Music Release Windows: The Product Innovation That The Music Business Can’t Do Without
Forrester has just published a report which lays out a radical vision of the future of music products. In the report we suggest that a comprehensive programme a product innovation is necessary to save the music industry from the current Media Meltdown it finds itself in. The CD is dying, the 99 cent download model clearly isn’t enough (nor is live), and ad supported and subsidized models all have much distance to go.
The immense challenge is to persuade consumers that music is worth paying for again. The scarcity that music value was built upon was disappeared with the rise of Napster. Content scarcity can never be truly regained so value must be reestablished with the scarcity of convenient, compelling services operating within three broad music release windows. These release windows will stagger content releases, with premium services getting releases first and ad supported services last (see chart below).
But we believe that even more needs doing in addition to this, most pertinently a radical overhaul of the core music product. The album has been with us for exactly 100 years and though formats have changed, the core product (i.e. a collection of linear songs) has remained largely unchanged. We propose that the straight jacket of album format can now be shaken off and in its place releases can become part of a continual artist-fan relationship with artists delivering a steady stream of creative output.
So where does all the extra content come from? Well much of it is already here. Artists have been creating a much wider range of creative assets for some time now (back stage footage, covers, remixes, mobile apps etc) and record labels now have access to this content via 360 deals. We argue that this content should no longer be seen as a way of selling albums and gigs, but as an end in itself.
This is an MTV Moment in the digital age for the record labels. They only realized that music videos were a value commodity in their own right rather than just a promotional tool by the time MTV had established a successful business. Now it is time for them to learn the same lessons about added value content.
Finally, we also propose that music product innovation should be built around the 4 Cs of Digital Content: Content, Convenience, Cost and Community. The more eagle eyed of you will have noticed that this idea has changed a little since my previous post on the 3 Cs of Digital Content. Why? Well we listened to your comments! We’d always assumed that Community was an integral element of digital content services, but we took the advice on board that it needed to be more than a sub text.
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