1970s, Adam Werbach, Apple, Collaborative Consumption, Consumer Insight, Consumption Behaviours, Cradle to Cradle, Great American Songbook, Hoagy Carmichael, i-phones, i-tunes, Life Cycle design, Shared Economy, Swapsies & Sharesies, Trends, Vinyl LP Sleeve Notes, Waste Not Want Not, Yerdle
To be fair the first time I ever heard the phrases Collaborative Consumption and Shared Economy used to explain the new consumption trends of collective barter and re-use I was no more enlightened.
One painted the picture of a co-operative of tubercular poets and the other sounded like a euphemism for a low effort-short-duration-hi reward act of coitus.
Not that I don’t find the concepts they represent amazing and inspiring.
I am in awe of the platforms that are conflating the social culture of sharing and swapping stuff for free, great distribution and logistics providers, a higher purpose of light touch collective action and the target of substantially reducing the purchase of consumer durables by doing so.
The likes of Adam Werbach and the people at yerdle are blazing it.
The whole social marketplace of give and get for free reminds me of the sheer excitement and pleasure of swapsies and sharesies, with everything from player cards to lego pieces to Action Man accessories furiously exchanged – the smart thrift of a great trade and the thrill of an unexpected treasure.
I just wish more brands figured out how to build this kind of community-making, life-affirming idea seamlessly into their systemic selves.
I am especially irritated with the brands who know full well that a whole load of their junk is in someone else’s trunk (and I don’t mean that as a euphemism)
I have already mentioned in a previous blog the fractual tech landfill of the Man Drawer. Drawers filled to brimming old tech kit, some barely used. The orphanage of every tech fling we’ve ever had.
The other junked up trunk in my life is sitting on my lap top right here and somewhere in the ether out there.
i-tunes. Or should I say specifically the deselected i-tunes in my library.
Now I love Hoagy Carmichael. A honky-tonk swoony blues songwriting band leading pianist of the finest order. His Hong Kong Shuffle, Riverboat Blues, Georgia On My Mind and Old Buttermilk Sky are basically liquid golden pools of genius soaking through the pages of the Great American Popular Songbook.
You cannot fail to love a man who when asked to describe his own voice referred to it as sounding “the way a shaggy dog looked”.
And there is nothing one dimensional about Hoagy. Hoagy is not easily set aside. Hoagy is loaded. With him comes the daisy chain memories of that period in the early seventies where everyone from fashion designers, to musicians, artists and filmmakers just couldn’t resist the cultural signatures of the Great American Era from the 1890s to the 1930s – especially the speakeasy chops of the old joanna.
Enshrined in Films such as Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kind, Bonnie & Clyde, The Great Gatsby, The Sting and The Man With The Golden Gun, the jaunty jazz keys chimed through everything. Even popular music stole a march from the zeitgeist with Bowie drawing in the haunting chops of the good old days into his anthemic tracks Time and Aladdin Sane (accompanied by jazz pianist Mike Garson) and in the fashion of his Man Who Stole The World Zoot Suit come Speakeasy look.
So Hoagy, Genius. But the purchase decision on my part was badly planned. I wanted a download with the 9 or 10 tracks I really liked. What I got was a download of forensic depth and scope. The download included interviews, 7 separate recordings of Riverboat Shuffle alone, and much more.
In the absence of a retro vinyl moment of in-depth sleeve note reading accompanied by the sharp petro-tang of print varnish and PVC this download is old school in its detail. An enthusiast would adore it.
But it’s wasted on me. Which brings me back to the point with our grandparents words ringing in our ears: Waste Not Want Not
So to that end, Apple, if you’re listening, all I want is a button on my i-tune genius panel marked Yard Sale. And all I want that button to do is allow me to select all the deselected tracks in my library and put them into a special open market. Where I can either swap and share them for others, or sell them at tuppeny prices and donate the cash to the cause of my choice.
BOOM happiness – and all in the spirit of Yerdle et al.
I am sure that there are many ways of passing around music whose stealth tactics and moves teeter on being a martial art. But I am taking the simpleton tack here. And I am pointing to a Brand’s responsiblity for cleaning up their own back yard, laying waste to waste and leading by example
I want a massive brand like Apple to do it for me – in fact, especially a brand like Apple, with all of its ‘we’re a Purpose Driven Business’ Love Me Love My 4th Upgrade i-phone schtick’.
Workout the IP issues with the artists and publishers – I am certain that the idea of sharing deselected, de-listened and de-loved tracks in some second-hand music platform form of barter is not so satanic an idea or impossible a task.
The criteria that the user only sells the quantity that you have (no multiple sales of individual tracks) and that once sold it’s gone forever seems wholly reasonable.
Now, if there ALREADY IS is a device/trigger/button/easter egg somewhere on my machine or in the software that does allow me to do this, PLEASE SHOW ME WHERE IT IS, along with the other half billion users on the i-tunes system.
Counting down to the one billionth download is all well and good BUT I would be a lot more excited if i-tunes started counting up to celebrating a billion deselected tunes shared and a petaflop of cash raised.
The guys at Yerdle are aiming for a 25% reduction in consumer durables purchases.
My challenge to Apple is to commit to reducing the number of dormant tunes sitting in libraries by the same percentage – by introducing a swopsies and sharesies meets yard sale mechanism into i-tunes.
(That would of course require them to be arsed to do it in the first place. And not just um and ahh their way out of it by distracting themselves and us by counting up to their billionth pointless upgrade I-phone sold.)
I want the spiritual zeitgeist to be carried at scale and across oceans by someone of Apple’s reach and influence. Its a role model thing.
Speaking of zeitgeists, one of the most powerful things about the Yerdle kind lies ironically (given how NOW it is) in the shape of things to come.
As platforms like Yerdle develop, they will become an increasingly valuable partner for any one in the consumer durables markets because they will have first hand insight and data regarding the post purchase behaviour and utility of those consumer products – far richer than any service programme report. The broadened view of the landscape of use would give real meaning to Consumption Insight as it would reach far far beyond the increasingly one dimensional framing of consumption and what it means to consume a product or service over time.
They would have an independent viewpoint of which products leave the home (or favour) as quickly as they enter it, lose their cache, or simply fall redundant. They would know which items travel where, where the sharesie hotspots are and when swopsie communities are most active. They will know what types of profile user gravitate to which type of ‘thing’ – data to cross refer against the company eye view of their segmentation and dynamic customer behaviour.
That kind of knowledge could reshape the nature of the consumer companies’ distribution partnerships and networks as well as their models of Customer Relationship and Service Management.
What’s more it could start to change the shape of Cradle-To-Cradle design in a number of sectors – even to the point where consumer durable manufacturers start to build the share swap barter life stage in the cradle to cradle life cycle design and planning.
Not that any of that helps me – or Hoagy, who is currently sitting mostly deselected and dejected in my library.
So here’s to Swopsies and Sharesies, digital yard sales and Hoagy Rides Again