Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

AKMA just blogged something that triggered the following thoughts...

When I visited AKMA in Chicago we talked about music. I met up with my old DJ friend, Jeff Pazen after seeing AKMA. The mission was, how do we talk about music and share our musical tastes. Jeff is a godlike figure in my DJ past and I really wanted to sync up with him on what he was into and remember some of the great tracks we used to listen to together "back in the day." I also wanted AKMA to understand what music was like back when I hung out with Jeff a decade ago. Technology finally allows us to do this. Jeff could give us each a Nano with playlists of his music and we could listen to it... like would have listened to a mixed DJ tape a decade ago. This is how we shared our knowledge of music.

The problem is that it has become so easy that fear has taken over and there are laws and technologies that prevent what I personally believe is one of the fundamental ways that good new music spreads. Like AKMA, I'm not against professionals getting paid, but I think that the broken business model and the industry's reaction to it is hurting the business more than they imagine.

Although AKMA and I are clearly not "normal", I think we are typical "consumers" in many ways. I've been bored by the music around me and don't listen to it as much. If someone like Jeff could "turn me on" again, I'd probably "get back into music". I'm quite sure I would spend more money on music if I was "into it" again. (Although the hardware guys will get their healthy share.) And no. Clear Channel and MTV will not turn me on.

I realize I don't make a constructive argument in this post and many of the points have been raised over and over again, but I think this is timely in the context of the Nano and the idea that you could/should be able to "make a Nano" for someone with your favorite music and "turn them on." How cool would that be. (If as AKMA points out, things like the Nano finally become cheap enough to toss around.)


On the cost level, burn a DVD. More capacity, waaaay way cheaper.
Let the reciever shoulder the cost of the player. ;)

(I know this wasn't the point of the post, just saying. If anything this should stave off any derailing of the thread towards this tangent.)

i just bought my mom a 512 shuffle -- only 99. not too prohibitive (for special folk) and there's cheaper alternatives out there.

i dislike the DVD as a solution only because it's overwhelming to dump 20-30 albums onto someone.

What's great about "making a Nano", as you say, is that the giftee can immediately begin enjoying it. Storage = player.

btw, I got a look at that Nano yesterday. Man, is that thing tiny! I had no idea. It's so small, it's hard to believe it actually works.

Yeah... I think that giving a DVD of your music library is not the same as making a playlist. I might even have a lot of the songs that Jeff would play, but I want to know what he would play in what order.

I remember making a lot of mixed tapes for people when I was a DJ and I would make a very different tape depending on the person I was giving too as well...

Joi Ito wrote:
I've been bored by the music around me and don't listen to it as much. If someone like Jeff could "turn me on" again, I'd probably "get back into music". I'm quite sure I would spend more money on music if I was "into it" again.
The easy solution: make your own music. Learn to play the piano, and never be bored again. Buy an expensive Fazioli, Bösendorfer or Steinway grand; you might feel compelled to try to get your money's worth out of it by playing/practicing on it whenever you have a chance ;-)

If you *must* travel light, take your iPod along with you, instead of a grand piano, and listen to inspiring recordings by great artists of works by Beethoven, Bach, Rachmaninov, Scarlatti...

in china, where music has to be approved by the government before production, indies have taken to direct to player music i.e. instead of releasing a record they release an mp3 player with the songs built, or a flashram or sd card with the music. hence circumventing governmental pressings of cds, tapes, etc.
one dude built a turntable with several loops in it and released it has his album.


This would be fantastic fun to be able to give cheap ipods. I get tapped to put together music for parties pretty often, and there are few things I enjoy more than tailoring something to the occasion while still sneaking in as much weird stuff as possible. Plus, if the party gets boring I can always retreat into tweaking the music :)

I am clearly going to have to check out smartbar. I'm a mere stones throw away and hit metro shows all the time, yet somehow never make it over for the movies or DJ sets.

DRM is insanely complicated but I really do tend to believe that more musical exposure will increase sales overall, even if every track transmitted doesn't become a sale. I think that for some generations this is a somewhat valid assumption as we're accustomed to wanting to own a copy of an album/cd. If I dl something to preview or am given a copy by a friend and listen to it actively, I buy it. However, I do think there's some valid fear there, as younger generations have grown up downloading almost exclusively.

The DRM reaction to this can be very frustrating. I spent two hours on the phone the other night with a friend who bought itunes songs on a friend's computer out of state (with her account, legit... first time ipod owner and couldn't wait to get home). When she installed itunes on her own computer she got a bit comfused and reset the ipod, losing the songs. The friend no longer has the songs on the original computer and neither does my friend... and apple's policy doesn't allow another download. If this happened to me I'd dive into freeware aps and hidden files, but that's too much for her. It has turned an otherwise exciting technology into yet another "computer thing" to be wary of.

Joi I empathise with you - and totally understand what you are saying - having a background in club promotions for Ministry and Godskitchen I remember many long night conversations after clubbing - early hours sampling new tracks on the "dawn decks" by talking and sharing - creating playlists (mix tapes) was the best way to learn and socially contribute to ones network of music lovers - I have found something really cool last week that sparked my interest once again in sharing music with people that understand what I like and how I like to explore music - searching for the perfect beat - like a viral mechanism

also just a point of interest - do you know of this guy in Japan? interesting bleeps, breakbeats + electronic sculptures...

this was a very tough thing to do - putting music on a nano to be given as a gift is much harder than making a mix tape, because you have to try to beat the shuffle feature. If you string songs together in an order that you prefer, the user can veto that by simply toggling the shuffle on. And, the user gets to delete songs from the library at will. yes, Joi, you are supposed to KEEP Alison Moyet in that Limelight playlist... hee hee!

ultimately, I gave up on sequence and started to dump things in playlists, concentrating on the core songs played at each bar, so you could get a "sampling" of the music played over the period

and yes, DVDs provide the best bang for your buck - which is why you should include them in your gift box. ;-D

but as Tim suggests, to do that means not being able to just open it up and get rocking.

but I digress... there are a couple of things that really make me wonder - AKMA started my thinking about this - first, are we humans out of control? iPods becoming so small and inexpensive that they wind up boxed up and stored away like my old cassettes? seems like such a waste. I love MP3 format because I can store years worth of music on my mac, and finally clear out the boxes of vinyl in my basement.

Second, as much as I want the artists to get their fair share, I want to be able to spread the word about certain artists - and the best way to do that is to have someone listen to the song. I would have to send store-bought CDs or give someone a music player they would actually use AND listen to in order to have someone appreciate the song. You might hate the Caesars after hearing" Jerk It Out" as many times as there are downloads in the iTunes store, but if I told you to check them out 2 years ago, what are the odds you went and picked up the record?

As a DJ, you hope that the music you chose will leave a mark on someone, and that impression leads to an even greater overall experience. But now, as an aging old man, far from godlike, the only way for me to have someone appreciate the music I consider important is to burn a cd for their car. or fill up a nano!

Lastly, my best music player is my still my mind - all you need to do is mention a word, and a song is playing in the background... say someone mentions "that cro-magnon president Bush", and all of a sudden "Running Up that Hill" by Kate Bush is going through my head. a memory of an event, or a person makes me think of what we were listening to at that time. Can't wait for you to plug into that...

If a DVD of music is too much, then how bout a good old fashioned CD-R or three? I do those all the time for friends when I want to turn them on to some of what I listen to.

As for making your own, well try playing with Garageband. Even if you dont like the built in loops, its trivial to start making your own.

1 TrackBacks

Listed below are links to blogs that reference this entry: AKMA on Nani, DRM an sharing music.

TrackBack URL for this entry:

Joi Ito touches on the conflict between restrictive DRM and the social value of music: [...] Jeff could give us each a Nano with playlists of his music and we could listen to it... like would have listened to a... Read More