12 November 2007

How the DJ’s let us down.

This weekend I read a BusinessWeek article concerning the delivery of music and video from the interweb. There was a great quote from NBC Universal chief Jeff Zucker. Apparently he told an audience at Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications that, "We know that Apple has destroyed the music business, in terms of pricing, and if we don't take control they'll do the same thing on the video side." I almost fell out of my chair laughing. The music industry is its own worst enemy.

First, the reason we all listened to the radio was to hear music. As DJ’s developed a higher profile, we grew to trust them and their guidance in music. But then things changes. Corporate radio took over and the DJ’s no longer choose the songs. The music became more mainstream. In the 80’s and 90’s the complaints about bad radio paralleled the homogenization of the airwaves. The stations and sounded the same as they seemed to play the same twenty songs over and over.

So what do people do? They find new methods and new experts to guide their musical interests. They sample on iTunes for instance and then program their own virtual radio stations. They use web sites like Pandora that help them find “more like this.”

What’s next? Information portals that are driven by advertisers are next. As ad dollars shrink, the portals will become more and more desperate. Soon they will all let the advertisers drive the content. See the problem? As the credibility of the content goes, so does the consumer. The future of portals is already weakening. Those who do not place the user experience in the forefront of their efforts will find that in the end users draw ad dollars… not the other way around.