Thursday, August 16, 2012

Majors


The era of the major labels developing new artists is over.

The trend right now for folks under 30 or so is playlists. They want the music of their choice, in the order they choose, for as long as they want it to go. And since most people just don't have the time or the motivation to browse the internet for hours in order to track down what they want, a reasonably priced streaming service like Spotify or MOG is just what the doctor ordered.

It's streaming that will ultimately keep what's left of the "music industry" afloat; not lawsuits and other draconian tactics designed to reestablish a defunct paradigm. You have to roll with technology, not fight it. Just think what would have happened if there was a powerful horse-drawn carriage lobby in the 1890s!

But the more I think of it, the more I realize that there really is no reason for the majors to exist anymore, or at least as we know them now. Distribution? I can take one of my songs right now and upload it to YouTube, and anyone in the world can hear it near-instantaneously.

So that leaves marketing and promotion. The problem being, I don't see major labels promoting anything these days that doesn't have a shot at making the Top 40. If you're in a rock band, I would honestly question why you would ever sign with a major at this point. How are they going to help your career? By taking a huge percentage of your merch and tour receipts in a 360 deal that screws you eight ways from Sunday?

Wouldn't it be better to work with indy promoters and management, make your music available on the web via a streaming site, and focus on your music and building your fanbase? At least if you make it, you'll know that you got there on the strength of your sound, and not because you were forced upon a disinterested public via the hype machine. Instead you've built something that will last a lifetime-- a grassroots fanbase.

The majors are a modern day equivalent to The Emperor's New Clothes; yelling at anyone who will listen how they are entitled to keep the money machine rolling, while the general public simply laughs and points at them.