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Friday, December 11, 2009

How the music business is swapping places with the TV business

ITV have announced that they're going to make the hit show The Vampire Diaries available to buy on iTunes before they broadcast it. And if David Simon decided to make a bumper special episode of The Wire, having learned what he's learned about the DVD market, what do you think he'd do with it? Licence it to a TV company or sell it for £12 in HMV? And actually, if DVD was the primary way of people seeing it rather than the secondary or tertiary viewing, who's to say that he wouldn't get £20? I know he's motivated by things other than money but the market is saying something very interesting at the moment. Some people will pay for genuine high quality unique content. And I'd even suggest they would rather pay for the privilege of seeing it upfront than wait to watch it on broadcast TV like everyone else. Before The Wire was shown on mainstream TV in this country people talked about it in just the same way they used to talk about a cult rock album. Speaking of which...

While the TV business could be looking towards the model that used to do so well for the record companies, the music business seems to be moving in the other direction, away from ownership towards streaming, which is sort of what the TV business used to do, albeit not on demand. I recently cancelled my Emusic subscription and transferred it to Spotify, which means that I can hear pretty much what I want when I want. I know there are holes in the catalogue but those will be filled and the irritating streaming dropouts will be a thing of the past. With Spotify an interesting new divide opens up in your listening, between the things that you are happy to hear and the things you feel the need to own as well.

In both cases it's no longer about the stuff. It's about when and how you get the stuff.