Archive for May, 2009

Silent Treatment

Posted in Blog, Free Music, Music, Music Download, P2P, Qtrax, Qtrax Blog on May 14, 2009 by David
Not everyone...just the blogger.

Not everyone...just the blogger.

Qtrax Nation…

I’m going fishing and golfing this weekend. And by weekend, I mean, in a couple of hours. I’m already getting plenty of grief from the home front for extending our annual fishing and golf extravaganza (Mancation) by a couple of days this year, so no need to pile on. The bosses are all working hard on your behalf, traveling the globe in search of making Qtrax the greatest thing since sliced bread, udon noodles, Vegemite, wurstel or whatever is the ideal food in the country they are in. I’m sure this will get all of your creative juices flowing and provide topic fodder for your amusement. Have at it.

Anyway, when you’re done with all of that and you still don’t know what to do, go download the mother load of Sonic Youth on Qtrax and listen to it all weekend while I’m slaying fish and sinking birdies. It’s the least you can do. I’ll come back refreshed and full of interesting metaphors regarding man sports and digital music. Oh, and don’t tell the bosses.

Swimming Up Stream

Posted in Blog, Free Music, Music, Music Download, P2P, Qtrax, Qtrax Blog with tags , , on May 8, 2009 by David

iMeem just scored a new round of funding from it’s investors which will keep the streaming music service/social music experiment going—for the time being. According to an article on CNET, iMeem’s financial problems have been going on for a while and some of their partners are getting antsy to see whether or not this can prove to be a viable business model. Other streaming sites are coming under similar fire. MySpace Music has also been criticized by music labels and industry insiders for not delivering on their promises to be a catalyst for increased music sales. Traffic is good, but this has not led to increased music sales. A separate article on CNET (by the same author) points out just how difficult it is to find the path to increased purchases via the social web. Not surprisingly, he states: “At the very least, MySpace Music’s sluggish performance illustrates how difficult that task is. Music consumption on the Web has really come down to two horses: iTunes and illegal peer-to-peer sites.”

Two horses indeed, for now. However, you don’t need to be a fan of horse racing to know that every once in a while, a long shot comes blazing up the rail and takes the world by storm. We hope that’s us. And with the odds of stealing music vs. purchasing it on the web at 100-1, you’ve got to believe in the dark horse.

What’s making these streaming sites have so much difficulty? It’s a bit of a complicated answer, because there are varying degrees of success and failure. Is success securing additional funding so you have a longer chance to prove out your model? Is success getting tons of traffic, but being upside down on your advertising model? Is failure shutting your doors so that you don’t continue to lose money? I guess it all depends on how you look at things. For iMeem, there is big traffic, lots of content, good technology and few ads. Ad dollars should follow, if they have enough time. However, there are also big label upfront dollars that are sunk, owed royalties and a too-high ongoing royalty rates for what has amounted to background music. Even Pandora has struggled with gaining some revenue. Their unique advertising model has secured great premium advertisers on a consistent basis. They also have added tons of mobile users with their iTunes (and now Blackberry) apps which has opened up additional mobile advertising revenue. However, the management team at Pandora have complained loudly about the high royalty rates for their (and similar streaming) services which are crippling their efforts to turn a profit. More users equals a greater amount of royalty payments that is not matched by the additional advertising revenue. This has become Pandora’s paradox, and is affecting many of the streaming services. In a rather harshly titled article: Warner Music Says iMeem It Worthless and Owes It $4 Million Which It Can’t Collect, the paradox is explained as follows: “According to comScore, imeem’s U.S. traffic has come down about 25 percent off its peak last July. As of March, 2009 it was at 5.3 million unique visitors in the U.S. and 24 million worldwide. In the perverse world of music streaming licensing, the bigger your audience, the more money you lose.”

I don’t want any of these guys to fail. In fact, I find Pandora to be one of the better music sites on the internet. I enjoy all forms of music discovery and get really jacked up when a song I’ve found on Pandora is available for download on Qtrax. This is how it should work. This is how it will work. Two horse race? Think again, I hear more galloping off in the distance.

Sound of Silver

Posted in Blog, Free Music, Music, Music Download, P2P, Qtrax, Qtrax Blog with tags on May 6, 2009 by David

lcd
When I first started writing this blog, I was thinking that it would be a cool music outlet with an unlimited supply of content from the Qtrax library. Both are not totally realized. Not only am I less prolific than I had hoped, but alas, Qtrax is still a work in progress. It seems as if the majority of readers are looking for information on Qtrax “the company” and are less interested in the actual music on the site. That’s cool, I’ll take any readers I can get. They go hand in hand, I’ve come to realize. Until Qtrax is fully up and running beyond it’s US preview, we’re forever going to be stuck answering questions from all over the globe as to when, why, where and how. The tricky balancing act in the whole equation is trying to be a good communicator without giving away any insider information which would make partners upset or SEC watchdogs cry foul. Most importantly, we are concerned about consumers. We hear all of you loud and clear. You want it all, and you want it now.

In today’s digital get-it-now world it’s acceptable to demand the things you want. In fact, we like it that way. In the long run it will serve to our advantage. I’ve only got 2,500 or so songs downloaded from Qtrax at the moment, but for some reason, that’s not nearly enough. I want the new Green Day, um, yesterday dammit! I’m like you guys. I’m trying to be patient. It’s hard since we all feel that we should have it all by now. As I’ve been reminded several times, it’s better to under-promise and over-deliver. It’s to the point now that’s there seems to be a line drawn in the sand among those watching Qtrax. There are believers who will support us until it happens regardless of delays. There are non-believers who will take every opportunity to rip us regardless of progress. Sadly, it doesn’t seem like it’s about music too much anymore. I’m going to try and change that. I’m going to keep writing about the cool stuff you can get on Qtrax. I’m sorry if that’s going to upset people who are stuck without it at the moment or expect some sort of insider commentary regarding our deadlines and software upgrades. No disrespect, but that’s what’s fun to write about. I’ll still defend our product where appropriate, but I’m not going to rip on people for the sake of providing copy. I’ll leave that to the non-believers. I’ll also do my best to let everyone in on what’s happening on the tech side, but sometimes I can’t discuss it or don’t have anything new to report.

Back to the music. LCD Soundsystem’s 2007 album, Sound of Silver is one of those albums which hits you like a change of seasons. You sort of notice it at first, but soon enough, you’ve put away the umbrella and next thing you know, you need some aloe for your sunburn. As a late 80s college music junkie, I am enamored by James Murphy’s introspective sophomore album, but I nearly overlooked it all together. It sort of had that, “I’ve heard this before” sound which borrowed from Pavement, The Shins and some Smiths. What I’ve come to realize is that it’s a totally unique teleportation. There are many similarities to the late 80s and today. The economy, the job market and a war in the Middle East. LCD Soundsystem breaks bread with a bygone era, but provides a very forward soundtrack to the here and now. It’s a must have for any music library and less than a minute away on Qtrax.

Amazingly Ironic

Posted in Blog, Free Music, Music, Music Download, P2P, Qtrax, Qtrax Blog on May 3, 2009 by David

A while back, we got a rather ridiculous review of our installation process from Idolator. Idolator is a site owed by Buzz Media which has a bevvy of music-related web sites (Buzznet, Celebuzz, Absolute Punk, GoFugYourself, JustJared, Stereogum, TheSuperficial, WWTDD). To be honest, ever since we got the scathing review from the folks at Idolator, I’ve been checking in and seeing what’s going on. In fact, I rather liked their celebrity gossip meets American Idol gossip meets music gossip take on pop music an pop culture. Except when they are ripping on us, of course.

So, you can imagine my mixed feelings about the news that the Idolator had slashed it’s staff to, well, one. No one knows better than me that keeping up a well respected, global, highly informative and witty site with an army of one is sometimes a difficult proposition. At times I can be found curled up in the fetal position in my basement surrounded by empty beer cans and Kit Kat® wrappers hoping for divine intervention. Usually it comes when my wife kicks me a couple of times in the stomach or the reminder to get the kids off the bus goes off on my phone. Sometimes, it’s the bigwigs at Qtrax calling and wondering why their blogger takes off a few days between posts. Either way, any writer knows that collaboration serves as a hefty chunk of one’s inspiration. Sitting at home staring at a computer rarely serves as anything more than a reminder that you should get out of the house more often. So, to you , Maura Johnston, who is currently holding down the fort at Idolator, I tip my hat to your solo status and hope you keep on keeping on, dawg. This era in business will be remembered as the great contraction.

I will note, however, that there is some irony in the fact that the very same newspapers, bloggers and writers that cover a music industry in decline, also find themselves getting burned by the axe grinder’s sparks. Keep in mind people, there are no high horses to sit on anymore. There is no bully pulpit sanctuary of the economically immune. We all have something to lose. That’s not our motto over here at Qtrax, but we’re certainly cautious as we move forward. That is why we’re not always able to meet our own deadlines and get up and running on a global basis. There is a lot to gain, but there is also a lot to lose. We are very much committed to our revised May launch schedule for the v.1.1, but if it get’s pushed back even further, please be aware that there are sound business reasons behind it. I’m not saying that it’s going to happen, but we didn’t expect a delay in the April launch either.