Tag Archives: Pandora

What’s a CD? Top 10 signs you’re dealing with a digital native.

digital native jokes

I recently took a train ride with David Polinchock (@polinchock), a technologist I had met over decade ago through James Andrews (@keyinfluencer) when I was still in private practice.

David was part of the Entertainment Technology Center, a division of Carnegie Mellon’s research arm that sought to leverage academic brain power with business.

Back then, we launched a sponsored research project to develop the DigiBoxx, a self-serve kiosk for music, where you could refill your iPod or MP3 device with music on the go.

This was 2003 (or ’04) long before the arrival of multi-gig devices capable of storing buttloads of music.

And while we didn’t have license the first to address all those pesky copyright issues, we did develop a working POC and that was a start.

Fast forward to 2015, and David and I are still pushing the envelope.

No longer the bright-eyed optimists, we chatted nonetheless about how far technology had come and what we saw on the horizon.

When the conversation turned to our kids, he talked about his daughter’s Digital Natives presentation at SXSW.

Come again? Say what?

Apparently, he had pitched SXSW to stop talking to old fogie stogies like us about technology and have actual digital natives – who only know the world of gadgets  speak from their unique perspective.

I was simultaneously offended, envious, and intrigued.

Who the fuck are you calling old?

I love SXSW. Why can’t I go?

Why aren’t my kids presenting at SXSW?

When I finally worked through my mixed emotions, I tuned back in to hear him describe a world view he gained listening to his daughter and her co-presenter.

Oh right…..some 12 or 13 year old child prodigy who builds his own computers co-presenter.

This is the era of Digital Natives.

Talking to David made me think about how technologically different the world is for today’s youth than it was for any other generation.

We’re not so far removed from floppy discs, but kids today only know USBs.

Their Boost mobile starter phones have more computing power today than desktop computers in most financial institutions a decade ago.

But rather than drone on endlessly about what digital natives are and are not, I figured I’d grace you with one of my top ten lists.

Here are the top ten signs that you’re dealing with a digital native.

1. They’ve never bought a CD. It’s not that they’ve never purchased music. They just don’t need all the bells and whistles of album jackets, jewel cases and shrink wrap. Long gone are the days where you rushed to the store to cop an vinyl album. Then went 8 tracks. Then cassettes. CDs are media evolution’s latest victim. Digital natives get their media the minute it comes out – online. And if they do buy it, it’ll be on iTunes.

2. Netflix is their Blockbuster. Remember rushing to Blockbuster to rent the latest hit movies on DVD? Digital natives don’t. In fact, they probably don’t even know what a Blockbuster is. Digital natives dial up their movies on Netflix or Hulu or HBO Go. Maybe they hit a Redbox (to give their parents that nostalgic home movie watching experience). But watching movies at home (or on the go) is a digital streaming experience.

blockbuster-closing-041210-webjpg-7775ba2fdd8fda15

Good riddance to you sir!

3. Screens are keyboards. Digital natives know only the world of touchscreen inputs devices. They tap not type. They text 50 wpm using just their thumbs. When I was in high school, I took a typing/word processing class. The target was 50 words per minute, and you were considered expert if you typed above that. Today, the screen on a mobile device is the equivalent of a keyboard and digital natives feel right at home typing – I mean tapping – away on their screens.

4. They’re OS agnostic. Digital natives are equally versed in iOS and Android. Unlike the old guard, they take no sides and have allegiance to the device that meets their needs in the moment. Today it’s more about utility than brand. If it works right, they’ll buy it. Brand be damned! Hence competition between device makers remains fierce.

5. Google is a dictionary. Digital natives Google everything. When I was a kid a dictionary and the encyclopedia were how I figured things out. Didn’t know how to spell a word or it’s definition? I looked it up. Want to know the capital of Kazakhstan? I looked it up – it’s Astana – BTW. Digital natives simply Google it. Can’t spell? No worries, Google will offer you the correctly spelled word as an option.

6. Apple radio station. ITunes is dead. Today, your iPhone has Music. No more iTunes. Digital natives live in a Beats Music+Apple world – which you get free for 30 days BTW. Pandora, Spotify, SoundCloud, MixCloud, and countless digital radio stations have made it such that terrestrial radio stations hold low sway over digital natives, who configure and share their own playlists and find artists through underground videos on the interwebs.

apple-music

7. Emoji is a language. When my kids got their mobile phones, virtually every text message included emojis. Not just one mind you, but streams of smiley faces, tear streaked to connote laughter, thumbs down to express disagreement – you get the picture. Emojis are in such high demand with digital natives that whole marketplaces developed for Facebook and Apple who both saw fit to add a bunch more to their keyboards.

emojis

8. Everything swipes. Tinder, Fruit Ninja, Zillow, everyone uses swipe navigation to streamline the digital natives’ user experience. Swipe navigation makes using mobile devices seamless allowing them to engage content in increasingly sophisticated ways. And as 3D technology and AR move content off screens into 4D space, digital natives are primed to creatively leverage these applications.

9. Gaming as a social activity. If you’re a parent, you want your kids outside getting exercise, socializing and interacting with other kids. For digital natives, gaming is social. Most gaming systems (and virtually all computer games) let you play against other gamers virtually. And with immersive VR worlds and Google Cardboard, you can still be outside inside.

10. Multi-taking is the norm. Digital natives are comfortable using multiple screens simultaneously. Measuring how many screens a viewer uses while watching a program is a thing marketers track and want to know because digital natives rock multiple devices as matter of course. This always on always accessible characteristic defines digital natives.

digital multi-tasking

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under digital advocacy, technology

Day 7: Beats Music earns a temporary reprieve. UPDATED

UPDATE: Since the writing of this post, Beats Music has intermittently stopped mid-stream on too many occasions to mention, on both the app and the web. While I had report (later in this article) that the fix that they applied worked, apparently, it has not. Verdict, Beats Music has a ways to go before I’d part with a red cent for it. Period.

A little over a week ago I downloaded the Beats Music app and was thoroughly unimpressed with the offering.

While it looked good and boasted a host of impressive features and capabilities, my first impression was that it was a buggy app, plagued with technical difficulties.

And due to apparently high demand created by the buzz of its launch, there was a serious backlog to get registered, which ran completely counter to the instant gratification culture of Beats Music’s target demographic.

Combined with a relatively short trial period, I projected that Beats was a cute idea, but outside of a few chumps who easily part with their dough just to be a billboard for some brand, real streaming music aficionados weren’t going to be swayed by Beats’ technically challenged offering.

A few days later, when my registration was approved and I was able to experience Beats Music, my stance softened.

The interface was fresh. Not as intuitive as I would have liked, but interesting and visually appealing.

Beats Music interface

IMG_5587

IMG_5588

With options aplenty, but not so many that you needed a user manual, I was able to dive right in and get my Beats on.

But then those technical glitches reared their ugly heads and ruined everything.

Streams would stop mid-play, buttons would suddenly become unresponsive and all navigation inoperable.

On more than one occasion, I found myself quitting the app and restarting.

By the fourth day of my seven day trial, the app had stopped working completely.

Quite the ignominious start.

But then Beats Music did something that completely erased the maddening frustration of their (what was now a) pretty crappy app, and restored my faith in them.

They sent an email acknowledging that their shit was broken.

The outlined what they were doing to fix it and extended the trial period for another week.

Yeah, our shit broke. We fixed it. Now what?

Yeah, our shit broke. We fixed it. Now what?

Clearly someone at Beats had some customer service home training.

True to their word, their technicians had done something to eliminate the bugginess of their app.

More bandwidth? Redundant server arrays? Better on-device caching? Something.

And as a result, I’ve been able to take Beats for a true test drive.

And do you know what? Beats Music is everything they said it would be.

They’ve got playlists for days , of all kinds, by genre, mood, curator, activity.

There’s a cool, “The Sentence” option that creates playlists from a sentence you configure.

Beats Music The Sentence

IMG_5671

You can mine down into individual artists within a playlist and create playlists of your own.

There’s even a nifty mode that allows you to listen to a playlist offline, that’s created from the playlists and songs you listened to while you had cellular or wifi access.

Although some have complained that Beats Music’s classical selection leaves much to be desired, I’ve taken deep dives into their jazz, hip hop, reggae, world, 90s and rock collections, and have come away deeply satisfied.

My one criticism of the app is that navigating isn’t as intuitive as I’d like.

Once you select a playlist, genre or song, getting back to the home screen takes a bit of maneuvering.

And the playlists, while diverse, are woefully short.

Just when you start to get into the groove, it’s over.

I found myself wishing that each playlist was just a little longer.

But these criticisms pale in comparison to the chasm of woefully deficiency Beats  managed to fill with their mea culpa and update.

For those of your who swear by Spotify, Pandora or any other paid streaming service, I challenge you to give Beats a try.

Now that they’ve got their shit together, you just might be impressed enough to switch.

2 Comments

Filed under apps, iPhone, mobile, music

Will Beats Music ‘beat’ the streaming music competition? Not with their technology they won’t.

UPDATE: I’ve reviewed the Beats app and you can check it out here.

Beats Music iOS

There’s a new player in the streaming music game, Beats Music.

Yes, Beats as in “Beats By Dre.”

Now at this point, I’d be telling you all about the ‘test drive’ I took of the app, and my general impressions.

But noooo. Beats Music isn’t that simple.

You see, I downloaded the app today, but getting up and running was anything but straightforward.

At the signup page, there were two options: “Sign Up” and “Log In.”

Beats Music Sign Up

I hit “Sign Up” as the service is new and I didn’t think I could use my MOG account.

After completing a few fields, I got a “Registration is Processing” alert.

Beats Music Registration is Processing

Processing? Am I being vetted?

So I took the other route and hit “Log In”.

What’s the harm right?

There was an option to login using either Facebook or Twitter.

Beats Music Log In Facebook or Twitter

I selected Facebook and after a few more pre-populated data entry fields, I got to a “You’re Almost Ready” screen, which I took to mean that I was almost done.

But noooo. Beats Music isn’t that simple.

When I hit “Submit” the screen kinda acted like it wanted to go on to the next step, but stalled.

I tried to click submit several times and several times the app almost did something, and then gave up.

Eventually, I got a “We’re Having Connection Problems.” message and gave up.

Beats Music We're Having Connection Problems.

So I can’t tell you whether Beats Music is any good or not.

But if you look at their website, it’s awesome.

Beats Music Site

It’s only logical that Dr. Dre brings his storied music brand to the streaming music arena.

Who better to help you curate the music thats playing on your Beats By Dre headphones than Dre himself?

Now I have no idea if Dr. Dre actually has anything to do with the introduction of Beats Music, but who cares?

Beats Music is actually a collaboration by Dr. Dre, Jimmy Iovine and Trent Reznor.

The fact is that you now have (yet) another streaming service for your iOS or Android device.

If Pandora, Spotify, iTunes Radio, et als aren’t doing it for you, theres a new player ready to disappoint!

And I say disappoint because unlike the other players, who offer ad-free and ad-supported versions of their streaming services, Beats Music has only one speed: premium.

That’s right. Beats Music is a pay to play stream service.

After the seven day trial expires, you’re going to have to fork over $9.99 a month for the privilege of spotty streaming service.

I’m sure it will be great to listen to a stream without those damned commercial interruptions.

That’s because one of Beats Music’s selling points is it’s music curation.

Unlike radio, whose music is determined by some music programmer, or most other streaming services, whose playlists are determined by some algorithm, Beats Music’s titles are curated by real people.

Allegedly, Beats Music employs a bunch of so-called ‘music experts’ to curate it’s playlists, which should mean a better listening experience.

That should be a welcome change to folks who don’t want bots telling them what to listen to.

I’d much rather have my music choices picked by a music nerd than a bot any day!

More important than the human music selection of Beats Music, is the heavy brand recognition that they’ve already built up.

If I had to put up money on who was going to come out on top of the whole steaming music competition, I’d have to go with the guys who have already proven themselves at getting folks ot part with their cash for substandard shit.

If you’re going to part ways with several hundred dollars for a pair of booty ‘branded’ headphones, it’s not a stretch that you’ll part with a few buck a month to listen to a ‘branded’ stream.

Now, I’ve yet to check out whether Beats Music is materially different from other streaming services, in terms of content.

I can say that Beats Music SUCKS in terms of technology because the damn thing doesn’t even work.

Perhaps the demand is so great that their servers are down – yeah that’s the ticket – and they’re overwhelmed with traffic.

Perhaps I will get an email and my registration will go through – one day.

Or perhaps not and I’ll be ignorant of Beats Music forever.

But if this snafu is illustrative of what the rest of the Beats Music experience is like – I’ll keep my $10, thank you very much.

Note to self: update this post if you do get an update from Beats Music.

 

9 Comments

Filed under apps, branding, iPhone, mobile

Battle of the Blah: Streaming Pandora, Live 365, Spotify or iTunes Radio sucks

Streaming iTunes Radio is like Chinese Water Torture.

Streaming iTunes Radio is like Chinese Water Torture.

Recently I’ve been listening to a lot of music on streaming services.

Ever since I was banned from using my personal computer at the job, I’ve had to rely on other means for getting my music fix on.

You see, I have a massive sizeable music library, far too big for an iPod or portable music player.

And as I am loathe to allocate precious memory space on my phone to music, I’ve had to rely on alternate means to soothe my inner savage beast.

Back in the day, I used to rock Pandora hard.

I made a few stations based on artists I liked and was content for a hot second.

But when I realized that was listening to the same 15-20 songs over and over again, it quickly lost is luster.

Then there was last.fm.

Same difference as Pandora – except you could scrobble.

Someone suggested 365 Live as an alternative, and for a while I was content.

I’d primarily listen to their Classical or Jazz stations, and every once in a while stray to their Reggae offering (mistake).

I came across Spotify one day, and decided to give it a try.

In addition to their genres, you could create your own playlist or listen to radio stations built around artists or songs you like.

The problem with Spotify, aside from the annoying ads every three songs, is the repetitious nature of its playlists.

If you listen for more than an hour or to the same station multiple times, invariably you’re going to hear the same songs over and over again.

Now there’s one thing I don’t understand, each of these services claims to have millions of songs, but all of them suffer from repetition.

They all have ads (in the free versions) that pop up more frequently than terrestrial radio, and although they don’t last nearly as long, they’re annoying nonetheless.

For all that, I might as well simply listen to the actual radio.

At least then I’m under no delusion that I’ll experience variety.

But a few weeks ago, after I got my iPhone 5s, I noticed something new in iTunes.

Radio.

Do my eyes deceive me?

I don’t remember iTunes having a radio.

Scanning my memory banks, I did recall some mention of iTunes Radio at the WWDC.

But it was buried in the iOS 7 hoopla, and quickly faded from memory.

Having discovered the radio button in my dock, I decided to give it a go, and quickly created several stations.

The good thing about iTunes Radio is the absence of a learning curve.

Hit any one of the preset stations and you’re off.

Making a new station is as simple as pressing a “+” button and typing in the name of the artist or song you want to create a station around.

iTunes Radio does the rest.

Initially, I was pleased.

iTunes Radio seemed robust and the music was varied and (at first blush) non-repetitious.

But then it happened.

The commercials.

The repetition.

The random song unrelated to the artist or genre I had selected.

Worse than that though, was the spotty service.

Streaming iTunes Radio seemed to be worse than the other streaming services I used.

Now, to be fair, all streaming services suffer from some defect in playback.

But iTunes Radio seems to drop at an inordinately higher rate than Spotify, Pandora, Live365 or last.fm.

Waiting for iTunes Radio to connect (or reconnect as was often the case) was like Chinese Water Torture.

The anticipation was unbearable, especially when you were in the groove.

Despite my initial enthusiasm, iTunes Radio was no better than the rest.

It does provide you with the ability to purchase songs you hear on the fly, but so what?!

In the final analysis, streaming music apps are often more trouble than they’re worth.

I resign myself to the fact that I just have to devote some of my device’s precious memory to storing music.

Because streaming is for the birds!

7 Comments

Filed under apps, mobile, music

Twitter #music. #WTF? Twitter throws it’s app into the music ring.

Twitter-Music

Didja hear about the new Twitter #music app?

No, that’s not a mistake.

Not the “didja”.

I know didja is not a word.

I’m talking about the name of the app.

Twitter #music.

Yes. The hashtag is part of the name.

They’ve taken this hashtag thing too far!

Anyway, today Twitter released it’s new music discovery app with an exclusive on Good Morning America.

Why Good Morning America?

Who the fuck knows.

Let’s move on, shall we?

Write-ups in TechCrunch and Wired said that the app helps you find new music.

And I was curious to check out Twitter’s entry into the music biz.

So I downloaded the app and put it through its paces.

When you download the app, you’re presented with four tabs.

Twitter Charts, Follow Artists, Tweet Tracks and Listen Now.

Don't bother pressing the icons. They don't do anything.

Don’t bother pressing the icons. They don’t do anything.

Getting to each tab is as simple as a swipe.

What does the app do?

Well, its supposed to help you find music and artists you like.

To get started, you’ve got to click “Listen Now” on the fourth tab.

I pressed the little icons from the home screen like a moron (think Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson in Zoolander) before I realized how to use the damn thing.

Frustration aside, Twitter #music isn’t half bad.

If you select Popular (highlighted on the Twitter Charts page), the app will show you music that’s trending on Twitter.

Select Emerging (similarly highlighted) and you’ll find hidden gems that folks are posting in their Tweets.

Emerging #music

Find hidden talent in your tweets.

Sign in, and you can now share your music preferences with your followers.

And peep music from artists and friends.

Now don’t get it twisted, Twitter #music isn’t Pandora, Last.fm or any other streaming music service.

You’re only getting snippets of the songs.

But if you want to listen to the whole song, you can sign in to your Spotify or rdio account.

Hear something you want to own, you buy it right from iTunes.

I was lost for an hour messing around with this damn thing.

It’s quite addictive.

I dig the UI for the app, which is clean and polished.

Aside from the Zoolander landing screen/tabs thing, everything else works intuitively.

Menus are easy to get to.

And navigation is a breeze.

I guess that’s what happens when your beta testers are artists and music industry insiders.

If you’ve got cash to burn, you can really get things right.

Twitter’s follow-up to Vine is a doozy.

I predict that Twitter #music is going to #takeovermusic.

But don’t take my word for it.

Cop the app for yourself and you’ll see.

Leave a comment

Filed under apps, social media

Radio killed the Internet star. Inequitable royalty calculations are hurting artists.

Reading an article in the NY Times recently about a brewing royalties dispute left me stymied.

Apparently, there is a bill circulating that would reduce the amount of money streaming radio stations pay for the right to broadcast music.

The proposal would bring streaming royalty rates in line with those paid by satellite and terrestrial stations, which are about five times less.

The issue has come to a head as Pandora, arguably the most successful model for streaming radio, struggles to stay afloat in light of royalty rates which amount to half of its profits.

Pandora argues that the rates for streaming radio services should be calculated on the same basis as satellite and terrestrial services.

The current calculations render widely disparate results, such that many streaming services are grappling under the oppressive weight of these fees.

Fundamental to the argument being made by streaming services, like Pandora, is the fact that the exorbitant rate charged streaming services is a barrier to entry.

By stifling new entrants, it reduces the overall number of streams and thus, the royalties artists could potentially earn.

Fewer streaming services, fewer streams, fewer royalties.

It’s not rocket science.

But the music industry doesn’t see it that way.

They argue that streaming services are profiting handsomely, and the efforts to reduce the rate is driven by greed and the desire to increase profits at the expense of musicians.

They point to the ad-supported nature of most streaming services, in support of this position.

This argument would have merit if streaming services were paying the same royalties as satellite services and then sought a reduction.

But the issue is that streaming services pay a disproportionately higher share of their revenues for the right to stream than similarly situated non-Internet services.

And there is no rational basis for the disparity.

Currently, streaming services pay a fraction of a cent each time a song is streamed whereas satellite services, like Sirius, pay a fixed percentage of their revenue to artists and labels.

The two different standards exist because at the dawn of the Internet age, no one knew how big streaming over the Internet would get.

A fraction of a cent per stream seemed reasonable when they were few, if any, true streaming models to base a formula upon.

But services like Last.fm, Pandora, Spotify, iHeartRadio and their progeny, have demonstrated that streaming radio is growing and viable.

And where streaming revenues were thought to once be a thing of folly, they are now very much a reality.

An entirely new market has developed around it.

However, this fraction-of-a-cent revenue model has proven to be inequitable in its application.

And it should be abandoned in favor of one that continues to provide revenue for streaming services and consistent royalties to artists and labels.

This issue is far from over, and I’ll definitely keep you posted with any updates.

If you like your streaming services, I’d suggest you contact your elected officials and make a stink.

Because if the music industry has it’s way, streaming radio will go the way of the record labels and be extinct before you know it.

Leave a comment

Filed under digital advocacy, music, technology

Developing A Personal Brand aka “Do You!”

Last week was Social Media Week 2011 in New York (and San Francisco). All week long, there were panels, round tables, mixers and networking events, hosted by the likes of CMJ, Pandora and Red Bull.

I attended quite a few sessions, but the event that I got the most out of wasn’t even part of the official week’s events. That event was Developing A Personal Brand, hosted by Harvey Nash’s Linkedin group, Network 4 Net Worth.

A week ago, I posted about the presentation I intended to deliver with Sergio Lilavios, of WeHarlem. But Sergio was called away to London, and I didn’t want to bore my audience with slides that would invariably split their focus.

When I arrived at The Hill, I realized my decision was spot on, as the monitors were at a neck-straining height. The room was also oddly configured, with large columns cutting off the floor at menacing angles.

I spoke (over an extremely loud sound system, which The Hill refused to reduce for my brief presentation – someone will pay for that) to the eager attendees about tips for developing and protecting their personal brands. With my notes on my iPad, I talked strategy, provided examples, and sought to engage and interact with my audience.

Prior to my presentation, I spoke to a few folks one-on-one, including Ross Staszak, Michael Blicharski, Ohene Cornelius, Natasha Ononogbo, and Jodine Jackson, all entrepreneurs in their own right, and personal brand incubators. Giving these mini-brand audits, I was privy to some really great ideas. All of you be sure to call me!

Before we parted, I told them that I would follow up our session with tips they could take and apply to their own branding efforts.

Here are  Stephen’s Seven Tips for Personal Brand Development:

Tip No. 1: Own Your Brand. There is no one who knows or can promote your brand better than you. So own it. Recognize that you are your own best cheerleader and root for yourself!

Tip No. 2: Be Passionate. There is no better endorsement for Brand You, then people seeing you do what you love to do. If you’re engaged in an activity you love, you exude confidence and competence. Boring is so unsexy! Steer clear from things that don’t resonate with you. No paycheck is worth compromising your spirit!

Tip No. 3: Embrace Your Inner Entrepreneur. Name a famous employee. Don’t bother – you can’t. But I’m sure that you can run off a laundry list of famous entrepreneurs. You want to be among that company. If you think it, you can do it. There’s no time like the present to give your wildest ideas a test run. If you fail, so what? Try again.

Tip No. 4: Listen Up! It’s important that you cultivate your ability to listen to what people want, and respond accordingly. People want to feel like they’re being heard. Resist the urge to talk first, knowing that people want your advice and expertise, and will be willing to listen to you if you give them the floor first.

Tip No. 5: Use Technology. You are part of the digital generation. Your seamless use and application of technology to your daily life is an unprecedented and significant advantage. Rock it and separate yourself from the plodding technically unsophisticated masses.

Tip No. 6: Network. You’re connected. Your personal and professional network is the singular strongest asset. People who already know you, will readily advocate on your behalf. Build up your network of Brand Ambassadors and let them do the work of promoting you.

Tip No. 7: Guard Your Brand (from your own foolishness). Jealously protect your brand from being tarnished by anything that would reflect poorly. No drunk pics or videos on your Facebook page. Remember, once it’s out there, you can’t take it back.

Tip No. 8 (I know I said seven) is to use me as a resource. It’s nice to have an expert in your corner, who you can call on when needed. Feel free to reach out to me at (718) 308-5730 or stephen.chukumba@gmail.com if you ever need advice.

When I drew my presentation to a close, I had cards thrust into my hands, contact info entered into my iPhone, and meeting requests.

The energy in the room was infectious, and I hope some of what I had to offer rubbed off.

2 Comments

Filed under branding