Universal Music Playlist Your Way: Not Really A Playlist, Not Really Your Way

from the this-isn't-burger-king dept

It's so cute when the big record labels pretend like they're embracing the digital era sometimes. Check out the latest effort from Universal Music, which the company has dubbed "Playlist Your Way," and which it purports is a new sort of physical/digital hybrid for the internet era. It does have a few good elements -- but it wraps it up with plenty of bad elements, most specifically the name. This isn't a Burger King "Have it your way" type of thing. You don't get to select the tracks you want in order to create your own CD or anything. No, you're buying a ready-made greatest hits CD (from artists who almost all already have out existing greatest hits CDs), plus a few digital extras.

Jess Hemerly over at the Institute For The Future breaks down both the good and the bad of this idea, noting that doing "podcast liner notes" definitely makes sense. These podcasts do sound interesting:
The biographical download brings alive the artist's history, including archival interviews and commentary from journalists, friends and family members. Each audio documentary runs approximately 15 minutes.
Yes, that absolutely could be quite cool, but it comes tied to forcing you to buy another greatest hits CD. If anything, all this really seems like is Universal Music trying to convince you to buy the same music you already own by adding a few random extras.

And, then, of course, there's the totally misleading name. It's as if Universal Music thinks its customers are stupid. If it advertises something as a customizable playlist, people are going to probably expect a customizable playlist -- but that's not what you get. You get a set playlist on a greatest hits CD, and then the option to download some extra stuff: "Consumers may choose six additional tracks and/or a full-length original studio album." Of course, if customers really want a playlist "their way," they're going to do it the way so many people do it these days: they're just going to download the tracks they want, and not feel suckered into buying the packaging, even if it's "designed to be digital friendly, with more color and new impactful designs." As Hemerly points out: "How does "impactful" design make a physical CD more "digital friendly?" What does this sentence even mean?"

The idea of including a podcast about the artist is a good one. It's just too bad Universal Music is basically only using it to get you to buy yet another greatest hits album, and then making a bunch of boastful claims that either don't make sense or simply aren't accurate. At what point do the big record labels realize that they should offer people real options to get what they want, rather than trying to hype them into buying a bunch of crap they don't care about to get at the tiny nugget of stuff they do want?

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Eric, Aug 15th, 2008 @ 6:19pm


    Will the major record companies EVER figure out the 21st century? It's not looking promising.

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

  2. identicon
    wasnt me!, Aug 15th, 2008 @ 6:24pm

    i guess the dinosaurs will be extinct more than once after all

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

  3. icon
    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Aug 15th, 2008 @ 6:32pm

    Oh fer...

    Look, just fire the board of directors and hire a bunch of middle schoolers. They couldn't do any worse, and would probably do a lot better.

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

  4. identicon
    robert, Aug 15th, 2008 @ 7:00pm


    will the good be covered in another article?

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

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 15th, 2008 @ 7:09pm

    ha ha ha ha ha '

    Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha


    yeah, I think it is hilarious!!!

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

  6. identicon
    Bobby Profitman, Aug 15th, 2008 @ 7:36pm

    Profit Chart

    If we combine the efforts of HURR and DURR together, we can PROFIT as represented by this chart.

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

  7. identicon
    Stevo, Aug 15th, 2008 @ 8:38pm

    Your always saying they should be adding value to their product to sell it, and then they do, but its not good enough. I get it. Record companies are evil.

    I'm sorry but these articles are getting old. I keep reading because I am hoping for something new.

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

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 15th, 2008 @ 8:38pm

    Science experiment for the BoD of Universal

    I spent at least an hour putting together a post about multiple things with links to actuarial science provided by Lloyds of London, AEON, E&Y among others. But in the end, I decided to toss it all out for what was really important:
    I have two dogs and a hedgehog.

    Why does this matter? Well, Guess who always wins?

    I don't want to spoil it for you, but, consider it's been written about in Jim Collins' Book "From Good to Great".

    In fact, I recommend getting a "hedgie", for only then can you understand the concept presented in his "lab experiment":


    Only then can you understand why E&Y, Lloyds and others really, really don't matter.

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

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 15th, 2008 @ 10:38pm

    I disagree with most here so far. Considering current economic conditions, #8 may apply to any major company*.

    Getting back to ITT:
    What Universal offers is a Win-Win situation for artist and label. However, I remain curious as to what an acceptable answer to the customer, and what would be necessary to create a win-win-win situation in your mind. (Where the 3rd "Win" is the Consumer.)

    Are you, possibly personally, just disappointed in having to hear ads?

    Maybe I am the only one here, but personally, I applaud the fact that UMG is going the lengths they are to open their music catalog and *PROMOTE ARTISTS*

    Am I wrong?

    *There's incredible truth to #8's statement, and I think that UMG is applying it.

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

  10. identicon
    zarquon, Aug 16th, 2008 @ 2:52am

    has anyone noticed that "impactful" isn't even a word?

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

  11. icon
    PaulT (profile), Aug 16th, 2008 @ 4:28am


    The sad thing is, yes, these articles do get repetitive but they address new issues every single time.

    This is a new article on a new set of stupid attempts by a major label to "get" Internet distribution, and fails pretty badly. Add that to incredibly misleading advertising and stupid use of marketing buzzwords with no credence to what they actually mean, and you have a big bucket of fail. Coming up in a few months: Universal's "playlist" gambit is pulled due to either lack of interest or a surge of complaints.

    The articles will stop when the stupidity does. It's not about them being "evil", it's about them totally failing to understand their own market.

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

  12. identicon
    Vincent Clement, Aug 16th, 2008 @ 5:16am


    Funniest thing read on the internet today.

    If you truly believe that Universal is 'opening' their catalog and 'promoting' artists then you need to get your head checked.

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

  13. identicon
    Paul, Aug 16th, 2008 @ 6:03am

    Of course the record companies will figure out the 21st century, it will probably happen sometime around 2051, if they survive that long.

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

  14. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 16th, 2008 @ 3:40pm

    I wonder how long before we see someone try to sue them because Universal Music mislead them with a bad name and they downloaded and paid for several of these greatest hits CDs

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

  15. identicon
    wow, Aug 17th, 2008 @ 1:50am

    wow i thought you just pick your own playlist too..

    music industry is a buncha punks

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

  16. identicon
    wasnt me!, Aug 17th, 2008 @ 5:39am

    i just read some were that universal did not renew its contract with Apple, so no more Universal music on Itune music shop, if thats true i guess those two stories go together.

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

  17. identicon
    Steve, Aug 17th, 2008 @ 12:24pm

    Re: HMMM

    Oh they've figured it out already. They just don't like what they see so it's back to trying the same tired thing and hoping it sticks. For any kind of major paradigm shift to occur in the music industry, one of the major labels is going to have to break ranks and go full on into the digital fray without any illusions of control or market manipulation and the acceptance that there's only so much money that can be made from this "commodity". The idea of multiple revenue streams from a single product is dead. They've been fighting that reality for a decade now but they REALLY need to accept the fact that the heady days of people having to buy yet ANOTHER copy of the White Album are dead and gone. End of story.

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

  18. identicon
    Stev, Aug 17th, 2008 @ 12:31pm

    Re: Re:

    Again, they PERFECTLY understand their own market. They just can't accept what that market represents so they fight tooth and nail to force the market to fit their needs, wants, and desires. It's a hell of a thing when the Gravy Train pulls into the last stop but it happens to everyone eventually at some point in their lives/careers. Only thing you can do is get off and try to find a spot on the next train leaving. The **IA's however, still refuse to get off the empty train AND are demanding that it be turned around.

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

  19. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 18th, 2008 @ 3:13pm


    Angry dude, is that you? You're the only entity (I hesitate to call you a person) that uses the word "punk."

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

  20. identicon
    Benson, Aug 22nd, 2008 @ 7:10am

    Music on CD!

    I want my music on CD, with the jewel box and liner notes. You can KEEP the stupid "audio files" and such. They are a joke.

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

  21. identicon
    Overcast, Aug 22nd, 2008 @ 10:22pm

    Well, crap like this is not really an option and not really worth spending money for - pretty simple.

    Music isn't something I *have* to have, so it's easy to just ignore.

    CD's are good - up until the point of the 'value' of them. They are really a rip-off. Digital Music is as well, no way of getting it back should your PC die, unless you deal with backups, and then there's worries about DRM and such....

    It's easier to just find other spots to spend cash. For more value.

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

  22. identicon
    john, Nov 20th, 2008 @ 9:41pm

    Music playlist for myspace

    Hey, so I just made a piczo site and it looks so awesome but it seemed that something was missing. Than I realized I should add some music so my friend recommended a really cool site.www.hypster.com. It's so quick and easy,anyone could do it! In a matter of minuets I had made a account and uploaded the music onto my music player,not only that but You can also edit your music player to match your site colours! and if you don't want to upload your own music,you can search on other users playlists and take any songs you want! It works for piczo,myspace,facebook,bebo etc. check it out! www.hypster.com

    Myspace Playlist

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

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