“Sales of Music, Long in Decline, Plunge Sharply”

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…or so runs the title of a WSJ piece published today yesterday, anyway.

The less bombastic lead paragraph notes that CD sales (little plastic discs apparently being synonymous with “music” in this 21st century) for Q1 2007 are down 20% as compared to Q1 2006. The article continues:

Apple Inc.’s sale of around 100 million iPods shows that music remains a powerful force in the lives of consumers. But because of the Internet, those consumers have more ways to obtain music now than they did a decade ago, when walking into a store and buying it was the only option.

Today, popular songs and albums — and countless lesser-known works — can be easily found online, in either legal or pirated forms. While the music industry hopes that those songs will be purchased through legal services like Apple’s iTunes Store, consumers can often listen to them on MySpace pages or download them free from other sources, such as so-called MP3 blogs.

There’s even a cool chart illustrating the horror:

Oddly enough, though, I also found another chart on the Internet, this one based on data directly from the RIAA. This one charts unit sales for vinyl (LPs/EPs), cassettes, and CDs over a 30 year period, from 1975 – 2005. Take a look:

You’ll note that downloads don’t appear on this chart. That’s in part because the original creator didn’t include that data, but also because downloads wouldn’t even register: the RIAA didn’t start reporting download sales until 2004 (i.e. after iTunes was introduced), and at 4.6MM units in 2004 and 13.6MM in 2005, album downloads would be an almost invisible smear in the bottom right-hand corner of the chart.

So there are of couple of interesting areas for thought here: for prior format shifts (vinyl to cassette, cassette to CD) the music industry was creating the curve, if not exactly ahead of it. The introduction of a new format happened while sales were still strong for the incumbent; while each new format likely cannibalized some unit sales from the older one, the chart suggests a a logical, and perhaps even somewhat forward-thinking approach to managing these technological changes.

In the current CD to download changeover (and yes, I’m taking it as gospel that CDs are on their way out), the music industry didn’t have a meaningful industry supported “new format” offering until about four years after CD sales had peaked. In essence, the music industry is complaining that a distribution format they grudgingly accepted less than five years ago isn’t making up for their losses elsewhere. Or to be precise, the many competing, mutually incompatible, consumer unfriendly electronic formats that the industry keeps tossing out there aren’t making up for the losses.

And then there’s “the album”…it may have slipped by you, but all of the data above covers album sales, and does not include singles or individual track sales. The RIAA provides data on singles/single track sales, as well, and that’s where this discussion gets interesting.

More on that this weekend, when I’ve had a little while to play with spreadsheets (and sleep), but here’s a little preview to get you thinking: in hard-media formats, albums are king. Only a few tracks are available as singles, and they don’t generate all that much money (in their best year, CD singles were responsible for about 3% of total CD revenue).

Electronic format, with most tracks available for download outside of the album? In 2005, single track downloads were responsible for about 73% of the revenue generated by download sales. Three quarters of the revenue…

Scenes from an Apartment in Brooklyn

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One: She is Her Parents’ Child
My two year old daughter is sitting in front of the bookcase in her room, methodically pulling the books off and piling them on and around herself. This goes on for a surprisingly long time before she looks over at me, flaps her arms, and says, “look, daddy, I’m having a book bath!”

Two: Untitled #4,372
My wife and I are zoning out in front of the television, which is showing us River’s Edge. The movie ends. After a short pause my wife says,”now that’s not something you see every day: a movie where Keanu Reeves seems like one of the better actors, and Dennis Hopper seems like one of the saner characters.”

ComScore Announces that A = A

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From the ComScore press release:

‘Visits’ an Effective Gauge of Frequency
While each of the “visits” metrics offers a different measure of frequency, the “average visits per visitor” is the most illustrative of return visits per unique individual during the course of a month. Used in concert with the “unique visitors” metric, this measure can help give a more comprehensive view of a site’s performance.

Or to state it another way, keeping track of how frequently someone visits a particular Web site is the most effective way to measure how frequently that person visits a particular Web site.

Like, for example, the way that every modern Web analytics package has tracked visits and visit frequency per user for a number of years now.

The Barnum Perversion

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…or, “What Fresh Hell is This? On my Discovery of Whois Spam.”

A year or so ago I first encountered user agent spam, and was nonplussed: did someone really think that an admin (i.e. someone who might actually be running through server logs) would react positively to spamvertising “an interest free line of credit of upto [sic] 100,000,000.00” in server logs? Even for spammers the logic behind this approach to “advertising” seemed highly suspect.

And now we have another development in the world of bizarrely spamtastic advertising: whois spam. For reasons too boring to explain, I ran a whois on google.com last night, and the listing seemed curiously long to me, so I piped it through less to take a closer look. And here’s what I saw:

Whois Server Version 2.0

Domain names in the .com and .net domains can now be registered
with many different competing registrars. Go to http://www.internic.net
for detailed information.

   Server Name: GOOGLE.COM.ZZZZZ.GET.LAID.AT.WWW.SWINGINGCOMMUNITY.COM
   IP Address: 69.41.185.195
   Registrar: INNERWISE, INC. D/B/A ITSYOURDOMAIN.COM
   Whois Server: whois.itsyourdomain.com
   Referral URL: http://www.itsyourdomain.com

   Server Name: GOOGLE.COM.ZOMBIED.AND.HACKED.BY.WWW.WEB-HACK.COM
   IP Address: 217.107.217.167
   Registrar: ONLINENIC, INC.
   Whois Server: whois.OnlineNIC.com
   Referral URL: http://www.OnlineNIC.com

   Server Name: GOOGLE.COM.WORDT.DOOR.VEEL.WHTERS.GEBRUIKT.SERVERTJE.NET
   IP Address: 62.41.27.144
   Registrar: KEY-SYSTEMS GMBH
   Whois Server: whois.rrpproxy.net
   Referral URL: http://www.key-systems.net

   Server Name: GOOGLE.COM.VN
   Registrar: ONLINENIC, INC.
   Whois Server: whois.OnlineNIC.com
   Referral URL: http://www.OnlineNIC.com

   Server Name: GOOGLE.COM.UA
   Registrar: DIRECT INFORMATION PVT LTD D/B/A PUBLICDOMAINREGISTRY.COM
   Whois Server: whois.PublicDomainRegistry.com
   Referral URL: http://www.PublicDomainRegistry.com

   Server Name: GOOGLE.COM.SUCKS.FIND.CRACKZ.WITH.SEARCH.GULLI.COM
   IP Address: 80.190.192.24
   Registrar: KEY-SYSTEMS GMBH
   Whois Server: whois.rrpproxy.net
   Referral URL: http://www.key-systems.net

   Server Name: GOOGLE.COM.SPROSIUYANDEKSA.RU
   Registrar: MELBOURNE IT, LTD. D/B/A INTERNET NAMES WORLDWIDE
   Whois Server: whois.melbourneit.com
   Referral URL: http://www.melbourneit.com

   Server Name: GOOGLE.COM.SA
   Registrar: OMNIS NETWORK, LLC
   Whois Server: whois.omnis.com
   Referral URL: http://domains.omnis.com

   Server Name: GOOGLE.COM.PLZ.GIVE.A.PR8.TO.AUDIOTRACKER.NET
   IP Address: 213.251.184.30
   Registrar: OVH
   Whois Server: whois.ovh.com
   Referral URL: http://www.ovh.com

   Server Name: GOOGLE.COM.MX
   Registrar: DIRECT INFORMATION PVT LTD D/B/A PUBLICDOMAINREGISTRY.COM
   Whois Server: whois.PublicDomainRegistry.com
   Referral URL: http://www.PublicDomainRegistry.com

   Server Name: GOOGLE.COM.IS.NOT.HOSTED.BY.ACTIVEDOMAINDNS.NET
   IP Address: 217.148.161.5
   Registrar: ENOM, INC.
   Whois Server: whois.enom.com
   Referral URL: http://www.enom.com

   Server Name: GOOGLE.COM.IS.APPROVED.BY.NUMEA.COM
   IP Address: 213.228.0.43
   Registrar: GANDI
   Whois Server: whois.gandi.net
   Referral URL: http://www.gandi.net

   Server Name: GOOGLE.COM.HAS.LESS.FREE.PORN.IN.ITS.SEARCH.ENGINE.THAN.SECZY.COM
   IP Address: 209.187.114.130
   Registrar: INNERWISE, INC. D/B/A ITSYOURDOMAIN.COM
   Whois Server: whois.itsyourdomain.com
   Referral URL: http://www.itsyourdomain.com

   Server Name: GOOGLE.COM.DO
   Registrar: GO DADDY SOFTWARE, INC.
   Whois Server: whois.godaddy.com
   Referral URL: http://registrar.godaddy.com

   Server Name: GOOGLE.COM.BR
   Registrar: ENOM, INC.
   Whois Server: whois.enom.com
   Referral URL: http://www.enom.com

   Server Name: GOOGLE.COM.AU
   Registrar: PRIMUS TELCO PTY LTD DBA PRIMUSDOMAIN/PLANETDOMAIN
   Whois Server: whois.planetdomain.com
   Referral URL: http://www.planetdomain.com

   Domain Name: GOOGLE.COM
   Registrar: MARKMONITOR, INC.
   Whois Server: whois.markmonitor.com
   Referral URL: http://www.markmonitor.com
   Name Server: NS1.GOOGLE.COM
   Name Server: NS2.GOOGLE.COM
   Name Server: NS3.GOOGLE.COM
   Name Server: NS4.GOOGLE.COM
   Status: clientDeleteProhibited
   Status: clientTransferProhibited
   Status: clientUpdateProhibited
   Updated Date: 10-apr-2006
   Creation Date: 15-sep-1997
   Expiration Date: 14-sep-2011

  [...]

Holy crap. Checking yahoo.com, aol.com, hotmail.com, myspace.com, flickr.com, and pretty much any other big domain that came to mind I found the same thing. What the fuck is the objective here?

It’s definitely time for a new coinage — this sort of crap is the reference implementation of the Barnum perversion:

The Barnum Perversion
An attempt at marketing or advertising that takes the maxim “I don’t care what they say about me as long as they spell my name right” (attributed to P.T Barnum, among others) to its absurd and illogical extreme; the belief that getting the name of one’s company or product “out there” is an end that justifies any and all means, commonly paired with an inability to understand why others (such as potential customers) might take a different view of these actions.

Lunchtime Musings: Typhoid Marys of Comment Spam?

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A random question that Google doesn’t immediately know the answer to…

Based on my casual observations, there’s a pretty clear relationship between incoming links and an increase in comment spam. While Akismet does an excellent job of making it an issue that I can basically ignore, the comment spam count definitely seems to increase on days that other blogs link to seamonkeyrodeo. No real surprise there.

What I’m wondering is whether the increase in comment spam is proportional to the traffic the linking site drives, or the two are independent variables. My gut says that the two are independent: I’ve seen big traffic spikes with minimal increase in comment spam, as well as the other way around.

It’s an interesting question, though: will links from certain blogs drive a disproportional amount of comment spam to you, relative to the traffic they bring? If so, what sites and why?

Do comment spammers troll some blogs more than others, making them “Typhoid Marys” to linked sites, or does it just change day-to-day based on what the spammers bots have been doing recently? Do blogs that get a lot of comment spam drive a lot of comment spam? Blogs on particular topics? Am I imagining a correlation where there’s actually just coincidence?

If you know of any information on this topic, or have done any research yourself, comment or drop me a note.