Archive for October, 2005

Now I’m a deviant

October 15th, 2005 — Wordman

After my previous mention of some artwork I liked, I realized that the internet is a perfect vehicle for amateur artists to strut their stuff but that there didn’t seem to be many venues to gain exposure, other than standard artist-run website or the blogosphere. I thought about creating a site where members could share their art but, as in so much on the net, I’ve been beaten to the punch.

Deviant Art appears to have a huge amount of traction in attracting both professional and amateur artists to posting their stuff. Like anything else, a good deal of the posted art isn’t that good, but some of it is amazing. The site takes a little getting used to, as it isn’t clear exactly how it works at first, largely because they use the word “deviation” to mean “artwork that someone posted”. I’ve grown a bit addicted to cruising through this site. I particularly enjoy something I call “favorite hopping”, where you pick an artist at random look at their gallery. You then look at their list of favorites (each artist can build their own list of the art of other people they like) and find a piece you like. Examine that artist’s gallery and favorites. Repeat. You can see some really neat stuff. (Some of the art contains nudity and adult themes, so may not be work safe, though I think there is a filter you can turn on to avoid that kind of stuff if you want.)

Just for the heck of it, I’ve created an account and posted some photo work I’ve done. Most of the variants of “wordman” were taken for account names, so I’ve used the name crop.

Another more thing

October 13th, 2005 — Wordman

Everyone and their mother is sounding off on Apple’s announcements yesterday. Who am I to buck a trend? I won’t bore you with the details of the announcements, as these have been covered elsewhere. I’m only going to mention the two things that struck me about the announcement that I haven’t seen mentioned much.

First, big media is apparently even more afraid of Apple than I thought. Apple is looking to change video distribution, but the best content providers will allow is music videos and some TV shows, and even that only using one-quarter the pixels of standard TV resolution. You can bet Apple was looking to score deals for more impressive content, this being the year of high definition and all, but couldn’t convince anyone to play. Interestingly, this makes Apple weaker on the music front in some respects, giving media companies more leverage for better iTunes music deals. I suspect this is going to get a bit ugly, and this might be why Wall Street was in a selling mood after the announcement, in spite of a monster quarter for Apple. The fact Pixar and Disney are parting ways won’t help, either.

Secondly, there were signals before, but the introduction of Front Row is the first crystal clear sign that Apple is looking to enter the media center market. Their incremental entry strategy is a bit puzzling. I think the reason for it, and the reason they didn’t use yesterday’s announcement to introduce media center hardware, is that their media center box will be based on an Intel CPU. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if it was the first Apple box to do so. It may turn out that this box is just a rev of the Mini, if Apple is only interested in playback and not DVR (which seems likely, given my first point). I’ve been eagerly waiting to put a Mac under my TV, so I’ll probably be first in line to get such a box. In the meantime, it will be interesting to see the inevitable clamor of people trying to get the new Apple remote to work with older boxes.

Unmined gold

October 7th, 2005 — Wordman

I have very little acumen for business or music but, if I did, I’d be seriously thinking about starting a company that provides all the services for musicians that major labels do except manufacture and distribution of the final product. That is, this company would be employed by musicians to provide studio time, image management, promotion and tour coordination. The musician would be on her own to find a distribution outlet for their music (though, naturally, would owe the new company a cut of sales). If you were the first company set up this way, you stand to gain a significant portion of the world’s musicians as clients within two to five years, though probably not some of the very biggest musicians.

The reason this would work is Apple and iTunes. Large record companies have serious problems with Apple’s success. Some of them complain and threaten to stop providing their artists music to Apple. Some, like Sony, refused to do so in the first place. It seems likely, though, that the large media companies are playing a waiting game until current iTunes contracts expire in 2006. Meanwhile, artists prevented by their corporate overlords from making their existing music available on iTunes are getting antsy and are creating new material specifically for iTunes and iTunes only. Others are releasing entire albums via bittorrent.

Big media companies have shown a determined, nearly pathalogical, desire to maintain their bloated empires by any means necessary. There is no reason to expect they will suddenly become enlightened to the new possibilities of technology, but will, instead, try to sandbag Apple at the expense of both their artists and the music-appreciating public. This will provide a great deal of incentive for artists to ditch their labels. Some will strike out on their own. Most, however, will probably hold onto the “big label” idea, in spite of its drawbacks, because Apple and iTunes alone doesn’t provide them with everything they need to become superstars.

This is where this new company fits in. It enables musicians to embrace iTunes without losing the promotion and other machinery they need. It will completely eliminate any incentive that musicians might have to stay with a big label. The key to this is that, once it becomes clear what is happening, at least one and probably most of the big labels may eventually be forced into retooling to work like this as well. If that happens, it won’t happen quickly. Still, to be successful, this new company needs to strike very quickly, as widely as possible. Preferably, it would start now, before big media kills their iTunes deals. The company also needs to use the agility provided by its small size in ways the media giants can’t.

If you attempt to build such a company, best of luck to you. And invite me into the IPO.