REM - Green Again

It's nice to see the penny dropping for other bloggers on the music industry's environmental impact.

Drowned in Sound ran some editorial on the campaign this weekend by REM, who have released their latest material as a giveaway with The Times. This isn't new - the weekend press is usually littered with freebies. Precisely the point - the free CDs and DVDs have a disposability that inevitably see them ending up in the bin.

Labels have been increasing this practice - recall that Prince launched his last album in a high profile deal with the Mail on Sunday two years ago. The idea was panned by many as contributing to the downfall of the industry. The question remains over it's effectiveness - does it attract new listeners to the artist, and in fact is anyone listening to the material at all? If we can't measure the intention of the consumer, do we assume they have purchased the paper for the music, or the news?

REMs campaign is different. Rather than offloading a CD, it involves a code for downloading the new material. It's not rocket science, but here's why it's smart:

Less Waste - and less production!
Lower costs for the label and newspaper - and the unwanted CDs won't be consigned to the landfill. Can you believe this campaign is the "first of its kind" in the UK?

Targeted Marketing
Putting CDs in the paper is the same as loading them into a shotgun - not targeted at all. By asking the listener to download, you are opting them into the campaign. It's permission marketing with the reciprocity of the free music.

REM - and presumably the newspaper - now have valuable info on the listener. What if instead of just new material, the listener was opting in to a whole new space with merchandise, exclusive info and ways to interact with other fans? Building in a way to continue to engage after the initial download is potential worth investing in.

Affiliate Revenue
Music revenue through album sales are in decline. So let the advertiser pay. Not disruptively (like the Spotify model) but through the paper and via the download portal. This is a win for all parties - the artist/label gets royalties, the paper gets ad sales, and the advertiser gets access to a target demograph.

This is the type of thinking we need to see more of across the media industry. The assets are there - the business just isn't using them wisely. And when a viable opportunity to benefit the industry and the environment are presented, we need to make it happen.

Image by zeusface on Flickr

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