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Showing posts from September, 2005

Anticlimax

As ever it is always a bit of an anticlimax when a long anticipated activity is completed.

Yesterday was mostly spent linking the new MP3 Ringtone product pages into the site. There's more to do on that front especially at the multi track shop but we've broken the back of it on the htm pages.

September has been a good month so far for traffic and sales growth after that lull in the summer. It is very hard to judge what the impact of ringtones will be - naturally the main key words are impossibly competitive for a new entrant like us. We are hoping of course, that our research has identified viable niches that will make all the work involved worthwhile. Part of the anticlimactic is the waiting to be picked up by the search engines after the first little flurry of activity around these blog pages. There has been massive spider activity over the last three days so that is quite encouraging.

We anticipate that MP3 Ringtones will attract a new audience but the extent of the cross over…

MP3 Ringtones Launched - Press Release

Well, we finally got to the starting gate. Here is the Press Release which is due to be released tomorrow - you could have heard it here first!

Download2MP3 Launch Ringtones of Taste and Distinction

A collection of 32 Classical and 16 Ragtime MP3 Ringtones have been launched today at Download2MP3.com - they are comprised of phrases selected from the original percussion arrangements already published there.

The selections have been re-recorded in mono to reflect their application in mobile phones and their use as ring tones. Streaming technology allows these industry standard MP3 files to be heard freely and in full online before they are purchased.

Percussion instruments sometimes emphasise insistent tones to gain prompt attention, while other selections build to a crescendo. Yet others such as the Stoptime Rag by Scott Joplin include pregnant pauses. If you prefer a less intrusive signal then the rippling harp and drums in Faure's Apres un Reve may be just what you need. These Dis…

Responsive or What!

Yesterday's post went up rather late in the afternoon but within three or four hours someone had found it and made their way to our new MP3 Ringtones page and listened to a couple of streamed samples.

The new wizard on the block is Google's Beta Blog Search after rather disappointing experiences with Technorati this result is absolutely stunning. After months of speaking to a bunch of spiders it looks like we are going to have a growing human audience if we can maintain a flow of half decent content.

So to celebrate the launch of our mp3 ringtones here is a streaming sample Air on a G string by Johann Sebastian Bach - please note that the Multi-Tone-Shop isn't populated with Ringtone products yet but you can purchase individual ringtones for $0.99 (US)each - that starts today.

Ringtones Launch Underway

Our initial collection of Distinctive MP3 Ringtones has gone up on the site today - for an early look or even purchase by anyone who can't wait.

The summary page and the individual sample playing pages have been produced and linked together with the specially selected and arranged mono ringtone MP3 files and the special streaming sample files. The collection is comprised of Classical and Ragtime MP3 Ringtones drawn from our percussion based arrangements.

Tomorrow we will be populating the Multi-Ringtone online store with theses products and make the links to the home page and the site map and the doing the press release.

We still haven't had a response on the streamer software trouble report so we'll have to escalate that tomorrow.

Undocumented Feature Exposed!

Yes it must be a BUG mustn't it.

A cunning test program pin pointed the novel little weakness of our streaming software that has cost us the best part of a week - still no comment from support of course!

It turned our that the software is indifferent to the stereo / mono characteristics of the MP3 files offered for recording streaming samples but it is sensitive to the compression settings i.e. more compressed files playback faster. Our LoFi samples of our music tracks did not trigger this effect the use of mono for our ringtones exposed more options including quite a few that produced the accelerated playback effect.

So we are now making special recordings of our ringtones for streaming purposes and they are actually a bit bigger than the files we are offering for sale - should be done in a couple of days!

The Plot Thickens

A bit more testing indicates that the streamer problem is specific to the ringtones we have recorded.

They are sampled at 48k rather than the 192K (HiFi) and 22K(LoFi) samples we have used to date. They are also mono rather than stereo. So it looks like some recording tests are going to be in order to see if we can isolate the problem and identify a fix. No comment from support so far - looks like we are on our own!

Perhaps we will end up offering lofi stereo streaming samples of medium fi mono ringtones.

Better get on with it now!

Streamer Still Stuttering

Here are some thoughts on the power of demonstration which very much apply to our business - in our case it is streaming which places minimal on the visitor ( nearly everyone has Flash installed in their browser):

The Proof Is In The Power Of Demonstration!

My large, kindhearted dog isn't particular about what he
consumes. Hence, his nickname is "The Canine Vacuum".

Does he care if I put before him a hot dog or a juicy steak
bone?

It's highly unlikely. But, being the smart dog he is, he'll
probably gobble up the steak first and then inhale the hot
dog.

Yes, even a canine shows preference and is moved by choices.

Online marketing often calls this tactic "demonstration",
which involves a psychological power that influences a
visitor to take part in a decision-making process.

Live presentations and media like television and brochures
use demonstration to make a powerful impact. In this
approach, the audience is asked to go past being passive and
actually take a positio…

Ringtone Streamer Software Stutters

We planned to post the announcement of our entry into the Ringtone Market yesterday but the software we use to produce the streaming pages took a turn for the worse. As far as we can see it has taken it into its code to playback in half the time and at a comensuratly raised frequency - not quite Pinky and Perky but heading that way.

Existing streams are still OK but recording attemps yesterday all met with the same fate. So the trouble ticket has gone in and we await the response and the world must wait a little longer for our distinctively tasteful ringtones.

In the mean time we'll get on and load the products into BitPass.

Ringtone Volume

Our first ringtone test has thrown up the issue of volume control on MP3 capable phones.

Air on a G string tends to be a relatively quiet piece normally so we hadn't cranked up the overall volume of the mix as far as usual and the result was almost inaudible on our Nokia test phone. A new recording at full volume did the trick though.

This area seems to be fraught with varying capabilities on the phones so we are going to have to tread carefully. The normalization software we have tried so far doesn't seem to answer the requirements of this task but a bit more testing is probably called for.

The start of a Trend?

Can two data points make a trend - well yes but not one you can rely on.

So a second day with human blog readers is encouraging but we shouldn't be getting too excited or building our hopes of comments or anything radical like that.

Yesterday saw some overdue housekeeping on our systems prompted by a full hard drive and a nasty trojan virus. It is hard to understand why no one, least of all Microsoft have produced a decent, reliable automated back up system for small networks. We all face the same nightmare of lost or corrupt datafiles, not to mention all the customisation and configuration settings we rely on day in and day out.

I also tried out the latest Dreamweaver upgrade - it looks very nice but I just don't see how they can justify the massive upgrade charge so I think we'll be staying with the current version.

Speaking of Ringtones .... more anon.

New Readers Start Here:- Story so far

We had a human reader this morning for yesterday's post, visiting us deliberately and followed links through to a streaming sample - not that we want to make you self concious - it's just that we are watching and you are very welcome!

It occured to me that if we are going to get people as well as robots visiting a brief story so far might be in order.

We started the blog last December soon after the site was launched and have tracked the ups and downs ever since.

There was an extended excursion into Podcasting before we realised that our MP3 samples were apparently proving attractive as ringtones. The replacement of MP3 samples by streaming samples and all the accompanying anxiety over compatibility. In practice the change seems to have worked very well and few visitors experience any difficulty.

As a new kid on the block we are trying every free/very low cost trick in the book to try to achieve internet profile for our music and get it infront of as many ears as possible - confid…

Not so Niche

For us it is emerging that competition for the big composers Bach, Beethoven and Mozart is beyond our niche. Individual pieces or catalog alpha numerics find us but not say "bach mp3" or "mozart mp3". We do get the odd full name search for them including say "Ludvig van" or "Wolfgang Amadeus" but they are quite infrequent for obvious reasons.

We always knew that they were very competitive but some of our instrument approaches such as "steel band mp3" or "marimba MP3" seem to deliver very little traffic even though there are not so many competitor targeting that phrase.

I'm not sure it is polite or politic to mention this in public but we have experienced a dramatic fall in spam co-incident with Hurricane Katrina's landfall in New Orleans. I suppose we can only be sure of cause and effect if it returns when the city come back to life which thankfully seems much more likely now.

Nice Niche if you can get it!

The new pages we launched last week such as Classical Ensembles haven't kicked in yet - I guess we have to be a bit more patient.

Here is an article from Riki Trafford which speaks to some of the issues facing us at the moment:

Stepping It Up Another Niche

At some time or another, you may have heard the saying,
"Jack of all trades and master of none!" This lack of
success, according to marketers, is often avoided by
locating a niche. By avoiding the temptation to sell
everything like a peddler, you can successfully concentrate
on one niche in a market.

Niche marketing is very useful on the Internet, where large
amounts of services and products are peddled. By first
finding a niche, you can position yourself in a more
favorable manner to an existing market. Even if you're a
sma
ll operation, you can still accumulate a large profit
through a niche. In other words, the amount of revenue that
you pull in doesn't have to be dependent upon the size of
your business when you find a…

Talking to Spiders

This blogging experience is an odd one.

When asked about it now, I tend to say that I'm writing for spiders since they constitute the bulk of my audience. It looks like we are averaging two humans visitors a day compared with perhaps a dozen robots. That is just a little better than talking to myself I suppose. Maybe I shouldn't have watched 'Beautiful Mind' last evening - the idea of choosing to ignore one's delusions is really quite disturbing.

Before we introduced Hitslink I operated on the assumption that there was a real likely hood of a regular readership and the whole series of daily streaming samples and before that podcasts was built on that assumption. But now we know that the blog is good for drawing the spiders attention to new material, changes to pages and new pages on the main site. Individual blog pages do sometimes appear in the main search engine pages and attract the occasional visitor but it is becoming evident that they time expire fairly soon an…

New Orleans after Katrina

The impact of Katrina looks extraordinary from this side of the Atlantic. Global warming of the Gulf of Mexico looks to guarantee a regular supply of category 4 or 5 hurricanes to a coastal area where the emergency plans only go to a 3 even if they were implemented. See Wikipedia for current state of warming debate. Some houses on stilts with anchor cables, big windows that can be opened to let the hurricanes through and some new free way escape routes to higher ground look like the order of the day and this is just the beginning for coastal areas all around the globe.

My visit to New Orleans some 15 years ago marks the start of my serious involvement with computerized music when I bought a volume of piano transcriptions of Jelly Roll Morton's music from a shop in a street the French Quarter where he had played piano in a bordello. After transcribing three or four by hand in to MIDI format I began to search the web for existing MIDI transcriptions and the rest as they say is hist…

Website Health Check

We find that the sharpest prod to check out website performance issues is the visitor behavior analysis we get from Hitslink. We have been pretty successful in getting composer page visitors to listen to a sample but the sample page visitors are proving much more difficult to influence - we're still working on it but in the mean time here is an article by Tom Bishop on the subject:

Is Your Web Site Functioning to Its Optimum Capacity?

Define your goals for your website before you actually set
about the task of designing a website. Know your intentions
before you begin the construction and also be aware of the
areas you feel you may be strong, and weak in. A game plan
is always a wise thing to have right off the bat.

Peak efficiency of your site is a priority so take a
baseline measurement. In other words, are you attracting
visitors to your site or not? Watch in particular a given
month where there was no special events or promotional deals
going on at your site. Those ordinary, run of the m…

French Impressionism Music

As we were putting the collection together we realized that French Impressionism music was making a significant and distinctive contribution.

We have now set up a page on french impressionism music with some background and examples or our original MP3 arrangements of work by some impressionist composers including Debussy and their teachers such as Faure and Saint Saens.

Here is a lofi streaming sample from one of my favorite examples Debussy's Rain Falling in the Garden.

It was our best day for visitors yesterday since we installed Hitslink - people seem to be coming back after the summer break. The failure log includes evidence of what appear to be crude attempts to steal some tracks but these security seems to have held up OK. These things are always a matter of balance between risk of loss, cost and ease of access by customers - think we've got it about right but we'll continue to keep a close eye on it.

Classical Music Ensembles

Although many of the arrangements published on our site are based on works originally composed for keyboards we have increasingly tackled works for classical music ensembles. These involve more complex decisions about how to group the different instruments and what to replace them with. It has been very encouraging, however, to find that the steel drum band often does an excellent job replacing the strings while the synthesized ocarina can extend itself across the whole wind section.

We have published a short account of our approach to tackling classical music ensembles with examples of the different percussion ensembles we have used. As ever any thoughts or comments would be most welcome.

August was a busy month for us - making lots of changes to the site - some of them have been very effective and others have had hardly any impact so far. So it is quite interesting to see, in these first few days of September, that spiders interested in the robot.txt file seem to at least equal human …

Listening to 'Feel Good' Electronica Music Online

As part of broadening our Keyword net we put up a couple of think piece pages that could have gone in the blog but they involved a bit more research than you get for a daily blog.

We did a bit more digging - mainly in Wikipedia on the music genre question as it applies to us. Apart from exposing the depth of my ignorance about recent popular music it is also clear that we don't quite fit. While it is pretty clear that we do fit in Electronica that brings us alongside some unfamiliar bed fellows so we are seeking to qualify that with the 'Feel Good' . There is evidently some risk of confusion with the recent Gorillaz single 'Feel Good Inc' but we couldn't find anything else and I guess that will sink back to obscurity fairly soon. We'll need to look at updating our published MP3 files at some stage.

We've also published a little reflection piece on how we listen to music online and the impact that has on our production process. Some background for those in…

iPod Compatible Web Site

For reasons that passeth my understanding it seems that nobody visits our home page - despite all our efforts to make it attractive and informative only the spiders visit. So there has been an overhaul inspired by our wordtracker delvings and we are now emphasizing the opportunities we provide to buy original music online from an iPod compatible website.

We have also added an iTunes Help page for those concerned about how to import mp3 music into iTunes .

There are also pieces about our music genre and listening to music online but more of that tomorrow.

In the meantime here is a clip from Scott Joplin's Solace for the people of the Southern States whose life has been turned upside down by hurricane Katrina.