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The Automat

Hello happy reader,

When I was little, there was a Horn & Hardart Automat in downtown Providence. For me, it was magical place, a childhood equivalent of Jean Luc’s replicator, where any eats my heart desired was available in a trice…Actually, I doubt they had Earl Grey, hot. For those of you going all Scoobie on me wondering what the hell I’m talking about, a quick explanation is in order. Automats were “automated” cafeterias, somewhat akin to a sushi boat restaurant, where customers chose ready made food items. The fun part was that the comestibles were parked in little cubbyholes, each with a locked glass door and an associated coin slot. You pays yer money, you opens the door and grab yer food…nice.

Anyway, those early fast food establishments and the latter Automatt both link me to today’s posting; Entertainment On Demand 2.0. Earlier this year, Amazon announced they’re picking up the torch dropped long ago by Liquid Audio. Liquid’s hope was to deliver custom CDs, on demand, to your desktop. Nice concept but, a few years ahead of their time. To quote their web site, “Liquid Audio was formed in May 1996 by experts in the music and technology industries and was the first company to deliver secure music over the Internet. Liquid Audio had the first digital music commerce system featuring copy protection and copyright management, as well as the first and largest digital music distribution network. The company’s catalog of music is one of the largest in the world. Liquid Audio became Liquid Digital Media in January 2003 after being acquired by wholesaler Anderson Media, a large media distributor.” By the way, 2003 was the year that Apple intro’d the iTunes Music Store.

Cue the SFX and fast forward to May of this year. On the 5th, business process thought leader announced that, along with Sony BMG and EMI Music, they would “…bring back the music of hundreds of highly coveted out-of-print albums on CD through CreateSpace ‘Disc on Demand’ and to offer these titles on Formerly out-of-print albums now available to Amazon customers include ‘Hatari Soundtrack’ by Henry Mancini, ‘Earthquake Weather’ by Joe Strummer and ‘Motorcade of Generosity’ by Cake as well as albums from the legendary Blue Note catalog…The new CDs will be manufactured on-demand and shipped when customers place an order.” The CreateSpace division of On-Demand Publishing LLC also competes with self publishing pioneer Lulu in the print–on–demand space, as well as providing DVD discs–on–demand and rich media distribution, no surprise given the fact that their parent is Amazon. In all, a one stop shop for both “I want it now” types and self publishers alike.

Now, file the CreateSpace factoid and consider that, on the 7th of this month, Google announced that they are adding voice search to their iPhone application, allowing people to speak search terms into their iPhones and view the results on screen. Soo-weet! OK, now toss in Gracenote’s Mobile MusicID (another Sony enterprise) or Shazam’s acoustic matching services and you’re well on your way to having several fast, hands–free ways of ID’ing and purchasing content while waiting in line at Starbucks…Can you say “instant gratification”?

Well, Thanksgiving is over, the poultry’s in the fridge, awaiting an extreme makeover so it can materialize, like the Ghost of Christmas present, on weekend groaning boards all over America. This can only mean that retailers have (barely) survived Black Friday and “holiday” retailing is in full swing. In the not too distant future, we can all look forward to parking our keasters in front of the idiot box, mobile computing device in hand, and expending not one whit of hard won, poultry–derived energy in our search for the perfect gift for our loved ones…that’s all for now. Until next time, continue to geek!


2 Responses to “The Automat”

  1. This just in…In an April 12-13, 2008 Bob Edward Weekend interview with Lester William Polfuss aka Rhubarb Red aka Les Paul, Paul mentioned that he made only four studio albums and none were a hit. Instead, he recorded many albums in improvised locations, including a “Christmas album at a Horn & Hardarts right here in Time Square. Ah, they wouldn’t let us bring ah, any electronic equipment into the Paramount theater, and ah, so I made a deal with Horn & Hardarts that ah, give us a spot in the corner and let us record there. It’s right next to the Paramount, and we did and it turned out fine.”

    So, there it is…before San Francisco’s famed Automatt on Folsom, Les hooked up the first “Automatt” recording studio!

    To listen, head to:

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