Blue Note records starts digital services

This seems so obvious, yet it took some time to realize it. According to this Reuters article, Blue Note records (one of the most famous brands for Jazz Music) has dived into offering a digital experience:

The label is in the process of revamping the site to become a social network and digital music store for fans of jazz and blues — the staples of the Blue Note catalog — rather than a simple promotional Web site for its artists.

They are targetting the age group of the 35 to 55 year olds. It’s not the typical target group for downloading music and/or getting heavily involved in social networks, you might think.

But it is indeed a target group

  • with more money available than the teens (and apparently more willing to spend it on music, too)
  • looking for specialised music – think about the long tail effects of digital music!

There seems to be a trend, as Blue Note is not the first:

Blue Note’s pending Web site is just the latest. Universal Music Group opened a digital jazz and classical music service in the United Kingdom in January, and last December a social networking site aimed at the 35-and-up crowd called Urban Boomer (UBTunes) went live.

Do you remember? Gold rush in 1995

Sean pointed me to an old article that takes us down memory lane. It’s about the gold rush feeling some 12 years ago. The hopes and expectations were as high as today, but the numbers behind „the web“ were much smaller. Here is a couple of quotes, plus my own thoughts of what has changed in the last 12 years.

It’s that huge body of potential consumers that has businesses scrambling to get onto the Web, to which 6.64 million computers are already hooked up. There are more than 100,000 Web sites already […] The popular Yahoo guide to the Web lists more than 23,540 companies. […] Nielsen Media Research (famed for its TV-market analysis) found that 24 million people in the United States and Canada have used the Internet in the past three months–more than 18 million of whom used the Web.

Interesting by the way, the differentiation between the web and the internet. I guess most digital immigrants of today wouldn’t know that there ever was a difference. And I also think that in another 10 years time, people won’t know what we mean by „surfing the internet“ or „being online“. Simply because the net will be omnipresent. Every electronical device and every house, car, fridge, will be connected to the net. People will be online all the time, without thinking or doing anything about it.

To many, this is the dawn of a radical new commercial era in which a single medium combines elements that used to be conveyed separately: text, voice, video, graphics. Countless firms will be transformed in the process, including publishing, banking, retailing and deliverers of health care, insurance and legal services. […] Is there a market for this commercial zeal? Answer: There is a fairly small one now and probably a large one to come in the next decade. But many things must happen technologically and creatively to draw more paying customers.

While the boom up until 2001 was filled with hope in an era of still too few users and static websites, the last couple of years have changed that. This is, of course, what people refer to as web 2.0. It caused a shift, both technologically, and in the way users can interact with websites (i.e. companies). And there is around 1 billion people online by now – in many developed countries, the rate is between 40-70% of the population.

most information on the Internet is already free, as is much software. Experienced Internauts, not used to paying for things they download, may be reluctant to pay as they go. Second, as spectacular as the Web technology is, it still has a considerable way to go to become attractive to the great numbers of consumers who are used to the amenities of mall and catalog culture.

Things like Flash, AJAX, etc. have greatly improved the usability of many sites. Some sites have implemented payed content business models which actually work, based on exclusive content or functionalities. But quite a few sites that tried to offer more or less regular content for paying subcribers did not succeed an opened up their archives again. This will not change. Unfiltered, regular content will become somewhat of a commodity. Only sites offering added value through filtering, remixing, sorting or commenting existing content will make a difference. If, and only if, users can tailor these services to their needs. Relevance of content will be increasingly important during the ongoing flood and fragmentation of information.

The new requirements for advertising and marketing in this new era were already cristal clear in 1995:

Understand the medium. Conducting business on the Web, a phenomenon with no parallel in communications history, will demand new strategies in advertising and marketing. Unlike broadcasting and print, which are one-to-many entities with a passive audience, the Internet is a many-to-many medium in which everyone with a computer and modem is a potential publisher. Web surfers, for example, tend to be self-directed. They typically have little patience for „brochureware,“ advertisements that are thrown up like so many billboards.
The Web gives commerce a unique opportunity to communicate directly with employees and customers around the world. „The Web can be a powerful tool for fostering connections, building associations, delivering information and creating online communities,“ says John December, co-author of The World Wide Web Unleashed. […] The Web, says Hamilton [Federal Express], is „one of the best customer relationship tools ever.“

I wonder, why it has taken the industry so long to start offering the right kind of marketing tools? In a way, there still is a lot of companies out there that don’t respect what has been written 12 years ago!

I am very curious to see what the world will look like in another 12 years. I will be close to 50 years old, probably with kids – digital natives – and hopefully still maintain this blog. Just to make sure that I will pull this old post out again, I will send myself a reminder via email for in 12 years time, using

The cult of the amateur

There is an interesting article at the Times Online about the new book „the cult of the amateur“ by Andrew Keen. A cry out against the crowdism of web 2.0 and how it is killing our culture. How user generated content on wikipedia, blogs, youtube, et al results in the crippling of traditional, quality content producing industries.

I don’t agree. I think quality will still prevail. The problem with some of these „quality content producers“ was simply the fact that it wasn’t really good quality. The value for money isn’t right. So it is better to watch much worse content from users for free rather than paying anything for only mediocre content.

I think this whole trend will only result in a market shake out. Providers of really good content will always be able to charge money. They will always enjoy large appreciation. But those providing contents with little added value (e.g. newspapers simply copying news from a press service or TV stations showing low quality TV series) will face a decrease in acceptance.

They also state the example of how the interent has resulted in big problems for the music industry. This I don’t agree with at all. The biggest problem of the music industry is the fact that they have not adapted quick enough. There is lots of potential to leverage the net. Apple with iTunes has proven that there is lots of opportunities!

The internet is making standard market mechanisms more efficient, that’s all.

German Web 2.0 Copycats

TechCrunch lists the many german copycats of web 2.0 sites. Didn’t know there were so many. And it makes you wonder: How come that we moved from a nation of thinkers and inventers to a nation of copycats?

“Web 2.0” is a term that brilliantly translates around the world, but many of the sites that are commonly associated with it have a language barrier for international audiences […]. While English certainly isn’t foreign to Germans, it has still slowed their adoption – and network effects, which have been a driving force, are often tied to language and reach as well. What’s been the consequence in Deutschland? A mushrooming of German copycats that have localized and copied their US role models, sometimes down to the last pixel.

But is not only about the adoption amongst users. It is also our inhibiting environment:

In short: Germany is buzzed right now and the biggest question for the startup scene is how the many look-alikes will develop over the next year. You’ll often hear that investors are hesitant to invest in ideas that “haven’t been proven in the US yet” but there are several other factors at work here: Germany is generally more risk-averse, the bureaucracy is more cumbersome, and entrepreneurial networks like Silicon Valley aren’t as strongly developed.

Sad, but true.

One Day, no Internet

As I wrote earlier, it was Internet Shutdownday yesterday. And I decided to take part. When I originally wrote that, I assumed I would be on vacation (sitting on a beach, not thinking about the internet anyway.

However, as it turned out, I wasn’t on vacation, as I had to postpone my vacation by a week. So I will be on vacation next week instead. So it could have been a relatively hard day for me, being an internet junkie. But it wasn’t, since I spent a very nice day in Berlin (more on that later) and got back so late, that I decided to wait until after midnight – German time – for continuing to blog…

So what did I do during Internet Shutdown Day? I was sightseeing around Berlin and I spent almost 5 hours on a train back to Germany.

Was it worth it? If I had purposefully done these things in order to not use the internet, it would not have been worthwile. But I had no choice, so it was easy to not use the Internet.

Nice finding, hey? If you have no choice, then not using the internet can be OK…