Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Gimme Three Steps

The I-Tunes Store is an amazing place. Anything you want is there. Music. Videos. Shows. Movies. Everything.

The basic concept is that you spend $.99 for a song. And then people buy them by the millions. And millions. And more. The store launched six years ago and has since had more than one billion songs legally downloaded, all for around a buck. That's a billion, as in 1,000,000,000 songs.

Before the store came along, illegal downloads of music seemed to be threatening the world. The basic thought was that people would never pay for the music if they could simply download it for free, even if there was some risk involved and the government was trying to make an example of some people.

And then the store came along. And people started paying for the music – and everything else, as technology evolved.

TigerBlog is a big I-Tunes fan. Since first buying "Gimme Three Steps" by Lynyrd Skynyrd, TB has gone on to rack up 361 songs from the store, as well as one video ("Girls In Their Summer Clothes," by Bruce Springsteen; TB highly recommends it if you're a fan of the Jersey Shore). The list of 361 songs includes quite a variety, led by Springsteen of course and including anything from any era (soundtrack from the movie "Once" is a must, but also including Bon Jovi to Bobby Darin to the Goo Goo Dolls and Go Gos to the Thompson Twins to old showtunes to Coldplay to Elvis (Presley and Costello) and holiday music and even Camp Rock (for Little Miss TigerBlog) and heaven forbid even modern music (for TigerBlog Jr.).

This is over a period of probably five years, and it is probably equal to the amount that TB spent on CDs in the same time period before.

Or, if you want, you can go all the way back to when TigerBlog and the rest of the world his age and older used to buy actual records. TB had a stack of albums, but they've disappeared over time.

So why all the I-Tunes talk? It's for two reasons - first, the impact it's had on the market and second, what it says about consumers. And then, how does all this apply to Princeton athletics?

Before the store came along, the idea that people would pay for music downloads on the Web was ludicrous. And yet people spend billions there. Why? It's the convenience. You are reminded of a song, and you go and spend a buck for it. This is at the same time that newspapers are going out of business because they have given away their product online, out of fear that people would never pay for internet subscriptions.

So, it's the convenience of it, the immediacy of it. How does that translate to Princeton athletics? What do Princeton fans want from the Department of Athletics on an immediate basis, even if there is a nominal fee attached to it? Does it involve ticketing? Information? Merchandise?

And then there's the question of what it's done to the market? When was the last time you bought a CD? Can't remember? TigerBlog certainly can't.

In other words, entire ways of doing business, entire beliefs of what people feel they must have, can be changed almost on a dime, if there is someone willing to take the chance and provide a higher quality alternative.

Here at the Princeton OAC, that's the core of discussions we've been having about the future of athletic communications. What is necessary, and what is a better alternative? And mostly, how do we do this without being afraid of abandoning traditional methods?

It's the time in college athletics to look around and see what models in society have worked and why and which ones haven't and why.

And then apply them to Princeton. Simple, right? We'll see.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This winter when Alumni Day was held in Jadwin Gym, you might think that the Ticket Office would have been open in case any alums wanted to hang around for a few hours to watch a basketball game. Well, you would have been wrong. As always, the TO opened something like an hour prior to tipoff.
And that also reminds me, the night of the Pete Carril court ceremony, game programs were in such short supply that I had to give mine to a former Tiger standout sitting behind me. But there were plenty courtside for the non-paying press.