Iceberg Dead Ahead!

By Steve Meyer, Inside Music Media™ Contributor

A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away from MTV, VH-1, too much disposable music, misused call-out research, corporate radio, the Internet, downloading, there was a whole lot more great radio, a whole lot more great label promotion people, departments called 'Artist Development' at all labels, and more people in the music business who really cared about music, not "product" and fashion videos.

Now we're engaged in a civil war between the states, i.e., the states of mind-set in the music industry versus the states of mind-set in the consumer marketplace, and this war will test whether this business of music can so long endure.

In my opinion, it's the failure of the music industry to fully understand the changes that have occurred in the consumer marketplace over the past decade that have contributed to the chaos existing at all major music companies today. While millions were illegally downloading in the late 90's, the industry seemed to put its collective heads in the sand, and didn't pay attention to what was happening at light speed as computers replaced stereos and TVs for many young people.

The industry answered largely by having its useless association, the RIAA, file lawsuits against several hundred individuals monthly they identified from a variety of online P2P websites. Here it is 2007, all the lawsuits have done nothing to decrease or diminish downloading in the consumers' mindset, and this week, the RIAA is now riding into college campuses on white horses and trying to round-up all the "outlaws' who are downloading illegally.

Again, complete failure of the music industry and its association to fully understand and comprehend what changes have occurred in technology in the past five years. There are intranets on almost all college campuses which cannot be tracked, and "darknets" all over the web that fly underneath all detectable online radar. If the industry and RIAA are cognizant of these facts, would they even bother to pursue action that has so far been as effective as the people who threw ice from the iceberg the Titanic hit, off the decks back into the ocean, thinking it might actually help the ship from sinking?

At the Digital Music Forum East conference in New York recently, Greg Scholl, CEO of independent music label The Orchard said, " The economics of the business are over for good and aren't ever going to be the way they were before."

Mr. Scholl has said it all in that sentence. Maybe, just maybe, someone in the industry heard those words and said it's high time to "turn the page" and start lowering the lifeboats onto the seas of cyberspace before the ship (the industry) sinks in a sea of continued chaos.

Steve Meyer is one of the music industry's top professionals and publisher of the new media newsletter DISC & DAT.