Monthly Archives: March 2009

Albums & Singles…Let’s Move On…Please!

I have been reading the Lefsetz Letter for several years now and am certainly a fan of its author, Bob Lefsetz.  He is an extremely thoughtful and passionate forward-looking thinker who is never afraid to share his views, subject himself to criticism and open his life to readers.

It is because of his stature that I hope he can lead the way to move us all beyond the tired, restrictive nomencalture of albums versus songs. In one of his posts today, Albums, put forth the need for artists to stop thinking about the 'album' as the main vehicle.

I agree with that completely.

Unfortunately, Mr. Lefsetz's suggestion, of which he is not alone, is that artists, instead, focus on the single. In his words, "

Create one song that grabs my ear, leave me
wanting more.  It's about bite-sized
rather than humongous
."

I was disappointed that he did not follow through more deeply on his thought earlier in the post where he stated:

"Now the public has the option to own only the
itty bit it wants, people don't want to spend the time and money on the whole
damn thing.
..

A true fan wants more and more music by his favorite
artist.  But he doesn't want it dropped
like a bomb all on one day, he wants it released spread out over time.  It's like a relationship is collapsed to a
week, with not only kissing and intercourse, but babies and divorce all at the
same time.  Whereas real life is an
endless stream of small moments. 
Musicians should realize this, understand it's a changed world."

I agree that artists should treat their relationship with fans as just that…a relationship with both large and small moments. To reduce that solely to delivering 'songs' instead of 'albums' I think is short-sighted and incomplete.

If an album is like a week from dating to divorce, a purely 'song' or 'single' strategy is like a string of one-night stands.  They may provide some temporary gratitude but will never let each person truly understand one another for something deeper.

I believe that artists should be in the habit of sharing the entire creative process with their fans.  In some cases that will be songs, sometimes albums, sometimes beats, other times lyrics, and on and on.  By releasing completely from the confines of finished product, the artist can not only be more expressive, but find new business models to support it.

I have just joined a new company that will be releasing a service soon that lets any business or artists manage their entire digital & mobile life and interact with fans on a one-to-one basis from a single location.  I am excited because it supports exactly what I am discussing here, the need to support the relationship through getting to know the fans and vice versa.

I greatly appreciate the song and album, don't get me wrong.  But I appreciate them much more whent they are peppered amongst who the artist truly is; which comes out over a long series of dates.

Observe Then Engage – Music Marketing In Reverse

CNET recently published an article about how musicians must engage in rather aggressive marketing in order to survive, let alone flourish, in the modern media world.

The
key point to me made in the article is the author's assertion that:

"In the case of music, there's a core audience–I'll be
generous and say it's around 1%–who understand and care deeply about music,
who use their ears more than their other senses, and who couldn't live without
it. The other 99% attend shows and buy CDs for other reasons–to fit into a
peer group, to stave off the boredom of another evening at home watching TV, to
attract a mate, and so on.

Art's not food. It's a luxury, not a necessity. Which means that
the only way for an artist to make money is to draw some of that 99% who feel
they don't need it.”

Marketing
is the way to reach that 99%, but because that less-passionate 99% may not be as reliant on the
music as the owner would like them to be, that “marketing” must almost occur in
reverse. 

By that I mean that the member of the 99% is more than happy to
include music as part of his life and the owner must see and know how it has
been, then engage in “conversation” rather than guess an throw a message at the
fan/user/consumer/prosumer. 

 As
I think of the next generation of entertainment technology and services, it is those questions, and solutions, that will likely be the primary drivers

– ‘How do I better understand those
who would like my music’

– ‘How would they display that affinity’. 

Hopefully that display is in the form of some type of indirect or direct compensation in line with
consumer expectations; but the owner can only learn that through observation. 

When I see traditional music models of radio and records drop even
further in industry revenue, the lack of understanding of the actions,
interactions and desires of the fan are obvious.

In
addition to the cost savings, increased efficiency and new revenue support that new services can provide, it is the ability to observe so that the owner can design and employ the
best marketing strategy for the highest ROI that will drive value across the board.

Uncertainty Is The Friend Of Interactive Innovation

I wanted to pass on a few articles that have come out recently
about the uncertainty that pervades the digital music, Web 2.0 music
world.  The uncertainty is around which models will work, how to license,
how to manage, what consumers like, etc., etc.

 I love it.

 I love it because the fast pace of innovation around
single-purpose services is the core reason that a solution that connects innovators and enables innovations rather than trying to hinder them is so
powerful.

As you read the articles you will notice
that a lot of attention is paid to media execs as they try to “figure” out the
next big thing and how to control their content or brand within it.
While content and brand control is essential in one sense, what I
believe many execs have failed to recognize, but the consumers and fans surely already do,
is that there are many “big things” & an increasing number of outlets of
which their content, whether they like it or not, is already a part. 

In my opinion the core issue then is not trying to ‘predict’ in order to ‘control’ but to ‘discover’ in order to ensure ‘visibility’ into
& ‘knowledge’ of their content locations.   A solution that provides that in a simple way to content owners untethers them from a top down approach to fan and business-building as they can rely on the biggest fans to push their brand forward.

In turn, the owners can see and know where their content is already
part of a service, conversation, zeitgeist so that they can then layer their
business model into it as appropriate for the medium.   This approach, done in partnership with the current central control approach, truly takes advantage of the interactive tools available to both professionals and consumers.

Trying to
pre-control access from the other direction is like sticking your finger in the dam
and will simply drain resources more quickly than the content owners could derive any
value.

That is what excites me so much about the next step in content business management and distribution…it removes
the burden of trying to control every new idea that comes out of the digital
& mobile ether and, instead, allows creators to find and see it, then
determine how to best use it for business advantage.

The fact is there
are thousands of innovative, smart people out there who love music & media and the new gneration of truly connector services can
help connect that passion with the those whose talent fuels it.  What is an example of one of these services…stay tuned, it is much closer than you think.

There are loads of discussions around the topics covered in the
articles below and they often simultaneously support & contradict each
other, but I thought I would pass on a quick few to support my little diatribe
above:

http://idolator.com/5163038/digital-music-basically-no-one-has-any-idea

http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-10184877-93.html

http://www.mailtribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090303/BIZ/903030302