“The Real Reason For The Fourty-Hour Work Week”

Be wary of pieces that use words like “we” to indicate “all of us” – are they speaking for you?

We’ve been led into a culture that has been engineered to leave us tired, hungry for indulgence, willing to pay a lot for convenience and entertainment, and most importantly, vaguely dissatisfied with our lives so that we continue wanting things we don’t have. We buy so much because it always seems like something is still missing.

The point being made in these articles is almost always something like “we’ve automated almost everything, why can’t we all spend the day at the beach?”

Maybe some people get something out of being productive.

“…there is no ‘music business’. There’s music organized crime.”

David Masciotra profiles Live From Daryl’s House, Daryl Hall’s internet music show.

“I got a very cold reception from all the networks I pitched,” Hall said. “One told me the show was too smart for TV, and another wanted to turn it into a contest like American Idol. They said, ‘the show has to have an ending.’ It’s moron thinking. So, the show could have only started on the Internet, in its truth-telling, honest way, and Palladia was the first to say, ‘We like the show just how it is. Don’t change a thing. It’s been very successful for them and me.”

I bet that won’t work in 30 years. Hall & Oates was all over the radio back in the ’80s. Whether you hate or love them, you know their songs. Today’s listenership is highly segmented. We don’t have a Hall & Oates anymore.

Fixing The Billboard Music Charts

Sasha Frere-Jones interviews chart analyst Chris Molanphy:

SFJ: …Why do you think it’s so hard for the pop and R. & B. categories to fall back into some sort of accurate shape?

CM: I wrote a piece for Slate back in December that seems relevant here. A couple of weeks before the end of the year, I noticed there had not been a single No. 1 record on the Hot 100 by a black person; 2013 was the first time that had happened. In the article, I alluded to the idea that we’re in a so-called “post-racial,” Obama-era America. There’s this sense that we, as Americans and as music fans, want to move beyond this and pretend that these genres don’t exist and good music is good music.

That’s bullshit. Even if the definitions of these genres are harder to define than they were fifteen or twenty years ago, they’re still subcultures from which interesting music emerges and bubbles up, and also still subcultures where stuff from the top pushes down.

Autocratic Management

Neither the Japanese, nor Zeiss, nor IBM practice “permissive management.” Management in Japan is notoriously autocratic. No one has ever mistaken an order by a Japanese company president for a polite request. Abbé, according to all reports, was not permissive either. While a kind man by all accounts, he was very much the German “Herr Professor” and was used to unquestioned authority. Thomas Watson, Sr., was a tyrant. Abbé and Watson demanded excellence in performance and did not accept good intentions as a substitute.

- Peter Drucker, Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, and Practices

Sound familiar?

Classical Music Snobbery

The classical music world blames everybody else because Josh Bell wasn’t recognized in the subway. If they wanted him to be recognized, they should have made him a rock star, not put him in a darkened theater and then told the audience to “shhhhh” while he played 64ths like he was on rails. The audience shouldn’t have to know what a 64th is in order to enjoy it. We can do better.

I hated when that video came out. They posted this performance online and then felt superior when nobody recognized him.

I’ve struggled to articulate what I think is wrong with classical music today – this goes farther than I think I ever could.

Underwhelming Start to iTunes Radio Lights Fire Under Apple

Apple is finding that its influence over labels is slipping as YouTube, Spotify, Pandora and other streaming services gather momentum. One independent label said that iTunes’s share of the label’s revenue has eroded from more than 70% in 2012 to about 50% today.

I think the main reason I stick with iTunes is because I can listen to whatever I want, not just whatever jumped through all the hoops to get on Spotify.

Even with Spotify’s addition of Collections (which hasn’t rolled out to me yet) I still use iTunes/iTunes Match. Maybe that will change.

Nobody likes you, Erin

Well, maybe some people do. Probably too much.

Early Esurance commercials were animated featuring a pink-haired female spy named Erin Esurance, who posed as an auto-insurance agent. The goal was to juxtapose a widely disliked business, insurance, with a popular superhero archetype. In her first three years, the character was used in over 30 commercials. The character was also used on an episode of Who Wants to be a Superhero?. Esurance stopped prominently using the character in its advertising in June 2010 because the character was unpopular in surveys compared to the average for other corporate mascots such as Microsoft’s Clippy, with the exception of her top score in the “sexiness” category. Despite the unpopularity, in an example of Rule 34, pornographic fan art of the character—”some with a remarkable degree of verisimilitude to the real thing”, according to CBS News—appeared frequently in results for Internet searches of “Erin Esurance”, also likely contributing to the decision.

$120 a year

This is why I believe most people don’t pay for the streaming music services.

The data shows that $120 per year is far beyond what the overwhelming majority of consumers will pay for music, and instead shows that a price closer to $48 per year is likely much closer to a sweet spot to attract a large number of subscribers.

$120 a year is more than most people spend on music anyway.

The Nostalgia Business

Time states something that I’ve long suspected – that you can learn a lot about someone by going through their music collection (political stance, religious views, age).

What’s always been interesting to me is how closely people’s favorite songs are linked to their youth. The recorded music business is largely driven by teenagers. That’s nothing new, but there’s something about hitting your mid-twenties that makes Pandora good enough for all your music fulfillment.

Real life, I guess.

I think analysis like this gives weight to the idea that The Beatles got as big as they did not because they were a good band, but because they were the first breakout band heavily marketed to the baby boomer youth. Ultimate, the music of our youth is a way for us to remember what it was like to be young, without responsibilities, and what it was like to fall in love every week.

For many businesses the name of the game is to get us while we’re young. If they do that they have a good chance of having us forever. It’s a nostalgia business.1


  1. This is how Nintendo has been operating for years now. 

Is Amazon Bad For Books?

This article is so long I had to send it to my Kindle.

I read a lot more ever since I got a Kindle. Best decision I ever made for my self-education.

Articles like this put you in a tough spot. Who do you root for? Readers or publishers and authors? The company that making reading more accessible or these major publishers who are going to get gobbled up through software?