LiveNation and Ticketmaster to merge

To sort of quote the Spice Girls two could become one if Ticketmaster Entertainment and LiveNation merge.  As the Wall Street Journal reports today:

The combined company would be called Live Nation Ticketmaster ; and would merge the world’s biggest concert promoter with the world’s dominant ticketing and artist management company.

History tends to show that no one really likes it when something gets too big:  Jack and the Bean stalk, Ghost Busters Pillsbury Doughboy, Jessica Simpson.  In the business world words like ‘anti-competitive’ and ‘monopoly’ tend to get bandied about and people get hacked off .   ‘The Boss’ definitely isn’t happy about it: 

“…the one thing that would make the current ticket situation even worse for the fan than it is now would be Ticketmaster and Live Nation coming up with a single system, thereby returning us to a near monopoly situation in music ticketing. Several newspapers are reporting on this story right now. If you, like us, oppose that idea, you should make it known to your representatives.”

The other word that you tend to hear when things get too big is “antitrust” and its likely that this merger is unlikely to go ahead faced with such scrutiny.  Its even rumoured that good ol Barak Obama will oppose the deal (I am sure it has nothing to do with the high profile support he recieved from The Boss during his electoral campaign….)

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Obama’s social media toolkit

Our colleagues in Edelman Public Affairs in Washington have pulled together a really great analysis of Obama’s social media campaign.  It takes a look at the tools used and the lessons that business can learn from his campaign.  Defiantely worth a read: http://www.edelman.com/insights/

Foil Hat Alert!!!

conspiracy.jpg 

I’m always up for listening to a good conspiracy story; David Icke‘s lizard wonderland, Roswell, JFK, they’re all good ‘shady-wink-complicated-handshake-knowing-nod’ fodder. But some are a little more rational than others, and a little bit closer to home.

We saw this earlier today – FaceBook is the latest in a long line of ‘digital conspiracy’ targets and Commongroundcommonsense has produced a pretty exhaustive investigation in to the connections between the site, a group of shadowy benefactors and the US government. Questions are asked about the security of the site, access to the information and the future use of that information.

This is nothing new – last year, AOL opened it’s vaults and published details of over 650,000 US search terms, while  Google has come under cynical fire in the past for warehousing personal information via Google DeskTop. This knee-jerk reaction is nothing new and as long as we are offered increasingly prevalent online services like internet banking, consumers will be torn between the desire for convenience and and the fear of poor security (it’s something Edelman has quite a bit of experience with through our client Get Safe Online [GSOL])

But the social networking phenomenon brings a slightly expanded issue – notions of security no longer just concern the financially critical information in our daily lives; they involve tastes and beliefs and desires, the declaration of intricate personal detail, available to the increasingly opinionated masses. 

The social implications of Web 2.0 and its burgeoning role within cultural constructs are a constant discussion round our way.  Social networks are encouraging the ‘narcissistic voyuer’ to impart as much of themselves as possible to anyone who cares to look, but little consideration is given to that information once posted. Base motivation for many comes from having the most friends, membership to the most groups and social validation from as many varied groups and individuals as possible. It may seem fairly innocuous when you add it but the volume of information posted gives rich pickings to anyone who wants it, to the point that the public domain has been amplified to an incredible level. The promotion of personal information encourages the attention, but are we declaring too much? And once declared, are we offering ourselves to be used by the highest paying customer?

You tell me.

Check out the video after the jump….

A London Dinner, A Paris Launch, Research and Media Coverage: All in a week’s work

The last week of April 2007 was a busy one for Edelman’s European Digital Entertainment, Rights and Technology team. The London and Paris offices hosted Gail Becker, global head of the practice, who was visiting for a series of meetings, media interviews and events.

The impetus for the visit: the first anniversary of the formalization of the practice in London and the launch of the practice, “Divertissement Numérique”, in Paris.

The substance behind the visit: new research was commissioned by the DERT practice to dig into issues surrounding low levels of trust in the entertainment industry first identified in Edelman’s seventh annual Trust Barometer.

 

The RESEARCH

Commissioned specifically in France and in the United Kingdom among 18-34 year olds, the field work was conducted by Edelman’s own Strategy One just last month (completed in April). In short, the research revealed that distrust in the entertainment industry makes younger consumers less inclined to buy and one in four more likely to download illegally. The story uncovered was not a simple one; a complexity of opinion held amongst consumers was uncovered about the evolving world of digital entertainment.

There was clear indication that the industry has succeeded in moving the debate away from the availability of content online. 69% of Brits and 59% of French surveyed trust entertainment companies to make content widely and legally available online! Certainly two years ago this was not the message we were hearing from consumers. In fact, while researching the What’s the Download campaign that Edelman developed for the Recording Academy (The GRAMMY’s) one of consumers’ main reasons for turning to pirate sources was a lack of legal materials.

Significant proportions of consumers remain concerned about their rights over the content they have bought online. 35% of young Brits and 46% of the French surveyed did not trust the industry to respect the rights of people who pay for entertainment through legal channels.

Finally it was revealed that there is a significant gap between the availability of legal entertainment and the value being provided. 41% of Brits and 54% of French do not trust the industry to provide online propositions that represent good value-for-money.

Finally we looked at the implications of such trust and distrust because while it is valuable to know these issues exist; it is more valuable to begin to understand the implications: Distrust of entertainment companies has other consequences. It makes younger consumers more likely to:

  • criticize an entertainment company to friends (49% in UK, 46% in France)
  • refuse to buy their products (43% in UK, 54% in France)
  • share their negative opinions online (37% in UK; 51% in France)

Interestingly whether individuals trusted or distrusted the entertainment industry did not appear to affect the likelihood of people engaging in illegal activities – it was other factors, perhaps such as value for money, that created consistent numbers of people engaging in illegal online activities:

  • 20% of Brits and 18% of French sampled self-declared that they are inclined to share files illegally online, or have already done so. (We believe these numbers to be even higher in reality because people often will not admit to illegal activities while taking a survey)
  • 27% of Brits and 26% of French would download content illegally, or have already done so
  • 24% of Brits and 26% of French would rip copies without paying, or have already done so

Here is the UK Release and here is the France release. If you have interest in seeing the full research, please contact matthew.grossman@edelman.com

The MEDIA

To take advantage of Gail Becker’s deep understanding of the issues uncovered in the research, we did a bit of PR for ourselves. And we were not alone in finding the information compelling. Gail conducted interviews in France and in the UK resulting in substantive coverage of our research in both markets. Keep checking back because we expect more coverage to come in and I will keep the blog updated…

The International Herald Tribune

Le Monde

echosdunet.net

le journal du net (jdnet)

Mass-Media.fr

PointBlog

http://www.netimperative.com/2007/04/23/trust_downloads/view?searchterm=trus

http://bosacks.blogspot.com/2007/04/end-user-in-media-we-distrust.html

http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070427-distrust-and-piracy-go-together-like-pbj.html

 

The DINNERS

On Wednesday the 25th, thirty executives from around the Digital Entertainment space (including BBC, Cool Room, The Digital Content Forum, 20th Century Fox, Habbo Hotel, The IFPI, Jalipo, Motorola, MTV, MySpace, NBC Universal, Sony BMG) convened at London’s One Aldwych for a no holds barred debate and conversation about the future of this landscape.

The dinner was governed by Chatam House Rules effectively meaning that the entire dinner was off the record. So I can not share who said what, and will not share exactly what was discussed, but what I can say is that we were joined by speakers from Forrester Research and the BPI each of whom provided interesting overviews on industry trends and some forward looking perspectives on digital entertainment. The research prompted an in depth conversation about where trust emanates from and why some companies/industries are trusted and others are not. We spoke at length about the impact of digital distribution and piracy on the traditional entertainment industry and its impact on revenues and staffing, new channels of distribution and whether they serve as replacements for, or compliments to, traditional channels. It was a fitting conversation for a 1-year anniversary since our last dinner.

In Paris, on Thursday the 26th, another broad sample of entertainment and technology industry executives arrived ready to engage and discuss the issues at hand. The dinner was held at the Sofitel Le Parc on a beautiful spring Paris evening. The speakers, intervenants, joined us from the Motion Picture Association, Glowria and Microsoft.

The research again prompted a great deal of interest but the conversation was free ranging and broad. Attendees came from the corporate and government sector including the CSA (Conseil Supérieur de l’Audiovisuel), the DDM (Direction de développement des médias) Discovery Channel France, Disneyland Resort Paris, EMI Music, Forrester Research, Orange, MIDEM, Motorola, 13ème Rue / NBC Universal, Netgem, Redshift, Sony BMG, Thomson, Trace TV, Virgin Mega and VPOD TV. Additionally we were joined by a number of associations such as SACD, SACEM, SNEP, SCPP and Prodiss to name a few.

 



Edelman’s Digital Entertainment Rights and Technology team will continue to discuss, communicate and focus on the issues raised at these dinners and we expect to have several more throughout the year. If you are interested in being a part of one of these Edelman events, or learning more about our research – don’t hesitate to contact me at matthew.grossman@edelman.com

Definition of Web 2.0: “More…”

Useable/intuitive/social/interactive/complex/comprehensive/enabling/ empowering/technical/frustrating/democratic…

…the list goes on.  The fact is, a single identifying definition of ‘Web 2.0’ is impossile because it’s many things to many people. One thing’s for certain, it’s taken root as a cultural phenomenon and impacts on everyone from the ground up.

Ian Hardy at BBC Click has had a look at how it’s taken hold. Watch the video here.

bbc-clikc.jpg

Whether you use your computer for work or fun, the programs you use generally have one thing in common – they are stored on your PC. Increasingly though, that software is moving online.

Google has made a variety of programs available online

The move to put more and more of those familiar programs on to the web has been happening for a while but its latest incarnation has won the name of Web 2.0.

What is it – the definition is imprecise at best, but it loosely describes a category of websites that are known for interactivity, collaboration and community.

Developments in underlying web technology make this all possible and mean that what the sites can do is very new. Simplicity is often the key. Often it is an online application that does one thing and does it well.

CNET.com’s Caroline McCarthy has a few favourites: “I have just started using a new site called Remember The Milk, which is a task manager. It’s incredibly simple, a very easy to use list of things you have to do, places you have to go, things you have to buy, that sort of thing.

“Clipmarks is a site where you can just share clips or portions of a website rather than the entire bookmark, so it’s good for quotations.

“Tumblr is basically a blogging platform for people who don’t want to use a blogging platform. If you look at things like WordPress and Blogger, which a lot of people use to create blogs, they’re very functional. Tumblr is very simple.”

Picturedots is a good example of the creativity that the so-called 2.0 sites display. You load in a photograph, trace the numbered dots on top of the image and print out the final result as a puzzle.

In a basic way it demonstrates how web browsers are gradually being used by consumers for far more than just looking around in cyberspace.

“The idea of using your web browser as a tool is still a fairly new concept,” explained Mark Chackerian of Picturedots.

“I’m an internet professional, for me my browser is like a Swiss Army Knife; I use it for a lot of things and in a much greater capacity than most people.

“So for me to find a way to demonstrate to people how they can use their browser to do new kinds of things, makes me part of that new trend.”

A future online?

As people gravitate to the internet for more and more free services and solutions the web browser could become the central window through which our daily lives are conducted, potentially replacing most desktop applications.
 They know it’s going to be a big part of their companies in 10 years

Nick Thompson, Wired Magazine

Software giants like Microsoft and Adobe have been launching their own online applications, some of which resemble their well-known retail titles.

Adobe has released a stripped-down web version of its video editing software, called Remix, and later this year plans to launch an internet version of its very successful photo manipulation program, Photoshop.

“Microsoft and Adobe are in a bind,” says Nick Thompson, senior editor of Wired Magazine. “They make tons of money from the software they sell in shrink-wrapped boxes. But they also know that the future is online software. So what do they do?

“I think they’re doing two things. I think they are genuinely trying to figure out how to make this work, because they know it’s going to be a big part of their companies in 10 years.

“But they’re also trying to keep their current customers happy, and they’re trying not to make it look like you should switch immediately because maybe you should buy that one last Office upgrade.”

Meanwhile Google has been building an entire suite of free online applications over the past few years.

Docs and Spreadsheets is a product that most consumers could happily use instead of Microsoft Office, with multi-user, location free collaboration being an added benefit.

Advertisers’ advantage

The key question is whether online software is of genuine use to the consumer or is just about advertising revenue.

“There will always be people who say that this is just a mechanism to get more eyeballs on our ads,” says Jonathan Rochelle of Google.

“But I don’t think people see that, and I certainly don’t see that as evil, as a bad thing. If that was the case and we ended up getting more people to look at our ads it’s not necessarily a bad thing.”

One incentive for companies to supply online software is compatibility. In one go all customers can be upgraded to the newest version and create files that are universally compatible, unlike different generations of Word documents.

“Another advantage of online software is that the companies can track exactly what you do and how you use it. Then they can target specifically to you,” said Mr Thompson.

“If you send a lot of e-mails about they’ll know that maybe you’re trying to buy a cellphone, and they can serve you ads on cellphones.

“So the companies really like it, and it’s to the companies’ advantage for the software to work extremely well and for you to use it all the time because then they get more information and then they can sell you more stuff.”

To older users of desktop applications, who are usually more cautious about their online activity, this might seem disconcerting, but for younger computer users, the MySpace generation who freely flaunt the details of their personal lives, it might be not be such a big deal.