Going to a three hour debate on the music industry in the digital age should have left me feeling enlightened and excited. Instead it left me feeling bemused. It also left me thinking that the management and marketing side of the industry contains some truly repellent people.
I witnessed a gathering of some of the great and good of the industry at the PRS who seemed bitter towards and scared by the world of digital, in their mind typified by twitter, prefacing everything they said with “I don’t use twitter but…” Then redirecting the discussion to be about them, their band or the “good old days”
These were people who booed each other and shouted “Shut up!” during this debate on how the music industry could embrace digital. These enlightened souls reacted angrily to the economist on the panel, the inspiring Umair Haque, making the sensible point that the industry needs to invest in the areas it can make most money out of, in the future becoming more of a service industry and as such developing great services now.
The crowning moment of chagrin came when at least five minutes of debate time were wasted when one particularly abrasive manager decided to attack a small time musician who had made a viral for his blog gently mocking Guinness; implying that by making such a video the artist was in fact a brand whore.
But enough about the wasted opportunity to help the music industry try and flourish in the digital age. After all if they were shortsighted and stubborn enough to miss that opportunity to monetarize digital music for themselves ten years ago, why should they be sensible and objective enough to act and think coherently now about how to make digital work for them.
There was one truism for brands in social media that was quoted during the debate:
“99% of your audience aren’t thinking about your brand 99% percent of the time” – a hard but important thing to remember when you are working 24/7 on promoting brands.
Below is the economist I mentioned earlier, if you like him there are plenty more videos of him on YouTube and articles by him, such as http://discussionleader.hbsp.com/haque/2008/07/what_markets_arent_the_lumberi.html