Consumer or Music Lover: You Decide

Before Kevin Roberts became the CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi he told them, "We're not going to be in the advertising business anymore, we're going to reframe that, we're going to be in the ideas business."

When Trent Reznor developed and adapted a new model to deliver Ghosts I-IV to his audience he reframed what it meant to be in the music business. Understanding that free was inescapable and multipliable formats were inevitable, he established six points of participation for fans. By catering to the resurgence of vinyl and allowing interaction with multi-track files he went on to challenge market abundance with scarcity by increasing the level of personalization and authenticity. Thus making the purchase, Better Than Free for his core fans.

Roberts goes onto say, "We're all looking to get to the future first and it's going to come from you. It's not going to come from the engineers or the merchant bankers." To paraphrase, we're all looking to get to the future first in the music industry and it's not going to come from the major labels, the lawyers, or the managers. It's going to come from you, the creative individuals. Through strategic, creative insight and foresight there is still room to succeed in the music industry today.

Continuing his path of innovation, Reznor is now offering special incentives for participating in his market research survey. This brings to light Roberts later comment that "EMI and Sony BMG know more about the CD market than anybody in the world, but who cares, because there isn't one anymore." In an adapt or die market, Trent's freedom allows him to ask for his fans advice. Depending on the success of the survey this information could advocate the justification of future special projects previously unheard of. Gaining a deeper level of understanding of what his fans want and how they interact with the music he creates will garner the further insight and foresight needed to travel uncharted territory.

In Malcolm Gladwell's article The Ketchup Conundrum he speaks of Howard Moskowitz who holds a doctorate from Harvard in psychophysics. Moskowitz, most notably known for revolutionizing spaghetti sauce, brought forth the understanding of multiple varieties rather than searching for the platonic or perfect dish. Previously working with Pepsi, Howard understood that there was no perfect Pepsi, only perfect Pepsi's. Paraphrasing Gladwell, "Standard practice in the music industry would have been to convene a focus group and ask music lovers what they wanted. But Moskowitz does not believe that consumers-even music lovers-know what they desire if what they desire does not yet exist."

What Howard Moskowitz and Trent Reznor have in common is their understanding of the need for multiple varieties as well as the notion that a fan can't desire what does not yet exist. With the Major Labels recent introduction of pre-loaded SanDisk microSD cards, it makes you wonder, between Trent Reznor and The Major Labels...

Who is surveying the music consumer and who is surveying the music lover?

Kyle Bylin


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