Saturday, 20 December 2008

Hey! Mr South African Music Industry...

This post is written on behalf of South Africa's Mac-using, internet-connected, music buyers.

"Hey! Mr South African music industry, provide a better shopping experience to me,
I'm not pirating, this Mac-user just wants to buy mp3's so easily,
I'm not traveling to your store, being ripped-off no more or changing to a friggin' PC."
Apologies to Bob Dylan's 'Hey! Mr. Tambourine Man'

Instead of emailing each one of you Music CEO bigwigs, I'm just going to blog my thoughts on what I think each-and-every South African, Mac-using, internet connected music buyer is looking for:

1 Convenient access to music
My music is on Mac. Your website doesn't work on Mac. I don't see why your failure to implement web standards should be the problem of every Mac-loving South African... Musica, Pick 'n Play, Look and Listen... I'm talking to you! Then let's not even get into the delay of launching iTunes' Music Store. Sony BMG, you suck! Guess I'll be using Amazon until you sort this out for me....

2 Access to thorough back-catalogues of local and international music
OK. Since your website didn't work, I've walked into your store and you only had the most recent albums of my new favourite artists... but I want albums from Guster and Watershed's back catalogues! Oh, and there's no convenient way to order in-store... Too bad, I'm walking out, empty-handed and wallet-full. I mean, didn't you read the Long Tail?

3 Create exciting buying experiences
I'm demanding, I know, but how about tying-in custom product bundles with discounted gold-circle seats, single remixes with club complimentaries, etc. would do wonders for sagging customer loyalty. We're in an experience economy, after all!

4 A bit of value-add
I know the more I pay you, the more profit you make. So, I'm not expecting your pricing to change BUT I've spent gazillions on music in this lifetime with no recognition (AKA value-add) from you, Mr Scrooge Mc'Label. Wouldn't it be cool if you provided me with the odd ringtone-or-two, bulk-purchasing options online, special offers to concerts, decent recommendations on new buys... or even just updates on the bands I like? Yip, I think it's about time to be changin'. Oh, and if a new version of an album I own is released with bonus tracks, please prompt me to check out the the songs I don't have. Who knows, I just might buy them!

5 Automatic, accurate indexing of the music I buy
OK. So I put your band's CD in iTunes and guess what... the song's name is the artist's name, there's no album artwork or lyrics, the genre's completely wrong... Now, I've got to spend my time sorting this out (like the anorak I am). Now, imagine thousands of iTunes users having to do this... a loop is a loop is a loop! Can you not share our pain AND fix it, huh? Well, at least for contemporary releases. And I bet you could enlist die-hard fans to help with accurately cataloguing your older material. This brings me to...

6 South African music that's ready-indexed
OK. So not everyone's into Jonny Cooper's Swingin' Safari, but do I have to be the first to index all its track titles, composers, etc? Well, yes, if I want to be able to tell track 1 from 2! Then there's no artwork. Bummer. So, now I've got to do a Google search. And failing that, I'll scan the artwork in myself. This is not an unusual experience when importing local artists' music into iTunes. Yes, I do have too much time on my hands, but I could be using it better!

7 Partner-up
My health has improved and my medical insurer's rewards program wants to reward me. Now, wouldn't it be cool if I got some tunes from you to motivate me even further on the ol' glide master? It would also be sweet if you sponsored social networks where I could easily share my enthusiasm for music, too.

OK, which of my musical Santa CEOs is going to deliver first; earning increased loyalty and respect? This music buyer is not a cash cow or criminal, he just wants a 21st Century service for Mac-users in South Africa, capisch.

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