Sitting in front of my desktop monitor, I sometimes imagine I’m Captain James T. Kirk, of the starship Enterprise. Confidently perched on the bridge, I’m wildly processing data updates across multiple channels to navigate our course.
The music industry could have used the help of a Starfleet commander over the last decade, had it known where to find one. In fact, it’s only now perhaps understanding that’s its mission all along was to explore strange technology, seek out new business models and boldly go where no man has gone before. Like “space” for Star Trek, “technology” may be music’s “final frontier.”
This morning however, encouraging dual data-dots surfaced regarding the above mission which could be rewritten to say, Allow consumers and creators infinite choice with fair compensation.
Cablevision Systems Corp. Chief Executive James Dolan told the WSJ he, “learned a lot from watching the downfall of music companies that used to require consumers to buy albums of songs rather than letting them choose what they want. The lesson he says, If you don’t ‘ride the wave’ you ‘get eaten by the wave.’” Dolan may be the first cable executive to publicly acknowledge the cable-TV emphasis on packages is not what consumers want. He predicts “There could come a day,” when online competitors offering cheaper video options cause his company to no longer offer TV, only broadband service.
What if Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry’s delightful Vulcan, Mr. Spock were on board? He would surely distill the issues. “Captain,” Spock might say twitching his pointy ears, “The earthlings are getting closer to resolving the issues of consumer choice and creator compensation by using Internet Service Providers (ISP) as a gateway tollbooth. They haven’t quite got it right yet, but it is logical.” Spock would also bring the following ISP update to Kirk’s attention about Verizon and AT&T.
Billboard reports that Google is “exploring a bundling distribution deal for its All Access subscription music streaming service with Verizon wireless [that] would allow Verizon to offer an on-demand music service to its 100 million wireless subscribers. Google would gain a powerful distribution partner that could seamlessly fold the monthly $9.99 fee for its service into subscribers’ cellphone deal.” Analysts note that AT&T’s recent acquisition of Muve Music, plus its reported talks with on-demand music service Beats likely precipitated the Google/Verizon talks.
The overarching irony of the original Star Trek series was that its stated ‘five-year mission” only lasted for three seasons. Content providers may prove more successful in achieving their goals—infinite choice and fair compensation—if they listen to consumers and apply Spock’s advice, “Be logical.”