We've challenged some of Forrester analyst Mark Mulligan's claims in the past -- such as the idea that music can't be free
, that the answer to record label problems is to do windowed releases
and his recent assertion that digital music has "failed."
However, outside of some questionable claims like these, his insights into the music business are generally quite good and valuable. For example, he has an excellent piece up at Mashable highlighting how the next generation of music consumers is coming along
and the industry faces a very big challenge in capturing their attention. He notes that the original Napster generation -- defined as "the Millenials," were one thing, but they were mainly taking the analog world they knew and making it digital. It's the next generation -- the "digital natives" who have always lived digitally that are driving things now:
The Digital Natives give us a sneak peak at the future. Millennials looked like the future for a while but their behavior has a finite life span. For example, ripping and burning CDs, even downloading from BitTorrent and iTunes both recreate the analog behavior of getting units of music. This is because they started out in the analog era. They are the transition generation with transitional behaviors.
Digital Natives don't have that analog era baggage. All they’ve known is digital. Online video and mobile are their killer apps. These Digital Natives see music as the pervasive soundtrack to their interactive, immersive, social environments. Ownership matters less. Place of origin matters less. Context and experience is everything. In a world beyond content scarcity, experience is now everything. With "free" infecting everything, the content itself is no longer king. Experience now has the throne.
Exactly (and nice to see we've gotten past the idea that music can't be "free"). Mulligan then comes up with a very consultant-speak version of what new digital products must have, saying they need to be Social, Participative, Accessible, Relevant and Connected. I'd argue that social and participative and connected and accessible are redundancies, but it's still a good general list. Unfortunately, there's little indication that the industry recognizes all of this. In many cases, they're still fighting the last battle against the last generation. In doing so, as Mulligan notes, they're almost certain to screw up their chance to interest the next generation as well.