The video game industry is excellent example of an evolving sector with a successful history of quickly adapting to new consumer trends and behaviours in order to constantly realise new revenue opportunities. Similarly, the music industry has been greatly impacted by evolving consumer habits, and as we move away from the historic business model of selling a physical format, we can leverage several valuable lessons offered by the video game industry example.
Lesson 1: Consumers like to be social while they are entertained
The video game industry went from selling consoles with multiple controllers to networked games to purely multiplayer universe games to games that integrate into social networks (you go social first, then plan the game). The music industry also needs to make this transition.
While concerts, clubs, mixtapes and other social outlets have historically been a part of a music fans life, the current environment necessitates ingraining social aspects into the actual music itself. Consumers want to share, discover and connect as, or even before, they listen to music. Today’s “albums” in the form of music apps need to allow consumers to connect with the artist as well as with other fans and give them the ability to instantly, easily share the music they love. We are making strides in this direction, but the more aggressive we can be in not just socialising music, but monetising the social features, the more successful we’ll be as an industry.
Lesson 2: Consumers like to personalise their entertainment.
First, video games sold add-ons. Then they let consumers build their own add-ons. Now, they allow you to design your own character, make in-game purchases and drive story lines for a truly personalised gaming experience. Music has sometimes allowed some remixing or karaoke and a few bands allow taping of concerts, but that is as far as personalisation has gone…until now.
Artists and labels are just now starting to let consumers personalise tracks through mixing or create new tracks through sampling. This fits into the natural desires of consumers – to personalise what they love and to help contribute directly to the artist (yes, including providing the artist with samples). Moving in this direction can not only create more opportunities to sell music, it can create new opportunities to sell the same music multiple times in the form of different personalisation apps.
Lesson 3: Consumers want to gain status through competition.
Michel Reilhac, Head of Arte France Cinema, makes the point that the gamification of life is all about status. If you can gamify an activity, you can feed both the social and competitive nature of people by giving them a new social status. There’s no reason we can’t do that for music on an every day basic. Instead of simply telling friends about this great new song one heard, a person can tell them how your remix of that song was highlighted by the artist…thus elevating ones status.
How to leverage these lessons?
Today’s fan wants more than just a track. They want a participative, personalised experience in a social environment. This is something they had in the analogue world as they listened to LPs with friends…and now they are seeking it in the digital world. But, as an industry, we can take it farther and create more opportunities as fans that are socialising around music in networked environments can also conduct transactions in these environments.
Success isn’t just a matter of respecting what your customer wants, but also anticipating what they’ll want in the near future. How long would the video game industry have succeeded if innovation stopped with Pong?