Relearning The Art Of Selling Music
I recently heard a segment on NPR that linked the growth in musical instrument sales at retailers such as Guitar Center to the digital revolution which allowed any one to record and distribute their music to the world. The point was that while the net was hurting labels and CD retailers, it was a boon for independent artists and instrument retailers. "The Internet taketh, the Internet giveth back," noted the reporter. The simple reality is that in today's marketplace the record labels are on the losing 'taketh' side of what is otherwise a growing sector, thanks in so small part to the net.
Part of the problem is that the major labels fundamentally don't understand the "new" music industry. Steve Jobs on the other hand proved again to be a master of revolutions ("ignited the personal computer revolution in the 1970s with the Apple II and reinvented the personal computer in the 1980s with the Macintosh") as he crowned the iTunes Music Store "the largest online music company in the world."
In just one week, with just 4% of the PC market and a measly catalogue of 200,000 songs, Apple put the major label initiatives to shame, selling over one million songs over (half of which were albums), one million copies of iTunes 4 downloaded, and orders for over 110,000 for its latest iPod with 20,000 more snapped up in stores. Compare that to the label-supported Digital Download Day, the self-proclaimed "biggest ever give-away of legal digital music," that netted a 'grand' 150,000 free music downloaders in two days. Instead of giving it away, maybe they should have been working harder with Apple.
Nor is the Midas touch restricted to the high-tech upstarts. Not satisfied with racking in surging profits from its live entertainment and radio activities, Clear Channel is making its own move in the CD market by unveiling its own recorded concert offering in Boston dubbed "Instant Live." Giving concert goers, already willing to pay over-inflated price to see their favorite acts, with an instant recording of the moment is, while not innovative (see DiscLive and Hearitagain), a sure hit. And with the "live" CDs available at your local & online Best Buy stores, wonder what remaining CD buyers will want to buy the studio version.
The point for the major labels is not so much whether you sell music online or recorded CDs, but how you do it.
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