Tuesday, June 24, 2008
A Modern Day Babylon - Major Record Labels
Some of you may have already heard about the "free album" giveaway trend that has really taken the UK music business by storm.
Here's the latest example...
"It's getting harder and harder for bands to make a splash with album releases these days.
So… musicians are thinking outside the box!
British pop-punk band McFly is going the Prince route and teaming up with the UK's Daily Mail to give away its new music in the paper's Sunday, July 20th edition.
McFly's super dreamy singer/guitarist Tom Fletcher says, 'We want to get our music out to the widest audience possible and working with a massive paper like The Mail On Sunday will definitely help us achieve that. We’re very excited about this great opportunity.'
This partnership will give the band access to the Sunday Mail's reported 5.8 million readers."
Interesting, but where does that leave record artists? Back in the day, in fact - not too long ago - record business was one thing and the performing industry was quite another... Yet the latter has taken over the former as of lately. Less and less people are willing to pay under 20 USD for a new album by their favorite artist; however, you'll find the same crowd queuing up to purchase tickets to a live show of this very artist, which can easily cost over 100 USD - 5 times the price of a full record. Bizarre or what?
Increasingly worrying signals of internal collapse and unrecognizable changes within record companies are plastered all over the media lately. The EMI/Guy Hands saga that made the headlines in NY Times earlier this month is one of the numerous examples, and in many ways, the very tip of the iceberg. Or so they claim within the showbiz circles. There's no denying that the humongous monopoly of major record labels is fading bit by bit... But what's the alternative? Lots and lots of indies, right? Exciting and adventurous times for artists and musicians in general, but the "suits" aren't in a great shape by the look of it. Shame, really.
What happened to the traditional A&R professionals with traditionally musical ears, the instinctive gut feeling and vision of the bigger picture? Obviously not all of them have vanished, although most of them have been replaced by accountants, attorneys and other bureaucratic figures. Every company needs a lawyer and an accountant, no doubt, but it would be nice to nurture and take care of the few musical ears that are still around and wondering up and down the record label headquarters.
It's a mess, really, there's no denying of that! Someone was saying the other day that he should have gotten into A/C repair business not the music business! There might be more demand, at least :-)
Undoubtedly, it's interesting to see how it all unfolds... It'll be a couple of years at least before things start falling into place again like back in the day. Although, no doubt, it will never be the same again - it can't be. But like most other musicians and artists, I'm curious to see what happens in the nearer future. It was a strange time to start getting involved with the major labels right at this moment - my timing was really something! - but it is exciting deep down, albeit unpredictable.
Time will tell... And patience may come in handy, too! :-)