The Shifting Music Market Target

Music – AARP

AT 52, Martha Stinson is not quite sure where to turn when it comes to new music. The local Tower Records in Nashville, where Mrs. Stinson is an owner of a general contracting company, is going out of business, and she never did figure out how to load music onto the digital-music player she bought a couple of years ago.

But she may soon receive an overture from a source not known for its musical savvy: AARP. She is the kind of consumer that the association is targeting with a sweeping marketing campaign that it hopes will entice millions of new members, as the first kids weaned on rock ’n’ roll turn gray.

[…] “I hope that we make this thing so relevant and so cool,” said Tena Clark, a music consultant helping to devise the group’s marketing strategy. “I would hope that one day in the future that my 20-year-old daughter would want to borrow my AARP card to get into a concert just like she tries to borrow her sister’s I.D.”

Consumers like Ms. Stinson may not be the only skeptics however. For musicians, a deal with AARP is a different matter than a deal with a hip coffee house or a fashion retailer. No matter how hard the group may try to change its image — even with the likes of Paul McCartney and Susan Sarandon on the cover of its magazine — some people still associate it with the Saturday-night-bingo set. And many musicians may want to keep their distance, even if it means sacrificing enormous sales.

[…] Now they control too much disposable income — and live too long — to be ignored. And nowhere is the shift in attitudes more pronounced than in the beleaguered pop music business, which desperately needs their money (who do you think is buying all those $750 Barbra Streisand tickets?) and shares their aversion to illicit music downloads.

Reworking Distribution

ArkivMusic

Long before the closing of Tower Records was announced, the notion that a music store should offer a comprehensive selection of classical recordings had been abandoned. Older discs, which typically sold too slowly to help bricks-and-mortar stores meet their costs, were deleted from record labels’ catalogs. But they remained desirable to collectors, and the Internet music retailer ArkivMusic (arkivmusic.com) has recently introduced the ArkivCD program as a way to keep these recordings available.

ArkivMusic, a four-year-old company based in Bryn Mawr, Pa., maintains a database of more than 70,000 classical CDs, DVDs and SACDs (super audio compact discs), all sold through its Web site. Over the last two months, the company has added more than 1,600 ArkivCDs to its site: custom-burned CD-Rs of otherwise unavailable recordings, packaged in standard jewel boxes with facsimiles of the original cover and tray card. So far, liner notes are not included.

A Book To Add To The Reading List

On “Adam’s Fallacy:” Economics: The Invisible Hand of the Market

So what is “Adam’s Fallacy”? (The author, who is the Leo Model professor of economics at the New School for Social Research, always capitalizes the term.)

It is the idea that the economic sphere of life constitutes a separate realm “in which the pursuit of self-interest is guided by objective laws to a socially beneficent outcome,” Professor Foley wrote, a realm unlike all the rest of social life, “in which the pursuit of self-interest is morally problematic and has to be weighed against other ends.”

“This separation of an economic sphere,” he wrote, “with its presumed specific principles of organization, from the much messier, less determinate and morally more problematic issues of politics, social conflict and values, is the foundation of political economy and economics as an intellectual discipline.”

Professor Foley’s book is simultaneously an introduction to economic theory and a critique of it.

Google Settles With Belgian Papers

Google Reaches Copyright Deal With Belgians

“We reached an agreement with Sofam and Scam that will help us make extensive use of their content,” Jessica Powell, a spokeswoman for Google, said in a phone interview yesterday. She declined to give details of the agreement or say whether it involved paying the groups for the content, and declined to say whether Google, based in Mountain View, Calif., was considering similar accords with the newspapers.

The company has a similar case with Agence France-Presse, which protested Google’s linking to the news agency’s articles and pictures in the United States and in France last year.

See earlier postings

The Atlantic Discovers EPIC 2014

Get Me Rewritepdf

As a piece of pop futurism, EPIC 2014 is both brilliant and brilliantly self-subverting (at once inevitable and preposterous). But what’s remarkable is how many of its ten-years-out predictions have already come true—if not materially, then de facto: the mass migration of everything to the Web, the explosion of blogging, the near-instant embrace of social media (see YouTube, MySpace, Facebook, Wikipedia), the growing sophistication of Google’s AdWords and AdSense (the latter soon to be extended to user-customized RSS file format and other feeds), the TiVo-ization of television, and on and on. Instead of buying Amazon, Google bought YouTube, an Evolving Personalized Information Construct that didn’t exist in 2004—GoogleTube instead of Googlezon. Thus does two-year-old futurism already seem hopelessly recherché.

We’ll See

I’m not sure that exchanging copyright law with a combination of contract law and surveillance is the solution, but it’s a worthwhile experiment, anyway. Wired News: Second Life Will Save Copyright

Businesses in Second Life are in an uproar over a rogue software program that duplicates “in world” items. They should be. But the havoc sewn by Copybot promises to transform the virtual word into a bold experiment in protecting creative work without the blunt instrument of copyright law.

[…] Linden Labs has confronted this threat to its bottom line in a different and novel way. DRM won’t work, says CEO Phillip “Linden” Rosedale. Nothing can stop someone from copying textures or shapes off their own computer, any more than technology can stop someone from copying audio streaming through their speakers. Also, the company doesn’t want to be in the business of adjudicating copyright disputes.

As Rosedale succinctly put it, given the ambiguity in copyright enforcement, Linden will inevitably make mistakes, and it doesn’t want to make mistakes.

Instead, Linden Labs will take another approach. In the short run, it believes that use of Copybot violates its terms of service agreement, allowing the company to ban an offender’s account. Long term, Linden says it will create better information identifying creators and dates of creation for in-world content. This will allow copyright owners who’ve been aggrieved to bring infringement claims against offenders personally, at least in theory.

[…] The next phase of Linden’s response is more interesting. The company plans to develop an infrastructure to enable Second Life residents and landowners to enforce IP-related covenants within certain areas, or as a prerequisite for joining certain groups. In effect, Second Life’s inhabitants will self-police their world, according to rules and social norms they develop themselves.

This is exciting, because it turns Second Life into a laboratory for trying out alternatives to prevailing real world copyright rules.

See also BusinessWeek’s take: The Dark Side of Second Lifepdf

It would seem the virtual world is facing a very real-world problem: crime. As more people have joined the global virtual community—it now boasts more than 1 million members—residents are grappling with how to secure property ownership and ensure public well-being. The difficulty of that task was underscored Nov. 19 when a worm attack called “grey goo” forced Second Life to close down for a short time. The worm installed spinning objects in the virtual world that slowed the servers as users tried to interact with them.

Also Real Threat To Virtual Goods In Second Life

OT: *This* Is Where We Draw The Line?

I mean, I’m as glad as anyone that this project got canceled, but consider the expectations of the American viewing and reading public that got the project greenlighted in the first place. On the other hand, at least this demonstrates that there *are* still some things that we won’t stomach as entertainment — so far: Under Pressure, News Corp. Pulls Simpson Project

The decision to cancel the twin Simpson projects was greeted with widespread expressions of relief. Michael Angelos, a vice president of Pappas Telecasting Companies, which told the network Friday that its four Fox-affiliated stations did not intend to broadcast the interview, released a statement calling the network’s decision “a victory for the people who spoke out.”

The statement concluded, “This special would have benefited only O. J. Simpson, who deserves nothing but contempt, and certainly no benefit.”

OT: Ahh, Markets Solving Our Problems

China admits taking executed prisoners’ organspdf

After years of denial, China has acknowledged that most of the human organs used in transplants here are taken from executed prisoners and that many of the recipients are foreigners who pay hefty sums to avoid a long wait.

Speaking at a conference of surgeons in the southern city of Guangzhou, Deputy Health Minister Huang Jiefu called for a strict code of conduct and better record-keeping to stem China’s thriving illegal organ trade, state media reported.

“Apart from a small portion of traffic victims, most of the organs from cadavers are from executed prisoners,” Huang said Tuesday, according to a report Thursday in the English-language China Daily newspaper.

“The current big shortfall of organ donations can’t meet demand,” Huang said.

Collaborative Recommendations

No Substitute for Getting Personal, if You Want the Perfect Fit

A new online business, Zafu.com, believes that it has made progress on that front. Unlike, say, Amazon — which analyzes a visitor’s browsing and buying behavior and recommends merchandise bought by others with similar behavior — Zafu’s approach relies on users to do a little of the work.

On the site, which is basically a search engine for clothes, visitors click through a questionnaire of about a dozen items, after which Zafu determines the visitor’s body type and displays what it believes are the best-fitting jeans to suit that visitor (it offers only female styles for now). Each pair is modeled from several angles, along with a link to the product page of retailers selling the item.

The company, which introduced its Web site in August, can already point to a rapidly growing base of customers and merchant partners as evidence of popularity. The company’s early success underscores the industry’s slow but steady progress in personalization — finding ways to match customers with their stated or implied product preferences, and thereby satisfy what analysts say is a central consumer need.

“Online shoppers are control freaks, and the tools they like the best give them the ability to customize something and do product comparisons,” said Lauren Freedman, president of the E-Tailing Group, an Internet consulting firm. “So I definitely see consumer appeal in what Zafu is doing.”