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Oct 16, 2004


Tom Coates

Okay so this is a really interesting post - and I loved the stuff on local music preferences, that's really really cool. So what I want to ask now is about the selection that people listen to with jukeboxes. I can see how it's good for the individual that they'll choose the more obscure tracks - they get more personalised pleasure out of the devices. But what I'm less sure about is what benefit it has on the other people present in the bar. Is there a benefit in giving people access only to songs that people generally like, rather than allowing people to put on a 24 minute epic of Lithuanian goat-warbling? What's the social consequence of a greater variety of individual choice in communal settings? And what effect might it have on the atmosphere in the establishment itself?

I was there, too

Robbie and I worked together at Viant, and I was on the Ecast team when Viant put together Ecast's original business plan, operating model and working prototype of their digital jukebox...

"working prototype" is a bit of an exaggeration (the "working" part, that is), though the jukebox was admittedly better than the countertop. Java, Marimba, and ObjectStore ... 'nuff said. The industrial design guys didn't do such a swell job either, so don't feel too bad. I know, I know -- you were off doing PowerPoint stuff over by the window when all of this was going on. Still, you seem to be claiming some credit by association so you should be ready for blame by association as well.

It's also amusing that Robbie got credit for the "tail" observation, but I'll let bygones be bygones. It has been six years, after all.


heh. "prototype" is the key word. and i've gotta believe that whatever tech actually made it to market is dramatically different than the java / objectstore / marimba stuff that we used initially. but the point of the post still stands -- turning a jukebox into a digital device makes long tail exploitation possible. and from what i gather about what's happened since those heady days of 1999, robbie deserves a hell of a lot of credit for keeping the business afloat, long tail or not.

i was there, too

I don't know much about flotation devices, but Ecast has a new "interim CEO" these days.

Anyway, we knew about the "tail" not long after single song downloads were up and working somewhat reliably. It was as simple as "select count(tbSong.songID) from tbSong where numPlays > 0". This was in '01 or so.

Sour grapes aside, the "tail" would great news for all the paranoid folks at the record labels if they weren't too busy suing their customers to notice. As it is, Macaulay appears to have been right about the whole nation being in on the plot against copyright holders, so it's doubtful that they will ever cash in on the opportunity to the fullest.

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