). Enjoy this while I try to figure out how to post a permanent picture of myself in the profile section. Perez Hilton moments (i.e. pictures of me posing with celebrities) to follow shortly.

A "Loose" Definition of the Media Maggot

me·di·a [mee-dee-uh]
1. a pl. of medium.
2. (usually used with a plural verb) the means of communication, as radio and television, newspapers, and magazines, that reach or influence people widely: The media are covering the speech tonight.

mag·got (māg'ət)
1. The legless, soft-bodied, wormlike larva of any of various flies of the order Diptera, often found in decaying matter.
2. (lang) A despicable person.
3. An extravagant notion; a whim.

media. (n.d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1). Retrieved January 29, 2007, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/media

maggot. (n.d.). The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Retrieved January 29, 2007, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/maggot