One of the things that seems really paradoxical and bizarrely “retro” in the music industry (well, yes, there are a few others, too...) is the industry’s utter obsession with a unit-based, sales-centric, and productized value system and its related economics. Buy this record. Download this song. Get a copy. This ancient yet persistent paradigm and mindset results in a constant repetition of the seemingly most urgent question: With all this digital stuff, how can I get people to actually shell out some cash and pay for my music? In other words, the thinking is that the buying is a different story than the discovery. Well – it is not, and here’s why. The reality is – and some of you may find this refreshing, others may think it’s glorified Silicon Valley New Age geekdom – that it’s not at all about selling something at every turn and putting a Buy button everywhere.
In reality, I think it’s all about this question: “How can I interest you in my music/band/artist?” It’s the process of getting interest from the right people, getting them to pay attention (literally, I believe, attention is money), engaging an audience, creating value for and with and through the users. Only then, after and if all of this happens, is where the Buy button comes in, where you can put some sort of tollbooth, where the wallet comes out. Let’s not confuse the issues, there fore: Before telling people that – hooray – now they can buy my music, they must be interested, engaged, open, and ready. And that, in my mind, is where most of the new and exciting Music 2.0 applications and services come in. Create demand, capture interest, collect attention, and drive exposure – that is the mission. Selling is just a consequence. Focus on getting interest, and then enjoy the results. This requires, of course, that so-called record companies do not just make $$$ from the sale of a copy. After all, if that were the case, the companies would not participate in 90% of
attention is the new way of paying for content
the monetization that occurs after a band finds its audience and gathers interest, and after it builds trust with its audience. It’s about providing access, not selling copies. (Repeat, repeat, repeat.) Dinosaurs of the record business: Take note. Switch to becoming a full service, 360° music company – now. Be bold, or see your importance dwindle faster than you could possibly imagine. You have 12 months to get on this train, never mind driving it. And do keep in mind that in the very near future, getting attention (i.e., views/listens/ impressions/clicks) literally and actually will translate into real $$$, since the presence of a flat rate for music (which is absolutely inevitable if we will still want anyone in the world to actually pay for music) will mean that anyone who has interest in my music can just click the “add” or “get” button, and, voila, I’ve made a sale. Exposure and discovery lead to income. Simple. Right?