Case | HBS Case Collection | October 2009 (Revised March 2012)

Nettwerk: Digital Marketing in the Music Industry

by John A. Deighton and Leora Kornfeld

Abstract

How is music marketed in the digital era? Nettwerk Music Group built on its foundation as a social, grassroots marketer of music and artists and emerged as a leader in the Internet-enabled social media environment. For most of the past decade Nettwerk CEO Terry McBride let fans consume music on their own terms. He encouraged file-sharing, the remixing of his artists' songs and videos, and an environment in which "the audience is the record company." In the digital marketplace compact discs mattered much less, said McBride. "Digital assets" were the currency, in the form of ad, television, movie, and videogame song placement, ringtones, mixes, and community-created content. But new artist-label contracts were needed if digital assets were going to flow freely. Moving away from the infrastructure of the music business also meant having to do without the financial, logistical, and promotional power of the major labels. To provide an alternative to the muscle of the major labels, the company is launching a venture capital project called "Polyphonic."

Keywords: Music Entertainment; Product Marketing; Network Effects; Sales; Social and Collaborative Networks; Online Technology; Media and Broadcasting Industry; Music Industry;

Citation:

Deighton, John A., and Leora Kornfeld. "Nettwerk: Digital Marketing in the Music Industry." Harvard Business School Case 510-055, October 2009. (Revised March 2012.)