Didn't Expect This: Disney Records Finds A Business Model That Works

from the so-can-we-roll-back-the-mickey-mouse-copyright-extensions? dept

Perhaps no company has been more involved with the disastrous expansion of copyright than Disney, which pushes for new laws and copyright expansion every time Mickey Mouse approaches the public domain (despite the fact that Disney's history is filled with using the works of others). However, it appears that Disney's record label subsidiary Disney Records has learned how to do quite well in an age when many consumers ignore copyright. That's because it focuses not just on selling the music, but selling a much wider overall "experience" -- mainly targeted at young kids. For example, both Hannah Montana and High School Musical have been Disney Records efforts that involve not just music, but television shows, plays and movies -- to create a much broader overall experience, including plenty of scarcities worth purchasing. And it's working. The company grew 40% last year -- something you don't hear from the big record labels these days.

Of course, Disney Records would still claim that copyright is important to all of its activities, but that's not really true. In giving people specific scarcities beyond copyright content that they can consume (including ad-supported television shows, concerts and movie tickets), it's really helped drive the business forward without having to seriously worry about any sort of copyright infringement. While it may not be possible for others to easily copy the overall Disney model (given Disney's vast media properties that it leverages), it still does seem ironic that Disney Records seems to be one of the "brand names" that has built a more infringement-proof business model.
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Filed Under: business models, music
Companies: disney, disney records


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  1. icon
    Kevin (profile), 11 Jun 2008 @ 9:49pm

    The real point

    ..has been lost, I think. What the writer, Mr. Masnick, was getting at is that the BRC (Big Record Companies) could very easily duplicate Disney's model. Warner is already debuting songs in TV shows (Smallville is one) that helps promote sales. They could also give stuff with CD's or MP3 downloads that can only be gotten by purchasing them legitimately - how about "I support (insert artist here)" bumper stickers that teens would collect just to show off how many CD's/MP3's and artists they own.

    The BRC's got stupid and went about this all wrong. I remember the days of vinyl records. It was possible to bootleg someone's copy by taping it, but by buying the album you got cover art, lyrics, and often posters. (The posters were the best because they annoyed your parents almost as much as the music.)

    When CD's came out, they got cheap and stopped doing all that. Now with digital distribution they want the same prices (bigger margins than CD's) but aren't willing to give any goodies to sell them.

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