UPDATE 3.8.2010: Thumbplay contacted me less than 24 hrs after this post, and got me up and running on my blackbery 9760!

Thumbplay launched its music service this week, joining Mog, Rhapsody, Lala, Spotify, Last FM, and Myspace in the already crowded battle between streaming music services. The monthly subscription is $9.99. This is twice the rate of new entrant “MOG” (and $9.99 more than the free myspace!), but you get mobile access for the extra charge. Factoring in mobile makes Thumplay’s offer cheaper than Rhapaody’s similar desktop and mobile plan.

The selling point of Thumbplay Music is the ability to move your music to the cloud in one click by importing your playlists directly from itunes. It took just a few minutes to import 20 playlists, with 500 songs. The “import” was fast and accurate because it was only checking the data with the “cloud”, not actually moving files.
You can “import” songs to the cloud regardless of where they came from.

The second differentiator is Thumplay’s mobile access. With a full subscription, you can access your music and playlists from a “smartphone”.

Thumbplay Mobile

Unfortunately the device list is small:
Bold 9000
Curve 8900
Storm 9530
Tour 9630



Myspace music is a fun, easy and free way to create playlists. Yes, there are the familiar flaws in the overall myspace interface, but the music features are getting better, and the fact that myspace has most of the content from major, indie and unsigned Artists, makes it worth exploring as a serious playlist destination. Listening does not require log in (yet) but you must be a member to make a playlist. So dig out that old account and log back in to get started.

The best way to start playlisting is surfing Myspace the way you always have: Profiles. All profiles can now tap into the myspace music player and the player has a “+”button next to most of the songs throughout the site.



I love reading the New Tee Vee blog every day and video is an increasingly important aspect of the music business. Think about it – the majority of music is listened to on a device with a screen! I think I was the only music exec at New Tee Vee Live, but it was worth the trip – although the question “is the tv business going the way of the record business?” and the “we wont make the same mistakes as the music biz” quotes were slightly annoying.

So what are the broader trends and how do they apply to music? Here are a few quotes from some of the speakers, and some of the interesting things I heard during the panels.

Erik Flannigan
EVP of Digital Media,
MTVN Entertainment Group  

Hits are Hits. Eric explained that hit tv shows have big video numbers online, and shows with lower ratings have lower views. It’s a one to one relationship, and he said there seems to be no erosion in the ratings of popular shows by having them streaming online.

“Don’t underestimate the mass of passive”

Great point and a classic quote. People don’t want to spend tons of time looking around to watch what they want on you tube, torrents and other on demands sites. It’s more that programming for the mass doesn’t meet their needs anymore. If possible, most consumers would rather lean back and just get great programming that was relevant to them, instead of having to seek it out.

Now think of the long tail, radio, and music. Applying Eric’s comment to the much hyped long tail I agree its probably not the “solution”. It’s really about better music, engaging artists, and better programming.

Laura Goldberg
General Manager of NFL Online,
National Football League  

The internet turned the niche activity of fantasy football into a main stream pastime, and as a result, grew the audience for the NFL. Laura explained how fantasy football drives demand – now you need to watch all the games! Very clever. The advantage is football is a closed network – to watch all the games in real time you have to pay!

Chuck Seiber
VP Marketing,

The Roku video player is an on demand video box with over 50,000 titles. Now they are opening their platform to anyone who wants to make a “channel” on their box. Their install base seems low, but is this a chance for someone to make a new type of music service? Seems like the infrastructure and hardware is in place.

Jason Seiken
SVP, Interactive,

Nothing music related here, but I had no idea pbs launched the coolest video sites of all the networks!

Gary Cohen
SVP of Marketing and Customer Experience,

Redbox offers kiosks in retails stores that rent dvd’s for a dollar. The talk was that some of the studios were upset about the impact of “substitutionally” of redbox rentals on dvd sales.

Substitution for purchase is something we talk about a lot in the music biz, with you tube, piracy, and streaming services such as myspace. Gary denied those claims, and said redbox did research to show there was less that 1% substitution for purchase (of course they did!)

However I loved his quote – “People who buy, buy, people who rent, rent”

Or as we sometimes say “people who buy buy, people who steal steal”

Great day – see you next year!


Get out your mobile phone, and check out the first in a limited edition series of QR code pieces we made for Green Day’s new album 21st Century Breakdown, in stores FRIDAY MAY 15th!

Green Day QR Code
This is the start of several QR code experiments were trying and you can find the Green Day Codes out and about in the US in the next few days. Thanks to David Harper at Delivr for masking this happen! You’ll need a QR code reader for your phone to try this – get a reader in the iphone app store (neo reader is a good free one), if you have a nokia phone, you probably already have a reader in your appp folder, or go here to get one for most other devices!


Capturing Some important concepts from the discussion, presentations, and panels at DME 2009.

1.) Music in the Background – increasingly music is a background activity (while surfing, while playing video games). Online activity and music fuse into a “new” “combo” state of mind between communication and music. Important to understand this context.

2.) Hard Drives are filling up? Russ Crupnic from NPD floated that some stats may indicate people are loaded up with more music than they can handle on their computers and devices. If Hard drives and devices get full, watch the change in acquisition behavior. I think this was the first i’d heard people discussing the reality of this concept in 2009.

3.) Power of Radio – still massive motivator of top downloads and social net discussion of music. Shows up as top source fro music discovery in many demos. Traditional radios power is a reminder that no matter where you are in digital music, online strategy must take into consideration all media. Online radio’s untapped potential – people like radio as a medium if done right. Explosive growth could be starting.

4.) “It’s a fact of life: If your business model depends on controlling or getting paid for copies of zeros and ones, you may need to look at a new business model” (Jim Griffin).

Increased discussion about charging at the isp level from Jim Griffin (transcript here) , and The Isle of man project.

5.) Sometimes when it comes to music, you just have to get lucky in the studio (Richard Gottehrer, CEO of the orchard digital service, and a songwriter whose hits included “My. Boyfriend’s Back”)

If you twitter search Digital Music East, you’ll get a good sense of what everyone else there was thinking!

Ted Cohen’s intro was brief but accurate, and the presentations were all interesting.

My panel “The State of the Digital Union” was after the first hour intro. The twiiter feed from the audience was streaming behind us, and I made sure to watch it a few times during the panel. Problem was no ATT service at all in the room, so I couldn’t participate later on.

Hyebot posts a recap of the panel and my Metalica example – some liked it some didn’t!


Ill be speaking at the “state of the digital union” panel at Digital Music East next week. The site says “This panel of industry experts will discuss the hot button issues of day, including the debate over digital music pricing, online and mobile music product offerings and business models….”. Thats the agenda – curious to know any topics you’d like to hear discussed?


As I’m cleaning up and getting ready to go back to work, I’m using Metacritics year end top lists and listening to 2008 one more time!
Metacritic seems to have it all in one place, their own reviews, and many top year end lists from other mags and sites!


Their year end best of lists also go all the back to 2001 which is fun to explore

A few other year end lists that make it easy:

Imeem 08 playlist (log in required – but worth creating an account once)

top 20 albums of ’08 at Bands Under The Radar
Kami has great taste and after hours on Metacritic, I still found a few new things on her list that were amazing!


One of my Favorite “New” Marketing blogs “Big Picture Advertising” featured a great quote from Barry Diller.

Challenge for 2009

“You really want to get a headache? Try to understand Internet advertising. Social networking advertising is being discounted because there is so much inventory [of available ad spots], and because methods have not yet been found to make it very effective. Will that get figured out? I absolutely believe it will. What form will it take? Absolutely unknown.”

Social media is great for music discovery, community, and a natural buzz amplifier. But BUYING social media advertising has not moved the mark in any accountable way for me – from driving sales to increasign traffic, I havent found anything that is cost effective. It seems being a great band, getting radio airplay, community engagemnt, and touring drive more results through social media than advertising. I’ve bought facebook, myspace, widgets, and more in many differnent ways, and never get the return. Warner Bros Reocrds also gets add inventory in several social network sites as part of our liscensing deals, so I get to play around alot. Maybe Big Picture Advertising will figure out some magic!


Several posts on some of my favorite digital music blogs talking about free music on the internet and what you can really accomplish by just giving it away. (links below).

Working at a major label, I have to balance the business side that wants to monetize everything, with the pressure of free music on the net and the need to market new music. There are no absolutes, and one advantage I have is that I work on a lot of projects and get to test things big and small.

Start with your goals
It’s too competitive to think just “giving away music” will advance your career and too many bands start and end with just wanting to give it away for free. Think harder.

Free may be a starting point if you’re a new act, but established artists have very different goals. Is a free download or stream designed to grow the fan base or reward your fans who may have already purchased from you?

First Goal: Establish a relationship with fans
Make the long term plan for you and your fans. If you are offering downloads, or streams, Make sure you have a community plan in place to capture the momentum new music can create. Collecting basic info fans can be a fair trade off for giving something away. If your an established artist, look beyond just giving your music away- there may be other ways to keep your community active. Give fans a place and incentive to extend the experience of your music and share their feelings with others. Are you strengthening the bond between existing fans? Adding new ones? Find the mix that makes sense and keep in mind there are bands serving thousands, and hundreds of thousands of streams on myspace, with very few fans. It take alot of dedication and great music to keep fans engaged.

What Can You Sell?
Fans are willing to pay. It’s the blend between quality and art that must be respected. I’ve successfully seen bands drive revenue, and keep fans happy by debuting new music in itunes for 99 cents.

Genre of music
Understand your scene and what is expected by fans of that genre. Culturally, fans of different genres have different expectations when it comes to sampling music.

What is the body of work?
is it a concept or collection of singles? Stream the album vs a download? Depending on your art, protect the best way for fans to sample and purchase.

What else are you trying to sell, tickets Merch? Your plans should tie this all together.

are there other things for you happening in the marketplace?

Where to stream?
There are many sites for major labels and some indies where its free to consumer, but you can get paid – imeem, myspace, lala, are a few emerging partners that allow artists to stream, and monetize.

Majors vs. Unsigned
Don’t assume this debate is about the majors vs indies or the unsigned acts. Colleagues at several major music services tell me that independent musicians are often much more concerned and protective about their music than signed artists and major label policies.

Its clear the early days of digital music are fading into a new reality – from bands, to new digital music services that are struggling to monetize, there is more to it than free. Some great links for further reading:

Experimenting With Free by David Harrell

Hypebot: free music only has value if…

More thoughts on the ‘Music as Free’ Debate
Posted by Mark Mulligan

Why Music Can’t ‘Just Be Free’

Mark Mulligan under ‘Music as Free’: Solutions

digital audio insider

NEW MUSIC PLAYLIST, upbeat and moody, Imeem vs LALA!

New playlist heading into the Thanksgiving holiday. Its upbeat and moody, with nice ups and downs all mixed into a nice flow. Make the most of it, listen twice, and try the new widgets from Imeem and LALA.

I like LALA’s site, and their interface has some nice improvements over Imeem. The first thing you have is their web credits business model. You can stream anything once for free, then you have to use credts to add to your streaming library. The site gives you 50 credits when you sign up, so I made this playlist for free. Their library had everything I was looking for, good interface, easy search and playlisting tools. The LALA music player is at the top of the page, and keeps your music going on the top of the site so you can navigate, and not lose the music while your surfing around making your playlist. On Imeem If you don’t “pop up” the player you lose the song your listening if when leave the page, which is annoying and tends to happen a lot. As for the widget, my users will only be able to listen to this playlist once, and then you’ll get :30 clips. Thats a real drawback!

THANKSGIVING – Dark but catchy

The new Imeem player has a slightly updated look and feel, and they seem to be runnnig text adds now on some playlists. guess I’d rather have that then only one listen (although I fear to make these models work, well need both plus audio adds!). The widget has somewhat better player controls (loop and shuffle).

The Imeem playlist tool, once my favorite, seems to be falling behind. No images in the playlist search, and no ability to filter our some of the junk. For example the version of Cracker’s “LOW” on this playlist is different that the album version I love but I couldnt tell that when I was putting it together. Imeem and myspace use images, and better descriptions to help you when your adding content.
But the fact that this version was in there is cool. Imeem does retain the user and community elements much more than LALA. There is much more content on Imeem, and you get some rare gems from user uploads. The Imeem playlist has an extra Copeland song I found only on Imeem. I also like the download and ringtone links on the player – make it easy for me to continue to explore the music in other channels.

How does the music sound so far? The quality seems better in LALA. Agree?

Will i continue to use LALA if I have to pay 10 cents a song to hear it over and over? My users will only be able to listen to this playlist once, and then you’ll get :30 clips. Thats a real drawback, and while I support trying to monetize this and get everyone paid, it feels too restrictive and its a surprise when it happens the first time.
I am sticking with IMEEM for now, but I am seeing the LALA widget appear on more and more blogs, so my unofficial surfing tells me that the LALA player is gaining traction.

Happy Thanksgiving. Share your thoughts on these widgets, and new playlist


I set up a Ustream video feed in an old conference room at the Warner Bros offices in Burbank. With a simple sony hd camera, through a PC, into our network, I can broadcast Aritist ‘s live when they come into the office (which is a lot!).
First was Eric Hutchinson The second was a live video chat with Wayne from Flaming Lips (ustream lost the archive on this one!)

But the best so far was Tyler Hilton. I need to edit this clip down, but for now jump to :50 seconds in and see Tyler light up when he finally sees all the fans on the site.

Free video chat by Ustream
You can see he connects to them and rolls into his first song as if his online community was physically in the front row with him! He played for almost an hour, and seemed to really connect with the experience.

These live shows are a great grassroots tools that connects with the fans with artists. We had over 10,000 people watch the first three shows.

Another goal of the live studio was to capture the spontaneous moments. The community of Artists coming through the building on a regular basis was one of the reason I went live. When neil young and lil scrappy are here at the same time, or Lyndsey Buckingham and The Used. The variety of WBR artist’a is impressive, and I knew id get some some random parings.

Sure enough – during Tyler’s performance i came close! I found out Talib Kweli an Eric Benet were in the building at the same time Tylere was playing! I didn’t end up getting them all together, but as everyone gets familiar with with the studio they will come ready!

Stay tuned!

Genesis then and NOW!

I loved Genesis growing up. Growing up in WI, My friends and I listened to them in high school, and I can’t think about some of my friends without thinking of Genesis. Before videos, their old stuff was great stuff to inspire your imagination. Their artwork was cool too.

In the 90’s – something bad happened to them when thet started singing “we cant dance” and phil stopped drumming.

Is that a bandana!?!?


But i took a chance on the reunion tour this summer – they returned to form. Plenty of phil behind the drums, and they sounded great! an AMAZING SHOW. This footage is from third row at the hollywood bowl, 2007!