I stumbled upon an article that posed an interesting question: why aren’t lyrics included with downloadable music? The article suggests that rights issues (and compensation issues) are simply too complex to allow lyrics to be part of the digital package. I’d suggest something else.
One of the key arguments for digital media is the lack of packaging. No jewel boxes, DVD cases, or junk to manage in your increasingly small household. Of course, this means that the consumer misses out on liner notes and other supporting material included in the physical package. Despite this loss, the major entertainment companies — publishing, music, and motion picture — are trying to approximate the price of physical product in a digital world (publishers, for what it’s worth, take the cake here).
Adding this material to the digital package would not increase costs in any noticeable manner. Consumers would still lose when it comes to what they get for what they pay.
But as the Yahoo! deal for publishing song lyrics suggests, there is a huge consumer interest in the, shall we say?, ephemera associated with the product. All those entertainment companies who are desperately seeking eyeballs to their websites and trying to figure out to differentiate themselves from other entertainment companies? They could offer better digital packages, liner notes, whatnot. They could return the value to value-added and build a lot of consumer goodwill.
Because right now, pricing is making consumers unhappy. Digital downloads are the way forward for consumers (okay, publishing will be slower here) and consumers have a ton of choices. Jaman, mentioned by Kirk, offers the ability to create inline comments for other viewers to review as they’re watching a film. This creates a sense of community around the product (we watched our first Jaman title this past weekend and the quality, all around, was great).
No consumer is an island and community-building is the great by-product of the Web 2.0 movement. Lyrics, photos, liner notes, behind-the-scenes stories, all of these offer increased value to the consumer and create the opportunity for more brand loyalty while building a great community.
Because if the major entertainment companies should have learned one lesson, it’s this: if they don’t do it first, someone else will.