Mp3 downloads are responsible for probably the biggest change in music buying habits since the invention of vinyl. Whether it will be good or bad for the industry is a matter of some dispute, but it has happened, and a period of adjustment is inevitable whilst the old guard find their feet. Into this turbulent market have entered a number of established brands but also some new brands offering digital music services. The new brands are very much internet based with no High Street footprint. These new Internet based companies are poised to take on the big boys in the brave new world of digital music.
With a philosophy of community spirit and openness, these new brands are trying to connect with consumers in a way that the established major players have not yet managed. This direct connection is crucial, both to consumer and retailer, and this has not changed since the days of physical record purchases. What has changed, however, is the amount of choice available to mp3 purchasers. This is best explained by the theory of: The Long Tail, first theorised by Chris Anderson; to paraphrase, the internet is about selling small amounts of many goods, rather than large amounts of a few goods.
To help customers through this huge amount of independent and often undiscovered content, the new digital music brands are creating a true community network. In conjunction with many well known experts and major players of the industry the philosophy is about getting the consumer involved like never before. Along with handwritten editorial content from some well known music legends, they are planning download-only mp3 albums created by renowned experts and cutting edge tastemakers. This will help guide people through the huge array of music on offer. Personal recommendations from the music industries finest, available at music lovers fingertips will be a massive draw for the new digital Megastore.
Selling to the Long Tail or niche market is where these companies really comes into their own. With a large collection of back catalogue mp3s, some unavailable anywhere else, and Indie labels clamouring to join the online portals, there is music from Every Genre for Every Generation.
A big difference between the online and physical music worlds is the ease with which it is possible to obtain illegal goods. This, as with so much else on the internet, has probably as much to do with the corporate worlds unwillingness to truly embrace the technology as it does with users willingness to thieve. The easy availability of illegal downloads can be turned to the industries advantage, and that is another thing the new breed of digital brands are successfully policing. Where possible the music from these download stores is offered in non-DRM high quality mp3 format, the industry believes that consumers do not like to be treated as criminals from the start. High quality mp3s are worth paying for, and many believe that this will be enough to stem the tide of illegal downloads. Music will also be offered in DRM-enabled WMA format to appeal to the Major labels, as this is a business necessity.
Aiming to mix both massive choice with personal recommendations, the new brands have a mission to bring the experience of the small high street record shop back into the forefront of consumers minds, and maybe bring back the love of hearing and discovering new music all over again.