The record company exec was a woman who was about five years past their twenty-something demographic. She gave off more of a business school vibe than a rock vibe. She peppered her speech with business-school-isms like “target audience” and “units sold”. She used the word “product” several times and didn’t use the word “music” or even “album” once. Everything she knew about music didn’t come from being a fan; it came from what she’d read in her market research reports.
When you rely on market research you get stuck in a facts-without-context feedback loop where the ideas get less and less useful to the audience as you go on. Innovative thinking based on market research breaks us out of that feedback loop, but starts a new one. Only by constantly innovating can we fight against the quicksand.
I see the 1996 music executive as a 2008 game executive who doesn’t follow the causal reasoning that the market will buy a fun game at the right time for the right price and instead relies on reports of what Nintendo does (because they are quite profitable!) and wants to get their aesthetic without their investments.