Wednesday, February 20, 2008

EMI shows off its digital plan. Oh, dear.

Hopes that Terra Firma were at least grasping the future for music companies is providing content under licence, embracing the idea of an arms-length world where it doesn't need to be the distributor any more have just died. Not simply died, but died in a horrible way. With a nasty noise.

EMI has decided that it actually wants to be a webpublisher instead of a music company.

No, really. It thinks that's a good idea.

'EMI has long been a pioneer in the digital space,' said a company spokeswoman. 'We will unveil more of our digital strategy as it develops.'

The thing is, they probably believe this, although if you asked EMI to name any evidence of this pioneerng spirit, they'd have to spend a bloody long time before they could come up with something. "One of the first companies to sue Napster", perhaps?
Plans are at an early stage, but EMI is believed to be developing a series of branded social networking sites to provide consumers with fresh platforms for interacting with artists across its labels, which include Angel, Addictive, Parlophone and Relentless.
[...]
The decision is intended to allow EMI to replicate the success enjoyed by stars such as Arctic Monkeys and Lily Allen on MySpace and Bebo.

Now - leaving aside the question of how far the Monkeys and Allen were dependent on the existing social networking sites - what sort of logic is it that looks at the propostion 'The kids hear about new music on MySpace and Bebo' and concludes the best idea is not looking to get your artists onto MySpace and Bebo, but instead to try and build an inhouse version of MySpace.

We could just about see it almost working, if there was something unique about the access this EMMySpace could offer to, say, Kylie. But if all we're talking about is a couple of ghostwritten blog entries and the odd remix download, it's impossible to see why the company is wasting its money when, for about one sixth of the price, they could put the same content in front of a much bigger audience by using the existing networks.

The overriding logic of the music industry: never take a scheduled flight if you can get to the same place, at the same time, by chartering your own jet for ten times the cost.


5 comments:

DJ Medi4 said...

stunning, as always.

how bout just putting out great product, and market it smartly, efficiently?

oops, no. hold on.

it's easier to put out shite, blow TONS of money on it through commercial (old school) marketing, only to be confused and angry when it doesn't sell...

they get what they reap - and they've been reaping WAY more than they've given since the 50's....

Anonymous said...

It's about owning the distribution channel surely, the classic proven business model for a label.

simon h b said...

Anonymous - you might very well be right, but that's part of what's wrong with it.

Because the classic business model is based around selling pieces of plastic. This is a different business, and yet EMI are still trying to approach it in the same way they'd have approached, say, the launch of the CD.

Also: MySpace et al are less akin to the warehouses and lorries, more akin to the shops on the High Street. The ownership of retail stores by record labels wasn't a success in the physical world - why should it suddenly be a good idea now? (Virgin Megastores and Virgin Records split into two different owners in 1992; EMI bailed out of HMV in 1998)

Duncan said...

Being the first major to ditch DRM isn't too bad for "pioneering"...

simon h b said...

Well, yes. If you look for pioneering amongst the majors, perhaps.

But since hundreds of labels were already selling DRM free tracks through, for example, eMusic, and had been for years, it's not actually pioneering in the strict sense. Like, I was the first person from my immediate family to visit Colorado, but that doesn't make me an actual pioneer.

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