All Practice No Play

I had a thought about the dynamic of practicing and playing the game. This picture of Ethan in his baseball ready stance brought to light some perspective on practice. For him the practice is the part he likes the least. The game is where Ethan wants to be, baseball ready!

It’s a little different when you take a look business and life. We live in a world that has built large institutions around the “practice” not the “play.” People have made lucrative careers off the “practice.” I think they call them Professors. I’ve seen plenty who stayed in academia because they could never make it in real business world. I see the by-products of these institutions of “all practice, no play” every year as new interns come into the company. They don’t have a clue about the real world or how all they things they have been practicing for 4 years apply to the game. I believe, sadly, that is why so many kids out of college don’t end up in the career that they studied in.

My point is we should never stop playing the game to just practice. I can practice all day with Ethan to make sure he can field a ground ball. He will never really know how to do it until he steps into the game and in the midst of fatigue, battle, and all the other dynamics swirling around, will he really make the play.

We should never stop learning. We should never stop playing the game. It’s a balance between the two. Every book I read, every strategy I build, every project I direct teaches me how to improve. I’ve had some successes in my years of playing the game, and plenty of failures. They all taught me something different. It’s a life long journey to learn and play the game the best. It’s never over, and it should always improve.

Breathe In & Smile Out,

I SP(otif)Y Music Subscriptions

There is a buzz around music subscription services these days with some big players like Amazon and Sony offering cloud music services. Although, Sony’s venture into this world was met out of the gate with a cloud service outage. Their success in trying to own another digital channel/technology may fare as good as their last attempt with their custom DRM toolkit.

It’s speculated that Amazon will have $900 million vested in capital expenditures this year, which leaves one to believe their cloud music service will certainly move further down the development path. The question still remains with them, will consumers be happy with just storage of what they own?

The real contenders are Apple and Spotify in this race to own the music subscription space that Rhapsody and Napster failed to successfully scale. It’s all going to fall on who can offer the right subscription price with the right content offering. For Spotify it’s a huge mountain to climb when you have only 15% of your users subscribing.

There is not a real viable 20/80 rule that will support the 80% free, unless your Pandora. They have been able to subsidize their 86.6% free subscribers with adv revenue. Pandora isn’t trying to be a true music sub service with an all-you-can eat buffet of music you can listen to on-demand. Their business model supports their service.

This is not so much the case for Spotify. That is precisely why their president Daniel Ek made his case in this blog to prepare users for the new model. It’s an attempt to put controls on the free users and move them into the subscribers so they can support the content owner payouts, royalties and all that silly stuff that tends to get in the way.

So, who will win this race? If I was a betting man, I would put my money on Apple. They have the infrastructure in place with their purchase of LaLa. They have the data servers in place to support the traffic, and avoid incidents like the Amazon cloud last week. They have the users in place. They have the computer, mobile, tablet, TV, and portable devices that support the application client. Apple know the demographic and usage behaviors of music sub consumers thanks to Rhapsody and Napster apps. It’s all in place for the mighty Apple to revolutionize yet another music / technology channel.

Once this switch is flipped the rest of the pack will fall behind like all the DSPs that have tried to compete with Apple’s iTunes. So, what is your choice? Would you rather have access or ownership of music? There are a couple of generations of consumers who think access feels like ownership.

Breathe In & Smile Out,