Friday, January 17, 2014

BIG’s Blog: Why is Smokey Robinson Scared?

In their 2011 book, The Networked Nonprofit, the authors, Beth Kanter and Alison Fine, make the argument that for people in nonprofit organizations (think fundraisers) who are going to use online tools, technologies, and especially social media, they need to be using the aforementioned themselves. Or, as the authors say, speaking of social media, “it’s a contact sport.”

Are you lamenting that your donor base is getting smaller and older? Every month I run into charitable and religious organizations that either A) do not even have a Facebook page, or B) have a Facebook page, yet no one in leadership or even the senior Development person has ever used Facebook themselves.

And they wonder why their fundraising organization is making no headway in attracting “younger” people!?!?

When I discuss with them the reluctance of either themselves or their organization … I get all the rational explanations. But the truth is, they’re just scared. Scared that they won’t be able to figure it out, scared about something getting posted that shouldn’t be posted, or just scared that people will know what they don’t know.

I understand all those concerns, after all, I’m 60+ years old. But you have to use these new online tools yourself to really understand how they work and their value.

I saw an interview with Smokey Robinson, the R&B singer, a while ago. Smokey is 74 years old and he is still out there performing. In this interview, however, you could see he was scared of the new music world. It used to be that he could write, perform, and cut an album . . . and if it was successful, it would provide him with a nice income stream to augment his live performances. Today, though, the music business is moving to online streaming services like Pandora or Spotify. With these streaming services, people can get their music whenever and wherever they want it. Online streaming is killing terrestrial radio. In fact, streaming is the new radio. In addition, with services like Spotify, you can pick your list of songs, so it’s radio + ownership. No wonder CD sales and even Apple’s iTunes Music Store sales are down. Why would you purchase what you can get on your portable listening device for a flat monthly fee? Music streaming services are the music delivery model in the same way that Netflix is the movie delivery model … a low monthly charge or even free for unlimited service.  

In the interview, Smokey Robinson said he was scared about losing album and song revenue as the old album sales model that he has known all his life was essentially dying.

Is Smokey still scared? Does Smokey subscribe to Pandora or Spotify? I hope he does, because then he would understand that streaming is the future of the music business . . . and if you are a musician today putting out new music, or, in Smokey’s case, have a body of great music, people will listen. And, of course, Smokey will not only get a cut of the music stream income, but he will be building new audiences … worldwide.

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