"Audio Preview" Is A Bad User Experience

I read the Google blog post announcing their enhancements to music searches this morning. I think it's terrific that Google has made these enhancements but there's one thing I don't like.

Google says:

Now, when you enter a music-related query — like the name of a song,
artist or album — your search results will include links to an audio
preview of those songs provided by our music search partners MySpace (which just acquired iLike) or Lala.
When you click the result you'll be able to listen to an audio preview
of the song directly from one of those partners. For example, if I
search for [21st century breakdown], the first results provide links to
songs from Green Day's new album. MySpace and Lala also provide links
to purchase the full song.

I really dislike the "audio preview" experience. It's been available for years in the iTunes store and I never use it. A 30 second sample of a song is an awful experience in my opinion.

When I want to search for music, I'll do an mp3 search on the Internet or go to the hype machine and do the search there. I almost always get the result I want with one of those two approaches and I can listen to the entire song.

Of course, it is not Google's fault that they are being limited to an "audio preview", it is the fault of the rights holders who won't let Google offer a full song sample. But as we've seen again and again, this only drives users to the "gray market" where they can get a full song sample which is often just a right click away from an illegal download.

A smarter approach would be to allow Google to offer a full song sample (one play per person based on cookies or some other approach) and then a link to purchase. That would allow Google and the music rights holders to take share back from mp3 search engines and encourage music purchases instead of illegal music downloads.

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#My Music#Web/Tech

Comments (Archived):

  1. CarlosPero

    I suppose there are two purposes to the 30-second preview.One is the use you’re describing, where you are discovering new music and seeing if you like it. The other is to positively identify a song you’re looking for. That’s the use case Steve Jobs demos on stage, when you type the name of a song, get a dozen results, and can listen to a clip of each one before saying “yes this is the one I want to buy”.Naturally full-length (or maybe even the first half of the song) would be better than 30 seconds, but those 30 seconds still fulfill a need.

    1. jaredhecht

      I agree. The 30 second clip, at least for me, helps to identify the song. A majority of the time if I’m looking for a song I like then I already have purchasing intent.

    2. fredwilson

      I’ve never done that to be honest. Not sure why

  2. John Pasmore

    I like the 30 second preview in most cases — if I need to identify a song from say an artist I know but unsure of the title, I recognize the song within 30 seconds. Completely new artist or unknown, ehhh….it’s $0.99

  3. Yaron Orenstein

    I believe Google will wipe out iTunes very soon.If 2 out of 10 top searches is music related (based on what Google published on the post) it means that many of the users initially search for additional info before purchasing the song/cd or do not use iTunes at all. If Google will leverage this traffic and offer the songs for $1 by themselves, iTunes will be much less relevant !

    1. Jgrubb

      Google’s got a long row to hoe to make the purchasing experience as easy as Apple has made it. Granted they can borrow the last 7 years worth of ideas that Apple came up with, but unless I can press two buttons and buy it on my iPhone, I don’t think it’s going to be “very soon”, probably more like “someday”, and more power to them…

    2. fredwilson

      Good thing appl doesn’t really care about music. Its just a means to an end for them. The end of file based music is on the horizon

  4. andrewparker

    I always felt that if 30 seconds of a song was enough to determine whether or not you like it, then it’s a very boring, unoriginal song. Most of my favorite songs have big swings in volume, tempo, and instrumentation throughout the course of the song. 30 seconds of Godspeed You Black Emperor isn’t even enough to get past the intro droning. Terrible experience.

    1. ErikSchwartz

      The real value is in making sure the name of the song matches the tune in your head. 30 seconds is fine for that.The music industry is really really broken and it’s not going to fix itself simply. The business is a lot like the VC business. There are a lots of bets made (advances paid out). Many go to zero, some break even, you make all your money on a very few. Until the labels (music VCs) come up with a way to not pay money on the bad bets they are going to be very protective of the few successful ones.This is not as simple as many like to pretend. The fact that is costs $1 to make a CD is moot. Most of the cost of your CD goes to paying advances and development for bands no one will ever hear of.

    2. ShanaC

      Depends on the Music. Don’t try this with some forms of “modern classical” Those pieces are over 20-30 minutes long by design. Thirty seconds tells you nothing.

      1. kenberger

        I agree with this “depends” clause. But I also must say that while I totally get Fred’s point about reasons behind why often times samples are offered rather than whole songs, I can think of plenty of times where I actually like the sound sample and think it’s a great “user experience”– they are ostensibly choosing a representative part of the song (when that’s possible).There’s just too much music to go thru out there, I can’t listen thru all the songs all the way. At last week’s CMJ festival, when i saw a show listing that looked good, it was handy to quickly pick 3 bands from the lineup and go to their Myspace page, listen to any random 10 second piece of the first 3 songs listed. You can >90% of the time get a quick notion of the feel, mood, type of band. If you’re picky about your music, than in many cases, that’s enough to pass and move to the next band. But if you’re intrigued, your attention is grabbed and you can’t wait to spend a bit more time and dig deeper. Very much like VC->startup due diligence!!

    3. fredwilson

      For hip hop they don’t even finish the curising and get to the music in 30 seconds much of the time

      1. andrewparker

        But, for some songs, the intro cursing is the best part 😉

        1. fredwilson


  5. theschnaz

    I agree. It’s tough to create a meaningful music sample.I think limiting the songs to a one-time listen via a cookie is a good start, Lala does something similar already.Selling ads, concert tickets, etc. is probably a lot better and stickier. If I’m listening to a full Radiohead song and you know I’m in NYC, how much is that worth?There is an opportunity to make all the song plays full-length and free, while generating revenue for all the players involved.

    1. Mark Essel

      I enjoy last.fm as well. It provides serendipitous discovery like groovesharks similar play lists

    2. fredwilson


  6. Don Jones

    I like the 30 second preview and use it frequently.

    1. fredwilson

      I gather there are quite a few people out there who are like you based on the commentsBut wouldn’t a full song be even better?

      1. Don Jones

        Nope – takes too much time. if I’m potentially interested in purchasing an album, I’ll sample a few songs and a 30 sec preview works just fine for that.

  7. Mihai Badoiu

    I’m sure there are other easy technical ways to preview the song without giving it away. For example, you can preview the entire song with a few 1 or 2 seconds break. Or you can preview the song with very low quality, or noise added in the background, or a weird remix. The 30 seconds isn’t entirely bad.

  8. JeremiahKane

    The “Grey Market” is usually a good unvarnished indicator of the experience users are actually demanding.Most of the time, that experience is not just “I want it for free,” but rather how can the user accomplish what they are trying to accomplish quickly and easily.Businesses that think their success depends on a compromised user experience (30 sec. clips, excess DRM, etc) discover the opposite is true. I believe they leave themselves especially vulnerable since the exodus to the inevitable better product is especially rapid.

    1. David Gillespie

      As we saw in Digital Strangelove (shameless!), given a choice between Free and Now, people will surprise you –> http://fredwilson.vc/post/2

      1. Guest

        Well that certainly blows holes in my argument. I wonder if it’s because I picked an indie band. Try this one: http://jake-qkvyn.posterous…I swear I am not crazy 😉 http://arstechnica.com/old/…”At Lala’s new beta store, you can enjoy any song from the five-million-item catalog in its entirety by streaming it once.”

        1. David Gillespie

          Oh no you’re totally sane…*whistles and walks away*Could it be perhaps because you have already listened to it once in its entirety, and the file is attached to your account, therefore it has been streamed the one time it is able to be? That would make sense.

      2. fredwilson

        Maybe shameless but totally on point

    2. fredwilson


  9. Mihai Badoiu

    These Google deals with content providers remind me of AOL and the on deck concept. What next? If you’re a content provider you have to make a deal with Google to have your results shown in Google one boxes?

  10. Eric Friedman

    I think LaLa has this feature with some sites letting you listen to the entire song once all the way through, then if you want to listen again, you have to buy it. Perhaps some partners will get the entire song while others may have just a clip. The conversion to sales numbers will speak volumes for the partners and labels and influence how much of a song you hear in the future. I think its a step in the right direction, but not entirely there yet.

    1. fredwilson

      Let’s hope google replicates the lala experience on their serps

  11. reece

    I am less concerned with the 30 second preview as I am with the ‘gray market.’ Providing legal channels for users to purchase content is tremendously important.I used to illegally download lots of music, but thanks to AmieStreet and Amazon in particular, I feel good about making my music purchases.In general though, giving users legal access and an easy way to pay for the content they want – music, ebooks, video – through a great product/service is a recipe for success.

  12. rikin

    I’m actually surprised that they didn’t further incorporate YouTube into this experience rather than MySpace/Lala.YouTube has become my defacto platform for listening to a new song/artist and determining if I like it or not because I can often find songs in their entirety, actually see what the band looks like, and dig deeper into their catalog.YouTube is already utilized by many record labels/bands to post official music videos. YouTube has a bizdev deal to purchase music through iTunes/Amazon for many songs. Google owns YouTube.Only downfall is that the sound quality is often poor but when you’re “test-driving” a song that’s not as important.

    1. ShanaC

      I agree with this. And I think sound quality is important, especially if you move to streaming songs as a form of longterm purchase.Not everyone is going to live and die by rock and roll alone. I enjoy a wide variety of music. I’m sure many people here enjoy a wide variety of music. And damn it, when I want to be a music snob of say Thomas Tallis (I love his music, something about English Renaissance Church Choral Music)- I want to be able to compare recordings of different groups with different sopranos. I want to hear their registers- why else would I buy the damn thing eventually?Same goes with other kinds of music, including rock. Hence why I am sticking to youtube, unless someone decides to clean up the bad recording to streaming as sampling problem.

    2. fredwilson

      Every kid under the age 20 that I know goes to youtube to listen to music

      1. rikin

        not sure if that’s a good/bad thing.I’m over 20 but I go because of it’s powerful search. If I want to listen to a specific song there’s no easier way (i know of) to do it.Also many tools, like last.fm, are simply aggregating YouTube videos as part of the algorithms. Eventually, that just leads me right back to YouTube.

      2. ShanaC

        Glad to know at 23 that I’m normal.

  13. PKafka

    Some of the songs are full plays – depends on the label, artist, etc. But as a user that won’t be obvious – you’ll just know that you can’t consistently get a full play, which makes it a crappy experience.

    1. fredwilson

      That’s worse in some ways

      1. PKafka

        I think most of the labels are going to try get you full plays (once for each song) for most songs, at least at the start. It will be interesting to see what happens after that, though: Everyone one of those plays will cost someone something, and if they add up — without generating significant $ via conversion — labels/services will have to reconsider.

  14. bl

    lala is gaining an annoying amount of placements and dominance for streaming / previewing music. i wouldn’t mind that… but since lala requires an account to listen to much of anything on so many of their players, it has started to drive me crazy seeing it everywhere. the last thing i need/want is another account for something.

  15. Adrian Palacios

    Amen, Fred. A 30-second preview is merely frustrating.

  16. ade

    Do you not get Spotify in the US?

    1. rikin

      I don’t believe we do – yet. They keep saying their working on it.

      1. ade

        The best music platform, although the cost of US music licences would be staggering! I hardly use itunes now, hope they can make it viable

    2. fredwilson

      Spotify isn’t available in the US

  17. Harry DeMott

    A number of reactions.As a person involved with Pandora – I’m very excited about the new 1 box search – as it should drive more traffic to Pandora. I think that may be a better alternative than just listening to a 30 second snippet.There are others included – and I have to believe that getting to full songs and related bands will provide a better listening experience.all that said, I completely agree that the rights holders are still mightily screwed up in their thinking regarding trial. No one is going to use Google search as a player for self directed music – so allowing for longer snippets – or even full songs – certainly does not hurt them meaningfully – especially as there are many alternatives to this out there just 1 more click away.It would be interesting to know just how many of the Google music searches are for specific songs as opposed to specific bands. Really makes a difference as to what sort of experience you are looking for.

    1. Scott Scheper

      What’s the new “1 box search” from Pandora?

  18. DataWhat

    Have you guys tried the Google Music Search service? It is streaming full songs. I can’t figure out what the complaint is. Am I missing something? http://www.google.com/landi…This is a great discussion on the 30 second sample, but Google (or ratherLala/iLike) is playing me the full songs when I click.

    1. fredwilson

      Music search was not live when I wrote this. I was working off a google blog post

  19. David Noël

    Not sure if you use that word “snippet” in the US, but they do here in Germany. That’s the 30-second preview and whenever I hear a music-marketer talk about snippets, it gives me cold shivers.Posted a tweet recently that with Spotify, Hype Machine, SoundCloud and Tumblr, I buy more music than ever before. If you look at these services, they all provide full length songs. I know that artists and labels get direct revenues when I listen to the artist on Spotify – still I find myself buying the album on Amazon Mp3 or iTunes – making the artist additional revenues.Re: Google – I like the idea. Now, when you search for music, the first result usually showing is a YouTube video with a song uploaded illegally. But I’m with Fred here, 30-second-previews is rather a sign of being scared than showing confidence.

    1. fredwilson

      I also am buying more music than ever. Better discovery equals more purchase

  20. kskobac

    not sure if this was overlooked, but when possible the songs will be full-play – the ones that are myspace music powered for sure; try out the demo link for “kings of leon” http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=Kings+of+L…here’s their language: “For most songs, the first time you play the song, it will play in full, but if you play the same song again, it will subsequently play it as a 0:30 second sample clip. If you want to hear the full song many times, we encourage you to purchase the MP3 using the convenient “Buy” link. “isn’t that exactly what you’re suggesting – a cookie-based option for a full listen, then trial and buy?

    1. Mihai Badoiu

      A cookie-based option for full listening can be easily exploited. You simply remove your cookie, or make the browser store no cookies for that particular website.

      1. kskobac

        true, i wasn’t really getting at it’s long-term viability, moreso that it seems like its the current step they’re taking! though as a side-note, cookie-dumping seems like a slow process for continuallly calling on-demand music

      2. Scott Scheper

        You’d have to track it like ad networks with ip addresses 1p24

    2. fredwilson

      Yup. Got headfaked by their post and the fact that the service hadn’t launched

  21. daryn

    I agree with you that the 30 second preview sucks compared to streaming the full song, but also with the other commenters that 30 seconds is better than nothing. 1) it helps identify a track, 2) if you know the song, lets you get a feel for what the specific arrangement is for that recording.I’d be bummed if I tried to buy Layla, and got the unplugged version when I wanted rock and an epic piano solo.

  22. BB

    …but without audio previews, we wouldn’t have this amazing moment from michael scott http://www.fanpop.com/spots

  23. jakemintz

    “A smarter approach would be to allow Google to offer a full song sample (one play per person based on cookies or some other approach) and then a link to purchase.”This is LaLa’s business model (great service btw if you haven’t tried it). In fact, they do one better and let you buy a streaming version for $0.10 instead of only being able to buy a download for $0.89 (if I recall their pricing correctly). Check out the video in the Google post you link to: http://www.youtube.com/watc…. Their demo shows streaming of a Green Day song through LaLa. The player says 5:21, which suggests the whole song gets streamed.Google doesn’t seem to want to negotiate directly with the labels (can’t blame them) so is piggy-backing other music streaming services. I think you are right about most of the services only providing 30-second previews, but LaLa appears to be offering one full stream per song per user. If this is the case then people will probably learn to only click LaLa links when available. What great exposure for LaLa.

    1. jakemintz

      Here is a LaLa embed to try: http://jake-qkvyn.posterous…Can you hear the whole song without signing up, logging in, or paying? I can but I have an account so maybe it is tracking my cookies.

      1. David Gillespie

        Only gave a 30 second sample…

          1. jakemintz

            Another datapoint, I googled “Green Day” like in the video and got the full song once, second play got me 30 seconds (from iLike/MySpace).Try it: http://www.google.com/searc

    2. fredwilson

      You are exactly right jake

      1. David

        Hope MySpace Music would fully integrate with iLike soon and stream full songs to music searchers as many times as they like.

  24. Danny Sullivan

    Actually, you get the entire song in some case. Perhaps all of them. I think it depends on who provides the clip (I can’t test more because not live for me, but I did some of the coverage). If you go through LaLa, you get the entire song. It’s actually pretty cool. If you then try to play again, you get 30 seconds. If you’re really into it, I’m virtually certain that if you simply clear your cookies, you could hear the entire song again.

    1. fredwilson

      Yup. Got head faked by their blog post

  25. suesol

    i couldn’t agree more. the :30 second sample experience is frustrating at best, useless at worst.

    1. fredwilson

      Frustrating and useless. That’s a killer combo sue

  26. Marcin

    I guess the point here is that any ‘preview’ is a bad choice. ‘Try’ is an old way of doing things, when it was expensive to give a customer a full product to play with. In web era, when marginal cost is nearly zero there is no reason for not giving your audience the full product – even if they can use it only once (i.e. by cookie or IP filtering).

  27. joey horvitz

    Precisely why I love the LALA model and am an active user…

  28. evbart

    emusic does the 30 second previews, and its a terrible way to discovery music. i spend all my time on pandora, or last.fm, and then i find myself going back to emusic to check if they have any of the songs/bands i likedef a pain

    1. fredwilson

      Me too. Emusic is my first choice for buying mp3s but is not in my discovery world at all

  29. ShanaC

    It doesn’t work for deep web searches of music-Try finding “On the Transmigration of Souls” It’s a thirty minute work by John Adams in commemoration of September 11. It won four Grammys and a Pulitzer. No one listens to it (Pity). Nothing to stream.Meanwhile on youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watc…(Do not watch directly if you are easily disturbed by images of September 11th, the music is graphic enough without the added images, and this is just a 5 minute sample)

    1. harpos_blues

      Shana,John Adams is one of my favorite contemporary classical composers. Have you seen the DVD of “Dr. Atomic” yet? Your university should have a copy in the library.I’m still trying to track down a recording of Philip Glass’s “Appomattox”.

      1. ShanaC

        I’ve seen pieces of it on YouTube. I have a really strong love/hate relationship with all things involving the human voice in music. it’s a hugely powerful instuement -and it is often not put to what I consider good use. I tend to want music with the human vopice in that is using it at a soundscape, which is why I tend to like early music, say like the renaissance. I love Adams and his crowd for concerto like stuff. Say Harmonium.But god help me if someone subjects to a story line that is too melismatic or is too syllabic. I just want to hear the music.(Plus I can’t help but feel bad when anyone mentions Dr. Atomic, Its on my to do list. A friend of mine interned in the constume department when the Met put it up. She also a great linguist student – if anyone wants a really awesome summer intern….)

  30. Daniel Horowitz

    I totally agree. The analog (literally) is that record stores used to let you listen to an entire album in the store with those giant headphones.

  31. Scott Scheper

    Fred — After looking through it today, lala and ilike don’t seem to have api’s available to the public. Last.fm does. Matter of fact, they have a kick-ass api. Say I’m building an app — last.fm seems like the most logical choice. However, does it have the capability to provide the user experience that you mentioned above? (i.e. if I use last.fm’s api, will it give the user a full-listen of the song?)And, yes, I completely agree about frequency capping the result at 1p24. A sweet cost per listen model could be put in place; however, if the revenue model is driven by amazon, it would likely be a cost per purchase (amazon affiliate). Bottom line: The CPM would likely be higher than the contextual-based results (i.e. sponsored ads), thus making sense for google. If assuming last.fm provides a full-length’d preview, what was google thinking?

    1. harpos_blues

      Scott,I agree the Last.fm API is quite full-featured and robust.If the song is designated as a “full track” on the Last.fm web site, the any requests via the API should return the full track. In Last.fm’s Music Manager application, content owners can designate which songs play “full track” or “preview” (30 seconds).

  32. BUTR

    I couldn’t agree more! 30 seconds is not enough for me to decide if I want to buy the song. And music fans are moving towards access vs. ownership. Music will be like water. iTunes needs to offer full streams or they are going to lose customers to LaLa, Spotify, Napster, Rhapsody, etc.

  33. Aaron Klein

    I’ve never used Rhapsody before, so you and others may already know this, but I think they must be reading this blog, particularly this and the Financial Times posts.An artist’s manager just tweeted that his new album is up and posted a link – when I went and clicked on a song, Rhapsody lets me listen to the full songs. Looks like they cookie the computer and I can listen to 25 full songs in a month for free.http://www.rhapsody.com/ste

    1. ShanaC

      There are a huge amount of hits here, I wouldn’t be surprised if industry people who are interested are watching us kvetch about all sorts of oddball things. We’re perfect guinea pigs demographically. They just need a gew more women for purchasing reasons, that’s all…

  34. joewong

    Lala’s player plays full length previews (just like their site) while iLike/Myspace plays shorten versions of a song. You can also listen to full length songs from Lala on sites like pitchfork.com and billboard.com.Google music search:http://www.google.com/searchttp://www.google.com/landi

  35. ladyislandguahan.ws

    Hey guys but I know my context may be out of the subject. I just didn’t know when to share it. Something tells me to post in here. I found that there are so many people down grading each other for the hard work they do. But let’s face it. All of us who are in this situation are in for the long haul or just to find out more information. Anyone who is business oriented also has family to mind and a volunteer assignment to accomplish. Social behavior among Americans or Locals have two things in common. They want to succeed and they want that recognition. That is a positive thing but it also eliminates the lower hand of marketeers. Wouldn’t you think if we helped one person they would do better? Sponsor one and they could sponsor another? what ever is bringing us here must be good. But if we don’t take the time to what others are seeing we could be missing the biggest act ever. US did we do what we said? Did we reach out and make someones day? Did you visit your parents, family, aunt, uncle etc.? Did we do our homework? I had to vent because we know that not everyone is here for the long road but for short term. If you this type of business man or woman still searching and can’t make your mind. Why not ask yourself if your happy where you are at today. Life only comes once when the opportunity is around. It’s up to us to take it while it’s still avaialable.

    1. Prokofy

      You’re just putting out here an elaborate new form of spam, and no, I’m not clicking.

      1. ladyislandguahan.ws

        Prokofy, that comment then was not to offend you. I have been trying to meet new people and I guess your not one of them. I am here if you want to discuss. Your right, I do not know you. But this is how it starts isn’t it? Or am I wrong again.

        1. Prokofy

          You got a scam going here that pollutes the social media stream with meaningless blather just to get people to come back to your marketing site.You paste meaningless blather on bunches of high-traffic sites, you then put in an apology for being off-topic in advance to try to woo people, if that rare person calls you on it, you then act hurt and altruistic like you’re “just trying to meet new people” as yet another act of manipulation. All of this is a marketing stunt, I see it all the time, and I see through it. Don’t click, people.

  36. Prokofy

    No, not really. It helps the music get paid for. When you say this, “it is the fault of the rights holders who won’t let Google offer a full song sample” it’s as if you actually believe the hype that Cory Doctorow and Chris Anderson spout, which is that you can make a living by giving everything away for free. Yes, you can do that IF you charge for your lecture fees…about giving everything away for free!Kids do not mind samples. In fact, they never listen to songs all the way through and constantly jump through them.Again, Fred, please show me the musicians that really make their living this way. The ones I know want to get paid real money and not pretend that giving away songs helps them live.

    1. fredwilson

      We’ve had this discussion before. I think keeping your stuff under wraps just means nobody will try it and thus nobody will buy itYou need to suck people in. Giving them a real tatste is the way to do thatYou’ll note that I am promoting the model that leads to a transaction instead of a theft

      1. Prokofy

        Show me that it leads to transactions other than a lecture fee, and I’ll believe you.Cory Doctorow and Chris Anderson do not survive on books alone.You’re exaggerating and arguing hyperbole to duck the harsh truth that there is no percentage in selling stone soup. Stone soup is for socializing, not selling soup.Sure, you can give some little thing away, but giving away an entire CD or entire book does not make you a living. It cannot possibly make you a living, and luring more and more young people and gullible people into this scam is morally wrong, Fred. All it does is create traffic and eyeballs for the various social media services you invest in to have click advertising. That’s good for you; it’s not good for them. They will not be making pennies in their tip jar.This really dubious creator’s business model, where they are browbeaten by Creative Commons into giving away things, and peer-pressured into giving away things on social media, does not lead to people making a living, or even a profit. It just doesn’t. No one is every able to show this as an actual documented proposition for more than a tiny handful of ideological boosters like Lessig (gets a professor’s salary) or Clay Shirky (get’s a professor’s salary) or Cory Doctorow (gets on the EFF lecture and conference circuit) or Chris Anderson (er, actually sells that expensive book in book stores, whatever his philosophy is).It’s the modern-day equivalent of the medicine show with the snakeoil.Honestly, you need to search your soul on this, and not only your soul, you need to find very compelling use cases outside the very, very hackened and dubious case studies of Cory Doctorow and some lame band on MySpace to really make the case that social media pays more than the tycoons bankrolling the services as giant ad agencies.

        1. fredwilson

          I’m not arguing for giving away a whole album. I’m arguing for giving away a single full length play so you can get someone interested in purchasing it

          1. Prokofy

            Fred, your model of making bank from social media projects that use freeness to get advertising either now, or as a plan for their future, is not sustainable — even for you. People will not go on giving their all on social media for free. So it really is in the best interests of your investment to take a critical eye to this heavily ideological meme you have bought, and investigate it with real case studies. Does it really work, beyond several pumped up testimonials that are always given. Many ‘agree’ with this merely because they like free stuff. Who doesn’t! But how are you going to get artists paid!!!!You have this idea if someone gives away a song it will lead to a purchase or a gig. I think Andrew Keen, by actually studying the fates of some of these MySpace bands, found that they didn’t even make enough for pizza with that idea. Have you studied these musicians and their lives and wages up and down?Audio previews *are* in fact giving away part of a song to get you to buy. And…you don’t like it because you “need” and “demand” the whole song. Why? *You were given part of a song for free*. Is it never enough? Ok, get an entire song. And…that’s not enough either? It has to be a record then! See, this is a rising tide of entitlement expectations that go nowhere.I’ve been meaning to buy that CD of that singer I saw perform live ever since I looked up her Myspace and listened to her *whole song* on Youtube/Myspace. Did I buy that CD yet? No. Will I ever? Oh, finally I may, months later. But had she just given me a *preview*, because I really like the song, I would have bought it on the spot. Instead, dozens of times I’ve merely gone to l listen to her entirely free song. And she’s lost a sale. She’s dying for your sins.

          2. fredwilson

            Of course it works. I’ve got an investment in a record label that does this with all of their artists. Its actually standard practice for most successful artists these days

          3. Prokofy

            I don’t believe you, I’m sorry. I believe this to be a major form of hype by new media companies these days.I’d like to see this independently reviewed. This record label has artists *all of whom* make a living this way? What kind of living? The same living they’d make if they sold everything? You’re also fudging the “standard practice” claim. Many artists have sample songs. Maybe even a full song. But they don’t expect to make a living, as Cory Doctorow insists that he can and they *should* by giving EVERYTHING away. Your claims of a “standard practice” to give some things away is then seized by others to validate their Creative Communism heckle to give *everything* away (so that Google can have fun ad space).Some might have an “official Youtube channel” where they have given up trying to stop the copying of their artist’s music videos, or they put purchase information on the videos. But you know full well, Fred, that YouTube is constantly in battles with various music companies. Somebody is paying somebody, even if the artists are “giving it away for free”. Perhaps it is part of their 360 degree deal with the music company.We don’t know how many of those free videos that Youtube/Google is actually getting people to pay for, they don’t tell us that. And we don’t know how many of your record label’s artists are really making a living. I’m much more likely to believe you when you tell me you have one company that you personally know and invest in — but I still would like to see the numbers anyway. As for Google, I don’t believe them, and I assume they are losing money.There is not enough transparency on this claim of new media to be sustaining artists. And given that some of them still make money the old fashioned way, it’s hard to check.

          4. fredwilson

            I’m sorry if you don’t believe me. It begs the question of why you bother to stop by here at all

          5. Prokofy

            No, it doesn’t Fred, and don’t take it personally, and don’t be hurt because somebody says they don’t believe your public blog where you are a public figure. This is a ‘show me” moment.You claim that all the artists on the record label where you invest make a living, and make a living by giving away songs — entire CDs? — for free.So, show me. I don’t believe that it possible. I think the following is true:o they don’t make a livingo they make a living, but only from concerts, t-shirts, licensing of jingleso they make a living because they have VC start-up money, but you haven’t been paid back yetIf it were possible to make money by giving away songs and living only off concerts or jingles, we would see that really happening all over for lots more bands. You don’t engage with the fact that Andrew Keen, in his book which you probably don’t like, says he researched bands, as a journalist, and found they barely made pizza money, going on the road, having all kinds of expenses, getting paid only a little, and not selling those songs, that they gave away for free.So while I realize that this information i’m requesting could be proprietary private information and of course you’re not required to display that, i’d have to say that your story needs a very thorough investigative journalistic treatment to see what is really meant by this ‘living” and this ‘profit” and this ‘business model’. Because otherwise, you are breaking young people’s hearts, Fred, pushing them into this racket. That will have to be on your conscience. So if you believe this is all true, demonstrate it, with numbers. With real stories of real people. or with an aggregate, if that violates privacy/business confidentiality.Millions of musicians are giving away their tunes for free. Very few are making a living. The long tail really is a racket when it meets the power curve.

          6. fredwilson

            I didn’t say that. Don’t put words in my mouth. I said they make a living by giving away listens for freeYou keep mistaking listens for the music itself

          7. Prokofy

            Oh, but by flogging the *listens* Fred, you are flogging the idea — by extension — that downloads should be free, too, which of course they are, and have been, if no longer on Napster, on Youtube now. You’ve only clarified this now, and you’ve created a climate in which you imply that people should give things away for free, and that will automagically make their fans buy from them.This is a riotously religious theory that has not been tested by any serious journalistic investigation, and in fact is just a say-so from copyleftist fanatics like Doctorow, Andersen and Jarvis. You’re merely contributing to that enabling climate that begs belief with this post.YOU started your claims here by saying only partial listens were annoying and counterproductive and musicians “must” have full listens. Why? Can you *prove* that they *still make a living* with real numbers and not just your-say so? with revealing the actual life stories and balance sheets, even in aggregate?You’re claiming that all these fans getting full freebies instead of a 1/4 or a 3/4 freebie in fact buy the song. Show me. I continue not to believe you, and your threats, hurts, anger, claims that I’ve put words in your mouth, claims that I’ve “gotten it wrong” simple are beside the point.Cut the poetry, Fred. Show me the numbers.

          8. Prokofy

            The essence of music is the listen. What is a non-listened music but a bit of stored data?!

  37. Citybot

    It really depends on the type of music. If you take a techno, house, and most of other EDM tracks, 30 seconds won’t even get you past the intro. So, you won’t even know what the track sounds like. 20seconds probably works well for RockNRoll and some rock.