Posted by: Andrew | May 5, 2008

Finally, somebody who gets it

It’s refreshing to hear big-media execs wax poetic about the “parallel” aspects of interactive and TV. Cheers to Chernin and Thompson. This is what I’m talking about: New Media and Old Media don’t need to go to war with one another. They can and should serve the same purpose: to get more high-quality content in the hands of consumers in a format they can use. And while I agree that in its current state digital distribution should not supplant traditional media, I do think that a time will come when digital will claim its larger share of the pie. This will stem partly from (1) improvements in platforms and devices used to serve and display content, (2) the evolution of advertising to behave more like content (meaning, more engaging), and (3) more advanced targeting and reporting methods.

Of course, big media is still a divided house when it comes to distribution tactics, particularly in music. The record industry is still intent on suing the pants off college students, even after nearly 10 years of fighting this war – don’t they realize it’s a lost cause? Maybe they view it as a two-front battle: continue the legal crackdown while simultaneously placing content on the Web. They have part of it right – get the content out there legally and you’ll obviate the black market for this content, at least to a certain extent. But going after your consumers will only create enemies and drive them to devise more effective ways to steal your tunes. All content providers should be so lucky that million of viewers across the world are scrambling to get a piece of their work. TV and film companies are learning to embrace the consumer – why aren’t the record labels?

The labels need innovative ways to entice music lovers. And there are some good ideas coming into play. But as long as consumers face all wall, they will find ways to scale it, and piracy and illegal downloading will persist.

As far as I’m concerned, piracy is still better than the alternative situation: slumping CD sales and no activity in the online space whatsoever. Piracy proves that there’s more demand for music than perhaps ever before, and there is far more variety in the marketplace now than 10 years ago. At least we know that the record industry still has an opportunity on its hands, if it can just figure out how to close in on it.

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