Apple, Tesco ‘most to blame’ for Music Biz Crisis?
In an story reported on The Register’s website (read it here) the writer’s story is on a report by consultants Capgemini for the Value Recognition Strategy working group. While the report has not been made public, the writer Andrew Orlowski conjectures that the report suggest that Apple and Tesco and not P2P file sharing pirates are to blame for the woes of the music industry in Britain (which is mirroring the rest of the world).
The music industry World Wide is having a sales and profit crisis. The sliding sales are not a result of unbundling tracks from albums, which Apple was not the first to do with iTunes as Andrew Orlowski reports, the by track model was first done by the Napster store which opened before iTunes. The author of the piece would have us believe that Apple did this with iTunes first. Intresting that the author of the report sighted by Andrew Orlowski doesn’t take into account changes and consolidation in music industry itself and the decline of the retail music store caused by the music industry’s attempt to control what the stores sold and marketed. These two factors alone currently share most of the blame, as does the fact, in a lesser portion, that the music buying public is tired of being force fed a diet of music celebrity BS while, real talent is often left to self promote, self publish and self release.
The so called, Indie Labels use to be an outlet for great talent, today most of these Indie Labels are just churning out the same low budget, no talent crap that the Major Labels are churning out. I’m not saying that their are no, talented artists signed to Indie or Major Labels, there are some great Recording Artists signed to a label. The problem is all about ROI (return on investment) for all the labels big and small that are not 100% releasing artist owned. We’ll look a two Recoding Artists, the first is Paris Hilton, the second is Jen Bye. You are a record label (indie or major). You can sign only one new recording artist from the choices presented. Paris Hilton has no experience and no real talent, Jen Bye has lots of experience and is a excellent musician, singer and song writer. Well the ROI is simple you’d sign Paris Hilton because she is a known celebrity with instant celebrity status, an instant name. Which translates to a much higher ROI. Jen Bye while a great talent has a much lower ROI. Jen is not a celebrity and few people outside her fans know who she is or would connect her to anything celebrity related. With Jen, it would cost the record label much more money to promote her recordings then it does to promote a celebrity that can generate press for months by showing up some place and flashing a bit of crusty well used crotch.
A recording label is a record label (even so called Indie labels) if it not 100% owned by the artist(s) who’s recording are released by that label. Sticking the term Indie in front of it, does not make the recording label any less of an artist rip-off machine. The indie label artist contracts are no less gouging to the recording artists then a major labels’ contracts. In fact, in most cases indie labels rip-off and gouge the recording artists more then the major labels do.
The Internet is really starting to slowly shift the balance for music buying and the way music is marketed and who and how it’s marketed too. Radio Head aside the fact is the you can be a fully independent recording artist and still find fans all over the world to market your music too. As digital media content improves in quality more of the digital content will be focuses on the independent artists. There are already a number of Internet delivered digital media programs (podcasts) that feature and focus on independent recording artists such as “Not MTV” and “Dinner with the Band” as their are many more independent artists then there are signed artists the seeds are being sewn for many more digital media programs that do nothing but, focus on independent recording artists. Digital media content providers like Revision 3 and On Networks are currently the ones to watch in this regard. As video based digital media delivered over the internet takes off expect independent artists to get much, much more exposure. As this happens all recording labels will have to change their business models to keep from becoming a real dinosaur. A music labels currently need all the retailers they can get physical and virtual to slow the erosion of music sales. They also need to be focused on listening to their customer. Ringles and Flash drive based music singles and albums are flash in the pan failures. Kids don’t want gimmicks they want instant, cheap, easy to access, high quality, DRM free, and they only what to buy the tracks they like. If the music labels can’t deliver it, they will get it elsewhere on the internet.