It's an outdated business model. Pirates stole a Netflix show and the majordomos shrugged and said all episodes were available online, no biggie.
And it wasn't.
You don't fight pirates.
You fight their business model!
Which is why you never hear about P2P in the age of streaming. Scour the internet for files that take minutes to download? Never mind worry about viruses?
When you can hear what you want instantly, on demand? Never forget convenience wins. Worried about people stealing your wares? Make it easier to buy them. Works every time. Remember when insiders said no one would pay for music anymore? Then yesterday Spotify announces it's got 60 million subscribers. Wait long enough and people figure it out.
But the fascinating thing is no one wants to steal and leak music anymore. Go back to the earlier part of this century, and that was a big crisis. In the era when the first week meant everything. Now the first week is a joke. Where is Katy Perry's album today? It's all about the longevity. Leaving the starting block fast grants you no advantage. The biggest hits of the year were not instant successes, they took time to develop, like "Despacito" and "Redbone."
But there's something more sinister afoot. Turns out people are just not that interested. When we had a cohesive business, one in which you knew all the players and all the records, when music was akin to MLB or the NFL, there was an excitement in a release. Now people are inundated with music and they believe they can wait for great to ultimately surface, and they're only interested in great.
But music does not drive the culture.
Who do we blame? No one? Or the labels that are enabling these niches. The acts playing to sponsors. Adele and Ed Sheeran dominate the landscape, yet no one follows in their footsteps, they may laud the songstress but they denigrate the troubadour, as if creating songs with melody you can sing along with is a crime.
But at least people have an opinion on Adele and Sheeran. The rest of the pile? Most don't care.
So the acts leak their own records. On Soundcloud, via mixtapes. They're satiating their fans with a constant stream of product, knowing that recording revenue is not the only one, if you can bond someone to you, you've got them possibly for life.
So Drake and the rappers are doing something right.
And the media is completely missing the boat. Thank god Bewkes is selling HBO, because its business model is flawed. Dripping out shows for water cooler discussion. It's funny, the Netflix shows start slower and last longer, they work their way through the culture, and today you don't want headlines, but hearts and minds. As soon as someone starts quoting statistics, ignore them. In an era of big data what we want most is that which touches us, that which we embrace. When we binge on Netflix or Amazon we feel we're on an individual quest and we can't wait to tell everybody about it. Whereas "Game Of Thrones" airs, an episode is talked about for forty eight hours, and then it's over.
So what we've learned is we're looking for mania, that which we can all pay attention to and have an opinion on. Isn't that what the web epitomizes? Everybody weighing in with their opinion? You want to enable this, you want to see it as paramount, you want to interact with your fans, not keep them at arm's length, you want to come down off your throne and be an Average Joe.
Well, not really. But in an era where everyone feels powerful online, if you puff yourself up you're a target.
So ignore the headlines, not because they're fake news, but because they just can't get it right. They report the stories in an old way. Focusing first on numbers, and headlines that are meaningless. Who knows what was number one on SoundScan last week, does SoundScan even matter? I can go on Spotify and find the true number one, and it's updated DAILY!
So know that we are in charge. We are the customer. And the customer rules.
We make hits. We spread the word. And eventually the business model comes to us.
And that business model is on demand.
We want it all.
And we want it NOW!