Monthly Archives: June 2009

Open Up To Shut ‘Em Down

Union Square Venture analyst, Andrew Parker, wrote a quick opinion about Steve Jobs’s liver transplant related to distinguishing between the rights of shareholders, the media and public individuals.  You can read the post from his blog The Gong Show here and below.

I agree with Andrew that Apple said enough in Jobs taking a leave of absence and that any further intrusion into the specifics go beyond the ‘right’ of the media and shareholders.  There is certainly debate on both sides as to whether the public and the shareholders should have known the specifics.

I, however, fall on the side that by announcing a leave of absence, Apple explicitly stated that Jobs was not running any aspect of the company – vision or otherwise – and the shareholders could make their decisions accordingly.

Now, to be perfectly candid and in the interest of full disclosure I am a dogmatic defender of the 1st amendment BUT I absolutely abhor gossip shows, celebrity followings, paparazzi and other such information.  That means nothing, of course, as those items are extremely popular amongst many, including my wife and neither I, nor anyone, have the right to refuse them their public discourse.

I can, of course, complain about them and plot their demise which is my ultimate goal.

I mention it here for 2 reasons:

First, that I believe artists (celebrity or otherwise) would be better served in controlling as many outlets for their craft, brand, life as possible.  By letting people in through the multitude of conversation and communication tools available across digital & mobile communities, those who are victims of the paparazzi culture can go on the offensive instead of constantly being on the defensive.

Second, I would like to reaffirm the fact that it is essential for any artist, personality, brand to keep a keen eye on all places they are mentioned.  Any of us with the slightest opinion have the ability to share it and, thankfully, that is not going away.  In fact, it is accelerating as all data suggests.

Moreover, for those companies and individuals that create content and support brands, it is essential that you work cooperatively with those who like your content, not against them.  I believe creators will find they foster a better fan & consumer relationship, and will ultimately earn more revenue by including those of us who consume content in as much of the process as possible.

Take control of your life by opening on YOUR TERMS through new tools, and keep the TMZ’s and Perez’s on the sidelines by offering what they cannot.

We will all be better off!


Andrew’s Post

After three days of ducking the press — and telling the Wall Street
Journal that Steve Jobs was not listed as a patient there — Methodist
University Hospital in Memphis finally admitted Tuesday that Jobs did
in fact receive a new liver at their transplant facility.

From a Fortune article on Steve Jobs.

I find this introductory paragraph absurd and completely
representative how invasive the recent Steve Jobs’s health media blitz
has been. Methodist University Hospital did *not* “finally admit”
anything. A better way to phrase Methodist University Hospital’s
statement is they “Violated HIPAA.” Steve Jobs’s health is none of our
business, and there is a whole world of legislation that intends his
privacy should be respected.

What is our business (as public shareholders) is the effect of his
health on his role at Apple, and Apple has been forthcoming with that
information. We were told when to took a leave of absence, and we were
informed about realistic expectations of a return date.

The actual details of his health is his personal matters which are legally protected and should be properly respected.

RIAA and Sisyphus…Two Peas In A Pod

To say the RIAA is out of touch goes beyond obvious…what is more obvious than obvious?

Greg Sandoval of CNET wrote an interesting article about the fact that 6 months after announcing it was working with the top ISPs, the RIAA has yet to have any concrete deals.  Now I cannot speculate as to why the telecoms have not officially crafted a deal with the RIAA, but I can hope that they have realized what I have long believed to be true…

…that top down, blanket administration of content rights is a waste of time and resources.  I am sure Sisyphus would agree.

I have 2 core problems with the RIAA’s attempts in this regard.

First, they do not represent the majority of artists, just the major labels.  While the RIAA may tryp paint a picture of working for the “music industry” they are only working for a few companies whose business models are in flux at best, failing at worst.  Now there is nothing inherently wrong for defending those who are a part of your trade group, but I believe it is difficult to bring in the help of companies like ISPs whose responsibility stretches to a much wider cut of the public.

The irony cuts even further when you think of the multitude of non-major label artists who depend on the ISPs to create the connections with fans that drive their business.  And that brings me to my second point…

The best path for artists is not to dictate a top-down mechanism, which is always going to be limited in scope versus the wide and increasing number of fragmented media outlets that exist and will emerge in the future, but to support a mechanism that gives content creators complete visibility into the use of their content.

With visibility into activity and the ability to both discover and interact with those who use your content comes choice on the part of the creator to determine the business model that works best for them.  Each outlet (traditional media, web, mobile, P2P) and all of their subsets brings the artist a different community with a different belief in how to consume content.

Some may want to buy songs, some may want to remix, others interact with the artist..etc, etc.  The fact is with each new community comes a new opportunity to extend the reach of your content and, most importantly, an ability to leverage the relationship to earn a living.

The key is that the choice remain with the artist, not some antiquated industry group who represents a small fraction of the industry.