Sony BMG: One Step Ahead, Two Steps Back

January 12, 2008 at 10:45 pm Leave a comment

From AP Wire:

… wait… before I get to that let me put the proper tags in.

<head action=”bang” location=”wall”>

From the AP Wire:

SONY BMG MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT announced the launch of Platinum MusicPass, a series of digital album cards that enable consumers to download full-length albums, and in many cases special bonus content, in the form of high-quality MP3 files. The first 37 titles in the series … will be available at 4,500 retail outlets across the United States.

“The introduction of MusicPass is an important part of SONY BMG’s ongoing campaign to bring its artists’ music to fans in new and innovative ways, and to develop compelling new business models,” commented Thomas Hesse, President, Global Digital Business & U.S. Sales, SONY BMG MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT. “The MP3 files delivered through MusicPass play on computers, as well as on all MP3 players, including iPods. This makes them a simple, easy to use solution that will appeal to fans who already access their music on the Internet, as well as to consumers who are just getting into the digital realm.”

“We are excited to be working with SONY BMG on Platinum MusicPass,” commented Brooks Smith, InComm President and CEO, “We believe people want a physical product as part of their music purchase, and these cards speak directly to that desire — they have great graphics and a quality look and feel that will make them highly collectible.”


Holy toledo.

My gut reaction to this story is “you gotta be kidding me.”

After thinking about it for a couple of moments, I figured out where it all went from right to wrong. It’s illustrated here:

“The introduction of MusicPass is an important part of SONY BMG’s ongoing campaign to bring its artists’ music to fans in new and innovative ways, and to develop compelling new business models.”

For once, Sony BMG got it right. Consumers want more than just the music itself. Torrents and file sharing have made music a commodity. It no longer special to have an album, even with great cover art.

Sony BMG is trying to keep the album sale is one of the top sources of income – ensuring their company’s place in the revenue stream, while allowing the artists to profit handsomely. They believe (correctly), that in order to keep that stream going, they need to re-work it so that consumers want to get it from them.

Digital content does not NEED physical accompaniment.

By instituting a physical product, the company has made it harder on the customer to make the purchase (also, more expensive). They need to scratch off special codes and go to specific sites that accept the code. It is as much of a collector’s item as a gift card is.

If Sony wants people to have an interaction with the music while in a Target, Wal-Mart, etc, I have a good remarkable idea: Buy shelf space for post-card sized pictures of the artists. On the back, there can be information about where to go to make a purchase for digital music. Place the cards either next to the physical CDs, or next to the cash registers. People will take the FREE items, go home, and make their purchase or move on. At the very least, the company made a low investment and reminded people that they can buy their music online. At the very least, it’s easy, doesn’t require special investment in the digital media department, and uses existing resources.

Additional Reading:

The full press release from Sony BMG


Entry filed under: marketing. Tags: , , , , , , , .

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