links for 2009-02-27

links for 2009-02-26

Spotify – another business model on the hoof?

I was very interested to read the recent Guardian coverage of the music streaming service Spotify, especially having been part of the beta programme and written about Spotify quite a while ago and a couple of times since.

My initial impressions were very positive. I liked the clean interface and the incredibly quick response times. But on using the service more, I started to notice that there seemed to be issues with the sound quality, and whereas I recanted to an extent, it does seem that others have picked up on this. And then there’s the adverts, which I do feel intrude on the music. I’ve been told this is why the service is free, but Last.FM and Musicovery are free and they don’t interrupt your listening pleasure with ads, that I’m aware.

But the real problem with Spotify seems to have been its licensing situation. It would appear that overnight, thousands of titles were recently removed on orders from the publishers. It’s even been noted that a lot of Radiohead is missing, which I find very peculiar considering they’ve been quite literally giving their music away.

So, the service is launched, then radically changed. Sounds horribly familiar to me. Isn’t this what happened with Pandora, which was my previous service of choice? Lovely interface, nice algorithm, then suddenly the plug is pulled for anyone outside the US. And only this week we have Facebook attempting to hold the rights to users’ content – forever – then deciding it needs to think about it some more, in a manner reminiscent of its recanting of the Beacon advertising system.

What is going on? Exactly how thoroughly have these services really thought about their business models before going to market? I would like to think Facebook in particular would have thought long and hard about the legal complexities of what they want to achieve. At the very least they should know that the very networks they enable have collective voices powerful enough to give them real problems. But it seems Pandora and Spotify have also gone like a bull at a gate to get their services online, then suddenly realised they haven’t quite thought it through.

Is it the mentality of the ‘permanent beta’, the idea that software is in constant development when delivered over the web? If so, it’s a powerful way to deliver software, but I’m not sure it’s such a good way to run a business.

links for 2009-02-24

Camping it up at Measurement Camp and Tuttling about at Tuttle Club

So this week I’ve been out and about, specifically to Measurement Camp and Tuttle Club.

Camping it up

Measurement Camp isn’t actually a camp – that is, we don’t sit around a fire singing songs nor do we wear feather boas – but it is a seriously useful event that I would urge people to visit if they want to gain insight into best current practice in measuring social media.

This was my first Measurement Camp but consensus generally seemed that it had grown. I’m not surprised. I learned a lot and will definitely attend the next one.

We kicked off with a very quick meet and greet, then broke off into groups, in which one member described a current project and we suggested ways in which to approach it. The great thing about this format was that we didn’t just talk about the project in question but branched off into other areas. So, one person got help with their work, while we all got deeper insights into what we do.

I guess my major take-aways were:

  • Figure out the objectives right from the start, and do this with the client. It’s important to get that client buy-in.
  • Don’t overcomplicate measurement. A few good metrics that everyone understands is better than many bad ones that they don’t.
  • Social media is not just PR. There were people there from brand consultancy, reputation management and advertising, and the event is much stronger for it.

My personal insight was that when you embark on a project, you’re actually starting off two. Sure, your ‘main’ project is about how to help the client achieve their objectives, but the other is to achieve your objectives in communicating with the client. So, you need to talk the client’s language, not yours. If the person you’re dealing with needs to report to someone else, make sure the project message is simple and direct enough so they can communicate it internally, with conviction, without dilution.

Tuttling about

This was my second Tuttle. My first was when it resided at Greek Street but now it’s gone all arty-farty and is held at the ICA (where I’m typing this in fact – free wireless and powerpoints, nice piped music and great coffee).

After spending a few minutes trying to find the place, I arrived to find it already fairly full. By the time I left – about two hours later – it was heaving. If Measurement Camp has grown, Tuttle Club has shot up. I’d hazard a guess its attendance had grown five-fold at least: a sure indicator that interest in social media is growing at quite a rate.

Here, I found it interesting to talk to people who had not only worked in comms, but in unrelated industries where they’d hired comms people. The strong message I got was that 15 years ago it might have been ok just to execute on ‘standard’ PR tactics, but not now. Business leaders want comms people to understand not just their communications objectives, but what they’re trying to achieve as a business.

We already knew that, right? But frame it like this: “If you were going to set up this business, what would you do?” Well, what would you do? Would you consider strategy? Objectives? ROI? Of course you would…

I met too many people to mention them all here but take a look at the blog and the Tuttle Friendfeed room to get an idea of who’s who. And if you don’t know about Friendfeed, find out. If 2009 looks like being the year of Twitter, I wouldn’t be surprised if Friendfeed pops up in 2010…

links for 2009-02-20