Meanwhile, In The Lobby

This evening I went to an event titled “Building a Digital Entertainment Company in Silicon Valley” put on by the MIT/Stanford Venture Laboratory. The event featured a panel comprised of Gracenote CEO Craig Palmer, Weil, Gotshal & Manges intellectual property lawyer Yar R. Chaikovsky, Selby Venture’s Marco DeMiroz, Apple iPod VP of Engineering Tony Fadell, and Sequoia Capital’s Sameer Gandhi.

While it was interesting to hear Craig detail the history of Gracenote (especially given that the original technology was basically built by its users) there wasn’t a lot there of new information presented. Yeah, there’s more bandwidth to power content delivery. Yeah, the major computing players have been transformed into consumer electronics retailers. Yeah, the industry’s going to be grappling with DRM interoperability issues for a while. Blah blah blah. Yawn. We know this part of the movie.

The interesting part came with the questions portion of the event. Right off the bat, Jeff Schwartz jumped in with a pertinent question: “So, what about BitTorrent?” Unfortunately, the panel seemed to interpret this question as “So, what about people illegally sharing files?” What followed was a brief history of the past “screw you” attitude of Napster and others towards Big Media, and how the technology industry had come around to start partnering with Big Media and implement DRM to address this issue. Hmm…I don’t think this was where Jeff was going with that question. Another audience member asked about the impact the Open Source movement and its philosophy on the entertainment industry. Again, the intent of the question was deflected by the panel.

I understood what these guys were trying to get at, so I thought I’d give it a try:

“We’ve been talking a lot about the consumers and consumption side of the equation, but what about the producers? With tools like BitTorrent lowering or eliminating the costs of independent producers to distribute content, the increasing use of Open Source licenses for content, and the relative ease with which high-quality content can be created using digital tools, does Hollywood perceive independent producers as a threat? When anyone in this room with a web site, or a garage band can reach audiences, Hollywood will have to compete for consumer attention – does it even recognize this as a threat?”

Marco DeMiroz started to point out that the economics of content production would prevent against this becoming a major threat – that, for example, movies cost hundreds of millions to produce and that someone had to make a buck – when I had to cut him off:

“I think you’re making the assumption that these independent content producers are in it for the money…”

Craig jumped in at this point to maintain that this independent content was not necessarily “high quality” – so who’d want to watch that? Jeff was quick to counter this point by pointing out that Hollywood would still be competing for the attention of the consumer regardless of whether all the independently produced content was any good or not. While Jeff had a point, I would argue that a lot of what Big Media considers “low quality” is actually more relevant and worthwhile than the latest recycled summer blockbuster explode-a-thon. Just look at Rock, Paper, Saddam! Hilarious! And probably whipped up by some guy in his bedroom in an evening before it was unleashed and spread like a virus across the blogosphere and collective email inbox of the world. How can they hope to compete with instant, timely content that costs next to nothing to distribute and that’s been created by people who aren’t interested in making money of their creation?

At this point, the panel started to break into more of a free-for-all open debate, and so the panel concluded.

There were many breathless discussions after the conclusion of the panel – Jeff Schwartz and I practically tackled each other after the panel for the opportunity to each conclude that the members of the panel just Don’t Get It. Though I’m sure the movie industry’s not about to spontaneously implode, it seems we’re on the cusp of a new era of cultural production, a reversal of the broadcast-centric model of cultural production brought about by the popularization of television. People seem to be remembering that they don’t have to wait for others to report on the news or tell their stories.

Remember the old movie jingle “Let’s All Go To The Lobby“? People are starting to gather in the lobby and interact rather than hang out in a movie theatre eating overpriced popcorn. You have been warned.

Coolest. Bookmark. Ever.

When we moved down to Mountain View recently, we managed to score a sweet address: right across from the city library! Yeah, yeah, I’m a geek. Sunday in my house was the day you went to church and then you went to the library – it’s a happy memory. And though I’ve spent more time reading blogs than books in the past six months methinks that will change in the near future. Why?

Because of this absolutely sensational LibraryLookup bookmarklet tool.

Basically, this little web application allows you to create a “bookmarklet” – a simple javascript-based bookmark utility you can add to your web browser’s toolbar. The particular bookmarklet that the LibraryLookup site allows you to create is pure shortcut genius: it allows you, while visiting, to automically lookup the item on the current page at your local library via your library’s online catalog. One click and you’re at the library checking out if you can save cash by checking the book out of your local library rather than buying it! The web application used to create the bookmarklet appears to know how to interface with most of the popular web-based libary catalog software, so you should have little problems getting it to work for your local library.

Time to crawl through my Amazon Wishlist and request some books – cha-ching! That spells savings!

And for those of you in Mountain View, use the Base URL and set the Vendor to “Innovative”. Presto! Shortcut magic!

Pissing On Customers

It seems these days more companies are making a deliberate, calculated, and focused effort to piss off their customers. Or piss on their customers. I haven’t decided which it is, but neither one is particularly desirable when you’re on the receiving end. Somewhere along the line, someone gave companies the idea that providing less service for the same price would be acceptable to customers – allow me to correct their misconceptions.

Your average Hollywood movie studio executive appears to be operating under the mistaken belief that when I bother to pry open my wallet to buy a DVD, I’m actually overjoyed to be forced to sit through additional “free” content. Like the overly verbose FBI warning. In English and French. And an ad for a soft drink. And the coming attractions – despite the fact that the DVD I’m watching is over a year old, the movies being advertised have already been released, I already know they suck, and this is the fourth time I’ve been forced to watch the ads. In situations like this, I start to feel like Alexander in Clockwork Orange – strapped into place, restricted by technology from averting my gaze.

The term is captive market – and I wish cosmic rays would fry the synapses out of every corporate droid brain that thinks it’s a good idea.

Nobody’s limiting themselves to restricting outside food so they can overcharge for popcorn anymore. Nope, they’re working hard to make sure we watch what they want us to watch, when they want us to watch it. Forget listening to your favorite XM radio program any time you want. Forget taking your camera-phone to concerts. Forget moving files freely to and from your USB keychain drive or your iPod. Forget recording and storing programs indefinitely on your TiVo. Forget about not being berated for actually paying to go to the movie theatre.

In short: forget about having uninterrupted control over any of the cultural products and experiences that form the basis of just about every memory you have. The movie from your first date. The songs that form the soundtrack of your life’s most important moments. The concert you went to with your best friends. All of the color surrounding your memories – memories so important to you that they’re engraved in the brainflesh somewhere between your ears – those colors are probably patented by some jackass at Pantone and they’re drafting a cease-and-desist letter as I type this.

I know I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again: I will not pay for content only to be told when and where I may watch or listen to it. I will not feed your ill-conceived plans to cram my every waking moment with mentally deficient cross-marketing plans. I will not allow myself to be extorted for access to my culture, and my memories. In case the industry hasn’t noticed, there is a lifetime’s worth of unrestricted content out there, free for the taking. There are tools that make it easier to route around your dain bramage should I decide to access restricted content.

Beware! For I am the consumer. I am King. And you will be first against the wall.


I’m watching the first episode of the new season of The Apprentice. The challenge is simple (and the cross-promotions are fast and furious): create a new toy for Mattel. Let me reiterate – create a new toy.

What follows in the show is the worst misinterpretation of the word “create” I have ever seen. Basically, a bunch of guys in suits and girls in nice outfits throw a few ideas up on the whiteboard describing what they think might be interesting for kids. Wow-ee – they came up with an idea and then dispatched the Mattel toy wizards to actually build the product! Whew! They must be exhausted!

And therein lies the problem. The contestants come up with a hazy idea for a toy, and then get some guys who actually know what they’re doing go off and do the actual creating. No wonder people have such a distorted view of businesspeople. If the show were an actual representation of the creative process, there would have been more than just some brainstorming. They’d have hit the streets, seen what kids wanted, checked out what competitors were doing, and so on. Nope, no time for research! We’ve got product to ship!

It reminds me of an episode of South Park in which the underwear-stealing gnomes explain their plan to achieve great wealth:

  • Step One: Collect underwear.
  • Step Three: Profit!

Honestly people. Do you think Trump got to be a bazillionaire by coming up with vague plans for buildings and hand-waving the rest?

Donald: Y’know, I was thinking we should create some kind of building with lots of lights where people just come in, drop off their money, and leave.
Foreman: Yessir Mr. Trump! We’ll start building a casino complex in Atlanta immediately, and be back with your bagloads of cash in the morning!
Donald: A ca-see-noh? Uh, yeah, that. Get on it. Pronto!

Not! How about the boys behind Google:

Larry Page: Hey, Sergey…Sergey! Put down the bong for a second…I was thinking – we should create a search engine! Whaddaya think?
Sergey Brin: Whoa. That’s a great idea!
Larry: Great! Now gimme a hit off that thing and then we’ll go hire some engineers, come back here, get high for six more years, IPO and then wait for our payday!

It’s called work for a reason guys. Last I checked, an apprentice is supposed to be someone who does all of the grunt work under the supervision of an expert in order to gain a deeper understanding of a particular domain – not the other way around. I don’t know what the hell they’re doing on this show.

Clicking For Dollars

A couple weeks back, I mentioned to one of my co-workers that he should check out the special features on the “Wag the Dog” DVD. About five minutes later, he passed by my cube and mentioned that he had looked at the information on my blog and added the film to his Netflix queue. The importance of this moment didn’t strike me until Apple’s more recent announcement of an affiliate program for the iTunes Music Store.

It occurred to me that my friend had been forced to go through a circuitous route to add the movie to his Netflix queue. Rather than simply clicking a link within the review on my web page, he had to log into his Netflix account, find the movie and then add it to his queue of movies. What a pain.

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of the Amazon Affiliates program – it seems almost obvious that Netflix should incorporate a similar affiliation system to allow web sites to provide users with an easy way to use the Netflix system. Such a system would enable Netflix to embed itself into the web – and all it would cost is a little web plumbing and whatever credit they give to referring web sites. Netflix gets a way to leverage the blogosphere, the blogosphere gets a way to further build useful content and value for its readership, and the bloggers get a way to get mildly compensated for their effort to create value.

But the prospect of multiple affiliation systems raises an interesting user interface obstacle (oh, where art thou OK/Cancel?): what happens when affiliation systems collide?

Picture the scenario: a user comes to your web site to read your review of a kick-ass new independent film about an underground band you’re interested in checking out. Does the link to the movie go to Amazon (and hence, contains your Amazon Associates ID) to allow the user to buy the DVD, or does it go to Netflix to allow the user to add the film to their Netflix queue? Does the link to the album go to Amazon to allow the user to buy the CD, or does it go to iTunes to allow the user to buy individual tracks in a digital form? What if they prefer to buy digital music from Real? Or movies from Barnes and Noble?

Although Amazon is the only real player with enough momentum to draw significant link-love from the bloggers, they can’t be all things to all people. Inevitably, as demonstrated by Apple’s affiliate program announcement, there will be new entrants, each striving to carve out their particular niche by leveraging blogs to enable customers to be “self-selected”, for lack of a better word. But it’ll have to get easier – blogging tools fail abysmally to simplify the process of leveraging other web services, like Google’s Adsense (assuming they don’t smack you down in the process). Making it easier will require a standard mechanism to interface with affiliation systems. Hmm, makes me wonder – would Marc Canter consider affiliation relationships another form of micro-content?

Blah vs. Blah

It’s hard to ignore the plethora of coverage of the run-up to the presidential election, no matter how hard I try. But amidst the coverage of bloggers at the DNC, bloggers at the RNC, Michael Moore being dissed at both events, and the Swift Vet controversy, something is missing from the coverage. What could it be? Hmmm…oh, that’s right – actual examination of the issues!

Here’s something that I’ve noticed: no one seems to have done any serious analysis of either the Democratic platform or the Republican platform. That seems a little weird – or it would, if you hadn’t looked at the contents of either platform and already concluded that to the average person, they’re virtually identical.

A cursory review of the table of contents reveals the common themes (noted in Democrat-speak v. Republican-speak): Defeating Terrorism v. Winning The War on Terror, Strong Healthy Families v. Protecting Our Families, A Strong American Community v. Strengthening Our Communities.

Whoopee! Tell me something I don’t know! Then again, what else would you expect? It’s not like any politician stands up and says, “Hey everybody! I’ve been giving it a lot of thought, and I’ve decided I’m for less funding for education and healthcare!”

And therein lies the problem – everyone’s for everything before the election. Hell, just look at the size of these platforms – forty-one pages for the Democratic platform, and ninety-four pages for the Republican platform. It’s ironic that the Republicans, always pointing fingers at the “ivory tower” Democrats, have to spend twice as many pages on explaining their positions.

Who has the time to read this crap? The Republican paper is flowery, dense, soppy prose that reads like someone caught between a post-near-death-episode rediscovery of God and an overdose on Prozac. And while shorter, the Democratic platform doesn’t seem to be able to get to its point any more directly either. These things should fit into a page of bullet points, or five pages of printed text total – if the average voter can’t read a party’s platform in less than half an hour, then the platform is a failure.

But then, isn’t that the point?

If you could actually consume and ponder the entirety of either party’s stances, you might actually be informed. But voting isn’t about being informed anymore – the issues are complex, and the machinery of government obscure and untrustworthy in the average voter’s eyes. The proceeding devolve to name-calling and muck-raking, reducing the voter’s decision to which candidate is less despicable/or has better hair. In short, it becomes the same variety of popularity contest most people are more likely to associate with high-school elections.

Then again, what do I care? It’s not like I can vote in this country. Nothing to do but sit back, and listen to well-informed strip-club waitresses hold court on the political shenigans at the RNC.

The No-Shill Zone

As if the IOC’s ban on blogging by Olympic athletes wasn’t silly enough, now Friendster (no link whuffie for you!) has gone and fired one of their engineers. One of their popular engineers. Popular for blogging. Seriously – don’t these guys like free advertising? Or employees and audiences actually paying attention to them? While Friendster and the IOC have been busy losing friends, others in the world of traditional media have been busy trying to make them. Some, like Warner music, are even trying to get cozy with bloggers any way they can, while some bloggers are eagerly taking them up on their offers.

Advertising in the blogosphere is the topic of heated discussion these days. On the one hand, it’s unclear how advertisers will easily leverage the street-cred offered by blogs. After all, how can you launch an ad campaign when the broadcasters of your message choose you and not the other way around? On other hand, bloggers are understandably concerned that pandering to advertisers will undermine the “purity” of blogging.

I don’t personally think there’s anything wrong with advertising in blogs per se, it’s just that advertising in general is so ham-fisted, whether it’s online or not, that it doesn’t seem to matter.

Consider my insurer. Fred McKell at State Farm sold me some car and apartment insurance about six months ago – and he hasn’t stopped spamming me with junkmail ever since. I’ve called State Farm. I’ve called Fred McKell. Have they stopped? Of course not – they just keep on insisting I should think about life insurance. Me – a twenty-nine year old guy who saves obsessively, has no children, and no mortgage. Earth to State Farm – except for the cost of the pine box in which they’re going to have to funnel what remains of my corpse after the organ transplant recipients have had their pick of my goodies, I ain’t leaving behind any kind of financial burden requiring a pre-emptive financial hedge. You don’t know me or what I want as a consumer, so guess what? La-la-la-I-am-not-listening!

This is the reason it’s going to take a couple rounds before people trying to sell things figure out this new landscape. No longer are you, the producer, in charge of the message. We will find you. We will figure out if and why you’re important. We will determine what gets propagated to others. If you’re lying to us, we’ll know – and we’ll tell everyone about it. And if you try to get in our face and interrupt our lives with garbage we don’t care about, we will ignore you, use tools to bypass you, exercise our rights to route around you, and break your Orwellian control mechanisms (either by ourselves, or by presenting a significant enough market to encourage your competitors to do it for us).

The reason corporations don’t like this new landscape for promoting products: it’s hard. You don’t just order up a side of fanatical consumer devotion like a 30-second ad spot, even if it’s during the Super Bowl – money will not buy you friends here. Just look at the current struggles of the RIAA. They’ve just been sitting back and cranking the handle on a hype machine that has enabled them to sell crap and still achieve a decent return. No wonder legitimate artists support the revolution. This new environment will be unforgiving – you’re only going to sell something by building a community of consumers, users, and listeners who love everything you do, track everything you do obsessively, tell everyone they know that cares about what you’re doing, and believe in your product enough to be willing to pay to make sure you keep giving them the good stuff.

I predict the winners in the future of media (and consumer products in general) will only be able to win their consumers through allegiance and word of mouth. The winners will not only build better products and provide better service, but they’ll also find ways to make it easier for their users to tell others about the company and its products in their own voice. Want to know how to do this? Look at Phish and its practice of allowing people to tape their concerts. Look at the Amazon Associates program, which allows web sites to make money by linking to Amazon products (where success requires the web site to drive traffic by providing a value to visitors). Look at Cory Doctorow, Larry Lessig, and Dan Gillmor, all of whom have built a cult-like following for their blogs and other writings, released their books for free on the Internet, had them translated and propagated around the world by their devotees, and have still made money in the process.

Any company that provides people what they want and provides an easy way to tell others about it will reap the benefit of network effects that will catalyze explosive growth. Now that’s an upside worth advertising.

Olympic-Sized Lunacy

It takes a special class of mental retardation to justify spending millions of dollars on a sporting event that, arguably, could be spent on more important things like, you know, feeding people or something. Leave it to the Olympics to super-size this idiocy to unparalleled paranoid heights.

Taking a page from Fight Club, the IOC decreed the First Rule of the Olympics is: you can’t talk about the Olympics. Yeah, nothing builds up the buzz on the street like a complete dearth of unscripted commentary by the actual people involved in an event. Perhaps the IOC is attempting a subversive attempt to corrupt our youths by having them imagine what’s going on in the minds of athletes during scenes like this?

Moving briskly from that decree to Biblical references, the IOC declared: thou shalt not wear, drink, or think anything not approved by our sponsors. I think I remember this tactic from somewhere, but where? Hmmm….oh, that’s right – that kid who got thrown out of school on “Coke in Education Day” for wearing a Pepsi t-shirt. I mean, what’s next?

Security Guard: “I’m sorry sir, we can’t allow you to enter this event.”
Attendee: “Why? I’ve spent hundreds of dollars on a ticket. I traveled thousands of miles to get here. I’ve already changed into my IOC-sanctioned silver unitard and placed my clothing, camera, phone, outside food, and the part of my brain responsible for forming long-term memories in the incinerator! I even submitted to a urine test, which is bizarre because I’m not even competing! What else could you possibly need from me?”
Security Guard: “Well it says here that you once worked at Niketown, and as you know from the mandatory six-hour orientation session, Reebok is the official shoe of the Olympics…”

Laugh it up – I’m sure Teddy Kennedy never thought he’d end up on a terrorist watch list, but hey, things happen.

In keeping with the belief that deaths must come in threes, the final death came with the censoring of American broadcasts of the games. It started with the censoring of the opening of the games, when some minor percentage of the population was denied the right to see fake plastic penii. And then it continued right on until the networks blocked out the image of a tutu-clad Canuck performing the worst dive entry ever.

Actually, come to think of it, I’m kind of glad they censored that image – nothing’s so harmful to the cachet of being Canadian than some guy in a dress hawking an online gambling web site. Unless he was drunk on Molson Canadian, because then he was just being ironic.

We seem to be trapped in a logic maze constructed by advertising goons, focus groups, and psychopaths working hard towards their Major in Annoyance but slacking on their Minor in Selling Things People They Want. An advertising exec in a room somewhere gets lazy and rather than actually thinking about what a customer cares about, they try to forge artificial relationship by blasting audiences with messages everyone ignores. And then when that fails, they send the Gap Gestapo to hunt you down for wearing a flannel shirt.

Not just any flannel shirt, mind you – last season’s flannel shirt. And they can’t permit that, now can they?

Name The Elephant

As I’ve mentioned before, blogs and RSS are eating up a lot of my time. Scanning some 200-400 posts a day is grueling, but it’s a requirement of the breakneck speed at which the space is developing. Unfortunately, the explosive growth of the blogosphere is proving difficult to tame from a user’s perspective.

I would attribute part of the problem to the cyclic nature of the blogosphere. First, someone posts an interesting story – if you’re particularly unlucky, you’ll be subscribed directly to that blog and see the story the first time. Then a bunch more people will link to it – and again, if you’re subscribed to those blogs, you’ll see the story for a second time. At this point, the story will start to bubble up through the ecosystem of aggregator sites until it shows up on the radar of sites like Popdex, Blogdex, and Technorati. And then the mainstream media gets a hold of the story, and we go for another twirl on the information overload merry-go-round.

To extend my earlier thoughts on the need for a better user interface for RSS aggregators: an aggregator should not only have the ability to group related posts, but should have memory. By “memory” I mean that if I delete a group of posts on a particular topic, I should be able to make them go away. Forever. Now, some of this may be me wishing for a computer to read my mind, determine what I’d like to read about, and spit it out to me (I seem to recall something like this in Arthur C. Clarke’s novel Cradle). The idea would be that if I no longer care about the most untranslatable word, or how required registration is a dumb idea, then I don’t have to keep seeing posts related to those stories in my aggregator.

Part of the solution to this problem requires RSS (or Atom) to incorporate a mechanism to tell the aggregator about the “root” story URL. But what is the true “root” story – heck, even smart guys like Joi have to pause to consider who to credit as the source for a post. What chance does a piece of software have?

Nevertheless, it would appear that unless we start thinking about how to address this phenomenon, because it’s only going to get worse. So, step one: name the enemy. What do we call the problem of stories endlessly ricocheting around the blogosphere? The Blog Bounce? The Blog Echo? Hmm. Not snappy enough. Any thoughts out there?

Future Sound of Music

My discussions with Phil Johnson (of the local band Roadside Attraction) at the recent Entrepreneur Meetup were quite thought-provoking. Here’s a guy from a typical band trying to figure out how to “make it” – it sounds like every guy you knew in high school with a band, a three chord masterpiece, and immaculate hair. Except for the fact that Phil is part of a new breed of über-savvy independent artists. When people ask him if his band is trying to get signed by a label, he can only laugh and respond, “Why would we? We can do it all ourselves now!”

We can do it all ourselves? Damn straight – this guy gets what many in the record industry are fumbling to comprehend.

Welcome to the new reality for musicians (or any artist for that matter): any moderately talented garage band can fire up GarageBand and record high-quality audio both at home and on the road, capture photo and live video footage, and release it all via their web site. And they don’t even have to pay for the bandwidth if they use tools like BitTorrent. Anyone with a web browser and half-decent bandwidth can skarf it all down by the gigabyte, as much as they can find, and often as cheap as they can find it. Which brings us back to the dilemma facing the aforementioned recording industry: how does a band make any money?

As my buddy Kevin Burton pointed out, the challenges facing the music industry in its battle with file-sharing networks and darknets are quite similar to those the software industry has been dealing with for a long time: lots of people are stealing precious intellectual property that has negligible marginal cost of production. But, as Kevin points out, aren’t we forgetting the benefits of software piracy? Think of all the economic activity driven by software piracy – didn’t that more than offset the losses incurred by the industry? In particular, I recall one particular urban legend about Photoshop that makes me think this may not be so far-fetched.

A couple years back, there was a rumour that Adobe was leaking its software to pirate sites – or doing very little to prevent it at the very least. I don’t believe it was ever shown to be true, but it’s plausible enough from a business perspective to warrant consideration. The story goes something like this:

  1. Adobe wants to become the dominant player in the industry, so it leaks copies to pirate sites.
  2. Pirate sites distribute the software.
  3. Amateur web designer trying to build their first web sites start using whatever software they can find – and they easily find Photoshop.
  4. Fast forward a few years, those same web designers are now working at dot-coms building web sites – what software do they choose? That’s right, they choose Photoshop. Why? They already knew how to use it and heck, they weren’t footing the $800 for a copy of the software!

Once started, this system formed a nice feedback loop that effectively locked out competitors. Overpriced commercial software drives amateurs to piracy, software that is made easily accessible to those who know where to look. These amateurs get free software, become experts on the software, get locked into the software, and finally businesses hire the (now-expert) amateurs and foot the bill for the software. Can you say “business model”?

How does this apply to music? Well, first consider artists like Elton John – artists who own their whole back catalog (or, conversely, ask The Beatles, who don’t). These guys make lots of money every time they release a new album because fans buy not only the new album, but also two or three albums from the artist’s back catalog. The rights to the back catalog become a value multiplier. Will this model extend into the digital realm?

In a world where the marginal value of an individual song asymptotically approaches zero, albums in their current form cease to exist, and competition for audiences undergoes explosive growth, musicians will have to put aside the idea of making the money off individual songs and albums. Will an artist’s back catalog have value? Sure, but not the way it does right now. No one’s going to get rich selling albums; they’re going to get rich selling experiences. For what is music, but a mental shortcut to all the memories we associate with a particular song?

I predict that the value represented by a band’s back catalog will be indirectly captured in the prices of the only remaining asset of the artist that has any scarcity and hence any value (see the diamond-water paradox): their time. And ours. Think the Rolling Stones‘ ticket prices are exorbitant? Just wait. The winners in this game will be those artists that can that build and sustain an audience over the long term and craft experiences that form a deeper bond between the band and the listener that goes beyond the elements that can be captured in bits and bytes.

Of course, that does beg the question: how does a band keep themselves in mascara and spandex long enough to build this kind of value? This model requires long-term dedication to a band, the kind of dedication the music industry current model is incapable of providing – which, I would argue, is a good thing. The current pump-n-dump model of finding a pretty girl, teaching her to dance, writing songs for her, and hyping the hell out of her is directly responsible for the current deluge of craptacularly bad music. A “slow cook” approach is just the remedy we need – only those acts who actually have the musical talent, the dedication to their craft, and ability to forge lasting relationships with their audiences will be able to survive in this new environment.