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Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category

Output Club, Brooklyn – A Night In Review

A month ago, all rumors of a Williamsburg super club were confirmed when The Bunker posted an event on RA with Speedy J and Peter van Hoesen:

Output is open to anyone, but is not for everyone. Output welcomes individuals who value the communal experience of music over cameras and bottle service. [...] The club will be the new North American showcase room for Funktion One, featuring some next generation equipment you wont find anywhere else.

I’ve missed PvH during his last few NYC appearances, so being introduced to him (as well as Speedy J) and Output at the same time seemed perfect. Here’s a rundown of the night: Read more

The Music Industry: How Everything Is Changing Yet Nothing Is Happening – Or Why The iTunes Business Model Has Only Accelerated Previous Trends

Introduction

The internet has changed everything. It has changed our perceptions and methods of communication. It has changed the most profoundly fundamental aspects of our lives. And while it may not be exactly clear how our lives are changing, one thing is certain: media industries have undergone their most sudden change in history. Once-established and extremely profitable industries have been forced to adapt to the rapidly and constantly evolving digital world. Not only have industries been incapable of adapting in a timely manner, but have also been reluctant to. At many times this has lead to missed opportunities and tremendous losses.

One such example is the music industry. In the year 2000, at its peak, the recorded music revenue in the US was measured at $71 billion – in 2009, revenue was down to $26 billion, a decrease of over 60%.[1] Pinpointing the exact demise of the industry is difficult as a number of new developments occurred simultaneously. Firstly, 1998 marked the emergence of illegal peer-to-peer (P2P) networks such as Kazaa and Napster. As digital music files could be copied and distributed freely over the internet, purchasing hard-copy CDs (the predominant – and highly lucrative – medium at the time) was not only no longer as appealing, but not necessary. While data supporting the complex relationships between file-sharing and its effects on legal purchases are conflicting, it is of no coincidence that the industry peaked and began its very rapid decline two years after the emergence of P2P networks. However, P2P networks were not the only changing factors for the industry: legal alternatives also played a role.

On April 28th 2003, the iTunes Music Store was launched by Apple, marking a groundbreaking step towards the appeal of legal music downloads. Within five years of its release, the iTunes Music Store became the number-one music vendor in the United States and in less than seven years, over ten billion songs had been purchased from it. Last year, I wrote a paper called “The iTunes Business Model and its Widespread Effects”[2] in an attempt to detail the rapidly changing music industry. In short, as successful as iTunes has been, no one is really benefiting from it other than Apple, indirectly. Each song is sold at $1.29 (previously 99¢) and is then divided: 60¢ goes to the label, 40¢ to Apple, 20¢ to the artist and 9¢ to the songwriter.[3] While Apple receives 40¢, most of this is used to pay the 25¢ credit card transaction fee. Apple has devised a system in which transactions are delayed by a few days to bundle payments together, therefore paying only one transaction fee for multiple songs. Despite this, users usually purchase only single songs and iTunes never sees relatively large profits. The downfall of the music industry is not only attributed to P2P networks, but also to an indirect consequence of the MP3s: the majority of purchases has shifted from albums to singles.

Even so, Apple is not interested in profiting from iTunes. Instead it uses iTunes as a marketing tool for physical Apple products which are highly profitable (there’s a reason iTunes integrates more seamlessly with iPods and iPhones). While no party directly benefits, or really profits, from iTunes, I felt that in my essay, there was a beneficial trade-off for both artists and consumers alike. The internet, and iTunes specifically, has given artists instant global distribution allowing them to reach niche markets like never before. It has given artists the freedom to bypass established markets and to reach fans directly. It also gave listeners the freedom to choose. I felt the internet was a democratizing force in music, a tool of empowerment. It offered a decentralized alternative model as opposed to the corporate monopoly so heavily enjoyed by large music labels; it removed the necessity of gatekeepers, that is large music labels, and gave responsibility back to those most important: artists and fans. Unfortunately, this was wishful thinking. Read more

I Love Robag Wruhme

Last night I saw DJ Koze and Robag Wruhme at Blkmarket Membership. I had seen both play before in Paris, but it was unfortunately at Social Club (a club for the most part full of underage “socialites” who are more concerned with their bottle service than the music). I enjoyed the music, but part of Robag’s appeal is creating a really personal connection with the dance floor. That’s what made seeing him last night so fulfilling. The location was great, the crowd was awesome and the tunes were incredible.

He came on at 5AM after Koze. Robag’s like the jolly Santa Claus of DJs. Music aside, there’s just something deeply satisfying about watching him hop around to his favorite songs sipping on champagne from the bottle (which he passed to my brother at one point). And yes, he does put the bottle on the spinning turntable. I guess it’s just great to witness someone so profoundly content with what they do. It’s impossible for that smile to not rub off on you! Combine his joy with the energy of the music and I guarantee you no other dance floor in the world can compare! Thanks for the great night. Photo cred to my brother and his unfortunately low res phone.

Avoiding The Edge of Disaster: The Decline of DJing In The Digital Age

I’ve been wanting to write this article for a few months now, but every time I sat down to write it, I was never fully satisfied with my approach. Every next time I sat down at my computer to try and write the new version, I was glad I hadn’t written anything because so much had changed. Well now it’s about time. Last year, I wrote an article titled A Wake Up Call For All You Vinyl Snobs. I was basically stating the obvious: embrace technology. But looking back on it I was being overly optimistic and naive, and pretty much trying to rationalize my own laziness.

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My First Berghain Experience

Still Intimidating During The Day

Last week, I finished my third year of university after an incredible semester abroad in Paris. Right after my last exam, I was off to Berlin to meet a friend who had just finished his semester in Florence. What better city to head to than Berlin, and more specifically, what better place to go than Berghain? Nowhere else in the world can I enter a club near midnight and leave with a sunburn. Here’s the story of the two best weekends of my life. Read more

The iTunes Business Model and its Widespread Effects

iTunes, love it or hate it, you can’t ignore it.
This is actually a research paper I wrote for a class some time back (pardon the occasionally dry tone), and I feel it’s worth sharing. It is indeed a long read, but give it a shot and hopefully you may learn something new!

Update: If you’d like to read my follow up paper about why iTunes hasn’t actually changed much, click HERE.

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