Yesterday’s Sunday Times featured an article about how the internet is affecting the music industry by Martin Wroe, the editor of U2.com. In the article, Wroe concedes that there is no easy way to deal with the idea shared among many music fans that music should be freely available to download on the internet. He suggests that instead of spending time and money to stop music sharing on the internet, music business executives should accept the download revolution and learn to use the internet to their advantage.
Wroe states, “what the record companies have — and the pirates cannot duplicate — are the artists themselves, which puts the acts on the front line in the fight for loyalty.” He believes that artists’ participation on web sites is the key to keeping fans interested, citing artists like Moby, Alanis Morrisette, and Coldplay, who actively contribute to their own official web sites. “The more the artist is involved with the fans on the internet, the more it creates intimacy,” Wroe writes.
Besides a personal touch, an artist’s web site has to offer incentives to make fans return. To describe what those incentives should be, Wroe turns to Sebastian Clayton, director of Digital:CC, the Dublin-based company that designed and hosts U2.com.
“What you put in is what you get out,” Clayton says. “It’s a simple equation: if a site is not kept up-to-date or if it does not bear the visitor in mind, fans soon desert it.”
New media (audio and video), reliable news, and a community element where fans can talk to each other are key features of the best sites, according to Clayton. “The web is about communication,” Clayton says. “You can’t fool fans into buying a CD. The industry is beginning to realise that if fans like what they hear and feel, that they have real communication with a band, they are more likely to buy.”
Do you feel that U2.com does a good job providing a “personal touch”? Does U2.com offer incentives to make you return?