2 Trends in Event Tickets

With the Summer concert tours approaching and ticket sales and presales beginning, seems a good time to look at a couple trends in event ticketing:

Trend #1 – Paperless Ticketing:

Airlines realized the cost effectiveness of paperless ticketing a decade ago.  When flying you now check in online, print a boarding pass at home or get it at the gate.  It saves some trees and costs.    The event ticket industry is embracing similar concepts.  

The ticket industry is motivated to go digital not just by cost savings but also, with some offerings, a desire to gain access to the previously lost business opportunity of the secondary ticket markets.  Analysts from Forrester Research estimate that secondary resale market at upwards of $10b/year.  Click to Read More

Reprint of Steve Jobs Essay

The following is a copy of an essay Steve Jobs, Chairman of Apple, posted last week on Apple’s website about issues of DRM with music downloads. There has been a lot of commentary, including my own, on what Mr. Jobs had to say. It’s an eloquent, detailed speech worth reading. I am reprinting Mr. Jobs words here only to keep them available in the event that the link to them on Apple’s website is not maintained.

Steve Jobs
February 6, 2007

With the stunning global success of Apple’s iPod music player and iTunes online music store, some have called for Apple to “open” the digital rights management (DRM) system that Apple uses to protect its music against theft, so that music purchased from iTunes can be played on digital devices purchased from other companies, and protected music purchased from other online music stores can play on iPods. Let’s examine the current situation and how we got here, then look at three possible alternatives for the future.

To begin, it is useful to remember that all iPods play music that is free of any DRM and encoded in “open” licensable formats such as MP3 and AAC. iPod users can and do acquire their music from many sources, including CDs they own. Music on CDs can be easily imported into the freely-downloadable iTunes jukebox software which runs on both Macs and Windows PCs, and is automatically encoded into the open AAC or MP3 formats without any DRM. This music can be played on iPods or any other music players that play these open formats.

Click to Read More

Steve Jobs’ Funky Numbers: a closer look at his essay

Yesterday, I commented (in an extremely long post) on Steve Jobs essay about DRM systems in the music industry.  I was impressed with his post, and lauded it.  Having slept on my thoughts, I still feel that way, but one thing irks me – Jobs’ numbers were bad.

I noted yesterday that Mr. Jobs numbers were, in a few instances, exaggerated and simplistic but I didn’t say much more than that.  Today, partly in reply to an email I received, I am going to focus briefly on his numbers.

What Jobs Said:
Through 2006, 90 million iPods were sold along with 2 billion songs from iTunes.  That yields an average of 22 songs purchased from iTunes per store.

That math may be factually accurate but it’s misleading.  The iPod has been around for many years and any given single owner has probably gone through more than one iPod in that time.  (I, for example, have had two break and am on my third. I also have a Shuffle that I received as a gift. That means, I account for 4 of those 90 million, not just 1).  Extrapolating song purchases based on total units is far less telling than doing it by unique buyers.

Better Math:
Recalculate those numbers based on the songs purchased per unique iPod owner rather than total units. Something like this example:
Click to Read More

The DRM Dilemna: The Music Industry’s Faulty Logic

One of the few loud and outstanding criticisms of the iPod player and iTunes service is the closed Fairplay Digital Rights Management system (DRM) employed for music bought through the iTunes store. 

DRM Locked iPod

On February 6th, Steve Jobs posted an essay on Apple’s website addressing those criticisms.  The posting, which can be read here is factually informative, articulate and worth reading.   Even so much as Jobs has Apple’s interest at heart, and has to be diplomatic given Apples relationships with the music industry, the content of the essay outweighs the bias. It is relevant to anyone watching (or seeking to understand) the changing music landscape. I might even reprint it instead of my own posting later this week.  (I think it’s that insightful.)

In his address, Jobs points out that the existence of the Fairplay system was not by choice but necessity.  The Big 4 of record companies (Universal, Sony BMG, Warner and EMI) control distribution on  over 70% of the world’s music.  Absent DRM tools, these distributors wouldn’t allow their libraries inclusion in download services. Absent Fairplay (or equivalent), the iTunes store, and arguably much of the landscape of legal downloadable music, would be barren.

The music industry has forced those handling electronic distribution to accept DRM tools.  Unfortunately, in doing so the music industry has also created a climate where the incentives are for closed proprietary systems rather than portable open ones.  Specifically, in Apple’s case, failure to respond to a breakdown of the DRM in a rapid amount of time would void Apple’s right to sell most of the music they offer.  Apple has to maintain the integrity DRM system above all else.  Considering the best security is to keep something as tightly controlled as possible – and DRM systems are always under attack – opening the code to more eyes by licensing it increases the likelihood of those attacks being successful.  Apple can’t afford to do that, nor can Microsoft, Sony or others in similar situations.  Each company’s best shot at maintaining the integrity of the DRM is to keep it proprietary.

Click to Read More

Apples Make Peace, Will Love Follow?

I Can’t Buy Me Love but can I buy me a Beatles download? Are Beatles songs coming soon to iTunes?

After three decades of fighting, for a third time, Apple and the rights holders of the Beatles’ music catalog (Apple Corps, Ltd.) settled their trademark disputes. 


The History: The first trademark suit was filed in 1978 and settled in 1981 with Apple Computer paying Apple Ltd $80,000 and agreeing not to enter the music business.  In the late eighties, Apple Corps sued again claiming the inclusion of MIDI music software on Macintosh computers violated the terms of the earlier agreement.  Apple Computer (a.k.a. Apple Inc.) settled in 1991.  The deal included a cash payment and separation of uses: Apple Corps would have rights to the apple logo for selling and making music.  Apple Inc. would have the rights for selling  

Click to Read More

Everything old is new: resurgence of the single

Dating back to the 1950’s, songs were widely released as singles and sold on 45s.  As technology changed, vinyl was replaced by tape and then, tape by CD.  With the changes, the sale of singles fell off.   Still, tracking of singles remained a major industry metric, and allowed singles to artificially remain a driver in the industry even though their sales were lower. 

Over the past few years, the Internet and the MP3, and subsequent players and download sites have brought back the single.  Now the Single track is the leading, and fastest growing, segment in music sales. This in turn has helped realign product sales into a direct correlation with the old industry metrics.

An updated version of the Billboard Hot 100 chart, which was originally created in 1958 as a consolidated chart to measure sales in stores, play by radio DJ’s, and play on jukeboxes, remains a major metric for music industry sales and now incorporates digital downloads into its calculation. 

The adapting, evolving music industry has come full circle.

Click to Read More

All I Want Is…

I’m addicted to my Ipod.  I admit it. It’s an addiction and I have a problem. I had two before this one, both 4G’s (4th Generations), and they both crashed, froze and failed: one randomly during a routine firmware upgrade.  Still, as frustrated as I was that Apple’s software screwed me, like any addict, I ignored the frustrations and threw them more money for a 5G video Ipod.   I’m bitter about the past failures, and annoyed that the Instant Search functionality given to the 5.5G in September hasn’t been made available for the rest of the 5G iPods.  It’s frustrating to be penalized a feature for buying a product a month too early…still, I come back for more.   I’m addicted.  I recognize I need help.

But this being Silly Season, and my addiction running at full strength, I’ll get help later– Instead I’d like to put forward  my amateurish rendering of an ideal Ipod.  Some of its features:

dream ipod thumbnail

  • a touch screen controlled, wide-screen, interface with mostly virtual controls including an interchangeable virtual click wheel and virtual keyboard.  (Rumors of a virtual click-wheel, hinted at by patent applications have been floating for a while. Further rumors of a coming apple phone product with a touch screen keypad hint the iPod may go that direction eventually. Here’s to hoping the grapevine is accurate!)
  • Two fixed button on the side, along with the classic lock slider, are the only non-virtual controls on the gadget.  The buttons allow me to toggle between a horizontal or vertical image layout. They also allow the user to toggle between a virtual click-wheel, and a virtual keyboard.  Additional uses of the fixed buttons include: scrolling through letters on the keyboard (for when I don’t want to use the touch-screen), an alternate means of navigating menus, or they can be used for volume or other settings as I might configure (That’s right, user configurable control buttons with Apple’s famous easy configuration…..how nice would that be?).
  • For novelty, icon’s on the device can be replaced with my own pictures or from a library of available choices (even available for a small fee would be ok), all through iTunes.  There’d be no need, nor any risk of hacking the firmware, and invalidating a warranty, to personalize our toys.
  • A microphone input and a small speaker – maybe for an integrated cell phone (assuming it can be incorporated in the same size footprint or smaller and also assuming Apple would allow the competition in function with their planned iPhone). A microphone would also help with voice recording (memo’s, notes etc), or voice activated commands…or just to annoy the person next to me on a plane?
  • Integrated Wifi and/or Bluetooth. (Bluetooth wireless integration into a car stereo, or home stereo would be very nice indeed.)
  • Supported wireless earphones would be cool.
  • While at it, be nice if I could use it as a universal remote for my home electronics and if it streamed (via that integrated Wi-Fi or Bluetooth my music to my stereo wirelessly.
  • If it could make popcorn that would be great too but I can live without that until the next generation hits the market.

These are just some thoughts….   If anyone at Apple would like to discuss them, I’d be happy to participate in a conversation. I’d even suffer through being an Alpha or Beta tester if they wanted.

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