Music Inc Magazine May 2024

a better experience with the rental,” Bertrand said. “Now, once a customer rents from us, they’re automatically sent on a journey which takes them through their entire first year of renting and gives them tips along the way on possible challenges faced.” While conventional methods of communica- tion, such as email and traditional marketing, have proven successful over the years, Bertrand said the shift towards text messaging, like Blustream, has been more favorable. “Customers respond better to interactive text messaging,” Bertrand said. “We’re con- stantly getting in any communication that we use via text, and we’re getting a stron- ger open and reply rate, whereas traditional forms of marketing lack [those] higher rates of engagement.” Though it can seem intimidating, Bertrand advocated that MI retailers with small mar- keting budgets should tap into AI-powered platforms for their abilities. “Anything retailers can do to

prioritize user-friendly interfaces and clear communication about how AI works can gain the trust of both retailers and customers. “We’re all largely in this informational gathering period and trying to understand what AI is and more specifically what it means to a specific retailer or consumer,” Craig said. “It’s still very early in

before incorporating them into their operations. “It’s worth looking at AI in the larger scope of technology and how different music retailers tend to implement technology in different parts of their businesses,” Alviani said. “Some businesses were really ahead of the curve in terms of websites, mobile apps, social media and digital adver-

AI and we’re all curious and nervous about it. We’re more

tising, while others had more of a wait-and-see approach. As

apt to engage with AI if it’s understandable. The companies that leverage it and deploy it from a consumer-driven ap- proach are going to win.” REVOLUTIONIZING RETAIL Brendan Alviani , president of Family Piano Co in Waukegan, Illinois, has offered a cautious perspec-

much as AI promises to do everything automatically for everyone, I think most retailers will find that they need someone who is tech savvy to make it happen. Implementation is going to be very unique for each individual store. I think it’s going to be all over the map for which stores solve which problems, using which specific AI solutions. Regard- less, I think all companies should prioritize building a strong business first and foremost. They should use technology to support that goal, not just chase after glitzy tech trends.” Kenya Moses , marketing strategist and founder and CEO of ConsciousMark, advised music retailers to “move slow and steady” when it comes to incorporating AI, such as using it for basic digital marketing tasks, including social media and transactional and educational emails.



tive on the integration of AI, particularly chatbots, in the realm of music

embrace optimization with AI is going to provide a person- alized experience at scale,” Bertrand said. “Obviously you still need that indi- vidual in-person customer experience, but there are times when you need to engage with a customer in a more dynamic way.” Tyler Craig , chief revenue officer at Blustream, said that the

retail. While acknowledging the potential benefits of AI-driven technologies, Alviani emphasizes the importance of main- taining a human touch in customer interactions. “Chatbots aren’t ready for primetime yet for most music retailers,” Alviani said. “They are an interesting

“There’s a tendency to adopt new technology quickly for fear of being left behind, which of- ten leads businesses to tech burn-out,” Moses said. “Generative AI is evolv- ing at lightning speeds, and can be hard to keep up with. My suggestion is for retailers is to focus on communication, using AI as a collaborative tool in digital marketing, social media, news- letters and transactional emails.”

tool, but you shouldn’t

company helps cultivate long-term relation- ships, so businesses like Bertrand’s Music can enhance its renter retention by establishing personalized connections. “We fully support the advancement of AI in retail and e-commerce as long as the really important data points are being cap- tured and properly used between the retailer and the musician,” Craig said. “Our mission is to connect companies to their customers through innovative product experiences around the products. Blustream [offers] in- telligent delivery of dynamic, adaptive and always changing messaging to help not just a company understand its consumer, but to ensure the consumer gets the best instru- ment experience.” Despite its potential, AI is still in its early stages and the uncertainties surrounding its impact have left many retailers hesitant. That said, Craig shared that he believes AI will have a positive progression and a more informed and discerning consumer base is projected to emerge. He added that for busi- nesses to leverage AI, it must be understand- able and transparent. The companies that

have unmediated customer interactions at this point in the game. Everything a chatbot generates is always probabilistic and customers expect more than that, so you always need a human between the chatbot and customer for the foreseeable future.” Alviani said he knows very few fellow MI retailers who are em-


bracing AI, primarily because it’s still in its early stages. While there have been notable advancements in AI and chatbots, the tech- nology is far from reaching its full potential. Alviani said he believes many retailers are understandably hesitant to invest in AI solu- tions that may lack maturity. “I don’t think many retailers are doing much with it right now,” Alviani said. “I think a lot of people are starting to wrap their brains around [the question], ‘What can I use this for?’” However, Alviani stressed the importance of patience and discernment, urging fellow retailers to carefully evaluate AI solutions

As AI becomes increasingly integrated into various facets of the music industry, it’s crucial to establish ethical frameworks that safeguard against exploitation and abuse. Moses predicts a significant shift in the con- versation surrounding the ethics and legalities of AI in the coming year. “I foresee these topics being at the fore- front of creative conversations in the very near future,” Moses said. “Stringent guidelines on how we utilize AI on a consumer and business level will need to be developed. We want to leverage AI technologies to enhance productivity and drive innovation, but also to

36 I MUSIC INC. I MAY 2024

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