Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Death And Rebirth Of The Music Business

At one point in time, there were towns without doctors. A physician was highly sought after. Now we have multiple doctors with different specialties all within a few blocks from our homes. Pilots used to be limited to military airplanes, now they are needed for day-to-day life from commercial international flights to short tours over landmarks and a quick lift to skydive from. The reason these industries have grown so much is because many people recognized a demand and developed ways to meet it. When I hear that the music industry is failing, I get conflicted and flustered. It seems to me that it's not failing, it's prospering. The only thing that's failing is the assumption that 225,000,000 people are all going to go after one product. We don't assume that we can fit 1,000 on one plane, and we don't assume one doctor can handle 3,000 regular patients. I think what we're witnessing is the transformation of big corporations into small businesses. The ratio of music to listeners is much closer than it has ever been, and the spectrum of genre and taste is at a new level of eclectic. One record label with 150 major acts will not profit off of the mass market. But 150 labels with five acts will. Think about it. A transition into small business isn’t a failure, it’s a massive improvement. The only thing that could fail would be the major Big Three (Sony, Universal, and Warner) record labels, but that would only be a failure for them. As it is now, the major labels have taken all the power from any independent entity. Radio stations can’t play what the DJ’s want, retailers stick to the contracts they have with major distribution, and any musician that is halfway decent will either be bought into the majors or pushed down so as to not take potential market; i.e; “Fans.” We are finally at a point where the music industry might crumble. I say crumble only because what is will fall, and what SHOULD be will soon rise. Large venues will close and 10 smaller venues will open in their place, so on any given night dozens of acts can take a stage. Radio stations will no longer be supported by payola bribes and will have to make money through advertising, forcing them to attract listeners by desire rather than default. Independent labels will be able to turn modest profits off of a modest roster, meaning smaller labels won’t have to choose between making a living and being involved in the music they care about. The only thing music piracy did was regulate an industry. Be proud of it.