Music Industry

Published on July 13th, 2016 | by Alan Cross

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A Different Way of Comparing the Music Industry Now and Then

The way the business of music is conducted today–on both the industry and the consumer side–is vastly different than twenty years ago. Medium.com points this out by categorizing today’s music business as being in the “dashboard era.”

Record Labels Need A Change Of Culture In The ‘Dashboard Era’ Of The Music Industry

As Mark Mulligan put it recently “streaming has melded discovery and consumption into a single whole”. This is what is making it so fascinating working in a record label at the moment. Previously, in the era of the traditional customer journey, we generated discovery for 8 to 12 weeks (allowing customers to discover new music by promoting music through intermediaries such as TV, Radio and Press), and then the purchase or ‘consumption’ of music would come afterwards. In a world led by music-streaming, we are directly monetising both discovery and consumption at the same time. We are monetising the public’s engagement with music and the currency of that engagement is a ‘play’ on a streaming service.

To take an academic look at music marketing, the traditional ‘sale’ was usually somewhere near the end of a customer experience journey: awareness, discovery, interest, interaction, purchase, use, cultivation, and advocacy. Now we have a situation where the ‘play’ is conceivably part of every step. So thinking holistically, if we view ‘experience’ as the product of a record label now, we need a way to measure it effectively and that’s why it feels like there is a data ‘arms race’ going on at the moment.

Data is not a new trend as far as record labels are concerned — we’ve always had it. But integrating it more into our day to day operations and seeing it as additional — rather than a replacement — to what we’ve always been good at is crucial. The data that streaming has unlocked is a massive opportunity for us and the interpretation of it should become a language we use to communicate with internally. We are now competing with tech startups who are much better at using data than us, companies that are potentially coming to eat our lunch. So in the words of Eric Ries’ Lean Startup methodology we need to Build, Measure and Learn to create a culture that asks the right questions, understands what metrics to measure and how to use them.

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About the Author

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.


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