Albums, Singles, The Music Business, and Influency

Influency is tweaked, all the time, by all kinds of things. As business and the way people do business changes, the things you can control change, too.

The music business is one of the places where media and content marketing has changed the most. I’ve written about this quite a few times, dating even further back than my cheering of Pink Floyd’ victory over their record label regarding digital distribution and royalties. And then this weekend I came across this article, asking, essentially, whether the album is dead.

Of course it is was. The album died a long time ago.

This isn’t about changed nomenclature; the word “album” went away several decades ago, returning only when the quaint idea of pressing music onto vinyl started enjoying its hipster-driven resurgence. It’s a question of whether “collections” can compete with quick-hit one-offs. And while that question is effected by diminished attention spans, it’s really a matter of taste; unless there’s a reason to acquire entire collections of music, isn’t the single you like good enough?

A few years ago I had an argument with a friend over this topic. She was about forty at the time, and as a New York City hipper-than-thou faux-intellectual thought she had a point to make saying that I was wrong for buying singles. I didn’t have the heart to point out to her that she’d very likely begun her music collection buying 45’s. Sure, Dark Side of The Moon deserves to be listened to as a unit. So does The Who’s Tommy, and more recently Green Day’s American Idiot. But for every album I own worth thinking of as a cohesive work of art I own a couple of hundred that don’t have more than one or two songs I ever need to listen to again.

As you pursue Influency your job is to find a way to get your customers to listen to you for longer than it takes to play an “A Side”. And that’s done using a lot of tools.

Is your web site designed in a way that encourages people to stick around? And if they do, is it designed in a way that encourages them to look at more, and more, and more of your content? No? Why not? Louis CK understands the marketing value of keeping you “here”. Getting back to music, Elvis Costello and Neil Young get it. Shifting to movies, there are actually studios that have learned that piracy is a good thing.

With that many parts of the media business changing so much all at once, why should there even be a question about singles versus albums? Your job is to get your customers to hang around, and it doesn’t matter how you do it. Cramming collections down the throats of all but your most rabid fans and self-appointed “purists” isn’t meaningful. And their music collections won’t die with them, so why try to tell them that they will, or “should”? Keeping customers coming back is all that matters. That’s Influency.

Look at the way you market your business and ask yourself whether you’re doing business in a way that works today, or if you’re stuck in the past. And when you’re ready to talk Influency, I’m right here.

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