I was at the museum to attend Digital Music Forum East, an annual gathering of music executives, content creators, thought leaders and influencers. The discussions focused on the intersection of music and technology.
Jobs were on the agenda. The speakers lamented the disruptive impact of technology and social media. Since the advent of Napster, there has been a steady decline in revenue. Although consumers are willing to pay for web-based entertainment such as Netflix and gaming, their price point for music is free.
To be sure, technology has disrupted other industries, including television, newspaper and publishing. And word up, you can “wave your hands in the air like you don't care.” But that's not a sustainable business model.
A better business strategy is to spot the trends and then Spotify. In stark contrast to the Recording Industry Association of America which sued music fans for file sharing, Spotify leveraged the social web and created a company that is valued at $1 billion and has nearly 900,000 Facebook fans.
Gary Shapiro, President and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association and author of “The Comeback: How Innovation Will Restore the American Dream,” said:
That's what innovation does. We come along and upset the apple cart...There are always shifts going on...The nature of life is change.
He advised against waiting for big companies to change:
They're protecting what they've done so they can't innovate...If a big company takes a risk, they put the whole company at risk.
Shapiro noted the perilous state of the economy presents three choices: raise taxes, cut spending or grow:
We are good at growth because we are innovators. We challenge the status quo...Innovation is our strength. We have to encourage innovation.
Also yesterday, the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness held its first meeting.
In his opening remarks, President Obama said:
We're going to have to up our game in this newly competitive world. And that means that we've got to out-educate every other country in the world. We're going to have to out-innovate every country in the world. We've got to make sure that we've got the best infrastructure to move people and goods and services throughout the economy.
Indeed, every business will have to up their game if they want to compete in the age of Web 2.0. That includes minority-owned businesses.
Innovation and competitiveness, the cornerstones of the 21st century economy, are essential ingredients for minority businesses to achieve present and future prosperity.
As we enter the second decade of this millennium, we believe that it is time for us to acknowledge and do something about the sobering fact that our real economic and education progress is not commensurate with the new and dynamic opportunities inherent in the global “Innovation Economy.”