A rant about the music industry
This is an article I’ve wrote earlier on this year; a rant about the music industry and as you most probably can notice, I am in no way encouraging piracy and free distribution of music. I am myself an original music record collector. It seems though that many article submission websites are very close to the music industry and refused to post my article. The reason? Promotion of piracy and MP3′s. Such a joke!
Music Industry should embrace technology and change
In the late 1990′s, mp3′s became widespread all over the internet thanks to online services like and such as Napster. These services eased the distribution of such files (peer to peer) and therefore such services were also part of copyright infringements. Still even though such services were closed because of court orders, MP3′s are still around and the music industry is still claiming that they are at a loss, or better losing a lot of money. Before we look into this subject and try to determine if MP3′s are right or wrong, let’s start by looking into some facts:
Between June 2009 and June 2010 Lady Gaga made around $62 million. Beyonce and Britney Spears made $86 million and $64 million respectively in 2010. Madonna did much better in 2010, $138 million. U2, mostly courtesy of a massive world tour raked in more than $311 million in gross box office. Lucrative merchandise sales, copious radio play and a steady-selling back catalogue also earned them more than $130 million. There are many other artists who in 2010 joined the multi-million dollar income, such as Cold Play, Black Eyed Peas, Bruce Springsteen, Akon, Diddy and the list goes on.
Apart from the money these artists are earning, we must also have a look at what recording labels are earning. Throughout my research, I’ve found a good number of reports that clearly show that the recording labels typically eat up to 70% of the income, leaving the artists with less than 20% of the hard earned money. Let’s face the facts, being an artist is no easy life as we can see from “Amy Winehouse; Only the good die young“. So technically speaking, Lady Gaga’s recording label roughly earned around $43.4 million from this artist alone. That’s definitely a lot of money and more than I make in a week!
Even though millions are still being easily poured in recording labels bank accounts, they are still constantly moaning about it and trying to take as much people as they can to court. Their lame excuse is that most of the income is being generated from touring, merchandise and other advertising deals more than selling records. Selling records, unlike before is no major income anymore, both for the labels and artists. That might be a fact, but wouldn’t it be better if the recording labels adapt to today’s world and embrace such? How about trying to find a way how to exploit the situation? Life ain’t easy my friend. Internet is changing the world, the way we think, the way we do business, the way we do things and the way we interact. Like everything else around us, like any other business it is about time that recording labels wake up from their apathy and change the way they do business. What worked in the 80′s does not work today.
Most importantly of all, recording labels should realise that thanks to MP3′s, more people are getting to know about their artists, and listening to their music. In a way it might work out as a free marketing campaign for them. Most people do not afford, or are not willing to buy new records, but they are willing to go to concerts if they know who is in town, because a concert is a socializing and entertaining event. Before the MP3 age, to get to know about a particular artist or band, you had to listen to music on the radio and if you haven’t heard of him or her, even if they are in town for a concert you wouldn’t even bother to go. Though with the “brand awareness” that MP3′s generate for the artists, it is more likely that when someone is in town for a concert, you know about them and you’ll go for the concert.
Speaking out of personal experience, I have been following several music genres and scenes for over 15 years and was always obsessed with discovering new bands and musicians. Before the MP3 age, I would go down to the record shop, see what’s new, buy records and then if I don’t like the record, or I’m stuck with it, or I try to sell it. This really didn’t help the situation and therefore I was very cautious when buying new records, thus making it difficult to discover new bands. Nowadays it is a different situation and I’m trying to make the best out of it. I frequently download MP3′s of bands I’ve never heard of. If I don’t like them, I simply delete them, and if I like them, I’ll buy the record to add to my record collection. Thanks to MP3′s nowadays it is much easier and faster to discover new talents out there, and because there is no risk, I am buying more records. MP3′s or not, I still believe that if you like the music, you should buy it. It is different when you have the record, and you can smell and feel the artwork. As Mauro Berchi (main force behind Eibon Records) says “Like a white elephant or a ship sailing unknown seas, I still feel a good record MUST have a physical form, to preserve it from being just a molecule of water in the oceans of bytes out there.”
And this is just me. There are many others out there that do the same. I’ve also started my own blog where I review music records and helped me discover new bands. If it wasn’t for MP3′s, it would be much more difficult to interact with new talents, and also more expensive.
Therefore what about recording labels start investing in recruiting creative minds that can really exploit this situation, and make more money out of it? I am sure they got the budget, thanks to Lady Gaga! Instead of just moaning about the “few” millions you’re making, trying to take everyone to court, and trying to suck as much money as you can from your customers and artists themselves, be a little bit more pro-active and embrace change, like other businesses are doing. Currently the recording labels seem to be on a suicide mission.