Clue Score = How well an industry has embraced the potential of the Internet.
– Press (newspapers and magazines) A+
– Movie (Hollywood) B
– TV (broadcaster) B-
– Radio C
– Music F

I have been helping media companies think through and execute their media strategies since 1998.

This month I began work on a detailed 8-year forecast of the global market for recorded music. The hardest factor to predict (and I am still struggling with it) is the contribution of digital sales. All the research firms’, consultancies; and music companies’ estimates I have seen say ‘yes’ – they have global music sales recovering as early as 2007 with sales anywhere between 2010 and 2012 exceeding 2006 values.

I began my analyses with this same hypothesis. Alas I am coming to the conclusion it won’t happen. The reason is that the music industry have resisted embracing potential of the Internet.

Music has been visibly online since 1998 when eMusic launched. We are at the end of 2007 and all the music industry has managed to do little. They focussed on minimising the down-side of the Internet (ie, illegal file sharing) instead of maximising the upside (eg, greater ease of sampling and buying, selling back catalogue). Today they are wrestling with iTunes, DRM and, because of market failures, illegal file sharing.  It’s not evident how they can remedy things in the short term.

It made me think that, compared with all the media industries I’d worked with, the music industry has done the least necessary to profit from the Internet.

The press has tried hard. They were quick to put their content online. It took them a while to learn to publish for the web, but most figured out. Of course some titles gave too much away (eg, TIME to AOL) but that’s down to execution. My point is that just about every publisher quickly develop some sort of “web strategy”. They weren’t in denial. Some publishers even bought dotcoms in classified and local directories. Many have embraced blogs. And, recently, some titles are beginning to develop social networks. I give them an ‘A+’.

The movie industry realized early on that they’d be in the same hot water the music business was in unless they did something about it. Viant (my favourite work place) was working with movie studios as far back as 1999 to develop Internet business models. Today there are a variety of ways that you can buy movies — not all ideal but proof that they are experimenting. And, they sure know how to use the web to market their fare. That’s a ‘B+’ in my view (I’d give them a A- if they weren’t still enamoured to DRM).

TV has been a bit of a sleeper but has moved fast this year. Broadcasters used the web to put out loads of program information and, generally, did that well. They even offered show-related chat rooms and forums. And, this year, all the US broadcasters developed broadband portals built around their real asset: video. That earns them a ‘B-’.

Radio has been ignoring the Internet. Stations have little to show other than streaming shows and creating email addresses for their DJs. Most stations, until recently, have been dissing podcasting. I give them a ‘C’ because they were quick to offer streaming but have done nothing of note since.

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