Print Magazine Sales Plunge

Single-copy print magazine sales plunged by another 10% in the first half of 2013 according to the AAM’s (Alliance for Audited Media) 2013 half-year report. Extensive details can be found on their website here at this link to their report.

I remember back in the 1980’s subscribing to print magazines such as Stereo Review, Digital Audio & Compact Disc Review, Popular Photography, Videomaker Magazine, PC World, PC Computing, Hot CoCo, etc. I originally came into contact with most of the magazines I ended up subscribing to via magazine news stands.

Somewhere along the way my interest seemed to wain and I allowed those magazine subscriptions to drop. Looking back, it’s probable that the Internet itself via desktop computers started consuming the time that would otherwise default to reading magazines, which in turn caused me to lose interest and allow those magazine subscriptions to drop.

Today, I subscribe to the digital version of Mac Life via the Barnes & Noble Nook app. I might subscribe to more digital versions of magazines if I could find some I really liked on a consistent basis. Though many magazines offer digital 30 day trials, I’m not easily enticed to take the plunge.

With movies and TV shows Netflix offers unlimited streaming for thousands of movies and TV shows, akin to renting unlimited access to their giant ever-changing movie and TV catalog . Services such as Google Music are offering unlimited streaming and downloading of millions of MP3 files for a monthly fee, sort of akin to renting unlimited access to a huge chunk of all available music, including most of the latest stuff. Stop paying the subscription and the movies and music immediately go away.

If someone were to offer a monthly subscription to a large catalog of digital versions of magazines, I would probably bite if they were an appealing collection of magazines. I don’t know if the print magazine business is desperate enough yet to move to this sort of digital magazine stand subscription model, but looking at the successful trends set by Netflix, Amazon Prime Videos, and services such as Google Music, it seems to me the handwriting is on the wall for the magazine business.

Smartphone and tablet time are encroaching heavily on time that used to be spent with desktop and laptop computers, and that encroachment continues to accelerate. We are therefore turning into tablet and smartphone consumers. Apps with good content are what generate much of the appeal of tablets and smartphones. Tablets in particular can offer a good, clean digital magazine experience via apps. I believe there is an opportunity for the print business to close the circle and reinvent themselves as the right digital magazine news stand apps, offering all-you-can-eat subscription access to the right racks of digital versions of magazines. It will happen sooner or later. The process can be more or less painful for the magazine industry depending on how long they are able to remain in denial, and how much they drag their feet.

We are now tablet consumers. The new name of the game is going after my tablet time as that tablet consumer. Content creators and sellers are now competing with things like Angry Birds, Netflix, Amazon, various music services, etc.

Offer me a clean, all-you-can-eat, easy-to-use package to a large digital magazine stand where I can browse through and skim through articles and adds just like I can in the real world at a physical magazine stand, and I will subscribe.

Google Music

Once a pon a time a number of years ago I went through a period of several years where I spent a fair amount of money on compact discs. Those days are long gone and have been for some time.

It’s probably just my age showing more than anything, but in recent years I lost interest in finding new music. I stopped listening to the radio the better part of ten years ago. When I did listen to music, it was to the old stuff.

To my surprise, I’ve become more interested in listening again. There’s a genre of music I paid scant attention to in the past called “electronic” that has caught my ear in the past couple of months. Mind you, not enough to start shelling out money for CD’s or even MP3’s, but these days that isn’t necessary. The “electronic” category of music is not for everyone. It is created with synthesizers and some of the sounds are very aggressive; some people would consider them noise. To my surprise, I’m really enjoying listening to this stuff — not enough to buy the music outright, but enough to pay to have access.

Google Music is currently offering a 30 day free trial. The price after the free trial is $7.99 per month if you lock it in by subscribing before the June 30 expiration date. The regular subscription price is $10 dollars per month.

I subscribed to the free offer, and so far I like it. I searched for the names of some of the electronic artists such as Hardwell and Armin van Buuren. I was easily able to figure out how to start the “radio” feature, which is initiated from a particular song. Once tracks started playing, I gave many of them a “thumbs up” if I really liked them and a few tracks a “thumbs down” if I didn’t like them. Google Music seems to do a great job of figuring out what I like over time.

Google Music claims to offer access to millions of tracks. A few experimental searches seems to indicate that they do offer a broad selection of both new and back catalog tracks.

You can download any track to your device by adding it to your library. I didn’t read the terms of service, but I’m sure once you cancel any downloaded music will go away once you stop paying the rent.

Renting access to music is actually a great idea if you want to casually listen, but don’t want to spend a fortune doing it.

App.net an Alternative to Twitter

App.net is a Twitter replacement which is based on a subscription. I joined 5 days ago. The cost is $36.00 which is a drop of about 25 percent from the originally $50.00 for the subscription. There is also a $5.00 monthly subscription available. Under App.net you own all your content If you decide to cancel your service you have 60 days to export your data. App.net has promise to make that exporting easy. They promise not to sell you personal data to advertisers or any other third-party.

Unlike Twitter, App.Net actively encourages developers to create third-party apps. Based on users feedback, App.net will distribute $20,000 among developers monthly. Right now there are over 30 mobile apps alone. Most are iOs based, there are some Android apps also and at this point only 1 mobile Window app. I expect more Windows mobile apps to be created once Windows 8 mobile comes out. There is a listing of all the available third-party apps for the various platforms listed on the App.net website. Personally on my Mac I am trying bothWedge and Appetizer. On the iPad I am currently using AppNet Rhino however Netbot by the same people who make Tweetbot just came out and it is also very popular. On my Android phone I am trying Robin which is invite only beta.

Why join app.net

1. There are no ads.
2. It is a place where you can have great conversations.
3. At this point it is mostly celebrity free.
4. So far no annoying hashtag trends.
5. There is 256 character limitation instead of the Twitter’s normal 145.
6. Most third-party apps are set up to allow you to cross-post to Twitter.

The negative

1. You have to pay for the service
2. There is a small but growing membership
3. Not for someone who just wants to announce things
4. Your friends may not be on the service, so you will need to persuade them to join.

I am really enjoying App.net and if you join I am listed as klandwehr

Rdio

I am on the look out for new music and I want to hear it before I buy it. At this point of time I have iTunes and Pandora. I like them both, but they both have their weaknesses. iTunes is great way to store music you already own, but it’s not very good at finding new music. The iTunes Genius has never worked very well for me and listening to even 90 seconds of music is not very helpful. Pandora is a little better at discovery, but you have little control over the music it plays once you have entered initial song.

So I was looking for something that would let me discover new music, and allow me to listen to it both on my Mac, and my iPhone. I was looking for a good subscription service. I had heard some good things about Rdio so I decided to try it. When I first opened up Rdio on the web I was initial disappointed, I wasn’t sure what to do, they do have a grid of albums wich are in heavy rotation, which is nice but not what I was really looking for.

Then I saw the search bar at the top and I entered the name Velvet Underground A page came up with a list of their albums and popular songs. On the right hand column are a list of band members. Below that are artist that are similar to them, those they influenced and who influenced them. On the mobile app once you choose an artist their page will pop up. It will have a list of that artist albums and most popular songs. If you play the artist radio station it will play that artist and those that are similar. You can also look at the playlist of other users who like the same artist. Next to a song there is a plus sign if you click on it you can add the song to your collection, sync to your mobile device, add to a playlist, or remove from playlist. Once you start playing a few songs if you go to the home screen and hit Recommend, Rdio will offer recommendations based on what you have played. You can also have Rdio scan your iTunes library and it will bring all songs they have licenses to into your Collection folder.

I do like Rdio so far, I am finding a lot of new music and rediscovering music I had forgotten about. I have 3 more days before I will have to pay the $9.99 subscription fee. I do wish they had a how to use video when you first sign up for the initial trial period. If you use Rdio have you run into any problems. If you use some thing else what is it and why.

Will online media become a monthly subscription?

1003605_13011789 2-250rdRumors are circling that Apple is proposing an online TV media subscription model.  For just $30/month you could possibly have access to the archive of syndicated shows and the new shows as they come.  Later in the day I read of a favorite tutorial site, which shall remain nameless until I do a proper review, was bumping its fees to about $15/month.  Many of my favorite podcasts have donation links on their site for $2/month or so.  Please understand, I am a believer in paying for labor.  I am just beginning to wonder when this evolving online monthly subscription model will break.

Some people believe a service like Apple’s would get rid of the need for Cable or Dish and save some money. I don’t see that.  The streaming system is not ready for the high-def load and most people will keep the Cable and Dish for their instant viewing.  For those that jump into the online media, how many monthly payments do you want to sign up for?  I just can’t keep signing up for more monthly payments.  The inflation on monthly tech and media services is getting pretty high.

Cable and Dish consolidated traditional media into a monthly package.  What about online media?  It will forever and always be a mix of traditional and common man media.  How many packages can I pick up?  One traditional media package, ten small media packages, one cell phone media package. . .  A revolution in content delivery is underway and will continue to occur, I just wonder where and on what there will be a price tag.