The Innovators: New music industry approach for a new economy

As the music industry struggles to grow in an age of digital delivery, one entrepreneur may have found a new way to grow an audience. Photo: Cranovation

DALLAS, October 19, 2013 — Everyone agrees the music industry is struggling in today’s economy. Delivery systems have changed, digital rights management is failing, and even artists are moving away from major record labels. The four largest recording companies are now seeing artists move to smaller companies by choice to receive higher royalty percentages and creative distribution. Madonna left Warner Brothers and signed with Live Nation, and Radiohead released a record for donations on the Internet. This led to increased revenue and exposure for both artists. It is clear times are changing. 

A new company is taking a different approach that may lead to music promotion by using the tunes for a different purpose altogether. Song Pong is a social media game that allows users to communicate using music. This game can be used to share favorite songs, deliver dedications, set up skill challenges and more all using the user’s music library or the iTunes store.


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According to Song Pong creator Michael Gorton, the initial inspiration for the app was the need for communication. “My daughter unfortunately had to move about 900 miles away and the distance was tough for us both. We swapped new music we were both listening to regularly and this turned into our way of feeling closer to each other,” Gorton continued. “This was the driving force behind me sharing Song Pong with others in the hopes of bridging similar gaps.” 

This indirect approach may be what the music industry is looking for, even if the purpose of the app is something entirely different. Viral marketing is all the rage now and every company is looking for the next “Hump Day” camel commercial that manages to pick up millions of dollars of free advertising by actually being entertaining.

The problem with viral marketing is its organic nature. The moment you try to force it the campaign loses something. Apps like Song Pong can keep the viral nature of the advertising campaign intact while also leading to inevitable promotion of selected music. 

With music fans now playing music for free on YouTube or streaming songs from Spotify and Pandora, the music industry is seriously behind the eight ball on market delivery for profit. Song Pong may not be a new method of production or delivery, but it is a great example of how to take a flanking approach to the problem and find new purpose within an old industry.


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This type of innovation is what will be needed to make sure the industry stops breaking down at the digital level. Song Pong addresses one major problem in the music industry, namely reaching the right audience. If your friends listen to similar music as you do, then this will help grow an artist’s brand in the appropriate demographic by default. 

Song Pong is not designed as a music delivery channel and shouldn’t be confused as one. It is however an innovative method of using music to communicate in a similar fashion as Facebook or Instagram. The fact that an ancillary benefit of the app is strong music promotion to a perfect audience needs to be noticed by record labels and distributors in the very near future. 

The Innovators is a series that looks for small businesses and inventors that help drive the U.S. economy despite the uncertainty that exists.


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Jon Norwood

Jon T. Norwood is a managing partner at Mobile Informers. Jon has over 15 years experience in the wireless communications field and is a frequent contributor at High Speed Internet Access Guide.

 

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