Welcome to the Big Apple. New
York City's Jacob Javits Center to be exact. Come join me in discovering all
the new possibilities in interactive media including cool new CD technology,
CD-ROM programs, and of course MP3. The Interactive
Music Xpo (IMX)
attendees include such luminaries as Thomas Dolby of Beatnick.com and famous
musician in his own right, and also Hilary B. Rosen who is the President and
CEO of the RIAA. Of course many various manufacturers were well represented
such as ASCAP, The recording Academy (NARAS), Microsoft, RioPort, Liquid
Audio, CDNow, and many more.
Main Floor at the IMX Show
Dolby gave the Keynote address. Thomas opened with a story about the movie "Singing in the Rain"
and about how in this movie they were saying that movies would never take off. He spoke about how Lee
Deforest discovered how to
stripe sound onto film. How the discovery of the ability to record sound and never needing to repay the musicians
for repeated live performances again won over producers because they could save money. Of course this was the also possibly the first time musicians got
skewed out of their rightly deserved
money says Dolby.
Thomas Dolby feels that we will buy music in the future like we buy cellular phone
service today. Although this utopian vision may come true, identifying when this will happen is hard to say. "The truth is this won't happen overnight" says
Dolby. He continues "The big surge in sales.. will come from the web due to
conventional sales." He feels more companies (varieties thereof) will be making direct downloads of music
He discussed how the Big 5 labels also don't want to "bite the hand that feeds them" by putting their entire catalog online. There are still retailers, distributors, etc. which earn their living for literally decades from
relationships with the
Big 5. Thomas has personally seen how some of the employees from the Big 5 have
left and started their own ".com" music websites! Thomas looks forward to the day when he can put up , say, three
new songs he wrote unlike the 12-song package which is standard with CDs
today. He feels there will soon be a number of disgruntled, world-class artists leaving to start their own .com website to distribute their music. Thomas feels this is a better deal for both the artist and the music lover.
It's about the fact that the record industry has desensitized the connection between the
music/musician and music
lover says Thomas. How the commercialism has desensitized the primal instinct
about music. The web has an advantage here as it
has mailing lists, newsgroups, etc. It allows people to feel closer to the musical artist. In fact Thomas feels like he is on the same plane as
his fans when he surfs his own website. Thomas continues by saying
that when MTV came along it was the first promotional tool for an artist. MTV was a
launch pad for musicians. "The web is the best tool since MTV for promotion music.". Thomas
also announced the launch of his company's partnership with MTV. Beatnik sends over the web a "description of the music".
Beatnik's new technology allows people to enjoy a preset personal play list where the web surfer can also play to it! This is MIDI-based music so therefore the sound quality is quite high
at literal CD-quality sound and as an added benefit, it is also interactive!
Sun Microsystems, Microsoft, Oracle, Intel Car PC, to name a few, have the Beatnik
system preinstalled into their base systems according to Thomas. He also feels this is a
pivotal time that points to a very bright future for both musicians and the music lover.
Thomas hopes that the fruits of the internet and musicians posting their music has
brought great joy to them (musicians). Thomas likes the fact that internet
radio allows people to not just hear music, but also find out who the musical artist is and therefore buy it. Regular radio doesn't always announce who the musician/song is.
Someone asked Thomas if big labels going to be forced to give artists better deals due to internet
labels cropping up. Thomas feels it will because there will be say, U2 or REM
who don't care about quantity of sales per se as much as just being available. Thomas also feels that "creative book keeping" and the long (2 year)
delay in paying artists by the Big 5 is also going to have artists go web instead of with
them. Thomas feels there will be an existing eroding of the major labels and that contracts to benefit bands will change.
Keynote address was given by none other than the President and CEO of the
RIAA Hilary Rosen. The RIAA has been under much fire recently with the loss
to the courts over the Diamond Multimedia Rio player and other MP3 issues.
According to Hilary, 95% of all the music
in the USA are also members of the RIAA. She discussed protecting their copyrights of music
from piracy. She feels that people posting entire albums for thousands to download, just to be cool, is wrong. She is
say that the RIAA will actively go after those who illegally post copyrighted
music on the internet.
She also recognizes how some of the public see the RIAA since losing the MP3 lawsuit.
"The artists should be able to create their own fate" says Hilary. Soundgarden is releasing one of their songs on MP3 for free access. This is fine as the artist did this. It was their choice.
Hilary also said that 98% of traditional music is sold through "brick and
mortar" stores. She agrees that music may one day be more of a service (subscription) than purchased as it is today.
"The #1 reason why identified lovers say they don't buy more music is because they don't know what to buy" said Hilary. The trick is in finding ways to better organize music (filtering process) which
in turn allows consumers to find new music they enjoy. "The key for all of us is to get the (music) fan to a website to begin with." said Hilary. "We have to
expand our own horizons... we need to bring forward new cultural sensitivity.
It is about delivering the experience." On the web there are 25,000 "radio station" choices unlike regular FM/AM radio.
During the questions and answer session with Hilary Rosen
some interesting points were made.
Does SDMI create additional formats and therefore more confusion in the marketplace?
SDMI is merely an overlay that can attach to9 existing formats. The consumer will see that they have access to various other types of formats.
Why did the RIAA sue Diamond?????
18 months ago there was a definite mindset in the technology community guarding creative rights. The time Diamond announced the Rio Player, literally 98% of the music online were
unauthorized files. For legitimate reasons, this is why this lawsuit occurred.
In the end i gained much more respect for Hilary as she had
made some very valid points. As it sits now, SDMI should solve most of the industry's
concerns while those who want to share their music freely can do
this as well.
the IMX show there were many different conference discussion topics ranging
from home recording techniques to music in the year 2010 perspective. i
attended many conferences myself and learned a great deal. The conference
titled "Where Technology's Headed" on Monday afternoon there
seemed to be a major conflicting opinion of whether people are happy with the major distribution of
music today. It seems that major labels so narrowly pick and choose artists
is upsetting the public whereas there is so much more available on the web
today. They also discussed how the independent sector has grown and flourished, partially due to the internet. Ultimately, the real challenge will be in marketing. It is in
leveraging the ability in having an artist strictly on
their website that will play a key role in the future. In turn, these
websites will need to spend money in getting the eyes and ears of the public. Promotion costs
must be made.
The internet has already had an affect on the record industry. Simply having a web
presence is good management. Getting one's music out there is
seen as a good thing to A&R people on the major labels. There is more to life
than getting and selling the music. Building a culture and following is key
too. Marketing, building/developing a culture around your music can become a
successful promotion in and of itself. It is in also understanding how the college student lives/thinks/etc.
that plays a key role as well.
What hard lessons have the record labels learnt?
The one major claim that selling music online doesn't work.
www.sec.gov even tells you how little music is sold online. With over 12,000,000 CD Burners being sold yearly, surely there is a good portion of people using them for making their own MP3 CDs. Music as a product vs. music as a service is a big challenge.
It seems that the majors are now looking to offer more of a culture thing and away from pure marketing.
Still, i can not help but wonder if this is just a new face to the marketing
plan to churn and burn though more musical artists. What ever happened to
truly building an artist like they did many years ago?
Both the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences
(Grammy Award folks) and ASCAP had booths at the show. Ok, i admit i am a
member of the NARAS myself. Good folks, good fun, and you are supporting
musical artists and science too Join today!!!
course how can you have an MP3-type show without good ol' Rio
being there. Sowing their all new Rio 500 which comes in various translucent
colors, it features 64MB of base memory and can be expanded with 96MB more
memory via flash memory cards. An all new display makes it easier to read
and give more track information that the first generation unit. An automatic
book marking feature is included for those who have downloaded audio books!
Great feature! This new unit also includes upgradeable firmware and is
therefore compatible as future innovation occur. Street pricing should be
right on the heel of the popular Rio is the all new I-Jam.
The I-Jam also includes the new, very small 32MB SanDisk flash memory. The
I-Jam comes in 10, count 'em, 10 colors. This no frills unit has a basic 10
digital display. It also includes an FM radio too by the way for those who
have more time than MP3 stored in their unit. The I-Jam works with both Apple
and Windows based system. Songs are transferred to the memory by using the
included "Jam Station" (white with blue lettering device).
those who have been wishing for a home unit, well, here she is! The new Brujo
by netDrives is sold direct from their
website and retails for $299. It features playing not just CD-ROMs with MP3
files, it also plays home CDs! i personally checked this baby out and she was
mighty fine! Oh yeah baby!!! netDrives also claims their new Brujo is
"PC Free" because all you need to do is burn your CD-ROMs and then
simply insert the disc into the unit for hours and hours of forbidden MP3
musical pleasures (heh heh). remote control is also included for all you couch
potatoes by the way.
Thomas Dolby hanging out at the IMX show.
AMP3.com was at the IMX in
full force giving out MP3 CD-ROMs and having fun. They claim to be the web's
fastest growing MP3 website on the net. Meanwhile Musicmaker.com
entered an agreement with Tunes.com network of websites to offer secured music
downloads. These websites include RollingStone.com,
TheSource.com, and DownBeatJazz.com.
Meanwhile Liquid Audio is touting
their new Liquid Affiliate program where they promise a "turnkey
solution" for promoting and selling your online music.
One of the coolest devices i saw at the show was the Audio
ReQuest. This is basically a home CD player which will record your music
into MP3 or Windows media files for future replay. The hard drive is claimed
to be large enough to store upwards of 300 compressed songs. Both analog and
digital inputs allow encoding from DAT to vinyl. The internal software is
fully updateable for future compression schemes.
Out in full force was SoundsBig.com
who have their own music community website to help link musicians with their
adoring present and future fans. Founded by former Cakewalk executives Tom
Cook and Chris Albano, SoundsBig.com is looking to give more exposure to
unsigned bands as well as musicians on both indie and major labels too.
There were many live bands i also enjoyed while at the IMX
show which performed all day in front of the John Lennon bus (seen right). At
night there were various bands playing on various stages setup at the IMX
show. A great time was had by all. See you next year in LA at IMX 2000!