The Beatles, Music Streaming, and Financial Advice

Published by Robert W. Huntley, CFP®, CHFC®

I went to a show recently performed by the Beatles tribute band called “Rain.” It celebrated the 50th anniversary of the album Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

That album was said to be groundbreaking for several reasons. It was sonically, unlike anything we’d heard out of the boys from Liverpool. But it was also the debut of the so-called “theme album.”

It was fun being in a room full of couples in their 50’s, 60’s and 70’s all taking a trip back in time to their formative years for a couple of hours. You could see the nostalgia on the faces. Smiles from ear to ear. Dancing like it was Woodstock all over again.

In between sets, they ran old network TV commercials. By far the crowd favorite was of Fred and Barney of the Flintstones doing a Winston cigarette commercial as part of their cartoon story. My how times have changed.

It wasn’t lost on me that on the same day we were watching this throwback tribute to the Beatles, something else happened. One of the most popular music streaming services today went public on the same day.

The industry has been in transition big-time since digital music became a thing on the internet. Kids learned how to steal downloaded tracks on Napster and the proverbial horse was out of the barn.

Steve Jobs came to the “rescue” of the industry by making it cool to buy and download one track at a time to your new pocket device. People could suddenly listen to whatever they wanted to on demand and carry it with them all the time.

But then something else happened, services started offering songs online by streaming them to your device. That’s what this company pioneered, and they have a solid lead worldwide on the other players trying to catch up.

Who will win the race is anybody’s guess at this time. I certainly do not know. But I do find it fascinating that as we watch these throwback bands, even in the form of tribute bands, this new technology is marching on. It’s taking the entire music business and turning things upside down.

No longer is music built around the album and tours resting on 2-3 year album release cycles.

Today, it’s about the individual song. And it’s about building a community of people who like your collection of individual songs. And they can listen all the time, on demand, anywhere they have WIFI or cell service.

Also, music rights holders get paid an annuity stream of income instead of a big advance that they work years to hopefully pay back to the label.

Times are changing in all industries. The music industry is just one of the more visible examples.

One thing we spend a lot of time thinking about at our firm and with our Partners in the Carson Group Partner network, is how this tidal wave of tech will impact our ability to serve our clients. It’s not bad. It’s just changed. And change brings danger. But it also brings opportunity.

Just as with music delivery, there will be winners and losers in the financial advice space. We are working to become the most trusted firm for financial advice.

Technology is helping us accomplish that purpose by making it easier to offer meaningful education, improve transparency and offer performance and plan data on demand.

Change is constant. I like the old saying, “You can’t control the wind, but you can adjust your sails”.

To all this, I say “Carpe Diem”! Here’s to interesting times!


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