Archive for the ‘Music’ category

Lifetime value of the consumer

January 9, 2009

 This week there is an interesting Billboard Q&A with Universal’s Head of Digital in the US, Rio Caraeff.  If you can get past the metaphor orgy (e.g. “…put a little skin in the game …behind the curtain …You can’t hit the ball unless you swing the bat. Sometimes you strike out, but if you’re afraid to swing, nobody wants you on their team.”) he makes at least one interesting point …

What I’d like to see in the year ahead is a larger shift away from revenue-per-unit to a revenue-per-user model. This is much bigger than the notion of subscriptions or monthly recurring fees. It’s the general concept of getting paid something for everybody that accesses the network or has a device that’s music-capable. It’s really about driving a scalable and transformative business model for the music industry and away from figuring out how to get more money from the small amount of people that choose to pay for music.

I think he’s absolutely right about the move away from how to get more money from the small amount of people that choose to pay for music.

But in the same way that old school music people think in terms of physical media, he risks seeing the world through digital eyes.

In this interview at least he homes in on payments for network access for music capable devices but for a company like UMG the winning game is in smart plays across all their business holding to deliver on the idea of lifetime value of a customer.

Yes get paid on network access and try (and bring those unruly ISPs in line) but really a digital networked consumer might also be a potential market for the odd well packaged CD, or for merchandise.

UMG, and some of the other majors, are now invested so widely that they need to think of themselves as a Disney – content owner, merchandiser and with a wide spread of demographics not just because of the content itself but because of it’s use (e.g.gifting).

OK so this interview is about Digital and you gotta start with your own business unit, but the real saving of the music industry is in identifying all the touchpoints in the customer lifecycle (i.e. the customer’s life) and creating the concept of lifetime value.

Making sure you have a product available to the cusomter at the moment they need it, therefore anticipating need, yes stoking up their need and using business partners where necesary. It may involve third parties and some third parties, e.g. Amazon, are in a great position to deliver on this.


Song lyrics

May 29, 2008

OK, I am going to back off piracy today and flag up Jarvis Cocker’s comments on lyrics in The Telegraph. Just yesterday I was having a discussion with someone who contended that in French music lyrics are much more important (hence the chanson, and new chanson) and in Anglo-American music (with a few exceptions) the music/sound/rhythm was more important.

It is interesting that Jarvis, who lives in Paris (or did til recently?), follows the French view. Also the other great British lyric writers he mentions Lennon and Bowie are both song writers who spent time away from these shores (though Lennon later than when he wrote I Am the Walrus).

The moronic Noel Gallagher of course takes the low brow approach of “you could write any old nonsense and it didn’t matter”. Well if you get away with it and get rich and successful of course you can think that.



MTV anti-piracy ad sucks

May 27, 2008

Look at this pathetic ad from MTV against downloading illegally. The chasm between what the ad is saying and the worldview of the intended audience make it more or less useless. The comments on the linked page pour the appropriate level of scorn upon it.

 Now there is nothing wrong with MTV speaking out on digitial entertainment piracy. In fact informed debate and education is very much part of the way forward for the content industires. 

However this poor misguided ad makes them look thoroughly out of touch with their target demographic who probably look more like this (thanks Corbis) when listening to their illegally downloaded music……   






Nonsense from Coldplay?

May 8, 2008

 So lots of people downloaded the free single from Coldplay last week. EMI claimed that the total number of downloads was 4 times the combined sales of the Top 40. Well great. There are always some great stats about how free stuff outperformed paid for content, just ask the IFPI! 

It gets worse. They are offering buy one get on free on the album tracks and Chris Martin has swallowed the no one buys albums anymore line:

“As I said before nobody buys albums any more, certainly no body buys full albums and we’ve made an album that you have to have from start to finish.”

The thing is some music fans do buy albums. Especially if then album is good. NEws travels fast on the internet. Maybe it is even some demographics do. It’s strange but the buy-on-get-one-free approach seems to undermine the value of the music, and this album in particular, much more than either Radiohead’s pay what you like or Nine Inch Nails giveaways or tiered pricing.

Coldplay may have received some great covereage with the single download. With the requirement of an email address in exchange for the track they may also have substantially grown their email database.

These subsequent comments make them look a bit desperate – or is it the label? I remember the unconvincing reports that EMI’s move to DRM-free had been a success. Question is did or will EMI make any money by consequence of this stunt?

Update: It gets worse…

“It doesn’t matter whether the record is good or bad,” he said.

“It matters that it’s colourful. The songs are supposed to be flavours, things we haven’t tasted before.”  




What’s on ?

April 23, 2008

eDonkey has been on the receiving end of much music industry legal action in recent months. Last September a number of German eDonkey servers were taken offline after a court issued an injunction against them. User numbers halved – temporarily. In January this year the Dutch anti-piracy outfit BREIN won judgement against an eDonkey hashlinksite, Shareconnector.

Would the file-sharing community miss a lot if eDonkey went down? Well some recent research from iPoque gives interesting indications of what people use eDonkey (and Bit Torrent) for.

Across the regions looked at – Germany, Southern Europe and Middle East – patterns of usage vary. the most popuilar BT and eDonkey music downloads are in the form of discographies (i.e. more than one album at once). In ME and Southern Europe over half of the top 75 audio was discogs. Neither the top BT audio nor the top eDonkey audio downloads closely reflected the charts and in Southern Europe much of the top downloads appeared to be local language.

BT video downloads are primarly movies, with some pornography featuring in the Top 75 for Germany. On eDonkey on ther other hand every region is sharing porn. A cursory look at the titles and one can make the generalisations that Southern Europeans like anal, Germans like lesbians and the odd animal, and the Middle East has more specialist and suspect interests like shemales and children.

When it comes to eBooks English is the prevalant language with Sat Nav data being particularly in demand in Southern Europe.

Mp3newswire reports on a new Digital Music News research report which shows continued rapid growth in use of Bit torrent and increased consolidation in P2P client apps so maybe eDonkey will get killed by IFPI/MPAA anyway and users migrate. 


Recommendation engines

April 21, 2008

Music recommendation engines have a long long way to go.

I never liked Pandora – repertoire was too US centric and the academic model for recommendation (e.g. you chose a synth rock song in a minor key with prominent guitars, therefore here’s more synth rock in a minor key) was lamentable.

I have been an occasional user of for a couple of years but it seems to perform worse with age. The logic of recommendation based on scrobbling what people actually listen to seemed like such a good idea but now returns such poorly worked out recommendations that I do not believe scrobbling is at the core of it.

It seems to stay in very poorly defined grooves. So if you picked a well known 80s pop band it will feed endless well known 80s pop band even if you are constantly skipping tracks.

Choose an unknown band and it only feeds you unknowns. No one listens to music in this way. That’s why scrobbling was a cool idea. Could it be that it doesn’t work as a way of making good recommendations? Certainly, in comparision, the certainty of a known album or the ‘editorial voice’ of a good radio show or dj mix beats

Over 50% of tracks I skip within the first minute. What a waste of time and it makes it impossible to get into the flow of the music.

At this rate I will go back to listening to albums!

But not before I check out TheFilter.

IFPI Digital Music Report 08

January 29, 2008

The IFPI Digital Music Report 08 calls on the European Union to consider the French approach to ISP responsibilty for copyright infringers and action.

But what the report show more than anytihng is the phenomenal growth in digital content and how the music industry is leading the pack.

Some eye-watering stats include that in 2003 there were approximately 50 legal music services and now there are more than 500 (consolidation will be next then…).  In the same period the value of digital music sales has gone from around US$20m to US$2.9bn.

In comparison with other industries PWC figures show that the music industry is deriving more of its revenue from digital:

Books 2%

Films 3%

Newspapers 7%

Recorded music 15%

For those immersed in the machinations of the legal and illegal consumption of digital music the report probably reports little unfamiliar. But for anyone who wants to get up to speed on the issues at play in the digital music field it is a more than worthy starting point.