Welcome To The MusicBiz Mainframe

     

 

 

 

(click on picture to open file) 

By: Michael D. Vogel

© October 20, 1996. Michael D. Vogel.  All Rights Reserved.

Published in:   

Totally Adult magazine  – November 8, 1996

 

The digital revolution is being promoted as the next big thing. With it, a new culture has emerged, operating on the presence of an evolving generation; a sub-culture of interactionists on the quest for the ultimate in truth and knowledge. Are you ready for the adventure?

Almost anybody can create a website. The creator, from the home user to the corporate giant, determines the sophistication of the site. With almost any platform application, the user simply needs to point, click and drag – and bingo, a self produced web page. Once the site is created, the user needs to have constant access to the Internet. As the system grows, so must the individual user, and vice versa. The level of sophistication of the Site is ultimately limited only by the imagination of the person who created it and those who utilize it.

The information superhighway is not just about interactive television; it’s more than just the self-contained broadband network that it’s often portrayed as. Instead, the infrastructure is composed of many independent commercial, entities. This helps to create an “open-ended network” facilitated through the integration of independently owned remote hub and node sites. The future does not hold a multiple of “channels” for the user. Instead, the scenario is more likely to be a single channel where the end-user becomes an active participant through the use of their home terminal. This is probably the future of the information superhighway.

The future is unpredictable, though. It’s in a constant state of evolution, where the users define their own pursuits and create a personal meaning of what the Internet means to them. As such, the full potential of the system has yet to be completely realized.

Welcome to www.networkmags.com, the Network Magazines’ Music Biz Mainframe.

There are a virtual plethora of websites available on the Internet, so what does the user do once he/she gets there? It’s not merely enough to post a few average features and then open the doors for business. With the high degree of fragmentation throughout the music industry, niche categories have evolved for virtually everything. Therefore, in order to stand out on the web, the content needs to be above that of the competition, both in timeliness and accuracy, as well as quantifiably and statistically.

First and foremost, the website needs to contain original material which can’t be found elsewhere on the Internet. Within the context of the material presented, a cross context channel is also an important feature. This allows the user the ability to link with other related home pages across the Internet. By giving access to the user with linking capabilities, the site is creating an “Informational Hub.” This helps give access by way of a communication channel from the record labels to radio and retail, as well as radio to the listeners and rabid fans to the labels of their favorite artists. Thus, the user is able to turn a single all-encompassing data system to obtain the requested information.

Originally, the World Wide Web was intended to help serve information to the general public. In addition, it’s also a way for people to communicate with each other. But, with personal use also comes the commercial use of the web. Commercial businesses not only utilize the Internet to serve information and to help establish lines of communication, but also to cultivate the retail spirit within the on-line users. By doing so, they allow the user to engage in commerce without ever having to leave the comfort of the home or office. What the industry would lose in distribution it would gain with the creation of services and products that are available to the on-line users. In the end, normal day-to-day functions can be reduced to a few minutes in front of your computer terminal.

The counter side to this is the private commercial use of the Internet, where companies use their on-line capabilities to network within their own system. The purpose is to be able to extrapolate information that’s already part of the corporate database. It’s in this domain that the Network Magazines’ Mainframe Music database will exist.

What’s It All About? 

The goal, is to be able to provide, for our clients, access to any and all information as it pertains to their artists, That is, the plays per week for each given song and album, as well as those songs dropped from active rotation and the phone requests. Promotion departments tend to live and breath on this information reads. Through this type of information extrapolation, the respective label can judge where their artist is going. Through the use of quantifiable data, they chart which stations and regions are playing the record. At the same time, other areas can be identified in order to help promote greater time efficiency. For example, if a record is working in a certain region, the analytical data presented on our website will allow the user to make comparisons to similar regions.

A major advantage to the information being presented on the Network Magazines’ website is the constant updates. The information won’t be static, so that at any given time, it will change and be updated. The system will constantly access the most current data files, updating automatically. This type of system is already in place for the clients who carry the Network magazines’ Toolbox. In a nutshell, the Network Magazines’ website is a larger representation of the single-user versions.

The Toolbox that’s already being utilized across the music industry can be defined as a single-user system. Each machine updates itself daily, so the information is as current and up-to-date as possible. Portability, though, is a function of the computer hardware the client is using, and not that of the design of the system itself. The Toolbox requires that hundreds of thousands of lines of customized computer codes reside in a “local” Mac or PC. That program, the Toolbox, accesses a database on the local computer, which is then updated via dedicated transmissions from a central server in the Network Magazines’ Burbank offices.

Historically, only the most senior executives in the home offices of major labels have been able to afford access to this kind of analytical service from the Network Magazines. Now, anyone with a reasonably new computer and Internet access can be a player in the music business information age.

The Network Magazines’ MusicBiz Mainframe will be accessible to users without the use of any complicated custom software either. The website gives the user immediate and constant access to information at any time. The user needs only Internet access, a widely available ‘browser’ software program (from Netscape Navigator or Microsoft Internet Explorer) and a password issued by the Network Magazine Group. In the end, the issue is now not portability, but affordability and accessibility.

Toolbox vs. MusicBiz Mainframe. 

Although the website is loosely based on the Toolbox system, it will not replace the current online system. Instead, the two are built as complimentary databases, which will help, feed off each other, delivering various types of information, depending on what the user is looking for. Currently, the user is able to customize the reports generated by the Toolbox. Due to the extreme fragmentation within the industry, the information generated can be very detailed and analytical, allowing the single user to gain access to the system, gather the data, customize the report and then leave the system.

The Toolbox allows the user immediate access to the information for an unlimited amount of time. But, where the Toolbox system plays a vital role in the label offices, the Network Magazines’ Music Mainframe can be accessed by anyone from any place. The local music rep, while on the road, can log into the website, compile the desired information and then move on, thus, helping to promote better time efficiency.

Whereas the information provided on the Toolbox is very specific, the website will be a little more general in nature. Due to the large amounts of people utilizing the Internet, it would be counter-productive to be limiting. Therefore the website will carry data that everyone can utilize and at the same time, promote growth of the artist and the label as the website itself grows.

The site gathers information and puts it on display in a certain way. The user then has the ability to extrapolate the information, create various tables for tracking of airplay and retail information, and, then, generate a specific report. Simply put, the website helps in the management, as well as the transportation of the information from point ‘A’ to point ‘B.’

The Sky’s The Limit! 

So how does it all work? To start with, the Network Magazines’ website will include everything that’s already familiar to the single user of the Toolbox system. The website will be a version of the Toolbox that is web-enabled. The center of the site is the station-master. It’s a complete listing of every station that is part of the reporting panel for the various formats covered in the Network Magazine publications: The Album Network, Urban Network, VirtuallyAlternative, TotallyAdult, Aggro-Active and Network 40.

The direct correlations to the station-master are the playlists reported to the Network Magazine Groups each week. One of the most unique aspects of the playlist file is the analytical tools, which can be employed upon the information provided. Two station playlists can be simultaneously compared against each other to chart the progress of an artist, as well as compared against another similar station.

The other part of the website will be a complete artist-master, which is a compilation of all the artists, and their respective labels, that are involved with the Network Magazine Group. The user will be able to do comparisons of artists. This will enable the user to pinpoint where a record is being played, as well as the station and frequency of plays that particular song is receiving. The system also provides for the user to move easily from the station-master to the artist-master in order to utilize tracking sheets. This type of customized tracking report is a compilation of all the radio stations that are playing a particular record.

Action Menus 

In addition to individual charts for particular artists, there will also be detailed Action Menus to pinpoint specific information. Each week, the user will be able to see which was the ‘Most Added’ song for the week, the ‘Most Requested’ and the songs that received the ‘Most Progress’ for the week. Ultimately, this provides for an indirect form of advertising for the respective record labels and their artists.

This application has been specifically designed for the record labels but is also intended for use as a tool for radio as well. Through these Action Menus radio can analyze raw radio airplay data to determine how another competing station is performing as compared to themselves. In addition, similar stations in different markets can also be compared through playlists and actual song rotations.

Power Tools 

The most feature of the Network Magazines’ MusicBiz Mainframe is the use of the analytical tools. This is a unique and exclusive feature that will break down the information into a more tangible report than simply printing out a bunch of random lists. The goal is to provide the user with as many tools as possible, as well as access to the desired database, with the ability to customize the information.

Discovering The Congo?  

The website user should utilize the information that will help them in their job. As compared to those people who would rather play games or even set out to discover the Congo, the Network Magazines’ Mainframe is intended to maximize time efficiency and productivity.

Catering To The Music Business! 

As the user grows, so do the demands for other features to be included on the website. One of the most significant of these added special features is the Network News. This allows the user to view the top stories in the industry on an up-to-date basis. As the story unfolds, it’s entered into the New File and downloaded onto the website.

Another extra feature of the website is the internal communication capabilities for the record companies. Through the use of encryption, a prototype email system is being developed, allowing the labels to communicate amongst themselves and with each other. They will be able to send text and statistical information, videos and music samples. This will also tie in to our single desktop Toolbox user. Through the desktop software, not acting just as a browser, the user can download information, as well as send messages over the Network email system. The goal is to integrate the application, not only as a content provider, but so that the single Toolbox user will also be able to tie into the information as well. The future is the ability to get the information to everyone the easiest way possible.

There is also the capability of direct marketing on the MusicBiz Mainframe. For example, the Network Magazines can be downloaded to the website, providing a plethora of information through various articles and interviews, as well as charts and advertising. What better way for the clients and users to have additional advertising than on the website? Other users can log onto the website, receive a song sample, read an artist interview, as well as being exposed to various advertisements. With an already established foothold within the industry, the labels can now promote their products through the use of the MusicBiz Mainframe.

What’s In Store For The Future? 

With technology moving at such a rapid pace, the Album Network’s Toolbox system will be slowly moving towards a multi-user client server. Through a windows based environment, the Toolbox will consist of a single database connected to multiple users. The main server is connected to each label’s main communication network, which then transports the data to the various terminals keyed into the network. The system will still allow each user to set their own priorities. This will promote a more streamlined database to the client’s users, helping to eliminate multiple problems within the system itself.

In the end, nothing ever remains the same. As technology progresses, so will the Network Magazines’ Music Mainframe. ^m^

 

Website:

www.networkmags.com

 

© October 20, 1996. Michael D. Vogel.  All Rights Reserved. This originally appeared on the Vogelism blog at http://www.vogelism.com authored by Michael D. Vogel. This article may be shared or reprinted as long as the entire copyright message, including the source location of this article, accompanies it. 

 

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