From Wednesday to Sunday, I was in Belgium, taking part in the Meeting of the Minds conference in Antwerp:
On my way, I spent a few hours in Brussels (taking the Eurostar train from London) before getting on a train to Antwerp. I had lunch with BookMooch fan and Associated Press Reporter Aoife White, a Dubliner who's relocated to Brussels since a few years. Found out that she'd mooched two books from my wife, which was an amazing connection.
I spent a few hours at the Music Instrument Museum in Brussels. Here are a bunch of photos from that:
Wednesday night kicked off with me having dinner with Bob Young, the CEO of Lulu.com and founder of Red Hat Linux. We had met a year earlier in London, but I didn't have BookMooch launched at that time, so I didn't talk to him about it then. I had told our mutual friend Laurie Racine (also a CC Board Member) about some ideas I had for Lulu and BookMooch to work together, and she wanted us to meet. As often happens, the best way to meet busy people is when they're away from home. We ate at the Michelin-starred super-casual Gin Fish Restaurant where the chef brings you whatever he wants, and he makes different food each night (mostly fish). Bob & I gabbed late into the night, and we hope to figure out a way that Lulu and BookMooch could work together.
At the conference, I met French super-blogger Loic Lemeur. He's also a compulsive serial entrepreneur, and we got on famously. Most recently he was working for Six Apart, but he's a free agent now and he bounced a half dozen business ideas off me (I wasn't of much help, unfortunately).
My presentation assignment was "What will the Internet be like in 2020?". A PDF of my presentation slides are below. I believe there are also plans to put video of the presentations on the web, and I'll put that up here when it's available.
I shared a 90 minute cab ride each way to the Free University of Brussels with BBC Creative Archive project leader Paul Gerhardt. I've known a number of people who've worked on that project, but never met Paul. After 3h trapped with me, I'm sure Paul had enough of my babbling about CC, Magnatune, and all that, but we got on well and promised to meet up in London, where Paul also works with a number of other UK groups that are running their own Creative Archive inspired projects.
The conference had us stay in the conference center "Elzenveld", which has some connection to Erasmus (I couldn't read the Flemish sign) and evidently has ghosts associated with it:
to meet up for lunch in Brussels with Laurent and Sylvain, the geniuses behind music-web-site Jamendo.
Report on Amarok sales of Magnatune music
In November, Linux music player Amarok shipped with Magnatune support built-in.
As far as overall sales go, I'm very pleased as they've been strong and consistent.
Here are the stats:
- 473 albums sold through Amarok Since October 31st 2006 to April 20th 2007.
- representing $3579 in purchases
- after the visa processing fee is taken off the top, this is $3,198.84, which then means $320 for Amarok. Annualized, at this current rate, this should be around $1,000 a year for Amarok, and $10,000 for Magnatune, which is absolutely great, as I'm happy to support them.
- I expect that these numbers could easily be 2x to 3x more once the main Linux distros really start shipping with the magnatune support (Suse just started, Ubuntu is about to)
- the sales are very consistent -- a few albums sell because of Amarok almost every day, which suggests the feature is not viewed as a gimmick, but as something that is used regularly. The chart at the right shows how rock-solid reliable they are.
iTunes features Magnatune artist
A few months ago, I met the classical music representative from iTunes, at Skywalker Studios where Magnatune artist Lara St John was recording a new album. Lara has a separate agreement with iTunes, and she's one of their best-selling artists.
I struck up a conversation with him, and now have a good relationship with iTunes (at least on the classical side).
They indicated an interest in promoting some of our new releases (the ones that interest them), if we were willing to give them an exclusive time period, where the album was only available on iTunes, and not on the Magnatune web site.
We're trying that now, with a recording by Philharmonia Baroque of Beethoven's 9th, which iTunes now has for sale at their store. iTunes is advertising the album on the top of the classical page (the ad rotates with a few other ads).
Apple isn't yet giving us the power indicate "no DRM" but as soon as they do, we'll be selling no DRM audio on iTunes.
In other news, I've been working with digital distributor IODA for a few months to help them finalize their bulk-import standard. IODA will help us get the rest of our catalog into iTunes, because we've found that iTunes mostly doesn't like to work directly with non-major labels. I just got notification from IODA yesterday that they're ready to start importing using their new XML import standard. We're the first with them to ever use this new bulk method, as previously every album had to have all its details hand-typed into an excel spreadsheet. Magnatune music should start appearing on iTunes fairly soon now, which I'm excited about. It should also appear on eMusic and a few other music services.
Traveling all over Europe
Over the next few months I'm going to be traveling a lot.
If you live somewhere I'm traveling too, please drop me an email and let's meet up and have coffee!
- April 21-24 : London (at home)
- April 25-29 : Antwerp (participating in the Meeting of Minds: the user is content [re: BookMooch])
- April 30-May 12 : London (at home)
- May 13-May 24 : Northern Italy (mix of vacation, and Magnatune business visiting Montisi Harpsichord Center). I'm traveling with my good friend Mary Deissler.
- May 25-28 : Zurich, Switzerland. Giving the keynote presentation for the launch of Creative Commons Switzerland.
- May 28-30 : Copenhagen, Denmark traveling to a conference in Aarhus
- May 30-June 2 : Aarhus, Denmark speaking on behalf of Magnatune at Knock Knock, The Future of Music
- June 2-4 Copenhagen, Denmark : relaxing for two days
- June 4-14 London : back home relaxing for two days
- June 14-18 Dubrovnik, Croatia : speaking and partipating the iCommons Summit.
- June 19-July 31st Berkeley, California : back home, 6 week break from traveling, phew!
- August 1st-August 31st Stockholm, Sweden : a summer month relaxing in a great Northern European city
Podcasting News pieces on Magnatune
Two podcast news services recently ran small stories on Magnatune.
This one, a few days ago from Podcasting News:
and this one, yesterday on Podcast Fresh:
which then led to this followup today on Podcasting News:
Survey results of top magnatune customersThere's an Economist by the name of Tobias Regner (http://ssrn.com/author=404730) who writes a lot about digital music and other Internet topics, and he really likes Magnatune's "pay what you want model". He wrote a famous paper about it in 2005, which is at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=721596 and it got a bit of press, which is really helpful to Magnatune.
Tobias wants to do another paper on Magnatune, and asked me to send his survey to the top Magnatune customers.
I sent his survey to about 600 people, being those who have purchased 10 or more albums from Magnatune. The resuls are anonymized, and a summary of the results is visible below. About half of the questions were text fill-in, and thus couldn't be summarized, so I haven't included them below.
A few interesting details about our more-than-10-albums-purchased people surveyed:
- only 18% of them are under 30, and 42% of them are over 50
- 47% of them are not American
- Overwhelmingly male (92%)
- Not especially wealthy (51% make between $1000 and $4000 a month)
- Indicate they very much like returning favors (err.. or they probably wouldn't have filled out this survey)
CARE licenses Eastern Grooves CD for fundraising
Free gift cards for charities & events
iTunes going mostly non-DRM, as is EMI
The BBC is reporting that EMI is removing the DRM on its iTunes music.
EMI said every song in its catalogue will be available in the "premium" format. It said the tracks without locks will cost more and be of higher quality than those it offers now.
More interesting to Magnatune, is that iTunes will now support no-DRM
He (Jobs) said the more than half of all the tracks available in the iTunes store would be available DRM-free by the end of the year. ... Apple boss Steve Jobs ... said: "This is the next big step forward in the digital music revolution - the movement to completely interoperable DRM-free music."
This is great timing, as we're just about to get our music on iTunes, and I'm definitely going to make sure our catalog gets on iTunes without DRM (if Apple will let us). We're also marking our albums as "mid-price" so that if Apple ever does tiered pricing, Magnatune's music will be slightly less expensive.
n.b.: Kirk McElhearn wrote an excellent 10-point summary of what this change means.
Japanese version of my presentation in Tokyo