GUEST SHOT: Bob Lefsetz
Subject: What The Customer Wants
"Businesses should concentrate on their customers' needs, not on specific products.
" "Marketing Myopia" (1960) Theodore Levitt, Harvard Business School.
What does the music customer want?
1. To easily be able to hear all recorded music
Now I'm not saying such ability should be free, but this does not undermine the
If you read about a record, if a friend mentions a tune, you should be able to
instantly click and sample it. On your desktop, laptop and hand-held device.
Not jut a thirty second sample, but the whole thing.
The public hates thirty second samples. They project an image of withholding as
opposed to honest, fair dealing. It's like the music industry is a carny
attraction behind a curtain that you must pay for, with very little advance
knowledge, before you partake.
The best delivery of the ability to hear music is Spotify. Which has been
delayed in its American introduction because certain rights holders don't
believe in giving anything away for free.
Spotify is a music app, with a full catalog.
LaLa's not bad, it's just that you have to go to Google first, you've got to
click a bit.
Rhapsody and Napster provide the end result, with very poor functionality,
certainly compared to Spotify. They seem to live in a land where the lessons of
Apple are hidden, that usability and functionality are key. Apple has also
proven that people will pay premium prices for this usability and functionality.
Oh, here's where you tell me it's impossible to compete with free. Well, Apple
is competing with a plethora of computers a third the price, yet is extremely
profitable and valuable. So, rather than decry theft, the question becomes how
can one make a profit by delivering exactly what the public wants?
And just a note. The more access to music people have, the more they consume,
the more tickets and merch they buy.
2. A fair shot at a good concert ticket
The number one complaint is not high prices, the big bitch is you just don't get
a chance at a good seat. People know the value of a front row seat, they're
willing to pay for it, just give them a shot at it.
Sure, it works for the act to make a deal with AmEx, to have a fan club, to put
so many layers of sale between the act and the customer that people are turned
off instead of turned on, pissed instead of happy.
Yes, happy. People may say the movie is lousy, but most concertgoers are
thrilled to be able to attend the event, they fully enjoy it. But, how do they
Until all tickets are available at one time (how many credit cards and fan club
memberships do you have to get to be a regular concertgoer, this works against
the industry instead of for it), and are priced according to their desirability,
fans will be unhappy.
If you desire to appeal solely to your fans, by allowing them to get tickets and
requiring them to line up and show ID to get in...this is not a terrible
strategy. You're satiating the hard core, while pissing off the public. Then
again, most of the public is willing to shrug and say they just don't care that
much about going to this show.
What's the number one thing a fan wants?
To be able to go backstage.
Not everyone can provide this, but don't decry platinum packages that allow
this, for this is exactly what the public wants.
If you want to make people happy, make yourself available. That could be as
simple as a response on a message board or as complicated as going out on a date
with a contest winner.
But this is what people want. Think about how you can deliver it.
4. Music that they want to play again and again
Note, this does not mean music that is given a thumbs-up in radio callout
research, when a listener hears a short snippet. After all, we've established
above that thirty seconds is not enough. If a listener does not get the urge to
immediately replay your music, you're not going to have success. That could be
playing a three minute ditty again and again, or a complete album again and
again. The form is unimportant, it's about the desire.
5. More music by their favorite artists
Shorten the time between releases, deliver more material. Fans want outtakes,
rehearsal tapes, live tapes...almost anything and everything. Sure, this is
different from what the casual fan or the uninitiated person wants, but these
are two different markets, and you make the lion's share of your money from your
hard core fans.
Don't think about how you can placate radio, think about how you can placate
This is as simple as a live album of the studio album a month after the original
drop date. YouTube broadcasts of live shows. Downloadable content from your
Website. You can never have too much for a fan. And don't forget, fans are
your number one evangelists, they're the ones who spread the word.
6. More information
Where you are, who you're recording with, the process.
I've said it before and I'll say it again, no one does this better than John
Mayer. And in the process he sacrifices not a whit of credibility or charisma.
Somehow, the public feels as if it's in his back pocket and knows him, even
though they realize the odds of in-person contact are slim to none.
7. Fewer commercials
Whether it be radio, television or a streaming music service, the public is fed
up with commercials. And unlike forty years ago, people have options. Extended
runs of commercials are abuse, never forget this.
8. A final concert ticket price
People hate being pecked to death by ducks, which is the equivalent of buying
concert tickets today. It's not so much about the cost, as the feeling of being
screwed by hidden charges that make no sense. Print at home fee?
Come on. That's inane. I'm using my own paper and ink.
We know it's all about profits. But why can't it be buried in a final price?
9. A belief that the acts are in it for the music, not the money
It's hard to sell an art form if people think it's just a means to an end, a
good lifestyle. People won't respect it. People don't respect towels, they
don't respect toilet paper. Sure, they're necessary products, the companies
that purvey them make a profit, but it's not art.
Art generates profits in a wholly different way than traditional industries.
Look at fine art. The canvas may have been produced for essentially nothing,
the cost of materials. But only a few years later, it can sell for millions.
Stop calculating how to get to millions of revenue in a spreadsheet by
maximizing this and that. Just create something rawly desirable, then the
revenue will come. A great hit is more powerful than any marketing campaign.
People don't need music, but they want it. When it's great. When it speaks to
them. When it's seen as integral to their lives.
In today's connected world, the customer sees himself as equal to the purveyor.
Think of the wrath inflicted upon Wall Street. That's how much people hate the
music industry, and that's a problem. Yup, fat cats who screwed us for far too
long who want to continue to screw us! You've overpaid for one good track on an
overpriced CD, you've overpaid for a shitty seat, but you'd better not steal our
product, we're entitled to our income! Huh? Don't make excuses, try and
rationalize your behavior, just look how stupid it appears to your customer,
without whom you've got nothing.
Record labels want to sell physical recorded product. Or individual tracks. Or
Concert promoters want to sell food and drink.
None of these speak to the underlying needs and desires of the consumer.
The consumer wants music. It doesn't matter what form it's rendered in, as long
as the end result pours into one's ears. People are not locked into vinyl or
CDs, tracks or albums, they just want the listening experience.
As do they want the experience of hearing live music. Sure, they'll buy food
and drink if they're at the show, but those are incidental. How can you make
the show so desirable that people will willingly come and not care about parting
with their dollars for extras?
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