According to Nielsen Music, the hip-hop artist Kendrick Lamar’s number one hit “HUMBLE” generated 2.7 million consumption units last year, including physical sales, individual tracks and audio streams, making it 2017’s most popular hip-hop and R&B single.
Now, you may not listen to Kendrick Lamar or care about the success of his music, but you should care about how his success is measured: consumption units.
Consider this, we are supposed to intake approximately 2,000 consumption units (calories) each day and apply 480 consumption units (minutes) each night for sleep. Our cars get in the neighborhood of 25 consumption units (miles) of distance to the gallon, and we get consumption units of financial remuneration (salary) for our contributions at work.
What I love about the term as it relates to music is that it reflects the new reality of our fragmented media, music, entertainment and information economy. When I was a kid, there were three consumption vehicles for music: vinyl, radio and concerts. These were the only three mediums through which an artist got paid. Then came 8-tracks, cassettes, satellite radio, streaming, Spotify, Pandora, Apple Music, Google Play, and on and on…
Now an artist must be omnipresent, compete across multiple media platforms, and measure their success based on consumption units. It must take an army of algorithms and monitoring tools to capture, measure and report that information.
We could go deep on this topic, but let’s pivot now to you. First, we all have a limited consumption unit threshold – we can only consume so much. Just as our stomach can only consume and process so many calories, our minds and emotional reservoirs are not limitless. We also have consumption unit patterns, and we consume based on our habits, times of the day, what’s going on in our lives, and a range of other factors that influence what, when and how we consume.
On the other hand, we are also purveyors and distributors of output that others must consume, so here are three things to think about as you prepare to serve your audience the information, advertising, emails, texts and messages you will deliver today:
1. How many consumption units does your audience reserve for you and what you have to share? How do you know? Said another way, how many calories of content are they interested in consuming from you?
2. When are they hungry for what you’re serving? Advertising has become an always on, “I’ll consume when I want” proposition; however, day-parts (drive-time, prime-time, etc.) are still alive and well. Know when your audience is ready and able to consume.
3. Start measuring the consumption units of your content – how many consumption units can your audience consume at your events, and from your weekly emails and publications? Consider putting your audience on a diet and offering them a well-balanced meal of insight, ideas and inspiration, and set the table to make it inviting to consume.
I hope you’ve gotten to this point of the blog feeling like the consumption units you dedicated to reading it were well spent, and that it helps you think about the audiences you’ll serve this week.
Before every communication you deliver, can you say with confidence, bon appétit?