Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

It looks like my backlog of email has reached a critical level. I will try to get to it in the next few days, but apologies to people waiting for replies from me.

We just had a very interesting meeting with Michael Song, managing director of Taihe Rye Music. He is Chinese, but spent six years at Texas A&M and returned to China in 1996 to work in the budding music scene in China. He is in the agency business and represents the #1 male musician in China.

He explained that the legal music CD business in China is about 5%. In other words, 95% of the CDs on the market are pirate copies. He said that it was the teenagers who were passionate about the artists and liked to hang out in the record shops that tended to buy the legal CDs. Even in the top artists, CD sales only represented 30% or so of their income, while less known musicians actually lost money on CDs. The CDs are important, however, as a marketing and promotion vehicle.

Because the mass media is state owned, it is difficult to use the mass media for promoting artists. For this reason, it appears that the successful artists in China tend to be more talented, singer songwriters who tend to be popular longer compared to artists in markets such as Hong Kong and Taiwan where pop idol style artists are highly promoted and often lack talent or long term potential.

He told us that his artists got revenue share deals with percentages a bit worse than their counterparts in the US, but much better than in Japan. Most of the revenue comes from advertising/endorsements and concerts, but he is aggressively working on new business models involving alternative media such as the Internet and mobile devices.

My "take-away" was that in a market where the record industry basically doesn't function, artists and agents are going to be pushing the cutting edge of music business models and might in fact discover the post DRM/RIAA business model before Hollywood does. Obviously, it helps to have a huge growing market such as China, but I think it would make sense for artists and music industry people to keep an eye on China for breakthroughs in the music business.

When I was at Linz, a bunch of people made me provide a list of all of the applications that I'm running on my Mac. I realize I do this to people too. I've seen people make lists of their favorite applications on their blogs, but I realized that it might be better to do on a wiki. I've made a list of my favorite applications. Feel free to click on any of the application links and comment on the page for the application. Also, feel free to make a similar page for yourself and list YOUR favorite applications. If we can get a bunch of people on the wiki with their lists, it might end up being an interesting resource.

Is there something like this elsewhere already?

It's been nice hanging out in Linz meeting all of the cool people here. I'm off to Beijing today via Frankfurt and Narita. I have a feeling this multi-airport flight is going to suck. Anyway, maybe see you along the way if I can find some wifi.


I said I had a feeling it would suck and it is sucking.

Airport - Linz, Austria
Gate Agent: Our computer is broken. I can't check you through to your final destination.
Me: OK, but please check my bag through to Bejing via Tokyo.
Gate Agent: My computer is down. I have to look up the codes by hand. What country is Tokyo in.
Me: Japan
Gate Agent: Beijing is also in Japan.
Me: No, China.
Gate Agent: OK. (scribbles down codes and flights on luggage tag.)
Announcement at Gate
The flight to Frankfurt has been delayed
Airport - Frankfurt, Germany
Me: (after running through Frankfurt airport and finding the proper check-in counter after 2 counters forwarding me to another one...) Can you check me through to Beijing. The computer was broken in Linz.
Gate Agent: Your reservation has been cancelled.
Me: ??!
Gate Agent: Let me talk to my colleagues... The computer in Linz was broken.
Me: Yes. I know.
Gate Agent: I will book you through to Beijing.
Arrival Gate - Narita, Japan
Gate Agent: Are you Mr. Ito?
Me: Yes.
Gate Agent: Can I see your luggage tag?
Me: Yes. (hands her luggage tag)
Gate Agent: hmmm... (squinting at hand written scribbles) This isn't the code for the Beijing airport. And the flight number is not correct.
Gate Agent2: That's the code for the city of Beijing, not the airport. It should probably be OK. And that SORT OF looks like a "9"... Sir, you'll be fine.
Me: (doesn't look very fine...)
I'm in Narita now wondering if my bag is really going to show up.


My bag and I have arrived safely in Beijing and even gprs seems to work fine!

As usual, there were a lot of PowerBooks at this conference. Interestingly, Esther Dyson, Lawrence Lessig, Bruce Sterling and I were the only people I noticed who had stickers on our PowerBooks. Other people who I know who have stickers on their PowerBooks are Mena Trott and Cory Doctorow. I wonder what this means? What do those of us who are willing to vandalize our pristine PowerBooks with stickers have in common?

Anyway, just an observation...