Fas­ten your seat­belts, this will be tur­bu­lent

The mu­sic biz revo­lu­tion will con­tinue apace in ’08

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - News -

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.

Pay as you go: Ra­dio­head turn their backs on tra­di­tion

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