Lots of thought has gone into why music sales are declining with piracy always pointed to as the likely culprit. Some say music today is not as good as yesterday’s music which seems like a weak argument. However, one thing that I have been thinking about is that the buying public has a finite amount of “entertainment dollars”. However, the number of things you can spend your entertainment dollars on keeps increasing. For example in the 80s most people did not pay for cable TV, now they do. Similarly, in the early 90s most people did not pay for mobile phones, now they do. I am sure there are more examples but essentially if the entertainment dollar game is a zero-sum game (inflation not included) then it makes a certain amount of sense that people have less dollars available for music. This is analogous to the attention economy but applied to dollars. The difference is that attention scarcity can be improved by applying filtering to prevent information overload. However, music overload is not the problem that is effecting music sales i.e. I don’t think people are having a hard time finding music they like. One solution might be to somehow derive more revenue from other sources that fight for your entertainment dollar eg via mobile phone services like ringtones. But that is just the start and I think the content folks need to create an environment where the music can flow and developers can build new services quickly. In other words, create a platform and harness a thousand coding monkeys & websites to deliver new and innovative flow/services.
I am guessing this is what MTV is trying to do with their assets as pointed out in this excellent post by Robert Young. They are trying to put themselves at the vortex of the dissemination of their assets allowing them to monetize the flow instead of youtube. I could be wrong about this. Be interesting to see.
I am sure others have thought through this already so ignore if this is redundant.