Decoding The Napster Renaissance: How Sean Parker Played B2C Content into B2B

It’s 2016. We find it criminally easy to find our latest beats on YouTube. Some get theirs on NetFlix, others are brave enough to venture as far out as Vimeo. And it’s easy to imagine the commercial symphony that accompanies such digital grandeur.

A gentle disclaimer before things get all serious and technical (not!); My knowledge of the digital marketing ecosystem supercedes my scientific temperament. Hence there’s a one-in-a-million chance that this piece will deliver anything remotely close to – well, closure. I think it might just be a finite series of taunts on the historical sinewaves of the OTT timeline. For purely speculative purposes, let’s revert back to chronology.

Shomprakash Sinha Roy Head of Digital Marketing Amagi Media Labs
It’s the late ninetiesSean Parker delivers a fatal blow to the paid music industry. Tower Records, Death Row, Tips Music, HMV and many more goliaths face extinction, thanks to a wonderful new Software-As-A-Product model – mp3 files stored and delivered on a peer-to-peer storage network (a manual cloud, I like to call it).

Cloud based content delivery. That’s right, boys and girls. Although decades apart in efficiency and automation, the Napster network essentially secured the foundation for the future of cloud-enabled delivery.

Back to the 90s – the easy availability of mp3 files slowly eats into, and finally consumes the economy of paid, licensed music. Think about it – since the turn of the millenium, how many cassetes or CDs have you purchased? Excluding the thrill of being an iTunes/Apple Music evangelist of course.
The industry was dead. And then Sean Parker did his thing, invested in Facebook, plugged in a little jailtime, got really really famous, was brought to life on screen by Justin Timberlake, and life’s pretty good for him, I guess. Meanwhile, scores of aspiring entrepreneurs owned up to the mammoth responsibility of leveraging the ‘Napster momentum’.
An online dating website morphed itself into arguably the world’s largest video content publishing and delivery platform. YouTube single-handedly emerged as the winner of the delivery-clone wars. Vimeo, DailyMotion and a few other mini-giants survived the test of time and established themselves within scores of browser bookmarks. NetFlix was quick to respond, and how! Almost overnight, the online content delivery and consumption market redesigned the economics of digital advertising. Brands wanted their impressions on million-view marvels, and once again, monetization became an even more lucrative reality for content owners. Alongside revolutionaries of the YouTube era such as Lady Gaga and lil’ Canadian sensation (our man Bieber), many ‘official’ channels cropped up on behalf of leading record labels. Many were quick to transition into their own delivery platforms to make the best of a seemingly eternal truce with money. ErosNow led the game in India, taking control of the delivery of its online content through a self-operated portal. TVFPlay was setup by Arunabh Kumar, Amit Golani, Biswapati Sarkar and gang to spike up the revenue share gained from their viewership.

Suddenly, a new business model had evolved into the scene. Content owners were now making money from brands and advertisers, while consumers received their content for free. In short, this revolution transformed the content-creation and delivery business from a B2C centric revenue stream, to a robust B2B framework.

Licensed delivery to free distribution.
Fixed storage to P2P hosting.
Manual P2P network to automated cloud.
Earnings per sale, to earnings per view.
I’d call that a renaissance. Won’t you?

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