What Napster Could Have Been
I have often contended that the music industry has squandered numerous opportunities over the years, opportunities that might have well changed the sector's dismal fortunes. Certainly figures on online music sales by comScore Networks as reported last week would appear to substantiate this thesis. But what exactly might have the industry's major stakeholders done differently?
One strategic (though not legal) blunder has been their response to peer-to-peer. The primary effect of the industry's slash-&-burn tactics employed, to leave room for the labels 're-invented' offerings, has been the alienation of listeners who simply switched to the 'baby' Napsters. Instead, they should have capitalized on the critical mass of users looking for a new music experience.
Take Grokster's promotional campaign in support of Insane Clown Posse's new release, "The Wraith: Shangri-La." Going well beyond the free mp3 download (new single "Homies"), the promotion is being called an "international merchandise giveaway" with "Wraith" leather jackets, novelty stand-ups, autographed posters, baseball caps, T-shirts, and other assorted "Wraith" items being awarded to Grokster's "Jugaloo" (self-named ICP fans) contestants. The campaign is a good illustration of the role p2p can serve as powerful promotional & community channel, and not simply a dumb distribution pipe. I, for one, will follow with interest this promotional campaign.
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