Monday, May 12, 2008

Death of the Music Industry

Today marks the 5th Anniversary of the death of the record label dominated music industry. Well not officially, but it seems like several years has passed since any major record label amounted to having any effect or presence in the industry it once ruled. The burden of promoting and marketing has been passed on to the artists. Distribution has lead way to all kinds of start-ups which are now gladly taking the reigns left by the labels and record stores.

Apple I-tunes is profiting like a medium sized country as they receive the compounding effect of artists joining their distribution chain and network. All this may seem obvious now, but let’s put this whole thing in context. What happened? What caused this?

The obvious catalyst was technology and the era of the mp3. Remember when bands like Metallica lobbied U.S. lawmakers and made public outcries to punish people that converted their songs to mp3s? You can’t fight a technological revolution. You can’t win against a format so portable so powerful so flexible it makes all other formats obsolete. There is no doubt the quality of vinyl records and CDs were better – but the portability factor was the same reason that tape killed its large shaped disc predecessor.

I like music now and I think it is better off today because of these changes. Not too long ago record companies would charge artists hundreds of thousands of dollars to record a record in minimal time. Now artists can spend as much time as they want recording on home studios which pump out broadcast quality music. Music is better for this. There is also more music to listen to. Yes lots of it is terrible I admit – scan myspace and the sh*t stacks high quickly, but there are some gems to be found and I find them everyday. It’s never been so good for music.  Death no, music has reincarnated.