What about the online portion of the service? Can people subscribe through their computers?
It’s a super-relevant question today. On a macro level, it’s what everyone’s talking about and what a lot of consumers are doing frankly. On a micro level, it’s what we’re focusing on as a company is extending what we built on television onto other platforms. Right now, you can experience a subset of what we do on television now online. But during 2007, we’re going to be introducing a more robust website, a website that is more like an Internet television network. It lends itself to easy viewing, and then we’re going to be pumping a lot more content into it today. Whereas today you might see a couple hundred clips total on the Concert.TV website, by the middle of the year, we expect to have thousands.
It is worth mentioning that we did a subtle re-branding last year from Concert to Concert TV. That’s to sync up Concert TV brand with the Concert.TV web property, and that’s with the explicit intention of getting people to move seamlessly back and forth between broadband and television.
Video is the talk of the town online these days. What will give you guys the upper hand in the YouTube era?
I think that is the single most important question, that everybody wants a place or niche in online video because the industry is paying a lot of attention to it. But also, people are genuinely using it. But we’re convinced that the reason why we have an advantage is 1) we have a television network that’s vastly distributed to build a brand, build a customer experience, and build those relationships, and 2) we will be very careful to make sure that the online presence is equally geared towards music fans. It’s [not] a place where some of the stuff doesn’t suck, and some of the stuff is good. The interface is poor, but I can see some good content if I look hard enough. It’s going to be programmed very much like our television network is, so that music fans go there knowing what they’re going to find.
The difference between broadband experience and television experience is the type, the details. The average program on television is 20-30 minutes, and we think the average person online is going to be prone to picking smaller clips—so maybe 5 minute, short documentary clips or single song clips.
What about the branding implications and strategy for marketeres?
What we’ve done so far with brands like Cingular, Coca-Cola, Visa and Target, is focusing on brands that have an affinity for music. When we sit down to talk to them, we don’t have to explain why music is important. We can skip to how we can get their brand closer to music. Right now, we’re doing that on television. In 2007, we’re going to be extending some of that proposition to broadband. There are also going to be some interesting opportunities to extend to offline as well.
We have a crew on the ground at all the major festivals, and some great concerts and events. Right now, they’re just creating content, they’re interacting with fans, and being part of the music community. It’s never been in the branded sense where they’re there on the ground on behalf of an auto manufacturer or on behalf of a beverage sponsor. It presents a great opportunity for us to take a brand sponsorship and make it full circle—have it on the ground, we’re creating content, and that content is going to cycle back through the television network and the broadband property, and close the loop with the music-related sponsors.
Music ideally seems to attract the most brands. Is there a target demographic beyond music fans, though, that Concert.TV is looking to reach?
It is all-encompassing, but we want to move within music fans. We think that’s one of the values we’re providing to brand sponsors, where the music affinity is necessary. There are some brands that we just won’t do business with because they don’t care about music. But when you get the right brand, then we can move within music to take them where they want to be.
So this could be Saturn saying, “We’re focusing on emerging music because it’s the right brand affinity and because this is the younger consumer that’s going to be more interested in our product.” So we can do that to move them in the right direction. Then, we can do just the opposite. We can take people in a certain direction with jazz in terms of sophistication and age. We can create a certain appeal with vintage rock n’ roll versus rap and hip-hop. That’s one of the liberating things about focusing on live music regardless of genre. We can listen to our advertising customers and take them in whatever direction they want to go.
What about your ’07 strategy?
It will be to continue to build the advantage that we have on television, which is being frankly one of the most popular, free video-on-demand networks ever. More people are going to Concert.TV than just about any other free on-demand network. [We’ll] take than and expand to other platforms like broadband most notably, and then continue to execute delivering the best of live music. We think we’ve done a great job so far, but we definitely think there’s more opportunity for us to program to that audience. As we expand the offering, in terms of artists, genres and decades, we’ll pick up more and more fans along the way.
In 2007, we’ll get into the original programming business, and for the first time, we’ll probably be doing it alongside with brand partners to integrate brands from the ground up. Soon, we’ll be rolling out a couple of those. The two reasons why original programming is so interesting as an extension of our business is 1) we can control the experience from the ground up in terms of what you’re seeing and what you’re getting—it’s something genuinely different and new, and 2) at the end of the day, advertisers are paying the bills. And we can get advertisers involved in a subtle, meaningful way because we are controlling it from the ground up.