“I want to like these services, but Amazon and Google’s cloud experiences are just not that interesting yet. I hope they get more interesting.”
——Ted Cohen
Coventioneers Talk Metadata, the Cloud and HTML5, While Being Reminded of the Reason They Got in This Biz to Begin With—the Music

Thursday morning at this year’s NARM Convention opened with a word from NARM’s head of digital, Bill Wilson, who presented the newly created DigitalMusic.org website. The initiative is aimed at creating a universal metadata platform addressing, in Wilson’s words, “The friction of information being shared.” Wilson said the cloud-based database boasts some 12 million “content objects,” with an eye towards linking metadata with identifiers—an interoperability that will help content owners and users worldwide deal with the problems of international copyright and trademark issues. In other words, “Who owns what?” The project, born from the digital think tanks that originated at the convention some four years ago and have continued with NARM “webinars” ever since, will live under the NARM umbrella as a sister confab and will not supplant the parent association.


Wilson’s remarks were followed by this year’s inaugural digital keynote address, given by Roger McNamee of Elevation Partners. McNamee had a pretty straightforward opinion about the future of not just the music business but every kind of web-based commerce. His point is that the PC used to rule the world, accounting for some 95% of all hardware and software in the market. But in the past three years, the figure has fallen to less than 50%, in large part (no surprise here) to the Apple insurgence. Concurrently, Google has supplanted every other search engine in the world. But McNamee insists that Google will begin to lose its luster as users turn directly to specific searches through more creative apps. Yelp, one of his examples, now leads the pack in the domain of restaurant searches. And that’s precisely what Apple has in the App Store.


McNamee’s contention, at least for the time being, is that as Apple wins and Google loses, we users win. “The days of Google controlling content are over.” Apple will sell some 100 million Internet devices this year, with nothing matching the adoption rate of the iPad. So is the game over? Does Apple win? Not so fast says McNamee. HTML code, in his estimation, has been static for more than 10 years now, and the creation of the new HTML5, new applications never before thought possible, will soon begin to inundate the marketplace. Its biggest boon, according to McNamee, is that it eliminates Adobe Flash, making it possible to create content that is more engaging than TV. “It would be a mistake for Apple to force everyone through their app store,” McNamee said, “They must stop doing that or face real competition from other pads.”


When asked in a subsequrnt short Q&A conducted by Tag Strategic’s Ted Cohen about Google’s new cloud announcement, McNamee did not mince words. “The cloud? I think we can safely ignore Google.” Surprisingly this echoed some of the sentiment voiced in the Cloud seminar the day before. In that packed room, only one person had signed up for either Google or Amazon’s cloud service or Amazon’s—and the Amazon adopter turned out to work for the company. A small sample, no doubt, but telling nonetheless. Cohen, who moderated that seminar as well, urged the industry to “take a deep breath,” and concluded, “I want to like these services, but Amazon and Google’s cloud experiences are just not that interesting yet. I hope they get more interesting.”

As always at the NARM Convention, this week has been flooded with a ton of music; both on and off the Hyatt Century Plaza campus. On Tuesday evening there was a “secret” performance held at the Troubador by Beggars/XL’s Tyler, the Creator, with rabid fans sharing the stage for the final number. That night also boasted a preview of the new Pitbull release on J/RMG, the Miami rapper spinning new and old tunes on vinyl, with intros for every song. The place was completely jammed, and total props go out to RCA/Jive sales topper Bob Anderson for hosting.

Wednesday night, Sony Nashville’s Jake Owen played a terrific live set in the Sony penthouse suite. Women swooned and security spent the evening unsuccessfully trying to shut down the event because of volume complaints. That afternoon, lucky convention-goers packed the EMI suite and were treated to songs from the upcoming Jeff Bridges release on Blue Note. Superstar Bridges and legendary producer T Bone Burnett took turns introducing tracks (great stuff, by the way). Bridges also warmly greeted each and every person at the event, taking pictures with all in attendance.

Thursday morning was the semi-annual UMGD musical presentation, featuring phenomenal short sets by (in order of appearance) Interscope’s Timothy Bloom, Hollywood RecordsCherri Bomb, Big Machine’s Eden’s Edge, Def Jam’s Big Sean, Geffen’s Greyson Chance (truly talented, but he must be all of 12) and Dangerbird’s Fitz & the Tantrums. The closing act actually got people out of their seats and dancing in the aisles—no small feat for this jaded crowd. The packed house that was not disappointed, and with so much live music, there was precious little time for the video reels that usually dominate such affairs. But one of the reels featured photos of closed storefronts, providing a powerful visual commentary to UMGD topper Jim Urie’s Music Rights Now campaign, which is starting to get real traction.

New dates to be announced soon. (4/1a)
Uncertainty from coast to coast (4/1a)
Very cool move (4/1a)
MVP frontunner of 2020 (4/1a)
Giving home entertainment new meaning (4/2a)
Also known as back issues of HITS.
We turn out to be pioneers.
The music doc shows new muscle.
Not postponed yet.

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