Video Of The Day

DLD15 – The Four Horsemen: Amazon/Apple/Facebook & Google – Who Wins/Loses (Scott Galloway)

Scott Galloway is on the road to being a bigger star than Kanye. Because Galloway is smart, he oozes intelligence, he doesn’t have to tell us how great he is, we can see it.

I got this video from Vince Bannon. A music business refugee. That’s right, Vince ran out of options. He went from concert promotion to label (Sony Music) to retailer (Best Buy) and then he got out. Or maybe he was forced out. But the truth is now Vince survives, because he saw the writing on the wall, he realized music ain’t where it’s at, Vince went to work for Getty Images, that’s right the company that eviscerated the prices for photos and made everybody a professional. Vince acquires companies. He sent me this video.

Ian Rogers told me about an app. Called NextDraft, I’d never heard of it before. It’s Dave Pell’s compilation of the top ten stories of the day. And not only does Dave curate, he gives an introduction, he gives context, NextDraft is warm and addicting, you feel you’re getting a phone call from a friend, and you can sign up for e-mail or put the app on your phone, as I did, nothing is a better time-filler. That’s right, downtime is history. When we’re waiting for the Uber, when we’re in the doctor’s office, we spend time on our phone. Who owns that time? Dave Pell is making inroads.

And the point of the above is that entry points are delivered by friends. That’s your currency, who you know. People you trust will lead you to wealth. And Vince has done that here.

The clip above was posted on January 20th of this year. Only the music business is idiotic enough to believe it’s all about the launch date, the first week. How many people are listening to the hyped albums of last year? Few. But when something is great, people find it and it gets its time. Like this clip.

I had to watch it twice. I wasn’t paying close enough attention the first time through.

You know how you watch recommended videos…while you’re doing something else. So you can tell your friend you checked it out. And you’re never honest and say it sucks because that would engender conversation, and you don’t have time for that, especially over opinions about what is good and bad, that’s so last century. We just have time to gravitate to the great and partake.

And what I like about this clip is right up front Scott Galloway says he gets it wrong. This is so different from the entertainment world wherein everybody tells us they’re the greatest when it’s obvious they’re not. And when a flaw is revealed they apologize profusely and go to rehab for stuff we didn’t know there was rehab for. Whereas in tech you admit your mistake and pivot. And I could poke holes in a number of Galloway’s theses, but his presentation is so stimulating you realize why Troy Carter pivoted from music to tech, why every entertainment company from WME to Universal Music makes tech investments, because tech is where the action is.

How did this happen? How did getting an MBA deliver more opportunities and stimulation than being a musician? Few want to screw the itinerant broke musician crashing on the basement floor, whereas they’re lining up to have sex with the techies with brains.

Galloway makes a bunch of sexual references. They’re staggering. But what he does most is analyze the big four tech companies and prognosticate.

You remember prognostication, the concept of looking to the future? All we do in music is try to put on the brakes. We’ve got me-too musicians bitching about change. And if you think that’s a recipe for success, you’re probably still addicted to your Palm Pilot.

Anyway, does Amazon have to get into physical retail?

Turns out their shipping costs are enormous.

Furthermore, did you catch the announcement of Shyp? Wherein parcels are delivered by regular folk, replacing UPS just like Uber replaced taxis? This video is six weeks old and just last week Shyp blew up. Pay attention.

As for Facebook… The amazing thing is how they have pivoted. Told you to invest in your page and are now telling you your organic reach should be assumed to be zero. That’s right, you’ve got to pay to play. And unlike Google, Facebook is mobile-ready.

As for Yahoo… Galloway is the first person I’ve heard talk about the Tumblr disaster. It went from cool to irrelevant, a backwater of porn, never mind lacking profitability. What you buy is more important than the price you pay. As for Twitter and Pinterest…irrelevant according to Galloway, they just don’t have scale.

And it’s been the buzz for a year, how Google’s search monopoly is…dying and irrelevant. Facebook search is up, but the truth is on mobile apps are king.

As for Apple… It’s a luxury brand and in one year it’s going to be the biggest watch company, old watchmakers are in denial. Galloway makes a big point about that.

And I don’t want to just repeat what Scott Galloway says, I just want to say we live for stimulation. That’s what got me listening to Frank Zappa and the rest of the icons, especially the Beatles. They weren’t happy where they were, which was pretty damn good, they kept testing limits. How do you test limits today in music? Focus on new distribution methods, new marketing methods, play privates for your bottom line? It all comes down to the tunes and innovation has taken a back seat, or it’s not being done by someone with the brains of Mark Zuckerberg, never mind Scott Galloway.

How is it going to turn out?

How are we going to get our information?

And the rise of data’s importance is staggering. NYU developed an algorithm. You use the new tools just like musicians use Pro Tools. How long did we have to hear about the death of recording studios? In music it’s all about decay, then someone makes a track in their bedroom that blows us away proving it’s all about conception, that execution takes a back seat, and in music it’s about humanity not perfection

That’s right. In tech if it’s imperfect it’s toast, we don’t want it, we expect everything to work right out of the box. But when a fat girl sings great songs well we’re drawn to her, Adele doesn’t look like Beyonce but she’s bigger than everybody. Ain’t that interesting. Meanwhile, she’s gone away. With nothing new to say why stay in the public eye?

I wish I could inspire musicians to take the other path, a new road to riches wherein you’re poor before you make it. Guns N’ Roses wasn’t successful out of the box. Sure, their album was, but there were years of struggle before that. No one wants to pay their dues in music anymore. The dues are paid by the producers and songwriters behind the scenes. The performers are just front people.

But Angela Ahrents is a bigger star than Nicki Minaj. She just may have more influence than Taylor Swift.

And I’m kidding when I say that Scott Galloway is gonna be bigger than Kanye, but if you’re having a conference I’d call him. Because the goal is to get people thinking.

And my synapses are firing like the Fourth of July.

P.S. Stay to the very end. Especially to the heat maps of OS users.

Samsung Loses To Apple

“Gartner: iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus drove Apple past Samsung in Q4 worldwide smartphone sales”

Get rid of the removable battery and microSD card?

That’s like kicking out the drummer and the bass player, hard core fans are not going to like that.

Tech is not like music. In music it’s about establishing a catalogue of hits so you can tour until you die. The future is important, but it’s about the past even more. In tech if you’re not on the bleeding edge, you’re gonna die, which is what was happening to Apple, it just did not have large enough phones. And it turned out people wanted phablets. Because the whole world is going mobile, that’s where you not only surf and connect, but buy too. It’s like Gary Shteyngart’s “Super Sad True Love Story” come to life. And Apple perfected the smartphone. Let’s not forget, once again, that the Cupertino company was not there first, nor do you have to be, that’s a big story in tech, that the bleeding edge does not often succeed…MySpace was replaced by Facebook and Rhapsody was overtaken by Spotify and the iPhone kicked the BlackBerry and Treo to the curb. And to win it’s not about marketing so much as functionality. If it just works, people will use it. Hell, we’re still fighting this war with television remotes…can someone make a device I can comprehend that will work with all my devices? (Don’t e-mail me your solution, the lack of a clear-cut winner dominating public consciousness speaks to my point.)

ANYWAY, Samsung ruled and now it’s an afterthought. Furthermore, by following the crowd they’re drowning the company. Never give up your uniqueness, it’s what adheres people to you. Whether it be the quirky, center console ignition in Saabs or the quirky boxiness of Volvos, the people keeping those brands alive loved those. But, of course, brands are not forever. Especially in tech, where ramp-up costs are smaller.

So Samsung triumphed as the anti-Apple, giving people what they wanted and allowing them to give the middle finger to Jobs’s company all the while. But it turns out that’s all they had. There was no there there. Despite being a Korean company, Samsung was positively Detroit, where the exterior counts and the interior is irrelevant. Detroit’s lunch was eaten by the Japanese, who knew that people would drive the ugliest cars if they just worked, and they did, and now Toyota is a juggernaut and if you’re purchasing an American car you must not have gotten the memo or are financially-challenged, because you just have to read “Consumer Reports” to know that the Japanese own reliability.

But we’re not looking for reliability in phones. We want functionality and something that lasts for two years, when we upgrade. And Samsung made a phone for all people, some for the cutting edge tinkerers and some for the poor. And now Apple has reclaimed its hold on the high end and Xiaomi has eaten up the low end and Samsung is toast. Because it’s about form not content, design not intellectual property.

It’s not so different in the music business. He who writes the songs wins in the end. Sure, ASCAP and BMI are fighting Pandora, but the truth is there’s a ton of money in a hit song still, and it lasts forever.

So what did we learn here? What are the translatable elements?

Play to your hard core. Never abandon them. Sure, change is hard, but keep what they like and add new features. The Galaxy S6 is a me-too iPhone for people who hate Apple, huh?

Content drives everything. It’s not what the phone looks like, but what it can do. Apps come to Apple first. Apple has cutting edge payment technology. Apple integrates all its devices. Apple has a culture, whereas Samsung does not. And it’s culture that keeps your company alive. The music business has focused on the exterior ever since the advent of MTV, when how you looked became the key driver. Funny how almost all of those MTV acts never lasted. But the majors still focus on looks, because it’s easier. And everyone there is brain dead, they don’t want to walk into the wilderness and invent a new paradigm. But look what happened to Samsung, their business fell off a cliff. We’ll find out if the Apple Watch is a success, but give the company credit for not only taking a risk, but one that took years and a fortune to develop. Imagine a music company doing the same. Oh no, you can’t. In content, that’s television. It’s TV that’s telling creators we’ll give you a fortune carte blanche, to do it your own way.

But the barrier to entry is so low in music! Why haven’t we seen revolution?

Because when everybody can play, the rich and talented stay out. Microsoft is getting killed in phones. Google too. You go where the people are not. Instead, in the music business we’ve got wannabes yelling about their substandard wares muddying the marketplace, causing the public to ignore the sphere or pay attention to the usual suspects. And isn’t it interesting that so many ignore what is supposedly so popular. Not only is Beyonce not that big, but neither is Kanye. As for the press lauding their efforts and puffing them up, these are the same people who kept telling us about the Korean miracle. but that’s the newspapers, constantly reporting on what has happened, not what will be.

Apple is not forever. Nothing is forever. Success is about knowing where you’ve been and marching into the wilderness at the same time. Hell, look at our dearly-departed hero Steve Jobs. He lost Apple, foundered at NeXT and then returned triumphantly at Apple, but not immediately, the prognosticators still said the enterprise was going to go bankrupt or be sold. These same people today tell us about BlackBerry’s chances. It’s over. What next, the Doobie Brothers topping the pop chart?

Good ideas are a dime a dozen. Execution is so much harder. Marrying the two is incredibly difficult. Samsung had excellent execution and lame ideas. Furthermore, they were beholden to Google for software, which is akin to not writing your own songs. Apple won by matching great ideas with incredible execution. And, over time, they’ve established a fanbase. Sure, the naysayers and media want to tear them down, but there were people who hated the Beatles in the sixties. You never react, you just go your own way. And you’ve got to give Tim Cook credit for this, he never caved into the media, never mind so many on Wall Street who wanted his head.

So we’ll all have mobile devices. Hell, we already do.

So what’s next?

That’s how you win. Knowing what’s next. Samsung has been a me-too company from its inception. They made better flat panels than Sony and bigger handsets than Apple. But innovation is not spoken there.

Once upon a time the music business was like tech. The best and the brightest challenging convention. But now it’s the dumbest of the dumb, sheeple who do what the mercenary fat cats tell them to while those with any purchase keep bitching their cheese has moved. No wonder it’s seen as a second-class scene, without a truly triumphant product, one that everyone clamors to based on its innovation and quality, it’s toast.

But you just can’t say that. Because everybody remembers what once was and is waiting for those days to return.

But they’re never coming back. Samsung is screwed, on the high end and low. Its only chance is to break new ground, but it’s seemingly unable to, remember the company’s disastrous smartwatch?

Remember the rest of the album from the artist with the hit single?

Neither do I.

Citizenfour

Loners will save the world.

But our culture has shifted to one of belonging. The millennials are all about being a member of the group, they don’t want to stand out, don’t want to be ostracized, their goal is to be drones, to play the game so they can win.

True dat.

But I don’t want to give a pass to the baby boomers. Ever notice that on HBO the twentysomethings have their show, “Girls,” and the thirtysomethings have theirs, “Togetherness,” but there’s no boomer show? Because the boomers can no longer exhibit vulnerability. They finally took away Ed Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz’s license to make television, not that “thirtysomething” was a ratings juggernaut, but the truth is boomers are past introspection, they’re in their glory years, or days, listening to Bruce Springsteen without a care in the world, all about lifestyle. But can that lifestyle be challenged?

The biggest story in the world today is that there is no story. And when something dramatic transpires, no one can do anything about it. Putin invades Ukraine and we’re mum. But even that did not penetrate our mobile culture, wherein it’s all about me all the time, I’m a star in my own world that no one is paying attention to, even though I hunger for the spotlight. Right and wrong are irrelevant. It’s all about money and fame. And Ed Snowden hates that.

He laments the change of our culture in to one based on personalities.

And ain’t that interesting, isn’t that what Brian Williams is? Bill O’Reilly too? The news is subservient to them, they make the big bucks and cozy up to those in power and we’re all the worse for it, because the truth is everybody’s climbing a greased totem pole and the only ones who know it are at the top keeping the rest of us down.

Towards the end of this highly-reviewed movie, which is nowhere near as riveting as the hype, one of the characters, only in this flick the characters are real people, makes an amazing statement. He says that “What we used to call liberty and freedom we now call privacy. And now people are saying privacy is dead.” That’s what we’re all fighting for, liberty, right?

When we’re not fighting the government itself.

I understand the right wing position but I don’t agree with it. We need a government, government does good things. Just like John Oliver said Sunday night, that we need highway taxes to fund infrastructure updates. Do you expect the private sector to take care of that?

But even more ludicrous is all the Second Amendment talk, how the government is gonna take our guns away so we must stockpile them, so we can shoot each other, because if you believe a gun can protect you from the government you didn’t watch “Citizenfour,” you’re an idiot, because just like karate is no match for a gun, a gun is no match for the internet and electronic surveillance. You can wait for the drone to get you, but the truth is they’ll kill your rep and wipe out your life with a few keystrokes long before that.

You’d expect people to be up in arms about “Citizenfour” but the truth is they’re afraid. That’s the government’s job, with the media fanning the flames. If we don’t let the agencies run wild, the terrorists are gonna bomb Oklahoma or Arkansas, so you’d better lay your rights down now. That’s right, under the head fake of fighting “terrorism” we’re all laying down to the government and the corporations and anybody who blows the whistle is a pariah.

You remember pariahs, don’t you?

They used to be people like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, before they revolutionized the world and titillated your fantasies. Were these popular people in high school, did they get along?

Of course not. But at least they were smart. Like Snowden.

That’s the revelation. Listening to Ed talk you’re blown away. He gets the concepts, he can articulate them. But instead the newspapers are subjecting us to the proclamations of nitwits and clickbait rules online. Because you can’t handle the truth.

And what is the truth anyway?

Turns out those climate change-denying scientists were paid for their positions.

But you probably didn’t see that, just like you didn’t see “Citizenfour,” because you don’t have HBO. And why would you need it? Susan Wojcicki and YouTube are gonna save the world! But the truth is there are very few good creators out there and HBO got there first.

So what is going on?

Do we live the lifestyle we fight for, or line up and protest?

And if you do protest, expect to be excoriated by the press. Because they’re the story, not you. How they hang with the rich and powerful, envious of their perks and frequently partaking of the crumbs that fall off the table.

There’s something hollow at the heart of America. Right and wrong used to matter. There was enough money for everybody, you could survive on a service job. But as the classes separated, the rich realized what was going on and desired to maintain their perch and keep the underclass down via subterfuge and fear.

And having gone to crummy schools, the underclass can’t grasp the facts, even when they’re staring them in the face.

So we’re dependent on lone wolves to shake it up. Snowden says he’s only the first, you can get him but others will follow in his wake.

Is this true?

Yes, for a small cadre of selfless people who put their morality before their pocketbook.

But everybody else is hustling to get ahead. In an ill-defined game where the cards are stacked against them and the odds keep getting longer every day.

Once upon a time, “Citizenfour” would incite a national debate. Now it’s just grist for the mill, Snowden’s character has already been assassinated, the flick will come and go as quickly as Beyonce’s overhyped album.

Then again, Kanye lobbies for her recognition over and over again. With no one shouting him down.

And that’s the way it is in America today, the sideshow is the main show.

And you know what happens when you’re not paying attention to the main event… Your pockets get picked and you end up broke and busted on the side of the road. But now it’s even worse, you’ll have nowhere to go, you’ll be powerless, because the government will limit your movement.

That’s right, all this hogwash about taxes and government employees are the sideshow. The main event is how they’ve got our number and we’re living in “1984” and if you believe it can’t happen here…

The truth is it already has.

Watch this movie.

Rhinofy-Physical Graffiti

It was released forty years ago this week and I didn’t even know it came out.

I was living in Sandy, Utah and there was only one rock station in Salt Lake and they didn’t play the new stuff and I was over Zeppelin anyway.

That’s right, I was burned out, couldn’t hear “D’yer Mak’er” one more time. They’re rewriting history and extolling the virtues of “Houses Of The Holy” but the truth is despite the hits it was a bit of a disappointment, certainly artistically, it was safe whereas everything before it was unexpected with rough edges that pushed the envelope. It was like the band was on a premature victory lap.

And then came “Physical Graffiti.”

I was into Zeppelin early. Had the first album way before the second. And you’ve got to know, when the second came out it penetrated the culture in a way that is unfathomable today. It’s all you heard for a month. Not only was “Whole Lotta Love” played incessantly on the radio, both the hip and wannabe hip bought the gatefold LP and you knew it by heart and to hear it again made you wince.

And “III” was a truly a disappointment. A left turn. Confounding expectations. I loved “Gallows Pole” and “Immigrant Song” and “Tangerine” but whereas the albums that came before were incredibly consistent, “III” was not. I didn’t even buy “IV” on the day of release. And “IV” is spectacular, for “The Battle Of Evermore” and “When The Levee Breaks,” never mind “Stairway,” but the debut was always my favorite until…

“Physical Graffiti.”

Well, maybe they’re tied.

But they’re so different.

I first heard “Physical Graffiti” on Jimmy Kay’s stereo in a frat house on the University of Utah campus at the end of April 1975 when we had a meeting and we all tossed in fifty bucks towards a ski house in Mammoth for May. I didn’t know these people and the music was so loud and Zeppelin seemed so adolescent that I made them give me a receipt, a hedge against them absconding with my money.

But they didn’t.

I heard “Physical Graffiti” one time more before I left the Beehive State. Actually, the night before. My next door neighbor blasted it while he toked up and I was torn between staying or leaving and I stayed way too late and as a result got a speeding ticket on the drive to Reno the very next day but…

I don’t want to get too far off course.

Bottom line, we rented that house in Mammoth and I had to endure “Physical Graffiti” incessantly from dawn to midnight, except when Jimmy played the Doobie Brothers, who I soon learned were not a joke.

And it was an 8-track made from LP. And the songs were not in order. But what first impressed me, got under my skin, was…

KASHMIR

A bludgeoning riff from an era when the riff was everything, majestic and orchestral with Robert Plant on top and once your brain clicks and you like “Kashmir” you can’t stop playing it. For a long time it was the third most popular song on FM radio, it came after “Stairway To Heaven” and “Free Bird” on all the surveys but they don’t do those anymore.

TEN YEARS GONE

This one hit me unexpectedly. It’s now my favorite Zeppelin track, my go-to cut, it speaks to me when nothing else does. Actually, that’s an important point about “Physical Graffiti,” it seems to be made without the audience in mind. That’s right, it’s hermetically sealed, it’s a peek into the life of musicians who are on their own journey and that’s what makes it so appealing, so different from today when everybody is pandering and trying to get you to like them. Zeppelin didn’t care if you liked them. Then again, maybe they knew they were so good that you couldn’t help but like them. “Ten Years Gone” contains Zeppelin’s magic trick, the transition from acoustic to electric and back again, from quiet to noisy and back. Just like the Beatles employed the bridge as part of their magic, Zeppelin utilized this shift in dynamics to hook young people all around the world. “Ten Years Gone” sounds like nothing else but it sounds so right.

BOOGIE WITH STU

Sounds like a throwaway, noodling in the studio, but it’s not. First of all, it’s Ian Stewart, the sadly-departed sixth Stone, tickling the ivories. And Robert Plant seems on such a lark. Talk about capturing lightning in a bottle…some of the best things in life are the simplest.

NIGHT FLIGHT

A tear. You don’t have time to ponder whether you like it or not, you’ve got to jump on or be left out. It amps up the beginning of side four after the contemplative quietude of “Ten Years Gone” at the end of side three. And as great as Page’s playing is, it’s Robert dancing all over the track that makes you love it, along with the stop and stutter halfway through and then the following acceleration. We were all ready to meet the band in the morning, the middle of the night, wherever they deigned to show up.

DOWN BY THE SEASIDE

A great set-up for “Ten Years Gone,” it’s almost like you can see Robert walking on an English stone beach. Side three is the most mystical, most out there. It opens with “In The Light,” which bugged me at first but I came to realize is quintessential, and then “Bron-Yr-Aur” which sounded like the first album, then “Down By The Seaside” and then the triumph of “Ten Years Gone.” What confidence, to do it their own way, daring us to throw away our preconceptions and just go on the journey.

CUSTARD PIE

The opening cut, but I never heard it that way until I purchased the vinyl when I finally had access to a record player months later. Not as good as other Zeppelin album openers, but that does not mean it’s not quality.

THE ROVER

Heavy! No wimps allowed. This was heavy metal before they sped it up and made it a niche. Headbanging music when that was not a pejorative.

IN MY TIME OF DYING

Ends side one. That was the amazing thing, the three unique, lengthy tracks that ended the first three sides, this, “Kashmir” on side two and “Ten Years Gone” on side three. “In My Time Of Dying” needed to be this long, Page was twisting and turning our head and Bonzo was pounding and the truth is Led Zeppelin was truly a band, and without every element it didn’t stand, never underestimate John Paul Jones.

HOUSES OF THE HOLY

Smacked of Little Feat, which was famous for leaving listed tracks off albums. Wasn’t this supposed to be on the prior LP?

TRAMPLED UNDER FOOT

It’s the aforementioned John Paul Jones on clavinet that puts this over the top. “Trampled Under Foot” takes no prisoners. Either you’re on the ride or you’re not. And if you are, it feels so good!

BLACK COUNTRY WOMAN

That’s right, acoustic blues were still part of the act.

I don’t know if an album like “Physical Graffiti” could be successful today. A double album, but in reality not much longer than your average CD, it had no hits as hooks, you just had to spin it until you got it, and people don’t have that time today.

But “Physical Graffiti” exists. An icon spiraling in the past. And either you know what I’m talking about or…you’re gonna have to lock yourself in your room for a week playing only it whereupon you’ll emerge bleary-eyed at the end exclaiming…EUREKA!

Rhinofy-Physical Graffiti