One Reason To Get Up In The Morning: Money|
[ No. 8 - June 1997 ]
Things That Are New
Ghetto-ized by a bemused but cautious industry of smokestack
romanticists, the Internet Island at the National Association
of Broadcasters (NAB) conference hosted most of the usual
suspects, who ran around in packs with matching shirts with the
company name embroidered between their shoulder blades. This
year it also hosted your friends and Fezzes on the scene-- us,
the FezGuys. Random snatches of conversation overheard on the
floor: "fourteen gigahertz is a shared bandwidth, SO...", "the
most advanced amplifier EVER!", and "serve a lot of alcohol."
A state-of-the-art Jumbotron television mounted on a flatbed
truck stationed close to the sidewalk blared high-energy
television news stories about the goings-on occuring inside the
convention center. Las Vegas. It's been said that it's the
only city in the world where it is morally acceptable to
(expanded deluxe National Association Of
The technologies associated with audio on the Web are myriad.
There's RealAudio, LiquidAudio, Shockwave, Xing, Beatnik,
Telos, Waves (straight outta Tel-Aviv!), several others and who
knows what Microsoft will toss into the mix? LiquidAudio is
angling for your attention with the claim that they are the
most understanding of the music industry, specifically.
Everyone pretty much said that they were best for music. There
is so much activity and confusion in the industry right now
that there must still be an opportunity for you, Dear Reader,
to leap into the fray and launch your own streaming codecs
company. You'll have just about as good a chance as anybody
else at being very busy and spending lots of money.
One interesting development is the recognition, by participants
in the audio (and video) streaming community, that a system of
protocols must be agreed upon and a sharing of information must
be established at some level. To that end an ad-hoc commitee
gave birth to itself in one of the many meeting rooms at the
Las Vegas Convetion Center. The first physical meeting of the
International Webcasters Association (IWA) had about forty
people show up in a room that could hold 200. They were a
scrappy and influential bunch. Promotional, marketing and
legal groups were represented, as well as AT&T, NHK, BMI,
Progressive Networks, SonicNet, UCLA, and people from Web radio
stations. Their (and, by default, yours and ours) mission: to
establish a rapport, worldwide, for the open exchange of
information as it is relevant to streaming content on the Web.
Or, as Reverend Jon the Fez whispered to Uncle Al the Fez
during a particularly passionate exchange between high-level
geeks: "maybe this will provide added security that the big
boys won't come in and make ridiculous rules."
It was fascinating to watch humans of different cities and
ideologies express the exact same concerns to each other in
such disparate regional dialects. The Web: the great
equalizer. Many had communicated only through email. They
smiled shyly at each other, recognized and acknowledged their
mutual intimacy and embarrasement for an instant, and got down
to business. The FezGuys support the creation of a unified
voice of concerned and respected (or, at least, powerful)
people within the community. Of course, absolute power
corrupts absolutely. We'll keep you posted. As has been asked
by Decimus Junius Juvenal, (Roman pundit, A.D. c.50-c.130):
"quis custodiet ipsos custodes (who will watch the watchers?)"
We recommend individuals and businesses alike take a moment
to check out what the IWA are about at
Guess what's making money on the Web? If you guessed the sex trade you
are right. It seems that an interest in adult entertainment has driven
the public's acceptance-- and embracing-- of several technologies,
from photography to the video cassette recorder. And music is following
in the sex trades' footsteps in making money on the Web. But how
does this factoid help an independent musician make money on the Web?
Let us FezGuys help you out:
You place your music on a server, you dress up your site as appealingly
as possible and you promote the HELL out of your URL. Now you've set
the scene for the firs t people to tentatively approach you, and
(hopefully) gain an interest in hearing more of your music and
supporting you as an independent artist (there's always the political
angle... human nature being what it is).
How are you going to be compensated for your musical works? How will
we throw money at you? Do you want us to throw money at you? Do we
want to throw m oney at you? Will it hurt if you are pelted with money
being thrown at you?
Quote Of The Month
"I'm eating these enormous dinners... I never eat
this way at home." - NAB attendee overheard outside of Las Vegas
Why don't we assume we want to throw money at you, and you don't mind if
it hurts. Instead, let's focus on how to interact with the buyer,
collect the funds and deliver the product (your music).
INTERACTING WITH THE BUYER
You want to give the public good reason to purchase your music and this
can be done in a wide variety of ways-- be creative! Offer portions of
the music for free up front (either clips of multiple songs, a few
songs in their entirety, or combinations thereof). Remember that
wonderful old industrial revolution axiom whereby making stuff
available gratis creates a demand where none previously existed: "The
first one's free, sonny!" Use traditional marketing (postcard mailing
lists), combine that concept with the new tools (electronic mailing
lists, online promotion of your Web site) to generate interest in
bringing people to the virtual store counter (but without those awful
lines!). Tempt them with unique specials like an autographed coffee mug
or, for a lower budget, a sticker or pin.
Another choice (often overlooked) is to offer the music, in its
entirety, for free, with the message alongside to send money if they
like or use it. In lieu of cash, p eople can also be asked to send you
an amusing postcard. Heck, try bartering. You never know what you'll
get -- look what Jack did with those beans he traded for his cow.
Think of it as a sliding scale for hungry geeks.
The transaction of commerce using the encryption of credit cards by
way of the Internet is not yet an exact science. There are various
companies springing up designed to provide the interface for accepting
credit cards-- research them (on the Web, of course). The system itself
works (ask or the sexworkers) but the absolute
integrity of your encrypted credit card number remains challenged by
those paranoid about the Internet (who, strangely enough, tell faceless
drones on 900 phone lines their account numbers). Until public
perception changes, keep in mind that blank money orders are virtually
untraceable. Cash will never go out of fashion. If you feel up to the
challenge, take a stab at online digital cash systems like First
Virtual <www.fv.com>, DigiCash <www.digicash.com>, and
CyberCash <www.cybercash.com/>. It may not be simple, but it's not
rocket science, either.
You are probably already familiar with shipping a copy of your CD or
cassette out via postal mail, but what about other more cutting edge
(and far more efficient) opportunities? You can make access to
sections of your web site restricted by assigning passwords to users
who have paid for the privilege.
By being exposed to a worldwide audience you're going to get a
worldwide set of reactions. More opportunities for more people to hate
you, love you or do something in between. And you get all this,
without the hired services of the entrenched, old-boy distribution
network that crouches with its meaty hands around the music in dustry's
Item! The FezMessage has been modified! Go to
<http://www.fezguys.com/> and click on the text to hear the
new set of urgently important instructions! Go! Go now! Hurry!
From: Dan Marshall <email@example.com>
Subject: Leftbrain vs. Rightbrain
Dear FezGuys: I enjoyed fezguys.com. I want to give you my full
encouragement on what you are doing. As you can see from my site (see
FezGuys #7), I believe in empowering bands with knowledge. There is a
time for a professional (an atty or otherwise) to help, but there is so
much that bands can do themselves. Don't get me wrong, I will charge a
band to do a copyright, but I would prefer them to learn how to do it
themselves. As you know, the web is only effective when you get your
site out there. - Michael McCready (Chicago)
That's the spirit! Do It Yourself! Let it be a lesson
to all of us. The learning curve may be long, but be patient. What's
that old saying? "Give someone a fish and they eat for a day. Teach
someone to fish and they eat for the rest of their life." Thanks (for
all of us) for the support. - The FezGuys
May the Fez be with you!
Please check out the FezGuys website: