Digital Music News mentions UI, multi-platform and interoperability

29 Mar 2010 - 4:53pm
6 years ago
1 reply
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Thought this would be interesting to the media & entertainment usability folks.

Resnikoff's Parting Shot: Presentation Matters...

It's something they teach in the second grade.  'Presentation matters'.  But how much does presentation matter in digital music?  The answer is surprisingly complicated, and incredibly important to the future of this industry.

The concept of presentation goes beyond cosmetics.  How easy is it to store, access, and experience the music?  Aspects like UI, multi-platform interoperability, and overall elegance matter.  But can a perfectly-executed application change fan behavior, and create new revenue streams?  Or, are consumers willing to play with something sloppier, as long as it satisfies some basic requirements and comes for free?

The questions are more than academic, especially as American labels ponder Spotify.  On one hand, interface and elegance are everything; look no further to Apple and the iTunes Store for proof.  Prior to 2003, the paid download was a hassle, one that included the headaches of non-interoperability, ridiculous tethering, and spotty catalogs.  After the introduction of the then-called 'iTunes Music Store,' things changed, and the proof comes from ten billion transactions.

Or does it?  According to the IFPI, paid song downloads are still just 5 percent of the broader download pie, the rest reserved for free file-sharing.  So, 19 out of 20 times, fans are gravitating towards the sloppy, free experience, and that only includes downloads.  Songs on-the-cheap are riddled with bad metadata, variable recording quality, premature cut-offs, and even more nefarious problems like spyware, adware, and even viruses.  Whether Limewire, the Pirate Bay, or Skreemr, this is not a game for perfectionists, but one that fans continue to play.

Then again, those freely-acquired tracks find their way back to the elegance of iTunes+iPod, or more updated, iTunes+iPod+iPhone+iPad.  Warts and all, the ugly downloads dance at the pretty ball, and fans seem willing to compromise.

Jimmy Iovine decries the degradation of fidelity; other aficionados-turned-

entrepreneurs think that fans are toiling under bad metadata.   But these are perspectives that come from a lifelong passion for music, one dialed far beyond the typical fan.  Outside the bubble, life is different.  Sure, consumers like enhancements, but for most, 'good enough' is 'good enough,' and the more refined listeners can upgrade at any time.

But what happens when quality comes handed on a platter?  In the case of Spotify, fans jump on board.  In terms of numbers, that means seven million fans across six European countries, of which 4-5 percent are paying premiums (according to the company).  But stateside, is that enough to radically shift the numbers achieved by Rhapsody and Napster?

Spotify supporters argue that the enhanced experience changes the game; that the elegant presentation suddenly makes the cloud a viable, monetizable entity.  But the experience of Apple has shown that elegance pays, but only to an extent.  When the wallets are drawn, most scamper.

And, if Spotify fails to ramp premium on-demand, who can?  An even better experience, waiting in the wings?

Make no mistake, the cloud is more complicated than Spotify.  Apple has yet to weigh in, though the better experience could come from MobileMe-style access to existing collections.  Others like ZumoDrive are pushing similar interpretations on the cloud, ones that offer less monetization but are still great for consumers.

Perhaps the pretty package only goes so far.  A dreamy version of the future is that music fans will surrender their archaic collections, and gladly pay a monthly access fee for the comprehensive and elegantly-delivered cloud.  Easy, neat, elegant, on-demand from wherever.  But the future has a way of writing itself, and the more complicated reality is already starting to emerge.

Of course, everyone wants to deliver tomorrow, and fans will have a selection of well-heeled options.  But the winning experience will involve more than just a pretty interface, and for that matter, more than one access point.  Indeed, presentation will matter more than ever, but consumers may once again cobble together an experience that mixes elegance with the unrefined.

Paul Resnikoff, Publisher.



19 Apr 2010 - 4:37am

When somebody says that iPad is the number one coolest gadget of the generation, I have no reaction to that, more so no doubt to that! But have you heard about the Dell Streak 7 and 10-inch tablets? Guess what, There is information we don’t yet have about the Dell Streak. There is no price on any of the devices yet, and ship dates for the Dell Streak 7 and 10 inch devices are still not available. The Amazon Kindle and also the iPad had better watch out for the Dell Streak. No, the "Dude you're getting a Dell!" guy isn't really pledging a fraternity – Dell is releasing two tablet pc models next year, one with a 7 inch screen one with a 10 inch screen. For the rest of this year, they'll release a Dell Streak 5 inch screen model in time for the holidays and techies to get some pay day loans and get the hot new toy. There is not an official release date yet, but since individuals have a tendency to lose their minds over everything these days I'm sure it can be a huge deal.

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