Monday, May 01, 2006

Music As Collateral: Using Audio to Add Value

The music industry complains of being broken. Digital Audio is easy to copy. So, now consumers apparently have no reason to purchase legitimate product. As a result there is much talk regarding how to add further value to physical product in order to sustain a consumer base.

Let me suggest that instead of adding value to the music, let’s consider how to use music to add value to other consumer products. In this way:

A) the producers of a recording can profit;
B) the artists gain a vehicle for distribution; and
C) the consumer can feel like they’ve either earned a reward, or gotten something for free that they would otherwise have to pay for.

For instance:

I would personally be more likely to listen to an album of romantic songs if they were delivered with a premium box of Godiva chocolates. Likewise, the global florist, FTD, has an immense opportunity waiting for them if they are first to deliver music along with their floral arrangements. Long after the flowers wilt, a loved one can listen to the song they were gifted and thereby continue living within an FTD branded experience.

I call this Camelback Distribution (or Collateral) because something else is carrying the load. In this latter example the something else is the flowers, and the load the music.

Any kind of sponsorship may not be the best platform for an unknown artist, for either the artist or the sponsor; but you can surely can see how it could be a profitable one for both current hit makers –(Mariah Carey & FTD, for example)– and for classic catalog recordings, which in effect represents a vast emotional repository for the entire culture.

To the customer the experience won’t feel branded: It will simply feel like a love letter received from one person to the other; or it will be accepted as a token gift of music, accompanying the bouquet. Either way, which florist do you think giver and receiver are going to call the next time either one needs to send a bouquet of flowers?

As a teen my friends and I traded songs or mix tapes. On occasion, the exchange was prefaced with an explanation that the person receiving the material was to pay attention to a particular set of lyrics. Thus, the music became the vehicle for a message attributable not to the songwriter, but to the person who made the mix tape, to be decoded later by the person he or she gave the music to. In a way, the gift which arrived was in fact neither the mix tape nor the music, but rather both mix tape and music provided Russian Doll like packaging for an emotive expression, which was the true gift!

Given this scenario, which continues today with the exchange of mp3s, why not bundle single roses with singles (songs) and market the combo to teen romantics at a price they can afford?

I can imagine that the attached card might read:

"Nothing says 'I Love You' like a rose, except for music. This song says more about how I feel about you than I could ever put into words myself."

The reality is, the music isn't free but  it feels free, because the ostensible purchase is for the rose (or other gift (the 'camel'). So, the music is paid for with each and every product purchase. Alternately, a corporate sponsor can eat the cost entirely, either as a loss leader or because by doing so they hope to profit by factors other than an immediate economic payback (–such as the goodwill and gratitude of their customers, for instance).

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This article is one in series of articles about audio as added value. Read the other entries by following the links:

Music As Collateral: Using Audio to Add Value

The Compact Disc Is Dead
Saving The Music Industry One Brand at a Time
Self-Referential Jingles are not Content
Synergy = Energy

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