The music biz, social media and your business

dot design

The business of music and how it is consumed has shifted yet again from mp3 to streaming directing from the web. There is already no need to buy or physically own any music with services like Spotify (that I'm a huge fan of).

I believe that this way of doing things will become the norm especially as an increasing amount of the world is connected to the web and Spotify has added the option of listening to tracks offline as well. Their catalogue is growing everyday and currently stands at 8 million tracks.

I’m currently on their freemium version but will be upgrading to paid very soon in order to get rid of the occasion adverts and also to listen to tracks offline. I mention this because I rarely find anything that offers a ‘freemium’ version worth upgrading and paying for, but over the last year Spotify have won me over.

One thing that has interested me is how they have recently added social media sharing across Facebook and Twitter, something I now do is share what I’m listening to. This function must be seriously fuelling signups and general awareness of Spotify.

The popularity of Spotify has obviously caught the attention of Apple and there are rumours that ITunes may move over to cloud/streaming of music rather than its current model of selling mp3s that are listenable through its software.
iTunes in the cloud predicted by Spotify boss | Electricpig

So my question is with alot of services moving online if they haven’t already, is there a way for your business to use social media sharing to either improve what is does, add value or bring something new to what you currently offer?
Firstly- the Spotify model represents a shockingly bum deal to the musician and essentially de-values their product. I know it's been argued that artists recoup through touring and 360 branding deals, but this just isn't the case for the the majority of the artists, who would in the 80s and 90s have scratched out a semi-decent living through royalties and compilation sales. The knock-on effect for the design industry is already palpable. In the 6 years I've been generating business for the graphic design industry, I've seen album design projects plummet from £25k to £3k and the number of albums being made wither to almost nothing. That's an enormous chunk of business already lost to us.

This model of work reflects the downside of collective online experience and represents the way in which the creative product, and it's value is being eroded at an alarming pace.

There was a discussion on here about 99Designs and the ilk- and I genuinely see it as the design version of Spotify. No matter how many times we argue that 99Designs et al is an unfair way of working and fails to value the time and expertise that goes into creating a piece of design, clients still perceive it as an almost free way of purchasing a creative product. Ditto Spotify- the album process can take anything up to 6 months of hard work yet we are all amazed that an infinite number of these products are available to us for free, barring a few mildly irritating adverts.

Any creative professional who spreads herself too thin- across a variety of social media is in danger of de-valuing what they need to do to earn a living. Sharing thoughts and influence is vastly different to sharing the product itself and I for one am not in favour of any work practice that places every aspect of the creative process even more into the public realm.

Dude- go & pay for you Spotify account now. You owe it to yourself.

Gemma Mercy
Mercy : Design Agency and Literature & Arts Collective : London / Liverpool : UK
You have a very good point their Gemma and I willing to admit when I maybe wrong or misguided.

I guess I'm talking more about the way they have used social media to their advantage rather than their business model. But yes, very good point and one worth some thought. What do others think?

And yes I'll be upgrading shortly, do you use it at all Gemma, I'm guessing not?
Yep- I pay £9.99 a month which is a bargain compared to my old vinyl junkie days. Considering how high my horse is, I'm not sure I'd pay if it was very much higher- anything past £25 a month would probably put me off which is sad really.

As far as a business model, social media behaves in the same way as word of mouth (well duh) but it's hardly a very targetted methodology. It's very exciting to have a gazillion talking about your service, but what percentage of those people are actually in the position to commission you to work on a great project (and really, if they're spending their days social networking- are they actually working hard enough to pay you your true value?)

It's vital for creatives producing customer-facing work to have a grasp on how to customer consumes their media, but really, I don't think it's that important to use in the business plan.

Mercy : Design Agency and Literature & Arts Collective : London / Liverpool : UK