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Catalyst of Change

10 Jul

ETA:  Look what’s coming…..

That didn’t take long….

 

Ok. I’ve given it a couple of weeks before I weigh in on the iPhone and its impact. I’ve read numerous blogs and the reviews and the news reports, etc., etc. I have come to the conclusion that the iPhone is one of those inventions that revolutionize and significantly change industries and how certain business is done. Like “talkies” and radio, television and cell phones, the iPhone will push technology into a new sphere.

Steve Jobs and the folks at Apple are the Thomas Edisons of the 21st Century. Twenty years ago, it appeared that Mac might just be a flash in the pan. After the failure to eliminate the Microsoft PC world, Jobs stepped back and re-invented Apple. He re-committed himself to the vision and produced the new line of Mac products like the iBook and of course,  iTunes.  Jobs didn’t stay locked in convention. Instead, he did his research and he stayed in touch with the market — the users — what they wanted and where they were headed. Then, he executed. Great ideas are 10% innovation and 90% perspiration. Apple put their ideas into action. They made buying music affordable, easy and simple. And now, they’re bringing all of the emerging technology together in one device.

Revolutionary. Paradigm shifter.

While the iPhone is certainly not uncopyable, it’s got a GIANT headstart on the competition. Others will follow but by the time they produce something as easy to use and as integrated, Apple will own the market. Consider this…The first weekend, Apple sells 525,000 units with 95% being the 8 gig $599.99 model. Overall sales for ONE weekend on equipment only = $430,550,000. Initial surveying indicates that 52% of iPhone purchasers are new to AT&T service. Now, THAT is radical movement. While Microsoft sits on $1 Billion in investable captial, Apple has put theirs to work, making it virtually all back in two weeks.  The old adage of “you’ve got to spend money to make money” is so applicable when looking at Apple vs. Microsoft.

Do I want an iPhone? Yes.

Will I buy one in the next six months? No.

For now, I have my iPod and my hand-me-down Razor phone from my 16 year old and they serve my communication and entertainment needs. Perhaps when I’m in need of a new phone, I will migrate….or if Mr. D. is looking for something ultra-cool to give me for Christmas, I won’t refuse one, but I’m not moved to act just yet. However, I really didn’t think I NEEDED an iPod until I had one.

Regarding Apple’s impact on industry — it is all SO clear to me that we are on the verge of the extinction of certain older technologies. Like vinyl and eight-tracks, CDs are going to go away. I would bet the proverbial dollars to donuts that CD player production is in steep decline. Once the players go the way of Beta Max and VHS, and alternative technology (mp3 players) takes the forefront, Compact Disc production will plummet into extinction. This, in itself, will certainly change the music business and how artists are compensated.

I think that recorded music’s price point will have no choice but to drop. However, this is not necessarily bad news for the artists. If they can produce and distribute their music for a fraction of the cost, they can sell it to the public for a fraction of the cost and still protect their current profit margins.   If they drop the costs and make music easily available, they may be able to stem the tide of free P2P.  If not, they are looking at concerts and merchandise as the only revenue stream left.

This sea change will create a different business model and new career paths. It should also eliminate the need for the record labels, A&R guys, and the whole bloated process of the “middle man”. Another casualty will be terrestrial radio, unless some independent stations adopt the old formats of playing music actually dictated by the listeners. If not, the void for music broadcasting, sharing and listening will be filled by those with ingenuity, creativity and understanding of the market.

I would love to see artists create their own alliances like United Artists did back in the ’20s. Chaplin, Fairbanks, Pickford and Griffith desired more control of their own work and future — much like musical artists want today. Almost a century later, musical artists are still basically “owned” by the label with little control over their own works. Isn’t the quality and variety of music produced elevated when artists are free to create what’s in their heads and hearts rather than what’s dictated by some suit in an office who’s main desire is to sell “units”?

I say, change is good. Bring it on.

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16 Comments

Posted by on July 10, 2007 in Music Today, pop culture tourettes

 

16 responses to “Catalyst of Change

  1. Little Deb

    July 11, 2007 at 7:42 am

    Good morning MM. I debated a bit before deciding to post this, but I feel comfortable enough here to ask. I am pretty “modern technology challenged”. I don’t own an ipod. I’ve actually never even seen one up close. I still like to play my music on my stereo, which we upgraded last year with a new receiver, new cd player and new speakers. I still have a turntable and still play my old albums and like the way they sound. I don’t know how to work the vcr/dvd player, so wait for the hubby to get home if I want to watch something. I don’t own a cell phone and get “verklempt” when I have to use my husband’s. All of this is not to say that I’m not intelligent and couldn’t learn how to use any of these gadgets. I guess I’m just kind of “old fashioned”. Today I’m making home-made bread and butter pickles (from the cukes in my garden), pickled beets (also from the garden) and “canned” cherries (that I picked at the u-pick farm last week). All of this I guess was just to give background on my question.

    Does the music from an ipod actually sound good? I don’t like the idea of listening to music with ear/headphones. It blocks out everything else. I like to have the stereo on and still be able to talk to other people or talk on the phone. I like the music to “surround me” from a set of really good speakers. Now, I do remember 8 tracks and can actually say that I never thought they sounded good – I just had one because of the convenience and being able to play music other than the radio in the car. Is the whole ipod/phone thing a convenience thing or does it really sound good?

    Does downloaded music actually sound good? I’m asking this because anything I have played from the internet on my computer leaves a lot to be desired in my opinion. Is my only option with this idea to “download” something and then play it on my ipod with my ear/headphones? I have seen the things that you plug your ipod into that I guess have speakers. Does this music sound good? They look small and I get the thought that they would sound like the music on my “clock/radio”. Yuck.

    I still listen to radio, but only to one station at home which is classic rock, because that’s the only music on the radio that I like. I used to like listening to country, but believe it or not NYC does not have a country station. I still like the idea of radio because it is spontaneous and you listen to what someone else is playing – not what you have chosen to play. Maybe that’s lazy on my part. I do believe that radio does not play what people want to hear anymore though. Any time I have listened to “current” stations, it has all sounded like “garbage”. I miss the days when radio was the way we learned about good new music.

    Now I’m rambling and you might be wondering what my question(s) really are. I guess what I really want to know is does downloaded or recorded music really sound good on the new ipods, phones, etc. And, if you don’t spend the time on the internet on sites like yours, how the h*ll are you supposed to know what new music you want to listen to?

    Sorry for my antiquity guys and thanks for listening

     
  2. shrewspeaks

    July 11, 2007 at 9:17 am

    No need to be sorry…I love, Love, LOVE my iPod. now with the monster cable set-up you can plug your iPod into your new stereo! See the digital files are fab…and only get better with fab speakers. There are also a terrific array of speaker set-ups including BOSE Wave based. The BEST BEST part of an iPod “shuffle” You have your own mixed format player.

    Now, as to the iPhone…I want it, but I want it with the 60Gs that I have NOW on my video iPod. Once it is there…I will buy…even (gasp) change my cell phone number I have had for 7 years!

     
  3. music maven

    July 11, 2007 at 10:26 am

    Little Deb —
    I’ll try to break it down as succinctly as I can.

    There is always a “bell curve” in basically any situation that puts people on polar extremes of a certain issue. While there are folks, like you, that are not as dependent on technology/gadgets; there are also other folks on the complete other end of the spectrum who depend as heavily on technology/gadgets as you do not.

    I’d venture to say that maybe 5-10% of people fall on either side of the “curve”. If we use the higher end of that estimate, that consitutes 20% of people that are at the “extreme” (for lack of a better word), leaving 80% inside the curve. This 80% vary in their usage and attitude, but by and large tend to act similiarly. In this case, that would be use a cellphone, download music to an iPod or other mp3 device, etc.

    Regarding your question on quality and listenability. First, I mainly use my iPod with a speaker system and not headphones. I find the quality undiscernable from a CD player and certainly as good or better than the radio. mp3s are not as high quality but I think that it’s only a matter of time. Improvements will be made as the demand for it increases.

    Personally, I enjoy hooking my laptop or iPod up to my surround sound on my TV or my speaker system on the patio and setting a playlist that can last all day. That’s cool to me and I find great value in being able to do so.

    Don’t mean to make your head explode, Little Deb, but the meat of the market (those 80%) like the flexibility of choosing their own music and creating their day long playlists to play through their Xbox or Plasma TV or whatever.

    Just like CD players took over cassette tapes and DVDs have taken over VHS, downloadable music will sound the death knoll for CDs. And why not? Think of how much more environment friendly electronic music is to plastic cases and CDs that are not bio-degradable. Maybe all of these artists who are moaning about the environment should take a look at how they, themselves, are contributing to it. There is an alternative….and it’s cheaper, can produce better quality, and faster to market.

    Little Deb gets 3 merits for actually making pickles from cucumbers (which, BTW, conjers up the Andy Griffith episode where Aunt Bee makes pickles that taste like kerosene). Here’s to hoping that yours turn out like Clara’s. 😉

     
  4. music maven

    July 11, 2007 at 10:28 am

    1-800-YO-SHREW

     
  5. Little Deb

    July 11, 2007 at 11:00 am

    You guys are great. I have one more question, (o.k. it’s more than one question) since you’re answering (and not laughing at me).

    As you can probably tell, I have never “downloaded” anything.

    O.K. So I’m at my computer and I go the the site where I want to download something. So then I click on the song, follow the instructions, pay for it somehow and download it. So now, the song is in my computer, right? What comes next? How do I get the song out of my computer and onto my ipod or other device? I plug the device into my computer somehow and download the song to the device? I’m not looking for actual instructions here, just please explain the concept.

    Now I have a bunch of songs downloaded into my ipod or other device and I have the ability to plug it into my stereo, tv, etc. I want to play music all day. Do I have to somehow choose each and every song that I want to play? Do you somehow store your songs into different categories so you can pick them?

    God, I feel stupid (which I’m really not). I have just somehow ignored this whole thing since I can still play my music the old way.

    Oh, one more question. So I download a song onto my computer and then transfer it to my listening device. The quality of the sound somehow stays great through this whole process? It’s not like making a cassette tape from an album years ago, where you lost something in the process? Do you download songs directly onto your ipod, mp3 or phone? Can you plug these devices into your car stereo?

    This whole thing kind of reminds me of when I was working at a law firm as a stenographer/typist (yes I still take shorthand too) and they bought the first computers and we all had to learn wordprocessing GASP. Wordperfect 5.0 anyone? Now, I couldn’t imagine actually having to type something on a typewriter.

    Sidenote: Do you know how to tell if a blonde has been working at your computer?

    There’s whiteout all over the screen.

    (Yes, I’m blonde too)

    Thanks again for your patience and help.

     
  6. music maven

    July 11, 2007 at 11:28 am

    LD — I’ll go through a scenario in buying some Marc Broussard music through iTunes so you get the idea…

    When I bought my iPod, it came with software that I loaded onto my laptop. You set the software up with payment options (debit card in my case), directory to house the “library” (a large, portable external drive in my case), naming preferences, etc. I also set up how I want my iPod to “sync” with the computer.

    The iPod also comes with a USB cable that connects the iPod to the computer. You click on the iTunes icon on your desktop and it brings you to the iTunes store. I type in Marc Broussard under the Search function and all of Marc’s tunes available on iTunes are displayed. I decided that there are 5 songs out of the 30 or so displayed that I want @ .99 each. I click on purchase for these songs and they are downloaded to my computer, charging my debit card the $4.95. (rather than the $20.95 that I would have had to spend to buy the 2 CD “packages”, even though I only really wanted the 5 songs)

    The songs are now in my iTunes library. When I connect my iPod, the songs “sync” or download to the device based on the settings I designated when I installed the software. Most people choose to only update new music to the iPod and keep the existing iPod music and playlists in tact. Within the library, you just drag and drop songs from the main screen into new playlists that you create. There is no limit to the number of playlists that you can have. You can have a “Summer Mix” or all of “B.B. King”…really however you would like it. Now, you have music on your iPod.

    To connect to the TV or stereo speakers, etc., you can use a connection kit from the iPod or USB cables from your laptop. In my case I have a portable speaker system that I connect my iPod to by sitting my iPod in the docking station. It has a remote control that increases/decreases volume, turns it on or off, and forwards or reverses to the next song.

    As Shrew says, the shuffle is a beautiful thing and you would love it as you don’t know what’s coming next…just that it’s something you’re sure to like since you bought it.

    The quality is not degraded from the initial quality of the download. Copying, downloading or synching does not change the quality no matter how many times it is done.

    I’m tellin’ ya…once you go digital, you never go back. I go back to WordStar (after my IBM Selectric typewriter), so it’s certainly possible to teach on old dog new tricks.

     
  7. shrewspeaks

    July 11, 2007 at 12:18 pm

    Little Deb, It sounds a lot more complicated than it is…but this technology will imprrove your life. Additionally, the msoftware (iTunes) that comes with the iPods can access radio stations of all different genenras from around the world. So you get that too.

    You have hit on the biggest reason why people latched on to the digital revolution…sustained quality. I was a huge tapehead in the 80’s. In fact, my mixed tapes are legendary both with college and high school alum…when I could playlist and burn to a cd through iTunes…I was hooked. Now, I am deep inside the digital world. I guess I am on the other side of that adoption curve DD spoke about. But if you ever need any more assistance, please feel free to reach out my way!

     
  8. Little Deb

    July 11, 2007 at 12:32 pm

    MM, I don’t know how to thank you. That’s exactly how I needed it explained to me. Can I send you some pickles??? I also grow okra (people in NY don’t even know what it is) and make a mean gumbo with a dark roux. I can send you some of that. Collard greens? (I had to go into a real ethnic neighborhood to find those seeds).

    One more question. Since it would be a while before I got an ipod (like maybe a Christmas or birthday present). Can I download music to my computer and then copy it to a cd, and then play the cd on my stereo? And (one more time) if so, is the sound quality still good too? (Sound like a broken record, don’t I).

    That’s my last question on this issue, I promise. MM, you can delete all this stuff if you want. I’m sure it’s probably not the response and conversation you were hoping for on this topic.

     
  9. music maven

    July 11, 2007 at 12:50 pm

    Nah, this is good conversation.

    You certainly can download music now without an iPod. You can download iTunes from Apple here:

    http://www.apple.com/itunes/

    And simply follow the directions…it really is easy. Once you buy songs and they’re in your library, you can create a playlist to burn a CD and then play it in your car or CD player.
    (No degradation in quality whatsoever.)

    Once you get your iPod, the software will “look” for installations and recognize what you have and simply add the iPod settings. Whatever you will have purchased from before you bought your iPod can then be downloaded to that device.

    There are other services, like Napster that do the same thing and will let you download to other types of mp3 players, but I think that the iPod is the easiest and best out there.

    We can help you through it, not to worry.

     
  10. huckleberryfriend

    July 11, 2007 at 12:57 pm

    I used to be a techie but got tired of paying for fixes. What other business gets to charge for fixing their mistakes? So now I upgrade or buy new only when I absolutely have to (or really want to). I love my ipod and really miss it when I forget to charge it, but that is one of a few technology purchases I have made in the last 5 years.

    I can’t imagine that more than 1 or 2% of the population really need the iphone – or can justify the cost. At $500-$700 for the iphone and a 2-year service plan starting at $60 a month, I wonder if the iphone will continue to be a big seller.

    As someone that has never owned a cell phone, I certainly have no plans to buy an iphone. Now if I could buy the iphone for $300 and get a service plan for $30 a month, I might consider it, but at $2000 – $3000 for 2 years I think it is extremely overpriced.

    I think the features look great and Apple did a great job on innovation, but for the masses to buy this phone will require a huge price reduction.

    My batting record on predicting technology successes is 50% at best, so maybe the iphone will be a tremendous success. But I still won’t be getting one any time soon.

     
  11. music maven

    July 11, 2007 at 2:14 pm

    Huck — I hear you. I think, however, that the iPhone price point will certainly come down. Just like PCs that were slower, larger, and less functional were $3,000 five years ago and are now faster, smaller, hold 100 times the data,have dozens more features and beautiful graphics that cost you $700.

    Point is, this device will drive competition to offer more at a lesser price which forces Apple to add features and drop price….and so the cycle goes. Free Enterprise and capitalism at it’s best.

    As I mentioned in the post, Apple sold 525,000 the first weekend. While the first week saw 700,000 sold, indicating a slowing of purchasing, these numbers were significantly higher than Apple’s own estimates (aggressive). Analysts are estimating that Apple will sell 1.2 million this year and upwards of 7 million in 2008. These are NOT small numbers.

    This article talks specifically to the issue that you raise. However, I think that Apple has the issues in hand:

    “The company filed a patent early last week for a version of the iPhone that could sell for under $300, and Goldman Sachs analysts said the device may be out by year’s end.”

     
  12. shrewspeaks

    July 11, 2007 at 2:48 pm

    Umm…where did the ETA come from?

     
  13. shrewspeaks

    July 11, 2007 at 3:26 pm

     
  14. morewines

    July 11, 2007 at 4:23 pm

    Just to let you all know. I do work in engineering
    for a large telcom company.

    This phone ain’t ready yet!

    You can not change the battery yourself. You must take it in to a at$t phone store. It runs on slow
    soon to be obsolete network.

    There are smartphones out there that cost less
    and offer more.

     
  15. music maven

    July 11, 2007 at 5:42 pm

    Even with some units overheating, short life batteries and having to go to “the store” to get the battery changed, the iPhone is here to stay.

    Point is this…Apple makes it look simple and easy to use, integrated and heavily promoted. Other alternatives simply don’t “add up”.

    This is not about rational purchasing. This is about irrational exuberance bringing focus to a changing landscape with a sweet looking toy.

    There are better devices than the iPod but the ease of use and promotion of iTunes makes it the best in the biz. So it will go for iPhones.

    As for the slow AT&T network….the U.S. introduction is really Beta testing. For Apple, the REAL opportunity comes from Europe, where the high speed networks are readily available.

    Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that Apple nor the iPhone is perfect. However, I do think that the stars are aligned for this little product to really speerhead change across a few industries.

     
  16. morewines

    July 11, 2007 at 8:23 pm

    Hey musicmaven,

    My smartphone HTC 8525 runs on the fast 3G network. Same network in Europe. I consider it quit easy to use it does what the iPhone does and more. I wouldn’t even consider a free iPhone from at$t.

     

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