In one way or another, I’ve been involved in a lot of discussions about brand lately, and I’ve come to a horrible conclusion: businesses are killing their brands. They do it in the worst way possible, by making it impossible to see why Brand A is better than Brand B.
A while ago, my insurance company, 21st Century was swallowed by AIG. When I was told this, my first reaction was “Oh no” because 21st Century, during the lengthy period of time I was a customer, was very good to me. Dealing with them in times of crisis (like when I was the number two car in a four-car pile-up) was a pleasure. They were easy to reach, easy to deal with, and, most importantly, seemed to care about solving my problem.
On a day like today, I am reminded how much I like clouds. Though it’s a little steamy here in SoCal, we’re also seeing a few drops of much-needed rain. It’s been so long, many of us had nearly forgotten what it sounds like, waking to a thunderstorm.
Clouds are really hot right now in the tech world. I don’t pretend to understand all ins and outs of cloud computing, but get that there’s tremendous potential for sharing and flexibility when it comes to content and information. I also get that there are more than a few red flags when it comes to “the cloud.”
Recently, a consortium lead by Sony announced a project called “Open Market.” Do not be fooled by the word “open”; this is a DRM scheme, plain and simple. The plan is simple (and not that new). You buy content, and then you get to access said content on a series of devices registered to your “domain.” In theory, this means, all house laptops, desktops, cell phones, devices-to-be-named-later. There is some sharing and the concept of interoperability.
To the best of my knowledge, the sky has been falling since the sky was created. We have been in the Decline of Western Civilization since before the Roman Empire fell. And I know the following to be true: radio will kill books, movies will kill radio, television will kill movies, the Internet will kill television, and the Youth Are Out of Control.
Also, home taping will kill music. Mark my words.
That’s a direct-ish quote from the music industry in the early 1980s (before we had such miracles as CDs or DVDs or Kindles). Music, as most of us know, still exists. Which is nice because if it didn’t, what would I be listening to right now? Silence, instead of Ornette Coleman. Sure, I could hum, but that would be like making music, and home taping came oh-so-close to taking away even that simple pleasure.
So let’s recap: if iTunes is not currently the largest music retailer in the world, then it is well on the way to becoming so. Outlets for physical music product are shrinking. Consumers are increasingly looking to online sources for new music, for variety, convenience, and price. So yeah, it makes sense that artists would steer clear of iTunes.
At least that’s what the Wall Street Journal thinks.
Citing limited examples — the Beatles, AC/DC, Kid Rock — the WSJ looks at the singles versus whole album market, and seems to decide that long-form is the way to go. First, facts, because they’re important. Record labels and artists make more money when consumer buy entire albums. Singles don’t add up the way they used to. While legal music purchases are increasing, overall revenue is decreasing. Another fact: when we talk about “saving” the music business, we’re not talking about saving the artists, we’re talking about saving the labels.
Back in the day, singles were the way the music industry worked. While a few bands, such as the aforementioned Beatles, created works that enticed consumers to buy long-playing discs (as they were once known), singles really ruled the charts and revenue streams. Then came CDs and this magical moment where consumers replaced their vinyl collections with harder, more portable plastic. For a while, CD sales were trending upward. Then the music industry decided to kill itself, and CD sales suffered.
There was an interesting article in the AP yesterday about Battlestar Galactica, and post-finale projects that the producers are planning that will be set in the Galaticaverse.
The point of the article was this: BSG has never had huge numbers, and they are continuing to shrink, so why bother with spinoffs?
Most of the answers in the article had to do with the inadequacy of measuring numbers in this day and age, and how the numbers initially reported by Nielsen don’t reflect the true popularity of the show.
Which may be true, but if show, it’s true for every TV show, not just Battlestar. So what makes Battlestar different from, say, Eureka, which has much higher ratings, but no movies or spinoffs planned?
I’ve got a theory: in a Long Tail universe, it isn’t about the fan quantity as much as it is about the Fan Quality.