Sunday, September 6, 2015

"E-Book Sales Tank"

A lot for my journalist-writer/painter/other-creative friends to chew on here.
Bob Lefsetz via The Big Picture:
E-Book Sales Fall After New Amazon Contracts

Beware of your dream coming true.

For years we’ve heard that music is undervalued, that people must pay more. But maybe the consumer doesn’t want to. That seems to be the case with e-books.

When Amazon launched the Kindle no e-book was over ten bucks. A business burgeoned. Early adopters were ecstatic. But the old guard said they loved paper and the writers and publishers were wary of giving Amazon too much power.

So, after agitating in the press, Amazon gave them some of what they wanted, including the right to set prices.

And then they fell.

Now don’t tell me paper is where it’s at. If you read the story on backpacks in the “New York Times” you’ll see that college students no longer carry books, their courses are online. This is the trend, and to deny the trend is death. (“Backpack Makers Rethink a Student Staple”:
So CDs are never coming back and track sales are decreasing, -5% for Universal in the last quarter, and streaming adoption is slow.

Why is it slow?

Because tracks are free on YouTube and Apple Music is nearly indecipherable and maybe $9.99 a month is just too much.

Forget about the fans, they’ll pay no matter what. But to really succeed you have to get the casual users, the looky-loos. And the larger the barrier, the less they’re interested.

Music has completely changed. Used to be tracks were parceled out on the radio with the hope that people would go to the store and buy singles. Now, the track is available instantly online and those who care check it out in droves. Which is how Justin Bieber broke the Spotify record this week. This is a good thing. Monetization comes last in today’s marketplace. First comes attention, you want people to check something out, and if it sticks…it’s forevermore. Hell, Major Lazer’s “Lean On” is still one of Spotify’s top tracks. As is One Direction’s “Drag Me Down,” which held the streaming record before Bieber.

So why is everybody agitating against the new model? Universal Music reported that streaming revenue grew significantly, by 34%, it overcame the decline in physical and downloads, it helped the company’s bottom line. But we’ve got the unwashed uneducated and the marginal protesting that they just can’t win in the new world.

Welcome to the twenty first century. That’s what I hate about America. No one can move backward, no one can lose. It’s like we’re dying to become Europe, where jobs are protected. Only they aren’t. Industry lays people off in droves and no matter what the musicians say their revenues are not returning, unless they’re stars or adjust their model.

We need to get more people paying for streaming.

And first we must expose them to it.

It’s hard to get someone to pay $9.99 a month if they don’t know what it is, how to use it. And most people still don’t. And Apple Music is a bad beginning. I still can’t figure it out completely. And if I can’t, what about the wannabe?

So freemium must exist. And family plans are a good thing. As is Spotify’s reduced student price....MORE
Back in 2013 Techdirt, among others, was thinking the pay-as-you-read model (usually per-chapter)  was the future of books.
Didn't happen.

More recently, Amazon announced their "pay-per-page" plan, which has it's own set of problems.

So now what?

I'm only half-kidding when I say I'm going to start advising smart kids to go into politics if they want to make real money.