Archive for August, 2009

What’s the REAL story?

Posted in Blog, Free Music, Music, Music Download, P2P, Qtrax, Uncategorized with tags on August 18, 2009 by David

PART 1- THE IMPORTANT STUFF

Well I am not a very regular or reliable blogger, am I? I should have been back at it, a couple of weeks ago. It’s just that I really wanted to be able to tell you something of import. Many bloggers are able to do that daily or even more often. To them, I take my hat off. It’s quite a skill. After all, that is supposed to be the salient virtue of blogging- immediacy, frequency. And some people can accomplish both and remain meaningful. Others strive for the frequency but fail on the meaningfulness or newsworthiness. But more on that later.

Bloggers are a bit like naturopaths. It’s not that I don’t believe in alternative medicine. I do. I think it can be hugely beneficial as an alternative to the practices of the medical establishment. It’s just that I don’t know how anybody can ascertain who has the right credentials and who hasn’t. It’s the same a bit with bloggers. The best of breed are great and no doubt meet or exceed the highest journalistic standards. And then there’s the rest. And one often cannot ascertain the qualifications. Or the motives. But more on that later, too.

Back to myself, the unreliable blogger. Now that the final pieces of the jigsaw puzzle are falling into place- funding, strategic partnerships, launch plans etc. I will be a little less pressured and hopefully a little more reliable as a blogger. I’ll work at it, because I owe it to you and less importantly, I quite enjoy it.

It’s no fun when blogging is a one way street- with you as the subject but never the author. And there is no question that certain bloggers use their sites as a form of “bully pulpit”- to bludgeon others who cannot readily find a voice to fight back. It’s quite uplifting when you find that voice and are liberated from the “sitting duck” position. I have, perhaps reluctantly, found that voice and I am going to begin using it.

Now, my musings aside (OK- musings are too kind a word, I will accept ramblings if you insist) , what all of you are waiting for are some tangible facts. For the Qtrax shareholders and onlookers. Of course the central fact that everybody has wanted to know & has had an overdue right to know is : When are we going to get the show on the road? When is the launch date? And the corollary question: Is that really the date? Is that set in concrete? Is it reliable? Well, I had delayed providing the launch date having learnt from unexpected delays that have caused us all angst in the past. But yesterday we were ready. The answer of course to “when” was October 29th, 2009. That’s it. It won’t change. We announced it “formally” with good reason. Some will criticize it as too far in the future. What can I say? Getting it exactly right (not to mention monumental) is paramount. After 7 years, what’s an extra few weeks. So that is the “when”.

The “where”? We will be initially launching in 9 Asia Pacific countries- China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia & New Zealand. “Why”?

I could give you endless stats but here are a few:

• At 330 m Internet users to date, China has more users than the USA has people
• In China, internet usage is growing @ 41.9% per annum and over 90% is broadband
• Asia already has 42% of the world’s Internet users but in the next 12 months is likely to account for a majority
• Approximately 83% of China Internet users download music versus less than 40% in the US.

So there is the “when”, the “where” & the “why”. Stay tuned for the “who”: With which strategic partners will we launch? And which industry leaders? And celebrities?

And finally, the detailed part of the”where”. In which city will the global launch take place?

Notwithstanding my blogging unreliability, I promise you more details every week. We’re really excited and we would love you to join in our escalating excitement.

Now back to the blogging world. You might think, that if your blogging beat is technology, there is so much that you’d want to cram into your reporting day. Both in the US & the World. I don’t have such an inflated ego that I think that Qtrax is hugely newsworthy….yet. Especially before we have even announced a launch- i.e. prior to yesterday afternoon. And especially against the myriad of technology breaking stories.

So it struck me as unusual, perhaps suspicious, that anybody would want to report on our passing altercation with Oracle. But they did. And then they wanted to regurgitate it. In another article. And for good measure, include a copy of our check to Oracle in both articles. As big as possible. Now, any curious mind, my own included, would have to ask: why?

PART 2- THE IRRITATING STUFF

Well the first part of the “why” I know. There is a disgruntled gentleman who tried his hand at what we are doing & failed. And astonishingly, widely blames me. Well, he has been talking to the journalist behind these riveting stories and he, the “source”, has plenty to say. All of it negative. Much of it twisted. Some of it libelous. At least the journalist left out some of the more libelous stuff.

But that still doesn’t answer the question of newsworthiness. Nor for that matter, does it explain the personal rudeness to me of the journalist in question. Which I have had the pleasure of enjoying at about 4 am on a few different occasions. Now that’s only 1 pm his time, so don’t think of him as a stalker. That he is not, though his “source” arguably is. He has tracked me down to a hotel, called and hung up. And boasted about it! I think that might be a bit unhinged but I am sure that a professional could make a more reliable assessment.

But this journalist, seems to have some sort of crusade which allows him to go beyond many conventional bounds, including what is newsworthy.

Last Friday, he declared he was publishing a story on more “breaking news” (my sarcastic words, not his)- sadly it’s hard to see how it’s “breaking” or “news. We have a somewhat dated lawsuit going on with a Company called Millenium. They provided services for our servers before our aborted launch at Midem. We paid them some. And frankly struggled doing it, at the time. I can’t say more than that most of our suppliers have been wonderful. There are sometimes, exceptions. The legal system can decide if this is one. And then there’s Las Vegas Wall Street Group. A quite recent loan that it is claimed, is overdue. And there is a consent to a judgment signed by me. The facts will soon emerge about that also. Oh & just in case, it is deemed to also be newsworthy at some time in the future, there are a couple of outstanding lawsuits with toxic PIPES. As I’ve advised before, Google that term please.

First of all, I have not yet satisfactorily answered my question: Why would this journalist focus on these somewhat miserable facts and use his valuable column inches on us? Not only are there bigger stories- including by the way, the stats I include above re China- but also we are not yet launched. How do we qualify as newsworthy?

Furthermore, a start up, having trouble paying their bills, that would be unique, wouldn’t it? One of my advisors suggested it might approach a figure of 100%- particularly in these times. Ah, but the journalist might say, there is more of a story here. There is a “pattern” of not paying bills- really? Unlike, so many other start ups, we have NOT gone under, even in the most difficult of times and indeed been willing to give ALL of our personal resources to paying bills & making this work, for our shareholders- and of course, ourselves. I don’t want to portray us as heroic- we’re no doubt very far from it. But we certainly have and will use whatever personal resources we have to make Qtrax a success.

Ah, but the journalist might say, what about the returned checks? Well, we gave checks ahead of time- postdated- (when we didn’t have money) based on promises of funding. And we were wrong in our belief it was coming. But we have found alternative funding and item by item, have been paying for EVERYTHING. More than can, for example, be said of the companies associated with the source. His companies folded twice, as far as I can tell- I wonder how much the investors got in those scenarios? I don’t know but I could guess.

Ah, but the journalist might say, what about the lawsuits? Too high a number for things to be regular. I don’t know about the number. I know about the genesis and they each had their cause- sometimes an injustice we would not abide by, often just shortage of money. And given the fact it has taken us a sizable sum to get here, they represent a VERY SMALL % of total transactions.

Ah, but the journalist might say, Klepfisz is “unreliable”. When it comes to launch dates, in the past, he is right. And he would be right about many other software producers. Including the largest.

When it comes to having the requisite funds, when promised, he is also right. Sometimes, because of broken promises of others, we did not have the requisite funds. But we found them in due course.

But if the “unreliable” word is intended to smear my honesty or decency, then I won’t tolerate it. Sadly, that’s very precisely the intention of the source. And beyond that, he is intent on making it harder for us to progress. If he couldn’t get funded, then we shouldn’t either. The journalist is either wittingly or unwittingly assisting in this goal. Thankfully it won’t work.

So there are cascading attempts, to demonstrate that I am somehow “bad” and Qtrax is somehow lame & ill-fated. I come back to the question: why?

A friendship and/or dialogue with the “source” might explain it. But not fully. And for me it remains an unanswered question that spawns several others….

Could it be related to the fact that the journalist’s blog is owned by a company that also owns a major free music, ad-supported competitor to us? Possibly not but who knows?

Is it curious, that the journalist never mentions this fact?

Is it interesting that he has slammed ad-supported services recently but not the one owned by the blog’s parent? (I intend to address these broad brushstroke articles about ad-supported services in a rapid, follow up blog. I would agree that most don’t have a chance. But we have made ourselves, with years of work, hugely different. And not only because of having the only global free & legal download licenses. We have worked really hard on a series of pivotal differences. In costs & revenue. Rendering us almost diametrically opposed. I offered the journalist that story. He had no interest. NONE. Why?)

Could it be that he is just embittered? Or enjoys the power of potentially inflicting damage? I really don’t know. What I do know, is, that there can be very few readers who think that this latest blog on us constitutes fascinating reading. From my own (possibly biased) point of view it is a smutty attempt at nobbling us. I note that as of writing there were only 3 comments- 2 of them duplicates. I suppose that comments are at least one metric for reader interest.

But we won’t be nobbled. And we will launch. On October 29th, 2009. The disbelievers should continue without wavering. That will make our moment sweeter. The underminers can continue to undermine. But we are going to strike back. By exposing. By protecting. And if necessary, by utilizing the legal system. And for the 99% of well intended individuals, we will give you reason to celebrate. It’s time for the dogged to deliver.

–Allan Klepfisz

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A Comment About Comments

Posted in Blog, Free Music, Music, Music Download, P2P, Qtrax, Qtrax Blog on August 9, 2009 by David

We at Qtrax encourage a healthy discussion on the state of our business and digital music in general. We realize that many people are left to make assumptions and fill in their own blanks when information is limited. That’s cool and expected. However, using this forum to flat out “make shit up” is not healthy for anyone. We’ve been open and honest about what’s going on, and realize that people expect more communication and want Qtrax up and running now. So do we, trust us. We’ve let the open forum thing run it’s course hoping that supporters and detractors alike could share in a constructive discourse. Obviously, things are now out of control and I’m shutting down the ability for anyone to post comments (good or bad) immediately. From now on, I’m going to moderate the discussion. And I’ll take my sweet time doing it too, so don’t expect me to be getting all jumpy whenever you send a new comment for my approval. I’ll get to it when I get to it. Sadly, this could have gone the other way and I really don’t look forward to moderating a comment board that has become somewhat like the cheerleaders versus the burnouts at my high school back in the day.

Qtraxer

The Costs of Higher Education

Posted in ad supported, Blog, Free Music, Music, Music Download, P2P, Qtrax, Qtrax Blog with tags , on August 3, 2009 by David

"He so downloaded like six Daughtry songs."
There will probably be more from Allan shortly (hmmm…that seems vague). In the meantime (which is a good song by Spacehog–go ahead, indulge: Song/video), I’ll post this short note on the heels of another massive verdict in the ongoing litigation against illegal file sharing. Here’s the quick story taken from Ars Technica:

After just 3 hours of deliberation, the jury in the RIAA vs. Joel Tenebaum has ordered the student to pay $675,000 in damages or $22,500 for each of the 30 songs that he downloaded.

When asked about the size verdict, Tenenbaum’s attorney and Harvard Law School professor Charles Nesson told Ars that “it’s a bankrupting award.” Nesson believed that the outcome might have been different if he had been allowed to argue Fair Use. “We were not allowed to speak to fairness,” he told Ars. “I thought we had pretty damn good arguments on Fair Use.”

Tenebaum said that we would probably declare bankrupcy if the award were not overturned.

Combine this with the $1 million + verdict against the single mom from Minnesota and it’s pretty easy to see who has got both the law and the powerful lawyers on their side. Joel got some Harvard law professor to represent him. Please. Lord, what fools these mortals be.(B.S.)

Yet in this brave new world of internet bravado, a mere public flogging or two (although well within their rights) is not going to endear the record industry to it’s consumers nor is it going to derail the juggernaut that is illegal file sharing. So what’s the point? IMO it’s to prove a point. A point that has dogged the record industry for the past 10 years. One that’s been been challenged by a new distribution method and a generation of users who assume music is free. It’s not. Not quite yet anyway.

Here’s my advice to anyone who gets a file sharing ticket while speeding around the internet. Pay it. Going to court is a bad idea.

On another note, here’s a link to one of the funniest articles I’ve read in a long time. This came out last week, but it should be added to the dictionary as the example listed under “irony.” Enjoy: Limewire Pizza Party.