Leveraging Multiple Music Markets

New forms of media have always played a large roll in the exposure of music to new audiences and thus new streams of revenue. Composers of the late 1500's saw the use of the printing press to create multiple copies of scores and drive sales of madrigals and lute song. Theatre owners used playbills as cheap advertising, a way to get the word out to a much broader audience and thereby fill more seats. As radio and television came into being, advertisers flocked to these new media outlets to broaden their appeal. Some complained that playing music on the radio would kill the sales of records or sheet music (which was the prime source of income for performers and composers) - but with the broader audience reach, sales of both continued to bloom. MTV appeared and again doom was proclaimed for the record industry (why pay for something when you can get it free on MTV?), but the opposite was true - the more prominant a video was on MTV the more sales were generated.

Since the explosion of the internet there has been a corresponding explosion of targeting multiple markets using multiple forms of media. Beverage vendors have music download sites (in an attempt to drive sales of both music and beverages), the iPod put Apple back in the driving seat while iTunes dominates the download market, and YouTube is the place to find budding new stars (amid a host of wannabes and neverwills). While it may be possible to download music for free from some rogue sites, the fact remains, online sales are up, record companies are making more money and the music industry, across all sectors are seeing a huge boost in profits (cheaper to produce and yet producing more revenue).

The best way to generate sales is to cross market, to generate interest in multiple markets as increased interest in one will increase interest in another. If people are talking about a concert in the news, it's even better if they're also talking about it on their blogs. If you have a video on MTV (or VH1), then it should also be playing on YouTube. If there is a concert in London, it might as well be simulcast on the internet, so viewers anywhere in the world can pay to watch it too. TV shows can be viewed on the internet within hours of appearing on television, and not just by pirated recordings; the BBC iPlayer is trying to leverage the popularity of TV and the desire to download favorite shows by cross market access.

Simulcasts and internet access has been done with numerous sporting events and popular music concerts - but what about classical music? Well, it appears the Bayreuth Festival is doing just this sort of thing with the assistance of Medici.tv. The Metropolitan Opera has been doing live telecasts of their operas with movie theatres around the world. Not only are they reaching a large audience with the live telecasts, but they are recording the operas for sales with DVD's. And the money keeps rolling in from all directions.

What's the future? I'm not prepared to let the cat out of the bag just yet, as we are working on something that we believe will be the next generation of opera - leveraging multiple markets, generating interest across a broad spectrum of viewers who can access the performances in a variety of ways. For those who think all these new technologies are going to be the death of the music industry, all I can say is - if you learn how to leverage it, the new technology serve to increase both revenue and fans - and that is a very good thing.


Addendum

An article from The Advocate discusses the recent release of CD's and DVD's from various opera companies. Another one at the Playbill talks about Ariadne auf Naxos filming the performance at the Munich Festival next year. The Telegraph speaks about entering a new era and the streaming internet of the Bayreuth Opera performance, but of other companies looking to expand their horizons as well. Some complaints are that video opera isn't as grand as staged opera, as the resolution is too low to really get the feeling of "being there" - but with HDTV coming in, that complaint may be a thing of the past. And whose to say that future opera productions will think as much about the video presentation as they do with the live presentation??? The industry will follow the money, and if the money is in video, the quality will only get better.

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