Can the Labels Save Online Music Sales?
Media & analysts have been hammering the point for over a year: no
online music service can succeed without providing a complete array
of music in files that listeners can burn on a CD and port to a
player. And though it has taken some time, the major labels finally
understood the message, progressively loosening their grip on
downloads and establishing licensing agreements with all the major
online distributors. Figures also show that broadband penetration is
progressively reaching a critical mass of surfers. But is all this
enough for the industry to reverse declining online music sales and
the dominance of peer-to-peer services?
These actions have, in fact, simply qualified the major labels to run
in the race. But they are still saddled with an ill-equipped and
conceived product for a networked marketplace. While the Internet is
fundamentally an interactive medium, the music industry still sees
music primarily as a retail/broadcast product to be pushed to
listeners through retail and various media channels. While harnessing
the Net to improve the retail experience is essential, killer apps
thus far have been those tools that link and empower consumers, from
email and chat to Ebay and online gaming.
The fact is that the music industry's primary asset is less the
immense catalogue of copyrighted works as it is the artists
themselves. It is access to and the ability to interact as a
community with the artists in various forms, whether exclusive home
videos (every band can become the Osbornes), studio sessions or
selecting a single for the next video, that will provide the industry
the 'killer app' p2p will find difficult to match.
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