Yahoo: Marissa Mayer's Huge Opportunity to Become Tech's Top CEO

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Over at Digital Music News, Paul Resnikoff summarized the key takeaway from research conducted by MiDIA:

Compare and contrast with the 41% decline in (retail) recorded music revenue ... Indeed it is the 60% growth in live revenue that has done most to offset the impact of declining music sales.

According to MiDIA, the music industry can thank live music for the fact that it only contracted -- overall -- by roughly 3% between 2000 and 2013. 

If this doesn't set off further light bulbs in the heads of management at Yahoo! (YHOO) I'm not sure what will.

Credit Marissa Mayer for either following my lead or having the same thoughts as I did with respect to live concert streaming independent of me having and writing about these thoughts.

I knew something was up in December 2013 when Mayer followed me on Twitter (TWTR) shortly after I published Marissa Mayer's Biggest Game Changer Yet. In that article, I began tunneling a trajectory of thought that would prove prescient: Yahoo! should seize the massive opportunity to take ownership of the largely neglected live concert streaming space.

Around that time and since then, we have seen Yahoo!, via the fantastic Yahoo! Screen, stream several one-off live performances from acts as big as One Direction and in conjunction with Clear Channel Media and Entertainment's iHeart Radio. (Disclosure: I recently became a Clear Channel employee, working part-time as a sports talk personality on Fox Sports Radio).

Over the last year and a half, I never let up. I continued to argue that live concerts would lift Yahoo!'s video strategy and differentiate it from the gaggle of companies -- such as Netflix (NFLX) and Amazon.com (AMZN) -- focused on scripted original programming. Indeed, Yahoo!'s going there as well, however I argued it would be disappointing if originals comprised the cornerstone of its streaming video plan.

Clearly, somebody at Yahoo! was listening because, at the end of April 2014 -- a good 16 months after I started beating the drum -- the company announced a partnership with Live Nation Entertainment (LVY) to stream one live concert per day for 365 days starting this summer.

That alone puts Mayer near top of 2014's boldest and most visionary CEOs. On Page Two, I get deeper into how she could end up -- Tim Cook aside -- the best.

While the Live Nation partnership is a great start, it's not enough. I maintain if Yahoo! really wants to crush Google's (GOOG) YouTube, it needs to take live concert streaming to the next level.

The links scattered throughout this article chronicle the 16-month narrative I composed on the way to it being proven right with the Live Nation deal. In one of those articles, I lay out in methodical detail what Yahoo! should do going forward. You can link to the meat and potatoes of that explainer HERE, but it ultimately comes down to turning live concert streaming into both an ad-supported and subscription-based business.

The study cited at the beginning of this article lends support to the notion that live music sells. But it doesn't only sell in person at the actual live show. It translates well online for many reasons, but largely because it fulfills the emotional requirements of music fans. As I noted last month at TheStreet:

By and large, the music industry does a wholly pitiful job meeting the emotional needs of its customers. We're forced to scrap and scavenge third-party platforms from fan sites run on a shoestring to YouTube to get our fix.
And that's the point, we need our fix. Once we get a taste of the live experience, we go searching for other ways to self-medicate. To feel like we're part of something we know can't match, but is better than nothing vis-a-vis being there. If serious and casual fans can become addicted for periods of time to refreshing a freaking message board thread to see the name of the next song an artist played, don't you think they might pony up for high-quality streaming access to the tour?

And that's why Marissa Mayer needs to conceive a live concert streaming subscription service in the letter and spirit of the streaming apps employed with runaway success by Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League (I don't use the other sports leagues' apps so I am hesitant to comment, but I know MLB and the NHL have fantastic streaming products).

If Mayer does this, she will have set Yahoo! apart from the pack. She will have finally thrown the monkey off of her company's back. She will have -- after what feels like decades of trying -- made Yahoo! distinct again. She will not only have opened the door, but taken near sole ownership of a space that has the potential to generate hundreds of millions, if not billions in revenue. She will have done something we don't see all that often in tech these days. She will have set a fresh, new trend in motion as opposed to tweaking or copying one that already exists.

--Written by Rocco Pendola in Santa Monica, Calif.

Rocco Pendola is a full-time columnist for TheStreet. He lives in Santa Monica. Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors, reporters and analysts from holding positions in any individual stocks.

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