Posts from February 2006

I Am With You Dave

Yahoo! Music has been front and center on this blog this week.

So I am going to end with week by giving big kudos to Dave Goldberg, who runs Yahoo! Music.

At Music 2.0 this week in Los Angelese, Dave suggested that record labels should try selling music online without copy protection.

Of course they should. They do that offline with CDs. Why do they feel the need to sell music online with DRM?

And the main reason they should do this is that with the massive proliferation of devices, DRM is a total hassle that is pissing off the consumers and making them dislike buying music online.

I only buy music on eMusic or on CD.  I won’t ever buy music with DRM on it unless I can easily take it off and turn it back into a mp3.

Dave echoed this concern, saying that "rights management restrictions have created a barrier for consumers making it a hurdle to transfer music to portable devices, and
creating incompatibility between music services and MP3 players", according to this cNet story.

It’s about time that people who are closest to what’s going on in the online music business start speaking the truth.

#My Music#VC & Technology

Messing With My Computer (continued)

I took a couple potshots at Yahoo! last week for messing with my computer by taking control of my media files when I installed Yahoo! Music Engine.

I got the following comment from Ian at Yahoo!:

We didn’t do anything intentionally evil with the grabbing of types.
We’ll look into it and see if there’s a bug of some sort we need to
address, or if we just need to make this easier.

He then sent me a private email and copied the product manager and they said that Yahoo! Music Engine does ask permission to take over the media files during the install.  That is a distinct possibility because to be honest I don’t remember the install process that well.

Ian went on to say in one of the emails:

I agree this shit is annoying.  I remember in 1999 when I was at Nullsoft and we
first started having to play this game.  Real was playing dirty and unless we
wanted to be pushed out we had to get in the mix.

I totally agree with Ian – "this shit is annoying".  I would like all of the companies that develop software to play media files of one type or another to sign a "non proliferation treaty" that says they won’t try to override each other and will not try to change a user’s preferences on install.

#My Music#VC & Technology

Weaving and Bobbing

The real art of the start, to steal a phrase from Guy Kawasaki, is the "weave and bob".

Dick Costolo of Feedburner says, "it’s about realizing you are going down a dead end before the other guys do".

Matt Blumberg of ReturnPath has a post up on his personal weblog about the original ReturnPath business plan, email change of address.

Matt and his team weaved and bobbed a lot over the past five years and have built a business that includes a lot more than ECOA.

That’s how you have to do it.  I cannot think of many startups that are still executing their original business plan.

#VC & Technology

The Power of the Internet

The US Government has been compiling data on all sorts of things for years. One of the most widely watched set of government stats is the US Commerce Department’s reports on economic activity.

These reports can often move markets when the numbers come out higher or lower than the extpected numbers. So traders know exactly when these numbers come out and watch them closely.

Well what would happen if someone could calculate the same numbers and report them accurately months before the US Government? 

It is already happening, starting with the most obvious numbers, that being e-commerce activity.

One of the Flatiron Partners portfolio companies, Comscore, measures online commerce activity (among many other things) and makes its data available to a wide range of customers who need to know this information accurately and quickly.

Comscore reported its numbers for e-commerce activity in 2005 in early January.

Last Friday, February 17th, the US Government reported its numbers on e-commerce activity in 2005.

And the numbers were basically identical, they differed by less than 1%.

You can read more about this here.

I think we’ll see more of this kind of thing as economic activity continues to move online in the coming years.

Slowly but surely the government’s role as an important provider of data to markets will erode and eventually die.

#VC & Technology


I am stuck in a rut, posting records that cannot be found on Amazon, Rhapsody, Yahoo! Music, or iTunes.  It’s a drag because I like to provide a link to the music in the chance that some of you might want to hear or it or buy it.  But I guess that if the record is really a Nugget, the powers that be that determime what gets online and what does not wouldn’t select it.  Shame on them.

Anyway enough of my rant.  Josh is totally into Jimi Hendrix and along with Led Zepplelin, Black Sabbath, and early Aerosmith, he is taking me back to my early days. He’s got me listening to my Hendrix albums again.  And there is one record that I just love. 

It’s called Nine To The Universe.  It was released well after Jimi’s death, in 1980.  I am sure I bought it in college, most certainly in the used record rack at Nuggets in Kenmore Square.

This was the last of Alan Douglas’ releases of unheard Jimi Hendrix material and the only one that wasn’t a complete disaster. It is all instrumental and very much a jazz record.

If Jimi had lived, he certainly would have evolved into one of the all time great jazz musicians and this record shows a glimpse of where he would have taken us.

You can find this record on eBay or possibly buried in some used record bin somewhere.  If you love Jimi Hendrix and never have heard this record, do yourself a favor and go get it.

#My Music

New York Magazine Got It Wrong and Tristan Louis Got It Right

The cover story in New York Magazine a week or two ago was about blogs.  Clive Thompson told the story about how hard it is to create a blog with a large readership. It’s the story we’ve all read. That the "A list" bloggers control the debate and the audience, only link to each other, and keep everyone else out.

And it’s completely wrong.

Clive may be a good reporter but he isn’t an analyst.  Tristan Louis is an analyst and he did what I think is an excellent study of the Technorati Top 100 over the past nine months.

Tristan posted the results of his analysis on Tuesday in a post called "Here Today Gone Tomorrow".

Here are some of the key insights:

65 of the top 100 blogs in May 2005 are no longer in the top 100 in February 2006.

90 of the top 100 blogs in May 2005 dropped in the rankings by February 2006 (including the 65 that dropped off entirely).

65 new blogs are on the list (of course) and many of them are asian blogs.

Tristan says this about the rise of the asian blogs:

A quick analysis seems to point to Asian blogs becoming a major force, one that I personally have not heard much about in discussion of the evolution of the blogosphere. ….. In a world where globalisation is key, the blogosphere has not yet fully grappled with the impact of the Asian Pacific region and there probably will be some interesting discussion around this in the future.

It’s a great post and puts the nail in the coffin of the "a list" nonsense that we have been hearing in the blog world for the past year.  As someone who reads and writes blogs every day, I know exactly how hard it is to build and maintain an audience.  Blog audiences are way more fickle than any other medium.  If you don’t keep it interesting, informative, and entertaining they’ll take you out of their reader and bookmarks so fast your head will spin.

As Tristan says in his conclusion:

it also looks like being on top is no guarantee that you will stay there (if anything, it is a guarantee that you will not, as 9 out of 10 blogs fell and 65 percent disappeared from the list altogether).

Phew.  I am sure glad I am not on the Top 100!

#VC & Technology

$200 million for promoting HD Radio

The HD Radio Alliance, which is the broadcast radio industry’s coalition to promote HD Radio, announced yesterday that they will spend $200 million this year in advertising on 250 radio stations in 12 major markets to educate consumers on the value of HD Radio.

Peter Ferrara, CEO of the HD Radio Alliance, pointed to broad support from "from receiver manufacturers, retailers and automakers," whose cooperation is crucial to the roll-out of the new product.

Bob Struble, CEO of iBiquity, the developer of HD Radio (and a company that I am an investor in and on the board of) is quoted in the article linked above as forecasting "HD radios costing less than $100 in the near future".

I’ve been saying this for a while now.  HD Radio is gaining momentum.  The two big things that have to happen is consumer education and low cost radios in the market.  It looks like both are going to happen in 2006.

#VC & Technology

Yahoo!'s Messing With My Computer (continued)

My friend Paul (whom I’ve never met but I listen to his podcast religiously) posted this comment on my original "Messing With My Computer" post.  These are instructions on how to stop Yahoo! Music Engine from taking control of all your media.

You need to turn them OFF in Yahoo, not turn them ON in the other player.  Apparently Yahoo seems to think if you do this, the other players are doing this innapropriately.

From the File menu, select Preferences
on the My Music tab:
File Associations: This box indicates file types for which you want the Yahoo! Music Engine to be the default player. By default, all the file types that Yahoo! Music Engine plays are highlighted. To individually select a file type, first click Select None then click a file type to add. Shift-click to select more than one file type.

You should only associate those files you want to be associated with Yahoo Music player – so, in your case uncheck mpeg4 and mp3.

Restore file associations at Yahoo! Music Engine startup: This disables other players that try to over-write your preferences here.

You should make sure this is unchecked, so Yahho doesn’t reset the settings each time it starts up

read here for details…

I’ve done all of this and hope it works.

But this is not how it should work.  It’s uncool and Yahoo! should fix this asap.

#VC & Technology