Seeing & Hearing

One of the means by which those who have bought the seats in arenas that are so high that there are reduced levels of available oxygen, which makes vision blurred in some cases and headaches in nearly all (which makes said person wish they’d have ponied up a few more bucks for the ducat), is for there to be massive video screens above the stage such that all of the people in the arena, especially those in those upper tiers, have the sense they are watching TV.

(A digression: If you are in a situation where your view of a person or persons on stage is really quite reasonable and there is an array of giant screens, to what extent do your eyes tend to drift to the screen rather than to the actual human(s)? I must confess that I often look at the screens, not because it necessarily shows anything that I can’t see by moving my eyes down a few degrees toward 0, but possibly because in a lifetime of looking at screens, there is simply a tendency. So let’s say for the sake of argument that the performers on the stage are simply good look-alike mimics and the audio is a recording of the actual performers. However, the screen shows the actual performance as recorded. Those who have good seats would be able to discern the difference, but the majority of the people in the arena, who are watching the screens, wouldn’t. If they were to watch the show and leave, not knowing that the people on the stage were stand-ins, would their experience be any different than if the bona-fide performers performed?)

Last week in Hong Kong during a performance of Cantopop group Mirror, a metal suspension cord snapped and a giant screen fell to the stage, injuring a dancer who was on stage in support of the band. An AP photo of the falling screen is potentially horrific: it is hard to image that there was only one person hospitalized, especially given that there are 12 members of Mirror, so the stage was crowded. (Earlier in the week, at another performance at the Hong Kong Coliseum, a performer fell off the stage. Performing can be a dangerous thing.)

Maybe the cheap seats for Springsteen have a benefit: safety.

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Also last week Spotify released its Q2 2022 earnings.

According to the streaming company, “Nearly all of our key metrics surpassed guidance in Q2’22, led by MAU [Monthly Active Users] and Subscriber outperformance, healthy Revenue growth and a modestly better Operating Loss.”

The number of MAUs is 433,000,000, up 19% from Q2 ’21. Total revenue was €2,864,000,000, up 23% from the year earlier.

But there was a fly in the proverbial ointment.

Spotify:

“Reported Gross Margin was negatively impacted by our decision to stop manufacturing Car Thing. . . .”

As you may recall, Car Thing is a device about the size of a phone (5 x 3 inches) the company developed for use in, well, a car. There is a 4-inch color touch screen on the front and a sizable knob, something that vehicle manufacturers have been eliminating from their audio systems, much to the consternation of people who buy their vehicles. (In other words, Spotify got that right.)

The goal of Spotify was to have a device that people would readily use so Spotify would be ubiquitous in one’s life.

While they got it right with the knob, they should have read one of their own FAQs to determine why this probably wasn’t going to be something that a whole lot of people would buy:

Will Car Thing work in my car?
Easy answer: yes. If you connect your phone to your car now, Car Thing will work.

Easy conclusion: If you connect your phone to your car right now, why would you buy another device?

At its Worldwide Developers Conference in June Apple showed off a new functionality of CarPlay that allows (coming this fall) people to pay for gas right from the screen, as they now can use parking and food-ordering apps). Apple also showed that CarPlay could be used as the entire interface for a vehicle, including such thing as the speedometer and the other gauges, as well as infotainment. Vehicle manufacturers are somewhat unnerved by the entry of Apple and Google into this space because they want to be able to derive income from not only vehicular data, but vehicular commerce. But let’s face it: people tend to be more aligned with the screens they carry around with them, be it iOS or Android.

Spotify understands this. How long before the global auto companies do?

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Speaking of audio on the go. . .

SiriusXM (which, incidentally, noted in its Q2 earnings last week, that it has 34 million subscribers and a churn rate of 1.5%, which is awfully damn good), sent out an odd marketing email with the headline:

Why waste your time with AM/FM radio?

And then it went on about its ad-free music channels and greater variety.

“Can your regular radio do that?” a subhead asks, rhetorically.

Is there anyone who confuses their AM/FM channels with their SiriusXM channels? Is there anyone who has an invoice from their local news radio station? Is there anyone who listens to FM who is paying money, other than money made as a donation for their local public radio station? Is there anybody who thinks that the weather and traffic information proffered by SiriusXM is better than what they can get from virtually every local AM radio channel, whether it is one that provides news or religious proselytization?

Seems like the sound of preemptive desperation. Perhaps the folks at SiriusXM are beginning to twig to what Spotify eventually recognized.

One thought on “Seeing & Hearing”

  1. You can pay for your gas from your phone/car, but you cannot pump the gas from the inside that I am aware of. So that kind of makes this feature sort of useless. You still got to get out of your car. This whole world has gone so far astray that it’s not funny. The Matrix is right, but not in the way it is presented. Machines are running our lives and it’s not pretty.

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