Analyzing iTunes giveaways

Signal vs. Noise posted about the results of Pepsi’s iTunes 100 million song giveaway, where only 5 million were redeemed to this point. I posted a long comment there that I feel like reposting here:

For me, I think this doesn’t illustrate how little people turn in coupons/rebates but how many folks are technically proficient enough to even redeem the prize.

Think about it, [to redeem your free iTunes code] you need:

– to have an interest in music so much that you’ll go through the process to get just one single

– to own a PC or Mac modern enough to run the latest iTunes reliably

– know how to install software on said computer

– know how to navigate your new software to redeem your coupon (you have to go to the music store, then click on the icon to redeem, not totally intuitive)

– learn how to use the new store interface to find the song you like

– go through the apple user signup and login process

– have a fast enough connection to download your new 2-5Mb single

– have the means to play the song on your computer

Now, think about grabbing a phonebook from any city in the US, say [in] Montana. Now imagine going to page 143, then picking a name. Call them up and ask them if they know how to do all these things. If they answer no, then go to the next name in the phonebook. I’d be surprised if you got yes 5% of the time.

When you consider just about everyone from every walk of life in the US can readily find a bottle of pepsi and buy it, I’m not at all surprised that only 5% were interested and technically aware and adept enough to go through the process.

New iTunes

I’ve been playing with the new version of iTunes for the past hour or two and the first thing that strikes me is all those annoying little arrows that link to the music store. I could perhaps see this being useful every once in a while, if I think to myself “I wonder if there’s a new record by Mountain Goats?” but I can’t see doing that more than once or twice a month. Why not put a “Look up in the iTunes Music Store” right-click menu option instead? The weirdest part is that my own purchased music has links to the store… so I can purchase them again? I’m turning that off asap but I still wonder why the arrows are turned on by default. Perhaps, as Tom just told me, to blur the lines between “your music” and “the store music for sale” which would certainly increase sales.

The party mix is weird looking, interface-wise, I wonder if it’s using any sort of BPM analysis to arrange songs next to each other. I can’t really tell the difference between that and random shuffle at this point.

Andre pointed out compilations to me, which I didn’t notice before either. It appears that they’re reading compilation info from ID3 tags now, and putting albums by various artists in the Artists browse list, which is kinda useful.

Another reason to love bluetooth

I just loaded Blue Phone Menu on my laptop and had a friend call in. Holy cow is this a cool little app. It made my entire desktop blink on each ring, with a centered popup showing who was calling and what number they were using. I keep missing calls when I’m at my desk listening to music on my headphones so this is a killer app for me.

I also like the actual percentage battery life indicator on my desktop, it’s something even my phone doesn’t really tell me specifically (there’s just a battery icon and estimated standby time left).

Where are they now?

American born, Venezula raised, Cuban influenced Nil Lara‘s self-titled debut was my favorite CD in 1997. I played it several thousand times that year after I saw him open for Rusted Root and it’s been critically acclaimed since its release. I was reminded by him today and figured he must have released a few more albums by now, but amazon still only lists his one label disc from ’96.

Finally I stumbled upon his new site. From the looks of it, he lost his recording contract and is doing a new “indie” album only via postal mail in small quantites, starting this month. That’s unfortunate, but I’ll be sending my $16 in.

It’s weird, he had a broad fanbase way back when and I bet he could draw in all sorts of american and latin american audiences, but here he is selling small runs from someone’s apartment in 2004. Maybe he had the worst management in music or the label didn’t know what to do with him.


Brad’s not kidding here. Gmail as it stands is hackable. I logged in today and noticed a bunch of read mail I hadn’t read and it turned out that my friend got into my account earlier today. That’ll teach me to set my password reminder to something I mentioned online ages ago.

update: whoa, turns out it wasn’t Andy, though he did get my login from the question trick. I went and changed my password and secret question, and I’ve heard that Yahoo Mail and Hotmail do something similar. Someone wrote to me to point out they can get into their friends’ Hotmail accounts no problem, so this isn’t limited to Google’s implementation. I hope any publications pick up on this point if they’re writing it up tomorrow.

Gmail feature surprise

Last night I left my desktop PC’s browser open to my gmail account and took my laptop to the library to do some writing. I read some new mail on the powerbook, responded to a few things, then came home and slept. Today I came back to my desk to see gmail running, with all the messages I had read and responded to shown as read and responded to.

Since gmail just refreshes the page in your browser every so often, if you read your mail at one location, other locations are updated automatically. This is something POP3 mail rarely gets right and why I used to use IMAP when I would check mail from multiple machines. It’s nice to see a web app get this key feature right from the get-go. If you read email at work and at home, gmail will work perfectly fine, even if you leave your mail windows open in both places.

The downloads of the Christ

My new favorite blog Sellout Central points to an interesting story on Christian Piracy. Quoting:

only 10 percent of Christian teens considered music piracy to be morally wrong, according to The Dallas Morning News

I plunge the depths of the internet from time to time just to see what the scene is like and I’ve been surprised by the presence of things like the Passion of the Christ movie and soundtrack being traded around, bible programs being swapped, and people openly requesting pirated copies of christian-themed files. I would think if anyone considered downloading stuff online to be akin to stealing, it would be faithful followers, but apparently that’s not the case.

update: Andy sends this story of Passion bootlegs being used to route around the damage of non-distribution:

But the Israeli distributors who have the sole legal right to import the movie to the Holy Land have so far declined to do so… Robbed of the chance to view the film legally, the Holy Land’s Christians – foreign pilgrims and minority Palestinian Christians – are finding other ways to satisfy their curiosity.