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Slicing and Dicing Expand / Collapse
Posted Tuesday, August 11, 2009 8:48 PM



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Comments posted to this topic are about the item Slicing and Dicing

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Post #769069
Posted Wednesday, August 12, 2009 3:59 AM


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I have spent the last 12 months helping to relaunch a music subscription download service. This allows you to download as much as you like per month. I always encourage people to download the whole album, you never know what hidden gems you may find. The same with businesses and data, if you slice and dice too much then maybe you overlook or lose those hidden gems.

Post #769185
Posted Wednesday, August 12, 2009 6:26 AM


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While I agree that sometimes you find hidden gems in albums, I had all but stopped buying CDs in the early 2000's because invariably you'd find the one single that was getting airplay was worthwhile, and the rest of the album was complete crap. I feel that the model of requiring one to buy the entire album to get the airplayed single often resulted in abuse as the record companies would hype up the one worthwhile song, requiring you to pay $20 for it. At the time I got around this by using download services to establish what was worth buying, and only buying the CDs that I knew had a reasonable selection of good music.

At the same time, I've often noticed that every time the market in general takes a dive, and people cut back on luxuries such as buying music, you invariably see a bunch of releases from the record companies screaming about how piracy is behind their decline in sales. While I'm certain that piracy affects their sales to some degree, I'm not sure what the mix is between normal market forces as the market ebbs and flows, and the effects of illegal downloads.

Having Amazon and iTunes available today has been great for me. Overall, I spend more than I ever did in the 90's and early 2000's on music, even if it may only be a song or two off of an album here and there. I still buy entire albums from iTunes (or sometimes buy the CD itself if I really think an artist is excellent - I still like to have that CD), but like the option of just getting a song or two that meets my needs/tastes if the rest of the album sucks. I can guarantee if the only way I can get a cool song is to buy an entire album, the price is too high and I just won't buy it at all. Is some money better than none?

In my personal opinion, I think allowing users the choice between getting individual songs at a slightly higher price or an entire album at a discount is good for everyone. It forces more integrity with regards to Record Companies and Artists - requiring them to put effort into a balanced and talented album, rather than just one good song they're going to use to force everyone to buy the rest of their crap, and it allows the potential of a higher overall amount of sales as folks that maybe can't afford an entire album can still get a song or two off of it for a lower price. This model also makes piracy less attractive, as music as a whole becomes more affordable for a wider range of people, and someone buying the song knows that they can download it again if they lose it, that it is a complete file and is high quality, and that they don't have to worry about potentially malicious software or vulnerabilities that are sometimes bundled with the illegal software.
Post #769242
Posted Wednesday, August 12, 2009 6:32 AM
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Very good and clear logic. I have a fair to middlin' collection of albums and love the format. A few even have an extra flap with info. Then there are the double album sets where the cover opens up like a book with a lot of info as well. I like the portability of CD's and that they make it so I don't have to copy vinyl to tape for portability in a car...though now I copy my CD's for travel and keep the originals at home in case of car break ins. However, it's always so difficult to read those little notes on the liner and you can't explain how good it is to open a vinyl album and find a poster included, too. I like the new but would like to have a mix with the older ways. Perhaps a vinyl/CD combination or just a record jacket with the info and a CD. It's hard to find an answer, but I hope the music industry considers it and finds a solution.
Post #769251
Posted Wednesday, August 12, 2009 7:06 AM

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Hey Steve,

I read your editorial promoting the bundling of products as a benefit, and wasn't quite sure what to think. Are you saying that the bundling of products I want with products that I don't want is a good thing? For whom? For the people who actually want the product that I don't? Why can't I get the Food channel without the Golf channel, or the Golf channel without the Food channel?

I see you're doing a podcast. This is the ultimate on-demand form: not only can I get the product that I want without it being bundled with other products, but I can even skip forward and backward through your product. Similarly, TV programs are increasingly available as separate downloads, some of them with a price tag, some of them for free. But I'm able as a consumer of those products to choose which ones I want, instead of being presented a bundle consisting largely of products I don't want, for a higher price than the individual product that I want.

As for IT departments, I think the same analogy holds true. Why would a company absorb an IT package where half of it is not what they want or need? Isn't it better to pick and choose, and thereby get the products the company wants? If that means changing the business structure, so be it. Synergy can be achieved in different ways, by having a technical guy (not a sales guy) with some business sense talk to a company for maybe an hour a week or month, see where they are, what they're doing, and maybe talk to them about different ways of using IT - thereby generating interest in a product the company was not even aware of before.

Think of it as the trailers you get when watching a movie. If you're not interested, it only takes 30 seconds or a minute, but if you are, you can research the new movie and see if that is really something you want.

In short, I think bundling products is a bad idea - you're stuck with too much signal to noise ratio for the price you're paying, regardless of music industry, television or IT departments.


Ronald Bruintjes
Post #769287
Posted Wednesday, August 12, 2009 7:24 AM

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Have to agree with Ronald on this one. The bundling of channels is what is wrong with television, not right. I would pay big bucks if I could truly get a la carte choice in my channels. (I would still buy both Golf and Food channels, by the way) Even better if major events like elections/Olympics/etc had camera choices I could subscribe to, so that I could watch all of the whitewater kayak but none of the, I don't know, rythmic gymnastics.

The current model of music distribution is allowing artists who were never able to get an entire album put together or contracts with major players to get their music out there. This is a good thing. Selling one song at a time may make it harder to produce the concept of an album story, but I think the benefits outweigh any detriment.

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Post #769293
Posted Wednesday, August 12, 2009 7:48 AM
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Hey Steve, you should get your son a Zune Pass for a couple of months and see what he thinks. Basically it's all-you-can-eat music for as long as you're subscribed. You can download whatever you want and listen to it on up to 3 computers, and (I think) 2 Zunes. Since the music is DRMed it has to be played through the Zune software or through a Zune device.
It has completely changed the way I listen to music. I start with albums I like, then do the "mixview" through the software which shows me who influenced the artist, who the artist influenced, and related albums. Since it's all-you-can-eat, you can just click on one of the other albums and listen to the whole thing.
They've also licensed the AMG/ content, so you can read album reviews and artist bios right from the software.
Oh, and you can download anything that's available from the Zune Pass for free straight from the Zune via WiFi.
I sound like I work for MS, which I don't, but I just love the service and think it's not getting the publicity it deserves.
They'll even let you keep 10 songs a month now as part of the $15 a month service fee. What's not to like?

Rick Todd
Post #769306
Posted Wednesday, August 12, 2009 7:56 AM

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Vladimir Lenin, the father of modern communism said; "If you want the people to crave white bread, you feed them nothing but white bread." This was (though maybe not the progenitor) the first instance of the value of dumbing-down the people to control them.

Now, take a look at television and music. We have WAY too many channels and portals. This means we need content, which also means we have to lower our standards as to acceptable content. This means the more we advance with technology, in fact, the "stupider" we become. If you don't think this is happening, turn on your TV. You are now receiving four times as many commercials as was the case in the 60's-70's, and every one of them is selling you stuff you don't need, let alone want in most cases. And yet people will tolerate those idiotic interrupters so they don't miss what? "American Idol". Maybe "Dancing with the Stars"... Truly historic shows and information that will undoubtedly change the course of mankind, right? NOT!!!

Think about that - here we have this amazing invention that COULD be used to educate our populous, but what do we do with it? We dumb them down. Oh, no worries, after all, its "just entertainment". Really? A survey a few years ago found that 95% of American teenagers could name all the members of the band N'Sync - but in the same group, only 5% could locate Iraq on a world map, and 1% knew the capitals of their neighboring states. Just harmless entertainment?

This is shocking to my generation where during the Vietnam war, just about every night we would hear from reporters from the battlefield. We would see body bags coming home. This outraged Americans, motivated them and helped put an end to that horrible war. Now, think about Iraq... We have been there longer than we were in Europe for World War II, and still, we hear barely a peep from any battlefield and are forbidden to see body bags. And how often do today's Americans have any concern about that war? Barely at all. Whether you think that war is right or wrong, you cannot deny that we are as uninformed about it as any war in our history - and THIS, right when we have this amazing technology far beyond any ever known.

This dynamic also has a parallel in IT... Last time we hired a DBA I was stunned at how many applicants had good SQL skills, but Zero .NET, Zero CLR skills. I know, I know, some find this "okay" - I do not. I think its silly to try to be a DBA without these base skills. What good is anyone to me if all they do is SQL Server? Sure, thats 50-60% of the work, but there is much more I need! Still, I am told by colleagues that some companies hire DBAs without these skills. My guess is there is a lot of mindless web-surfing going on in those companies. Again, is this us "getting smarter"? Seems the opposite to me.

We need to listen carefully to Lenin's words - its a stark warning for Technologists of all kinds. Its not enough to just invent the next gizmo if you have not thought about content, and the danger of mindless content, whether that's today's digital wasteland of television, or working in a IT department where all you do is "white bread".

As a society we are not increasing our knowledge with technology - we are actually decreasing knowledge, standards, and acceptable baselines. By the time robots, cyborgs and androids are around to do most of the work for us, we will have lost all the knowledge it took centuries to build and absorb. All for the sake of silly shows, whose sole purpose is to promote commercials so you will buy stuff you don't need.

Amazing that some of the most amazing inventions in our time, are actually making us more stupid. Thats progress... Backwards.

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Post #769314
Posted Wednesday, August 12, 2009 7:57 AM



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Think of television. If the Golf channel had to be purchased separately, it might not exist. But by bundling the Food channel, the Golf channel and a few more in with other selections, they can all get a slice of the revenue and find ways to survive.

I have to take HUGE exception to this. There are 6-7 companies that control 99% of ALL cable/dish channels. Their negotiations with the cable companies is less like a negotiation and more like a dictation of terms. Things like ESPN SHALL BE in basic cable. Something like 40% of the people want ESPN and it IS the single most expensive channel the providers carry, even over the movie channels. But when the folks who own ESPN can order them to put it in basic service and not treat it as a pay channel then the other 60% of us have to subsidize it and cable/dish rates go up so ESPN can pay more and we can pay our players even more.. Also, if you want say Syfy channel you will take this new woodworking channel, no choices.. Cable companies claim ala carte will kill some channels and prevent most from being created, that may or may not be true, but how about we stop the abuses of the channel owners who can basically tell the operators what they WILL do. This is the real problem and ala carte probably isn't the best way to solve it..

Note: I do not work for the cable or dish companies, nor have I ever. My wife worked for a cable company for about 5 years taking calls from people irritated about cable rates and such, my information is based on her experiences and knowledge of the workings of the cable industry.

Post #769317
Posted Wednesday, August 12, 2009 7:58 AM



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I used to think that I'd only want to pay for what I need, but I'm not sure that promotes variety.

You say that bundling is bad, but I disagree. I think it helps us build more well rounded environments. TV is an example of that. I'd never buy some channels, but I have occasionally found things on other channels, or others in my family had. If bundling didn't exist, likely many channels like the various Discovery ones, would never come into existence. No one would pay the incremental fee, or want to. This has been seen in other places where small micro payments for an additional service don't generate enough revenue.

Even if you think there is too much crap on TV, lots of that stuff does appeal to small groups often, and large groups at times.

It IT, how many companies might forgo a backup system if they had to pay piece by piece for services? Who wants to fund the tape guy? No one does, and as many companies have done, they'll gamble on not having issues. However that cost needs to be sunk and absorbed.

Security? To a large extent if departments or groups could pick and choose, they'd ignore this, expecting someone else to handle it, or, just stick more servers under desks and not spend the funding. I've seen it time and time again.

Bundling does have value, and it helps to counter the natural instincts that so many people have to minimize their expenditures for their own benefits.

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