Musician Podcasts Can Be Really Good For Fans

Back in 2006, the Eurythmics posted four podcasts that highlighted the musicians perspective around many of the songs that they had produced and released in the past.

Elvis Costello recently did the same thing with a 10 segment podcast series.  If you are an Elvis Costello fan you'll definitely enjoy the history and reflections.

There is now news from antiMusic.com that Stevie Ray Vaughan has embarced on his on podcast series to promote his new  'SOLOS, SESSIONS & ENCORES'.

UPDATE (12/26/2007): Apparently New Order has done this also but is selling the reflections and thoughts bundled around an album posted to iTunes.


New Media News Update - Podcast.com, Elgato, Amazon MP3, Gmail, Bias, Sound Ideas, Magazine

There seems to be a lot of stuff going on, so I thought I'd do a quick list of things I'm tracking:

  1. Treedia Labs has started a beta of Podcast.com.
  2. Quick review at Gizmodo on the Elgato Turbo.264 Hardware H.264 Encoder.
  3. Amazon MP3 has DRM free music for purchase.
  4. Lifehacker on Gmail Mobile 1.5.
  5. Bias has released Peak Pro XT audio production suite which includes SoundSoap Pro and Master Perfection Suite.
  6. Sound Ideas has released a new version of their Podcasting Production Toolkit 2 with over 500 audio elements, music, and sound effects.
  7. The October 2007 edition of Blogger & Podcaster magazine is out.

I think #1 is important because if the domain becomes a popular user site then it will be a great site to promote material.

I am interested in #2 because it could save time in post production for any video podcasts.

#3 is cool because I hate DRM solutions for most of new media.

I think #4 should be tracked to see what effect the new version has on consumption of new media products as they move from the web to email.  What does your content look like from RSS reader to a forwarded email that ends up on Gmail mobile?  Could you make it better?

I added #5 because not everyone is happy with Audacity.  Here is an option that might fit your style better.

The pointer to #6 is because you might want some new sounds in your library.

And you should check out #7 because it is full of great information.


WSJ.com - Lego Brick Films

It is probably a good sign that you are on to something when the Wall Street Journal has a front page article published on Oct. 6, 2007 examining short Lego animation "brick films" being created and posted to sites like YouTube.

The first one they highlighted was called "Cognizance" and it is a short 3 minute story of a hit man making a key decision as a song from Coldplay plays in the background.

If you check out the link above you'll find more Lego movies on YouTube.  I also found several Star Wars ones over at Blip.TV.


New Apple iPods = Lower MP3 Player Costs

The new recently announced Apple iPods have apparently caused some pretty standard price reductions on a variety of MP3 players from several vendors.

For instance, the advertised price at many stores in the US for the 30-GB Microsoft Zune Digital Media Player is now $199.99.  And the San Disk 8-GB Sansa e280R MP3 player is now coming in as low as $129.99.

The new iPods are definitely pretty feature rich and will have a premium price for a while.

The marketplace continues to be dominated by Apple, and that will probably not change anytime in the near future even with the price drop/rebate that Apple is doing with the iPhone.


New Lower Price Changes For MP3 Players

I continue to monitor the price changes in mainstream consumer advertisements for MP3 players. 

They haven't changed much in recent months until this week.

Some things I noticed:

  • Office Depot: SanDisk 2-GB c250 for $50 plus Archos 4-GB 104 for $100.
  • Circuit City: Creative Zen V Plus 4-GB for $100 plus Zune 30-GB for $230
  • Fry's: San Disk 2-GB C150 for $40 (after rebate) and RCA Lyra 5-GB for $50

It is my prediction that as per GB costs for Flash MP3 players gets below $25, and per GB costs for hard drive players get near $7 that more people currently not on the mobile digital media band wagon will have less of a financial reason to stay out of the game.

This should help generate more people looking for podcast content. What do you think?


Podcast Catchup - Web 2.0, NAB, New Media Book

I really enjoyed VentureCast#21 that included reviews of Web 2.0, NAB, and an update on what is going on at Six Apart.

I also have to recommend Chris Gondek's Invisible Hand Podcast interview with Philip Meza about his book "Coming Attractions: Hollywood, High Tech, and the Future of Entertainment".


Pointers To New Wi-Fi Media Players

PC World for April 2007 had a round down of some current and near-future WI-FI enabled media players that competes with the Music Gremlin that I thought was interesting to note:

The article also noted that Microsoft Zune has limited Wi-Fi features that could be opened up for more functionality.


Tech Watch: Seagate DAVE

Seagate's Digital Audio and Video Experience (DAVE) looks like an interesting mobile media player  on paper.  You can get see a video demo over at Gizmodo.

Core features: wirelessly share media via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi; storage up to 20-GBs; form factor of 3.5-by-4.7-by-0.5-inches; and an estimated cost of $150.


Some Suggestions To Improve The Zune

On TWIT's Windows Weekly #17, Leo and Paul have a Q&A with David Caulton of the Microsoft Zune Team. It is a good podcast and after listening I came up with three things that Microsoft can do to promote the 'social' part of the Zune:

  1. Integrated and rich support for audio and video podcasts on the Zune, but also in Vista and Windows XP operating systems.
  2. Pick a partner like Star Bucks or Best Buy and create Zune media sharing outlets with Zune devices available from major content providers including citizen media to share from these outlets.
  3. Release a toolkit like their Robots Studio 1.0 toolkit that lets people share to Zune devices via PCs.  Even with the crummy DRM, there might be a way to setup a non-expiring DRM public key infrastructure so you could share even podcasts or other citizen generated content via this method.

Just some ideas ...


Updated MP3 Player Market Survey & Analysis

I continue to be interested in tracking MP3 player prices in print advertising (Google spreadsheet) as a potential indicator of a growing mobile podcast capable audience.

This last couple of weeks has really seen a big increase in non-tech stores selling very low-end 1-GB devices: Sears, Mervyns, CVS, Kohls, etc. (but most of the prices include having to do a mail-in rebate).

Price per MB for flash can be as low as $16.50 a GB for some of the one-day Holiday related sales.  Also a lot of older hard drive based players (soon to be discontinued?!?) have really come down in price (less than $2.50 a GB).

Prices for Apple iPod and Microsoft Zune (~$249) devices really haven't seen much price differences between advertisements, and even Apple, Microsoft, or Amazon's own online prices seem to be all very close together.  Some places like Fry's & CompuUSA are selling iPods with bundles of 'free' 3rd party accessories which is about a big a deal as can be found on iPods.  It is either that or a couple of bucks off retail by WalMart or Costco which apparently has enough clout to sell iPod products below Apple's retail pricing.

There does seem to be a trend of 40-50% less $ per GB on flash based MP3 Players over the last month.  My gut tells me that this will more than likely increase the number of potential mobile podcast listeners, but given the lack of a good integrated Windows podcasting client from Microsoft, I don't see many immediate Holiday podcast listener increases from these devices.  These will more than likely be used as music listening devices.

Apple iPod near-term Holiday sales though will continue to be very strong, and after Dec. 25th I think there will be a host of new potential listeners coming from iTunes since that integration is significantly easier than others.