Saturday, December 31, 2005

H.G. Wells Would Be Proud

After reading the Hypebot year-end post, I time-warped over to the Hits Magazine summary of the past events (warning: registration required) to see if anything was of interest to me here in the minor leagues. Aside from all the kudos to the executives and recapping of various hirings and firings, one paragraph really stuck out:


"iTUNES: Downloads accounted for a substantially increased percentage of overall sales via iTunes and the services chasing it, but more and more executives have come to believe that, rather than being the answer, a la carte downloads are contributing to the problem as they increasingly cannibalize album sales…"

Further down the post, they start talking about certain success stories. I noticed that American Idiot has sold about 3.3 million copies to date in the US. From perspective as a consumer, this has been the most well-received GD album since Dookie, and actually probably more so. The band is headlining stadiums for chrissakes!

In my estimation, this is about a third of what this ubiquitously promoted album would have sold in the pre-internet era. Part of me believes this is because there are a lot of other products vying for the entertainment dollar, but I also firmly convinced that there are twice or three times the number of bootlegged CDR copies of that record floating around in the digisphere than genuine purchased copies.

If the business-at-large insists on perpetuating the whole CD thing, then they need to re-establish a relationship with their customers.

Is the real problem that Steve Jobs created a product that started monetizing a growing share of what was being completely pirated? Or is the problem that no matter how many times people try and retrofit the CD with cockamamie copy protection, the format has outlived it's usefulness.

Hey industry, how about...
1. ...Wrapping your heads around the fact that the public is on to your scam. Unlike the schemes of credit card companies, or personal electronics vendors with their engineered obsolescence, the public has a way to fight back.
2. ...Doing some actual market research on what your customers want instead of thinking that you know everything and trying to fuck them at every turn.
3. ...Using that research to determine the most viable formats for your product releases based on age bracket or genre. There is no singular solution right now.
4. ...Leaving your Ivory towers, jump ahead of the curve and work with technology companies to engineer a shift to digital sales over time, keeping in mind that the public, and Elliot Spitzer, can smell a fraud.

Happy New Year!

1 comment:

William Li said...

Billy-
In the future, it will be possible to detect when some doozer is just humming a song and then zap them with a radio signal that automatically debits their account for $2.