Posts Tagged ‘internet’

Presenting my music biz thesis: marketing music through non-linear communication

Monday, July 18th, 2011

Hi there!

It has been two years, but my thesis is finally ready for public release. Today I am very excited to present to you the final result of this research.

The Answer is the Ecosystem: Marketing Music Through Non-Linear Communication

The music business has had particular trouble adjusting to the realities of the digital age, so I set out to develop a model that fully integrates all of these realities in order to help out artists and labels. Not only is it valuable for the music business, but for many other fields, especially those touched by new opportunities and difficulties arising from the web.

I encourage you read, share and remix my thesis, which is available at:

If you have any feedback or questions, email me at .

Bas Grasmayer

Blog // Facebook // LinkedIn // Twitter


In short

Click any of the links throughout this summary to jump right into the related section of my thesis. The designer, Ryan Van Etten, did an awesome job at creating a great platform for the thesis’ content.

The research revealed that convenience is one of the most important factors for music consumption. Due to the fact that the music industry has lost control over the distribution of their content, this desire for convenience has resulted in piracy. Meanwhile, consumers are replacing traditional media with new media with the percentage of respondents who have never bought a physical CD increasing per generation. People have different expectations as to what price is reasonable for different products. An important trend being that people enjoy consumption that feels like free, which has made that which is easily copied cheaper and that which can’t be copied more expensive. Although consumers like ‘free’, even consumers that frequently pirate music often regularly spend money on music.

As a solution to these challenges, the author recommends that artists and labels starts integrating the concept of the ecosystem into their communication strategy. The ecosystem is an active fanbase which is interconnected through non-linear communication. This means producing a ‘story worth telling’ to turn the internet’s non-linear communication and loss of control over distribution into an opportunity to get discovered. The second step is retaining the attention by connecting with listeners and connecting them to each other like the host of a party would with guests. Turning the ecosystem into a fun party helps energize the fanbase and amplifies the aforementioned ‘story worth telling’. Marketing opportunities come from listening to the ecosystem and releasing the products they want, as opposed to the classic approach of pushing the product that you want them to buy. Internet-enabled concepts such as pre-ordering and digital releases allow labels and artists to offer the ecosystem abundant choice to play into all the different expectations regarding price and product characteristics. This most likely will involve a mix of (feels like) free and publishing products or services that are better than free.

Music Biz 2.0: A Lesson on Interactivity

Sunday, November 21st, 2010

I just came across a blog post which compared the music industry to the gaming industry and made some very valid points. A short excerpt:

Just as the video game industry has continually adapted and reinvented itself in the last few decades – arcades to consoles to mobile to online to apps to ad-supported and so on – the music industry must learn to quickly spot new consumer trends and behaviors, and then adapt the technology and business models to turn those trends into new revenue streams.

  • Consumers like to be social while they are entertained. This was always true to a degree, but now even the solo-music device (the portable player) has been flipped to become the most social device (thank you, iPhone apps).
  • Consumers expect to personalize everything. We always saw it in mix tapes and remixes, but that was the domain of hardcore music lovers. Now, personalization is just an expected standard feature.
  • Consumers don’t simply want to socialize, they want to compete. Socializing isn’t simply about talking to each other and sharing, it’s about showing who is king of the hill.

My thoughts: YES! Exactly.

The huge advantage games have over music, is that games are designed to be interactive (since games were invented), while music has lost much of its interactivity since the invention of recording technologies. While the gaming industry has always had its eyes on interactivity, the music biz completely forgot about this, which brought out a very awkward situation when it was forced upon the music biz (eg. suing fans, going bankrupt, stifling innovation).

I think the best business model is an INTERACTIVE business model. This doesn’t mean that the music itself has to be interactive, but the experience of the music, the music-fan, the artist-fan, the label-fan, and the fan-fan relationship should be as interactive as possible. This interactivity is much easier to monetize and much more rewarding for fans to engage in (and also for the artists).

Some examples:
Music to fan, fan to music interactivity: a service that easily lets people make a mixtape of their favourite songs. Free to stream and share, and very cheap to download for high quality audio. Eg. 1 or 2 dollars per half hour / 7 songs. The service automatically detects intro’s, outro’s, bpm’s and keys and decides how best to merge them, if people don’t like it, they can edit it themselves via an interface such as the MixMeister one. This is not really viable for a label (not the core business), but a great idea to license one’s music to if such a service was developed.

But as a label you could also just create a site where people can buy an album in the original version, or play with the a capella’s and (extra) instrumentals, to personalize it in their own way and then buy that version. If you create something awesome, you inspire others to want to create as well, so give them a hand :)

Something I noticed after making this write-up, the blog’s author company does a great job at providing this music-fan interactivity too. Go check MXP4 out!

Artist-fan interactivity: wow, so many business models can be tied to this one! First of all, one should always be connecting with fans, because you can monetize the relationship. Attach freemium models and you’re getting somewhere. Example: give away your album for free, sell a high quality digital copy for cheap, sell a traditional CD with cool booklet for double, sell it with an autograph for 50% more… want a special greeting from the band’s favourite member on YouTube (see the Old Spice channel for examples)? Buy 2 CD’s! Or whatever (play around with the formula’s to see what works best for you). Endless opportunities.

Label-fan interactivity: many many possibilities here. For instance, invite people to actively participate in the development of new artists… Every label can have its own ‘X-Factor’ type of stuff. Get that sponsored, get income. Get people actively involved, and committed to getting their favourite artist signed (or new album developed and released) and they’ll do the promotion for you and probably spend money on some premium product too (or you can give it away if you’re really impressed by the job they’re doing as promoters).

Fan-fan interactivity: create a tribe, as Seth Godin would put it. When Die Antwoord suddenly blew up, everyone was going to their website to check out the album, because they could stream it there, but it was not yet for sale. The missed opportunity there: they had all those people sharing the same enthusiasm and passion at the same time, but they were left unconnected. What you could do for an online album release party: make a stream of the album that is set to start at a certain time. The stream is static, but you let users chat with one another. To chat, they have to use Facebook Connect or Twitter to log in (making it easier to connect with one another). If fans are connected, they will stimulate each other’s passion.

Of course you could also make some badge system, as a label, where you give people badges for attending x shows by label artists, buying x stuff from the website, getting x new active members to the community, etc etc. The badges can then be cashed in for a guest list spot (let them bring a friend, to create a new fan) or for % off, on the merchandise.

Plus you can keep leaderboards and do some very special things for the biggest fans!

Man, the music biz could be so awesome right now. It is time to WAKE UP!

Thoughts? Feel free to comment, or hit me up on Twitter.

More? Read my paper on the best practices of the online promotion of new musical content (don’t worry, it’s free).

Nickelback’s Lead Singer Replies to “Can this pickle get more fans than Nickleback?” Facebook Page

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

And he’s somewhat immature about it.

Yet another reason to become fan of the pickle. ;-)

Edit – it is claimed that this is a hoax. Consider yourselves warned. :-)

Why Google SideWiki is not the source of all evil – and how it will make the web a better place

Sunday, October 25th, 2009

With this post I hope to address some of the misunderstanding and fear mongering which surrounds Google SideWiki and other annotation services. First of all, let me explain what Google SideWiki is exactly. Basically, it’s a plugin that you install (via the Google Toolbar) that enables a sidebar on the left side of your browser. In this sidebar, you can comment on any website you visit – whether that site has enabled comments on their own site or not. This means that the website author loses control over the comments placed on the website. The video below shows how it works.

This is not the only annotation service (I prefer AddATweet), but is catching most of the attention since Google’s name is attached to it.

The response to SideWiki has been very mixed. Especially small entrepreneurs seem to be worried, voicing concerns like “what if my competitors start leaving fake negative reviews”.

Here’s how I see it…

It was never your RIGHT to control comments in the first place.

The Internet enabled this and now it’s disabling the control again. In real life, you cannot control what people say about you or your business. Since the Internet makes sharing ones opinions and reviews so easy, you better make sure you adapt to it and do a great job for others and always stay ethical! If not, sooner or later you will be called on it. This is why I also think we shouldn’t worry about competitors that try to spam your site’s SideWiki with negative comments – because if that’s their business mentality, the Web will destroy their reputation.

Google SideWiki and other annotation services make a more transparent web.

For instance, go to any hotel’s website and usually you can see customer reviews. Of course the hotels moderate these reviews, but with the Internet becoming more central to our lives by its increasing mobility (laptops, netbooks, mobile devices), it will get harder and harder to rip people off by not delivering what you promise. You have to meet expectations and exceed them if you want to succeed in a transparent world.

It’s inevitable.

To be honest, I think the cries for a ‘ban’ of Google SideWiki are absolutely ridiculous and show a complete lack of understanding of the Internet. Within the next ten years, augmented reality will become common. This would let people aim the camera of their mobile device at a restaurant and instantly receive reviews in an overlay on the screen of their mobile device – but this will be possible for every and anything. For an example of this, check out Layar in the video below.

People are already leaving comments about your business in channels you don’t own or control.

For instance on Twitter. It was just a matter of time before someone brought the reviews and the subjects of the reviews together. AddATweet has doen that, which is why I prefer AddATweet over Google’s SideWiki; it combines existing social networks with annotation… plus it doesn’t require me to download some toolbar I really don’t need or want.

The problems will solve themselves.

Yes, anonymous commenters might be a nuisance, but how much weight do people really give to such comments compared to a non-anonymous comment? Also, your personality reflects in everything that you do, so if you’re a troll, people will have trouble trusting your business and they’ll leave non-anonymous comments about this through annotation services. Perhaps there are other concerns – let’s talk about them, leave a comment!

In the end, I think these annotation services will do many times more good than bad (if they’ll do any bad at all, besides create a little more clutter to sift through).

So in short, here’s how I think annotation services, like Google SideWiki, will make the world a better place:

- Increased transparency; you can no longer say A and do B. The web will catch up with you.
- Democratization; we get to say what we want, about who we want and make others listen.
- Creating conversation; this will force any business to converse with and listen to its (potential) consumers.
- Collaboration; you can leave helpful hints for others on any website. For instance, if a website is unclear, you can point others in the right direction.

So, suck it up people. You no longer control the conversation – and you never have. If you’re worried about this, adapt your business model to something more ethical and aim to exceed expectations. Be confident! :-)

Comments? Let’s have a discussion. You can also reach me on Twitter.

Within minutes of posting this, somebody called “SidewikiSux” already tweeted that there’s a lot of “BS” here in his or her honest opinion. Not sure why. Figured I would share this to show the amount of animosity towards Google’s annotation service. Opinions don’t convince me, arguments do… Let’s DISCUSS like mature people.

Training Our Kids to Be Hackers

Sunday, August 16th, 2009

Due to the recent case against The Pirate Bay in The Netherlands, which could render The Pirate Bay inaccessible to Dutch internet subscribers, I decided to look at ways that I could access the site if it were to get banned. Not because I want to download copyrighted material from it, but because it’s one of the best ways to distribute my DJ sets to fans. If it were to get banned, the Dutch court would sever a great distribution channel that can be (and IS) used in legal ways too.

It’s not just this case that makes me wonder, but also the fact that Dutch ISPs are required to store the surfing history of their clients for 12 months. They are required to keep a whole list of information, which can be seen at the previous link. Since I don’t trust my backwards, Christian democrat government with my data, let alone the possibility of a right-wing extremist gaining access to it after the next parliamentary elections, I decided to look into proxies.

Then I realized something. Monitoring users and infringing on their privacy, but especially restricting a medium like the internet, turns users into hackers. For instance, a lot of kids are fascinated by hackers – not just because of the picture Hollywood paints of them, but also because they face a lot of restrictions on the internet. Filters on their computer or browsers at home, even worse filters at libraries or their schools, etc. So they figure out how to dodge these filters.

It’s no coincidence that in countries like Iran, or China, which have some of the most restricted internet connections in the world, there are very high amounts of hackers. This should be a warning to those trying to control the flow of information on the internet by banning sites: we, the Internet users, will become better at dodging your filters and will become even less trackable than we are now.

What this means to the content industries (movies, music) is that right now there’s a huge database of information on the use and downloading of music. If the ‘pirates’ weren’t so scared of the industries, they wouldn’t be so anonymous and the information would be even more useful for things like testing popularity of music, but also marketing music to the right people.

Another example are the recent calls in Germany to block right-wing extremist websites. The problem with this is that it will only drive this movement underground, making it harder to track them and to prevent hate crimes. They’re already getting more internet savvy. Instead of spending so much time discussing how they can censor such websites (which will NOT decrease the amount of people with right-wing extremist tendencies), maybe they should look at how they can profile different types of people that fall prey to extremist thoughts and think of ways to integrate them into society, instead of alienating them further and making them more extreme.

By blocking our access, we’re turned into hackers. We go underground. At that point, you lose your opportunity to monetize or to influence us via our favourite medium. You’re not disconnecting us from our favourite sites, you’re disconnecting yourself from us.

Image by LShave, shared under a Creative Commons license on Flickr.

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What the Ban of The Pirate Bay could mean for The Netherlands

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

This afternoon a Dutch court ruled in favour of Dutch copyright protectors, BREIN, in a case versus The Pirate Bay. Within ten days, The Pirate Bay must block access to all Dutch users. BREIN’s head honcho, Tim Kuik, is happy about the verdict, because The Pirate Bay (TPB), according to him, is simply illegal.

What does this verdict change though? Internet users can make TPB’s servers think they’re not in The Netherlands simply by using a proxy. The less tech-savvy users can simply use one of The Pirate Bay’s clones. Those that are getting paranoid can be relieved that people are constantly working on increasing the quality of filesharing and making it harder to track (see this article about HydraTorrent, which, by the way, has already copied all of TPB’s torrents). Now that The Pirate Bay is gone, will the market for music in The Netherlands suddenly be a little bit bigger? No, no, no. Only the lawyers are profiting from this.

So what does it achieve? It makes it easier for people to get websites banned if they disagree with the content. The Pirate Bay doesn’t host any copyrighted content, it links to it. It also hosts a lot of legal content, I personally use it to distribute my DJ sets, so thanks BREIN for killing one of my best distribution channels.

While living in Turkey I witnessed horrible web censorship. I couldn’t use YouTube, one of the most popular sites on the web, unless I used a proxy or some other workaround that simply kills the user friendliness. Why was YouTube banned? Because the Turkish government didn’t like the content of one of the movies on YouTube, because it was against the law in Turkey. When YouTube didn’t remove it, the government had ALL of YouTube blocked via the courts. For years! In an older post I already mentioned that the whole YouTube ban is pointless anyway. Research in’s traffic ranking system has shown that YouTube is the 10th most popular site in Turkey. Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan surprised everyone when he stated that even he uses YouTube.

Not only was YouTube banned, at some point ALL of blogger/blogspot was banned, because some blogs contained copyrighted material. The website of atheist Richard Dawkins was blocked, because somebody found it to be offensive.

In Holland, blasphemy is also illegal, so is disturbance of the peace, or insulting people. These could all be precedents to take down websites now that that door has been opened. Tim Kuik is proud, but he’s only keeping lawyers paid and limiting the freedoms of the citizens of The Netherlands.

The Pirate Bay’s Peter Sunde wants to appeal, but they’re looking for a lawyer that can do the job for free, since they’re out of money. Besides that, they’re suing Tim Kuik for slander, because he accused them of hacking BREIN’s website, which was a hoax by the way, BREIN was never hacked.

Help us out. Spread the word. Understand that blocking sites like this does not help artists make more money, it only helps LAWYERS make more money. When they killed Napster, 10 things came in its place. There is no more stopping it. The business model needs to change. That’s the only way.

Besides that, don’t buy from artists that support this. I personally won’t buy anything anymore from any artist supporting or represented by BREIN. Especially artists shouldn’t align themselves with freedom-infringing practices like this. Art is about expression, not repression and free expression only happens in free environments.

So this is what I would have looked like in the 80s

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

A Facebook app called YearBookYourself is doing its rounds and going viral because of its high level of awesome. Before I talk more of the bore, here’s what I would’ve looked like had I been 23 in the 80s.

80s Bas

Awesome, I know. Go check out YearBookYourself, upload your pic and see what you would’ve looked like anywhere from the 50s to the 2000s, with a 2 year interval. Share the results! (on your blog or in the comments! :-) )

The Death of SEO?

Monday, July 20th, 2009

As the regular readers here know very well, I’m quite the techy and invest a lot of time in the social web and the web 2.0 landscape. Doing that, I realize we sometimes take things for granted, so to speak. We feel like YouTube or Facebook have been around for an eternity, but neither of them are more than 5 years old (or open to the public for that amount of time).

The web changes, fast and so does the world around us (which this video reminds us of). Many bloggers and web fanatics, see search engine optimization (SEO) as something holy. If you just figure out the right keywords, manipulate your site’s content in such a way so that the search spiders will crawl your site and give you high traffic rankings, then you’ll be successful.

One of the most important ways in which Google gives page rankings, is links! If your content is linked to often, then it’s worth more than content that is not talked about a lot. To Google, the only content more valuable than that is the content whose publishers will pay for to promote it. Basically, Google assumes that your content is worth talking about, based on the links. The problem that arises now however, is that Google’s becoming less and less able to track the links coming from the most valuable conversations: those on social networks.

Earlier I mentioned Facebook. If you click a link on Facebook, it sends you to the page with a nice and shiny Facebook bar above it. On Facebook a link to this post would look something like this:

Instead of like this:

Popular social bookmarking service Digg also does something similar. Actually, they’re worse, because Digg is actually hijacking traffic.

Probably the most common SEO killer is the Short URL. Services like TinyURL,, and make URLs shorter so they fit into the 140 characters that Twitter offers, or just so that long and ugly URLs look more elegant or are easier to paste somewhere (sometimes email clients tend to mess up really long URLs).

Where will this lead?

  • Google’s PageRank algorhithm depends on determining what’s worth talking about.
  • Google tracks this by the number of incoming links and their weight.
  • Short URLs are becoming increasingly popular, making it increasingly difficult for Google to track what’s worth talking about.
  • As Google starts having trouble determining what’s worth talking about, people will start using other ways to search for relevant content.

Half the time I’m looking for something, I use Twitter’s search engine. Why? Well, it’s time relevant, personal, let’s you interact with those that share the content and it can reveal trends. Twitter’s engine is still a bit basic and I expect to see some marvellous services that will start rivalling Google in the coming years. OneRiot could be such an engine. Maybe it will be Friendfeed if they reach critical mass so that Friendfeed will not be just for techies anymore.

What do you think? Will social networks mean the death of SEO as we know it? What is SEO anno 2009 and what will it be five years from now? What role will social media play in this?

Share this story on Twitter or Facebook! Here’s the short URL:

Politics 2.0

Wednesday, January 7th, 2009

The influence of new media on current day politics

An essay by Bas Grasmayer

The 20th century was the age of mass media. The impact of radio during the first half of the century and that of television during the second brought politics closer to home. Starting from people grouping around the one radio in their neighbourhood, to the radio in their street, until the point that everyone had a radio in their home. The same happened for television and through these media politics entered the living room. Through sound at first, but later through moving images which became more detailed and more accurately coloured over the course of the last century.

We’re now close to ten years into the new century. Television and radio are still important, but there is a new player in the field of mass media: the internet. This essay will look at how the internet has already influenced politics and hopes to answer, in part, the following question:

How is the World Wide Web as a medium influencing
politics and the government right now?

New Media

In the 2008 US Presidential elections, politicians were seen embracing new media. Barack Obama became microblogging service Twitter’s most followed user and YouTube set up a site called You Choose ’08 dedicated to the elections. On the latter, campaign teams posted videos hoping they would go ‘viral’, a term used to describe the phenomenon of certain content on the internet being spread out through huge networks of users, which is often initially an exponential process. Ron Paul, who was running to become the Republican presidential candidate, had so much support on the internet that TIME magazine at one point commented that due to “his  success  recruiting  supporters  through  new  social  media  channels” he was “the  new  2.0  candidate”.


So long, and thanks for all the drops! (8 Reasons to Quit Entrecard)

Saturday, December 6th, 2008

I am leaving Entrecard. For a while now, I’ve been thinking about it and recent events have made the decision all the more easier. I’ve turned off advertising on my blog. When my last ad finishes, on the 16th, the widget goes. Until that time I’m still returning drops.

Entrecard is a social network for bloggers who can drop by each others’ blogs and earn credits in return. With these credits, they can advertise on each others blogs. A nice system, but in the end it’s not worth it for me.

8 Reasons to Quit Entrecard

If you’re a blogger using Entrecard, don’t take any of the following points personal. If any of them insult you, please keep reading on until the end of this article.

  1. Poorly invested time. Unless you’re on a very fast connection, it’s going to take you a considerable amount of time per day to get the best out of Entrecard. To get the best out of it, 300 drops per day is a must and its results are spectacular then. However, your time is better invested in discovering and commenting on relevant blogs, using Twitter and more actively engaging the blogosphere, because…
  2. Entrecard traffic has low value. Much of the traffic generated through Entrecard just inflates your statistics and increases your bounce rate. Many people just “drop and run”, as it’s dubbed in the Entrecard community. In the end, the traffic has more value than that of most social bookmarking services, but is for the most part still of low value.
  3. Bad quality blogs. I’ve had it with low quality blogs. There are too many of them. Poorly written content, grammar and spelling mistakes all over the place, lots of sponsored posts, bad designs. Stay away from me.
  4. Non-interesting blogs. I suppose making a blog about your cats is fun, and I’m sure it’s fun for many others to read it, but I’m simply not your target group. You don’t need me on your blog and I don’t want to be there to be honest. There are many other types of blogs I am not interested in that I had to visit because of returning ‘drops’.
  5. I don’t care about your ‘hubby‘. Dear Stay/Work At Home Mom (SAHM/WAHM) bloggers, please erase this word out of your vocabulary. If I see it one more time I will puke. Never thought this word would end up on my own blog. Refering to your spouse like this in every one of your blog posts is like two ugly people making out right in front of me. My stomach cannot help but revolt. Sorry. I guess Entrecard has brought me to your blog, but I doubt you really want someone like me there.
  6. Linkback building obsession. My God, is there an immense obsession with getting linked back on Entrecard. It’s good to get links back to your blog, because it helps to build your status in search engines. Google Bombs are proof of this. Entrecard is a BAD place to build your linkback. Firstly, you want to get linked back from blogs and sites that are relevant to your site. I don’t need topdropper links back to my page from blogs about cars.
    Secondly, I don’t want to give “link juice” out to unrelated blogs. It’s unfair to the related, relevant or highly interesting blogs that I link to. More about this on SeoBlogr. I read a better article about it recently, found it via Entrecard, but forgot to bookmark it. Doh! :-( So stop caring about your Google PageRank (PR) people, I have zero PR and I get a LOT of search engine traffic. Start worrying about writing good content, writing some linkbait and having high keyword density (but not too high or you’ll get flagged as spam ;-) ).
  7. The captain is drunk. I’ve put a lot of energy into the community on the Entrecard ship and we’ve sailed far and become friends, but the captain has been making poor choices and I suspect he’s incapable of taking this censorship much further. I love the community on board, but I’m getting off before we hit an iceberg. Graham, the owner of Entrecard, is childish and yesterday banned one of Entrecard’s top users. As you can see in the comments, many people are outraged. I think this was the final proof of Graham’s immaturity and incapacity to make the right decisions at the right time. Although Turnip‘s tweet wasn’t a great show of maturity either. ;-) While Graham is saying the negative publicity is only good for Entrecard, his poor leadership is not and new and current members will soon realize that.
  8. (more…)

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