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Faith No More

When you find you no longer have faith in the current business model, you must make change work for you. No one did this better for me than one of my favorite metal bands—Metallica. The music industry was shaken to its core in the early 2000s by Napster, which made it relatively easy for music enthusiasts to download copies of songs that were otherwise difficult to obtain, such as older songs, unreleased recordings, studio recordings, and songs from concert bootleg recordings. Napster paved the way for streaming media services and transformed music into a public good for a brief period. Metallica discovered a demo of their song, “I Disappear,” had been circulating across the network before it was released as a single. This led to it being played on several radio stations across the U.S., which alerted Metallica to the fact that their entire back catalogue of studio material was also available. On March 13, 2000, they filed a lawsuit against Napster and eventually won. But with this victory, the band learned the industry was evolving and they could either fight the new innovations and changes in how people purchased, accessed, and listened to music, or they could take control. The band decided to take control of this new business model and became the world’s first subscription-based music group by turning the concert tour into a resort package, which they called their “Wherever I May Roam Black Ticket.” The subscription service allowed access to any concert of the 30+ date, 2018/19 U.S. arena tour.

Rage Against the Machine

Subscription services are all the rage. Nearly every business sector has been affected as the subscription model of revenue has become quite trendy. We in the parking industry can try to rage against this machine, however, the reality is that this machine evolved from $57 million in revenues in 2011, to $2.6 billion in 2016. As the Information Age and the internet have advanced, so has the subscription model. If the parking industry does not adapt to this new business model, it could follow in the footsteps of Blockbuster video, which lost its rage against the machine to Netflix. In his recent book, Subscribed: Why the Subscription Model Will Be Your Company’s Future-and What to Do About It, Tien Tzuo aims to change how executives think about their products and organizational structure in the subscription economy. “If you are not shifting to this business model now,” Tzuo writes, “chances are that in a few years you might not have any business left to shift.”

Queen of the Stone Age

For decades, the parking industry was queen of the stone age: There were few innovations in the tools used to provide parking services. This all changed with the digital revolution, and in 44 PARKING & MOBILITY / AUGUST 2021 / PARKING-MOBILITY.ORG

the wake of these changes and the recent COVID-19 pandemic, customers’ expectations have drastically changed. As Tzuo wrote, “Every customer is unique and has different, ever changing needs, so businesses that still try to sell one-size-fits-all packages that lock customers into longterm contracts will be left in the cold.” We should not underestimate the appeal of this freedom and ability for customers to get what they want, when they want it, and from wherever they happen to be. Our customers largely no longer work from traditional office spaces; they attend classes virtually; there are new regulations related to mass transit, travel, events, and eating; and a lot of people don’t work a traditional Monday - Friday, 9 - 5 schedule anymore. We must come up with new innovations that can address our customer’s needs and realities. A subscription model does this by shifting the focus away from new customer acquisition and onto customer retention. What is great about this model is that you can keep selling products the traditional way while selling some products and services as a subscription. This gives you time to adjust and avoid common mistakes.


The definition of “evanescence” is something fleeting that passes out of sight or mind quickly. An example of evanescence is a rainbow that appears for only a moment after a storm. If you want your subscription method to be lasting and have a real effect on your customers, your organization, and most importantly, your revenue, it’s prudent to avoid some mistakes: ■  Making decisions without research. With the subscription economy booming, many people are excited to dive right in. Do not. It is important to do your research first. Is there a problem/ solution fit? Is there a need for which your product or service provides a solution? ■  Not providing good support and customer success