Can the Geeks Save the Record Labels?

An interesting proposition put forward by the Guardian.  Might Big Data be the way forward for record labels?

Current efforts to rescue record labels resemble trying to fix an aeroplane’s engine when it’s flying at 35,000 feet, according to Federico Bolza, vice president marketing services at Sony Music Entertainment.

This “strategic paralysis”, as independent analyst Mark Mulligan describes it, has been well documented. It’s hardly surprising that the labels may perceive pushing new digital formats hard and fast as risky, when the trusty CD still accounts for the majority of sales.

But another challenge they face has received little coverage – possibly because it’s just too geeky. Mark Uttley knows better than most the difficulties that the labels are facing. Former vice president of global insight for Sony Music International, he claims that the music industry isn’t close to where it needs to be in terms of implementing customer relationship management (CRM).

His argument is compelling. In the digital world, there’s a need to reach out to millions of music lovers, for whom accessing tracks involves just the click of a button. “There are various social media properties for artists but these don’t represent proper CRM,” he says. “True CRM is where they need to get to. If they don’t own the data and the customer relationship across the various touchpoints, they won’t succeed.”

The acid test, says Uttley, is: do you know the 100,000 biggest fans and do you have their contact details?

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Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

One thought on “Can the Geeks Save the Record Labels?

  • December 7, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    This is not news. You even pointed out an example last month with Zöe Keating. Her main thrust is that she'll give up her miniscule rate from the download service in exchange for data. It makes a ton of sense.


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