The business of music, in particular how it relates to China

Yes, But Is It Music?

Chocolate Love
Chocolate Love (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hutong Forward
Bandwidth? What Bandwidth?
0812 hrs.

A quick, slightly irreverent digression.

Watching Channel V on a particularly jet-lagged Saturday night in Beijing, I was confronted with the MCountdown Summer Special, a live K-Pop extravaganza featuring girl-bands and a few of their male equivalents in a sort of contest, with one live performance after another. After nearly an hour of suggestive choreography, revealing costumes, plastic surgery, and male dancers used as, shall we say, props, all set to music that can most charitably be described as “unremarkable,” you are led to an inescapable conclusion: this is not music, it is soft-core porn.

For a sample, Don’t believe me? Go to your favorite online video site and look for videos by a band called “Girl’s Generation,” Korea’s own Pussycat Dolls. Try this one. Watch. Uh-huh. The appeal is decidedly more glandular than aesthetic. I don’t mean to pick on this particular group, they’re just one example of the genre.

As Richard Burger and others have proven, Asia has a schizophrenic relationship with sex. Prostitution is openly tolerated in Confucian Asia, and functional polygamy – in the form of mistresses and their male equivalents – is censured only in the extreme, usually when corruption is involved or the male shirks his marital obligations. At the same time, the region is home to some of the most repressive laws regarding pornography. Leaving Muslim Asia aside (where the public discussion of sex is limited to political spitball contests, the courtroom, and scholarly discussions on what the Koran permits), it is brutally difficult to buy, view, or download porn. Touch, the authorities seem to tell us, but don’t look.

Music videos are the exception. Across Asia they are the one place you can go to watch young, healthy, attractive females gyrate suggestively, anytime you want.

And that’s the point to all of this. If your target market is hormonally-active Asian males, regardless of age or nation, this is clearly your outlet. Forget print and movie celebs: this is where you want to spend your advertising and endorsement dollars.

The Atlantic: Management Secrets of the Grateful Dead

Very interesting treatment of the plans to put the papers of the Grateful Dead at the library of the University of California, Santa Cruz.

I want to believe that the model that the Dead used can form the underpinnings of a new entertainment and media industry, especially here in China. But to me it still sounds like so much snake oil sold by utopian info-libertarians.

I want very badly to be wrong. How cool would it be, after all, if we could discover the future of the media business by plumbing the papers of a legendary rock band

Another Reason the Long Tail Doesn’t Exist in Chinese Music

Beneath Kerry Center Beijing

I love the smell of fresh paint in the evening

1625 hrs.


Beijing music promoter Ed Peto posted a superb article on OUTdustry a few days ago that dissected the way the Chinese music business develops hot new artists.

They don’t.

A&R, Chinese Style

They use homemade monitoring systems to identify the songs that are getting the most play and illegal downloads on the Internet. When they see that they already have a hit on their hands, they swoop in, sign the artist, and promote the hell out of the ringtones.

Ed believes, with some justification, that this has led to the homogenization of music in China. We don’t have a host of genres, sub-genres, and the like. What we have is millions of people all listening to the same straight-up-the-middle stuff. Ed sees a bad moon rising:

“What has resulted is a kind of echo-chamber effect, in which only the low common denominator, crowd-approved pop music is fed back into the network through these curated bottlenecks. The priority of the Chinese labels is to please the network and make it into these bottlenecks, not push musical boundaries forward, as failure to make it into these top strata of recognition brings with it a hefty price. As one of the only other major sources of industry income, brands focus the bulk of their sponsorship monies on the highly viable hit artists, compounding the relatively anonymous non-chartees to further suffering.”

Ed makes a convincing case, and no doubt this “echo-chamber” has a lot to do with the vast differences between the Chinese and foreign music industries. And the part of me that believes that a healthy diversity of acts and a great talent scout (known in the biz as an artists and repertoire, or A&R guy) is the key to success in the music business wants to believe he is right.

I’m not gonna try it…

But the not-so-hidden hand of opportunistic moguls is not the only factor at work in China. First, it is essential to step back and understand the consumer behavior on a wider stage. China is an insanely referential culture, which means that people – especially young people – make consumer choices of all types in large part because of the social implications of those choices. You pick your music, your phones, your clothes, your shoes, your hairstyle, and make dozens of other choices in an effort to be a part of a group.

Making choices outside of the set “norm” in your peer group is risky behavior. At best, you will be the recipient of some serious ribbing, and at worst you will be shunned for making an errant choice.

Not too long ago, I asked my nephew why he used a certain brand of mobile phone. He told me “sure, I hate the way it looks. The quality sucks. But everyone else in my dorm owns the same phone, and if I go and buy another brand, people will give me a hard time. Worse, if it doesn’t work, I look like an idiot in front of everyone.”

Thus it is with music. Young people – insecure beasts in any culture – are in China constrained more by fear of being wrong than by discomfort with conformity.

Too young to know

Second, some historical perspective is in order. If you have seen the movie School of Rock with Jack Black, you might remember a blackboard diagram his character drew laying out the evolution of rock music. If you don’t remember, click this for a fast look.

Done? Good. I’ll continue.

What you will notice is that the diverse, multi-genred and sub-genred American music scene was by no means always thus. In fact, if you go back as recently as the 1940s, popular American music was a pretty monotone place. Classical, jazz, ragtime, big band (swing), and country was about as diverse as it got. Any given city had maybe half a dozen radio stations, and there was a lot of sameness in the programming.

Sounds like China today, huh?

Back to the U.S. in mid-century. Pop music grew up in the 1950s, folk came to the fore, country began to diversify, and rock-and-roll hip-thrusted onto the scene. Sometime between 1955 and 1963, an explosion in diversity and variety took place, both feeding and being fed by a generational shift and political and social change. Nearly a half century later, we have as many types of music as there were popular acts when my parents were kids.

A little perspective is in order. China’s music business is young, China’s youth culture is just beginning to evolve into the socially sanctioned “rebellious period” we know of in the west.

And remember – China is but three decades removed from the largest spasm of enforced social conformity in the history of the human race, the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. For centuries, if not millennia, you excelled in Chinese society by being redder than red or more Confucian than Confucius. The rebellion, the urge to non-conformity, thinking in a way that deviates from the norm has not been beaten or bred out of the Chinese, but it is going to be a while before young people allow those urges to bloom enough that being different will be cool. And it is the coolness of difference that nurtures diversity of tastes and behavior.

It is against such a background that true musical diversity will bloom. And when that happens – just as it happened in the west – the suits in the music business will have no choice but to follow.

The Dragon’s Longer Tail

The change could start literally at any time. The early signs of it are there – not least of which was 25,000 young Chinese singing along with Linkin Park at the top of their lungs in Shanghai last year, plus a growing club scene, and the falling cost of composing, producing, and uploading your own music.

What China needs more of is Ed Peto. I’m not calling on the nation to clone one passionate Englishman. Rather, I think the time is quite near when a small but passionate group of young Chinese and foreigners are going to kick the Chinese music scene into serious overdrive.

China’s rich music heritage meets the world’s music meets a quarter of a billion kids who just wanna have fun.

The mind reels.

IPR Protection: Beyond Law and Enforcement

In the Hutong

Sore from power-walking

1635 hrs.

In conducting my technology and intellectual property rights (IPR) panel with the Notre Dame Medoza b-school students last week, I realized in the midst of Eric Priest’s comments that the problem of IPR protection in China was too often painted as a two-dimensional issue.

Laws, cops, and jails

The first dimension is law, or the extent that China has on its books the statutes, treaties, regulations, and administrative procedures to protect patents, trademarks, and copyrights. I’m no lawyer, but I defer to the three attorneys on my panel (two of whom were Ph.Ds) who seemed to agree that the legal structure to protect intellectual property rights is in place in China.

The second dimension (and the one that gets all of the attention) is enforcement. Okay, China, the world seems to say, you have all of these wonderful laws to protect intellectual property of all kinds. So why are companies, individuals, and institutions violating these laws everywhere in China with seeming impunity?

And here we have the problem. The lawyers, organizations, and government negotiators fighting to protect intellectual property rights in China are focused on getting more cops to shut down more factories, arrest more people, jail them longer, fine them more, and prove to the rest of the population that messing with intellectual property law is a ticket to jail. They use that old logic “kill one to save a hundred.”

As much as it might enrage some of those defenders of intellectual property rights to say this, there are not enough cops, jails, or judges in China to end the problem purely by judicial means. (In fact, I’d suggest that even in the most developed societies, the tools of enforcement were only ever meant to be used in the relatively rare cases of overt, commercial violation of patent, copyright, and trademark laws.) And there never will be.

The Law is Not Enough

Eric Priest, one of my co-panelists at the Notre Dame seminar, is a trained lawyer with two law degrees, and even he is impatient with those who leave the IPR to their attorneys:


“Both domestic and international entertainment companies have tried the litigation path in China with little success. Major Chinese search engines like Baidu.com and Yahoo.cn have deep pockets and are far and away the most popular channel for accessing free music files online in China, so they were natural targets for contributory infringement suits. But murky legal issues (Baidu won on appeal because the court found it only aggregated links to content but did not in fact serve the content itself, while Yahoo.cn was found iable for infringement under similar circumstances) and notoriously low damages for infringement available under Chinese law have left copyright owners with little recourse, and emboldened internet companies to continue to conspicuously serve up free, unlicensed content.”

Eric suggests that the better approach is to create business models that ensure compensation for the artists and labels as well as the company profiting from their distribution. In the paper he lays out three potential business models that could be used in China. Without doubt, new models need to be created, tested, revised, and perfected, and therein lies a major part of the opportunity.

The problem with the model approach is that any new model hoping for adoption must deliver a experience that is superior for the consumer to the model it is replacing. A painful number of models fall short of that promise. Some of the largest companies in the world have failed to deliver a superior book-reading experience on a mobile device, and the jury is still out on Amazon’s geographically limited (and still expensive) Kindle. Conversely, home video has taken off because it offers an experience that is in many ways superior to the cinema. And iTunes turned music downloads into a mainstream experience.

In China, technologists cannot stop at creating business models that satisfy the music supply chain: they have to offer something that is so much superior to free music that people will be willing to pay for it. And then the people will need to be sold. Ask Steve Jobs: even the best experiences in the world don’t sell themselves. For all of its virtues, Apple had to market the hell out of the iTunes experience to drive uptake beyond an initial core of users. Success for any business model will require a greater effort still.

Win their hearts and minds and their wallets will follow

Which brings us to my point. As much as lawyers may wish us to believe that law and enforcement should be adequate, as much as engineers may wish us to believe that technology offers a silver bullet, as much as entrepreneurs believe that smart models are the solution, they are all ignoring one more important piece:

Compliance. Voluntary compliance.

I’ll put that in short words: people have to want to do the right thing. Then you have to give them an opportunity (business model.) Then you have to make non-compliance inconvenient (DRM, or something better that replaces it). Then you have to make breaking the law downright costly (laws/cops/courts/jails/fines). You need every element in that chain if IPR is ever to have any value. Because you can put all of the technical and legal solutions in place that you want, but until you have convinced the consumer that compliance is in his best interest, too, he or she will find ways around it.

You make it personal. You make it meaningful. You make a civic and more importantly a social virtue out of compliance. You make that individual feel like he or she is doing something important every time they lay cash down for something they could get for free. No. I will not do that. It’s not right.

Is doing that going to be easy? Absolutely not. This is what management texts refer to as “a big, hairy-assed goal.” But the industry uses the size of the task to justify not undertaking it. They tell themselves “it is too hard. You cannot change Chinese culture, and anyway it is easier and cheaper to hire more lawyers and get our industry associations to talk smack about the Chinese government in congressional hearings.”

Yes, it will be a long, difficult, and costly process, but so is the current effort to push for enforcement. The industry has spent millions pushing for better laws in China. It is spending tens of millions on enforcement and litigation. How much is it spending on getting people to want to pay for something they are used to getting for free?

It may take a generation or more to change the way people behave. But it can be done, and it must be done if artists – songwriters, composers, and performers – are ever to have a trade in China, and if the music business as a whole is ever to thrive.

And the time to get started is now, if not sooner.

Hollywood Icon Comes East

In the Hutong
Rolling with the changes
1842 hrs.

The Hollywood Reporter, long essential morning reading for the entertainment industry in the United States, Europe, and elsewhere, has had permanent roots in China for a couple of years now, with an official bureau led by Jonathan Landreth. The THR staff have provided a much-needed addition to the coverage of the music, film, television, and new media industries here in China. With occasional exceptions, however, much of the fine reporting coming out of THR in China has been trapped behind a firewall.

That all changed today, when THR launched The Hollywood Reporter Asia, a website that not only allows us to see the superb coverage coming out Jonathan and his team here in China, but also regional and global industry news. One other thing I really like about THR-Asia is that it is edited right here in Beijing, underscoring Beijing’s growing role as the media center of the region.

Give it a look. Personally I’m adding it to Danwei.org as part of my daily routine. If I have one quibble, it is the lack of an RSS feed, but I understand that with THR offering their content for free, they want you in the site for the ads. A small price to pay.

Picture 2

eKarma: Have a Little Virus, Pirates

Third Ring Road East
Breathing deep the inversion layer
1022 hrs.

Steven Schwankert of Village Grouch fame wrote an excellent piece for IDG (picked up here in The Washington Post) describing how Chinese fans seeking to download illegal copies of Ang Lee’s excellent film “Lust, Caution” are finding on their hard drives not a copy of the film, but with software that pops a nasty little trojan virus into their systems.

There are several interesting aspects to this story.

Virus? What Virus?

First, it was apparently found and addressed by Kaspersky Lab and Rising Software well before it came up on the collective radar screens of Symantec, McAfee, and TrendMicro. One wonders why this is the case, particularly given that Symantec and McAfee tout the value of their software in part based on their global scanning for viral threats. I am especially concerned about TrendMicro, who have a huge presence in China and who make a great deal about their expertise as an “Asian” security company.

It also suggests that the malware threat in China is growing and diversifying. From dorm rooms filled with budding software engineers, to the challenges facing the country’s law enforcement teams, to the quiet but rapid growth of China’s cyberwar military-industrial complex, the country has become as much a haven and spawning ground for creators and distributors of Malware as the United States or any other country. This would seem to argue for greater investment by the computer security vendors in local labs who can not only find but anticipate new threats.

As an aside, it would also seem that companies like Symantec are destined to become major defense contractors. But we digress.

The Empire Strikes Back

Second, it seems that Hollywood (including the music and TV people as well as the film side of the business) and the software industry may have inadvertently discovered a way to slow online piracy and perhaps even the growth of downloaded content. All the studios – or, better yet, the MPA and the Business Software Alliance – need to do is hire a few good hackers to come up with some particularly nasty viruses and spread them around online disguised as illegitimate digital copies of random applications, movies, and music files.

Sure, the viruses would not deter the most determined or careful downloaders, and the anti-virus companies would inevitably come up with fixes. But imagine, for a moment, the fear, uncertainty, and doubt this would wreak among the less-expert. The mere possibility that these files would include viruses would be enough to drive a lot of marginal downloaders away from illegitimate downloading (and probably a few away from legit downloads as well).

Naturally I would expect clearer heads in the PR and legal departments of these organizations to prevail, ensuring that neither Hollywood nor the software industry would ever actually subsidize – or even publicly condone such practices. But you can easily imagine how such an option must tempt some people in places like Redmond and in the Black Tower.

Indeed, if the matter of digital rights management has proven anything, it has proven that Hollywood and many large software concerns believe that extremism in the defense of intellectual property is no vice, and that goodwill is readily sacrificed in that battle. If anything will keep hackers from high-powered lunches at the Ivy or the Fulton Fish market, it is the fear of court costs.

Nonetheless, it is fascinating, if not a bit disconcerting, to think that there is a commonality of interest between the creators of malware and the creators of movies.

Engineer, Engage the FUD Pump

What I do expect is that the IPR-driven industries will kick into gear a semi-coordinated propaganda effort to ensure that stories like the “Lust, Caution” become as widely known as possible, so that the threat is seen as being far larger and more serious than it really is. This costs them little, supports their goals magnificently, and enables the studios and developers to position themselves as defenders of the public interest.

Which, frankly, is the smarter way to handle it. You steal, you pay. Or, you pay, we protect.

For all the failings implicit in Hollywood’s approaches to the IPR issue and digital entertainment, let’s not lose sight of the most important fact – downloading illegal files is theft, theft is wrong, and anyone who does so willfully probably deserves a hard drive filled with malware.

Music Does Matter, Especially When It Is Mobile

In the Hutong
Dreaming of clear sinuses and carbohydrates
1958 hrs.

Lots of big music industry folks down at Music Matters in Hong Kong last week. For those of you not familiar with the confab, it is basically an opportunity for everyone who touches the music business to sit down and talk about the business in Asia.

The attendees included EMI, Mercury Records, Sony BMG, Universal Music, and Warner Music Group, along with a host of other companies in different parts of the industry.

It’s Like a Royal Navy Symposium, circa 1740

Naturally, at the top of everyone’s agenda was piracy, and that got a lot of play. Reading the coverage each music executive sounded like a cross between Babbit and Marvin the Paranoid Android, spinning tales of woe about how they are all getting ripped off by those bad kids ripping their pirated CDs.

Research house Synovate contributed their little bit to the gloom, with survey results from around the region suggesting that one out of five of Asia’s young urban consumers purchased a bootleg CD in the last month, and one in four downloaded an illegal song from the Internet. Synovate’s stuff is interesting, but all it offered was a snapshot rather than some inkling of how some of those numbers might be evolving.

The downer of the session likely came from industry group IFPI, who estimate that piracy costs the music business $400 million annually around the region.

Now, that’s not good, certainly, and we here in the Hutong are scrupulous – nay, anal – about legitimate content. But with clients and family in what has become affectionately known as “the Biz,” I’ll grant we are no test case.

Nonetheless, there is a sunny side to the music business in Asia, and the folks at the record labels appear to have a lot more to be happy about than the movie, television, and shrinkwrapped-software crowds.

The Music Industry Eats Its Wheaties in Asia

Brian Bremmer at BusinessWeek did a nice write-up on the program (“Asia’s digital Music Free-for-All“,) and he points to the PriceWaterhouse Coopers study that estimates Asia’s digital music industry at over $4.2 billion. In other words, if you believe the stats, digital music sales alone, not counting sales of CDs or cassettes, is four times LARGER than the total estimated piracy losses in the region. Think the MPA would kill for those kinds of stats? You bet. And the digital music industry is supposed to rise to over $9.35 billion in Asia.

(Okay, so can we fess up to the idea that digital media is not such a terrible thing after all? That while it eases piracy and cuts down on album sales because people are just buying the tracks they want, that it really is a significant market?)

And you need to look at what is driving the market: mobile phones. PWC says that 85% of that $4.2 billion were songs downloaded directly to music-enabled mobile phones. Half of the people MTV surveyed in Asia said they would listen to music more if they had a mobile music device like a music-enabled handset.

The Future of Music is Mobile

You look at all of these numbers, and you are led to a couple of inescapable conclusions:

1. Piracy sucks and still exists in Asia. (It still exists in America, for that matter, but we digress)

2. The future of music in Asia is mobile, and it’s a robust business already with huge growth prospects. Any artist, label, distributor, or retailer not doing everything they can to make legitimate music more accessible to Asia’s one billion (and growing) mobile device owners is both ignoring their future and giving the business away to pirates.

The challenge is for the industry to work together to make listening to music an increasingly fast, easy, and delightful experience. The model is there and its working. Now the challenge is to broaden the appeal.

It’s absolutely stunning Apple didn’t own this event. My friends at Apple need to get their collective act together. The music lovers in this region are shopping at other vendors and building that habit. Don’t wait for long, guys. The market sure won’t.

Nokia the iPod Killer? Bwaaaaaaaaaahahahahahahahahaha….

Somewhere on Jingshun Road
Enjoying the Africa-induced gridlock
1047 hrs.

An article by Alexander Dryer entitled “Apple Chomper: How Nokia can knock the iPod from its perch ” that was kindly forwarded by Neil Kothari has me wondering, once again, about what sorts of hallucinogenic substances they must put in the coffee over at Slate. Dryer, it seems, is convinced that Nokia’s N91 is the long-awaited iPod killer.

He cites all sorts of reasons: it has an 8gb hard drive, it’s sofware is usable, it is a “good” music player (only good, huh?) and a superb phone. Nokia has purchased Loudeye so it can build online stores for carriers. Also, Nokia sold 89 million phones last quarter vs a mere 8.7 million iPods. Oh, and it is opening sleek retail stores that copy Apple so slavishly that it has actually hired the same designer.

That’s why Nokia is the Apple killer?

Sorry, but I’m somehow not convinced.

I suppose it was inevitable that Nokia would try, given the long and distinguished list of firms that have gone before them. But the history of the consumer products industry over the last five years is replete with the corpses of companies that have tried to knock the iPod from its perch by a range of means and have returned from the fight mauled by wounds mostly self-inflicted. I’m afraid Nokia will be no more successful trying to kill the iPod with its candy-blob phones than it was when it tried to whomp Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft in the portable game player business with the über-flop N-Gage.

Here are the reasons I would say this effort is a non-starter, in general but especially in Asia:

One Expensive Candy-Blob
Charging $599 retail for a “good” 8gb music player and a great phone will kill this. I can buy a great 80gb music player and a great phone for less money. I’m hardly a music aficionado, but after I loaded my 300-odd CDs and some podcasts onto my player, I was well into 20+ gigs, and that’s before adding video and any data files I want to carry. And I’m sorry, but I can’t be bothered with having to choose what songs go into my player and what songs stay on my drive, and if I wanted something that loaded only a playlist or two for jogging or commuting, I don’t need 8gb. I need 1gb.

The other problem with the device is storage. Dryer is quick to dismiss flash. He should slow down and think about what happens to battery life when you throw a winchester hard-drive drive into a phone. All those moving parts suck juice. I can live with 12 hours battery life – less – on my iPod. I cannot live with charging my mobile phone every 12 hours, or even every 24. You buy and N91, and you had better be ready for the music function to make your “great phone” less than adequate in use. “Yes, I’d like three batteries with that, please.”

Oh, and one more thing on price: competitors like Motorola and Samsung have already introduced phones in different parts of the world that do everything this product does, PLUS provide satellite TV, for the same or less money. So even on the basis of functions, the N91 is a loser.

Help Us North America – You’re Our Only Hope
Fighting Apple in North America is just plain bad strategy. It is Apple’s home market, the one where it is most deeply embedded, and where the total Apple ecosystem is strongest and, frankly, where Nokia’s brand name is weakest. Europe, Latin America, and Asia, on the other hand, are much less Apple country and are places where Nokia traditionally has stronger market presence. (Indeed, I’ve been involved in long, late-night debates over whether or not Apple really sees Asia (ex Japan) as a strategic market. Corporate structure and marketing efforts to date leave that in question.)

Further, they are parts of the world where the mobile music usage model is still in its formative stages. People aren’t used to carrying music players, but they ARE used to carrying mobile phones, and are already proving more amenable to using their phones as their primary music players.

Of course, Nokia is losing these battles as well, especially in Asia. Against the N91, over 75% of Motorola’s phones are music enabled. The second-generation ROKR – the E2 – has been doing brilliantly, as has Motomusic.com, which is the largest legitimate music download service in greater China. Sony-Ericcson, Samsung, and LG have taken up large chunks of the mobile music market, and Nokia is showing up late at the party with a product too large for the Asian hand, pocket, or purse. So perhaps Nokia is putting so much focus on the U.S. because it hopes the lighter competition will help. Or maybe they think U.S. consumers will be less sophisticated than their counterparts in Japan, Korea, China, and Hong Kong.

It’s the Music, Stupid
The one thing I haven’t seen in all of this discussion of Nokia’s supposed ascendancy has been any relationships the company might be forging with record labels and artists. If you will recall, it is exactly those relationships – with the actual owners and creators of content – that gave iTunes its legitimacy among consumers and gave sales of downloads legitimacy with artists and labels. Unless Nokia lines up the backing of major labels – and the independent artists who are generating more and more of the world’s leading music – the ecosystem will not materialize, and the operators will go elsewhere.

This all assumes, of course, that Nokia is genuinely interested in making the legitimate discovery, purchase enjoyment and sharing of music part of its overall strategy. The other possibility – far more likely, IMHO – is that it could care less about whether the music is legitimate or not, as long as the phone sells. Short of a clear commitment to digital rights management and relationships with labels and artists at all levels, it would be hard for Nokia to claim that the N91 and its siblings do much more than provide pirates with a way to enjoy music.

It’s the Experience, Stupid
Mobile music is about much more than “stick it in the phone and listen.” The full experience includes discovering the music, purchasing it, storing it, playing it, and sharing it. From what I can tell, storing and playing seems to be covered, but as noted above actually discovering the music, purchasing it, and sharing it are missing.

Finding new music – or at least a song we’ve heard that we like – is an essential part of the entire experience. If it wasn’t HMV, Amoeba, Tower Records and the Virgin Megastore would have exited the business long ago. In countries like Asia where radio is basically a dying medium, other means of musical discovery are becoming ever more critical to the health of the music industry. The ability to conduct limited sharing of music, to provide an online alternative to radio, and to share information about music and artists with others of similar taste lies at the core of a successful system. I don’t see that coming from Nokia so far, and given that they’ve got music devices out there, it’s pretty clear that in Espoo Finland, the device comes first, and the experience is an afterthought – an unnecessary evil.

Clearly, Nokia have it backward.

This is the company that’s going to beat Apple? I think not.