It was sad to learn about the passing of a former colleague – Jimmy Guterman – a veteran journalist who worked for Forbes when I worked there and later he joined The Industry Standard, where he was responsible for a blog/newsletter hybrid, Media Grok. Sharp writing, excellent curation and great insights made it a must read, not just among us tech writers but also amongst hundreds of thousands who subscribed to the publication. It sifted through tech stories, and pieces together a great narrative – who scored a scoop and who had something smart to say about a hit story.
To Grok, is to intuitaively understand something. Jimmy and his crew did that on a daily basis. I was thinking of Jimmy, and wondered what better way to pay homage to him by writing an occasional round up of news which is worth “groking” about?
Frank Ocean & the Streaming Wars
“If you want to find people behind the curve, just look to the music industry,” wrote Bob Lefsetz, a long time music industry watcher/writer in his rant about Frank Ocean, exclusives becoming commonplace in the streaming business. Like Bob said, Frank can’t turn down the money, just like Drake couldn’t turn down the money from Apple’s music warlords. Frank and Drake are nothing more than “marketing expense” to attract people to a subpar music service. “I want Apple to build a service that is second to none,” wrote Loopinsight’s Jim Dalrymple, a veteran Apple watcher. “Building a service on exclusives is a numbers game to boost subscriptions—as soon as the exclusive is over people will go to the service that’s the best.”
This week the issue became center stage – with suggestions that Spotify was shooting itself in the foot by punishing those who give exclusives to other services. Spotify vehemently denied doing any such thing, but we live in a post fact world. I think this has the paw prints of a public relations hit job on Spotify.
All the hoopla around streaming however takes attention away from what Frank Ocean really did – he gave the middle finger to his masters in the music industry, indicating that perhaps it is time for the bell to start ticking on record labels. Just as Facebook controls the destiny of print media, streaming services control the future of the music industry. It is only a matter of time until individual stars start to break out on their own.
- Truth about Drake’s record chart run
- Spotify on its way to 50 million subscribers
- Understanding Apple Exclusives
The Climate Change Conundrum
I am surprised by how little attention has been devoted to California’s dream of cutting emissions by a further 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. It is a massive challenge and a worthy charter from an economy which epitomizes the car culture. The implications for automakers are going to be huge and this perhaps will mean further acceleration of developmental efforts for solar and other alternative energy sources. In addition, this will push auto-makers faster towards non-fossil fuel options.
California is bearing the brunt on climate change – droughts, wildfires and crazy weather – have become routine in our state, so perhaps I am happy to go along with whatever positive steps we are ready to take. However there is one looming challenge – a lithium shortage (whether it is a real or perceived one.) Lithium batteries is what everything is being based on – phones, Internet of things, electric vehicles – and there is only finite amount of it available — about 350 years worth of it around the world – but like oil it too is governed by the rules of the real world – how fast we can mine it and put it to work. There are going to be ecological costs to that as well.
FTC’s Big Challenge: Keeping up with the Kardashians
This week I published an interview with Julie Zerbo over on my Pico publication. She and I talked about fast fashion and social media. What we didn’t talk about was her single handed battle against paid posts on social media – a trend that has been gaining momentum. FTC didn’t pay much attention for a long time but the efforts of folks like Zerbo are paying off.
This week, Truth in Advertising sent a letter to Kris Jenner, who handles operations for the large Kardashian/Jenner clan arguing, that they are “are engaged in deceptive marketing campaigns.” Essentially they (like many fashion bloggers) get paid by companies either in cash or in kind and never really disclose that. “The letter lists 27 companies — including Puma, Calvin Klein, JetSmarter, Fit Tea, Estée Lauder and Karl Lagerfeld — believed to be paying the big-bottomed brood,” writes the New York Post. I have often written about these topics and I am glad that such activities are getting more attention – I mean if this is the future of advertising then we better have some rules around it.