All around you it’s there. Physical objects, systems, organizations, processes, buildings, machines – all manifested from ideas. And the originators of these ideas are blessed with profits, security, fame, glory, awards and a golden retirement.
That’s the ideal at least. For those who create things that are less than concrete, it gets tricky.
I was reading this morning’s NY Times and came across this article about inventors and auctions. The main focus of the article was about the difficulties of the little guys to compete with the big guns. Sounds just like the music business! There was also brief mention of a new company called Rational Patent Exchange.
“The long-term vision at Rational is to become a marketplace or clearinghouse, perhaps the way ASCAP is for copyrighted music, collecting fees and distributing payments to artists.” says Randy Komisar, a partner at venture capitalist firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.
Whoa. That’s a big idea. The article also talks about how big guns can also buy up competing patents as a defensive mechanism. This too sounds familiar – like the Hollywood producers who option a screenplay and shelve it for years so they can bring out their own pet project that bears an eerily similar plot to yours!
“The goal is to be a place where the patent-holder is fairly compensated [hmm, just like the music biz?] but the corporate users have access to technology with minimal transaction costs. It has the potential to make innovation more efficient and less risky for both sides.”
I’m all for innovation and friction-less commerce and heartily applaud this idea. In fact, I would love to see this idea applied elsewhere as well. How about visual designs? Logos? Animations? But here’s the caveat. The concentration of power in a new organization may not actually help ALL the “little guys.”
Even though composers/ writers have 3 performing rights organizations in the USA (ASCAP, BMI & SESAC), collecting performance royalties and distributing them to its members – how this done is far from transparent. In any organization there’s a concentration of power at the top and the “members” have very little say over how much or how little their royalties should be. How any clearinghouse organization distributes its funds needs to be transparent. For example, commercial soundtrack composers, have little or no representation even though our music is used for television commercials, web spots and more. In my experience as a BMI member, I have to jump through multiple layers of bureaucracy to ensure I get paid for performance royalties on music composed specifically for use in a commercial. There are many that just give up. And yet, the clearinghouse organizations go out and routinely collect multi-million dollar fees for blanket usage of ALL the music in their catalogs. They’re supposedly looking out for their members, but try calling any of these organizations unless you already have a hit record. At ASCAP, I’ve heard that the pay-rate on underscore is much less than for music with lyrics. Why would that make sense if the organizations licensing the music pay one blanket rate?
I’m not asking for a government bureaucracy, but some kind of decency/moral standards? As we continue to move to a society of “knowledge workers” (thanks Peter Drucker) intellectual property is increasingly what we ALL do.
Tuning The Sound of A Car, Even When There Is None.
The Nissan Leaf
Okay, now we have officially entered the future.
Nissan will soon be releasing a new car called the Leaf that runs so silently, lawmakers and policy advocates complain that it could sneak up on people. And what about blind folks? They’ll never know it’s coming. So what to do?
Designers added a sound to the car. When the car is below 12 miles per hour, the artificial noise will play. But not just any noise. Nissan assembled a special team led by Tohiyuki Tabata just to address this problem. What they did was consult with film score composers. They then designed the sound of the engine before the real sound of the tires and the hybrid gas-electric engine would create it’s own noise at speeds greater than 12 mph. This sound will is described as “futuristic and beautiful” similar to the cars in the acclaimed Ridley Scott film Blade Runner based on the Philip K. Dick book ‘Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep‘?
How cool is this? Audio branding by creating an artificial engine sound. It’s sort of what Harley Davidson did by turning their motorcycle engines upside down and tuning them to full bone-rattling rumble. I’ve been told by those that know, these bikes need to be adjusted all the time as the screws get rattled loose.
And then there’s the possibility of changing that engine sound. Imagine swapping out your sweet ride’s acceleration from the car’s app store like changing a ringtone. In the future, I suppose all cars would be silent and we can opt for the Harley bone rattle while we glide up on our electric motor scooter, with temporary tattoos and all.
Here’s a video from IDG, but unfortunately, there’s no preview of the ‘futuristic and beautiful’ sound.
If you have an audio branding situation, we’d love to help. Give us a ring on -1-888-211-5945 or send an email to the Head Monk.