Last week’s discussion about the music industry is one I’ve had many times in my journalism classes. It’s often used as the classic example of an industry that was digitally disrupted and never fully recovered.
Oftentimes, I think we spend too much time looking at the damage digital downloads have caused rather than looking at how they’ve forced the music industry to consider new models for making revenue. In fact, I think there’s a lot of lessons publishers can learn from the music industry.
(Also, I don’t think enough people recognize the difference between the music industry and the record industry. But that’s another blog post.)
The music industry now makes most of its money off of concerts and events. In December 2013, I paid almost $200 for front row seats to a Beyonce concert. Then I bought a $40 t-shirt while I was at the concert.
I love Beyonce’s albums, but I buy them one single at a time. She’s not making much money off me there.
The print journalism industry will likely never fully recover from its own digital disruption. But news outlets can turn to events and other revenue-generating businesses to float their news operations.
Newspapers and their reporters are still considered thought leaders in their regions and they can trade in that. Earlier this year, The Daily Tar Heel hosted a feedback session after we printed our front page editorial on the need for reform in college athletics.
It was well attended and lasted much longer than we thought it would. That doesn’t necessarily mean that we could have made money off of it, but it seemed like people might be willing to buy tickets to hear us gab about the topics we’re well-versed in.
(I might be crazy. I don’t know. I would love to hear people’s thoughts on this idea.)
This is something the American City Business Journals has been doing for a long time — using its connections in local business circles to host professional nights out and hosting grand dinners to honor local businesses that make it onto top-40 lists the journals create.
The student media group at the University of Oregon, which is responsible for publishing The Daily Emerald, recently purchased a photo booth. The low-maintenance booth incurred a one-time cost to the group, and now it rents it out to other student groups for extra revenue.
But I guess, in the end, these are largely band-aid solutions to the broader problem — the prevailing assumption that readers shouldn’t have to pay for their news.