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Rhapsody’s Trio of Announcements June 30, 2008

Posted by David Card in Media.
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Rhapsody’s offering DRM-free MP3s in its store, launching Rhapsody for Verizon, and trying to re-ignite a syndication strategy that has fizzled so far. I wish Rhapsody would be more aggressive with ad-supported initiatives, but “the economics are challenging,” according to Rhapsody execs.

DRM-free paid music downloads are inevitable, and just under a quarter of adults Jupiter surveyed (Figure 6) said they’d buy more digital music without DRM. That figure breaks 40% for more serious fans and spenders. With MP3s, non-Apple stores can sell songs that actually play on iPods without a hassle. Finally, we’ll see competition on things like merchandising, deals, exclusives, etc. instead of random technology choices. But the competitors will have to work, and somebody’s going to have to spend some serious advertising $$. Rhapsody claims we’ll see the fruits of its MTV and Yahoo partnerships, for the store and the Rhapsody subscription service.

Rhapsody’s MP3 download store claims a large catalog (5 million songs – no U2), and somewhat better — to my eyes — artist and genre pages than Apple’s or Amazon’s. Pricing is comparable to Apple but less aggressive than Amazon. Sampling a full track is restricted to the same 25 plays a month Rhapsody has been offering for some time.

I believe that phones will play a significant role in digital music. But I’m not sure they’ll actually expand the market — particularly for subscription services — or just compete for ear-time with iPods. Let’s see just how aggressively Verizon markets both Rhapsody and paid downloads, and whether they can make cell phones as cool as iPods.

Syndication is one of the key themes of 21st century Internet media. But Rhapsody’s work with Yahoo and, ironically, MSN hasn’t shown much to-date. Yahoo, MTV, and iLike have tremendous potential as partners. Yahoo has a big, broad audience that already spends time with it for music videos, MTV is showing a little more online mojo lately, and iLike is a Facebook perennial (if there is such a thing). Again, we’re going to have to see just how deeply Rhapsody content and services are woven into these.

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Who’ll Measure the Measurers? June 24, 2008

Posted by David Card in Media.
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What’s wrong with this picture? The largest seller of online advertising apparently wants to be the go-to source for measurement data whose primary purpose is to sell advertising. Great job if you can get it.

Oprah’s Not the Only Hit-Maker in Books June 18, 2008

Posted by David Card in Media.
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Apparently, Amazon rocks, too.

    First-time fiction authors are lucky if their publisher orders an initial print run of 15,000 copies. But in a sign of Amazon.com Inc.’s growing clout with readers, a debut novel championed by the e-commerce site has gone into its seventh printing — a total of 90,000 copies — a week after its publication…
    Driving that unexpectedly heavy demand has been strong reviews and promotional support from Amazon.com. The Web retailer chose the book as one of the best books of June and aggressively hyped it, including by posting a long and enthusiastic blurb from best-selling author Stephen King. The same blurb was printed inside “early reader” copies sent to reviewers, bloggers and booksellers.

Oh, here’s the book. (I should link you to the Kindle version, but I know most of you aren’t there yet. More on my Kindle love later.)

The Continuing Saga of the Tween Hit Machine June 17, 2008

Posted by David Card in Media.
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There are always a few gems in the story whenever the Journal writes about Disney’s kids talent factory.

“We can’t stockpile this type of talent because of their ages…”
– Gary Marsh, president, entertainment, Disney Channel Worldwide

If only they could freeze, or clone them!

Disney officials say that their success is not the result of a child-actor assembly line. Rather, they insist, it’s the product of a long sifting process in which the company locates good material and then searches out the right talent, often through casting calls. These events are often held far from Los Angeles, at local talent agencies and other locales, and draw thousands of child-actor hopefuls.

Hmmm. Not clear to me what’s the difference…

More Fun with Contextual Ads, Social Networks Edition June 15, 2008

Posted by David Card in Media.
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By now, everyone has their favorite contextual ad goof-up story. But this one might shed some light on why Google remains disappointed so far with its MySpace ad-serving deal. “Buy the Prisoner” says the ad atop my page (along with two ring tone ads that pull from my favorite bands list). Apparently, “the Prisoner” is a plummy Napa Valley zin, with nothing to do with my favorite old TV series.

Prisoner.jpeg

Dear Steve June 12, 2008

Posted by David Card in Media.
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(Ballmer, that is, not Jobs):
Buy Facebook. They come with some baggage. But you’ve been smacked.

How Ya Gonna Stop Google Now, Part Whatever June 12, 2008

Posted by David Card in Media.
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Now that Yahoo’s going to make more money by showing lots more Google paid search ads on its own search results pages and Microsoft said it doesn’t want all of Yahoo, but is still open to part, we get a partial answer to How Ya Gonna Stop Google Now – Yahoo version – but we need an answer for the Microsoft version.

I guess the answer is, Yahoo ain’t gonna stop Google now. Yahoo also said it would dabble in Google contextual ads. Yahoo still believes it’s critical to integrate search and display, and maintains it can still do this under the potential agreement. Yahoo claims its own marketplace is competitive at the head, but not the tail of queries — which is how it’ll hold on to doing business directly with its premium advertisers, I guess.

Minimal Value-Add iPhone Post June 10, 2008

Posted by David Card in Media.
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So it seems like Apple won’t change the basic value chain for mobile phones after all. By moving back to a straight, up-front subsidy from the carriers, rather than a services revenue sharing arrangement, Apple is saying the iPhone is going to play by the same rules as everybody else. What this also indicates is that, in case there was any doubt, the iPhone:

– Is definitely in a platform war
– Will be a hub for Apple services and software — at the expense of carrier services.

Nokia’s already strongly headed in both those directions. Will RIM and Microsoft go beyond platforms? Google will, assuming it ever actually gets into this market…

NY Times Shows Spin Mastered Video June 9, 2008

Posted by David Card in Media.
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I’m a guy who’s pretty comfortable with product placement, and pretty hard on bloated news organizations. But I’m a little anxious about this story in the NY Times on promoting a hot new toy — Bakugan Battle Brawlers — via old fashioned roadshows. The story comes complete with photos and video supplied by the toy company. Ironically, the company’s called Spin Master.

Why MSM Shouldn’t Blog, Part XXIII June 5, 2008

Posted by David Card in Uncategorized.
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Professional journalists blogging is often a good idea. Fresher, faster takes, with some personality added, and the chance for a “conversation.” (Though not here, bigod.) However, venerable trade journals trying desperately to remain relevant in the 21st Century to reach a younger audience online should be a little choosy about how they apply the technique. Check out this comment:

    I’m with B. Younger, this is hardly news to anyone with a life. The 26 to 40 year-old demographic is reading this blog, btw, and I think you just lost their attention.

If Variety e-in-c Peter Bart was just being ironic – or practicing the time-honored tradition of “any excuse to run a sexy photo” – well, he needs a gag writer.