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Designing our Complex Future with Machines

While I had long been planning to write a manifesto against the technological singularity and launch it into the conversational sphere for public reaction and comment, an invitation earlier this year from John Brockman to read and discuss The Human Use of Human Beings by Norbert Wiener with him and his illustrious group of thinkers as part of an ongoing collaborative book project contributed to the thoughts contained herein.

The essay below is now phase 1 of an experimental, open publishing project in partnership with the MIT Press. In phase 2, a new version of the essay enriched and informed by input from open commentary will be published online, along with essay length contributions by others inspired by the seed essay, as a new issue of the Journal of Design and Science. In phase 3, a revised and edited selection of these contributions will be published as a print book by the MIT Press.

Version 1.0

Cross-posted from the Journal of Design and Science where a number of essays have been written in response and where competition winning peer-reviewed essays will be compiled into a book to be published by MIT Press.

Nature's ecosystem provides us with an elegant example of a complex adaptive system where myriad "currencies" interact and respond to feedback systems that enable both flourishing and regulation. This collaborative model-rather than a model of exponential financial growth or the Singularity, which promises the transcendence of our current human condition through advances in technology--should provide the paradigm for our approach to artificial intelligence. More than 60 years ago, MIT mathematician and philosopher Norbert Wiener warned us that "when human atoms are knit into an organization in which they are used, not in their full right as responsible human beings, but as cogs and levers and rods, it matters little that their raw material is flesh and blood." We should heed Wiener's warning.


As the sun beats down on Earth, photosynthesis converts water, carbon dioxide and the sun's energy into oxygen and glucose. Photosynthesis is one of the many chemical and biological processes that transforms one form of matter and energy into another. These molecules then get metabolized by other biological and chemical processes into yet other molecules. Scientists often call these molecules "currencies" because they represent a form of power that is transferred between cells or processes to mutual benefit--"traded," in effect. The biggest difference between these and financial currencies is that there is no "master currency" or "currency exchange." Rather, each currency can only be used by certain processes, and the "market" of these currencies drives the dynamics that are "life."

As certain currencies became abundant as an output of a successful process or organism, other organisms evolved to take that output and convert it into something else. Over billions of years, this is how the Earth's ecosystem has evolved, creating vast systems of metabolic pathways and forming highly complex self-regulating systems that, for example, stabilize our body temperatures or the temperature of the Earth, despite continuous fluctuations and changes among the individual elements at every scale--from micro to macro. The output of one process becomes the input of another. Ultimately, everything interconnects.

We live in a civilization in which the primary currencies are money and power--where more often than not, the goal is to accumulate both at the expense of society at large. This is a very simple and fragile system compared to the Earth's ecosystems, where myriads of "currencies" are exchanged among processes to create hugely complex systems of inputs and outputs with feedback systems that adapt and regulate stocks, flows, and connections.

Unfortunately, our current human civilization does not have the built-in resilience of our environment, and the paradigms that set our goals and drive the evolution of society today have set us on a dangerous course which the mathematician Norbert Wiener warned us about decades ago. The paradigm of a single master currency has driven many corporations and institutions to lose sight of their original missions. Values and complexity are focused more and more on prioritizing exponential financial growth, led by for-profit corporate entities that have gained autonomy, rights, power, and nearly unregulated societal influence. The behavior of these entities are akin to cancers. Healthy cells regulate their growth and respond to their surroundings, even eliminating themselves if they wander into an organ where they don't belong. Cancerous cells, on the other hand, optimize for unconstrained growth and spread with disregard to their function or context.


The idea that we exist for the sake of progress, and that progress requires unconstrained and exponential growth, is the whip that lashes us. Modern companies are the natural product of this paradigm in a free-market capitalist system. Norbert Wiener called corporations "machines of flesh and blood" and automation "machines of metal." The new species of Silicon Valley mega companies--the machines of bits--are developed and run in great part by people who believe in a new religion, Singularity. This new religion is not a fundamental change in the paradigm, but rather the natural evolution of the worship of exponential growth applied to modern computation and science. The asymptote of the exponential growth of computational power is artificial intelligence.

The notion of Singularity--that AI will supercede humans with its exponential growth, and that everything we have done until now and are currently doing is insignificant--is a religion created by people who have the experience of using computation to solve problems heretofore considered impossibly complex for machines. They have found a perfect partner in digital computation--a knowable, controllable, system of thinking and creating that is rapidly increasing in its ability to harness and process complexity, bestowing wealth and power on those who have mastered it. In Silicon Valley, the combination of groupthink and the financial success of this cult of technology has created a positive feedback system that has very little capacity for regulating through negative feedback. While they would resist having their beliefs compared to a religion and would argue that their ideas are science- and evidence-based, those who embrace Singularity engage in quite a bit of arm waving and make leaps of faith based more on trajectories than ground-truths to achieve their ultimate vision.

Singularitarians believe that the world is "knowable" and computationally simulatable, and that computers will be able to process the messiness of the real world just like they have every other problem that everyone said couldn't be solved by computers. To them, this wonderful tool, the computer, has worked so well for everything so far that it must continue to work for every challenge we throw at it, until we have transcended known limitations and ultimately achieve some sort of reality escape velocity. Artificial intelligence is already displacing humans in driving cars, diagnosing cancers, and researching court documents. The idea is that AI will continue this progress and eventually merge with human brains and become an all-seeing, all-powerful, super-intelligence. For true believers, computers will augment and extend our thoughts into a kind of "amortality." (Part of Singularity is a fight for "amortality," the idea that while one may still die and not be immortal, the death is not the result of the grim reaper of aging.)

But if corporations are a precursor to our transcendance, the Singularitarian view that with more computing and bio-hacking we will somehow solve all of the world's problems or that the Singularity will solve us seems hopelessly naive. As we dream of the day when we have enhanced brains and amortality and can think big, long thoughts, corporations already have a kind of "amortality." They persist as long as they are solvent and they are more than a sum of their parts--arguably an amortal super-intelligence.

More computation does not makes us more "intelligent," only more computationally powerful.

For Singularity to have a positive outcome requires a belief that, given enough power, the system will somehow figure out how to regulate itself. The final outcome would be so complex that while we humans couldn't understand it now, "it" would understand and "solve" itself. Some believe in something that looks a bit like the former Soviet Union's master planning but with full information and unlimited power. Others have a more sophisticated view of a distributed system, but at some level, all Singularitarians believe that with enough power and control, the world is "tamable." Not all who believe in Singularity worship it as a positive transcendence bringing immortality and abundance, but they do believe that a judgment day is coming when all curves go vertical.

Whether you are on an S-curve or a bell curve, the beginning of the slope looks a lot like an exponential curve. An exponential curve to systems dynamics people shows self-reinforcement, i.e., a positive feedback curve without limits. Maybe this is what excites Singularitarians and scares systems people. Most people outside the singularity bubble believe in S-curves, namely that nature adapts and self-regulates and that even pandemics will run their course. Pandemics may cause an extinction event, but growth will slow and things will adapt. They may not be in the same state, and a phase change could occur, but the notion of Singularity--especially as some sort of savior or judgment day that will allow us to transcend the messy, mortal suffering of our human existence--is fundamentally a flawed one.

This sort of reductionist thinking isn't new. When BF Skinner discovered the principle of reinforcement and was able to describe it, we designed education around his theories. Learning scientists know now that behaviorist approaches only work for a narrow range of learning, but many schools continue to rely on drill and practice. Take, as another example, the eugenics movement, which greatly and incorrectly over-simplified the role of genetics in society. This movement helped fuel the Nazi genocide by providing a reductionist scientific view that we could "fix humanity" by manually pushing natural selection. The echoes of the horrors of eugenics exist today, making almost any research trying to link genetics with things like intelligence taboo.

We should learn from our history of applying over-reductionist science to society and try to, as Wiener says, "cease to kiss the whip that lashes us." While it is one of the key drivers of science--to elegantly explain the complex and reduce confusion to understanding--we must also remember what Albert Einstein said, "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler."1 We need to embrace the unknowability--the irreducibility--of the real world that artists, biologists and those who work in the messy world of liberal arts and humanities are familiar with.


The Cold War era, when Wiener was writing The Human Use of Human Beings, was a time defined by the rapid expansion of capitalism and consumerism, the beginning of the space race, and the coming of age of computation. It was a time when it was easier to believe that systems could be controlled from the outside, and that many of the world's problems would be solved through science and engineering.

The cybernetics that Wiener primarily described during that period were concerned with feedback systems that can be controlled or regulated from an objective perspective. This so-called first-order cybernetics assumed that the scientist as the observer can understand what is going on, therefore enabling the engineer to design systems based on observation or insight from the scientist.

Today, it is much more obvious that most of our problems--climate change, poverty, obesity and chronic disease, or modern terrorism--cannot be solved simply with more resources and greater control. That is because they are the result of complex adaptive systems that are often the result of the tools used to solve problems in the past, such as endlessly increasing productivity and attempts to control things. This is where second-order cybernetics comes into play--the cybernetics of self-adaptive complex systems, where the observer is also part of the system itself. As Kevin Slavin says in Design as Participation, "You're Not Stuck In Traffic--You Are Traffic."3

In order to effectively respond to the significant scientific challenges of our times, I believe we must view the world as many interconnected, complex, self-adaptive systems across scales and dimensions that are unknowable and largely inseparable from the observer and the designer. In other words, we are participants in multiple evolutionary systems with different fitness landscapes4 at different scales, from our microbes to our individual identities to society and our species. Individuals themselves are systems composed of systems of systems, such as the cells in our bodies that behave more like system-level designers than we do.

While Wiener does discuss biological evolution and the evolution of language, he doesn't explore the idea of harnessing evolutionary dynamics for science. Biological evolution of individual species (genetic evolution) has been driven by reproduction and survival, instilling in us goals and yearnings to procreate and grow. That system continually evolves to regulate growth, increase diversity and complexity, and enhance its own resilience, adaptability, and sustainability.5 As designers with growing awareness of these broader systems, we have goals and methodologies defined by the evolutionary and environmental inputs from our biological and societal contexts. But machines with emergent intelligence have discernibly different goals and methodologies. As we introduce machines into the system, they will not only augment individual humans, but they will also--and more importantly--augment complex systems as a whole.

Here is where the problematic formulation of "artificial intelligence" becomes evident, as it suggests forms, goals and methods that stand outside of interaction with other complex adaptive systems. Instead of thinking about machine intelligence in terms of humans vs. machines, we should consider the system that integrates humans and machines--not artificial intelligence, but extended intelligence. Instead of trying to control or design or even understand systems, it is more important to design systems that participate as responsible, aware and robust elements of even more complex systems. And we must question and adapt our own purpose and sensibilities as designers and components of the system for a much more humble approach: Humility over Control.

We could call it "participant design"--design of systems as and by participants--that is more akin to the increase of a flourishing function, where flourishing is a measure of vigor and health rather than scale or power. We can measure the ability for systems to adapt creatively, as well as their resilience and their ability to use resources in an interesting way.

Better interventions are less about solving or optimizing and more about developing a sensibility appropriate to the environment and the time. In this way they are more like music than an algorithm. Music is about a sensibility or "taste" with many elements coming together into a kind of emergent order. Instrumentation can nudge or cause the system to adapt or move in an unpredictable and unprogrammed manner, while still making sense and holding together. Using music itself as an intervention is not a new idea; in 1707, Andrew Fletcher, a Scottish writer and politician, said, "Let me make the songs of a nation, I care not who makes its laws."

If writing songs instead of laws feels frivolous, remember that songs typically last longer than laws, have played key roles in various hard and soft revolutions and end up being transmitted person-to-person along with the values they carry. It's not about music or code. It's about trying to affect change by operating at the level songs do. This is articulated by Donella Meadows, among others, in her book Thinking in Systems.

Meadows, in her essay Leverage Points: Places to Intervene in a System, describes how we can intervene in a complex, self-adaptive system. For her, interventions that involve changing parameters or even changing the rules are not nearly as powerful or as fundamental as changes in a system's goals and paradigms.

When Wiener discussed our worship of progress, he said:

Those who uphold the idea of progress as an ethical principle regard this unlimited and quasi-spontaneous process of change as a Good Thing, and as the basis on which they guarantee to future generations a Heaven on Earth. It is possible to believe in progress as a fact without believing in progress as an ethical principle; but in the catechism of many Americans, the one goes with the other.6

Instead of discussing "sustainability" as something to be "solved" in the context of a world where bigger is still better and more than enough is NOT too much, perhaps we should examine the values and the currencies of the fitness functions7 and consider whether they are suitable and appropriate for the systems in which we participate.


Developing a sensibility and a culture of flourishing, and embracing a diverse array of measures of "success" depend less on the accumulation of power and resources and more on diversity and the richness of experience. This is the paradigm shift that we need. This will provide us with a wealth of technological and cultural patterns to draw from to create a highly adaptable society. This diversity also allows the elements of the system to feed each other without the exploitation and extraction ethos created by a monoculture with a single currency. It is likely that this new culture will spread as music, fashion, spirituality or other forms of art.

As a native Japanese, I am heartened by a group of junior high school students I spoke to there recently who, when I challenged them about what they thought we should do about the environment, asked questions about the meaning of happiness and the role of humans in nature. I am likewise heartened to see many of my students at the MIT Media Lab and in the Principles of Awareness class that I co-teach with the Venerable Tenzin Priyadarshi using a variety of metrics (currencies) to measure their success and meaning and grappling directly with the complexity of finding one's place in our complex world.

This is brilliant, sophisticated, timely. Question, what do you want to do with this manifesto? Socio-economic political cultural movement? To begin with, who do you want to read this? In what spaces?I know people who are working on this on the political side. I am interested in the arts and sciences ie buildable memory cultural side.

Don't know if people would agree with my conclusions here, but I've been working on developing my music in relation to housing issues around the Bay Area recently.I believe that it's important for us to develop a sensibility for diversity not just as an abstract exercise, but in ways that reflect our day to day lives. We're in need of new visions of how we plan to co-exist with one another, and I do think that artists have the ability to pave the way here in very real ways.

I'm also heartened by organizations such as the IEEE, which is initiating design guidelines for the development of artificial intelligence around human wellbeing instead of around economic impact. The work by Peter Seligman, Christopher Filardi, and Margarita Mora from Conservation International is creative and exciting because it approaches conservation by supporting the flourishing of indigenous people--not undermining it. Another heartening example is that of the Shinto priests at Ise Shrine, who have been planting and rebuilding the shrine every twenty years for the last 1300 years in celebration of the renewal and the cyclical quality of nature.

In the 1960s and 70s, the hippie movement tried to pull together a "whole earth" movement, but then the world swung back toward the consumer and consumption culture of today. I hope and believe that a new awakening will happen and that a new sensibility will cause a nonlinear change in our behavior through a cultural transformation. While we can and should continue to work at every layer of the system to create a more resilient world, I believe the cultural layer is the layer with the most potential for a fundamental correction away from the self-destructive path that we are currently on. I think that it will yet again be about the music and the arts of the young people reflecting and amplifying a new sensibility: a turn away from greed to a world where "more than enough is too much," and we can flourish in harmony with Nature rather than through the control of it.

1. An asymptote is a line that continually approaches a given curve but does not meet it at any finite distance. In singularity, this is the vertical line that occurs when the exponential growth curve a vertical line. There are more arguments about where this asymptote is among believers than about whether it is actually coming.

2. This is a common paraphrase. What Einstein actually said was, "It can scarcely be denied that the supreme goal of all theory is to make the irreducible basic elements as simple and as few as possible without having to surrender the adequate representation of a single datum of experience."

3. Western philosophy and science is "dualistic" as opposed to the more "Eastern" non-dualistic approach. A whole essay could be written about this but the idea of a subject/object or a designer/designee is partially linked to the notion of self in Western philosophy and religion.

4. Fitness landscapes arise when you assign a fitness value for every genotype. The genotypes are arranged in a high dimensional sequence space. The fitness landscape is a function on that sequence space. In evolutionary dynamics, a biological population moves over a fitness landscape driven by mutation, selection and random drift. (Nowak, M. A. Evolutionary Dynamics: Exploring the Equations of Life. Harvard University Press, 2006.)

5. Nowak, M. A. Evolutionary Dynamics: Exploring the Equations of Life. Harvard University Press, 2006.

6. Norbert Wiener, The Human Use of Human Beings (1954 edition), p.42.

7. A fitness function is a function that is used to summarize, as a measure of merit, how close a solution is to a particular aim. It is used to describe and design evolutionary systems.


Review, research and editing team: Catherine Ahearn, Chia Evers, Natalie Saltiel, Andre Uhl

I first met Karole Armitage at a dinner Tod Machover's home. (Tod is a faculty member at the Media Lab.) Karole was a perfect candidate for the Director's Fellows program and she agreed to join us.

Karole describes herself as a former "punk ballerina" and through dance and movement is able to connect so many interesting ideas and worlds. She's already started to actively collaborate with a number of people at the Lab. In this conversation we discuss some of those collaborations as well as some new ideas.

Audio is available on SoundCloud and iTunes.

In the late 80's, I was attending the University of Chicago, trying for the second time to complete my undergraduate degree. I was studying Physics and East Asian Studies. I started hanging out on the North Side of Chicago at the Cabaret Metro and Smart Bar where I discovered an amazing community. As someone exploring online communities at the time, I found myself learning more about what I wanted to learn - communities, culture, compassion, punk rock - than I was learning in school so I dropped out to become a regular DJ at Limelight and a occasional DJ at Smart Bar under the late, great, Mark Stephens. I wrote about this period of my life in a bit more detail in a previous blog post.

I was in Chicago recently and was able to record a conversation with Metro owner Joe Shanahan, former DJ from the period Jeff Pazen and Aldona who worked the bar at Metro and Smart Bar back in the day. We talked about music, nightclubs, Chicago and the 1980s.

Audio available on iTunes and SoundCloud. just announced that:

As of today, you can play full-length tracks and entire albums for free on the website.

Something we've wanted for years--for people who visit to be able to play any track for free--is now possible. With the support of the folks behind EMI, Sony BMG, Universal and Warner--and the artists they work with--plus thousands of independent artists and labels, we've made the biggest legal collection of music available to play online for free, the way we believe it should be.

That's very cool, but what I'm also very excited about is:
Free full-length tracks are obviously great news for listeners, but also great for artists and labels, who get paid every time someone streams a song. Music on is perpetually monetized. This is good because artists get paid based on how popular a song is with their fans, instead of a fixed amount.

We will be paying artists directly.

We already have licenses with the various royalty collection societies, but now unsigned artists can put their music on and be paid directly for every song played. This helps to level the playing-field--now you can make music, upload it to and earn money for each play. If you make music, you can sign up to participate for free.

This is a great news. Some rights collections agencies have various restrictions such as banning Creative Commons licenses and this should give artists in these regions a new choice for generating revenue on their music.

Good job guys.

Disclosure: I was an investor in before they were acquired by CBS. Now I am a friend and occasionally advise them on their business.

Keigo Oyamada aka Cornelius

According to Wikipedia, "Cornelius (born Keigo Oyamada (小山田圭吾) January 27, 1969 in Setagaya-ku, Tokyo, Japan) is a Japanese recording artist and producer. Oyamada's first claim to fame was as a member of the pop duo, Flipper's Guitar, one of the key groups of the Tokyo Shibuya-kei scene. Following the disbandment of Flipper's Guitar in 1991, Oyamada donned the "Cornelius" moniker and embarked on a successful solo career."

Keigo's mother is my mother's cousin. Keigo's grandmother moved to Tokyo in her youth while my grandmother stayed in Northern Japan to run our household. Keigo and his cousins became our local "family" when we moved to Tokyo since my first cousins were either in Northern Japan or in the US. When we used to get together as an extended family, our older cousins used to cheat us out of our allowance and everyone used to tease Keigo because he was always the funny little kid.

As we became teenagers, we hung out a lot and listened to music together. We listen to a lot of stuff like Bauhaus, Siouxsie and the Banshees and The Clash. When both of our families were going through a somewhat difficult financial period and his mother was working for my mother, we both lived in a dumpy old love hotel in Shibuya that had been converted to a dumpy old apartment.

Keigo was in Jr. High School at the time. He had a little cult following in his school, some kid writing a school comic strip about Keigo and his escapades. (If I remember this correctly...) I remember his mom being called into school regularly to make Keigo apologies for random things... I don't remember the details. I remember him practicing the guitar all the time and talking about starting a band.

One day, I heard that his band was a huge hit - Flippers Guitar, his first band. As they say, after that it's history... Keigo's music has evolved and it always involves a humble, funny and experimental attitude. I see his awesome mother, our humble teenage environment and our playful family in his music. I remember hearing that NHK had invited him to be a judge on a music show. When the host asked Keigo what he thought, he pointed out that the host had a nose hair sticking out and Keigo wasn't invited back... I guess she didn't think it was very funny.

Now Keigo has a wife, house, a super-cute kid and has mellowed a bit with age. On the other hand, his music aged well and continues to inspire me to experiment and remain playful. We're hoping to collaborate more directly more and he's helping with Creative Commons these days.

The BBC selects MusicBrainz as its new music metadata provider and incorporates MusicBrainz data into its music website at For all the details on this announcement, please see our press release.
I'm a former board member of and supporter of MusicBrainz/MetaBrainz. It's to CDDB as Firefox is to IE. (Although it does a bunch of other stuff too...) This deal with the BBC is a big win and an important step in becoming ubiquitous in the main stream. Congrats guys!

Congrats and "Good job!" to CBS and the team! CBS and announced that CBS will be acquiring for $280 million. I think it's a good fit and the team seems happy with the deal. have blogged about it and CBS has an announcement.

I was an angel investor and a series A investor in

UPDATE: BBC has a good article - Social music site has been bought by US media giant CBS Corporation for $280m (£140m), the largest-ever UK Web 2.0 acquisition.

Playing Wataridori
Mizuka and I went to see my second cousin Keigo and his band (he's aka Cornelius) perform in Shibuya today. These Tokyo shows are sort of a family gathering and we got to see little Milo who had gotten a lot bigger and my aunt who appeared to be doing well.

The show was great as always. He played Wataridori which is one of my favorite songs and the song that he released under a Creative Commons license for the Wired CD.

He had some really cool videos using lots of low light photography and photo animation.

There was a bit where he had lots of old cheesy Elvis Hawaiian movie footage with Elvis' head/face covered by an animation of a sea anemone. It was really funny. Then he started playing "My Way" on his theremin.

There was also a lot of audience interaction and he took a group photo with the audience. He also took live video footage of the audience and did some video "scratching" a few times with it.

I had seats on the second floor and I was using a 90 mm lens hand-held so my shots of the stage are a bit crappy. I've posted my photos in a Flickr set.

I got my SwiMP3 a few days ago and have used it three times so far. I had been using Dolphin mp3 player recently.

They are very different devices. Both of them mount as an external drive on my Mac and both only play mp3. (No iTunes music store for you!) The Dolphin has earbuds that double as ear plugs, but the rubber buds tend to fall off and I've almost lost them a few times. The SwiMP3 uses bone conduction. The bone conduction works fairly well, but is weak on the high-end compared to the Dolphin. The SwiMP3 also tends to be audible from the outside when you have it jacked up enough to groove to.

One other problem I've had is that Japanese pools tend to be more crowded and stuffy about things like no-jewelry rules and caps. I have a feeling I'm going to be told that I can use them. So far I've been sneaking them in.

Overall, the experience of listening to music in the pool is relaxing and fun. However, it does sort of distract me when I'm trying to focus on fixing my stroke.

Has anyone tried any of the other under-water music players for swimming?

Technorati Tags: just pushed an update that just made my day.

There is a new event system including user event posting where you can see who is going to the event. There is a new flash radio player, a "taste-o-meter" and a new downloads area.

I love the "new site smell". Congratulations to the team for a great update.

Disclaimer: I'm an investor in

I'm on the board of Pia, which organized the tickets for the Madonna tour in Japan. It was the first time that the official ticketing agent used an auction system to sell the premium seats.

Yesterday, I went to see the last show of the world tour in Tokyo Dome. We watched from the box seats or "suites". (I was probably supposed to be taking care of our VIP guests instead of playing with my camera phone but...) It as a bit weird having staff in uniforms pouring wine and bringing food while watching Madonna flipping the audience the finger and talking about the "universal 'fuck you' and 'don't fuck with me'"... ;-P In one act, she was wearing a "Japanese do it better" t-shirt. I wonder how many Japanese caught that.

It was quite an interesting event. The audience was very emotional. For me, it was a very weird experience. She mixed covers of lots of tunes from the 80's and 90's that we all grew up with and didn't do many of my favorite Madonna tunes. I'm a big fan of remix and she did a very good job of making a sort of medley of songs down memory lane. She sampled riffs, took bass tracks, melodies, and lyrics from all kind stuff. In retrospect, I guess a lot of her work has been about picking up underground trends and presenting them to the main stream. I did have a weird feeling that in the case of many of the tracks I would have rather heard the original than her version.

She did have a fairly strong "lets all get along and not fight about religion" theme, although I'm not sure how this went over with her fans. However, while waiting for the elevator leaving the stadium, I heard a girl talking about how she cried. I think "dancing with Madonna" for people who have been fans of hers for decades is an experience worth crying about.

It was a bit strange watching her doing a sexy dance on a leather saddle with a pole that moved around in the air while singing "Like a Virgin". I've probably heard more renditions of Like a Virgin by foreigners in Japan trying to find a song to sing in tiny Karaoke bars. She helped me reset the context, albeit positioned slightly off-center from where I remember it being positioned.

All in all, it was a fun concert that brought back lots of memories of being a DJ in Chicago and being a bad boy in New York.

Here are some flickr photos.

Mark your calenders: On Thursday, September 14 at 5PM (SL/Pacific), (the online home of Popular Science) and Creative Commons will be hosting a special concert in Second Life featuring Jonathan Coulton as well as popular Second Life musicians Melvin Took, Kourosh Eusebio, Etherian Kamaboko, and Slim Warrior. The entire show will be licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 license, so feel free to record and share it. More information is available on this wiki.
People often say that the Internet destroys community be cause you don't have to go to the movie theater or the concert to watch or listen and just sit in front of your computer. In away, concerts, lectures and screenings in Second Life break that theory because these things once again become a social event where you can chat, emote and dance while watching a concert or a movie.

Last year, I blogged about how one of my favorite DJs from my DJ stint in Chicago back in the 80s, Jeff Pazen, filled up a Nano with music and made a few great playlists for me. They were playlists by club, year and tone. I nearly stopped carrying my iPod around and just carried the Nano picking the playlist that best suited my mood. It was like playing that favorite DJ tape over and over again.

The problem was, the iTunes Music Store music was registered under Jeff's name. In other words the Nano was "loaned" to me, so I didn't really own the music. I could listen to it directly from the Nano, but on on my computer or elsewhere. When I played the Nano through the computer, it would get stuff on the licensed music. I started buying the songs from the music store, one by one by hand. Then I noticed that there was an operation that said it would convert the ownership to me and copy over the songs with my copies. I, stupidly, thought it would be a fast way for me to purchase the songs on the playlists that I didn't own. Instead of doing that, it "reset" the Nano to an empty state. I was devastated.

As Tower Records Japan says, "no music, no life." So content I had been with the Jeff Nano, I hadn't been playing with that much lately so I decided to fire it up. Congrats guy on a great redesign. I fell back in love with which saved my day. I had left the comfy familiarity of the Nano and enjoyed wandering along a sometimes annoying but fun and eclectic musical journey.

Browsing the playlists of various people I know or saw, I realized how different my taste was from many people I know and like. One in thing that struck me was how even after almost 20 years, Jeff's taste in music, even the new stuff, hit the spot for me and was perfect. Somehow, during my immersion in the music scene, my musical taste was set on some trajectory that included cycles. Somehow I am still in sync with Jeff. I'm not sure what this means exactly, but I found it interesting.

As I sat listening to radios of various people, I realized that continuing this process for a long time would make your "taste" appear similar to theirs and you would eventually show up in their neighborhood on as someone with similar taste. This would be a kind of weird stalking method if you were obsessed with someone enough to listen to their music collection all day every day. ;-P

Conversely, I won't say who, but looking at their music, I realized how difficult it would be to hang out with them too long even though I consider them my friend. I don't think I could ever take a road trip with someone who didn't share any favorite artists with me.

Disclaimer/Disclosure: I'm an investor in

Senator Ted Stevens: The Remix

Posted by Melissa McEwan at 6:57 AM on July 11, 2006.

Last month, Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) gave a rather stunning speech on the issue of net neutrality, in which he made such clueless statements as: "I just the other day got, an internet was sent by my staff at 10 o’clock in the morning on Friday and I just got it yesterday," and "[T]he internet is not something you just dump something on. It’s not a truck. It’s a series of tubes."

Now, the good folks at Boldheaded have turned his "skillful fusion of political doublespeak and perplexing ignorance on how the Internet works" into the DJ Ted Stevens Techno Remix: "A Series of Tubes." [Stream or Download above]

All I can say is just go listen. And then laugh and laugh and laugh.

(ChezLark, Boldheaded)

I DID NOT KNOW that the Internet was a series of tubes.

Very funny. ;-)

You can download it from the Bold Headed Broadcast site.

via Scott via Deb

Amazing mashup of Yuzo Kayama (a Japanese singer from the past) and Fatboy Slim.

On YouTube

link to video

Via Utsumi

UPDATE: Yuzo Kayama still sings and can pack the house, but this original movie is probably from the 60's.

UPDATE: appears to be a new working link.

David Byrne and Brian Eno’s My Life in the Bush of Ghosts Remix Site Launches Today Submitted by Eric Steuer on 2006-05-09 04:57 PM.

May 9, 2006

For the first time ever, fans are able to legally remix and share their own personal versions of two songs from David Byrne and Brian Eno’s groundbreaking album My Life in the Bush of Ghosts. The interactive forum has been developed to celebrate the reissue of the album 25 years after its original release.

By agreeing to the terms of download, users will be able to download the component audio for two tracks from Bush of Ghosts – "A Secret Life" and "Help Me Somebody.” This component audio is licensed to the public under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license. Consistent with that license, users can legally create remixes and upload them to the site. Visitors can listen to, rate, and discuss the remixes, and are also encouraged to create their own videos, which will be streamed on the site.

Yay! Thanks David and Brian and gratz to the CC team!

I've generally stopped making new investments other than in particularly exceptional situations. However, is one of those exceptions and I wanted to let you know that I invested together with Reid Hoffman, CEO of LinkedIn and Stefan Glänzer, CEO of 20six Weblog Services AG in the UK in October. It is the first time I've invested in this trilateral formation, but with the company in the UK, a lot of potential partners in the US and a big market in Japan, this team seems to make sense. Apologies for the late announcement, but we've been working on some deals that made it difficult for me to talk about our investment publicly. I wrote about the first in 2004 and later in 2005 after they did the redesign. I'm really happy that after working with them for years now, our relationship is now more formal and aligned. Please see the links above or go to their site for more information about the service.


I was down at the sumptuous French National Assembly (A building that looks like a Greek temple from the outside and a livingroom overdosed with red velvet on the inside) yesterday because a group of latenight legislators this week amended a bill to include a global tax for people wishing to share files over the Internet.

Once a user (an "internaut" in French) has paid the fee, that internaut is free to share music or movies on the basis that they are for personal use only.

Result: Hey presto! Kazaa would suddenly be legal in France. What is considered piracy in other parts of the world would be available here in France.

Also: Artists would recieve payouts from the tax money raised (Systems for copyright taxation are not unusual in Europe. Germany, for example, imposes a 12 euro copyright levy on the sale of each personal computer purchased.)

Needless to say, the music and movie industry people were not terribly pleased.

Those AGAINST include the French Rambo!

"This law throws us back to before the French Revolution," said Alain Dorval, an actor who dubbed Sylvester Stallone for the Rambo series of films. "France invented property rights for artists in 1791 and now this Parliament wants to vote them away."

"Since the pay TV channel Canal Plus finances a huge portion of the cinema production, an attack on pay TV undermines the structure for the creation of cinema," Seydoux said. "To be in cinema you must be optimistic and I am optimistic these amendments will fail."
Not only are the amendments bad, but their implication is dangerous, said Michel Gomez, an official with the Association of Directors and Producers. "The message sent by this law is that creative works can be bought for free," he said. "This may be very seductive to Internet users, but it will bring down the structure of entire creative industries."

The arguments FOR:

Patrick Bloche, a pipe-smoking Socialist deputy representing Paris, who was a co-author of the amendments: "We are trying to bring the law up to date with reality." "It is wrong to describe the eight million French people who have downloaded music from the Internet as delinquents."

"We are only leading in a direction that is inevitable for the law everywhere," said Christian Paul, a Socialist deputy who was also a co-author of the amendments. "You will see other European nations adopting such laws in the future because they just make sense."
"Artists currently get no money from peer-to-peer sharing, and with this fee at least they would get some," said Aziz Ridouan, a 17-year old high school student who has fought for Internet rights as president of the Association of Audiosurfers. "If the government and industry attack downloaders aggressively, we will just go underground with encryption and all chance of revenue will be lost."
Ridouan added that the amendments would finally legalize behavior that has become commonplace among young Internet users. "We need protection. It is not nice to feel like you are acting illegally," he said. "They cannot use the law to stop people sharing music just because the music industry missed out on the digital revolution."

If this blog-ization of the article is not clear, check out the full IHT version here.

Which arguments have the most merit and can creative industries survive in the face of peer-to-peer?

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.)

I had set Mizuka up with iTunes music store on a Mac Mini with an external drive. At some point, she had filled up most of the external drive with stuff and she alleges that iTunes told her it was going to start moving stuff to another drive. Then certain songs stopped playing. I sort of ignored her mumbling until I asked her to run disk doctor on the drive. The utility told us that her disk was irreparably broken. The songs are broken on her iPod too. (The bad songs skip.) Apple says back up, or when you disk dies you out of luck.

Is there nothing we can do? I'm about to copy all of the music onto a new drive, erase any files that don't play and call it a day. Does anyone have any advice or a better idea?

UPDATE: Kevin Marks recommended Disk Warrior, which seems to have fixed the drive, but now many of the files are 0 bytes long. I guess we just lost a lot of music. Hmm...

I'm in Chicago where I had a one night layover on my way from the East Coast to Osaka, Japan. Last night I hooked up with Jeff Pazen, a friend and former DJ in Chicago that I hadn't seen for over 10 years. (He makes MT websites now!) He took me to the Smart Bar, a bar/nightlcub that was one of key influences in my life. We hung around at the bar and talked about the old days and we both had what felt like a catharsis of memories. I remembered the first time I visited as a student and how I got to know the staff and how they took me into their family.

Around 1988, I was going to the University of Chicago studying physics. I was bored and generally unhappy. One day someone brought me to the Smart Bar. I had been pretty familiar with cool clubs since night-clubbing was a big part of my high school experience in Tokyo, but the Smart Bar was special. It was an eclectic mix of goths, rock and rollers, industrial music fans and a variety of other alternative musics types. The head DJ was Mark Stephens who listened to EVERYTHING and knew every cool track whether it was Madonna, the latest underground deep house unit, or some obscure German band. I practically lived in Mark's DJ booth where he'd chat about music with us.

What was particularly inspiring for me about the Smart Bar was the community. I had lived in Japan and had experience with family, but had never seen such a vibrant community. Smart Bar and other nearby clubs like Medusa's were very inclusive and lots of people who needed a place to go ended up joining these communities. AIDS was just getting into full swing and there were people with a variety of problems and needs. (AIDS eventually took Mark's life and Jeff and I got a little teary eyed talking about Mark... Mark was our mentor and a star...) What was surprising to me was how much the community took care of those in need while still maintaining a fun and edgy style. It was a contrast to the formal and forced interactions that I was having with most of my college professors and fellow students (Sorry folks!). The struggle and the issues faced in college also seemed petty compared to the things people in the Smart Bar community were dealing with. This contract became unbearable and I dropped out of college (again) and became a DJ. My late mother, realizing that I needed to "get something out of my system" was generally understanding and supportive.

Mark helped me land a regular gig at the Limelight and let me spin records at Smart Bar occasionally. To this day, that year or so as a "professional" DJ was probably the most fun I've ever had.

Several years later, with the support of co-owner and "father" of Smart Bar, Joe Shanahan, I invited several of the Smart Bar crew to help me run a nightclub in Japan. This was probably second on my list of the most fun periods of my life. (For a short period I was a "player" in the Tokyo nightclub scene which lead in part to my relationship with Timothy Leary. Tim kicked off my relationship with San Francisco. I'll write more about this some other time.) Jeff had been Mark's first pick of DJs to invite to Japan, but for various reasons Jeff hadn't been able to go and we talked about how things would have been different if he had.

Anyway, even though I'm not going to be in Chicago for even 24 hours this time, seeing AKMA briefly and hanging out with Jeff at Smart Bar reminded me that Chicago is still my favorite city. I need to figure out a way to get back here more.

Posted by Thomas Crampton

Had to crank out a story on tight deadline about digital music rights in Europe: 2 states in EU ease sales of songs over Internet

Selling music online in Europe could currently require an online music operater to get up to 25 licenses (one from each country) in order to operate, a situation Brussels seems strongly bent on changing: Collecting agencies in other European Union member states could face fines of up to 10 percent of their total revenue if they fail to open up in a similar manner, the official said.

Interesting to see the EU is tackling hurdles to running a digital business. Are they doing enough?

UPDATE: wiki page to follow up discussion.

Hilary Rosen [WP], the former president and CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is guest blogging over at Lawrence Lessig's blog.

She follows Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, on the slate of excellent guest bloggers during Larry's summer vacation. has done a re-design and has fully integrated with Audioscrobbler. You can tag music now too. Good job guys.

Disclaimer: They are friends and I've been "helping them out" a bit... Not that I should get ANY credit for the great stuff they are doing.

Spain was beautiful. Dry and sunny. Last night Paris was a bit wet, but nice. I landed today in a hot, muggy Tokyo lined up for a direct hit by a Typhoon. (Technically, I think it's a tropical storm.) I am about to head out to go to a Ryuichi Sakamoto concert where my cousin Cornelius will be joining him. I am trying to figure out the route that is least likely to get shut down. Various trains routes have been shut down. I can already imagine the frustrated crowds of Japanese office workers stranded in Tokyo, sloshing around in the hot wetness with broken umbrellas.

I wish I could shutter my house and just stay home, but tonight is the last night of the performance. Anyway, the show should be great and the trip... interesting.

Ethan Zuckerman has posted roundups on Africans talking about Live 8 here and here and blogs about it himself. Please do read these. They are an important voice.

Ethan is clearly weary and skeptical as are many of the Africans. I can understand this. However, I think Live 8 is a good thing. Although the concert may not have the effect on the G8 meeting that some people hope it will, I think that the concern will reach a broad audience and increase awareness. We should not forget how few people even realize there is a problem in Africa. I understand the arguments about nuances and stereotyping. They are valid. But I believe the benefits outweigh the costs in such an effort to "get the word out". The average person won't get the nuance. Not yet at least.

Also, I don't think it's fair to slam people for having fun or for the promoters for trying to add to their career. I think it's all part of getting things like this to happen. If you read any of the books or diaries of leaders of the various political movements and protests in the 60's, most of them were having a lot of fun. That didn't make the movements less effective or relevant.

QTVR Photo of Live 8 goers having fun in Philadelphia by Hans Nyberg

Technorati Tags:

I sat next to Dr. Roger Payne at lunch. He talked to me about the songs of the Humpback Wales that he has been recording for decades. He is the authority of this field. He explained to me that Humpback Whales sang beautiful songs. They copy from each other, remixing the songs and add to the songs. These songs evolve over time and riffs get passed from whale to whale across the world. The songs have lots of interesting variations and even have rhymes. He made an interesting observation that the whale songs of the 60's were much more beautiful than the whale songs these days.

I suggested that he made some of these songs available online via Creative Commons and he agreed that this would be a cool idea and agreed to work on this. For now, you can find three of his CD's on Whales Alive, Deep Voices and Songs of the Humpback Whale.

I look forward to when we have some whale songs on ccMixter.

Cory Doctorow @ Boing Boing Blog
Amazon directory of free MP3 downloads

Amazon has put together a single page listing all the free, no-DRM MP3s you can download from their site, as promos for CDs.


(Thanks, Ben!)

Update: Erin sez, "Amazon actually launched Free Music Downloads in February of 2001. The page mentioned is just the top 200 downloads, there are a lot more available here.


The MetaBrainz Foundation is a 501.(c).3 tax-exempt non-profit based in San Luis Obispo, California that operates the MusicBrainz project.

MusicBrainz is a user maintained community music metadatabase. Music metadata is information such as the name of an artist, the name of an album and list of tracks that appear on an album. MusicBrainz collects this information about music and makes it available to the public.

With the creation of the MetaBrainz Foundation, the MusicBrainz project enters its second phase of life. In the first incarnation, the project was privately maintained and focused primarily on basic music metadata described above. Today the MusicBrainz project has the legal backing and infrastructure of the MetaBrainz Foundation, which will allow it to embark on a mission to expand its scope.

This is a very important project because, unlike CDDB, MetaBrainz is protecting the data from capture by corporate interests and if successful, will allow us to make information about music interoperable and the data will provide a foundation for this interoperability. This will allow people to share playlists across languages, meta-search on music across services, etc. I have joined the board together with Dan Brickley, Cory Doctorow, Lawrence Lessig and founder Robert Kaye. They are doing a fundraiser and we'd be happy for your support. Congratulations Robert.

Listening to: You Trip Me Up by The Jesus and Mary Chain from the album Psychocandy

Phillip Torrone @ Make:
Make your own Nine Inch Nails

MacMinute has a story about Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails making the band's new single, "The Hand That Feeds" available to download for Mac users with GarageBand to mix and mash up (an actual multi-track audio session). "For quite some time I've been interested in the idea of allowing you the ability to tinker around with my tracks -- to create remixes, experiment, embellish or destroy what's there," Reznor says. Here's a screenshot of it on my Mac (View image) and here's where to get it (70MB file). Here are a couple of the first remixes!

How excellent. This is almost like open source music. It's one thing to say, "hey it's OK to sample this." It's taking it to a totally different level to publish it as a Garage Band project. Now if only they would put some kind of Creative Commons license on it, it would be perfect.

Stanford graduate student Gary Lerhaupt has created Prodigem Marketplace. It's basically a Bittorrent non-DRM'ed media marketplace.

Prodigem Marketplace
The Prodigem Marketplace allows Prodigem users to sell their independent media (videos, music, etc) while not concerning themselves with traditional bandwidth costs associated with repeated large data transfers. Content providers (YOU!) simply upload their work, set a price, and Prodigem does the rest. Once customers pay for access to the bit torrent peer-to-peer session for your content, Prodigem grants them access so they can begin their download (no DRM). Prodigem collects this revenue, removes 10% + transaction costs (PayPal) and then sends you a monthly check. Ever considered making a living as a Long Tailor? Check out this example for-pay torrent to see what it looks like.


Mechanics Of Becoming An "Ecommonist"

The process of becoming a media retailer couldn't be any easier. To accomodate this new method of transfer, we have added a Copyright Plus Prodigem license to the available licensing options. This simple license allows you to retain copyright over your work while making a specific grant of rights to Prodigem and its users. In effect you are saying that it is fine to share your work so long as it's only through the torrent you created, and since access to the torrent is only granted when payment is received, you get exactly what you are looking for.

You are also free to instead license your work under the Creative Commons. Though with a CC license you are technically granting everyone redistribution rights regardless of venue. This is fine by us if it's okay with you, but does mean that people are free to share without payment. Realizing this conundrum, we are busy mulling over something akin to a "Delayed" Creative Commons license, where Prodigem users will be able to stipulate their work as covered under Copyright Plus Prodigem license, and then on some fixed date of their choosing (eg. 1 year, 5 years) it automatically switches over to a CC license of their choosing. It's like peanut butter and chocolate.

via Howard @ Smartmobs

I'm very interested in the economics of the end of the long tail. My theory is that people will pay, even if they are not forced. I think price, the experience and the lack of DRM should have an impact. There is some data from the unencumbered shareware software world, but it will be interesting to see how this fares for media content. I would also be interested to see how artists using Creative Commons fare against artists using the more restricted Copyright Plus Prodigem license. If this is successful, this will be yet another good example of non-infringing use of P2P to highlight the idiocy Hollywood's position on the Grokster case. (Note that NASA has also started using Bittorrent.)

Photo by Nokia
Art Meets State-of-the-Art: Exquisite Materials, Distinctive Details Unite to Create a Mobile Icon - the Nokia 8801

April 07, 2005

Exclusive audio accompaniment, including signature ringtone "Dharma", by award-winning composer Ryuichi Sakamoto

Espoo, Finland - Drawing upon modern watchmaking and jewelry techniques, Nokia has unveiled a truly inspired mobile phone for today's connoisseurs of quality and taste. Encased in a slim stainless steel body, the Nokia 8801 subtly glides open to reveal a number of distinctive details, each meticulously considered and researched to complement the prestige and quality of the device. To heighten the experience, the Nokia 8801 features exclusive audio accompaniment, including all ring tones and alerts, by award-winning composer Ryuichi Sakamoto. This attention to detail continues Nokia's heritage of premium mobile phones that have set the industry standard for elegance and performance.

See also "Art Meets State-of-the-Art: Exquisite Materials, Distinctive Details Unite to Create a Mobile Icon - the Nokia 8800"

When Marko Ahtisaari approached me for an introduction to Ryuichi Sakamoto I didn't know what they wanted to do with him. Nokia and Ryuichi Sakamoto? Now I know. This is great. I want one! hint. hint...

Cory Doctorow @ Boing Boing Blog
Help rat on people who sing Happy Birthday!

Mako sez, "Unhappy Birthday is a website/project commenting on the fact that the song "Happy Birthday To You" is under an actively enforced copyright held by Time Warner. The site offers tools and information to report unauthorized public performances of that work. If educating people and upholding the principle of copyright means risking a DoS of ASCAP's licensing enforcement infrastructure, that's a risk I'm willing to take."


(Thanks, Mako!)

I didn't realize I was engaging in copyright infringement when I sang Happy Birthday in public without paying. Better stop doing that and rat out anyone else who sings it without paying.

As I get more and more into Ableton Live I am beginning to feel the pain of being a digital musician these days. As a former DJ, I have lots of my favorite music in my head organized by what parts of what songs go well with others. Suddenly, I realize that what I can get away with on a turntable in a nightclub is a no-no when producing music. Record companies in the US have been winning cases against people who sample music. I can buy loops, use Creative Commons content and make my own sounds to use in the music, but what I am unable to do is use the melody, drum track or riff from my DJ days to invoke images and memories we associate with some of the classic songs. It's as if my several years of being a DJ and learning the beats has to be erased from my memory when thinking about how to express myself.

Luckily, there is more and more music with Creative Commons licenses, but it really feels like we're having to start from scratch, building a culture of music creation that encourages sharing and sampling the way we used to do it when samplers and sequencers entered the scene. Artists... please think about using the Creative Commons sampling license when you publish music so that you don't become an island sheltered from the creativity of future artists and DJs.

I just bought Live 4.1 from Ableton. I love it. It's the perfect music production software for DJ types like me. You can import sounds, midi files, effects and fine tune the loops and samples. The neat thing is that you then bind loops, tracks, effects and other things to keys or midi events and jam away live to your heart's delight laying down a recording that you can then go back and edit before you render it. It's a bit hard to explain. Take a look at the demo on their site.

Here's my first track using samples from Lessig, Jimmy Wales, Kenji Eno, Howard and others. ;-) (mixup1.mp3 1.9 MB mp3). It's a bit rough, but you get the idea.

Reuters via News.Com
Web-only album wins Grammy

LOS ANGELES--Jazz composer Maria Schneider took home a Grammy on Sunday for her album "Concert in the Garden," without selling a single copy in a record store.

In a recent meeting with some studio execs, to the question of whether they had ever seen any "real" music come out of Internet based alternative production models, they laughed and said no. To the question of whether it was possible in the future, they made a "unlikely" gesture. If getting a Grammy doesn't constitute a recognition of "real music" I don't know what does. I hope they don't miss this stunning example of their misguided arrogance.

via Juche

On my Japanese blog, I've been podcasting conversations with Kenji Eno, former game developer and now CEO of fyto. The last post was a silly remix of our conversations put to music. I didn't post it here because it was in Japanese, but he's fired back with podcasting.mp3, his revenge.

(Chat 1, Chat 2, Remix - On, podcasting - Kenji's revenge 6.7MB mp3)

What Can't I Do Today? (Donna Wentworth)

A Slashdotter, on Endangered Gizmos and the threat to harmless "me2me" uses:

At this point, I've accepted that there are things I do that may someday be considered a crime. ...:
  • Record TV shows from my DirecTV reciever that I pay a monthly subscription fee for into my computer using a Hauppauge PVR250 card for archival purposes (to show friends and family when they come over)
  • Rip all CDs that I buy to the infinitely more convenient Ogg Vorbis format so that I can listen to my music anywhere
  • Stream any audio or video from my house to wherever I happen to be using a VPN connection and broadbad. This means I can listen to my music collection, watch my DVDs or even DirecTV as long as I have an internet connection
  • Build custom digital media devices that don't have the limitations that commercial products do

...It's a wonder it's not illegal to use a hammer, nails, screwdriver, drywall, plaster and screws to build or modify your house any way you want.
Basically, the notion of "owning a song" when you buy it in some format is going to be over if Hollywood has any say. In the old days, if you had an album, you could tape it and listen to it in your car or anywhere you wanted to. You basically "owned the song." Now you own the song on your Mac/iPod. Or own the song on Microsoft... or own the DVD in Region 1... If you've purchased thousands of tracks on Apple Music Store and decide you're going to stop using iTunes and iPod, you're shit out of luck. Or if you have a thousand DVDs and you move from the US to Japan. Yes, there are workarounds, but they will try to make more and more laws to prohibit people from building workarounds.

So my question is... Does this INCREASE or DECREASE the likelihood that I'm going to want to build a massive music or movie collection?

Eric and I were chatting about how cool Garage Band was and we decided to try collaboration over the Internet. I grabbed some samples off of a talk Lawrence Lessig gave in Helsinki, laid down some beats and "started the car". The I passed it over to Eric. Eric laid down some more tracks, added effects, mixed it and sent it back to me. I added some metadata and posted it to (being processed now) and "Permission Granted" was born.

We just figured this out a few minutes ago, but I think Permission Granted will be a collaboration between Eric and me. We're "co-pilots". We'll mess around putting samples from talks and discussions to music. We're still sort of not-stupid-enough-to-be-funny, but not-good-enough-to-be-cool, but hopefully we'll the the hang of it soon.

Starting the car (2.25 MB mp3 / 2.70 MB ogg)

Update: Where we got the title of the track...

“why don’t you start the car, and i’ll jump in”, something i heard bob dylan say to tom petty on a tape of them drunkenly playing the lounge of a holiday inn one night when they were on tour together.

What happens when you 1) were thinking about stupid songs that you can't get out of your head, 2) are listening to the audio of Jimmy Wales talking about Wikipedia in Boston (audio and text transcripts here), 3) are chatting to wikipedians on IRC and 4) happen to have Garage Band open? This (800K mp3 / 870K ogg).

PS I would like to add that many wikipedians contributed links, sounds and feedback in the creation of this piece. It's amazing what you can do as a community. ;-P Just kidding, I can not take credit for the entire work, but I have no one to blame but myself.

UPDATE: Eric Haller just cleaned it up for me and now it sounds much better. 963K mp3

There is song called Dragostea Din Tei on the Disco-Zone CD by O-Zone. O-Zone was a little known Euro-dance act from Romania... until someone in Japan syched some flash to it. Then someone else. Here is the original music video. Then someone made a video. Suddenly, this CD is a hit and many of my friends are ordering it from Amazon. I bet they don't know what hit them.

This reminds me of the badger badger/potter potter meme and the Yatta meme. There is some peculiar element of certain songs that gets people's creative juices going. I think they have to be 1) silly, 2) in a foreign language, 3) have that "can't get it out of my head" element. It's the tip of the long tail wagging. Maybe artists should make synching rights available to encourage more of this creative behavior in a mainstream way... or maybe not. ;-P

UPDATE: Seth was just infected by email...

UPDATE 2: More on O-Zone from Stefan. "The funny-looking name Numanuma is actually a repetition of two Romanian words, 'nu ma' (or, to be correct, 'nu mă') that are part of the lyrics of O-Zone's smash hit 'Dragostea din tei' ('Love in the lime-tree'). More precisely, they're part of 'nu mă iei', which translates into 'you don't take me [away with you]'... Think of all the paraphernalia you can, from ubiquitous (and annoying) ringtones onwards... The raw matter (that is, the original O-Zone music) is renown for its supremely dimwitted lyrics..." I want the ringtone... ;-P

I'm off to Hawaii to the Sony Open Forum. It's a very small gathering of Sony executives, academics and business people who meet during the Sony Open in Hawaii, a PGA tournament. This is the third year I've been invited to go. I really suck a golf. I think I'm the only participant who isn't going to participate in the pro-am tournament. The first year, I promised I would learn to golf by the next year. Last year I made the same promise. I'm returning again, not a single step closer to being good enough to participate.

I've been asked to make some remarks to kick off the session on "Re-examining Threats and Opportunities of the Broadband Age". Here is a summary of what I think I'm going to talk about.

The proliferation of broadband into the home has dramatically changed the way people communicate and consume content. Hollywood and many copyright owners have focused on the illegal file sharing risk of broadband. They have focused on digital rights management technology and laws prohibiting file sharing and the creation of technology which enables file sharing. My view is that the success of the iPod and iTunes has been due to a focus on user experience and marketing INTO this new behavior. Content consumption has become an integral part of communications and community yet most content distribution systems are still isolated. Amateurs are also playing an increasing role in the creation, distribution and promotion of content. This new mode of creation, promotion and distribution of content is increasing diversity and there is evidence that it is increasing the overall market, albeit probably content in the "tail". Sony and others should shift their attention to the "tail" of the market, focusing on enabling new user behavior and increasing overall usability. The key is better services at lower prices, not copyright protection. In other words - great and cheap can compete with lousy and free.

I will also talk about Creative Commons and the idea that Sony should enable all of their devices with open systems to allow the creation, tagging and sharing of free content and that in the long run, the "sharing economy" may exceed the size of the commercial content industry.

Last year I talked about something similar, which you can imagine sparked a lively debate. I'm sure it will be interesting again this year.

First the Special Edition U2 iPod. Now this. ;-)

via Michael

EFF Deeplinks
Artists Agree -- P2P Lawsuits Are Not the Answer

Cynthia Webb of the Washington Post synthesizes the discussion about the new Pew study [PDF] reporting that while many artists believe file sharing should be illegal, they don't necessarily believe that 1.) it's actually hurting them, 2.) the RIAA lawsuits are doing anything to help the situation

Interesting report and another blow to the RIAA's argument that they are doing it for the artists.

As some may have noticed, Boris and Ado (he doesn't have a very good sense of humor, but he tries) are fiddling with including my the recent songs I've played on my sidebar taken from my profile. I've turned scrobbling on so that it picks up the songs I'm playing now. When I'm scrobbling, I realize that I skip stupid songs so they don't end up in my profile. Now I have to take a shower. I'm going to leave iTunes on in shuffle mode. I sure hope it doesn't play anything too stupid or embarrassing while I'm away.

Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers (JASRAC) just won a case against the karaoke bars and is now going after clubs.
CHANGING ITS TUNE: It's closing time

"I thought it was a new kind of fraud," said Naoki Kasugai, who runs Daytrip, a nightclub that offers live music in Nagoya. He received a letter from JASRAC in summer 2003 along with an invoice for a monthly charge of 28,350 yen in copyright fees, covering the entire time his bar has been open since 1997. It totaled a whopping 2.32 million yen.

Kasugai was shocked and puzzled. He had never heard from JASRAC before. He figured someone was trying to con him.

But after receiving a second invoice from JASRAC, he called to find out what was going on.

A JASRAC official came by in person to explain: "The bands you hire have likely played covers of songs by other composers. We want you to pay the copyright fees on those songs."

"How many cover songs does this account for?" asked Kasugai.

"We don't know how many copyrighted songs were played here," the official replied. "So we are not charging for each of them. Instead, we are charging on a monthly basis."


But JASRAC is ready to rock and roll, even resorting to court battles.

"Lawsuits in themselves are an effective way to spread our message," a JASRAC official says.

Lawsuits as a communication form seems like a common practice in this industry these days...

People should start investing money in independent record labels who have bands that sing about "sticking it to the man". The only upside I see is that people get quite creative when they are oppressed. I predict a rise in counter-culture.

Creative Commons
The WIRED CD: Yes, We Have Arrived

You can now get your copy of the WIRED CD, free with the November issue of WIRED, at your newstand. Get yourself two copies: one for you and your friends, and one to save, in plastic, for your grandchildren.

See the full track list.

Yay! Thanks to Wired for pulling this off and all of the artists for participating.

Has anyone ripped and posted it the music anywhere?

I found editorgrrl in my neighborhood. She and I have extremely similar taste, but she seems to have a bunch of stuff that I don't have in my profile so I listen to her personal radio a lot. I notice my profile becoming more and more similar to hers as her playlist starts to influence my playlist. I just noticed that this feels a bit like online music profile stalking...

I also realized that if you had a crush on someone, you could listen to their music all day long. You would show up in their neighborhood. You would get to know their music. Or... you would keep hitting "ban" and you would realize that you should NOT have a crush on them. ;-)

I am not recommending that this be a primary reason to use, but just a thought...

One of the difficulties with Creative Commons licenses for music and images is that the images and the music are often copied or forwarded without the licenses. By embedding the license information inside of the mp3 or jpeg data itself, it makes it easier to keep the license attached to the file.

Nathan has just released
a nice drag and drop embedded license lookup tool. See the page about metadata embedding on the CC site for more information on our thoughts on this issue.

You will have to register, but if you click the button below, you can listen to a internet radio station composed from personal playlist.

My user page shows my profile, friends and my neighborhood.

Electronic Frontier Foundation
No "Fishing License" for the RIAA

This just in: the Supreme Court has denied cert in RIAA v. Verizon, the case in which the recording industry initially won the right to unmask an anonymous KaZaA user with a special non-judicial, PATRIOT Act-like subpoena under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The DC Circuit reversed (PDF) that ruling, but the RIAA appealed. Now the Supreme Court has declined to hear the case.


Said EFF's Wendy Seltzer, who worked on the case, "The Supreme Court's refusal to take the case leaves the DC Circuit's well reasoned opinion as law: The DMCA doesn't give the RIAA a blank fishing license to issue subpoenas and invade Internet users' privacy."

I love it when the good guys win. Congratulations EFF!

I love Italy so much. Thanks for all the fun. I'll be back soon. I've just arrived in Helsinki and it's warmer than I expected. I am about to head over to Aula to give a talk on the the future of music...

I'm sitting in the Italian Parliament (I think.) The panel I was on was dealing with the impact of digital/Internet on content creation and distribution. It started yesterday and continued today. I think it lasted about seven hours or so in total. I found myself in violent disagreement at the beginning because they kept talking about piracy. The interesting thing about this panel (probably more common in other cultures, but new for me) was that we had to come to a written consensus by the end of the session and present it in the Parliament building. It would then be distributed to politicians across Europe as a recommendation.

I found myself negotiating like some UN diplomat.

In the end, here is where we ended up on a few of my "hot buttons".

Organized, for-profit, commercial piracy was different from P2P file sharing by individuals. We could not agree on the impact of P2P file sharing, but we agreed that punishing file sharing was not the only/best way to deal with the issue. I pushed for a stronger stance, my position being that as Chris Anderson says in The Long Tail, it's a matter of price and convenience. People will pay if the experience is better. That was not included in the statement, but "education" was used instead. Blah. I just made a statement that I disagree with this and that there is not enough evidence that P2P filesharing of music is really bad for the music industry.

It appeared that people had a VERY bad image of Creative Commons. For some reason they thought that CC was trying to force people to share and was anti-copyright. I explained the CC was built upon copyright and was trying to help artists choose their copyright.

This part turned out quite well in the statement. They said that CC was a tool, not to steal from artists, but to give them the choice to share and lower the parasitic costs (legal) of choosing a license. They concluded that CC was NOT a threat as they had originally envisioned, but a complimentary and a good thing. The tone was very pro-artist and less tolerant of distributors, the idea of giving more control to artists seemed to be quite attractive.

I'm about to have a chance to object to some of the issues I see in the statement and give an address about my thoughts. I'm going to talk about the value of the Long Tail and Creative Commons.

So the big question for me after reading Chris Anderson's excellent article, The Long Tail is... Will there always be producers and consumers of music and other content, or does the amateur revolution really take off and completely blur the consumer and the producer of content? Will amateur and nearly free Creative Commons style content become the primary content that people consume? Will most consumers create content as well? In other words, will the long tail wag? I've heard many theories about this and it is probably different for text, audio, photos and video, but I think this is an important question.

And in case you haven't noticed, it's clearly now a discovery problem, not a delivery problem.

Fantastic article in Wired by Chris Anderson titled The Long Tail. You MUST read it. Physical distribution limits the number of titles of books, music, DVDs that can be stocked. He explains that online sales show that the market size of stuff below the break even threshold for physical distribution is often larger than the market for the "hits" that make it into stores. He calls this "The Long Tail". We can essentially double the market for most content by figuring out ways to help people find the stuff they are looking for in the long tail and deliver it online.

He also makes another important point about pricing. The iTunes 99 cents is too expensive. It's based on a calculation to protect CD distribution. He suggests that the price should be based on how much your time is worth. In other words, at what price is it not worth your time to find, download and tag a track from a file sharing network. He thinks that maybe this number is around 20 cents for a college student.

I absolutely agree with his analysis and it's great that he's got so many figures and facts to support the argument.

In the future everyone will be famous for fifteen people...
written by Momus in 1991 is very relevant to this discussion. Thanks Boris.

I will be speaking at an Aula event in Helsinki next Thursday about the "Future of the Music Business".

Joi will speak on Thursday, 14 October 5:30 PM at Korjaamo (details here, for directions see this map).
So if you happen to be in Helsinki, drop by.

Click photo for higher
resolution on flickr

I just got my picture taken with my second cousin Keigo. Keigo is aka Cornelius and is a pretty well known musician. The picture for a magazine called Brutus and the series is about cool people and their relationship with someone else. So I was the "someone else" for this article. The photo was taken by Kishin Shinoyama who is well known for his portraits. His confidence and efficiency were quite amazing. He found this cool spot to take the photo in our offices in 5 minutes. Then he set up his 8X10 camera took polaroids of three poses. He seemed to only take one or two actual photos of each set up. It was all over in like five or ten minutes.

He gave me one of the polaroids and signed it for me upon request and said that I could post this on my blog.

During Ars Electronica in Linz, I got a chance to hang out with Michael from I would have blogged about this earlier, but they have been having server problems and they wanted me to wait until they had stabilized the situation. has been around for awhile now and they've even been covered in Wired so many of you may already know about them. It is a music site based on collaborative filtering. Using one of the many Audioscrobbler plugins, you can set your music player to upload the titles of the music you are playing to their site. This starts to create your profile. You can also go to the site and browse songs and artists and add them to your profile. It will recommend similar artists and also show other fans of those artists. You can browse the profiles of those fans as well. Eventually, you will have enough songs in your profile for it to calculate your neighborhood. These are other members with similar taste. It's quite uncanny how similar some people's taste in music can be. You can visit these people, see what they are listening to, send them messages or add them as friends.

Once you have a healthy neighborhood and profile, the next thing you do is start listening to the radio. is MCPS/PRS registered and has a paid license to broadcast music internationally from the UK. Only music registered with MCPS/PRS or registered directly with will be streamed, but you can listen to your own music collection, anyone else's music collection or your profile neighborhood as an mp3 stream. The web based player window will show the name of the artists, the track, the cover art, the person who's profile it is coming from and a button for "love", "ban", "skip". Anything you like will be added to your profile.

You can configure to use your local You can buy most of the albums you browse on Amazon. In addition, labels can sign up on and sell music directly via downloads. Labels can set their own price. The collaborative filter allows labels to target new songs into the clusters that are most likely to be receptive to a track and the collaborative filter takes over after that.

I think this is an amazing synthesis of traditional business models from the music industry and collaborative filters. I also love how your music becomes your identity. My page shows what I'm listening to and what I kind of music I like most.

DISCLOSURE: I don't have any official relationship with yet, but I'm currently talking to them a lot and giving them my feedback and thoughts.

Michael, let me know if I got the facts right.

Sorry about the light blogging. I've been a bit busy in New York. Here's something to to fill the void. Presenting, The Horn Guy (Windows Media Player)

from eBaum's World via Scott

The concert tonight was amazing. I hope people got a chance to watch the video feed. Gil/Byrne were amazing and were eventually able to get a house full of somewhat tired old people on their feet and dancing. It was also amazing to realize how much Talking Heads songs were a part of my DNA... anyway. Maybe more when I'm less tired. Need to go to bed.

Oh, and David Byrne dedicated "Road to Nowhere" to the Repbulicans.

Wall Street Journal
This Compilation CD Is Meant To Be Copied and Shared

September 20, 2004

For more than a year, the music industry has held firm on its zero-tolerance position on online file swapping, suing 4,679 alleged digital pirates to drive its point home.

But now, 16 high-profile artists, many of them signed to the same global music companies that have brought the lawsuits, are participating in a project that will allow music lovers to freely copy and trade some new songs without risking legal retaliation.

Next month, songs by the Beastie Boys, David Byrne and 14 others will appear on a compilation CD whose contents are meant to be copied freely online, remixed or sampled by other artists for use in their own new recordings. "The Wired CD: Rip. Sample. Mash. Share." was compiled by the editors of Wired magazine, of San Francisco, as an experimental implementation of a new kind of intellectual-property license called Creative Commons. About 750,000 copies of the disc are to be distributed free with the magazine's November issue. The disc also will be handed out to audience members at a benefit concert by Mr. Byrne and others tomorrow night in New York.

The CD will include:

Beastie Boys - 'Now Get Busy'
David Byrne - 'My Fair Lady'
Zap Mama - 'Wadidyusay?'
My Morning Jacket - 'One Big Holiday'
Spoon - 'Revenge!'
Gilberto Gil - 'Oslodum'
Dan the Automator - 'Relaxation Spa Treatment'
Le Tigre - 'Fake French'
Paul Westerberg - 'Looking Up in Heaven'
Cornelius - 'Wataridori 2'
Matmos - 'Action at a Distance'

Thanks to Chris and everyone at Wired for pulling this together. See you tonight at the concert!

via Lessig

For those of you who can't make the Creative Commons benefit concert in New York next week, WIRED will present a Webcast of the show by David Byrne and Gilberto Gil, LIVE from the Town Hall, at 8 pm EST on September 21st.
For those of you who WILL be there. I'll be there too.

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.

Britney Spears's fans don't think the pop star's chewed gum is "Toxic" - they're buying wads of it on eBay. There are more than two dozen auctions of used gum on eBay, each claiming their product has been spit out by the 22-year-old singer. Prices go as high as $14,000, but most are for significantly less. Though there is no way to verify the authenticity of the various wads, many postings include photos of a small piece of chewed gum, a copy of a ticket stub from the "place of finding" and a personal story of procurement.
eeeww... I wonder what people do with this used gum when they buy it. Or maybe I shouldn't ask...

Inspired by Maciej's anti-audioblogging manifesto, I started working on an audioblogger mashup. I'm not very good at this yet, but here's what I've got so far. (1.8 MB mp3).

I'm going to keep working on this, but if anyone wants to pitch in and give me a hand... hint hint...

UPDATE: I'm taking this down because Maciej says it's freaking him out. ;-), a video of a Kerry kigurumi performance on the guitar. Pretty neat, but not sure if this will really convince people to vote for Kerry. ;-)

10,000,000 people doing radio taiso
picture via Kampo
One of the participants of Fat Club uploaded an mp3 of radio taiso (morning radio exercise show) and I just set it to my alarm clock sound. radio taiso was banned by the US Occupation after WWII along with shogi (Japanese chess), all martial arts and a bunch of other things that were considered militaristic. I remember hearing a story on the radio that the original radio taiso came from the US. When life insurance just started as a business in the US, there was an uproar about "betting on people's lives." As part of a PR campaign, the life insurance companies started broadcasting exercise programs on the radio to make people more healthy. This culture migrated to Japan where now every morning millions of people exercise to radio taiso...

Here is the mp3 of chorus 1 of radio taiso.

Does anyone know if this story about the US insurance companies is true or not?

The Kampo home page has little animations like the one above and a full explanation (in Japanese) on how to do these exercises properly.

test press of Communicate with notes from Mark
I've been thinking about audio files lately. There are lots of interesting audio blogs these days and I realized that putting audio interviews for my sharing economy research online would be a neat thing to do. For the last month or so, I've been diving into audio gear and software. (I'll write about all this in another post when I figure out what I'm doing.) During this journey into gadgets past, I stumbled into my vinyl records from my DJ days. Most are promotional records that Rockpool sent me when I was reporting my charts to them, but many were from Mark Stephens. Mark Stephens was my mentor and one of my best friends. He was also the first person I knew who died of AIDS. Mark received tons of promos and he would share some of the good stuff with me. He would jot things down on the record jackets or on little post-its. Since I stopped spinning records, I've allowed several DJs as well as my second-cousin Cornelius to go through my record collection and take what they wanted. What I have now is a 1000+ record collection, almost all from 1988-1990, 90% crap, with very high sentimental value. What do I do with them? I looked into software to convert vinyl to mp3's but it looked like a real pain. The other idea I had was browse my vinyl for stuff I liked, scan the notes and try to find the music on a file sharing network. I should know the answer to this question, but is this illegal?

I seem to be getting into these diary-like entries these days, but digging through old vinyl and reading the little notes from Mark brought back a lot of memories. I'm struggling with how to bring some of those memories into the medium I have today.

An interesting survey based project to try to answer the question of whether the cost of what the MPAA and RIAA does exceeds their forgone revenues to piracy.

Suw Charman @ The Guardian
Listen to the flip side

New research suggesting that file sharing has no impact upon sales of CDs has, not surprisingly, angered the music industry. [our very own] Suw Charman reports

Suw has a good article in the Guardian about the paper (PDF) by Associate Professor Felix Oberholzer-Gee of Harvard Business School in Boston and Professor Koleman Strumpf of the University of North Carolina where they assert that "Downloads have an effect on sales which is statistically indistinguishable from zero, despite rather precise estimates." It's an important first paper in the battle against the rampant idea that file sharing is destroying the music business and Suw does a good job introducing it and additional ideas to public in a more popular medium. Yay!

Last week I got my Sensaphonics ear molds for my E5cs and a set of ProPhonic Soft 2Xs. I just blogged about them on my stuff blog.

A paper by Felix Oberholzer of Harvard Business School and Koleman Strumpf of UNC Chapel Hill shows strong evidence that file-sharing has "statistically indistinguishable from zero" effect on CD sales and the RIAA decides to sue 482 more people for sharing copyright music on peer-to-peer networks. This brings the number of people sued by the RIAA for file-sharing to 3,429. I guess that if you can't convince everyone, you can always try to scare people into submission.

But it looks like the RIAA will have event MORE reasons to sue people. They're trying to "criminalize the act of inducing another to commit a copyright violation."

Cory's excellent drm rant which he presented at Microsoft Research has now been wikified to allow people to comment and add to it. Excellent.

Andrew is trying to draft Bruce Springsteen, an outspoken critic of war, to perform at Giants Stadium (which he has reserved) September 1, the day of the Republican National Convention. Andrew wants you to sign his petition.

Bush vs Bruce live would be definitely be something worth watching.

via ejovi

Wired News Leaves Door Open -- a site that both hosts independent music and uses a peer-review process to identify hot bands -- is offering the Creative Commons Music Sharing License to artists who want to distribute their tunes for free, the company said Monday.

Nice. GarageBand is one of the biggest legal mp3 sites and it's cool that they are offering a CC license to their artists. Alternative distribution of music using CC licenses is clearly a good idea and helps people understand the whole Free Culture concept. I really do believe that the issue will become more and more about how to gain attention, not how to charge for delivery. It is changing from a delivery problem to a discovery problem as storage and bandwidth become commodities. Discovery is cheap only when you have a monopoly on people's attention. Obviously, media companies like Clear Channel are trying to keep that monopoly, but I think users are going to dump those locked up modes as new modes of discovery become available. I think that the main way to get attention will be to become part of the conversation and you can only do that if you promote active sharing of your music and content.

Today I met the founder and president of Sensaphonics, Michael Santucci. He is a hearing conservation expert and audiologist. He is one of the few audiologists who work with the music industry. The relationship is interesting. Hearing conservation is about protecting your ears from continued exposure to loud sounds in order to preserve your hearing. He told us that baby boomers have a higher rate of hearing loss than senior citizens, probably because of devices such as portable music devices. He shows us pictures of a healthy inner ear and a damaged inner ear and had the same effect on my as the healthy lung and smoker lung photos we often see.

The traditional logic behind headphones and earphones is to increase the volume of the music reaching your ears for better sound. The brain compensates for background noise so, as most people have experienced, music in your car stereo suddenly sounds loud when you come to a stop and the background noise disappears. The damage to your ear is based on the total amplitude of the sound, whereas the perceived loudness of the signal is based on the amplitude above the background noise.

One way to have great earphones and not lose your hearing is to isolate and block the outside sound. Then you can listen to music at much lower volumes and it will still sound loud and clear. This protects your hearing while providing super high fidelity.

This is the theory behind the Shure E2cs and the E5cs that I've written about before. Michael takes this a step further and replaces the ear plugs that come with the Shures and replaces them with custom silicon molds. Sensaphonics also makes their own earphones.

Today, my second cousin Cornelius and I got molds taken of our ears. They are going to send me their ProPhonic Soft 2X earphones as well as molds that will work with my E5cs. They're also going to send me the TC-1000-totally-overkill ear set and the Elacin/Sensaphonics ER-9/15/25 high fidelity earplugs. I look forward to my future ear-mold-a-rama lifestyle, comparing the E5cs with the Sensaphonics and protecting my hearing.

Today, an associate professor at the most prestigious university in Japan, Tokyo University was arrested today for developing a tool that enables piracy. The program is a P2P system cally Winny. Previously two of the users had been arrested. I got a call from Asahi Shimbun (Japanese newspaper) today asking me for a comment for the morning news tomorrow. I hope the print it. I think it's an absolute disgrace to Japan. While the US is fighting in congress, Hollywood pushing to ban P2P and Boucher et al are fighting for DMCRA, Japanese police go and arrest someone developing P2P software with a VERY sketchy case. The thing is, it's quite likely he will be found guilty.

I once served as an expert witness on the FLMASK case. FLMASK was a program that could be used to allow password protected scrambling of areas of an image so that porn sites could post pictures that passed the Japanese censors, but allowed users to unscramble them. The police were so upset that they cracked down on the hardcore porn sites with the argument that even with FLMASK'ed "clean" images, they would be deemed hardcore. The problem was, this left the developer of FLMASK free from claims that his software enabled anything illegal. So they busted him for LINKING to these porn sites that got busted as users of his software. They deemed linking to a porn site as the same as actually running a porn site. I was the chairman of Infoseek Japan at the time so I obviously had a lot to say about that. The amazing thing is... after overwhelming evidence of the stupidity of the allegations, the guy was found guilty.

Anyway, Japan is yet again leading the world in stupid Internet policing.

more on slashdot

There's a short interview in MIT's The Tech newpaper with Jack Valenti about DMCA. I'm glad that Jack is still willing to have discussions like this. This is what I meant when I said that I think Jack should be respected. Even if you don't agree with him, he's still willing to try to discuss his position with you.

via Creative Commons weblog

Yesterday, Mizuka and I went to Tokyo Bunka Kaikan in Ueno to see the opera Jr. Butterfly. Jr. Butterfly was composed by our friend Shigeaki Saegusa. The libretto was our friend Masahiko Shimada and the conductor was Naoto Otomo. Tenor Shigehiro Sano performs Jr. Butterfly and soprano Shinobu Sato plays Naomi, his love.

Madam Butterfly was an opera by Giacoma Puccini based on a story by John Luther Long. Puccini's opera opened in 1904, 100 years ago. Jr. Butterfly is the story of what happens to the son of Madame Butterfly and Pinkerton. It is set before, during and after WWII. The half-Japanese half-American Jr. Butterfly is an intelligence officer for the Americans and falls in love with a Japanese girl. At the core of the story is the love story between Jr. Butterfly and the girl, but the opera covers a lot of ground such as the identity struggle of Jr. Butterfly's chanpon background and the intentions of the US vis a vis war with Japan before the war. Also, with Madam Butterfly originally set in Nagasaki, the role of Nagasaki in the closure of the war ties it all together.

I enjoyed the opera very much. The score and poetry were beautiful and I was able to follow the story much better than previous Saegusa operas. It was also fun catching up during intermission with friends that I hadn't seen for a long time. I've been spending too little time with my non-computer and non-business related Japanese friends these days...

There's an interview in the Daily Yomiuri with Shigeaki Saegusa.

I just gave a keynote this morning and I initially felt right, but a bit bad. Milia is one of the oldest and leading interactive content conferences and MipTV is a place where content providers meet with people who want to buy content from them. The halls are full of telephone companies, TV networks, Hollywood content providers and DRM technology companies. So here I am asked to give a keynote. What am I going to say? I talked about the shift in value away from packaged content and towards context oriented things like location, presence and transactions. I talked about how DRM would make the user experience suck so bad that they would lose their customers, and I talked about how I didn't think the mobile content download business would work. Easy for Mr. "nothing to lose" Ito to say. ;-p I did throw out a olive branch by talking about Creative Commons and how we can have "some rights reserved" and try to protect their content selling business models. On the other hand, all of the smart people quickly figured out that the technical execution of protecting content while allowing sharing in certain cases requires them to trust their customers much more than they do now.

I also mentioned that the carriers and the content guys really didn't know their customers. In fact, most people don't know their customers. Most success has come from watching how the customer behaves and creating products for that behavior rather than trying to create products that change the customer's behavior, which most arrogant companies think they can do.

I did provide some helpful advice by talking about mobile device UI issues, talking about CPA and stuff.

So, I was prepared for a lot of hateful glares and wrath, but everyone was surprisingly thoughtful and the discussion after the session was really interesting. So just as publishing survived the copy machine and Hollywood movies survived the video tape, I'm sure the smart content guys will survive mobile devices and sharing whether they like it or not. Talking to all of the smart people (even the ones who's business models were screwed and didn't have any way out that I could see...) made me feel like there was a bit more hope in the content industry than I had originally envisioned.

Also, watching people from the big companies interact... I think there is a big company and "I love Hollywood stars/star-struck" aspect to why carriers and other folks want to work with the big studios. Having worked in Hollywood selling content to Japanese trading companies and having worked at NHK buying TV shows from Hollywood I know that Hollywood studios are skilled at making you feel good about working with them. There are many people who have lost a lot of money in Hollywood. Unlike Las Vegas, sometimes they often even don't let you win a single hand before they take all your money. Again, mileage may vary and there are A LOT of great people in Hollywood, but beware. People and companies in Hollywood are not famous because they're nice and give you their money.

Cory blogged about this, but beware if you are buying music on iTunes and are prone to buying new Macintosh computers. You can only authorize three machines to play your iTunes purchased music. I recently bought a new machine and gave my old one to a friend. I have a desktop and my original PowerBook is being used by my aunt. So I had to track down my friend and have him log in as me and "deauthorize" the machine before I could authorize this machine. Which basically means, you have three lives. Lose/wreck/give away/sell three Macs and your iTunes library is no longer available, although there appears to be a "contact customer service" method of dealing with deauthorizing computers you don't have access to. Anyway, like Cory, I feel like I'm being punished for buying lots of Macs and lots of iTunes music. I can see their point, but this is yet another example of how DRM will always suck from a user experience point of view.

Xeni of Boing Boing writes in Wired News about Congress moving to criminalize P2P.
Read the full text of Senator Hatch's remarks describing children as "human shields against copyright owners and law enforcement agencies," and the "piracy machine designed to tempt them to engage in copyright piracy or pornography distribution," here.

Human shields my ass. These kids are customers who are being treated like criminals. I know this is dead horse kicking, but I've learned about and subsequently purchased more music online since I started sharing music files. As a DJ, when I made mixed tapes, I was promoting these bands to people who didn't know about them. Music sharing is a natural and essential method of promoting new artists. It's a small number of very famous artists who feel gypped by how easy it is to copy music. For must artists, the ability to copy and share music should be as important as promoting their music on the radio and through DJs.

I personally think that Creative Commons can solve a lot of these problems by allowing artists to select what type of copyright they would like for their music and allow P2P services to mark content with the proper copyright notice. Remember that even though Jack Valenti endorsed Creative Commons, at an operational basis, we (Creative Commons) have received resistance from the legal departments of the record companies when their artists have tried to choose Creative Commons licenses.

Two blanks against the trend! The band has decided to make a statement for its fans and for music consumers in general and is releasing the album including a bonus DVD with 2 blank CD-Rs which have the same label as the CD itself. Alexx Wesselsky (singer and head of the group): "We are of the opinion that the music buyers are criminalized enough and have been made responsible for the wretched state in the music industry. We are giving them the chance to make 2 legal copies for private use with 'official blanks'. It can't always be that the end users have to take the blame for something that international corporations have arranged with their artist-burning methods."

via rojisan

A great parody of the Pepsi / Apple Superbowl commercial. (Thanks RS!)

You can see the original Pepsi / iTunes ad here. (Thanks Shawn!)

It's also on the Apple site.

I guess, as Boris says, it's not so much a parody as what they really wanted to say, but couldn't. Those kids probably got paid more to do the ad than they paid the RIAA. The RIAA is getting so stupid that it's getting cool to make fun of them. Sounds like the beginning of the end when your business involves being cool.

Don't forget to check out

And even more racism...

Kevin Marks
RIAA's fake cops harrass based on racial stereotypes

'A large percentage [of the vendors] are of a Hispanic nature,' Langley said. 'Today hes Jose Rodriguez, tomorrow hes Raul something or other, and tomorrow after that hes something else. These people change their identity all the time. A pictures worth a thousand words.'
Langley is Western regional coordinator for the RIAA Anti-Piracy Unit.
I feel sorry for Sir Howard Stringer. I'm glad I don't have to hang out with people like the RIAA. (tech dirt on how Sir Howard might save Sony Music)

I wonder just how much racism in the name of "profiling" will be tolerated. Since the RIAA links piracy to terrorism, I suppose they'll expect us to tolerate a lot.

I'm off again to the Sony Open Forum tomorrow. It's an annual event. The main event is Sony's sponsorship of a golf tournament, but there is also a small forum where Chairman Idei invites executives of Sony and several other people to discuss some of the key topics for the year. Last year I was invited to speak about the future of Japan. This year I'm going to be talking about media consumption and the future of media. My talk will kick off a discussion session. The conference itself is not public, but I'm assuming my comments are. I've put my talking notes on my wiki and Kevin Marks, Roger Wood and danah boyd have contributed some thoughts on a page about media consumption. The actual talk isn't for a few more days so any thoughts you might have would be greatly appreciated. Please add them to the wiki. Thanks!

The New York Times Upfront asked me to contribute a short piece to a point/counterpoint they were having on download. (I would defend downloading, of course.) I thought I managed to write a pretty good piece, especially for its size and audience, in a couple days. But then I found out my piece was cut because the Times had decided not to tell kids to break the law. So, from the graveyard, here it is.

Stealing is wrong. But downloading isn’t stealing. If I shoplift an album from my local record store, no one else can buy it. But when I download a song, no one loses it and another person gets it. There’s no ethical problem.

Music companies blame a fifteen percent drop in sales since 2000 on downloading. But over the same period, there was a recession, a price hike, a 25% cut in new releases, and a lack of popular new artists. Factoring all that in, maybe downloading increases sales. And 90% of the catalog of the major labels isn’t for sale anymore. The Internet is the only way to hear this music.

Even if downloading did hurt sales, that doesn’t make it unethical. Libraries and video stores (neither of which pay per rental) hurt sales too. Is it unethical to use them?

Downloading may be illegal. But 60 million people used Napster and only 50 million voted for Bush or Gore. We live in a democracy. If the people want to share files then the law should be changed to let them.

And there’s a fair way to change it. A Harvard professor found that a $60/yr. charge for broadband users would make up for all lost revenues. The government would give it to the affected artists and, in return, make downloading legal, sparking easier-to-use systems and more shared music. The artists get more money and you get more music. What’s unethical about that?

Footnotes and lots of comments on Aaron's site.

As we start working on the details involved in the launch the sampling license over at Creative Commons, we find, as always, that God is in the details. The idea behind the sampling license is that many artists don't mind if their music is sampled by other artists as long as there is attribution. The Creative Commons is currently proposing two sampling licenses. The normal sampling license which allows other artists to transform the work even for commercial use, while prohibiting distribution of verbatim copies of the entire work. The Sampling-Plus license offers the same rights but allows verbatim sharing of the entire work for non-commercial purposes.

This license would help those genres of music that rely heavily on sampling which have been getting a beating recently by record company lawyers.

It starts to get a bit sticky when one begins to explore some of the extremes of what are called "moral rights". In the article 6bis of the Berne Convention, the "moral rights" of authors includes the "right of integrety: mutilation or distortion that would prejudice the author's honor or reputation is not permitted." These rights are not protected under US Copyright Law but many countries elsewhere protect this. The question is, when does a remix "prejudice the author's honor or reputation" and do the Creative Commons licenses allow people to use the works in ways that "prejudice the author's honor or reputation".

This is where The Kuleshov Effect comes in. danah boyd blogged about it today. The Kuleshov Effect is when an image is perceived very differently depending on what other content is juxtaposed with the image. The question that danah raises is, how much control should / can an artist have of the context in which their material is used? How much of this should be made explicit in the Creative Commons licenses and should there be a waiver of these "moral rights" in countries outside the US where such rights are actually protected.

Halley just posted a song about Barlow sung to the tune of Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer. Soo good. Now I can go to sleep with Christmas cheer in my head. ;-)

And Halley sings it for us.

Shannon's just blogged about a song that I asked her to write for Ben and Mena for their birthdays. (In case you've ever wondered, the reason their company is called Six Apart is because they're birthdays are six days apart...) Shannon went above and beyond the call of duty and did a most amazing job. In order to get the humor/wit balance just right, she read everything Ben and Mena had ever blogged and probably knows more about them now than even the most dedicated stalker.

She ended up with a song called "Your Own Dot Org." I love it. Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 1.0 deed of course.

Thanks again for this great work and welcome back, wherever you've been Shannon. Your new site looks great. Now come and hang out with us again on #joiito. ;-)

Lyrics follow.

Your Own Dot Org - Shannon Campbell
Money, fame, and the tiki room
but all it took was a domo kun
now you have more than just donations
board of directors, new location

baseball cards, edgar allen poe
by now we've read enough to know
we never need to hear you speak
just read your archives every week

you're unbelievably adorably cute
benevolent, witty, and brilliant to boot
you're a stupid fool with your own dot org
you're a day late and a dollar short

always together and never apart
never mind the ridiculous rumors it sparks
even four days alone reveal this is true:
ice cream... is so sad... without you

you're unbelievably adorably cute
witty, benevolent, and brilliant to boot
you're a stupid fool with your own dot org
you're a day late and a dollar short

It's been a long, long time since high school halls
Friday nights & notebook scrawls
and you still watch each other move
like no one's watching you at all

the world has watched you build your dreams
prey to hype and drama queens
and sometimes you still lie in bed
and wonder where the old days went

you're unbelievably adorably cute
benevolent, witty, and brilliant to boot
you're a stupid fool with your own dot org
you're a day late and a dollar short (x2)

Seth Godin
Liars, cheats and fools

The record industry sued a "little old lady" named Sarah Ward. She's not that old, but she's little and she's not a pirate. She's never even downloaded the software you need to download the music. The RIAA has dropped the suit, but Amy Weiss, their spokesman, says, "We have chosen to give her the benefit of the doubt and are continuing to look into the facts... This is the only case of its kind."

Now, regardless of how you feel about litigation as a business strategy, refusing to apologize is just a bad idea. This is clearly NOT the only case of its kind. Instead of stonewalling, why doesn't the RIAA say, "This is terrific! She's an honest citizen and we're proud of her. We made a mistake and we apologize. We're sending Ms. Ward a hundred CDs to apologize for bothering her. If there are any other cases like this one, we'll drop them immediately."

Totally agreed. Now all of you who supported the RIAA suing the 12 year old girl, do you think it's cool for them to be suing people who haven't done anything?

Being sued isn't like, "oh sorry... wrong number.."

So many people have already blogged this so I don't know who to attribute, but if you missed it, check out Stealth Disco. Stealth disco is when you take video tape yourself or someone rocking and grooving near someone who can't see you doing it. It started as a prank between employees at an ad agency in Chicago called Cramer-Krasselt.

I received a link from Chris to a fanimutation called Irrational Exuberance by Veloso at It's very funny. It's a flash animation over the Happatai song "Yatta!". Max and James turned me on to "Yatta!" When I saw them in May at FiRe. Happatai are a group of Japanese comedians who released a song back in April 2001 called "Yatta!". It's a very silly song with silly lyrics and a video of them dancing around with no clothes and just a fig leaf. The weird thing about this is that it was slightly funny when it came out in Japan, but the mpeg video of this has been zooming around the Internet in the US and has developed small cult following. this fanimutation by Veloso is just another "derivative work" of "Yatta!" I wonder if this is an example of Japan's Gross National Cool export. Maybe I should contact them and see if they will release the rights for these fanimutations since they are clearly increasing their popularity in the US. ;-)

Flash animations over popular or weird songs or "fanimutations" are becoming a funky new art form. People seem to encourage sharing of the flash code. They are another example of a new form of "art" like mashups that aren't really feasible under traditional copyright/licensing. Mixing, sharing and attribution are at the core of this new subculture. If you go to the sites, you'll notice that people go to great lengths to link and attribute.

Ryuichi Sakamoto
Went to Ryuichi Sakamoto's place yesterday. I don't get to see him very often since he moved from Tokyo back to New York. Ryuichi is one of my favorite musician/activists and is a great inspiration to me. He's very smart and is called kyoju (professor in Japanese) by his friends and is always thinking and studying. He's an outspoken anti-war activist and an environmentalist. I met Ryu Murakami through Ryuichi. Ryuichi was also responsible for getting me involved with the effort to invite the Dalai Lama to Japan. (They are good friends.)

The last time I saw him, we were both using Windows machines and this time we both had 15" Powerbooks. I showed off TraktorDJStudio and gave my blogging spiel. Ryuichi has a cool web page and is on a blog called codeblog but I tried to convince him to dive into it himself and get the full blown blogging community experience. I walked him through the tools and my favorite sites. Ryuichi sends out emails to a list several times a week with his thoughts on the environment and war and I think that having a strong voice in the blog space would be really cool for him.

I also got to see Sora-san and Neo again. The last time I saw Neo, he was still a little kid. It made me feel old seeing him so big. ;-)

Brianna - 12
I am sorry for what I have done. I love music and don't want to hurt the artists I love.
So says a 12 year old girl after she is sued by the RIAA for sharing music on the Internet.
Nice job RIAA.

Had an interesting breakfast discussion with David Weinberger and a few others about copyright. I seem to be having more and more heated debates about copyright these days and the more I become familiar with the arguments of old-school copyright guys, the more frustrated I become. As Lessig often says, we're not saying that there shouldn't be copyright or that artists should not be paid. The issue is that the current copyright framework and more importantly, the corporations who are currently entrusted with the task of managing these copyrights are dysfunctional. We need to fundamentally restructure the business of creating and being paid for creating artistic works and it's likely that this business doesn't involve record companies.

The Internet has the potential to greatly enhance and enrich our culture, but old-school copyright people are trying to make their controls even stronger than the real world. The important point is to talk about the commons and the public, not about protecting the "rights" of the custodians of the "files". At one level, we're all conduits passing inspiration and knowledge from the past to the future by re-mixing, rendering and editing things that inspire us in ways that will inspire others. Talking about copyright is talking about the files. We should be talking about how to increase the commons and enrich culture. THAT's not about the files, it's about the the commons.

Inspired by David's blog entry.

The second workshop I attended was "The Creative Edge: How Do You Maintain it?" run by Miha Pogacnik, the Cultural Ambassador for The Republic of Slovenia. Miha, violin in hand, deconstructed a Bach Fugue passage by passage. He explained the musical elements and got us to really hear each transition. Then he created a narrative while scribbling on paper the image. It started with a tough command/control image (teenage feelings), pressure, dropping out, networking and communicating, love, chaos (middle age crisis), breaking through, questioning, returning to identity, rising up and finally rebirth and integration. It was really beautiful. I'd never had music deconstructed, much less such a wonderful narrative. I'll never listen to Bach or any other classical music piece in the same way.

I found that these images of the various phases were very useful in thinking about the transitions in my life. The idea of chaos, breaking away, questioning and returning back to my identity resonated with me a great deal. This process also reminded me of Chungliang Al Huang's Tai Ji class that I took where he helped us understand how there were a variety of types of energy and learning how to move between and transform the variety of energies helped you build your own energy and identity.

Good stuff.

Don't you hate when the people who should most "get it" TOTALLY DON'T GET IT!

Neeru@Creative Commons
We would love to help you offer Creative Commons license to your users — it’s free, and a great way to make clear the rights and restrictions artists would like to offer their fans.
Nothing replaces the legal protections provided by registering a copyright with the US Copyright Office--most certainly not your “free license.”

This email is formal notice for you to cease and desist from further contacting our artists through our web site to solicit for your product/services, which are not sanctioned by us.

Legal Department
Music & Media
Vivendi Universal Net USA, Inc.

Some folks on #joiito turned me onto "streamripping". This is software that stores songs played on Internet radio stations as mp3's with meta data and everything. RadioLover is streamripping software for the Mac that lets you record multiple radio stations in parallel. You can drag and drop the songs into iTunes and sync to the iPod. The quality seems fine. I can listen to my favorite radio stations from all over the world when I'm walking in the park with my iPod. Is this illegal? It is SOOO useful it MUST be illegal. ;-p

UPDATE: For the record, I've just bought several albums on Apple's Music Store and Amazon that I didn't know about until I started messing around with RadioLover.

I first heard about the Shure earphones from Barak and bought the e2c's. I blogged about it. With the help of Google, people interested in e2c's including Matt, who was the product manager for the e2c's found my blog entry. When the e5c's came out, I blogged about them too. Hundreds of comments later, both of these entries have become discussions including testimonials and lots and lots of answers from Matt replying to questions about the products and distribution. This human voice dialog is why I think blogging is so great for companies with great products.

Last week, I talked to Matt and Susan from Shure on the phone about experimenting with blogs. Matt's started a blog. Hopefully we can set up some combination of a wiki and a blog to help Shure reach out to us and for us to give them feedback.

I just downloaded iTunes 4, set up my .mac account for the music shop and started browsing around the music shop. Ooo, I don't have that Orb CD, "click", I wonder if they have.... "click"... "downloading..." "hey..." "click".

Now maybe I'm not a good sample, but iTunes 4 is to music downloads what iPod was to mp3 players. Of course you have to download iPod patch to play the AAC protected music format and you are not downloading sharable mp3's.

My little foray into the DRM'ed music space is really an experiment on myself to see if a proprietary system can make the experience compelling enough to make people say, "screw it, I'm going to use DRM." So far, the experience for me is that actually quickly finding clean copies of music I'm looking for and having it seamlessly arrive in my iPod is worth the $.99/song they are charging and the fact that it's protected. THAT'S SCARY. It's the sucking sound of Hollywood you're hearing here... hmm...

Anyway, I'm going to play around with it a bit more before I decide for sure whether this is a killer service, but I just thought I'd post this urgent news so you could try it for yourself. ;-p

Update: Not nearly as many songs that I want as I initially imagined. They're like trying to get my to buy the Village People and stuff... Search seems broken -- it gives me errors. Keeps trying to tell me I can't use the service because I'm in Japan -- I keep trying to trick it into thinking I'm in the US. a good roundup on Marc Canter's site.

Update 2: BAAAAD news. So I bought a bunch of albums and songs and was happily downloading them thinking about how much money I had just spent. Then. "There was a problem with Music Store. Please try again later." I still have the songs I've downloaded and they are there, but all of the stuff that was in the queue to be downloaded. Gone. "click" "You already have a copy of this dumbass, do you want to buy it again?"... fill out bug report asking whether I can reinstate the downloads or check whether I've been billed. "thank you for your bug report. We can will not respond to this request directly, but we appreciate your dumbass suggestions..." shit... Anyway, I will make sure I check my credit card bill next month. Until then, I will and not queue up downloads.

Update 3: When I restarted iTunes it started download all of the music I bought. phew...

The Christian Science Monitor recently published an article focusing on independent labels and musicians. While recording industry album sales were down 11% overall in 2002, some independent outfits saw sales increases of 50 to 100 percent, all while eschewing mainstream radio play.

posted by Matt Haughey

Tim O'Reilly fowards a rant about how the RIAA unfairly blames P2P as the reason for their drop in sales and how their statistics show otherwise.

From: Tim O'Reilly

Date: Sun, 13 Apr 2003 18:13:44 -0700

To: David Farber

Subject: FW: The Music Piracy Myth

Dave, I thought your readers might enjoy the following rant from George Ziemann, who's been doing analysis of the RIAA members' own statistics to argue that the decline in sales is related to their reduced title output and higher prices, not to file sharing.

For the articles to which he refers, see and

From: George Ziemann
Date: Sat, 12 Apr 2003 22:47:19 -0700
Subject: The Music Piracy Myth

Currently, if you do a google search on RIAA statistics, I'm number one and two; you are three and four, and your article refers to me, so I know you know who I am.

The article to which you referred was published in December. Since that time, a lot has happened, as I'm sure you are aware, not the least of which being the RIAA's recent lawsuits against college students.

First of all, I am a musician. The only reason I even started researching what the RIAA has to say is because of the problems I had selling my own work at eBay, which were entirely due to RIAA accusations of copyright infringement (it was my own CD).

After looking at the 2002 RIAA data, I also realized that over the last 5 years, the recording industry has shipped out more than 2 billion physical units of product, adding up to a retail value of more than $20 billion. You'd think that they would embrace a free marketing and promotion opportunity like mp3s. Let's face it, an mp3 is an inferior copy. I consider mp3s to be an ad for my actual recording.

My current consternation comes in the form of a letter from my congressional representative, who states that "In 2001, record sales were down 10 percent because of unauthorized music downloads..."

Yes, sales were down. Other than that obvious fact, there is no empirical data to suggest that downloading is the cause of the problem. I've asked the RIAA. In fact, I would go so far as to say I have relentlessly taunted them in hopes of a reasonable explanation. They offer none.

So think about this. As the original research I conducted indicates (and has been verified by SoundScan via, the record labels began to reduce the number of releases BEFORE the Napster hearings. When they went in front of Congress to complain about downloading, Hilary Rosen could confidently state that sales were going to suffer.

Because it was engineered.

Here's another interesting point. I can go to and order CDs for $1.89 each. Not "replicated" but created from a glass master. As I understand it, the current wholesale price for a CD is about $12.

So how can EMI's Cost of Goods Sold (2001 -- at Hoovers Online) be 71% of their income? BMG's 2001 annual report blames industry shortcomings "long obscured by market success" and Vivendi told its stockholders that an "anticipated lighter release schedule" had something to do with it. BMG is the only one that even mentions file sharing -- as a justification in investing in Napster.

Why does "sales are down 10%" overrule any other explanation for declining sales? A bigger question is -- Why won't anyone in the media even discuss this?

Recently I spoke to the FCC at a public hearing in Tempe (Phoenix area). Next month, I'm going to speak at the DMCA hearings at UCLA Law School.

Additionally, I'm hearing from college kids all over (Duke, Auburn, UCSD, Univ. of North Carolina, Yale Law School, Univ. of Wyoming). They're reading my site and they're using it as background for dissertations and reports. They ask questions. They do not accept vague answers.

Why does the government accept the "sales are down" without any consideration of other, equally plausible explanations? And why does the press?

When the majority of the public is guilty by default, then something is terribly wrong. I'm not sure why I'm even writing to you, except that you seem to be about the fifth person in the country that has applied some logic to this issue.

I've written to every member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Commerce Committee and Small Business Committee. I've written to Jay Berman, Hilary Rosen and the Recording Artists Coalition. With the lone exception of Janis Ian, absolutely everyone has totally ignored me.

What can we do?

Yesterday, I had dinner with Robert Kaye. He is the founder of Musicbrainz. Musicbrainz is a metadata project that is creating a database of album artist, title and track information similar to how CDDB used to do it when they were not a corporation. Many people were upset by CDDB's move use the commons created by the community for commercial purposes. Robert was so angry with this betrayal of the community that he started Musicbrainz. Musicbrainz will be set up as a non profit and Robert swears that he will never "sell-out". In fact, we talked about using some sort of emergent democracy that would allow the users to force a way to take shift control in the event that something like this might happen. We talked about the value of such escrow agents of perhaps the DNS and domain name with some sort of tool to allow the users to discuss and trigger a shift in control. This could be a way to force projects like this to stick to their original principles and help build trust at the same time.

Robert seemed like an extremely dedicated, smart and visionary guy and I think his focus and commitment to deliver this service is extremely admirable.

His service is unique in many ways. He is using a sound fingerprint key method to identify the songs. (He got beat up a bit on slashdot because he was using patented technology for this, but I think this is fine. He can always switch later if someone decided to make an open source version.) Basically, his client software scans all of your mp3's looks them up on his database and fixes all of your bad tags. If you have data that isn't in his database, you can submit it. It is a much more automatic and viral approach to what CDDB does.

So far it is only available on Windows, but he's working on an OS X version now...

Ever since the Wired article came out, his server has been swamped so you may not be able to access it... But keep trying and donate some money so he can buy a new server. Thanks for the intro Lisa!

even more stupid dsico mashups, remixes and pop destruction: even better than the real thing
I recently discovered this new form (Feel free to tell me that this is old news and I'm totally out of it. I have no idea...) of remix on Takemura-sensei's blog. These are remixes which mash together weird combinations of artists making a totally strange, but really cool new version. There are two site dsico and ritmic which have a bunch of these remixes that you can download. Have no idea who "owns" this stuff, but totally weird and cool and great for testing my new E5c's. ;-)

Here are some examples:

Celine Dion+Sigur Ros
Whitney Houston+Kraftwerk
Eminem+Britney Spears
Kylie Minogue+New Order