Pivot is an annual conference in New York that explores the evolution of digital and social media, and the impact it has on brands and business.
Yesterday, Alison Hillhouse, an MTV Millennial researcher in charge of insights and innovation, presented an ethnographic study outlining the new relationship that exists between musical artists and the generation born at the turn of the century.
A verbatim extract from their study:
“Growing up there was always Napster or like Kazaa so we never needed to buy music. So when I want to support an artist that I respect and connect with, I buy their music. When you pay for music it’s a big deal.”
MTV went on to conduct a quantitative study based on the ethnographic research: 68% of millenniums say that music should be free and that they only pay for it to show respect to the artist, and 81% say that the closer they feel to an artist, the more they are willing to support the artist by purchasing their music.
These facts, which are probably intuitively obvious to most readers of this blog, leave no room for doubt. It is often considered that what is occurring in the music industry at a given moment in history is indicative of larger global trends. While this generation may be unwilling to pay for things they can get for free, it is more than ready to pay for things that it respects and feels connected to. The boundary may seem tenuous and conceptual, but it is real.
All designers of products and services should be inspired to approach the question of innovation: if my product or service could be acquired for free, what could I do to entice people to support (pay) me rather than just taking it? This changes the perspective a bit, right? Whatever your business, sooner or later the technology could invent a way to deliver your offering for (almost) free. Anticipate the moment, get respect and connect to your customers.
Remember that mixtape? Well it’s back – and this time with a digital twist! 3D-printing gurus MakerBot have created a 3D-printed “cassette” that plugs into your computer via USB. After a few painstaking song selections – there’s only 2GB of memory – and a bit of dragging and dropping, you’ll have the ultimate twenty-first century mixtape.
Converse recently opened its Brooklyn, NY music studio, Rubber Tracks, which offers emerging artists a free professional studio to record their material. This project was born out of the realization that young musicians don’t always have access to quality studios to hone their skill.
How does it work? Rubber Tracks is a democratic enterprise that allows any band to apply on the website for a free recording session. If accepted, the band will spend time with top-notch engineers who will help them through the recording process. Selected musicians will have access to a rehearsal stage, a workroom dedicated to digital editing (music and video) and recording studios.
Rubber Tracks is indeed a qualitative initiative and consistent with the brand’s historic link to music:
Converse has a rich history of supporting music and being embraced by the artistic community. We are committed to providing young artists with the ability to have their voices heard. This year, we’ve dedicated our efforts towards multiple new initiatives that all share the common goal of encouraging creativity. Converse Rubber Tracks enables musicians and bands to really explore and create new music. What they accomplish there sets the bar and tone for everything that follows, said Geoff Cottrill, Chief Marketing Officer of Converse in a release.
So, what can we learn from this “catalyst for originality”? It’s important to consider the value of a brand’s long-term strategy when positioned within an artistic field. It takes time and effort to convince creative individuals that you are on their side, and not just trying to get their money.
On the other hand, I would argue that if Converse can “afford” it, other less famous brands should consider starting with this one shot operations to gain attention.
Today, most musicians would be proud to say they are recording in the Converse studio, but this would not necessarily be the case for another brand.
What’s the secret? Bring together the right people and deliver something that’s useful. At the end of the day, people need to be entertained!
Maybe the best recent example is the U.K. Orange RockCorps, which uses the power of music to inspire people to volunteer and give back to their community. Orange RockCorps produces some of the hottest shows in the industry, but in order to get a ticket you need to earn it by giving four hours to your community.
Are these merely two isolated examples of brands giving back to the community or is brand outreach the next phase of advertising?
With Spotify, the popular European music streaming service, now available in the U.S., we wonder how many of you will pay for the premium version?
Will you opt to pay a monthly fee in order to rid yourself of ads?
Total Voters: 20
Illustration: Dondy Razon
The music industry has an unstable relationship with the web. On the one hand, web = Napster = pirates = losing money. On the other, it is a huge opportunity for artists to connect with their fans and increase sales. Major record labels have a tendency to focus on the positive. Many arm their artists with tools to be digitally creative, as is the case with Arcade Fire. And sometimes they focus on the negative.
EMI, a multinational music company in the U.K., recently proved its inability to understand the opportunity offered by the web. A recent study, ordered by the music company, showed that pirates spend more money on music than others. Let’s consider the logic: you download music because you love it. If you love music, you’ll attend the shows and presumably purchase merchandise. You might even buy an album, if it’s really good. And those who don’t love music are unlikely to follow this pattern anyways.
An interesting fact about the study: EMI censored it. This has many pitfalls, one being the public perception surrounding EMI’s attempt to hide something that got out anyways. Even more so, the information could have been advantageous to the company, if utilized correctly. EMI could have been the first major record label to acknowledge that these so-called pirates are actually the best customers. We need to change our defensive attitude towards those who consume culture in excess.
It seems like EMI is still hoping that people will change their behaviour and start paying again. But here’s the problem: how do you expect the YouTube generation to ever accept paid music as the norm?