Smartketing with Disney+

by Tim Cose, Hal Leonard Corporation

Smartketing
Noun
1. Multiplying the effectiveness of your advertising, inventory, and merchandising dollars by tying your brand and retail experience to promotional investments and events in tangential industries
2. Free lunch

If your house isn’t filled with tiaras, tea-parties, and toys, you might have missed a major media event that occurred right before the 2019 holidays: Disney+. Think of this new streaming service as Mickey’s answer to Hulu or Netflix for the young (or young at heart). And it’s been hugely successful. By the end of its first week, Disney+ already boasted more than 10 million subscribers. For comparison, Hulu (another Disney-majority-owned streaming company) has only 28 million subscribers after over a decade in operation.

As a millennial parent of two young girls, I have two observations about Disney’s new service. First, it is reintroducing a lot of classic movies—and music!—to the current generation of kids. My two-year-old daughter loves Cinderella and Snow White, movies she likely never would have seen otherwise (millennials don’t do cable or DVDs). Second, our household is suddenly spending a lot of money on Disney merchandise. I don’t see either of these observations changing any time soon.

Windowing is a term in media that sheds some light on Disney’s historic release strategy and the significance of its new service. To extract the maximum value from a movie, studios often release it in successive formats for limited windows of time. Once theater revenue is maximized, a film moves to VHS or DVD, then premium cable service and/or streaming, then regular television. Disney is notorious for its vault of high-value films that seldom make it to broadcast or streaming services. With its new streaming service giving Disney direct revenue and control, the doors to the vault are (seemingly) finally wide open.

I predict a long-term increase in sales of older Disney folios as the streaming service keeps churning its back-catalog to keep subscribers engaged and watching. I’m not saying you should keep a copy of every Disney movie and sequel on your shelf—especially Lion King 2, what was that??–but I am advocating checking in to see what older titles Disney+ is promoting and streaming heavily and considering their musical value.

As with all streaming services (television and music), wider access to a bigger catalog both strengthens the enthusiasm for the latest and greatest and diversifies tastes for and awareness of yesteryear’s classics. What’s in demand has always been a moving target, but now more than ever expert opinion and experience will create opportunities to serve customers. When it comes to my household at least, Disney+ proves that musical history repeats itself.

The best part of all of this? Tagging along with Disney’s success bears no marketing cost to you. This is a unique aspect of our print music industry. We aren’t licensed toys, t-shirts, or lunchboxes; we are the music itself (albeit transcribed). All we must do is connect the aspiring musicians walking in our door with the music they already love. Disney is already doing a lot of the hard part for us.

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