Thursday, November 13, 2014
Today more and more kids watch music than listen to it. YouTube has turned music from being a one dimensional experience into a multi-dimensional one. What was once only available as audio produced in a studio now can have many renditions with video and stills from live concerts. The depth and range of music on YouTube is staggering as is the hits many renditions receive and have given for free.
Google is starting a YouTube ‘Music Key’ subscription service enabling users to stream ad-free music videos for offline use and for a £9.99 it also provides membership to their sister music download service Google Play All Access. This gives Google a significant advantage over its audio only rivals.
The way that the music industry is currently structured around just three labels gives Google equal terms to that of its audio only rivals and now enables them to move at speed to offer depth and breadth on as ‘much as you can eat’ basis. Taylor Swift and The Beatles may be able to act independently of the big three and cut their own deals but it’s still about range and Google have just redefined range and offer.
When you bought records you owned them and they often sat proudly on your shelves saying who you were. Today we don’t own music but listen and watch it on demand and it’s the social networks who help to define our tastes. The likes of Spotify will have to think hard as today all we have to switch is a monthly subscription and we still have access to discover and play everything. Would you buy yesterday’s offer when for the same outlay you can take it to another level?
Today we read that Land Rover has become a digital publisher and the obvious question is, why? The answer is that it can ensure that their product is in the reader’s eyes and is aligned with the work, or to put it another way it cheap advertising.
Laptop manufactures love to see the backs of their devices in a film or on TV with their logo sometimes glowing for all to see. Sometimes product placement can be more subtle and may just be a packet of a brand of Corn Fakes sitting perfectly positioned on a shelf and in shot. We wrote many years ago about 'Cathy’s Book' which was altered to remove a specific lipstick and colour and changed to promote Proctor and Gamble’s ‘Cover Girl’ range. Years earlier Fay Weldon was paid by Bulgari to write Bulgari into ‘The Bulgari Collection.’ Product placement is a real way to get your product infront of an audience in a subliminal way.
So when is naming a specific product in a book now innocent and when does it involve money and is product placement?
Land Rover have taken it a stage further with William Boyd’s “The Vanishing Game,” with key words that can launch video of Land Rover vehicles in action. Having been in a Land Rover on a constructed track and being driven up and down 45% rises with horizontal as well as vertical slopes the cars are amazing. Now by clicking on words such as ‘river,’ or ‘mountain,’ the reader will see footage of the car crossing a rugged waterway or traversing a mountain slope. Readers’ comments on their driving experience are also embedded.
All Boyd had to do to get the money was to write one of their vehicles into the storyline. Land Rover believe that by respecting the artist’s freedom this is more of a commission, than product placement or sponsorship. Well forget the reader, who pays for it and their views, it’s all obviously alright then!
So as author advances continue to be under pressure and net receipts continue to bite, will authors and their agents start to redefine some rights and will we see advertising, product placement rights being withheld? Will publishers now be knocking on the doors of every FMCG company offering lucrative deals to get their products placed in bestsellers or even to get the marketing expense fully covered? Will other car manufactures follow and will Jeremy Clarkson’s next book be published by Porche, or Bill Bryson’s next journey be by Tripadvisor, or Bob the builder be by JCB, or the Good Cook Book be by MacDonalds?