Monday, May 28, 2007



An old pal of mine got laid off last week. He won a Grammy a year, more or less, for decades. My old company is down by more than half and they laid off-- that means fired-- another 400 people. The record business-- or, more accurately, the corporate record business-- isn't a promising place. I kind of tried explaining why I thought so about 3 months ago when I explained the concept of industry suicide. Today's NY Times got into it too. Music, of course, is as integral-- if not more integral-- in the lives of people. The middleman, the music biz, on the other hand seems to have outlived its usefulness and is widely viewed as an obstacle to the enjoyment and proliferation of music. They have no useful purpose-- not to consumers, not to new and developing artists, not to successful artists, not to shareholders, not even to the vast majority of the employees that are left. Upper level management is still suck all they can get out of the corporate tit, of course, but so much has been sucked out, its nearly dry.
Despite costly efforts to build buzz around new talent and thwart piracy, CD sales have plunged more than 20 percent this year, far outweighing any gains made by digital sales at iTunes and similar services. Aram Sinnreich, a media industry consultant at Radar Research in Los Angeles, said the CD format, introduced in the United States 24 years ago, is in its death throes. “Everyone in the industry thinks of this Christmas as the last big holiday season for CD sales,” Mr. Sinnreich said, “and then everything goes kaput.”

Everyone left behind who I know thinks it already all went kaput. The business has gone from one run by savvy music fans to one run by leveraged buy out operators looking to monetize whatever assets they can. No one's buildin' nothin'. Hostility to, and studied ignorance of, technological innovation-- inevitable technological innovation-- has killed the record business. Even now, with industry dinosaurs clinging to the hated DMR "protections" and trying to force their own outmoded vision on consumers instead of serving consumers what they are clamoring for, the executives with the biggest paychecks are digging their companies deeper and deeper into holes that lead their owners into financial oblivion.

The smartest artists are running away from the major label death spiral as fast as they can. The Times article talks about Paul McCartney's escape from EMI. Lou Reed is another perfect example. His art has aged gracefully and his music is as relevant today as it ever was-- and it always was-- albeit to a different age group. Why make incredible and relevant music and feed it into a ridiculously irrelevant machine that is clueless about how to cope with it? No reason at all.

Check out what Nightmare of You is up to-- which is all about music and nothing to do with the corporate music biz and overpaid corporate music executives.



At 3:36 AM, Blogger Marie Roget said...

Nightmare of You an excellent band- good vid also. Will send it around, HK. Hope you r well.

At 8:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more.
The big music biz's focus on maintaining short term profit (lots of reasons for this) makes it impossible for them to embrace the inevitable model(s) of the future for music distribution. To listen to them talk, it's as if they think that just because they found a way to extract a ridiculous amount of money by being a middle man for a while, that they are entitled to this business arrangment for ever - and the government should help them do it.

At 8:53 PM, Blogger aram said...

Well said.


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