Monetizing the Music: The Future of Physical

11 09 2009

I can’t get enough of music!  Whether it be downloading, sharing, streaming, uploading,  re-mixing etc. etc. I find myself in a whirlwind of mass music consumption.  My music library has grown out of proportion to what I couldn’t possibly listen to in a month, a year, 2 years?  As a digital native, a member of Gen Y, and stereotypical music junkie, I can’t get enough of digital content, but of course I want it all for free.  This behavioral pattern seems to be commonplace amongst people my age, always seeking out the next Pirate Bay, or having music swapping parties, anything to satiate our appetites for a cool new band or an awesome song.  Music really is bigger than it ever has been in the past, but our consumption pattern seems to surpass even beyond what our wallet can handle.  If digital music did not exist, the music industry would be suffering just as much as it is today, due to the US economic recession and really, the sheer lack of disposable income by arguably music’s biggest market:  Gen Y.

Vintage Vinyl St. Louis, MO

Vintage Vinyl St. Louis, MO

While thinking about my peers and my consumption patterns I’ve come to realize that a sheer lack of buying power, and lets not forget the ease of access, has in part led to the adoption of downloading bittorent’s, file swapping, P2P networks etc.   If I had even tried to satisfy my want for music 10 years ago, I would have broken the bank instantly with CD’s at cost of around $15 a pop. Now, lets fast-forward 10-15 years from now when Gen Y, music’s biggest consumer ever, retains some disposable income and a tremendous amount of buying power.   We all know that as we grow older we tend to appreciate nicer things, cherish the past, and re-kindle those memories of the summer ’09 through our favorite band that year.   This is where I see a huge opportunity for the return of a physical music product.  Already we can see a resurgence of vinyl that reminds us that people still value a physical product, but it has to have some sort of intrinsic value whether that be nostalgic or just wanting to build a collection.  I already find myself wanting to buy deeper into an artist’s so-called “product line” looking for something tangible that I can take home.  I believe that over the next decade we will see the physical music product decline and then re-emerge in a cyclical fashion.  The CD will always have a soft spot in my heart, due to the hundreds I already own and the  cherished memories of ripping off  a freshly shrink-wrapped disc to discover something beyond this world. Of course, the physical product will have to be a little bit more than a jewel case and an album liner, but the possibilities of creating some exclusive tangible music products may lead to a profitable return of the physical music product.  

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Will Mass Media Still Exist within Decade?

22 07 2009

Mass Media of the PastWill traditional mass-media still have its place in society 10 years from now?  This is a question I began asking myself after the death of what many consider the last true worldwide pop-icon Michael Jackson.  MJ could have only reached such super-stardom through mass-media, utilizing a limited set of media channels aimed at massive nationwide audiences. Clearly with the rapid growth of the internet, digital technologies, and social media, the so called long-tail of media is in effect.  The clout that mass media companies once had with traditional media is withering away as people continue to interact on the web through blogs, social bookmarking sites, message boards, micro-blogs, social networks etc. searching for more customized, niche based sources of media.   This leaves us with a very fragmented and highly targeted consumer culture online.

What I come to question then is what happens when this sort of consumer niche seeking activity carries over into offline social interaction in the real world.   Ten-Twenty years from now, will each individual become so niche focused and spread across such a diverse set networks that some basic commonality is lost?  If we take this long tail effect to the extreme, we would end up with a society that seems to lack a broad set of common interests. This is why I believe that traditional media or mass media may never completely disappear. Lets face it, in many cases people want to be told what to like.  They need common interest to relate and share with strangers. They want to join the crowd and share in large-scale community experiences.  In some cases push-based marketing may still prove to be successful.

Then again, millions of people are joining social networks each month.  Will Facebook become the next form of mass-media?  What are your thoughts?

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Virgin & Universal Reduce Piracy…Yeah Right

15 06 2009

BitBlinder

 

While Virgin Media & Universal Music hash out their new subscription service, a model which I thoroughly support, I still have to stop and laugh about the new partnership’s adamant goal to reduce the role of online piracy.  According to HypeBot:

 “the two companies will also be “working together to protect Universal Music’s intellectual property and drive a material reduction in the unauthorized distribution of its repertoire”.  This will involve implementing a range of strategies to “educate file sharers about online piracy” and “raise awareness of legal alternatives.”

While they are not threatening to punish the offenders of their policies, I believe that their outright condemnation of file-sharing will actually reduce the attractiveness of their music package.   Major labels must realize that since the dawn of Napster, music consumers have had unlimited access to free music with ease.   Fast forward to the present, and file-sharing is bigger than ever.   Not only that, but file-sharing “pirates” are one step ahead of the labels.

Enter BitBlinder, a new open-source project which serves to cloak torrents, hide browsing and bypass filters.   How will Virgin Media and Universal reduce the unauthorized distribution now?   I don’t think they ever will.  File-sharing must  be embraced and utilized in order to gain traction with some of the biggest music consumers (or pirates) of today.   Will it ever happen or will the majors become the Big Brother of the digital age?

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