The New York Post yesterday covered the business model and practices of Britain-based Sanctuary Group, an investment firm that represents two of the heavy-metal bands performing as part of the Ozzfest; produces T-shirts, DVD’s, and concert tours; and operates Sanctuary Records. That label has been credited with keeping much of the back catalog of musical groups such as Judas Priest, Slayer, Slipknot, and Black Sabbath (some overseas) in print and available to new generations — and lifelong — fans.
It’s an interesting strategy — and one worth noting if you work in the music industry. There will always be people who want a record by a specific artist. (Case in point, Howard Schultz’s comments about James Taylor.) Teenagers introduced to punk rock often buy the same canonical releases as a rite of passage and self-education — is there any other reason why Exploited and Discharge records are still produced? Same goes for goths — Siousxie Sioux and the Banshees — and proto-emo indie-rock sadsters — the Smiths. There will always be recording artists with lifelong value — regardless of the trajectory their careers have taken. (Witness the recent reunion of Bow Wow Wow as Exhibit A.) If they fall off the charts, should they fall off the production schedule?
In other forms of business, what is the corollary? Companies such as Blue Q depend on ever-changing product mixes so their product lines stay fresh. Ditto, the Body Shop, although it’d be great if they reintroduced their ginger shampoo.
True, not all SKUs need to remain alive forever, as research attests. But what products and services do you currently offer that are perennial and evergreen?