What’s on ?

Posted April 23, 2008 by rightsight
Categories: Europe, file-sharing, Germany, Music, Piracy, Video sharing, Video/Film

eDonkey has been on the receiving end of much music industry legal action in recent months. Last September a number of German eDonkey servers were taken offline after a court issued an injunction against them. User numbers halved – temporarily. In January this year the Dutch anti-piracy outfit BREIN won judgement against an eDonkey hashlinksite, Shareconnector.

Would the file-sharing community miss a lot if eDonkey went down? Well some recent research from iPoque gives interesting indications of what people use eDonkey (and Bit Torrent) for.

Across the regions looked at – Germany, Southern Europe and Middle East – patterns of usage vary. the most popuilar BT and eDonkey music downloads are in the form of discographies (i.e. more than one album at once). In ME and Southern Europe over half of the top 75 audio was discogs. Neither the top BT audio nor the top eDonkey audio downloads closely reflected the charts and in Southern Europe much of the top downloads appeared to be local language.

BT video downloads are primarly movies, with some pornography featuring in the Top 75 for Germany. On eDonkey on ther other hand every region is sharing porn. A cursory look at the titles and one can make the generalisations that Southern Europeans like anal, Germans like lesbians and the odd animal, and the Middle East has more specialist and suspect interests like shemales and children.

When it comes to eBooks English is the prevalant language with Sat Nav data being particularly in demand in Southern Europe.

Mp3newswire reports on a new Digital Music News research report which shows continued rapid growth in use of Bit torrent and increased consolidation in P2P client apps so maybe eDonkey will get killed by IFPI/MPAA anyway and users migrate. 



Recommendation engines

Posted April 21, 2008 by rightsight
Categories: Music


Music recommendation engines have a long long way to go.

I never liked Pandora – repertoire was too US centric and the academic model for recommendation (e.g. you chose a synth rock song in a minor key with prominent guitars, therefore here’s more synth rock in a minor key) was lamentable.

I have been an occasional user of last.fm for a couple of years but it seems to perform worse with age. The logic of recommendation based on scrobbling what people actually listen to seemed like such a good idea but last.fm now returns such poorly worked out recommendations that I do not believe scrobbling is at the core of it.

It seems to stay in very poorly defined grooves. So if you picked a well known 80s pop band it will feed endless well known 80s pop band even if you are constantly skipping tracks.

Choose an unknown band and it only feeds you unknowns. No one listens to music in this way. That’s why scrobbling was a cool idea. Could it be that it doesn’t work as a way of making good recommendations? Certainly, in comparision, the certainty of a known album or the ‘editorial voice’ of a good radio show or dj mix beats last.fm.

Over 50% of tracks I skip within the first minute. What a waste of time and it makes it impossible to get into the flow of the music.

At this rate I will go back to listening to albums!

But not before I check out TheFilter.

DOES blog, social network buzz correlate to better album sales?

Posted February 20, 2008 by rightsight
Categories: blogs, Research

A week or so ago Ars technica published a story about some research looking into how chatter on blogs, number of myspace friends or mainstream reviews correlated with sales.

The story was then picked up by other reporting services/aggregators, like Musically, who reported the story as Blog buzz could drive album sales, research suggests. The Musically take on the story suggests causality between blog posts and album sales and goes on to say that the number of MySpace friends a band has also correlates to sales (which the original research does not say).

In the research paper itself the key phrase buried deep is: “…it is natural to ask whether it is reasonable to conclude that increased blog chatter really causes an increase in sales since it does, after all, precede sales. It is not possible to make such a conclusion based on this study.” In fact later on they explicitly caution against assumptions of causality. They go on to talk about various correlated variables. This study only looks at physical sales anyway, and then only Amazon, and then not actual sales but a guess based on Amazon.com sales ranks. Start to see the holes?Among their ideas for future studies includes taking into account the sentiment of blog posts which I think is when it gets interesting.

Sadly, what I think this story really illustrates is how the pressure to find news makes some editors post half baked stories and before you know it everyone in the industry has only read a wrong, short edit concluding things that are half true at best.

P2P not legalised in Italy

Posted February 5, 2008 by rightsight
Categories: Europe, file-sharing, Italy, Legal and policy

Seems that tech site Ars Technica slipped up in reporting that Italy had inadvertently legalised peer to peer. Whilst the news has predictably spread like wildfire all over the blogosphere and tech press it is not entirely true. More to come…

more Kevin Kelly

Posted February 4, 2008 by rightsight
Categories: Uncategorized

“The odd thing about free technology is that the “free as in beer” part is actually a distraction. As I have argued elsewhere (see my 2002 New York Times Magazine article on the future of music for example) the great attraction of “free” music is only partially that it does not cost anything. The chief importance of free music (and other free things) is held in the second English meaning of the word: free as in “freedom.” Free music is more than piracy because the freedom in the free digital downloads suddenly allowed music lovers to do all kinds of things with this music that they had longed to do but were unable to do before things were “free.” The “free” in digital music meant the audience could unbundled it from albums, sample it, create their own playlists, embed it, share it with love, bend it, graph it in colors, twist it, mash it, carry it, squeeze it, and enliven it with new ideas. The free-ization made it liquid and ‘free” to interact with other media. In the context of this freedom, the questionable legality of its free-ness was secondary. It didn’t really matter because music had been liberated by the free, almost made into a new media. Technology wants to be free, as in free beer, because as it become free it also increases freedom. The inherent talents, capabilities and benefits of a technology cannot be released until it is almost free. The drive toward the free unleashes the constraints on each species in the technium, allowing it to interact with as many other species of technology as is possible, engendering new hybrids and deeper ecologies of tools, and permitting human users more choices and freedoms of use. As a technology grows in abundance and cheapness, it is more likely to find its appropriate niche which it can sustain itself and support other technologies in commodity mode. As technology heads toward the free it unleashes the only lasting thing it can: options and possibilities.”

‘Better than free’

Posted February 4, 2008 by rightsight
Categories: Content

Read this from Kevin Kelly.

It’s a great dynamic – just as your main product goes digital and ubiquitous what you need to add value is more physical world product (concerts, merchandise) and exclusivity/personalisation (getting things first or more inside track).

Now let’s see the future please…

IFPI Digital Music Report 08

Posted January 29, 2008 by rightsight
Categories: Copyright, IFPI, Music

The IFPI Digital Music Report 08 calls on the European Union to consider the French approach to ISP responsibilty for copyright infringers and action.

But what the report show more than anytihng is the phenomenal growth in digital content and how the music industry is leading the pack.

Some eye-watering stats include that in 2003 there were approximately 50 legal music services and now there are more than 500 (consolidation will be next then…).  In the same period the value of digital music sales has gone from around US$20m to US$2.9bn.

In comparison with other industries PWC figures show that the music industry is deriving more of its revenue from digital:

Books 2%

Films 3%

Newspapers 7%

Recorded music 15%

For those immersed in the machinations of the legal and illegal consumption of digital music the report probably reports little unfamiliar. But for anyone who wants to get up to speed on the issues at play in the digital music field it is a more than worthy starting point.