The good news is that in an era of ubiquitous instant photography in just about everyone's hands and/or pockets, Polaroid is still in business. The bad news -- or good news, depending on how you look at it -- is that they're now in the music business.
That's right, "after more than 80 years of working at the intersection of art and science making products that inspire and empower creativity," Polaroid late last week announced its diversification into music vis a vis Polaroid Music, introducing a line of "music players," as well as an "experiential music discovery service" dubbed Polaroid Radio and the Polaroid Music app.
Never mind that the portable music player market is more than half a century old -- the Sony Walkman beget the MP3 player beget the iPod beget the iPhone, etc., etc., etc. -- the fascinating part of this announcement to me isn't the once mighty photography giant's pivot from still pictures to audio, it's that it reinforces an increasingly disruptive trend of fungible media. Not to mention the kind of media "line items," the media industry uses to calculate its size, dimensions and, well, where the money is going and coming from.
I've written a couple of times recently about one of the ad industry's chief calculators, GroupM's Business Intelligence team, and their soul-searching about the increasingly fungible nature of mediums -- what the GroupM team call "line items" -- and how it is getting increasingly difficult for them to add things up by singularly described media.
See last week's column about how the team groused about new data showing YouTube currently is the largest licensor of music and therefore also is the world's biggest "audio" platform, and well, how do you calculate that when you're also looking at the world's biggest distributor of video, not to mention search data?)
So I was already primed for this follow-up column when I received Polaroid's press release announcing that it also is now a music company.
And as a sidebar to that, I was struck by Warner Music's announcement that it has just recruited one of the guy's most responsible for YouTube's audio ascendance -- YouTube Chief Business Officer Robert Kyncl -- as its new CEO.
Or as The New York Times put it, "The record company behind Dua Lipa, Lizzo and Led Zeppelin has a new boss, and he comes from YouTube."
Thanks to GroupM's Brian Wieser and Kate Scott-Dawkins recent musings, I was not surprised by that appointment, and it made clear sense -- obvious even -- to me, because media is now that fungible. And therefore, so is the expertise behind it.
So Polaroid can now be a music company. And the head of business operations for YouTube could be the head of one of the largest music companies.
Next time you stumble across the blurring of a media line item, drop me a note at email@example.com, and we'll add that to our trend watch.