Thursday, January 20, 2011

WebM v H.264 and Why It Matters - Simply Explained

Your head is undoubtedly spinning from all the recent chatter about the video codec wars between Google/WebM v. Apple/H.264.

Let's fix that problem -- David Dudas (VP Video Solutions here at Sorenson Media) can help. He writes an easy-to-understand "must read" about this, which was so compelling that it was featured today in the prestigious "Business Insider." Click here to read it.

The Music Industry's New Low -- Billboard #1 Album Sells Only 44,000 Units

This past week, Cake's new album -- "Showroom of Compassion" -- reached #1 on the Billboard charts. But, this #1 was not with a bullet, as the album sold a paltry 44,000 units (CDs and downloads) during the week -- which marked the lowest weekly total since 1991 (when, according to the Wall Street Journal, "accurate tallies first became available"). (And, Cake reaching #1 in the first place? A fine band, yes, but mainstream no).

This marks more bad news for the music industry.

What is going on here? Less music is being purchased, but I firmly believe that more music than ever is being "consumed." I know that I, for one, listen to music 24/7 and everywhere I go because "I can." And, I do this legitimately -- with Rhapsody, with Pandora (both of which are great services). Notice a trend here? Except on rare occasions when I absolutely need to have an album on my iPod, I don't buy any music -- and haven't really for years -- because I have subscription music (and have for years). I pay one price -- and get all the music I want. And, I want a lot -- more than ever -- and certainly a lot more than in 1991.

So, what's the music industry to do? Believe more in the subscription model -- and believe more in the power of new ways to "consume" music. Yes, there are many subscription services and other music-related apps with massive catalogs already. But, my feeling -- from personal experience (I previously served as President & COO of Musicmatch, one of the first music subscription services ever) is that the music industry really doesn't go out of its way to promote them. It wants to sell "ownership" rather than "rental."

Of course, subscriptions and app experimentation, etc. alone will not save the music industry -- many will continue simply to steal music on the Web. But, consumers now can access music anywhere, anytime, and on any device. That means more opportunity to listen. The music industry must actively support -- and promote -- those legitimate services that make the online and mobile experience easier and better (in terms of quality and overall experience).

I believe that it can -- and ultimately will -- happen.