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Business - Written by on Thursday, October 11, 2007 11:15 - 2 Comments

Music industry quickly resembling a house of cards

“Hopefully the rest of the industry will look at this as a best practice and change their tactics.”

Not too long ago (last week actually), these words were written on our blog regarding Radiohead’s move to offer their new album via their website. Clearly, we were hopeful that other members of the music industry would catch on… and a few have caught on faster than most of us expected.

In the past week we’ve seen a few more large recording acts announce that they will be moving forward without the big music labels in tow.

Nine Inch Nails – in true Web 2.0 fashion they posted their announcement on their blog.

Hello everyone. I’ve waited a LONG time to be able to make the following announcement: as of right now Nine Inch Nails is a totally free agent, free of any recording contract with any label. I have been under recording contracts for 18 years and have watched the business radically mutate from one thing to something inherently very different and it gives me great pleasure to be able to finally have a direct relationship with the audience as I see fit and appropriate. Look for some announcements in the near future regarding 2008. Exciting times, indeed.

Oasis – without a contract with a big label, the group is rumoured to be following Radiohead’s example. Additionally, they have announced that their next single will only be available via a 99 pence download.

Jamiroqua – also without a big label contract, the group is also rumoured to be following Radiohead’s example.

Madonna – in a deal consisting of $120 million US in cash and stock, she is reported to be entering a contract with Live Nation (largest promoter of live concerts in the world – they are not a record label) to distribute three studio albums, promote concert tours, sell merchandise and license her name. This would mean she is officially done with Warner Music after delivering one more greatest hits CD as per her current contract.

One characteristic common in all of the above artists is that they are all well-accomplished and well-known acts. They’re all veterans and products of the current music industry and yet they are jumping ship – a strong sign of something seriously wrong with the industry’s current business model.

That said, the new web is one of direct delivery from creator to consumer and vice versa, one that removes the middle man. Is there even room for record labels anymore? Maybe, but I don’t think they will resemble its current size and glamour.


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Naumi Haque
Oct 12, 2007 10:04

Hopefully this will open up some previously less accessible international music as well. I just looked up a band that was recommended to me, only to find out that if I wanted to purchase the music legally I’d have to shell out $45 for the “import” CD. SoulSeek is looking pretty attractive right now…

Dec 2, 2007 13:51

This will be a turning point for all artists. At the end of the day why would anyone want to give away royalties to their work if they can keep it all. Labels are not really needed as much as years past. Music can be recorded cheap, promo can be next to nothing with some effort on the net and webcam’s can offer live shows to thousands.

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