We're Raising a Bunch of Pod-Heads When I was growing up in the 60's, I often heard my father refer to "that bunch of pot-heads." He, of course, meant anyone with long hair, bell bottom jeans and a VW van. He was certain they all worshiped at the altar of hashish. They got high burning one end of a joint and were bound to become worthless inmates we'd have to support with our hard-earned tax dollars. Little did he know they'd become imprisoned CEOs we'd have to support with our tax dollars because they smoked shareholders, not pot. Today's generation, including my 16 and 20 year olds, are declaring their "hipness" in a completely different way. They've become "Pod-Heads," people who always have an iPod nearby and get high on burning music. They couldn't care less about vehicles with lots of room in the back - they want cars with iPod jacks that let them plug straight into the car's stereo system. Fortunately for the geniuses at Apple, the iPod has become a phenomenon that crosses generational lines. Even the decidedly "unhip" are grabbing onto iPod. Don't believe it? Pick up today's Wall Street Journal. They just announced they'll be providing supplements to many of their stories via Podcasts. It's a brilliant strategic move to provide extra value to readers. I checked out a couple of the Podcasts and they were quite good. What a great way to spiff up one of America's most conservative, traditional news venues! No doubt, over time the WSJ will attract younger readers, as well as inspire older readers to embrace this wonderful new technology. Strategic companies "get" the importance of leveraging, rather than resisting, technologies that are first embraced by young people. Today's Pod-heads are tomorrow's CEOs. Already, teens and iPod are changing the music industry. Now, record companies are revamping the way they release new CDs. Instead of waiting until an artist has recorded 11-15 songs and bundling it all on one CD, they're releasing singles you can download long before they hit your neighborhood Media Play. Even some music stores are finding a new way to get aboard the iPod train. I've been reading about stores that have a "Buy it, burn it, return it" policy. It lets customers buy a CD, burn it or put it on their iPod, then return it for about 70% of the original cost. They then sell the CD as used to those who want to save a buck or two on the whole enchilada. It was a level-headed approach to a pervasive problem: teens shopping with their friends who whispered, "Don't buy that CD. I can burn it for you." What are you currently offering your customers that could be provided via Podcast? Think about releasing a book in this format (perhaps even by chapter on a regular basis). Maybe you're doing webcasts, financial reports, customer case studies. Look at everything you offer in print or via electronic vehicle, such as a web site, and ask yourself if it can be done as a Podcast. You may just find a whole new customer set that's interested in what you have to offer. Moreover, you may find another way to retain the customers you have.


At September 20, 2005 9:16 AM, Anonymous Christopher said...

The problem with the "Buy it, burn it" policy from the music store is that it's very illegal.

When purchasing music, you're buying the media as well as a license for use of the content. The license is bound to the media, so when you sell the media back to the store (regardless of price), the license goes with it. Thus, the music you've burned from the CD which remains on your computer after you've returned the CD is now illegal, since you no longer have a license to have it.

That's a really terrible idea on the part of the music stores.

At September 20, 2005 9:23 AM, Blogger Marilynn Mobley said...

You make a good point and no doubt we'll see lawsuits over this approach. Frankly, I'm surprised that music stores are this bold. Apparently, some feel it's worth testing the legal waters to see if they'll be able to swim.

It totally makes sense for the store, but I can't imagine that it'll last long, given how aggressive the music industry has been in protecting its rights.


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