MUSIC INDUSTRY: The Day The Music Died (Again)

No, not the plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and The Big Bopper.

I’m referring to the other day the music died – the day the record labels decided to sue their customers through the RIAA. And, fight the Internet because it feared downloading music – even legal downloading –- would put a crimp in critical CD sales (which it did).

Things are sure quiet out there in record land.

Not a peep from the major labels other than last minute attempts to buy each other. (Just what you want, dying companies merging with each other).

The cutbacks continue. It’s business as usual. No bold new plans. Artists are getting restless. Apple is driving the negotiations for any upcoming changes to their iTune pricing and library availability. Only one label has consented to removing DRM protection.

All this and still no hot new music trend.

It’s almost as if the labels finally understand that the diagnosis is critical and they are seeking last ditch treatment to save their lives at the Mayo Clinic.

I’m a big fan as you most likely are of Bob Lefsetz the record industry critic who not only speaks his mind, he speaks it in the vernacular the record labels understand.

In a recent letter, Lefsetz did a piece on reasons why not to sign with the major labels. See if these reasons help you arrive at the conclusion that this business is dead:

1. They tell you what to do.
2. They're only in the disc business.
3. They don't pay you.
4. There's no one working there.
5. They just care SOMETHING hits.
6. They control physical distribution, not online distribution.
7. Tour support is a thing of the past.
8. They only want you once you've proven yourself independently.
9. MTV is dead.
10. Terrestrial music radio is dying.
11. They specialize in saying no.

Their minions are taking the lead and the results promise to be self-destructive.

SoundExchange is leading the battle to get terrestrial radio to pay performance fees for playing the music they are selling less of.

Please re-read the last sentence.

The duly-anointed are also trying to bleed Internet streamers to death by sitting idly by while the CRB imposes unfair royalty fees on Internet broadcasters.

Don’t reread that sentence.

In almost every area the major record labels are not leading, not innovating and not appreciative of their present partners and future partners in getting the music out to the public.

If the terrestrial radio industry decided to retroactively bill the music industry for all the free airtime it has given over to selling records as part of its programming the labels would not be able to pay the bill. (Maybe they would understand what it is like to be an Internet streamer).

But I have figured out why the record labels have not been able to see what others see so clearly and why they are on a combative, destructive and futile mission. Why they will one day be extinct.

The labels have been taken over by lawyers.

That’s what lawyers do. Sue, threaten, defend, fight and battle for the status quo.

The labels need their own Steve Jobs. A person who is product driven, innovative, intuitive (if not stubborn), knows the next generation’s needs and who can see the future clearly.

Don’t get me wrong.

The label execs and Jobs do have something in common.

They all have huge egos.

The only difference is that the labels are proving every day that Jobs has all the brains.