The biggest challenge by far facing anybody in the music industry is how we can make best use of the social networking tools available to us. In the past, it has been a great promotional tool, and more recently it has been harnessed to take customer service to the next level - I use my companies Facebook and Twitter pages to not only talk to fans about upcoming releases, features and sharing user-generated content, but also to gauge response and deal with any queries and issues they may have. It's stating the obvious, and many people have said this before, but I'd much rather have people having a moan on our official pages than going elsewhere.
But with Dell making a ridiculous amount of money through their Twitter account, the CEO's of music industry will be looking to these companies, and then looking at their own online operations, and asking 'Why aren't we making that much?'. It's a valid question, but not one that is easy to answer.
The campaign to get Rage Against The Machine to number one at Christmas was a real eye-opener (whatever you may think of it) on how social media can be harnessed to directly drive record sales. But that was a one-off campaign - can this formula be applied to a four, maybe five single + album campaign without pissing off your audience?
Setting up a revenue stream though social networks has to be the priority for 2010, and not just in a BUY ME! Sense. We need to be intuitive, and find out what our fans are willing to pay for, and what they are not willing to pay for. This may prove to be uncomfortable reading, but maybe we just need that punch in the face verified, so both parties can move on and find new ways of doing business (a dirty word, I know).
The punch in the face in question? The world saying 'We don't want to pay for digital downloads anymore'.
The solution? Well, if you've read this blog before you know my thoughts on the subject (people don't want to pay for music anymore, but they will pay for premium experiences and product), but let's see what the rest of the industry comes up with in the coming months.