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The Music Consumer Dilemma

Music Industry Blog writer Mark Mulligan recently posted the right question when he asked “Can The Music Industry Afford Pandora to be the Shape of the Future?” Here’s a quote (thanks to John Pisciotta for the link):

“The future of music consumption is going to become increasingly access-based. There’s simply no escaping the fact. And yet the current digital music value chain is not prepared for it. Something needs to change, and soon.”

Read the whole thing, it’s well worth your time to get his perspective on where we are, where we’re going and where we NEED to be going.

Music Consumers

Then I read the comments and read this gem from The Family Records’ Wesley Verhoeve:

Here’s the thing. The music consumer doesn’t have a problem right now, merely an imperfect product. That’s all that matters in terms of having momentum to change direction for the music industry. There is not incentive for a consumer to change their behavior, unless you offer a more convenient, better priced and better developed product. And the customer is in control. No one cares that there is no successor to the CD. Matter of fact, the vast majority of people doesn’t miss the CD and they feel digital music (stream or download) is indeed a decent successor.”

This is the most accurate summation of the challenge faced by the music industry I’ve ever read.

The Dilemma

At the core of the challenge, is Mr. Verhoeve’s statement that “the music consumer doesn’t have a problem right now.” He’s right, and it is causing huge problems for the very industry that caused it in the first place.

  1. It is Effortless: Digital Downloading, and all the related options, is fast and easy. We are now fully engaged with something that requires little to no effort on our part. We click. We listen.
  2. It’s Just Music: Digital Downloading brings us music and little else. Sure we get “cover art” (maybe), but that’s it. Long gone are the days of liner notes, pictures of the artist, or learning who played what on which track. We click. We listen. We’re done.

It’s Just Music

So I ask you: is it any wonder that consumers don’t understand the fuss about paying for music? Why should they pay much, or anything at all, for something that comes to them in one click without ANY of the things they used to get just a few years ago?

This is, of course, what Verhoeve means when he says consumers do have one problem, “an imperfect product.”

But I’m reminded of a favorite quote of mine from Henry Ford: “If I had asked people what they wanted, I would’ve given them a faster horse.”

Don’t give your customers and fans a horse, or a faster horse. Give them a whole new experience like Henry Ford.