PreneurCast is a marketing + business podcast. Each week, author and marketer Pete Williams and digital media producer Dom Goucher discuss entrepreneurship, business, internet marketing and productivity.
In a special edition, Pete talks to Ed Dale about Venue Theory, and why you should be aware of this if you are trying to reach your customers with your marketing messages and information products. They also talk about Ed’s MagCast Publishing Platform.
Pete talks to Ed Dale about Venue Theory and how to reach your customers
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Venue Theory with Ed Dale
Dom Goucher: Hi, everyone, and welcome to this week’s edition of PreneurCast, with me, Dom Goucher, but sadly without him, Pete Williams, at least in person, anyway. Pete’s asked me to put a top and tail on this episode and get it out to you because it’s a very timely and interesting topic.
PreneurCast is a marketing + business podcast
PreneurCast is a marketing podcast
PreneurCast is a business podcast
Marketing podcast, PreneurCast, is for entrepreneurs, by entrepreneurs
We’ve had the opportunity to talk to Ed Dale in the past on this show, and Ed has proven himself time and again to be someone who spots opportunities, spots significant changes in the wind, as it were, and can see how things from one marketplace or one context map across to another. A little bit like Pete does.
But Ed really focuses on certain marketplaces and certain technologies, and whenever Ed comes up with something and points it out, we like to have a chat with him about it because we think it’s interesting to our audience. Ed, at the moment, is launching his MagCast digital magazine publishing platform.
We’ve mentioned this before, and, if you’re part of the PreneurCast Community and on our mailing list, you probably have an e-mail from us by now about it. And Pete and Ed talk about the platform during this conversation. Now, the origins of all this started way back when, as they say, with a book by a guy called David Byrne called How Music Works.
In that book, David talks about something called venue theory. Now, the book’s all about music, and venue theory’s all about how music developed based upon how the venue changed, how people were listening to the music, etc. Ed goes into quite a lot of detail about this in his conversation with Pete.
But what’s interesting is how this is relevant to you, as a business owner, as a marketer, as someone trying to communicate with your audience; whether it’s just your marketing messages or you’re actually trying to produce an information product and get it out there.
Because how people are consuming information has changed drastically over the last few years with the introduction of certain new technologies. It kind of started with the iPhone, even before then; but it really started to accelerate with things like the iPhone and the iPad. And again, Pete and Ed discuss this in detail in this conversation.
So I’m going to get out of the way and hand over to Pete and Ed for what I think is a really interesting conversation about the state of information consumption right now and what the key elements of this situation are, how they affect you, and what you can do about it to maximize the opportunity.
[Pete’s conversation with Ed Dale starts]
Pete Williams: All right, mate, well, thank you for your time. Always a pleasure to talk to you.
Ed Dale: It is a pleasure to be here. It only seems like seconds ago we were talking.
Pete: Absolutely. I guess what I want to cover in today’s conversation is venue theory. I first heard about it while reading a book you recommended, How Music Works.
Ed: Yeah. In fact, I’m fondling it here. It really is a brilliant book. And I don’t know if you know or not, but music has been something that’s been very influential right throughout my life. I actually got seventh grade musicianship as I was going through high school.
So I was always fascinated by it, I always loved it, and I’ve found that a lot of people in the information marketing world actually sort of have music somewhere in there. Anyhoo, David Byrne, who was the cofounder of the Talking Heads, published—and I was never a big Talking Heads fan, I must admit—but he published this book, which I’d read a couple years about, called How Music Works.
What’s so fascinating about it is that it really is valid. It does what it says on the box. It’s how music works. And I bought this when I was on holidays in Tasmania in January, and picked it up, and I just read the first chapter, which is called Creation in Reverse.
The first chapter alone defined for me a whole bunch of things that I’d been toying around with for the last couple of years. I thought it was such an eloquent way of describing why certain things take off, certain things don’t, and that’s all I do. If I add any value to the planet, it’s by trying to figure out what’s going to be useful from a technology perspective and a marketing perspective, and let people know about it.
So in reading this, it talked about how music developed over the years, not because, Pete, most people assume—I certainly assumed, if someone were to ask me before reading this—that certain creative geniuses at certain points in time took music in directions that nobody would have ever thought of before.
And it was just that. It was pure genius. Now, I’m not a big fan of hearing things when people say, “Oh, it’s pure genius. It’s pure genius that got this result.” Because that’s a problem for me, and I know for you, too, because that means it’s not teachable and it’s not replicable.
Pete: And I’ll have very little chance of achieving anything if it comes down to genius.
Ed: Well, very, very, very true on both of our parts. So I don’t like when I hear that. And people obviously are very familiar with some of the key bits of research like the 10,000 hours for expertise and all those sort of things. And what fascinates me is there are certain fundamentals that go across the board.
Anyway, basically what David’s contention was, his thesis was, that music actually developed based on the venue, or where it was being created, and that had as much of a defining characteristic as anybody’s creativity. In fact, the venue was far more important than the actual creativity. That, to me, was fascinating. I can start from the start if you like.
Pete: We should probably give some context to this conversation about context. You probably are going to be much more eloquent at describing all this, so go for it.
Ed: Yeah, so the very first music was African music. It was full of drums and rhythms, and people danced to it, and it was also used for communication. Now, early music historians and so on basically alluded (boy, aren’t we so much more better and sophisticated now than they were back then) that it was really just a matter of what was laying around.
There were sticks, there were tree trunks, there were calfskins, and that’s how it was developed. But, really, when you have a look at it, the music the Africans created to communicate with and dance with turned out to be perfect for the venue because those drum beats, the type of music, the chanting, the base was perfect for outdoor venues.
It carried. So, from a volume perspective, it made the most sense, and it sounds great when you’re in there. If you’ve ever been to a native dancing and drumming ceremony, it’s very powerful when you hear it. You don’t get it from TV. It carries, and it’s brilliant.
Pete: You actually feel it.
Ed: You feel it, and that’s very much a part of the process. Now, of course, as society continued to evolve, if we look at the next big gathering venues, they were churches. Now, if you play drums in a church, you’re in a lot of trouble. Bluntly, they sound terrible because, for anybody who’s been in a church, they’re usually very big buildings, very hard walls, but huge caverns.
And you get that, what we call in the biz, reverb. It’s literally three or four-second on average reverb, which means that things echo effectively. So if you’re banging a drum, if you just whack the drum, it’ll echo all around the place, and it makes anything like that muddy.
So, you look at the music that then became popular with churches back in the medieval times—it was chants, it was organs, everything was in a major scale. In other words, there were no flats or sharps to try, blues-type notes. Because if you played a wrong note in a church—and trust me, I’ve done this before—it sounds dreadful because it hangs about.
The mistake hangs around. And if you try to change key—same if you try to play modern jazz in a church, it sounds terrible because it becomes all muddy. And so the music evolved. You’ve got these beautiful choirs and the boys’ angelic choirs, the castratos, these sorts of music in this faith.
David’s theory is that they evolved based on the venue. That was the best music possible for that venue. And, if you think about it, even today, in modern times, that’s still the type of music that sounds best, a hymn or a performance, or, goodness knows, the royal wedding, it’s still that type of music that sounds best in a church.
And then, you keep going forward, and the next big change in music came with Mozart. Mozart, all of the sudden, was doing all these fancy trills and all these sorts of things, and pianos, of course. So people were playing in smaller rooms, and because there were smaller rooms and there were hard walls and so on, there was very little reverb, which meant that you could play trills.
You could play things and throw in flats and sharps in different keys and play minor keys because it would work. So the music evolved. And most of Mozart’s commissioned music was made to be danced to, which of course was coming back in, because obviously the church frowned upon dancing for the longest possible time.
We’ve all seen a Jane Austen film where they’re all dancing in these halls and they’ve all got huge costumes on—and so it deadens the music, so you can be more fancy. And so on and so forth. Again, I encourage you to read the book rather than my botched explanation.
If you look at punk music, for example, punk sounds great in those small, tiny New York and London venues that just are little boxes basically, because there’s no reverb characteristics there at all, and, of course, they’re loud. Usually it played while people were getting pissed in a bar, yelling, talking. Music evolved to sound good for that particular time.
Indeed, with the technology changes, you’re able to have venues, for example, for disco, which made disco sound fantastic. When you’re on the dance floor—and we know, Pete, how you’re able to cut the rug. You’re a dead mouse, you don’t quite get down to Chapel Street as often as you used to.
Pete: Not as often.
Ed: But boy, I tell you, folks, he was legendary around the traps. But dance, it’s great, right? Everybody enjoys disco and Abba when they’re in a disco, but it also answers, pretty amazingly, why disco sounds so bad when you try to play it at home or in a car because it’s in a venue that’s just awful.
It doesn’t make sense, and there’s not a thousand sweaty bodies all dancing up and down together with it. Classic case is with Beatles. The Beatles had to stop touring not because they hated it—they couldn’t be heard. Modern amplification hadn’t been invented, so they literally were being drowned out by the crowd.
So, to me, this was fascinating. And it goes into birds and the evolution of birds’ voices that they’ve tracked the evolution of birds, and their tweets have changed because of build-up in urban areas and so on. Because you need a different type of tweet, a different pitch, for it to carry.
All of these sorts of things. And then, Pete, where I think it gets interesting—because I read that, and I thought, that is fascinating, and then I thought, wow, doesn’t that explain so much of what’s happened to us in the information marketing and the online business world?
Pete: And this is the beautiful thing, is that you were able to build then—I think I heard you first articulate this after referring the book in one of your Walking with Larry daily audio snippets. We started talking about how this venue theory does apply to marketers and business people as well, because the way people exchanged content has changed over the years. It was books and newspapers. And these days, it’s more and more online.
Ed: Yeah, absolutely. You can apply this exact theory to look at how people consume information, and from our perspective, what people did with their free time, and how did they stop themselves from being bored, because that’s the time that we’re competing with for a lot of our products.
It’s the hobby time, if you will. And, of course, if you think about it, in the ’60s and the ’70s and the ’80s, of course, the TV ruled, right? Radio was still huge, but most people would sit around. It’s funny, I noticed, the other night, there was a new show being advertised on TV, and it said six million viewers in the US.
And I remember 15, 20 years ago, that same type of promo would be 40 million viewers in the US because it wasn’t the alternative. The venue was the TV. And, unless you could get onto TV or onto radio or into newspapers, how could you be a market leader? How could you be a market influencer?
Then, of course, the web, internet, and desktop arrived. And, of course, the things that worked beautifully when you’re sitting on a lounge watching TV—that’s a venue—all of the sudden are very different when you’re sitting in front of a desktop, a computer, right?
You are in a different frame of mind, a different mode. You are prepared to be interactive, not just sit back and entertain me, and so the type of content that worked on the internet and through the desktop, things like eBay and so on, they are a combination of live information, interactivity, entertainment, and education.
So, all of a sudden, we were able to, way back in 2004, way back, almost 10 years, we were able to create PDFs, which people would read on their desktop, and that was successful. And you’ll see where this comes full circle in a tick because people sit back, but fascinating, and it’s a great example of this.
Pretty much the desktop was the way that things consumed. But then look at how it evolved as the internet and bandwidth and we got more numbers, all of a sudden—PDFs, when you think about it, who sits there and reads a lot of stuff when you’re on a desktop? You scroll through web sites and so on, but what works better? Video.
Pete: Video, absolutely.
Ed: Video, right? YouTube exploded, 2006, and video was the way people wanted to receive information. And it worked perfectly—short videos—for that venue. And if you look at how, again, from an internet marketing perspective, eBooks died off and video became the primary teaching mechanism; webinars, those sorts of things, which replaced the old teleseminars. Remember when people all dial in with a phone line?
Pete: Yep. I remember doing that, calling a US number on the phone and sitting there in an hour.
Ed: Yes, absolutely. Getting the phone card from the dodgy shop around the corner and, say, you’re only paying one cent a minute. All of those, absolutely. That is what life was like. Remember that? And it made sense that the products we created suited that venue.
So some people, some of us were creating DVD products which could be consumed sitting down in the lounge room with a pen and paper, but more and more of that was video, and, of course, audio, as well. Let’s not forget audio. Podcasts started to become popular in 2004 and 2005.
But it was the iPod, of course, that was driving all the audio consumption. It wasn’t phones. The iPhone wasn’t around until 2007. So the effectiveness of podcasts—and we’re, of course, going through a massive renaissance of podcasts now—but think about it.
For many years, podcasts died on a vine and underground because there was this initial burst when iTunes enabled people to put podcasts on an iPod. But that was a venue that only certain people were comfortable with. The expertise that you needed to set that up was beyond your average Joe and Jane Smith at that point in time, so this was fascinating.
If we fast-forward then, 2007, January 9, Steve Jobs announces the iPhone, and the world changed. And the world changed in a very dramatic way in the sense of, if you looked at how people, the venue for entertainment, their venue for when they’re bored, changed. And it’s changed dramatically. We’re only talking five years, right? Five years!
Pete: It’s incredible.
Ed: Now, we talk about venue. There’s another way to describe venue too, of course, is how many venues are there that are available? And I’ve just been doing this for the launch we’re doing at the moment, but if you look at the number of personal—the personal computer revolution started 38 years ago.
And there was 300-odd million PCs built in that time. Thirty-eight years. It took just four years for that many mobile phones to be made—smart phones, I should say, phones that—
Pete: iPhones, Androids, type things—
Ed: Internet, iPhone, Androids, exactly right—to the point, they caught up and passed them at the end of 2011, and now it’s left it in dust. Now, then I talk about the order of magnitude. There are 10 times more smart devices—tablets, because then the iPad arrived in 2010 and started another revolution, another new venue.
All of a sudden, the number—if people, when they have time, people aren’t sitting in front of a desktop anymore. People don’t surf on a desktop anymore. They’re on their iPad, they’re on their tablet, they’re on their Android phone, they’re on their iPhone.
And, of course, the venue dictates the type of content that we want to watch, that we want to consume. And this has been fantastic, because with the introduction of the Kindle, guess what? eBooks are back!
Pete: Huge resurgence.
Ed: A huge resurgence, because that was the perfect venue for it. You could carry hundreds of PDFs, eBooks, on this Kindle. It was the perfect device for reading. It was perfect for holding. It was the perfect venue. And then, if you think about the iPad, they took that and, again, applied an order of magnitude of sales.
Because a lot of people say, the Kindle, the Kindle, the Kindle—they’ve got to realize that the most amount of Kindle content read and the biggest install base of Kindle stuff is, of course, the iPad and the iPhone.
Pete: Which is so amazing for so many people who don’t realize this status, that the majority of Kindle books are purchased and read on the iPad through the Kindle app, not actually the Kindle device itself, which I find amazing, and I love that step. So many people are naive or just not aware of that. It’s an important thing to realize, too.
Ed: Totally. And so, of consequence, we’re seeing sales of eBook-style products. We’re back in town. I’m getting misty-eyed. It’s like 2004 but so much better, because instead of trying to force people to read something on a device that was really never designed for it, now they can get it on their iPad.
And consequently consumption of books and information products that are book-based have exploded and have gone through the roof. And video is still very powerful on these platforms, but it’s also, unfortunately, the characteristics, of course, of that venue, not just the device itself.
It’s the way people purchase things that you’ve got to be so cognizant. And this has probably had a more dramatic impact, Pete—and we’ve often talked about this over lunch—than anything else. If you think back to before iTunes, before iPhone, and so on.
Pete: So before AD—Apple Devices!
Ed: Yeah, before Apple Devices—AD. Exactly. The average course cost a lot of money, eBooks cost $97 or $47. Courses regularly and pretty much exclusively sold for thousands of dollars. It was very rare to get a “cheap course,” because it was expensive. It was expensive to distribute. It was expensive to create. All of those things became factors. There was a physical cost involved in a lot of cases.
So with the App Store, and iTunes, but the App Store, really, was the thing, because, again, this is maybe not something that clicks with people, of course, we’re now an order of magnitude size greater. In other words, 10 times the number of apps are now being downloaded every day compared to music, which again, people go, “Oh well, duh,” now.
Ed: But five years ago, that was mind-boggling that that would ever occur. But what’s it done? It’s had a dramatic impact on people’s value expectations. For a $1.99 or $4.99, you can buy a program or a game that is extraordinary value. Right there, it looks brilliant, does what you want to do, gives you hours of entertainment. And look at, to keep another industry example, how it’s destroyed the games industry as we know it.
Pete: Hugely. Absolutely.
Ed: Because Xbox games in Australia, though, are $90, in America are $60, and PlayStation 3 games. Remember the stats back in 2007, 2008? The games industry, it was past the movie industry for the first time in terms of revenue. It sat there for about two years, and then along came the iPhone and the iPod Touch.
And then all people like myself who used to spend $60 and not play the game because they didn’t have the time, but they loved the idea of being able to have the time, all of the sudden, their gaming needs were satiated by this device. And I could buy Plants vs. Zombies for $2 and get an incredible experience.
So what does that mean for us as information marketers? That meant that, boy, all of the sudden, we’ve been taught our entire lives to differentiate, provide extreme value, and charge appropriately for that. Trouble is, Joe and Jane Smith, our clients, our customers, are going, “Well, that’s all well and good for you to be thinking like that.
But I can pay $4.99 for this incredible iPad word processor that was released today called Editorial, $4.99, and it is a powerhouse. It’s the most amazing piece of software.” By the way, if the words markdown and iPad mean anything to you, and you’re listening to this, you need to go and download Editorial immediately or straight after this. So what does that mean for us? It means we have to come up with a product that suits the venue.
We have to be able to, as information marketers, come up with something that’s high quality, that fits in with the fact that most people—and we haven’t even talked about attention yet—most people have 15 to 30 minutes tops if they’re going to kick back and relax, and really enjoy and get engrossed in something. That’s a fifteen- to thirty-minute proposition in this day and age. So we’ve got to build something that works within all of those constraints, within that venue.
Pete: The thing is, I think, it’s an important thing to understand the context of where you’re marketing. This applies to everyone, not just information marketers, but this is the perfect example of the importance of context and venues when it comes to marketing and producing content, which is your big audience, and a lot of people that listen to this show, as well.
Ed: Absolutely. And this fascinated me. All my life I’ve been doing information publishing of some description or another. And whereas some of our colleagues saw this as a big threat, as does any form of disruption, any form of disruption in any industry. Where does this disruption come from?
It doesn’t come from a product that does things better than everything before it. It actually comes from things that do things a lot worse, but a lot cheaper. But eventually, through time and technology, those things that were a lot worse and a lot cheaper get better and better, and better, and better, and better.
And the experience gets better and better, and better. So, for the last couple of years, the moment I saw this I thought, this is going to be fantastic. And magazine publishers thought, the iPad is going to be the best thing since sliced bread.
And the first year of magazines on the iPad was a complete and utter disaster, because the product didn’t match the venue. Apple solved this with the creation of their Newsstand. Because if you wanted to read WIRED magazine, you had to click on an app, and you had to go, “Oh, cool, there’s a new issue,” and then you download it. And these issues were huge! They were 400 or 500 megabytes.
Pete: So basically just the high-res version of the print magazine you find in Barnes & Noble or your news agent.
Ed: Absolutely. So, five to 30 minutes later, you could read it. Subsequently, of course, people have moved on. One of the huge reasons the iPad has taken off is that it’s instantaneous. Tap on a button, boom, you’re right there doing, no load times, no start times, no any of that sort of stuff. It was crucial to its success.
So Apple released, in 2011, Newsstand, which was a way of having these magazines delivered like magic, basically, overnight. When people plugged in their iPad, publishers could push out their new editions. So they still took the same amount of time to download, but it didn’t appear that way because they did it in the background while people were sleeping.
And they’d wake up the next day and go, “Oh goody, my new edition of The New Yorker is there.” Now it happened that Dan Raine and I were at WWDC [Worldwide Developers Conference] that particular year, and the moment we saw this, we thought, “This is going to be huge. We want to be all over this.” I was working with a guy at the time called John Bass.
And he came to me—he heard me talking about it on a podcast, I believe—and John said, I think I can build that. And so, over the following six months, we trialed it. You were one of our crash test dummies, Pete, in the very first trials, and MagCast was born. And it’s been extraordinary after that, because, again, it’s what happens when a product matches the venue. That’s where you see the explosive growth.
Pete: And the thing is, with MagCast—it’s a perfect time to chat about it as well, because it is a fit for the venue—is that Newsstand’s there, which is a default function. You can call it an app, but it’s really a functionality or feature of the iPad that is on the home screen of every single iPad device.
People are going to click it and try and get an understanding for what Newsstand is. And it is exactly what is says. It is that newsstand where all the magazines in the Apple ecosystem can sit, people can browse the Newsstand, subscribe to a magazine, download an individual issue.
And it’s there to consume in high quality right in front of them, which is obviously the venue of choice these days. The real kicker, though, is what you can actually do with the content inside the venue.
Ed: Yeah, totally. And of course this is where it’s getting exciting, because then this is another fundamental theory that comes into play here. If you look at each major media shift, each venue, if you will, it’s taken time for the content to adapt, and, when it adapts, it explodes.
The first radio stations basically read out the newspaper. The first TV shows were literally a guy with a microphone stuck in front of him, and those radio dramas before they figured out soaps. The first websites were brochures before eBay and the like figured out, “Wow, what can we do with this medium that wasn’t possible with the previous generation?” That’s real disruption.
And, if you look at what was happening on the Newsstand, what we saw was, okay, people were taking their magazines. And still, even with the Newsstand functionality, taking it and applying, they’re just taking the 128-page magazine and replicating it on the iPad, which was better than nothing, right?
But it didn’t really add any value, and they were stuck with monthly schedules. When you think about the iPad, it’s fabulous for video, it’s fabulous for audio, it’s fabulous for interactivity. So what would happen if you make those changes? And that’s where MagCasting has really taken off.
With the Digital Publishing Blueprint that we’ve got at the moment, after 12 months, just with our little neck of the woods, the 12-month figures just came through, and we’ve generated 1.2 million readers, which is just mind-blowing.
Pete: It’s insane. So you had 370-odd people come through and create magazines to start with, and predominantly would be the leading publishing platform now?
Ed: Yeah, I think we represent five or six percent of the overall Newsstand. So, in terms of magazine publishers, we’ve gone from nowhere to being in the Top Five, which is pretty exciting. But here’s the trick, right? Here’s the trick. If we just tried to copy what the big traditional publishers were doing, we would’ve gotten into all sorts of trouble.
You can’t compete with that. They have huge editorial staff, huge photo staff. In fact, their big cost base was a huge problem. Whereas, there are a couple of other things that have happened, which of course you know very well. One is outsourcing.
So the cost of getting something designed—I remember publishing a magazine many, many years ago, and the production costs were about $20,000. Now, you can spend about a hundred dollars on oDesk and get the most beautiful magazine design that you would ever want.
And then, of course, content—there are all of these bloggers who would generate it, and YouTube videos, because, again, it’s not just printed media, right? If you do it the right way, you’ve got YouTube, Vimeo, you’ve got podcasts.
Pete: All embedded inside the magazine.
Ed: All inside. And it’s all the content that’s just there. There’s no duplicate content issues, because Google doesn’t care if the content’s there. The people who are creating the content love that it’s a great deal for them. It’s like this perfect storm happened.
But what really got us to that point where we had those many readers was when we realized, “Hang on. What’s the job to be done here?” People have 15, 20 minutes max. So when everybody started out, yourself included, everybody put huge editions of their magazine together.
They would literally put, like, a traditional magazine. That was all well and good, but it killed people. And again in those early days, we didn’t know what Apple would be happy with and not happy with. But what we’ve realized now is that the smart play to get started is—we have this six-week thing of how to become a magazine publisher in six weeks.
And really, it’s only two weeks. Four weeks is waiting for a combination of getting your Apple developer license and getting your first app approved. And so, it really is immensely quick now, because we say, “Look, publish!” You don’t have to publish 125 pages.
Just find five articles, six images. You can get beautiful free images through commercial Creative Commons now. We’ve come up again—our publishers have done all the hard work now. They have templates for e-mails that you send to people that you want to request the content of.
“I love that article on blah, and I’d love to put it in our new digital magazine.” And of course people are thrilled when they’re featured in a magazine, right? What we didn’t anticipate, and this is really funny coming from me, is the influence you get as a publisher.
All of the sudden, people were getting press passes, they’re getting sent products to review. So while I’m thrilled with the amount of magazines that are profitable, that’s what was even more surprising, is how quickly they got influence in the niche that they were trying to get into.
And because it’s such early, early days, I think it is a bit like, what if you were around in 2003, pay-per-clicks just started here, and you knew what you know now. You do damage. Or it’s 2006, and AdWords is here. You do even more damage. Or even a year and a half ago with Kindle, and you published in the Kindle Store.
There’s two million Kindle books out there now, there’s a million apps. There’s just over 6,000 magazines? That’s worldwide. And then you start breaking it down into languages. All of the sudden, the lack of competition and the pent-up demand because you’ve got six million people all wanting content and to be entertained. It is a heady, heady mix.
Pete: I want to change tacks slightly. Continuing on this conversation around the MagCast and the magazine and the platform, but back onto venue theory, because I think something that I’ve found interesting watching along with the launch—because you’re in this process at the moment of reopening the doors to the next wave of publishers who can have access to your platform to create their own magazines.
It’s been interesting to see a lot of people having conversations around why does your platform right now only support the Newsstand? As a marketer and business owner with a lot of commercial reality, I can see why. And a lot of people, I understand, don’t have that and can’t see that.
I’d love to get your take on that conversation. I know we’ve had this ourselves over the last couple of weeks, about this whole issue of yes, Android as a venue is huge, but it’s a free venue. People aren’t paying to get inside that venue. Whereas with Apple and iTunes and Newsstand, it’s a venue people are willing to pay to go to, and I think that is a big issue around venue theory as well.
Ed: Yeah, absolutely, and we don’t have anything against Android or Kindle—I love Kindle. I do most of my reading on a Paperwhite. I think it’s the perfect venue for reading. I love it. But when you go and do business, you have to look at the stats. I mean, you’re the man with your 7 Levers, and you’ve got to look at your numbers.
And the reality is—and these numbers are direct from Adobe, and Adobe are not Apple’s friends in any way, shape, or form, they’re still very bitter about Flash—but only three percent of digital magazines that are downloaded onto devices are downloaded to Android platform.
And my theory is, it’s two reasons. One, the experience is still terrible. They don’t have the Newsstand and all the cool things—the background downloads, all the beautiful, smooth subscription model and all those sort of things. They have something there, yes, they have magazines. But the experience is still a bit like the iPad was in 2010. And they’ll get there, hopefully, and they’ll improve it.
But also, you’re absolutely right, it’s just the type of buyer. Android, as a demographic, tends to be the geeks because they love the customization, they love the open nature of the platform, and also the people who walk into a store and say, “I want a phone, please.” They don’t say, “I want an iPhone.”
And that’s not to say for one second that, as we’re about to announce on the weekend, we’re now in beta for both Kindle, web, and Android on the platform, but I don’t expect anybody, and nobody should spend a second of their marketing promotional or editorial time working in this market.
They just shouldn’t, because the sales aren’t there. Whereas, the Newsstand is where the sales are. It’s where people are building their lists, because Apple—it’s the only place in the App Store that Apple will actually allow you to get a person’s e-mail, if they give permission.
All of a sudden all of these things are all there for the sale, which is just fantastic. So that’s why. The obvious place to do it first is the place where you’re going to have success first.
And people shouldn’t confuse marketing to tools as opposed to marketing people who are passionate about a niche. You don’t market to Android. You don’t market to Kindle. I want a market to Magic: The Gathering card players. I want a market to tennis players.
I want to market to kickboxers. And, as a marketer, our job is not to say, well, I like iPhones, so I’m only going to publish my stuff on iPhone, or, I like Android, I’m an Android zealot, so I refuse to do something on Apple. That’s stupid, right? That’s completely dumb from every direction.
Where you need to think about it, and where you need to look at it is, what are my market using? Where are they going? What are they looking at? What are they accessing? And you create your content to suit that venue. You put on the concert where people are arriving at the venue, right?
You don’t say, “Well, you all paid for tickets at Carnegie Hall. I’m going to cross the street to Carnegie Deli and play there, because that’s where I want to play.” Doesn’t work like that, right?
Pete: Absolutely. Awesome, mate. Well, look, I know we’re kind of pushing the boundaries of our normal episode length. I think hopefully people get a real gist of the importance of venue and context. We’ve spoken about context in a few recent episodes of the show, as well.
Really appreciate your time, mate, to talk about all of this. Obviously, Dom and I will wrap it up with a bit more talking about MagCast and some challenges Dom’s got on at the moment and a few other bits and pieces. Thank you so much for your time, buddy. Really do appreciate it.
Ed: Brilliant, mate. Thanks very much for having me.
[Pete’s conversation with Ed ends]
Dom: Lots of food for thought there, both about venue theory and how it applies to you, but also Ed’s MagCast publishing platform that, as I say, he’s in the middle of opening to the public right now. There’ll be links below in the show notes so you can find out more about MagCast.
If you’re interested in that book by David Byrne, there’ll be links to that in the show notes, but also you could try that on Audible. If you go to AudibleTrial.com/PreneurCast, you can get a free trial on Audible, which includes one free book download.
If you haven’t already got a membership with Audible, then try it out and give that book a listen so you can find out what Ed was on about. Now, I really just have one more thing to wrap up with, and it’s related to the MagCast platform. We’re going to talk about this a little bit more.
You may get some e-mails from us about this. As you may have heard in the conversation, Pete and I have been working with the MagCast platform when it was in beta test, and we think it’s a great opportunity for people to get into digital publishing in a very easy way.
Pete and I have talked about how we can demonstrate this. We already publish one magazine through that platform, so we know what steps to take. But what we wanted to show you, really was going from scratch. Ed mentioned there that six-week plan that they have inside the publishing platform, where they guide you through everything you need to know about launching your own magazine.
They say it takes six weeks, and as Ed commented there, it’s actually about two weeks of production and four weeks of waiting. Well, Pete set me a challenge, and I’ve had an idea that I’ve kind of mentioned on a couple of shows. It’s been on the back burner because of a lot of other projects we’ve been working on.
Pete basically gave me a positive constraint and said, “Look, while this launch is going on, while Ed is launching this platform to the public, why don’t you try and publish that magazine that you wanted to publish, that you’ve talked about in the past? Why don’t you try to get it done inside of seven days?”
So that’s what we’re going to try and do. Look out for an e-mail about this project. It’s going to be open and honest. I’m going to do an over-the-shoulder video series just like the over-the-shoulder stuff we do inside of [Preneur] Platinum for our Platinum members, but I’m going to let everybody see it.
We’re going to be honest about what goes on, what we can and can’t do, any problems we hit, and whatever else. But I am going to try and put together the content for a digital magazine publication in seven days. So keep an eye out for that in your e-mail.
Thanks to everyone for listening. Thanks for your comments that have been coming through PreneurMedia.tv, and you can go to PreneurMedia.tv to find all our past episodes and to leave us either a comment below the post for any show, or there’s the audio comment that you can leave us.
You may have heard us feature those audio comments on the show in the past. We’d love to feature you on the show, so drop us an audio comment, and you could appear on a PreneurCast soon. Also in the iTunes Store, you can leave the comment there in the Store for your particular country.
We always appreciate those comments because they help more people find our show and spread the good news. So, with that said, Pete’s back next week, and back to normal programming, as we say. Got a very interesting conversation with an author next week for you. Have a great week. Speak to you soon.
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