I’ll always remember a lunch meeting several years ago with a colleague who was the media maven for several major international music brands (and a great contributor to my home CD collection.) She said, “Well, I won’t have a job in six months, because we won’t have an industry.”
CD sales were tanking – about 20 million fewer buyers from 2006 to 2008. Aha! said music companies. People are downloading singles versus albums, so they’ll buy more as the price comes down, right? Wrong. Per capita spending is down about 10 percent since 2007, and free music site use is up. Now the model is more like a magazine – targeted content supported by ads. Converting free listeners into paying customers is an uphill battle. (Source: Digital Music Forum West, Oct. 7 2009)
One bright note is the rise of firms specializing in helping artists create a strong relationship with fans, using social media and other on-line tools. Sites like are helping new artists grow a fan base independently of a label.
Which brings me to books. If you are a sci-fi fan, you know that Cory Doctorow is a blogger, best-selling author and on-line maven at his own site and BoingBoing . He’s also on a rant called, “Media-Morphosis: How the Internet Will Devour, Transform, or Destroy Your Favourite Medium.” He talks about “delaminating” the publishing industry, separating printing, distribution, sales, marketing, PR and retailing into component bits and allowing each bit to be independently managed.
Doctorow is emphatically not the author equivalent of a garage band; he’s earned a ton of dough from BoingBoing, and he’s got an in-depth understanding of the web’s ecology and the changing values and habits of users.
He’s also a passionate defender of readers and a champion of embedding a reading culture against what he calls the “farcical” licensing agreements now in place. For example, he’s said that the penalties in place for book sharing are like “redesigning tank mines to blow the legs of children.”
He’s someone we might want to pay attention to.
Elizabeth Walker is a partner in Marketing Masters and a Duct Tape Marketing Coach located near Toronto Ontario. Find more information online.
Image Credit: Aleksi Aaltonen