The Mix Tape, Vol. 10
We’ve reached double-digits. Double-up, double-down or double-take—in any case we’re on to Volume Ten.
Once the world’s dominant dealer of Teen Wolf Too video tapes and exorbitant late fees, Blockbuster Video is down to one last location, in Bend, Oregon.
The Bend store became a Blockbuster franchise in 2000. It has about 4,000 active accounts and signs up a few fresh ones each day, Ms. Harding said. Some of the new customers are tourists who have t raveled hours out of their way to stop in.
The common belief is that Netflix, with it’s one-two punch of a home DVD mail service, and later, streaming, did Blockbuster in.
That’s true, sort of.
But before taking a TKO, Blockbuster counter-punched Netflix with its own streaming service, bundled in a “Total Access” package that included in-store rentals.
And it was working. Blockbuster had Netflix on the ropes, but didn’t finish the job.
Politics. Blockbuster’s CEO, John Antioco, got into an argument about his bonus with top investor and board member Carl Icahn (who had previously approved the bonus structure).
Antioco quit, and Icahn brought in Jim Keyes from 7-Eleven who derailed the “Total Access” strategy, allowing Netflix to stage a comeback that would have made Rocky envious. Blockbuster never recovered:
Not only did Blockbuster execs sell their stock upon hearing the new strategy—they actually bought Netflix stock!
The photo above is from a Twitter thread summarizing Blockbuster’s missteps as shared in the book “Netflixed.” It’s worth a read, just to remember that hubris and confirmation bias can take any of us off-course. (And to laugh at high-powered execs doing super-dumb things. A little schadenfreude.)
So often we are our own worst enemies. Corporations are no different.
7-Eleven … at the mall?
Speaking of 7-Eleven, I noticed an odd sign recently at the local mall.
7-Eleven is moving into new spaces. Malls seem to have excess capacity these days, so why not?
Gary Bowman, a senior real estate representative for 7-Eleven, told Tysons Reporter the company is looking to venture into “nontraditional sites.”
“We’re such a large brand,” Bowman said, adding that 7-Eleven wants to provide its services in more than just the standalone buildings customers are used to seeing. The new concept for the stores includes eyeing malls with high traffic counts, he said.
This might seem like a bad idea. Many malls are struggling, after all.
But guess what? Gen Z likes shopping in the real world!
While it's "kind of counter-intuitive,'' Johns says, "these generations that have grown up with digital connectivity really love to be in physical spaces. So I think changing those environments to respond to what the younger generations, the millennials, and Generation Z, are looking for is part of the better mall developers' strategy.’’
Some high-traffic malls are learning that replacing Sears with rock climbing or other “experiences” brings in younger patrons. Malls are adjusting and some are on the comeback trail.
So look for Slurpees and barely identifiable rotisserie hot dog-like items, clutched in the hands of Gen Z-teens, at a mall near you soon.
Grounded by American Airlines
Steven Rothstein was a man with an unlimited, lifetime airline pass—until American Airlines decided it wasn’t unlimited after all:
In 1987, amidst a lucrative year as a Bear Stearns stockbroker, my father became one of only a few dozen people on earth to purchase an unlimited, lifetime AAirpass. A quarter of a million dollars gave him access to fly first class anywhere in the world on American for the rest of his life.
For 20 years, he was one of American’s top fliers, accumulating more than 30 million miles, which he acquired every time he flew, even with the AAirpass.
Then, on December 13, 2008, American took the AAirpass away.
At least American was really classy about the way it terminated the agreement:
“We went to the airport. I went into the ticket counter. I checked in my luggage for London. I walked to the gate — after going through security — and just as I was walking on the plane, they handed me a letter terminating the AAirpass,” Dad recounts. “Why did they let me go to the gate? Why didn’t they tell me upfront, which would have been the nice thing to do.”
Turns out a letter had been drafted to notify Dad that they were concerned with his behavior and use of the pass. But they decided not to send it. They didn’t want the bad press — what it might mean to terminate a lifetime AAirpass from a frequent flyer. So they terminated it without warning, at the airport — a gut-punch, right into Dad’s proverbial heart.
This seems like a story about a rich guy misusing and losing his privilege, but there’s a lot more to it.
Rothstein lost his 15-year old son a few years before losing the pass. Not only did he lose his son, but he lost a method of keeping his family together, as he often flew his family on trips with him.
Rothstein is still tied up in court with American, is divorced, and has lived in numerous places around the world since, seemingly looking for himself.
The Dave Matthews Money Machine
Last week, the Dave Matthews Band came through Tampa, as they do pretty much every summer.
I’m not sure how many times I have seen DMB in the last 20 years—probably eight or ten times in total.
But apparently that’s not many shows, compared to the die-hard fans who fuel Dave’s $300 million net worth:
The band knows how to court its fans and turn that obsessiveness into cold hard cash. For instance, at the recent "Labor Dave" set of shows at The Gorge in Washington State over Labor Day weekend, the band played three consecutive nights to a captive crowd that camps at the venue in order to see them. During those three shows, the boys played 63 songs—without a single repeat—and during the second of the three shows played a song (Cry Freedom) for the first time on the 2016 tour. Unlike Bon Jovi, who plays the same set list night after night, DMB plays a different set list every single night. THAT is why fans see 2, 3, 4, 15, etc. shows a tour. The Dave Matthews Band has never had a tour that didn't turn a big profit.
The touring strategy works. Last year, DMB brought in the 29th most revenue of any music act, at $15.1 million, and 80% of that money came from touring.
(Here we are, doing our part to keep the DMB’s struggling little enterprise afloat.)
I don’t know about your market, but local radio in Tampa is … generally awful.
So for me it’s Apple Music, Sirius/XM, streaming Detroit sports radio, or, very often, podcasts.
By next year, people will spend more time listening to podcasts than to radio:
Marketers have taken notice. Ad spending on podcasts will reach $479 million this year—and explode to over $1 billion dollars by 2021.
Well, because, Jeff Goldblum
Finally this week, a hilarious rap “dis battle” between James Corden and Jeff Goldblum, shared here because Jeff Goldblum makes everything he appears in better. Enjoy.
Thanks for reading! See you next week.