Searching for the Moon

Shannon Clark's rambles and conversations on food, geeks, San Francisco and occasionally economics

Archive for the ‘music’ Category

Seven questions/ideas for Ping – Apple’s new music social network

Posted by shannonclark on September 2, 2010

Here is a post I sent to the Pho-List, a semi-private mailing list for people in/interested in the digital music space. As Ping & Apple is of wider interest than just industry types I am posting my seven questions/ideas here on my blog. I welcome your feedback, answers or further suggestions.

I think the really interesting stuff will be when we learn whether additional parties will be able to participate in Ping or on the Apple TV.

A few examples to illustrate what I mean.

1) will ticket services that are not Livenation/ticketmaster be able to work with Ping? If so musicians and fans win. If not Ping will lack smaller venues  and any major shows not at Livenation venues.

2) will services such as the BBC’s iPlayer (which they have made some announcements about offering outside of the UK – and slight hints that even non-UK citizens might have a means of paying for access) or similar streaming services from other global networks integrate with the Apple TV? As a US based fan of Doctor Who if this allowed me to legally view HD Doctor Who (and other BBC series) I would buy the Apple TV & pay a monthly subscription in a heartbeat. (BBC America isn’t available in HD on Comcast here in SF)

3) Will artists have a means of offering full streams of select tracks or full videos on their Ping pages as they already do on MySpace Music and on their own websites.

4) a Facebook friends invite feature was announced for Ping but will this integration be deeper? (ie linking/using music, tv and film “likes” on Facebook; connecting a facebook fan page to the musician’s ping profile etc) and will other networks also be connected to (for example will there be a myspace integration)

5) will there be an API to allow developers to build tools to help musicians and/or labels manage their Ping presence? Will this allow for cross promotion of more than just livenation venue event tickets? For example – merch, physical music such as LP’s, fan clubs, kickstarter like pre-sale offers for new works, iPhone/iPad applications etc. Will an artist be able to cross-promote for example linking to TV series or films using the artists work (or in some cases where the artist is acting)

6) how well integrated will individual artists and the group(s) they perform with be on Ping? I don’t know if there is an easy answer but countless artists across all genres perform with different groups – a fan of the artist or one group should, you would think, have an  easy way to discover these other groups.

7) will Ping and iTunes more broadly better support musical genres currently poorly represented on iTunes. Personally I’m thinking about Opera and a classical music – genres where iTunes has limited offerings. But there is a wider global array of genres and regions where iTunes (at least in the US) carries few artists.

Posted in internet, iTunes, mac, music, networks | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

the state of my media diet in 2010

Posted by shannonclark on January 5, 2010

As 2010 begins I have been taking stock of the media I pay attention to and am looking to add to my current diet, I’m looking for new flavors and cuisines, new forms to replace stale old ones.

At the moment my media consumption looks like:

No daily newspapers, no TV news of any form, no Radio (either over the air or Internet). I catch a few TV series, mostly at my girlfriend’s house (or via various means online) but not too many (mostly SF series & a few Food Network shows)


  • The New Yorker magazine – I have been a New Yorker subscriber since college in the early 1990’s, however as I write this I am nearly two months behind and all year have found myself increasingly disappointed in the quality of the writing and the point of view of most of the writers for the New Yorker (Malcolm Gladwell excepted).
  • occasional issues of Monocle and even less often The Atlantic Monthly – I may subscribe to both magazines in 2010 even though I am currently months behind on my Monocle reading

And that is it. Years ago I had a dozen of magazine subscriptions (including free technical publications) and would supplement those with local free weekly newspapers and often one or more magazines purchased from a newstand. But that is no longer the case, even when I’m in one of San Francisco’s many excellent newstands with literally 1000’s of magazines available to me I rarely see one I have to buy. I feel there are, I hope, magazines out there I really should be reading – but I do not know what they are!

Podcasts and video podcasts

Mostly a mix of music podcasts & some niche focused podcasts. Here’s the roughly complete list:

  • Accident Hash – CC Chapman’s long running podsafe music podcast, in 2009 this was fairly irregular but usually enjoyable
  • American Public Media’s Sound Opinions – One of my favorites, I have been a listener since an earlier version of this show was on commercial radio in Chicago
  • CO-OP – a video podcast from Revision3 covering video games
  • Critical Hit – a newer audio podcast from students in the Game Design program at Columbia College in Chicago
  • Critical Hit: A Dungeons & Dragons podcast – from the website a podcast of a group of players playing D&D 4th edition – a bit of a nostalgia trip for me – but also it has been catching me up on the new rules of a game I played years ago
  • Doctor Who podshock – for my occasional Dr. Who fan discusison
  • Dungeons & Dragons podcast – an occasional podcast from Wizards of the Coast, I subscribed for a series of episodes they did with Wil Wheaton & folks from Penny Arcade playing a series of D&D games. The website archive is a bit clunky – subscribe to this podcast via iTunes.
  • Games with Garfield – an occasional podcast from Richard Garfield on game design (inventor of many great games – including Magic the Gathering)
  • The Geekbox – a group of B ay Area geeks – fun even if I’m a bit older than many of them and have slightly different tastes
  • iFanboy – I subscribe to two audio and one video podcast by the iFanboy team (the video is with Revision3) these cover the Comics industry exceptionally well
  • KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic – one of the best music radio shows anywhere – live in studio sets of great music are what they include in their podcast, but every show is available for streaming on demand.
  • Major Spoilers – another comics (mostly) but also all things geek discussion podcast from a great comics review website
  • Monocle (videos & audio podcast) – great short videos and audio podcast series from one of my favorite magazines, Monocle
  • podcast – from the folks who do iFanboy an occasional podcast on movies & TV & other things geek
  • NPR All Songs Considered podcast – amazing music podcast from NPR – almost always stuff I really enjoy
  • NPR: Live Concerts from All Songs Considered – videos and audios of amazing live concerts
  • Only A Game – NPR’s sports weekly podcast
  • Radio Free Burrito – Wil Wheaton’s personal podcast which he has recently restarted after his recent Memories of the Futurecast series
  • This American Life – another series I started listening to on radio, when it was first broadcast but now catch (occasionally) via podcast

There are a handful of other podcasts I still subscribe to but which haven’t been updated in months so are mostly archives in my iTunes.

It is worth noting that I no longer subscribe to any tech industry podcasts – I’m sure there are some which are engaging & well edited enough to be worth subscribing to? What are they?

Online Blogs & websites

I mostly use Google Reader – currently I have 211 RSS feeds I subscribe to, but looking at Google’s stats, I mostly only read a very small number of feeds – a few customized feeds (Craigslist searches and the like). They break down as follows.

for Politics:

  • The Daily Dish – Andrew Sullivan’s Atlantic Monthly blog along with a few other Atlantic Monthly political blogs
  • Jack and Jill Politics – an African American focused political blog friends of mine run

for Tech news:

  • Techcrunch – I subscribe the main, full feed but am annoyed by the partial feed elements from other TechCrunch sites
  • Mashable
  • The Next Web
  • Scobleizer – I have been reading Robert Scoble since before he joined Microsoft
  • Venturebeatfull disclosure – I wrote for Venturebeat in 2009
  • Boing Boing
  • and really that’s about it – I don’t get to or read many other blogs and of the above I average only about 25% at most of any one of them – and usually closer to 10% or less of their posts. I subscribe to many other tech industry blogs, but these are the ones I read the most frequently.

for Food

But again I have some 150+ other feeds I subscribe to yet rarely, if ever, get around to reading. If the feed isn’t a full text feed, even if from a very close personal friend, I will almost never, ever read that feed. Since I read on my iPhone over 50% of the time I’m reading RSS feeds, a non-full text feed requires a crapshoot of loading another site which is rarely well designed for an iPhone (or which breaks the links as far too many mobile site’s versions do) vs the easy navigation between stories when all full text and in Google Reader which has a great iPhone interface.

So clearly I am missing a great deal – what would people suggestion I add in 2010?

Please leave suggestions as comments below – for print publications, podcasts, video podcasts or other forms of media I should pay attention to on a regular basis  in 2010. Please include areas I am missing as well as media in fields I am already following (so suggestions for business/econ focused podcasts are welcome). Even media which is niche & seemingly not likely focused for me – but which is a great example would be welcome suggestions. I’ll listen to or read everything suggest – at least once on the web.

Posted in digital bedouin, Entrepreneurship, futureculture, geeks, internet, iTunes, music, personal, podcasts, politics, reading, San Francisco, web2.0 | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

What is a business designer or how to work with Shannon

Posted by shannonclark on May 22, 2009

Of late I have started to describe myself as a business designer in response to the usual question of “What do you do?”

But what do I mean by the term?

A Business Designer, as I intend the term, is someone who uses the techniques of design firms, such as IDEO, to design new businesses – whether entire new startups or within the context of an existing, larger business.

I have been highly active online since 1991 and working on the web since the mid-90’s so a great deal of my work does involve the application of technology, especially web technology, to business problems. However my process starts before deciding what the solutions will be, it starts with the discussions about the specifics of the business, the resources available, and objectives.

Only then do we address the specific solutions required, in many cases applying technology both purchased, open source and customized to the business objectives.

So what is my process?

Earlier this week I attended the SanFran Music Tech Summit and over the course of the fantastic conference I had many long conversations with entrepreneurs and business people who were attending the conference. In these short conversations and discussions I practiced a shortened version of my business process.

  1. Hear how the current business, or the business idea, is described today.
  2. Explore what is behind the business, what technology if any current exists, what are the current clients, what is the current business process.
  3. Get a quick sense of the business objectives of the team at present – new customers, investment, partners etc.
  4. Brainstorm. In this process I leverage the diversity of industries and companies I follow closely, seeking examples often from unrelated industries which can help us decide on direction and business models for the business.
  5. Make concrete suggestions of next steps for the business from simple text copy changes to complex shifts in business model.

That is the shortened process, at times taking only a few minutes, other times taking an entire lunch.

What I follow

At the moment I pay very close attention to a number of industries and technologies, these include:

  • The music industry, especially the emergance of the online, digital music industry.
  • “New Media” from the business models of old media applied to the new digital world to the emergance of new businesses and media leaders
  • Web 2.0. I define Web 2.0 as the shift to a data centric view of web applications. Practically this means more open web sites, api driven services, dynamic flows of information, and in many cases user generated content
  • Mobile applications. In particular I have been an early adopter of smartphones, currently heavily focused on the iPhone.
  • Gaming. Though I am not an active game player, I have a longstanding and deep interest in games and gaming. I’m very interested in the application of gaming elements to serious purposes.
  • Social Networks. I started Meshforu, a conference on the study of Networks in 2004 and have been an early adopter of online social networks. I also follow closely the academic study of Social Network Analysis as well as related fields of Network Science.
  • Advertising. I believe that advertising, across all forms, is in a major transition. In particular I am a passionate proponent of Brands and believe that brands need to adapt to the new, digital landscape
  • Internet Radio. While I follow the whole music industry closely, many of my current ventures relate to the new forms of Internet Radio.
  • Community. Most successful businesses are driven by a community both online and offline. I’m an advisor to a number of startups focused very much on the support of specific communities enabled by the new digital media world. In many cases these cross over many types of media including online websites.
  • The Food Industry. My father is a leading food technologist who has designed new products and business processes for most of the major food companies around the globe. I am a passionate foodie and follow emerging trends in the food industry, including restaurants very closely.
  • Social Entrepreneurship. I run a small non-profit, MeshForum and am passionate about new models of business which include a strong social mission and purpose.

There are many other industries and specific technologies which I also pay attention to on a regular basis, I have worked for some of the largest banks in the world. I’ve also designed and build AI driven automated data applications and other complex pieces of enterprise software. But at present the above list of industries are the ones I follow most closely and where, primarily, I seek clients.

How I work

My preference is to work with clients over an extended period, typically via a monthly retainer with at least a three month minimum. In three months any business whether large or small can see specific results from the engagement. A retainer, instead of the more common hourly or day rate, allows for the wide range of ways I work for and with each client.

For most clients I will meet with the client, often onsite for a series of meetings and observations each month. I am often a part of internal discussions and meetings with partners and external vendors.

I am based in San Francisco but will work with clients anywhere in the world, combining in person meetings with extensive online collaboration.

Every engagement is different but a few specifics you can expect from working with me.

  • New Ideas – a primary part of my job is offering a new, interdisciplinary perspective on the challenges of your business. A key part of this is carefully suggesting specific, implementable new ideas and approaches.
  • Simplification – much of my practice is around paring ideas and processes back to identify what is most key and value creating. Many startups, as well as large companies, build technologies and processes which are overly complex. By focusing on simplification we end up with greater value.
  • Clear processes and designs – After we have focused and defined clearly the specific business objectives, my role shifts to achieving those objectives. There my job is to define and often help manage the business processes, including working with development teams, to build and design the related parts.

I have over a decade of experience as an Open Space Facilitator and use that as part of my consulting. The result of a facilitated open space event is usually clearer understanding of both the business opportunities and the resources available to address them, as well as focused groups of employees (and often external partners including customers) to address each business need.

If you are interested in working with me, email me at shannon AT or call me at 1.800.454.4929.

Posted in advertising, digital bedouin, Entrepreneurship, geeks, internet, meshforum, meshwalk, mobile, music, personal, web2.0, working | 1 Comment »

Radio Schedules 2.0 at Startup Weekend San Francisco 2009

Posted by shannonclark on April 4, 2009

Back in Dec I posted about Radio Stations 2.0, an idea I had for a return of great radio schedules, updated and enhanced for the 21st century. My post attracted some great feedback and some comments as well as backchannel reactions. I placed my ideas out in public under a bit of a CC license and encouraged anyone to implement them (though I requested at least some attribution).

Friday night after the fantastic Web 2.0 Expo I arrived late to Startup Weekend San Francisco which this time is organized by many fantistic people (and friends of mine). As people went around the room offering up their pitches to the crowd (and to the panel of VC/angel investors who were offering feedback on the form of the pitches) I decided that I would offer a pitch myself.

So I remembered my Radio Stations 2.0 idea, since it is an idea I have already shared publicly, I don’t mind sharing it again, and there is the chance that by doing so at Startup Weekend (and of course following up with a great deal of work most likely) I may be able to inspire enough help from others to make it a reality!

I’ve updated my original post with some more analysis of the competitive landscape (in the comments). In the rest of this post I will set out our goals, targets and next steps for this weekend. Hopefully we will be able to cobble together something working by Sunday evening (and continue to refine it further after that).

Basic Idea

Finding radio content whether in a rental car in a new city, on a mobile device or at your desktop is frustrating. Radio Schedules 2.0 is a simple, lightweight, API driven directory of terrestrial, satellite and Internet radio shows. The API will allow for both write & read functionality and likely will be combined with a wiki(like) set of data (station ranges & descriptions, show descriptions etc)

Competitive Landscape:

Since RadioTime does exist (and is a commerical entity already) we are going to look carefully at what we can (and should) do to be different, lightweight, and add real value as a competitor (in some ways) or perhpas even as a complementary service in other ways.

Other competition includes which lists most public radio stations from around the world (with Internet presenses) and a project started in 2003 (and put on hold in 2003) do something similar.

Steps for the weekend

  1. Define a simple data structure(s) to store the data we gather. Of particular note this will likely include a geographic focused set of data – station data driven by actual tower locations & signal reach. Potentially this could include variations by time of day & date especially the case for AM radio in the Midwestern US. It will also include a temporal set of data – shows on a given station aired (or scheduled to be aired) at specific times.
  2. Design our data to build up over time – i.e. not just “what is on now” or “what is scheduled to air next” but also “what just aired” or “What was on this morning during my commute…”
  3. From the beginning expect to build & deploy on servers located in the Cloud. This means evaluating Rackspace, GoGrid, Amazon’s Web Services as well as others.
  4. Design for a data-driven business model. Perhaps surprisingly a great deal of this design will be involved in streamlining and simplifying what data we need to collect & store from people. But by design this will include storing a great deal of log data & anticipating using such data extensively.
  5. Stay and work openly. I will likely update my blog with one or more posts of our progress as it happens this weekend – probably including some calls for help in specific areas.

Current design thoughts (very early, very rough)

  • Stations – are associated with One or more “dial” positions For terrestrial radio this is the dial number (or numbers in cases of stations with multiple towers). Have a related schedule (or schedules in a few rare cases). Associated with a bunch of data about the station (probably in a wikilike manner that allows for versions)
  • Schedules – related to a station (rarely but occasionally multiple different stations). Composed of many “shows” and a true temporal dataset (with start & end times, times normalized to a single timezone) may occasionally also have further details in a wiki (but less often, though “source of data” will be tracked – could be API calls, could be web crawl)
  • Shows – A unit of a schedule, but shows can have a meaning by themselves (syndication). May have further data in the wiki.

When a request comes into the system that request MAY have the following:

  • a geographic location (which in turn implies an likely interest in Terrestrial radio schedules)
  • a range of time (blank may imply “right now”)

At some future point the system may do more with who makes the request (individual web user, individual web user w/tracking cookies, API called etc.). The system may also do some matching/recommendations (using profile info or the like as a starting point) but that’s probably not in the first release.

Technology thoughts

  • Start with standards – ideally calendar data will be available in an iCalendar form, via standard means of access. Where microformats make sense we should use them to semantically market up pages we generate (ideally this happens in the background so if a given page is editable ala a wiki the microformats are applied on top of that where they apply)
  • Design for API use – ideally this means even for our own interfaces we use the SAME API’s we make available for third-party use. This then forces us to make the API’s simple and as stable as possible (we may of course use white-lists in the future to rate throttle some API access). It should also facilitate the use of other web standards – for example since we are starting from the beginning there is no reason we shouldn’t start using OpenID/OAuth instead of implementing our own Identity systems.
  • Focus on simplicity – there are many directions we could go and we will want to explore how best to compete (or not) with RadioTime. Almost certainly our best approach is to keep it simple, do something exceptionally well and iterate.

Posted in digital bedouin, Entrepreneurship, geeks, internet, mobile, music, networks, personal, startupcamp, web2.0 | 2 Comments »

Musical discoveries at SXSW 2009

Posted by shannonclark on March 26, 2009

This year I stayed at SXSW for two days of the Music part of the festival and I’m really happy that I did, next year I hope to stay for the whole festival (though I won’t stay at a hotel across the river if I do so, the time it took to get back to/from my hotel this year was a bummer). I heard 9 full performances of bands I sought out over the two days of Music and many partial sets. Of the nine full sets all of them were fantastic (a record I suspect I won’t be able to sustain in future years). It says a lot that Amanda Palmer’s afternoon set at the Paste Showcase was my least favorite of the nine sets. (look at the photos on her blog – I was there for the Paste Showcase though not in that shot I think and I was walking past the same intersection as she was taking the photo of her lying down in the street, that’s SXSW for you!)

Amanda Palmer at Paste Showcase SXSW 2009

Now I should be clear – I really enjoyed Amanda Palmer’s show – and I plan on seeing her again and getting her music (both her latest album Who Killed Amanda Palmer and probably her earlier work with the Dresden Dolls) it is just that I really saw some truly amazing music this year at SXSW. Her show was good – some of the other sets were astounding and transendent. 

Vivian Girls at SXSW 2009Vivian Girls at SXSW 2009

On Wednesday afternoon I bounced around between a number of the day parties – caught full sets by Amanda Palmer at the Paste Showcase and a full set by The Vivian Girls and many partial sets. Then in the evening I saw five out of the six acts at the KCRW Morning Becomes Eclectic Showcase (slightly inaccurate post about the showcase w/many links). I really wanted to see The Vivian Girls and they did not disappoint, though the set I caught was on the shorter side. 

The KCRW showcase was so amazing that next year my plan is to find that showcase and spend my entire evening at that showcase from start to finish. Sure, as I did this year that may mean I miss a great concert such as the Decemberists playing their new album live, but based on this year’s showcase, it will be an amazing evening of music. More importantly it will be an evening exactly suited to my tastes in music – eclectic but in my opinion great sounds, writing and performing from the start to finish. And you can, as I have already, download the full Decemberists’ concert from NPR Music. 

Writing almost a week after the KCRW showcase I’m not sure I can do each performance justice – they were all different and all great. But a few highlights. Angus and Julia Stone were a revalation, I had not previously heard them (or indeed heard much about them) but I really enjoyed their performance. School of Seven Bells, which was the group that more than any other was why I wanted to attend the KCRW showcase did not disapoint – a truly amazing show (I agree with the Entertainment Weekly reporter who called it the best performance of the day) though it was then followed by a really great show by Zee Avi which was to a then nearly empty room (the fact that she started at 1am may have been the reason) but she was well worth staying up late for (and heck, I’m a night owl and was still on CA time). Again, I agree with the EW reporter’s assessment of her show and I’m eagerly awaiting Zee Avi’s album when it comes out in May. Rhapsody Rocks SXSW 2009

On Thursday I started the afternoon by exploring a number of venues and events, then ended the afternoon at the Rhapsody Rocks concert at The Mohawk. I caught the very last song of School of Seven Bells then heard performances by Glasvegas  followed by … and you will know us by the trail of dead. (links are to appropriately Rhapsody pages for those bands – on the Rhapsody Rocks page see a link for a free 14 day trial)

Here is the full list of acts I saw full sets of this year:

when I can find a good way to link to tracks from each artist I will update this post – suggestions for the best way to do that are more than welcome – please leave them as a comment below!

Posted in music, personal, photos | Leave a Comment »