Thursday, November 8, 2007

Digital Music and the Death of the Major Label

Here's a great summary of what's been happening in the music industry lately -- from the beginning of the digital music age right up to the recent rise and fall of Oink, "the most complete and most efficient music distribution model the world has ever known."
Whether this guy likes it or not, iPods have become synonymous with music - and if I filled my shiny new 160gb iPod up legally, buying each track online at the 99 cents price that the industry has determined, it would cost me about $32,226. How does that make sense? It's the ugly truth the record industry wants to ignore as they struggle to find ways to get people to pay for music in a culture that has already embraced the idea of music being something you collect in large volumes, and trade freely with your friends.

Already is the key word, because it didn't have to be this way, and that's become the main source of my utter lack of sympathy for the dying record industry: They had a chance to move forward, to evolve with technology and address the changing needs of consumers - and they didn't. Instead, they panicked - they showed their hand as power-hungry dinosaurs, and they started to demonize their own customers, the people whose love of music had given them massive profits for decades.
Go read the whole thing. It will take a while, but it's very much worth your time. And then, if you're of a mind to boycott the RIAA, well... yeah!


Chris in Oxford said...

Great post and shocking math! I never really thought of it that way, though I'm a bit of a libertine. Radiohead has got it right. I've lost interest in them because their last few albums are just weird. But I bought the new one because of their bravery for skipping out of a record company and asking people to pay what they will.

davidm. said...

The Lefsetz Letter is a great and entertaining place for commentary on the music business as well.

Courtney said...

(New reader - found you on NaBloPoMo)

Having been on the receiving end of some of that record label money (I worked at a group of radio stations several years ago, and went to many an artist-pushing lunch or dinner, or taken home their promotional "stuff"), I know for a fact that there's a lot of money being tossed around with no "real" purpose. That money had to come from SOMEWHERE, and I'm really not sorry that the recording industry is going downhill.

For the past few years, the focus of the music industry has been less on the actual music, and more on the "package". When I buy a CD (which is rare lately), I really don't care whose face is on the front, what their music videos look like, or the clothes that they wear. It had better be good music, or it isn't going to be bought for my house. And until record labels are willing to refocus on good music, I'll be very happy to not give them my money.

alice said...

Thanks for coming by, Courtney (how the heck did I get on NaBloPoMo?). I agree with you completely. The more these companies push Britney and JLo on us, the less likely they are to find one of my dollars in their hot little hands.

Well, at this point, there's probably not much chance of them getting my money no matter what, now that I think about it. It would seem that they've passed the point of no return...

Courtney said...

Well, I THOUGHT I found you on NaBloPoMo! (I'm pregnant - the baby is taking all the blood from my brain!)

I know I STARTED on NaBloPoMo, and I ended up at your blog, but I guess the middle is a bit fuzzy - LOL! (I think I found another Chattanooga blogger there and I somehow clicked a couple of times and ended up here.) I put it in my Google Reader (because I'm moving back to the 'noog in about a month), and this post popped up today, and here I am! :)