January 29th, 2014

This past week, lots of news surrounded the Grammys, specifically the Grammy nominees. This attention is great for the artists that are in the spotlight, as it encourages their popularity, exposure and record sales. However, managers and executives of record labels continue to seek ways to boost profits in an ever-changing market and industry.


I came across an article this past week in The Wall Street Journal that brought attention to a pre-Grammy tradition started several years ago. This tradition, referred to as the Big Bang Forum, consists of several dozen artist managers, technologists and record-label executives meeting for breakfast on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles days before the Grammys to discuss how to boost profits. The discussion this year was focused on technology, and how record sales make up a shrinking piece of most artists’ income.


Tim Quirk, Google Inc.’s head of programming for its music and digital-media store, Google Play, was one of the speakers. He explained that his vision is to make money in music by catering to the following fan groups: fans looking for free tunes, fans willing to pay a small amount to rent or stream music and “superfans” who will pay almost any price for a memento associated with their favorite act.


Quirk explained that Google had been implementing his vision and had received mixed results. Google learned that it’s far easier to funnel fans from free to paid content on genre-specific sites than it is on a general-music home page. Furthermore, when Google began offering a multi-artist sampler free of charge, they started getting more revenue out of its emerging artists page, Antenna. Google is also gathering data on which types of fans are most likely to make purchases if given freebies.


With this insight, I hope you are able to identify the changes in which music and artists are marketed to you.


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