Interesting American XS article from RollingStone.com
I never thought I'd be writing these words, but Bon Jovi rule! Indeed. Just when I was beginning to lose hope that the music industry would start exhibiting a creative response to the rise of digital downloads, the resilient rockers come to the rescue. Hopefully, they won't be the last to innovate.
What happened? A stroke of ingenuity in the release and promotion of the band's upcoming CD, Bounce. Rather than incorporating some kind of hellish copy-protection technology, Bon Jovi's label, Island/Def Jam, went for a positive solution. A thirteen-digit serial number, included on the packaging of each CD, will serve as a kind of Willy Wonka golden ticket. By typing the number into the Bon Jovi web site, fans will get access to groovy bonuses like rare audio and video downloads, plus first crack at concert seats before tickets officially go on sale. Those goods might not mean much to the casual Jovi listener, but for the diehards it's more than enough reason to buy the new music rather than suck it down for free on Kazaa.
Not surprisingly, Bounce is all over the free download sites anyway. But at least Bon Jovi made an intelligent and forward-thinking attempt at releasing a twenty-first-century-appropriate product: a disc with added value. Because, whether the labels like it or not, pawning CDs that simply feature the same goods someone could snatch for free online isn't going to cut it anymore.
Eventually, in fact, it won't even be enough to merely offer fans the early chance to be within spitting distance of Mr. Heather Locklear at a concert. Labels are going to seriously need to think outside the box and, maybe, outside the CD. Some have suggested that the industry move to more of a cable subscription model for delivering tunes, charging fans a monthly fee to access songs online. So far, label services like MusicNet and Pressplay have had limited success with the subscription model so far. This is due, in no small part, to unwieldy restrictions -- such as not allowing fans to copy songs to portable devices. With looser rules governing what consumers can do with the downloads, some kind of subscription deal might just work.
The smartest solution would combine elements of both The Bon Jovi Method and the subscription model. The labels need to create some kind of compelling subscription-based service that offers more than just songs; they need to serve up a range of tantalizing goods: advance concert tickets, free audio/video downloads, meet-and-greets with the band, listening parties, T-shirts, posters, mouse pads, et cetera. In this sense, it would be more like joining a fan club than a newfangled record store.
Such a plan isn't rocket science. Artists like David Bowie, Korn and Prince have been independently reaching out to their fans via the Internet for years with these kinds of treats. And now it's time for more labels like Island and more bands like Bon Jovi to follow suit.
Related URL: http://www.rollingstone.com/news/newsarticle.asp?nid=16796