Stocking Stuffers

It's the end of the year and the holidays are approaching, so nothing heavy this week. Just a little grab bag of this and that, some with a light touch. Here goes:

  • My first little gift is a fabulous Web site that just might change the way we think about Internet radio: www.pandora.com. Pandora grew out of a concept called the Music Genome Project. Like the Human Genome Project, the Music Genome Project tries to break down any song into unique and discrete units--song type, instrumentation, melody, etc.

    Pandora lets you generate up to 100 unique radio stations by picking a favorite artist or song. The software uses the genome of the artist or song to generate a streaming playlist of related songs. Adding new songs or artists to a particular radio, or by giving a thumbs-up or down for individual song choices, immediately changes the stream.

    Once you have "programmed" your radio station, songs from up to 10,000 artists begin streaming in, and the whole thing can be shared and e-mailed to friends. Give it a try this holiday, but expect to spend a few hours playing around with it.

  • In the "Not All Publicity is Good Publicity" department, a story came to light this week about a Norwegian guitarist named Steinar Gregertsen who discovered something interesting while Googling himself. A few years before, he had ordered a custom lap steel guitar from an independent guitar builder in Maine.

    After paying for the guitar upfront and waiting a year for delivery, Gregertsen heard from the builder, who claimed the guitar was lost in delivery.No offer of a new guitar or refund was given, so Gregertsen resigned himself to being out both guitar and money. That is, until he Googled himself and discovered an article posted on the Web site of a local Maine newspaper--an interview with the guitar builder claiming, among other things, that his guitars were bought by Jackson Browne and one Steinar Gregertsen, who was so pleased with his guitar he ordered (according to the article) a couple more.

    Hell hath no fury like a Norwegian scorned, so Gregertsen immediately published an account of the whole incident on a music forum dedicated to the steel guitar. The online community quickly gathered around the Norwegian's plight. One person was close to the Jackson Browne community and told them about the article. The newspaper was contacted, and it is pulling the article and publishing Gregertsen 's story in its next issue. And the forum members bombarded the builder's e-mail account until it shut down. By the way, that is not the way to build a positive online presence. No word on whether Gregertsen ever received his refund.

  • Those with a vested interest in e-mail marketing will be pleased to know that I've been in discussions with MediaPost about launching an E-mail Summit this spring. The curriculum is currently being developed, and the idea is to bring together the thought leaders in the e-mail space from both the acquisition and retention sides of the table for in-depth brainstorming and discussion. Those interested in participating, or who have ideas on what topics should be covered, are free to contact me at bill@e-mailanalyst.com.

    And that just about wraps it up for this year. MediaPost is giving me a vacation next week, so I'll talk to you all in 2006. Happy holidays.