I was reading a post on the Top 10 Reasons the Music Industry is failing, recommended by industry friend Steve Gerardi. While I don't disagree with anything the article states, I do believe it can be summed up in a single reason.
The music industry blocks the path between fans and the talent in order to monetize it. If a band wishes to get discovered, the industry continues to try and own the production, the airplay, the distribution, and even the sponsors who can make a concert tour happen. If you're a talented and hard-working band, there's probably nothing more frustrating than trying to get discovered in the industry. No wonder why so many are abandoning the demo CD and simply moving to social media to generate demand and grow their fan-base. There's a better chance they can be successful without the industry.
Advancements in technology have always overcome industries who have blocked the path:
- Roads, cars, and the combustible engine became a faster, easier means of travel than train and coach.
- Postage has been replaced by email.
- Parking and dealing with busy retailers has been replaced by mobile commerce apps and overnight delivery.
- Blogging, Twitter updates and YouTube are providing faster, easier means of getting relevant news and updates than magazines and newspapers.
- Voice over IP and Mobile phones are replacing the home and business phone.
- Software as a Service is replacing installable software. It runs on much more powerful servers, and is easier to manage and distribute.
When the opportunity came for the music industry to adapt, they chose to fight instead. This spelled doom... attacking the very fans that were saving up their last dollars for the next concert or CD. Rather than find a more efficient methodology for finding and distributing music to fans, and connecting fans to their favorite bands, the industry tried to stop the bleeding and prolong the profits instead.
With all of the examples above, the chosen leaders in those industry ignored the opportunity to break down the road blocks. While I worked in the newspaper industry, we all watched as Ebay and Craigslist pulled out the classifieds. Instead of investing the 40% profit margins, media moguls instead opted in for fat paychecks.
- Trains are no longer privately operated and depend on government assistance to be used. At the same time, the government invests in wider roads and bigger bridges... making it easier to continue driving our cars.
- The USPS launched its online service, charging monthly fees and the same cost to print a stamp on your own printer. Not easier... kind of dumb.
- Retailers now lobby for the taxation of online commerce to make things 'fair'... even though they're the ones that cost us money for intersections, road development around shopping malls, and take advantage of local police and emergency service. Instead of making their goods more easily distributed online, they're fighting to protect their turf.
- Journalists continue to abandon the value they bring and are now just TMZ outlets with link-bait titles and smothered with tons of advertising. While consumers purchase more and more relevant content, newspapers continue to centralize operations and distribute mass-produced content that's less relevant.
- Hard-lined phones continue to bundle services, discount to acquire then raise prices, and haven't updated their networks nor technology. We're simply turning them off and using our mobile phones now for everything.
- Installable software is being replaced by smaller, less robust, mobile and cloud applications. Again, rather than reinvesting profits, old companies exert more sales pressure. The inevitable will happen, though.
The acceleration of technology continues to help with this. Just within the music industry, I've been amazed at applications like Bandsintown, Soundhound, ReverbNation and Spotify. Combined with Twitter, Facebook and YouTube - I can discover, find, watch, follow and be alerted when the music I like is coming to town. And most of these applications don't cost a dime. The best part is that I can go see the band and spend my money on great tickets and merchandise... which often benefits the band much more than selling a CD!
If you want your business to not just survive, but flourish, you have to remove the road blocks between the customers you serve and the results they're trying to achieve. Whether you're a marketing technology that lacks the features, or you're a business that is watching the competition taking market share. It's not always about the expense... many people will pay more when they know they can do things faster and easier. If they can't do it with you, they'll do it with someone else.