Experience vs. Souvenirs Share Thisi
I recently found Steely Dan’s “You Can’t Buy a Thrill” in my record collection. It’s a vinyl album that I bought when I was a kid, with a price sticker that says $3.47.
Well, I say I “bought” the album, but I didn’t really “buy” the album. Actually, I never really “owned” the music that in reality “belonged” to the Songwriter, Publisher, Record Company, Artists, etc.
But for $3.47 they let me have unlimited access to my personal Steely experience, plus a really nice souvenir, made of plastic and cardboard.
Of course, I was always paying directly and indirectly for other musical experiences: radio, live venues, advertising jingles, tv, films, mall stores, sporting events, etc. Sometimes that experience also drove me to purchase a souvenir like the Steely Dan album.
Then later in my life, for about $15.99, I bought a shiny plastic CD of the same album, and I replaced my old plastic and cardboard LP keepsake, with a CD also made of plastic and cardboard. I was glad to pay up for the improved user experience, albeit a smaller souvenir.
Then, 15 years later the cardboard and plastic were replaced by “bytes” stored on “my” mobile device. Now my Steely experience was more convenient, shareable, and even a little cheaper. Plus I could keep a huge “collection” of these experiences at my fingertips. But this time I have no souvenir keepsake. Not a big deal.
And that’s what millions of other people thought.
So the reality is that it was not the “music industry” that was ultimately disrupted and reinvented. It was instead the souvenir business, selling paper and cardboard keepsakes. “Record” companies made millions off these souvenirs because they also included access to the experience. But once digitization allowed the souvenir and the experience to be unbundled, all hell broke loose!!
It took awhile for record companies to realize they were actually in the souvenir business, and people didn’t care about the keepsakes as much as they cared about the music. So they were not needed anymore. Neither were their trucks, their warehouses, stores, the souvenir manufacturing plants. Nope, all those “vertical” parts of the business were encumbering the music, or could be sourced out cheaper to Amazon. Bye Bye verticals!!
So when in fact I get asked all the time, “do you think people are still going to buy music?”
Are they going to buy Souvenirs?
Some. Maybe, a few.
SO yes, we certainly need to stay focused on enabling better experiences and providing great music. As far as getting paid, I believe all the digital streaming services, are really similar to concert venues. You are attending the venue to experience our music. No venue or promoter in their right mind would expect to throw a paid concert, and not pay the artist.
Because of antiquated loopholes in the law, big digital services like Pandora can sort of legally access blanket experiences, and are building massive audiences in their venues, but they forgot to pay the piper. Literally.
So, do I think people are going to pay to experience music in new ways?
My answer is … yep… in a big way.
I’ll talk about this more in my next post.