TOO MUCH TOO LATE

W80pxtreeill you be signing up to ‘Tidal’, the music streaming service now owned by music royalty? (So pleasing to find out that the original name, when launched in Scandinavia in 2009, was WiMP)

I’ve been listening to discussions about how the re-launched service will create brand difference. It sounds as if this will be about offering exclusive services. It’s clearly a really difficult market in which to differentiate while simultaneously not alienating music fans. The category norm is now free streaming, after all.

I loved the term used by one analyst as he described this market.

He termed this market landscape a ‘post scarcity’ situation.

Post scarcity? Wow. Are we really?

And then as often happens, two examples popped up during the week that seemed to shout ‘scarcity is great’.
You may have read about, or got stuck in, the after effects of the underground fire in Holborn last week. Power cuts throughout the area for 36 hours; transport diverted, businesses closed. And theatre performances lost.
I just happened to be part of an audience during a power loss at a tiny theatre the day before.

It was thrilling.

We were given handwritten tickets (felt so special).  We sat in the dark for 20 minutes (everyone laughed and talked excitedly, like naughty children).  While we waited for a promised replacement generator, the Artistic Director sat awkwardly on a stool on the stage.  He answered questions and talked and joked and tried to find a torch. It felt spontaneous, human, and real.Penny Hunt's drawing of post scarcity  society

Real scarcity was so (temporarily) enjoyable.

Yes, the lights did wheeze back to life. But things had changed. The mood was different after the blackness; the audience was light hearted, and receptive. No tired cynicism – there was real enthusiasm and excitement.
I saw the same dynamic again hours later. It may or may not have been linked to the (then still burning) Holborn situation: the wi-fi in a hotel conference room refused to squeak into life as a team of 8 attempted to work together on a tricky presentation.

This wasn’t immediately so thrilling. The context is different: work rather than leisure. (Perhaps that explains the higher levels of initial grumpiness). But it got there. As soon as acceptance kicked in, everything changed. The team members talked to each other, made real contact, and had the most fantastic conversations. So much energy became available. It was the most successful working meeting I’ve been in for ages.

And all because something we now all treat as fundamental and essential was unavailable for a while.

Prompted by a music streaming expert, I now think differently about scarcity.

I think we could do with more, if you see what I mean.

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