Recent Blog Posts:
Category Mobile - Web - Media
Date Friday, Jan 19, 2007 12:08:51 PM
MySpace and Handling Millions of Users

Yesterday, I read a very interesting article which covers how MySpace scaled itself to handle millions of users and billions of pageviews. This article probably won't be very interesting unless you work with the Web either through building sites, or managing a network.

Read the article online: http://www.baselinemag.com/article2/0,1540,2082921,00.asp

Here's a link to the print version - which is easier to read: http://www.baselinemag.com/print_article2/0,1217,a=198614,00.asp

They certainly made some bad choices along the way, but I can't even imagine the level of stress their engineers must have been under while dealing with the daily growth problems. It must have been insane.

Some will point out that if they used LAMP, MySpace would have less problems, errors, and could scale better... I'm not so sure about that though. When you consider the numbers of requests coming in, the constant publishing of content on the site, and the ever growing userbase, it's nearly an impossible situation.

You'll see that they've finally settled on Microsoft products and technology to stay online - almost fully ditching ColdFusion. Does this mean ColdFusion can't scale? No, not at all. As you'll see in the article, they took a look at every function and worked to optimize the code on the last rewrite. If they did this originally with the ColdFusion design, I'm sure they would have been able to keep scaling. Plus, the state of their application at the time when they selected to move to .NET sounded like spaghetti code.

No matter what language you develop in, the article's infomative and intersting.


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Category Mobile - Web - Media
Date Thursday, Aug 03, 2006 9:20:15 AM
Free, The Business Model of the Web
I was reading Tara Hunt's blog this morning and selected to reply to one of her posts. Here's the link to her blog posting:

She was mainly talking about Web business models, and how being "Free" and "AdSense" are not business models...here she states:
"I don't think totally free is good for anyone. It devalues technology. It creates an insane pile of entrepreneurial corpses. It becomes the sole value proposition for too many companies (but, we're free!). It doesn't actually help the customer in the long run."
Some people may state that MySpace is doing just fine on ads, but this isn't the case. Tara continues:
"You'd have to grow hella big traffic to support yourself and the space is hella crowded. Even MySpace, with it's mega-traffic can't pull in the advertising $$."
Tara is correct in saying that MySpace isn't pulling in much at all from ad revenue. So what could sites/services like MySpace do to create a solid revenue stream? Can it be done?

Recently, in Business 2.0 magazine, there was an article on MySpace and CyWorld which points out some interesting numbers the two sites have. Link Below:

Here's a quote:
"The bulk of Cyworld revenue comes from the sale of virtual items worth nearly $300,000 a day, or more than $7 per user per year. By comparison, ad-heavy MySpace makes an estimated $2.17 per user per year."

As we can see here, Cyworld has found a successful revenue stream - but unfortunately, even they state that their South Korean site's methods or even layout wouldn't work in the US. The people behind Cyworld stated,

"... expects to make more money in the United States from advertising than from acorns."

You'll need to read the whole article to understand what acorns are in their context.

What is the new business model for startups when the playing field is filling up with competitors with free services? Will the big advertisers/corporations of the world leave TV and move their dollars to the Web? Just think... a single car commercial could run a startup for months... maybe corporate sponsorship/partnering could become a new form of funding? It would similar to a corporation sponsoring a car and driver in a race. They would just need to learn how to leverage the opportunities. When you consider a commercial campaign on national TV is going to cost at least $100,000 - we're looking at enough money to get a startup rolling.

Now if the corporations that could do this relize that they can both promote their products/services while also securing an investment - I think we may have something that could work.

In a way, it's still advertising/PR - except there's a greater opportunity due to a longer campaign and the potential for greater levels of integration for the sponsoring corporation. For example, Social Networks would be a perfect environment for such a relationship.

Now, depending on the corporation, and what their product/service is, their sponsorship also gives THEM opportunities that didn't exist.

* They can run their own ad campaigns
* run contsts where the site users create ads for them
* they can add their slogan/name to the RSS feeds the site serves
* they can add on intro clips to videos
* they can get press about the site they are sponsoring
* and on and on...

Why spend all that money on a TV commercial - when that same money could support a community online for a year - where the ad is a destination of living, blogging, sharing, and creative people?



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Category ArtistServer
Date Thursday, Apr 13, 2006 9:24:57 AM
MySpace and Cingular Trying to Catch Up to ArtistServer

Last month, I announced the launching of http://www.IndieMobile.com on my blog, which is the ringtone section and mobile transfer tools from ArtistServer rebranded as it's own site.

The site is now complete with ringtone previews in Flash - which allow you to listen to each ringtone right on the page before downloading or sending to your mobile phone - for free.

Roll back to last year, and you'll find that in May of 2005, I announced that http://www.ArtistServer.com was providing a complete ringtone service for indie/unsigned artists - and quite possibly the first to do so.

Now, just a few weeks ago, MySpace and Cingular Wireless with all their millions and all their people, announced that they will have a ringtone service/program for artsits.

Cingular's Mobile Music Studio on MySpace is a free, truly original platform that lets emerging artists create and market their personalized wireless content. Australian Indie Garage Rock Darlings, Shifter, to be First Band to Benefit from Partnership

If music truly is the universal language, then millions of music hopefuls are sure to be talking about the new Cingular Mobile Music Studio available exclusively on MySpace. Announced today at CTIA Wireless IT & Entertainment 2006, Cingular's Mobile Music Studio is a first-of-its-kind platform that offers hundreds of thousands of unsigned artists and bands on MySpace the tools needed to turn their self-produced music into ringtones. forbes.com

More from MoCoNews.net:

Cingular hopes the service will boost revenue, customer loyalty and help its image among young people. Customers will be able to preview ringtones and buy them on the MySpace Web site, which will then send them to their cellphone. Cingular plans to charge about $2.50 for each 30 second ringtone and will give the bands 25 percent of the proceeds.
But hey, life is a bitch..if you are locked into a contract with some operator, you will not switch just to get ringtones from MySpace bands.

Meanwhile... ArtistServer, with no budget and a staff of one... has been enabling artists to provide uncensored ringtones to their fans for free for nearly a year now.

Cingular/MySpace plan on censoring content:

Once all licensing has been completed, the artists will then be able to upload a short track of their original song, via an audio file, at which time the music content is screened to ensure content is indeed original and appropriate.

And more on censoring from TelephonyOnline.com:

Cingular was hazy about what other criteria that panel might be using to decide whether a song makes the grade and implied there would be other subjective factors informing the decisions. "We don’t have a specific criteria yet," Garver said. "We'll take each song on a case-by-case basis and use our judgment on what’s appropriate content."

What does 'appropriate' mean?

As they pros play catch up, I'll soon be launching our next tool for promoting artists... and that will deal with Website 'widgets' - which are objects of some type that you would include on your blog or site. A demo of one is running on my blog right now - on the left site. It's a fully customizable widget that offers ringtones and is 100% controlled by the URL itself. This makes the widgets not only easy to customize, but it allows people to dynamically create them to fit their own sites.

So, as Cingular/MySpace make it difficult for people to obtain ringtones by indie/unsigned artists, I'm taking a different path, I'm making it easy for artists to take advantage of ringtones, mobile phones and connecting to more fans. Yes, our ringtones are free, and the artsits do not ear their $0.50 or less per ringtone, but really, how many artists are going to sell enough to even cash out? I haven't seen the details of the agreement with the artists, but usually with a payout system, there needs to be a minimum of $20 before they'll send you a check. That's 40 ringtones each artist would have to sell for $2.50 each - and that's to Cingular customers only if I understand their arrangement correctly.

From out in the crowd someone yells, "But Gideon, if Cingular gets behind this and promotes it, that will be HUGE!"

Yeah... well, let's look at how they plan to promote it:

Cingular executive director of high-growth segments Dave Garver said that the program could have enormous potential for Cingular even though the MySpace music site would not occupy a slot in the Cingular content deck or the ringtones promoted in its MEdia Mall download center. The power of self-promotion and viral marketing would do all of the work, he said. “Shifter is way too small for Cingular to bring on as a partner -- it’s even way too small for a record label,” Garver said. “But when you aggregate all of those bands, each with their own ringtones, you get a significant number of downloads.”

Looks to me like they are expecting all the artists to have their "friends" buy the ringtones. If that is the case... ARTISTS... don't waste your friends time or money - join ArtistServer for FREE and set your friends up with up to 3 ringtones for FREE. If they want to hand you $0.50 in exchange, tell them to bring someone to your next show instead - or ask them to pass on your band's URL, etc.

If I worked for MySpace, I'd be ranting down the halls saying, "This has NOTHING to do with artisits or bands! Forget the deal! Let's do it ourselves! Connect with the community! Empower the people!"

I may not have any budget, nor any staff, and I certainly can't afford to be at all any of the conferences, nor can I even afford to pay myself for this work I do... but you know what? I'm still a year ahead of the largest social music site on the planet when it comes to providing mobile solutions to artsits.

While that doesn't help me pay the bills, it is a good sign for things to come. Plus, when you work for free, your salary is joy you harvest from your work, and I've been very fortunate over the years, as my work with ElectronicScene and ArtistServer has always paid me well.

:)



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Gideon Marken
Web Technologist & Electronic Artist

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