This Week: an interview with TronMe creator Patrick Rosenthal, iTunes variable pricing results, Popkomm 2009 is cancelled, Myspace lays off 30% of US staff, Myspace to launch UK music store in September, Myspace partners with Vodafone Europe, Majors vs ISPs in Ireland, 1.92 million RIAA win in the US, Imeem looking ahead with a new licensing deal with Warner and a million mobile users under its belt, Amazon messes up MP3 prices in the UK.
– Interview with Patrick Rosenthal from www.tronme.com
Transcript: AL: Hi Patrick, great to have you on the show. First of all, would you like to explain briefly to our listeners what TronMe is and how it relates you the label3D Solar, your parallel venture? PR: TronMe is a new generation of media player that will play your favorite tracks like never before. Whenever you use your Ipod or windows media player, your mp3 will always play the same way, you can quickly go off a song when you know every single note backwards! Our goal is simply to experience a new way of listening to the music and in addition you are going to be able to show it to the world. Tronme will create a different version of your track each time you play it, like a live version or a new remix of your track, and willcreate a unique video to go with it. So you will be able to savea video clip with your new mix and unique video, I’m sure Andrea you have special songs that remindyou of special times and memories, now you will be able to remember theses images forever as each song will have his own dedicate video clip to play iton your ipod. AL: Let’s talk about the visual side of things, how does the software interact with the videos you record and with the music? PR: The player has more than 900 visual effects that interact with the music and your image. Think about the combinations, 1 mp3generating more than3 million if not 3 billion possible remixes,ehanced with more than 900 interactive visual effects. All the visual effects you apply to your tracks will follow the beats of the tracks; that means that they will perfectly adapt themselves to the song’s tempo. Additionally they will be mixed with your own images also based on the beat and measures of the track. Images shown during the performance are most of time created by the music. So as you create a unique song performance, the accompanying visual effects will be also unique. AL: I understand that there are three types or levels of IVS files, could you explain what the difference it? PR: Let’s start with IVS1 the fully interactive format, this allows you to add or remove instruments, vocals and much more from the track, and what’s more important, to do it in a dynamic way. This is possible because the IVS format has control over every part of the song: the individual instrumental as well as the segments (introduction, verse, bridge, chorus, etc.). All these components can be handled as blocks or separated entities, so you can mix or rearrange them according to your style and personality, giving you endless possibilities to mix, remix or create a totally new and unique performance.
IVS 2 are the normal interactive files. Its advantage is that any MP3 format song can be converted into an interactive file by 3D Solar label after the agreement of the original label and without changing the original recording. Although you can’t play with the instruments, in basic interactive mode you can play with the segments parts and remix them to the infinity or even let the player auto remix your track.
And Finally the IVS3: the IVS3 is also a basic interactive mode so similar to the ivs2 but because it uses your local mp3 you don’teven needto buy the mp3 embedded inside the ivs2from our music store, we offer this solutions for all mp3 that we are not yet authorized to sell.
AL: How did you manage to have artists provide you with the multitrack recordings of their songs required for iVS1 files? PR: To have this level of interactivity we had to sign special contracts directly with artists and to do so we had to create our own label 3D Solar uk Ltd. When an artist signs with us they get free accessto a dedicated account on our server where they can upload and easily create theirtrack in ivs format, then the track will be automatically promoted and featured on our music store TronMe.com.
AL: What’s your background and how did you come up with this idea? PR: Well I love technology andI love to create products that will make people dream, in 2003 I created a 3 dimensional interactive screen for witch I won a price backed by the European Council of Applied Sciences. For the very first time, computer userswere able to view 3D objects hovering a 13 inches away from our prototype that rotate 180 degrees without wearing glasses, andthe stand-out feature is the way userswere able to manipulate the virtual image directly with their hands as they would a real object. But the technology involved too much investment to be easily setup by a start up company. So I decided towork onpure software solutions like TronMe.
AL: Do you consider the software TronMe as the ultimate use for IVS files or do you see it more as a promotional tool for IVS? In other words, do you foresee IVS permeating other applications other than your own? PR: Well I’m sure we will have hardware manufacturer interested with this new format, it could be for them a wayto add areally new functionality that would make the difference withcompetitors,so yesI think a few selected mp3 players will be available with ivs inside soon.
AL: How has the artists and the users reception been for this new concept and software? PR: People first are curious and after they get usedto it they simply can’t stop using it especially with tracks they really love. People alwaysneed more interactive products.
AL: Are you planning on taking TronMe out of beta anytime soon? PR: Well I would say TronMe is even not yet beta but alpha and we should be out of the Alpha in a month or so, beta means out of bug and as we add new things all the time it will take time before we get stable.
AL: What is the business model for IVS and TronMe? Is the software going to continue to be freewhile you will be charging for IVS formatted tracks or will you be charging for the software as well? PR: No the player will be always free to use, while we will charge for iVS1 and IVS2 files. The ivs1 fully interactive format will be a little bit more expensive than an mp3 andthe ivs2 will be sold at the same price as the equivalent mp3. The model for the ivs3 files is different because you don’t pay per track.
After installation, the software will list all of the mp3s on each user’s PC and willshow if other other TronMe users have already found interesting loops in a particular song. If the user wants to use these pre-tagged sons he can subscribe for a small monthly fee and also be able to access plenty of new versions uploaded daily. But the player can also be used for free! To do this a user needs to convert his own tracks into the interactive format and publish the position of the seamless loops he found. The player is then able to create remixes of these tracks for free and the new version is made available for other users to use. The player comes with free visual tools when you install it but you can buy additional effects to enhance your remixes. AL: While using the program I noticed that it’s possible to have access to free tracks and effects, how does that work? PR: As a TronMe user you can add a vote widget (vote button), which can be placed close to your video and allows you to get “Trons”. Later, you can see your score in the player based on the number ofTrons you got. The more Trons you get the higher your score growsand this will result in you having access to new tracks and visual effects for free, so if you contributeby publishing a lot of successful ivs3 tracks you will get plenty of Trons and you will be able to use the player for free.
AL: Do you want tokeep IVS exclusive to the3d Solar label or have you approached others, such as majors for example for licensing? PR: No IVS2 and IVS1 is open to all artists and Labels and Majors that would be interested to have their own tracksin this new format, IVS1usually can’t be used for old tracks because we need the agreement of too many different parties like labels, artist, composer etc, so we target new tracks. IVS1 makes an artist think about the music in 3 dimensions and not in 2 like before. IVS2 is perfect for labels as we do not alter the original recording nor do wecreatea unique remix for that track, sothe label can let us sell the track without prior permission from artist etc.
AL: Multitracks are becoming more and more important as RockBand and Guitar hero and various other music-related games all make use of them one way or another. The problem is that no-one has figured out a simple inter-operable format for these large files. Are you hoping IVS will be the answer to this hole in the market? PR: Well it’s too early to say;the big advantage of the IVS2 and 3 is thatwe will be able to convert 90% of the existingmusic into interactive music.
AL: Right now the software is windows-only, are you working on a version for Mac or Iphone? PR: Well we plan to create a light version of the player for the IPod and iphone, imagine each time you shake your iphone it willshake your music creating aunique remix and will also do a unique video clip to go with it.
AL: Finally, any developments on the horizon or news that you’d like to share with Digital Music Trends? PR: Plenty of new ideas, for example the TronMe player is already seen as a camera by all windows software – so you can show your friends what you are doing insoftware like Messenger or Skype. We are planning to use this in order to let users perform unique duets and remixes together during a video chat. We are working on other projects -but these will be for the next interview Andrea.
– An analysis of iTunes variable pricing – the first results are in http://www.reuters.com/article/musicNews/idUSTRE55K0DJ20090621
– Popkomm 2009 is cancelled http://www.billboard.biz/bbbiz/content_display/industry/e3i04825332556ab23dde17b522e89d3b65
– Myspace cuts US staff by almost 30% http://paidcontent.org/article/419-myspace-cuits-staff-by-30-percent More layoffs to come at Myspace http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/06/17/myspace-isnt-done-yet-big-international-layoffs-come-next/
– Myspace music set for September Launch http://www.telegraph.co.uk/scienceandtechnology/technology/5570650/MySpace-Music-set-for-September-UK-launch.html
– Vodafone partners with Myspace in Europe http://www.nma.co.uk/vodafone-partners-with-myspace-to-boost-music-credentials/3001603.articleodafone
– The Majors in Ireland take legal action against ISPs http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/finance/2009/0620/1224249188923.html
– Majors welcome p2p win in the USA but it could backlash in PR http://www.billboard.biz/bbbiz/content_display/industry/e3i6c3a49109c5609b6d1e2d8a0c47835fd – Warner increases its stake in Imeem http://www.paidcontent.org/entry/419-warner-imeem/
– Imeem is king of mobile apps, iPhone and Android seem to be a good environment for advertising http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/06/16/with-an-iphone-and-android-strategy-imeem-mobile-pushes-past-a-million-users/
– Amazon Messes Up pricing in the UK MP3 store. http://www.billboard.biz/bbbiz/content_display/industry/e3i1cb4423097de6eb15f173112f54c0ba9