Monday, July 25, 2011

MTV Turns 30: What’s Next?

Back on August 1, 1981 a cable-TV station launched that would quickly change both how music was marketed and how television was viewed.  Interestingly, both have changed dramatically again.

Music Television, at the time of its debut, was quite new in many ways.  Cable television would be the hot new media in the 1980’s the way the Internet exploded on the scene in the 1990’s, radio in the 1920’s and television in the 1950’s.  What’s next?

I remember as a teenager watching videos, but not on MTV.  Growing up in Brooklyn we didn’t even have access to cable TV early on.  And when it was made available, my parents were slow to get it.  But I recall watching a local show called Friday Night Videos. It was great and so new.  But once MTV came on the scene, the unusual was normalized.  It got to the point that a record couldn’t be made unless the accompanying video was good enough to sell it.  Records became like the movie industry.  Just as a movie wouldn’t be released without a trailer, music couldn’t be sold without a great video.

Book trailers never caught on the same way.

The nation’s habits changed and competition  for video-playing grew.  The networks began losing viewership to specialized cable stations like MTV.  Imagine having dozens and then hundreds of viewing options open up after living your life only knowing from three networks and a few local stations that showed re-runs? Now we take the massive menu for TV fare for granted, along with on-demand, streaming options – not to mention a billion Web sites to choose from. We are in information overload – so much is available, so little is of quality.

Today, MTV does not play music videos often, nor are they the only station to play them. Music is no longer the domain of music stores. There are no music stores. Music is sold mostly online, typically as digital downloads, or at some generic warehouse store like Target.

What will be the next revolution in mass media?  It took hundreds of years from the time books were printed before weekly or daily newspapers were widely available.  Then came radio, network TV, Cable TV, and the Internet.  But in a short period of time, we’ve seen the Internet incorporate other media.  It went from e-mail and message boards to social networks, e-books, video channels, webinars, blogs, etc. fairly quickly.  I would expect a parallel Internet to come on the scene before the decade is out.  It will somehow be different, better and more engaging.  Or maybe it will be some type of cloned robot version of ourselves.  We’ll each get a computer program that we can personalize, like a DNA computer chip, and have some alternate version of ourselves living online.

Maybe the computer will just write and market our books, too.

Interview With Book Expo Events Director Steven Rosato

Book Marketing Buzz Blog conducted an email Q and A wit h the event director of BookExpo America, Steven Rosato. He has been in publishing for 14 years and shared the following insight:

1.       Steven, what will Book Expo look like five years from now?  In some ways BEA will remain very familiar.  In particular, authors will continue to be the focal point of attention at BEA.  BEA will also continue to be the gathering place for publishing, which is a substantive means of connecting while offering a sense of familiarity.  However, the way people connect pre-show and post show will be enhanced.  That interaction will be integrated into what happens at BEA and drive what people get out of it.  There will be more forms of media present and active in what they do at BEA.  I especially think the events that transpire at BEA will impact the reading world ‘outside’ simultaneously while BEA is taking place.  It is happening already through social media and it is only going in one direction. 

2.       How are you managing to keep up with the changes in book publishing and the needs of its participants so that you can deliver a quality service for them?  Experimenting and listening.  BEA’s primary focus is delivering a valuable experience for our attendees and exhibitors.  Staying close to both attendees and exhibitors lets us know what they value and what they need from BEA.  Being especially close to participants keeps us ahead of the curve because what is important in October is going to evolve and change by the time you get to May. Maintaining our communication allows us to make sure we are doing the right things for everyone.

3.       Blog World and New Media Expo is taking off. What is driving its success?  It is the future of marketing and communications.  Social Media is really still in its infancy but it is taking off because it delivers explosive results for the people that can master the needed skills and tools that are available.  It can be very broad in its application or very niche.   

4.       What do you love about being in the publishing industry?  I love relationships that I have forged over the years with so many wonderful and brilliant people.   It had made me a very active reader and something that I have been able to instill into my two boys.

5.       You are also in the convention business. What do you say to people who think they can rely on online communications rather than interacting in person at an industry event?  That is short- term thinking and delivers short-term results.  Trade shows continue to be an extremely valuable marketing tool in relation to all marketing mediums – which includes on-line.  Trade shows are incredibly efficient if you are engaged in a specific industry or segment.  Even for shows where I go and might not do a lot of business - I can meet with 40-50 exhibitors in one place – that is a huge value for what I spend and far more efficient than trying to see those people individually in their offices.  Also – there is a huge part of the trade show business that takes place on-line that drives success.  The core of the on-line experience is a forum to interact to specific communities and that is exactly what trade shows are – specific communities with like interests and needs.  

6.       More of book publishing is heading into self-publishing, selling books online, and publishing e-books. How do these factors weigh on BookExpo?  That has created a need for education and information.  It has certainly brought in a new transactional aspect to BEA with all the digital players using BEA as their launching pad.  BEA will continue to evolve with these changes.  For BEA to remain relevant it has to be a means of discovery for titles and authors that booksellers and influencers can consume that are useful to them and their businesses.  BEA will play the role of being the filter where gems can be discovered along side of the splashy big titles.

Brian Feinblum is the chief marketing officer of Planned Television Arts ( but the views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and are personal and do not reflect the official viewpoints of PTA. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at

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