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Nella testa delle major

La scorsa settimana ho scritto su Nova un articolo di commento all’iniziativa anti-pirati di Sarkozy. Tra le varie cose, dicevo che le major ancora non ci hanno spiegato quale futuro vorrebbero, a parte che sia uguale al loro passato.

Quasi una cattiveria… Ed ecco che vengo contraddetto…

Sul tema della pirateria è uscito un’interessante articolo su Wired, un’intervista al capo della Universal, che contiene alcune interessanti affermazioni.

La prima:

…the company (Universal, NdA) will eventually need to transition from running a product-based business to running a service-based one.

Interessante…cosa intendono?

Universal is [..] experimenting with the subscription-based plans that many — including the new cohead of Columbia Records, Rick Rubin — see as the wave of the future. The idea is to charge customers a fixed monthly fee (which could get tacked onto their cell phone, cable, or Internet bill) in return for access to unlimited music from a given label and, say, the opportunity to hear new recordings a week before their general release. Morris is currently championing a version called Total Music.

Un servizio di sottoscrizione a pagamento…originale! Ma come pensano di raccogliere sottoscrizioni a sufficienza? Ad oggi tutti gli esperimenti del genere sono stati fallimentari…

[…] in Morris’ conception a Total Music subscription would come pre-installed on devices like the Zune, the Sony PlayStation, or a mobile phone. Universal is well aware of the difficulty of convincing consumers to pay for music subscriptions, so Morris wants the devicemakers to pony up the cash themselves, either by shelling out for a six-month introductory offer or by assuming the cost forever. This would be money well spent, Morris argues, because it would help the Microsofts of the world eat into the iPod’s market share. He has already hammered out preliminary agreements with Warner and Sony BMG and has met with executives at Microsoft and several wireless carriers. […]. After all, why buy an iPod if a Zune will give you songs for free?

Nelle loro intenzioni Total Music e la distribuzione DRM free di musica dovrebbero mettere a posto sia Apple sia la pirateria. Non è un po’ troppo?

Ancora più interessante quel che dice Caraeff, executive VP per la digital strategy di Universal:

"Looking back, the best thing we could have done would have been to mandate one format," he says. So why didn’t that happen? Morris is happy to field this one. "It never crossed anyone’s mind!" he exclaims. "We were just grateful that someone was selling online. The problem is, he became a gatekeeper. We make a lot of money from him, and suddenly you’re wearing golden handcuffs. We would hate to give up that income."

E c’è una spiegazione:

"There’s no one in the record company that’s a technologist," Morris explains. "That’s a misconception writers make all the time, that the record industry missed this. They didn’t. They just didn’t know what to do. It’s like if you were suddenly asked to operate on your dog to remove his kidney. What would you do?"

Personally, I would hire a vet. But to Morris, even that wasn’t an option. "We didn’t know who to hire," he says, becoming more agitated. "I wouldn’t be able to recognize a good technology person — anyone with a good bullshit story would have gotten past me." Morris’ almost willful cluelessness is telling.

Per finire:

He wants to wring every dollar he can out of anyone who goes anywhere near his catalog. Morris has never accepted the digital world’s ruling ethos that it’s better to follow the smartest long-term strategy, even if it means near-term losses. As far as he’s concerned, do that and someone, somewhere, is taking advantage of you. Morris wants to be paid now, not in some nebulous future. And if there’s one thing he knows how to do, it’s use the size of his company to get his way.

The problem is that a strategy based on quick returns is unlikely to pull the music industry out of its morass. After all, it was a reluctance to look farther down the road that got the labels in trouble in the first place.

The Big Four record companies — Universal, Warner Music Group, Sony BMG, and EMI — are all enormous corporations. Together they account for nearly 90 percent of recorded music sales in the US. […] According to industry figures, from the early 1970s through the late 1980s the total number of albums (in all formats) shipped each year in the US hovered around 650 million. In 1992, CD sales reached 400 million; six years later they hit 800 million. By 2000, more than 900 million CDs were being shipped each year.

Ed ecco come finirà:

"There’s this mentality of always needing to make the numbers for the next quarter," says Ted Cohen, a former exec at EMI and Warner Bros., now managing partner at the consulting firm TAG Strategic. "It kept me up at night. Some of us could see that something needed to be done, but no one wanted to do anything that wouldn’t maximize profit for that quarter."

L’archetipo si chiama "Shifting the Burden"  ed è una vera trappola per volpi affamate di profitti. La cura sintomatica prevale sulla cura del vero problema.

Per chi si occupa di management sarà una vera pacchia. Meglio prendere appunti. Ci sarà un sacco da scrivere!