THE LEFSETZ LETTER: WWDC

BILL HADER


Steve Jobs brings us "1984" and Tim Cook delivers this?


The intro was overlong and unfunny. Hollywood has no reason to fear Silicon Valley. And just because someone is famous, that does not mean we care. Come on, Bill Hader? Why does he get the slot, everyone but the press agrees that SNL is no longer must see TV, we catch what we want on YouTube, which is why…


CRAIG FEDERIGHI


Did not disappoint, loved his asides, like making fun of the breakthrough of resizing windows. Federighi has all the offhand irreverence musicians used to evidence, before they all became automatons in service of corporations. We're addicted to your personality, not your image.


EL CAPITAN


Bob Lefsetz, Santa Monica-based industry legend, is the author of the e-mail newsletter, "The Lefsetz Letter". Famous for being beholden to no one, and speaking the truth, Lefsetz addresses the issues that are at the core of the music business: downloading, copy protection, pricing and the music itself.

His intense brilliance captivates readers from Steven Tyler to Rick Nielsen to Bryan Adams to Quincy Jones to music business honchos like Michael Rapino, Randy Phillips, Don Ienner, Cliff Burnstein, Irving Azoff and Tom Freston.

Never boring, always entertaining, Mr. Lefsetz's insights are fueled by his stint as an entertainment business attorney, majordomo of Sanctuary Music's American division and consultancies to major labels.

Bob has been a weekly contributor to CelebrityAccess and Encore since 2001, and we plan many more years of partnership with him. While we here at CelebrityAccess and Encore do not necessarily agree with all of Bob's opinions, we are proud to help share them with you.


1
Lousy name, but ever since they left the cats behind they've been missing the target. But at least they're staying with the California theme, and by staying in the Park, they avoid admitting what everybody inside knows…El Capitan is a maintenance product, made to fix all the stuff Yosemite broke. Which ain't a bad thing. Also give the company credit for releasing a new OS every year. What's that cliche, "Real men ship?" Try to eliminate the bugs, but don't miss the market, release it.


2
Yosemite is slow on old Macs. There was a ton of talk about speed today, and it's necessary.


iOS


A few cool things, like multitasking and the new additional tools when typing.
But the truth is most people are not power users, most of the features talked about today are for those who extract every ounce of performance from their devices. A few features are intuitive and will be adopted by the hoi polloi, most will not. But none will get in your way. As for your phone knowing your life and suggesting appropriately… Kinda creepy, has never worked previously, and probably another feature few will use.


JENNIFER BAILEY


You can't complain Apple is light on women, not with two taking the stage today!


Jennifer Bailey was very impressive, I had to Google her, turns out she went to Middlebury!


As for Apple Pay… If you're following this closely, Google is not gonna charge the banks, whereas Apple still is. For now. We will pay with our mobile devices. Will Apple win? Does it have to win? It's still early.


MAPS


Remember when we laughed about Apple Maps?


Turns out maps are a feature, that multiple companies provide, as a way to keep people in their ecosystem and make money. Differentiating between mapping companies is like arguing about browsers, so in the past. They all work.


Lesson… Don't get hung up in the petty wars of today, take the long view.


What used to be standalone is now a feature. What used to be cool is now de rigueur. We keep marching forward and what seems important today may be irrelevant tomorrow.


NEWS


The biggest story of today's keynote and the least focused upon.


Bottom line, media is losing control of its platform. Data already tells us this. Visits to the "New York Times's” website have flattened. Turns out people don't go to the source but the aggregator, which is why Apple's News is such a big deal. Facebook was there first, but Apple is doing it better. Facebook sees news as a sidebar, an also-ran, just another thing in your feed. Apple has concentrated all news in one place and this is phenomenal for news junkies. How good it is for media companies is up in the air. Do they keep the advertising money? They certainly are not in control of views. In other words, people might gravitate to a new news source. You took a hundred years to build your brand and now an upstart may upstage you. Assuming that upstart has news to proffer. Which is why aggregation apps like this will eviscerate linkbait sites like the "Huffington Post." Actually, linkbait is gonna die because it doesn't deliver for advertisers, they pay and get nothing in return. But the truth is we want one news portal, without bias, and today Apple delivered it.


We're a nation addicted to news, we want to know what's going on, this is today's big story, can't wait to use the app.


P.S. Introduced by Susan Prescott. Another heretofore unknown Apple female. It's all good, except for the endless Warriors comments by Susan and the rest of those on stage. The more you act like an insider club the more we feel excluded, and that's anathema in today's world. You're supposed to level the playing field, you're supposed to make us feel like we belong.


SWIFT


The big story here is not the language, but that it's going to be open source.


I'd say Apple is being generous here, and it is, but this is mostly about establishing standards. That's what wins in our chaotic world, standards. Which is why Windows Phone has died, it's not one of the two standards. Then again, in the music world we keep crying foul when someone uses recordings, wanting to get paid for every usage, it's good to see a company that understands it's about the BIG MONEY!


WATCH


I'm returning mine. It's too soon, if ever.


They assume you're constantly vertical. Just try checking the time if you're lying down.


And you can't read the face in sunlight and if you're over forty, good luck seeing the screen.


The Apple Watch must be bigger and display the time at all times. The rest of the complaints are secondary, about speed and charging. You've got to perform the core functions perfectly, otherwise people don't care. Notice they didn't state how many watches have been sold. Now that they're just about caught up with back orders you're gonna start seeing stories about what a failure the Watch is. You'll be able to buy one instantly and the only people testifying paid for it. And I haven't seen any celebrities wearing them recently…


The new Google Glass?


Looks like it!


P.S. Once upon a time there was a car that was a boat. It failed because it performed both functions poorly. Is the Watch a timepiece or a computer? Furthermore, the Watch fails the egalitarian test. Steve Jobs gave away almost nothing for free and what distinguished the products was features. To survive Apple must fix functionality and drop the price, and have only a couple of models. Isn't that also what Jobs did when he came back to Apple, streamline the product line and make it comprehensible? If you can figure out the Watch offerings…you work for Apple.


TRENT REZNOR


Om Malik @om "Why is Trent Reznor even a thing."


Now that's hysterical.


In case you don't get it, that's one of John Oliver's constructs. Making jokes about stuff people still talk about that's irrelevant.


The truth is we care more about what Om has to say than Trent. Om is a bigger star than Trent. Who's a has-been speaking to fortysomethings.


I'm not saying Trent is not entitled to his career, I'm just saying…why should we be listening to him?


JIMMY IOVINE


Street smart but uneducated. Can he not read a teleprompter or just not read? Steve Jobs is rolling in his grave. Steve rehearsed, had to get it perfect. Jimmy looks like he just rolled out of bed. A bad day for music, a great day for tech. I'd rather listen to Jennifer Bailey or Susan Prescott any day of the week. Historically the music business has been built on relationships and intimidation. I won't say they're irrelevant in tech, but they're barely in the back seat. Furthermore, who cares about record labels getting paid? Did you see that "Rolling Stone" graph charting rising ticket prices? They've even outpaced the price of a college education! You've got to take a loan out to go to the show and the labels and artists can't stop bitching about getting paid. Ends up looking like greed, it only alienates the paying public. Makes me wonder what the future of recordings is anyway, maybe live is everything. The popsters can't tour and the rest earn their living on the road.


Interesting…


CHAOS


Give Jimmy credit, he's trying to solve the music business's problems. Although you wonder what team he's on…


People don't know where to go, Jimmy's squad built one place.


But it's a walled garden. That certainly didn't work at Beats Music.


Furthermore, curated playlists are better than algorithms but I'm still not sure I care about almost all of them. The Beats Music playlists were a five minute diversion, I'm not sure they'll be all that important here. We don't want our machines to tell us what to listen to but our friends. Social media is more important than Jimmy's team of music experts. Because we don't know who they are and why should we trust them?


Having said all that…putting all music features in one place is a good idea. But if the Connect elements are behind the paywall…they're a nonstarter. And they only work if Apple gains 60%+ market share, otherwise we still need to find this information elsewhere, so Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and Wikipedia are still important. Is Connect the new Ping? Maybe…


BEATS 1


This is classic music industry stupidity. Everyone's looking to Iovine to save them, but they don't realize if Beats 1 radio is successful Apple is going to have more power than ever, it will make the stars, and the labels will be fighting to be featured. Believe me, it's not gonna be free-form, otherwise radio consultants would not exist. Data will tell Apple what works. And that same data will keep your record off, and when radio dies you'll have even a harder time getting noticed.


This radio service is Pandora's worst nightmare. Because we all prefer live to canned.


But do we want radio at all?


Zane Lowe… No one in the U.S. cares a whit about BBC 1. Are they going to care about your show? As for those of stars… If they were radio personalities they wouldn't be musicians. A novelty that wears thin very quickly.


Still, Beats 1 radio is a good idea.


However… Only Apple can afford to do it. It appears to be free. With no subscription fee and no ads… Is this something the government should look into? Is this unfair competition? How is Sirius supposed to survive, never mind Pandora? Then again, Sirius is all human creation, but Beats 1 is FREE!


CONNECT 2


Is this the new SoundCloud? Then again, is Connect free or behind the paywall? One of the many unanswered questions in today's presentation. I mean you get a chance to tell everybody and then you punt?


As for the "One More Thing"… Yes, Steve Jobs was famous for this, but his presentations were not two and a half hours long! At this length Apple Music should have been FIRST!


DRAKE


Was actually good.


Then again, he's a performer, he owns the stage.


SIRI


If it worked we'd all be using it, and we're not.


Did you notice it pulled up Imagine Dragons by mistake? I didn't know they were in the "Selma" soundtrack!


It's cool that you can pull up old charts.


But if you think you can do it by voice control…you have no frustration level, you're willing to waste time ad infinitum.


THE WEEKND


Make me puke!


Is this what we've come to, where an Apple keynote becomes a promotional opportunity?


The Weeknd can't play a hit, he's got to whip out a new track? Reminds me of the Grammys, where all the acts play their new cut instead of what people want to hear.


This scares me. This is evidence of Jimmy Iovine's ties to the music business. A great big club that has been screwing listeners for decades. Republic is giving high fives and we fill manipulated.


The track was actually good…


Then again, it was a track and not very live. More like a machine. But there's a clear dividing line between the two. We want our machines to serve us, not the other way around. And Apple's trying to do that, with its products, but including this hype of a performance…eeww…


CONCLUSION


It was more pep rally than presentation. And that made me feel contempt for the presenters. And that's a mistake.


As for Apple Music… It's very simple, there's no breakthrough feature that will get people to pay. It's just a better looking Spotify. It evidences no reason to give up YouTube, where music lives. As for the rest of the info… You can get it all elsewhere…and believe me, artists will post Connect content elsewhere because they don't want to take the chance that people won't see it.


So, Apple is providing tools, which it is doing its best to improve. They get kudos for that.


As for their Music service… Not bad. Like the family pricing, which all its competitors will instantly match. That's right major labels, you wanted people to pay more, Jimmy just go them to pay LESS! Unimpressed with the playlists. And when I saw the bubbles on screen I was reminded what a complete disaster the original Beats Music service was. And I ask why should the new one be successful?


Beats Music failed because of the short trial and the paywall.


Music has got a longer trial but still a paywall.


Unless Music goes into the freemium business… It will have limited impact, it'll be a slightly larger Rhapsody. Because it turns out right now people see no reason to pay $10 a month to rent music. We might get there, but the key will be convenience and usability, and today's product, although it make steps in that direction, evidences no breakthroughs.


Because those breakthroughs come from techies.


And Iovine, et al, are music people. They built the service they want to use. Is it the one the people want to use?


Doubtful.

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