Beginning Of The End for Music Labels?

Related Links
Discussion Boards

By Milligram46
March 13, 2008

Posts selected for this feature rarely stand alone. They are usually a part of an ongoing thread, and are out of context when presented here. The material should be read in that light. How are these posts selected? Click here to find out and nominate a post yourself!

Yup. It is. The cracks have been forming but the walls of the music companies may finally be breached. In the beginning there was the lowly cassette tape, and the music industry declared them evil, and a fee was added to go into a fund. Then we could copy our redbook audio onto hard drives, but the files were huge, the fidelity wasn't great, and storage was expensive. Then came MP3s, and then file sharing. And Napster was bad, very bad. Then the RIAA swept in and started suing little old ladies and artists formed along battle lines - give me freedom to reach out to my fans and don't steal from me dude.

I'm pretty surprised no one here has discussed the NIN Ghosts I-IV release over the weekend. Yes, Radiohead garnered up some laughs in what people widely felt was a failure of an experiment. Download our album, pay us what you think its worth, and well, a lot of fans didn't pay up.

Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails did something different. I'll give you nine tracks for free, or if you want all thirty-six, pay me five dollars and you can have them. What happened? How about their servers crashed, Amazon picked up distribution and did an e-mail campaign all in the same weekend. Will Trent get rich of this, probably not, but the speculation is that Nine Inch Nails made a lot of money doing this independent of any record company - walking away from their last contract with Interscope specifically to do this.

Another artist with a core fan following, Jill Sobule, who had her 15 minutes of fame with her song, "I Kissed A Girl," has turned to her fans to raise $75,000 to fund her next album. The last story I saw had indicated she had raised $54,000 and those prepaying in, even at a small level are assured a downloadable version of the album. Give her $10,000 and you can sing on one of the songs and she has accurately assured her fans even if you can't sing, we can make you sound good. Anyone who had done and form of sound engineering work knows, do enough layering, harmonizing, reverb, and pitch pending and you can make the most God awful voice sound good.

I know some have speculated here that AAPL should form their own record label and I have argued, strongly, that would be a horrific idea. The idea of a record label is utterly broken and I think we are starting to see the migration now of bands. Nine Inch Nails may have come up with the business model, we'll give you SOME of the songs for free, if you like it, download the whole thing and pay up for it and no rich studio fat cats dipping into our pockets, so we can give it to you at a break.

Is this as big as a Madonna, Kenny Chesney, Maroon 5, etc. doing something like this? No - but the foundation is getting laid and WHEN, not if but WHEN someone figures out how to make this an effective business model and tell the record companies to stick it, the game will be over.

The GREAT thing about this model as it expands is that independent artists will jump on first, and the revolution will be led by those who wouldn't get air play anyway.

As far as an air play channel for exposure, XM and Sirius sure come to mind along with internet radio to expose people to the content.

The end is coming...and in the end I think the artists are going to take it back from the man, and we will all win.