Friday, March 17, 2017

The Internet is worth how much??

Do you ever see headlines that make sweeping claims such as “The Internet is worth $_______”, and then wonder what that even begins to mean?

If so, today is a day of edification, because a study I co-authored on precisely this topic was released this week.

When you are a hybrid such as I am, it is often tricky to explain what it is that one does. And when the project is quantifying the economic value of the Internet, the conversation can get even more convoluted.

So I had to come up with a way to describe the project to people, just well enough to satisfy their basic curiosity, but not so detailed as to bore them to tears. I came up with the following:

Think of the Internet as a framework that starts on the left side of the doodle below (yes, I’m the artist) with the Internet backbone on the left side and you, the user, Craigslisting and Instagramming away on the right hand side of the picture. 

My early conceptual doodle for this project; Click to enlarge

In between the Internet backbone on the left and you and your smartphone on the right lie the various components of the machinery of the Internet, from infrastructure, such as the provisioning of broadband, wi-fi, and cloud storage, to the advertising and marketing technologies (aka ad tech and mar tech) that enable the movement of money between brands and the the consumer-facing layer of the Internet. That's just a fancy way of saying the only part of the Internet most of us ever come into contact with, as that’s where we find things such as news and information sites, entertainment such as games and video sites, and eCommerce.

The big picture is one in which the Internet as a market-making machine can be conceptualized and then analyzed at micro and macro levels. This makes possible an assessment of its impact on not only the economy writ large, but also the effects of networked connectivity on particular industries, plus less black and white outcomes such as societal good, in the form of things like crowdsourced problem-solving and civic engagement apps.

The TL;DR answer to what all this adds up to, for the U.S. economy, which was our task with this project: $1.12 trillion contribution to the GDP of the U.S. and 4.1 million full time equivalent jobs (and an additional 6 million full time equivalent jobs in what economists refer to as indirect employment). How this was accomplished is explained in detail in the study, but rest assured many, many spreadsheets and models were constructed.

Fun with spreadsheets; all part of the job of determining the scope of Internet-dependent activity 
The mapping of the economic model of the Internet evolving, on my floor, Summer 2016

And if that wasn’t enough, we mapped the Internet-dependent employment to congressional districts in the U.S.

Image from www.iab.com/economicvalue

For those who are curious, see the methodology section of the study (Chapter 2, pages 17 through 20), which explains the methods used and assumptions made to arrive at this figure.

And for those in a bit of a rush here are some highlights to provide an overview of our findings, placed into the context of the last time this study was conducted (2012) and now.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

 To see the study in its entirety, just click here. But be forewarned; It's 118 pages long.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Taking on the fake news industrial complex

If there’s one thing most (reasonable) people agree on it's that post-truth is the new norm. The resulting uproar about ‘fake news’ is about more than just subjective narratives, because in a digitally interconnected world, stories spread with the force of not one or two or three media outlets, but via thousands if not millions of retweets, shares, posts, and comments.

 
My conference badge, should you choose
to believe it
Against this backdrop emerged last weekend's Misinfocon, an event that brought together journalists, technologists, software developers, academics, advocates, investors, a counterintelligence expert working for the Department of Defense, and even a bona fide fake news site creator (more on that coming up) at MIT’s Media Lab. In addition to support from a variety of journalism organizations and tech companies, the event received funding from the charitable foundation established by Craig “Craigslist” Newmark, whose classifieds free-for-all site ended up, quite unintentionally, removing the revenue stream that once subsidized the entire newspaper, i.e. the classifieds ads.

“There’s a lot of emotion around the topic of information right now”, said Jeanne Brooks,  one of the event’s organizers. “And there’s a lot of mistrust in media, right or wrong, and we have to design to support a deeper understanding of facts”, Brooks continued. “We have extremes to overcome.”

First up in getting to an understanding of the landscape was Claire Wardle of First Draft News, one of several Google-backed initiatives to assist with fact-checking, verification, and stemming the proliferation of misinformation and disinformation online.


Let’s start with some all important definitions, courtesy of First Draft News, because there are several nuances to take into consideration in order to analyze the situation at hand.

Misinformation vs. Disinformation courtesy FirstDraftNews.com

A taxonomy of fake news content, courtesy FirstDraftNews.com

And while we may think the fake news industrial complex --  and yes there is one -- is ‘all about the Benjamins', the crew at First Draft News did an impressive job of mapping out the full range of motivations involved, many of which have little if anything to do with dollars.

The "Ps" of fake news, courtesy FirstDraftNews.com

It’s also easy to place the blame on the Internet, for democratizing the flow of information by all but eliminating the costs of having global reach with a picture, post, or story, but of course that’s like blaming a knife for being good at slicing a tomato and also for often being implicated in killing people.

Nevertheless, twenty plus years into the consumer Internet the full ecosystem has developed, with legitimate information flowing through the same pipes as misinformation and disinformation, and increasingly automated advertising systems enabling b.s. to become a business model. We’re not just talking “…and you’ll never guess what happened next” clickbait, but intentionally misleading, and often malicious information, and the more ridiculous the better, if better is measured in clicks, as clicks mean the ability to serve ad impressions to s/he who has clicked. As but one example, from such a universe was born Pizzagate, a particularly quacky conspiracy theory implicated high ranking individuals in the Democratic party a pedophile ring run out of a Washington, D.C. pizza parlor. Think of the story and its millions upon millions of shares on social platforms as a click factory that not only furthers partisan causes but creates a digital advertising jackpot for those central to the story’s dissemination.

And on this note, one of the most intriguing people I encountered at Misinfocon was a former fake news site publisher. Yes, former. I won’t mention him by name as after being outed he had angry citizens showing up at his house and even received threats against himself and his family. If you had to pick the publisher of a fake news site out of a roomful of people chances are you would not pick this guy. Unassuming, fairly quiet, maybe around 40, with a full time job and 2 kids, he told our breakout group he would typically spend 1 to 2 hours per night posting stories that were deliberately designed to incite rage and in turn bring in dollars by way of his Google Ad Words account. Did I mention he’s a self-described liberal? Well he is. That’s who was running a vehemently anti-Democrat site that pulled in 100 million views and about $200,000 in ad revenue over the course of its short existence. “It was an addiction”, he said. “Watching my analytics page in real time after I posted a story was my fix."  

But how did he do it? There are millions of blogs and sites out there and most of them get very little traffic. “I studied the audience deeply”, he revealed, going to the sites of the likes of Alex Jones, Sean Hannity, and Glenn Beck, and learning the keywords and the hot button topics. “I could often identify trends in advance, and anything anti-institutional tended to be a winner.”

We often think of Twitter as being the linchpin in making things go viral online when this fake newsman said he rarely got any traction on Twitter. “Too many educated, left wing elites and journalists."  He feasted instead on the buffet that is Facebook groups, particularly those with large memberships of white males over the age of 55. “Fake Facebook accounts are the bread and butter of spreading fake news”, he pointed out, with the irony not being lost on most of us in this particular breakout group that Facebook initially differentiated itself from its arch competitor MySpace by insisting that people use their real identity

It turns out that with a carefully crafted Facebook persona one can plant the kinds of stories that speak to people’s fears and biases and the audience takes care of the rest: sharing, re-posting, and fanning the flames of outrage. “I didn’t need to buy a spam farm or bots. I created my own, with 2 Facebook accounts with pictures of fake people with their fake kids.”

That’s crowdsourced distribution for you. 

The party did eventually end, though, and Google closed down his account. Of course there are hundreds of other ad platforms to work with, and he tried some of those in the aftermath of his Google ban, but he never came close to making the kind of money he did via Google.

By this time you’re probably wondering what the forces of sanity can do against the forces of click-based commerce hiding behind the cloak of news reporting, and I’m happy to report that there are several initiatives at work, such as:






On a systemic level there are also issues to be broached with the platforms that benefit from user-generated content, content discoverability, and its monetization – namely Google, Facebook, Twitter, and the Google-owned YouTube. Bear in mind that the platforms benefit greatly from surges in traffic, regardless of their origin. Facebook gets to say we serve 1.8 billion people globally, YouTube gets to say that billions of hours of video are viewed per day on its platform, and both share in the ad revenue generated by the traffic to their sites.

Pieces of the solution might take the form of funded research and fellowships and sponsored initiatives in such fields as journalism and media literacy, but, as one conference attendee close to the issue put it, “Mark Zuckerberg would happily contribute tens of millions of dollars to media literacy programs tomorrow, but that is not the answer. It takes the onus off of him and Facebook. What’s really needed is something that dampens virality and the incentive system.” And as we learned from our fake news making friend earlier in this post those incentives can be darn attractive.

Sample idea wall from Misinfocon
But what comes from a weekend of impassioned debate and a frenzy of ideas captured on pink post-it notes? A totally reasonable question, and you can learn about the plans and action items that came out of Misinfocon by clicking here








Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Internet: Where hundreds of millions of users does not equal a business model

The subject of how the world of the Internet differs from the ‘real’ world is one of much erudite discussion. There is, of course, a lot to know, and a lot to consider that challenges conventional thinking about markets, economics, and customers/consumer/users.

Anil Dash recently penned a stinging critique of the 'fake markets' of the tech world, which is well worth your while, but I’ll go with a simpler thesis for now. On the Internet we use things without knowing how they work. Or maybe even wanting to know how they work. Where the money comes from, where it goes, and the machinery that lies in the middle could be described as a black box meets a hornet’s nest that mystifies many who have worked at the more traditional end of industries such as publishing, advertising, and marketing. Content has become unbundled, so that the site of production and the site of consumption are now separate (i.e. you don't have to buy the New York Times to read a New York Times article), we leave digital trails everywhere we go, with demographic and psychographic information contained within, and in the process what were once aggregate clumps known as 'audiences' have become micro-markets, but made up of millions. If that sounds challenging from the market and customer angles, it's because it is.

When news broke earlier in the week about SoundCloud’s serious financial difficulties, I was confronted, once again, with the reality of digital markets. SoundCloud with its 200 million users being fiscally-challenged, Twitter with its well over 300 million users being in similar dire straits.  And there’s Spotify, the undisputed leader in music streaming with 100 million users of which about 40% are paying subscribers – a huge proportion for a freemium service – and the company, say some, is on the brink of bankruptcy, or acquisition, which in Internet economics can actually co-exist. 

The big difference between SoundCloud's financial challenges and Spotify's is that in the case of the latter, on average, between 55% and 70% of revenues are paid to the music labels. These payments come to about $1.5 million per day and over 1 billion dollars in 2016.

Trying to figure out the SoundCloud riddle I used Facebook to turn to a friend who is a former major label VP for additional perspective.


He said he would put some pensiveness on the question and get back to me. He did.


This is definitely a reasonable theory. However, on SoundCloud hit and non-hit material exist side by side, with known acts such as Gucci Mane, Migos, and Drake using the site to upload, alongside the completely unknown. It’s still a ‘go to’ destination, with its own version of a star system. In fact, it’s one of the ones that catapulted Chance the Rapper, the now Grammy-winning artist who, to date, has made none of music available for sale, to stardom.

The SoundCloud Top Ten 2/19/17
Click to enlarge

And in the adjacent world of publishing there’s Wattpad, the social reading site that has 40 million monthly users and over 100 million uploads. Anyone can post to the platform and it has produced bona fide stars, such as Anna Todd, whose fan fiction based on boy band One Direction netted her a publishing deal and a movie deal with Paramount.

Which of these becomes a real market vs. a fake market in Dashian terms is TBA. But are any of these easy markets? Absolutely not. Are they new markets with new logics still being figured out? Yes. I'm reminded of the sharp comment uttered across the table in the lawyer's office by the Mark Zuckerberg character to the Winklevi characters in The Social Network: “If you guys are the inventors of Facebook, you would have invented Facebook.”


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The digital future...and how it happened

“We blew it with television”, said Jeffrey Cole of USC Annenberg’s Center for the Digital Future

It was an arresting way to open a keynote at a digital media conference held earlier this week in Toronto. What Cole meant was that television, the mid 20th century revolution that not only brought together sound and pictures in a domestic technology but also ushered in new genres of entertainment and information programming, was a missed opportunity in getting to know its users/viewers on any sort of 1-to-1 basis. It wouldn’t have necessarily been easy as it was a non-digital technology for several decades, and as such tracking would have been costly and difficult. Doable, but not easily achieved, as is the case in the world of personal computing devices and the web, where technologies such as cookies and mobile fingerprinting serve as unique identifiers.

Not wanting to repeat this particular mistake of television’s Cole started the World Internet Project in 2000, with the aim of tracking trends and changes in online consumption behaviour. Over the years Cole and his team have been able to tease out a number of themes in this regard, one of which is that legacy means more to industry than it does to people. While studying early usage of Amazon, for example, his team found that even though could purchase the same products -- primarily books at the time -- for the same product and/or shipping price from a known retailer such as Barnes & Noble, they somehow felt that ordering from Amazon was ‘cooler’, and a taste of a future that hadn’t yet arrived but almost certainly would in the years to come.

Cole sees a similar situation with banking today. “People delight when they can tell their bank to @#$% off”. And increasingly they can do just that, as other, more consumer-friendly and less expensive banking and financing options  are starting to proliferate thanks to innovations such as fintech and blockchain.

A recurring theme Cole has encountered is that legacy organizations cling to existing business models with great tenacity. This makes sense at first. Why abanadon the cash cow. But then, over time, this attitude can make a heck of a lot less sense, as a competitor arises, seemingly out of nowhere, with a better, cheaper, or just more fun product or service.

Uber and AirBnB are among the first examples that spring to mind but Cole points to Kodak, a company that he worked with on what the future of photography might look like. “When you looked at the attributes of film”, he explained, “you had to find it, then buy it, then take multiple pictures, not sure which would turn out, they you had to get the film processed, and wait, then pay again, and then find something to do with those pictures, which usually was put them in a box.” Compare analog photography with digital photography – let alone apps that pair a high quality mobile phone camera with instant upload to social platforms – and it’s obvious that the old way of doing things was not long for this world. But Kodak was reluctant to change. Why? Because they were making too much money selling film, film processing services and products, and hardware.

And of course there’s the music industry, discussed many times over the years on this blog. One could characterize its business model as ‘hostile bundles’, as people were forced to pay somewhere between about $10 and $18 for an album of which they often only really liked 1 or 2 songs. Shifting from that model of the form factor of the album and the supply chain of studios, labels, warehouses, trucks, and retailers, was not an attractive option, and so, what happened was that the album got unbundled on its own, first on the black market, via peer to peer file-sharing and later via Apple’s iTunes, which brought with it the iPod, then the iPhone, and in turn a whole new set of norms for the music business.

But why did Apple get this win? A company that had a 3% market share until the introduction of the iPod? The answer is in the question. The music industry was willing to enter into this dance with Apple precisely because they only had 3% market share. In the early 2000s Apple was a niche hardware company, and the last firm to be considered a threat to an industry worth tens of billions. Some in the industry even thought Apple could do the experimental grunt work for the industry and the legacy players could then swoop in and cash in. But that’s not what happened.

Instead, companies such as Sony, with a huge music catalogue and what should have been formidable leverage of having pioneered mobile music consumption with the Walkman ended up losing not once, but twice. The first loss was the music revenue going to the iTunes store; the second loss was the Walkman becoming a footnote. Sure they tried for years with efforts like the Walkman phone, but by that time, 2006, it was too late. The iPhone, not the iPod, was about to change everything.

Sony Ericsson Walkman Phone, c. 2006

But let’s move away from the historical and look at today, a world dominated by just a handful of companies; some call them GAFA, an acronym for Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple, sometimes it’s FANG, for Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, and Google. Whichever the combination of companies they are the undeniable dominant forces not only in their original fields, but in adjacent areas of endeavour. Facebook with its forays into messaging, bots, virtual reality, and photography (Instagram), Amazon with its evolution from book store to everything store, as well as physical stores, enterprise cloud services, and original content, Google with a product range encompassing search, web browser, mobile operating system, email, maps, video (YouTube), driverless cars, and dozens of other applications.

In Cole’s words what these companies have in common is that don’t care about boundaries. The idea that a company should do one thing and do it well is a conventional wisdom challenged by these digital goliath.

And speaking of the digital economy, the report on which I have been working for about the past 8 months, will be released in the coming weeks. It is the third in a series of studies on the economic impact of the Internet on the U.S. economy. (Hint: it’s pretty big). 


Details from my actual project notebooks and scraps of paper



The results of months of scribbling, spreadsheeting, forehead slapping, and tea spilling to be revealed shortly.

Watch this space.


Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Best of this blog 2016

It’s the holiday season and therefore time for the unavoidable ‘best of’ lists. Same deal here at the Demassed blog. In this year of virulent hacks, ransomware, digital ad fraud, and an epidemic of fake news, there were still other stories significance in the digital universe, and this post is dedicated to the Top 5 most clicked on stories on this blog in 2016.

The top two posts were on blockchain, a decentralized ledger of digital transactions that “brings security structures and incentives in line with the way we share information in the 21st century.”

One of the posts was about the vision for a new foundation of the music industry, based on direct artist to fan communication and payment, and that story can be found here.

The other blockchain post was about the great cryptocurency hack of 2016, reported to have removed between $50 million and $80 million of funds from the Ethereum blockchain. Read the full post here.

Some of the stolen funds have since been located, and despite the hack and the many unknowns associated with the blockchain it is already in use by several major banks and is forecast to be used by 15% of financial institutions in 2017.

The third most popular post of the year was a series of tweets from a talk given back in January on Marshall McLuhan in the age of social media. I wasn’t able to attend the talk but I was able to follow the discussion by way of the hashtag and captured those nuggets here.


Coming in at number four for the year was on a talk given by media and cultural theorist Douglas Rushkoff who has been thinking about and writing on the social and politic realities brought about the Internet for over 20 years. That post can be read here.



Rounding out the list, at number 5, is a post that looks at one of the most contested topics of life online, and that’s the preponderance of free, or more accurately ‘free’ content, the quotes referencing the fact that very little is ever free, it just appears to be.


What you receive for ‘free’ online is in fact traded for information about you as a consumer, and it’s a transaction all of us partake in dozens of time daily. Could the economy of free be shifting from just the way things are online to being one of a handful of possible business models? This post offers exhibits A, B, C, and D and lets you decide for yourself.

Thanks for reading and sharing the blog this year. I'm now up to 160,000 lifetime views, and even though as much as half of all Internet traffic is reported to be bot-generated, I'm still pretty happy.

Friday, December 16, 2016

The accidental industry of YouTube

2016, the year many cannot wait for the end of also had a few non-traumatic moments, such as the introduction of the term ‘YouTuber’ into the new version of the Oxford English Dictionary. And for those who don’t necessarily indulge in the delights of video by the people and for the people, a YouTuber is a person who creates video content and uploads to the video-sharing site. 

Now that YouTube itself is into its teen years we have seen YouTubers morph from hobbyists or one-off video uploaders to micro-celebrities and even stars in their own right, with tens of thousands YouTubers globally now making a living showing their wares on the site.

How did the random uploaders became hobbyists, then amateurs, and then a new type of media professional? And what is the difference between an amateur and a professional anyway? Is it intention, or is it outcome? Is it getting paid, and if so, how much? Is it the ability to attract thousands to millions of views? Or is this the future in which everyone is famous to fifteen people, a dictum issued all the way back in 2005, around the same time as the hybrid designation “pro-am” (for combination professional amateur) was explored at book length.

Whereas YouTube – and other open uploading platforms, e.g. SoundCloud, MixCloud, assorted mixtape sites – once existed in a parallel and necessarily separate universe from this thing we think of as ‘the industry’, the platforms are increasingly becoming intertwined with industry. And in ways not necessarily planned or imagined. For example, YouTube has become the new radio, with 1 in 4 music streaming hours spent on the site, which I’m pretty sure was not part of the original vision.

The same goes for the emergence of new entertainment genres, and this is isn’t an overstatement as the numbers don’t lie. Billions of views are being racked up by videos of people unboxing mattresses, of kids doing toy reviews, and in perhaps the most unanticipated category of new genre of media, YouTube videos of people reacting to other YouTube videos. (Ed. Note: Repeated use of 'wtf bro' ahead)


YouTube has also become an important second window for television, with clips from such shows as Jimmy Fallon, John Oliver, SNL, and that carpool karaoke guy (okay, James Corden, but to me he’s the carpool karaoke guy) pulling in millions of additional views by being posted and shared online. Whether or not I watch the shows (and generally I don’t) I can still play catch up by having them appear in my Facebook feed or having them pushed to me as suggested or popular videos when I open YouTube. Just as the music industry saw an unbundling of songs from albums, now television has an unbundling, from both format (the 30 or 60 minute program) and distribution channel, in this case moving from the world of the television schedule to on-demand, atomized viewing.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Piracy is as good as dead. Now What?

It’s been 17 years since Napster came onto the scene, bringing with it the combination innovation/major threat of peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing. What began as an outlaw activity of uploading MP3s and making them available to anyone with a desire to hear the song and a decent Internet connection ended up providing a beatdown to the music industry that lasted well over a decade, with the carnage only settling down recently. And even now the music industry is, in many ways, still up for grabs.

You may have seen the headlines proclaiming that 2016 was the first year in which streaming revenues were the largest revenue source for music, eclipsing digital downloads for the first time, and taking a big lead over physical sales of all other physical formats combined. The pie below shows the respective shares for the U.S. market. To put things into additional context it's worth considering that the global music industry peaked in 1999 with revenues of about $30 billion, which, by 2005 had shrunk to $20 billion, and now hover just under $15 billion

Source:
http://www.riaa.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/RIAA-2015-Year-End-shipments-memo.pdf

It doesn’t take Nostradamus to see that the blue piece of the pie is only going to get bigger, while the red and green slices shrink. (The diet yellow slice, marked “synch”, refers to music synchronization, which are the revenues that come from licensing fees when songs are used in commercials, movies, TV shows, videogames, etc. I have no view on whether or not this chunk will grow though I understand it’s a valuable source of income for musicians both well-known and up and coming).

What we can extrapolate from these developments in the music industry is that piracy is more or less dead. Which is not to say that it doesn’t exist. Of course it does. But it’s dead in the sense that it is considered to be public enemy #1 of the industry. When pretty much any music you want to hear is available on demand -- whether via legit sources or unsanctioned ones -- the location of value shifts irrevocably, whether we like it or not. Where did it go? To the new intermediaries,  in this case the platforms that enable us to hear anything we want to, whenever we want to.

So what happens now? This discussion got underway at a Music Tech Meetup I attended at the end of the summer, at which the featured speakers were Steven Ehrlick and Noah Schwartz, both from Ryerson University’s Music Den, a music and tech incubator that brings creators together with technologists, in the hope of building apps, systems, or platforms, that identify, and hopefully propose a solution to, addressable problems in a new environment of possibility. Ehrlick and Schwartz shared their thinking around the experience of being a musician in the 21st century, the reality of which, in their view, is that you have to a digital media specialist in addition to being a performer and/or writer. 

But what does that mean?  We so often hear people with titles such as Chief Digital Officer tell the troops at organizations that were not ‘born digital’ that everyone’s thinking needs to be re-jigged.  Phrases such as ‘from now on the company will think like a digital company”, or “starting today we’re a digital first organization”. Erhlich & Schwartz see it this way: There are two kinds of companies: Tech companies that get into music and music companies that get into tech.

An example of the former:

Bandcamp: A music discovery platform that, as of Fall 2016, has paid close to $200 million directly to artists since its inception.

Examples of the latter:

MusicNet (b. 2001, d. 2005)  and PressPlay (b. 2001, d. 2003), services started by the music labels that tried to replicate the analog industry in the digital world. 

Why did they do that? Because that’s the business they knew well. Contrast with what Steve Jobs did with iTunes: unbundled the album, established a price point of 99 cents that was low enough to move people from Limewire, Kazaa, Gnutella, and created an ecosystem of beautiful hardware and easy to use software which for many became a way of life, not just music or gadgets, and resulted in Apple becoming (if only intermittently) the world’s most valuable company.

The enterpreneurial trick is this: Ask yourself "what is the problem you're trying to solve?" Apparently the investment community, particularly in Silicon Valley, wants to hear things expressed as verbs, not nouns. It’s about what people will do with what you’re making, not what it is.  Think Twitter, Snapchat, even Pinterest – hard to rationalize if you’re only describing what it is; easier to rationalize as a vision for a new way in which people communicate and connect.

Erhlich and Schwartz suggested that a company allows you to solve musicians’ problems e.g. where to play, where to stay, how to do your digital distribution. And you can start small and do so on a small budget and scale up, moving from local to global, with the costs of working globally being a fraction of what they were in the world of physical things and physical places.

They point to this example: DistroKid, where for twenty dollars per year musicians get the ability to do unlimited uploads to digital services such as iTunes and Spotify (and no, it’s not free to get your music onto those sites.)

As we approach two decades since peer-to-peer technologies effectively detonated the music industry,  some pieces are falling into place while others are still trying to find a way for the peg to fit the slot (Heck, Spotify, with its 100 million users of which about 40 million are premium users is still not profitable in 2016). But it's not all bad news, which is the rallying cry of this blog if there is one. I am reminded of the words of Clay Shirky when asked how the rapidly declining revenues of the newspaper industry might be stemmed. His response: What will work? Nothing. But everything might.