Tapes is a personal-scale act of creative web music technology by Jim Nachlin:

Wherein I share with you some of my prized collection of audio cassettes. I’ve saved many of these cassettes, hoping to someday do something with them. Most haven’t been played in almost ten years. The “something” that I am now doing with them is inflicting them on you, my friends who might happen to look at this web site. I hope that you enjoy them. I hope that you put them on your iPod and listen to them at the gym.

One reason you might check this is out is that it’s creative. Another is that Jim’s a good writer:

303 tape cover

This tape was made for me in March of 1993 by my friend Carlos, who used to DJ at the Limelight under the name DJ Tera or DJ Teras. … It’s easy to make fun of it. It’s full of outer space noises, or places where the drum machines drop out and a man says, “It’s getting strange. I can feel it … all around us now”, which one is supposed to take as a drug reference. … But techno is cool. It’s music that sounds like it was made by a lonely dude at a basement, but it’s listened to at parties.

content resolver

Boffin is a content resolver for XSPF playlists which uses local files. Very cool.

This app is still raw, and I ain’t saying it’s going to take over the world or nothing. But this seems like the time to point out that the XSPF architectural principle of separating specific files from song references has turned out to be very durable. We originally conceived of it as an issue of matching up references to shared playlists with MP3s in your local stash, and I don’t know how crucial this feature is. But the important idea is that sharing taste in a world where every file isn’t shared means passing around identifiers rather than files, then resolving the identifiers to files at playback time, in the context of the listener’s music acquisition resources. At that level of abstraction cloud-based catalogs like Rhapsody, Spotify, YouTube and Seeqpod can do a lot of useful things.

LaLa outperforms

My hat is off to LaLa. Nobody believed in it. It looked like they were going to get the hook, and now they have pulled a rabbit out of a hat. It’s magic.

Labels size up Web 2.0 music services | Digital Media – CNET News:

No [web 2.0 music company] has impressed more music execs than Lala.

Lala began as a CD-swapping service but now offers a hybrid business model. Lala enables users to upload their existing music libraries into Lala’s digital jukebox. This gives customers the ability to listen to their songs for free from any Web-enabled device. The company also gives visitors the chance to listen to all of the site’s music free of charge–one time. Lala then charges 10 cents for unlimited replay of each song. The user can then apply the 10 cents to acquire a DRM-free copy, which costs 89 cents.

The beauty of this is that Lala gets its hands on people’s credit card numbers and positions itself to generate impulse buys, ala iTunes. Paying 10 cents to listen to new music doesn’t sound very harmful does it?

According to a LaLa co-founder Bill Nguyen, among the users who have provided a credit card, on average they buy 180 songs for every 1,000 they listen to on the site.

“These are the kinds of numbers we like to see,” said one executive. “When you’re talking about the customer value, you have to preserve the retail model to some extent. The online ad business is not going to drive the customer value in this environment. We’re looking for a blend of monetized sampling and discovery and sales conversion.”

That’s what Lala appears to be delivering.

lessons from the newspaper business

Quotes from a really excellent story about the state of the newspaper business.

The calamities generating headlines are about debt — not operations.

In related news, EMI has done a good job of growing revenues, but their owners at Terra Firma have had to write off half of the huge investment they made in the company. It’s a corporate organizational issue, not a product failure.

down-market popular newspapers that have a low reliance on advertising (25-35 percent) and a low investment in editorial quality are better weathering the economic storm.

That is, not all music products are down. Bars can still grow their nightly revenues by having the right bands.

Focus mental bandwidth behind digital business models — not evolving suddenly into something that is not in the DNA of your company or national market.

Let record companies be record companies.

what’s needed is a migration away from selling print ads to the real estate sector toward evolving the newspaper into the role of marketing services agency to the real estate sector.

Don’t sell ads, be a marketing services agency.

great music web dev

The web page at http://learningmusic.cashmusic.org/ is a really well done piece of web packaging for music. The page layout is flowing and open, the text gives context and romance to the music, the player is seamlessly integrated with the page, and the graphic shows the expressive part of the music without overwhelming the functional requirements of the page as a web app.

The one flaw I notice is that there are no direct links to individual songs. You can stream them, and you can download a zip file with all of them, but you can’t download one at a time or deep link to them.

panel on licensing

Music industry: licensing is a problem, but how to fix it? – Ars Technica:

These two panels made it clear that nearly everyone in the music business recognizes that the complexities of getting legal access to music was harming the business as a whole. But it was also obvious that there are people in the business that hope the licensing can change without any impact on their corner of the industry, and that everyone involved is still looking to get their cut from any new technology that comes along. The sort of pessimism this engenders was probably best voiced by DiMA’s Jon Potter. “The fact that the law is driving the business is a problem,” he said. “The fact that we’re sitting here saying the same things year after year is a problem.”

The fact that people are sitting there year after year without coming up with solutions is a problem that will solve itself.

It may even *have* to solve itself. Each faction has enough legal ammunition to fight the other factions to a standstill for its share of the pie, but lacks the whozamawhatsit to make the pie big enough to keep them all alive on their shares. As the pie shrinks some pieces become too small to sustain their owners, so that some factions will drop off and the overall equation will change. For example, physical retailers don’t have the influence anymore to make life hard on their digital competitors, and that’s allowing digital vendors to get better deals.

(Links via @MixMatchMusic).