The music industry’s new business model
An interesting story from Financial Times is the result of an interview with Brian Message, a former accountant (i.e. lion-tamer in training) who is one of Radiohead’s three managers. Thom Yorke of Radiohead, according to the article, has predicted the demise of the major labels within months. Good. I don’t think he’s inflating things at all.
As I said recently, music lovers don’t care who sells the music, they care about listening to it. Also note that
In the past, how you listened to music played second fiddle to what it sounded like. Only finger-sniffing audiophiles cared whether you listened to Nirvana’s Nevermind in 1991 on vinyl, cassette or CD. To everyone else the point was the album itself.
What the author (preposterously named “Ludovic Hunter-Tilney”) means is that how you got the recording mattered less than the musical content. The quality of the recording is another matter that people still greatly care about (at least me, and all of my friends who have good taste). Nowadays how you get the music is critical to whether you hear it at all, despite drastic costs in quality of sound.
I hope that Brian Message and Thom Yorke are right: what is about to happen to the a-holes running the major labels is not just “DIY record labels.” The music industry is cannibalizing itself and all that will be left will be small businesses that actually care about music. That will be the only way to get music: buy it from the artists themselves.
What I found most amusing was this statement:
Aspiring musicians can nowadays make decent quality home recordings on a four-track recorder costing £150, a sum that would barely buy a couple of hours in a professional studio. They can upload their songs to the internet and send them to retailers, social networking sites, song streaming services and so on. The majors’ stranglehold on the way music is produced, distributed and promoted is weakening.
As evidence, watch the following video and remember that this music was recorded on equipment that cost way less than that: