Around The Digital World in 19 Days

Charge up your iPod: October is ripe with digital-entertainment conferences. There are at least five big ones, and if you tried to attend them all, you'd spend most of the month in airport club rooms. Here's a cheat sheet to help you prioritize.


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1. Digital Music Forum West
October 3–4
Hollywood

Hot topics: Are consumers stealing control from the record companies? How are legal P2P downloading, nontraditional music retailers (Starbucks, Wal-Mart ), music-discovery sites such as Pandora and iLike, and Internet radio upending the business? "The dam is breaking for free online music," says Pandora founder Tim Westergren, who is slated to appear. "Consumers are calling Congress about potential rate hikes for Webcast music and saying, 'No, no, no, we don't want this.' "

2. Streaming Media Europe 2007
October 4–5
London

Hot topics: How can big companies finally make money off streaming media? And how will the rise of Internet TV force broadcasters and advertisers to shift direction yet again? "The focus is on the push and pull between advertising and creativity," says keynote speaker Ari Paparo, DoubleClick VP of rich media and emerging technologies. "Companies are looking to innovate, using [advertising] 'bugs' that overlay the video, or ticklers that run at the bottom of the screen."

3. DisplaySearch HDTV
October 10–11
Universal City

Hot topics: How will U.S. cable companies get from the current 195 high-def choices to 800 by 2009? And watch out for the coming OLED TV revolution, with TVs as thin as credit cards that roll up like a yoga mat. "Once consumers see HD, they don't go back," says Brian Burns, ESPN VP of strategic business planning and development. "They're watching programs they don't usually watch, and are watching them longer."

4. SMX Social Media
October 16–17
New York

Hot Topics: How do advertisers navigate the vast array of social networks to place ads well? Call it the niche-ification of social media. "These sites are all about the little guy and how he can make an impact," says Neil Patel, SMX cofounder. "Companies want to know how they can use that."

5. Billboard Mobile Entertainment Live
October 22
San Francisco

Hot Topics: A glimpse of the future, from social networks on mobile phones to the debate over subsidized advertising versus paid programs to how the iPhone is shaking up standards for 241 million U.S. mobile subscribers. "In this industry, there are no rules," says Anthony Bruno, executive producer of the conference. "There isn't a business model yet."

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