Spotify – the iTunes Killer and new advertising platform in one?

Spotify Logo

In the past I’ve been a bit of a die-hard when it comes to digital music. Although I’m a huge fan of iTunes and I’m on my second iPod, thus far I’ve been a little resistant to purchasing digital-only music. I have purchased a couple of iTunes plus albums, but apart from that everything in my collection has been ripped from CDs I’ve bought. Why am I boring you with this background? Well, I was recently introduced to Spotify and I think it might have completely turned my attitude to digital music upside-down. And, if it’s done that to me, chances are it will do the same for thousands, if not millions of other music-lovers.

But why? It totally removes the need for an on-disk music library. It has the potential to be an iTunes killer, and an Amazon MP3 killer, and in fact the death knell for any other download-based music service you’d care to mention. By eschewing the traditional model of downloading tracks to your PC or Mac, Spotify streams the music to you, on demand. Unlike the other ‘iTunes Killers’ that aim to replace the desktop application and/or  subvert DRM, Spotify totally changes eliminates the music-ownership model.

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Searching for the Holy Grail (of Inbound Links)

Link building as part of an SEO campaign is, fortunately, far from the dangerous quest that Monty Python undertook. There are no Knights Who Say Ni, nor is there a lethal rabbit lying in wait. However, it is a long and hard slog that demands patience and careful attention. The rewards for a successful link-building campaign are plain: potentially hugely improved rankings and increased referred traffic.

We’ve been working on a couple of campaigns for different clients, playing the game, patiently waiting for new links to be established. Out of the blue, we found we had two fantastic links on our hands – from two of the most visible sites on the web, let alone in the UK. Both The Guardian Newspaper and The Sun are sending traffic to sites we manage. Needless to say we were very pleased, as it was somewhat unexpected.

What was the secret to this? Content, pure and simple. It just goes to show that for all the talk of enticing links through quality content, it’s quite true. And whilst these not might be the Holy Grail of links, (we’re still holding out for that elusive front-page-of -Google link – we might be waiting a while!) it shows that with a little effort, directed cleverly, you can achieve great results.

Southlands Farm Cottages Web Site Screengrab

Southlands Farm Cottages Web Site Launch

Some exciting news here at Mackerel Towers as the wrapping is taken off the first design and build project we’ve handled since starting up – a new web site for Southlands Farm Cottages.

Charles and Dee McGowan at Southlands Farm have three beautiful self catering Northumberland Cottages available for rental the year round. They began converting the cottages in 2006, welcomed their first guests in 2007 and hopefully will take things from strength to strength in 2009 with the help of the new site.

The challenge they faced was common – accurately portraying the very high standard of their accommodation, without sacrificing the personality that makes them unique and the values that make them admirable. So, our job was to build a site that does showcase the cottages in the right light, captures their unique brand of hospitality and encourages people to come and stay.

In our approach to the project we placed one foot in the aesthetic camp and the other in the business camp – after all, without guests there would be no business.

To that end we’ve developed a site that first and foremost captures the unique green, ‘country life’ that the cottages offer and, secondly, is designed and built to attract a serious volume of enquiries by being both highly attractive to search engines and (as one would expect from an seo company) highly capable of converting visitors into enquiries.

Now that the site is live, we’ll be carrying out a comprehensive search engine optimisation exercise to ensure the site is as visible as can be.

The excellent design work comes courtesy of Andrew Pendrick, with whom this project is a first-time collaboration. I would say only that I hope this is the first of many collaborations between Andrew and Mackerel Media.

The development was carried out by Alan White, of Alan White Web Development. Alan coded the templates, integrated the modX CMS framework and deployed the site to the hosting environment.

You can see the site at