Jason Ball's TechBytes

Technology & Venture Capital. Early stage venture capital news mixed with personal views and comments

If you can’t take it with you, it’s not yours

I picked up an Android device earlier in the year – I’ve been watching the platform and app ecosystem develop, and decided it was time to make the jump…

That’s a huge deal for me, the Apple Fan Boy, bought a non-Apple piece of hardware. Turns out, the hardware switch wasn’t as critical as the software switch. And I don’t mean the OS.

I stopped buying any content from Apple a long time ago. Sure, I used iBooks to test it out, but that’s all. No Apple content lived on my iPhone. When you buy digital content from Apple, you don’t actually own it, so getting your iTunes library, iBooks library, etc onto an Android device is a no go.

Having options (for portability) is very important; owning your data (or content) is more important. And, as we all know, if you can’t take something with you, it’s not yours…

In many ways, I now care less and less about owing content, and more about content portability, or more importantly accessibility. Cloud services like Spotify and We7 have made my music life so much easier. Password = Music. What could be easier?

Amazon’s Kindle Cloud Reader is all about accessibility (and circumnavigating the 30% Apple App Store tax). Via Amazon’s Cloud Reader, Password = Book Collection. On my iPhone, iPad, Android and Desktop. Easy.

Photos are slightly better than purchased content, but Apple still makes your life difficult. Photos on your photo roll in iOS will live there (mostly) thanks to restrictions by Apple. The new iCloud sync means they get backed up, but online access/sharing would be better. Password=Camera roll restore, which great, but… for Android, Lightbox is pioneering the way with an awesome “connected photo roll”. Lose your phone, log back in, and all your pictures are there.  And there’s a great online gallery where you can edit and share, so Password = Photos. Easy.

Everything else I use lives in the cloud anyway…  which I can get ubiquitous access to. The implication there is, data security will mean everything in the future. Both Google and Facebook (!!) will allow you to export and backup the data you’ve stored with them. Definitely a good alternative if you’re storing all your pictures and memories online.  Look for a future post  on data security-“it’s 4am, do you know where your data is?”.

Filed under: Android, Apple, iPhone, Mobile, Music, Software, Technology

Five Steps to Music Nirvana

Step 1. Get Spotify

Step 2. Sign up for an account at last.fm

Step 3. Enable scrobbling inside the prefs pane in Spotify

Step 4. Check this site to find new artists based on your las.fm recommendations  http://lutt.se/lastfm+spotify+new/

Step 5. Enjoy your new found music nirvana

Filed under: Music

Spotify- The Next Great Music App

Logo
Congratulations to the Spotify team- they’ve launched their public beta today allowing anyone to listen to music over the web, in what I think could be the next great music app.

I’ve been lucky enough (thanks Daniel!) to be one of the beta testers over the past several months- today’s the first time I’ve seen (and heard) ads on Spotify- and they’ve come up with a great advertising supported music model that’s legal. Yes, it’s all legit…

Two things you’ve got to do: 1) Download the app 2) SHARE a playlist. Sharing music via Spotify has to be the most fun I’ve had in years. (Yes, VCs are kind of sad that way.)

And if you can’t wait to get your hands on a beta invite- you can get the premium version of Spotify immediately which has no ads…

This is gonna be a great.

Filed under: Internet, Music

The Music Revolution

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Wow, talk about music news this week. Muxtape got its wrist slapped by the RIAA…

…but there are new music start ups to pick up where Muxtape left off (if it’s in fact dead, and not a publicity stunt).

Some new arrivals on the scene are 8Tracks, Grooveshark Lite and Simplify Media. I’ve covered other cool music sites in the past here as well.

Music startups are not for the faint of heart or the shallow-pocketed. Spiral Frog has spent $12 Million and hasn’t even launched. They were reported to be looking for a further $25 Million. And that’s pre-launch.

8Tracks has spent about $80k to get the service to where it is today, but has a special license that they’re using currently.

I’ve been watching several guys here in Europe, but see real business model challenges to ad based music services given the royalty rates that the majors are looking for. Silicon Alley Insider has a good overview of why the current licensing model is broken. They calculate 1 ad per song to break even, we’ve run some numbers and they look higher than that to us- which means if it doesn’t work at 1 ad per song, then things just go downhill from there,

Add in the fact that WalMart is pulling/reducing its music inventory, which can’t be a good thing for the Labels either… all of which leaves me scratching my head as to where these guys plan on making money (Not online and not in store- that doesn’t leave many options.)

So what’s next, who’s going to start the Music Revolution (or has it already quietly begun)?

(thnx to datsuncog for the tape pic)

Filed under: Internet, Music

iTunes Downloads- 5 Billion Served

Apple announced today that iTunes downloads have now topped 5 billion. I posted back in January 2007 that iTunes had hit 2 billion purchases…

I note we’re now comparing downloads with purchases- which may or most likely may not- be the same thing, but the growth curve looks very impressive:

Itunes5billiondownloads
It’s worth highlighting that the number of weeks required for the second 2 billion downloads took less than half the time that it took to reach the first 2 billion…hence the exponential curve, not a straight line…the rate of change growth is accelerating… Ray Kurtzweil would be pleased to see exponential growth in action.

Filed under: Apple, iPhone, iPod, Music

How to make your customers very unhappy

Radiohead have taken their fate into their own hands- they’ve refused to sell their new album through iTunes (and apparently other online stores as well). I don’t think you can buy physical CDs either.

Normally, I would cheer them on, but…

The problem is, YOU CAN’T DOWNLOAD THE MUSIC. I put their release date in my calendar (I’m a pretty big radiohead fan). Went to the site on the 10th of October. The site was crashed. Went back this weekend. Site not working. (I did manage to read something about the new album, but almost went BLIND trying to read their website.)

Do I go back and try to download the album again? Or should I now boycott Radiohead until they release their music on iTunes where it’s convenient for me?

Steve Jobs had a good point- most people would prefer to pay $9.99 for an album rather than “work for minimum wage” to download an album for free (or even £1). I happily bought Thom Yorke’s Eraser on iTunes. One click an it was on my iPod.

I’ve actually spent more time trying to get the new Radiohead album than its taken to write this rant (which is far, far to long). Maybe someone will be kind enough to download the music, burn it on a CD and give it to me for my birthday.

Filed under: Music, Other

On Vox: iTunes Music Festival in London

View Jason Ball’s Blog

Now this is pretty cool. Sixty of the hottest and most respected names in popular music, like Travis, Amy Winehouse, Stereophonics and more, will play gigs at London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts. The only way to get tickets is to…

» Read more on Vox

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Filed under: Events, Conferences and Panels, Music

Cool Music Sites

A couple of cool music related sites have been cropping up lately. If you’ve got some time, check out the following (in no particular order):

Daytrotter
The Players

The Hype Machine (thanks CK)

Musicmobs

Music for Robots

Tour Filter


Critical Metrics

Lots to graze on and music for everyone : these are mash-ups, next gen-Napster, music blogs, UGC, indie press, etc.

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Filed under: Music, Technology

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