Former Music Exec Tells Book Publishers They're Acting Just Like The Recording Industry 10 Years Ago
from the don't-do-that.. dept
Sometimes I wonder if it’s simply inevitable for industries facing disruptive change to react badly to it. We spend a lot of time here trying to discuss ways that various industries can avoid doing stupid, self-defeating things, and yet, inevitably, they do them anyway. Copycense points us to an article by Susan Piver, an author, who was formerly a recording industry exec, complaining that publishers are acting just like the record labels did ten years ago. However, it might not be in the way you’d expect. She’s not talking about them just responding in anti-consumer ways, but in sitting back and hoping that someone else will find a magic bullet that “saves the industry” and that they can just copy:
The “somebody do something that works so we can copy it” mentality duplicates the kind of hoping-for-the-best attitude espoused by long-time executives in music who simply could not or would not question the viability of the professional cocoons they’d built for themselves. And who can blame them — corporate mega structures are schooled in consolidation as the primary means of growth, not fleet-footed, shape-shifting responsiveness to change. But now we’re in a world where getting bigger is not the answer, getting smaller is.
Piver makes a really good point, as well, that people are still looking at the music industry as if it was “killed” by unauthorized downloads — but nothing is further from the truth:
Downloads did not kill the music business. Shortsightedness and turf-protection on the part of music business executives did. Piracy and changing distribution schema will not kill the publishing industry. Shortsighted infrastructure-protection on the part of publishing houses will.
Instead, Piver points out that, just as in the music industry, there’s a ton of opportunity for those who embrace it, even as those who don’t incorrectly will claim the industry is dying:
Without making friends with this beast, my guess is that in 2-5 years we’ll see a publishing industry that looks like the music business does today: Super-downsized major companies selling a product line aimed at an older demographic or chopped into whatever the ring-tone equivalent will be in publishing, and a jillion new companies creating the next generation of publishers, retailers, and readers. Just like in the music business, some in publishing will be mourning the death of the business while others will be wildly excited because all they see is opportunity.
There’s more good stuff in there as well, but it brings up some really good points. But, part of the problem is that the traditional (false) music industry narrative is still the predominant one. People still think that music industry is dying, even as it’s thriving (it’s just the recording industry segment that’s struggled). And so as everyone tries to “avoid what happened to the music business” they’re going to make huge mistakes if they focus on the false narratives.
Already, today, we’re seeing that the publishing industry is just focusing on making ebooks available, but doing little to recognize how consumer behavior is changing in how they interact with media (which is as big a part of this market change as any new method of distribution). If the publishing industry is going to figure this out, it needs to not look for some silver bullet that brings things back to “the way it used to be,” but to really spend time trying to understand what people are doing today with media — and, actually, the music world is a good place to start, if they focus on the success stories of what’s working, not the complaints from the parts of the industry that have held back.