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We off that October 5, 2009

Posted by David Gillespie in creativity, music, philosophy.
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While looking at Katie Chatfield’s blog last night and thinking about the various ways I’d like to be like her when I grow up (I’m sure she’d say she’d like to be like her when she grows up too), I stumbled back across a post she’d made in May of this year on “done”. I liked it so much at the time I printed it out and stuck it on the glass door to my office, though I’m not sure anyone else got it (complete aside, taking the time to turn something in bits into atoms surely has to be the most you can like something, ever).

Re-blogged below for the sake of further cementing its awesome-ness, here it is in full:

Something I preach and rarely practice is the importance of just doing, and not waiting for perfect because perfect never happens. My musical self, all nerves and insecurity, decided to make good on threats to be less hypocritical, and found once it started it was actually fine and better than expected.

Done is the engine of more, and the important thing is to have done it, not talked about it. If Nike’s slogan had been “Just practice and be ready to do it at some point”, then odds are they wouldn’t be the rock star brand that they are.

The point of done is not to finish, but to get other things done. Amen.

(and we’re done!)

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In our private universe August 24, 2009

Posted by David Gillespie in business strategy, music, Video Games.
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From the “No-that’s-not-right-here-let-me-show-you” Department, Blizzard and Future Publishing have announced a World of Warcraft magazine, hoping to leverage an additional $40 a year out of their 11.5 million person base of players. At a time when I can’t imagine too many other companies entering a paper-based publishing medium, I actually think the move is genius and hits a few really key things, primary among them all is a hark back to Kevin Kelly’s 1000 True Fans.

Of course in this case the fans number in the millions.

The premise is simple: your biggest fans will go above and beyond to have every ounce of content and information about you they can get their hands on; these people are not the mainstream, but they’re a profitable niche that usually go uncatered for, making do with what everyone else gets most of the time.

The World of Warcraft example above stems nicely from selling access to a service for everyone and then breaking away additional offerings for the hardcore within your audience (as I write this BlizzCon is concluding, in-person church for the faithful but also available as a pay-per-view event online…you couldn’t write this stuff!).

Mark Earls made a similar link to the music industry, referencing this piece in the New York Times and saying:

maybe this marks the end of that really selfish buy-to-own model (“it’s mine, all mine”) as opposed to pay-for-access?

Mark was referencing some interesting visual data showing the decline of physical music sales over the past 30 years (shown below). Personally the games industry leading the way here doesn’t surprise me; it’s a relatively young industry not bound vehemently by outdated models and able to flex with the times. It was the first to take user-generated content mainstream, I imagine it will be the first to do many, many other interesting things. But take note: create something genuinely of value to an audience, treat them right, and reap the rewards. Rinse and repeat.

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We have to take our clothes off to have a good time September 22, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in business strategy, music, technology.
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Direct from the “We’re-out-of-ideas-let’s-see-if-this-sticks” Department, SanDisk along with the four major music labels have announced a new format for music – micro SD cards, commonly found in mobile phones and digital cameras.

I don’t know where to begin on this one. One person I spoke to who was a fan of the move remarked “It is compact, DRM-free, and the files are digital.”

Yes, that’s true.

Just like CDs.

The labels, despite all evidence suggesting radical moves are in order, remain firmly entrenched in the sales of physical media, and not just existing media but they’re coming up with new ones!! NEW ONES!! New forms of physical media while the free world irreversibly slides towards an entirely digital future. You know what? I like album art as much as the next person (I spent a small fortune on my own cover), I’m tactile, I like to touch. But that is not where we’re headed.

The labels are trying to keep the economic model for the music industry revolving around a physical item instead of watching behaviour exhibited by the market and responding accordingly. Yes, we all have devices that can support this format, but the labels are confusing the platform and the medium.

The platform is digital. You cannot have a medium existing on a platform that does not serve the same ends. The medium needs to be digital as well. My iPod can hold 80 gigs of music. Why am I going to mess around with this tiny card that holds a single album? This is ludicrous behaviour. Proper stop-the-world-I-want-to-get-off nonsense.

Somebody should get fired for this. Entire departments and a swathe of VPs just for good measure. A new physical format for music. Give me strength!

Manufactured physical products need to get a hell of a lot more expensive. And digital files need to reflect the economics of the market they exist in, not attempt to replicate the old one.

You can’t hurry love August 18, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in blogging, music, web 2.0, work/life.
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What if people knew what this moment felt like?

What if people knew what this moment felt like?

We’ll get to the stuff I was talking about yesterday in due course, it ain’t goin’ nowhere baby. And what I have on my mind is much bigger than that.

So I was reading this piece on movement through the web which touches on notions the web having made creativity itself more accessible – mind you it does this in a fairly esoteric fashion wherein a bunch of stuff does straight over my head).

It got me thinking about how the advent of blogging platforms like WordPress, Blogger, TypePad etc. gave people the ability to express themselves, or at least opened other avenues to express themselves. if like me, you believe creative is not a department and we’re all inherently creative as a by-product of being human, then that’s pretty exciting.

YouTube, Vimeo and a bunch of other video services (such as Seesmic and Oovoo) have allowed people to express themselves in a similar fashion via video. What I’m thinking about though is something that enhances people’s ability to express themselves musically. Yes we have Last.fm, Pandora, what have you. These all function around recommendation engines, I’m interested in tools that allow people to make music more easily.

I hear you saying “But I can’t read music.” You know what? Most people with a blog couldn’t spot the difference between a verb and an adjective without the help of Wikipedia, I’ve played guitar for 15 years, I’m less good at reading music now than I was when I was 13, which is much more than The BeeGees ever could.

The issue is this: people love to construct barriers to entry. They love to put up walls around things they have achieved in a move towards exclusivity; if everyone can do what I do, then it isn’t actually an achievement.

How does that relate to blogging? In terms of raw self-expression, blogging has enabled more voices to be heard than any other publishing medium in the history of the world. The individual impact may not carry that of Tolstoy or Goerge Bernard Shaw, but that makes it no less valid a form of expression, and the collective voice is far greater.

Being a musician myself, I’m wondering how music can be made more accessible – not the acquiring of other people’s music but the actual creation. Maybe part of the equation of putting value back into the 4 megabyte files everyone is downloading is sharing more of the experience of creating them in the first place. Maybe that will only serve to drive down the value further, but as the perceived value continues to approach zero, what do we have to lose?

I’ll happily acknowledge this post is a complete shot from the hip, but I really believe theres something in this.

My only question is: where to from here?

Feed the Animals -or- Girl Talk, open beats closed, every day I’m hustlin’ July 4, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in digital strategy, music, work/life.
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Yesterday the inimitable Scott Drummond came to my rescue. Scott is my musical educator, always throwing me new tunes and genres to check out, in addition to being an amazing friend and weekend brunch buddy. He hit me with a world of great stuff, but I want to talk about one artist in particular, Girl Talk.

Girl Talk is a DJ who mashes up everything he can get his hands on. It is absolutely not for everyone, but I can’t get enough and makes it Saturday night in my heart when the calendar says Tuesday morning, so for this I am grateful. Scott hit me off with a link to a live bootleg which is absolutely off the handle (and on this Friday July 4th exactly what you need to get the party started).

The model he is going with selling his latest album though is perhaps more interesting than hearing Roy Orbison laced over gangsta rap, spun into Nirvana with Salt’n’Pepa over the top (in my ears right now).

Head to his MySpace page and you’ll see the below:

Buy Girl Talk\'s new album!

So the “pay what you want” thing in music isn’t new, agreed. Click-through though and you’ll be taken to a page which displays the purchase options:

any price grants the download of the entire album as high-quality 320kbps mp3s
$5 or more adds the options of FLAC files, plus a one-file seamless mix of the album
$10 or more includes all of the above + a packaged CD (when it becomes available)

Additionally below that it says the album is released under a Creative Commons licence, the same licence under which all the images I use on this site are licensed. Attribute the creator, don’t profit directly from the work, and you’re welcome to do as you please.

Now here’s the trick: you punch in the amount you would like to pay on that page, and then the files are available on the next page with a separate link off to PayPal to make a payment. The entire system is based on goodwill and honesty, as I punched in $5 and started downloading the tracks before the payment had gone through. I’m happy to pay as I really like what he does, but I’m wondering how many people will reach that page, grab the tunes and take off?

The ironic thing though is none of it really matters. If someone wants your music for free, they will take it for free. A model of a dollar is better than a model of no money, and by putting your music out under Creative Commons people can remunerate you based on the value you provide while giving them access to your music without the shadow of illegal downloading coming into it.

This goes back to what I was saying in my Life after the dip post:

Exposing what people want to engage with and burying the stuff they’re not interested in is key, and it is only an issue if your business model rests on the viability of the things people don’t like. Digital Rights Management for starters if a zero-sum strategy where nobody wins. I’m a big believer artists should be compensated for the work they do (indeed one day I hope to do nothing but), but in the interim we need new models that are malleable.

Seems to me this model is right on track

Life after the dip -or- What happens when you lose everything? July 1, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in digital strategy, marketing, music, Video Games, work/life.
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Note: This is a continuation of yesterday’s thoughts.

Also note: not The Dip.

Capitol Records buildingIn the music industry’s case, they’ve spent the last decade attempting to bend consumer behaviour to their will. All the time and effort put into better encryption, DRM etc. only for it all to be futile, forcing people into a dead model. Think about that. Ten years of lawsuits, of bad ideas, of attempts to stall the forward march of consumer technology. Each writ issued was an extra nail in the coffin of a decrepit business model established to confuse value and price point and foist it upon the unwitting consumer. As one of my favourite writers likes to say, the epic, epic lulz. As a complete aside, anyone know how many lawyers the RIAA has? I’m just curious…

In the games industry’s case, budgets and teams are swelling, but this is not where industry growth is coming from. The really booming sectors are taking things back to small teams and games that take hours not days to play. Respecting people’s time and attention spans, you can spend five minutes doing something else entirely and then get back to what you are doing. It is a business model that is fluid, moving with the trends of its audience who are not the pimply teenagers with plenty of time on their hands anymore, they are developers themselves, they are in advertising, they’re lawyers and doctors and parents whose free time has not grown with their disposable income.

Exposing what people want to engage with and burying the stuff they’re not interested in is key, and it is only an issue if your business model rests on the viability of the things people don’t like. Digital Rights Management for starters if a zero-sum strategy where nobody wins. I’m a big believer artists should be compensated for the work they do (indeed one day I hope to do nothing but), but in the interim we need new models that are malleable. In the words of Seth Godin:

Persistence isn’t using the same tactics over and over. That’s just annoying.

Persistence is having the same goal over and over.

If your goal is delivering value, then everything will be fine. If your goal is to keep the game unchanged, then we have a problem on our hands.

Image courtesy of maubrowncow, with thanks to compfight.

Radiohead to Coldplay: Your move April 29, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in digital strategy, marketing, music, work/life.
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In case you haven’t heard, Coldplay’s new single is available for free download from their website as of right now (actually as of about an hour ago). I’d share my thoughts, but the email they’re *apparently* sending doesn’t seem to be coming through…

ANYWAY, the song is called Violet Hill. A 7″ version will be available with this week’s NME, but rumour has it there are no plans to release it as a paid-for single. This comes on the back of recent efforts by Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails to innovate in the distribution of (and subsequent financial compensation for)
their music.

Look forward to hearing everyone’s thoughts – as well as my own if the email ever arrives…=]

The Space Between March 31, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in branding, marketing, music, philosophy, work/life.
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Last week Scott and I were engaged in a conversation (likely entertaining to only ourselves) about how the right song at the right time can take a moment and make it seem bigger than it actually is. Sure you can achieve that at a decent gig by any half-wit band, but we were talking more so about times when you’re on your one, or at most one other. It’s how a song becomes “our song” as opposed to just “the song that was playing when…”.

I love and think about music for different reasons to a lot of people, but respond to it in entirely the same way. I can remember hearing The Blue Nile’s She Saw The World (from the album “High” – review | buy), streaming from Pandora (before it was restricted outside the US) in my first couple days at DDB, late one afternoon when the sun comes bursting through the venetian blinds that obscure the city in their Melbourne office, how perfect that was. I remember hearing Take ‘Em As They Come on my birthday last year, an obscure Springsteen song from disc 2 of Tracks. Those moments were much larger than the inherent mundaneness of sitting in an office or thinking about a girl as I walked to meet my friends for dinner.

Now those moments are only made possible by the products that serviced me at the time; Pandora, a music streaming service, and my iPod. When I think about those times, I’m aware of how those moments were facilitated, and they inherently instill good feelings about both companies as well as their offering. The afore-mentioned Scott touches on this in his latest post “The future of advertising and marketing, or why having a boring product means you’re officially screwed”. Music is an easy one, but the lesson inherent here is genuine value was created. The products enriched my life.

A product that creates value gets talked about on its own. If it’s being talked about then it reduces the need for marketing spend. Or rather markets itself. I think was Seth Godin who recently said “Instead of spending $50 million on marketing, spend $50 million on a product that is actually worth talking about.” Brands and products become more than the sum of their parts when they get it right, but first you have to care more about getting it right than that quarter’s results.

Once you’ve made that shift, that’s when things get interesting…

In The Beginning March 24, 2006

Posted by David Gillespie in music, technology.
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This is the second attempt to blog – the first didn’t go so well. It got written, in theory it got saved, and now it sits on a server somewhere out on the double-you double-you double-you, lost to me for all time. Which is fine, ironic even given that the topic was all about getting to grips with the web as it exists today, documenting my struggles with even the most basic elements of web 2.0 and culminating in Flock deciding to send the post off in to the ether. I’ve just been hired by Tribal DDB in Melbourne, and while I know technology to a certain extent, I don’t know in any definite terms what the web is starting to be capable of.

Tribal’s business is all about what the web is capable of.

I left my last job making video games because I needed a change. The change I had been counting on was a 3 album record deal…not yet Sonny Jim. For those interested in that side of things you can check out here.

The MySpace site is almost solely focussed on music, whereas this is more of a general blog. In addition to the basics of every day life though, I’m going to be documenting my descent into the nitty gritty of web 2.0. With a background in interactive entertainment I’m all about engaging user experiences – which might strike most people as a tad ambitious, but to loosely quote one of my favourite pieces of writing, we should always jump for the sun; we may not reach it, but at least our feet will get off the ground.

I think it’s important to be in the business of getting people’s feet off the ground, encouraging them to jump but also pulling them up with you. Some people will never be willign to take that sort of step, but that’s fine; if everybody jumped, then we’d all be in the same place at the same time, and nobody every did anything interesting being the same as the next guy.

My research started off this morning having a completely mistaken impression of what rss feeds are. The more technical among us will be shaking their heads in disbelief, but stopping in at Wikipedia and a bit of good old click-it-and-see-what-happens has taught me quite a bit. The fact that web 2.0 is having sucha massive mainstream appeal means that nothing leading the charge can be all that difficult to get to grips with. The experience must be immediate, the results laid out infront of us. Which is quite a bit like game design really, except we called it feed back loops; Newton called it The Theory of Relativity.

Whatever tag (no, not del.icio.us) you want to put on it, the end result is the same; technology is facilitating a new kind of user experience in and out of the browser, it’s pretty exciting to be part of the ride.
Now get out of here and go check out the MySpace site. I can’t type my own blogs forever…