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Date: Tue, 27 Mar 2007 06:01:55 -0500
From: Ruben Safir
Subject: [NYLXS - HANGOUT] [docs-newsletter-at-ssc.com: SuitWatch - March 21]
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----- Forwarded message from SuitWatch -----
Date: Mon, 26 Mar 2007 15:00:00 -0600
Subject: SuitWatch - March 21
SuitWatch -- March 21, 2007
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Dear SuitWatch Reader,
Enclosed is the March 21st edition of the SuitWatch e-newsletter. Due
to a technical error on our part, our text subscribers did not receive
this issue. We sincerely thank you for patience and your continued
readership of SuitWatch and Linux Journal.
With sincere thanks,
Doc Searls and the Linux Journal Editorial Team
A Public Market for Public Radio
On the one hand, it's a bummer that the new per-song/per-listener royalty
rates threaten to put Internet radio out of business (at least in the U.S.
http://www.linuxjournal.com/node/1000196). On the other hand, I don't mind
paying Radio Paradise $.0019 (that's under 2/10ths of one cent) to hear
Joseph Arthur singing "In the Sun" or to pay the same to RadioKAOS
(http://www.radiokaos.com)for Jo Jo Gunne singing "Run Run Run". (To name
two songs I like that are being played right now.) I can afford that.
What's more, I'd like artists to get paid for their work. Intermediaries
too. And not just by advertisers.
That's why I'm thinking we can re-frame this whole thing by giving radio's
consumers an easy way to become customers -- with tools that let them pay on
a voluntary, a la carte basis for stuff that's available for free but worth
more than that.
I'm not talking about doing the RIAA's bidding here. I'm talking about
seeing their bet and raising it. I'm talking about changing the whole game
by creating a new economy for music on radio that's led by listeners rather
than followed by them. I'm talking about solving common problems in ways
that work for everybody because they're conceived as common opportunities.
I'm talking about taking the "willing seller/willing buyer" concept out of
the realm of abstraction and guesswork and making it real and useful.
This is the first challenge I'd like to see VRM (Vendor Relationship
Management) developers take up. I'd like to make it ambitious too. Let's
take it beyond streaming alone. Let's make VRM tools that let us pay for
all sources and all forms of programming -- including all radio signals,
streams, downloaded files and contents of files. (The latter would apply to
multiple songs found in programs such as Tony Steidler-Dennison's Roadhouse
It's more than coincidental that the Copyright Royalty Board decided to make
commercial and noncommercial stations pay the same royalty rates. No more
"carve-outs" for CPB-funded stations (which enjoyed special treatment under
a now-obsolete agreement with SoundExchange -- the RIAA's collection
agency). No more special treatment for small webcasters. Now everybody
offering valuable free goods is in the same situation, and therefore on the
same team. Dark cloud, silver lining.
First, we need a project name and description. For now let's call it
Project Pay4Play, or p4p. With p4p tools, I should be able to say "I'll pay
for that" when I hear a song or a program I like. I want to be able to do
this with any podcast or stream that I hear on my browser, my mobile phone,
my PDA, my iPod, my iTunes -- even my car radio.
As it turns out, p4p already has a meaning that's so close to what we're
talking about here that I'd like to hijack it for its own good: "pay for
performance". As Wikipedia currently puts it,
P4P is an abbreviation of the term "Pay for Performance". The concept was
invented at Overture (now Yahoo! Search Marketing) and later adopted by
their competitors, most famously Google's AdWords. Under the model
advertisers bid on the rights to present a search result for a specific
search terms in an open auction. When someone enters a search term that
has been bid on, the results from the auction on that search term are
presented, ranked from highest bid to lowest. It is also referred to as
Pay per click advertising.
Not coincidentally, copyright law now comprehends music on Internet radio --
web streams -- as "performances". That's what they want somebody to pay up
to $.0019 for, on a per-listener basis. The problem with the old p4p
(described above) is that it's an advertising system. We're talking about
putting economic control in the hands of the users, by making them actual
customers. But again, on a voluntary basis.
We can make it voluntary because the goods we pay for are non-coercive. No
DRM required. No distrust or control freakage on the supply side. No
scarcity games. No inventory system with SKUs or barcodes or security guys
checking packages at the door. Just free goods, on display for everybody to
see and use. Plus something new: the ability, on the user's side, to
actually pay for usage, at their own discretion.
And something more: the means to mediate relationships -- with artists, with
stations, with podcasters, with program producers -- that originate with the
customer and not with first sources or intermediaries. In other words, the
means to scaffold real relationships built on mutual respect and mutual
interests and not on coercion. Or, in the case of public broadcasting, the
belief that a listener is a "member" just because they sent in fifty bucks
and got back a CD plus an excuse to send junk mail until the end of time.
Sure, the means are not yet there for doing this. But how hard will it be
to put them together? If this were ten or even five years ago I'd say it's
impossible. But today there are well over 145,000 open source projects in
the world, and that's on SourceForge alone. There are countless open
standards, countless new and better ways to mash up all kinds of stuff,
thanks to Web services, open APIs and Lego-like approaches to putting code
and practices together in useful ways.
On the supply side every webcast already carries identifying data about
itself, its programs and about the musical selections it plays. So does
every satellite channel on XM and Sirius (which currently have business
models based on subscriptions and advertising, but there is no reason they
should be limited to that). And surprise: so do lots of FM stations.
Thanks to a standard called RDS, for Radio Data System, stations can carry
the same kind of identifying data. This means RDS can be used to provide
necessary data as digital output to p4p tools.
On the demand side, there are already ideas from real programmers who make
useful tools. For example, here's David Sifry of Technorati
I posed a thought experiment: What if we made it really easy to pay for
things that we liked on public radio and TV? How about using a shortcode
from your mobile phone to 'vote' on your favorite shows while they're
playing? Think 'American Idol' style, and you'll immediately see how
interesting and lucrative this could be. First off, you're getting your
listeners and viewers more active, and what they do has an immediate
effect. But what also happens is that the people formerly known as the
audience are then in control - they don't get signed up on a list, they
don't have to give their name, address, and credit card number . So here
was the thought experiment: What if you made a policy that you'd never
collect or sell personal information about your donors? And what if you
made it really really easy for people to become donors, like using that
mobile code to vote for the story they just heard? What if you really put
the listener in charge?
And that's just one idea -- one I consider important because we can't limit
our solutions just to browsers. We need p4p to work on devices that aren't
At Beyond Broadcast (http://www.sifry.com/alerts/archives/000481.html), one
of the sixteen working groups
Public Radio and Open Source, which pushed forward on open source efforts
around PubForge.org (http://pubforge.org/). There a venue already exists
where efforts can be joined and code can be gathered. The IMA 2007 blog
(http://webresources.org/ima2007blog/) has a post titled PBCore for
publishing, sharing, and preservation
g-and-preservation/) that loops together RSS, XML, metadata, the Open
Archives Institute (http://www.openarchives.org/) and PBCore
(http://www.pbcore.org/), the Public Broadcasting Metadirectory Dictionary.
Leading up to Beyond Broadcast I spent two days at NPR in Washington
followed by a week at the Interactive Media Association conference in
Boston, where I gave the closing talk. In the course of all this I was
involved in VRM conversations with folks from NPR, KQED, WXPN, WGBH, PRX,
Public Interactive, WNYC, Vermont Public Television, ThoughtCast, Jazkarta
(http://www.jazkarta.com/), IT Conversations, KPBS, WBUR, radeo, Public
Radio Capital, KUSP, WUNC, Wisconsin Public Radio, North Country Public
Radio, the Radio Foundation and WAMU -- to name just a few among many.
Across the board, everybody is ready and eager to move forward.
Two weeks from today some of the folks in the list above will be meeting at
the Berkman Center at Harvard to talk about next steps. Don't worry if you
can't make it; there will be other opportunities in other locations. A few
are Identity Open Space
(https://events.projectliberty.org/details.php?id=11) in Brussels on April
26-27;, the Internet Identity Workshop
(http://www.windley.com/events/iiw2007a/announcement) in Mountain View on
May 14-16; Supernova (http://www.supernova2007.com/) in San Francisco on
June 20-22; OSCon (http://conferences.oreillynet.com/os2007/) in Portland on
July 23-27. In some cases (such as the last two), we'll be meeting
alongside those events rather than inside them.
Meanwhile, if you'd like to help, join the effort at projectvrm.org,
pubforge.org or any of the other efforts that are moving in the same
complementary direction. We have irons here that need to be struck while
And even if it's not your iron, what we'll be doing here will still have
relevance to any business that needs to actually relate to its customers,
and not just to harbor data about them for promotional purposes. Markets
are going public. Private silo'd markets are going to be subordinated to
public open ones. Customers will lead the way. VRM is how.
-- Doc Searls is Senior Editor of Linux Journal, a Visiting Scholar with
the Center for Information Technology and Society at UC Santa Barbara, and
a Fellow with the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard
To remove yourself from this list, see http://www.ssc.com/mailing-lists.
----- End forwarded message -----
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"> I'm an engineer. I choose the best tool for the job, politics be damned.<
You must be a stupid engineer then, because politcs and technology have been attacted at the hip since the 1st dynasty in Ancient Egypt. I guess you missed that one."