28
Feb
08

Music Execs Say “Music 1.0 is Dead”

Ars Technica ran an interesting piece today that summed up the highlights on this year’s Digital Music Forum East Conference.

It seems that the major labels have finally come to grips with the following issues:

  • DRM on purchased music is dead
  • A utility pricing model or flat-rate fee for music might be the way to go
  • Ad-supported streaming music sites like iMeem are legitimate players
  • Indie music accounts for upwards of 30 percent of music sales
  • Napster isn’t losing $70 million per quarter (and is breaking even)
  • The music business is a bastion of creativity and experimentation

Of course, the one that jumps out to me is the fact that indie music is at 30 percent of total music sales. That’s more great news for independents, not so great for the majors. Of course the majors came to their own defense. “‘Ted Mico, the head of digital strategy at Interscope, defended the majors by saying that “anyone who has spent an hour or a day listening to demos understands the labels’ place in the food chain”; that is, labels provide both filtering and then marketing of music. Without their help, promising artists would be lost in a sea of noise and would be almost impossible for music lovers to discover.’ Sound like the majors are planning to hold on to their “gatekeeper” status for as long as they can. I guess calling themselves “tastemakers” is their last line of defense. How imperialistic and incredibly egotistic of them. Listening to them, one would conclude that music listeners can’t decide on their own what kind of music they like. They need the majors to do it for them. Ridiculous.

Thankfully, there was an opposing point of view: “…iLike pointed out that labels, in fact, don’t actually need to spend their time listening to demos; customers have already done it for them. Social networking sites like MySpace show that it works. Do music labels still need expensive A&R staff when they can simply listen to works of any band with over 50,000 MySpace friends?”

Exactly the point I’ve been trying to make. A&Rs are over-paid blowhards who are no longer necessary or even relevant in today’s music market. We don’t need A&Rs (or major labels, for that matter) to tell us what we like. Whether they, the majors, like it or not, they’re heading ever faster toward the role of financier for independent labels and acts. It’s been “Independent’s Day” for a while now. It seems the majors maybe finally showing signs of realizing that.

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