You Tube #1 is Not #1 on the Music Charts

Never let it be said that I won’t present opinions that are in opposition to my own views. Shayan Italia, who is an indie artist that acheived 190,000 plays for his video in the first 24 hours of its placement online and also raised a ton of money from independent investors (but has yet to achieve a high volume of CD sales), is compared to Duffy, an artist that moved 180,000 CDs in its first week through her major label deal with Universal Music Group.

Dan seems to think that these figures somehow translate to the fact that we’re all being premature by considering major labels to be in their death throes. He goes so far as to call the major labels “really creative businesses, allying marketing muscle with nothing more complicated than good music”.

Whoo. Where to start.

I agree with Mr. Sabbagh that indie artists have a harder time making mainstream levels of sales. That’s a no-brainer. Obviously, the major labels with their connections and marketing dollars have the ability to reach a larger segment of the music market. They’ve had a lock on the market for years, by establishing monopolies, working corrupt payola connections at major radio and television, and generally spreading their money around. That’s a given.

However, I believe the fact that Italia has acheived lower sales than Duffy only illustrates the fact that with more money, more success can be bought. I’ve been saying that all along. But calling the major labels “creative”, well that just amazes me. These are the same corporations that are pretty much still resisting the digital revolution to this day, only recently conceding in some small way that customer demand for better value in recorded music has led to the current slump in record sales (for the majors anyway – in response to the article, Coolfer points to the fact that the U.S. top seller last week was an Alan Jackson new release with sales of only 119,000). Meanwhile, sales at indies are growing steadily.

Major labels are slow to adapt to change, and quick to protect the (failing) old ways of doing business. (An indie artist with 10,000 units of sales ends up with more money in their pocket than one with a major deal that sells 100,000.) How that translates into “creativity” is anybody’s guess. But maybe I’m missing something.

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