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Why can't I subscribe to The Beatles?

30 August 2009

There's much excitement in the music industry at the upcoming release of the remastered Beatles catalogue on CD. For people who own the earlier CD issues, there is some incentive to buy: there's a documentary on the first pressings, and the remastering has been carried out sensitively to enhance the sound without changing the music, according to Mojo magazine.

I can't help thinking they've missed a marketing trick here, though. At the moment, your choices are to buy the albums individually, or to buy a box set of them all for about £200.

What I'd really like to see is a subscription model. What if you could subscribe to The Beatles Remasters, and receive a new one in the post each month for a year? That works for the record label because it can effectively spread the cost of selling a high-ticket item, and so get more sales. It's also good for sales forecasting because the company knows how long the subscription will run for (14 albums). It would be an opportunity for EMI to build direct relationships with customers too, increasingly important at a time when record shops are going to the wall. For customers, it would be a great experience, particularly if accompanied by additional bonuses, such as notes on the Beatles timeline around that release, or period reviews - both cheap to produce.

Retailers could have stepped into this space too, but as far as I (and Google) know, nobody is doing this.

I wonder whether the record industry considered this and discounted it, or whether they it became locked into the old ways of selling music. That hasn't done them many favours in the recent past.

(Don't mind this: swp54kqdah)

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Publish and be Damned Fair

09 August 2009

There's a self-publishing fair planned for 27 September in East London, organised by Publish and be Damned. If you're a self-publisher, you can apply for a place at the fair now to promote and sell your publications. If you're a reader, why not put the date in your diary and plan to go along? You'll find a thriving independent press which you might otherwise not come across, and will doubtless find lots of new ideas.

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Twitter: the next generation of spam

07 August 2009

The moment anybody invents a communications technology, somebody else invents a way to hijack it for advertising. Then people find a way to block those ads, and the spammers make their spam harder to detect. And the battle rages on.

On Twitter, until recently spam has consisted of people setting up a profile, putting an advert in their profile and then following people. That results in an ad view firstly when the you visit to check out who your new follower is. And secondly, when anybody viewing your followers list clicks on them. You can often detect this spam fairly easily - it tends to have few tweets and meaningless usernames (the second of those being much harder to detect automatically).

You can save time validating followers by just leaving it a week before clicking on your new follower notices - Twitter is getting good at banning suspicious accounts based on how many people block them, although if everybody sat back and did nothing, I guess it would fail.

In the last week or so, I've noticed a new type of spam, though, which is harder to detect. It appears to be harvesting random snippets of content from the web or from other tweets, based on a particular search keyword or group of keywords. It seems to be an adaptation of the software that creates spam blogs by lifting content from other blogs.

These new spam Twits can appear to be reasonably valid accounts - it's often difficult to tell the difference between someone with poor language/tweeting skills and a random phrase lifted from a webpage if you're only looking at 140 characters. The thing that first tipped me off to this spam was the bizarre nature of one of the accounts (all about dentistry), rather than the quality of any individual tweet.

It will be interesting to see how Twitter combats this. The strength of Twitter is partly that it enables you to post from any device or program. That makes it particularly vulnerable to spam programs, and it might prove difficult to detect when they're being used. And should they be banned anyway? I can see a valuable role for a program that would, for example, automatically seek out news about Pink Floyd and tweet it. The whole premise of Twitter is that people are allowed to think up new ways of tweeting, and we might find some potentially useful software emerges from spammers' innovation.

(See also Inside the mind of a spammer)


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