Slow and steady wins the race

When Apple released its first iPad back in 2010, majority considered it as a revolution. Well, yes and no. Actually, the first complete concept of a tablet computer was the DynaBook. Alan Kay presented it in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Even Microsoft in early 00’s first defined the term “Tablet PC”. But only Apple managed to create genuinely user-friendly product, which infected the crowd, and delivered 3 million of the devices in 80 days.

And here we go again with streaming services. Purely philanthropic and non-profit starters such as Pandora, Grooveshark and Rhapsody passed the baton to more mature Spotify and MOG, who took a quite serious approach signing deals with all four major labels (first one has rights to operate only in Europe, second – only in U.S. market). In addition to this, MOG Investors include Menlo Ventures, Balderton Capital, Simon Equity Group, Universal Music Group and Sony Music.

Finally, we got to the top: Google Cloud Music beta recently released and Amazon Cloud Player Lets You Play Your Music From Anywhere. Both of them did so without securing licensing rights from record labels but have maintained that their services are completely legal, as users can only upload own purchased music.

There are also rumours about Microsoft Ventura music cloud solution, and even HP confirms that it has acquired Melodeo, a company that provides cloud-based delivery systems for content.

But wait, where is Apple? While Amazon and Google have managed to win a short sprint outpacing Apple by few months, both of their cloud music services have already been heavily criticized, both by the unhappy music industry and from consumers, who have found the quality of the services to be lacking. Such approach could send music content providers rushing into Apple’s arms. And if recent reports are to be believed, Apple has signed a cloud-music licensing deal with EMI Music, and is close to similar deals with UMG and Sony Music Entertainment.

But lets not forget about Apple ability to make things easy to use. It is not only about applying recently emerged technology, but also analyzing current needs of society and improving user experience. And perfect timing of course.

Seems like Apple let rivals to launch their services with only one reason – watch and analyze them. It is a great ability – learn from other’s mistakes. Thumbs up, and lets hope that Google, Amazon or Microsoft can build or improve their own cloud music services in order to give us, users, a bigger choice.

Apple has already confirmed the schedule for WWDC 2011, one of the biggest tech events in the industry, which begins on June 6 till June 10, 2011. Apart from iPhone 5 and Mac OS X Lion Apple is expected to make an announcement regarding its cloud-music system.

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Hack Your Memories

“Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.”

1984 by George Orwell

Remember that campaign from IKEA, where a Facebook profile was created, and over a two-week period, the agency uploaded images from IKEA showrooms to a Facebook photo album? First, who managed to tag his name to a product, won it.

Recently, things turned a bit around. We don’t have to tag our names, but rather tag a product in your pictures. Facebook added this functionality on March 11 and many questions popped-up: are they want to make it automatic, so big brands could tag it for you, which is in fact called real-life product placement? Is this another attempt to monetize the social interactions by giving a phantom increase in functionality? And finally, will people actually volunteer to tag any product in their photo album sacrificing their personal image?

Building and maintaining personal online identity becomes more important. Not only celebrities, but rather your close circle of friends (jury of coolness) can affect your behavior  and indirectly force you to buy certain product. Facebook example seems to be just another nail in the coffin of privacy and our authentic memories.

The keynote given by Aza Raskin for the John Seely Brown Symposium on Technology and Society at University of Michigan and his inspiring speech at PICNIC’10 basically  reflected identical ideas – our personal past will be rewritten by the marketer. We are all in danger of having our memories hacked and our past is not immutable anymore. Will you let your life be edited? Will you let any brand to change some details on your pictures (add a hot girl with a crate of Budweiser maybe?).

According to the peak-end rule, we judge our past experience entirely on their emotional peak (bad or good, doesn’t matter) and how it ended.

“If you are looking for ways to improve your overall brand experience, you would benefit most by first defining how you will create a memorable peak experience, and also how you can conclude a customer’s experience with your brand in a clearly positive way.”

So, what do you think? Will you let your life be edited by brands, swap negative peak with positive one making your overall past experience/memories remarkable? Let us know in the comments.


360°, but not deals

360° full motion interactive videos are finally taking off. Will.i.am recently launched his digital media company will.i.apps and it’s first application BEP360 featuring a video from Black Eyed Peas song “The Time (Dirty Bit)”. Once you download an app, you dive into a fully immersive experience. Moving a phone around user will be able to experience the world.

One of the current biggest players in 360° video production is Immersive Media Corp. from Dallas, Texas, USA. It offers “11-lens camera and full complement of production and post-production services are being used by prominent brands to deliver cutting edge live entertainment and advertising.” Check this amazing base jumping video and even more demos on the Immersive Media demo page.

And for all these with a low budget, Pittsburgh tech start-up EyeSee360 released a 360-degree lens for use on your iPhone. The device attaches to the lens of an iPhone 4 and catches everything visible within 360° view. Viewers of the footage are able to change their point of view using the phone’s touchscreen, looking in front of, behind, beside or above the camera. GoPano is expected to sell for about $80.

Now imagine if we could play this kind of video back through a pair of goggles equipped with motion sensing accelerometers. Turning your head to change a viewpoint, the effect of Virtual Reality might be achieved with the snap of a finger.

We’re looking forward to see how this technology being used for live concerts and fully immersive experience.


Dying of D.I.Y.'ing? Outsource!

What is behind the name of the artist? Obviously, his music and a bunch of different sales and marketing activities. A new trend called outsourcing has been on the rise as a way for record companies to cut costs and still produce a great product. Outsourcing is being used in a few different ways: music production, promotion and distribution.

Universal Music, the world’s largest music publisher and record label took advantage of the expertise, scale and resources of an experienced supply chain specialist called arvato. In result, the Company improved the next-day delivery service for UK and Ireland orders, which was done by implementing a new warehouse management solution.

“There was no specific ‘problem’ we were trying to fix – nothing was ‘broken,'” says supply chain manager Clive Smith. “But by outsourcing something non-core we’ve still been able to realise real benefits and improved our processes at the same time.”

Not only recording companies, but also start-up musicians and acts are looking towards new opportunities, outsourcing features and DIY culture. They are trying to do developing, marketing, sales and administration all at once on their own.  This group of artists decided to turn a back on the traditional record label model in search of a better way. Despite the internet makes do-it-yourself so easy, there are too many services, and so much change finding the way is expensive and quite difficult. D.I.Y. is making you crazy? Then outsourcing is for you!

There are quite a lot of things that can be outsourced:

  • Web-design, coding and logo design
  • Analytics and statistics
  • Video shooting and editing
  • Recording and mastering

And apart from technical stuff there are plenty work left for bookings research, search engine optimization, social media activities, content writing etc. Artist usually pays 10%-15% commission fee to a booking agency, but it is not a big deal to find a personal assistant that can perform a range of different tasks (including bookings) for $5/h. Do you feel that breeze of saved money coming back into your pocket?

Think about outsourcing as time (saved) and investment. It is important to find a good reason and possibly to start with a small budget assigning tasks to the army of freelancers. Overseas workers should be considered also as they might cost 3-4 times cheaper. Check Odesk.com where you can find contractors for any kind of tasks – from programming to business consulting and project management. ScriptLance.com is mostly focused on web-development and Guru.com is perfect for finding freelancers in technology, creative arts and business fields.

One more resource to mention – a blog by an outspoken member of Generation-Y, music marketer Greg Rollett. Gen-Y Rock Stars was a brand, developed as a blog and business for indie musicians to explore online tools and communication to develop their own brand. Sign-up on a web-site and get free pdf with all necessary resources + 2 mp3 podcasts, or just simply start with videos.

On this note we want to remind you, that Holly Blue is an integrated marketing communications firm or the Boutique Agency that offers PR services, product development and bookings. HB offer is:

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Music Analytics at IASPM2011: Spotify will vanish

The IASPM conference held on 14th and 15th of April rather surprised. Indeed, the differentiation between speakers was quite big. Disappointment, that many students speakers could not answer questions from audience. The most common phrase you could hear:”Oh, I didn’t complete any research on that”. But lets leave them and talk about speakers that brought a huge inspiration.

First to mention is Dr Lee Marshall from University of Bristol. He was talking about stars in the recording industry and changing dynamics. But before his talk, this respectable gentleman was hiding on a last row stinging every speaker with fair questions. Should I say that some of the presenters “capitulated”? And today he even came to us again and gave a perfect overview on music industry biggest players and 360 degree deals. Well done! Thank you and hopefully see you soon!

Other amazing speaker Michael Christianen shared his opinion on developing systems that help customers to optimize the music discovery, managing and sharing processes. This presentation highlighted those concepts together with the results of the research done by Michael in the past 15 years. He also represented his research on streaming business model, claiming that Spotify might disappear, but Goggle or even Amazon might catch up and become major providers of a streamed music and other cloud content. But these grands should consider several attributes, such as:

  • Discover
  • Acquire
  • Manage
  • Use
  • Share

These components must be considered, developed and modified in order to establish a competitive service that will hit the spot. Paradigm shift that started 10 years ago is not finished yet. As Michael said:

“For established parties, it is therefore important to act pro-actively, integrating new technologies, new business models and alliances in order to forge a solid position in the value chain to secure.”

We are here, to provide you with latest updates on music industry. Stay tuned.


Pimp your office!

An estimated 70 percent of workers spend their time in cubicles. Where would you do your best work? Can you sit in a grey cubicle and come out with productive, creative ideas?

“They provide pseudo-privacy at best, and are terrible for spontaneous communication,” says Franklin Becker, director of the International Workplace Studies Program at Cornell University. Despite the high-walled cubicle offices perform the worst and also cost employers more to build, private offices are still useful for certain tasks. “The closed office clearly has a place,” says Becker. Some tasks require a high level of concentration, focus and privacy.

First of all, you should analyze the organization, it’s needs, processess, culture and also decide for yourself. Consider two most important predictors of job performance:

1. The ability to do distraction-free work for teams and individuals.

2. The ability to have easy, frequent, informal interactions.

Here it comes, a conflict between Privacy and Collaboration. Becker recommends a range of small-scale four- to eight-person rooms. They can be in a room fully isolated or clustered in a larger space (Just look at our Rookie office!). “There are times when someone needs total privacy, but no one works eight hours a day in the total concentration mode. You work in spurts; so you need to have the chance to get privacy when you need it.”

It is not only about working in cubicles, but also how can you make your place enjoyable to work.

Imagine yourself working in a bright, organic and playful environment. Check these 10 seriously cool places to get basic ideas of how you can improve your working place. Also, 12 ways to pimp your office. Bring your bean bag, cushions or something, that makes you feel cosy, comfy and open to collaboration.


Overload

As we grow, we learn how to focus and choose right source of information, how to choose friends and how to communicate with all of them. But what is your limit? Recently, gambling online I noticed a beginning and a rapid ending of the conversation. One of the players answered to another:”Sorry, I don’t have time for any more buddies”. Indeed, internet made it so easy to find new friends and buddies, potential partners and client. But should we limit them? And what is the threshold for a friend? Is it enough to ask “how are you doing” once in a week/month? Or is it necessary to have some form of conversation? From one side Dunbar argues that the number of people with whom humans can maintain a relationship is limited to 150. Going over this number will make these connections weak. But it seems like new ways of communication and social networks are increasing Dunbar’s number. It is not a only about language anymore. For example, posting “Happy Birthday!” to profile or even just simple “like” helps maintain these connections. Therefore, number 150 is already irrelevant. So, how to beat Dunbar’s number?

Morten Hansen in his book “Collaboration” offers some solutions. In fact one of Morten’s network rules is actually “build weak ties, not strong ones.”  According to author:

“But research shows that weak ties can prove much more helpful in networking, because they form bridges to worlds we do not walk within.  Strong ties, on the other hand, tend to be worlds we already know; a good friends often knows many of the same people and things we know.  They are not the best when it comes to searching for new jobs, ideas, experts, and knowledge.  Weak ties re also good because they take less time.  It’s less time consuming to talk to someone once a month (weak tie) than twice a week (a strong tie).  People can keep up quite a few weak ties without them being a burden.”

Even back to 1973, Mark Granovetter explained very well in his article The Strength of Weak Ties how powerful are weak ties.

Check this great article by Richard Beck, professor and experimental psychologist at Abilene Christian University. He gives a quite clear explanation what is so strong about weak ties taking into consideration a recent article by Malcolm Gladwell in The New Yorker entitled Small Change: Why the Revolution Will Not be Tweeted. Gladwell writes:

“The platforms of social media are built around weak ties. Twitter is a way of following (or being followed by) people you may never have met. Facebook is a tool for efficiently managing your acquaintances, for keeping up with the people you would not otherwise be able to stay in touch with. That’s why you can have a thousand “friends” on Facebook, as you never could in real life.

This is in many ways a wonderful thing. There is strength in weak ties, as the sociologist Mark Granovetter has observed. Our acquaintances—not our friends—are our greatest source of new ideas and information. The Internet lets us exploit the power of these kinds of distant connections with marvellous efficiency. It’s terrific at the diffusion of innovation, interdisciplinary collaboration, seamlessly matching up buyers and sellers, and the logistical functions of the dating world. But weak ties seldom lead to high-risk activism.”

I suppose, almost everybody who is reading this post has much more than 150 facebook friends. So, how you handle all of them? Do you have certain rules, such as “checkin – make sure to message this person once a month to check in” or “connector – people who are at the core of lots of deals” like Chris Brogan? Or you keep your facebook page for close friends (a circle of 150) and use other networks for weak ties?

Your thoughts?