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Learning from the music industry: Hire solutions to the problem

There's a way out of the music industry's current problems, but it's not by recreating the successes of the past. It's by creating the successes of the future.

We're putting the music industry to the sword today, because I just discovered this wonderful blog (The Future of Music), written by Dave Kusek (what is it about those Stanford anarchists?), and it's overflowing with great material.

Kusek points to an interesting Wired article on Doug Morris, chair and CEO of Universal Music Group. Morris suggests that the music industry has been pillaged by technology...yet he was powerless to stop the carnage:

"There's no one in the record company that's a technologist....That's a misconception writers make all the time, that the record industry missed this. They didn't. They just didn't know what to do. It's like if you were suddenly asked to operate on your dog to remove his kidney. What would you do?"

Personally, I would hire a vet. But to Morris, even that wasn't an option. "We didn't know who to hire," he says, becoming more agitated. "I wouldn't be able to recognize a good technology person -- anyone with a good bull[] story would have gotten past me." Morris' almost willful cluelessness is telling. "He wasn't prepared for a business that was going to be so totally disrupted by technology," says a longtime industry insider who has worked with Morris. "He just doesn't have that kind of mind."

Sounds like gross negligence to me. If your industry is clearly changing then hire people who can help to understand and channel those changes for the good of your business. Isn't that Morris' fiduciary duty?

The software industry is changing, too. We need more operators who understand subscription-based businesses. We don't need yesterday's executives clinging to yesterday's business models. There's a way forward. It's forward.