The recent video of investor Roger McNamee explaining why social is over has become a bit of a viral sensation.
A few days ago, music industry commentator Bob Lefsetz linked to it on his blog. In response, McNamee sent Lefsetz the entire transcript of a talk he gave at NARM — a big music industry shindig — back in May.
The main subject of the talk was how his band Moonalice abandoned the traditional label/publicist method for pure viral marketing and got thousands of paying fans along the way.
But he also has an interesting perspective on how Google helped destroy the music industry — and how other Web companies and Apple are now destroying Google.
Some choice bits:
- How Google helped trash the music business: “Google had a plan for organising the web’s information that treated every piece of information as if all were equally valuable….What we all missed at the time is that by treating every piece of information the same, Google enforced a standard that permitted no differentiation. Every word on every Google page is in the same typeface. No brand images appear other than Google’s. This action essentially neutered the production values of every high end content creator. The Long Tail took off and the music industry got its arse kicked.”
- Google is losing its dominance in search — fast. “Google’s success eventually filled the web with crap, so consumers began using other products to search: Wikipedia for facts, Facebook for matters of taste, time or money, Twitter for news, Yelp for restaurants, Realtor.com for places to live, LinkedIn for jobs. Over the past three years, these alternatives have gone from 10% of search volume to about half.”
- Why Apple is such a huge threat to Google: “People who have iPhones and iPads do far fewer Google searches than people on PCs….If they want news, Apple customers use apps from the New York Times or Wall Street Journal. If they want to know which camera to buy, they ask friends on Facebook. If they want to go to dinner, they use the Yelp app. These searches have economic value and it’s not going to Google, even on Android. When Apple and the app model win, Google’s search business loses. Like Microsoft, Google has plenty of business opportunities, but the era of Google controlling all content is over.”
- How HTML5 and Apple’s App Store rules will eventually kill Apple: “HTML 5 is cheaper to build, cheaper to support, no 30% fee . . . oh, and the apps perform better, too. I believe Apple’s best response would be to focus on selling hardware and accept that consumers will demand products that happen to bypass the app store. Based on the argument with Amazon, I sense Apple is not ready to concede the point. That’s ironic, because the only way Apple can get hurt would be if they try to force all commerce through the App Store. The would create a real reason for customers to buy a tablet other than iPad.”
- His conclusions: Google and Microsoft will remain huge, but their influence is evaporating, which means we can ignore them. Apple is winning big, which means we have to support their platforms first. For people who make content, Apple is a better monopolist to deal with than Google.
As far as music goes, McNamee also reveals that he’s played 1,000 concerts over the last 15 years, and that his band Moonalice got semi-famous when more than 800,000 people downloaded their song “It’s 4:20 Somewhere.”
He also has great insights about how to make money in rock and roll these days: instead of trying to sell recordings, give your recordings away in exchange for the scarcest asset of all — the attention of your audience.
Anybody hoping to make a living — or even just a few bucks — playing music should check it out.