What Could A Google Exec Do If He Ran A Major Record Label?

from the we're-about-to-find-out dept

In a bit of a surprise move, Douglas Merrill, a VP of engineering (one of a few) at Google (and sometimes referred to as the company's CIO) is jumping ship to become "president of digital" at major record label EMI. Amusingly, this comes just a month and a half after he declared in an interview that he had "the best CIO job in the world." No matter what, this should be interesting. EMI has been charting a different course than the other major record labels since a private equity firm bought it out last year. Rather than whine and fret, the company seems to be looking at the changing marketplace (finally!) as an opportunity. The company has also cut back from the IFPI/RIAA campaign of lawsuits, though it hasn't gone away from them completely. Still, a Google exec, hopefully with at least some of Google's DNA of treating users right can only lead to good things. As we've said, there's still a huge role for record labels to play in the new digital world, if they just stopped looking at the past. Either way, we're about to find out what a Google exec could do with a major record label, and hopefully, it'll be a huge step in the right direction.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Apr 2nd, 2008 @ 1:33am

    "President of Digital"?

    So who's looking after their analog business, then, and what are they selling? Vinyl? Audiocassette tapes?

     

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  2.  
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    moe, Apr 2nd, 2008 @ 1:38am

    Re: "President of Digital"?

    Based on the record labels' past statements, I'd assume they're not including CD/DVD media in their "Digital" segment. Technically CD/DVD is digital media, but I'm going to bet the title refers to online distribution.

    And, while cassette tapes are dead there is still a market for vinyl.

     

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  3.  
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    Dan, Apr 2nd, 2008 @ 5:15am

    Hopefully, "digital" means high quality (full resolution audio downloads, esp as web/server speeds increase--not 128-256-320 kps files) and open source downloads that can be used freely to purchasers of said download (made into a CD, transferred to players, etc). It also means competitive pricing per download. Sorry, I am not going to pay $1/song when I can buy the CD for less money. Downloads compete with CD's they should act like it. (Amazon seems to understand this with their pricing model for most full "album" downloads).

    Trent Reznor's recent release is a great model... covering all segments of the market--but even on the lower end with the basic paid download you got the "art-book" that is so often missing in the normal download. As a CD listener, I usually want the hard disk so I can do with it what I want AND get something I can look at while I listen.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 2nd, 2008 @ 5:43am

    Re:

    Blame itunes and other services that mark up their product by 50%. What Steve Jobs is screwing you over? Yes, he is.

     

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  5.  
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    The Swiss Cheese Monster, Apr 2nd, 2008 @ 6:16am

    Re: Re:

    Na, I think I'll just blame stupid people like you who don't understand anything about business and markups and how it all works.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 2nd, 2008 @ 6:36am

    Re: Re: Re:

    No, pretty much a 50% mark up. It is called reading. Try it sometime.

     

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  7.  
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    chris (profile), Apr 2nd, 2008 @ 6:40am

    20 bucks says he quits in a month

    they probably tripled his salary for him to make the move, and i'll bet he regrets it on his first day.

    the interview probably sounded like this: "the kids today hate us, but they love google. here is a hojillion dollars to come make the kids love us again!"

    the resignation letter will probably sound like this: "... not only have you not implemented a single thing that i have suggested, on many occasions you have done the exact opposite. do you have any idea how the internet works, or why people think it is so important?"

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 2nd, 2008 @ 6:42am

    I presented a project to the as a free business model in EMI twice, to the 'president'... gee a year and a half later now it isn't such a bad idea now is it?

     

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  9.  
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    chris (profile), Apr 2nd, 2008 @ 6:43am

    Re:

    Hopefully, "digital" means high quality (full resolution audio downloads, esp as web/server speeds increase--not 128-256-320 kps files) and open source downloads that can be used freely to purchasers of said download (made into a CD, transferred to players, etc). It also means competitive pricing per download.

    that's adorable. you know it won't mean that. it will mean what it's always meant: a new format so that you have to buy your whole collection again at the full retail price. the best that you can hope for is that they keep this format for more than a couple of years instead of making you pay up every single year.

     

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  10.  
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    mark, Apr 2nd, 2008 @ 6:46am

    Re: 20 bucks says he quits in a month

    I think you're spot on with this. Now let's watch...

     

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  11.  
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    Paul`, Apr 2nd, 2008 @ 7:16am

    Re: Re: Re:

    No, I think we can safely blame the 50% mark-up. Thanks for commenting on something you don't understand though :-)

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 2nd, 2008 @ 7:30am

    The Recording industry is a very matured marketplace, set in it's ways and rigid methodologies. I think the business will have difficulty seeing things eye-to-eye with a tech visionary like Doug.

    Doug will have to ask for a hell of a lot of leeway, and to almost be unhampered by authority. But if he builds the right group of people and gets it running like Kelly Johnson's Skunk works, it could be interesting.

     

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  13.  
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    Phil McCraken, Apr 2nd, 2008 @ 8:51am

    Re:

    I doubt that anyone who has trouble writing a properly formated sentence has ever presented to the president of EMI...

    I'm just sayin'

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
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    Borse, Apr 2nd, 2008 @ 9:14am

    The 50% markup makes complete sense to me, with todays popular music market.

    The majority of people NEVER buy full albums, they buy the one or two songs that make it to MTV, BET, and the radio. These people will pay 1$ for that song, rather than paying 12 at Best Buy for the full album.

    And you seemed to overlook the fact that itunes offers many full albums at around 9.99$, so I really don't see how the markup is a bad idea. They are trying to make a profit, and I think it was a good move.

    Of course... a lot of people just illegally download the music files anyway. Which is what Mike Masnick constantly complains about. You can't compete with free. Instead, you should use the infinite free good to market other things.

    Its like water, which if I recall correctly Mike referenced once in a post. Yes, you can get water free out of your sink, but bottled water is better. Its cleaner, and its portable.

    Music companies need to make their products better, no DRM, and offer other things along with them that people will pay for.

    If you know anything about music anyway, you would know that it is becoming exponentially easier and cheaper to record music. Meaning record labels aren't needed as much to lend artist's the money to record their music. So even if there was no way to illegally download music, Record companies will still have to compete with that.

    I completely agree with Mike, Record companies need to change their business models to keep up with the modern world.

     

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  15.  
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    JD, Apr 2nd, 2008 @ 9:31am

    Speaking of markups...

    Speaking of markups, what's the markup percentage of something that has a marginal cost of zero and sells for one dollar?

     

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  16.  
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    ike, Apr 2nd, 2008 @ 1:29pm

    Lawrence D'Oliveiro,

    I believe the "digital" in "President of Digital" refers to the distribution channels, not the medium.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 2nd, 2008 @ 4:46pm

    This move resembles what so many executives do nowadays, both voluntarily and involuntarily. Once you've made it into that exclusive club of high movers and shakers, you have to move and shake yourself onto different gigs every 3 to 5 years to appear great. It also plays into the White Knight Theory of headhunting, that instead of developing talent from within, you pirate it from other high-flying firms. For EMI, it looks fantastic because the message communicated is they must be really great for such a titan like Merrill to leave Google and go join them.

    If Merrill prospers great! If he does something good for the new musical economy via EMI, even better!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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