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10 hours of spotify is not enough

[update 2011.10.08] One more thing about Pandora. If you're using your cellphone to play music, make sure that you turn off the player when not in use. You could do some serious damage to your wallet if you forget... unlike iTunes.

[update 2011.10.08] Pandora is awesome.  a) it's free. b) you do not need to provide ANY user id or password. c) and the upgrade for $3/month adds real value like no advertising and a real desktop app (although I do not like adobe air being installed on my computer)

I'm trying to make a case for uploading all of my music in the cloud. So I downloaded the cloud-beta version of iTunes and I allowed iTunes to take several hours and plenty of bandwidth to upload portions of my library that they did not identify or sell to me. I'm not sure whether it's a good or bad thing that 25% of my lib was not already available.

So let's do the rundown:

Spotify:

Several months ago I was in Stockholm Sweden working onsite for a client. Back in the day Spotify was a "Sweden" only application, in fact I had to use the company's address in order to unlock the application (along with my IP address).

In Sweden the application worked great, but, when I returned to Florida the app stopped. Clearly I needed a premium account.

Now Spotify has entered into the US market. So I downloaded the US version... But you would believe the number of hoops I had to go through to get the app to start working. Including having to change my address. But it finally worked. Well it only worked for 10 hours. And in that 10 hours... Spotify learned how much, how often and what I listen to. They solicited me every two or three songs with some commercial offering whether it was for premium services or foot cream.

I have several complaints about the spotify apps. First the desktop. a) there is no mini version of the GUI. Clearly because they want to advertise to me and they did not go to the google advertising college. b) something is very wrong with the radio playlist randomizer. They picked a log of Swedish music, the same 5 or 6 artists, and very many of the same songs... instead of pulling from their huge library.

As for the iPhone app: I was never able to get it to run. They wanted a premium account or they would play my iTunes music over WiFi. Neither was interesting.

iHeartRadio:

Clear channel is into everything. They are probably the new kings of all media leaving Howard Stern as the Joker. I actually like Stern but I never get to listen. Ya gotta pay for the priviledge. They have been running a promotion for the last few months so that their music was free and commercial free. However, beginning in 2012 they are going to start commercialization. I guess they have to make a buck.

Their iPhone app is pretty good. I've found various affiliate stations that I like to listen to. Including a local Tallahassee station that calls the Florida State Football games.

My only complaints are that they do not have a desktop app (I guess they want to search my browser history) and they want me to join them on facebook if I want to build custom channels.

Pandora:

Back in the day when we had our first child I would take Julia and our Cocker Spaniel Lucy for a walk first thing in the morning. To help pass the time I would turn on Pandora to one of several kids channels. It was fine for a few months. Even the commercials were... tolerable. But then one day I was approaching the house after the walk when I tried to "pause" while a commercial was playing. Pandora refused. Over then next few weeks the same thing occurred. It's not a bug in the software, it's just how they do things. And since it is not how I need it to work, I had to give it up.

As Seen on TV!

These companies are marketing businesses. Calling them "media" is like putting lipstick on a pig. And what most people fail to realize is the real value of their personal information no matter how anonymous or trivial it might seem.

Going back 10 years I had a conversation with a grey market - marketing company executive. They did snailmail spam. He said that a) it cost pennies on the dollar to send 100K or more mailings and that b) the return on the investment was huge. Anytime a person responded to an advert their qualified personal information was worth about 17 or 18 US dollars. That information could then be sold and resold over and over again.

So when you buy that "as seen on tv" product... for shipping and handling only. They are only interested in you and your mailing address. It's where they make their real money.

Here we are 10 years later. We have the likes of Spotify and iHeartRadio that want to follow us on facebook, read our walls, link to our friends, and so on. What do you suppose that is worth? Maybe a few hundred dollars a year. And on top of that they want us to pay for the content.

Spotify is charging $10US a month.  That's one full album on iTunes. Since I only buy 3 or 4 albums a year and now I'm into singles... It's hardly worth it.

Apple's iCloud is interesting and an interesting price of $25; I assume to offset storage and bandwidth charges... and maybe a small kickback *cough* royalty  to the record companies.  Now that they are promising to upscale my music to 200K bps plus... I'm not sure that's going to be good either. Now I have extra bandwidth costs from my cell phone and I cannot tell the difference anyway, specially when I'm listening to my cellphone on cheap headphones in a car, train or bus with plenty of environmental noise.

All of this reminds me of something Billy Crystal's character said in the movie Space Balls: "Merchandising"

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  1. [...] now iCloud. I recently wrote about iTunes and iTunes Match etc … so I will not rehash that conversation. But I can say that I was expecting iCloud to be [...]

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