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Fix the record industry!


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if you don't think there is going to be demand for music in 50 years I can understand your conclusion. but you're dead wrong. people love music enough to pay for it and they always will.

 

 

People love music enough to keep writing it too. Business isn't as simple as there just being demand for it. Its the demand weighted against the supply that determines economic viability.

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The other way you put it falls deeply into supply and demand. If you can't comprehend how this undermines economic viability in an industry that is based on an artform than its time to open a business textbook.

 

 

Oh i understand, you're once again missing the point. Business textbooks are what {censored}ed up the industry in the first place. People stopped listening with their ears and started listening with an M.B.A.

 

You can't sell art like its a box pencils or any other random product.

 

There will ALWAYS be a demand for good music. Finding it is the hardest part and then once you have you can't let it get {censored}ed up.

 

People need to ignore focus groups and marketing surveys and all that bull{censored}. Someone needs some balls to standup and say "this is a good band, we're signing it and i dont give a {censored} what your report says."

 

unfortunately anyone in that position has been castrated.

 

Tho we can always HOPE rubin does some good at sony......

 

now im really done. hope you understand this.

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One of the main problems with education is that we all assume that it should be paid for by landowners.



shouts to north indiana(!) the firehouse in north manchester is a great club and from what I understand funded by donations from people who support the arts and fun places for kids to hang.

but to your point---one shouldn't complain to an oregonian about property taxes as we may just have the worst.:)

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shouts to north indiana(!) the firehouse in north manchester is a great club and from what I understand funded by donations from people who support the arts and fun places for kids to hang.


but to your point---one shouldn't complain to an oregonian about property taxes as we may just have the worst.
:)



Hey- I'm about 40 minutes north of the ol' Firehouse- great place and right downtown.

So Oregon is truly medieval in its land rent, huh? Yikes. My property taxes are about as low as it gets, but throw a stone, hit beautiful Lake Wawasee, and all of a sudden it's 400% increases ("Well, at least those lakers can afford it..."). Some of our best friends relented and sold their home there because of the "rent". All to pay for... local football? More Microsoft products? The mind boggles...

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A few points.. The record industry was built on Rock and Roll, Why have they abandoned it? R&R is like a good pair of Levi's, it will always sell.

Lables have given up marketing to thier old clients, or providing them with music they like. Pretty simple really, give that audience a product they WANT to buy.

And really, who gives a {censored} if the majors are supposedly having trouble. They ran their buisiness into the ground by putting a product out that a large portion of people don't want to buy. I say let the majors die and maybe the next major lables will have a better grip on what product to sell.


Lower the price.... People feel they are being ripped off on every level, taxes, inflation, gas prices, a constant onslaught of people taking thier money. They think nothing of downloading songs from the net for free since they are being screwed every time they walk out the door. The last thing they would want to do is buy a CD with 2 songs on it for $16.00.... Ripped off again!

Lastly, which kindof ties into the first point, sign some actually talented artists. I believe there are thousands of bands or artists around that will never be heard. People are sick of plastic music, auto-tune, drums that don't even sound like drums etc.... And that kind of stuff starts right here. I've seen a thousand threads on plug-ins, drum replacement in recordings, studio trickery that will in the long run make a band sound, well, not real. If I buy a CD i'd want it to at least be real. Computers and recording practices have made it possible to stitch together an album. My 12 year old nephew could do 100 takes of a song, none good enough on it's own, but can be sewn into somthing with no mistakes and pefect pitch. What happend to putting up mic's and expecting the band to actually play it right in a few takes??


Bottom line, I think that radio and the majors just gave up on an entire generation of customers. So now either you get Fergie, or a Sabbath with Dio box set. I believe there is a huge market ready to buy, they just aren't hearing anything worth their hard earned money.

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A few points.. The record industry was built on Rock and Roll, Why have they abandoned it? R&R is like a good pair of Levi's, it will always sell.


 

 

 

The "Industry" was well in place way before the term "Rock and Roll" was coined.

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if you havn't checked out the long tail theory yet and you're interested in this topic here's a link: the long tail theory. pretty much sums how there used to be a few big fish and there are now alot of smaller ones. is this the inevitable outcome of more people having more access to more markets? no wonder big labels are miffed---they're used to having a complete monopoloy. no more. mid-majors and indies are getting more and sometimes decent cuts of the cake now. the long tail theory elaborates on why that may be.

A few points.. The record industry was built on Rock and Roll, Why have they abandoned it? R&R is like a good pair of Levi's, it will always sell.



they are selling rock and roll. modest mouse, wolf mother, white stripes, the killers, U2---and it is selling---just not dominating as nothing is dominating right now. to get to the top of the billboard chart requires alot less sales then it used to (then your sales drop off dramatically and you disappear from the billboard charts).

Lables have given up marketing to thier old clients, or providing them with music they like. Pretty simple really, give that audience a product they WANT to buy.



as far as I know people over 30 are keeping the industry afloat as kids are no longer buying cds. you must market to kids. that's the way the industry has always been and why they are trying to come up with new ideas to get a chunk of that middle class disposable income. you and I are sensible and aren't going to blow all of our money on records anymore. kids are different---they don't have to pay rent but all that money seems to be going to cell phones not cds.

And really, who gives a {censored} if the majors are supposedly having trouble. They ran their buisiness into the ground by putting a product out that a large portion of people don't want to buy.



I'd love to blame all this on J-Lo, 'achey breaky heart', and american idol but there's alot more to it then all of that. the traditional distribution channels are changing and alot of people are getting that artist's one good song for free now or simply buying it and leaving the rest of the album for the garbage heap where it may rightfully belong.


Lastly, which kindof ties into the first point, sign some actually talented artists.



amen. good lord I'm so with you. I'm so sick of autotune. it cheapens the imaginations of listeners everywhere. but there are still alot of modern recordings that I find very interesting: john vanderslice, menomena, the flaming lips, the roots, joanna newsom---there's alot of great work being done right now. you just won't hear it on your corporate radio stations. so let's all stop listening to corporate radio....

What happend to putting up mic's and expecting the band to actually play it right in a few takes??



again amen. but I still submit there are great recordings being made if you look past the FM dial...

Bottom line, I think that radio and the majors just gave up on an entire generation of customers. So now either you get Fergie, or a Sabbath with Dio box set. I believe there is a huge market ready to buy, they just aren't hearing anything worth their hard earned money.



nice points. I don't think majors gave up on dynamic interesting recordings completely but rather place highest priority on add placements as that's where the money and exposure is. if you sign to a major you're becoming a brand that will need to mingle and associate with other brands. the industry has always been slimey and underhanded though---at least now it's mostly out in the open for us orwell fans to gasp at:)

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if you havn't checked out the long tail theory yet and you're interested in this topic here's a link:
. pretty much sums how there used to be a few big fish and there are now alot of smaller ones. is this the inevitable outcome of more people having more access to more markets? no wonder big labels are miffed---they're used to having a complete monopoloy. no more. mid-majors and indies are getting more and sometimes decent cuts of the cake now. the long tail theory elaborates on why that may be.




they are selling rock and roll. modest mouse, wolf mother, white stripes, the killers, U2---and it is selling---just not dominating as nothing is dominating right now. to get to the top of the billboard chart requires alot less sales then it used to (then your sales drop off dramatically and you disappear from the billboard charts).




as far as I know people over 30 are keeping the industry afloat as kids are no longer buying cds. you must market to kids. that's the way the industry has always been and why they are trying to come up with new ideas to get a chunk of that middle class disposable income. you and I are sensible and aren't going to blow all of our money on records anymore. kids are different---they don't have to pay rent but all that money seems to be going to cell phones not cds.




I'd love to blame all this on J-Lo, 'achey breaky heart', and american idol but there's alot more to it then all of that. the traditional distribution channels are changing and alot of people are getting that artist's one good song for free now or simply buying it and leaving the rest of the album for the garbage heap where it may rightfully belong.





amen. good lord I'm so with you. I'm so sick of autotune. it cheapens the imaginations of listeners everywhere. but there are still alot of modern recordings that I find very interesting: john vanderslice, menomena, the flaming lips, the roots, joanna newsom---there's alot of great work being done right now. you just won't hear it on your corporate radio stations. so let's all stop listening to corporate radio....




again amen. but I still submit there are great recordings being made if you look past the FM dial...




nice points. I don't think majors gave up on dynamic interesting recordings completely but rather place highest priority on add placements as that's where the money and exposure is. if you sign to a major you're becoming a brand that will need to mingle and associate with other brands. the industry has always been slimey and underhanded though---at least now it's mostly out in the open for us orwell fans to gasp at:)

 

 

 

 

 

While I agree with most of your counterpoints, you give a great example of my main point. Me and alot of others don't consider The Killers, U2 or the White stripes kick ass rock n roll. They are good bands but nowhere near the intensity of say ZZ Topp, Deep Purple, Judas Priest, Old VH...etc. I'm not suggesting just remastering that stuff but sign band that play hard driving good old fashioned kick you in the teeth rock. I know there is alot of that out there but as you say, you won't hear it on corperate radio. They are too busy trying to re-invent the wheel! Now the first arguement would be that it's old and used up but why are the kids into AC/DC then? One band I can use as an example would be the Foo Fighters. They do alot of what i'd consider straight forward rock but have a twist on it that seems kinda fresh.

 

I don't know, I think things need top get shook up now and again. All I know is when the Red Hot Chilli's win "Rock band of the year", somthin needs shakin up! And I really do like the Peppers, but to me they aren't a "Rock" band.

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This is an excellent thread so far, I agree with a lot of the stuff already and there's been a ton of really eye opening comments and great suggestions. I wanted to add:

Maybe labels could try an approach of marketing the idea of music.... for example, have an ad campaign that reminds us of the good ol' days when dad would put on an album and kick back in the chair and read the newspaper, or a bunch of friends gather in the bedroom and rock out to an album and that kind of thing.

this idea has totally disappeared from our culture. music used to be an actual end object for entertainment, but now it seems we've turned music into an accessory to other things (jogging, driving, etc). perhaps if labels were able to remind people how great it feels to have an album in your hands (and everything that it entails, great cover artwork and interesting liner notes and such) and then how great it was to pop it into the home stereo and just enjoy it...

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This is a tough one and I dont think there any one direct answer. I do have some ideas that could keep some musicians in a paycheck though. If you follow the way the movie industry has multiplex theatres with 10 or more shows at once vs the lone movie theatres which are pretty much bankrupt. I could see the same approach to having a multi stage show approach with bands playing along with internet feed in paid suscription. This would keep musicians working and bring back the musical community and what it stood for. Musicians could play 2 hour spots and get a cut of the feed $ as theyre playing. Upon visiting one of these multi stage shows you could have your choice of venues maybe different price ranges depending on the talent. I admit it might be tough coordinating such a venture but they do it on cruse ships, and it would sure beat having to hit these deadbeat clubs to see a good show. The shows could also be rated like movied are for different ages. I think the way things are now club owners expect them to sell their alcohol for them instead of playing music and entertaining.

 

As far as recording and sales go I think the major labels are just getting payback for their sins of the past. Half the garbage they sold is coming back to haunt them in the form of low morality - stealing - drugs etc. That was the stuff they sold and now its given the industry cancer. How do you cure it?

I personally think its incurable. At least from my 40+ yrs experience.

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As far as recording and sales go I think the major labels are just getting payback for their sins of the past. Half the garbage they sold is coming back to haunt them in the form of low morality -

 

Bingo. Glad someone said it!

 

I think the record companies have been being "fixed" for some time now, as in abolished!:D

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A fascinating subject for a thread and judging by the submissions people really do care about what can be done to repair the irrepairable. Let's look at the issue by participant.

Record Labels - Let's face it. In the current climate they are rooted. Plummetting CD sales. Loss of control over distro. Fatally underestimating the power of the internet. An impotent governing body intent on litigation instead of solutions. DRM protected content that just frustrated users. And a record buying public who've forgotten the meaning of the word BUY! As in, the exchange of money for a product. Let's not forget the dreck they release. Record labels need to get back to the business of finding, nurturing and releasing great music. They must extricate themselves from the entertainment behemoths whose sole purpose is to make enormous profits. Record companies should not be controlled by bean counting suits! Abandon DRM. I pity the record exec who must be under enormous pressure at the moment. Ultimately i think the record companies have dug their own grave and they need to climb out before it gets filled in. They are in a way a victim though....of file sharing!

Songwriters/Musicians - You wouldn't write, record and release a record as a purely money making excercise would you? Not in the current climate. All that effort and expense for nought money. Luckily you're a musician/songwriter because you love doing it! Your recorded output now serves more as a part of your marketing rather than a significant income stream.

The Consumer - They have reasons to feel dudded by the record industry. CD prices too high and lack value for money if only 2 of the 14 tracks are any good. Saturation mass marketing designed to create blockbuster CD's and convince a buyer that they must be good...and they aren't! So now they can get music a la carte (and free) or burn from a friend's CD. Bingo! Too easy. In 2007 the cultural and entertainment value of music has been eroded so much that people view it more as an accessory than a necessity.

The Government - Legislate. Don't procrastinate. Internet Service Providers need to start adding a fee. They are the gatekeepers now. Cough up the fee, come through the gate, and enter the music smorgasbord. All you can eat. But ya gotta pay. That revenue needs to be distributed back to the copyright holders. Nightmare! Tax blank media. Doesn't have to be much e.g 3 billion blank CD's sold last year...1 billion were used to illegally burn and distribute recorded music (i made that up but you get the drift).

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This is a tough one and I dont think there any one direct answer. I do have some ideas that could keep some musicians in a paycheck though. If you follow the way the movie industry has multiplex theatres with 10 or more shows at once vs the lone movie theatres which are pretty much bankrupt. I could see the same approach to having a multi stage show approach with bands playing along with internet feed in paid suscription. This would keep musicians working and bring back the musical community and what it stood for. Musicians could play 2 hour spots and get a cut of the feed $ as theyre playing. Upon visiting one of these multi stage shows you could have your choice of venues maybe different price ranges depending on the talent. I admit it might be tough coordinating such a venture but they do it on cruse ships, and it would sure beat having to hit these deadbeat clubs to see a good show. The shows could also be rated like movied are for different ages. I think the way things are now club owners expect them to sell their alcohol for them instead of playing music and entertaining.


As far as recording and sales go I think the major labels are just getting payback for their sins of the past. Half the garbage they sold is coming back to haunt them in the form of low morality - stealing - drugs etc. That was the stuff they sold and now its given the industry cancer. How do you cure it?

I personally think its incurable. At least from my 40+ yrs experience.

 

 

Exactly! Instead of paying for a record of a performance (or more exactly a collage of smaller performances pieced together by an engineer) you pay for the performance itself with the ability to record it should you choose to do so. Musician's have mostly made money by playing live, either in a concert hall or a tavern, not by selling recorded copies of that performance. There are exceptions but for the most part the live performance is where the money is. David Gilmour has spoken a lot about how little Pink Floyd made off their album sales (DSOTM may still be the biggest selling album ever) and how much money they made by selling out stadiums.

 

How did musicians make a living before Edison invented the phonograph? By playing music to a live audience, either an active audience there solely to see and hear the musicians or a passive audience there to drink and socialize with the musicians as background. Without the ability to capture and record the performance there was only one way to make a living playing music, by charging the audience to hear you play.

 

Sheet music publishing companies made money for printing sheet music but at least they did add some value to their final product and charged accordingly. Most of the money going into the music production and distribution industry today adds zero value to the product itself, marketing and distribution adds zero value to a product and that's where they really spend the money from CD sales. Of that $20 you spend on a CD, most of the money goes into getting your attention to that CD not in it's actual production. You're paying them to sell the product to yourself not for the actual product.

 

The Mule Tracks website is a big step in the right direction and one that I feel most bands should follow. They are selling a product without the middlemen taking up the bulk of the profits for zero added value. They do pay for web servers and the like but at least these expenses add some value to the final product. The recorded performance should have ever only been a marketing tool for the live performance, not the other way around as the record companies have been doing it for years.

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I got this in my email today. Per the author's request, I am posting it here:

 

******************

 

Hi, Phil - I hope you aren't too pissed off that I found this email address.

But, I believe I have something of interest/value to add to your recent Harmony

Central Forum about changing the music industry. I'm not a member of the Harmony

Central site and couldn't wait to become a member to post this response. But,

I'm asking you to please post my response below on my behalf.

 

I won't be mad at all if you decide not to post my repsonse. At least, I got it

out of me... ;-) I'll be brief.

 

....

 

I have appreciated all the repsonses to this forum that Phil O'Keefe has started

here at Harmony Central. Some have shared hopeful ideas, helpful knowledge, and,

perhaps, mis-guided bitterness. But, I understand all of it. Changing the music

industry has always been in this unbalanced state that all who participate are

really responsible for the proper nurture and honest promotion of the art form

-- music. Seems to me, most people forget the true essence and the primary basis

of music when commerce is attached to it. In a way, we've all lost a respect for

the music for many reason. Let's not forget music was here long before we

existed on this earth and it will never cease throughout any of our lifetimes

here.

 

The state of art and commerce today is like the facets of a crystal with a light

source shining through it and that source, that energy is music. Time is the

wind that changes it's sides. Each shard of light represents a different state,

a different perspective, and a different set of circumstances. As musicians, as

business execs, as songwriters, as artists, as teachers, as lobbyists we must

become aware of any change in this state and be prepared to know where we stand

within that state, that perspective. Not only stand, but enable ourselves to

respond and act in a way that properly nurtures and honestly promotes the art

form.

 

I read a lot of the responses to this thread this afternoon and was somewhat

dismayed and confused inside myself because I'm trying to figure out where I

stand in this current state of commerce and art. I don't know that having to

blame the record industry wholly on the current state is a balanced perspective.

Yet, saying that every person who makes a song, one "good" song, should be

signed to a major label.

 

We have several generations in the industry with unique perspectives and

opinions that overlap in the roles they play with each other. Though this change

has slow progression, the effort to blend and balance those roles is taking

place. Thus, all of the conflict. As a musician, it doesn't do me any good to

disrespect the knowledge that has come before, but that also doesn't give me

license to be unaware of the technological advancements of this day to produce a

product. Just because I never went to music school and received the value of

those fundatmental lessons, my spirit doesn't deny me the skill, the craft, the

desire I have inside to share my passion with the world.

 

Music is energy and the world today is in short supply of positive energy. So,

if you create positive energy and tap into your inner resources to develop and

craft a product of our time, then that energy will find the positive receptors

in this world and create it's own path and bring back the rewards you desire -

regardless of any state of art and commerce. I truly believe this! This idea is

what keeps me in pursuit of my life as an artist, as a musician.

 

Thank you. I support you all in your unending efforts!

 

....

Phil, if you decide to post this, I sincerely thank you and I know your efforts

will be rewarded.

 

THX

 

-KMG

 

******************

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IIUC, the premise of this thread is that the music industry is "broken" because CD sales (based upon sales reports from the majors, apparently) are on the decline. Lots of folks have chimed in with reasons for the current state of affairs and suggestions for fixing the "problem".

I'd argue that the decline in sales of CDs by the majors is symptomatic of an *increase* in the overall health of the music industry. Sure, the majors are taking a hit. So what?

Look at the bigger picture. Over the same decades that the majors have been scrabbling to protect their turf, the MI industry has benefitted from economies of scale to produce gear that's more functional and more accessible to more would-be artists than at any time in history. There's no need for an artist to grovel for a label contract (basically, indentured servitude) when they can afford to own their studio.

Over the same period of time the computer industry has mutated into (or was absorbed by) the consumer electronics industry; the internet has grown from a (relatively tiny) research project for eggheads into the dominant medium for personal communications and publication; the cost to manufacture a CD in small quantities has dropped well below a dollar.

Meanwhile, former indentured servants (a.k.a. signed artists) have launched their own grassroots campaign to explain to a broad audience the true nature of a recording contract. Folks smart enough to do the math have realized that their chances of making a decent living at music are actually *better* as an unsigned artist; enough genuine "artists" are doing this that they seem to be depriving the majors of their lifeblood. (I don't buy the argument that grooming pretty people to mime something resembling music is cost-effective.)

What has changed is that the majors no longer control *the entire* industry. All those indie labels and all those folks with bedroom studios are creating product that *effectively* competes with the majors. It doesn't seem like the little guys ought to be able to make a difference, but there are *so many* small and tiny producers that they, in the aggregate, make a difference to the overall market. What's hurting the majors is not so much that folks are illegally downloading Metallica songs, but rather that the availability of material from so many diverse sources is taking time and attention away from the major media outlets and big-box distribution channels upon which the majors depend.

Do you think that the majors ought to broaden their base to include the small acts that are now self-produced or on small indie labels? A few guys in a garage have a better chance of handling that end of the market. The majors *can't* deal with the small acts. The majors' production costs are astronomical by comparison with the guys in garage; there's no chance that the majors could make *any* money (not even for label, never mind the artist) with a small act.

This last bit is pure speculation, but it's related to the subject. Take it with a large grain of salt. I suspect that what the majors will attempt to do, over the long run, is to get a piece (through technology and legislation) of the new distribution channel: the internet. They're certainly working hard right now to establish a justification for doing so...

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TieDyedDevil said exactly what I wanted to say. The home computer has made the "record industry" less and less necessary from the artists perspective. For a relatively small investment anyone can have their own recording studio and with some talent and practice they can put out a quality recording. They can market it and promote it on the internet and make a few bucks and they retain all rights to the product. They might not ever have crazy Elvis money or tour the world, but if they are content to be a big fish in a small pond, they can be quite successful without ever dealing with a major label. I'm not saying that everyone can do it, but there are a lot of people who are.

From the consumer end there are more and more options for where and how to get music (legal or not) and less and less that seperates the different artists. It can be harder to find the small artists but when you do it is more rewarding than taking what the majors shove down everyone's throat.

Oh yeah, and let's not forget about $3.50 for a gallon of gas. There is a lot less disposable income these days. It seems to me that the rise in gas prices and the decline of CD sales happened at about the same time.

I think the small labels are the best hope for the music industry. They are flexible enough to change with the times and they are more artist and consumer driven. The majors seem to be purely profit driven. Just Autotune some pretty dancer to sound just like Britney Spears and if it doesn't sell 2 billion copies blame it on the internet.

All in all, it's a perfect storm for the major labels. I don't think they can legislate or litigate their way out of it. They need to make some deep and probably painful changes to the way they do business.

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Oh yeah, and let's not forget about $3.50 for a gallon of gas. There is a lot less disposable income these days. It seems to me that the rise in gas prices and the decline of CD sales happened at about the same time.

 

 

That may be a contributing factor, but I'm not convinced that it's the reason people are not spending their remaining disposable income on CDs. There are a lot of folks paying Apple for iTunes downloads. And, around here at least, plenty of musicians sell their CDs direct to their fans for $10 to $15 each (and that's over and above the cost of the ticket.)

 

The majors always have an excuse for declining sales and they're not afraid of using the mainstream media to spread their gospel. In the early seventies the majors complained that AOR (album oriented rock) stations were taking away their sales. They claimed that consumers were taping albums from the radio instead of buying them. Personally, I never knew anyone who did that. It's more likely that people were content to wait for their favorite tracks to come around on the radio. One important factor that was never disscussed in the majors' media monologue was that album prices had increased by a dollar or more every year right at the beginning of the Christmas sales season until prices had effectively doubled.

 

 

All in all, it's a perfect storm for the major labels. I don't think they can legislate or litigate their way out of it. They need to make some deep and probably painful changes to the way they do business.

 

 

OTOH, the majors are the proverbial 800-pound gorilla. They have a lot of muscle to put behind whatever course of action they think will improve their profits, regardless of whether the action seems rational.

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Again,


Promote people who can play and write. If they look good too, all the better. If not, do what you can to make them look good. But it has to be about the playing and the writing and not about the image.


And I still maintain. If you cannot fill an album with good songs, you have no business releasing an album. This is a business for professionals. Put up or shut up.

 

 

+1. To take it further, all those involved in finding "Talent" and getting them to the masses MUST have a musical background and a CLUE. Just having an MBA doesn't cut it.

 

Other points:

 

-Stop suing your customers. You're just making bad blood and alienating people. If you weren't "The Man" before, you certainly are NOW.

 

-Get rid of Payola. PERIOD! Level the playing field a bit, give us some VARIETY in the play lists! If the Local DJ has a lead on a hot band, LET HIM PLAY IT! He'll know soon enough whether to play it again.

 

-Accept lower profits. YUP I said it. This includes:

-Cut CD prices in HALF. Your telling me this stuff cost as much to make as it did in 1985? No way. Distribution may have increased, so I'll concede that.

-PAY your artists more, HONOR your contracts and actually promote everyone EQUALLY.

-Music is ART, not a stock price. Of course, keep it in the black, but don't do STUPID things to show a "Profit" this quarter.

 

-STOP signing "Me too" acts. Sign the innovator and that's IT! If someone is similar but brings something new OK, but if I can't remember which band is which then who cares anyway? Sidenotes to this point: Anyone seen the movie "Fronterz"? Funny stuff. Also a local guy I know changed everything about himself and his music to get signed (He eventually did and it bombed). Every couple of years we'd see his material change chasing the trend. WHY? SO he could get signed as a copycat. NO WONDER there's no originality in music today!

 

-Take celebrities out of politics, I don't give a rat's ass what some idiot thinks because he can sing/act. It just leaves a sour taste in my mouth for the whole industry. Let them walk the red carpet and that's it!

 

Speaking of industry, separate/Distance yourself from Hollywood. They're on a downward spiral too IMO.

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If I were running a label, I would do the following to start:

1. Stop the celebrity fever: today labels are focused on promoting celebrities, squiz everything out of their image and popularity and forgetting about the real deal: music. I'm a Metal Head and I will point out to that kind of music only. I don't know about freaking fergie or Gwen Steffany or madonna or whatever, so don't expect to read about pop music.
2. with that said, my next step would be clean the metal scene: what the hell is that thing called "metalcore?". You cannot compare HateBreed to Iron Maiden, you cannot make the mistake of comparing Chimaira to Celtic Frost, but popular shows, like HeadBanger's Ball, play a lot of this type of music and keeping away from the real deal in art and music, How can you compare a guitar playing from Dave Murray (Iron Maiden) to the unknown guy of Chimaira? how can you compare Rob Halford's vocals to those yells of these guys?.
3. Stop the myth of the "mega master engineer". Why record labels "offer" a money advance to bands and then, they decide that the production must be made by their own engineers? the money stays there! at the label, the "advance" is just another way to squiz the artist.
4. Stop the myth of the Name brand equipment. Out there, there are many "experts" saying that if a recording studio or label does not have a 20K+ protools system or a 2k+ Gibson they will "not get the sound". That's bull{censored} and I ask again: do you rely on your gibson or your talent? do you rely on Protools or your ability to have a good and clean recording?

Well, by now, this is it. I might be posting something in a near future.

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The industry has needed to change a long time ago. People are tired of being dictated to what to buy, who to listen to, or duped into believing some artist has genuine talent. However it would take a huge collective of smart consumers to make a difference. But by the time the consumer gets smart enough to know the music is really not that good, he or she has moved out of the intended demographics of the record company's biggest target, the kids.

Historically technology has always affected everyday business and life; thus change is constant. You either adapt or get left behind with the Flintstones. This technology has given today

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I can't bring myself to blame the recording industry much for anything they've done. Many musicians and music aficianados think they can accurately judge what's going to sell, but considering the reality you realize that it is a very risky and volatile business. You're basically gambling. Some really great artists are market-tested and bomb horribly. I remember hearing the story of one such artist on NPR who had established greats like Paul Simon and Bono saying he was going to be a huge star, but the label couldn't get the artist's career off the ground at all no matter how much promotion they threw at him. The market-testing was lukewarm at best.

On the other hand, popular fads always guarantee some revenue. The current cult of celebrity has given us Ashlee Simpson and Kelly Osborne and proven that talent is not really all that important. More examples, remember the songs, "I'm too sexy yeah" or "I can't sing / I can't dance / the only thing about me is the way I walk." You can get pop hits from silly stuff sometimes. What sells doesn't even have to be music.

Next point, iTunes is only a drop in the bucket. Online or digital music only accounts for 16% of music sales right now, according to a recent BBC news article. It will grow but right now it's a long way off from being anything that the industry can put their faith in. And I don't know this for sure, but I wouldn't be surprised if the profit from digital music really isn't all that much better than physical CDs. People say it is all the time because you don't have to pay for a physical product, you don't have to pay for trucks to distribute the product, but then you consider that you do have to pay for servers, bandwidth, encoding the music, staff to update and manage the content of iTunes, and people to monitor all this, and the reality is not that it costs nothing to release music digitally. Sure it costs less, but people always act like it costs nothing.

Third point, there's this idea that if the big rock and roll artists of the '60s or '70s were around today, they would be able to sell massive amounts of records. Yet that is clearly not true because a lot of those artists are around. Some are making new music, but a lot aren't. All of them are failing to capture the audience and the sales that new acts are capturing. Just look in the last couple years here, we had Brian Wilson release Smile, we had Paul McCartney put out a new CD, we had Bob Dylan put out a new album. The sales figures on these albums are nowhere near what artists like Fallout Boy or 50 Cent are generating. It's only nostalgia and ego that keep us from seeing this.

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There are several answers that can be seen by looking at other old institutions that could not stay alive as the years went by. The big, slow moving old business cannot keep up with change- and the music industry is one.

Want an audience? You can self produce and create a web space for free with numerous online services like myspace. Yes I hate myspace too, but they are featured every month in Guitar Player Magazine with 10 of the top picks.

How about well- thought out albums with well written songs? In the 70's, recording artists (and the movie industry for that matter) was not trying to bombard us with quantity, but would hold out for quality. Zeppelin's legacy survives on a dozen albums or so. ZZ Top is getting ready to produce another album later this year- the prior album Mescalero- was produced in 2003.

At the beginning of their careers, most musicians felt like they wanted to make a point by making music- and because they loved it. Now we are reaping the whirlwind of musicians approaching the industry first as a money maker and secondarily as a form of art and expression. The recording companies started to believe that people wanted quantity- and they became greedy- hence you have music buyers at the labels that are simply trying to make budgets and goals- therefore they are buying in quantity at the expense of quality. The disgruntled public not satisfied in the level of quality they are getting seek to acquire music in alternative methods- P2P, torrents, etc.

The bottom line is that if you can understand WHY the public was dissatisfied in the first place, then you have the catalyst for change- and in a capitalist market, angry consumers are the best opportunities to make money.

To say that is is broke and should be repaired is fair and does not need to be defended- but I believe that there is a business opportunity if you can harness the REASON that people seek alternative methods to get music. I do not buy into the idea that it is to get free music either- if you produce a quality product with a fair price, people will part with their money to buy it.

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The bottom line is that if you can understand WHY the public was dissatisfied in the first place, then you have the catalyst for change- and in a capitalist market, angry consumers are the best opportunities to make money.

 

 

 

There are a number of reasons for people liking popular music less.

Major labels aren't taking any risks. Who can blame them, taking risks is taking responsibility and who does that these days ;-). This means nearly everything that's heavily promoted in mainstream channels is very derivative of something that has come before. It's all "mass consumption music" but the mass is saying they are no longer consuming.

 

Why is this?

 

I think the first cause is that music has become a lot more available. Cheap recording means that the band down the street with a little bit of talent can put out a CD (or upload an MP3) that doesn't suck. This music is often just as derivative as the "Major Label" stuff, but at least it's from your own back yard! Buying their music means supporting your friends. If the number of CDs bought by any one person is a constant, any local CD sold is one less for a derivative major.

 

A second cause is the non-conformist reflex of people who really love music. Even in this thread some people have posted their "indy greats" with some pride - and I know that I do exactly the same for my friends. With all this new music around (because of the accessibility of the gear and the ease of distribution), people go actively looking for their own great finds, and getting their friends into the same "underground" bands. Again, every underground CD someone buys is one less for a major.

There's actually so much "good" new music around (or at least good enough to compete quite a bit with the major label music) that the playing field is leveling rapidly. Music lovers aren't buying mainstream anymore.

 

There's also a whole other section of music buyers (or perhaps currently ex-music-buyers) which is entirely social - the teen / youth segment that worked so well in ages past. They buy music because all of their friends buy that music as well. However because of declining sales and fragmentation, it's just not as 'cool' and 'in' to buy right into mainstream music anymore, and in any case there much fewer friends that like the Number One Band of the day than there were ten years ago. Having the latest cellphone is probably a better investment to be with the in-crowd.

 

 

Another manifestation of this is the summer festivals around here (Belgium, Europe). We have tons of festivals during the summer months, each with up to 150 bands. Tens of thousands of people attend these festivals, many more than one. They cater to nearly all music styles. Nearly every performance is packed with people even if ten bands are playing at the same time. You can't predict with any accuracy which bands which people will see - they'll go see a metal band for the first show and then head off for a Drum & Bass DJ set, come back past an introverted acoustic singer-songwriter show and then see the big-league old-guy rockstar performance with the big fireworks at the end.

 

I think with all this new availability, people are appreciating music more than ever, and finding music that caters to exactly their taste more than ever. It's like the industry has gone from only vanilla and chocolate to thousands of colourful, tasty, crunchy and gooey flavours. The majors are still trying to sell vanilla and chocolate, while everyone already knows there's so much more out there.

 

 

 

A related observation: I nag as much about the current state of pop music as most people around here. Someone mentioned Fall Out Boy as one of the bands they hoped would disappear if the recording industry was "fixed". I actually saw them at a summer festival, and I liked them a lot. They do know how to play their music. I also understand why some people consider them derivative. It's a good thing! Some people like chocolate, and will wax lyrical about the difference between 60% cocoa and 30% cocoa and how the orientation and geographical position of the hill on which the cocoa bean plant was grown makes such a huge difference in the quality. Other people will say "whatever, it's still just chocolate" and eat a mango.

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Labels only exist to do one thing- sell a product
What is their product? CDs
How old are CDs- 25 years
What resolution do they record in? 16/44kHz
What does every one prefer to record in? 24/96kHz
Who buys CDs? (1)Older people whose computer usage is limited to dial up and emailing (2) Audiophiles who wouldnt think of playing an ipod on their $200,000 stereo (3) Country music fans (4) People who have taste in music other than mainstream.
Are CDs overpriced? terribly
Has the public lost confidence in the labels? Appears so

Labels depend on a level of controlling and meritting methodologies. Ironically, the people who do this are usually not musicians and to my knowledge no course at any college provides this kind of training. Yet the public has put blind faith in these people to dictate,offer and sell an overly priced and obsolete product, when they should have realized the internet was pulling the rug from under their feet.
The only recomendation I would make to the labels at this point is to put pressure on Apple to release a 24/96k ipod with digital watermarks on every single file DLed from their website. Tangible product, along with artist loyalty has mostly evaporated.They had their chance with DVD audio- a format that would have improved the sonic quality of music as well as boister surround sytems sales, all in a product that could have been copy protected. But greed kept a universaly agreed upon format from taking root and here we are, two steps backward in sonic quality, and enslaved by MPG-3.

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Labels only exist to do one thing- sell a product

What is their product? CDs

How old are CDs- 25 years

What resolution do they record in? 16/44kHz

What does every one prefer to record in? 24/96kHz

Who buys CDs? (1)Older people whose computer usage is limited to dial up and emailing (2) Audiophiles who wouldnt think of playing an ipod on their $200,000 stereo (3) Country music fans (4) People who have taste in music other than mainstream.

Are CDs overpriced? terribly

Has the public lost confidence in the labels? Appears so


Labels depend on a level of controlling and meritting methodologies. Ironically, the people who do this are usually not musicians and to my knowledge no course at any college provides this kind of training. Yet the public has put blind faith in these people to dictate,offer and sell an overly priced and obsolete product, when they should have realized the internet was pulling the rug from under their feet.

The only recomendation I would make to the labels at this point is to put pressure on Apple to release a 24/96k ipod with digital watermarks on every single file DLed from their website. Tangible product, along with artist loyalty has mostly evaporated.They had their chance with DVD audio- a format that would have improved the sonic quality of music as well as boister surround sytems sales, all in a product that could have been copy protected. But greed kept a universaly agreed upon format from taking root and here we are, two steps backward in sonic quality, and enslaved by MPG-3.

 

 

 

I agree with most of your post except the DRM! That is just backwards thinking and what has kept the industry in the dark ages.

 

People want choice. And they are going to have it one way or another. If the labels do not put out a product that offers no DRM and at reasonable price's...then piracy is only going to get worse.

 

And the labels will have no one but themselves to blame.

 

Stop suing your customers, get rid of DRM and give reasonable prices to customers and START TREATING PEOPLE like customers AGAIN....then finally GET SOME REAL TALENT IN and they will see their industry saved. If not then it needs to go the way of the dinosaur. Because they are the ones who refuse to change.

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