You’ll want to read this: Alice through the Looking Glass (Corning Glass, that is)

In the near distant future, all of the surfaces in your house are made of high-tech glass. Instead of following a recipe on your tablet, your glass countertops now become the display. Does this make your spine tingle? Does it feel uber-tech, light years away? Like something only Steve Jobs or Captain Kirk would have access to? Nope, it’s coming to your doorstep.

Let’s paint a picture of an average Joe (or Joanne)’s day… It’s dinnertime. While trying to make the meal, the recipe on your tablet is too small to see and the stand you have propped it up on keeps falling over. Your hands are caked in food and the phone rings. Your son sits across the counter from you, nagging you about needing help with homework. Everyone and everything around you demands your attention. Imagine an innovation that could help you manage all of those tasks.

When the phone rings, your counter lights up and with one touch of your food-caked knuckle you’re talking to your great aunt Gladys (or the CEO of a major tech firm). Meanwhile, your kid is interacting through the countertop display with his tutor.

This near distant future could be possible with Corning’s technology. Corning’s is now researching ways to improve the glass, and apply it to all types of environments. Each glass display is powered by tablets encased in lightweight, durable glass, which –in this future time- are almost as commonplace as smartphones are today. Each tablet is tailored to its owner, organizing, managing and displaying everything in his or her life.

If we take this vision even further, now imagine the same technology that helped make dinnertime prep simpler, and apply it in hospitals, classrooms, cars and offices. The possibilities are limitless. If we step into a future hospital we will see wall-to-wall, touch-sensitive displays, capturing critical information for the current procedure taking place. The hospital rooms are covered with non-porous, easy to clean glass, making it an ideal product for sterile environments. Patient charts can be easily accessed from sleek, well-organized tablets.

Cars will also be equipped with glass displays. Now, music and essential driving information can be transported from a person’s individual tablet or smart phone, to the dashboard display. In addition to the dashboard, windows and a car’s sunroof will be made of automotive electrochromic glass, offering many possibilities.

Not only will classrooms have wall-to-wall displays, they will also be equipped with desk displays, and activity tables, making learning tangible and interactive. Imagine an office equipped with this same glass. Office meetings can now be interactive and plans can be changed right in front of you on large-scale displays.

Our future with glass is going to change the way we think, create, and organize our lives, and Corning’s is stepping up to the plate to make it happen. What do you think is possible with this futuristic technology? To see the glass in action, watch these three videos made by Corning. In A Day Made Of Glass 2: Unpacked, the narrator describes the technology used and explains what is possible today.

A Day Made of Glass

A Day Made of Glass 2

A Day made of Glass 2: Unpacked

Until next time,

Kelli Richards, CEO of The All Access Group, LLC

An Overview of How Google Glass Works… A Curse or a Blessing?

Screen Shot 2013-03-18 at 7.49.40 AM I loved Tim Bajaran’s piece on G-Glass – Mine simply expands on some basic facts, adding value for all of us who aren’t following the very Iron-Man creation of this latest Google Project.  We’re losing Google Reader, but gaining hardware. Does anyone else see Apple’s “product” model being adopted here? 

Yes, Alice, we’ve definitely fallen into the looking glass. Google’s most recent project, Google Glass, will delve far into the realm of science fiction, bringing Tony Stark, Iron Man-esque technology to the masses. The Google Glass project delivers a wearable computer system in the form of glasses, offering hands free messaging, photography, and video recording.  Straight out of 007, this offers the ability to share everything you see, live, in real time: directions, reminders, the web – all seen through the lens, right in front of your face.

The glasses have a display in the top right corner of the frame, making endless information available at all times, and will reportedly connect with either your Android or iPhone implementing WiFi, 3g, and 4g coverage. These revolutionary specs won’t just be a piece of spectacular hardware; Google is negotiating with Warby Parker, a company which specializes in the sales of trendy glasses, in an attempt to bring infinite data while still looking fashionable.

The best part of Google’s Project Glass is that Google is currently allowing civilians, not developers, the opportunity to influence product development. Google declared, “We’re looking for bold, creative individuals who want to join us and be a part of shaping the future of Glass.” Applications are being accepted through the use of Google+ and Twitter, through the hashtag #ifihadglass.

While this idea of unlimited data being available even more easily than at your fingertips is revolutionary, it raises more than a few questions regarding privacy. The ability to record everything right in front of you, in real time, is a daunting thought, covering everything from being photographed at a cafe, to making videos in airports. Beyond the questionable “Glass etiquette” that will certainly develop over time, the prospect that Google and the government will be able to access users’ data is shattering.

If the Glass Project brings information right in front of your face, allowing you to communicate, to access the internet, contacts, etc., and share what you are seeing live, what will stop others from accessing your private information? Although a few decades late, Orwell’s 1984 has definitely caught up with us.

The issues that may arise from the mass production of Google Glass are met with equally impressive, revolutionary concepts around social networking and sharing. Glass would be the apex of social sharing, allowing people to be in constant contact, literally letting individuals step into other’s shoes, to view the world from a different point of view. You could be standing in New York’s Time Square and share and trade that experience with someone around the world, exploring the streets of Venice or Sydney, Australia. Such universal sharing would truly redefine the human experience.

At its best, this would also effect topics as broad as human rights and poverty – but the cost remains to be seen. Only time will tell if the Google Glass Project will be the vessel connecting mankind, Pandora’s box, or something in the middle.

Sony’s decline: Have they eaten the poison Apple?

Sony-and-Apple“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” – George Santayana, 1905

For today’s history lesson, we’re going to look at two of the biggest names in the tech industry that have risen and fallen in complimentary distribution with one another since the 1980’s. As one company climbed to the top, the other plummeted but now the tides have changed.

I’m talking of course about Sony and Apple, two companies with storied histories that bear some key similarities to each other. In the successes and failures of each company, the brilliance and blunders seem to be passed back and forth. In order to move forward towards the future, we must look back at the past; so let’s take it from the top.

The 1980’s were a strange time in America; MTV, big hair, and the Brat Pack are some of the first things that come to mind when I think of that decade. Of course, the 1980’s also ushered in a new era of technology, and Apple and Sony were at the forefront. In the beginning of the 1980’s, Apple came out strong with a record breaking IPO and the Macintosh computer. Things quickly went south for the computer giant, as infighting and a decline in sales ultimately saw Steve Jobs leave the company in 1985; beginning what many would refer to as “the dark years” at Apple. During that same time, Sony had started the 1980’s with dismal profits during a global recession that saw a drop in electronics sales.

One of the things that saved Sony was its creativity and drive to pioneer new technologies. While it lost the “format wars” between VHS and Betamax, it was able to move past and eventually develop technologies such as the Compact Disc and Walkman. Similarly, it branched out beyond consumer electronics and got into the music and movie publishing industries; creating a revenue stream that would allow it to profit several times over from single products. Its latest demise, however, came from the company aggressively expanding into new businesses and technologies with little communication or collaboration between the departments. The question now is “Will they bounce back?”

Apple was able to bounce back from those “dark years” when Steve Jobs came back. Under his leadership, the company was able to re-focus and re-establish its brand. They were able to focus on creating great products from top to bottom, coupled with a user experience that was second to none. If Sony wishes to recover in the same way Apple did, then perhaps they’ll do the same. Sony’s reach is a bit broader than Apple’s so in order to do that, they’ll need to increase the communication and support between departments. They have all the parts they need to return to the top, they just have to deliver what the customers want. Apple delivered things that consumers wanted before they even knew that they wanted them. Sony’s approach as of late has been more stagnant, where they wait for something to come out and find a way to replicate it.

The sting of a few hard blows to a company can send it reeling and certainly bruise some egos. Sony needs to take a whiff of the smelling salts and come out of the corner swinging. Once they return to their roots of innovation, creativity, and quality they’ll be sure to see success once again.


Something Special About Apple and iOS

The special needs community is rarely the target demographic for the tech industry. Many of the wonderful new gizmos and gadgets that come out simply aren’t designed for them. There are an increasing number of companies that are developing products and technology to make computers and mobile devices more accessible for the special needs community, however – and one of those companies happens to be Apple, Inc.

Apple’s VoiceOver technology was introduced with OSX 10.5 – better known as “Tiger.” It’s an accessibility feature that allows blind or visually impaired Apple users to interact with a computer through sound. A user can use the trackpad or keyboard to scroll through the applications on the docked menu at the bottom of the screen. It can literally read the user any text that’s displayed on the screen and allows users to edit text where applicable.

VoiceOver is also available on iOS devices such as the iPad. Visually impaired users have been incredibly receptive and appreciative of this, especially considering the fact that it’s a feature many other tablets and readers lack. As more and more publishing companies, universities, and corporations look to switch to readers and tablets in the future, accessibility features for the visually impaired certainly help Apple market its products as the superior choice amongst the competition.

Another feature that benefits the members of the special needs community is a new feature in iOS 6 called Guided Access. Guided Access allows parents and educators to “lock” onto an app so that children can’t accidentally exit out of it by pressing the home button. While this may seem like a very basic feature, it’s incredibly useful for children with Autism or learning disabilities who may become distracted or lose focus on tasks. There are a number of educational apps available in the App Store but it’s often hard for learning disabled students to stay focused on them long enough to actually benefit. With Guided Access, the task of keeping a child focused has gotten a little easier for teachers and parents.

While full accessibility is an on-going battle as technology continues to evolve, Apple is certainly taking steps in the right direction. Many other companies in Silicon Valley are taking their lead and continuing to improve accessibility features for different technologies and we hope to see this trend continue.

My own time at Apple saw many of these technologies discussed and drawn out on desks and white boards under the tireless leadership and direction of my colleague Dr. Alan Brightman, who was Director of Apple’s WW Disability Solutions for 12 years; and is now a VP at Yahoo focusing on Global Accessibilty. To see these things come to life and create impact all around the world is simply astounding (then and now).

Kelli Richards,
CEO of the All Access Group, LLC


The New Myspace: All or Nothing

Ah MySpace, the website that brought social networking and social media into the homes of the masses. Once the king of the internet, valued at $12 billion and becoming the most visited website in the world, it has since been dethroned and fallen from grace. Or has it? It was recently purchased by Specific Media and Justin Timberlake in June 2011 for $35 million with hopes of breathing new life into the company. But will they be able to reclaim the throne in a much more crowded kingdom? The answer to that remains to be seen but based on the preview it looks like something worth getting excited about.

The obvious issue is that there are already enough, if not too many, social networks for the average user. Between Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Youtube, Google+ and the many others, the internet has become inundated with social media. Billed as a way to connect artists and fans, the MySpace team at Specific media has taken a smart approach by letting users integrate their Facebook and Twitter accounts rather than having to create a new one. With celebrities and artists already connecting with fans via Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram perhaps integration and consolidating is something we need more of.

Seamless integration and creative design are two big things the new MySpace has going for it. Based on the preview video posted by Justin Timberlake, the website does look gorgeous and functional; 2 issues which plagued it in the past. Perhaps the biggest thing it has going for it is the music feature, which is something it actually always did exceptionally well.

Once a great way for big names and local bands alike to post songs, event info, pictures, etc, it will now let users create and share playlists, listen to whole albums, discover new music based on recommendations, and more. A cool feature for the artists is an analytics page which provides demographic breakdowns of their audiences by age, gender, region, etc. MySpace currently boasts one of the largest music catalogues on the internet, albeit from mostly unknown artists, at 42 million songs. If they can get some big artists and labels on board or even integrate with other services like Spotify, Pandora, Rdio, or Rhapsody then it could very well come back to life.

There’s still a lot that is up in the air for the new MySpace but if it can find a way to get over the hump, play nicely with the other social networks, and deliver great content then I think it will be a success. If it can’t create a pleasant, clutter-free, and unique experience for the user then it may be time to just let it die out.

Kelli Richards, President and CEO
The All Access Group, LLC

Will Apple Survive without Steve Jobs? Apple’s Laughing Straight to the Bank…

Just a few days ago, we quietly watched as the first anniversary of the death of Steve Jobs passed by.  As an Apple insider and alum, I always have an ear to the ground for what’s going on in their world.  The big question of whether Apple would continue its meteoric rise (the greatest turn around in history) seems to be answered.

The past few months, for Apple, have been almost as eventful as the company’s first big success back in the late 70’s – early 80’s. With a landmark legal victory over Samsung for copyright infringement, the company not only gets awarded $1.05 billion in damages (which Samsung is appealing, of course), but they will also exclusive rights over certain design and software ideas on which they own patents.

While some have slammed Apple’s case as being too broad or overzealous, the decision will surely shape the mobile software and hardware markets from this point on. For the consumer it means two things: First, Apple’s patented designs and features will most likely be cross-licensed for quite a pretty penny to competing developers and manufacturers. Second, this means that in order to competitively price their technology, companies will have to become innovative once again, rather than copy an already successful formula. So you’ll either see iPhone and iOS-esque features on high-end electronics, or innovative new designs may become the way of the future. That chapter has yet to be written.

With so much focus and attention on these two battling giants, what better time for Amazon to announce its new reader / tablet offering, the Kindle Fire. Strategically placed in the same realm as the competing iPad, Nexus, and Galaxy tablets, the Kindle Fire looks to open the floodgates of revenue for its content delivery platform. The three-way race between Apple, Amazon, and Google’s media stores appears well separated for now, but the competition is certainly heating up as the markets and technology change so rapidly. And the solid winner in ALL of this is the pro-sumer.

One would think that the competitive innovation to come from the lawsuit against Samsung, along with the introduction of the rival Kindle Fire would be cause for concern at the Apple HQ here in Cupertino, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

On September 12th, Apple announced the iPhone 5 in grandiose Apple fashion, after the project had been shrouded in secrecy for almost a year. (An issue I cover at length in my recent bestseller, “The Magic and Moxie of Apple – An Insider’s View”.)  Thinner, lighter, faster, and overall cooler than its predecessor, the iPhone 4s; the iPhone 5 also boasts a number of new features, such as a new charging interface and new operating system (iOS 6).

Consumers are certainly on board for the new and improved iPhone, as evidenced by the 2 million+ pre-orders within the first 24 hours of its announcement. As a result, the cost of Apple’s stock has risen to over $700 for the first time in company history.

So while rival tech giants are out there trying to copy Apple products or create competitive alternatives in hopes of dethroning them, Apple is simply laughing it’s way straight to the bank.

Kelli Richards, President and CEO
The All Access Group

The Next Big Thing: Apple WWDC

It’s no surprise to see Apple race on, barely missing a beat since Steve’s passing – leading global innovation as it has this new millennium.

In just a few hours the next Apple WWDC (WorldWide Developers Conference) will take place. A stage that has announced true global game changers, like the iPhone and the iPad.

In the end, right now it’s still about the App store.  With 600,000 downloadable games, magazines and productivity tools, Apple is the application leader.  But the others are not far behind. As quoted in Bloomberg earlier today, “The success of Apple’s App Store has helped create an economy for downloading mobile applications that will reach $58 billion in sales in 2014.”

Surely, Apple will continue App dominance – and its track record of suspense and big announcements at WWDC. Will we see the next iPhone? News on OS X Mountain Lion? A new social platform? The next “Big Thing” that none of us have even contemplated yet?  It’s hard not to wonder where Apple goes from here, without Steve Jobs at the helm… but we’ll find out in just a few short hours.

This is a question I ask over and over in my upcoming eBook on Apple, The Magic and Moxie of Apple – An Insider’s View.

“… So where does Apple – a company that started out as two guys making and selling circuit boards out of their garage, which transformed into one of the biggest international technology companies in the world – go from here? Following the loss of Steve Jobs, that question seems challenging to answer. As we know all too well, Apple has seen itself rise and fall from grace before and reinvent itself more than once, and the company is counting on the fact that it’s cemented its place at the top so profoundly that nothing will stop it from continuing to grow. Continually releasing new products (and upgrading the old) may do this, but fundamentally, what direction does it take next? The iPhone, iPad, and iPod have already seen several generations of upgrades. What groundbreaking innovations will propel Apple in the same way that the iPod, iPhone, MacBook Air and iPad did? The answer to that question isn’t what new product will they come out with, but rather who will be dream it up without Steve? … ”


Like many of you, I’m eagerly awaiting iOS 6 and Mountain Lion – which brings some of the most popular features found on other Apple products to the Mac, such as GameCenter, notes, etc. A personal favorite is that Mountain Lion will send messages to anyone on an Apple product – so you’ll be able to begin a message on your Mac and pick it back up on your iPhone or iPad later on. We’ll see today what else Apple has in store for us – the world of believers, creators and brand advocates.

And although the race continues without Steve Jobs to lead the pack – only his company to carry on the dream – it will not be easy to watch WWDC without him taking the stage.

Kelli Richards, President and CEO
The All Access Group, LLC
PS: If you’d like to pre-order a copy of my book, The Magic and Moxie of Apple – An Insider’s View,” please go to


Digital Reincarnation at it’s Best: Live From Daryl’s House

Today’s world is fickle, and one of my favorite examples of digital avenues bringing new audiences to the best performers of our time is definitely Live From Daryl’s House, started by Daryl Hall in late 2007.  This is music discovery at its best, with Hall taking a simple idea and turning it into web gold. Hall recently said of the show, “I had this idea of playing with my friends and putting it up on the Internet.”  What could be easier, right? Certainly the response has been huge.

The show has become almost iconic, with applause coming in from a long list of leading names in the industry, including Rolling Stone, SPIN, Daily Variety, CNN, BBC, Yahoo! Music and influential (and hyper-critical) blogger Bob Lefsetz.  This is exactly what veteran artists need to be creating in order to reinvent in the digital age and gain new audiences (and influence) through vibrant collaborations with both established leaders in music and new performers.

Daryl Hall has had a rich and varied career, working with virtually all of the great musicians of modern popular music, as well as entering into new relationships with the best of the latest generation of artists. So far, episodes have featured superstars like Smokey Robinson, Rob Thomas (of Matchbox 20), Robby Krieger and Ray Manzarek (The Doors’), Train, Nick Lowe, K.T. Tunstall, Gym Class Heroes’ Travis McCoy, Fall Out Boy’s Patrick Stump, and soul legends The Blind Boys of Alabama – as well as with newcomers such as Nikki Jean, Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, Canadian techno-rockers Chromeo, Bay Area singer/songwriter Matt Nathanson, and highly touted tunesmith Diane Birch.

He’s also featured my own close personal friend, Todd Rundgren, several times, most recently at Rundgren’s home in Kauai, Hawaii, where they performed a rousing 7-song set, including an amazing cover of the Delfonics’ 1970 hit, “Didn’t I Blow Your Mind This Time.”

Daryl Hall and Todd Rundgren have known one another since their early days inPhiladelphia, and the gig inHawaiiincluded an old-fashioned traditional Luau Show, burying a pig in the dirt, serving up some poi, hula dancers and a special performance with local musicians of “Bang on the Drum.” Said Rundgren, “It’s always great when friends come all the way out here to visit, but it’s even better when they come to play.”

Hall’s latest collaboration has been with up-and-coming artist Allen Stone, a virtual look-alike for Daryl himself (in both image and musical philosophy).  In fact, that collaboration went so well that Stone is now touring and working with Hall and Oates.

Hall has had an illustrious career, with six #1 singles with collaborator John Oates, including “Rich Girl” (also #1 R&B), “Kiss on My List,” “Private Eyes,” “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do) (also #1 R&B), “Maneater” and “Out of Touch” from their six consecutive multi-platinum albums—’76’s Bigger Than Both of Us, ’80’sVoices, ’81’s Private Eyes, ‘82’s H2O, ‘83’s Rock N Soul, Part I and ‘84’s Big Bam Boom. The era would also produce an additional 5 Top 10 singles, “Sara Smile,” “One on One,” “You Make My Dreams,” “Say It Isn’t So” and “Method of Modern Love.”

Live from Daryl’s House is being shown weekly in over 80% of U.S. homes in the nation’s top 200 media markets, as well as all of the top 10, including New York, L.A., Chicago, Dallas and Houston. The show also recently won the 2010 WEBBY Award in the Variety Category.

You can sign up for his Newsletter at


Fun & Games: Cross Digital Distribution Takes Movies into a Whole New Realm

A few months ago I had the privilege of interviewing Thomas Dolby and getting an insider’s view into the extremely creative way he was introducing the first new album he’d created in over two decades.  Fans would go through the portal of a game, The Floating City, and only when they had reached certain benchmarks in the game did they get to download some of the best tracks.

As the digital revolution reaches what seems to be an absolute frenzy of technological advances and debuts, more and more we’re seeing the cross-platform promotion and collaboration around product distribution. The latest (and one of the biggest) entries into this virtual world is set to be Suzanne Collins’ popular novel, “The Hunger Games.”

According to Digital Media Wire, Social game developer, Funtactix has partnered up with Lionsgate around the movie’s debut this spring The Hunger Games Adventures is set to launch on March 23, the day the first movie opens in theaters.

Lionsgate started the cross-digital campaign months ago with “The Capitol” a web presence for the government of Panem, where “The Hunger Games” stories take place. They also created a strong social media launch, featuring a YouTube channel in addition to other social spaces.

The Hunger Games Adventures game is set to be a strong player in the multi-digital branding of the three Lionsgate movies. Players move through The Capitol and the key Districts in the story, becoming more engrossed at each level of game.

“As a company that wants to align itself with the most beloved entertainment properties and passionate fans in the world, joining forces with Lionsgate on The Hunger Games was a very easy decision,” said Sam Glassenberg, CEO of Funtactix.

This isn’t the only foray Funtactix has made into the world of branded film releases.  They recently created a game built around the Mission Impossible franchise.

Since its founding in 2006, Funtactix has earned an industry reputation for rapid innovation in web-based gaming. They were first to deliver connected 3D multiplayer action gaming through  deeply-integrated avatar-based games.

They’re also poised to release The Hunger Games Adventures through Facebook as well, and with a following of millions and the realm of Harry Potter coming to a close, it will be interesting to see where Funtactix – and other branding gaming companies – will reach as the digital revolution continues to evolve.

Kelli Richards
President and CEO
The All Access Group, LLC

Hulu’s Latest Hot Ticket

When it comes to digital distribution, one of the big online commercial sites for video has certainly been Hulu. In only four short years of life, Hulu has carved out a tremendous niche with a huge tribe of trusting, loyal fans and users.  While Hulu is “independent” to some degree, NBCUniversal, Newscorp and even Disney are part of the ownership team.

For anyone not familiar with Hulu yet, at its core, it is simply an online video service providing formally, commercially produced content, such as movies, television shows, clips, and other content, coming in from a very wide variety of sources, such as FOX, NBCUniversal, ABC, Criterion, A&E Networks, TED and a very long list of other content providers.

So why, after four years of great digital distribution, am I writing about Hulu?  Because they are about to take a huge leap of faith and add another original production to their arsenal – original content is a journey that even Oprah Winfrey herself can tell you is fraught with danger.  So in addition to movies and primetime TV hits such as Modern Family, Glee, The Office, etc., etc., etc., viewers can also download Hulu’s own creations (A Day in the Life and The Morning After), as well as their newest addition, “Paul, the Male Matchmaker” (launching on Monday, February 13th exclusively on Hulu).  The launch date is no accident – the 10-episode comedy is a mockumentary about a socially inept man who inherits a matchmaking service – who then does out brutally honest dating advice in the sincere belief that he is helping women find love.

Actor/writer Paul Bartholomew (Mad Men; Yes, Dear), who stars in the series, said, “This show is for anyone who has ever been set up on a horribly misguided date by their sister, friend, co-worker — and then been blamed for it not working out. Which is basically everyone.”

Finally, original, full-length commercially produced web series’ are starting to find a foothold – and a distribution portal like Hulu is exactly the venue to bring enough attention and a strong enough fan base to move audiences to show up week after week. Rock on Hulu, we’re looking forward to where you go next!

Kelli Richards
The All Access Group, LLC



Cool or Not Cool? Bandzoogle and it’s Cool Connection to Direct-to-Fan

I recently interviewed Dave Cool, the “voice” of Bandzoogle. Dave Cool writes the Bandzoogles’ blog, well known for inspiring and supporting Bandzoogle’s #1 mission: To make Direct-to-Fan a very real accomplishment for artists and bands everywhere.

Dave Cool is perhaps best known for having directed and produced the documentary film “What is INDIE? A look into the World of Independent Musicians” which documented the experience of being an independent artist in the music industry. That movie actually became it’s own testament about the power of Direct-to-Fan, creating a huge movement around indie music and the process that independent musicians go through around today’s new tech and the seemingly endless opportunities.

The film featured several leading experts in the music industry, including Derek Sivers (CD Baby) and Panos Panay (Sonicbids), as well as with 20 independent artists. Without any background in film and funded entirely on his own, Dave Cool took the film from a small do-it-yourself project and turned it into an indie success story in its own right, with the film screening all over the world and being mentioned on and in Newsweek Magazine.

A big inspiration in the world of musicians and bands, Dave inspires artists to keep control of their content on as many levels as possible and to maximize their fan outreach and merchandising.  If you are a musician breaking out in today’s world, this is a must. In the end, however, one thing Cool makes infinitely clear, is that it’s still about doing great work.

Bandzoogle is a web-based platform for artists and bands, allowing them to create a website – something bands MUST have, especially in the world of ever-changing social media.  If a band puts their energies into MySpace, for instance, well… we all know what happened there.  So a Facebook page is great, but a is still a necessity, and Bandzoogle is the leader in making this accessible and easy – ”Easy enough for even the drummer to do,” jokes Dave Cool during our interview.

He also spoke quite a bit about social media NOT being a one-size-fits-all – and perhaps not being a good fit for some artists at all.  (Sacrilege right?)

You can hear this interview in its entirety at and you can get a complimentary digital copy of “What is INDIE?” when you sign up for Dave’s mailing list at:


A Digital Insider Scoffs at Townshend

As an industry insider – on way more than one level – it’s hard to take Pete Townshend’s comments as anything more than another great artist railing at the system.  Look, in the end, we all have to admit that the system is broken.  That’s one thing that Townshend got right in that interview.  After that?  Well, it’s all up for debate.  But the fact that the debate was called to the floor again, that’s a good thing.

Let’s look at what he probably got wrong.  Apple is not the villain here.  In fact, probably the opposite.  Apple is responsible for 75% of all LEGAL music downloads.  And there’s no way that this makes them a vampire.  It makes them a hero, of sorts.  By creating a closed system, where one download went to ONE machine, Apple stopped the bleeding of way more than royalties. It addressed a cultural shift that it was OKAY to steal music.  “Sharing.”  So there’s something else that Townshend got right in that interview.  Stealing and sharing are not the same thing – and the mere idea that music should be free is an utter insult to the millions of people who give their lives to create it.

I should disclose here that I was part of Apple way back when and helped launch digital music before it broke wide open, but my 13+ years in digital consultancy have certainly shown me every side of this equation (and argument).

Whether or not music should be free has gone where it belongs. It’s gone to artist-controlled DIY.  DIY creation and DIY distribution. The indie artists have unlocked the code.  Give away great material to build a tribe, and get that tribe to adore you.  They’ll show up with the money, for sure, but only after the love affair has begun.

Here’s the other problem with Pete’s point of view – it assumes that Apple controls the digital distribution industry, and quite simply, it does not.  In the world of Spotify and MusicShark and locker systems, Apple is only one giant float in the parade.  Let’s clarify, they may even be leading the parade, but after a brief initial claim to the universe, way back when, they’re far from alone.  Having said that, it’s obvious that the consumer, overall, loves Apple.  Quite simply, in the words of futurist Gerd Leonhard, it’s easy.  It’s a plug and go solution.  It meets busy consumers where they want to be met, and serving the consumer IS the end game on the business side of music (and anything digital).

The artistic side?  Producing great content and hiring mentors to aide and abet that?  I wish I could ask Townshend why that is at all iTunes’ responsibility.  That is a model that we see fading at every label, sadly (& that’s me wearing my hat as a former A&R exec at one of the majors).  From this insider’s viewpoint, however, it will fade, but not die.  There is a space for grooming artists, from a label’s point of view – otherwise we end up with the music industry’s version of Yentl for every project.  (The same Editor, Producer, Writer and Actress, if you needed me to spell out that comparison.)  Without label support, bands have limited objectivity of their work, at best.  But we KNOW what percentage of artists get signed.  So this new world of digital DIY is an amazing opportunity for artist AND consumer. Which brings us to Townshend’s issue with gatekeepers – one that social media and DIY will summarily trump, given enough time. Spaces like iLIke and Facebook will level the playing field.

Finally, it’s NOT Apple’s job to bridge the gap between labels and DIY. They are, like it or not, a retailer.  Why should they be expected to fix what’s broken in music?  The business model for direct sales/acquisition of recorded music in the traditional sense is collapsing.

But with all of the GREAT minds in the digital and music space, of course we’ll find a new model.  Music does far more than soothe the savage breast, it is the most vital language of unification.  Ask the millions of Chinese listening to Gaga or Beiber – or just look at the worldwide recognition of Mozart.  Or the global domination of Idol.

Yes, there are definitely parts of the foundation with cracks, or worse, but I have full confidence from my life experience of consulting with the industry leaders and artists, that we’ll find a new and more powerful model to propel us forward. Until then, in the immortal words of Sonny and Cher, the beat goes on.

Kelli Richards
The All Access Group, LLC


The Pandora Box of Mobile – The Sky’s the Limit

If you were at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco last week, you probably heard Pandora Founder Tim Westergren share that SEVENTY PERCENT of their usage is through mobile venues.  Yes.  70%.  And having created a super-successful digital space for themselves, Pandora doesn’t see Spotify, iTunes, or any other competition eating their lunch any time soon.

Tim Westergren shared the following about the portability of the iPhone and its impact on Pandora, “Overnight it transformed our business. We almost doubled our growth rate. It changed Pandora from being desktop computer radio to being like real radio.”

One can’t completely appreciate the enormous (and growing) impact of the mobile industry without really understanding its past. I recently interviewed my longtime colleague, Anthony Stonefield, a leader in the mobile and digital industries, who literally pioneered downloadable song distribution in the 90’s and popularized ringtones worldwide in 2000 (creating today’s $8 billion ringtone market). Anthony also executive produced the worldwide mobile program for the Live 8 event, and the mobile charity part of Melissa Ethridge’s “I Run for Life” breast cancer campaign, among others. I asked Anthony Stonefield where he thought super distribution will take us in the next few yeas and to talk about SmartPhones and their broad effect on users.

“Smartphones put everything that you had on your PC into your hand… I think what’s happening now is that we’re unlocking the true internet. Until today, we have always thought that we are driving the web, but now, SmartPhones are reaching down into the emerging markets, to the next several billion individuals, and these people are creating revolutions, changing the face of the planet, because they’re getting their first real-time connection to the rest of the world, through SmartPhones.  As these phones infiltrate emerging markets, we have a whole new world to embrace… this is changing the nature of the human being and the way we interact.”

“My experience is that entertainment media is always consumed on impulse.  So the technical solutions are also part of this equation.  4G will eventually enable a distribution model that can scale, but until then, we face serious limitations of scale… 4G has a way to go before it can provide viable, reliable user experiences, but it does enable a way to discover and present media very rapidly.”

You can hear the entire interview here.

Getting back to the future, so to speak, Pandora’s founder explained at the Web 2.0 Summit that Pandora transformed from a simple desktop radio to a “real” radio when users started taking their iPhones and plugging them into their cars and living rooms.  It’s important to realize that, conceptually, Tim Westergren does not consider Pandora competition to Apple, Spotify or other subscription music services.  He considers it a streaming radio service, and does not charge for participation.

With revenue skyrocketing due to ad sales, similar to traditional radio, Pandora has forayed further into radio, actually developing programming and content – and perhaps even newscasts and “sports radio” broadcasts in the future, further solidifying them as the leader in this industry – at least for now.  Like any great industry, competitors WILL show up.  AOL, who could arguably be called the founder of online radio, relaunched its own product within hours of Westergren’s speech, with half of the audio commercials.  (And AOL Radio already carries ESPN Radio and ABC News stations.)

It’s hard to know if AOL will be the biggest contender in the mobile war, but with Smartphones becoming the “transistor radios” of the future, Pandora’s box is definitely filled with opportunity.


An Intimate Chat with Tech Pioneer, Thomas Dolby


I was lucky enough, recently, to share a Fireside Chat with the Iconic ’80s electronic music and MTV pioneer, Thomas Dolby. I’m fortunate to have known Thomas personally and professionally, for almost 20 years now. Most recognized for his hit, “She Blinded Me with Science,” from the 80’s, Thomas Dolby is much more than a recording artist, he’s also a Producer and the Music Director for the prestigious TED Conference since 2001, for which he has received much visibility and credibility.

As most music lovers will know, Thomas retired from music to hit Silicon Valley as one of the inventors of musical ringtone technology for cell phones with his company Beatnik Inc. A few years ago he returned to his native England to follow his passion for renewable energy and built a solar-powered studio aboard a 1930s lifeboat in the garden of his beach house on England’s North Sea coast.

Thomas Dolby is STILL leading the tech revolution, most recently with his interactive game, Floating City, which reacts to player contributions, eventually granting access to Thomas’ newest music.  Floating City is unlike so many high tech games because it consciously fosters community and involvement, not solitude.

A Map of the FloatingCity is a travelogue across three imaginary continents: In Amerikana he reflects with affection on the years spent living in the U.S.A., and his fascination with its roots music. (See to what degree at Urbanoia is more dark, with Dolby himself calling it, “a little unsettling.” In the third continent, Oceanea, there’s a return to Dolby’s natural home on the windswept coastline.

Floating City is digital tech at its best, using it as a platform and portal through which to offer new music, music that has touchstones to Dolby’s past but definitely brings some exciting new and unexpected musical turns — and not all of them involving his signature electronica.

Tune in for my one-on-one chat with Dolby and hear what inspired him to enter gaming tech and how it creates this connection to music with his fans, and how they have turned into an army of brand advocates, completely leveraging web 3.0 on Dolby’s behalf.

This is digital technology at its best!

The Gifts of the Digital Age – Remember 9/11

Today’s article will be short. It reflects upon one of the most powerful testaments to the age of digital technology. Because of the advances in digital technology, we are able to keep alive the memories of those who lost loved ones on this day, ten years ago – and even more, to broadcast those memories to our nation and to our world. They do not remain locked in a vault somewhere, for eternity, they are instead broadcast to the far corners of the universe through social media.

For the past five years, StoryCorps and the National September 11 Memorial & Museum have worked to record at least one story to honor each life lost on September 11, 2001, ten years ago today. To date, families and friends have memorialized nearly 600 individual victims of the attacks through the StoryCorps interview process. When the 9/11 Memorial opened this morning, excerpts from 10 of these StoryCorps interviews will be featured at the site.

The gifts of digital technology go one step further. Gratefully, the 9/11 Memorial Guide is available through a new iPhone, Android, and Windows Phone app, which visitors to the Memorial will download before visiting the site. This app will allow visitors to search the names arrangement of the Memorial and present select StoryCorps interviews, which help illustrate the enormity of the loss on 9/11 through the personal remembrances of families who lost loved ones on that day. The app will feature StoryCorps stories from each of the nine groups of victims memorialized at the site:  WorldTradeCenter(North), WorldTradeCenter(South), the Pentagon, Flight 93, Flight 77, Flight 175, Flight 11.

May the memories of those lost be preserved and shared.

VizLingo – The Newest Gadget for Gen Z

Yes, the tech revolution has produced an endless stream of new gizmos, gadgets and tools. Some of these are vital to our day-to-day existence, like email, and some are simply a fun and entertaining distraction (Angry Birds anyone?)…

Not long ago, entrepreneurs Todd Younggren and Azeo Fables created hatched the idea to use the latest revolution in tech, mobile, to create a new way to communicate, and VizLingo was born.  Simply put,VizLingo is a messaging tool that translates your words into video. The UI is exactly what the new generation of users demands, fun and easy! Just type, see and send. The user simply types any message into VizLingo to see each word of their message illustrated by a 1-2 second video clip. Streamed together (with subtitles at the bottom for the less creative), it’s a visual puzzle that can be sent anywhere – directly to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, mobile phones and email addresses.

If you’re thinking “I don’t get it” – that’s actually a good thing.  It’s one of those subtle mechanisms that has to be experienced, like poetry for instance.  VizLingo is definitely a sort of “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” medium – a new form of visual poetry, if you will. It’s not only who it plays TO, but also what the “writer” puts into their work. My favorite part of  VizLingo is that, soon, the creator can customize their own Lingo by uploading video clips right from a mobile phone or digital camera. It’s fun and easy, and in the hands of a user who has the time to be super creative, it could definitely go big and go viral.

VizLingo’s Global Lingo is communal, created by and for the VizLingo community, boasting tens of thousands of user-generated clips shared from all over the world. And in today’s world of “new normal” social marketing,  VizLingo could be a BIG deal.  In fact, I think Ford and the Hershey Chocolate company and Virgin Airlines, etc., should engage their younger clientele and create a promotion where anyone using their products in a VizLingo video and pushing it out to their own friends and fans, wins a [fill in the blank] … Virgin Airlines round trip to Tahiti, perhaps?

In the immortal words of one of my favorite ads, “This is not your father’s Oldsmobile.” And if VizLingo finds the creative joint ventures that FourSquare embarked on when everyone first stood there saying, “I don’t get it,” well, we may end up wishing we did.


Big Brother has Landed, and his name is Foursquare

It’s hard to know just how big social media is going to get – and even harder to remember that there was once a world without an internet. We’ve all just accepted this “new normal” in our day-to-day lives – along with digital music, eBooks, iPads and a long list of other tech advances that were barely even imagined a mere thirty years ago.  (Some of which I actually had the privilege to work on at their inception – like Music at Apple.)

In my recent interview with the CEO of BookBaby and CDBaby, Brian Felsen, Brian shared that 80% of people under the age of 30 have never even bought a CD.  (To hear that interview, go to

So where does this go next? It’s more than viral and mobile, in my humble opinion, Social is very quickly becoming Big Brother. Take Foursquare, the king of Geolocated Social Media platforms.  Foursquare made its debut in 2009, popularizing the idea of “checking in,” or using a cell phone application to tell friends that you are at a particular restaurant, bar or park. It’s definitely a cool idea – so cool that Facebook and Google developed their own geolocated check in apps. Everyone wondered if the web giants would squash Foursquare like a bug, but so far Foursquare is definitely more than holding its ground, with over 10 million registered users.

Dennis Crowley, the chief executive and one of the founders of Foursquare, attributed its continued momentum to its singular focus on location. “When people think about Facebook, they think about it as a place to send their friends messages or post updates, not necessarily as a place to check in,” he said. “We’re associated with one thing, location, and that really helps.”

Most recently, Foursquare teamed up with Groupon.  Groupon is actually Foursquare’s sixth and latest daily deals partner, but by no means their last.  Along with Groupon deals, app users also will be able to see deals offered by Foursquare’s five other partners: BuyWithMe, Zozi, Gilt City, Living Social and AT&T Interactive.

In June, they also created an alliance with finance giant, American Express to offer discounts to cardholders when they check in on their cell phone at certain shops and restaurants. (Although Foursquare will not be receiving any revenue from the American Express deal, it says the promotion will help legitimize the company’s approach and will help attract other, more lucrative partnerships.)

How does all of this affect the consumer?  It means real-time, by-location deals will be created through users’ apps.  A simpler explanation:  You’ll soon walk by a Gap and get a Gap deal sent to your device, simply because geolocated Foursquare knows where you are.  Yes, Big Brother is here and we have invited him into our lives, kimono wide open and location checked in.


An Intimate Discussion with Brenden Mulligan, CEO of OneSheet, the One Stop Solution for Artists

A few weeks ago, I was very fortunate to interview Brenden Mulligan, the CEO of OneSheet. For those of you who don’t know, OneSheet is a completely free website which allows musicians to connect their existing social networks and services, creating a basic and graphically exciting site that includes music, videos, photos, concert dates, social streams, mailing list signups and online stores.  Although it literally JUST moved out of beta, Onesheet already has more than 10,000 recording artists signed up, including major label artists like ParamoreMat Kearny and Owl City.

OneSheet has the added feature of working with many of the most-used musician’s online services, including Tunes, Beatport, Topspin, Bandcamp, YouTube, Tumblr, Songkick, FanBridge and SoundCloud.  It’s also compatible with ArtistData, a popular syndication tool for musicians to post information across the web, which was also started by founder Brenden Mulligan.

Brenden Mulligan:  For a long time now, artists have been asked to create profiles on all of these different services, and one problem I felt was there was that there wasn’t necessarily an easy way to weave these together.  What I wanted to do was make it incredibly easy for an artist to create a maintenance free web presence, something that would take them only a few minutes to do and be totally affordable.

OneSheet isn’t only a one-stop-shop solution for artists, it’s also been very collaborative. Founder Brenden Mulligan has made many adjustments based on the feedback of artists.  For instance, users can remove the Onesheet header, customize the navigation bar and rename concerts to tour, live, appearances, events or shows, etc. Most importantly, Onesheets can be assigned a custom domain name, which is a great asset in today’s world of uber branding.

Brenden Mulligan plans to add a premium paid service will add additional features and customization. “Mobile optimization is another feature we may charge for. What kind of artists use Onesheet and how they use it, will drive what we do next.”

To hear my entire interview with entrepreneur and CEO, Brenden Mulligan, go to


Has the Economic Downturn Ended Mobile Advertising Before it Began?

Is Mobile Advertising Over Before it Began? One or Two Standouts Still in the Game

Unlike social media marketing, social advertising seems to be taking a big hit from the never-ending recession we find ourselves in as a nation.  I say this because it seems that the newest golden egg in advertising, Mobile, had hit a new low before it ever reached any kind of high. And if you look deeper, what it’s really indicative of is click based marketing overall.  It’s been interesting to watch mobile marketing come to life.  I worked in this space with Virgin Mobile several years ago; and at that point it was more of an evangelism exercise trying to educate major brands and media companies about what this was all about. Now it’s an evangelism to get them to stay the course and build an audience.

How does this all play out in the new digital age, if audiences and ROI aren’t born overnight? With 56% of Fortune 500 marketers dissatisfied with or simply not using click-based mobile advertising, it’s possible that only a few strong companies will be able to ride the wave, approach smaller marketing businesses, provide a good service at the right price, and hang in there until the economy turns.

One of the few standouts who seem to be weathering the storm and getting it right is Augme Technologies. Augme has created what they call the “AD LIFE™ Ad Network” to help marketers engage with their best consumers. Basically, by using sophisticated targeting options, Augme reaches 100+ million unique visitors (and 9+ billion impressions) each month. It’s the targeting that makes this unique and successful, with options that range from region to behavior to platform and device, as well as a huge array of demographic combinations.

If you follow the old-adage that the best customer is one you already have, then the mobile marketing industry should first be able to count on repeat business from established clients before creating a trajectory of higher profits.  In this case, it doesn’t look like that will happen, not at the present time anyway. But having an example of a company that’s navigating these new waters successfully does give some hope.

With Smartphones taking over the mobile industry at a phenomenal rate, the mobile advertising world should look like a wide open field of opportunity, but right now, the numbers just don’t support this.  A recent survey showed that although 93% of marketers would move further into mobile ad spending – 43% of that group cites a low return on investment as a block to continuing with the platform.

Another statistic worth mentioning is that the most effective mobile ad campaigns were email based, where consumers had signed up and chosen to participate. Just a note, this is something that social media marketers have known for over a decade. 

“Signup ads are native to mobile advertising,” said Zephrin Lasker, CEO and co-founder, Pontiflex, one of the largest players in the mobile ad field. “People have a new sense of control and meaningful experiences with brands.”


In the end, this forum also demands a new level of creativity, collaboration and UE, user experience.  If Angry Birds can become a phrase and experience that 78% of mobile phone users know and have participated with, then Angry Birds who drink Dr. Pepper makes perfect sense.


For more information on Social Media Marketing, especially in how it affects the Music Industry, grab a copy of my new eBook: “Taking the Crowd to the Cloud – Social Media for the Music Industry.”

The music industry has turned into a very complicated space, and marketing was NEVER easy to begin with.  Written by industry insider, Kelli Richards, “Taking the Crowd to the Cloud – Social Media for the Music Industry raises the bar and demystifies social media marketing, helping musicians, agents and anyone in our industry to THRIVE – it empowers and transforms the marketing mindset.  Featuring TEN top social networks for musicians, this eBook maximizes your social media to build (and keep) your audience. It holds the key to eMail Marketing, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and several hot secrets in Social Media. (It even covers how to port your MySpace contents to Facebook Music.) For $37 this is easily the million dollar choice.


Tech + Media – The Honeymoon Between GoogleTV and Logitech Ends, but the Marriage Continues

The marriage of tech and media is definitely a rocky one at times, and Web TV is no exception.  Despite all promises, like all relationships things are always evolving between tech and media – and sometimes they work, and sometimes they don’t. The latest tech / media couple in trouble appears to be Logitech and Google.  With the rocky start to Google TV (the biggest player in Web TV so far), Logitech is also hung up in every way possible. Why?  They supply the tech end of Google TV with the Revue Google TV set-top box.

Google TV is a pretty cool product – and quite possibly the future of ALL television – or at least a glimpse of it, providing access to live TV, on-demand programming, recorded shows, pay TV, online video clips and, of course, the web.

Will Web TV replace regular TV any time soon? Probably not.  But don’t count Google (or Logitech) out of the running.  Someone’s going to nab the real estate on Web TV, and for their part, Logitech is willing to continue the union.  In fact, they’re lowering the price to make the hardware accessible to almost anybody.

Losing the market share before one is really created is obviously not an outcome that Logitech will go for. In fact Logitech’s Chairman, Guerrino De Luca, was quoted this week as saying:  “There was a significant gap between our price and the value perceived by the consumer.”

Market share is the moral of the story for both the data and the technology side of the equation right now.  Any day now Google TV should be accessible by Android, and with 130 million users, that is a big deal. For now, Logitech has chosen to bite the revenue bullet and get more customers.  That means a lower price in order to boost the real estate for Google.

It’s hard to imagine Apple or Sony supporting the music industry by lowering the price of hardware to encourage market participation, but if this is an indication of what might work, then Blu-Ray may actually still stand a chance.



Social Media Wars – How Wide Do We Open the Kimono? Google+, Facebook, Etc.


By now, you may have heard the name Michael Lee Johnson.  He’s a young web developer who recently tried to promote his presence on Google+ by taking out a Facebook Ad.  What’s wrong with that?  According to Facebook’s terms of service, only everything.  And while I don’t agree with Facebook, simply because of my personal and professional stand on Friction vs. Fiction, they are, of course, simply protecting their market share.

It is very easy to see why they don’t want to do battle with megalith Google over anything more than ad sales. One has to wonder, however, where the users come into play.  Although diligently trying to evolve every single day, there’s absolutely NO guarantee that Facebook will not become the MySpace of tomorrow.  (Meaning that they become a great neighborhood that nobody lives in or even visits any more – sort of the Three-Mile Island of Social Networks.)

This isn’t the only example of what I might call “random” censorship either. is notorious for ripping down local Meetup Groups that don’t fit their user terms (which change at will if you’re of a certain political slant).  The bottom line is that social networks are NOT democracies.  They are autocracies, and your participation is permitted and censored, at will, by the owner of the club.  Simply building walls and creating friction will not protect them.

So where does this leave Google+ ???  Growing. By leaps and bounds in my estimation.  Why?  Because it addresses all of the issues Facebook created – over exposure, brand and personal comingling, general insanity and finally, the issue of demographic. (And right now, it’s a hotbed for techies.)

As I addressed in my recent Social Media eBook, the problem with ANY network is that you can only reach THAT network’s users.  So while you can break demographics out further, you can only operate within the umbrella of users actually ON Facebook, for example.  Who are THEY?  Mostly, on Facebook at least, they’re people with free time.  Yes, I have a ton of “friends” on my Facebook Page, and I value them!  But I think Google+ and it’s Circles concept will provide a segregation which will eliminate having multiple Pages, Profiles, Groups, etc., etc. that ALL have to be updated.

Another service worth watching which addresses this, on the opposite side of the spectrum (the personal side), is  Proust is a social network designed to connect MORE intimately than Facebook (as if that were possible), by connecting close family members and allowing them to commemorate events and share life stories.  With the boom in genealogy that’s been created by the digital revolution, this is an idea that just might take off.

Final thoughts:  We have seen some extreme reverberations to the social media age (which is a subset in itself of the digital age).  Facebook overtaking MySpace (almost to annihilation) is only one example. There will be a backlash to the autocracy though, you can guarantee it.  Because the internet may be a place of freedom – but social networks are NOT.  A good example of this backlash is hacker group Anonymous. Even THEY are starting a social network (called “the Revolution”).  Their platform?  No censorship.  This might seem to lean toward the shadow side of things we might all like to avoid … but in reality, is it the Michael Lee Johnson’s of the world and a simple Google+ banner ad that we protect?  A question well worth consideration, at least.

Apple – Building a Brand, Leaving a Legacy

There’s this thing in life that most of us have experienced. It’s a sort of metaphysical passing of one’s self. Those moments when you pass a place you know and can almost see your younger self (or maybe your older self), standing right there in a different time. For me, Cupertino has always held those doorways and windows. Like most of the kids who grew up in Cupertino, I used to make extra money picking apricots in the orchards.

Obviously, fruit has remained a big theme for Cupertino. Of course, I’m speaking tongue in cheek – as most of the world knows, Steve Jobs built Apple’s headquarters here (it’s his hometown too; one of many things we share in common). So, once lush with orchards and wineries, Cupertino is now one of the geek capitals of the world. I say that with pride and humor, because I am definitely one of them, standing on the thin line between artistry and technology. In fact, I worked at Apple for many years, and I’m proud to say that I launched the focus on music and led strategic Music and Entertainment initiatives during my 10 years there.

So I am one of the truly lucky ones, with strong roots both in the Cupertino of old – and the Cupertino of now. The roots of now, the Apple tree, are firmly incontrovertibly implanted in Steve Jobs. As stock prices have shown, Jobs is absolutely the trunk of Apple and inseparable from where investors put the worth of the company.

And here’s the real crux of what I want to say in this piece: Seeing Steve Jobs battle through the fight of his life to restore Apple to greatness – a graceful, courageous and obviously successful battle – doesn’t hold a candle to seeing him fight for his life now. But what he’s creating, despite (or because of) that illness is mind blowing. Naysayers can address the iCloud any way they want, but what we all know is that it’s pretty damned likely to be successful. Apple is ending the war on clouds and lockers and legitimizing what the consumer wants, whether the music industry agrees or not.

It is the new digital age, and like it or not we’re not going to stop access. We’re not even going to control access. Steve Jobs has literally put all his apples into one basket in agreement. Why does it matter? It matters because, like Bob Lefsetz said recently, Apple is EASY. The huge base of consumers out there trust that if they get an iPad or iPod or iTunes … whatever, it will work. Apple has not only galvanized a brand, but it has built a huge, vocal community of brand advocates. No amount of advertising money could have busted the iPad out of the gate the way the users themselves did.

The second part of a brand is always fulfilling the promise you set forth (this is straight from branding queen Libby Gill’s rulebook). And, quite simply, Apple delivers on their promise day in and day out. They listen to their constituency and they build a better mousetrap, make better stuff, and address issues like the cloud – maybe a little later than the creative disruptors, but without a doubt, they’re putting their weight (and their money) where their mouth is.

Which brings me to the issue of legacy: Apple is a big deal – not just to the world, that’s obvious – but here, in Cupertino (my hometown). Legacy is a lot like a brand, in its truest form, it delivers on a promise made. The new Steve Jobs’ Cupertino Apple Campus Mothership is absolutely part of that promise. One day after the WWDC conference, Jobs put forth his new campus proposal to the Cupertino City Counsel, ripe with more than apples. Steve Jobs has designated acres and acres of his campus for apricot orchards – honoring the tradition of the Valley; that’s roots. And it’s deeper than I can convey.

I could go on and on about Apple’s commitment to its future and to the ever growing employee base (I was part of that once, and I retain a strong, golden thread to those people and the work they do), but the commitment from Steve Jobs is bigger than even that. I think I should come clean here and say that obviously I admire Steve Jobs. I don’t agree with him all the time, obviously – or with Apple for that matter. But I’ve seen him renovate more than a company or a product line. I’ve seen him refresh the people around him. I’ve watched him galvanize thousands of employees to get laser focused on success and build something meaningful. I’ve witnessed the grace, elegance, and simplicity with which the products have sparked a revolutionary embrace among consumers. I’ve watched his address at Stanford’s graduation a dozen times and brought that message into my own life – which brings me back to that metaphysical doorway I mentioned earlier. To that glimpse of one’s self coming and going.

You see, we’re all creating a legacy all the time. We are ALL in the process of going, like it or not.
A brand, well that’s for now. But a legacy… what we build that will outlast us, that’s huge. There are 3,700 trees in what will be the new Apple campus as of today. According to initial specs, Apple hopes to have 6,000 trees when the mothership is built. In fact, Steve Jobs hired experts from Stanford to consult on indigenous trees to make this come to “fruition” (sorry, I couldn’t resist). To me, no matter what my life has become – working with industry leaders and entrepreneurs, innovators and influencers, celebrities and musicians, I often look through one of those doorways and see myself picking fuzzy apricots from the tress here in Cupertino. I remember where I come from and, like Steve Jobs, that my legacy has to be bigger than my brand.

And just my humble opinion, whatever those trees are, whatever fruit they bear, in my book they’re all Apple trees.