This article is the fifth in a series of articles exploring the future of social advertising.
The last post was about the potential pitfalls of using social media.
This is rather more lighthearted and much shorter than previous posts.
Inspired by comments made by Doug Morris, CEO of Universal Music Group in the December edition of Wired, I have turned to musing on the effects of ‘free music’ on the evolving social media landscape.
Much of the vitriolic commentary online regarding Morris’ profile in Wired is his assertion that the music industry failed to make all music for sale as mp3s in the late nineties, before Napster became popular, because they lacked the technical know-how.
Ten years is a long time to wait before attempting to capitalise on a latent revenue stream.
The problem now is that the music industry’s constant litigation against its customers has driven a whole generation of music fans to expect music to be free.
Doug Morris’ response:
People never really understand what’s happening to the artists. All the sharing of the music, right? Is it correct that people share their music, fill up these devices with music they haven’t paid for? If you had Coca-Cola coming through the faucet in your kitchen, how much would you be willing to pay for Coca-Cola? There you go,” he says. “That’s what happened to the record business.” Wired
One of the most interesting comments made in response to the article on Wired turned this analogy on its head.
The commenter referred to the fact that even though most homes have perfectly drinkable water available on tap, bottled water is a $16 billion dollar industry in the US alone.
So the question is:
Music or Bottled Water?
Which would you rather pay for?
The real issue the music industry is grappling with is that there is already too much content online. The explosive growth in online video only exacerbates this.
People crave convenience, however.
The future for music and social advertising will be linked to using free music to attract consumers to pay for personalised, music related services. These will range from personalised artists news and recorded music exclusives to branded artist merchandise like perfume and clothing.
MySpace’s incredible success in attracting musicians world over already proves the point that much existing recorded music can provided online, free to the listener.
The challenge now is to get a community of fans engaged enough around an artist or brand to buy a pie of that artist or band, be it in gig tickets, limited edition vinyl or t-shirts.
One thing is certain.
Fans will always be around.
Combining the focused interest of dedicated fans with well-designed social media initiatives that empower bands and artists to sell content of some kind directly to fans will be the salvation of the music industry.
The opportunities abound:
- Artist/band-managed blogs and collaborative web sites that offer unique content to fans on a Radiohead-style ‘pay-as-you-want’ basis.
- Direct artist relationships with major online digital distributors and publishers like iTunes and YouTube that can be used to monetise band and artist websites.
I could go on…
Whether the current music industry settles for blanket, all-you-can-eat style music subscriptions or ad-supported business models to prop itself up in a rapidly changing digital landscape, one thing is for certain.
We will pay for the convenience.
Either for bottled water or for brilliant bass lines.
What do you think? Do you think music will be free going forward? If not, is there a way to reverse this trend?
Share your thoughts in the comments.
- Future of Social Advertising: Determining the Value Exchange
- The Future of Social Advertising: Social Media and Social Experiences
- Future of Social Advertising: Potential Pitfalls of Using Social Media
- Future of Social Advertising: Branded Content and Branded Social Media
- There are Only Two Kinds of Online Advertising: Relevant Advertising and Spam