For decades radio and later, MTV, were the dominant and proven marketing channels for the music industry. The symbiosis was, on its face, an elegant one: Radio and video promoted the product for free/fee, retail outlets sold it, and everyone made gobs of money. Radio, while still powerful, is no longer perceived as the vibrant marketing channel for music it once was. MTV certainly isn’t.
They’ve been replaced by the web — in particular, by social networking communities and blogs. This is Radio 2.0. While I don’t blog about music as much as I’d like, I still get pitched very regularly by music promotion companies on new music. I can only imagine how much music blogs like Pitchfork, Brooklyn Vegan and bloggers like Fred Wilson get pitched. Moreover, the labels are embracing social networks as a new channel — the EMI/Sigur Ros/YouTube and Warner Bros/REM/
iMeemiLike tie-ups are cases in point. Of course Clear Channel and MTV (outside of the U.S, at least) will still get plenty of world premieres, but I suspect this will decrease as MP3 blogs and social networks continue to gain relevance and audiences.
“Tell me something I don’t know,” you may sigh. Well, it’s unclear that these sites actually generate commerce revenue the way traditional marketing channels have. If that continues to be the case, then the artists and labels will have to figure out how to get a big enough piece of advertising and other revenue streams to warrant “giving” their content to these new channels. Regardless, we are seeing a changing of the guard: Maybe Pitchfork founder Ryan Schreiber is the new Jann Wenner; Ali Partovi or Dalton Caldwell, the new Bob Pittman.
Based out of London, Raghav “Rags” Gupta is VP of International Partnerships at Brightcove, where he has worked since ’05, prior to which he was a senior executive at Live365. His blog can be found at www.ragsgupta.com. The views expressed here are personal and do not necessarily reflect those of any company with which he is affiliated.