The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

i-Cash …
October 17, 2007, 7:00 am
Filed under: Comment

So Jill’s cousin Sally has written the song for the new iPOD ad …

… and apart from it to being a license to print money, it demonstrates how the music industry is far better at understanding how to make money in a World of piracy than the film companies.

OK … OK … so alot of the record labels have shown a level of buffoonery that makes Mr Bean look like a Harvard Professor – however interms of diversifying their revenue models, you can’t deny that bands/singers are far more ahead of the game than their film counterparts.

Take Prince and his Daily Mail album giveaway

This wasn’t some act of madness by the purple midget – he used it as the ultimate ‘marketing tool’.

The thing Prince realised is that music piracy is an almost unstoppable force – so rather than rely on it as a core revenue source, he decided to use it as a tool to reach the widest possible audience possible.

What this meant was that when he announced his tour, not only would more people know about it, but it would probably encourage more people to attend, given they’d not had to pay anything for his latest album.

The other benefit – and this is the really big one – is that while albums CAN be pirated, a live concert can’t – so potential revenues stand a far greater chance of being realised PLUS at live concerts, there’s all sorts of ‘added revenue’ channels like t-shirts, programmes and food etc.

In short this marketing policy made Prince more money than he probably would have achieved if he’d stuck with the old ‘album revenue model’ of the past.

There’s a load of record company experts that think this is the future – and while it could [and probably would] ultimately destroy the monolithic record company model – it is a pragmatic strategy for musicians to maintain a profitable career despite piracy becoming bigger and bigger all over the World.

Now compare that to the Film Industry …

OK, so they’ve tried a few things, but the one they’ve seemed to focus on are putting those “IT’S STEALING” ads at the beginning of every film/DVD they release.

Oooooooh, that’s scary isn’t it … that’ll put people off buying a flick for $2 instead of $30, especially when it’s a rehash of a movie that was crap in the first place.

Hell, even the video pirates take the piss out of this strategy by including the ‘ad’ at the beginning of all their dodgy movies. Allegedly. Ahem.

OK, I appreciate the film industry is different to the music industry and that the issues are not easily comparable – however, if the film studios stopped paying such massive flat fee’s to their ‘actors’ as well as invested in creativity rather than just rehashing the old then maybe, just maybe they’d start moving people away from seeing the movies as ‘disposable entertainment’ and something worth paying more than $2 for.

[NB: I did say ‘maybe’]

Somehow I’ve married into Australia’s most creative family because another member of Jill’s mob is the Film Director, Philip Noyce [a man who has directed Angelina Jolie so immediately is one my favourite ‘relations’] … so maybe at the next Christmas get-together I should get Sally and Philip together so they can discuss how the movie industry can innovate to maintain their profits because if they don’t, Hollywood could end up being about as glamouress as Luton!

29 Comments so far
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Bloody hell you found a good ‘un:) That Feist song is probably my favorite of the year. Gets me in a good mood no matter how crappy I’m feeling

Comment by gareth

Movies are also competing with games. Film executives are blaming the launch of Halo 3 on the unimpressive box office takings of Ben Stiller’s latest flick, “The Heartbreak Kid”.

Comment by Mark

I think the reason ‘The Heartbreak Kid’ didn’t do very well is because it’s absolutely fucking shit – but to be fair, how is a Hollywood exec going to be able to tell that when they think Jash Harnett and Lindsey Lohen are talents and remaking Herbie was a good idea!

Comment by Rob

I think the video game link deserves looking into. Games like Bioshock, Halo etc have transcended gaming and put us literally into the action!

I agree with what you’re saying about record companies Rob. Even in my Sony Music days it was obvious our artists weren’t going to be making a dime from their (falling) sales, the future was always going to be live shows. My only fear with this is if artists set themselves up to make their fortune from live shows, they’ll charge exorbitant amounts for tickets. We’re already seeing that here in Australia with ticket prices pushing $150+ for single artists.

Comment by Age

I agree that the ‘interaction element’ of gaming gives people a more unique experience than film and music [though music does have great emotional interaction elements] however I question if that is the only reason gaming now dwarfs the music and film industries.

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate it has a huge influence in the purchase decision, however I also believe it has alot to do with escapism and ego [boosting self esteem?] … just like for gambling addicts, they are often more driven by the desire for heightened excitement and/or the belief they’re smarter than those around them than the quest to make money.

Maybe … ha!

Comment by Rob

That’s a really great song!

And that anti piracy clip is completely pointless. Empirically, I know this for a fact as it hasn’t had any effect on you Rob. 😉

Comment by fredrik sarnblad

If you can deny becoming a ‘lad’ when your family is away, I can deny having any films that may come from a less legit source. Ahem.

Comment by Rob

Agree with you Rob. As someone who enjoys a bit of Xbox action I can certainly attest to some escapism. Sometimes I think I’d make a better GM of the Seattle Supersonics than an ad planner… *sigh*

Comment by Age

Did cynic negotiate this deal to get 2 bites of the Apple financial pie? I wouldn’t put it past you, remember the BP “incident”? LOL.
Really like the song but how come she didn’t sing it? Is she in a band or just a songwriter? You did well Robert, a beautiful wife and a talented family, you must have done something very right in a past life.
As for your debate regarding video games and their appeal based on interactivity, I am prone to agree with you that there are many other elements at play of which ego and escapism are definitely two.
I don’t think it is entirely coincidental that the rise of video game power has coincided with a general decrease in the level of people’s satisfaction with life.
This despondency has played a significant role in the growth of the drug culture, especially against the younger user segment, and gaming offers a similar sense of escapism which makes it highly attractive to the disillusioned, especially when compared against the music and film categories.

Comment by Pete

Jesus … for such an innocent post, this has become rather interesting!

Pete … you are a cheeky sod, we had absolutely NOTHING to do with the use of Sally’s song in the iPod ad. I know you’re trying to give the impression cynic might have some ‘grifter’ tendencies, but we all know that this is really jealousy rearing its ugly head again. Ha!

How are you AGE?

You’ve been very quiet as of late but I hope you’re doing well and enjoying yourself. As much as I am sure you’d make a great GM, I know you’re going to be a far better planner so stop your whining and keep doing what you do 🙂

Comment by Rob

And Pete … how come you’re up at this time????

Early start or late finish????

Comment by Rob

Of course it’s jealousy, are you kidding me? That will haunt me till my dying day 🙂
Late finish (work, not fun) but heading home now. Speak soon and hope you have good news with your “thang”.

Comment by Pete

Firstly I adore the song. Excellent stuff.

Right then. Video games. Why do people play video games and why are they currently so successful? Video games, per se haven’t changed much at all. The game-play mechanics, emotional stress, desire to win and have a break that you find in Halo 3 are basically the same as those you we experienced with “Pong” about 30 years ago. Strip away the graphics and they are the same.

What makes the difference is the attention to detail and the storylines, which are increasingly becoming more complex. Where the action “game-play” maybe relatively simple; you get past that monster by killing it with a “headshot”, the story or the framework that surrounds the action tends to have a storyline that is sophisticated and challenging. And this is what drives most gamers on.

Imagine a film, Star Wars for example, where you couldn’t find out what all the fuss was about with Luke and Darth Vader. You knew that there was a third film, but your stuck in the second and can’t work out how to move on.

There are of course other games where team-play and game management are extremely important, and these games do tend to, admittedly, focus on beating another team (which brings us back to “Pong”).

The raise of the video game industry does indeed have a huge amount to do with the fact that other “entertainment” platforms such as Television and Cinema continue to fail because these industries simply don’t understand their audience. The games industry does. The gaming audience demands quality and (this is vital) longevity; a one off game is of no interest to a gamer at all. A gamer is looking for a long term story that will fascinate them for hours and hold the promise of further stories and adventures to come. And they want to – and can be part of that adventure.

I have more. But I’ll stop now.


Comment by Marcus

You and your famous new family members!

I agree with (most of) what Marcus said about games. Except maybe for EA and those making cheap third rate Wii games to cash in.

As someone said about Hollywood: “Everyone wants to be first to do something second”.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

First time I’ve heard the music industry lauded above the film business in a long time. As ever, a lot of good sense in the comments but they overlook some crucial differences – namely that the film industry extends its revenue stream over a series of formats where the music business only has unit sales to think about, that non-US income has only recently become the driver of the business so their pie has growth potential even in face of piracy and that in the UK, at least, cinema atendance has just posted the highest figures in 60 years.

The star fee structure was addressed quite a long time ago – starting with the Katzenberg memo in the early 90s and back-end deals are the order of the day. The music industry will implode long before the film business because it too faces the competition of the games industry and has had its head up its arse for longer. To be a successful musician it’s arguable that you don’t need a record company, to have a successful film you still need a film company.

And, having worked in Hollywood, I can say that it is often on a par with Luton.

Now tell me more about Sally….

Comment by john

I love the song.
Give us more Marcus.
And I’m thankful no one has used this opportunity to slag off Prince

Comment by NP

Music industry has units, they also have merchandise (tshirts etc), and gig tickets (which for big acts make millions).

Comment by Rob Mortimer

I’m in quite a fiesty mood today so I’m going to add this to the comments made so far …

While I agree with Marcus that the videogame industry understands its audience far better than their film and music counterparts, I still think it has alot to do with them understanding cultural and lifestyle needs rather than just their gameplaying “wants”.

Videogames have always been incredibly popular since way back in the 70’s – however with technological advancement now allowing near life-like images to be interacted with on screen and a society feeling more and more disillusioned with the opportunities they have in life – people now have the chance [thanks to a well created ‘background story and history’] to escape into the life they’ve always wanted to be part of … a life where their actions ARE important and has an effect on the lives of those around them.

Film and music can’t compete with that and so the importance of gaming has increased to huge proportions.

Now John …

If we are talking about industries – then yes, I agree the film guys will probably outlive the music companies – however if we are talking about musicians versus actors, then I believe the opposite is true mainly for the reason you outlined – a musician doesn’t need a record company to be successful whereas an actor tends to need a film company.

Finally NP …

I like Prince … which means we have something in common. How scary is that.

[I also have some ‘goss’ on him because in my studio guitar days, I once did a gig with one of his percusionists, Sheila E, and she told me all sorts of “naughtiness”.

We also need to remember Prince is the man that caused me utter embarrasment when my father saw him at the BPI awards and said in a loud voice that everyone could hear [including me who was miles away],

“There’s a home for AIDS if I ever saw one!”

Comment by Rob

Oh and John … here’s a rant I wrote ages ago about how bands are brilliant at maximising their fan base to drive multiple profit channels …

Comment by Rob

Rob M: Merchandise has always been the realm of the act – until recently the record company got none of that revenue.

Rob (rockgod guitarist) – Yes I meant the industry.

Comment by john

Now THAT’S a quote even Andy would find hard to match

Comment by NP

And, my God, I’d give Sheila E one. She’s aged very, very well.

Comment by NP

NP … I don’t know if your comments mean you’ve gone up or down in my estimation but they made me laugh!

Comment by Rob

I feel an argument coming on.

Comment by The Kaiser

True, but the only reason the bands got all the money was to make up for being screwed by the record label in everything else.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

I know this will sound sad – but you should read the book the Goss brothers [of BROS fame] wrote about how their record management ripped them off for millions … bloody more audacious than ENRON!

And Kaiser – what’s the [potential] argument about?

Don’t get me wrong, I like it when you get angry but this time I can’t work out what’s upset you!

[NB: I’m going to bed now so any rant at me will have to wait 12 hours if that’s OK]

Comment by Rob

Just splitting hairs old love. Not angry at all.

Comment by The Kaiser

This is a great mickey take of those dramatic piracy ads.

Comment by Dave Mortimer

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