The 21st Century Hit Factory

As the web becomes more mobile and apps become more important, the importance of app store placement becomes increasingly critical.

In the 1970s and early 80's, music distribution was controlled by a few key record labels. Music broadcast was controlled by a few key media channels.

In the UK it was Top of the Pops on the TV, maybe The Old Grey Whistle Test for Rock. Radio 1 was the radio channel. In the 80's we saw the rise of MTV.


The was the era of hits. A few artists were superstars. It's no co-incidence that some of the biggest global names in Rock and Pop came from this era; Led Zepplin, ABBA, Rolling Stones, Madonna, Elton John, U2 etc.

What changed?

  1. Media channels increased exponentially
  2. The cost of production and distribution dropped massively with digital content

In the 21st century we're no longer in the era of hits. There is now more choice than ever and any kind of music can be accessed digitally, instantly. You like Skate Punk? You can have as much as you like, whenever you like? Reggae, Rockabilly, Trance? Ditto.

An new anomoly to the death of hits is the rise of YouTube as a broadcast channel for artists. YouTube has infinite shelf space. Yet it produces hits. Gangnam Style would not have been a global hit without YouTube.

My point is this;
Hits are created when there is a dominant distibution channel.

In the era of the mobile web, we're starting to see dominant distribution channels;

  1. Amazon and eBay for eCommerce
  2. Google and Baidu for search
  3. Apple and Google App stores for apps
  4. Facebook for social referrals

And as such we're starting to see hits.

This means that companies will need to be either;

**A) Dominant in their market. **

For generic propositions with a mass market, a market leader position will be essential. Increasingly the winner will take all. Being the biggest and well known will be reinforced by strong distribution in the major channels.


**B) Be the best niche / vertical player. **

The alternate to winning via a market leader position is to go niche and do just one thing but do it so much better than the generic players, ideally internationally.


The gateway to the mobile web is the app stores. There are only so many apps that can be featured.

In our team meeting today, someone quipped "If content is king, distribution is queen". Too true.

The app stores are to apps what Radio 1 and the Top 40 were to music in the 1970's.

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