Jimmy Buffet & Rickey Henderson — So He Sez (3rd Person Edition)


“They come up with storyboards and lines, and I see the process. Then, I do what I do: Buffettizing.” — Jimmy Buffet, singer-songwriter and touring phenomenon, on his role in developing the new Margaritaville social networking game.

“Rickey doesn’t have albums. Rickey has CDs.” —   Rickey Henderson, legendary Major League Baseball outfielder, when asked if he had the Garth Brooks album with the song Friends in Low Places. Henderson, was infamous for talking about himself in the 3rd person.

Social Media Explosion — Not The Same As it Ever Was


There is a illuminating Social Media piece this morning from Jake Hird at eConsultancy.

In it, he lays out the numerical growth of Social Media over the last 12 months.

This is explosive growth.


Some highlights:

Last Year: Facebook has 350 million active users on global basis.

Now: Facebook officially hit the half-billion member mark last year. According to figures from Socialbakers, there are now some 640m Facebook users worldwide.

Last Year: 50% of active users log into Facebook each day. This means at least 175m users every 24 hours.

Now: Still citing the 50% active rate, using the official 500m figure, this means at least 250m users every 24 hours. This is more than a 40% increase in 12 months.

Last Year: 65m users access Facebook through mobile-based devices.

Now: It may well be the year of mobile… For Facebook. Users accessing the site through mobile devices now tops 200m – an enormous 200% increase in around a twelve-month period.

Last Year: There are more than 3.5bn pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog posts, etc.) shared each week on Facebook.

Now: Clearly, Facebook is still growing: More than 30bn pieces of content is shared each month, which is an average of 7bn pieces a week.



Last Year: Twitter has 75m user accounts, but only around 15m are active users on a regular basis.

Now: Twitter now officially claims to have 175m registered users, although it’s unclear what percentage regularly user the service.


Last Year: LinkedIn has over 50m members worldwide.

Now: Officially, Linkedin has grown 100%, now having over 100m professionals who use the platform worldwide.


Last Year: Flickr hosts more than 4bn images.

Now: Flickr continues to grow at a steady rate, having increased by some 25% in the last twelve months. At the end of 2010, it was hosting more than 5bn images.

Six other tidbits from Jake Hird:

  • More than 24 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube every minute.
  • Flickr members upload more than 3,000 images every minute.
  • The average Facebook user creates 90 pieces of content each month.
  • There are more than 2bn video views on YouTube every 24 hours.
  • People that use Facebook on their mobile devices are twice as active on Facebook than non-mobile users.
  • People on Facebook install 20m applications every day.


The Final Take: David Byrne may have put it best…

Facts are simple and facts are straight
Facts are lazy and facts are late
Facts all come with points of view

That is, you need to be careful analyzing numbers and “facts”.  As objective as you try to be, they all come with a point of view.

Here’s mine: Some broader trends are well amplified here. The ascension of Mobile as a platform, and photos and video as preferred content forms, are undeniable.

And the scale of Facebook’s penetration and user participation is almost beyond comprehension. This growth easily dwarfs the golden years (2000-2002) of AOL for example, where 25mm monthly subscribers was seen as a bellwether mark, or MySpace’s climb to 100mm accounts in 2006.

This kind of scale has tremendous ramifications for users and businesses alike. Some strategists view Facebook as a “shadow internet” — with visitors who are “always on Facebook” simply substituting their Facebook activity for all online activity. Others opine that Facebook will inevitably plateau, and to be careful about over-optimizing your web activities just to serve Facebook.

Lastly, with the rise of Linkedin, Twitter, and Flickr (or Pandora for that matter), it’s clear that highly targeted silos can scale. Businesses with great, differentiated, user experiences can grow faster than ever before.

Again, just my point of view — based solely, of course, on the facts.



Read the full eConsultancy piece here.







When Lady GaGa Met Steve Jobs — She Pooh-Poohed Ping? (Decoding Lefsetz)

From the Lefsetz Letter dated 2/5:

I don’t want to tell tales out of school. But Jobs shows GaGa the latest Apple creation and GaGa says it sucks. Steve didn’t like this, he argued. But that’s what being a rock star truly is. Being honest. Using your power to say what you think, playing to the audience as opposed to the middleman…That’s what we love. Unfiltered truth. Gimme some truth…So far, GaGa’s been right about that Apple product.

Final Take: My read of this is Ping. (I tackled the Apple Ping problem on January 4th, read that piece here.) In any case, Ping or not, the full Lefsetz piece on Lady GaGa and her manager Troy Carter makes for good reading. Explore it here.)

The Football Commissioner & The Music Biz–Change Before You're Forced To.

He embraces the new. “Change before you’re forced to”, Goodell told owners. “Find a better solution”.

This from Sports Iillustrated’s  cover piece on the trailblazing and enormously successful NFL commissioner, Roger Godell.

Pro Football makes an interesting case study for the music industry. It’s not a perfect analogy — The NFL pre-Godell was already a thriving business. But, I’ll argue, that for record labels and new model music companies, there are many good lessons to learn from the tactics and strategies the NFL has employeed, especially under Godell.

First, some facts and figures regarding the NFL:

Pro Football is the most popular and the most lucrative sport in the United States. It is run by a charismatic and innovative leader, who has advocated for change, placed consumer experience at the top of his priority list, and delivered new thinking consistently during his tenure.

Let’s take a look at four tactical things the NFL has done — and how the strategies behind these tactics could inform a music company:

1- Embrace multiple partners & multiple touchpoints. Choose ubiquity over scarcity:  For most of it’s history, the NFL was built on a two network approach, with games only played on Sundays and Monday Nights.  Over the last decade, and especially under Godell, this has broadened dramatically with games on  Thursdays, Sundays and Mondays, carried by multiple networks.

This multi-partner approach is interesting as the labels and sites wrestle with the idea of licensing multiple partners, or new music companies look at  multiple experiences such as streaming just on computers, streaming to mobile devices, or owning the files outright.

2- Embrace gaming, and gaming technology: While gaming such as Madden NFL is more than a decade old, the Goodell era has seen a much closer link between gaming and the league. Broadcasts now are filled with computer generated graphics that approximate the look and feel of gaming, not to mention the deep linking between Fantasy Football and the NFL’s websites and broadcasts.

The music business with a few notable exceptions like Guitar Hero and Tapulous, has done a horrible job of leveraging gaming. Think about American Idol — it’s the ultimate music business “game”. People love American Idol, Karaoke, music message boards and blogs, etc…yet labels and new services are rarely part of the economic equation around these behaviors.

3- Broaden the demographic you appeal to: The NFL has employed a series of tactics to broaden it’s appeal — most notably by catering to women. More American women watch the NFL than any other team sport, and not just the Super Bowl. In the past decade the NFL has launched several marketing and outreach programs, including coaching clinics, apparel that fits women and donning pink during breast cancer awareness month. The league has amplified the idea of watching football tends to be a social event, with people watching in groups of varying gender composition.

Think back 10-15 years. The best sellers of the old-guard music business were truly mass-appeal hit-makers — Christina Aguilera , Dixie Chicks, Alicia Keys, Britney Spears, Kelly Clarkson, Metallica, Linkin Park etc. These acts were for Mom’s & daughters, Dad’s and sons. Songs from these albums were on four to five formats of radio, and all over TV. But the last ten years have seen tremendous erosion of teen radio listening, and increased dominance of  niche albums at the top of the charts –Susan Boyle, Sade, and Josh Groban representing the adults, and countless 1-week Soundscan winners representing the hard rockers and rap communities. The industry desperatley needs more than one Taylor Swift — it needs multiple all-things-to-all-people stars.

Which brings us to….

4- Make more stars, and then make them bigger. Build star-making into the DNA of everything you do:  From Nielsen; “In 2001, journeyman Trent Dilfer led the Ravens to a Championship, creating the perception that a team can win a Super Bowl without a marquee quarterback. Most NFL teams now subscribe to the belief that the quarterback is the most critical cog, both on and off the field. The Cowboys, for example, lost QB Tony Romo to injury and saw their season and ratings go south. In recent years, the NFL has tried to safeguard their stars, implementing rules to ensure that the QB isn’t tackled low, hit in the head or after the whistle. And to a large extent, the quarterbacks this year were healthy and able to serve as the marquee names for their teams.Interest in quarterbacks goes beyond the stadium: they are making news off the field too. Many have been linked romantically to supermodels, actresses and singers, creating news in celebrity magazines and other non-traditional media.”

This should be the music business’s greatest advantage. The faces (and bodies) of our stars aren’t hidden by helmets and pads. Music stars have fashion stylists, gauzy lighting, and PR-handlers. But our star-making machinery is broken. Sure it’s partially broken by piracy, partially broken by radio and retail lameness, but I’d argue it’s also broken by ourselves. The labels, and even the newer model companies like Spotify, Rhapsody, etc. have underestimated the power, even the necessity, of big stars. The labels have slashed their marketing budgets so dramatically, that it’s a miracle they can develop any stars at all. And the new model companies have only learned half the story from Steve Jobs…yes, great design and an amazing consumer experience are key, but look at all the marketing Apple does. Think about what those Coldplay, U2 and Mary J. Blige ads have done for both Apple and those artists. Think about 5 million Beatles tracks sold in just a few weeks, when almost every digerati turned his or her nose up on the very idea that The Beatles on iTunes even mattered. The music industry needs to spark superstar creation, nurturing and  amplification, and that means money, marketing and partnerships that understand this have to coalesce.

Final Take:   Pro Football is the biggest it’s ever been, a multi-billion dollar industry lead by a charismatic, change friendly, evangelist. The (traditional) music business is the smallest it’s been since 1991, feeling more like a once exciting candidate or a company hanging on past it’s prime, than an industry with momentum. But entertainment is much like politics and pure business — a comeback, while difficult, even highly-unlikely, is always possible. Just ask Bill Clinton, Bob Dylan, or even Steve Jobs.

Perhaps on the eve of Superbowl weekend, the music business should take a big page from  NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s playbook.

What is Facebook, Really?

Bruce Warren, who publishes the terrific music meets web-culture Some Velvet Blog, turned me on to this smart little piece from Jeffrey Rayport and The Harvard Business Review.

Spoiler Alert: Rayport theorizes that Facebook is so big, and so multi-dimensional experientially, that it has transcended being defined as  a “website”.  He claims it has morphed into something other…perhaps a shadow Internet all onto itself.

Read the full Facebook piece here.

Final Take: While I think Raypot captures many of the unique qualities of Facebook circa 2011, I’d be careful to declare Mark Zuckerberg’s seven year old company a 100% sure bet to dominate ten, fifteen, or twenty years from now. As someone who lived inside the belly of the “AOL IS the Internet, isn’t it?” bubble, and just ten short years ago, it’s just as reasonable to make the bet that things will change. Running man, anyone?

Stakes Is High: Twitter & Egypt.

As De La Soul once said, “The Stakes Is High”.

In the last 24 hours I have been riveted by the news from Egypt — the vast majority of it delivered as real-time reporting and analysis, via Twitter.

I’ll get back to the Music/Tech axis in a few hours, but in the meantime it seems worth thinking about the role technology plays in every aspect of modern life.

DMI Tip: Boing boing piece on how Twitter communication carries on  despite the internet disruptions.

The Final Take: This revolution will be multi-platform. Just check Twitter.

MySpace as the Man In The Mirror — The Music Biz Turns On Itself, Again.

Interesting back and forth regarding MySpace from a Robin Davey/Hypebot post this morning, entitled Why The Decline Of MySpace Is Great For Musicians”.

Spolier Alert:

Excerpt from the Robin Davey case:

Musicians are better off without MySpace… MySpace got bands into the mindset that music was worth nothing more than a friend request and a number of plays…MySpace is an extension of the dying major music industry. MySpace quickly got into bed with the majors, partnering with Interscope and selling out to Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. They didn’t care about the importance of nurturing a career or promoting good music, they just cared about making money for themselves. Majors used it create a facade that the industry was vibrant again, and that they were at the forefront…….MySpace led bands to believe they didn’t have to do the hard work of getting out and building a live following anymore.

Excerpt from the rebutal from “Backstage Smarts” (a D.I.Y. touring musician):

As a member of a band who went national during the peak of Myspace (we’ve sold 70,000+ cds since then), I have to say that it did wonders for us, and I think the decline of Myspace seriously hurt the independent music community…..(On MySpace)People could post a song they liked on their page, and people would listen. We racked up over a million plays from this alone…..For a while, Myspace plays were just as valid as Sound Scan numbers. We were able to actually use them as leverage in negotiating our record deal. I could even predict how well a band we were playing with was going to draw based on their Myspace plays, and I was usually right…..But overall, I think there was way more net positives than negatives about Myspace for the music community, and I mourn the loss of it. I knew Facebook wouldn’t be as helpful to bands the first time I opened up our band’s Facebook page and had to ask, “Hey, where’s the music player?”

(To Hypebot’s credit, the layout of their comment feed is open, and facilitates this kind of healthy back and forth.)

I think it’s worth your time to read the full original post and response on Hypebot.

The Final Take: For the digerati, I’m not sure MySpace was ever cool. But if you think back to August 2006, as MySpace announced its 100 millionth account, MySpace was not only the biggest Social Networking site in the world, but arguably the single most coveted homepage for any contemporary artist.

Flash-forward to the present day —  significant audience, advertising and buzz are gone, and it’s become fashionable to pile on. As if we never, ever, coveted MySpace’s attention in the first place.

This scenario reminds me of  Michael Jackson. In 1982, Jackson released Thriller. By 1983-1984, Michael Jackson had won more Grammys and sold more Thriller albums than seemed conceivable. He may not have been cutting edge in any way, but he certainly was supremely talented, and he delivered the hits.

In the ensuing 25 years, Michael Jackson showed fewer moments of genius, and more instances of bizarre behavior.  At the time of his death in 2009, Michael was about as uncool as an unnavigable, spam-ridden, Tila Tequila MySpace page.

Then Michael Jackson passed, and many of us heard songs like Man In The Mirror, Off The Wall, Billy Jean, Smooth Criminal, etc. in a way that we hadn’t in years.

Perhaps those songs aren’t as close to my heart as ‘Here Comes Your Man” or ‘Skyway“, but I truly loved them. And they were good business.

I never spent a ton of personal time on MySpace. I’m not saying that to try to be cool, or to create some editorial distance — it’s just a fact. Maybe I was simply behind — at least behind on the Social Networking revolution to come.

But now I wonder — in an industry in dire need of geniuses and winners — if MySpace passes completely, who will look in the mirror and deliver the hits?

The Question Is How Fast? — Superchunk & Social Networking

I love Superchunk. Almost as much as I love The Replacements. To me, the two bands have always gone together. Their best songs share wry lyrics, anthemic yet melancholy melodies, and a unique sense of vulnerability.

Today, I stumbled upon the Superchunk song “The Question Is How Fast”, when using my iPod in Genius mode.
At exactly the same time, I was looking at this Social Networking chart from Fast Company (see below).

Synchronicity indeed.

(Had I been on Facebook in that moment, things really would have been freaky).

The matter is not where we go
But how long it will last
The question is how fast
This is not a test, it’s just an ask
And the question is how fast

The History of Social Networking
Via: Online Schools