Today’s Music Label

If Sony BMG, Universal Music, Def Jam, Motown, Warner Brothers, or any of the big music labels were to create their business model today, what would it look like? First, a quick glance at their methodology:

The old model was simple:

  1. Provide the artist with resources to create an album (Studio, equipment, personnel)
  2. Manufacture the Album (CDs)
  3. Distribute the Album (Stores)

Clearly this model has failed while trying to apply it to todays marketplace. Here is why:

  1. Provide the artist with resources to create an album (Studio, equipment, personnel). Artists can download superior programs and can obtain quality hardware.
  2. Manufacture the Album (CDs) Everything is digital. No need for tangible items.
  3. Distribute the Album (Stores) Distribute the Song/Album (iTunes, MySpace, YouTube, etc).

Because these music labels have not completely adapted or changed with the times, they have been resorting to legal action. (Larry Lessig goes into great detail about the issues involving innovation, technology, and law…his blog is definitely worth reading)

If the music labels reinvented themselves or started from scratch, what would their business model look like? I’d first argue that the first three points need to happen. Resources to create the music, making music, distributing the music. With the advent of cheaper hardware, P2P file sharing, and social media, these points can be easily attained.

But where do you go from there?

Social Media Music Label – An organization that can most efficiently and effectively market and distribute songs. An organization that can generate a brand that encompasses a group of artists, while sharing revenue to some capacity. An organization that leverages the brand to obtain revenues outside of direct music sales. A brand that engages the listeners/users on every level from audio, video, blogging and networking.

I don’t know exactly what that model looks like, but we can just take a look a Chamillionaire‘s success and realize the rules have changed. (Below is Pete Cashmore’s interview with Chamillionaire)


Web mail and web identity

A few months ago I had a very interesting conversation with one of my friends, who was at the time, working for CBS. He told me that media companies are simply missing the mark when it comes to new media.

Since that time, a lot has change and it is clear that the major media outlets are starting to finally get it. More recently, I had the privilege of meeting an extremely accomplished new/media/political veteran, Greta Van Susteren, and she put forth a great topic of debate.

Facebook vs. Blogs & Email.

I have been on Facebook for the past year, and lately, I’ve found myself only using it for the status feature, birthday notifications, and news feeds. It keeps me indirectly connected to my friends. It is my stock ticker of my social life. My social graph.

And while I have this social graph, an easy way to connect to my friends, I still find myself writing on this blog and using traditional email. Why? Sure I also use Facebook messages, but why not email? How do I choose? What are the benefits?

With Facebook, Google, and MySpace, all beginning new initiatives to be social across the web, a lot of interesting things should arise relating to this idea of web identity. A type of web address and web driver’s license that will aggregate my web presence into one location, one application, or one resource.

I look forward to see who will drive this innovation. In the meantime, we can continue this discussion via Facebook, email, comments below, LinkedIn, twitter, MySpace, Meebo, AIM….and so on….

Fred Wilson has some thoughts on this idea as well…he articulates them better than I do…

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My version of IBM’s new supercomputing initiative

IBM has recently announced “a next-generation version of its Cell processor, the first specifically geared for computer servers.”

The PowerXCell 8i will drive the Road Runner system now under test at Los Alamos National Labs to see if it can become the world’s first supercomputer to deliver sustained petaflops performance. Besides cracking the petaflops barrier, IBM hopes hundreds of users will decide to plug into their IBM servers a two-socket board housing the new Cell chips to deliver what IBM calls “supercomputing for the masses.”

Instead of servers being plugged into a grid, why not use PCs and gaming consoles?

I find this announcement to be kind of ironic since it was IBM that realized open source (the Apache Web Server) is more valuable than a centralized and closed platform, even if is somewhat open.

If I was IBM, here is what I would do.

The idea: Mixing different kinds of computers into a supercomputing grid to create an infinitely scalable supercomputer for enterprise solutions. Just as SETI and Stanford have created new hybrids of supercomputers for astrological data analyzation and Computational Earth and Environmental Science research respectively, a similar supercomputing hybrid model has yet to be adopted for commercialized use. This idea will allow users to submit their PCs or gaming consoles to the supercomputing grid, where they can be accessed whenever they are not being used, and will contribute to a commercially available supercomputer. By participating in this supercomputing grid, donations will be made to charities on the users’ behalf. These donations will depend on the amount of data processes computed on their machines. On the other end of the business, enterprises will be able to rent, lease, or even purchase data processing bandwidth. This will enable startups, small to medium businesses, and large businesses, to acquire computationally intensive processing power with extremely fast clock cycles which could easily deliver sustained petaflops performance and beyond. This would be the first ever cluster of machines available for commercialized use providing for cheap energy costs and cheap hardware costs. By participating in this grid, users will be members of ongoing charitable donations, and businesses will, for the first time ever, have paralleled computing power to the likes of SETI and Stanford. PCs were once thought of “business or research only”. Today, virtually everyone owns a PC. Supercomputers today are only thought of as “research-only”. This put supercomputers in the commercialized or “business” realm. IBM has just announced a new initiative to delver a supercomputer to the masses, as they predict an $8-$10 Billion market. Instead of creating a centralized supercomputer for the masses, this idea will create a decentralized supercomputer to the masses, that will exceed any one supercomputer.

That is what I would do.

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What’s the point of exams?

The industrial revolution created more than just automobiles, factory lines, and blue collar jobs. It created a structured day. The 9 to 5 with allocated time for lunch. Most people experience this routine daily in their own workplaces, and this is all a result of our education system. Just think back to your high school routine.

This same system also builds us for productivity, efficiency, and accuracy (I am writing this post in my college library, watching students do whatever is necessary to get A’s).

And there is nothing wrong with this. We should all strive to do our best. At the end of the day, we should give ourselves the best opportunities possible. The best chance for that great job.

But when it comes to our education, should A’s constitute “the best”? A simple measurement of how right or wrong you were in any given specified topic?

We are now in an era that can not and will not survive of off productivity and efficiency, but can only survive off of innovation and creativity. You cannot turn on the news today without hearing about global warming, dependence on oil, broken education, a looming recession, broken government, broken health care, global competition,….the list goes on.

And as I sit and watch all of these students (still in the library) cramming their brains, striving for that “A”,…is this the generation responsible for fixing all of these problems? A generation that was literally built for that 9 – 5 job? A generation that was rewarded based on the amount of A’s they had on their report card?

We are now in a global economy. American productivity is rivaled by cheaper labor, longer hours, and minimal wages, all taking place over seas in exponentially growing economies such as China and India.

We also face significant local, regional, and global issues on the micro and macro levels.

How does America compete and address these challenges? How does my generation compete and address these challenges?

Innovation. Creativity. (Sir Ken Robinson gives a great talk on this at a TED conference).

Does our current education system encompass these necessary virtues? Are we preparing our citizens for tomorrows society?

I now have to return to my studies so I can try and get that “A”.

Facebook Connect

Facebook is opening up the walled garden and sharing…or are they?

Their new announcement:

“Today we are announcing Facebook Connect. Facebook Connect is the next iteration of Facebook Platform that allows users to “connect” their Facebook identity, friends and privacy to any site. This will now enable third party websites to implement and offer even more features of Facebook Platform off of Facebook – similar to features available to third party applications today on Facebook.”

At a first glance, it might seem as if this is a great move for Facebook and its users. But is it really?

Some initial thoughts.

In an attempt to be the social network across the internet:

  • Users can have one web identity (see sxip) which will eliminate the need for the thousands of logins we have.
  • Facebook will become even more centralized and necessary for warehousing user information. (Federal Reserve : Money :: Facebook : User Data)
  • Third party developers can build much more powerful applications without the restraints of the Facebook platform. No canvas page.
  • What was first an attempt to build a platform or centralized location, has now become an open initiative, encouraging users to engage third party websites ultimately leaving them with less advertising inventory.
  • User data might now become available for third party ad targeting outside of
  • Disrupting their own Facebook App ecosystem
  • New revenue model? Their current one isn’t really working.
  • They are becoming more open
  • They are becoming more closed


In the end, I think the real question is whether or not Facebook actually intends on adhering to these fundamentally “open” policies they are trying to replicate from the likes of MySpace, Twitter, Yahoo, and eBay


Ryan Waggoner states it best here:

“As Kaliya stated, I’m afraid that this is just another strategy for Facebook to “lock-in” their users and attempt to become the central repository of everyone’s social graph. If that’s the case, this is not data portability as I still don’t have full control over my data.

Hopefully, they’re going to be fully supporting open standards, but I doubt it. Facebook strikes me as a company that pretends to be open, but is only open one-way or to the extent that they can control.

Facebook is Microsoft 2.0”

Looks like we will have to wait and see, but something tells me Ryan and Kaliya will be right.

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Is M”y” Generation Uniquely Apathetic?

This is the question my friend Mark Korshak is looking to answer in “Project Youthanized.”


But how do we truly compare generations?

Let’s consider a student in college 30 years ago, to the student today (The generation Y student). How would these students engage activism?

Years Ago: pass out fliers   Today:  send out emails

Years Ago: organize a rally  Today: create a Facebook group

Years Ago: collect donations (change in a cup)  Today: collect donations (PayPal)

Years Ago: attend a rally   Today: watch a speech on YouTube

Years Ago: start a magazine  Today: start a Blog

Technology must be considered in any cross generational comparison.

Although it may seem as if students today are indeed “apathetic”, I can’t help but wonder, is that really the case? If you’ve ever joined a facebook group, if you’ve ever commented on an article, if you’ve ever published ANYTHING to the web, then you have engaged some form of activism.  You have made your voice heard. The extent of that activism however, is still unknown.

I wish Mark the best of luck in determining, how, if at all, “uniquely apathetic” our generation is, and how he goes about measuring the extent of this apathy.

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The International Game

Who is winning? And at what sports?

I’m not speaking in literal terms, but a recent post by Andrew Weissman really forces us to look at the future of business. Business creation, sustainability, and innovation.

Six sigma worked pretty well for GE. Google’s 70/20/10 rule seems likes its doing just fine. What new business strategies will emerge….and where?

An invention I should have pursued further

Last year, I began pursuing an idea with a good friend of mine. We met with one of our extremely talented professors, Giri Venkataramanan, and began developing mathematical equations to turn our idea into a reality. Well, we stopped pursuing the idea due to a simple lack of free time, and sure enough, the idea has surfaced and is now in production.

“Terry Kenney’s Dragon Power Station prototype works by harnessing the kinetic energy of trucks passing over plates buried in the road and turning that energy into electricity.

– Jason Chen,

Even one of the comments made, expresses the same thought process we encountered.

“@ludwigk: It’s a great idea though if done as already noted by NOT lowering your fuel economy. If they placed this on, say, every interstate off-ramp. Everyone needs to slow down anyways. Lots of traffic. It’s not going to hurt your fuel efficiency if you’re already trying to stop. all it will do is save you some wear and tear on your brakes. Granted, it’s probably not generating as much power as that article initially claims, but still…every bit counts.”

But if anything good comes from this, it is this: Validation. (Andy M taught me this)

The fact that this idea was developed, and is in production, validates our initial pursuit of invention.

Maybe next time.

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Fred Wilson – “And Who Do The Other 17% Think Will Win?”

The anticipation of who will be the democratic nominee is growing. Fred Wilson posed a great question today in his post titled “And Who Do The Other 17% Think Will Win?

“My other thought when looking at this chart was “if these were two stocks, what would people be doing with them?”

– Fred Wilson

Behind any investment, their must be substance. Which candidate is proposing ideas that are subtenant, tangible, and practical. We all remember what happened in the dot com bubble when people started pouring money into those revolutionary internet ideas. And who made it out on top?

Substance behind the idea.

Better image here

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Academia: Badger Bike

Academia Series: Post 2

My freshman year of college, I was required to take a class called Engineering Professional Design (EPD 160). I was among a group of 35 other undergraduate engineering students (whose majors were undeclared at the time), and we were required to design and construct something for a real client.

Our client was the Department of Agriculture of the University of Wisconsin – Madison, and we were to design and fabricate something that could carry at least 300 lbs of material and soil all over the campus.

Of the 35 students, we all broke up into teams to design a potential solution. My small group came up with a hybrid model of a tandem bicycle with an extended bay and motor. This design was chosen, and I was elected project manager to supervise the construction.

Early into construction, our client decided to give us additional funds that surpassed the required minimum. We had a budget of around $3,000.

In the end, we developed the “Badger Bike”, under our budget, and provided a unique and environmentally friendly device, to some environmentally friendly people.

Pictures and our final presentation below:

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