I think it’s generally accepted that printed media is on it way out, and this trend is nothing new nor is it surprising. The ability for the internet to deliver the same news quicker and cheaper makes it hard to justify the value of printed media, let alone paying for it. Yet in 1999, the Metro newspaper launched, and by ignoring the generally accepted conventions of the industry has grown to be one of the largest in the UK with a circulation of over 1?300?000. The Metro is the UK’s 4th largest paper. What did it do differently?
News on the internet is free, and as the old adage goes, if you can’t beat them, join them. Metro is given away for free, a price point that is hard to ignore for the traveling masses and even the least curious.
Rather than expecting people to venture out in search of their paper, the Metro brought itself to the people. By being distributed on buses, at train stations, as well as areas of high foot traffic. They created an efficient means for people to pick up the paper without the need for diversion from their routes to work.
Being free and easily available isn’t an instant recipe for success. The paper also had to deliver in content, which it did with it’s easily digestible blend of local, world, political and business news. Add to this human interest stories and sports coverage, as well as entertainment and gossip, and you have content that resonates with it’s readership.
The above elements combined to slot into an area in the lives of the readership – many of whom have nothing better to do while on a monotonous journey – and ultimately contributed to growth of the newspaper into a feature of morning commute.
The 3 areas, price point, distribution, and content (quality of) are also areas that are immensely significant in the music business. Currently, as is the case with print media, they are in a phase of change due to technological advancement as well as new trends and changing consumer behaviour.
Can we learn anything from the execution of Metro? Can these lessons be applied to the music business? Well, price point has previously been covered by AfriqueDeluxe here. We are at a point where if people aren’t paying for your music you may find more value in giving it away for free.
The question with distribution becomes how do we bring the music to the people? The infrastructure is already out there in the social networks and video sites available. They just have to be taken advantage of in every way possible; which many people are already starting to do.
The content issue remains the same and the difficulty, in a sense has increased as you are now competing with a much more open field. Myspace and Youtube are platforms that allow anyone to freely offer their music for consumption.
But unlike Metro, which is the only newspaper distributed for free (in most cities in the UK) and so has virtually no competition, you have a million other people offering their material for free aswell. To stand out you must have captivating material, not just gossip columns.