How Digital is Perturbing Archetypical Business Models


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On the 20th of September 2016, Google made an announcement: content creators in Pakistan would now be able to monetize on their songs, covers, vlogs, skits, documentaries and more on YouTube. The announcement represents one of the final keys necessary to ensure creative’s continue to make good art and get paid for it.

50 years in the making.

From as early as the 1970’s, Pakistan’s music industry behaved with monopolistic domination, with power of content development, content distribution and content monetization the hands of the few. As instruments became more affordable and music schools gained traction across the country, the skill of music development & composition became available to the masses and more importantly, the time spent on developing the skill became acceptable. Musicians were forced to evolve their sound, lyrics or risk obsoletion.

Most were.

In the early 2000’s, PepsiCo launched the country’s first “Battle of the Bands”, ushering in an era of heavy metal, fusion and hark rock in the country, sparking countless offshoots and copy cats. The internet boom that soon followed provided garage bands a platform for uploading & sharing their covers and original tracks at scale, leading the rise and popularity of Jal the Band, The Call and Fuzön. Event management companies, once charging aspirational bands for the chance to open for established artists, were the first to feel the pinch. Then came the production companies that lost negotiation power when digital proved to be a distribution ground for content and practical consumption behavior slowed for cassettes & CD’s, restructuring purchase order terms for retailers.

Even from the start, musicians in Pakistan primarily relied on the popularity of their songs to win them endorsement deals with brands, so selling live concert tickets, merchandise, cassettes and CD’s were never the primary focus. But when the musicians outnumbered the brands, powers shifted once more. The market was waiting for Khalid Bajwa, a graduate from Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute of Engineering Sciences and Technology, to fix that.

Since launching in 2015, his start-up is helping Gen X musicians such as Noori actually monetize on their content via digital channels. Since launching, he’s taken on large record labels that felt threatened by’s presence, beating every lobbying effort directed at his company. He’s upset the natural order of things and is not alone.

Before YouTube announced monetization, Pakistan’s was already striking deals with content creators and production companies to host & monetize their digital content. They also deal with on the creator’s behalf for any licensing deals with large companies, in effect, caring beyond the point of content acquisition.

By developing, launching and training its customers in an inbound marketing tool called C2, a Dubai-based agency removed itself from the day to day aspect of delivering performance marketing services to its clients, instead focusing its efforts and attention on big picture strategy to ensure longevity. In an industry profiting from time spent on campaign execution, Centric has removed its team from the variable daily component behind conversion based marketing. An early adopter of the platform was 800Flower, a Middle Eastern florist service selling over one thousand types of flowers online for most occasions. Switching inbounding marketing to C2, Middle Eastern companies like 800Flower have taken over to control the entire marketing funnel, injecting themselves in scenario planning usually reserved for account & media planners. For instance, they employ C2’s CRM system to re-target past customers the week before their last order date or milestone, relying on event tracking and pixel analytic’s to determine the intent behind the last purchase so that the stalwart Valentine’s Day celebrator is reminded of the past purchase he made at the same time the previous occasion. The benefits to customer LTV & retention are self evident.

And this, was once the task of dedicated account executives or a dedicated CRO agency.

But the disruption here has more to do with efficiency and less to do with automation of once human roles. Humans, by themselves or as an organization, want to be served by companies that are steps ahead instead behind. Indeed, with collaboration platforms like Convo, professional service providers are moving towards efficiency, spending more time on the qualitative requiring attention to detail than the quantitative requiring crunching frameworks.

Business models define the economics of a business, how it creates value for customer segments and how production & fulfillment will be managed. These are just a few examples of disruptors in emerging & frontier markets, where titans are banking on the hope the companies will burn out or change direction under a golden handcuff. The question is, how much longer can you afford to wait?

Babar Khan Javed
Babar Khan Javed is a brand journalist. He is a post-graduate of "Squared", Google's highest qualification for marketing strategy. His work has appeared in peer-reviewed journals such as Market Leader, Consulting Magazine, Global CMO and Brand Quarterly. He is interested in the dynamics of advertising including industry topics such as how media is being transformed by technology. He can only be reached at [email protected] and responds within 24 hours.


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