Every corporation in power, when faced with the inevitabilities of competition, have a nasty habit of pushing backwards. They assume that by killing off any competition before it gets some momentum, that they have done enough to protect their business models. They assume that if they lobby or bribe hard enough and get even more draconian laws passed, it will give them more power to prevent any further problems down the line.
But change is eternal. It is progress and it cannot be stopped. Try as the corporations will, change always happen.
The recording industry built an empire decades ago based on the control of the media and the distribution chains. From time to time, different genres and social movements captured the public imagination and as is the norm, the record labels would swoop in, exploit the genre for what it’s worth, oversaturate the market with similar sounding bands and then when the market place was so diluted the labels would then move on to the new genre that is causing waves and repeat the whole cycle.
How quickly was PUNK abandoned for the NWOBHM. Then how quickly was the NWOBHM abandoned for the LA Glam Rock scene. How quickly was the rock scene abandoned and Grunge embraced. Then Grunge had a three-year reign at the top before it was abandoned for another genre.
Of course, that way of doing business was all based on the record labels controlling everything. So then comes a little thing called Napster and decades of record label control just blows up in their faces.
Teenage kids have now built a better system. The kids have built a system that sees artists having the opportunity to create and release music without gatekeeper approval. The kids have built a system that said to the record labels, we want music in these formats and we want it twenty-four seven.
And the system allows for the transitioning of power and control back to the audience and the actual creators. That is the problem the record labels have with the internet. The piracy is the argument they push forward, however the real problem is the lack of control and power they have over the distribution chain.
The audience will get the music they want in any way they want. Instead of putting up roadblocks, the record labels need to build bridges connecting everything together. Napster showed the recording industry that people want mp3’s to download and that they want to do it for free. Napster and the rise of peer-to-peer downloading showed the recording industry that people want to format shift their music files.
It should be the norm that in 2014, if a person still buys a physical CD or LP of the artists, that same person should be able to download that whole album via a download site that the artist controls. Coheed and Cambria did that with “The Afterman” releases. Amazon offers it via the AutoRip option however not all artists opt in.
It should be the norm that in 2014, if a person wants to download an MP3 rip of an album for free, they should be able to do it. If Pirate sites make so much money from advertisements, then why don’t the record labels provide the same service that they pirate sites provide and even reward those uploaders for continuing to spread culture instead of locking it up.
The audience wants to support the artist however they do not want to line the pockets of the record label bosses while the artist they love gets a pittance for their creations.
Let’s think about why record companies came into being. Printing records is expensive. Distributing music also used to be expensive. Hell, even recording used to be expensive.
Now, a single person can do all of this themselves for very little money.
Why do we even need record companies anymore?
Their sole purpose in this day and age is that they have the resources to still make artists visible. However Spotify showed the world that it can also break a super star. Lorde is a perfect example. She was the Queen of Streaming for over three months before the major label recording industry and the outdated Billboard charts came knocking.
And the economy of attention means that any artists that gets a chance to be heard above all the internet noise really has one shot to impress.