Fasten your seatbelts, turbulence ahead
If you thought 2007 was an eventful year for the record industry, you ain’t seen nothing yet. The next 12 months will see even more upheaval and change as established stars, major labels, rising acts, music fans and pundits try …
If you thought 2007 was an eventful year for the record industry, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
The next 12 months will see even more upheaval and change as established stars, major labels, rising acts, music fans and pundits try to keep track of seismic shifts in how music gets from the artist to the consumer.
Looking back on 2007, it’s easy to pinpoint just what was the biggest story from the record industry beat.
While Prince’s foray into the Sunday newspaper market and Madonna’s inking of a very lucrative deal with live music giants Live Nation produced many talking points, it was Radiohead’s PR scam that generated the most headlines.
By initially bypassing the traditional industry to release In Rainbows, the Oxford band showed that they no longer required a record label or traditional retail support to get music to their fans.
The fact that Radiohead had a huge, global fanbase thanks to many years and releases on a major label was conveniently overlooked by some commentators.
As every new band knows only too well, getting a fanbase in the first place is becoming ever harder to do.
With major labels no longer keen to invest in or develop new talent and the live sector interested only in acts with established audiences, new bands are finding themselves squeezed out of the picture again and again.
This emphasis on acts with established audiences was also hammered home by the bewildering numbers of new business models seeking to take advantage of the current troubles faced by the label sector.
Few of those promoting these allegedly innovative business models could explain how their bright idea would work for a band just starting out.
Instead, they grabbed their chequebooks and ran after acts who were coming to the end of a long innings with a major label and who were looking around for another big pay day.
Anyone seeking to write the obituary of the record industry should, however, hold off for a while longer because there’s still some life in that quarter.
While the majors continue to pimp catalogues with gusto, expect a slew of smart independent operators to make some moves in 2008.