MusicNet, Pressplay, and Clownco Jokes Miss the Point

Heather Green

The chatter is non stop about how the history is repeating itself, how those darn smug Hollywood moguls will fail because they don't have a user interface to show us and it's impossible to herd these cats.

This criticism may be valid, but it misses the bigger point. The problem with MusicNet et al was two-fold: The labels wanted too much control (remember all those dumb, dumb restrictions?) and they couldn't get enough of the labels together to offer a broad enough spectrum of music.

Now the second point is valid. If CBS, ABC, and Viacom don't get onboard this new JV, it won't work.

But the point about control? That's where this is different and this is where I think Scott Karp is right (yet again!) about what this represents. He says this demonstrartes that the content business is dying. I would put it differently, that if you're in the content business and that's it, you're going to be a commodity. If you're not a platform that has control of selling the advertising, interacting directly with the audience and learning from them, and having the opportunity to experiment with how distribution and aggregation develop, you have lost control of your future. You are a commodity.

To be a platform, you have to interact with the rest of us. You have to let us control what we see and rate and share and mix up the content. And that's what's different here.

Again, lots and lots of obstacles to overcome. But there is a fundamental learning here that Hollywood seems to have understood. And that to me means they have learned from MusicNet and aren't a repeat of it.

Don't take my word for it, listen to the sock puppet at Gigaom.

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