In the constantly changing and, these days ever fledgling, world of the music business, revolutionary concepts and business models will be required to reverse the course.
I’m not certain yet if it qualifies as radical, but I was introduced today to a concept and term I liked a lot called 360 degree music. The premise is simple: In today’s online world, most consumers attach no direct value to the music itself anymore. The music itself is becoming free However, the larger world of music still has great appeal and is being experienced on more platforms, in more ways, than ever before. In the 360 degree spirit, licensed music effectively serves as a marketing tool to attract consumers to that which is still valued, namely concerts, merchandise and portable devices. I was once told by a senior executive at a Hollywood studio that the self-aware media person sees themself as a marketer above all else. The idea of 360 degree music is clearly a marketing play.
Again, while this may not be a revolutionary answer on it’s face to the music business challenges, it’s the right way of thinking about the future. And, at a minimum, I definitely like the 360 degree play more than the proposed notion of, oh say, a music tax. If this theme begins to pick up some steam, one player out in front appears to be Live Nation, who made some interesting noise in 2007 when they signed their record deal with Madonna and paid $80M for a music merchandising firm.
2007 was a bad year for the music industry and, as a fan on many levels, here’s hoping it was the bottom of the slide. If 2008 is the year the comeback begins, the focus should be on emphasizing the experiential components of the industry rather than scraping for pennies on per download license fees or music taxes.