Fake Plays Are Not Fake News

Clever fans are spoofing Spotify with so many fake plays it's starting to affect Billboard charts.


On Wednesday, Apple unveiled a suite of new iPhones, with the "best-in-class" model coming in at $1,500 fully-loaded, and the "budget" option at $749. How did Apple bring us to a world of $1,000 phones? We buy them. Tons of them. As it turns out, last year's iPhone X ($999) is the best-selling phone in the world, and their lower-end line products are duds. Apple was hesitant at first with the X, unsure of what sort of demand there might be for a $1,000 phone, and they prioritized iPhone 8 production so it was available at its debut. People who wanted the X had to wait a month or two. They've exactly reversed that with this debut. The highest end ships next week, the low end doesn't ship until October. Apple long ago perfected the art of these slickly produced annual events, and now it's clear they've perfected the art of the $1,000 phone. Presumably they'll work on their product naming next, looking at you "iPhone XS Max."


It's tricky to prove how and why music and events can move the needle for brands - real life doesn't generate live metrics you can track on a dashboard. Polling provides the best data. Live Nation released an expansive survey on brands and music, showing just how effective the space can be for marketers.  Granted, "fans like brands at concerts," says study commissioned to sell sponsorships may not surprise anyone, but their methodology is sound (including, creepily, "biometric analysis") and the results are compelling. And if still need a metrics-driven ecosystem, music experiences are a key driver of digital content. "If live is the ultimate connector, digital is the transmitter – it feeds the long tail of live."


An Amazon Echo is a simple enough consumer product, a $99 smart speaker that can talk with us. That simplicity belies an unfathomably complex system that manufactured, delivered and allows it to continue to operate. That unfathomability is something two professors want to address with a remarkable piece of artwork, The Anatomy of An AI System. The piece traces every system that makes an Amazon Echo possible, from the mining and smelting of the raw materials, to data centers and networks, to the delivery driver. It's "an anatomical map of human labor, data and planetary resources."



Willie Nelson
My Way
Recode Media
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey


Billy On The Street with Emma Stone
Kate Crawford &
Vladen Joler



Factory roots from deep in the archives, circa 1977.


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This WeekMatt Pennington