EMI's CEO Admits Company 'Lost Touch' But Doesn't Seem To Know How To Fix It
from the perhaps-by-not-suing-everyone dept
Well, this is rather incredible. EMI was one of the major labels that, for a brief period of time, seemed like it might actually have figured stuff out. You see, it got taken over by some folks from outside the recording industry, and they talked about how they needed to pay attention to experiments like Radiohead’s and learn how to better respond to customer desires like that. That was two years ago. The company was also the first of the major labels to dump DRM. It then pulled back on its support for the RIAA and IFPI (after threatening to withdraw completely), saying that the strategy of suing fans was a dead end. On top of all that, it hired some Silicon Valley techies. For a while, we actually thought EMI might be the most interesting of the major record labels to follow.
But… old habits die really hard, apparently. The company has been suing pretty much every innovative startup that comes along, often targeting execs personally in attempts to bankrupt them. Sometimes it’s been going after hobbyists or investors beyond just the actual companies. Often times, the company seems to be negotiating with innovators on the one hand, while filing unexpected lawsuits at the same time. One of the key techies it hired, Doug Merrill from Google, left after less than a year. More recently, the company refused to agree to more reasonable (but still high) streaming rates to get music back on YouTube in the UK.
Basically, it appears that EMI said it wanted to do something new, but couldn’t resist doing everything it could to snuff out innovation. It takes more than words to actually convince both consumers and musicians that you’re really adapting. Is it any wonder that people aren’t fans? EMI’s CEO is now admitting that the company “lost touch” with consumers:
“Music is in demand and the demand is growing all the time, but we’ve clearly lost touch with our consumers. I passionately believe that if we listen to our consumers, this gap will become our opportunity.”
Ok, so start listening! STOP SUING INNOVATORS. Stop suing executives and investors in those innovators. Stop using lawsuits as a negotiation tactic. Start focusing on giving fans what they want. Start focusing on enabling new business models that work for artists. Stop thinking about getting a transaction on every piece of music played, but start looking at ways to use the music to create additional products people want to buy. Stop trying to limit users and limit musicians. Enable them both. Also, over a year ago, Topspin’s Ian Rogers wrote a brilliant open letter to EMI execs suggesting a rather smart way it could leverage its existing artist relationships. It doesn’t seem like EMI listened at all.
If EMI wants help in listening, why not contact some of us who have been presenting solutions and showing what works? We’re not that hard to reach, and I’m sure plenty of folks in our community would be more than willing to provide some incredibly useful suggestions.