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Major Labels Are Dead?...Where’s The Proof?

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  • Major Labels Are Dead?...Where’s The Proof?

    The cash-rich labels buy the catalogs of their smaller competitors. They seem alive and well to me.
    Have I missed something?

  • #2
    They're not dead. Depending on what your musical goals are, they're also not necessary. Because of this, they're not near as powerful as they once were.

    As far as I can tell there were 4 services they provided; making records, distribution, artist development, and marketing.

    Technology has made decent recording so accessible and driven rates low enough, a major label is not needed to front you the cash to make a record. It can still get pricey, but with kickstarter, indigogo, etc fans can be directly responsible.

    Distribution can also be in the hands of the artists. CD baby, Amazon, itunes all make it pretty easy.

    The technology has also allowed alot of people to get in the game. Subsequently, supply and demand is against artists. When there are too many people trying to be artists, artist development, ceases to be necessary.

    The marketing aspect is where I've seen people feel like they get screwed. It's more profitable for the labels to put all their money behind a select few, and if they decide your record isn't selling fast enough, they're going to put their money behind someone else's whose is. Sure they'll have lots of stories from working in fancy studios, meeting cool people, and stuff from the road, but to go along with that they'll also have a pile of debt they can't pay back and a contract that won't let them gig independently. Basically when the label is done with you, you're done.

    I'd be curious to hear more about your experiences working with major labels, because I'm quite certain that ours are going to be quite different.
    Last edited by rhino55; 09-11-2015, 11:04 AM.


    • #3
      Originally posted by rhino55 View Post
      I'd be curious to hear more about your experiences working with major labels, because I'm quite certain that ours are going to be quite different.
      Thanks rhino55.

      My label experiences are varied. Some were uneventful (no money problems) and some were absolutely disgusting. My worst experiences by far were with successful artists that started their own labels within the structure of their major label deal. It’s very disheartening to see “artists” screw other artists the way they’ve been screwed. I call it ‘trickle down economics’. Identical to President Regan’s theory, the trickle is yellow and smelly. Then those same “artists” turn around and sue the majors that they mimicked. Go figure.


      • #4
        You certainly can't tell that the labels aren't dead if you drive down "music row" in Nashville. It is one for lease or sale building after another.
        Almost a ghost town which is extremely confusing considering that Nashville was supposed to be the new LA with many major musicians migrating here to make music other than Country Music.

        Seems dead here for sure.

        Keeping the Harmony at Harmony Central


      • #5
        I think Mr. Hardgroove hinted at the reason for at least some of what you're seeing in Nashville in terms of vacant office space and so forth in his first post - it's that consolidation. Labels haven't died, but there's a lot fewer of them out there now. Not only are larger ones buying smaller ones, but there's fewer large ones left.

        What the labels aren't doing IMO is taking chances (which I discussed in a recent Beyond 11 article) or putting any real effort or investment into artist development. But that doesn't mean they're dead - those catalogs of songs that the biggies have are still extremely valuable, so there's money making potential, even without putting out a single new release.


        "Look at it this way: think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of 'em are stupider than that."
        - George Carlin

        "It shouldn't be expected that people are necessarily doing what they appear to be doing on records."
        - Sir George Martin, All You Need Is Ears

        "The music business will be revitalized by musicians, not the labels or Live Nation. When the musicians decide to put music first, instead of money, the public will flock to the fruits and the scene will be healthy again."
        - Bob Lefsetz, The Lefsetz Letter


        • Dendy Jarrett
          Dendy Jarrett commented
          Editing a comment
          I totally agree with that. No one wants to take risks, be original, have a brain.

      • #6
        I'm just waiting for the labels to figure out a way to outsource to India. I'm sure they're working hard on it.