Guest post: what do traditional print and broadcast media have to learn from the music industry?

making music pay onlineI attended Music Week’s ‘Making online music pay’ conference last week (run by colleagues from UBM) and got into conversation with Mark Muggeridge. He argued that some of the lessons learnt by the music business might apply to the some of the traditional and broadcast media landscape.

Mark is Creative Director at Evil Genius Media.  He Tweets @MM_EGM. The company works with clients to create and deliver events and communications via an Event Management Division, and Create Music Strategies via their Music Consultancy Division. Mark organised the recent visit of Seth Godin to London.

This is what he had to say.

The online and mobile space is arguably more developed for music than it is for other media, with a few notable exceptions. It’s too complex to discuss in one blog post here, however here are a few brief thoughts.

When Shawn Fanning launched Napster in 1999 the game changed forever.  The creativity of artists and the fight-or-flight instinct for survival, of the commercial music business has seen music delivery develop on numerous fronts ever since. These being:-

  • Music Discovery – MySpace and it’s imitators have delivered a platform to artists that allows them to give listeners access to their work and build communities of fans.
  • Access to Music – The ‘always on’  generation of music consumers born 1988 onward who take technology for granted don’t need to own music but just want access to it. Think ‘Comes with Music’, other subscription services etc.
  • Legal Download – iTunes, Amazon etc.

These developments and others have fuelled changes in the music industry such as the current trend for artists to self release and market their own material, sell merchandise retaining 100% of the margin and perversely, focus on live performance as a primary source of income until the industry settles on a way to financially revalue music on line.
So what about other media ? How does the situation in, music compare with them?

Photo credit: James Cumpsty

  • Book Publishers – Are only just coming to terms with the problems faced by the music business.  With electronic book readers now becoming more ubiquitous both publishers and retailers are waiting to find out if sales plummet via piracy and users distributing titles between themselves. They know that Digital Rights Management layers are got around easily. However the purchasers of expensive book readers tend to be older and the owners of publishing rights are hoping that this older generation will respect copyright.
  • Newspapers – Have taken a range of approaches, from putting part of their publications on line, to placing valued content in the ‘Walled Garden’. However some, are beginning to take a distributed approach such as the UK Guardian Newspaper which recently began offering an API which will allow third-party developers to access and reuse the Guardian’s content database in their own applications
  • Television – Is finally beginning to deal with the challenge of lower viewing numbers by allowing us to time shift via the use of products such as the BBC’s iplayer and Chanel 4’s On Demand Service.


‘Other’ media is beginning to see that by distributing it’s media, they can distribute their brand and make it stronger; that trying to ignore the digital space won’t work in a world  where digital touch points are accessible and intertwined into our lives, via phones, computers, game platforms etc.

Some of the speakers from print and publishing media were pretty confident that they had found a successful way forward at the conference.  Perhaps they need to acknowledge that the growing pains of the music business has been of benefit to them too.

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2 Responses to Guest post: what do traditional print and broadcast media have to learn from the music industry?

  1. Pingback: links for 2009-06-17 «

  2. Andrew says:

    There are also other points to learn from – including the changing funding model for music.

    I actually wrote a very similar post last week – – “What newspapers and magazines can learn from record labels”

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