Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The 'Demise' of the Music Busine$$ | What's Missing from the equation?

"I'm the guys honest truth / they decide the lie / they just divide they legs, I divide the pie" 
— Iggy Azalea, 'Murda Bizness'

The 'Demise' of the Music Busine$$ .... What's Missing from the equation?


There have been countless articles postulating on the so-called 'demise' of the music industry. I say 'so-called' because - unbeknownst to most - the Music Busine$$ is alive and well.

While pre-internet, artists would pull in most of the earnings from their shows & merchandise while on the road, that pie has grown significantly smaller. Post-internet, the record labels saw a prime opportunity. They began to perceive artists' songs as lost leaders, in a sense, making the shows the focus of their profiting. The 360 deal was born.

While it's true that digital music sales have suffered, what's missing from the oft-discussed 'demise' of the music busine$$ equations are all of the profits on back-end. 

In the pre-internet (hence, free download) days, the record labels would make most of their earnings from the sale of records. But those sales took a nose-dive as the rise in illegal downloads soared, and those once-robust sales now experienced an inverse relationship with the rise of those free downloads.

While it's true that the success of the mp3 brought with it a certain malaise amongst listeners, free downloads are still taking a huge bite out of the potential for profits amongst independent labels. The majors, however, at this point have little incentive to fight the illegal download battle.

The Music Busine$$ responded to the inescapability of lost album & single profits by contracting, combining forces by merging and forming huge, conglomerate, monolithic entities. I myself was caught up in the drama of those early merger days with the Seagrams takeover of MCA. (for more see here & here) And with that joining of forces came a new approach: a new mentality was borne from that paradigm shift. The new guard saw new opportunities for profiting, not from the sales of music, but from the sales of ancillary events & items: performances, merchandise, etc.

So when we talk about the reasons for the demise of the music business, we're really talking about a Trojan Horse. If we look inside, what we'll find is a Music Busine$$ that has learned to adapt, one that has shape-shifted, reconstituted, and risen to new lows.

For more on the 360 deal read Digital Music News, and Disc Makers Echoes


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