knows just how conflicted he and his fellow execs are about this
whole digital revolution Music 2.0 thing. But even the closest
observer couldn't have been prepared for the company's recent
On the one hand you have Universal right behind EMI jumping into
the DRM free mp3 waters with both feet. Just yesterday, the
company cut a deal with the world's largest cell maker Nokia to
provide phone buyers with a year of free access to the label's
music as part of a "Comes With Music" campaign to be launched in
the second half of 2008. It's one of many creative deals that
Morris and Universal Music have made over the last year to monetize
the label group's massive catalog.
But now its come to light that Universal is systematically forcing
its artists and web sites that offer song sampling (MySpace, etc.)
to cut the samples to 90 seconds. Exempted are sites who pay
Universal for each stream. Universal artist Colbie Callat
apologized to her fans:
"..bad news. Due to circumstances beyond my control I have to
swap the songs out on my page for 90 second versions instead of
full length versions. In fact some of the songs have already been
swapped as I write this."
COMMENTARY: Is Doug Morris so out of touch that he
believes that full song streaming will replace sales? Does he
really think that a dedicated fan is going to surf over to each
individual MySpace page, find a song, click on it, wait for it to
play, and then repeat that process every 3-4 minutes to hear the
songs they crave? It's less work to grab the songs free via any
mp3 blog or P2P.
Music discovery is the key to sales; and with radio and traditional
becoming less relevant, full song streaming is the only way for
many consumers to learn about a new artist they've read or heard
about. In Music 1.0 a great print review did not necessarily lead
to sales. In the new music business, 90 seconds of music will not
be enough either.
DEAR MR. MORRIS,
You're obviously a very savvy businessman. That means you know
that the payoffs for some of the best deals don't always come right
away. Sometimes you've got to give the shills a real taste before
they'll open their wallets.