Archive for May, 2015

post-scarcity part 11: vinyl revenue reaches 20% of CDs

I continue to be bemused by the ongoing return of vinyl LPs. Another year, another set of gains, in both units and revenue. Data from Statistica:

It matches what I was seeing in an RIAA PDF from earlier this year. Vinyl sales are doing very well, thanks, and are the only ownership segment that’s actually rising. Streaming revenue is climbing too, but wow, not enough to make up for all the down segments.

Data again Statistica, this graph Forbes

I think there are a couple of things going on here.

First, the LP surge – yes, of course it’s at least partly a fad. That’s not durable, and the increase in rate of increase is most probably a warning sign.

But aside from that, I think the rise in LP sales may be related to the LP package being a physical/tangible object that’s interesting to have for itself. Certainly, if you’re going to pick a CD vs. a vinyl LP as an interesting physical object, the LP wins. Bigger covers, more interesting art possibilities – the whole drill. But…

I wrote a while ago about how the RIAA made music ownership a negative value. I think that’s still pretty much true, for digital.

But I don’t think that perception ever reached vinyl. Vinyl had been written off by the time the RIAA swung into self-destructive smashy smashy. And I’m wondering if vinyl still caries a weight of ownership that digital no longer does.

I mean, I just had a friend of mine who has never owned a turntable and is the opposite of a hipster say she’s thinking of getting one. This shouldn’t be ignored.

The downside for the artist, of course, is that LPs are a lot more expensive to make – particularly for indies. And smaller living spaces mean less space for storage of any kind of stuff, including LPs. That’s a limiting factor, and while it might become less of one as housing stock rebalances, that rebalancing is a longer cycle, and probably won’t come early enough to matter.

or somebody will find a way to make it their job

The second statement I take from these graphics is that the industry – as of 1st half 2014 – is still both sinking and on fire. That Forbes chart shows year-to-year revenue changes in stark numbers – down categories at $-394m (downloads, CS, synchronisation, others) vs. up categories at $+231m (streaming, vinyl) year-to-year.

That’s a $163m revenue loss. I certainly don’t see how vinyl can staunch that much bleeding. And the streaming revenue gains – while obviously more substantial, and where the industry is betting its future – don’t even make up for the drop in paid downloads. They’re just cannibalising their own revenue streams.

We’re still living in a post-scarcity environment. And there’s no rearrangement of desk chairs that can change that fact. Delay the repercussions a little, sure; stop them, no.

Me, I want to release something on Edison cylinder. It can in fact be done; there’s a company in the UK doing it. And wow, it’s expensive. But if, you know, 20 people want to go in at $50/each for cylinders, I will do it. I will do it in a heartbeat.

No? Yeah, I didn’t think so either. XD

This is Part 11 of Music in the Post-Scarcity Environment, a series of essays about, well, what it says on the tin. In the digital era, duplication is essentially free and there are no natural supply constraints which support scarcity, and therefore, prices. What the hell does a recording musician do then?

the perils of touring

…I just realised I’m going to miss the U. District Streetfair here in Seattle for the first time in … decades?

Seriously, I’ve gone to this thing since forever, more or less. I’m not originally from the U. District? (I don’t even know where I was born?) But I’m from the U. District. And Streetfair was always just a hop over the hill to the Ave and then STREETFAIR! which means summer is here, in a way Opening Day never did for me, even though I go to that too sometimes, and there’s way too many foods and booths and vendors and clothes and street performances and and and…

…and I’ll be in Oregon doing shows with Leannan Sidhe.

Which is awesome. Don’t get me wrong. If I had to make that decision intentionally I probably would. Probably.

But… streetfair. snif.

site maintenance and mobile upgrades

I did a bunch more site maintenance over the weekend, particularly on mobile. This involved combining the candy button row with the menu row and making both look better (imo), and adding some silly animation on the social buttons because I could, and stuff like that.

Let me know if things are broken; there was a lot of under-the-hood work here, and if I bodged something together wrong, well, I’ll fix it if I can. But see the known issues below.

Regardless, have some before and after pictures, and a couple of animated gifs if you want to see a direct comparison: front page view, blog post view.

But the mobile experience in particular is what’s really different. It’s changed so much that I’ve turned it back on for most mobile browsers, having previously disabled it for everything except the most primitive mobile web viewers.

Carrington Mobile PreviewBasically, before, it just had all sorts of problems. Leaving aside the colours being all wrong, there was pretty much no way out of this view or to the rest of the site. It just wasn’t built for use in a mixed-software environment, and the navigation system was fiercely primitive.

Plus, it didn’t do any correct things with images, so any but the smallest pictures were truncated, and so on. You pretty much had the latest posts and… that’s it.

There was, in theory, a way to exit to desktop view, but it didn’t work and I didn’t know why. The best I could do was wodge in a link back to the main site, as best I could, but it was pretty well hidden.

Now, post-update, if mobile users come to the site’s front page, they still get the desktop view. That’s because reasons; it’ll stay that way until the next big site rebuild. But once mobile users hit the blog, they’ll enter the mobile mini-site. And here’s what they see.

The secret is, almost all of my mobile hits go straight to the blog, so for them, it is the front page. So triggering better mobile behaviour based on that seems okay.

The first thing you might’ve noticed is hey look, it’s a bloody navigation bar. Holy hell, who could’ve thought that up? Fun, right? It’s sticky, too, so it shows up on all the mobile pages. But even better – all those top links to go mobile views of pages, including the front page.

It sounds trivial, but this was actually more work than it should’ve been, since this mobile theme had no provisions for this at all. So I wrote it in.

Now, there’s cheating going on here. The mobile front page is a completely separate page. That means I have to maintain two front pages, which blows. Same for the shows page. But since the mobile version of the front page will be pretty static, I’m … acceptably okay with that. Stuff changes on the desktop version all the time, but those changes are automated – newest blog post preview and Twitter feed excerpt, right? If you’re seeing this page, you’ve already been to the blog, so the latest-post excerpt is uninteresting, and there’s a social media bar with links if you’re into Twitter. It’ll do.

And hey, check it, blogpost images shrink to fit now. Welcome to 2008! Or, arguably, 1997. Whatever.

Down at the bottom of the mobile pages you’ll find navigation links back to the desktop version of the site. The blog and music players will stay mobile versions, but the rest – this is how to get to the desktop view where possible.

There are more places to go in this bottom menu; since it’s the desktop menu, I can put on all the primary pages and you’ll get a… somewhat consistent experience? As less inconsistent as I can manage? Something like that.

I’m sure this is a bit confusing, but it’s my best compromise and I’m hoping it works out.

Here’s the blog page top all knitted together, and the same for the front page. And desktop view, blog page, before and after, since I’ve already uploaded them.

Anyway, that’s what I did this weekend. There are problems. The biggest is that I can’t tell the difference between Android tablets and Android phones, so right now, Android tablets are getting phone view, when I’d rather be serving them desktop. A lot of people are surprisingly okay with that, apparently? Anna tells me the devs at Big Fish Games have to do it on a per-device basis, and I don’t have that kind of granularity.

The second is that it should be possible to disable mobile view entirely on any device. I mentioned above that it never seemed to work. Now I at least know why it doesn’t work (cache conflicts), and also know that I can’t fix it. (And that there have been unanswered support requests for this sitting out there for months. I guess they can’t fix it either.) Sorry, best I can do. Stick to the desktop navigation menu and you’ll mostly get desktop.

Other than that, let me know if you see problems, and let me know what does and doesn’t work for you. From what I’m hearing, almost everyone prefers a phone-specific view on phones. I hope that’s true.

does this show up in mobile version in your phone?

I’ve been doing a bunch of work to make my formerly-terrible phone view for my blog into something that’s better on a phone.

What do you think, sirs? Additions include navigation to other parts of the site (finally), a mobile contact form that works, easier access to the mobile music page, throwing mobile users of video over to my youtube page, things like that.

And two questions:

1. As a phone user, do you want to see this view instead of the desktop view? I think at this point (since it’s not just locked into the pale-blue-on-pale-blue madness which was Carrington Mobile and also lets you visit the rest of the site) it’s kind of reasonable so suggest that.

2. If you’re a tablet user, do you still get the desktop site? I want that. Tablets can handle desktop view. Phones, though – yeah, not as much.

Anyway, what do you think?

More playing with websites

I’m going to be forcing mobile-mode on iPhone users today while I try to see what I can do to improve the mobile view of the blog. Sorry about that if it affects you! It’ll go back to normal later today.

I don't always test my code…

…but when I do, it’s on prod.

You may have noticed things flipping around a bit on the band site today? I’m doing some small cleanups and upgrades and stuff. The home page has been particularly hilarious. I should’ve done screencaps.

Anyway, the non-blog and non-bandcamp sections are pretty much done, except for a new banner graphic I haven’t made yet – check it out if you like. Mostly it’s menu and headers and social media button updates and improvements.

I just need to port all that to the blog and to Bandcamp. YAY INCOMPATIBLE CODEBASES! Welcome to Doin’ It Wrong in 2015; I’m your host; the Acme rep will be here any time now; watch out for falling pianos.

Now – let’s get dangerous.

is google frontpage actually saying this?

Is this just some sort of weirdness on my browser, or is Google actually saying this?

Excuse You

Because I’m pretty sure everyone with a Pacific Ocean coast might have something to say about that. Particularly but by no means exclusively China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, and Viet Nam.

Front of Battle, 1 August 1945, Pacific Theatre

Also Hiroshima.

And Nagasaki.

awfully busy at the moment

Sorry for the radio silence the last few days – I’ve just been swamped with offline stuff. Nothing interesting, I’m afraid. But hi, all you new visitors from Tumblr! I see the John Barrowman/Gatekeeping and Recourse post is making another around. You can click on the gadget on the left to play our music, or pick individual tracks on Bandcamp. Good to see you!

Oh, what’s going on… I fixed that bad amp, finally. Well, mostly – it won’t run with battery anymore, that board is just fried and I don’t feel like rebuilding a new one from scratch. But the rest works.

We’ve given our new car a name – Raptor 312. We’ve never named a car before, but a couple of weeks ago bought a silver Fit. Mostly we wanted more cargo space and a hatchback again, but as soon as we got it home, we went “y’know, this thing looks like some sort of shuttlecraft.” Then we decided that it had to be a Raptor – Sharon ‘Boomer’ Valerii’s Raptor, in particular. Because Cylons.

Anyway, that’s all we have time for right now. Plans are afoot, schemes are ascheme, no rest for the wicked, all that.

eta: …wow, hi, aqua-aureum followers. There are certainly a lot of you! I will take the opportunity to confirm aqua-aureum’s suspicions that I would not have tolerated a (known) white supremacist in our midst, and add that pleasantly, the question never even came up. Go us, I suppose.

Anyway, I hope you’ll give some of my band’s music a listen. We have some free-download tracks too. And welcome!

discovered possible vulnerability

I just discovered a possible vulnerability in a WordPress plugin that supports OpenID authentication for comments. The developer’s website is down and the plugin hasn’t been updated in two years.

What’s protocol for this these days? I’ve trivially patched my own install, but (particularly pending further analysis which I have not done – for all I know it’s not actually exploitable… but I kind of think it is) I strongly recommend disabling this plugin unless you have your own patch.

sad puppy brad torgersen lies like crazy and juliette wade calls him on it

There’s an amusing exchange going on over at File 770 right now, between Puppies and one of the people who demanded to be removed from their slate.

What Juliette Wade said about being put on the Sad Puppies slate (more at the link):

[Juliette]: Brad, I am sorry, but if you will be labeling me as a sad puppy I will have to ask you to withdraw me from your list.

Brad [Torgersen]: You’ve not been labeled a sad puppy. This is the :fight puppy-related sadness list” I contacted you about earlier. You said you were OK with it.

[Juliette]: You did not say you were going to be calling it the Sad Puppies list. I feel like you were misrepresenting it. I’m happy to be one of your Hugo recommendations. This is different.

What Brad Torgersen decided that meant (again, more at the link):

Juliette’s a colleague at Analog and I’ve been hoping for three years to see her name finally appear on the Hugo ballot. It’s unfortunate that Juliette’s fears — at being shamed, shunned, and ostracized, for appearing on the “wrong” list — caused her to withdraw when the slate was released. Which says far, far more about Sad Puppies’ detractors, than it does about Juliette, or me for that matter.

Once again, the Are your papers in order? factor rears its ugly head.

What Juliette had to say about that (yet more at the link):

Brad Torgersen, you are pretty brazen, trying to speak for me, and I would appreciate it if you never attempted to do so again. I was entirely unaware of the Sad Puppy connection because I had deliberately been avoiding looking at your wall, much less your blog, for going on two years. My maintenance of our friendship was out of courtesy. I guess I was too idealistic, thinking that Sad Puppies might be over and that you would just be talking to me about some Hugo recommendations, but I do like to think the best of people. It should not be my responsibility to go and look up whether a person is being dishonest every time they say they like my work. Just to be clear, you have clearly got no idea of my motivations and are trying to spin them to your benefit. I was appalled by your actions in the Sad Puppy business last year and obviously made a mistake in thinking that you should be taken at your word (with the understanding that people include all relevant and important information when they are informing someone of something, which you did not do in this case.) I would never, ever have wanted to associate with Sad Puppies after last year, because of the depth of my anger over their behavior. I felt sick that you had deceived me and betrayed my confidence, and the fact that you denied having done so is irrelevant. You, and your actions, were what I was avoiding in pulling myself off the list.

What oberpuppyführer Vox Day had to say in response (you get the idea):

You SJWs really are remarkable. Brad does nothing but attempt to tell you the exact truth and you respond by twisting and contorting every word to try to paint him as the sort of liar that you all are.

I will leave it up to you to compare Brad’s and Juliette’s statements about what Juliette herself said, and figure out exactly how “exact truth” applies to Brad’s commentary. Extra credit for staying within the bounds of rationality.

eta: Wow, check out this creepiness in another, newer comment. Damn.

This is part of a collection of posts on both the Hugo Award/Sad Puppies matter and other related topics in geek culture. The master post lives here.

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