Can Sir Howard Save The Music Biz?

from the good-luck dept

The constant refrain that the music industry just “doesn’t get it” is pretty common around here (and in plenty of other places). For a while I kept waiting to hear of a music industry exec who began to understand the real issue wasn’t “piracy”, but that the market was changing, and their business model was obsolete. It doesn’t look like anyone has fully realized that yet, but here’s a very interesting profile of Howard Stringer, who is often credited with turning around Sony Pictures, and who now has the job of rescuing Sony Music. The article points out that he saved Sony’s movie business by aggressively cutting costs, but taking calculated risks. He came in as an outsider – not someone in the movie business – and ignored industry conventions that didn’t make sense from a business perspective. Now, some are hoping he can do the same with the music business. As the article points out, unlike some other music execs, he doesn’t seem to be running around crying about “piracy”. Instead, he says: “The music industry has offended the consumer. It has offended the retailer, offended the artists, offended the publishers…. You’ve got all this anger out there, you’ve got all this fragmentation, and so the music business has to be reworked, reinvented, and reorganized from the ground up.” Sounds like the right mindset. The article also points out that since they’re a part of Sony, maybe (just maybe) they’ll finally realize that their technology hardware business and their entertainment content business should be working together, rather than fighting each other. It would be great to see one of the major labels actually “get it” – but I’m not holding my breath. A good start would be for Sony Music to pull back from the RIAA (or to instruct them that suing their own customers is not good for business). However, as has been pointed out before, some music execs are trying to say the right thing publicly, while letting the RIAA carry out all the dirty work for them. As long as Sony Music continues to support the RIAA and the suing of customers, that’s going to be true of Sony as well. Update: My apologies. Somewhere in the last few hours Business 2.0 (at the command of AOL) has changed their policies and made it so you can only read their articles if you pay. Clicking through takes you to a “pay for access” page instead of the article.

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