How long will it be before people attach advertisements to music?

Google just announced that it would allow advertisers to place flash ads on YouTube clips. These ads are semi-transparent overlays that occupy the bottom fifth of the video clip, beginning about 30 seconds into the clip. This seems to be the preferred alternative to all sorts of other advertising strategies: pop-ups, banner ads, the “pre-roll” or “mid-roll” or the video ad that plays next to the content, but requires the user to initate it.

I guess this has the avantage of having a favorable visibily/irritation quotient. I haven’t been able to see it, I think because the new ad technology isn’t compatible with safari or camino. Can’t be sure though. Maybe the New York Times lied.

So when will this happen with music? See, on youtube, no one feels like they “own” a copy of the star wars kid. But it’s permanently available. I think that part of the problem is that music companies and lovers confuse selling a license to a given album with selling the album itself. An album sells “copies”. You can own one.

Its strange – when I buy a song on iTunes, I feel like I own it. If I *were* to illegally obtain songs, I don’t think that i would feel that way. I might say, yeah, I’ve got that on my computer, but I probably wouldn’t say I owned it.

Here’s my vision of a glorious future:

There should be a website which allows instant, high-quality streaming of music on demand with an excellent search protocol.

I imagine it to be a cross between the iTunes music store with YouTube. With a little thrown in. yeah, and netflix too.


iTunes component: all recorded music in history would be searchable in a fantastic, internally consistent database. For music whose basic component is the song, you would be able to search for things by song name, album, artist, release year, etc, etc. For music whose basic component is the piece, you would be able to search for things by composer, soloist, conductor, title, etc. (thus getting around the song/movement mismach as well as the piece/album mismatch)

The search mechanism would be the same as in itunes – as you type, the matching entries are displayed. (I’m sure that there is a word for this sort of search, and that some scrappy programmer at apple came up with it, and now its called spotlight. If anyway knows what this is called, please let me know.)

Next to each track (or piece) there would be two buttons: play and add to library.

The play button is self-explanatory

the “add to library” button is like the Netflix “add to queue” button. It would add the track to your personal library of music. (so that if you are listening to one track, but browsing for more music, you can “bookmark” the song so as to be able to listen to it later.)

This personal library does not reside on your computer, rather, its more like a profile on a networking site, or a playlist in your itunes library. Your personal library is just a subset of the site’s main library – music that you like, or are on the lookout to hear. But you don’t own anything, you just have instant access to anything.

The Youtube/flickr component: Each song could be tagged by users as “sappy” or “fuckin’ awesome’ or whatever. These text tags could be searchable too. BUT ALSO! since the site would have ABSOLUTE KNOWLEDGE of what people listen to, the “affinities” between bands or pieces of music could be determined with a simple equation! In the Venn Diagram of the spice girls and shostakovich, just how big is the middle part? I know that I like them both, but is that just me, or are there more people out there, just like me? Clearly, people could upload their own content, just like youtube or myspace.

So really, this site becomes the only place that people ever go to listen to music on their computers.

SO how do you pay the musicians, if all this music is free?

Well, everytime a particular song is played, there is some advertisement that accompanies it in some way (I’d prefer it to be visual, not audio.) Some of the Ad revenue is given to the artist themselves. This way, there is a direct correlation between the number of plays a band gets and the amount of money that they receive!

This will happen, I just wish that I had the programming skillz and the venture capital to get a site like this going. Anyone out there know a fucking amazing programmer and some rich guy who wants to see the world made a better place?


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