Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
November 29, 200710:48 PM

The Marketing Industry Can Learn A Lot From The Music Industry - Especially When It Comes To Technology

"Morris insists there wasn't a thing he or anyone else could have done differently. 'There's no one in the record company that's a technologist,' Morris explains. 'That's a misconception writers make all the time, that the record industry missed this. They didn't. They just didn't know what to do. It's like if you were suddenly asked to operate on your dog to remove his kidney. What would you do?'

Personally, I would hire a vet. But to Morris, even that wasn't an option. 'We didn't know who to hire,' he says, becoming more agitated. 'I wouldn't be able to recognize a good technology person — anyone with a good bullshit story would have gotten past me.' Morris' almost willful cluelessness is telling. 'He wasn't prepared for a business that was going to be so totally disrupted by technology,' says a longtime industry insider who has worked with Morris. 'He just doesn't have that kind of mind.'"

This is only one part of a great article featured in the December 2007 issue of Wired Magazine entitled, Universal's CEO Once Called iPod Users Thieves. Now He's Giving Songs Away. It features an interview with Doug Morris, chair and CEO of Universal Music Group. While the music industry is a passion of mine (and one I spent over fifteen years working in), I've had multiple debates with signed artists, band managers, record company executives, and music publishing professionals about how the music industry can adjust, move and win. The biggest challenge it faces is moving from a product to a service model (which is never easy), and the flexibility of removing the layers of infrastructure and physical production chain supplies. At it's primal level, shouldn't you be able to make more profit selling a product that no longer needs the support of a physical supply chain?

Every industry is adjusting to the Web's pervasive move into verticals, and the Marketing industry has the chance (much like the film industry) to get ahead of the curve. Leveraging the digital channel for everything from business-to-business to collaborative tools is a great place to get started.

Keep in mind, even when there's hope... there's still a little bite:

"Finally, there's the company's move to sell select songs DRM-free. Amazon, Best Buy, Wal-Mart, and several other online retailers are currently offering MP3 downloads of Universal recordings. Unlike those sold by the iTunes Store, the files can be duplicated at will. (They do contain a watermark, presumably so Universal can track how many end up on peer-to-peer networks.) Of all Universal's digital efforts, this is probably the most significant, as it finally delivers legitimate files in a format that works on any device or computer. 'It's surprising to see Universal out in front of new initiatives,' says Mike Paxton, an analyst at the market research firm In-Stat. 'But I hesitate to really give them credit for being groundbreakers. They're not too forward-thinking.'"

Thankfully the analyst do see hope for the Marketing Industry. Now is the time for all of us to keep our chins down, heads up and eyes on the prize. As a final push of motivation, I'm reminded of my favourite business quote. It was in the book Re-imagine! Business Excellence in a Disruptive Age by Tom Peters. The quote is from General Eric Shinseki, Retired Chief of Staff, US Army: "If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less."

By Mitch Joel