Music 3.0 and the rocky pre-media past
By Mark Leiter, Director, Tunicca Ltd
I recently explored how the changing consumer demand and routes to market had disrupted the old paradigm of music supply, but the disruptive technologies that forced the music industry to rethink its strategy also played an important role in redefining the pre-media industries involvement in artwork and marketing material creation.
Gary already touched upon the days of old in the late 80’s early 90’s where the formats where large with the 12inch and 7ich vinyl artworks and the multiple folded cassette inserts; this was the same time that Laserdisc hardware had matured and also had to be distributed in these large format packages. Still some years off mainstream was the era of the CD & DVD which would of course dominate the consumer market. CD had been around for a while yet the transition in the publishers was a bumpy road as the vinyl format still ruled whilst the consumer got used to the digital age. The cost of technology to use these now seemingly small and fragile discs came within reach of the average household and along with this trend the pre-media market whad to adapt and change change as well. While the early nineties saw vinyl and cassette slowly slip away, the requirement to transition and operate on the smaller, more manageable scale of CD was becoming a reality. As the work moved from bench planning, to computer aided design, and the operational efficiency of the production was increased the pre-media companies were facing new challenges. Also they had to endure a drop in income as the old formats slowly disappeared, but a new lease of life with the new format coming in and they needed more efficiency, more productivity and faster turnaround times since the studio’s now realised the future was compact disc and they floundered to transition their old vinyl artworks into the new, much smaller compact disc format.
After taking a huge technology blow (through the investment required to meet the demands of the music publishers) pre-media companies found themselves in a whole new cost structure where new revenue streams where possible. The publishers, unaware of the costs of the new digital age, parted with cash like it was going out of fashion as companies charged for every piece of digital production. The new high end digital film units like the Scitex Eray or the Scitex Dolve allowed extremely fast and accurate production of film from the digital computer production workstations.
All of the digital content during this time was produced on proprietary systems, designed specifically for the pre-media/pre-press industry and ’standards’ at that time were merely a standard template to aid the manufacturers in the packing and fulfilment process. It wasn’t until the late 90’s that Apple Mac’s became powerful enough to be serious contenders to the aging pre-press systems like Barco and Contex. But a new pre-press platform brought new challenges; the postscript language had matured as the hardware platform grew up and at the end of 1997/early 1998 it was able to provide a valuable leap forward for the desktop publishing era.
All of these technological advances were taking their toll on companies and more and more ‘value added services’ were required to differentiate each company from the next. But what about the music publishers? Well they were left with a huge problem as their reckless spending through the growth of the CD era and their inability to manage their assets led them into a weak position as their industry transitioned once again. They found that they faced a technological toll - and this was added to by the problems generated through their desire to buy the thriving print & pre-press companies only to find that they had no idea how to run them or where their next growth spurt would come from. So this left them with their assets spread across closed companies and unmanaged warehouses. They were unable to benefit from the changing world of e-commerce, the new social media channels and the print on demand models increasingly available in a changing world where their physical sales declined and became sales of 0&1’s down the wire directly to the consumer. This was added to the damage already caused by their seemingly futile efforts to stand on the higher ground against the masses of connected consumers in the new digital age.
Today we see the music publishers looking to retake control of their assets, be able to print on demand and to become greener in their production and distribution as they recall all of their final print material and create their own archives.
The brand owners as a whole have come a long way from the days of old, realising that they may be able to stand the test of time better that their suppliers and are now implementing their own internal asset repositories ensuring they have the flexibility for the next disruptive change in the pre-media market. This recession has so far only taken a fraction of the casualties it will, and with the volume of outsourcing going on, can you afford for your intellectual property to be spread at a whim to anyone in the world.
The brand owners as a whole have come a long way from the days of old, realising that they may be able to stand the test of time better that their suppliers and are now implementing their own internal asset repositories ensuring they have the flexibility for the next disruptive change in the pre-media market. This recession has so far only taken a fraction of the casualties it will; and with the volume of outsourcing going on, can you afford for your intellectual property to be spread at a whim to anyone in the world?