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.

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Companies: emi, google

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Comments on “What Could A Google Exec Do If He Ran A Major Record Label?”

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17 Comments
moe says:

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.

Dan (profile) says:

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.

chris (profile) says:

Re: 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.

chris (profile) says:

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?”

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Borse says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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!

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