sydney, why do you hate my car?

In 18 months my car has been rear-ended, keyed, rummaged once (pretty sure I left it unlocked so really my fault) and now someone has tried to crowbar their way in.

Apparently Sydney does not like my car. I don't know what we did to offend Sydney, but there it is.

I am somewhat impressed that the glass held though (keep in mind these are frameless doors):

subi glass 1, crowbar 0 subi glass 1, crowbar 0

Subi glass appears to be made of kevlar. Or maybe it's just the tinting film.

I'm sure I should be a lot more pissed off, what with the $500 excess and all. But I'm just kind of grateful neither one of us actually encountered the frustrated, crowbar-wielding crim. Much as I do love my car, it is just a car and it can be fixed.

Still, I am grateful for the sentiment expressed by my Twitter compatriots. They immediately offered to gather a mob with pitchforks and flaming torches, then hit the streets of Sydney "hunting a lame car thief with no skills or respect".

It's nice to have people willing to form a mob for you ;)

around the traps

  • The Great Apathetic Revolution:

    Copy control encourages contempt for your customer. It's not as if you'd force this garbage on people you respected, after all. And contempt for your customer, in turn, encourages more copy control - because you can't trust those animals!

    The big music and movie companies definitely hold their customers in absolute contempt. They view the general public as a collection of wet smelly holes out of which slime-encrusted money, suitable for conversion into nice sanitary 30-room houses and 150-foot yachts, continuously erupts.

    If this is the way you think, then you don't really care how hard it is for your customers to 'enjoy' your products.

  • Recoil / Alan Wilder - "Music For The Masses - I think not."
  • BrickArms Ultra Arsenal Pack - aka, Get Your Lego Men Seriously Tooled Up. Sure looks more authentic than that weird bazooka/video camera piece you had to make do with when I were a lad.
  • Clip: First Look at StarCraft II Zerg. They appear to be staying pretty true to the original, I'm actually hoping that means "more of the same, not too long to build". Starcraft just needs a graphics update (make use of highest available resolution!) and a boatload of new maps to make me happy :)
  • YouTube - Daft Hands - Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger and YouTube - Daft Bodies - Harder Better Faster Stronger

chemical brothers

chemical brothers

So, we went to The Chemical Brothers on Friday night. It was the first time we'd seen them since Big Day Out 2000 (Gold Coast). That time they came on at the end of the night and we were buggered, we thought we'd just watch. But they were so damn good we danced hell for leather the whole way though (Carl Cox had the same effect the following year).

So we were hopeful that this show would be pretty good too, even if we didn't have standing seats. In any case, L's foot still gets sore so being able to sit down sometimes wasn't a bad idea.

The music was great! A good set with a mix of new/old, singles/album tracks. I was pleased when the lead-in of Leave Home got a huge reaction :)

The crowd detracted pretty seriously from the show though. We really can't understand the crowd you apparently get at the Sydney Entertainment Centre (it was similar at The Cure, although not as bad). Several groups around us kept up a constant (seriously, non stop) bucket chain out to the bar; regularly ignoring the gig in their fixation on booze. There was a group in front of us that spent most of their time taking photos of each other and having yelled conversations with their backs to the stage. A group behind us spend the last 10-15 minutes screaming "fuck you", presumably at the Chemical Brothers.

Chemical Brothers ticket What the fuck? Why would you go to a gig you don't give a shit about? Why would you spend $90+ when you could just as easily go to a pub? The leading theory is that there's a breed of tragic that wants to be able to say they were there, regardless of whether they actually enjoyed it.

I guess our view of big-name gigs was shaped by the Brisbane Entertainment Centre. Not that great a venue, but the crowd was committed. Let's face it, you've gotta be keen to drive all the way out to Boondall (often on a weeknight). So you you're not going to get so many "casual punters". A crowd that really wants to be there is going to be more fun than a crowd of people who really just want to be seen.

But anyway, despite all that it was a great show, Chemical Brothers are always good value. I just hope they don't play at the Entertainment Centre next time ;)


nin kicks the arse off the music industry

Nine Inch Nails - Ghosts I-IV

If you're reading my blog, it's kind of unlikely that you don't already know about Ghosts I-IV. For those few who don't know what I mean, check this out: Ghosts - Order Options.

Basically, it's Nine Inch Nails' latest album in a range of options from free download to deluxe madness:

  • First off, note that there's a "listen" option on the site which lets you listen to a random selection of full tracks before you download or buy anything.
  • The first nine tracks (out of 36) are available for free download in a choice of formats.
    • That's free as in beer, totally free, non-DRM, high-quality, free.
    • You don't have to provide anything more than an email address, which is only required so they can email your download token. Compare this with Radiohead, who - so I heard - had to ask for a credit card even if you weren't paying them anything for In Rainbows.
    • When downloads exceeded expectations (and they planned for pretty big traffic) the free package was officially uploaded to torrent sites.
  • For $5 you can download the whole 36 tracks. The download includes a PDF of artwork and a bunch of wallpapers.
  • For $10 you can download the whole lot, AND get a double CD shipped to you.
  • For $75 you can download the whole lot, AND get a special pack with dual CD, data DVD in multi-track (as in, you can remix to your heart's content), and a Blu-ray disc with super high quality copy of the tracks.
  • For $300 you can get a limited (2500 copies made) "ultra deluxe" version including vinyl and all kinds of niceties.

Well actually you can't buy the $300 version any more since all 2500 sold out within 48 hours... and that's where this gets really interesting.

set up a safety net, break even.

If my calculations are anywhere near the reality; the ultra deluxe edition was like a safety net. It was unlikely that the NIN fanbase didn't include 2500 people with the money and inclination to pay $300. It was also likely that there were many many more who'd wish they could afford the $300 option and would shell out $75 instead. Still more would buy the $10 option and so on.

Based on the ultra-deluxe edition it's quite obvious this project has already brought in at least US$750,000 revenue. I'm pretty sure the only promotion was a couple of cryptic blog posts, ie. it was free. There is no overhead from record company contracts or promotions; no distribution deals to be made.

Production and manufacturing costs are subject to a whole lot of speculation. We know it cost something, probably at least $100,000 to produce the album. This is an extremely rough figure I've seen in a few discussions. I'm no expert but 100k seems to be a reasonable ballpark figure, so I'm going to run with it (please feel free to comment if you have a better idea what Ghosts I-IV actually cost). Keep in mind Trent Reznor ran his own label for a while, surely he knows how to get a record together without blowing costs out. Particularly when the whole thing came together in ten weeks (or less).

The deluxe edition will probably cost a lot to put together too, so it's not like the $750,000 was all profit. Even if it only makes $50 profit per unit that's still $125,000 profit all up, just from the ultra deluxe edition. I reckon it's pretty safe to guess that the ultra deluxe edition probably broke even for the project (or came near it). Which means that every other sale is basically profit (less manufacturing and bandwidth costs).

Not bad for a release which goes completely against the music industry's methods, which in their book should mean it would be an abject failure. The record industry basically hates fans and would never release such an awesome lineup of purchase options. To really top it off, can you imagine any record company legitimising bittorrent by using it to distribute an official release? Their heads would explode.

give stuff away, make money.

The free download means several things:

  • Old fans who didn't like newer releases can give it a shot, see if they like the new stuff.
  • Potential fans can give them a try; since people who don't usually go for NIN might grab a copy anyway.
  • It's only the first volume that's free. Reznor's not giving away the shop.
  • It gives people a legitimate way to preview the album, as opposed to pirating the whole lot. At which point, what the hell, you've already got it. This way, people are guided towards doing the right thing (paying for it) even if it's only $5 for a full download.

Why wouldn't you give a sample away? The music was already produced; the bandwidth costs will be covered by sales. Just like sales cover for piracy.

add value, make money.

You can pirate any CD on the market from the day it's released. Hell, thanks to preview copies getting loose you can often pirate an album before you can buy it.

But you cannot download hardcover fabric slipcases; you don't get multi-track data from CDs; you sure as hell don't get blu-ray. You really can't download vinyl, limited edition Giclée prints; nor can you download a copy individually numbered and signed by Trent Reznor.

If downloads are killing your profit, sell something more than downloads can provide. Don't try to stop the downloads - you can't.

encourage fandom, gain/keep fans.

I think the core of Ghosts I-IV's success is that it's a music release for the fans. It gives them what they want.

Fans want the latest album right now. No matter what. Then they want it on their iPod; with some nice cover art. All of these options provide immediacy, as well as whatever physical media option you went for.

But it doesn't stop there...

The download includes a whole set of wallpapers, including massive widescreen options. So computers across the world will be sporting NIN wallpapers. Beyond that, there's a "web graphics" directory full of avatars, logos and banners. Want to review the album? Here's a nice, bloggable image. Want to use a NIN graphic as your avatar on LiveJournal/MySpace/FaceBook/some forum? Here's six to choose from.

This album makes it easy to be a fan. Which is another way to say this album makes it really easy to take part in viral marketing... :) My problem was choosing which image to use on this post, not whether I was going to use an image.

I probably wouldn't bother seeking out wallpapers either, but since they're right there... what the hell, I have them in my wallpaper rotation.

so what did i get?

I went for the $10 CD option - partly because I don't have a Blu-ray player and partly because there wasn't an option between $10 and $75. Shipping will be $13, I guess because I'm outside the US. The last NIN album I bought set me back $20 for a single disc, but you know what? I don't really care that this cost me $3 more. I already have 36 tracks of beautifully tagged MP3 goodness, complete with artwork. Later I'll get a CD in the mail, which I add to my collection (I still like physical CDs). I didn't have to fart around ripping anything, or finding a scan of the cover, or any crap like that. I certainly wouldn't have put a different bit of artwork on each track - a nice little detail.

In short, I'm a happy fan.