From The Editor's Desk
Have had this article in my head for a long, long time. What you are about to read will have one of two outcomes. These consist of:
1. We all work together to inspire people to enjoy the music to its fullest.
2. We stay happily in our comfort zone, perhaps never truly reaching our potential.
What spurred me writing this are some personal realizations. Long story short is that while Enjoy the Music.com has done so very much for so many, I personally have failed to achieve my goal. Due to this site I wonder how many people have we truly reached into discovering the joys of music through higher quality audio equipment. How many people hear the music as the artist(s) truly intended when in the recording studio? Hearing music with the same passion and inspiration as when it was created. Perhaps my goals are set too high, or ambition has gotten the better of me, yet we know about Rolex. And how about Ferrari? Go up to someone and ask them about Ferrari and see how much they know. Rolex may be a bit trickier, yet they at least know the brand and why it is generally considered high quality.
Now let us compare this to an entire industry called high-end audio. Go up to someone and ask them about high-end audio or name some 'major' audiophile brand. What happens? So yes, if I am to be honest with myself and look back at my personal ability to create and then reach some form of common knowledge concerning high-end audio to the masses, or at least greatly enhance some minor curiosity about our industry, then yes I alone have missed the mark.
During the recent T.H.E. Show Newport Beach 2013 event I had the honor of being part of a 'Meet The Editors' session moderated by the man who literally wrote books on high-end audio; editor of The Absolute Sound Robert Harley. A very important question was asked regarding as to why virtually no one knows about the high-end audio industry in America. While others on the panel gave informative answers, my admitting personal anger toward myself reply was "Because we suck at marketing! I can't be any more blunt than that." At first blush that was a bit, well, not the most delicate answer nor the most tactful. Yet the point still remains, why is it few know about the joys of music via high-end audio? Yes, shall stand by the basic premise of my answer... and now will allow you to dive deeply into my mindscape.
The below article was created with this music for background. Please click play and then continue reading as the music unfolds in the background. Oh, and of course enjoy the music!
And now... the music.
A Business Plan We Can All Benefit From
We rebrand high-end audio to better reflect our goal rather than the industry itself. The terms 'high-end audio' and 'audiophile' are dead to the masses. Don't blame me, I didn't kill it. None of us did! Remember: We are all saints and sinners. We are all equal. What we did was neglected it in the marketing sense and it died. To beat the proverbial dead horse once more, what I mean is, consumers hear those words and.... You know. So rebranding is a must imho. We'll call it, for example only, 'True Music™' as this phrase came to me in my sleep and the phrase "Be True To Your Music™" rings with delight! After all, we represent equipment that aims to be true to your music. It works on both the mental and, equally to perhaps more critical emotional level for consumers. When you hear this phrase you 'get it', provided someone tells the public what to 'get'. (The ™ is there because i am keeping full rights on the phrases " True Music™" and "Be True To Your Music™").
What I see within our industry is a vast quality, and quantity, of resources that are being wasted. Said resources could be utilized to achieve our goal. Yes we need strong marketing. Of course marketing without the ability to deliver is stupid and let's face it, we already have the high-end equipment, we already have the ability to deliver apps, we have great guys who have written books to help the newbies, we have the entire high-end audio press literally 'in our pockets', and, most important of all the high-resolution music from HDtracks, 2L, Naim, etc to support this initiative.
We need to form an audio standard that represents True Music, so the public easily know the difference between mp3 and low-fi products from true quality. Loosely think of THX as an example where consumers saw a logo and this said to them it passed a certain criteria. The kicker here just to tease you before I break down the details and various revenue streams, major record labels always love reselling the same music over and over again. And with mp3 being so, like, you know, 'yesterday's hardware n' stuff', and so this new True Music™ re-branding with logo will be gladly grabbed by them accordingly. It allows them to resell the same music for some marketable reason, and it helps if some highly respected industry is endorsing it too. Be honest, the CD beat out the LP in the eyes of consumers. Why? You know what format is better. But it was the marketing combined with convenience that won. Yet now we are at the very cusp of high rez audio file playback ability for the masses in all their devices. Now is the time!
Having a great idea is great, but equally as important is timing.
Be at the right place at the right time!
FACT: Soon we are going to be getting mobile devices with the new Wolfson Microelectronics WM5110, the industry's first quad core High Definition (HD) Audio Processor System-on-a-Chip (SoC). This new highly-integrated, low power HD Audio Processor with advanced DSP feature set is designed to deliver HD Audio performance of 24-bit/192kHz for smartphones, tablet computers and portable multimedia devices. Ok, that's only one of our hooks in. It is not the only key, but it can be big-ish if we want it to be. These cell phone hardware companies are always looking for ways to tout how their technology is excellent because said device can do this, that, and the other thing. Again, this is not key, yet does mean now high rez files will play in many devices seamlessly for the masses on mainstream devices. Said hardware will soon be in new phones/tablets to be exploited to our benefit.
So Now The Details
So what do we need to market basically? Well, we need a logo/phrase that reflects our goal and how upon them seeing/hearing said logo/catchphrase it triggers them to instantly know what it means and why. Woke up this morning (2nd day of constructing this article) and the term 'True Music™' and phrase 'Be True To Your Music™' came to mind. Without a solid foundation for humans to link to, both mentally and emotionally, then there is nothing to build upon. We need music to go along with our scheme, right? Well, I bet that within two seconds you can name three different great guys capable of producing great music who are within the high-end audio industry. The video side is also relatively easy as we also have audiophiles who, as an extension, are videophiles (or vice versa). These are top level people we have within our industry too!
Then we need faces. Very famous ones. Front men and woman – musicians, engineers, etc -- who have a great message and can reach the masses. I bet you if we even gave it half an effort we could get three or four big name musical artists aboard. Am sure Wilson Audio has some clients, or perhaps Manley Labs... or Antelope Audio. Maybe Chad of Acoustic Sounds has the connections we need or some NYC, Miami, Tennessee or LA based reviewer? So we need perhaps three 'ambassadors' of the industry per se to start with as preparation. One to reach the 'old guard', call it a demographic from 40 on up. Then we need someone who can reach the craving-to-be-cool youth, say 16 to 25 year olds. Lastly, someone who can bridge it all together with passion and vision that reaches everyone, especially those affluent types who want to aspire to what is widely considered to be great things, including having the best within their home.
I'll get to money thing too because... you know why. First it will take effort far more than funds to get the marketing materials and strategic plan ready to launch. Many people within our industry built our companies from virtually nothing and so we can do it once more! But imagine that you are being helped worldwide by everyone within the industry including enthusiasts. Once we have the logo/catchphrase protected by international law; an organization is setup accordingly.
Then comes action by members of the press, signage at retailers and logos on products plus the aid of said front men and women plus you, the music-loving public. We have it all to launch at the same time. Sure press coverage within our own publications is easy, buy how about using sister publications and connections we have made with other publications, TV, top musicians, recording engineers, etc. Have everyone write an article everywhere we can with our logo and catchphrase. Connect emotionally with your audience; inspire them!
Meanwhile we go to vinyl record stores asking them to put the logo in their window and on high quality music (quality vinyl pressings, digital 24-bit/88kHz+ and DSD discs). We pull some favors, because we as a group have helped so many yet asked for so very little in return over the years. Am sure many of them are wise enough to realize the fact that this new rebranding will bring them added revenue as they can resell their music, get consumers aware of higher quality equipment, or whatever part of the industry they are in, will benefit financially. Time to cash in some favors folks because it's payback time!
Naturally we'd have social media blitz, with all of us 'sharing' the logo/phrase to continue consumer awareness/market saturation plus, if you insist, the organization formed will use crowdfunding to kickstart this effort. Said logo/catchphrase will be licensed at a very reasonable rate, as we want to idea of the 'rebranded' high-end audio industry to True Music™ or whatever we call it to spread to the masses. Market saturation. Signs in the front of high-end audio stores showing they offer True Music™ hardware/software. High rez files on digital music download sites carrying the same logo. Even cell phones that will soon handle 24-bit/192kHz files can be labeled True Music™ COMPATIBLE... with the proper external equipment that will carry the same logo of course. Files and hardware capable of 24-bit/88kHz+ can be silver logo, with 24-bit/192kHz+ being gold colored, 24-bit/386kHz Platinum with gold trim...
If we all join forces to gorilla market with stickers, flyers, articles in magazines, etc, just think of how many people we could reach worldwide, together (this includes you, our loyal readers). When many people hear said phrase 'True Music™'... they know. Look at Beats By Dr. Dre as an example. Seven or so years ago if you heard the word Beats you probably thought of beets. So why is it we, the entire so-called high-end industry, do not have some organization with a commercially viable phrase/logo so that when people see or hear it, they know.
You want more money ideas. Have many yet will tease you with this one that can benefits us all. Every video cable has been through at least two or three versions over our lifecycle, so why are we still using the lackluster RCA connector for audio? Engineers out there know what I mean. We can create a new industry standard connector far better than the lousy RCA. Video-wise, we all went from coax to another coax for composite video to S-Video... to HDMI, so why not have a proper high-end audio connection; licensed for use of course. Let us all finally use something truly high-end for True Music™ signal transfer.
Am sure the cable guys are drooling at that plan and knowing the increased sales. Thinking mid-term, about two to three years from now streaming services will also license the logo/phase to show customers they are offering a high XYZ kbs stream or higher once bandwidth allows. Naturally said services can charge their customers more for better quality audio streams accordingly, yet by this time customers have heard the difference, know our licensed-to-them logo and what it means. It is easy to hear, and easy to scientifically prove, that what we represent is the Next Generation of music after the mp3 since, like, you know, mp3 is soooo yesterday! You want True Music™ if you really want the best.
When planning for a year, plant corn.
And so I envision us working together... as preparation meets the opportunity we created. This rebranding of the industry helps everyone from those who love music and want higher enjoyment to manufacturers, dealers and the recording labels too! It is indeed something worthy of our time. An honorable goal worth achieving. And that goal is to bring higher musical pleasure to people all over the world. We can do it! You must believe....
Star Wars Episode V
YODA: "No! No different! Only different in your mind. You must unlearn what you have learned."
LUKE: (focusing, quietly) All right, I'll give it a try.
YODA: No! Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try.
LUKE: (Luke tries and fails. He is now discouraged) "You want the impossible!"
Quietly Yoda turns toward the X-wing fighter. With his eyes closed and his head bowed, he raises his arm and points at the ship. Soon, the fighter rises above the water. Luke stares in astonishment as the fighter settles down on dry ground. Luke walks towards Yoda.
LUKE: "I don't... I don't believe it."
YODA: "That is why you fail."
We can do it! Together. Make a good showing and reach out together as a force to make this happen. You are Yoda and you know "There is no try". We have the people; we have the raw resources and virtually everything in our favor including timing. We can grasp at this opportunity and time it right, thus expanding and be proud as the mainstream viability of high resolution music, True Music™, reaches consumers and they learn there is equipment that fully supports their True Music™ desires. It could be those who aspire to having the best (prestige), for those who are deeply passionate about the music.... This is not a debate; this is --- as I see it -- a business logic/mathematic fact as it pertains to emotionally and logically creating something the consumer feels they need, then filling that need with the appropriate products/solutions. Hopefully there are Trekkies out there as we all remember...
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
SPOCK: "That is wise. In any case, were I to invoke logic, logic clearly dictates that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.
KIRK: Or the one.
High-end audio needs you to benefit us all! The above are very broad strokes quite frankly as have far more detail-oriented plans of action and in the order for which they may need to be implemented. Have given us all a possibly workable marketing plan, the way to implement it, how we can create demand and then fill said demand... plus of course monetize it to keep the organization self-sustaining/evolving forward and, most important of all, we finally reach a far broader audience than we of high-end audio have achieved in decades. If not now, then when?
Me? I just want to be inspired by the music and simply desire others to enjoy it to the fullest. To be able to enjoy it as the musical artists had intended. To achieve this via high resolution music files being played through high fidelity audio gear, True Music, makes logical and emotional sense to me. My door is always open and welcome other journalists to expand on these thoughts in their own magazine. Feel free to aid in this broad stroke idea to your readers. Make changes to it because you have a better plan. Please feel free to write to me and will gladly publish your thoughts on this site if you so wish. We want to hear everyone's' thoughts and feelings on this matter.
"We know your idea is crazy, but is it crazy enough?" – From some Zen book I read years ago.
You may say that I'm a dreamer...
And Now To The Lawyers
For this is no single person's idea. It is not for me, this is 'by' and 'for' all of us. So I wrote this article in hopes the industry finds a commercially viable way to reach a broader audience, resulting in more people enjoying music to a higher degree, which leads to higher sales for the industry. We all benefit, together. After well over 17 years with this humble 5700+ page website, I have not been able to achieve this goal per se. So for now, in my own personal case as I said at the beginning of this article, I feel like I, and I alone, have failed.
When you have nothing, you have nothing to lose.
And so put the proverbial pen to paper... and this is what happened. True Music... Be true to your music.... or something like that. As I said, that phrase was just something I came up with while waking up this morning (day two of constructing this article). Again this is not my idea, this is ours. It is not for me alone to implement, we need everyone working together. And so am handing off this business plan/idea to you to do with it as you wish. It is now yours and you control its destiny. You can lead the charge. We as an industry can be 'cool' and relevant (again) in the eyes of mainstream consumers, like Beats is today... and hi-fi was back in the 1960's/1970's. People will once again aspire to have high-end audio within their home. Our industry is undergoing a renaissance. We need to see the proverbial forest; not argue over who owns each and every tree.
Because for the first time in recorded music history true high resolution music, and equipment equal to the recording studio it was produced within, is now widely available to everyone via True Music. We want people to enjoy the music, faithfully, as the artists created. To be true to your music.
Have had this article in my head for a long, long time. What you just read will have one of two outcomes. These consist of:
1. We all work together to inspire people to enjoy the music to its fullest.
2. We stay happily in our comfort zone, perhaps never truly reaching our potential.
TED: Amanda Palmer: The Art of Asking
As always, in the end what really matters is that you...
We don't enjoy the music because it's cute. We enjoy the music because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion...
Tyll Hertsens... you know why my good friend.