Posts from April 2005

My 50 Favorite Albums (continued)

DarknessI’ve been waiting for a good time to add Bruce to the Top 50.

I figure now is as good as time as any with the release of Devils and Dust this week.

While Bruce’s body of work is as good as anyone’s, there are really only three of his records that I considered for the Top 50.

They are Nebraska, Greetings from Asbury Park, and Darkness on the Edge of Town.

Nebraska is an amazing record.  I listen to it more than any of his records and maybe it should be Top 50 too.

Greetings was my introduction to Bruce and I’ve always loved it.

But Darkness is it for me.  It is great from the opening Badlands to the closing title track.

It has a drive, an energy, an attitude, and a desperation to it that makes it essential Top 50 material.

I am particularly fond of the hard rock sound that Bruce and the E Street Band make on Adam Raised A Cain.

There’s probably something to the fact that this record came out in 1978 when I was 17 and full of the feelings that are expressed so intensely on Darkness.

Darkness speaks to me and that’s why its my pick this week.

Welcome to the Top 50 Bruce.

Listen to Darkness on Rhapsody.

Exploding Radio (continued)

OK so I am at least the 100th person to blog about this.  Infinity Radio has decided to turn over an AM radio station to podcasters.

This is such a smart move.  I have to give Joel and the team at Infinity so much credit for having the guts to try something like this out.  If it fails, so what?  But if it succeeds, then they’ve got a home run on their hands.

Radio has always understood the value of user generated programming.  I wonder how much of the air time on talk radio is dedicated to call in listeners?  Whatver the number is, its a big percentage.

But to turn the music programming over to effectively the masses, well that is something bold, brave, and potentially brilliant.

One of my favorite sites on the net is collegehumor.com.  They get most of their stuff from their audience.  They sort through the best stuff and put it up.  Kids in college talk about getting their stuff up there.  It’s a virtuous cycle.

And so I suspect it will be the same with KYOU and podcasting.  Podcasters will vie for their shows to get aired.  They step up the quality of their work.  And KYOU’s listeners will benefit.  Hell, I am going to tune in for sure, via the Internet.

I am so gratified to see this news because I’ve posted a lot of stuff saying the radio companies will explode radio themselves and not let others do it to them.  It makes me feel even better about my long radio/short satellite trade.

Jeff Jarvis has a long post with links to a bunch of other posts on this so I’ll send you to Jeff to keep going on this one.

Paul Westerberg


  Photo_042705_001 
  Originally uploaded by fredwilson.

My friend Steve got tickets to see Paul at the Supper Club and The Gotham Gal and I went with him. 

Another friend named Steve hooked us up with some great seats.  But we forgot to bring a camera so all we had was The Gotham Gal’s Treo.

Paul put on a hell of a show.  It was basically a Replacements concert.  At least 2/3 of the songs were from the five records Let It Be through Don’t Tell A Soul.

Paul cranked out the songs, never really stopping.  He must have played over 30 songs in less than 2 hours.

Highlights were:

1 – Paul switching to drums on Can’t Hardly Wait
2 – Taking a request from the crowd to sing Things (from his first solo record), forgeting the words, and getting the guy who made the request to feed him the lyrics
3 – Going from the line "I Will Dare" in Anywhere’s All Right (from the new record) to the real thing.
4 – How Can You Like Him from the new record
4 – Ending the first encore wtih Left Of The Dial
5 – Coming out and doing Alex Chilton for a second encore.

God bless Paul Westerberg.

Replacements Playlist on Rhapsody.

Uglesich’s

As I blogged last weekend, I am pining for jazzfest.  I’d love to be in New Orleans this year for the Meters reunion and the rest of what looks like an awesome jazzfest.

But the thing I miss most is Uglesich’s, my favorite restaurant in New Orleans.

Johnny Apple has a good piece in today’s New York Times on Uglesich’s which apparently will close for good after jazzfest. I’ve heard that before, but it seems this time its going to happen.  I guess I’ve had my last Voodo Shrimp at Uglesisch’s.

The Gotham Gal bought the Uglesich’s cookbook on Amazon today.  Maybe she’ll make it for me instead.  That would be great.

VC Cliche of the Week

Conflict of interest is a problem in the venture capital business on multiple levels.

I often find myself quoting the now famous John Doerr cliche "no conflict, no interest".

That doesn’t mean we don’t take conflicts seriously, we do.

But it also means that where there is an area that we are very interested in, we are going to face some tricky situations.

Let me name a few.

Confidentiality conflict – When we identify an area we are interested in investing in, we try to meet with every entrpreneur working in that market.  We collect a lot of information that way.  We must and do keep that information confidential or else nobody would talk to us.  But that information has a way of coming togeter in our brains and informing how we think about markets, business models, leverage points, market entry plans, etc.  And it is incredibly hard to keep all that expertise locked up inside our firm.  So we are constantly asking ourselves what is the line we cannot cross in educating others.  Very tricky stuff to say the least.

Portfolio company conflict – If you like a developing market, say community in the mid 90s, then its likely that you’ll make multiple investments in and around that market.  In 1997 at Flatiron, we had investments in Geocities, Starmedia, and eShare.  eShare made a chat/community platform that Geocities and Starmedia used.  It wasn’t all that stable in the early days.  The companies fought with each other.  Like parents of squabbling kids, we got dragged into it.  Very tricky stuff too.

Relationship conflict – There aren’t that many original ideas.  Markets get competitive quickly.  And if you’ve been working with serial entrepreneurs for years, you find your friends starting competitve businesses.  You get asked to take sides, to choose one over another.  And for the reasons stated above, you can’t invest in things that are too close too each other.  So that puts relationships at risk.  That has to be handled with candor and tact.  It’s hard to do right.

There are plenty of other examples of conflict situations.  But hopefully these are illustrative of what happens when we and others get interested in stuff.

So we find ourselves in potential conflicts all the time.  I think the most important thing is recognize the conflict, verbalize it to yourself, your partners, and everyone involved.  Once its out in the open, people can behave accordingly.

No Rhapod :(

Well Rob Glaser did his thing yesterday at Radio City Music Hall here in NYC.

I had an invitation to go and I wanted to but in the end I couldn’t make it.

It’s just as well, because Rob did not stand up on stage and show off the Rhapod that I am dreaming about.

What Rob did unveil is nice but certainly not the promised "groundbreaking initiative in digital music".

There’s a new version of Rhapsody that I will download as soon as I finish listening to Bruce.

And the bigger deal is Rhapsody to Go which is pretty much a knockoff of Napster to Go.  This service lets you synch Rhapsody to a portable music device and take your songs with you.  It doesn’t work with iPod of course and in fact it only works with two devices right now, the Iriver H10 and the Creative Zen Micro portable music players.

Since I am already an iPod user and none of these devices comes close to my dream device, I don’t think I’ll upgrade to Rhapsody to Go.  But maybe the Gotham Gal, who doesn’t yet have an iPod, might want to give Rhapsody to Go a whirl.  We’ll see about that.

Bottom line, Rhapsody is great, Real is making it better, but they aren’t in iPod killer territory yet.

Rafat Ali has extensive coverage of all of this stuff on his blog.  It’s certainly the best place to get the skinny on the new Rhapsody.

Devils and Dust

Devils_and_dustI am listening to the new Bruce Springsteen record Devils and Dust on Rhapsody this morning.

It’s in the Nebraska vein but not as stark and powerful as that amazing record.  My friend Craig, who is a huge Bruce fan, compares it to Bruce’s mid 90s record Tom Joad.

I like Bruce when he sings dark folk songs and I like this record.

Links to Devils and Dust:

Amazon

iTunes

RHAPSODY Link.