Labels Acting Like...Well, Labels

Put this in perspective.
  • Warner is trying to buy EMI again. The two record labels have been doing the merger dance for many years now. Some think it's just big egos trying to best each other. All this while their businesses go to the dogs.
  • The RIAA has stepped up its targeting of university campuses in hopes of catching more college students doing the nasty -- illegal downloading.
  • And while all this is going on record industry execs are privately working on life without digital rights management (DRM) while publicly, for the most part, denying it.
It's just another day in paradise for the trouble music industry.

Here's what would be more productive:
  • Warner and EMI should not even talk to each other. Merging doesn't solve any problems with regard to the challenges and opportunities the new digital world has imposed on them. Clear Channel got a virtual free pass to buy all the best radio stations and their current move to break up the company is an admission of how far consolidation got them. But, I digress.
  • Every major record label should join the real world and follow the lead of indie labels in embracing DRM-free music downloads not posture one way publicly and scheme privately for possibilities in a post-DRM world.
  • And, as a result, the RIAA could save everyone the legal fees and embarrassment by ceasing its lawsuit jihad against college students, young people, music lovers and unborn children they've been targeting (okay, I made up the unborn children part -- I admit it).
Hello? Do you get the feeling the labels think that they have everything under control? Really. I get the feeling they think they'll figure all this out and it'll be business as usual with a few concessions to Steve Jobs.

Denial in the music media industry is at a fever pitch. Radio is in denial that a totally free medium could every be KOed. Satellite radio thinks combining two companies will jump start a groundswell of new subscribers. Television is in denial over the reality that they may not be able to control the delivery of their content going forward (think YouTube).

The stakes are high -- almost as high as the anxiety that top media executives are feeling these days.

So it matters less if two mega record labels merge. It's time to step up and cooperate with the inevitable.