Is This What Innovation Smells Like?
At last year’s MusicMatters conference I heard Ralph Simon make the claim that today, instead of A&R (Artists and Repertoire), we need “I&R” (Innovation and Repetoire). Yeah, I don’t know what that means either. How The Majors Innovate In fact, I’m not sure I want the big end of the music business messing around with […]
At last year’s MusicMatters conference I heard Ralph Simon make the claim that today, instead of A&R (Artists and Repertoire), we need “I&R” (Innovation and Repetoire).
Yeah, I don’t know what that means either.
How The Majors Innovate
In fact, I’m not sure I want the big end of the music business messing around with innovation. Let me give you an example.
Much to my surprise, Van Halen’s new album is rather good. I loved this band when I was younger and Eddie Van Halen was a huge influence on my guitar playing. Their new album brings back the original frontman, the ever-flamboyant David Lee Roth, who sings with bluesy conviction on a collection of heavy, grinding tracks that recall their fourth album, Fair Warning (a personal and fan favourite).
I found the music video for the album’s first single, Tattoo on YouTube and wanted to share it with the family, via our Apple TV. So, on my MacBook Pro, I added the clip to my YouTube favourites list and then looked for it on the Apple TV. But, it was a no-go. Apparently songs featured on the VEVO channel of YouTube are blocked from appearing on Apple TV, either in a favourites list or via the search function.
Is that what major label “innovation” looks like – making it harder for a fan to share their love of an artist’s work with other potential fans?
What Innovation Really Looks Like
By contrast, Apple’s iTunes Match offering is a more compelling form of innovation. For a nominal amount you can store and easy send your whole music library to any of your iTunes enabled devices. This, in effect, legitimises those music files that you may, or may not have paid for. It creates a revenue stream for artists whose work had been copied and solves consumer needs for storage and easily moving their library between devices.
That’s innovation! And, not surprisingly, it comes from a tech company, not a music company.
And, let’s remember, that is precisely what the major labels and music associations did not want us to be able to do. They didn’t want us to be able to convert formats, to digitise our analog libraries for ourselves, to create copies of songs for different devices or to legitimise and digitally recombine the songs we had. They wanted DRM!
Of course, Steve Jobs called for the end of Music DRM back in 2007 and faced a backlash of the big end of the music business. But, DRM was dismantled and now iTunes Match is solving the music listening needs of many consumers.