The year the music dies

January 24, 2003

Wired: The Year The Music Dies

Record labels are under attack from all sides - file sharers and performers, even equipment manufacturers and good old-fashioned customers - and it's killing them. A moment of silence, please.

This article only focuses on one half of the story about why the record industry is precariously hanging on to life. As important as technological and cultural developments are, the bean-counter mentality that came to dominate the industry during the late 90's had another, more nefarious effect. Big labels stopped developing artists. If an artist's first record didn't break, that artist had little chance of their second or third albums promoted, released, or even recorded. The labels instead tried to jump on whatever trendy, cheap artists they could manufacture with little investment. In the short term, the return can be very good. The success of these acts will only rarely carry over into a second or third album, and generally declines as time goes on, while the cost of keeping the artist around increases. In contrast, if the labels had been actually developing artists, the overall return per album would be much lower, but the overall vitality of the label would be steadier.

Now, the lack of artist development is starting to show.

This thought could become more complete and coherent, but I'll still post this first draft. Posted by Andrew Raff at January 24, 2003 01:48 PM

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