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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.


Two weeks ago The Sun, the biggest selling newspaper in the UK, launched MySun, an interactive service will fell far short of the capturing the potential of social media.

Before I criticize MySun let me congratulate The Sun for this initiative. I can’t understand why other publications are not experimenting with social media. It is becoming apparent that Internet users are expecting much greater participation that, I believe, is the gist behind Web 2.0. Publications need to move away from a pure editorial model.

I think social media is particularly relevant for niche publications, specialist magazines, which have a strong voice (and brand) on topics that are the passion of a select few. Surely, these select few would appreciate being brought together and would have a lot of stories, insights and information to contribute.

Back to MySun. I tried to login before going on holiday but couldn’t because it was down. Today it’s taken me over 15min to register largely due to a very slow email validation process. So far so bad.

Once logged on I didn’t find any of the features that define social networks. I my profile is buried a few clicks away. That means my home page is really not my home page; it’s The Sun’s. “My” page looks essentially like something Yahoo has been offering for a decade: a personalized news page – except that all the news comes from The Sun. The other thing I see on “my” home pages are discussion. Err, these are forums, again, old stuff.

The strangest thing is that I couldn’t see anybody else. I felt all alone. There is no networking here. I don’t know who else is registered. There is no search. A “Take me to” function first gave me a 404 (dead link) and on a second try took me to a Sun’s columnist blog which was very unpersonal.

I couldn’t see any place on “my” home page for my friends. I can’t upload any content though I could blog (to who? who is looking?). The Sun doesn’t even invite me to send scoops or stories the way CNN does with i-report.

So, overall, MySun is a disappointment. It is just a personalized news page, something I have been able to get from Yahoo, Netscape, AOL, Google… hell loads of places, with the enormous disadvantage that all the news I get comes only from The Sun. They have failed to attempt to create a sense of community and shunned any and all content I may have wished to contribute to (and in the process enrich) the newspaper.

Prediction: If MySun is to last, it will need to undergo major changes that embrace social media.

tags: media social networks Sun