Post #2 Connecting With Your Audience

•October 4, 2007 • 2 Comments

Whether or not you listen to “Radiohead” or even know who they are, they just changed your life.  A band from England, the group used to connect with its audience the old fashioned way, by having fans download it’s music illegally, (I mean buying those CDs) or by going to concerts.  The band’s record label pegged you as a criminal if you did the first and made money if you did the second.  The band made money when you did the third.  If I were “Radiohead” I wouldn’t be pleased, as this arrangement limited the band’s ability to connect with its audience, as many people could not or would not buy the band’s CDs for $14.99 when it only cost a buck to make.  And the band got relatively little from that spread, Capitol and Best Buy did.

So when the band’s contract with Capitol Records expired, it decided to take back control of the distribution of its music and income stream, by not resigning with Capitol.  This now left the band with no one to sell and market its music (aside from the band itself.)  So to reach more people and make more money, it decided to let its audience decide how much to pay for the music.  That’s right, you download the music and decide how much to pay for it.  And while many will no doubt download the music for free, (as they currently do) many others will pay something.  Either way, more people will listen to the band’s music (and since the band only made real money touring or selling t-shirts anyway, its downside is little.)

So what’s this got to do with the Library?  Without new web tools, “Radiohead” could not have reached out to expand its audience on its own, it needed new technologies to make this possible.  And those tools can be used by the Library to reach out, connect with and expand its audience too.  There are over 100 million Ipods walking around out there, so why not offer podcasts of books.  My mom will always visit the Library and pull out her card and check out a physical object we call a book.  It’s who she is.  My daughter would read more if she could download the book and listen to it on her commute to school.  It’s who she is.  And as my daughter will need the services of the Library for many more years than my mother will, shouldn’t the Library meet its audience where it is, and how it lives? (hint: my daughter will not be changing her habits and lifestyle to accomodate the Library, and when she gets a job and pays taxes and votes, she isn’t going to give the Library money just because, especially since she and her kind will be paying my Social Security.)

Change can be hard for some, and not everyone sees the need for change. What we did before was good enough.  But not for my daughter, and we need her more than she needs us (regardless of what we may think.)  We now have great new tools to reach out and connect with our audience.  Let’s use them.

Radiohead’s pay-what-you-think-it-is-worth new music is entitled “In Rainbows” and can be downloaded beginning Oct. 10 at inrainbows.com.

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Post #1 “If We Build It, Will They Come?”

•September 20, 2007 • 2 Comments

I was reading an article by Meredith Farkas in her “Technology in Practice” column in the Sept. 07 edition of “American Libraries” about Flickr (“Pixels Worth 1,000 Words,) about how a library can use Flickr to tell its story, when I realized that libraries and librarians face two major challenges in the Library 2.0 world. We are addressing the first by taking this class, becoming aware of and how to use new digital tools to stay relevant to those born in the post web world. Entering the profession and having an impact on content and policy making are important, but only the first step. Somewhat more daunting however, is how to make people aware of and use these new tools and the library, simply put, if we build it, will they come?

While a great first step (and an important one,) using Web 2.0 tools is not enough. The connection between the library and its users (how to get them, how to keep them) is the real challenge we face in the future. Just putting up Flickr pages, without any strategy to expand the user base is like preaching to the choir; those who use the library now will migrate to the new content, but how do we reach the “non-users,” those who currently do not use or know about libraries? In what ways will we market our services to those users we need most? (And yes I said market. Like it or not, we compete with Google, Facebook, Ipods, and Tivos for the eyes and ears of our public.) There are as many answers to this question as there are libraries and librarians, but it will only be answered if we change the way we reach out and connect. I may produce the best widget in the world, but if no one knows about it, all I have is the best widget sitting around doing nothing. Which is what we may all be doing in 20 years time if we don’t somehow make new connections with our public.

They will come, but not because we built it. They will come only if we meet them where they are, and give them something they do not already have. You. While we learn to code and blog, we need to think about how we will make these new connections, since that is what will determine our futures.

Thoughts matter.

•September 16, 2007 • Leave a Comment

In thinking what to name my blog, I realized that thoughts matter.  Mine will be posted here.  Share yours.