The changing music industry

March 16, 2008

obsolete media

I’m a little late blogging this, but Seth Godin, a marketing guy, posted a transcript of a talk that he gave to a roomful of music company executives. This is the stuff I wave my hands about and try to explain to everyone I know, when I talk about why I have a music blog and how the music industry is changing. Godin starts by summarizing the factors that made the traditional music industry so sweet (the ubiquity of Top 40 songs, music as a physical artifact that was coveted and which wore out, free promotion via radio and TV, an oligopoly of record companies, and so on) and then makes the case that they are all gone:

Music is not in trouble. I believe more people are listening to more music now than any time in the history of the world. Probably five times more than twenty years ago…that much! But, the music business is in trouble. And the reason the music business is in trouble is because remember all those pieces of good news?…every single one of them is not true anymore….

Having explained how all these factors have disappeared, he goes on to discuss how record companies now have to change the way they do business:

There is a lot of music I like. There is not so much music I love. They didn’t call the show, “I Like Lucy”, they called it “I Love Lucy”. And the reason is you only talk about stuff you love, you only spread stuff you love. You find a band you really love, you’re forcing the CD on other people, “you gotta hear this!”. We gotta stop making music people like. There is an infinite amount of music people like. No one will ever go out of the way to hear, to pay for, music they like.

The final point that Godin makes is that music creates tribes of people, who want to interact with each other and the musicians, who want to go to concerts – nobody who really loves a band wants to be a passive consumer. Godin persuasively argues that the music industry has to start thinking about ‘tribal management.’

I’m not convinced that record label industry execs are the people who are going to make the transition (Nettwerk aside) but hey, at least they invited the clue train to visit.

link to transcripts: html, pdf

Seth Godin

via Boing Boing

Image: Vinyl albums, via Wikipedia Commons.

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