Why Google Rocks and Microsoft Stinks

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- I was looking for a way to best open this article. And, on Tuesday, one of the better music follows you'll find on Twitter (TWTR), Rutgers media professor Aram Sinnreich, provided it.

Apparently Google's (GOOG) the primary backer of a new record label -- 300. 300 says it will be "a music content company devoted to the discovery and development of the artists of the future" with the general idea of "creat(ing) an innovative artist development structure with greater flexibility and lower overheads to challenge the majors."

As I lament the music industrial complex's failure to innovate and the subsequent culture of learned helplessness it has mired itself and many artists in, I've been looking for ways to detail what it should have done.

What it should have done, of course, equates to exactly what everybody other than the major record labels and their toxic music industrial complex partners are doing today. Everybody being the companies who have built and are building dynamic streaming radio platforms to those seizing the live concert streaming opportunity to companies unleashing the full tech- and data-driven, marketing potential of music.

In this article, I use two analogies -- one from sports, the other from tech/the stock market -- to make my points.

The major labels never put together a farm system like the ones long established for Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League. They never did what 300 says it will do.

Instead they sat idle, fat and happy on a turnkey business model, never properly acknowledging the need, let alone executing a strategy to meet the need to prepare for how their industry might change in the future. In that regard, it sounds a bit like the situation at Microsoft (MSFT).

Here's a company late to mobile -- and failing miserably at it -- that seems to think a strong balance sheet and revenue from its legacy businesses will keep it relevant going forward. At Microsoft, we have, by and large, witnessed lame reaction to a new competitive landscape created by others, but no anticipation of this change and a coherent strategy predating it.

A decade ago, was Microsoft preparing for new realities? They sure as heck weren't visioning them and dictating what they would look like the way Apple (AAPL) was. Rather, they were doing the same thing they're doing today -- clinging to a cash cow, holding on to the false hope that the gravy train would continue to chug along. Any innovation at Microsoft, outside of Xbox, continues to hit the cutting room floor of Pacific Northwest laboratories.

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