Music Product Manifesto: The Product Features That Will Save Recorded Music

Forrester has just published the above title reported, the first in our new ‘Media Product Innovation’ series.  Following on from the strategy laid out in ‘Music Release Windows: The Product Innovation That The Music Business Can’t Do Without’ this report proposes some tactical implementations of that strategy.


As we’re now 100 years on from the first commercial album release with recorded music sales plummeting, the time has come for a radical overhaul of the recorded music product range. We believe that future music products will need to adopt a platform-agnostic world view that encompasses powerful and social interactivity to empower consumers to create their own unique experiences.


It is time to build music products around consumer needs, not business needs


That might sound like a truism, but so much of current digital music innovation falls short of this crucially important value.  This is why Forrester proposes a Music Product Manifesto of six basic consumer music rights that digital products should embrace.  These are spelt out in detail in the report, but include principles such as:


  • The right to great consumer experiences first (and business models second).
  • The right to unique music experiences.
  • The right to share in the creation process.


I mentioned earlier that the report has a strong tactical focus, and it does, so strong in fact that we actually scope out our ‘show home’ of the future music product (see below).

Music app









As you can see this looks a lot like a mobile application.  This is because we believe that powerful interactivity is going to be key to successful future music product innovation.  To such an extent that the consumer is empowered to make the experience their own and to bring their connected friends into that unique experience.  And yes, a touch screen  netbook would be the perfect form factor for such a product...


I hope I’ve been able to give you enough of a flavour of our vision here.  If you are a Forrester client you can read the entire report here.  If you are press and are interested in writing up a story you can contact our press team at PRESS AT FORRESTER DOT COM.


And of course, I’d love to hear your thoughts directly here on this blog.


re: Music Product Manifesto: The Product Features That Will Sav

The above is what most bands are already doing - MySpace, Reverb Nation etc etc offer this for free to bands to reach fans.And it is incredibly boring. All your beloved 'content' is just further devaluing, and decreasing the quality, of creative content, which, in the end, is not in anyone's best interest.Luckily there are some artists able to create and perform to a high enough level to convince people to pay to support them. This happens a lot offline.There is one basic artist right. The right to create. I hope they (we) carry on doing that and ignore the inane babble from this new online music industry of digital experts and social media analysts out to make a fast buck.

re: Music Product Manifesto: The Product Features That Will Sav

I was brought up in the analogue world also. All of my singles were released on vinyl and I was a hard gigging artist. But I wish I had available to me then the digital tools available today.I completely respect your affection for the analogue world, but the simple fact is that in the 21st century digital plays a massive role. A role which continues to grow in importance. Even the most traditional of artists are leveraging its potential.Also the current generation of young music fans find value in much more than just the standard album and I believe it is important to build that diversity into the music product portfolio. The harsh reality is that people are increasingly shunning music buying in favour of downloading from peer to peer networks, and these people are not discriminating by quality: it doesn't matter how high a level you create and perform to, your music with get downloaded for free.Finally, for the record I should state that I've been working in this role as a music analyst for ten years now and have served many of the same clients during that entire period. I don't think that constitutes a 'fast buck' in many people's books.

re: Music Product Manifesto: The Product Features That Will Sav

Lots of consumers won't want the features you describe. Lots will. It's a big world, and all of these things should be enabled. What's missing is some assurance to the suppliers that there's a profit in removing restrictions from their products.Imagine that music is in plain files… almost. Now endow those files with the singularity (and difficulty of counterfeiting) of a physical product and the inherent value of a physical product. But impose NO restrictions on the use or sharing of it. Allow sharers to use either high-bandwidth connections or locally-cached copies to enjoy, share, and even modify those products as they see fit. But let every sharer have the power to take it away from you. What you have just created is ownable, sharable, digital personal property that people will never share with strangers. yet they will happily share it with trusted friends – just as we share physical property – just as we use our physical personal property as social capital in our relationships. Personal use. And because its use is unrestricted, yet we don't share with strangers because our property is both valuable and takable, the suppliers of those products can actually make a profit and not have their businesses decimated by sharing with strangers.The manifesto describes a great vision, and it is entirely feasible when supplier businesses are also protected. We don't need to replace DRM. We just need to relegate DRM to its proper role of product rental, and we need to replace plain, unprotected files with "Digital Personal Property" (DPP), a DRM-free form of content protection. The IEEE Digital Personal Property Study Group is working on an open, global standard to achieve this, and it is the only way that the business model will be economically viable. See the call for participation at:

re: Music Product Manifesto: The Product Features That Will Sav

Enjoyed reading the overview and look forward to seeing the full report at some stage. What you describe is very much in line with what we're developing at Pypeline. We firmly believe that for the music industry to grow, digital music products must evolve to meet the expectations of a connected consumer base. Music fans need to be engaged in new and immediate ways that embrace the wealth of context and community that exists in the cloud. The iTunesLP may be a move in the right direction but it’s still pretty one-dimensional and falls prey to Apple’s unwillingness to embrace a broader ecosystem. In our model, "albums" can include virtually any combination of media assets/resources, both local and networked and, are no longer static in nature – they can be continuously updated with new content whether it's directly from the artist, the individual fan or, the fan community at large. By giving fans the ability to customize and extend upon the music experience in almost anyway they chose, we are giving them the tools they need to connect with the artists they love on their own terms – all vital things in cultivating mutually beneficial long-term relationships in our opinion.~sean.

re: Music Product Manifesto: The Product Features That Will Sav

If you think of all the stuff listed as 'rights', then it's time for poli-sci 101 refresher. The technical aspects of music in the digital realm mentioned are good ideas, and likely to come, in some fashion, but there are no rights here. People who make music, people who market it and people who enjoy listening, purchasing, owning and sharing it in all the ways currently available .. this is all just the stuff of being alive and a member of society. Seeing it as anything more than that is a bigger problem than whatever situation this 'manifesto' is intended to address. Just chill out and enjoy the ride.

re: Music Product Manifesto: The Product Features That Will Sav

Consumers have statutory rights.

But that is not what this post is about. This is positing what consumers should be able to expect from their music product experience.

And what gives them these 'rights'? Quite simply the right not to buy music. Which is what a rapidly growing number of people are choosing to do.

Being 'alive and a member of society' is certainly part of being a music fan, but in the digital age doesn't need to have anything to do with being a music buyer.

Music fans need to be put back on a pedestal by those who want to sell them music (and be clear I'm largely talking about the labels, publishers and service providers here, not artists, nor even their managers). The 20th century days of content supply monopoly are gone. If music fans are ever expected to buy music products in mass market numbers again they need to be ceded 'rights' of expectation of quality of experience.