What Does Google+ Mean to the Music Business?
-- Whenever Google launches a new product -- especially one that will compete with social marketing powerhouse Facebook -- there is a tendency to wonder what it means for the music business. While not every Google product will have an impact on how artists and labels communicate, market or sell, this type of "what does it mean?" exercise is still a worthwhile one for Google+.
Google introduced the world to Google+ (a product name that's easier to say than to type, by the way) Tuesday in a blog post that included a YouTube video for each product feature. The videos don't have many details, but they explain Google's vision for the features and offer some views of their user interfaces. All in all, however, they come off like political campaign: short on details, long on squishy sentiment.
First, here's what Google+ will not do. Based on the information Google has given thus far, it appears Google+ will lack many of the elements that make Facebook a powerful marketing channel. There is no news feed in which to share thoughts, information (tour dates, upcoming releases), music or video. There is no place for an artist to post a collection of music streams. And there is no way for third-party developers to incorporate applications for direct-to-fan sales.
At first blush Google+ appears to be an anti-Facebook. Google is clearly aiming to encourage users to share and collaborate in small groups with more intimate and meaningful connections. In the video for the feature called Circles, the man doing the voiceover discusses his through process when creating his groups of friends. "Do I really have what it takes to take you on board as a new friend?" he asks. "Is this going to be worth it?" It's a different approach to the way Facebook users have hundreds or thousands of friends.
A few features are focused on communicating and sharing with groups of friends. The Circles feature allows users to create circles of friends with which they share information. So, for example, a person can create a group of close family members or friends from his or her hometown. Sparks is an "online sharing engine" that allows users to follow topics and share the items with their groups of friends.
There are two group communication features. Huddle is a group instant message tool that allows more than one person to communicate in real-time via text messages. The Hangouts feature creates multi-person online video gatherings.
Another feature is Instant Upload, a cloud-based storage solution that allows photos taken with mobile devices to automatically upload to the user's private album (from which they can be shared using other Google products and features).
Hangouts is the one feature that seems to have potential applications for artists. Imagine an artist creating a hangout and allowing fans to join the video chat. Google has not given an indication about a limit to the number of participants. Judging from Google's own description, however, Hangouts could be intended for, and best used by, small groups.
Again, I need to emphasize that Google has shared very little information about Google+, and future iterations could allow for more advanced direct-to-fan sales and marketing.
(The Official Google Blog)
Finnish Court Orders ISPs To Suspend 3 Subscribers
-- A Finnish court has ordered Internet service providers to disconnect three subscribers. The court's decision comes after a lawsuit by the Copyright Information and Anti-Piracy Centre (CIPAC) and the Finnish branch of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI). The two groups shared information regarding illegal actions of five subscribers and this week received an injunction related to three of the subscribers.
While the leader of the Pirate Party in Finland called the outcome "worrisome," the truth is Finland has joined a handful of other countries in fighting piracy in this way. Courts in the U.K., Ireland and Australia have ruled that graduated response measures (which may include account suspension) are reasonable and proportionate. France and South Korea have already implemented anti-piracy legislation with graduated response measures. These examples display a clear trend: a growing number of governments and courts see Internet account suspension as a viable part of anti-piracy measures.
Daily Deal Sites Market Share Rising
-- As more concert tickets and digital albums are sold through daily deal sites, it's worth paying attention to the market shares of the fast-growing daily deal companies. Groupon is losing deal volume to LivingSocial, according to daily deal aggregator Yipit. Groupon had a 48% share of daily deals in May, down from 52% the previous month. LivingSocial's share in May grew to 24% from 20%.
Just today came news from CNBC that LivingSocial is planning an IPO at a valuation from $10 billion to $15 billion (it is expected to have over $1 billion in revenue this year). The company is expected to choose an underwriting bank by the end of this week.
(Wall Street Journal)
SXSW To Launch Three-Day Sustainability Confab
-- SXSW is branching out. SXSW Eco is a three-day sustainability conference that will take place in Austin from October 4-6. There is not yet a schedule, but at the event's website organizers are taking proposals for session ideas and requests to be a speaker.