Once again, technology has improved consumer options for music listening. And, once again, sadly, the music industry is predictably blowing the dust off its “Obtuse PR Tactics” textbook.
Litigation PR plays a big role in the school of obtuse PR, and offers perspective in understanding what’s about to unfold. When major corporate entities file lawsuits, smart public statements help advance the case in the court of public opinion. Not-so-smart public statements, conversely, can hamper public attitudes.
We’ve written before about how record labels are, ahem, tone deaf to consumer sentiment and public perception of mindless business practices. And they’re about to step in it all over again.
Background: Amazon has stolen the fickle tech spotlight by announcing its new cloud drive music service. Basically, people can now store digital music on an Amazon.com account and stream songs to integrated devices. This allows potentially limitless music storage, compared to the hard drive confines of a computer or portable music player.
In truth, Amazon’s move isn’t revolutionary technology; rather, it’s a smart assessment of consumer preferences and leverage of wireless bandwidth. We’d argue that the shift from cassettes to CDs was way more important, as that transition represented a dramatic boost in enjoying audio quality.
Regardless, the music industry seems ready to fight tooth and nail against advancements and technological trends. Here are choice music executive quotes on Amazon’s cloud:
• “Keeping legal options open.”
• “The locker service that Amazon is proposing is unlicensed by Sony Music.”
• “It sounds like legalized murder to me.” (Seriously?!?)
In other words, the record labels seem ready to bellow: “We will sue Amazon, as scorched-earth litigation PR is in our collective genome.” Instead of such statements, what if the RIAA, on behalf of the record labels, simply said:
“Cloud music is an interesting technology development. We’ll keep our eye on it.”
See that? Framing the industry’s official position as passively interested in no way compromises litigation potential. Such a statement certainly helps avoid negative headlines and mistaken context as the cloud music media narrative gains momentum. Better to be a bit mysterious and noncommittal in this case, as opposed to playing the oppressive tactic of “let’s sue ‘em into oblivion.”