Category Archives: Technology

Modern Music: The Money at the End of the Rainbow

“We should stop asking, ‘how do we make people pay for music?’ and start asking, ‘how do we let people pay for music?‘” -Amanda Palmer, TED Talk: The art of asking (February 2013). I don’t want to discuss Palmer’s controversial, record-breaking Kickstarter campaign, which asked for $100,000 and ended up generating $1.2M from 25,000 fans. What’s more interesting is the paradigm shift in the music industry that most markedly began with Radiohead’s 2007 free digital release of their newest album. Artists are asking and fans are giving. Sometimes.

Radiohead Thom Yorke cover of Rolling Stone issue 1045 February 2008

Palmer’s opposite of Metallica M.O. is more salient to the reality of music consumption today than the traditional pricing, touring, and record label model. In a vacuum of capitalism where the Internet didn’t allow such easy piracy, standard pricing and control over content would make sense like it used to. But we don’t have a vacuum, and smart artists adapt.

Radiohead Let Us Pay

Public Enemy (1999 – paid download), Smashing Pumpkins (2000 – free download), Radiohead (2007 – free download), Trent Reznor (2008), Amanda Palmer and others have released their music first online with varying price structures before iTunes Store opened on April 28, 2003. But in 2007, iTunes had just become the third largest music retailer in the U.S. and online music was exploding. Radiohead blazed the trail on October 10, 2007 in the first major album release in which consumers could name their own price. Radiohead’s contract with their label EMI ended after 2003’s Hail to the Thief. After four years of turning down offers from other labels, in October 2007 Radiohead took a bold step in releasing their next album independently and digitally with a pay-what-you-want model.

Thom Yorke told Time,

“I like the people at our record company, but the time is at hand when you have to ask why anyone needs one. And, yes, it probably would give us some perverse pleasure to say ‘F*** you’ to this decaying business model.”

Radiohead beat the album leakers to the punch by basically leaking their own album. Fans went to the band’s website inrainbows.com to download the 15-song MP3s. Big Radiohead fans, my college roommate and I were blown away and totally impressed when we clicked the download button and saw the prompt “It’s Up To You.” Click again and it refreshed with, “It’s Really Up To You.”

Including $0 payments, the average fan paid $2.26 per download, meaning Radiohead came out ahead compared with the ~15% they’d receive via the standard record company release model.

“People made their choice to actually pay money,” [Radiohead manager Chris] Hufford said. “It’s people saying, ‘We want to be part of this thing.’ If it’s good enough, people will put a penny in the pot.”

The CD release followed at the end of 2007. A year later, In Rainbows had sold more than 300 million copies worldwide in digital and physical formats.

Creative musicians will continue to find ways to circumvent the technology that has made it irresistably easy to pirate their music. But Amanda Palmer’s asking/giving/taking and Radiohead’s pay-what-you-want models aren’t new; they are a return to the organic way street musicians and entertainers exchanged their art with others, as Palmer points out in her TED Talk.

Now We Expect Free Music

Trent Reznor Nine Inch Nails on stage singing 2009Following In Rainbows, in November 2008 Trent Reznor took a shot at a different online release model when he co-wrote and produced Saul Williams’s album The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of NiggyTardust. Fans could download it for free or pay $5 for a higher quality version. The results were disappointing. As of January 2, 2008, 154,449 people had downloaded NiggyTardust and 28,322 of them paid the $5.

… the way things are, I think music should be looked at as free. It basically is. The toothpaste is out of the tube and a whole generation of people is accustomed to music being that way. There’s a perception that you don’t pay for music when you hear it on the radio or MySpace. -Trent Reznor, cnet.com

Radiohead’s free offering compelled us to pay a $2.26 average, but Reznor’s tiered free/premium model had less lucrative results at first.

For artists to follow Radiohead’s model en masse with success, our entire culture of music consumption would need to resemble the one Amanda Palmer champions. Unlikely for now, and unfathomable for less famous bands without dedicated followings and years of successful marketing and albums behind them.

I haven’t bought a hard copy album in years. The last I can remember was Tool’s 10,000 Days in 2007. The unique hardcover album case with stereoscopic glasses and Alex Grey’s art was simply incredible (and it won the Grammy Award for Best Recording Package). I have dabbled in iTunes and Amazon MP3 purchases but the closed environment and lack of ownership always bothered me. You’re leasing, not buying. I have no need to illegally download music now. Spotify is revolutionary. And mind-bogglingly cheap for the universal multi-device access you get to nearly all recorded music. Spotify hardly pays the artists, but overall it’s a more reasonable solution to the problem at hand than expecting consumers who won’t pony up $5 for an album to keep paying 99 cents a song. Maybe the Spotify model will make fans more willing to pay in other ways. It’s certainly the most convenient and instant access I’ve ever had to music, especially brand new music. Plus, with the Copyright Alert System, who wants to risk illegal downloads anyway? Instead, I’ll attend concerts and — after our Digital Dive Podcast interview with Zoroaster’s Dan Scanlan — I’ll buy plenty of merch.

 

Sources

Radiohead Says: Pay What You Want. Time, 10/1/2007

Public Enemy Makes Friends Online. EW, 5/14/1999

Pay What You Want for this Article. NY Times, 12/9/2007

Can Twitter Gauge Happiness?

Obviously social media opens new doors for marketers, but it also provides us with new sociological survey data. Only the subjects aren’t aware they’re being studied. It’s like that valid research method, natural observation. If inherently subjective ethnographies based on very small sample sizes are valid in anthropology and I am a technological anthropologist (Angela Natividad’s wonderful term) then surely I can liken all U.S. or global Twitter users to a tribe. I can measure their operationally defined behaviors in their natural habitat, the Twitterverse. This is the new anthro.human-emotions-collage

This stems from reading a recent study by the Vermont Complex Systems Center, who created a “hedonometer” for 10 million geotagged tweets:
The Geography of Happiness According to 10 Million Tweets – TheAtlantic.com, 2/19/13

(First I must note the correlation between religiosity in the Bible Belt and lack of happiness.)

Second, this is not the first study to link Twitter sentiment to mood:

Traders seem convinced that social chatter from a specific group or about a specific event (like a new Apple product or changing Netflix service) can be a predictor of where stocks are headed. Yet it was more than a year ago when Indiana University’s Johan Bollen found that his team’s Twitter sentiment analysis predicts changes in the market with 87.6 percent accuracy…. his work suggests that collective social mood leads the DJIA closing values by a few days’ time.
-Jill Noble, Dr. Johan Bollen on Twitter, Mood and Socionomics, Elliott Wave International 2/16/12

Bollen’s findings suggest that mass Twitter sentiment can predict the economy. There is validity to such studies despite the inherent sample bias.

What should be explored is that with Twitter, we can endeavor to gauge sentiment for groups on such a larger scale than is possible with typical surveys and limited sample size. This is what Bollen is doing with computational social sciences – and this is so important for marketers. Think neuromarketing. Granted, you’re only getting subjects who use Twitter – huge caveat. In certain states, depending on culture, it’s possible that Twitter tends to be used by people who are happier, sadder, or who tweet certain trigger words more often.

Mississippi is one of if not the nation’s poorest state. That must contribute to it being the #2 saddest. But the economically depressed state of my alma mater, Michigan, may be even sadder and they don’t have Southern cooking to eat their feelings. You are what you eat…

If I were a food marketer, I would go to town over this kind of data. Market your product as a solution to three struggling economic problems to start:
1. Lack of happy sentiment in the aggregate
2. Loss of community pride
3. Need for grocery value in communities with high unemployment rates

And as one might predict,

…happiness data correlates with income and the prevalence of obesity in an area.

Not hard to figure out those relationships: less education –> lower income and less knowledge and culturally sanctioned attention paid to nutrition
Lower income –> likely to only afford less nutritious food
Eat too much unhealthy food –> gain weight, have more (expensive) health problems, feel depressed emotionally, physically, and economically.
All –> tweet sadder.

On with the social-as-qualified-sociology:

  • Financial difficulties do not preclude Twitter use as many might guess – look at the rise of mobile-only households in lower income brackets. It’s also possible that even if mostly middle to upper class residents use Twitter, the general morale of an economically depressed state would make even those who are financially stable tweet more sadly.
  • Also, marketers who target angry and/or crass customers (with something like anger-management products): play up the offensive in your ad copy, you’ll be speaking your customers’ language and mirroring is effective:

For individual cities, the Vermont researchers note, the amount of swearing contributed substantially to their final scores. They think it’s worth investigating this phenomenon, which they call “geoprofanity.”

In Jill Noble’s 2011 interview with Johan Bollen, he explains the unique opportunity that Twitter offers as a glimpse into immediate, focused, raw emotional output. With limited characters and the immediacy of tweeting (especially on mobile) it offers a more targeted and insightful view into millions of everyday moods as they change around the globe.

Texting During Dinner: Multitasking, FOMO, and Smartphone Etiquette

Emily PostSocial etiquette is becoming murkier everyday. Half of all adult Americans now own either a smartphone or tablet, and one-third use their mobile devices to view news stories and video clips at least weekly. –Half of U.S. adults own a smartphone or tablet, 2012 Pew survey Everybody’s on the phone. But they’re not just talking on the phone.

Instead of reiterating the obvious, I will dive into the implications for IRL interactions.

Cultural mores dictate certain things you shouldn’t do because they’re rude. And usually there are exceptions to these rules. Common sense used to suffice in this realm. Mobile technology has introduced a host of new implicit rules and exceptions, not to mention the generational divide over what’s considered rude. The key is whether the other person knows you have an exception (assuming they care or loosely adhere to the following). Common scenarios:

Bad Tech Behavior Exception Caveat/Details
Texting during a meal/date/outing Texting a friend who is on the way/lost/running late. Instagram can be fine if the other person gets it or joins in Instagramming the fire hydrant or heart-shaped coffee froth. Mention to present company that the other party is the person you’re texting. Generally, just give your undivided attention to the other person.
Using your phone while watching/listening to a presentation or speech Taking notes; taking a non-flash photo of the speaker/event; tweeting about the presentation Even if you’re just notetaking on your phone (and do use Evernote), it would look better to use a tablet, seemingly more public and when so, associated with single tasks like notetaking, whereas a phone screen is smaller, thus less conducive to notetaking and more private. Phone is better at hiding your potential bad tech behaviors. Ongoing tweeting is acceptable if the presentation is meant to be live tweeted- definitely if the event has a hashtag. But try and look up.
Texting, web search, or checking Facebook while on a date Showing something on Facebook that is relevant to the conversation. Googling/texting a mutual burning question to an authority. If you want to get away with any of these behaviors undetected, do not post anything. The person may now be or may end up your Facebook friend. A simple calendar check would let them put two and two together: you were multitasking them, as in digitally double-booking them.
Forgetting to turn your phone on silent or vibrate in the movies or at a meeting Movie theatre: no exception. Meeting: Vibrate is acceptable if expecting an important call or email but only if the phone is in your lap, pocket, or purse — not on the table. In a meeting where others are aware (and better yet, mutually affected by the outcome) of your expected call or email or text, vibrate mode on the table is fine.




 You know who you are.

I don’t want to be always on. I want to be in the moment even when the moment is paused for a bathroom break. It’s part of the bigger picture: we need to silence our FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). Multitasking is addictive because it produces dopamine. We instinctually want to multitask because the big DA is a powerful reward-based neurotransmitter. It’s what makes cocaine and methamphetamines such fun. We bathe in dopamine for that neurological reward and in order to supposedly maximize our experience of all the available technology. But digital stress on the brain from multitasking makes us perform worse. We really can’t handle more than two tasks at once. We really should focus on the main task at hand: each other.

Ask Forgiveness, Not Permission: iOS6, Futuristic Hiring, App Privacy Pitfalls – The Digital Dive Podcast Episode 4

Listen or subscribe in iTunes

Topics – The Digital Dive PodcastTM Episode 4:

iOS6 update

  • Do Not Disturb feature
  • Improved Calendar and Contacts privacy settings
  • Facebook integration, now native:
  • How to turn off syncing your Facebook friends contact info and birthdays into your iPhone
  • The shift toward native iOS control over user data sent to apps
  • Apple Maps vs. Google Maps
  • Passbook and mobile payments
  • iPhone 5
  • Lightning dock connector

Big Data and Future Hiring Practices:

  • Talent based hiring allows employee screening, questionable?*
  • Psychographic profiling

Ask forgiveness, not permission app developer culture

  • LinkedIn iPhone app privacy issues

Random: Emily’s continued “In the Future” theories: inter-vehicle communication

The Sass: Who would seriously put their mobile phone number on Facebook?

Tips on Tap:

1. Windows: How to rename a batch of IMG_xyz photos with a category name such as Beach_Day_043

2. Employee online monitoring at work: packet sniffers and how to hide your activity using a VPN. (Or just don’t do anything you know you shouldn’t do.)

3. iconfinder.com is a free graphics website with royalty free .png images useful for infographics, chiclets, and blog images*

*Show Notes – Links

Your iPhone calendar isn’t private—at least if you use the LinkedIn app | The app scrapes subject lines, meeting times, participants, notes, and more. 6/6/12 (Note: the app has since been updated, but for context see article)

Meet the New Boss: Big Data | Companies Trade In Hunch-Based Hiring for Computer Modeling. 9/20/12

iconfinder.com

You can download or stream The Digital Dive at thedigitaldivepodcast.com or search for us in the iTunes Podcast Directory–> If you like the show, please subscribe and leave us a review!


The Digital Dive Podcast is on Stitcher, the best free podcast streaming smartphone app. If you’re a new subscriber, please sign up with our link below.
Hear us on Stitcher Smart Radio

Follow us on Twitter @thedigitaldive_  and Like us on Facebook

The Digital Dive PodcastTM: Get the most out of technology… without ever fully giving in

iPhone 5 Upgrade – AT&T Customer Service (Part 2 of 2)

Some Native Americans believe that humans store pain in our bones, that we carry the physical toll of our memories with us for life. I believe we store our entire lives and memories in our iPhones. The pain-body must live there, too.

Chakras by Alex Grey

My iPhone 4 is getting old, slowing down, it can’t handle everything I do fast enough. Thus, a fresh new phone is a fresh slate. Really, I am upgrading because I’m eligible and ready for a better, faster phone. But my soul will feel refreshed.

I don’t mind the new Lightning connector. The incompatibility with old models is a bit annoying, but I always bring my own charger anyway. Sure, Apple may have had this master plan all along so they could sell adapter cords and accessories, but at some point, all tech upgrades make old models obsolete. Plus, at least a year ago I spilled wine or pop in both of my Bose and iHome products. It is probably time to upgrade those so that I will no longer have to rubber band my iPhone to the dock at a certain angle to make it charge and play.

Am I on the upgrade treadmill? No: I use a five-year old MacBook Pro. And I waited patiently for the 5, skipping over the 4S. I deserve a fresh new phone and I got the 32GB version so I can continue to dangerously multitask and text-walk into fountains without sacrificing speed. And you can’t deny these improvements:

iPhone 4 next to iPhone 5 size
image credit: phonearena.com

Highlights from CNET iPhone 5 review:

“Taller, thinner, and a metal back
As expected, the new iPhone is 18 percent thinner (0.30 inch vs. 0.37 inch thick) than the iPhone 4S. Apple says it’s the thinnest handset around, but that’s a race that changes often. That means it’s also 20 percent lighter for a total of 3.95 ounces. The Retina Display expands from 3.5 inches (its size since the original iPhone) to 4 inches. The total resolution remains the same, though, at 326 pixels per inch. The total pixel count is 1,136×640, and we now have a 16:9 aspect ratio.

Faster chip
The iPhone 5 will offer an A6 chip, which is two times faster than the current A5 chip. Graphics will get faster speeds… users will see Web pages load 2.1 times faster, and the Music app with songs will load 1.9 times faster.

4G LTE enabled

The iPhone 5 also fixes a design flaw that we first saw in the iPhone 4. Apple replaced the glass back with one that’s mostly metal. Too many people [Emily Binder] cracked an iPhone 4 or 4S after dropping it accidentally.”

(Here’s where I will recommend Bob Knows Phones in Atlanta for smartphone repairs. They fixed my cracked iPhone 4 screen in June in less than an hour for $100 with good customer service. Support local small business.)

“Smaller dock connector, smaller SIM card
On the bottom of the iPhone 5, there’s that new and long-anticipated smaller dock connector. [Called “Lightning,” it’s 80% smaller and reversible.]”

Read Part 1 of this post, focusing on ordering the iPhone 5 from AT&T.

R.I.P. Steve Jobs. Apple releases just aren’t the same without you.