If there is any industry that is affected by advancements in technology and the internet as much or more than the advertising industry, it’s the music industry. Sales are down (I almost typed “record sales,” how’s that for an anachronism!), there’s rampant file-sharing and downloading, and consumption habits are drastically changing. What’s interesting, is how some musicians are adapting to their changing environment. Some are bypassing traditional distribution models, others now have enhanced offerings for digital downloads.
The musician Beck takes this to a new level with his latest approach to engage his audience. Beck’s latest album “comes in an almost-forgotten form—twenty songs existing only as individual pieces of sheet music, never before released or recorded.” That’s right, he’s releasing sheet-music, those same tattered folios that your grandparents had in a pile next to the piano (with titles like “Bicycle Built for Two” and “Let Me Call You Sweetheart”). At first glance, this may seem limiting from an audience perspective. If you’re like me, you don’t play an instrument and haven’t read sheet music since your 6th grade piano recital. How are you supposed to hear the song? But upon further reflection, it’s actually the opposite. It’s contains everything any musician needs to know—professionals and amateurs alike— in order to cover the song themselves. Plus the built in audiences of each musician that covers it. Plus the publicity that this approach is already getting even though it’s only on pre-order for a December 2012 release (that’s right, a pre-order for sheet music). Of course, people have to cover the song for this to actually work. It may even work to drum up concert ticket sales due to pent up demand for people wanting to hear how the artist originally intended for the song to be played.
Risky? Yes. Guaranteed success? No. But either way, this is a great example of not fighting change but embracing change, and a great example of something every marketer should be thinking of.