Tuesday, March 24, 2009

EMI's digital strategy: hit 'random'

Less than a year ago, EMI proudly unveiled their new digital strategy, in the form of hiring Douglas Merrill from Google. On the basis that Google are on the computers, and make money, so perhaps he might have some idea about how to put EMI on the computers and make some money for them, too.

At the time, I did suggest that Merrill's grand plan of "ooh, let's try some stuff that I have yet to think of" might struggle to win round the corporation, and so it proved, with Merrill being kicked out on his arse with only a terse

I would like to thank Douglas for his contribution and to wish him well for the future.

for company.

Is it possible that the same person in EMI drafts the official 'Razorlight lads happy with split' and 'executives delighted to be moving on' press releases?

Anyway, with Merrill forlornly putting files into boxes and wondering if Google want him back, what's EMI's digital strategy now, then?
I am delighted to announce that Cory Ondrejka is appointed to the newly-created position of Executive Vice President, Digital Marketing, reporting initially to me and then to our new President of Marketing whose appointment we expect to announce shortly. We have been planning this promotion for Cory for some time now. In his new role he will help us deliver our goal of leveraging the power of digital across our business, particularly in the key areas of consumer understanding and analytics, content creation and digital marketing, in order to strengthen the relationship and interaction between our artists and their fans.

In the original draft of the memo, but removed for final release, there was a paragraph about how Ondrejka will forge a magical binary axe, to smite the many hordes of peer-to-peer pirates, the better to lead EMI into the new world. He said this might be a bit too specific.

Still, it's a bit of a hard job he's taking on. If a guy from Google can't make EMI work as a digital business, what background could possibly be right for the task?
Cory is a highly talented executive with a passion for music and a complementary, technology-based skillset. Since he joined us from Second Life last year he has helped us create a new approach to digital that will be unique to the music industry including establishing a world-class engineering team on the West coast and instituting modern, agile software development practices and tools that are the foundations to help us transform our approach to analytics and marketing.

Second Life? Second 'modish for a while, and now used in meetings as a punchline to jokes about how fast technology moves leaving stuff look outdated' Life, you mean?

Let's hope that Ondrejka is a success, otherwise next Spring EMI will be introducing Tom Nook as the new Digital Vice President.

Is it just me, or does EMI seem to be cantering off in completely the wrong direction here? Does it really need to have an engineering team inventing stuff? Sure, that's nice to do, if you can afford the time and money, but EMI doesn't really have either? Shouldn't it be concentrating its efforts on selling music through the stuff that's already out there? Nobody wants an EMI plug-in for their browser, or a 3D music analysis package which only works with EMI bands.

Perhaps the engineers are working on something really, really clever - maybe a way to allow people to buy mp3 files direct by right-clicking on band names wherever they are on the internet - but when the memo is excited about where they (the West Coast? Blimey, they must be brilliant if their computers aren't in Kansas or somewhere) are rather than what they're doing, you have to doubt it.


Anonymous said...

Definitely the right man for the job - Cory's "passion for music" has led him to buy as many as five albums in the last decade, three of them by the same band.

By the way, I think I've discovered EMI's secret plan for this amazing new strategy - in an ad for a junior software engineer on Cory's blog:
"Start as a Rails apprentice with a team of rock stars at our new San Francisco office."

Coldplay are going to code it all for them.

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