by Reggie Ugwu
In a panel led by representatives of EMI’s Global Insights department at SXSW Thursday, researchers poured cold water on what you might call the irrational exuberance of the digital music industry (not to mention SXSW attendants).
Independent consultant Mark Mulligan joined EMI’s Chris Carey and Renato Granieri for a presentation on what they said was feedback from more than 1 million music consumers from around the world. The data was collected over a period of four years. The recurring theme of the research, which looked primarily into how music fans discover and consume music, was that today’s average consumer is far less technically savvy than some in the industry and media might hope. Charts showed that two-thirds of music revenue worldwide is still based on physical sales, and that terrestrial radio is still by far the way the vast majority of people discover new music. Radio led as a listening format as well, followed by CD, video sites like YouTube, MP3s, live concerts and festivals, music videos on TV, streaming services and finally social networks. “If you leave not understanding that radio is really important, then you’ve missed something,” Carey said.
According to the data, 73 percent of U.S. music consumers have never heard of the cloud, 68 percent have never heard of Shazam and 67 percent have never heard of Spotify or other streamers. “The majority of music consumers are slow moving creatures,” Mulligan said.
The panelists advised those in attendance not to neglect traditional business or get distracted by what’s new and interesting. “We think streaming and other new dynamics have huge potential, but it’s still very early,” Carey said. “The thing to keep in mind is that it’s not going to be everything tomorrow.”