Friday, March 10, 2006


It simply amazes me that record companies can be so far behind in their thinking when it comes to their business models. Maybe I shouldn't be. They've never really been proactive in anything other than price-hikes.

Technology has driven changes in music formats. If left to the record companies - we'd still be playing our 78 rpm acetate disks. The two biggest shakers in the last decade have to be Steve Jobs and Shawn Fanning (not necessarily in that order).

Napster (I won't hyperlink - since it's not that Napster to which I refer) completely changed the way music is record, distributed and played. Except for Edison, who can say that? Jobs, at least to date, as pretty much invented the ultimate player(s) and legitimate digital music store.

So it floors me that in yesterday's New York Times, I see this in an article on music downloads:

Breaking from the music industry's current custom, the singer's label — Island Def Jam — decided not to sell "So Sick" as an individual song before Ne-Yo's album hit stores last week. Label executives worried that releasing the track too early might cut into sales of the full CD — a fear that figures heavily in the music world's lumbering entry into the digital marketplace.

Are they kidding? I don't know anyone who buys an entire CD for one song. A disk has to be pretty damn good, or an artist w/a consistent reputation for me to buy a full disk. Either way - this isn't the 70s. The market is way different. Why go back?

"The labels are shooting themselves in the foot," said Tim Quirk, executive editor of the Rhapsody music service. To the labels, Mr. Quirk advises, "every single track that you are worried about is available for free whether you want it to be or not."

"You need to take advantage of every possible opportunity for people to pay in legitimate ways," he said.

At least someone in the industry isn't totally blind...though to be fair, Rhapsody is a digital music outlet. Do the record execs not realize that Napster flourished b/c of the buying public's frustration w/music distribution? They focus on their dying retail market - whereas 5 yrs ago it was piracy. What goes around comes around.

My g-d, last month iTunes sold their 1 billionth song. I've never purchased an entire disk of music from iTunes. It has always been individual songs. Though I've never seen any stats on it - I would venture to guess I'm no different than the majority of their consumers.

Even Stevie Nicks said in a recent interview that she does not see putting out another album as has been done traditionally. It is more to her advantage to release a few good tracks via services like iTunes than put out a mediocre album (and it could be argued that she's only put out mediocre albums). Oh - and she's gotta be 60 - right? Or pushing it. How is it someone in the grandma age-range has more insight to how business should be done than an MBA?

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