Because That's The Way It Has Always Been

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Floating through my news feeds this morning, I noticed this item from Wired: Happy Birthday, Compact Disc. Now Go Away. Did you know that yesterday was the 26th birthday of the CD?

"On this day in 1982, Sony and Philips Consumer Electronics released the first CDs to the German public, forever changing the way music would be distributed, marketed, consumed and appreciated. Now would be a great time to change it all again."

The Wired Blog posting goes on to chat all about why it’s time to let go of CDs and move on.

The story reminds me of why traditional mass advertising is so powerful. Over the years, I’ve been privy to some fascinating studies/research that shows media adoption and cross media interaction (mostly through comScore). All of them demonstrate what you would suspect: Internet is up, up, up and everything else is either down or stagnant. It also shows that people are moving from other channels (in terms of time spent) to the Internet. The other – more relevant – piece of data illustrates the percentage of time people spend with the Internet (as an overall media channel) and how the percentage of overall advertising dollars does not even come close to co-relating.

There’s no logical reason as to why this is, so we chalk it all up to one of my least favourite sayings: "because that’s the way it has always been."

The music industry continues to suffer because that’s how they think. They’re still trying to figure out ways to get people to pay for plastic or sue them for downloading music versus figuring out a new business model.

According to Wikipedia, the term "mass media" was "coined in the 1920s with the advent of nationwide radio networks, mass-circulation newspapers and magazines, although mass media (like books and manuscripts) were present centuries before the term became common." If this is accurate, the idea of mass media has only been around for under one hundred years.

When I think about time, I think about that scene in An Inconvenient Truth where Al Gore demonstrates the temperature of the earth since they have been able to measure it. What you quickly realize is that one hundred years in the history of humanity is not a very long time at all. In fact, it’s hardly a blip on the radar.

If you’re a Marketer or an Entrepreneur, take this into serious consideration every day. The longer you find yourself falling into the "that’s the way it has always been" trap, the harder it is going to be for you to adapt, grow and take your business to the next level. We can’t rest on our laurels, and platitudes are not going to increase your market share and grow your brand awareness.

Here’s a Monday morning thought: What if mass media is not the way it has always been? What if the past one hundred years was just our phase of adjustment for the advertising and communications industry? What if what we’re starting to see right now in these online channels is what advertising and communications is really all about? Is it possible that if we jumped ahead three hundred years and looked back on 1920 – 2008 that we would laugh about how we created and executed all of our marketing initiatives (much in the same way we do when we see a TV clip from the sixties)?

“If you have always done it that way, it is probably wrong.” – Charles Kettering – Inventor.


  1. Until every computer comes with integrated and faultless backup, I will still prefer the CD for purchasing music.
    I own CDs that are 20 years old, and they work perfectly. Can we say the same about DRM-ed music 20 years from now, assuming we haven’t accidentally deleted the files?
    The Time Machine software that comes with every Mac is a good start, but it’s not a long term solution. We’re already heavily invested in digital media, and we don’t have any reliable method to make sure that a stray cosmic ray doesn’t destroy the precious things we create.

  2. I bet if the record labels had a time machine they would head back to this date and “un-invent” the CD. That was the day that they effectively mass-released “masters” of the recording and “lost control” forever.
    Thank god.
    You wouldn’t be surprised to hear that I have other ideas about that.. but we will save that for another blog post πŸ˜‰
    To your thought… I believe that our great great great great grandkids reviewing a dude dressed as a chicken and told to “do the funky chicken” will actually barrel laugh out of their moon boots.
    Congrats on TI Toronto… nice!

  3. You’re right about that Jim. I guess the crux of this Blog posting was less about data storage management and more about business mind-set.
    If you’re hell bent on selling plastic or advertising on television and not paying attention to where the consumers are or going… then beware.
    That being said, I am loving my external 500gb hard drive… it’s all of my goodness stored on it πŸ™‚

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