MTV Trax And Fixing The Tyranny Of Choice

The subscription pricing debate is gaining momentum with serious dialogue occurring at high levels across the industry. Every consideration though occurs against the backdrop of fear, fear of disrupting the solid start subscriptions have made so far. It is clear that although the 9.99 price point has significant additional market opportunity, that potential has a finite scope. Once the ceiling of adoption has been reached the market will stagnate unless new price points are introduced.

One option for reducing risk is to tailor services at discreet segments that are not prospects for 9.99 services. By building highly distinct, curated services that deliver users curated, lean back experiences rather than bewildering them with the Tyranny of Choice of 30 million tracks. Music Aficionados are the driving force of current digital music, are less than a fifth of all consumers yet are the core target of every 9.99 subscription service.   By contrast Forgotten Fans – super engaged music fans who don’t yet spend much money on music – are hugely underserved. A handful of companies have been trying to unlock this segment, including Blinkbox Music, Mix Radio (formerly Nokia Mix Radio), (RIP), Psonar (PAYG streams), MusicQubed (O2 Tracks, Vodafone Tracks), Zvook, as well as ‘Pandora One’, ‘Slacker Radio Plus’ and Rhapsody’s ‘unRadio’. Even Spotify is having a go. Now MusicQubed have upped the ante in the pursuit of the Forgotten Fan powering a new MTV music service: MTV Trax.

MTV: Digital Music’s Sleeping Giant

MTV is something of a sleeping giant in the digital music space. It is the sort of brand the marketplace has been waiting for. Spotify has done a fantastic job at creating a brand from scratch but outside of digital music circles it has minimal brand recognition. What MTV brings is immediate brand equity, the sort of instant familiarity that can help pull mainstream consumers into the digital fold.

Up to now, besides a couple of ill fated early efforts (remember MTV Urge anyone?) MTV has never seriously tried to convert its massive brand and reach. MTV has been biding its time. It is a mainstream brand for the masses so it has been waiting for the market to reach sufficient scale and for the right product for it to enter. MTV knows there is little point in trying to push its youthful, mass market audience towards Aficionado services that they are unlikely to be able to afford or have interest in.

MTV Needs To Put Mobile At The Heart Of Its Channel Strategy

There is an additional reason the time is now right for MTV, whether they realise it or not: their business model is stuck firmly in the confines of old, traditional media i.e. Pay TV. Though Pay TV is hardly in crisis, yet, the first cracks are beginning to appear with disruptive Over The Top (OTT) services like Netflix and Amazon Prime and cord cutting.  Of most concern for MTV is the new generation of ‘cord never’ consumers that may never take a Pay TV subscription, instead relying solely on the likes of Netlix, Hulu and iPlayer for their video needs. MTV is a youth brand yet ironically its current business model is rooted in an older world – the average age of a network TV viewer is 59. MTV needs a new channel for engaging with the next generation of audiences, and that channel is mobile. MTV Trax looks like it may be the first plank of that strategy.

mtv trax

MTV Trax itself is a visually rich mobile only app that delivers 8 curated playlists, branded around genres, charts and MTV shows. An Aficionado would probably find the selection too narrow and mainstream, but that’s entirely point, this isn’t built for them, it’s built for the mainstream. The app is being launched with MTV’s European Music Awards. Now it’s time to sit back and wait to see whether MTV’s brand can unlock the Forgotten Fan and take digital music to the mainstream.

4 thoughts on “MTV Trax And Fixing The Tyranny Of Choice

  1. There are several “flaws” in this reposted article from Mark Mulligan’s blog.

    1) The Echo Nest IS the 35 million song metabase. It is comparable in size and scope to Gracenote, which is the core metabase of Apple iTunes.

    It remains to be seen what Apple Music (Beats Streaming) next becomes. One thing is for certain Zane Lowe will be provided with significant analytics to fortify his genius curation skills. (See Point #2)

    2) It is important to understand that Apple Music next will include the acquisition of Semetric. Speculation centers on the acquisition to benefit Apple Music next with rich analytics for both artists, labels and Zane Lowe’s curation team 😉

    3) Beats Music has human curation today. It is not compelling millions of people to subscribe to the streaming platform. For me Beats music curation was a major turn-off. Zane Lowe’s coming on board is Beats second round of “human curation”.

    Stay iTuned for Apple’s relaunch of Apple Music next…

  2. The reality is Apple/Beats/iTunes really never launched. There appears to be a commitment on their part to survey the failing business model of sites like Spotify, but more importantly, hopefully, the destructive impact current streaming models are having on those creators whose livelihoods have been eradicated Streaming.

    So what we’re talking about is in fact the launch of a new service.

  3. Musicofourheart – I think you posted the comment on the wrong blog entry but I’ll address your comments here anyway.

    Thanks for your comments. I’m not quite sure what ‘flaws’ you identified. Certainly none of those you listed contradict anything I said in the Zane Lowe post or anything I have posted historically on the topic.

    here are some specific responses:

    1 – I don’t recall anywhere suggesting that the comprehensiveness of the EchoNest’s database was any less than Gracenote’s. If you have any link to me suggesting this somewhere I would love to see it.

    2 – MusicMetric will as you suggest provide great analytics to artists. It will not play a key role in curation or recommendations. So I don’t quite understand the relevance to this curation discussion. Happy to hear more on this though if you have evidence to the contrary.

    3 – Yes, absolutely, Zane Lowe is a continuation of Beat’s human curation strategy. i didn’t think this needed spelling out as expect most readers of this blog will already understand that was the core positioning point of Beats.

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