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Cheapest Music Marketing Tie-In Ever! November 20, 2008

Posted by David Card in Media.
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PR folks at Dr Pepper swear this gimmick has nothing to do with Guns n’ Roses, Axl Rose, Irving Azoff, Front Line Management, or Universal Music/Geffen Records.

The 17-years-in-the-making album drops on November 23 — probably — as a Best Buy exclusive, and Dr Pepper has 23 flavors. (Not counting prune.) You can hear “Chinese Democracy” early at MySpace.

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Latest Zune Moves November 20, 2008

Posted by David Card in Media.
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Microsoft made a series of moves this week around its Zune device and service, including hardware price cuts ($10 below iPods), a new firmware release with bundled games, launching a new TV campaign pumping the software, and a new pricing scheme for its subscription service. Microsoft renegotiated its label deals so that now, for the same $15 a month, subscribers can keep ten songs a month. That’s either a free album or the on-demand service for $5, depending on how you look at it. Everybody but Sony is in DRM-free MP3 format.

That’s a sweet deal, but will likely appeal primarily to the same digital music aficionado customers who’ve always had a spot in their hearts for subscription services. Those high-spending, digitally active music fans represent about 15% of the US online adult and teen population — around 26 million adults and 3 million teens. About 2-3 million people subscribe currently.

I asked Microsoft if it considered just cutting the price of the service, and execs said, sure, but that wouldn’t get over the “rental” hump. I also wondered if the model can be profitable. On-demand music subscriptions can be, if customer acquisition costs are managed, but 99-cent singles are only barely profitable at scale. Microsoft answered that the music biz is all about scraping out a few points of margin from multiple revenue streams. Okay, but subscriptions, niche though they are, are one of the few places where there might be a decent margin for the service and the rights holder. And Microsoft still hasn’t done much about advertising revenues.

Microsoft’s TV campaign features artists like Common, Afrika Bambaataa, and Kings of Leon and is focused on national cable with a few primetime network spots. Its theme is turning your PC into a music discovery machine, and is a move towards Microsoft’s new positioning around “Zune-powered experiences” across multiple “tuners.” That is, not just MP3 players, but PCs, phones, Xbox, etc.

UPDATED: Sony BMG is onboard

More on Saving Yahoo November 19, 2008

Posted by David Card in Media.
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This is about the best quick coverage I’ve seen, courtesy of paidContent. My first take is over at the Forrester blog.

Saving Yahoo November 18, 2008

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What Yahoo’s new ceo will have to do. Jupiter report forthcoming.

Windows Live Still Undefined, Needs More Two-Way Syndication November 13, 2008

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What Microsoft calls “Wave 3” of its Windows Live services shows modest steps towards its goals of integrating more social features into what still remains an odd-feeling collection of services. Users can now get a feed experience on their profile that is capable of incorporating activity reports from outside services like Twitter, Flickr, Flixster, Photobucket, iLike, and others.

I’m skeptical of Microsoft’s ability to steal away users from MySpace and Facebook — and Microsoft execs told me that’s not the core objective. Rather, they hope to integrate social network features into other established activities. Microsoft’s strength is its Hotmail and Messenger customer base, so this makes sense, but MSN feels absent. And though it’s the original platform company, in this consumer-facing roll out Microsoft isn’t emphasizing APIs and mash-up capabilities

More important, I’d like to see more two-way syndication. Users should be able to get their Hotmail & Messenger updates within Facebook if they want to. Microsoft doesn’t lack that vision, but this wave is more about the reverse direction, and of course, the two big social networks are noteworthy by their absence.

All the portals are feeling the threats to their previously dominant online media business model from Google and from the social networks. Neither Microsoft, AOL, nor Yahoo has successfully answered these threats, and each wants to tap into the potential of real social marketing (not selling cheap banners on MySpace) and a so-far completely unrealized universal communications hub.

Ironically, the portals with their big sales forces, army of developers, and relationships with advertisers and agencies, are in a better position to figure out what the future of social marketing will look like than the social networks are. But MySpace in particular is working on fixing that, even if Facebook threw the bigger dice first with Beacon (they’ll get it right, eventually). As for communications hubs, they’ve always held promise, but there’s never been a perceived need for them on the consumer side. Meanwhile, the social networks are rapidly becoming the hubs for a variety of social computing activities, if not e-mail replacements.

Stay tuned, the report’s almost done.

Other folks’ takes:

Joe Wilcox at Microsoft Watch
Mary Jo Foley at All About Microsoft
Kara Swisher at Boomtown

Help Me Figure Out Personas vs. Modes November 11, 2008

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Since we don’t take comments on ye olde Jup blog, help me out at the new place.

Yes, You Can Still Have a Garish MySpace Page that Bleeds Off the Screen November 11, 2008

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MySpace releases its profile editor 2.0. You can control page width! Only a handful of templates to start, with a few that are movie-themed (ie sponsored).

When I talked with MySpace about this a few days ago, I marveled at MySpace’s ability to encourage customization (over half its users), especially in the face of pretty hard to use tools. Very DIY in the early days: “copy a friend’s HTML!” though that spawned a cottage industry of third-party offerings. We’ve been wondering if widgets would get user customization adoption above the historical 15%-20% barrier. But of course, MySpace has always been at least as much about personal expression as it is about communication or entertainment consumption.

The new tools are pretty easy to use, although they could use a tutorial for geezers. (At least half of MySpace’s audience is over 35, contrary to popular opinion.) There’s more control over which of your friends groups see what, and there’s a kinda-sorta apps gallery presentation in the profile editor. I’m disappointed that you can’t click through on my “interests” now. I hope that’s a temporary bug. And now I wish I could re-skin my music player.

Overall a pretty good compromise of a tool that can support power users and beginners.

Mashable coverage.

UPDATED: MySpace folks tell me the ability to click through on links in your favorites or interests is in the works: “We’ve cleared the way for a more sophisticated incarnation that is in development.” Ah, good.

New Dawn Fading? November 8, 2008

Posted by David Card in Media.
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Why is Amazon promoting a special edition Joy Division Zune for $350 to me? It came out in June in the old 80GB form factor (new 120GB models only cost $250; even in Gears of War 2 special edition livery, they’re $280.)

Does Amazon know me that well?

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It may indeed be a collectible; I can’t find one on eBay, where the Halo 3 edition 30GB model is $127. Where will it end?

Day Of The Lords [2007 Re-mastered Album Version]

I Sure Hope This Isn’t the Future Biz Model of Newspapers November 7, 2008

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Future of newspapers: 75-cent collectibles for historic events. Memo from your newspaper to you, courtesy Romenesko:

And then a few years ago you rewarded my loyalty by straying. You went elsewhere. You sought the company of others who, you thought, gave you something that I could not. Fickle and faithless, you went looking for something faster, newer and younger.

Oh, You.

I wondered, incessantly, had I failed you? Was it me?

And then one day this week, You wanted me again. Hungrily. Desperately. You searched everywhere for me. You lined up outside my door, stood in the rain and cold, on the chance that I would be available to You again.

And I wasn’t there. How ironic!

More Girls Really Should Marry Vampires November 6, 2008

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File this under “Now That’s a Franchise.” The movie adaptation of teen scream “Twilight,” skedded to open in two weeks, is already selling out. It’s no Potter, but still…