Seth Shapiro\'s Business Innovation Blog

You almost never leave meetings with your heroes without being disappointed. But I had the rare joy of having my expectations exceeded this week when I sat down to interview Chuck D for ARC. If I had to pick one voice from my generation, it would be all Chuck. I’m grateful to have gotten to ask him the questions I had from watching Def Jam get built from my dorm at NYU and then seeing “It Takes A Nation of Millions” become the Sgt Pepper of hip hop. Thanks Chuck, Walter, Lathan and Brother Malik for working with us – we’re honored.


And doing a bunch of other work as well. Since I last posted we launched ARC: The A&R Channel, a long-time vision of a new generation of music programming for the digital media age. We’re currently in 15,000,000 homes via Comcast and there will be plenty to say about ARC in the coming months. In the mean time, if you are a Comcast Digital subscriber please go to ON Demand/Music/ARC and check us out. Thanks.

All you haters, eat crow. On the heels of Jobs’ pointed comments about the Big Four labels and DRM, EMI has announced that it will sell unprotected tracks, at 256 kps (double the standard 128), at the iTunes store and elsewhere. Apple’s press release is here but general coverage is everywhere. This offering will apparently apply to everything in EMI’s (parent of Capitol and others) catalog except The Beatles. Admittedly, both companies had their own motives: EMI has major management headaches and is dead last among labels, and Apple is under pressure by the EU to open up its Fairplay DRM to competitors. But it’s a good thing for consumers, and for the industry as a whole. Chalk one up for progress.

Here’s one real estate market that is definitely not softening… according to this post in Slashdot the enormous realtor consortium has bought a concentrated group of lots in the virtual community. Wonder who gets the 3%.

Posted by Seth Shapiro

The cable industry had a disappointment in NY this week when Cablevision lost the suit filed against it by the major studios and networks re so-called “Network DVR” technology.

The proposed service was an alternative to standard DVRs, which place hard drives in cusomer’s homes… in Cablevision’s model, customers instead recorded programs onto servers at the cable co’s headend. They could then play, rewind and otherwise manipulate the shows remotely. This would have been a great boon for cable, as it would require much less customer support and set-top hardware for in theory the same benefits as DVR. It’s also a competitive advantage that satellite cannot offer, since they have almost no server architecture.

The studios may not like DVR but they really hated this, arguing that this service should be governed by the rights governing Pay Per View, since in their view that’s what it amounts to. And the PPV model requires an additional payment to rightsholders, unlike a DVR recording.

We can see both sides, but for involved reasons it’s ultimately fair that creators be compensated for this model. As interesting a model as server-based DVR is, it truthfully smells more like PPV or VOD than DVR. Score two for the studios.

Apropos of nothing, this occurs to me every time I see a commercial for it: I loved the first season of the thing. Trump never said anything in the boardroom that I didn’t agree with. If the boardroom was a set next to the apartment that never bothered me either. But then I started to hate it. Here’s why: after enough years of corporate life, it was just too clear how steeped in Cold Withholding Daddy the whole premise was once the novelty wore off. Most of these contestants quickly stopped doing their antics to win a job and quickly began slaving to win Bossman’s approval… Mr Trump will like this, Mr. Trump would never approve of that, blah blah.

Which, really, is a damn sad way to live. I would much prefer a show about a bunch of daypass lunatics who start their own companies. Wait, that show is on already – it’s called Los Angeles. Never mind.