More Thoughts on MySpace Music

MySpace Music is with us finally - see my colleague David Card's blog for detailed analysis. I have a few additional thoughts:

- MySpace are in a great position to be a force in online music. Jupiter just published a report today that reveals that 12 percent of European Internet Users go to artist pages on social networking sites and that these fans are amongst the most valuable online music audience. Just under half of them are under 25 and they are more likely that all other online music consumers to pay for digital downloads and listen to online radio. These are highly engaged music fans just waiting for the opportunity to make discovery driven impulse purchases. So besides the immersion into streaming and playlisting they'll add bottom line to digital sales.
- Audience potential aside though, I'm a little under-whelmed by the new offering - this does not look like the quantum leap from their current position that I'd expected. With the exception of a new audio player the music experience isn't going to look that different. Perhaps that's the point. Seems like a missed opportunity though.
- The Amazon hook-up makes sense I guess, but it's essentially only a very involved affiliate partnership. Do MySpace either not think Apple's dominance can be sufficiently shaken to justify investment in a proprietary store or do they simply not believe enough in paid downloads as a whole?
- The tie-up with Fox-owned Jamba for ringtones is an obvious move strategically, but ringtone sales are bombing so I wonder if the next logical step here is OTA downloads? Or even integration of Jamba's music subscription offering?

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Dumbed down enough for yez? (Blog readability)

Many thanks to Brendachrist, whose Twitter feed alerted me to a nifty tool - The Blog Readability Test.

blog readability test

The Blog Readability Test informed me that this blog is comprehensible to someone with a Junior High School education. I was delighted about that. However, I hope the content is a little more sophisticated than the language. I guess the readability tool only looked at my posts in English. (I'm sorry about the lack of Japanese posts in the past few months. I'll do some more blogging in Japanese soon).

It seems that some other Forrester blogs require "genius" level reading ability. That might be because they're technology focused - and inevitably use more tech. jargon. For people who work in IT, that jargon might not be so difficult. That's why it's important to know who you're writing for.

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MySpace Music Launches at Midnight

MySpace Music is scheduled to launch tonight. It's an ad-supported free on-demand streaming service, with Amazon integrated as its download store, and some cool angles on sharing and discovery (including share-able playlists). MySpace has an interesting vision of artist stores -- where you could buy ring tones, songs, merchandise, concert tickets, etc. but that's still being fleshed out.

Since MySpace Music is a joint venture with all the big four labels, it will have a good catalog beefed up by the Orchard's strength with indies. MySpace has a good track record in building a platform for indie artists, and delivers the audiences. And MySpace has already proven itself as a leading online site for music info, discovery, and listening.

Editors will program the front page and do some curating and promoting of celebrity and MySpace user playlists -- MySpace hopes to be a path to amateur DJ stardom. Community curation and recommendation should play a part, too. JupiterResearch teen surveys show that 51% of the best teen music fans use social networks to find out about entertainment, and 35% use them to listen to music.

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First Take: PlayNow plus

Sony Ericsson today announced that Omnifone will be powering its new PlayNow plus mobile music service. For Omnifone this is a big catch, and though it leaves Music Station Max looking a little stranded, what is Best Buy's loss is their gain. For Sony Ericsson PlayNow is quite simply their answer to Nokia's Comes With Music.

Sony Ericsson is the digital heir to Sony's Walkman brand (with Sony having all but thrown in the towel in its head on fight with Apple) and had established itself as the preeminent mobile music handset brand. Some of that momentum though has been lost over the last 9 months or so, due in no small part to Nokia's Xpress Music handsets and the anticipation surrounding CWM. Sony Ericsson will be hoping PlayNow plus helps them reclaim the initiative.

Though essentially the same sort of offering as CWM, PNp has some important differences:

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Chinese food scandals

A change in tone for my blog today. This story with links is more to do with Corporate Social Responsibility than Customer Experience. It just happens to be what's on my mind right now...

If it weren't for the financial melt down, I'm sure that the tainted milk scandal would be top of the news agenda in Japan today. This isn't the first time that the safety of Chinese products has come into question - and it won't be the last.

If customers don't trust your company, it's bound to be bad for business. The FEER blog points to a noodle shop in Hong Kong, which is seeking to reassure customers by printing expiry dates on the noodles themselves.

But how does one deal with a collapse of trust in an entire country? Whenever a new scare threatens Chinese exports, we hear about new legislation, increased inspections, and draconian punishments. But it seems that the underlying problems are endemic and can't be easily rooted out.

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Airlines Getting Stricter On Business Travel

Reuters reported yesterday that airlines are going to be cutting corporate discounts or pulling contracts if businesses fail to meet their air travel commitments.

Preferred rates are negotiated with the expectation of a certain level of sales delivered. Aggressively pulling back on the discounts or contracts is new, but reflects the imperatives of today's economic environment.

For businesses, this will create a challenge. Cutting back travel will save money on travel expenses yet compromise preferred contracts. Robbing Peter to pay Paul, so to speak. Corporate travel will increasingly be viewed with more scrutiny, heightening the importance of reporting tools.

At Jupiter, we are spending a lot of time talking about the impact of the economy on travel. This impact will be discussed in our upcoming US Travel Forecast. We�re also fielding the Frequent Business Traveler Survey in the next couple of weeks with the report scheduled for November. I suspect we'll see an increase in compliance policies, both for booking with the selected provider and preferred airline.

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Missing Potter

This just isn't the same. Actually, I'm using that story on the Bollywood Hari Puttar as a cheap excuse to berate the current teen bestseller list. Let's see, the Twilight series promotes ultra traditional values: meek girls should settle down with manly vampires. And the latest in the Inheritance series, Brisingr, which I'm about a quarter of the way through, has "graduated" from a home-schooled teenager's Deep Insights on responsibility and identity to scarily S&M-colored self-actualization.

Harry Potter might have been a thinly-disguised English public school jock with geek friends and gay teachers, but at least he was concerned with balancing friendship, teamwork, & individual responsibility while battling evil. Boy, I miss Brit kid lit.

New Report Demonstrates Evidence of Significant ROI from Well-integrated Email and Online Self-service

Today we published "Online Self-Service Case Study: Carfax Cuts Support Costs and Raises Quality Through E-mail Deflection" which outlines the tactics CarFax has leveraged to reduce TCO of email and online self-service by 49 percent. Since deploying this integrated offering in 2001, Carfax has experienced dramatic and sustainable improvements in response quality, agent tenure and overall operational costs, among other benefits.

Read the report to find out how CarFax has been so successful.

European Portable Media Players Like Their Content Both Paid and Free

Jupiter has just published a new European report on portable media player (PMP) owners and their media habits. Key take aways are that European PMP owners are twice as likely as other consumers to buy digital music but are even more likely to use file sharing networks to get music, and close to half watch online video. In short, European PMP owners are, as one would expect, avid digital media consumers, but their activity isn't neatly delineated between legal and illegal. PMP owners' media activity explicitly pulls on both the formal and informal sectors, all the more significant because the behavior types are established. Simply removing piracy is not the solution and will leave a usage-need gap. Rather the case is strengthened for developing content offerings that imitate some of the basic principles of file sharing and thus offer genuine compelling alternatives.

Is Facebook Killing Apps & Widgets?

Of course not. But still. Count me among those who prefer the Facebook redesign. As a user. But as an apps/widget vendor, I can see why you'd hate it. More evidence that Facebook needs to support that piece of its ecosystem better. A long time ago, colleague Emily Riley suggested Facebook should experiment with an apps marketplace with bid-for-position placement a la paid search. And I've been saying that "monetize thyself" is a bug, not a feature.

Jupiter analysis on
- widget marketing (and Forrester's take)
- social marketers' plans for the various social networks
- social marketing budgets