Turning living rooms into virtual record stores guided by television shows and ads is just a few technological clicks away from becoming a reality. How to get there -- and who needs to play role in that development -- was the subject of a presentation and debate Wednesday at the NARM panel "How Can We Build a Robust Music Discovery Experience in Digital Television?"
Audible Magic marketing VP Jay Friedman, Ted Cohen, managing partner of TAG Strategic, and the NPD Group's entertainment industry analyst Russ Crupnick took attendees on a journey through television's relationship with music and advances in technology that allow consumers to purchase goods or get information based on what they are watching and added in a few stats on music fans and their habits for good measure.
"The fracturing of fan bases presents opportunity after opportunity," Crupnick said as he provided details of research that shows a) 60 percent of musically active fans learn about songs an bands through radio, b) retail activity has become more impulse buy than planned purchase and c) 42 percent of song purchases based on music heard on television fits in the "unfamiliar" category, meaning the buyer did not know the song prior to watching the show.
"They're crying for back announcing in television," is Crupnick's deduction. "We have to do a better job informing consumers what was just played."
Solutions came in various forms. Friedman, naturally, touted Audible Magic's automated content recognition system, a database of millions of songs that, like Shazam, can identify a song. Audible Magic is working with television set and set-top box manufacturers to integrate options into the hardware to create "a consistent user experience."
The key is immediacy. "If a viewer is a presented with the opportunity to buy the music they are listening to while it is being played, they are eight times more likely to make the purchase" than someone who waits until a show's conclusion and then looks for a particular track.
The way Friedman envision its -- and he was backed up by others -- is the presence of a second screen that would drive the commerce without interfering with the program.
"Ease of use is the single driving factor," says Vickie Nauman, president of 7digital North America. "We have to make the user experience short and simple as possible."
Brian McNelis, senior VP of Lakeshore Entertainment, who runs a soundtrack label as part of his job, says anything with more than two clicks to get the consumer and product connected is not worth the effort. He cited research that indicates 50 percent of the potential buyers drop out with each ensuing click. "My mantra is two clicks to a sale," McNelis said, noting that he was never more thrilled than when he saw moviegoers purchasing Lakeshore's soundtrack to "Drive" on handheld devices inside movie theaters.
Panelists saw efforts by the BBC and HBO as positive while Google TV was too much of a sprawling mess with 64 apps and fewer than 5 million users.
As more panelists offer their perspectives -- Daryl Berg, executive director of music for TV show producer Shine America spoke about the inherent difficulties in having playlists set up online prior to a show's airing, while others spoke about getting artists paid -- the more the discussion turned to anecdotes about user experiences and frustrations with the digital space and the lack of music discovery mechanisms.
"Music discovery is now a solitary experience," West10's director of sales Barry Smith said of the shift from the 20th century experience of playing music with friends and discussing/purchasing records. His assessment prompted debates about the effectiveness of Spotify, Twitter, Facebook and so on in turning on people to new music. The consensus in the room was that social media reinforces what you already know, so the sooner TV can be equipped with analytic software services, the better it is for music.