Friday, April 25, 2008


A few what's-up? shots have been thrown by way, jabbing at my apathetic blog behavior. I'm guilty; no excuses, and I'll commit to change my behavior.

Part of the what's up is a cool campaign I'm incubating with a comrade to raise money for Davis schools. The school system's a mess, the politics brutal, and naysayers abound. It's tough being a volunteer.

A key tenet of our endow-the-schools program is to perpetuate programs that do not alter the behavior of beneficiaries: Raise money by getting consumers and businesses to do what they do, with an incentive to participate. Sounds great as I type, but in practice it's going to be an uphill bike ride through the mean streets of Davis.

Part of my inspiration -- aside from the obvious: I'm a product of Davis's public schools, and my kids are current beneficiaries -- stemmed from a Contrarian perspective. One of my idols, Tower Records' founder Russ Solomon, was interviewed a few weeks ago on NPR. (Here's a admiring piece I scribed about Russ last year.) Russ was a baron: He helped create the music business, selling 78s out of his trunk on the corner of 16th and Broadway in Sacramento. The music industry and its artists owe much to Mr. Solomon.

Back to the NPR interview. Russ was asked about the accelerating shift in consumer behavior, away from buying tangible products, crescendoing toward bits and bites (digital downloads). He opined a strong case for the virtues of CDs and vinyl: Sound quality, the ability (and desire) to collect, awesome artwork, etc. Okay, I buy it, though market metrics disagree. My mentor then slipped: He said what's needed is for consumers (kids) to "get it," to change their behavior. It's there responsibility, or so I heard, to visit record stores and "experience" buying music.

I disagree. Big time. It's the proprietor's (and the industry's) responsibility to create an environment and experience that's superior to buying tunes for 99 cents. Customer behavior dictates preferences ... a building bonfire of consumers prefer to buy music ala-carte, via their PC, in their boxers. When they want, where they want, how they want. Our needs are filled -- better, faster and cheaper -- electronically, versus making a trip to the record store.

Just as other tangible media -- newspapers, books and magazines -- will not perish, CDs and vinyl will not die. But, they're a few feet underground, descending deeper (dug by consumer preferences and needs) by the day.


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Anonymous said...

customer behavior is what we always mentioned but also always ignored by us. for it is too general and hard to be focus on. however, it is still very important because we should base on the customer behavior to make strategy relatively.