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July 20, 2010

Pulling the wool over the sheep's eyes

The quick and easy metaphor that tells this story is to say that the record industry thought they were selling sheep but have been forced to realise that they were really only selling wool on four legs.

The sellers of recorded music simply misunderstood what their customers were really buying and, at the end of the metaphorical Ice Age, now confront a market in which demand for their actual product is declining. Better sources of meat are available.

The music business, from its earliest days and most primitive forms, has always been about using the sexiness of music to sell other things. The music itself has never been sold.

Music is ephemeral - gone as soon as the voices, instruments or machines stop making sound waves - and hot, cool, or lame depending on the listener's mood.

But humans really dig the feelings only music can inspire and thus combining a musical experience with something else has been used to entice people to buy those other things so people can reconnect with the feelings inspired by the music.

In the case of the record industry, those things have been technologies: paper, plastic, electronic hardware and now bandwidth.

Now that music fans can sing and dance the night away without paying so much for the technology, the market for the technologies has declined and the record industry is experiencing a decline in sales.

Selling goats dressed up in sheep's wool.


The record industry is suffering because they assumed they were selling music when they were actually selling technology that was associated with music. They were not interested in developing the technology and now they can't control it.

This post is the summary of Part 1 of Dr Huge's "How the record industry got it so wrong". The latest version of the complete ebook can be downloaded here and a hard copy can be ordered here.
Posted by DrHuge at July 20, 2010 10:29 AM

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