Labels Focus On Their Own Web Sites
December 17, 2008 at 5:13 AM (PT)
After years of watching everyone from APPLE to YOUTUBE develop profitable and close relationships with music fans, major record labels have been quietly making a big push to understand who buys their music, reports REUTERS. The labels are betting that owning the music fan relationship will be key in their ongoing struggle to turn around dwindling sales of music after nearly a decade of being ravaged by digital piracy on the Web and CD copying.
EMI said on WEDNESDAY it was taking the wraps off its long-rumoured EMI.COM consumer portal for U.S. and U.K. fans, featuring options for them to discover both new and archive music and videos from their favourite EMI artists.
The company described the new site as a "learning lab. It will help us gain even more knowledge about consumers' preferences," EMI executive ALEX HAAR said in a statement.
LONDON-based EMI is somewhat late to the game in launching a group consumer site. Its larger rivals all have group or label sites like UNIVERSAL MUSIC GROUP and SONY MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT's MYPLAY.COM and WARNER MUSIC GROUP's ATLANTIC RECORDS.
Attitudes have begun to change at major labels, who have started appointing executives with experience in consumer marketing and digital to top positions. For instance, EMI this year appointed former RECKITT BENCKISER executive ELIO LEONI-SCETI as chief executive of recorded music and DOUGLAS MERRILL, a former GOOGLE executive, as president of digital.
Executives said that the need to understand what fans want and how they want it has become a crucial part of the way a music label is run today. These executives insisted that the motivation for owning the fan relationship is not about cutting out the retailer or building intrusive databases but will instead grow new forms of revenue such as advertising, tickets and merchandise.
"We create products and we create platforms and we can go direct-to-consumer, which is free for the fan, but the B2B(business-to-business) part is where we make our shekels," said a person familiar with UNIVERSAL MUSIC GROUP's plans.