Monday, July 7, 2008

The Music Man

Recently, a guy I’ve worked with for 18 years left Saatchi & Saatchi to follow his heart and his own personal purpose. I first met Jim O’Mahony in 1990 when he was running 250 pubs for Grand Met in the UK. Joe McCollum persuaded him to join us on our great Australian adventure and Jim came over to handle a very tricky industrial relations/union issue. He soon moved into line management, running our Lion Nathan breweries in the South Island of New Zealand, Sydney and then China. Jim broke free for a couple of years and took an Aussie company public before linking up with me again, this time running Saatchi & Saatchi Australia. Later he handled the Asia Pacific region along with Europe. Jim’s passion is music and he has a view that music in all formats should be free. No more $15.00 CDs for Jim, or iTunes either. He believes artists should use recordings to build a megabrand where they can make money through sponsorships, concerts, t-shirts, etc. It could well be that Jim is the future of music.

At the moment everybody seems to be flailing around trying all kinds of stuff. Warner Music have pitched a tax to pay for music, EMI have got a Google guy running their business, and iTunes is apparently looking at a subscription type service, just like a magazine. There’s a good chance though that Jim’s model will win. The premium pricing is going into live music with ticket prices and attendances going through the roof. They will look at what we call in marketing terms 'adjacencies'. Bob Dylan hosting a radio show. Elvis Costello hosting a talk show. One thing is for certain, music has never been so much part of our lives as it is today.

And while all this liberation is going on, what is France doing? Check out Sarkozy’s latest initiative in the music field. Talk about fiddling while Rome (or in this case, Paris) is burning.