There was an excellent article recently on how iTunes singles have killed the music industry. Buying singles hasn’t killed sales, though, in fact sales are actually up! So, how has iTunes killed the music industry?
“When music sales reached their peak in 2000, Americans bought 943 million CD albums, and digital sales weren’t even a blip on the radar. By 2007, however, those inexpensive digital singles overtook CDs — by a wide margin — generating 819 million sales to just 500 million for the CD. Last year, there were 1.4 billion digital singles sold, dwarfing CD sales by a factor of 7. More than three-quarters of all music-related transactions were digital singles last year, according to the RIAA…
The popularity and ease of downloading cheap digital singles has transformed the industry. Not since the vinyl era has the single been this popular. The smaller, cheaper “45” record dominated music in the 1950s and ’60s, but the music industry wised up in the ’70s.Vinyl, cassette and CD singles were always cheaper for consumers, but manufacturing costs were not. Nor was the space required to house them in stores. Thus, the single became harder and harder to come by.”
In theory, we really ever never wanted an entire album/CD, for the majority of us there were always a few great songs that most listened to, but by having to buy the entire album the artist were able to work their craft. By getting music sold that wouldn’t sell if you’re just by singles, the artist is allowed to have some more freedoms to write and produce songs that might not otherwise get made, which down the road could end up being the start of something new. Buying singles limits dare I say – diversity – of music. The concept of only buying popular music singles is homogenizing the entire industry. The music industry has completely changed in ten years since iTunes was launched. Now the music industry focuses on producing hits – not music – assuming you don’t want to be one of those starving artist!
So, how has iTunes killed recruiting?
iTunes changed how we looked at something and made us want something different. We use to want music and knew we had to ‘buy the entire package’ an artist would give us. That included some great songs, average songs and probably some songs that were purely experiments. iTunes is so popular many other industries try to copy the method of their success. This philosophy spreads – “I don’t want to buy what you want to sell me – I want to buy what I want!” Like Burger King made so popular – “I want it my way!”
Hiring has somewhat become a victim of this, especially hiring managers. I remember a time when we would interview candidates knowing they were going to have some ‘opportunities’ and we as an organization where going to have to bring them in, give them a big hug, and teach them what they didn’t know and make them valuable to us. Now, most organizations want to hire like they buy iTunes. They only want superstars. When you hire a person they should have no opportunities. They should all be hit songs! This is ruining recruiting! Because the fact of the matter is, no one is a superstar, and everyone of us has opportunities. By having a philosophy that you ‘only hire superstars’ you’re setting your organization and the new hire up for major failure because in short-order you’re going to find out they actually do have opportunities. You’re going to find out, they aren’t all hit songs!
Really interesting post and a great metaphor (iTunes singles/recruiting superstars)! I’d love to hear more about this change in recruiting philosophies and how it’s affecting the hiring process on a higher level. Is striving to hire superstars exclusively having a negative effect for HR departments, i.e., is it ineffective? Are interview processes being changed to accommodate this philosophy?
At my company, we have specific interview processes in place to identify those who will make the most of opportunities that are given to them – those candidates are our “superstars.” I’d be very interested to hear about the interview processes that other companies are turning to in light of this new philosophy.