Tuesday, March 31, 2009

my favorite new music site

i may have posted on this before, but i don't care. i love amiestreet.com. it's a fantastic way to discover new music and purchase at a price that rewards experimentation, as songs start at a lower price which increases as popularity and recommendations increase. it also serves as a great means of going deeper into bands' catalogs when they were on indies.

i discovered the hold steady a few years back with "boys & girls in america", and their two previous records, "separation sunday" and "almost killed me" are at amiestreet for about $5-$6 each. want pre-"friend opportunity" music from deerhoof? amiestreet is the place. what's more - there are scores of free tracks and albums to browse and sample.

amazon is a minority investor in this site, which was started by three friends from brown university. nobody knows where online music is going, but for the time being i loves me some amiestreet. enjoy.

justin nozuka is talented ... and has short fans

last week i surprised michele by taking her to the famous belly up tavern in solana beach to see a fairly new singer-songwriter named justin nozuka. michele had seen him on a direct tv concert special and was blown away by him, so i was able to keep the word that he was coming to san diego from her.

usually when i work on some "aww, that's so sweet" type of thing for michele something happens in the process that aggravates or just plain pisses her off, because i'm doing something irrational to keep it a secret and it's not until there's a "reveal" that she puts it all together. this one went remarkably smoothly, and the only way that even guessed that it had to do with live music was that our friend moira showed up at the restaurant we had dinner at before the show.

nozuka is in that john mayer / david gray / jason mraz vein, which i find pleasant if not entirely satisfying. he's got a great voice and a more soulful approach than any of the others i mentioned, which helped me go along with the show much more. his band was good. great guitar / keyboard guy, and a solid rhythm section that i wish could have stretched out some more.

at many, if not most shows, my 6'1" frame gives me a good view of things, and michele has hit or miss experiences. well, this night even michele towered over his adoring and diminutive fans. i'm not sure what that's all about, but it was strikingly obvious and really humorous. so if you're 5' or less, justin nozuka may be the dreamboat singer-songwriter you've been looking for.

recent read: what would google do

i just finished jeff jarvis's new book, what would google do?. it's an insightful study of how google's core principles have re-imagined myriad industries and means of doing things, and jarvis takes time to imagine what other industries would look like if they google-fied themselves. a few themes that were predominant and that make such sense, imho:

- trust your customers and they will trust you: open up information, process and rationale and customers, constituents, etc. will find new ways to utilize things as well as trust you more.
- determine what business you're really in (ex - zappos is not a show selling site but a customer service company), and then build platforms for others to do that.
- do no evil. even with a mind-numbing amount of information about their users, there is a challenge at google to utilize that for good purposes, to leave some money on the table and define what is enough.

there's certainly an almost worshipful tone that jarvis expresses toward google, and about 3/4 of the way through the case studies started to get repetitive, but it all makes great sense and reflects many conversations i've had in the music world, in talks with non-profits and certainly at ys. i also appreciated his quick chapter on the two things you can't google-fy: god and apple.

aside from the business side of this book, the overall study of how people are using resources like google and their suite of products to build creative and commercial outlets is a fascinating look at participative and collaborative trends of connection and expression.

i was given the book to read for a group of marketing folks at zondervan and i've gotten copies for my team at ys as well. certainly a recommended read.

Monday, March 30, 2009

a coffee shop without wi-fi? really?

if i were to open a coffee shop, i have to think that one of the basics, aside from say, coffee and a source for lots of clean, hot water, would be a wi-fi setup for customers. i mean, i'd probably need it for business anyway, but for the $50/month it would cost i have to believe that it would be a sensible investment to find some local customers who would set up shop and more than pay for the investment.

so surprise when, early this morning when i needed to find a space for an hour or so, the new shop that opened 3 blocks from my house has no wi-fi at all. and this isn't some neo-luddite, principled stance, they just had not even thought of it, and i think they looked at me like i was an alien when i asked.

shame, because it's a nice little spot, super-convenient and i don't need change to fee a meter, but for now they have ceded the space for my business to other, less convenient places.

it was good to jar me into asking what basic expectations i have of sites, businesses, etc. and whether or not my role in them (ys, specifically) is helping to exceed those expectations. well, at least that's what i was thinking of as i drove away.

pillow fight!

i just read about the nashville group, "optimist manifesto", and the public pillow fight they staged last week in centennial park. unfortunately this grass roots gathering to have public fun in the midst of such ongoing bad news was shut down mid-stream, as the group had apparently not secured the proper permits. with all due respect to public officials, this seems like the kind of thing that should have been allowed to go on for the sheer good will of it all. here's a fun and nicely edited video piece of the goings-on: