This Frog Is Dead In The Water

Spiral Frog's got problems.

Last year it previewed a music service that offered free music downloads in return for users spending about a minute and a half watching ads (even more ads for video). What were they thinking?

Who do they think is their audience? Its not the Generation Y I have come to know and love. No way are they going to watch all that advertising. Maybe 30 seconds of ads while the music is downloading -- once -- but not all this blatant capitalism for every song.

The labels knew a good thing when they saw it (I am being sarcastic here). Universal and BMI and a few indies jumped aboard the Spiral Frog Love Train. But now the CEO, Robin Kent, has been forced out and several other key people have left the Titanic because this ship won't float.

And there is growing pressure that will make Spiral Frog even more unnecessary.

Take Snocap. It's angling to sell music on MySpace. Take MySpace, it's becoming a big playing field for singers and bands.

The campus ad-based music service Ruckus (not very popular on USC's campus, but nevertheless...) has opened its service up to anyone with an edu after their email name. In other words the music is free until they graduate and get to pay off their college loans and then, I guess, these brain trusts figured this group of underemployed graduates would be anxious to continue with the service for a fee. Wrong.

I admit I don't have all the answers nor do my students -- the next generation leading this rebellion and revolution. But some principles are self-evident that all online music services are not created equal. Music is readily available online these days. A subscription service would be nice, but not necessary. Pandora is attractive but with ads maybe not as attractive.

Also, things happen more at lightening speed. Ever watch how Apple's Steve Jobs announces products? He keeps the secret. Goes to MacWorld. Does his really big show and often the product is available quickly -- the iPhone and Apple TV being exceptions. This generation is fickle. You've got to act quickly. The idea has to resonate. It has to offer them something they actually want to get them invested and keep in mind what I have said before: this generation flirts with but does not marry its technology.

So Spiral Frog, we hardly knew thee.

Good luck tying to deliver a concept that didn't look like it would work then let alone now. This frog is dead in the water.

In memoriam let's just say that you can't learn enough about the many facets of the next generation and do it soon because right behind them is another generation -- that may have never purchased a CD or fallen in love with a radio station -- and you'll be dealing with them next.