by Mike Masnick

Tower Records Tries To Reinvent The Record Store... With Free Music Podcasts?

from the desperation-sets-in dept

Back in 2003, we pointed to an interesting discussion suggesting that the record labels weren't really the biggest stumbling block in having the recording industry embrace digital music: it was the music stores, like Tower Records. However, it's become clear that those stores have lost most of their power position, with many of them (including Tower) declaring bankruptcy as they tried to figure out how to compete in this new world. Some of the smaller, indie record stores started experimenting by trying to turn their stores into destinations -- a move that was recently followed up by well known mall music chain Sam Goody planning to turn its stores into big destinations.

But what about the biggest brand name of them all, Tower Records? While it was pretty meaningless in real terms, the company had many people writing its obituary when the news came out that Apple's iTunes had surpassed Tower Records in terms of sales. As we noted at the time, if you looked at the list of retailers who were at the top -- all of them were using music as a loss leader, and not trying to make money off of it. All of them made their money elsewhere. Tower, however, had stubbornly stuck to selling mostly music -- a business model that seems to be unsustainable. However, perhaps the indignity of being passed by Apple has kicked the company into gear, as it looks for a new business model. Rather than following others in creating a destination site, or trying to create yet another digital music store, the company has actually decided to let people download music for free online. The details aren't that simple, of course. It sounds like (though it's not clear) that you won't be able to just download a single song, but you can create whole podcasts of songs, and then download the batch. They hope to make revenue from (what else?) advertising -- though, in a twist, some of the ad revenue may get shared with the creator of the musical podcast (meaning it sounds like people will be able to play "DJ" by posting their Tower podcasts for others to download). Of course, since this doesn't fit with the major labels' world view, none of them are participating in the program -- meaning that it's limited to just 6,000 songs from a group of independent labels. It's definitely an interesting experiment, though especially after seeing just how many hands are in the pie for any revenue that comes out of this experiment, it may very well be too little, too late for Tower Records.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    ibeetle, Mar 3rd, 2006 @ 5:50am

    Why not every thing else has ads.

    A album with advertisements? Why not.
    Television does. Home Video has'em. The movies, both before the show and, with product placement during the show. Video games now have them.
    So why not CD's. Everybody else does it.

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

  2. identicon
    musician, Mar 3rd, 2006 @ 7:04am

    grasping at straws.

    die evil giant. die!

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

  3. identicon
    Gomorrah, Mar 3rd, 2006 @ 7:58am

    Why not?

    I think this will be an interesting experiment. I know that I will definetly have to give this a try. I don't mind a few commercials (anybody who watches tv shouldn't) I only hope that the share that the artist is given is a significant. I will definetly be keeping an eye on this though.

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

  4. identicon
    Jimmy Bear Pearson, Mar 3rd, 2006 @ 8:03am

    Reinventing the self

    Well, this is actually encouraging... Tower is trying to do something that helps them evolve from the "record store" model to one that keeps time with the future evolution of the music industry.

    I guess one could look at it as a way to have one's own stream of chosen tunes, with a few commercial interruptions - preferably without PJs (Podcast Jockeys, to coin a phrase?) yammering incessantly...

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

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 3rd, 2006 @ 9:47am

    No Subject Given

    I'm sure that the RIAA will try to kill this. Unfortunately for the RIAA, it's own foot is in the direct line of fire...

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

  6. identicon
    Wade, Mar 3rd, 2006 @ 9:51am

    It just might work

    This sounds like a pretty darn good idea to me. Whether or not it works is yet to be seen, but look at another company that has tried something similar to this. Google offers all kinds of great services at no cost to the user. How do they do that? advertising, lots and lots of advertising. I'm not saying that Tower is going to turn into a multi-billion dollar company over night (like google :)) but the idea of downloading lots of free music is something i'd be willing to try, even if I had to put up with a few advertisements....those can be edited out easily enough ;)

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

  7. identicon
    Bus Bozo, Mar 3rd, 2006 @ 6:33pm

    Great idea

    It sounds like exactly the kind of thing the labels are afraid of. It is a great idea, I think I'll go ther right now!!

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

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 6th, 2006 @ 6:56am

    Re: grasping at straws.

    really intelligent response there mate

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

  9. identicon
    techman, Mar 6th, 2006 @ 11:43am

    Is SpinXpress p2p a part of this?

    It's interesting that Tower has turned to Outhink, Inc to set this system up for them. Outhink makes SpinXpress, a free p2p file sharing application for OS X and Windows.

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

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