Manage for Success: The Cloud, etc., Newsletter #119, October 2011


"Manage for Success" is a free occasional newsletter for record label executives who want to operate their companies efficiently and successfully. It's published by Keith Holzman of Solutions Unlimited, a management consultant, troubleshooter, and trusted advisor, and is based on his many years as a senior executive in the music industry.


Copyright 2011 by Keith Holzman, Solutions Unlimited. All rights reserved.


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Due to working with clients, writing the Third Edition of "The Complete Guide to Starting a Record Company" (expect it early in 2012,) and vacation travel, I haven't had the time to write monthly newsletters. So for the time being, these will be occasional pieces.


There’s been a great deal of discussion about "The Cloud" lately and I suspect many people are confused as to what this nebulous entity is, and what it means for us. The Cloud is essentially something very down to earth. It's just huge server farms that are basically rack upon rack of great amounts of computer storage. Furthermore, it's not one entity but a number of different ones.


For example Apple has it's iCloud service which allows its customers to store their calendars, addresses, music, videos, e-books, photos, etc. on Apple's servers and be able to access them from their computers, iPhones, and iPads -- anywhere that they have wi-fi or cellular network access -- yet magically keeping it all synchronized.


Amazon has its own system which allows you to store music you've bought from them or uploaded from your computer, and play it using Amazon's "Cloud Player" program. Google also requires you to install their special program on your computer to upload your music to their systems. Understand that any of these uploads to the "Cloud" could take a long time -- based on the size of your music library and the speed of your upload connection to the internet. You should also be aware that, as of this writing, Google has no licensing deals with any of the major labels -- no less any indies -- whereas both Apple and Amazon have secured such rights.


How this will work in actuality will be based on a number of factors, but primarily the quality of your wi-fi or cellular network access and the speed and quality of your connection. Expect that there will be  breaks in continuity or pauses if you temporarily lose access while driving. You might also receive large cellular carrier bills due to overuse charges of cellular data plans. In addition, there's usually a time lag between requesting a song from the cloud, and the playing of it -- something you don't experience if your music is stored on the devise you're using.


As for myself, and probably most of us in the music business, I can't imagine uploading roughly 40 gigabytes of music to a cloud service. There's just not enough time in the day.


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I've been spending some time listening to new music on Spotify since its launch in late summer. It's a great way to audition music I considered buying after reading intriguing print reviews. As a result my Amazon bill has gone up quite a bit! If you've got the time to stream a lot of music, Spotify is a great way to go. And if you're willing to pay a nominal fee you can legally download a lot of material. One potential problem -- we don't know how much Spotify will pay to labels for the use of their music. I suspect it won't be a great deal.


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Rumors abound about the likely sale of EMI by Citigroup, which would like to get out from under its huge debt. The scuttlebutt is that it'll be broken up into two units -- publishing which is the more valuable part, and the recorded music label. An announcement will probably be made this week with publishing probably going to BMG Rights Management and the label going to Access Industries, new owner of Warner Music Group. Expect lots of personnel changes as the new owners figure out how to best digest their new holdings.


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On a technical note -- the folks at Sonnox have been demonstrating their newly released Fraunhofer Pro-Codec Plug-in for "real-time auditioning, encoding and decoding of audio signals using Fraunhofer codecs." This allows producers and engineers to "critically audition and then encode multiple formats in real time within a host DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) environment...ensuring maximum fidelity." The codecs can be either "lossy" or "lossless." By the way, the Fraunhofer Institute is the organization that developed the MP3 and other codecs widely used in the entertainment industry.


Until next time,

Keith Holzman -- Solutions Unlimited

Helping Record Labels Manage for Success.


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Copyright 2011 by Keith Holzman, Solutions Unlimited. All rights reserved.