April 30, 2006

Copyrights and The Culture

As was witnessed with many cases, including the Napster cases, copyrights are a huge force in the music industry in terms of protecting a certain product or service from being stolen. Its seems that in an industry that has a more cultural influence than structural, it becomes more difficult for a copyright to protect a certain product. Copyrighted music creates billions of dollars in profit every year and these profits bring in the majority of the money in the music industry. Music is heavily guided by creative expression so it almost seems infeasible to establish copyrights on many of the ideas put forward. This becomes a question of where one should draw the line in terms of establishing a new product or idea and allowing its free use. It is generally accepted that musical ideas stem from ideas within their cultural boundaries so, to what extent should copyright laws affect what is one's property, and what is a shared musical idea?

Cultural Impact of Internet Music

In recent years it has been a fairly popular debate to consider the effect internet music is having on the cultures which bring in the business. There is an abstract notion of a certain “space” which refers to the idea that distributing music in its hard-copy form lends itself to creating an environment of listeners. There are many studies taking place to determine any sign of a cultural change over the years, as music is increasingly distributed over the internet. This study is very abstract and it could be impossible to figure out, yet it is an important issue to raise. Since music is a product of the environment and relations within this environment, how will the internet affect is quality of business? If, one day, music becomes an internet based market, then this should have a major impact on culture which could in turn affect the business of music as well as its marketing. Ever since rock and roll sprung from what we call “roots music”, the 50’s through today have allowed for a certain cultural space that utilizes marketing techniques like the popular “word-of-mouth” concept. If the internet breaks down the cultural relations which have popularized music thus far, it is questionable whether or not there will be a negative impact on business in the future.

The Element of Surprise

One issue, which Bolman and Deal highlight in Reframing Organizations, that seems to come to mind when considering entrepreneurship in Music is the element of surprise. One key fact in managing and organization is that what is expected may not come. The music industry is governed by an incredible amount of external forces and success seems to come from a high rate of selectivity among consumers. This is why the phrase “expect the unexpected” is put to good use when used to describe the music industry. When a producer and an artist want to put an idea out in the open market, it is imperative to understand that expectations can be replaced with a completely different scenario. And, the only way to navigate success through this scenario is by implementing a more adjusted attitude: the use of a business model that takes into great deal the forces which affect any outcome. This idea can help determine different rates of success in the music industry.

April 29, 2006

Marketing Success in Music Business

One of the best marketing tools any band or producer can use is the internet. The internet is becoming the leading method of buying and selling products and in turn, it is becoming the best place to “become known.” These days, one of the best things a band can do is set up a website. In Jeffrey Fisher’s article, “Eight Ways to Promote Your Music Industry Career”, creating a website is listed as number 7. Even if the band’s intentions is not to sell music, it is key for them to get their name out and with millions of people surfing the web, there is no better method than setting up a website. A site that includes information about the group, concert dates, and even contact info would serve as a great foundation towards recognition. Another efficient tool, also mentioned in the article by Fisher, is “word of mouth.” This seems to be another sufficient method of gathering a fan base and possibly a large pool of customers. With proper use of the internet, as well as self-promoting, any band can reach marketing success.

The Elevator Statement

I was reading a passage on Marketing in the music industry and I learned a little bit about an interesting topic: The Elevator Statement. This idea focuses on the importance of marketing one's products in a unique and concise way. This concept can apply to anyone in any business yet it seems to be a growing necessity in the business of music. The name is derived from a simple scenario. If you are on an elevator and someone is interested in learning about your product or service what are you going to say in the few seconds of conversation time? The fact of the matter is, the only thing that should be said is the distinguishing element of your line of work. It is a question of what makes you different (not necessarily better) from everyone in the industry that you are competing with. In the world of music it is becoming increasingly important for bands to market themselves and not only sell their music, but sell the idea behind the music. It is essential for a band to market themselves in a simple and identifiable way. This technique is not only becoming popular, but the Elevator Statement may soon prove to be the key factor that determines a band’s success.

March 31, 2006

Culture and Industry

It is arguable as to whether culture creates industry or industry creates culture. Do record labels dictate the culture we live in today or do people guide the record labels in congruence with the culture that they see is necessary. When I speak of people I do not mean one culture, but many cultures and sub-cultures. Most industries seem to be guided by a direct knowledge of what consumers want and need, yet the music industry fluctuates as tastes evolve to meet cultural desires. For instance, you will not find a mass majority of college aged students listening to Elvis on a regular basis, not to say that many don’t have his albums in the depths of their music collections. There seems to be an invisible force guiding the tastes of music listeners and there is no single entity that is proven to have control over it.
Record labels control what is spread universally, yet the people control what becomes popular in a certain genre of music. If record companies don’t have the control many would claim they have over listeners, then who should have the most power in this industry? This is a debatable question, yet it will always remain an issue as music continues to progress.

Path towards a Digital World

As recent articles make it clear, digitally distributed music will represent about 40 percent of U.S. music sales within five years. Some companies expect downloads to exceed 2 billion in 2009, which is clearly a vastly greater difference from last year’s 140 million downloads. Some predict digitally delivered music as well as mobile music to make up around 37 percent of all music sold. Some have previously predicted that piracy would slow down the growth of music, but it seems as though profits will continue to soar. This is determined because the public enjoys an innovative and user-friendly space for receiving music. It is easier to download a song than it is to go out and buy an album. Apple iTunes and LimeWire are the two most popular digital music services. It is becoming easier and easier to access music over the internet.
Record companies argue that the profits made by internet music services represent their losses in the world of music. It is hard to prove this yet it is easy to see that more of the world is becoming turned on to internet based music because of its easy accessibility. This will only continue to grow and may in turn lead to more profits for artists rather than labels. This increase in internet-based music may eventually force record companies to decrease prices and give into the needs of the artists rather than control the needs of the artist. Only time and profit maximization can tell where the future of music will lead us, and so far, it’s leading us to a digital world.