Diff’rent Strokes to move the world… of music online

A wise man once said, that “the world don’t move to the beat of just one drum, what might be right for you, may not be right for some.” Ok, so if you hadn’t guessed by the post tile, that was actually taken from the theme song of Diff’rent Strokes, but when it comes to tastes in music, truer words may never have been spoken.

Yesterday I attended iLunch, a regular event put on by Interactive Ontario which chose the future of the music industry as the day’s topic. The panel engaged in a lively and, at times, animated discussion about the challenges that the industy is facing in our global, digital economy, and how those challenges are impeding the ability to get music to the people in a manner that also gets compensation to the artists and publishers. Within this discussion, something that really caught my attention was a truism (I love that word) pointed out by Richard Kanee, Supervising Producer, Interactive – Music and Youth Services at CHUM. For the kids out there, that means he basically runs muchmusic.com.
Richard is someone I’ve known for a while and, by his own admission, is not a music industry guy but is certainly someone who knows what’s going on around him and really hit the nail on the head in this instance. He pointed out that while Much has always been a tastemaker, the challenge with music on television is that the business of television, by definition, is driven by a need to create the largest possible simultaneous audience. This becomes an incredible challenge in the music space as the tastes of music fans vary so widely. As a result, this innumerable number of niches can’t possibly be represented on a platform with little to no interactivity and a complete lack of ability for the audience to personalize. For that reason, any attempt to slot music programming onto traditional television must, in order to compete for ratings, become a homogenized content offering where only the acts who produce the most globally accessible music will be able to be represented. This is why MTV, the original Music Television, longer shows any actual music videos… and why Richard sees such a bright future for muchmusic.com.

Online, the shackles fo the broadcast model are removed and Much is able to leverage the incredible strength of their television brand to drive audiences to a destination where it doesn’t matter who’s number one on the charts. Online, it simply matters what I, as a user, want to consume. Between a massive database of artists which has existed for years and recently launched features such as the Much AXS broadband channel and download offerings through a partnership with Puretracks.com, muchmusic.com is equipping itself to bring together the varied tastes of its widest possible audience under the banner of their trusted brand in the music space. The most immediate and positive benefit for audiences is a huge one and core to Richard’s point – they’ll never again have to sit through Akon to get to Arctic Monkeys.