Rhapsody gives an honest appraisal of TV advertising tactics

Another great piece has popped up over at sidewinder.fm. John Maples, VP of Product and Content at Rhapsody, has written a brilliant article detailing Rhapsody’s past efforts at TV advertising, and why he thinks Spotify and Rdio are going about it in the wrong way. I’d encourage you to click through the above link to read the article in full, though I’ll pull out a few key highlights below:

I know this is revolutionary, but it turns out you need to show what a service does to actually sell…the service!

If we’re going to be successful, we all have to start with the service, up front and center.

Since neither of our companies sell advertising, Rdio and Rhapsody are in the business of sourcing, identifying and enticing fans who are willing to pay for music. How you go about that is the hard part. My belief is that streaming companies have to sell the value of a music service and the benefits to customers instead of relying on an emotional connection to music, giving songs away or buying exclusive rights to a band’s new release.

There are two key issues raised here.

  1. Music services have been going about engaging TV audiences in the wrong way, by appealing to their emotions (“music is important to me, so of course I’m happy to pay for it!”), rather than their logical thought processes (“that service actually looks really useful, I’d happily pay $X a month for it!”). 

    For an illustration of how it should be done, we need look no further than Apple’s adverts for the iPhone, iPad, iPod, etc. which are essentially stylised video demonstrations of how the items operate.

  2. There is a clear distinction between people who are willing to pay for music, and those that aren’t. A lot is made of price sensitivity, and the $10 a month price barrier, though this is overblown. The bare fact of the matter is that those who value music and have a modicum of disposable income are happy to pay for convenient, ad-free access to a music subscription service (assuming that’s how they choose to consume their music in this day and age). The rest of the population simply have no inclination to start handing over $X a month given that the world’s largest collection of online music (YouTube) is available to listen to for free anytime they choose. Putting up with a few ads in order to keep the subscription fee in their pockets is, if you’ll excuse the pun, a price worth paying.