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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.

8 comments:

  1. Drop emusic for spotify?? You've got to be kidding. Spotify has almost none of the stuff that I buy from emusic - I want the stuff that is in the holes and I really really doubt that those will ever get filled (unless spotty buys emusic and streams all that content). Every month I buy 90 from emusic and there is always something I haven't got and that is not available to stream. They just don't have the really specialised stuff on Spotify.

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  2. I was impressed with the Monkey format (and not for the obvious reasons). I could see the Word weekly newsletter looking good in a similar format.

    I suspect that there will be a Year Zero for digital magazines, and that will probably come with the launch of the anticipated Appel Tablet.

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  3. Music's moving away from the "ownership" model because the requisite bandwidth and devices are becoming ubiquitous.

    The only thing stopping TV and movies from going the same way is that you *can't* stream video comfortably everywhere. And audio is quicker and easier to cache for moment where there's no connectivity (e.g. the tube). Once that's fixed, it's the same deal.

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  4. The third episode of the third series of Gavin & Stacey was on last night. The final episode will be shown on New Years day. The DVD of the whole series is already on sale. There’s been a bit of a fuss about this but I’m not quite sure why.

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  5. Joss Whedon funded making Dr.Horrible's singalong blog as an experiment (apparently $200k), and paid the actors when they had enough sales on i-tunes and dvd. It won an Emmy but as far as I know has never been shown on tv. I can see other (successful) creators trying the same thing. Maybe we will end up buying subscriptions to individual shows (like we already can on i-tunes).

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  6. But why should we pay over and over? I want to buy something once and own it. I don't want to be at the mercy of the vagiaries of my broadband or phone connection - I lost my broadband the other night because some engineeer left a tester on my line and have you tried to get signal on O2 anywhere even slightly unpopulated? I also don't want to be in the hands of someone who decides I can't see/hear something anymore. Streaming means more monitoring of your habits. Not a good idea really is it?

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  7. I don't see a sign of any of the avenues of distribution being closed down. You'll still be able to own all the physical product you like because recent experience (particularly in the case of DVD) indicates that a lot of people want to pay for something and own it. Nobody's going to stop them doing that.

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  8. I really wouldn't bet on that. A licensing model generates money forever and if distributors can find a way to enforce it then they will. Distribution loss happens on e-music : labels just suddenly vanish from their offering so it's a good thing that the model is download and not stream. (and then there is all the "not in your country" nonsense)

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