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Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Rank Obessions

This may sound strange but I couldnt care less about my Technocrati ranking. Readers (both of you) have made this blog the 528,178th most linked to blog and I'm proud of that. This post by Guy Kawasaki (The OE), about his obsession with his Technocrati ranking made me reflect on my own little obsession with rankings. While, I'm unlikely to ever attain the status of blogging "A-lister" and I know it wont change the world and yes its geeky as hell, but it sure would feel good to have the largest MP3 collection online. I admit it, I'm obsessed with my MP3Tunes rank.

Let me state upfront that I'm not stalking, obsessed with or employed by Michael Robertson. Despite his rugged good looks and jockular charm, my repeated posts (here, here, here and here) about businesses that come under his umbrella are purely coincidental.

MP3Tunes is an online music locker where you can store, stream and retrieve your entire digital music collection. Users can sign-up for a relatively useless free account that only allows storing music already on the web, or they can shell out $40 bucks for a "premium" account. For your $40 bucks you get to use a crappy application that will slowly sync your MP3Tunes locker with all the music you care to put in it, from any Internet connected PC.

After you plunk down your $40 bills and login to the site, one of the first things you notice is the "Locker Envy" link right under your account name, your rank will be in green. For some reason the site uses the sexually suggestive number of 6969 for new users which results in about 100 users being tied for the double 69. They are so naughty in southern California.

After 3 days of emailing and bitching at the service folks, I finally got the Oboe application to stay connected to my MP3 Locker long enough to upload a couple of files. This is when I first took notice of my ranking. As I slowly added files to my locker over the next week I watched with mounting pleasure as I shot-up in the rankings. I'm currently ranked 392nd 285th out of more than 21,000 lockers with less then half my music loaded. Thats the good news. The bad news is that even with all my files loaded I wouldnt even break into the top 100 list.

The average number of MP3 files in the Top 10 lockers is 34,915 and you need 11,862 files just to break into the Top 100. Which for me means that even with the 12,000 MP3's I have in my collection I'd still be more then 20,000 MP3's short of the Top 10. This is what I'm calling the Acquisition Gap.

The difference between my current music collection (roughly 11,600 files) and the minimum number of files needed to get into the Top 10 (33,500)) is how many files I must acquire. Thats 21,900 music files that have to be ripped, downloaded or purchased in the next few weeks. At, with an average price of 12 cents per track, buying all 21,900 tracks would cost me over $2,600 and would be a highly time consuming process. So I'm likely to spend sometime at Filemp3 and Demonoid to bolster my ripping and sideloading activities.

Its occurred to me that MP3Tunes not only got $40 from me but it's also likely to spur me to spend money purchasing music, which I havent done in years, all to enhance my ranking on their site. I'm taking action in the real world, spending real money, to do something that only deepens my ties to a company I'm paying to provide me with a service. Not because their product is killer, its not, or because they render a service I cant get elsewhere (they dont) but they get my money and my evangelism (such that it is) because they have rankings.

Technocrati has got Guy Kawasaki strung out, so much so that he now hawks his Technocrati ranking more then his books (at least when you count posts...). MP3Tunes has the same effect on me minus the, "links are a meaningful validation of my contribution" excuse that Guy has. The real opportunity and challenge in this is to see who else will get me to spend money to close the Acquisition Gap created be What percent of hte more then $2,600 in potential dollars will I actually spend and with who? Answer to follow as I increase my rank from #285 to #1.


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