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What Brand Managers Can Learn From The Music Industry

Engaging your customers across a wide array of channels and in the process offering the chance to buy your product at the same time... that's a winning recipe for the music industry, and brand managers and product managers would be wise to do the same.

After multiple years of declining music sales, 2011 finally saw a stabilization and slight growth, but most reports trying to decipher the reason have it all wrong. By trying to match the industry’s success to the success of certain artists, even experts are missing the point. The music that artists created wasn’t necessarily more compelling… but through more engaging delivery channels, the industry made a better connection in the way that it could be purchased.

No, musicians last year, yes even the much-lauded Adele and Katy Perry, did anything so radically different than in years past to be the cause of better music sales. The music didn’t suddenly become better in 2011, but the channels in which we can get music certainly did. It all comes down to the downloads, and the increased adoption of smartphones along with better delivery systems like Spotify and Pandora. Analyst Philip Leigh hits the nail on the head in a recent Marketplace interview, saying, “The good times are here to stay for the music industry, thanks in part to all those iPhones and Androids.”

What’s the lesson for marketers?

Yes, you need a quality product (I’d personally argue over the validity of some popular musicians in this regard, though that’s a different blog post entirely), but you also need to engage with consumers through the right channels. While others pontificate on the trend of album sales versus singles, or the rise of female artists, or hip hop against country, we should look past the cyclical ripples and focus on the wave of digital account growth.

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