When Old Models Don’t Work With New Business

Alan Belniakbusiness1 Comment

A stack of 33rpm albums
When vinyl music hit the scene with the introduction of the 78 rpm (“the 78”), it transformed music for many people.  With recorded music in a generally accessible format, it was the beginning of a sea-change for the music industry. The music industry was undergoing an innovation, and it might not have even realized it.

New Music Formats As a Sign of Progress – Or is it?

The 78 rpm and 33 rpm were/are both albums (for you kids out there, this is where the term comes from, when artists today say that their album is gonna drop).  It was/is a collection of songs from the artist.  It’s the bundle of songs that they want you to have in a specific sequence for a specific price.

About ten years after the introduction of the 33, the 45 rpm was introduced (in 1949).  In this format, one song (two, if you count the flip side, but the purpose was to highlight one song).  The model shifted (for various reasons: ease of DJ airplay, consumer demand, and other reasons abound).

Somewhere in the mix was the EP – the extended play (you can satisfy your curiosity of the music industry by following the links below at the bottom of the post).  This was something longer than a single, but shorter than the full album.

On the surface, the music industry was innovating.  It was creating different modes of music.  But behind the scenes, it (the entire industry) was in an uproar.  How dare our full-length albums be cut up?!

Cassingles did the same for the cassette tape industry.  I personally recall them being very inexpensive when they first hit the market, and then seemingly tripled in price over night.  It seems as if the music industry saw the demand and wanted a bigger share of our wallets, despite the costs to produce the cassingles not increasing materially.

The Lesson: A Business Model is Not the Same as a Revenue Model

As a whole, the music industry was able to innovate its music delivery system by moving from wax to reel to vinyl to tape; from full bundle (album) to partial (EP) to individual selections (45s and cassingles).  The musis industry halted in its tracks when it couldnt divorce the revenue generation model from the distribution model.  iTunes (and its competitors and partners) turned the music industry upside down because the major record labels couldn’t innovate.  They were stuck to tired business models and resisted the real issue at hand.  As the song goes, “The Beat Goes On”.

Where are you with your business?  Are you stuck, artificially pairing the product to the pricing?  Or can you examine the problem with fresh eyes and arrive at a new solution?

notes: I’m no Apple fan boy – I’m using them as a notable analogy


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